May 26, 2015

The End Justifies The Means

Calvin & Hobbes
Read this small passage from Donald E. Westlake's The Ax and let me know if you agree with Burke Devore, the speaker (note that the man's been out of work for two years and desperate to find a job):

"Every era, and every nation, has its own characteristic morality, its own code of ethics, depending on what the people think is important. There have been times and places when honor was considered the most sacred of qualities, and times and places that gave every concern to grace. The Age of Reason promoted reason to be the highest of values, and some peoples--the Italians, the Irish--have always felt that feeling, emotion, sentiment was the most important. In the early days of America, the work ethic was our greatest expression of morality, and then for a while property values were valued above everything else, but there's been another more recent change. Today, our moral code is based on the idea that the end justifies the means.
   There was a time when that was considered improper, the end justifying the means, but that time is over. We not only believe it, we say it. Our government leaders always defend their actions on the basis of their goals. And every single CEO who has commented in public on the blizzard of downsizings sweeping America has explained himself with some variant of the same idea: The end justifies the means.
   The end of what I'm doing, the purpose, the goal, is good, clearly good. I want to take care of my family; I want to be a productive part of society; I want to put my skills to use; I want to work and pay my own way and not be a burden to the taxpayers. The means to that end has been difficult, but I've kept my eye on the goal, the purpose. The end justifies the means. Like the CEOs, I have nothing to feel sorry for."

So tell me, do you agree with Devore? Do you approve of him, his reasoning?

Now would you tell me the same if you knew he'd killed off his competition to raise his chances of getting a new job?

Ah, that is a whole 'nother deal, isn't it?

May 19, 2015

Larger-Than-Life Characters

The Justice League
I always like to re-read famous literary agent Maass's The Breakout Novelist after I've already brainstormed a few times through a new novel (even if it's a novel in a series). The reason being that it forces me to think about my story under different angles, thereby spurring my imagination even further. Which I think is always a plus.

In any case, Maass has a whole chapter describing different types of characters (you can go here if you want a more extensive list) and I decided to focus on larger-than-life characters and what characteristics make them so. So here's the quick list:

May 12, 2015

Rise Of The Fey Errata

For those of you who have the first edition of Rise of the Fey (aka purchased prior to May 15, 2015), then chances are you've noticed a few *ahem* missing words or some such silly typos. A thousand apologies.

Therefore, I've created the following errata for you, along with a picture of Puck. Those of you who write me prior to June 15, 2015 with a proof of purchase (including the date thereof), will get a free card with both of these on it! And that counts for both the Kindle and the hard copy versions :)

Creativity Leads To Humor

Being rather humor-deprived meself, I feel obliged to learn more about the art of making jokes in the hopes that some of it will trickle down into my otherwise arid personality... To that end, I'm currently reading Comedy Writing Secrets (CWS).

According to CWS, the first step to writing humor is to be creative.

What if? Your first exercise is to use your imagination to look at any common object and train your mind to see it as something else, no matter how outrageous. This exercise is to force your brain to come up with "unexpected relationships that surprise the audience--and surprise makes people laugh."

Therefore, CWS continues, if you're going to write humor, you should be uninhibited! And as any writer knows, editing will come later, so don't worry about censoring yourself at first.

The whole object of comedy is to be yourself, and the closer you get to that, the funnier you will be. ~Jerry Seinfeld

May 10, 2015

A Mother...

I saw this quote by French author Guy de Maupassant which I thought was perfect for today...

One loves one's mother almost without knowing it, and one doesn't realize how deep that love goes until the moment of the last separation.

Here's the quote in French, as I feel my meager translation didn't do it justice:

On aime sa mère presque sans le savoir, et on ne prend conscience de toute la profondeur des racines de cet amour qu'au moment de la séparation dernière.

May 6, 2015

When The Froggies And Limeys Buried The Hatchet

When both sides of the Channel Tunnel met (1990)
I just wanted to take a minute of your day to remember how, 21 years ago, the French and British officially opened the Eurotunnel (aka the Channel Tunnel) after spending years working together.
Hear, hear to international cooperation and all the great feats we can achieve together! Next project: the conquest of the universe? ;)

PS: OK, OK, they'd buried it a while back (though perhaps not verbally?), but it makes for a snappier article title, eh?

May 5, 2015

How To Communicate With Your Fan (The Object, Not The Person)

Girl with a fan, Pietro Rotari
Since moving back to Europe, I've found myself falling deeply for the history channel. I find the programs on it to be very interesting, well-researched, and cover a wide variety of topics. One of the the programs on random historical news brought up a very interesting fact regarding the use of...
The Fan.

So here's a little dictionary of uses regarding the fan from the Maison Duvelleroy, a house founded in 1827 by a man who wished to see the delicate object back in use...
Lady with a fan, Alexandre Roslin

Holding it in your right hand before your face: Follow me.
Holding it in your left hand before your face: I wish for an interview (private).
Placing it against your left ear: I wish for you to leave me alone.
Brushing it against your forehead: You have changed.
Twirling it in your left hand: We are being watched.
Holding it in your right hand: You are being enterprising.
Sliding it in your hand: I loathe you.
Twirling it in your right hand: I love someone else.
Brushing it down your cheek then placing it against your chin: I love you.
Showing it closed to someone: Do you love me?
Sliding it before your eyes: I am sorry.
Touching the edge of it with your finger: I wish to speak to you.
Placing it against your right cheek without moving it: Yes.
Placing it against your left cheek without moving it: No.
Opening and closing it: You are cruel.
Letting it hang: We shall remain friends.
Slowly fanning yourself: I am married.
Quickly fanning yourself: I am engaged.
Placing it against your lips: Kiss me.
Open and still: Wait for me.
Holding it open in your left hand: Come speak to me.
Placing it behind your head: Do not forget me.

~Transl. from "L’éventail à tous vents" (Louvre des Antiquaires, Paris 1989).
Of course, you could also try to cheat with your fan...
Now what should an unmarried woman use the fan to keep cool without giving any false messages? ;)


May 2, 2015

Congratulations! - Results Of The Goodreads Giveaway

Just wanted to congratulate Monique of New Zealand, Sara of Portugal, and Gloria of the U.S. for winning a copy of Rise of the Fey! I really hope you'll like the story, and am so glad to see the Morgana Trilogy has some readers all over the world!

I would also like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that the Morgana Trilogy should be read starting on book 1, as it's a continuous tale and, due to wanting to keep the number of pages down (or the cost of the hard copy would go up), there is no summary of past events in the following books either. I hope this won't confuse anyone (I know some people don't mind diving right in the middle of the story, and oftentimes, it won't matter too much, but here it most probably will).

In any case, I hope you enjoy Morgan's adventures!

May 1, 2015

The Tales Of Robin Hood & Other Folklore

Back in the olden days people in England (and other parts of the northern hemisphere such as in Sweden and other Norse countries) celebrated the
end of winter by throwing a big party on the first of May.

Festivities included May-pole dances, May kings and queens, and the following two characters who played a major role:

Maid Marian and Jack in the Green.

Jack in the Green was usually portrayed...all in green! Did you expect anything else?

Anyway, he was covered from head to toe in green ivy and garlands of flowers, to signify the rebirth of spring and fertility.

As for Maid Marian, she was a simple shepherdess whose role may have derived from a 13th century French tradition of having May Games that involved the love play between the Maid Marian (or Marion in French) and her lover Robin just as the rest of nature gets ready to partake in similarly lewd activities.

Le jeu de Robin et Marion
Over time, the myths may have merged to create a more humble Maid Marian and her lover Robin in
the Green, who still frolicked in the forest (which could have been Sherwood Forrest, who knows?).

A few centuries later, Robin and Marian were both gentrified then even later associated with actual personages during the reign of King John, brother of King Richard... and of course, over time, many others have tweaked the tale to fit their needs.

Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)
Wiki - Jack in the Green (Note: I swear I came up with this comparison before reading this article!)
Wiki - Maid Marian