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Monday, January 16, 2017

FOR D. G. HUDSON


I was going to write a reflection on why men are drawn more to femme fatales than the angelic.
And no, it is not just that men think bad girls will be bad with them!  
But more of that another day.

I know how much D. G. Hudson loves Paris 
and soaring adventure.


So here is a great animated film from France 
with excellent voice narrators 
who will whisk you into 
a fascinating world of wonder.

Don't take my word for it:
This is one film that lived up to its name ...
at least for me.

Give it a try.

I hope you enjoy it, D. G.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

MARK TWAIN CRITIQUES 50 SHADES OF GREY


It's hard to get any writing done with the ghost of Mark Twain, gasping between peals of laughter and holding his chest with tears in his eyes.

"Oh, kill me, Roland. Kill me!"

"I would," I growl, "but you're already dead."


He shakes his head, muttering, 

"I never thought my ghost would be around to see the day when gals get sunburned in places I only dreamed about."

Mark Twain flips another page of 50 SHADES OF GREY and reads aloud, 

" My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves."

I pause.  "You're making that up."

Mark puts a pipe-holding hand high in the air.  

"I swear upon the prose of James Fennimore Cooper I am not!"

He looks down and reads out loud again, punctuating every few words with sputtering, "Anastasia, you are going to unman me."

Mark guffaws as he strangles out, 

"Listen to this -  

Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?”

He bends double as he gasps, 

"Oh, son, this line is wonderfully, gleefully bad - 'I can tell from his accent that he’s British.'"

Mark turns a page and sputters, 

"No, Roland.  I was wrong.  This here line beats them all - 'My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.'"

Wiping tears from his eyes, he turns to me and chuckles, 

"How much did E. L. James make from this travesty?"

"Don't remind me," I mutter.

Mark grins, 

"Of course, Ms James is not the first author to strike it lucky in a market where unpublished rivals are told to sweat over every word,

then write a perfect cover letter and synopsis so that they stand out from the pile of slush washing through agents’ doors.

 But, oh, no, she's successfully bypassed that route by piggybacking onto the fan base of Twilight.   Now, how Mormon Stephanie Meyers feels about this remains to be seen."

"What does Miss Meyers being Morman have to do with this?" I frown.

Mark Twain holds up the book.  

"Son, this sure ain't gonna be quoted from behind any Mormon pulpit!"

All laughter dies in his eyes as he turns to me and sighs, 

"Why, Roland.  Why?  Why do prose-ettes like this make tons of money?"

I knew what he meant.  

At the start of his literary life, he had been mocked and almost starved a few times writing books that now are considered classics.  

I pushed back from my laptop.

"I think 50 Shades hints at why certain books catch on whatever the quality of the writing.

The explanation is thematic."

Mark grinned, "You actually think in words like thematic?"

I happily ignored him and went on, 

"They tap into modern anxieties about our lives in a way publishers fail to predict."

Mark Twain scowled, "If they could predict them, they'd write them."

I nodded, 

"The Da Vinci Code hit the spot as distrust of global organisations and big government reached new levels of paranoia.  Twilight tapped into teen angst about sex."

I made a face. 

"On some level 50 Shades taps into their discomfort about the role of women and their relationship to power."

Mark Twain dropped his "Just Folks" manner and switched to the keen thinking revealed in his essays,  

"As an advocate of women's rights, Roland, I find the popularity of books like 50 Shades deeply disturbing as they represent a resurrection of the whole Madonna/ Whore archetypes of Freud,."

He lit his pipe.  

"Archetypes, which the overwhelmingly female fan base indicates, many women buy into."

I said, 

"What unites these and far better written global phenomena, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and the Harry Potter series, 

is they hark back to traditional worlds. Whether sorted according to ability and class 

(Harry Potter in his boarding school) 

or gender – the idea that a woman’s ultimate role is wife or girlfriend 

(Bridget was doing this one long before 50 Shades’ Ana) – they inhabit a traditional universe."

Mark sighed, 

"What is behind these phenomena may not be deliberately misogynistic, Roland, but I do believe they offer a disturbing insight into wider attitudes towards women.

They seem to say,  

‘Try as hard as you like, sister, you’ll still be either a Madonna or a whore.’ 

That they are predominantly bought by women concerns me as much as it perplexes me.

Maybe conscious or otherwise, the fantasy of readers is that they will be thought Madonnas, even if they act like ‘whores’? "

As his ghost slowly faded, Mark Twain said, 

"Whatever the answer to that question, Roland, what they definitely tell me is that if you want to write a bestseller: 

forget the writing, remember tradition. That is what you need to tap into."

"Right," I said into the darkness.  "And after that, I'll start on world peace."


What do you think?




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WHAT MAKES A GOOD BOOK?


 
Or what makes a book good?

What is the criteria you use to gauge whether a book is worth the read?

Does a book have to be good to make a difference in someone’s life? Why or why not?

Victor Standish:

"For me, if it grabs my interest, makes me think, or helps me learn something then it is a good book."


Samuel McCord:

"A good book is a treasure trove of humanity so that no matter where you open a page and start reading, there is something new to be discovered."


Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace:

" I can more easily say why I don’t like certain books and to be honest, it is often the result of the author.

Of the most recent books that come to mind: one author I simply don’t like due to her style of writing and how her characters are always women who can’t take care of themselves."



So?  What do you think makes for a good book?

Action.  No action.  Romance.  No romance.  A bit of both?



I believe there are some universal facets that make a book good and a good book (the two are sometimes not the same.)


1.) AN INTERESTING VOICE

If you don't connect to the voice, then no matter how spell-binding the plot, you will drift away from the book ...

that is if you even buy the book at all.

Why?

Because the Voice, like the wind in a ship's sails, is what carries you through the book's journey. 

Like an aroma, it permeates each page, each word of the book.

The voice is what will make a page detailing even a train ride something memorable or witty or both.


2.) MEMORABLE CHARACTERS

The sparkling character of Tony Stark made IRON MAN.  Hannibal Lector dominates each page he is on.

The characters in the world of Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz kept me turning the pages to meet more of his one-of-a-kind neighbors.

Memorable characters bring the story to life.  They make you itch to get back to their banter when the world draws you away from their adventures.

In a way, they become friends you can come back to.  They let us see and feel the world in a new way, expanding our minds, enriching our lives.


3.) A VIVID SETTING

It doesn't have to be a fantasy setting.  No matter the genre, however, the world around the characters must feel "real." 

Great settings "ground" the story.  They highlight in the larger world, the tragic or comic elements in the smaller world of the lead characters.

Settings in good books become actual characters in the story either nourishing or preying, sometimes doing both.

After Katrina, New Orleans' streets killed the children/teens who roamed them.  Their souls went before their lives.

Take 1895 Cairo:

 the common man fared even worse.  Their servitude was to multiple masters: taxes, poverty, landed aristrocrats, British prejudice.  They were always in the crossfire of conflicting demands.

A well done setting breathes life into the story you are reading.


4.) A GRIPPING STORY

In essence, the plot has the reader asking, "What happens next?"

What is riveting to you may not be riveting to me. 

But the bottom line to the gripping plot must be PERSONAL and PRIMAL to the reader.

The neighbor of a police detective has her baby kidnapped.  The child is being returned to her one finger, one toe at a time.  No ransom demand.

Did the cleaning lady see something she shouldn't have?  Did she throw away the wrong thing?  Or is it about the detective's past, something to punish him?

Whatever the plot, the reader is invested in it and is staying up longer than she should to see what happens next.


What do you think is essential in a good book?


D.G. Hudson wrote a review recently that my latest book was good -- which made my day.

Underneath the tension of the adventure runs the never-ending, time-spanning romance of McCord and Meilori. 

I recommend this novel for those who like steampunk, adventure, history and the magical world which the author has created. 

This is a book which will transport you to those realms where anything is possible.



Why not go to my book's Amazon page 
and try the LOOK INSIDE feature
and see if it interests you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

HOW TO MAKE AN IMPACT WITH YOUR BOOK






We all want to write a best-seller.  Not for fame nor for fortune.  

Just to be able to support ourselves living out our dream.

But how to do that?


I could date Margo Robbie, of course, but I think her new husband might object.  

And he is really big!

No.  

We will have to do it the old-fashioned way: by using the tools at hand the best way we know how.

HOW TO ULYSSES YOUR WAY 
TO NOVEL SUCCESS

1.) SUCKER PUNCH YOUR READER WITH THE FIRST SENTENCE

The thinking behind the studio's thinking on making movie trailers of late is 

TO MAKE IT SO COMPELLING THAT PEOPLE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO BUY A TICKET 

no matter what the critics say.


The first sentence to my story in TALES TO BE TOLD AT MIDNIGHT is

"The rape had been the best thing to have happened to her."

How could you not want to read on?  

And remember the FIRST LOOK option on Amazon will hook your reader 

if you just set the bait correctly.


2.) LEARN FROM THE MOST POPULAR GIRL IN HIGH SCHOOL

BE FAST.  

Not free.  People value what they pay for.

But put out ... as quickly as you can with quality one after another.  

 You want to have other books to offer should lightning strike and you gain a fan.

Which leads me into the next point:




3.) BRAND YOURSELF WITH A SERIES

It won't hurt much, 

but it will give a new fan certainty 

of enjoying more adventures with the characters she or he has grown to love.

Readers who like one novel will confidently buy the next.

And the series name will draw the eye of past readers browsing thumbnails of your book covers.

Which leads me to my next point:


4.) LET YOUR TITLE BE LIKE THE SKIRTS OF THAT POPULAR GIRL

BE SHORT

Choose a brief emotive title. Pack it with meaning, menace and drama.

 Why short? 

Your cover will shrink to a fingernail on Kindle and other mobile devices. 

So make it legible!

James Patterson uses such titles: 

ZOO, THE FIRE, WITCH & WIZARD, THE QUICKIE

Which, of course, leads me to the next point as well


 4.) ATTENTION SPANS HAVE CHANGED

TV sound bites, Twitter feeds, Buzz feeds, Facebook posts ...

All of them have conditioned those who still read to bore easily.

A bored reader is more dangerous to us than any lion, for you will lose them as customers.

Keep your sentences as short as models' skirts.

James Patterson is the expert here. 

His sentences average just six words. 

His paragraphs are typically no longer than five lines and often just one line.

Tell your story your way, but if it is to make an impact there is a model to follow.


 5.) WE ARE A LONELY SOCIETY 

Give your MC a foil character with whom to talk ... even if it is only the moon.

Even Tom Hanks had Wilson, the basketball, 

with whom to share his innermost thoughts and fears on that island.

Conversations with the buddy character can introduce conflict to keep a scene alive, 

give the main character a plausible sounding board for their woes and triumphs, 

and also prompt the protagonist to reveal  information.

 Foil characters also furnish sub-plots. 

Get them into troubles of their own. Make them victims.
  
Use a foil as a series character in your every novel as I do with Mark Twain 

in my NOT-SO-INNOCENTS series and in my Egyptian Victorian fantasies.



6.) A PLOT WORTHY OF A MOVIE



Dueling vampire empires, alien evil clashing with ancient darkness, 

Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Nikola Tesla -- 

all worrying less about saving the world than 

saving their friend who is married to a demon-empress,

poised to set all the world ablaze with her dark ambition.

Outlandish but so was SHE and LORD OF THE RINGS.

You must strive to craft a riveting plot worthy of your reader.


7.) WATER COOLER DIALOGUE

My blood center still has a water cooler and coffee maker where workers chat a bit during the day.

Work to have your dialogue be quoted at the water cooler of today's culture:

Twitter, Facebook, Buzz Feeds, personal blogs.

There is a reason NIKE sells ball caps and T-shirts with their logo.

Be as smart as NIKE, have your fans advertise for you.

I HOPE THIS HELPS 
IN SOME SMALL WAY, 
ROLAND
 

Monday, January 9, 2017

WHO READS YOUR BOOKS?


 https://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.com/2017/01/roland-yeomans-not-so-innocents-abroad.html

D.G. Hudson wrote an amazing post and Amazon review for my first NOT SO INNOCENTS book:


No, I will not give the link to it since I have pretty much given up on people reading my books.

But it surprised me that anyone had read my book, much less liked it well enough to post a review.






Do you wonder who reads your books?

Walk down any mall and you will find three or four kids, 

hooded, gathered around a table, leaning over like monks or druids, 

their eyes fastened to the smartphones held in front of them. 

But how many, if any, books have they read in the past 6 months? 

It is sad that those teens are avoiding eye contact, 

avoiding real conversations in favor of cyber-talk.

They are avoiding reading even more.

Yet, stories are the touchstones of who we are as a People, as an individual.  

Written stories are the secrets of the soul made manifest in prose.

We don't get that from the torture porn of GOT or THE WALKING DEAD.

Novels slip us inside the minds of the characters in them as TV or movies do not.  

They let us see through another perception other than our own.

Could a country that had widely read “Huckleberry Finn”  

have taken Donald J. Trump seriously for a second? 

Twain’s readers will remember “the king” and “the duke.” 

They know what a bullying con artist sounds like.

 Who do you think reads your books?


What do you think they took away from them? 
 
What sparked you into writing your last book?
 
What were you trying to say in it?
  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

HOW TO BEAT THE JANUARY BLUES

Sunday I worked 13 hours straight, 

my power & internet went down, 

and one of my front teeth broke off at the gumline --

And the dentist tells me he has to work out a payment schedule with my work insurance 

before he repairs it.

Aaaargh!


Empty bank accounts, tight waistlines, vomiting bugs, failed detoxes: 

(Guys, it's not a hangover.  It's called alcohol poisoning.)

The post-holiday comedown is a well-dreaded condition. 

January, even at its best, has few redeeming features.

 {At least we in S.W. Louisiana have the Mardi Gras to look forward to.}

 

Ah, last week:

 

This time last week, it was a bright, crisp New Year’s Day. 

Feeling optimistic about the months ahead, two-thirds of us made at least one resolution: 

to eat less, to drink less, to get fit. 

Yet, according to a survey by researchers at the University of Bristol, 88 per cent of us will soon break them. 

Half of us already have.  

Ouch!

 

 REASON ONE:

Let's face it: 

most of us had a hard time of it last year.  

We managed to pull it together somehow, put on the brave Christmas face --

Now, we are smack at the beginning once more, looking at running the gauntlet all over again.

 

REASON TWO:

New Year's Eve can be a time of reflection, looking back over the last year ... 

or our whole lives -- and seeing all the plans and dreams cast aside on the shoulder of our life paths.

 


So what can we do to get through the yblues?

1.) Most important: make plans for the coming months.

    Organize something you can look forward to. 

    Be creative: watch a movie; listen to music; go for a run. 

    The sun might not be shining – and the lack of sunlight is one factor that’s making us feel sad –

     but get outside and swing yourself about a bit. 

     It’ll make you feel so much better.

 

2.) Positive Perspective is key.

     Dress brightly – even for work. 

     Everything’s so gloomy and dull outside that it’ll make people happy to see someone wearing bright colors. 

     Find yourself frowning?  Force a smile.  Studies show that putting on a grin will unconsciously make you feel more up.


3.) Use the prevailing winds.

     Last year was tough for you, right?  But you made it through!

 

     

It's seems impossible that sailors can move forward with the wind blowing against them, doesn't it?

     How do they do that?

     On a sailboat, wind blowing against the boat at an angle inflates the sail, 

     and it forms a similar foil shape to an airplane's wing, 

creating a difference in pressure that pushes the sail perpendicular to the wind direction.

 

4.) Your mind is your sail.

     It determines the course you sail through life.  

     You must learn how to mentally "tack," 

a term sailors use to describe how they shift the sail 

so the wind blows into a different side of the sail.

      There are people in this world that would give their left hand to be right where you are -- 

     with the blessings you are too familiar with to be thankful for.

     Your struggles have made you smarter, stronger, and more aware of what you can do.

 

5.) Take a moment to realize that you are still here.

     And that is an extraordinary achievement given the pain that you’ve been through.

 

6.) Focus on what you're facing and what you're running from.

      What is just one simple step you can take 

      to maybe move towards the problem rather than away from it? 

     When you step towards problems they shrink, 

     and they become more manageable.

 

7.) Be kind to yourself.

     If you had a best friend in a similar situation, what would your advice be?

     I bet it would be: 

     "Ease up yourself, friend.  You've done a great job with a lousy situation."


I hope this has helped in some small way, your friend - Roland