Thursday, February 24, 2011


I've read quite a few posts about the bankruptcy reorganization of Borders. They all seem to have the same assumption that the reason for Borders financial trouble is due to the surgence of ebooks. I don't agree with that assumption. Borders sells books AND movies AND music. A loss of book sales to ebooks which is only a small percent of total book sales should not have had a catastrophic effect on their business. It makes just as much sense to only blame the record industry or the movie industry for their financial troubles.

A better assumption to make is that they are victim of the downturn in the economy from the past few years. I was out driving around earlier today and everywhere I looked there was evidence of the recent recession, closed storefronts, empty shops, weeds growing in front of the stand alone stores.

And what Borders sells, books, movies, and music, are not necessary commodities. If you have to choose between buying a new book or buying food, most people will buy food. It's really amazing that they were able to hang on for so long when other businesses went under.

They might have been able to stay in business if they had a better selection or chose to focus on one product instead of trying to be all things to all people. The last time I went into Borders, I was using a gift card that I had received. I was really disappointed in their selection of books. Even their selections for bestselling authors was pathetic.

Books-a-Million has a better selection of books than either Borders or Barnes and Noble. But they only sell books and magazines and book paraphernalia. I find this really interesting, because fifteen years ago Books-a-Million had the worst selection of books. We used to say that they had a million of the same book.

Will Barnes and Noble go the same way as Borders? If they don't do something about their selection of books, then they probably will.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eighteen Years

That's how old my cat is. His birthday was yesterday, but the news of the earthquake in New Zealand drove the thought out of my mind.

Here's a pic of my boy.

His name is Wolverine after one of the X-men. Technically, he is my son's cat which explains his name, but he bonded with me so he lives with me.

Wolvie is very fortunate to be alive. Three years ago, he was attacked by a dog. The dog broke his jaw and I had to tube feed him for five weeks. He had some nerve damage and we weren't sure that he would ever be able to eat on his own again, but he regained enough function to eat soft food and some crunchy food. Though, he can't bite hard enough to break the skin so his squirrel and bird hunting days are over.

Anyway, happy belated birthday to Wolvie. I'm glad that he is a cat and not a kid. I don't have to worry about him drinking and driving or getting into the trouble that 18 year old boys tend to get into.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Story Ideas That Leave You Speechless

And by speechless I don't mean the idea is so tremendously awesome that you wonder "Why didn't I think of that?"

I mean the story ideas are so ridiculous that you wonder if the writer was drinking or tripping on acid when they came up with it. For example:

A stage version of the Wizard Oz using only three actors with a coatrack as the scarecrow.

E=mc^2 is the formula for happiness.

A romance where the female main character is human and the male main character is a dragon... How does THAT work?

Public Service Announcement:
Unless you're Hemingway,
Drinking and writing don't mix.
If you're going to drink, don't write.
If you're going to write, don't drink. (or do drugs)

ETA: That last bit was meant to be a joke, a riff on the don't drink and drive thing. It doesn't matter to me in the least bit if anyone drinks or does drugs while writing. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Writerly Wisdom on Youtube

This seems to be the week for me running across interesting youtube videos about writing and writers.

First up Four Types of Bad Writers.

Neil Gaiman on copyright, piracy and the commercial value of the web.

The opposing point of view by Harlan Ellison (warning strong language)

Though in fairness, I don't think that Ellison and Gaiman are coming from the same place. Ellison is right, an interview with him on a DVD is not going to lead people to seeking out his written work. While Gaiman giving away his work for free will get him more fans.

As my dance teacher used to say, "That'll keep you busy." :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Annals of Hypnosia: Reunion

REUNION, the February installment in THE ANNALS OF HYPNOSIA, is now posted for your reading enjoyment!

Construction at Screaming Girl Mountain sends Falcrion to Blood Villa, because even the most stubborn of villains has their limits.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is in the Air

It's Valentine's Day and with it the obligatory blog posts of favorite romances to watch or read. After reading through several hundred personal favorite romances on various and sundry blogs, I have come to the conclusion that the human race is doomed.

A sample of the suggestions for best romance that I have seen are: Farscape, Shaun of the Dead, The Black Tulip, Corpse Bride, The Story of O, Last Chance Harvey, Shadow of the Colossus, The Notebook, Shakespeare in Love, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind, and so on.

Seriously, I didn't know whether to laugh hysterically at some of the suggestions or cry because it was so damn pathetic. To each his own.

By definition, the theme for a romance is love conquers all and the end is: "and they lived happily ever after." If it doesn't have those two things, then it isn't a romance. It might be a love story, but it isn't a romance.

These movies are good romances: Love Actually, Bridget Jones Diary, Bull Durham, Dirty Dancing, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Tin Cup, Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman, and a bunch of others.

Anyway, my valentine to you my loyal blog followers and anyone else who stops by is Hugh Grant Dancing. Hugh Grant dancing is a double treat, because 1. he's so hysterically funny to watch and 2. he's got a nice tushy.

This is from the movie Love Actually. Sorry it's a link because the embedding is disabled.

And this parody of an 80's music video: Pop Goes My Heart Embedding was also disabled on this one. But, I figured out how to open them in a new tab or window. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Literary vs. Genre Fiction

This post started out as a discussion of quality in novels and has morphed into a discussion of literary vs. genre fiction.

Last week there was a bit of a brouhaha regarding the quality of some self-published books. The debate mainly centered on cover art, editing, product description, etc. But during the ... uh... discussion there was some whinging about "crap like Harry Potter, Twilight, fill-in-the-blank getting published." The fallacy of personal taste being a good measure of the quality of the story.

And then there was the idea that we should be teaching our children how to identify quality fiction.

So how do you define quality in regards to fiction?

Digging around on wikipedia gives these useful gems: Quality fiction is one that has literary merit. The concept of literary merit is impossible to define. Literary fiction is serious fiction it is not romance, horror, thriller, mystery, western, science fiction, fantasy, et al... And then my brain imploded.

Interestingly enough there are ways to identify quality in genre fiction. Good genre fiction has a compelling plot, believable characters, evocative descriptions, and the like.

The more I thought about quality in literary fiction vs. quality in genre fiction the more I realized that it's not just comparing apples to oranges, it's more like comparing apples to brussel sprouts.

Literary fiction is more about style, the use of literary devices such as irony, satire, alliteration, et al. Word choice, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and the like are all important in literary fiction. The reader is meant to see them and can tell that they are reading something with literary merit.

Whereas in good genre fiction, all of those things are invisible to the average reader. When one reads a bestselling author of genre fiction, one is pulled into the story. The reader sees the setting, hears the dialogue, and watches the action. They aren't as concerned about how they are told a story, but that they are told a story with a compelling plot, believable characters, evocative descriptions, and the like.

Which is not to say that genre fiction can't have elements of literary fiction nor that literary fiction can't be compelling to read.

Thus genre fiction is crap using literary criteria, and literary fiction is crap using genre criteria. Which is like saying apples are disgusting because they don't taste like brussel sprouts and brussel sprouts are disgusting because they don't taste like apples.

So true crap is a story that doesn't have literary merit and/or doesn't have a compelling plot, believable characters, evocative descriptions and the like. Personal taste doesn't enter into the equation.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Friday Funny

Enough of that serious malarkey in the last post. This weekend is the Superbowl and with it the Superbowl commercials which has become an event itself. VW has released its Superbowl commercial early. Spew alert! Swallow what you're drinking!

I don't know who the kid is in the commercial but his movements are wonderfully expressive.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The F-Bomb in Blog Posts

This blog post is a discussion about the use of the f-bomb and other curse words while blogging. If you're offended by such language, this post will be filled with foul language. You have been warned.

I don't have a moral issue with cursing. I don't think a person is going to hell because they say "shit," "piss," "fuck," et al. I can swear like a sailor if the situation calls for it. They are words like any other words used to convey meaning and emotion.

However, I learned not to swear in public. In private I might call my brother a goddamn motherfucking son of a bitch, but not out in public. Because some people are offended by such language and don't want to hear it. When you swear out in public you are not giving them the option of not hearing it. And because people will judge you based on the language that you use.

A blog is public. It is more public than going out to a restaurant for dinner. Anyone in the world with access to the internet can read your blog. What you say and how you say things on your blog is out there for the world to see. It is your public persona and people will judge you based on what you put on it.

While we could get on our highhorse and demand that people not judge us because we use the word fuck or shit in our blog posts or take a tough shit stance to what we say, the reality is that people will judge you based on the language that you use.

And writers depend on their readers making that kind of judgement. A character is defined by their speech. Consider the following four statements:
"Wow! This is great!"
"Oh! I say, good job!"
"Holy guacamole! This is wonderful!"
"Fucking A, Bubba! This is the shit!"
The same information is conveyed in all four sentences, but the image of the person speaking is different.

"Fuck" is an expletive used to express anger or give emphasis to the word it modifies. When "fuck" is overused then it loses its power to express anger or to emphasize. When one talks like this: "Fuck, you won't fucking believe what that fucker fucking said to fucking me yesterday fucking morning while I was fucking driving to fucking work," the listener's brain becomes numb and stops reacting to the word "fuck." If you talk like this, you've got nowhere to go when you are really angry and want to express it.

Whereas with the person who rarely swears, if you hear them say, "fuck," you better head for the hills because they are steaming mad about something. Calling someone a "goddamn motherfucking son of a bitch" carries a whole lot more power and has a greater impact coming from someone who never swears than from someone who gives a whole new meaning to the words "potty mouth."

What prompted this post? In the past few days, I've read several blog posts with unnecessary profanity. So, for fuck's sake, think about the fucking impact your fucking words have on your fucking readers before you fucking publish your fucking blog post.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some Useful Links

I don't know whether any of you have noticed, but I've been adding blog links to the lists over <--- there. There are now three lists, Contributor's blogs, Industry blogs (mostly agents and publishers), and Other Blogs of Interest. These are the blogs that I am following. I add to the list whenever I stumble across a good one. There are a few that I would like to draw your attention to:

Michael Hyatt's Blog He's had some really good articles about effective blogging techniques. For that alone, it's worth a look-see.

Book View Cafe Blog I stumbled across this while reading someone's blog post. You might recognize one or two of the authors who contribute.

And Slush Pile Hell is always good for a laugh. I love the latest response: "A writer with 8 novels, 91 short stories, and the inability to write a query letter."

If you know of any good blogs, that I might be interested in, leave a link in the comments section.