Take The Monkeys And Run!

Thank Goodness most of publishing is not like it used to be.  No more boxing up multiple pages of manuscripts, hauling them to the post office, sending them out, and waiting with baited breath for the rejection slips to come rolling in. . . . . . .
Alas, with e-publishing for, e-books, e-readers and i-pads it’s so easy to self publish now a days.
But, there was a time where an editor and publisher held sway over what was published and placed on the market. You could’ve slaved for years on your so-called masterpiece (as we all know ALL writers write masterpieces, even when they are stinkers. . . .). 


 “What about parts and labor?” I always ask, when some  poor writer works especially hard to write a book, and the editor rips it to shreds sends it back with a rejection slip.
My question:   What if you worked long and hard on your first book. In fact you have spent the last three years trying to get this book together. You finally send it in (upload via PDF file to the editor) and the editor emails you back and says: “Your story idea is great, but it needs a couple of steamy sex scenes, a couple of really gory murders, some zombies, a witch and 17 warlocks, to spice it up. Why? That’s the trend books are taking these days.” 


 What would YOU do? Would you compromise your story by writing in the parts the editor asked for just to make it palatable to the paying public?   Or, would you take your original manuscript and go peddle it elsewhere? Or self publish?
My Personal Answer:
Forgive me for being a little here humorous, but I would rather take the monkeys and run!
Why?   Please forgive me for preaching but, I am an extremely principled writer. I am a Christian, and as a devout believer I have certain principles I must live by. Though I am by no means perfect, and NEVER will be, my life must portray the one who died for me, in everything I do. Even in writing a book. Things which are diametrically opposed to my Christian beliefs and value system I cannot and will not write.
In other words that means if I can’t give my devout West Indian Catholic Grand Mother my manuscript to read, without her “cuffing” (slapping) me upside the head, I shouldn’t even THINK of writing and publishing it! Like that old Oscar Meyer Wiener commercial: I could write whatever I want as per my Constitutional and First Amendment Right (filling my writings and books with objectionable material) but, “I’d have to answer to an even HIGHER AUTHORITY.”
Also, how I sleep at night, or day, knowing I’ve compromised my creative work in order to make a few extra bucks? After all, what is the point of being “creative” if I am just going to settle to the ocean floor with the rest of the bottom feeders, by writing smut/trash?
Just asking. . . . . . . .





Trekkie vs Trekker What is the Difference?

In order to further understand this post, I will have to put two infamous arguments to rest.

First up, is there a difference between Star Trek Fans? Why are some fans called Trekkies while others are called Trekkers? They are both fans of the same show, aren’t they? Yes and no.
I will use an original Series Star Trek episode (who’s name escapes me – Please refer to photo below) as an example. Kirk and company encountered this world where two humanoid nations were at war. Kirk could not understand why the two races hated each other, because in his eyes they both looked alike. One of the two male representatives (who’s facial appearance was like those infamous “Black and White Cookies” spoke up and said. “I am black on the right side and my counterpart is white on the right side. . . . . . .”


What the heck . . . . . .?
Here are my definitions:
Trekkies:  Are the Star Trek fans who are like the Justin Berber crowd. They scream, gush, and ooze all over their fave stars. They are into all kinds of fannish activities. Reading every trashy magazine and internet gossip column so they can to stay up to date with their fave star. They may even write to, email, and may have received a letter or two (or photo) from said star which they have framed and/or enshrined at home. They also stand on very long lines at conventions in order to plunk down large amounts of money for an autographed photo of their fave star, and/or have a personal photo taken with them.  
The last time I attended a convention, these opportunities were sold at $100.00 a pop!   Pricey, but I approve of this activity when stars like Nichelle Nickels (Uhura) do this to raise money for charity.
Trekkers:  On the other hand are the serious Star Trek fans. They are into costuming (hand crafting and dressing like Starfleet Officers, Klingons, Vulcans, etc), alien make up and appliances (ears, brow ridges, Trill spots, etc) role playing, making weaponry, gaming, ship building, clubs that have ranks, meetings (in character and costume), panel discussions, etc. 

For example at Shore Leave in Baltimore Maryland every year the Klingons have a Klingon Feast and Ball.  Klingons (people dressed like Klingons) fly in from all over the world to attend this event. They also do it in conjunction with a Red Cross blood drive.
Which type of fan am I? 

I am both. I started out as a teeny-screamy type, (rolls eyes ceiling ward) and now I’m a serious Trekker. Fans like me, who have held the line so long (since Star Trek aired back in the 1960’s), are considered to be members of “The Old Guard”. Why is that title so important to Trekkers? The new Star Trek movie which came out in 2008 (screen play was written by JJ Abrahms) generated a new wave of fans which are called the “GenXs”, or just “The New Jacks”.
Which brings us to another fork in the road of Star Trek Fandom.
Canon or Non-Canon?
However, this cannon is nothing like the canon I wrote about yesterday. This has to do with what is now considered “The Old Star Trek.” Which is:
1.  The Original Series: (TOS), with Captain Kirk and his crew.
2.  The Next Generation: (TNG), with Captain Picard and his crew.
3.  Deep Space Nine: Captain Sisko and his crew.
4.  Voyager: Captain Janeway and her crew.
5.  Enterprise: Captain Archer and his crew.
6.  All of the Star Trek Movies.
And the NEW Star Trek:
1.  The NEW Star Trek Movie (circa: 2008)
The reason there is such a great divide is due to the fact that JJ Abrams (some feel) “flagrantly deviated” from the standard canon with was set forth by the past five Star Trek Series’ and movies.
I recall attending a panel discussion at Shore Leave (a SciFi Convention) where ardent fans discussed such minute as everything from Kirk’s hair color was wrong, to the real biggie: They blew up Vulcan!
The latest Star Trek movie was supposed to be a prequel, which showed all of the TOS (The Original Series – Kirk and Company) crew and what their lives were like BEFORE they became Starfleet officers and their beginning year fresh out of Starfleet Academy.
Supposedly JJ Abrams had been given license to do what he pleased, and he deviated far and wide from standard Star Trek canon. Of course, to some of us Old Guard that was equal to Solomon Rushdi’s  penning “The Satanic Verses.”! If these debates nearly turned into fisticuffs, don’t even try to discuss the subject in chat on TrekSpace and other well-known Star Trek social websites! You would be flamed immediately!  
After all, with blatant flubs like blowing up Vulcan. . . . . According to Star Trek canon history, the Vulcans were the ones who originally introduced the human race to the Federation. Hence if you blow up and kill of millions of Vulcans, who. . . . . . how. . . .? In other words, you’d better have a good explanation for such a radical action.
You can clearly see two camps of “Trek fans” here. The Old Guard who love their Star Trek just the way it was, BEFORE the JJ Abrams movie. They consider his movie to be an “anathema”. And on the opposite side we have the “Newcomers” who absolutely loved the new movie and look forward with baited breath to see JJ Abrams next creation. They believe JJ Abrams did the best thing since sliced bread, and that it helped to inject new life into what was a dying fandom.
What camp am I in?
Even though I am an Old Guard Trekker, and loved the old Star Trek, I watched the JJ Abrams movie (in fact I bought it on DVD so I could watch it multiple times) with a totally open mind. By the time I got around to buying the movie, I saw and heard all of the furor and bad mouthing about it on line and everywhere else. Yay even on the NEWS!
I really enjoyed the movie because I’m a typical GEEK and love special affects, and CGI stuff. I also love the ships, the battles, and love to see things blow up (like a little kid). Yes, I did notice the JJ Abrams went off the reservation in his depictions, plus some other technicalities. But, I really liked the movie.
Guess what? I’d better not say that too loud at a SciFi convention! I might get my head bitten off! Or, I might be subject to one of those witch burnings they used to have back in the Dark Ages. . . . .
Sigh! Why can’t Star Trek fans all get along. . . . . . .?






Fan Fiction, Fanzines & Fandom – Part 1

I know I’ve waxed sort of extensively about fan fiction in one of my past posts. But, in this post I wish to address the question, “What is Fan Fiction?” and give you my personal take on it.
According to this short definition on Wikipedia, fan fiction is:
Fan fiction (alternately referred to as Fanfiction, Fanfic, FF, or Fic is a broadly defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fanfiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator, or publisher, also, they are almost never professionally published. Because of this many fanfictions written often contain a disclaimer stating that the creator of the work owns none of the characters. Fanfiction therefore, is defined by being both related to it’s subjects canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside the canon of that universe. Most fanfiction writers assume that their work is read primarily by other fans, and therefore tend to presume that their readers have knowladge of the canon universe (created by a professional writer) in which the works are based.

Whew! That was a mouthful which simply said: “Fan fiction is non-professional fiction written by fans, which is directly related to whatever genre they love.” My paraphase.
I first encountered fanfiction back in the 1960’s when the very first Star Trek series (with Kirk, Spock, McCoy) aired. I being a budding teen, loved the show so much that I begged my Dad for money to go to my first ever “Star Trek Convention” (which by the way was held at what was then The Statler Hilton Hotel, now the Penta Hotel, across the street from Madison Square Garden, NYC). This is where I was officially introduced to Star Trek Fandom, fanfiction and fanzines.

What were/are fanzines?
Back then they were hand typed (on a typewriter) and published magazines which contained fan written stories about Captain Kirk, Mister Spock, Doctor McCoy, etc. Five bucks got you a copy of “Maseform D” or “Spockinallia” to take home, curl up with and read. These magazines not only contained stories but fan artwork which were true masterpieces. I hear some of those old fanzines are worth a lot in the Star Trek fan market these days.
I was a regular book worm back then (still am . . . :+}) and I read everything I could get my hands on. At the back of every fanzine was an order form to send away for the next issue. Let’s just say, I had a regular postal operation going on at my house. . . . . . . .
With onset of the internet, what has happened to fanfiction and fanzines today? They are both still alive and kicking. At the last Science Fiction convention I attended (“Shore Leave” in Towson Maryland) there was still a fanzine table in the Dealer’s Room and the proprietress was doing a brisk business!
However, due to the cost of paper and production, fanzines are a lot smaller. Where they used to be 8 ½ X10, they are now half that size. As for fanfiction itself, it has evolved and moved to the world wide web. The website Fanfiction.Net is one of the largest and most diverse.
The Email address is: http://www.fanfiction.net
It contains millions of fanfiction offerings from every conciveable genre and sub genre you can think of. There are contributors, readers and reviewers from all over the world who use this site as a creative outlet. I used to contribute also, but stopped because (to me) the posting format is very difficult to manage. Occasionally, I go back just to lurk . . . :+)
How did I get into fanfiction writing? I used to devour every Star Trek paperback novel that came out. In my opinion, the first perhaps ten years or so, they were well written. After that, the quality of writing decreased to the point where I thought to myself: “Heck, I could’ve written a better book than this!”
If there is one thing I simply cannot stand is a poorly written book! Especially if it is supposed to be professionally written and I’ve paid my hard-earned duckets for it. . . . . . .
Right then I decided to take pen in hand and start writing my own stuff. I originally began began this in a club called the USS Exeter, which was back then a written role playing club. 

We were all officers on a pretend Star Fleet vessel and we went on missions together. We were set up in teams and we would collaborate by mail. The Captain would send us a mission, then we would all write it from our viewpoint as a Security Officer, Engineering, Doctor, etc. We would then submit our collective results by mail which was then printed up and sent to all members in a monthly fanzine type magazine. Back then everything was hand typed on a typewriter, and Xeroxed. . . . . . . .  

Back then EVERYTHING depended on Snail Mail.
This was definitely a labor of love for our “Captain” because most of the time the Exeter’s monthly magazine was over 100 pages, back to back!
Years later, I even tried my hand at producing and distributing my own fanzine of a sort. It was a short bi-monthly newsletter named “The Klingon Times”, which specialized in Klingon humor.
Production went on for about a year but I wound up shutting down the entire operation. Why? Time and money. I did not have either to spare, and it wasn’t fair to my subscribers (yes, I had subscribers) So I refunded my readers and buried the back issues somewhere in my closet. It was an excellent learning experience though. . . . . . .
* * * * * * * * *

NOTE: In order to prevent this entry from becoming a thesis, I’m going to stop at this point, and will continue in another entry. I do have a tendency to “wax long”, but I don’t want to brutalize your poor eyes and mind. . . . . . . . .



Do You Have a Personal Blog/Portfolio?

Yes, I do.


I originally started writing online back in 2007.  I started on a site called Writing.com because a fellow co-worker recommended it to me. 


At the time I was going through some very bad personal life situations, and writing about it helped keep me sane. Sadly now, I am ashamed to say that I haven’t visited it as much as I used to.  The death of someone very close can kind of do that to one.  . . . . . .


However, I have some very old writing here, so please feel free stop in and have a look.  


As for my blog (The Pot Calleth The Kettle Black),  goes back five years. . . . .  Oui Vai!  I should write a book. . . . . . . . .   LOL!


This is the link:  


http://www.writing.com/main/portfolio/view/dminuszero




A Bad Writing Experience


First, there is an extensive and intense history behind this post. I had the misfortune of running up against a very nasty individual, and was forced to defend myself and my writing against them.
How did I get myself into such a mess? I joined a fan club. Yep! I happened to love a particular show, which shall remain nameless, and a particular actor, who shall remain nameless, and started to write a fan fiction crossover story with them in it. Yeah, all in the name of love. . . . . . .
When I first started the story, I emailed a copy to the Grand Pooh Bah of said club( henceforth named: “Ms Thing”). She not only liked it, but agreed to help me with some facts and tips. In the meantime, I was posting the story at a Star Trek site I was a member of, and was getting rave reviews for it.
I did not expect the story to go so long, but it was turning into a sort of series, with me posting several episodes or chapters every week. I had given permission to Ms. Thing to go on the Trek site and read it so she could keep up with the episodes.
Everything went well until she read one episode, she literally hit the ceiling and unloaded on me. She read me the “riot act” and excoriated me for the fact that I was not writing according to “cannon”.
From the very beginning I had let my readers know I was not writing according to cannon. It was a cross-over fanfiction piece and with cross-overs you can expect anything. I’d even placed a disclaimer every time I felt I’d went of the “reservation” in my writing.
I’ve been a fan of Star Trek for over 40 years and had never written my Trek fan fiction strictly according to “cannon”. To me, writing strictly according to cannon is BOOORRRRRRING!
So, when I became a fan of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda I did the very same thing. So what I didn’t know whether the character picked his right nostril, or scratched his left buttock! Geez Louise!
Of course I lit Ms. Thing up! It was all professional though. I’ve been a member of a writing site for the past 5 years, named Writing.com where I have a lot of my old writing. The one thing I learned from being on that site is that you NEVER, EVER completely trash someone else’s work! If you don’t like it, or give helpful hints how to improve it or re-write it, leave it alone!
Why? Because it probably takes about 10 to 20 minutes to read something a poor writer has slaved over for hours at a time, and put their heart and soul into it. God bless you if you can just sit and pour things out from your brain to your fingertips, and computer keyboard. Not everyone is gifted in that manner. So to rip their little piece apart like jackals ripping apart a carcass, is utter cruelty and can be devastating to a budding writer!
I could see if Ms. Thing was an editor, but she was just a maniacal fan. It was either her way or the highway, so I took the highway but I gave her a piece of my mind before I left.
She claimed she was going to report me to THE STAR since I was writing so carelessly about their character. I told her to go ahead. Number one, my story was a piece of FAN FICTION, and NOT being published for public consumption and SALE. I was writing purely for the fans and my personal enjoyment.
I also told her that unless THE STAR owned the character and sent me a Cease and Desist Order, they couldn’t do anything to me. I also emailed her a copy of the United States Constitution which gives me the right to FREE SPEECH! That shut her down. I guess she didn’t think I was that crazy.
Needless to say:
1.   I am no longer a member of said fan club.
2.   I am no longer in touch with Ms.Thing (I “unfriended” her on FaceBook) and deleted her email address.
3.   I copywrited the story by going to My Free Copywrite.com, where you can get a FREE historical copywrite on your written and intellectual property.
4.   I changed the name of my fan fiction from “Crossbow” to “Free Enterprise”.
Because it is mine to do with what I please.

Writing according to cannon:
The best way I can describe cannon is: Mr. Spock on Star Trek is a Vulcan and Vulcans are logical beings and vegetarians. So, if you write a story for Paramount Productions which owns Star Trek, you cannot write a story with him eating Steak Tartar. Also, Mr. Spock does not laugh (unless he’s been sprayed with spores or something).  Vulcans are too LOGICAL to laugh, so you cannot write a story about Mr. Spock cackling like a hyena. Anything written outside of those two cannon aspects would be considered “off the rez” and “verboten” accounting to Paramount Studios who OWNS the Star Trek franchise.
I really should blog about this subject in the future, shouldn’t I?
Also, here is the link to “Free Enterprise”.  Mind you it is very long and you will have to go to ARCHIVES, click on 2010 and start there.
Blessed Be!

A New Story


How many of you have ever written stories to entertain yourselves? Well, this is sort of why I wrote this little piece.
I’ve always wanted to write about dragons and this is just a start. I have no idea what this story would be classified as. Young Adult, Fantasy, Children’s Books. Adults can certainly read it and love it too. 


But I can’t speak for marketing. . . . . .
I figured what better time to write about a Dragon, than on the day of the Chinese New Year (The Lunar New Year)!  Plus, this happens to be The Year of the Dragon!  How serendipitous is that?

Although I had everything written long hand in a steno pad yesterday,  I was just too tired to type/keyboard it and post it until this morning.  Yes, I know.  Lazy and slothful am I.

I would appreciate it very much if you would stop by, read, and comment on “The Year of the Dragon”   It is very short (about 2 and a half pages).  Perhaps a preview of things to come. . . . . . .

This is the direct link:

Thank You
Blessed Be






So, You Wanna Write a Story or Novel. . . .


Okay. You have an idea in your mind that you want to write a story, or book. First you must slay the “NEATWY Dragon” 


“The What?”  You ask. . . . . . . .
I have friends in law enforcement and they refer to the following words: Who, What, Where, When and Why as “NEATWY”. As you may or may not know, law enforcement (like the military) has “acronyms” for everything. Hey, I figure if it helps me to remember things, I’m all for it.
They do this because all of the words have “W’s” at the beginning, so, law enforcement uses the last letters for all except one.
To explain this, I’m going to take these well known words out of the very popular order and sequence we learned during grade school.
First word: WHEN?
When or what time in history is your story/novel going to occur? Will it be in the past, or in the distant future? Or will it happen during the present day.
Second word: WHERE?
Will your story/novel occur on Earth? If so, what country? Will it be in the city, suburbs, countryside, in the dessert, on the sea, on a windswept mountain. On another planet? On a spaceship?
Third word: WHAT?
What is going to happen? A dramatic rescue? A group of people against terrorists? Scientists and doctors racing against time to find a cure for a killer virus? A great bank robbery? A budding romance between two people who despise each other? A beloved animal getting lost and their adventure getting back?
Fourth Word: WHO?
Who are your characters? Are they young, old, middle aged? Male, female, married, single, rich man, poor man, begger man, thief, butcher, baker, candlestick maker?  Are they in a relationship?   Do they have children, pets, or both?  What race are they? What kind of job do they have? What do they like to do during down time? Where do they live, or what is their base of operations? Is your character Human, animal, alien, Vampire, Vulcan, Klingon. . . . . . . .  You know I had to toss those last two in.
The last word is: WHY?
What is the ultimate goal of your story or novel? Are criminals caught and justice served? Will the world/planet be saved from aliens? Will the terrorists/assassins will be kept from blowing up/killing (insert important site or important political figure here)? Will the love lorn finally meet the love of their life? This is the ultimate reason your story will be written in the first place.


Once you’ve dealt with these questions you are now ready to forge on and write. I tend to write by the seat of my pants, but these questions are very helpful for focusing me on the goal I must reach in order to finish what I’m writing.  
DISCLAIMER: This blog entry is only written in my humble opinion. I merely wanted to offer a few helpful pointers that would help my fellow writers.

Thank you
   








Disposable Characters?


This is every writers dilemma. Who do you kill of in your story? Will the victim be a “disposable” person? One of those poor unfortunate individuals that you set up for the kill?
There was (and still is) an old saying about Star Trek (The Original Series with Kirk and Spock). Whenever they needed to kill off characters they always took down “The Red Shirts” or ”Security”. When you watch those old episodes you could literally bet the farm on who was going to become cannon fodder. It was an excellent show though.
Are you that predictable in your stories? Or do you give your readers the runaround? Hey, why not? Let THEM figure out who’s going to take a dirt nap.
Is the “disposable” person a “likable character”? Meaning you put your heart and soul into creating this particular person, and people just love them. And for what ever reason you decided to create great angst by giving them the ax.
Yeah, sometime we writers are just mean that way . . . . . . . . . .
This is a tricky step to take because, you have already built up a certain loyalty for the character, especially if he or she is a main character. You then risk upsetting the entire balance of the rest of the story. Unless you replace them with either someone just as good or better, or by some hook or crook raise them from the dead, you shouldn’t do it.
Unless of course the character is either a Vampire or Zombie. . . .
The reason I mentioned caution is because Hollywood shoots themselves in the foot by killing off main characters all the time. Most of the times after this is done the show(s) fail miserably. You’d think the professional script writers and producers would have learned to NOT kill off their “cash cow”. . . . . . .
Case in point: Gene Roddenberry’s “Andromeda”. When it originally aired it garnered a cult following. Especially because of one star in particular: “Keith Hamilton Cobb” who played “Tyr Anasazi”.
However, due to politics and skullduggery on the set, after three years, Tyr, even though he was a popular and favorite character, was cut from the show at the end of the third season.  At the onset of the fourth season, people tuned in to see the return oftheir favorite Nietzschean (Knee-Chee-Ann) and he was simply GONE! Though production continued without him, viewership fell off dramatically. The show struggled on for two more seasons, then it was finally canned. Why? No one was watching the darned thing anymore. . . . . . .
Oh, by the way, Tyr was brought back for the final two episodes in order to set him up to be KILLED OFF, permanently! This was considered “treason” by Andromeda fans! To this day, most rabid fans of KHC do not even consider the final two seasons of Andromeda to be part of the show.  To them, those last seasons are a totally DIFFERENT show!
I’m not saying your book(s) will suffer the same fate as a Hollywood production. It is after all, it is your choice to write what you want regardless what fans do or say.
But, will they continue to buy, read and enjoy your books, now that a favorite and well-loved character is gone?
The ultimate bottom line: “Will it continue to sell?”






Guilty Writer


I feel guilty because nearly the entire month of January 2012 has passed and I’ve hardly written a thing.

Nothing in any of my four blogs.  One personal, one Christian/Political, one Black oriented, and this is a brand spanking new one, so it doesn’t count. . . . .
Oh, I’ve written a few chapters for “Free Enterprise” for the Star Trek site I’m a member of. Since the site was being renovated, I had to get used to the new bells and whistles. It was a good thing I had already written and saved the post in Open Office (I know, I still love this program even though it has a major glitch) I had to get used to doing things all over again on the site. Yuck!
I’m also supposed to be editing “Night Riders”. Editing and writing. The story continues after the NaNo 50K limit, and the part I’m up to is very intense. I wanted to end my first novel (I hope, I hope, I hope!) to be a cliff hanger. Why? So people will tempted to wait with baited breath to read the next installment. Yes, I’m hoping “Night Riders” will be a series!
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I can quit my day job, actually midnight job (cuz I work the Vampire/Graveyard Shift) and spend my time doing what I love. Writing.
First, I must get past the first stage. I must finish editing! From there the sky is the limit. . . . . . .
I think.
By dawnskyy Posted in guilty

Do Writers Talk To Themselves?

DO YOU AS A WRITER TALK TO YOURSELF?  


I know I do!

I was caught talking to myself last week by my supervisor and of course she questioned it.

My reason?  I’m a writer!

I constantly have to check sentence structure, sounding out words, checking spelling and tenses, and rearrange paragraphs so they sound right to others who read them.

So, most definitely I will talk to myself.

Inquiring minds would like to know, what about you?