You Are Not Special

One of my favorite forums to peruse out there in internet land is the one for authors on Goodreads. One particular thread on that board occupies most of my time. It’s called “Best Bang for buck book promos.” It serves as an invaluable information trading tool for all of us self-published authors curious about which advertising sites work well and which don’t. Although I’ve never found any silver bullet pieces of wisdom (aside from “get BookBub to promote your book, duh”) it’s good to keep track of any scams people trip over or any new/cheap promoters that always seem to boost your sales just enough to make a profit and expand your audience.

Occasionally, though, the thread wanders a little off topic. Not very far. Since we’re all there for the same reason, we all share a common desire to keep the information exchange on track. However, recently there was a flurry of posts where people commiserated with each other over the flood of terrible books on Amazon and what that glut of bad writing is doing to hurt the sales of all us good, honest, sincere, forthright, god-fearing and hygienic self-pubbers.

Luckily, I missed the week where these laments were being posted. Had I seen them in real time, I don’t think I could’ve resisted jumping in and picking a fight. My main problem isn’t with people complaining about bad books – for the love of Robert Heinlein, I’ve done plenty of that myself – but some commenters went so far as to recommend Amazon start trying to be more proactive about demanding a higher-quality of product before allowing it to be sold on the site. That’s when I started hopping up and down in my chair and blowing steam out of my ears.

 

Sometimes the steam doesn't come exclusively out of my ears...

Sometimes the steam doesn’t come EXCLUSIVELY out of my ears…

 

The whole point of self-publishing is to bypass any self-appointed gatekeepers and present your work directly to the consumers and letting them be the final judge of its merit! To start hemming and hawing and saying “yeah, but there are people who are just throwing up unedited half-finished manuscripts and it’s giving us all a bad name” makes you sound like you feel like you’re owed something. Like Konrath says “No one owes you a living.” Going beyond that, I would add “You are not special.”

I made this realization a number of years ago about myself and believe me, it was an uncomfortable shock. I thought because I was good at this thing or that thing, it meant I should be given as many breaks as I wanted. Slack should be cut to fit me! When it was explained to me through subtle suggestion and workplace experience that you’re only as good as the latest good thing you did and if you want to succeed at something you have to care enough about it to keep trying to be better at it – only then did I understand I should stop wasting everyone’s time and start carving out my place in the world. On a good day, the world will make a little room for you, but most days you have to dig it out for yourself.

But you say you want Amazon to start separating wheat from chaff for you and your readers? Really? Who’s to say your work isn’t crap? So, you published something that’s 100K words and paid to have it edited and packaged professionally. Good for you! So what? That means you deserve something and the guy who’s just using the marketplace as a free sounding-board for a peer-review and revision process (I’ve read a couple of authors who do this) should be shut out? No. That author has as much right to the open market as you do. You don’t like it? Fine. You’re allowed. Just don’t be one of those guys who wants to change the system to suit himself and tries to make it sound like it’s somehow for the greater good.

 

"There but for the grace of Trump, go I."

“There but for the grace of Trump, go I.”

 

Don’t be that guy. I understand you’re struggling and getting frustrated because you just can’t find an audience. Welcome to the club! Being an author is hard! But here’s the thing – you have to decide whether you actually want to be an author or you want to make money on Amazon. Because if all you want to do is sell books on Amazon, it’s actually not that hard to do. Go copy and paste some romance novels, change some names, photoshop some covers and then post under a pseudonym. Guaranteed after a few promotions and a dozen or so titles, you’ll be raking in a steady profit. NOTE: I’m not knocking romance writers – I’m just saying their genre is rife with this kind of nonsense.

That’s not writing. You know it and I know it. Want to be an author? Write. Write as much as you can as well as you can and after revising your work to the point where you can’t change anything more without changing the whole thing – then publish it. Wash, rinse, repeat. You’ll note that no where in that list of instructions does it mention complaining to Amazon that other writers seem not to try as hard as you do, so they should be shut out so your work is a little less buried under the pile. There’s no need for that and you shouldn’t have time to worry about it anyway.

Want to pass a gatekeeper and be in an elite club? Go the traditional publishing route! Then you won’t have to worry about any of this stuff!

You are not special. Neither is anyone else. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from promoting your work and yourself. Keep writing and challenging yourself and your skills will eventually attract an audience. But trying to lobby for gates and referees on the playing field won’t help your game any.

 

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Thanks again for your valuable time! I deeply appreciate you sharing it with me. As always, feel free to express your thoughts below in the comment section.

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"It puts the tip in the driver's hand or it gets the hose again."

“It puts the tip in the driver’s hand or it gets the hose again.”

 

 

The Debate Over Free Content

There’s some controversy swirling out there about whether it is fair that many writers (or “content providers”) create articles for for-profit sites free-of-charge. On the one hand, it hurts the many struggling writers who are trying to make a living out of journalism, technical writing or even fiction writing. On the other hand, if people want to spend the time and effort to write something for someone else and then just give it away, that should be their right.

A couple of recent articles on the subject, along with a couple of responses from successful authors I admire, seem to bracket the entire debate. Over at The Passive Voice, we have an excerpt from Kristen Lamb’s blog, where she rails against the unfairness of a world where most people expect to get either cheap or free books and stories. She’s basically responding to reports that used bookstores are making a come back and is lamenting that this is indicative of how most people believe writers will produce manuscripts regardless of whether they are paid or not. Obviously, her reasoning is a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly – after all, a writer certainly was paid when the book was first sold. Is the writer supposed to be paid every time the same copy is sold again? Or borrowed? – but her point is still valid. After all, in the 19th century, being a writer was an actual occupation. People who knew how to put words together were respected and could expect to earn a comfortable living as full time employees in several industries. Nowadays? Actual writing ability is largely ignored and most companies will pinch their already over-worked and over-tasked employees to do any needed writing, instead of hiring a dedicated expert.

 

In today's world, Mr. Beauchamp would be... well, I guess he would be me.

In today’s world, Mr. Beauchamp would be… well, I guess he would be me.

 

But Joe Konrath responds on his blog to Kristen’s post, saying basically, no one owes you a living. Just because you’ve produced something doesn’t mean everyone everywhere needs to keep paying you every time they look at it. Also, if you produced content on the internet for free and posted it for public consumption, don’t whine if no one wants to give you any money for it. No one asked you to do it in the first place! I largely agree with Konrath’s views. The glut of content on the internet will continue for the foreseeable future and forcing people to pay for more things isn’t going to do anything but drive free-content deliverers into an even bigger spotlight and/or increase piracy. Neither of those things would help the guy who wants to earn a living writing get paid for his work. In my view, Konrath’s point that this is simply the age we are living in and you have to adapt to it is pretty much spot on. Pirates will be pirates, hobby writers will be hobby writers and on-line companies will continue to try to figure out how to make the biggest bucks any way they can. Instead of whining about it, you should get serious about getting your work out there and getting people to consider paying to see more of it.

Oh, and don’t forget to make more of it. Lots more. Every hour spent ranting about the unfairness of the world is another hour neglecting your own work!

 

"You used to call me on my cell phone..."

“You used to call me on my cell phone…”

 

Another tidbit on this topic just recently popped up. Apparently, Stephen Hull, editor for the Huffington Post UK, crowed about how they don’t pay any of their writers. Their content is 100% free and so therefore somehow more “authentic.” I get what he means – their content producers aren’t beholden to sponsors or advertisers in any monetary way, unlike a lot of other for-profit businesses. However, this argument isn’t exactly accurate. After all, through the Huffington Post’s own selection and editing process, the content is certainly altered. The writer is beholden to them, at least. Also, each writer has their own slant on anything they’re writing about. There’s no such thing as complete objectivity. Saying you use only volunteers for your writing staff doesn’t somehow auto-magically increase their willingness to set aside personal bias and opinion. And just as an added note, being proud of not paying employees while raking in 2.3 billion dollars in revenue represents a disturbing continuation in the glorification of downsizing and maximizing productivity. This has been a trend that has been strangling the middle class and discouraging upward socio-economic mobility for more than a generation.

So, a slow clap for Steven Hull and HuffPo, I guess? Good job? Way to be a part of the problem? If you’re so concerned with the “authenticity” of your content, why not just grant full disclosure? Isn’t that what most reputable news organizations do? If a writer was paid by you, then just say that. If they were paid by Coca-Cola, then just say that. Where’s the problem? Personally, I’d love to see a full-time writer for Coca-Cola fence with one from Pepsi in a monthly “Cola Wars” battle of wits in a dedicated column on HuffPo or Mother Jones or MSN or whatever. That would be fun! Well, sort of. The Cola Wars are mostly over, so I guess they’d need more topical industries.

Maybe have the makers of Levitra battle the makers of Viagra in post after post of innuendo-filled jibes about the relative size of their customer bases? OK, now that would be funny.

 

"Let me just come clean and admit the girth of our profit margins. I just want you to get a firm grasp of my point."

“Let me just come clean and admit the girth of our profit margins. I just want you to get a firm grasp of my point.”

 

But I digress.

Obviously, Mr. Hull’s admission sparked all kinds of indignant outrage. Good old Chuck Wendig let loose with a piece full of hysterical vitriol on his blog. It’s fun reading, but I think he goes a bit too far when he says “No money means no checks, no balances.” As I suggested above, there is no absolute way to secure complete objectivity, regardless of pay. Best thing to hope for is that the hosting site grants full disclosure, as well as doing its own fact checking, of course. But, in one way I find I am in complete agreement with Chuck. Although he didn’t make the point directly, he alluded to it. A world where we allow, even encourage, jobs to start being done for free is a world that only makes our already tilting free-market economy sway even more dangerously toward favoring the privileged class.

Take this as an example. A man walks into a fast-food joint. He approaches the manager and says he loves being a grill chef and has no need of money. He would like to be the restaurant’s grill chef free of charge. The manager immediately puts him to work behind the grill and fires the guy he was paying. Now, that guy has to go get a job at another restaurant, only he’s finding more and more grill chefs are being replaced by these “hobby chefs.” He has to take jobs for less and less pay at worse and worse restaurants just to stay in his chosen industry. His socio-economic mobility goes into a downward spiral. Consequently, he can’t afford to buy as many things as he used to, which affects the profitability of other industries around him.

Now, I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I think many people don’t realize the role each one of us plays in our capitalist economies of the democratic nations of the west. While it’s great to have so many freedoms, for the love of Andrew Carnegie, you have to be responsible! For myself, I enjoy writing Battletech fan fiction, but I would never dream of submitting my stories to the license holders and saying “Here you go! Feel free to use any and all of this in your published material! Free of charge!”

But people will do what they want in a free society and I can only offer my humble opinion about what I believe to be right or wrong. Consequently, I side mostly with Joe Konrath on this whole debate. If you don’t like not getting paid for your work, then just don’t do it. Either find something else to do with your time or get your head in the game and find ways to monetize your product. Don’t sit around and whine about stuff being unfair. Write your congressman if you feel that strongly about it, but then immediately get back to writing your own stuff and trying to figure out how to beat the game.

 

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Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to share your thoughts below in the comment section.

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My Top Five Favorite Sword and Sorcery Films

Because I knew you all were wondering but were too afraid to ask, I decided to put together my top five favorite sword and sorcery movies and talk a little bit about what makes each one special. These aren’t necessarily my favorite fantasy movies in general. Instead, I chose from that sub-genre of fantasy that features (you guessed it) swords and sorceries and focuses more on action and adventure than on drama or comedy or romance. The broader fantasy genre could conceivably include everything from Pirates of the Caribbean to Groundhog Day, so we’ll just stick to sorting through the “what-everyone-thinks-of-when-they-think-of-fantasy” titles.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s jump right in. The list is arranged from fifth favorite to first:

 

 

Five: Excalibur

 

Excalibur_movie_poster

 

Arthurian legends are rich with the material that makes for great fantasy movies. There are knights, castles, mythological beasts and heroic quests. That’s pretty much all you need, right? Yes and no. You can stick to the basics and make a decent sword and sorcery flick, but if you go the extra mile you can make a movie that transcends its genre. That’s pretty much what John Boorman did with Excalibur. This movie doesn’t just cover the rise and fall of Camelot, it does it with so much style it makes your head spin. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, the acting is superlative, the writing is clever and the musical score is unforgettable. Boorman didn’t just make a King Arthur movie, he made THE King Arthur movie.

 

 

Four: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 

deathly_hollows

 

I’m cheating a bit with this one and including both parts one and two and treating it as one movie. While I enjoyed all of the Harry Potter movies, these last two struck me as head and shoulders better than the rest. It’s not just that we get to see the culmination of Voldemort’s plan and finally unwrap all the mysteries surrounding Harry Potter’s peculiar place in the world. Those things are compelling enough, but what surprised me about these two movies was the depiction of hopelessness and depression the heroes face when it appears all has been lost. In every other fantasy movie I’ve ever seen, when we near the end and the stakes are high, I’m used to seeing the main characters gear-up/hatch a crazy plan/start busting heads. But in Deathly Hallows, we see something quite different.

Voldemort wins. Everything has gone his way. Sure, he doesn’t have Harry and his friends, but he doesn’t need them. Meanwhile, our heroes have nothing going for them and only a vague idea of how to start (to START!) trying to find a way to defeat Voldemort. But they get frustrated at every turn and can do little but continually run and hide while the entire world descends into darkness around them. Everything from the broken radio broadcasts, the tense dialog, the director’s choice of settings and lighting and the actors’ portrayals of frightened kids on the edge of adulthood in a world where all the adults have gone mad…

Just perfect. Never seen anything quite like it before. Best scene in both movies comes in the first part, in my opinion. It’s when Harry and Hermione dance to Nick Cave’s “O children.” They’re trying desperately to keep their spirits up any way they know how, but their gaiety is fragile and faltering and the gloom closes in once again and all too soon. That scene gets me every time. It is very definitely always darkest before the dawn in this film.

 

 

 

Three: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings

 

fellowship

 

I won’t cheat with this one, since all three parts of LotR worked very well as stand alone movies and claiming all twelve hours (if you’re watching the unabridged DVDs, which you should) of Peter Jackson’s opus for one top-five spot would be just too unfair. While all three movies were great, I felt Fellowship captured some key elements of sword and sorcery that many films do not. Not coincidentally, these are the same kinds of things that make fantasy role-playing games one of my favorite hobbies.

First, there is the formation of the group of adventurers. Each one has distinct strengths and weaknesses (well, alright, maybe Legolas has no weaknesses) and differing and sometimes combative personalities. But they all come together to form a great team that is ready to trek the wilderness and spelunk some caves. Exciting!

Second, there are riddles and traps as well as menacing monsters. There is not just one enemy and his lair and his minions to deal with in this movie. Instead, there are a plethora of dangers in this fantasy world! Many of them have nothing to do with each other, but they must be overcome, nonetheless.

Third, each hero’s actions have consequences, not just for the world the movie is set in, but for each other. The One Ring is a great foil for this particular element. It perfectly symbolizes the fear, distrust and envy all player-characters feel about each other at some level. Every good session of Dungeons and Dragons I’ve ever played had me curious and cautious about not just the Dungeon Master’s world, but my fellow adventurers as well!

 

 

Two: Dragonslayer

 

dragonslayer

 

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons, this movie is perhaps the best at portraying that game on screen. We won’t speak of the movies based on the actual D&D franchise – they are all of them lamentable wastes of time. No, while Fellowship captured the necessary foundation elements of good fantasy gaming, Dragonslayer got the feeling right. It’s hard to say exactly how the creators did it. A good friend of mine wrote a great piece about that very subject, so if you’re curious, you should check it out over at the Tao of Zordon.

For myself, I can only add a couple of nuggets from this movie that always made me smile. One was the magical amulet the hero carries around. It looks like an 8-sided die, one of the strange “Dragon Dice” needed to play D&D. It might have been unintentional, but I thought it was a great coincidence. The other thing that usually brings me back to this film is the use of sound. Dave talks about it in his piece and I heartily concur. The menacing creak of the leather-clad villain, the quiet sounds of daily life in the village living under a curse and, of course, every single awe-inspiring noise from the dragon all serve to provide the viewer with the magical feeling of fantasy adventure.

 

 

One: Conan the Barbarian

 

conan_movie_poster

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger hungrily approaching his prime. James Earl Jones effortlessly delivering a mesmerizing performance. Max von Sydow making a bit part as a troubled king every bit as memorable as any role I’ve ever seen. Mako’s voice, rumbling and charged with portent, setting the table for the viewer with this pitch-perfect intro: “Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!

Then those drums come in. Oh man, those drums. That soundtrack by Basil Poledouris still gets my blood pumping.

This movie had exactly the right cast, writers and directors – not to mention perhaps the best score of any movie anywhere – to bring Robert Howard’s pulp fantasy vision to the big screen. While every other movie on this list is undeniably a sword and sorcery movie, this film IS sword and sorcery. Not only that, but it brings out all the elements of fine fantasy role-playing I described above. But our heroes don’t quest for high ideals, they quest for profit!

They invade villainous layers! They slay terrible monsters! They collect valuable loot! Then they go back to town and piss it all away! Why? Because they’re adventurers! That’s what adventurers do! They only get roped into trying to complete an impossible rescue-the-princess quest because the king makes them an offer they can’t refuse.

But, honestly, I think it’s the writing that makes this movie stick with me. James Earl Jones powerfully delivering “That is strength, boy. That is power. What is the sword compared to the hand that wields it?” Max von Sydow morosely admitting “There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father’s love for his child.”  Schwarzenegger spitting his character’s wrath against fate and fortune: “Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom… so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!

And, of course, the famous “Crush your enemies” line. You know the one. Interesting tidbit about that scene, though. The character who is speaking just as the scene opens is muttering “My fear is that my sons will never understand me…” You may recognize that line. It’s the same one Marlon Brando spoke in Apocalypse Now. Oliver Stone was the writer on both movies and I’ve often wondered why he put it in this film. Was he saying the barbaric warrior tribe that raised Conan and taught him to fight were somehow like Colonel Kurtz? Was he making a political statement about the inhumanity of warfare, even as it is glorified in a sword and sorcery picture? Was it just a playful Easter egg? Who knows?

 

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Well, there’s my list. I’m glad you stuck around and let me satisfy your curiosity about something you never knew you wanted to know. Have an opinion? Feel free to comment below!

This week’s T-Shirt winner is Tracy Pendleton! Congrats, Tracy! Look for the newsletter soon and please respond with size and mailing address!

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Until next time, please to be remembering the reviewing and the tipping.

 

Bad Words: Badder Writing That I am Too Madderer!

Hello and welcome to another installment of “Bad Words” (actually, I just made up that name – the first installment didn’t have a series title, but guess what? It does now!) where we take a look at some common mistakes many writers make and how YOU the reader can learn to identify them for fun and profit. Just kidding. There’s no profit here for you. About the best you can hope for is to get a laugh or two and look at the pictures. On the other hand, if you’re an author, you might see something you do from time to time that you never knew bothered me. And, OF COURSE YOU’LL WANT TO CHANGE THAT BEHAVIOR! Pleasing me should be of paramount importance in your everyday life and so it is a matter of course that your writing should also take my tastes into consideration.

I have wants, people! Needs! They must be satisfied or… or… they will continue to be unsatisfied! And that is unsatisfactory!

But seriously, some of the stuff I point out below is just me making mountains out of molehills, but I thought I’d take the time to explain what bothers me about them because I’m seeing them a lot lately. I’ve been doing some intense reading of other self-published works in my chosen genres (mystery, fantasy/sci-fi) and although most of the stuff out there is garbage, there are a few writers who are quite good and I’d like to read more of their work. However, even though they are clearly talented and can make words do pleasing things on the page, they still make very aggravating mistakes that make me want to pelt them with Cheetos and slap them with deli ham! I want to grab them by the nipples and shake them and scream into their faces “Don’t you know how close to awesome you are? Don’t you know how many truckloads of ham and Cheetos I want to dump on you? DON’T YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU?”

But I’d likely get arrested for that, so instead I’ll just tell you how I think some writers could be soooo much better if only they’d stop doing dumb shit like…

The deus ex machina: You’re probably already familiar with this term, but for those of you who may have slept through a few too many English classes, I’ll explain. It’s a Latin term meaning “God from the Machine” and it refers to any sort of resolution to a conflict that seems to come out of nowhere. This is easily forgivable if an author just uses it to tie up loose secondary plot threads, but is unforgivable when it appears in the main action of the story.

Ridiculous Example: Our swashbuckling hero is busy bravely fighting the forces of doom and destruction at the climax of the book, but things take a turn for the worse and he finds his back against the wall and his feet in the doo-doo. His every strength has been countered and now the enemy is about to destroy him by exploiting a known weakness! Lament! Oh, lament! But wait? What’s this? Our Doubting Thomas of a hero can reach down deep within and summon the strength of a god? One of the allies he thought lost suddenly and inexplicably bursts in and aids him? The spirits of his ancestors distract the enemy just long enough to provide an escape? The evil-genius villain decides to walk toward the hero instead of just shooting him from across the room? Our sword-wielding hero can suddenly cast magic missile?

And on and on. You see what I’m getting at. A final confrontation only ends satisfyingly when our hero uses the tools and experiences he picked up through his journey to defeat the final boss. Nothing should suddenly appear. The reader should be able to trace the solution to the problem to something (or things) that happened earlier in the book or else it all just falls flat.

 

Just like this guy!

Just like this guy!

 

Getting lost on a tangent: This is where the author attempts (as all good authors should) to weave a multi-threaded plot line, but ends up losing the main thread, either for too long or permanently. This is incredibly easy to do, but is also fairly simple to spot on revision. While you can afford to spend perhaps a whole chapter devoted to a secondary plot point, any more than that and you risk confusing the reader regarding what’s actually important. Unless you use those one-sentence chapters, then I suppose you could spend a chapter or two or nine. God, don’t get me started on one-sentence chapters. What an arrogant waste of reader attention.

Ridiculous example: Our hero is hired to rescue a kidnapped princess. After investigating for a chapter or two, he finds she’s more or less a willing prisoner of her captors. She tells him to get lost. Unsure what to do, he spends a day thinking it over and during that time he receives a message from an old friend in need of some help. The hero shrugs and leaves to go aid his friend and for the greater part of the book, the action revolves around that new plot point. After more or less resolving the problem, the hero eventually comes back to convince the princess she shouldn’t hang with the bad guys and that brings the story to a close. Maybe the author makes some loose connection between the two conflicts, but FAR too much time was spent away from the “rescue the princess” plot to have it be at all meaningful anymore.

 

"...if you still care about that sort of thing, that is."

“…if you still care about that sort of thing, that is.”

 

Stretching suspension of disbelief to the breaking point: There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief in genre writing. The reader is often expected to believe in time travel, instantaneous communication through space, magic, fantasy worlds, etc. All of this is generally accepted as de rigeur, but I’ve noticed in one area – specifically dystopian sci-fi – authors seem to take just too many liberties. If you’re dealing with Earth or even an Earth-like planet with human-type peoples, you have to keep in mind that your readers will have certain expectations that can’t be disregarded.

Ridiculous example: The world is going to die within a handful of generations and humanity’s only hope is to gather up its smartest people and lock them away so they can tech our way out of it, hopefully. But the organization behind such a noble effort turns out to be nefarious in its designs. When the smartest people enter its secured compound, they are never heard from again! And… nobody wonders why. Not one single lonely boyfriend or worried mother picks up the phone to call. Nobody. Everyone just simply accepts that the smarty pants people need to “concentrate on their work.” Our hero only finds out that something is amiss when one of the smarty-pants finally manages to sneak a message out… YEARS LATER.

Seriously? You’re talking about humans here. Humans on Earth. No one would accept such an obvious kidnapping for any length of time much less for years. Well, unless there is already a clearly established system of gulags and work camps in your world. That might pass inspection. Or maybe everyone has been pacified with some sort of chemicals in the contrails of planes or something. Or perhaps a really taste brownie mix tainted with hallucinogens that trick family members into believing they’re still in contact with the smarty-pants relatives could work… Anyway, the point is – don’t forget the human condition. Never forget that. No matter how much your writing revolves around zombies or vampires or robots, your readers are all very human.

 

I don't care how many dragons you birth, you're still just a lost little girl looking for a home. Fuck you, George R.R. Martin, you brilliant bastard.

I don’t care how many dragons you birth, you’re still just a lost little girl looking for a home. Fuck you, George R.R. Martin, you brilliant bastard.

 

 

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Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today, except to announce this week’s winner of the T-Shirt giveaway.

John Cataldo!

Congrats, John! Look for the newsletter in your inbox (or possibly junk folder) and reply with desired size and mailing address.

So long everyone! Don’t forget to review a good book and tip a nice delivery driver!