5 Movies I’m Contrarian On

Okay, I’m a little behind the eight ball this week. So, I’m going with the ever popular list post. *grins*

Below are five movies, I hate, but seem to be really popular. In fact, I am so far in the minority on these movies that I rarely say anything about it.

1. Pulp Fiction – This is the most boring movie I have ever attempted to sit through. I watched it just to have the relevant cultural references. If you’re going to watch Tarantino, watch Reservoir Dogs (excellent crime movie) or Kill Bill (amusing hyper-violent kung-fu). Hell, watch Dusk Till Dawn (perfectly cheese vampires).

2. Wizard of Oz – The music is okay, but I just cannot abide Dorothy and I want to punch Glinda. I haven’t been able to make it through the books either. (Didn’t make it through Wicked either. Sorry folks, this one isn’t for me.)

3. It’s a Wonderful Life – Clarence is the only redeeming factor in this movie and he is *not* in it enough to make me willing to sit through this movie.

4. The Christmas Story – Why do people like this movie? Seriously? I don’t like anyone in it. Not the main character. Not his friends. None of them. I don’t give a damn about their lives and I don’t like the movie. Many movies I can at least understand why people like them, this one leaves me completely blank.

5. Ace Ventura – Jim Carrey why must you continue to ruin my life? I consider this patient zero for the infection of crap comedy in the world today. Fart jokes and stupid voices are not comedy. At least not *all* of comedy. Class it up Hollywood.

What movies are you “supposed” to like that you just can’t stand?

Cross-posted at Bitter Suites

Nouns! Nouns Everywhere!

I’m having a lazy week this week, so you’re getting two-cross posted things. Today it’s a day old post about world building the right way. And also my innate tendency to capitalize literally Everything.

Ich habe eine Shift Key!

I feel like I harp on world building on here. I tell you to watch out for the sheep, and remember that just because you’re super fascinated about x doesn’t mean the rest of us give a crap, and leave you long winding lists about blah blah blah.

But I don’t ever talk about the good stuff, so today we’re gonna try that.

A friend and I were talking about Harry Potter this week, because her small human just hit book 7 and she was all excited because not only was the small human in for a rollercoaster of feels (and if small human is like me, feels and anger) they’re also in for the joy of rereading. For getting to the end and seeing where all the pieces were that got leaked to us, bit by bit for ages. I promise, right now, if you are a Harry Potter fan you’re thinking of at least one of these.

Last weekend I watched John Wick–which totally aside holy crapballs you need to go watch that movie if you haven’t yet because never has so much happened so perfectly over a dog–and there were so many tiny things. Things you could blink and you’d miss them, but that told you so much about the world you were temporarily inhabiting.

And all of this was still just swirling around in my head, and then I’m looking at a blank blog page and it’s Well Written Wednesday and…well. I had a headache with pictures. Sometimes I’m just as guilty as everybody else of focusing on the negatives of a thing and not the positives. So what are some positives of world building?

A biggest one to me is what I call Rationality. I didn’t have a German moment, I capitalized that on purpose. Literature people and writers and movie people all talk about suspension of disbelief, but very rarely–at least to my ears–do they talk about why that fails. At least not above “it was too fantastic, it didn’t work” which is almost stupidly unhelpful. It’s not enough to ask your audience to suspend disbelief, you have to give them something to believe in instead. You have to ground them in a universe will laws and backstory and minutia, even if you never tell them what every detail is. Rationality means your universe works within itself, and doesn’t fall apart when you start looking past the front bits.

The right details can give even the most ridiculous thing Rationality (now I’m capitalizing it just to be a butt). They can give the audience tie points so your big left-turn, full twist reveal in act three doesn’t turn into a wall-banger. That’s a good thing, your number one job as a writer is to avoid wall-banger territory.

Strive for Rationality. Sure, you’ll get other perks too. Permanence in the audience’s mind, recidivism (JK Rowling is a freaking life-ruiner who makes me utterly loathe her characters, but I keep reading her books anyway). But at least if you can manage Rationality you won’t fall utterly off the tracks and find your poor beloved literary-babies sliding down a wall to be forever muffled by a carpet of shame.

And come back Friday, where we’ll talk about the possible future of packaged food!

Wow, that sounded boring. Come back anyway. I’ll try to make it interesting.

Step Right Up!

Today, on The Art of Procrastination, you get a front row seat to the strange, quasi-nutzoid stuff I find when I’m trawlying the internets pretending to work. Everything after the line is cross-posted from Words and Wanderings. Enjoy.

And come back Thursday, where we’ll talk about world building when it goes right.

What’s the worst that could happen…

Friends! I bring you glad tidings from the future! No longer must you go without liquor on your adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail naked with your Argentinan mistress! No longer must you forgo the joys of intoxication simply because they check your water at the stadium entrance!
Behold, the bright and glorious future you have been promised! Tell your congressmen today that you object to their needless special interest politics that favors big business alcohol producers of new innovation. Get your own Palcohol today!
Okay, so I”m kind of being a shit. I’m not sure why I need powdered alcohol in my life…but I don’t actually need anything resembling an iWatch either so clearly my need isn’t what is driving most of the marketplace we live in.

Still, I have one critique for the people behind Palcohol. It’s totes cool bro, that sounds fun. But I think maybe the statement that the government doesn’t like you because big alcohol doesn’t like you is a little short sighted. Stop and think very carefully about your product and then tell me it’s not just a skosh more dangerous than the big bottles of liquid stuff I can’t sneak into a place in my pocket. Tell me honestly at least one of your developers hasn’t gone “hm, I wonder what happens if I just eat the powder” and then gotten really sick.


And in unrelated book news, I’m part of The Romance Review Anniversary Contest, starting today!

Resistance is…

“Writer’s Block” is a mythical creature that gets blamed for everything from not starting projects or finishing projects, to not getting edits completed. It’s an excuse for another glass of wine or five more minutes (hours) on Pinterest.

Many pros will tell you that it doesn’t exist. It’s seen only by virgin writers who believe in it. Special Snowflakes with artistic temperaments and fae-touched vision.

Be that as it may, what’s real is resistance. “Resistance” is a psychological term, which, when used in therapy or analysis, implied that the client is resistant to change or resistant to confronting an issue. Normally, this also implies that there is a deeper issue which must be tackled to overcome what is now a road-block or plateau in therapy.

I am using it in a similar fashion. When an author claims writer’s block, what they’re really saying is more often “I’m tired,” “I’m bored,” “I’m scared,” “I’m frustrated,” “I’m depressed,” “I’m in trouble,” or even, “I don’t actually want to be a creative person, but I’ve been saying it so long that I’m ashamed to let go of it,” or “This is harder than I thought.”

And what they want is attention, tea and cookies, and someone to gossip with or bounce ideas off.

You may see yourself here. But now you know that there is a deeper reason that you aren’t writing; you need to find out what that is. You’re not a fae-touched Special Snowflake, you are a writer. You want to fix this, and be a professional.

It’s all well and good for pros to say “just do it,” but if you’re tired and cranky and depressed, then there’s something else that needs to be dealt with.

So how does you deal with those issues? If you’re tired, in a physical sense, take a fifteen minute nap or meditate for fifteen minutes, then sit down and write something. (Even if that something is “why naps are beautiful.”)

If you’re bored, try Write or Die. Set it to the automatic erase level and write for five minutes. If you stop typing, the program starts eating what you’ve written. Or challenge yourself by moseying over to Chuck Wendig‘s blog and checking out one of his challenges. Then, when you’ve done that, work on your main project again.

If you’re grieving, dealing with a major stressor, in the middle of a depressive spin, or even just have the flu, that’s okay. Deal with those problems. The writing will come back. Make yourself well. Or find a way to work around it. Drag a journal into the bed with you. Burrito on the couch for awhile. Call your therapist and talk it out. Use whatever coping techniques you need. Just believe that the writing will come back. Maybe not tonight or tomorrow, but some day. I’m going to get metaphysical for a moment: the writing is part of you and it cannot be destroyed — only changed by circumstances. Maybe you don’t write fluffy humor stories anymore, that’s fine. Change direction.

I went for nearly year without a new project or finishing an old one. For me this is a big deal. (I do three-day binge writing, and otherwise produce copious amounts of words, even if no one reads them.) It wasn’t until I discovered a physical issue and fixed it that anything got done. I still go through phases when I’m not feeling well where I don’t even answer email. It’s okay. It happens.

If you’ve decided that you don’t want to be a pro writer, that’s okay. I give you permission to walk away. Feel free to keep reading about writing and publishing. Just stop beating yourself up for not writing. Be a reader instead. If you keep focussing on something you now hate, you’ll never find the thing you love. And love is much better for you than hate. So try something else creative — painting, crafting, photography. Find something you love.

If you’re thinking “this is hard,” you’re right. Writing is hard work. Publishing can be gruelling. Dealing with editing or negative reviews or market indifference can leave you feeling like a newly shorn sheep. Suck it up, Buttercup. If  this career is what you want, learn to cope.

Resistance is real. Don’t let it stop you. I believe in you.

Crossposted at Bitter Suites.

All is Vanity

I always forget that there are new people entering the writing world who don’t research the Hell out of publishing before they aim for a publishing contract. They don’t even make themselves familiar with how publishing works. This was brought strongly to my attention when an acquaintance was pointed in my direction. She was having editor issues. (Not the first, surely not the last.)

I asked the question “which publisher are you with?” for purely selfish reasons. I always want to know who to avoid. She gave me a name which I googled while I was on the phone with her.

“Oh, you’re self-publishing?” I winced at this point because I recognized an infamous name associated with her publisher. She wasn’t aware of the fact that she was 1) with Author Solutions 2) Self-publishing 3) being sadly and utterly screwed by not knowing how to write a query and 4) didn’t know how to find a publisher in her genre. (I realize my parallel construction has been wrecked in this paragraph, but moving on…)

She didn’t know the main rule: “Money flows toward the writer.” She signed a contract and paid a lot of money to get a publishing contract.

Now, I have opinions about vanity presses, which I will now hereby separate from self-publishing. In general, vanity presses are scams.

There is nothing wrong with paying an editor to edit your work prior to self-publishing.

There is no reason not to hire someone to create your cover if you don’t feel your art skills are up to it.

Hire a marketer or layout artist.

Heck, find an off-set printer to who will do all the above for you.

But MAKE SURE they follow through on their promises. Research is your friend.

Always check Writer Beware. Google the company. (It took me less than 15 seconds to find warnings on the above referenced publisher.)

Vanity Presses don’t always follow through. Those related to Author Solutions? Oh, they are a danger. Red flags all over the place. Author Solutions hides under the skirts of other publishing houses. They upsell and upsell and provide crappy products on the back end. (At least by everything I have found on them.) They’re dangerous and they’re in the middle of a lawsuit for breach of contract and more. The lawsuit is pressing to be turned into a class action suit, but this is still in litigation.

So rule of thumb:

1) Genuine publishers do not ask you for money after accepting your query.

2) Publishers pay editors.

3) Publishers pay for cover-artists.

4) Publishers pay printers.

5) Publishers pay distributors.

If you are self-publishing:

1) Research distribution channels! Amazon is not the only one.

2) You pay for the editor.

3) You pay for cover art.

4) You pay for printing.

Bottom Line:

Before paying for *any* service, research the company. 

Writer Beware
The Author Solutions Case

Crossposted at: Bitter Suites

And once more, from the other side of the spectrum.

I started this week with a social media launch for a children’s book we’re publishing in April.

Today I’m finishing it with the information about our now, officially, open imprint for…someone earlier this week called it Super Romance, so I’m going to call it Super Fiction (since we’re a little wider afield than just romance). As of today, you can officially check out the site and our tailored submission guidelines at http://bypassionshorn.com.

It’s an odd mix, in publishing, the way we have to sort of try to be all things to all people. We publish children’s books, and Science Fiction, and we’ve got some non-fiction plans floating around out there in the ether. And so many people have opinions about Super Romance or Super-Fiction. Or, you know, in a logical world we could just call it Erotica or Erotic Romance everywhere. Publishers will give you all kinds of opinions about what’s wrong with the market, and what’s wrong with the way it’s handled. Writers will give you long stammering explanations about how they don’t write that.

So I’ll say this. I have opinions about the market, and opinions about the way the genre as a whole is handled. Sure. But I’ve got nothing but mad respect for people who can pull off a sex scene. It’s been my experience that writing smut is like writing comedy–much much harder than most people give it credit for.