Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Actions Scenes and the Balance of Emotions


I'm a big, big fan of writing action scenes. They do require more concentration than other scenes because of the level of detail (which makes my analytical brain excited). And, there's a fair bit of pantomime, which makes it a good thing I don't write in public spaces. Action scenes play in my head like a movie with slo-mos, multiple cameras, and alternating close-ups and long shots. Yeah, yeah, I limit the long shots to only what the POV character can see/sense since I don't write 3rd omniscient.  

I will also admit that for all the "fancy" (I'm giving myself way too much credit) choreography, I often neglect the emotion. Fortunately, I have an awesome dev editor whose second-most frequent comment is "Insert Emo Here." It is really, really, really important to not neglect the feeeeeeels. I know in a real-world brawl/battle that's the last thing the brain is thinking--it's mostly instinct and ingrained training allowing the body to act/react with near-automatic movements--but in a story, we need to take the beat to bring the reader's emotions along with the character's. It's not that every punch or slash of a weapon has to have an associated emotion, we don't want to drag down the pacing. However, action scenes are used to thrust the protag from one emotional state to another or to reaffirm through a trial an emotional commitment. True for sex scenes (yep, thems action scenes); true for fisticuffs; true for car chases. 

There is a sweet spot of balance between action and emotion, and the authors who write it well leave a reader feeling breathless and emotionally in sync with the protagonist. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Putting Action into Action Scenes

How to put action in action scenes. I'm making up for the post I didn't write yesterday and talking about this week's topic on my podcast today instead. Also how some authors like to write sex scenes and others action scenes, but rarely both and why. I'm also offering advice on how to get past writing the thing you don't like to write.

  The Ursula Le Guin essay I mention is here (https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ursula-k-le-guin-the-carrier-bag-theory-of-fiction).

You can preorder THE DRAGON'S DAUGHTER AND THE WINTER MAGE here (https://jeffekennedy.com/the-dragon-s-daughter-and-the-winter-mage).

Find DARK WIZARD and BRIGHT FAMILIAR here (https://jeffekennedy.com/series/bonds-of-magic), the Forgotten Empires trilogy here (https://jeffekennedy.com/series/forgotten-empires), and the Heirs of Magic books here (https://jeffekennedy.com/series/heirs-of-magic).

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You can watch this podcast on YouTube here (https://youtu.be/5PAn2KKiUDI).

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

This Week's Topic Made Me Laugh

That's a sucky title, but it's all that I've got in me today. I say that with a smile, though. I've been working really hard on copy edits while living in a house that's mid-remodel, so I'm just glad that I'm still holding it all together. 

But, yes. When I saw this week's topic, I literally laughed out loud. Should you speak your mind on social media regarding politics or keep your tongue? 

First--I have never kept my tongue when it comes to political injustices, and I never will.

That's what made me laugh.

Second--Silence is often a privilege. Being able to live in a mental and physical state where you don't have to speak out about politics or injustices is something that's not afforded to many. A little backlash about our political and social views is nothing compared to what marginalized people face daily. If we--the privileged--don't speak up, that puts the onus on those who are affected most by certain political agendas.

Do you know how hard that is?

I don't let my friends fight alone, and when old white men try to take away anyone's rights, yes, I'm going to be vocal as hell.

Third--Authors are real people. We have opinions. We hungrily seek out facts. And, we mirror the world around us, creating a reflection called Fiction. Literature is political, y'all. It always has been. And if readers follow me, they're going to know where I stand and therefore won't be surprised when they read my books. 

So that's that. I'm not silent, and I never will be.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. ~ Elie Wiesel



Friday, September 10, 2021

Talking too Much

This may come as a shock, but there’s a whole-ass human being behind this screen. A human with messy thoughts, ideas, beliefs, ideologies, ethics, and a whole bunch of flaws. This human also has wisely or unwisely decided that story telling is their method of making sense of the world and this life. That means putting waaaaay too much stuff in writing and then lobbing it out into the world. The open question this week is whether we as authors believe we should tone down our individual thoughts and opinions in pursuit of offending fewer potential readers and thus securing more robust book sales. 

For my part, Imma talk. I’m going to talk about everything and anything that crosses my mind or that matters to me. Politics. Cats. Religion. Cats. Beliefs. More cats. Thoughts. Feelings. Holy cats, ALL the emo. Will I lose sales over this? Probably. Do I care? Not in the least. Because I AM a whole-ass human being with that long list of stuff packed inside. AND IT ALL ENDS UP IN MY BOOKS, ANYWAY. I’m going to talk about all the things on socials because it’s truth in advertising. If you hate what I say on social media, you are not my audience. If I can’t be a sterling example, I aim to be a terrible, stern warning. I am perfectly okay with waving people off.

Every single one of my books is political. Every single one. Social justice is a major theme throughout every story I tell. If those things chap your hide, I am not your author. Straight up. I do no one any favors by staying silent to hide these facts. So, I leave money on the table. I’m foolishly comfortable with that because I do not want someone to buy one of my books and be subsequently enraged by the viewpoints and content. Those sales would lead to poor reviews. Poor reviews drag an author’s store.

Maybe I’m too enmeshed in the romance community because I’m all in for enthusiastic consent. I want readers who ache to read about all kinds and shapes of humans, aliens, love, adventure, danger, and good triumphing in the end. Mostly. I’d rather have ten people grinning over my socially awkward humor and occasionally macabre posts rushing out to buy my books than have 100 people blindly picking me up. Those 10 people are going to be much, much happier readers and that will leave me a much happier author.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Where'd our common ground go?


Ullr the husky pup sitting on wood slab porch looking out at meadow and pine trees.
Ullr the husky pup on a front porch

How does that go…if the world had a front porch? 

My fellow SFF Seveners have posted some great takes on this week’s topic and they’re all different. Isn’t that fabulous! Each of us have our own backgrounds and experiences—differences are what makes the human race interesting…and keeps us from the robotic monotony portrayed in so many sci-fi novels. 

But with the rise of social media we’ve lost our ability to discuss respectfully and continue to be courteous afterwards. There is no longer the ability to agree to disagree. There’s no more front porch. 

I believe there’s enough politics on the socials and not enough compassion. It’s too easy to shout opinions and accusations at a computer screen and too easily forget that there’s another human being on the other side. We’ve lost our ability to sit down next to one another over a cup of coffee or plate of food. 

On Netflix there’s a show called Somebody Feed Phil. In Season 4, episode The Mississippi Delta, Phil goes to Jim’s Cafe, it’s been open since 1909. In this episode Phil joins a table of elderly gentlemen who sit at the same table every day and to hold their place they set a paper placard that states: Table of Knowledge.

This group of men are friends, despite having different political stances. Phil asks them about this and they tell him they “agree to disagree and be agreeable about it”…and because of that, they're able to talk about their opinions and continue to enjoy their egg sandwiches at the same time! 

It’s a great show if you’re up for binging. Phil is funny and the people he meets, as well as the food he gets to eat, are fantastic!

But it’s the Mississippi Delta episode that encompasses why I believe we all need a front porch to meet on. If all of our countries leaders were to sit down to eat and visit over some cocktails we might reach more of a middle ground, maybe things would happen faster and help those who really need it. 

No, I don’t think everything can be fixed on the front porch. But I do know food and drink help us find common ground and with common ground comes respect. 

I’ll continue to spread happiness and compassion wherever I can, as well as protect my mental health by abstaining from getting into politics online with strangers that tend to treat others as less than.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Yee haw politics

There have been some really reasonable and measured responses here this week on the topic of whether writers ought to express our political views on social media. You should read those. For me, I'm beyond reasonable and measured.

See, I live in Texas.

I've lived here all my life, I write about people who live in Texas, I am a woman, and I vote. I cannot separate these parts of myself, so I won't apologize for saying that I am right now incandescent with rage over the crud my state leaders have been up to lately. I'm not out to offend anyone, but also, my state is making breathing more and more dangerous for some of its citizens, and I can't sit back and pretend that's okay.

Yes, I'm donating and writing letters and volunteering and doing everything I can behind the scenes, but also, this is my life. And it's also, very incidentally, my brand. The way to get to the future dystopia I've written about is to continue right on as we are. Lord help us.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Is Shouting into Void Worth Your Personal Safety

There's a luxury to being politically vocal, and it's seated in your perception of your personal safety.  It's one big reason why men dominate the discourse and feel entitled to highjack, derail, and weaponize it. They're not worried about what they say online following them offline. Those who do not identify as male do have to worry about that in the same way we have to worry about where and how we park in a public garage, how we have to have our keys in hand before we reach our destination, how we continually monitor the number, distance, and sobriety of men in our immediate surrounds. 

Because social media is intertwined with our offline lives, we expose too much personally-identifying information to the masses. Often without realizing it because we're being social. As authors, we're being social because we need to increase our visibility, because the more people who know about us, the more people who know about our books, the more books we'll sell. It's the closest we can get to a "sure thing" for sales.  

So what does that have to do with us being politically outspoken online? These days, political activism lights a beacon for those of nefarious intent. They suddenly have a reason to take a closer look at you and what you've posted. Do you live alone? Do you have a pet that might defend you or that might make you more accessible? Do you have routine days? A regular coffee shop habit? Do you reside in a small community where strangers might be noticed? What about a city where everyone is a stranger? Are you in the frequent company of others or are you a loner? Spouse? Children? What school do they attend? What do they look like? What are their social accounts? You didn't file for copyright of your works with your real name and address, did you? What about that required mailing address in the footer of your newsletter? Used a PO Box, but still in the same city? What about your property tax records, they wouldn't happen to be under your name or a family member's, would they?  

As states resume using vigilantes to police their neighbors and reestablish witchhunts in the 21 century with cash bounties, the threat to personal safety is going to get worse. Worrying about whether your political opinions will negatively impact your author brand is pointless if your life's been destroyed because you made a stand online. 

Now, you may scoff and think, "Wow, Debby Downer, way to go with the doomsday hysteria." That's fine. That's also a testament to your perception of your personal safety as well as your privilege. Good for you. That means you have a plan for dealing with online harassment, right? You're one of those authors whose day isn't ruined because of one bad review, let alone dozens, or hundreds, right? You're ready to invest in remedying the crashing of your online store/website? You're ready to be dropped by your agent/publisher based on manufactured drama (truthful or not)? You're solid on the steps you'll have to take if the harassment moves offline, right? You've brushed up on stalker laws...and what they don't protect against, right?

This isn't to say you ought to sit down, shut up, and take what's dealt to you. It's a reminder that as an author, you've put yourself in the public space--whether you've written one book that's sold ten copies, or written ten books that sell a few hundred thousand copies each--which makes you a more "interesting" target to those who want to make trouble. It only takes one asshat with a modicum of skills to rock you back on your heels. Are you emotionally, physically, and financially prepared for it? 

If, however, you are comfortable with your safety and feel you're at low risk for harassment, then by all means, drag the fools as politely or brazenly as suits you. Be a voice for those who cannot.  

Regardless of whether you get political online or not, ask yourself, is there a better, more effective way to advance your cause(s)? Does volunteering an hour a week offline do more good than tweeting an opinion? Sure, the former is more inconvenient for you, but it's also more impactful, isn't it?

While it's great and noble to organize and fight for a more perfect union, take a beat to figure out if shouting into the void is worth the risk to your safety...and the safety of those around you. The answer might be yes. Then again if it's no, there is no shame in holding back.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Hold thy tongue?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "Social Media and politics: Should you speak your mind or keep your tongue?"

The simple nswer: Words have consequences. I have lost sales becuse of ky opinion.

(f it means a lot to yu, by all means, but know that you WILL impact potential sales.

Thzt szid, I loathe Donald Trump and slzmmed h im regulalry while he was in chzrge of this nation. no regrets.