Arlock writes (personal). An outlet for Glossolalia

Writers Musings

EXIT PURSUED BY BEAR

I am no longer using this website. Instead, I have divided into two (I’m talented like that).

You can find my Speculative Fiction (Books & Short Stories) at http://jw.arlockweb.com/

You can find my Non-Fiction (How to write, edit & market your writing) at http://negativespace.arlockweb.com/

… and yes, I still host Author Web Pages.


Blog Rennovations

This page shall be going the way of the oyster, shucked for its most juicy pieces and the outer shell discarded.
The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
      To talk of many things:
Of books — and sales — and marketing platforms —
      Of authors — and avatars —
And should an online platform need to be updated now and then —
      And whether that time is now.’
shell-1972980
Quick answer. It is.
This page has suffered neglect as I’ve focused more on writing, and the odd post I’ve considered has fallen silent as I didn’t want to orphan it on a nearly abandoned blog. Therefore it seems prudent to take this blog out the back and put one behind the ear like we did with old aunty Martha once she started mislabeling the Tupperware in the fridge.
In its place will spring up two new blogs, one for the creative side of my brain, and one for the business/editing side.
jw.arlockweb.com will be for the worlds I write. All fiction, all the time. Maybe some behind the scenes things, and definitely the odd (emphasis mine) little excerpt or flash fiction that needs to be released into the world because it’s clogging up my mind. It needs to be cleaned up a little bit first, as of this moment it’s got some pleasant forest green theme and a picture of the walking path to work. Not very urban, and not at all dark, but it is on the way to my day-job so you could call it horror related 🙂
negativespace.arlockweb.com will be about writing and for writers. Focusing a bit on the how to’s and on why some writing advice, though technically correct, can do more harm than good. Expect the occasional large post, not just regular throw-away space fillers.
Some of the more popular posts from here will be recycled for the new sites, but I’m also going to dig in and create a lot more new content.

 

 


New Years 2017

My goal for 2017 is to accomplish the goals of 2016, which I should have done in 2015 because I made a promise in 2014, and planned in 2013.


Banned Books

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There is no higher compliment than to have your book banned for challenging the social mores of the day. I can only hope to one day write something complex enough to make the reader question their world, and make the censors seek to keep it from the reader.

Some examples.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (1932)

By Ireland for its controversial themes on childbirth. Several states in the US tried to have it removed due to “themes on negativity.”

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)

Its sin was to portray (in a sanitised manner) just how badly the poor were affected by the Great Depression.

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)

Seen as Blasphemous by numerous Islamic nations. The number of death threats arising from this book suggests that Rushdie really hit a nerve, and had to go into hiding.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

Confronting, to say the least, where it was sold it was usually in plastic and not available to minors. Still banned in Queensland, Australia.

Why? Well have a look at bret-easton-ellis-answers-critics-of-american-psycho.html

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

Here’s a strange one. If you had to list the various nations in puritanical attitudes towards sex, America would come close to the top in western nations, and yet this book focusing on a man’s obsession with a 12-year-old girl, a book that was seized by the Home Office and called “the filthiest book I have ever read’ by the editor of the Sunday Express” and even banned by the French, was published without any issues in the USA.

Ulysses by James Joyce

Called the most vulgar, obscene and blasphemous book ever to be banned in the U.S, but also the 20th centuries best novel.

 

Oh… and anything the Sad Puppies don’t like.

stand_up_twitter_4

Check out 25_Banned_Books_That_You_Should_Read_Today.html

the List_of_books_banned_by_governments


Radiation Proof DNA

c0089248-water_bear_sem-splI just love it when an article comes along that is just perfect for one of the stories you’re working on. I was looking for a biological mechanism to provide radiation resistance for a population. Just in time along comes

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2106468-worlds-hardiest-animal-has-evolved-radiation-shield-for-its-dna

… once again, water bears are the solution to my problems.


Conspiracy Theory

I like aconspiracy-theorist-connect-the-dots good conspiracy theory as much as the next person. It’s always fun to follow the convoluted logic back to the source and see how the facts are bent to make the conclusion seem logical. Sometimes there was a communications glitch that has been fixated on or inconsistency in a retelling that gets blown out of all proportion.

There is, however, one conspiracy I’m starting to consider more and more probable. That is the conspiracy to spread the idea that the moon-landing was a hoax. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a second that the moon landing was faked… there is way too much evidence to even consider that vaguely plausible. For example, the reflectors left behind for measuring the exact distance between the earth and moon.

But that’s not to say there isn’t a conspiracy. Before Bill Kaysing released his book ‘We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle’ there was no real suggestion that the moon landings and Apollo missions were anything other than they appeared. After that the cult of moon-hoax became strangely persistent, resisting every reasonable attempt to illuminate the ignorance behind it. Maybe people just like the dark, find it comforting, find it empowering knowing that they are a special little snowflake, made important by being part of the chosen few who know the ‘truth’ that everyone else is too blinded by logic to see.

Open your eyes sheeple, you’re being lied to, Soylent Green is made of people!!!

Ahem… where was I?

Oh yes, the conspiracy. Let’s take a look at it. In the 60’s and 70’s, America beat its rival to the moon, an impressive accomplishment for both technical and social reasons. Once the race was won the budget dried up and the moon dropped off the list of ‘things to do to prove we’re awesome’. An accomplishment that the world had watched, had cheered on, and that had inspired a new generation of wannabe engineers, astronauts and explorers just kind of faded away. But, bare with me here, perhaps that wasn’t just a factor of the public’s fickle interest. Maybe this was ‘assisted’.

Sure we haven’t reached the sort of technologically advanced future that Sci-Fi promised in the 60’s and 70’s, but even with our inward focus on monetizing technology, the world has advanced at a breakneck speed. Imagine if all that development, all that enthusiasm, had been focused outwards on expansion. Once we have access to the asteroids, and to the vacuum of space, everything that made up the world economy would have to be reassessed.

It wouldn’t be fast, and it wouldn’t be easy, but unrestricted (efficient) access to the solar system effectively destroys our economic models. Supply and demand are driven by scarcity of resources, but with limitless mineral and energy resources that entire model collapses. Even without access to asteroid mining, you could seed the moon with nuclear power stations and automated factories. A space elevator would negate the energy costs of the gravity well and we could potentially have the utopia of the optimistic early space pioneers. The only resources left to worry about would be information, food, and time. How many powerful dynasties and ideologies would survive that level of change to the status quo? How many would have considered it enough of a potential threat to actively support any opposition to it?

red-dot

Just a meandering thought for the day.

One I find a little more positive than the default assumption that we as a species would rather play politics and wallow in misery than reach for the stars.


Experimental Game Turns Players into Poets and Writers | Big Think

Definitely on my to-get list for later.

Source: Experimental Game Turns Players into Poets and Writers | Big Think


Amusing Ourselves to Death: Huxley vs Orwell [Re-Blogged]

A clever comic over on the accuracy of George Orwell’s predictions about future society over those of Aldous Huxley. It’s informative and scary at the same time. “In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us. Huxley that what we love will ruin us.” It’s unfortunate that Huxley got it right because the latter is much less obvious.

Source: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Huxley vs Orwell | High Existence


End of nations [Re-Blogged] 

Something to think about for the Futurists & Sci-Fi Writers among us. Is there an alternative to countries?

Nation states cause some of our biggest problems, from civil war to climate inaction. Science suggests there are better ways to run a planet

Source: End of nations: Is there an alternative to countries? | New Scientist


Autobiography Challenge

Writers Challenge #AutoBio-Challengeself-delusion

A multifaceted, multi-genre mini-autobiography.The challenging part is that these have to be short, matching the theme, and recognisably autobiographical. Feel free to tag a friend.
My Life: As a Tragedy
My Coffee is always cold and the chocolate has usually melted.

My Life: As a Sci-Fi
I now store my memory in the cloud. My meat-brain is only for analysis.

My Life: As a Romance
I met ‘the one’. Never looked back, or around, since then.

My Life: As an Urban Fantasy
There are creatures in the walls. As long as I leave them alone, they ignore me.

My Life: As an Epic Fantasy
I have lived. I have conquered. I wait now, on my mountain, for death.

My Life: Literary Fiction
In Korea I learnt English, in Knosis I felt awe. All across the world, the people I see have more in common than they do in differences.

My Life: Non-Fiction
How to write in snatches at your day job, without being fired.


Science Fiction: Hope vs Despair [Re-Blogged]

utopiadystopia

Why dystopia? Because it’s a cop-out.

It’s far harder to predict the changes and tribulations of an advanced society. So why not just assume we broke all our toys and reverted to barbarianism? After all, these stories sell.

Why not? Because we’re selling despair. Because we’re telling a whole new generation that they won’t succeed, so don’t try. Because there is a lot more challenge in predicting the changes in culture (and to a lesser extent technology), and therefore a lot more potential for good storytelling.

I’m not saying Dystopia bad; therefore Utopia good. I’m just wondering what happened to the golden age of sci-fi where anything was possible and the sky was the limit? Surely it’s better to look forward to a better world than to assume we’re going to screw it up and revert to banging each other over the head with crude weapons. And yes Zombie Genre I’m looking at you too!

David Brin puts it nicely over at his blog Contrary Brin. Go have a look.

Why all the re-blogs? Well, partly because I’m lazy, and partly because there is so much good material out there that it doesn’t need another voice adding to the echo chamber. Instead, I think it serves everyone better to just promote the work of those who have already spoken up.

Source: CONTRARY BRIN: Science Fiction: Hope vs Despair


Reminder to Writers

You don’t get better at writing by avoiding reading and writing until you are better at writing.

Haiku

You don’t need to be  master wordsmith each day. A single scene or a nice turn of phrase means you are now that much better at writing in general.

It’s also okay if what you wrote turns out to be drivel. You learn by working out what NOT to do, as well as by working out what TO do.

You will be the only person who knows if your work didn’t turn out how you intended. Only you see the things that are in your head but never made it to the page. No one else will know unless you tell them.

Don’t compare yourself to others. You only get to see their best stuff, while you see ALL of you work. Good or bad. So don’t compare a garbled first draft, written in the wee hours of the morning, with a published work.

Just keep writing. You only fail if you stop.


3 Mistakes that Will Make Readers Want to Punch a Book in the Face [Re-blogged]

Totally agree with this post, especially about ‘faux-twist’ endings. So drop in, read, spread the love.

3 Mistakes that Will Make Readers Want to Punch a Book in the Face | Kristen Lamb’s Blog


1st of April

April Fools Day is the one day of the year that people critically evaluate news articles before accepting them as true.

Outside the box

Was the Moon landing faked? In 1967, Swiss Radio interrupted its regularly scheduled program with a news flash “U.S. astronauts have just landed on the moon.” For the next hour, listeners heard a series of elaborately staged updates, complete with reports from correspondents around the world and interviews with experts. It was another two years before U.S. astronauts actually did land on the moon, and another 50 later still not everyone is convinced that they did. (I blame the Swiss) As the broadcast concluded listeners were told they could “…see it return to Earth by watching from a high vantage point, away from the city lights.” In Zurich, this prompted a mass exodus of people out of the city up to nearby Mt. Uetliberg.

Have you heard of Operation Parallax? On 1st of April, 1979 Capital Radio (London) announced that  would soon go into effect. This was a government plan to resynchronize the British calendar. The station explained that, “…ever since 1945, Britain had gradually become 48 hours ahead of the rest of the world because of the constant switching back and forth from British Summer Time. To remedy this situation, the government had decided to cancel April 5 and 12 that year.” The station was flooded with concerned callers who wanted to know what happened if their birthday or anniversary fell on the cancelled days, and employers asking payroll questions.

Nixon for President April 1, 1992: National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation revealed that Richard Nixon, in a surprise move, was running for President again. His new campaign slogan was, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Accompanying this announcement were audio clips of Nixon delivering his candidacy speech. Listeners responded viscerally to the announcement, flooding the show with calls expressing shock and outrage. Only during the second half of the show did the host John Hockenberry reveal that the announcement was a practical joke. Nixon’s voice was impersonated by comedian Rich Little.

 


Colony Creature [Reblogged]

Mind TransferAn awesome little piece that really drives home the alienness of ‘the other’

http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=5875

from The 21-Second God,
by Keith Honeyborne

This may not be the most biologically accurate piece, but I think it’s important to recognize that the experience of being a non-human organism is probably fundamentally different from that of a human.

 


So You Wanna Be A Writer: 10 To-Do’s From A Sociopath

Well, I guess great minds do think alike. So following up from yesterday’s post have a look at…

Dear World Please Kill Me,

Hello all you sons of Mars, daughters of Venus, and queers of Uranus (no offense intended, I just wanted to include everyone.  #sendingpositivevibes.) So I figured…

Source: So You Wanna Be A Writer: 10 To-Do’s From A Sociopath – Eye of the Writer


Transporters / Teleportation

An old discussion, but described particularly well.

Personally I love the idea of little Wesly getting disintegrated on a regular basis.


Writer Alert: How Safe Is Your Story From The Style Fascists?

p-fullerJohn Yeoman from the ever-prolific Writers Village makes some good points in his latest post. While I don’t always agree with his stances, they are always worth a quick perusal.

Source: Writer Alert: How Safe Is Your Story From The Style Fascists?


Mechanics of the Novel: Under the Hood

look under the hood

I’ve already published a few pieces dealing with the mechanics of writing, combinations of things I’ve personally learnt and  advice purloined from elsewhere that is just too good not to share.

In line with these existing posts, I’m starting a fortnightly, maybe weekly if inspiration strikes, series of posts related to the craft of writing. These will all be original content posts, (no re-posts or short ‘picture and inspirational quote’ meme posts) and will all be linked by the Under the Hood category that you can peruse by the menus on the right side of this page. Looking under the novel’s hood as it were.

My goal is to help aspiring authors, struggling writers, and frustrated self-publishers. Along the way, I’m hoping to cement my own craft and maybe expand my reach. I only ask that if you find something worthwhile that you share it amongst your own networks.

For the starting writer, there are just so many things you should know. Preparation, proper grammar, research, writing, genre rules, editing, design and eventually publishing are all scary steps towards either authorship or alcoholism. Sadly before you start you can’t actually know which things you need to know. This catch 22 means you really have 4 options…

  1. Don’t start. That way quitting lies.
  2. Don’t start until you’ve finished. That way madness lies
  3. Start anyway and just remember that life = pain
  4. Make use of the pain, sweat, tears and caffeine poisoning that others have endured before you.

cthulhu-toyI hope these posts will serve as a path to option 4. Having said that, I would also love to hear anyone who has successfully taken the second path without being devoured by an Elder God.

 

Now before you get started, repeat after me…

ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

 

 


Pinterest for Authors: A Beginner’s Guide | Jane Friedman

Learn four reasons writers might want to use Pinterest, how to best use the platform, and best practices to get the most traction for your work.

Source: Pinterest for Authors: A Beginner’s Guide | Jane Friedman

Go forth and propagate your multi-media platform.


Punctuation in novels — Medium

This isn’t something that would have occurred to me, and I confess I found it fascinating. This is why the internet is such a win for collaborative thinking, the great Hive-Mind of the 21st century. Plugin and the accumulated knowledge of 50,000 years of history and innovation can on the tip of your cerebral cortex.

When we think of novels, of newspapers and blogs, we think of words. We easily forget the little suggestions pushed in b…

Source: Punctuation in novels — Medium


7 Steps To Create The Perfect Writing Space

writing-room

Clutter can comfort or distract

Sights and Sounds
Everyone likes a view, cityscapes, forests and the ocean can all be a source of creativity, but if it’s not an option put up some posters that are going to inspire you to hammer out those words. The same goes for sounds, some people find them inspiring and do their best writing to music, the sounds of nature or the cacophony of the city. For others, sound just gets in the way. Work out what is right for you.

Light
If you write during the day make sure you have lots of natural light. There is nothing better for the creative mind (and mental health) than getting enough natural daylight. If you write at night make sure your light source doesn’t buzz or flicker. Some people get headaches just from the fluorescent lights, others don’t care.

Glare
Whether you’re working under natural light or artificial make sure your not being blinded by it. A nice cheat can be to write out things on paper during the day and transfer/edit that to your computer at night. Think of it as a quick and dirty revision process.

Comfort
If you can’t sit still, are being sat on by pets, or ache, you’re not going to be getting a lot of work done. You don’t necessarily need a desk, a bean-bag and notepad might be right for you, just make sure your body won’t be constantly disturbing your mind.

Distractions
Avoid them. Lock off facebook and Tumblr (there are apps for that) leave you phone in the other room and uninstall games from your work computer. Make sure you have the option of locking off your space to really get lost in the writing process.

Resources
Your reference books and materials should be kept close at hand. You don’t want to have to break your flow by taking the time to search through other rooms for what you need.

Coffee/Snacks
There are two schools of thought on this. One is to keep everything nearby. Carrot sticks or other not so healthy items just an arms length away. Again so you don’t break your flow.  The other school of thought is to keep those snacks the hell away from your keyboard/notes. Not only does this avoid the inevitable “hey what happened to the rest of the packet?” moments, but it also means you are regularly getting up to stretch your legs and in doing so get the blood and creative juices flowing. If you’re anything like me you’ll get up and boil the jug three or four times before actually remembering to make the coffee before it gets cold again.

Related Link http://avoidingatrophy.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/how-to-create-better-writing-space-and.html


Hearts & Kittens: Post-Valentine

Valentine’s Day, named after the terminator saint who could not be killed (seriously, google the man). A day associated with a whole choir of terrifying angels, who have apparently been infantilised by modern society and rendered diabetic by the following day’s ‘70% off’ chocolate sales. They also seem to think they’re snipers, but thankfully haven’t found that weapons upgrade yet.

Love is the thing that inspires poetry, romantic gestures, and treason. A few small chemical changes in the brain and the smartest of individuals does the most stupid of things while the biggest coward will take on the world.

So for VDay have some hearts and kittens, and try not to engage in seditious behaviour for a winning smile and a few nebulous promises. Also, if you write one more love-triangle I will reach through the monitor and slap the Oxytocin & Dopamine out of you.

Love. It makes the plot go round. Also available in pill form. Consult your doctor for side effects.

V-Day02

Also Deadpool, best date movie EVER!!!


Kazuo Ishiguro Has a Brilliant Response to People Who Think Genre Fiction Doesn’t Matter

If a primary task of fiction is to explore the human experience—who we are and what we mean to each other—then the fantastic and unreal must surely be key elements in that exploration. But plenty of people still claim that fantasy and other genres are less “real” than purely mimetic fiction. And Kazuo Ishiguro has the best answer to those people.

Source: Kazuo Ishiguro Has a Brilliant Response to People Who Think Genre Fiction Doesn’t Matter