Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Study of Gender

Gender is far more than he or she. It's even more than the physical. It is an entire mindset. Sorry guys, but men are fairly simple, operating for the most part on black and white. Women are more feeling oriented and are prone to falling into analyzing situations far more than needed.

Okay so now try to see what happens when you mix this up. This is fiction so turn loose of your sensibilities. What would happen if you were to have a male persona inhabit a female body without a persona anymore. Or perhaps the other way around. Perhaps the term 'soul' would be easier for you to grasp. How much of what you identify as 'you' is dictated by your physical body and brain? Who can say really, but it's a fun concept to play with.

Transgressions, by Phillip Bernie did just that and did it very well and really quite tastefully. No bizarre erotic moments though there were some moments to be sure.

He took a male persona and put it in a female body. He even included cell memory as well as breed or race if you prefer. I found the study amusing though really there were relatively few actually funny spots. More along the line of a guy learning how to make use of the 'rack' he found himself endowed with.

This is the prevailing background thread through this story, but the story itself was captivating as the main character needed to protect his friends from an evil spirit and equally evil and ambitions people, even people who might have become powerful enough to consider themselves gods or their highest priests.

Yeah, we're talking magic here, and in the case of this story, magic is something like the Midi-chlorians of Star Wars, though perhaps less intelligent. In other words, particles with certain habits, visible only to the mage. Another very well handled thread. It's not easy keeping these things straight. Phillip Bernie did a very fine job with this book.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Spellchecker is God

Is it? Is it really? No. Far from it. Don't get me wrong, spellchecker is an awesome tool, it has helped me SO much, but it's far from infallible. If you manage to screw up a word bad enough, you have to resort to the dictionary to find the proper spelling. Now isn't that a catch 22 - to find out how to spell a word, you need to know how to spell it to look it up. haha Well, at least the dictionary has more suggestions.

So what is my point here? Well, I just read a really great story. If you know me, it takes quite a bit for me to say a story is really great. In my opinion, all stories are good ideas, it's how the writer handles and develops the story that counts. This story, I just finished involved string theory and time travel. Super simplified, it's the theory that time is not linear but something like a coil. You can't really go forward or backwards in time because time itself is merely a pinprick. What you do is travel the course of time around the loop until you run into what you perceive as your past where you 'jump ship' to do whatever you wanted to go back in time to do. The only thing is, it's not really your past, it's just the next closest thing. Does that make sense? I hope so. Anyway, this book did a lot of hop, skipping, and jumping through time, making the concept quite clear and doing a great job of not losing me along the way. Under other circumstances, this book would have gotten a 4 or 5 star review from me. The only think I didn't like about the story was the main character; she seemed to have a rather unstable personality, going from ice queen killer, to down right jerk, to teary shrinking violet, to something sort of normal.

But now we get to my point. Though there were no outright spelling errors that I noticed, the kindle doesn't do those nifty squiggly red lines, the entire book was full of homonyms, missing words, wrong words (like then instead of the), misplaced words (like when you rearrange a sentence and forget to remove the extras), and above all, oodles of punctuation mistakes. As I understand it, coma placement is something of a personal style. I like to go by desired sound, which means I use more than most, but when the inclusion or lack of one changes the meaning of a sentence, it can be a little annoying. But coma placement, or lack thereof, wasn't the only punctuation issue. There were missing periods, of all things. In fact, I'm really surprised the nifty spellchecker didn't light the document with all kinds of those little green lines that point out grammar errors. They wouldn't catch everything, but they would have caught some of it.

The book was somewhat annoying to read because of this, and because of my dislike of the main character. I nearly put it down in favor of reading another book I've taken on from a friend, but then the time travel part started and it got interesting.

I've got to post a review on Amazon, but I'm really torn as to what to say. I'm not even sure how I'd rate it. If I had more choices, I'd give it a 1 or 2 for all the errors, but the story on it's own deserves a 5, I think. I'll have to think about it.

What would you do? How do you use your spellchecker? Do you?


Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Definitions of Race

I've touched on race before, and I've talked about weaving a story like a tapestry. One prevailing thread that runs through this book is race. Not racism, just race. There are like four major races on this Earth, and probably several variants. But what if there were races we knew nothing about? What if these people purposely kept their numbers way down, propagating only by special permission? And then, what if you discovered one of them? What would you do? How would you react? Would you react at all?

Now, if you or I ran across one of these people, we might not do much of anything because we probably wouldn't know the difference, I mean, it's not as if their race was written on their face like having black skin, or slanted eyes.

However, John, does just that, and, just like anyone else, he doesn't know it, and doesn't really care. He was just on a routine surveillance job. Minutes later, nothing was routine anymore. Now he had to figure out why some out-of-town crime boss wanted him dead one minute and then wanted to be all friendly the next time they talked.

So tell me, what is it about race that makes it what it is? I mean, other than a physical appearance, what makes a black man a black man? What makes an Asian man Asian. If not their physical appearance; if not their country of origin, what else is there. A black person, a white person, all of us have other words that define us. Most of those words are derogatory on some level, but really, if you take away appearance and location, a definition, any definition, is about all that is left. So given only the definition, and given two definitions to choose from, which do you choose? Which one makes you stronger and which one destroys you, even if only within your own mind?


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Author Spotlight - Bryan Cohen

How to Create Value for Your Readers
by Bryan Cohen

What's the point of writing a book? I'm sure most writers could come up with dozens of reasons. These reasons might have to do with their destiny or their need for a creative outlet. Many answers, however, would have to do with providing value to their readers. Value can come in the form of eliciting emotions, teaching lessons and simply providing entertainment.

While my 2014 writing resolution has to do more with entertainment, most of my 2010-2013 writing provided a different sort of value. My books of creative writing prompts were focused on giving other writers inspiration so they could write their own stories, blog posts, scripts, etc. To make it a fishing metaphor, I wasn't giving my readers fish, but I was teaching them how to fish for themselves. In fact, I hope my readers learn how to fish so well that they can feed themselves creatively for a lifetime.

I'm an idea guy. I've been fortunate enough to get over 5,000 ideas to put on paper in the last few years. I love giving these ideas away and seeing what other writers will do with them. With all those ideas on paper and off in the world, I'll be spending the next year creating a fiction series of my very own. Until I've finished those books, I'm happy to know that thousands of people have my ideas on their physical or digital shelves. My stories may become a success on their own, but if they don't, I know I'll have had a hand in creating value for writers that I've never even met.

What value can you create for your readers going forward? Keep value in mind when you create your next book. It may help take your writing and your readers to a higher level.

About the Author: