I’ve come to this decision after only a little deliberation but with a heavy heart. Ever since I entered college, and maybe for a few months before, I liked watching new TV live, rather than watching it the next day or as reruns. I didn’t watch a lot of new TV live growing up, mostly because it was on late and I had to get my sleep for school or whatever else was going on the next day for me. When I got to college, I found it simple even with a full schedule of classes and work to fit in TV in the evenings and watch shows I liked. And if perchance I missed them, most were on Hulu or other websites the next day.

That’s changing this semester. Because in addition to five classes–all of which hand out homework, and a lot of it, usually–I’m writing a novel for a thesis, which takes up a considerable amount of time. Add in shifts at work four days a week, and my time is filled up with work, work, and…did I mention work?

So as much as I love all my shows (and I love a lot of them, believe me), I’m drastically reducing how much TV I watch so I can get through my workload with more ease and less pressure. I don’t want to, but I have to make my studies a priority in all circumstances, so it’s something I have to do if I want to keep my grades up and not get piled under a mountain of homework.

And on the bright side I have DVR, so I’ll be able to hopefully catch up on most of my shows over winter break or whenever I’m actually free from assignments, whichever comes first. Hopefully nobody spoils my shows in the meantime, which would give me cause to put a curse on them. And I’m quite capable of doing that too.

He’s screaming about my TV reduction plan AND my curse threat.

In the meantime, the only shows I’ll keep up with are The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (I can watch it during breakfast), Sailor Moon Crystal (airs every other Saturday or so, and yes they rebooted Sailor Moon. Believe me, that franchise is never going away), Doctor Who (you know why I’ll be watching that), and Saturday Night Live (you can guess why on that as well).

I’m also going to have to cut back on the movies I watch. Which makes me sad, there are so many good horror movies coming out this October! I don’t want to wait until they’re on DVD!

Whatever happened to the days when life was simple? Oh yeah, that’s right. They never existed.

Well, that’s enough of me griping. Just know that I’m staying focused on my main priorities, I’ll leave the entertainment for another day, and I’ll try and continue to blog at least once or twice a week.

In the meantime, I’m heading to bed. It’s late, and I’ve got a full day tomorrow. Goodnight, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares.

I started my own Facebook page back in September 2013, and I logged onto Twitter for the first time nine months earlier in January of that year. I didn’t know if either of those accounts would amount to anything at the time I started them. That was partially because I’m wary of social media in general, even if I use them in my everyday life. I’d also been told by plenty of fellow authors that while Facebook and Twitter can be great marketing tools and maybe increase your following, they won’t necessarily increase your book sales by very much, if at all. I’d seen the same thing in my blog: while I’ve had a steady growth of followers over three years and a tremendous amount of views since last year, it didn’t necessarily mean that everyone reading my blog posts was going out to buy my books.

Still, I thought it was worth a try. Plenty of people had bred huge followings on both media platforms. And if they could do it, why couldn’t I?

So I started posting on my Facebook page and sending out tweets (though I kind of neglected the latter for a while save for links to my blog posts). Do I have a huge following on either yet? Not really. My Facebook page only has 126 likes at this point, and each post usually only gets a small fraction of any of those followers. And blog posts tend to get lower views than regular Facebook posts. Same with Twitter, though the amount of likes seem to fluctuate a lot. Last night I had 71 Twitter followers, then this morning it was 75, and now it’s 74.

And I’m not sure how many people check out my books through these pages, let alone buy or download copies.

Still, that doesn’t mean my forays into social media marketing have been utter disasters. I’ve found the online pages of friends of mine, and we’ve subscribed to each other’s pages/tweets/whatever. Occasionally we’ve even helped each other out, retweeting each other tweets or sharing articles that really speak to us. It’s a great opportunity to support one another and help each other out. And once or twice people I’ve had some pretty important people check out what I’m doing online thanks to Twitter: a director of a movie I reviewed once retweeted the review, and ACX, the company whom I wrote an article about a while back, not only retweeted the article, but now follows me on Twitter. To which I say, “AWESOME!”

 

So while I don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers through either platform, let alone that many sales, I think I’ve had a pretty successful run on both of them. I get to interact with friends, the occasional important company or filmmaker, and I’ve actually grown to like tweeting really unusual but funny stuff on Twitter. Like this:

That one actually got a few Favorites and one Retweet.

In any case, I’m really happy with the followings I have been able to build, and while I wouldn’t mind bigger ones, I’m glad that I have people interested in what I have to say to begin with. And who knows? I’m early in my career. I could still build those followings with some hard work and plenty of optimism. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Though don’t expect me to get an Instagram (I don’t have the right kind of phone for it). Or a Pinterest. Or a Tumblr. Or a Flickr, Foursquare, Tinder, or…is there any others I’m missing? Never mind. I’m not sure I want to know.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m going to have a late lunch and then work on a short story for my creative writing class. Have a good day, my Followers of Fear.

 

0471a-fallenangels

I would’ve written this post earlier in the day, but…well, you probably can guess.

Anyway, today was my first critique day in my creative writing workshop. There were three others in the class getting their short stories critiqued, and mine was the third. And it was one of the best critiques I’ve ever had, because they pointed out numerous problems with “Evil Began in a Bar” and gave some really good suggestions on how to improve it. Yeah, the best way to judge a critique is not on how much they praise or hate a story, but on what the critics say that will help you better the story.

As I said, my classmates felt there was a lot that could be improved upon with “Evil Began in a Bar”, which is a retelling of the story of the Fall a la Milton (or a la Ungar, I guess) Some of the big ones were:

  • The tone seemed to shift wildly between dark and comical, serious and light.
  • They couldn’t tell whether this was a dystopia story or a religious fantasy.
  • People unfamiliar with the story of the Fall might be confused by this.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but short stories are not my greatest strength. I’m much better at novels.

Still, there’s a bright side to this. After hearing from my classmates and talking to my teacher after class (in which she agreed with me on my predilection for novels: “You seem to be very expansive in your writing”), I got a better idea of what I can do to modify this story. And like a lot of short stories I seem to be working with lately, this one is going to be rewritten entirely during the second phase. I’m fine with it, really. At this point I’m becoming very used to it, and I like where I could go with this short story on the second draft. I just hope I can keep it under five-thousand words, or it’ll be more difficult to get it published in a magazine.

But before I do any revisions, I’m going to work on the next short story I’m going to write for my creative writing class. That one’s due on the Wednesday before Halloween, so you know I’m going to be bringing the terror. And as the hint I gave a while back indicates, this time it’s going to be a werewolf story. Though if I’m able to pull it off, it’ll be a very unusual werewolf story.

Here’s what’s coming next from creepy ol’ me.

And after the werewolf story…well, I may resubmit “Evil Began in a Bar” for the third time around, when I submit a revision. I guess it’ll depend on how my classmates react to the werewolf story, and how much work I have going on then, among other things. In any case, wish me luck with this and all the other projects I’ve got going on at the moment. It’s because of your support that I’m able to keep working even when stressed out.

Oh, and before I forget, this evening starts Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. According to the Jewish calendar, the Earth is now 5775 years old. So for everyone out there, I hope you have a happy and healthy new year, and I hope you’re inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year. Also, if I did anything to upset or offend you this past year, I hope you’ll forgive me, because I’ve already forgiven you.

Have a good night, my Followers of Fear!

I know it’s been a while since I last blogged. Five days in fact. Man, I must be busy. And I would’ve blogged about this yesterday, but…well, I had biology and creative writing homework. Yeah, school’s basically taking over my life more than it usually does. God help me.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon was my first meeting with my thesis adviser. It was me, him, and another student who is also working on a novel. The idea is that we all collaborate to help each other out with these projects (of course, my adviser isn’t asking us for advice if he’s working on his own novel, but that’s beside the point). Since I’d already sent them both the first two chapters of my thesis project Rose, they had read what I’d written and had some feedback.

Let me tell you, it was very illuminating. The biggest thing about my work is that I’m always looking for holes to plug up, but they found some holes I’d missed, proving to me that I should not go into the field of repairing ships or they’d sink. What they told me was that the opening of chapter one was a little too lighthearted for a horror novel, and suggested a way to make it more of a dark, creepy story like I’d originally intended. They also gave me some suggestions on how to make our stalker Akira much creepier and also recommended maybe I try switching to first person (and seeing as Rose is all about the main character’s point of view, that might be an idea I’ll keep).

So now I have until Friday to come up with some new material and send it to the both of them, and then we all meet up a week afterwards. I’m going to start with a little experiment to help refine Akira’s character, and then I’m going to basically start rewriting Chapter One of Rose. The original opening, like I said, was a bit too lighthearted, so going back and redoing it should create the atmosphere I’m going for. And it’s not as if I haven’t rewritten an entire short story before on the suggestions of  my peers. What is Chapter One anyway, besides a short story that can be continued by several succeeding, interconnected short stories?

Obviously a bad analogy, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I’ve got to get to work, so wish me luck on the writing/editing front. And by the way, I turned in my short story Evil Began in a Bar on Wednesday to my creative writing class, so my classmates will be coming back to class Wednesday with feedback. I’ll be blogging about it then, but I’m hoping for good things.

Have a great day, my Followers of Fear.

Well, it took me a little while (darn my school load!) but I’m finally done editing Chapter 24 of Video Rage. And since the second installment of the Reborn City series is 37 chapters long, I’m about two-thirds through the second draft.

So excuse me while I do a little happy dance…

Still here? Cool.

I think the hardest thing about editing VR is that a lot of it is rewriting. When you’re doing a first draft, you think  that a lot of what you included (including dialects in the narration) is just genius, the best thing for the English language since Shakespeare put quill to parchment or Hemingway put pen to paper or Stephen King put typewriter keys to…you know. And then you leave it alone for several months so you can look at it with fresh eyes, and then you think to yourself “What the f*ck was I thinking writing this crap?”

But I’m glad I’ve been able to take a second look at this. If I thought that the first draft was okay, I’m sure the second draft is going to impress maybe a few readers. That’s the hope anyway. In any case, I think after the second draft is done I’ll send VR to a certain science fiction writer I’m acquainted with who took a look at RC for me. I’m pretty sure his opinion on things will be very useful indeed.

Well, I’m hitting the hay. Big day tomorrow with lots to do, and I want to be well rested for it. Good night, my Followers of Fear.

I’m a feminist. I believe that women should be given equal treatment to men financially, politically, and socially. I believe this won’t disenfranchise men, but instead make women equal partners to men. In fact, men such as myself can be ardent feminists, and there are plenty of them out there. I also believe that there are people who dislike feminism because of ignorance or prejudice. And I believe that those who actively work to dissuade people from identifying feminism or tear down some of the movement’s tenets and beliefs are doing a lot more harm than good. Normally I ignore what is said, but occasionally something is so blatantly wrong or harmful to women that I have to speak up.

So when I read what Rush Limbaugh said today and then heard it for myself, I couldn’t keep quiet. Normally I ignore what Mr. Limbaugh says. Since the Sandra Fluke debacle two years ago, I’ve actually been surprised that he’s still on the air, let alone that he hasn’t learned from his mistakes or maybe hired someone to edit what he plans to say before he says it. But today might be the worst thing he’s said since he talked about Ms. Fluke.

I couldn’t embed the audio of the clip in question onto this post (if you’d like to hear it yourself, you can check out the Huffington Post article where I first read about it), so I’m talking about it here. In short, Mr. Limbaugh said that he finds the idea of “No” means “No” ridiculous.  He says:

How many of you guys in your own experience with women have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it?…It used to be used as a cliche.

So under this definition of consent, when a woman says “no”, it really means “yes” under certain circumstances (and I bet to a guy like Mr. Limbaugh, there are few, if any, circumstances where “no” actually means “no”). A guy just has to “spot” it. I’m just wondering, how exactly do you spot the signs that a woman is actually saying “yes” underneath the resounding “no”? Enlighten me.

And if you think about it, this definition could extend not just to women. Perhaps a young child is actually saying yes to being touched inappropriately, even if they’re being touched by a parent or other relative. And according to Mr. Limbaugh’s definition of consent, if a gay man comes onto him or any other man and the second man says no, the gay man is allowed to go on if they believe “the signs” are there telling them to go on.* It’s uncomfortable to think about, but it could happen.

*I’m not actually insinuating that anyone does or should do this, be they straight or gay men, relatives of a child, or anything else. I’m just trying to put this in the context that Mr. Limbaugh outlines and make sense of the implications.

Also notice how Mr. Limbaugh asks for the opinions of the male listeners of his show, but not the female listeners. Why doesn’t Mr. Limbaugh ask about the female listeners’ experiences? I’m sure some of them have quite the stories to tell. According to the website of the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network, about 1 in 6 women are the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes. 1 in 33 men suffer the same sort of attacks, and 15% of children under the age of 12 are vulnerable to rape or sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, four times more likely to suffer from PTSD and/or consider suicide, and 13 and 26 times more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, respectively. A third of them get pregnant from their ordeals. How many of these women said “no” and that was ignored or interpreted as meaning “yes”? And how many of them listen to the Rush Limbaugh Show?

Mr. Limbaugh also quotes from the student handbook at Ohio State University** on what constitutes consent. Well, actually he isn’t quoting, exactly. Only a small bit of what he says is actually from the Student Code of Conduct (which you can read here). I have no idea where he’s getting this stuff about the thirteen-year-olds consenting to sex. But beyond all that, the point Mr. Limbaugh is trying to make is that all these requirements for having consent is too much and actually getting in the way of romance and seduction. I don’t have the most experience in this, but if you ask me, when two consenting partners are very much in love, care deeply about the other, and want to make each other happy, then all this stuff Mr. Limbaugh believes gets in the way of romance and seduction becomes unnecessary. The couple know each other well enough to know what is safe, what is crossing a boundary, and how to make sure both of them have an enjoyable sexual experience.

And for couples who aren’t at that point yet, perhaps they don’t need to ask permission to do every single thing. But it is common sense to discuss with your partner what you consider safe sexual territory, and to pay attention to what your partner is telling you, verbally or non-verbally. If your partner says no, doesn’t matter if you or your partner are male, female, or some other third gender. No means no, under ALL circumstances.

Mr. Limbaugh makes it seem like you have to go through a maze to have sex, but I don’t think that’s actually the case.

**For future reference, would you please not use my alma mater in your program? It’s not a very good example at the moment, anyway: sad as I am to admit, OSU’s marching band is under investigation for fostering an atmosphere of sexual assault, and there are other investigations occurring as well, last I checked. I still love this school and I’m not proud of what’s happened here, but you can’t fight your demons if you don’t admit to them, so I’m putting them out there.

So Mr. Limbaugh may feel that there are exceptions to the No rule and all those requirements for consent are a bit too much for your average man looking for sex. But with sexual assault so prevalent in our nation, I feel having these things pointed out to us is a good thing. Not only does it make us aware of a problem that needs to be combated, but following these rules helps to make our country safer for all, and helps to eliminate a very terrible problem.

Mr. Limbaugh does make one very good point, and that is we need to change how we teach our boys. I agree, but I think we need to change how we teach our girls too, and maybe how we approach sex in general. Men should be taught that there is nothing wrong with wanting to have sex, provided you are educated about both the benefits and the consequences of sex, particularly unsafe, forced or alternative forms of sex. And girls should be taught about their bodies, all that comes with sex, and that there is nothing they should be ashamed of when it comes to their bodies or their sexuality, no mater what anyone says. And above all, it should be stressed that no one owns your body but you, and you should decide what can and cannot be done with it.

Mr. Limbaugh, I hope what you’ve said today gets talked about by a variety of people. I hope that you make the newsrounds for your comments, because what you said is hurtful and shameful and trivializes a major problem. And perhaps after what you’ve said, there can be some constructive change to stop this ongoing epidemic of sexual assault in our nation. I would very much like to say that.

And Mr. Limbaugh, perhaps after this latest incdent, you might take steps to avoid saying such hurtful and despicable things on your program. And if that’s not possible, then maybe it’d be better for a lot of people (and I say this with all the sensitivity I can muster in such a situation) if you would kindly shut up.

Some of you are probably reading the title of this post and are wondering, Since when is there a purpose to any sort of violence? Very true, but I’m talking about violence in speculative fiction and when it is useful and when it is just excessive.

Granted, I might not be the best person to speak on this subject. If any of you have read or are reading Snake, you are well aware that the main character is very influenced by slasher films and the Russian mafia, so violence abounds. However, in my other books I try to hold back on the violence. Why? Partly because I’m just terrible with writing fight scenes. I actually try to avoid them when I can, which is okay because in horror it’s often more about the atmosphere and character interaction than about describing a punch or a gun fight.

But the other reason is that, when I’m writing and I think about including a very violent scene in my story, I think about whether it can advance a story’s plot.

Let me explain. In Video Rage, the sequel to Reborn City that I’m currently editing when I have the chance (my time is so filled up these days), there comes a scene about midway through the book where some of the characters get into an argument and one of them ends up punching the other in the face. The actual punch occupies about maybe two or three paragraphs, but the result s of it is felt throughout the rest of the novel. Both characters in this little altercation have to reassess their relationship. One has to decide if they want to continue to be friends with someone who punched them, especially since they really cared about this person and the hurt feelings and pride hurt more than the being punched. As for the one doing the punching, he is horrified about what he did in a moment of anger. He has to take a hard look at himself and really decide whether he might need to change his actions and perhaps do some growing up.

Another example is in Rose, my work-in-progress/thesis project. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Rose is dealing with a young woman trapped by magic with the stalker who resurrected her. And when she tries to get away from him, he often gets violent and dangerous. While providing some very terrifying scenes, these moments also force Rose into a dark place. She becomes frightened, and, like many abused women, starts walking on eggshells because she’s afraid of arousing his rage. Over the course of the story, Rose finds herself driven into a darker and darker place spiritually because of all she suffers. At least until certain events allow her to seek a change.

So in a way, while I detest violence and I try not to use it when I can, in certain ways like the ones above violence can advance the story and allow for character development. Of course there are many other tools that allow for character development and propelling the plot forward: romantic relationships, deceit and treachery, other non-violent events in the characters’ lives that allow them to move forward in the story. But I think of all those, violence requires a delicacy that is much harder to handle than other methods (and not to mention romance can be a bit overused). You have to use it in just the right way or your readers will be overwhelmed and turned off from reading anymore. One slap or punch or explosion too many and it can really change things, and not for the better. So for the author, it’s up to them to figure out what is the right level of violence and how best to wield it in their story. And hopefully through practice one can figure out just that.

So am I good at wielding the violence? You’d have to find that out yourself or ask one of my other readers. An author can often the worst judge at their work. But I think I do okay at it. At any rate, I haven’t had any complaints about the levels of violence in my stories or how they’re used. In fact, I’ve been told that they’re rather scary, which pleases me to no end.

How do you use violence in your stories? Do you have any advice regarding including or not including violence in your stories?