Sunday, October 23, 2016

Creepy IP for Halloween, Maria P. Goes ...Bumped Into The Night

Look out for the #CreepyIP  hashtag. Anticipating Halloween, the USPTO publishes an entertaining and edifying blog about all the Intellectual Property and copyrights on display during Halloween (in the candies, costumes, decorations, tools and gadgets.

Perhaps you might like to join the conversation?

Something else, prematurely went "bump into the night" and gave some imaginative and creative people a case of the horrors.  On Friday October 21st, Maria Pallante, the Register of Copyrights who has been a courageous and outspoken advocate for creators, authors, artists and musicians, was "bumped upstairs" and allegedly deprived of internet access to the Library of Congress computer system, according to two sources who spoke with Library employees.


Why, though? The Trichordist has some thoughts

According to Billboard

"US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was removed from her job Friday morning (Oct 21) by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, who has authority over the Copyright Office...."

It is interesting to reflect on who supports Carla Hayden. Alleged P2P Pirates!

To this author, it seems strange that businesses that consider music, movies, books, photographs, and games "content" and that publish and distribute and monetize other peoples' intellectual property ... often without the copyright owners' affirmative consent should have any influence on the  Copyright Office and the Register of Copyrights.  But, that's the current Administration for you. It's not likely to change in the next 4 years.

Buy stock in Google and Amazon.... and get some cool and creepy disguises for Halloween and the dark days ahead.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Have you checked out the new TV series TIMELESS? So far, three episodes have aired. The intended appeal to the audience, I suppose, is that the characters visit a different point in history every week and have breathtaking adventures. The premise: The antagonist, Flynn, has stolen the prototype time machine for the purpose of changing the past—why, we don't know yet. The three heroes—a female history professor (devoted primarily to preserving the timeline as we know it), a soldier (tasked mainly with eliminating Flynn), and the engineer who's the main inventor of the time machine—pursue Flynn in a second time machine that fortunately happens to be available. The jumping to different dates in the past recalls QUANTUM LEAP, which is credited as one of the inspirations for TIMELESS. The heroes' chasing after a villain in a time machine brings to mind the movie TIME AFTER TIME, in which H. G. Wells travels to our present to catch Jack the Ripper.

What I like about the series so far is that it makes some serious attempt to deal with the risks of changing history. In QUANTUM LEAP, Sam usually had to "set right what once went wrong" in the lives of individuals, not on a broader historical level. One exception was his interference in Kennedy's assassination. From the audience's viewpoint, Sam failed; JFK still died. In the universe of the TV program, however, Sam at least succeeded in saving Jackie Kennedy, slain in their original timeline. In TIMELESS, the first three episodes take the heroes to the Hindenburg disaster, the assassination of Lincoln, and a day in 1962 in Las Vegas, where Flynn plots to steal the core of a nuclear weapon from the nearby atomic testing facility. Because one of the Hindenburg passengers who should have died survives, the history professor's ancestry changes; she returns to the present to find her dying mother in perfect health—but her sister erased from existence. In the nineteenth century, she fights the temptation to try preventing Lincoln's death. History does change, though, in that John Wilkes Booth doesn't kill the President; Flynn does. You'd think the murder of Lincoln by an unidentified assassin with an unknown model of gun would leave a conspicuous trace on the timeline, but no change in the status of the twenty-first century is mentioned when the heroes return to the present. So the show's attention to problems of altering history is selective—not surprisingly, since their main objective is suspenseful entertainment, not cerebral SF. Still, it will be interesting to see how they grapple with such problems in the future. The history professor wants to protect the timeline. The soldier wants only to eliminate the threat of Flynn by any means necessary. As for the African American inventor/pilot of the time machine, if left to his own devices he would try to change history for the better in some cases (he was in favor of saving Lincoln).

It appears that each episode will pose its own challenge for the heroes—thwarting whatever Flynn's goal for that particular visit to the past—and meanwhile contribute to the solution of the long-term story arc problem: Why is Flynn trying to change the timeline? So far, we've had only cryptic hints. What disaster could he be trying to prevent that would justify wreaking havoc on history as we know it?

The history professor plays the role held by the generic "scientist" in many TV programs and movies. Any scientist (e.g. the Professor on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, the type calls the Omnidisciplinary Scientist) is assumed for story purposes to have expertise in any field the plot requires, regardless of his nominal specialty. I'm not sure whether TIMELESS has mentioned what historical era the professor in this series specializes in, but she seems to know everything about every date they've landed in so far. And it's not as if the time travelers get long periods of respite between trips to do research. She even knows the name of one of Kennedy's mistresses who acted as a liaison between JFK and the Mafia in 1962. The audience just has to suspend disbelief in the breadth of the character's knowledge and go along for the ride (so to speak).

For a thrilling, ingenious story of an attempt to "fix" the past that makes things much worse, read Stephen King's 11-22-63, his novel about a time traveler trying to stop Kennedy's assassination. This book's theory of time travel has a twist I've never seen anywhere else: Every trip back through the portal (no matter who does it) resets the past to the default timeline. Pro, you can keep trying until you get it right; con, you have to start from scratch with every foray.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dialogue Part 10 - The Silent Dialogue from Rude To Ridiculous

Part 10
The Silent Dialogue from Rude To Ridiculous 

Previous parts in the Dialogue series are indexed here:

We have discussed Edward T. Hall's book on cultural anthropology titled The Silent Language which examines cultures and body language, personal "space" and many other topics, most notably how "culture" resides in the subconscious mind.

And more recently The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help--or Hurt--How You Lead Kindle Edition by Carol Kinsey Goman

This book shows how being viewed as a Leader today depends entirely on body language, and believe it or not, how you hold your hand and fingers when you gesture!

This SILENT LANGUAGE OF LEADERS is based on neuroscience, which you'd think would be independent of Culture.  But I'd challenge that idea since it has been shown how plastic the human brain is, and how configurable the human genome is.  Traumatic and other meaningful experiences in early life can re-arrange your genes and brain synapses so you develop propensities and abilities different from your peers who did not have such experiences.

Yet, humans tend to gravitate toward and organize around a certain type of other human -- and today we call them "Leaders."  A science fiction writer can challenge that notion, too.  Some Aliens somewhere out there might call those central poles of organization Servants.  Think about that.  We look up to Leaders.  Aliens might look down on them as the British Aristocracy looked down on Tradesmen.

How you regard others, how you sort and group others by the traits you see in them is configured by your Culture.  The very definitions of "Good" and "Bad" have huge Cultural components.  And Culture is silent.  Very silent. Non-verbal.

Most people don't know they have a "culture" or think the word "Culture" means polite or upper crust or high class, or maybe taste.

"Culture" is mostly non-verbal.

Most people can't verbalize the shattering revulsion experienced when they unexpectedly meet up with someone who is extremely rude.  They merely judge that person as an intrinsically bad person, not to be associated with.

Other people will view rudeness as if the miscreant were well aware of the proper way to act, but has decided to play the buffoon, the clown, or the disruptor.

One thing most humans do, though, is judge others by their behavior, their language, body language, choice of words (such as invective or 4-syllable-jaw-breakers), and perhaps most of all tone of voice.

All of these parameters are strictly dictated by culture.

Each combination of variables conveys a non-verbal message which is nevertheless dialogue, speech, communication.

Two (or more) people communicate on many levels besides words.

Text narrative fiction writers are hampered by this, while stage and screen actors can creatively and originally invent many unique characters all speaking the same text words.

Text narrative writers can "describe" their Character's actions, but can capture the "style" and thus meaning of the body language only by offering an interpretation of the movement, telling rather than showing what the Character is silently saying.

Readers will read the interpretation and visualize different movements that mean what the writer has told them the Character means.  The reader will make up the appearance and movements of the Character according to the reader's culture, or according to the reader's notion of different cultures.

For example, the most eloquent move a Character can make is the SHRUG.

There is the Italian shrug, the Arabic shrug, the Mexican shrug, the teenage defiant shrug, the Southern shrug -- the one shoulder shrug, the both shoulders to the ears shrug, etc. etc.  All that doesn't even mention what you do with your hands while you silently deny all knowledge of the subject with a shrug or declare in no uncertain terms that the entire topic is irrelevant with a passive-aggressive assumption of superiority.

By and large, in USA cultures (there are a lot of them!) the shrug is considered rude, especially when it conveys that the topic is irrelevant or unimportant.  Teens are excoriated searingly for shrugging to wriggle out of parental interrogations.

Have you ever seen a presenter in a business meeting shrug when the boss asks a question?  Maybe after the meeting, when a peer asks, but not during a meeting when the boss asks.

Have you ever seen a Presidential Candidate at a podium before a large audience shrug?

OK, *shrug* -- we have had a lot of actors, performers of considerable skill, running for President, so maybe you've caught one or two shrugging for effect, but not when attempting to project an "image of strength."

In some USA cultures, various shrug-motions are acceptable statements, while others are rude.  In other USA cultures, all shrugs are rude.

Another form of culturally nuanced "speech" that can not be captured well in cold text (but that actors can convey in full video) is impatience.

Most of the situations where a writer wants to show a Character being impatient will read as the Character being "weak" or "temperamental" and thus not fit to lead or command, or have their opinion on anything respected.

"Impatience" is considered a Character flaw revealing the flaw of "Bad Judgement."

Judgement is the ability to process vast amounts of apparently trivial data to understand the nature of the problem and find the most efficient way to vanquish that problem, never breaking stride toward the objective.

Deciding "what to do" is just as vital to success as "when to do it."  As in comedy, timing is everything.

So those who are seen to be acting correctly, but acting too soon, are seen as "impatient" which makes them just as untrustworthy as those who act too late, or take ineffective action, "too little; too late."

How a given Character is assessed by the Reader depends as much or more on the Reader's culture as it does on how the Character is written or played.

Extend that to how a human reader of today would assess the Character of an Alien, and whether the Alien is seen as "impatient" and thus weak or ineffectual, or as "decisive" and strong.

Does America admire swift action over minimalist action?

Does America admire swift action over effective action?

"America" -- the middle-of-the-road average is the biggest audience a writer can strive to reach.  This is true in other countries, too -- the average, middle-road citizen is comprehensible to both extremes.  Where exactly that middle is varies from generation to generation and among countries and cultures.

At this time, there is no "American" or USA culture, singular and distinct with rules of Silent Dialogue uniformly distributed.  Even by geography we are not a uniform country. Some areas still retain Character, but in any area of the USA you will find individuals from elsewhere diluting the average.

We are a mixed-muddle, so no generalization will hold.

If your Alien crash lands in a backyard in Texas, he might knock on the door (if his culture would include the idea that requesting entry is polite -- it might NOT consider a knock as polite).  The Texas resident opening that door might be from New York.

You know the expression, "In a New York Minute."  People move faster in New York City -- not so much upstate.

So are New Yorkers "impatient?"  Slow-speaking Southerners think so, and many consider it a character flaw to be racing around so fast all the time.

But New Yorkers see their lives as a race.  Early bird gets the worm.  Whoever is first in line, gets, and others do not.  You want the job? Get to the interview early.  Even doctor's offices have been known to post signs that if you are 15 minutes late, you will be charged for the visit but will not see the doctor.  

The USA was built on many ideas, but one most often quoted (because it's so alien to the denizens of other countries) is TIME IS MONEY.

In other words, time is a commodity.

See the post on Capitalism and how Money can be a commodity just like copyrights can be a commodity.
Time is another property of reality that can be regarded as a commodity and commoditized.

Perhaps Capitalism should not be called Capitalism -- as noted, that is a misnomer -- but rather Commoditism, a process of turning the characteristic properties of reality into trade-goods.

We are seeing physics breach the frontiers of the space-time-continuum, discovering the Higgs Boson and chasing "gravity waves."  Black Holes and Dark Matter  all trying to get a handle on the nature of Time.

Is Time Travel possible?  Is Interstellar travel (or intergalactic) possible?

These are the substance of modern science fiction while fantasy genres explore alternate universes and dimensions where "magic" works and mythical creatures are real.

In our Silent Dialogue we use Time to tell others who we are.  How fast you respond to a comment or question, how slowly you move to comply with a request or order, speaks volumes about who you are, who you think you are, and who you think you are relative to everyone else.

For example, if you keep people waiting for you -- say, the family is piling into the car to go see a movie, or guests are gathered in the living room waiting to sit down to dinner -- and you just do not show up "on time" (how early or late you can be and still be 'on time' is a mathematical formula!), you are informing all those people that you and your interests and affairs are more important than their time.

In some cultures, an explanation is due upon arrival, and it better show that your priorities are the same as the priorities of those you kept waiting.  In other cultures, any explanation is viewed as an "excuse."

The maxim is never make excuses and never apologize if you want to be respected.

In yet other cultures, following that maxim, or indeed any maxim, is viewed as indication of a weak character.

What might "time" be worth to Aliens on some other planet?

How would Aliens prioritize life-minutes?  Who keeps who waiting?

Is there some property of objective Reality that dictates cultural attitudes toward Time, or toward another individual's life-minute?

Today, the USA thinks of those who wait as less important than those who keep others waiting.

For example, a crowd gathers to hear a Presidential Candidate speak, and the Candidate is scheduled to speak at 7:30.  The TV cameras light up, the Security folks are their toes, and ten minutes after the appointed moment, a tech comes out and adjusts the microphone -- but no candidate, nothing.

Well, it must be he/she is doing something Important because being The Candidate is Important -- but the audience is not that Important.

Is this cultural value the only possible value?  Is this inherent in just being human?

Not necessarily.  Aliens might look at the entire procedure very differently, as indeed humans have, in other cultures Historically.

For example, you would think the High Priest working in the Temple in Jerusalem would have been regarded as an Important person doing Important things.

The people who gathered to watch, or to hear the High Priest read from the Torah on Yom Kippur, might be viewed by today's Americans as "less important" than the High Priest.  Yet, in that Historic time, there was a hard and fast rule saying the High Priest, no matter what, must not keep the public waiting.  Their "time" was important, too, and it was his duty to discharge his duties in the expected time-interval.

Today that translates into a set of Rules regarding the conduct of prayer services.  There are sections of Prayer which are flagged "Must Not Interrupt" -- if you are in the middle of such a section, and something happens demanding attention, you must first finish the section.  These section demarcations are carefully observed.

HOWEVER, if it should happen that the congregation has gathered and is ready for a section that is to be led by a Reader with specific skills (such as reading aloud from the Torah), or for example, the blowing of the Shofar (the ram's horn), and the ONLY member of the congregation with that skill is in the middle of such a section that must not be interrupted -- then the individual must interrupt that prayer-section and go immediately to serve the congregation with his skill.

The congregation must never be kept waiting, not a New York Minute!

The High Priest or an individual gifted with talent and skill serves the public without delay.  That "without delay" rule indicates something basic about the structure of Reality, while the "keep them waiting" rule used by public speakers today violates the strictures of Reality.  (small wonder things aren't working too smoothly)

We can only infer what that Structure of Reality might be.

We use our cultural prejudices to make that inference.

For example, we might infer that because "The High Priest" is not "more important" than "The Public" (because he can't keep the public waiting) therefore "The Public" is more important than the "High Priest."

But that would be a reasonable inference only if "important" and "more important" is part of the reality matrix.  Perhaps no ONE human is "more important" than another, so that since the High Priest is only one person, and the crowd of The Public is lots of people, the crowd is "more important?"  Or maybe "important" can not be attributed to a mortal being? Perhaps deeds can be "important" if performed at a certain time, but people don't have the attribute "important?"

Leaders, bosses, decision-makers whose decisions must be implemented, holders and wielders of "Power" are nothing but servants of The Public.  There deeds of service are important.  They, themselves, are not.

Aliens might look at it that way.

As writers, trying to create plausible Aliens, we have to be aware of all the ways different human cultures have viewed that objective Structure of Reality, the dimension of Time.

For example, the Navajo saw Time in a very different way than the settlers of the Old West, which led to a lot of scorn and uncooperativeness on both sides.  "Lazy Indians?"  Far, far from it!  But they wouldn't show up for work "on time" or get the job done by "quitting time."  Unemployable, lazy good-for-nothings -- right?

So given the panoply of views among just one species, humans, imagine how Aliens would see Time -- and consequently how they would "speak" in their "Silent Dialogue."

Music and dance are forms of communication stretched along linear Time.

Music, we define as Sound. But maybe it can be Silent?

Dance, is movement usually to a rhythm, but even a drumbeat can be silent, just a Conductor waving his/her hands.

As Media Announcers learn to speak in a "tune" and cadence that just reeks "newscaster" or whatever role they are playing, so too do humans speak in tune and accompany the articulated sound with eye-blinks, hip-shifts, shoulder-shrugs, lip-twitches, and a thousand tiny movements that others respond to.

"Friends" move together when speaking -- eye-blinks synchronize -- and thus friends acquire the feeling that the other person understands them as no one else does.

It is a well documented feature of human communication, something we do entirely unconsciously.  It is possible that the aversion some people feel to communicating even via video chat is due to a failure to synchronize body language.  It's not "real" if you can't sit with a person, face to face, and assess them by how well and quickly they synchronize with you.

But what if Aliens felt threatened by the human unconscious tendency to "mirror" twitches and fidgets?  What if, to the Aliens, this involuntary movement was not fraught with deepest meaning, as it is with humans?

Perhaps the British "upper crust" trained not to fidget in earliest youth, to keep that "stiff upper lip" were favored over Americans?  For that matter, the inscrutable Japanese and Chinese cultural facial non-expression might be preferred - but even they blink their eyes.

How do you assess (judge) a person who fails to "synchronize" with you?  Can you have a meaningful conversation with someone who zigs when you expect them to zag?

How many of your limited life-minutes would you spend/waste on who keeps you waiting, who won't synchronize eye-blinks, who can't dance with you?

What would your Main Character make of such an Alien?  How could the communications breakthrough to save Humanity be made with no words to speak?

And of course, there's assessing whether the Alien is lying to you, saying the correct words but telegraphing an opposite meaning -- not just failing to communicate but mis-communicating.  What do you report to your boss when asked what's "really" going on?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cyber wargames; Disinformation; Artful Ignorance.

I'm late with my update on online villainy, grist for the imagination mill and stuff to make your blood boil. Sorry, I was driving back from hearing Dr. Caldwell Esselstyne Jr explain how 70% of Medicare costs could be cut if only Americans would abandon the American diet and eat oil-free plant-based nutrition... Heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and impotence can be cured by leafy greens.

While I was driving, I was listening to John Grisham's "Rogue Lawyer" which seems a timely tale for this political season, as it deals with extreme police misconduct, extreme prosecutorial misconduct, lies, cover-ups, incarceration of thousands of African American young men and much more.

Also timely, considering some of the speculation floating around on the internet  (about who hacked the devastating Podesta emails and whether some of them were tampered with or forged) is this article on about the Cyber War Games taking place in Europe where they have real actors, social media, and media coverage (for realism) of their cyber war involving blackouts, powercuts,  leaks, disinformation, tampering with emails and other customer data, ransomeware, manipulation and drones.

Perhaps someone heard the wargame stuff, and got the wrong end of the stick, it's not so far fetched. Orson Welles's radio adaptation of War Of The Worlds was mistaken for a real alien invasion, wasn't it?

Another inspiring blog article discusses the new art of war.... cyber war, that is.

Also this

Finally for the copyright enforcement enthusiasts, has this:

It's every bit as inspiringly inflammatory as any John Grisham scenario!

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Friday, October 14, 2016

Guest Post by Karen Wiesner

Here's a guest blog by Karen Wiesner, whose writing manual FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS has been a tremendous help to me (Margaret Carter). It begins with a description of her latest novel, followed by Karen's discussion of the writing of the book and the development of the series:

CROOKED HOUSE {Book 3: Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series} by Karen Wiesner

Don’t close your eyes…

Nestled on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin is a small, secluded town called Bloodmoon Cove with volatile weather, suspicious folk…and newly awakened ghosts.

Some doors, once opened, can never be closed again…

Orphan and widow Corinne Zellman is stunned when she receives several urgent letters from a lawyer, telling her she’s the only surviving heir of Edward Buchanan, a relative of her recently deceased husband. Though Corinne ignores the first few summons, too grieved to consider them anything but cruel hoaxes, she takes notice when yet another arrives, this time with a family ring identical to the one her husband wore and lost just before he was killed. Stuck in a dead end job and curious about the family the love of her life seldom spoke of, she reluctantly pulls up stakes and heads to Bloodmoon Cove, where the persistent elderly gentleman lives. There, with her best friend Ruby, she finds Crooked House, the family "estate". Crooked House certainly lives up to its disturbing name, as does Edward Buchanan, who is old and pale and disappears so frequently she can almost believe he's nothing more than a ghost. It isn't long before Corinne begins to suspect that her new family member had ulterior motives for insisting she come live with him. But to believe that is to believe that Rafe Yager, a hardened soldier, is entirely correct when he says Crooked House is dangerous. The longer she stays, the less chance she'll ever leave again.

Ghost hunter Rafe is one of the last descendants of the Mino-Miskwi Native American tribe whose elders disappeared during a ritual at their sacred place at the top of Bloodmoon Mountain. Rafe has come home based on a terrifying vision of wide-eyed, wholesome dreamer Cori losing her soul to an evil she doesn't recognize. Crooked House is falling and its sinister legacy demands recompense for her husband's death--something that was no accident, as she supposed. Can Rafe save Cori from a sacrifice she never meant to make when she unknowingly came to love a monster?

978-1-925191-83-7 (electronic) from Writers Exchange E-Publishing

Crooked House

978-1-329-84940-2 (trade paperback) from (30% discount)

Trade paperback from (only $4.95!)

Download from Amazon:

Crooked House

Paperback from Amazon:

Crooked House

Paperback from

Crooked House

While writing up the proposal for BOUND SPIRITS, Book 1 of my Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, I had an idea about writing a series of ghost stories. I love scary, terrifying ghost stories as well as fun or playful ghost ones, but I also like the idea of exploring well beyond the boundaries of what a typical ghost story is. I intend to delve into the depths of supernatural elements with haunted places, cursed objects, portals to other worlds and/or time periods, and even unfathomable creatures from those other realms that have crossed into ours on Bloodmoon Mountain. This is what readers can expect all through this series.

I wasn't sure how to go about developing BOUND SPIRITS as a series until I realized another book of mine (which is a mild ghost story), THE BLOODMOON CURSE, was lagging with its at-that-time current publisher. I knew the town mentioned in that story, Bloodmoon Cove, would be the perfect setting for the series. Long story short, I got the rights back to THE BLOODMOON CURSE after BOUND SPIRITS was in the pipeline and was published by Writers Exchange. THE BLOODMOON CURSE became the second book in my Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, but I had to revise it slightly to make it fit this new series angle. From there, book ideas for this series have abounded in my imagination. Currently, I have nine books planned along with a collection of six shorts. You can find out more about them (including a sequel to THE BLOODMOON CURSE, coming early next year and titled RETURN TO BLOODMOON MANOR) here: Bloodmoon Cove

The basis of CROOKED HOUSE was formed when I had a dream long ago with a modern Gothic feel. In the dream, the heroine was visiting some obscure relative of her brand-new husband. When I woke up, I wrote everything down that I could remember on the off-chance that I might someday use it as a basis for a story. While I didn't use the idea verbatim, I was able to utilize parts of that dream for CROOKED HOUSE, the third title in my Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, which is newly available.

CROOKED HOUSE has a lot of the classic elements of a ghost story--vengeful ghost, haunted house, tough-guy hero and vulnerable heroine--with some unique twists and turns in the form of a cursed ring, a white-witch best friend who literally has no idea what she's doing, a ramshackle house in Bloodmoon Cove serving as a portal into the spirit world, along with a reluctant ghost-hunter that's one of the last descendants of the Mino-Miskwi Native American tribe whose elders disappeared during a ritual at their sacred place at the top of Bloodmoon Mountain a hundred years ago. That ritual ripped a hole in the mountain and let loose a flood of spirits that haunt Erie County. The heroine Corinne has come to Bloodmoon Cove with her best friend after being bequeathed her recently deceased husband's family estate, Crooked House. Cori hasn't yet realized the witchcraft that was weaved into the fabric of her life and she's only begun to wake up from the trance she's been in when she meets Rafe. In helping Cori break the curse on her stemming from the ring, Rafe may save himself as well.

Rafe and Cori's story starts in CROOKED HOUSE, but I wasn't ready to let go of them when I was finished with this tale, nor of an intriguing plot thread that actually started earlier in the series about a lawyer that caters to the dead with unfinished legal business. Rafe and Cori will make a generous appearance in Book 4, as all the other main and even some of the secondary characters from Books 1 and 2 will, but also in their own brand-new story, ELDRITCH JUSTICE, Book 9 of the series (release date TBA).

One of the things I love the most as I'm developing this series is that the characters from previous books make solid (i.e. not simply "glimpses" from one book to the next) appearances in later books. Considering how small the town is and how involved they are in each other's lives, it makes sense that the developing characters would be seen all through subsequent stories. I can hardly wait to write each one of these books and expand the world I'm creating with them. I hope readers will also be just as excited in seeing more from this series that's already getting five star reviews and has won numerous awards.

Author Bio:

Creating realistic, unforgettable characters one story at a time…

Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 116 titles published in the past 18 years, which have been nominated for/won 134 awards, and has 40 more releases contracted for spanning many genres and formats. Karen’s books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, fantasy, Gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror, chick-lit, and action/adventure. She also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestseller, First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building} (out of print; reissue available now in paperback and electronic formats under the title Cohesive Story Building). Her third offering from Writer’s Digest Books was Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas, available now. Look for Writing Three-Dimensional Fiction: How to Craft Lifelike Plots, Characters, and Scenes Using Multilayered Storytelling from WDB, release date June 23, 2017 and available now for pre-order from Visit Karen's website at Karen Wiesner. Check out Karen's author page at Facebook, where you can like, friend and follow her: Facebook. If you would like to receive Karen’s free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win her monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Writer's Mission?

Kameron Hurley's latest LOCUS column begins with the declaration, "Most writers quit." Having grabbed our attention with that statement, she goes on to explore why many authors become discouraged and realize a writing career isn't what they actually want. She discusses the dissonance between writing as an art and publishing as a business:

The Mission-Driven Writing Career

Some writers decide early on that they don't want to be "career writers." Some may "quit" at a later stage when they've accomplished what they originally set out to do, e.g. publish a story or a book. Hurley devotes most of her essay to writers who get discouraged at mid-career, "having books published and paid for, and staring ahead into a grinding future of deadlines and release dates, working toward a breakout book." She asks, "What drives you, then, when you have reached the goal of selling work, and perhaps making a little money doing it? What drives you when you have finally achieved the financial freedom afforded by your writing career?"

This question has some current relevance for me, having seen the two publishers that released most of my works closing within a single year. That's definitely discouraging (even though a new publisher, happily, has picked up the reverted books from one of the two).

Hurley's answer: Writing should fulfill a "personal mission." She defines her own as to "inspire change by imagining a different world." I must admit I've never conceived of my writing as the expression of a mission. My goal is to give readers harmless entertainment in the form of characters and situations that depart from mundane existence as we know it. Offering people temporary escape from the tedium and stress of everyday life is a legitimate vocation—even my idol C. S. Lewis says so. In the process, I try to create believable, sympathetic characters and convey authentic emotions. Of course, my writing inevitably foregrounds certain recurring themes and tropes; the core ones, I've discovered, are the Ugly Duckling archetype (an overlooked or abused character whose apparent flaws turn out to be valuable gifts) and the idea that no matter how different you are or feel, you can find someone to love and a place to belong. But I've never thought of my writing as a mission. The weight of that word sounds daunting. I do, however, agree with Hurley "that storytelling is how we make sense of the world."

Tomorrow we have a guest blog by award-winning, multi-genre author Karen Wiesner.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World Part 23 - Mastering The Narrative Line

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World
Part 23
Mastering The Narrative Line

Previous posts in this series on Marketing are indexed here:

In writing classes, emphasis in the explanation of how to sell your fiction is always focused on the Narrative Hook.

The Narrative Hook is one of those dense mysteries for new writers, especially Romance genre writers because most of a Romance is not NARRATIVE at all, never mind "hook" worthy.

The whole point of a Romance is the emotional Velcro that binds two into one -- yes, Velcro has "male" and "female" hooks that make it stick together, so it is a good analogy.  That's not "narrative" but worldbuilding and Theme-Character-Worldbuilding Integration.

We have discussed construction of Narrative Hooks, and will no doubt revisit that pure craft skill.  But it occurs to me to wonder if the real reason new writers have such an amazingly difficult time crafting a Narrative Hook lies within a lack of conceptualization of what a Narrative Line is, where it comes from, and why readers expect it.  What the Narrative Line has to do with Art and the reader's determination to memorize your byline and find all your books.

The Narrative Line begins with a Hook (on Page 1) and ends usually just before the Plot Climax and Story Conflict Resolution.  The Narrative Line ends with the bald articulation of the THEME,  which is most effective when phrased as a "one-liner."  Those single lines of dialogue that audiences take from movies and quote out of context to reference the underlying theme of the movie -- which has suddenly appeared in their real life.

People communicate in references, in one-liners, and so must your characters.

The Narrative Line is the "Show-Don't-Tell" explication of the Theme.

The Narrative is not the Event Sequence (or Plot, Because Line), and it is not the Character's Life Lesson (or Story).  Both of those are derived from the Theme (or generate the theme, depending on where you start creating the novel). The Narrative Line is usually less tangible, less memorable, and much harder to articulate.

The Narrative Line is what makes sense of the World you have Built.  If the Plot is the backbone of the novel, the Narrative Line is the Spinal Nerve running down the hollow bone, causing the moving parts to move both consciously and subconsciously.

If you can grasp the concept of Narrative Line, find it operating in your own Reality, and then in the (very different) Realities your readership inhabits, then you will very likely have little trouble crafting a Narrative Hook to alert that specific readership to HERE IS THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE.

Real life work situations are usually very boring, repetitive, dull.  Most jobs are tiny parts of a big whole operation that produces something the worker never sees or has any use for.

If you make steel bolts for a living, you aren't involved in enjoying the backyard swing set they hold together -- you never meet those children, have no idea they even exist.  You sweat away your days in a noisy factory floor running giant machines that hammer out identical bolts, and get punished if too many aren't identical enough.

You are on the Narrative Line those parents and children are on, but you don't know it, and you're likely too tired to care.

"Art" -- storytelling -- replicates reality by dramatizing (making larger) certain parts, and minimizing others.  In the case of making bolts for a living, the noise/sweat/exhaustion part gets minimized and the pride/precision/workmanship and economic elegance of the production line is dramatized.

How would you dramatize making bolts?

Well, what if a swing-set manufacturer had a massive recall because of faulty bolts, and the floor manager and maybe his gang of workers got called to testify in court about the process of creating that particular bolt that broke at the top of a child's swing-arc and sent her over a neighbor's fence into the empty cement pool?  The bolt making floor boss has to meet the widowed mother and crippled kid, learn the husband who bought the swing-set committed suicide while the kid was in Shriner's Hospital For Children with bleak prognosis.

See? An isolated, boring, lonely, miserable job can be dramatized by revealing the Narrative Line the boring situation lies on.

This kind of material is sometimes identified as "back story" - and it can be that.  But the parts of the back story that belong in this current novel have to be selected, teased out of the whole life stories of all the Characters, and presented in a discernible "line" -- a curve, or arc, or hurtling straight line into a Fate, ass-backwards into a bear trap, or upwards toward a worthwhile goal.  Selecting what to include in the Narrative Line is Art.  Art is selectivity -- omitting in order to sift a pattern, a statement, a "truth" out of the mixed background noise of "life."

In 2016, we are in the middle of a huge transition in the Narrative Line of the Human Species.

Yes, not "race" because humanity is not a "race" but a species.

And yes, our Narrative Line is about to swoop into a new direction. We have the ability to edit genes (even before figuring out what that gene does), and transform humans. We are using that ability to craft mosquitoes to fight that disease vector.  We've found traces of very ancient DNA from viruses inside our genes.  We're beginning to see how all living things on Earth are "made out of" each other -- we all contain parts of each other.

Tracing the development of genetic knowledge from the mid-1950's onward, you can create a "Narrative Line" and project it into the future.

Then look at research into Personality and Behavior (even Mental Illness).  Brain, nerve, and chemistry studies are probing for the origin of Love inside our physical bodies.

There is even a "line" of studies trying to show how brain configuration determines your politics (Republican or Democrat).  This opens the possibility of "editing" genes so we're all Democrats and don't argue so much.

A person with a job in a vast gene-editing operation might do one task repetitively all day long without ever knowing the "back story" of the Narrative Line or the ultimate result of the end of that Line being reached.

Of course, we also have the Automation Narrative Line that started maybe even before Henry Ford implemented the first Assembly Line.  Today boring, repetitive jobs are being filled by robots.  Today's cars have more parts, and fewer assembly line jobs, even though most families have at least one car (unless they live in the city with bus service).  Of course, the self-driving car will put taxi and truck drivers out of work.

Automation is a Narrative Line you can use to dramatize a Character's life.

Take a hot topic, ripped from the Headlines -- Gun Control as the solution to Alien Invasion.  You can't have an armed (and ignorant) public confronting the Flying Saucer People -- humans tend to shoot things they don't understand, right?  That could start a war we can't win.

Another hot topic, ripped from the Headlines, sexual misconduct by famous people, stars, celebrities, politicians, even Heads of State of other countries.  Or the same misconduct by a total nobody, an unknown, whose trial is dramatized by Network News until everyone knows the guy's mother's maiden name.

Yet another hot topic, ripped from the Headlines, Police Misconduct -- over-reaction against suspects who are actually innocent.

Which leads to another topic, the legal principle of Innocent Until Proven Guilty which is the Narrative Line Media News has set aside in favor of Allegations Must Be True Or They Would Not Have Been Alleged.  Suspicion = Guilt.  For example, merely being on the Terrorist Watch List is cause for suspicion.  Or the bureaucratic mishandling of some email documents puts you under suspicion of treason, and we all know suspicion means guilt.

So Narrative Lines have TOPICS.  Mass Communications, such as TV News or making Speeches to stadiums full of people, or guesting on a call-in radio show, requires sticking to a TOPIC.

You have probably noticed that these blogs don't stick to a topic.  There is an esoteric reason for that.  I, personally, do not see the world, reality, or life as divided into separate things of any sort - topics, ideas, points.  With one mental eye, I see Reality as one, single, interconnected, single-origin whole -- completely undifferentiated.  With another mental eye, I see individual particles and people connected directly to a single origin much more strongly than to each other.

This binocular vision gives me a notion of another "dimension" to Reality.

My Topic in these posts is that other "dimension" -- how it is related to what we see with our everyday physical eyes.

As a result, I bring in what appears to be unrelated material and drop it in the midst of what might be making some sense to you.  If you can discern a relationship instead of an intrusion or an "off-topic" remark, you might glimpse a bit of that "dimension" in a way you can use.

Today's topic is The Narrative Line (or arc, circle, spiral).  The Narrative Line of a novel has a TOPIC, but is not a topic in itself.  The Theme is a slice or cross-section of a Topic, and both contains a topic and is derived from a topic.  Theme is what you have to say ABOUT a Topic, not the topic itself.

Once completely drawn, the Narrative Line will illustrate your Theme, and may not appear to most readers to stick to a Topic.

The core skill of Illustration is Depiction.  Here's the index on Depiction.

Once you have constructed a Narrative Line, fabricated to illustrate (using depiction and symbolism) your theme, you will have no trouble finding the right Narrative Hook for your own Targeted Readership.

And here is Part 4 of Symbolism series with links to the previous parts:

Here is the key post on Symbolism:

Those posts on Symbolism explain to the fiction writer working in text medium what the visual media (TV News for example, or online video news or advertisement) call "Optics."

Optics is about what the target audience will infer or deduce from the visual image, not about the image itself or the reality behind it. That concept embraces the paradigm "Suspicion=Guilt" that is so pervasive today.  An image or angle on an image taken out of context or perspective is as misleading as a quote taken out of context.

This is why politicians learn to speak to Mass Media in sound bytes or Talking Points, pre-scripted, memorized monologues.  Professional writers create those Talking Points to be quoted out of context harmlessly.  Today's politics is a battle of writers putting words in the mouths of Characters (the candidates) to thwart other writers excerpting those Talking Points to quote out of context and reverse the meaning.

The trick for constructing the Narrative Hook that drags your Target Reader into your Narrative Line and holds them on that line is to select a Topic the reader is interested in, but does not know they are interested in.

When we post a news article on Facebook, we often say "This is interesting."  But the truth is the opposite.  The quality "interesting" does not reside in the thing itself -- but rather in the observer.  What we really mean is, "I am interested in this" -- not that "this is interesting."  English has many such grammatical twists which can be used in writing dialogue (but not narrative).

Here's the index to posts on dialogue - there are actually more than 4.

Readers often don't know what is interesting about what they are reading (fiction or non-fiction, the source of fascination is hard to spot and articulate.)

You are familiar with the Acting lessons that emphasize "people watching" -- closely observing people, their mannerisms, accents, dress, and especially "walk" (how they move -- a dancer vs a martial arts master vs a runner vs a soldier etc).  Character is intrinsic in one's "walk" or "stride."

Honing the ability to observe random strangers is the key to good acting.  Honing the ability to observe one's own reaction to words is the key to good writing.

In other words, good reading is necessary to good writing.

What is the difference between reading and good reading?

Analysis.  Just as an actor analyzes the people walking through the mall, the writer analyzes the words of the story being read.

One thing you analyze for is "interest" -- why is this interesting to me?  What is it about ME that makes me respond to this?  A story, Character or Topic is not inherently "interesting."

Grasp that fact and you'll have an inexhaustible source of Narrative Hooks.  Find the right hook for your Line and you will catch a lot of readers.

What it is about you that makes you interested in This Topic is the exact reason why your Target Reader will find This Topic interesting.  If you understand the Topic well enough to grasp the import (even on a non-verbal level), you will be able to explain the Topic to your reader in a way that will interest them -- perhaps subconsciously.

How do you teach yourself to straighten your stories out into a Narrative Line and craft a strong Narrative Hook?

Study Network News -- Video News online -- text-news stories and articles such as the one I pointed you to in Part 22 of this Marketing Fiction In A Changing World series.

The very best way to learn "pacing" in fiction writing is to understand what constitutes NEWS.  "News" is a Plot Development.  Every scene on a Plot-Line starts with a Narrative Hook and ends with NEWS.  That is basic scene structure, and it works on stage, screen and text page.

To teach yourself to identify a Narrative Line that large numbers of people (even beyond your targeted audience) are interested in analyze Network News.

To teach yourself to understand why those people are interested in these Narrative Lines, study the Network News.

Don't ask people what they find interesting. They don't know (some do, most don't) why a Narrative captivates them.  The most captivating and compelling stories are the ones that communicate with the subconscious, illustrate or symbolize subconscious issues.

Find a Narrative Line that interests you and probe your own subconscious until you see why it does.  Chances are good that once you consciously know why that Narrative holds your attention, it no longer will hold your attention.

To get good at Narrative Lines study the ones that you already have no interest in.  Some of those will be Narrative Lines you have an aversion to.  Those are extremely valuable as they are the raw material of Conflict that can drive a novel.

In our world today, the biggest Narrative Line is the Rate of Change in our world far outstripping our ability to adjust.  The human genome (as currently constituted by Nature anyway) has built-in limits on what can be changed at certain ages, and how fast change can happen, as well as how severe and urgent the need for change must be.  The older you get, the more severe the need must be and the harder you have to work at it.  EXAMPLE: stroke victim learning to talk or walk again.  The older you are, the harder it is to create new neural connections.

Which brings us to Snapchat and the article we touched on in Part 22 of this series:

As you see in this quote ...
There are other differences that set Snapchat apart from Facebook, for example the complex algorithms and procedures that have led to accusations that Zuckerberg’s company is editorializing; Snapchat Discover is essentially a feed reader or news aggregator, the magic tool that many of us consider to be the beating heart of our information systems, but that few adults who haven’t grown up with the internet still don’t really understand and thus fail to use. If you don’t use a feed reader you aren’t informing yourself, you’re being informed. Think about it.

-------end quote-------

... if you don't use a feed reader you aren't informing yourself, you're being informed.  I've been using feed readers since they first came available, and many have come and gone since then.  Yahoo is being sold, so I expect my all time favorite feed reader page on Yahoo will be gone.  Therefore I've been watching Snapchat develop, and meanwhile using Flipboard more and more.

The Snapchat Discover feature has serious promise.  The Narrative Line of the world's problems as seen by the young people this Forbes article refers to is very different from the Narrative Line presented by Cable News or Broadcast Network News.  They will lose audience share as the older folks die off and the young become Middle Aged, thinking about "the narrative" in a different way.

Meanwhile you can find me:

On Snapchat search for thelichtenberg or click here (on your phone)

As also noted in that Forbes article on Snapchat,

So while most adults either continue to inform themselves via the same media they have always read or simply accept what is put in front of them by whichever social media, young people are learning to choose, to subscribe to publications that mean something to them, rather than accepting segmentation, which they see as creepy, as though they were being spied on, and just about accepting geographic segmentation. Meanwhile, Snapchat Discover is an exclusive club, a place newspaper editors are dying to be admitted to, and that feels free to kick out Yahoo! News after six months because Spiegel thought they didn’t get millennials.

I’ve been saying this for a while now, but Snapchat is much more than it seems, and it is doing what it does spectacularly well. If you’re aged 25 or over you might find it challenging, but make the effort: it’s well worth it.

----------end quote--------

Look for and identify Narrative Lines embedded in Mass Market News.  You can rip TOPICS from the Headlines, but to get the Narrative Lines about those topics that captivate the aggregate subconscious of a country or the world, you need to study more deeply than just headlines.

Mining of Big Data is one Narrative Line to follow.

And the counter move to Privacy embodied in Snapchat -- and also Whatsapp's encryption protocols -- is another Narrative Line.

Gun Control, Privacy, Personal Sovereignty, Income Redistribution, Religious Freedom -- these are TOPICS.  Each one has a different Narrative Line on different News packagers (NBC, CBS, ABC, Reuters, AP, Fox, etc.).

These News organizations create the Narrative Line then cherry-pick Events, developments that further that narrative.

Once you get hold of how this is done by comparing them on a New Aggregator like Snapchat or Flipboard, you will begin to understand Scene Structure and The Narrative Hook in a new way.

If you are under 25, you may need to make a conscious effort to acquire the Narrative Line of the world as seen by today's teens -- your market in 5 years or so.

my 13-year-old sister, and she’s the most prolific Snapchat user I’ve ever seen.
We live in different states, so I rarely get a chance to hang out with her. That’s what made Thanksgiving so eye-opening. I would watch in awe as she flipped through her snaps, opening and responding to each one in less than a second with a quick selfie face. She answered all 40 of her friends’ snaps in under a minute.
How was this even possible? Is she a freak of nature, or is this just how things are done when you’re young? I had to find out what I was missing. What do these “teens” know that I don’t?
I decided to investigate further…

---------end quote--------

That single description of a 13 year old's worldview should indicate what different Narrative Lines will look like in 10 years.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World Part 22 - Making a Profit At Writing In A Capitalist World

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World
Part 22
Making a Profit At Writing In A Capitalist World

Previous Parts of Marketing Fiction In A Changing World are indexed here:

"Profit" is a term considered anathema in some circles - with fairly good reason.  The term "profit" has come to signify getting something you didn't earn, something actually earned by the sweat of others.

Those who oppose Capitalism could not destroy Capitalism because it is so good at racking up Profit.  Everyone wants "profit" when it is defined as "something for nothing."

But "something for nothing" is not the definition of profit nor has it anything to do with Capitalism.  Capitalism is about personal, individual ownership, which makes copyrights a form of capital.

-------------quote from a quick Google search------------

an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
synonyms: free enterprise, private enterprise, the free market; enterprise culture
"the capitalism of emerging nations"
-----------end quote---------------

Google's definition of Capitalism calls it a "system" -- a political and economic system.

Capitalism is not a system and has nothing to do with politics or society.  Capitalism is "not a bug in the social system; it's a feature of Reality."

I saw this item on Quora back in June 2016 and admired the precision of this definition.


First please understand that you can't really compare the two since they are different things. Communism is a socioeconomic concept while capitalism is a solely economic concept. Therefore there are no social policies which can be definitely associated with capitalism, which means the comparison needs to be exclusively economic or based on specific cases (e.g. USA vs. USSR). Also, no country on earth practices or has practiced true communism; by definition communism supersedes the concept of the state with small, self-organized communities, therefore neither the USSR nor China were "true" communist systems.
Now, why would a working class person prefer capitalism? I'd say because they would not enjoy living in a communist society.
-----------end quote---------- 
I could write this entire blog entry about the concept "working class" and how it can not possibly be applied to the USA.  The US Constitution can only function well if the populace understands there is not now nor never has been any such thing as "class" in the human species.  
SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE WRITERS NOTE: all bets are off if you are depicting Aliens. Create a species where "class" is a biological imperative, then launch your Love At First Sight story and see what happens next.
But where only humans are involved, the USA Declaration of Independence and the Constitution nailed it perfectly.  These founding documents are based on "All Men Are Created Equal" and we've fought out the battle over the idea of "all men" (which now includes males of different colors) and the idea that "men" includes women, too.  In other words, our social history has been directed along the lines of enhancing Individualism by turning individuals loose to craft their own destinies in their own pursuit of happiness ever after. 
These ancient words mean that in the USA, there is no such thing as class, working or otherwise.  There is no such thing as "the" 1% -- the ultra rich are "a 1%" not "the 1%."  
Social systems that divide humans into classes are called Aristocracies.  The USA views Aristocracy as resoundingly repudiated by thousands of years of utter failure.
Without a "working class" you can not have an Aristocracy.  
So in the USA, there are people who make a living by working, but they are not a "class" -- at any time, any given individual, can become independently wealthy, self-employed, employ others to work for him/her/whatever, go back to school on a scholarship, or get injured (perhaps in war action) and go on the dole or a well earned pension. Humans do not come in "classes."  Humans are resilient and adaptable - ever changing.  We all work.  There is no such thing as "working class."   
Writers work, but do not form a "class" in any sense.  We have nothing in common with one another, which is the exact trait we have in common -- unique individuality. 
That is the precise condition under which Capitalism thrives, flourishes, and produces far more than is invested.  Capitalism is an "undocumented feature" of the Reality Matrix that writers are uniquely suited to exploit.  
The term Capitalism has been co-opted by politicians and redefined.  Academics subsequently wrote a lot of books for Economics courses (often required for various majors in college) because of their Publish Or Perish business model.

To understand Capitalism, think about raw, basic survival, say on Mars or some other harsh planet among the stars. To understand what a Main Character or Hero is and does that is so admired, the writer must understand the reality of Capitalism with all the mis-directions and academics stripped away.

By stripping away that co-opted idea-grab that Capitalism is a system (thus created by humans), a writer creating fictional worlds peopled by Aliens or driven by Romance can use the core concept Capitalism to
a) create alien worlds that are truly alien but comprehensible and
b) to run their own writing business.

The basic idea of Capitalism goes like this:
A) Person One has a resource they can't use
B) Person Two has an ability to use that resource but does not have the resource
C) Person One LOANS that resource to Person Two
D) Person Two uses that resource
E) Person Two gives that resource back to Person One with some extra from what using the resource produced (amount determined by prior contract)
F) Person Two keeps all the rest produced by using that resource as personal property.
G) Person Two now has the resource and the ability to use it to create more resources
H) Person One now has the resource and more but still no ability to use it

That resource is CAPITAL, and the process of loaning it and collecting the return OF Capital and ON Capital is Capitalism.

And the story of where that Capital goes repeats the cycle as Person One finds something else to invest the resource into and Person Two keeps on producing more and more, reinvesting excess resource to grow the business and employ more people.

In the Publishing Business, the writer is Person One who has a Resource (unpublished manuscript) they can't use, and the Publisher is Person Two who has ability to use that resource but does not have the resource.

Writers LICENSE their copyright (not SELL, license, a kind of loan) to the publisher, thus loaning the publisher the resource under terms set by contract.

The Publisher uses the manuscript, turns it into a book and gets people to buy it.

After the set term of the contract, the license the publisher holds expires, and all the licensed rights revert to the author (capital is returned) plus all the royalties paid in between.

Today, in this new world, Person One now puts the book up on Kindle or other e-book format and the reputation for that byline or title created by Person Two (the publisher) continues to sell the book, fewer copies but at a greater profit to the writer per copy. Thus the writer "capitalizes" on the Publisher's hard and expert work creating reputation.

Publishing is a perfect example of Capitalism in action and has nothing at all to do with governmental forms or academic economic theories of "society."

Capitalism has to do with combining talents of individual people whose individual talents would not earn them a living -- but when "packaged" by an organizer (like a publisher or producer) those individuals' resources can be transformed into potatoes and oranges bought at the supermarket.

The problem for working writers is that what they get paid, net-net after decades in the business, about averages out to potatoes and oranges.  A good, widely published, widely reviewed writer can cover a modest lifestyle of room, board, clothing, transportation, -- today, maybe not medical care.

SFWA (the Science Fiction Writers of America) carries a healthcare policy for members that is very expensive but better than nothing.  Few can afford it, yet all need it.  Writing is way too sedentary a profession to maintain health well. The future of Obamacare is not certain, and switching policies can elevate the cost.

Nobody I know works harder, longer hours for less profit than fiction writers.

When all the time is accounted for, time mastering craft skills, time learning, time researching, time dreaming, time writing, time re-writing, time in copy-editing, time formatting, time repairing computers used to write, time marketing, time interacting with readers, time studying markets, -- already the writer of fiction makes less than minimum wage (even if they don't raise that dollar amount of minimum wage soon!)

In my experience, the most creative, sharpest minds contributing to gross domestic product get paid the least per hour worked (over say, 25 years average annual income) if they are working writers. There will be years topping $100,000 income, but then the IRS takes a chunk of that calculated on the idea that this income level will be sustained year after year.

Long ago, the tax code allowed writers to "income average" over 5 years, smoothing out the spikes and valleys of tax owed, taking into account the irregularity and unpredictability of writing income.

So to the TIME spent creating and writing and marketing (even with an Agent, it's a lot of time spent marketing), add the time spent on bookkeeping and accounting and tax preparation -- or the expense of out-sourcing that work.

You aren't "making a profit" at writing until you have paid all those bills, plus your own salary, rent for your home-office and business machines and their supplies (yes, ink for your printer is a business expense paid before declaring a profit).

And that does not even begin to account for capital invested before a career can take off, money for classes, lessons, travel to and from such schooling, computers, phones, tablets of various types constantly upgraded and the professional-level software necessary to produce copy that can be submitted in the proper formats.

See?  There's that word, capital.

Running a business is all about capital investment vs. return on investment (called ROI).

The point of Capitalism is to invest a resource, then turn the crank of the business model, and return that invested Capital, keeping what's left over (after all expenses) as Profit which is then REINVESTED into that business or another business.  Capital is recycled Profit.  They are the same thing. Capital is not MONEY -- Capital is a resource, like a copyright or a house you buy with a mortgage and then rent at more than it costs you.

Money is to be spent on expenses.  Capital is to be invested and recovered plus a profit.

If your house's roof starts to spring leaks, it can cost less to patch it if you only consider the money you will spend this month. But then another leak will happen, and another patch.  You also have to consider your time as money -- to go get the materials and climb up there and patch the roof yourself is time spent not-writing, and money just spent.

Your time and your money regarded as capital would lead you to a different approach to solving the problem of a leaky roof.  Call the best roofer in town, replace the entire roof this month with a top professional job and materials (not Home Depot).  You do it that way, you have made a "Capital Investment."  Your capital (time and money) will now "work for you" and pay back in "royalties" (a little each year the roof does not cost you anything).

If you plan to charge the cost on a credit card, and pay it back slowly, the interest the card charges you is NOT a capital investment by you.  It is money spent. Calculated carefully, it can turn out that getting a whole new roof will not "pay for itself" (return your Capital) because "revolving credit" is way too expensive.

A roof can cost the entirety of a book advance plus a royalty payment or two.

Your copyright is your capital.

You invest it into a Publisher, trusting them to use it to make a profit.

You can invest the "interest" you get from loaning your capital (advance+royalties) in a roof. Your house is capital.  You've taken your "profit" (advance+royalties) and reinvested that capital in a capital investment which itself pays dividends. And you still own your copyright.

Your copyright is your capital.

Capitalism, the definition specifies, is a system that assumes you own your copyrights and can rent them out, or sub-license them how you choose.

Is Capitalism a "system" -- or is it a simple fact of surviving in the real world where no individual has all the skills and resources necessary to survive?

Capitalism is the system of contract law that allows a person with a resource to loan that resource to someone who has the ability to use that resource.

The ability to write songs is a resource, the songs written are capital -- but it takes an orchestra and maybe several singers to make a profitable YouTube Video of that song and get millions of hits and launch careers.  The song writer still owns the copyright on the song.

His or her heirs can inherit that copyright.

Copyright law specifies a number of years before it goes into public domain -- i.e. is taken from the rightful owners, the heirs -- but there is no statute of limitation on owning a house or a farm property. There is no difference between a copyright and a farm.

Art, paintings or photographs, fabric patterns, animations, all kinds of art we create become our capital which we license but still own.

Whether creating such works of art is profitable depends on the size of the market that will pay for it - i.e. depends on popularity.

Commercial Art is a different field from Fine Art.  Both create capital. Usually Commercial Art is the only kind that turn that capital into capital+profit.

In the sharing economy, the open source economy, you are free to give away your copyright, and get paid in enhanced reputation - name recognition, publicity, or just spiritual gratitude.

To some extent, people using your open-source resource will toss some money into your PayPal account from time to time, but the "open source' movement is thriving without money.  It runs on pure capital alone, or maybe some bitcoin here and there.

Fan Fiction is that kind of sharing-economy, open source resource, where the writer gets paid in name-recognition, reputation, and writes things for other people to pick up and write about.

So there is a profit to be made off the capital investment of time/skill etc., but that profit is not convertible to money.

Capital and profit are not money.

In Capitalism, capital and profit can be converted to money, and money can be converted to capital and profit.  If your unusable resource is money, you can loan that money at bank-interest+risk, and if the gamble does not fail, you get your money back, plus inflation, plus a profit.

One thing writers must understand about making a profit is that bank interest is not profit.  The tax law treats it as profit and taxes interest, but banks deliberately calculate and set the rate of interest on CD's and savings accounts to cover all their expenses (accountants, tellers, Cloud Megs, hacker intrusions, etc) and give you just exactly enough more dollars to keep your purchasing power going down.  Yes, you lose purchasing power by putting money in a CD and reinvesting the interest.  The interest rate is calculated to be less than inflation, but in such a way that you don't see it.  You look at your numbers and think you have more, but you actually have less.  That is what retail banks do for a living, and they are good at it.

Writers and other artists, being in one of the lowest paid professions, must understand this quirk of tax law - retail bank interest is return of capital, not a payment of a profit, so when you pay taxes on interest, you are actually giving the government some of your capital, reducing your ability to earn in your old age.  The only way out is to get out of the retail level of finance.  Deal wholesale.

To deal wholesale in capital and money you need a lot of capital -- a lot -- so your capital can be invested and earn money you can spend without reducing your capital.  In fact, well invested (Mutual Funds are a good start, but their fees reduce earnings potential), your capital can grow at or above the rate of inflation while yielding a good living.

The trick of it all is to get your mind around the truth about Capitalism.  It is not a social "system" -- it is a fact of reality: humans are interdependent; no man is an island.

Money can be used as capital, but it is not capital.  When used as capital, money becomes a commodity.  It can be traded as a commodity on the international currency exchanges. Money can be a thing in itself, unrelated to potatoes and oranges. In math, this is called Units Conversion.

So the operational, everyday-useful definition of Capitalism is the contract-structure that allows using other people's resources in a way that benefits them most, and yourself second.

As a writer, who owns copyrights, that means you are the one who is benefited most.

You start out with nothing, create something, loan it out, get it back plus a profit, and can loan it again and get paid again, and you still own it.

The cost of creating that something, the overhead expenses you invest in your business, have to be less than what your copyrights bring in for you to declare a profit -- and that means your business has to pay you a living wage before you can declare a profit.

It is very rare for a writer or any creative artist to make an actual profit from their work.  Only during the (usually few) years when the work is reaching its broadest audience is the income more than the cost of doing business as a creative artist or a performing artist.

A reason for that hides within the structure of the big businesses that own publishing or production.

Yes, movie and TV studios and the independent producers who sell them shows are also owned by other types of businesses.  In the case of films or stage productions, the real owners are often "Investors" (individuals with extra millions to invest on the chance they will get their money back and much more).  Many times "Investors" put up the money for a stage play or other production more for the prestige than profit, and are happy to break even.

In this "Changing World" impacted by electronic distribution, Kindle to Netflix to promoting books on blogs, the vast and significant change in the Fiction Writer's business model is also now impacting non-fiction.

The biggest casualty in 2016 is the NEWS BUSINESS.

Here is an article from FORBES about Snapchat and its impact on the News business

 -- by appealing to the youngest people, Snapchat is setting the stage for adult behavior 20 years hence.  And in this infrastructure shift to electronic media and personal connectivity, which is so deep and so basic (more so than maybe the Printing Press), 20 years is the blink of an eye.  Do you remember cell phones from 20 years ago?

That Wikipedia article shows the evolution of from 1947.  Scan down the article and look at what changes in 20 years. Realize a writing career can be 40 or 50 years because writers don't usually "retire" with a pension.

Facebook is buying these communications start-ups that appeal to specific demographics (target audiences) for a reason, but I doubt that Facebook's execs think of themselves as running a News Service (like AP or Reuters) designed to gather facts and sift out rumors and opinion.

Here is a quote from the Forbes article on Snapchat, tailor made for writers looking to make a Profit off their writing skills in a Capitalist World.

Most adults, if they have even heard of Snapchat, know it as the place where messages disappear after a few seconds. But the company is adding more and more options, and it is now the network on which young people not only use different kinds of messages, and no, not all messages self-destruct in three seconds, some stay in the in-tray for up to 24 hours, and others can be kept for as long as the sender likes. What’s more, young people even read the company’s online magazine, as well as using other channels it has set up, including one to send money.
So while most of us grownups don’t even know what Snapchat is, Evan Spiegel, now elevated to the status of visionary, and his team have created a company valued already at some $20 billion—so far he’s turned down a $3 billion offer, and then reportedly another for $4 billion—and that is now the new television for young people unable to disconnect from their smartphones, and that 23 media partners are now using to reach a younger generation of readers, attaining millions of hits each month, and that other brands are using to advertise their wares during the Super Bowl. This is highly profitable advertising, as well as non-intrusive, unlike the trash that we have to put up with on other networks and publications unless we install an ad-blocker.

--------end quote---------

This business model based on advertising is one that novelists have never needed to tackle, but TV Series writers must internalize to get the climaxes (cliff hangers) just before the formulaic commercial breaks.  News (televised or internet) packages are structured the exact same way for the same reason.  A Package is that little bit of actual news sandwiched between commercial breaks.

We'll explore more of that Forbes article in Part 23 of Marketing Fiction In A Changing World, looking at the future of our business model.

Fiction publishing and news publishing (such as newspapers on paper and magazines printed on paper, even Radio and TV News or the old fashioned News Reel at the movies) were never "profitable."

Historically, book and Magazine Publishers were owned by other bigger businesses or investors specifically for the "tax write-off" and the Prestige, entree to "the right" cocktail parties and social networks.

In non-fiction, the News business also grew up as a hybrid "public service" or charitable way of paying society back for profits made on other products.  From the 1700's and "movable type" the local town newspaper was a low-margin business at the very best.

News (whether you view it as fiction or non-fiction!) is a capital intensive business.

To gather the product (information), individual people have to go out where the events are occurring, observe, gather and check facts, then cast all that data into the format of "information" by writing the article.  The article has to be transported back to the editing office,  edited, shaped to fit the newspaper's available space, laid out, compiled into print, printed on paper (which has to be trucked in from a manufacturer -- likewise ink -- never cheap), then the paper has to be hauled off to be offered to reluctant buyers.

All those people have to be paid, and all that stuff has to be bought, and all that transportation costs.  This is also true of online newspaper distribution operations such as Huffington Post.

Print papers combined the advertising model with the pay or subscribe model and survived right up until now.  They are still trying to find a way to make money online.

So historically, print and broadcast news operations are labor intensive, capital intensive operations that were owned by larger businesses, mostly for tax write-off, a public service, and prestige (in the case of "news" of course, power over political processes is another form of profit).  Even with advertising and subscriptions, even at their most profitable, news operations have never been stand-alone operations that made a profit.

Publishing and News are two kinds of business that have traditionally been designed specifically to lose money.  So they paid writers and journalists as little as possible to keep them providing material.  These businesses weren't cheating.  They simply could not afford to pay wriers and journalists more and still break even.

Today, in this changing world, Publishing has been moved from being a prestige-crown-jewel to a profit making operation.  That is one reason the price of paper books and e-books are so high, relative to what those prices were in terms of a loaf of bread a hundred years ago.

With razor thin margins, publishers had to 'consolidate' (buy each other until there are only a handful of publishers left who cover the whole world).  So they don't publish books that "ought to be published" or "deserve to be published" any more. They publish books the computer algorythms predict will sell very broadly and very quickly.  Likewise "News" publishes what will captivate the most eyes.

Even though writers are paid a percentage of the cover price for a book, and thus have a built-in wage hike for inflation, that percentage has not gone up, but agent's fees have gone from 10% to 15%, taxes (state, federal and local) have gone up.  Writers' margins have narrowed while publishers are just barely making it unless they have a few blockbusters in a year.

News, likewise, is now making a transition to a stand-alone for-profit business, and therefore needs a much wider audience for commercials and subscriptions.  The only strategy available to get that broad an audience is to make the News more Entertaining (fictionalize it, jazz it up, create a "narrative" that will keep people glued to their screens).

This shift in the non-fiction writer's business model has caused less capital (time, effort, energy) to be expended on fact-checking, thoroughness, meticulousness.  Non-fiction (News) that is fact-rich is a very expensive to create, and the truth is the market is too small.

Very few people will pay (by watching commercials or subscribing) to get a listing of un-exciting, dry, boring fact after fact.  A few will tune in for a "story."

The cure is, of course, to make fact-gathering much cheaper (Go-Pro cameras in drones?), so that news can be published in fact-rich but boring summaries to that tiny audience that prefers it.

Sometime soon, a Science Fiction Romance writer will write a book set in a world built around a new business model for publishing -- both fact and fiction publishing.

The technology is being implemented rapidly.  Something obvious is staring us all in the face that we are just missing.  The writer who sees it will write the classic everyone refers to for the next hundred years (like 1984, or The Cold Equations).

It may be as simple as what some indie bloggers, and web-radio and YouTube personalities are already doing, gathering and presenting the facts that contradict the "narrative" adopted by the bigger news operations, broadcast network or cable news.

News and Book Publishing may become, once again, not-for-profit operations that just break even in a good year and are tax write-offs in other years.

Where would your career fit into that future?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg