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Friday, May 25, 2018

ONCE in Meilori's with fae expert Ronel Janse van Vuuren



At Meilori's ...

that haunted jazz club that is never too far from myth, mystery, and ever-lurking faes.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren sat across from me at my rune-etched table.


The fog gathered near.  
 
The jazz murmured low in the shadows.  
 
The torches beckoned to all who wander lost in the dark of their soul.


 I must have spoken that thought aloud, for Ronel said low, "How do you know they are so lost?"
 
I smiled sadly, "On such a night, if they could be home, they'd already be there." 
 
She returned my smile.  "Just so.  Just so."


I tapped her book.

"Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faerie tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.

This is quite a book."


 "Nightmare," I whispered.  "That is most often the stuff of faerie all right."


The ghost of Mark Twain suddenly sat down beside me, giving Ronel a bit of a start.

"Son, you're going about this interview all wrong.  Let me show you how it's done."

He winked at a recovered Ronel.

"Whenever you give an interviewer a fact give him another fact that will contradict it. 

Then he’ll go away with a jumble that he can’t use at all."

"Thanks loads, Mark," I grumbled.

"No bother at all.  In fact, I'll do the whole blamed interview for you 'cause I know your questions will be plumb anemic."

He turned to an openly amused Ronel.

"What is the first book to make you cry, Little Lady?"

 "I think it was “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. We’re talking the late 90's here and a teen me."



Mark frowned, as since reading 50 Shades of Grey, he had sworn off modern novels.

"Does writing energize or exhaust you or both?"
 
"A bit of both. A shiny new story leaves me energized and ready to write the whole thing in a weekend.

(I’ve done that)

Rewrites and edits leave me mentally and
emotionally drained.

(who wants to cut characters and scenes?)"


 Mark nodded sagely and asked, "What is your Kryptonite?"

"Insecurity. But that’s why I joined the Insecure Writer’s Support Group – 

we meet once a month (online) and share our highs and lows. 

I do have a new motto:

Warrior Up

I wrote about it for April’s IWSG."



Mark cupped his chin.

"Do you think someone could be a writer if  she does not feel emotions strongly?"

"It depends on your chosen genre and the type of writer you are. 

If you expect readers to feel everything your
characters do, want to make a lasting impression, 

and find interesting plot twists, I think it’s important to feel your character’s emotions deeply."

Mark smiled at that.

"What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?  Me, I went bankrupt trying to invent a new kind of typewriter!"

"Does buying books count? He-he. 

Hiring an editor. I learned so much from her feedback. I believe my writing is better for it."

Mark wrinkled his lips thinking of his next question.

"I dislike Jane Austen so much, I have to fight from digging up her grave and beating her over the skull with her own shin bone!

What writer did you at first dislike but grew into?"

"Suzanne Collins. With a lot of others it is the other way around."
  
Mark snorted at that.

"I was a cub reporter at sixteen.  When did you learn that words had power?"

"I was maybe four or five when a boy in my class said “voetsek” to one of the maids. 

Her expression… 



The hurt I saw inflicted by one word left a lasting impression. 

I had to ask my parents what it meant. 

What you have to understand is that the word is an offensive one, of rejection in my country – 

though I didn’t know it at the time.

It has roots in our unsavoury political past and
still has sway in racial issues."

Mark sighed as he recalled his own childhood.

"What is the most difficult thing about writing about the other sex?"

"Figuring out how to portray emotions."


Mark chuckled,  

"I always seemed to write on for too long.  I had to get others to prune my works.

What did you edit out of your work?"

"A story that just didn’t work at the time. 
There was something missing. 

I rewrote it and it was accepted for the fourth Clarion Call anthology “FairyTale Riot!” this month."

Mark tapped her book on the table.

"What was the hardest scene to write?"


"Mae’s reaction to her breakup and how she worked
through it to become the Faery Queen I wrote about in other books. It was very emotionally draining."


I couldn't let Mark have all the fun, so I jumped in with a question.

"Do you ever Google yourself?"

"Of course! You need to know what pops up when
someone searches for you or your books.

 If it’s something unsavoury, you have to address the problem immediately – 

before it hurts your author brand."

Ronel smiled wide. "Thanks for having me, Roland."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

C. Lee McKenzie



C. Lee McKenzie --

She is one of my oldest friends here in the blogverse.


When I read her posts or her books, 
I always see her smiling.


Lee is not smiling now.  

She has just lost her husband.  

Sigh.  

There are no words for such times.

C. S. Lewis, at the dying of his wife, wrote: 

the death of a loved one is an amputation.


When Kathryn, my fiancée, died, 

for long months, I would look long up into the night sky and whisper, 

"Come back ... even as a shadow, 
even as a dream." 

But this is about Lee ... 

and a tangible thing you can do to say "I care" during this time. 


Lee's newest book has just been published.

Lee is devastated by the death of her husband.  

And promoting the book which took so long to write is the very last thing on her mind.

But we can buy it.  

We can review it.  

We can promote it.

It is not much, 

but perhaps Lee will look back at the support she received from her friends in the blogverse and feel not quite so alone.


Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/some-very-messy-medieval-magic-c-lee-mckenzie/1127622061?ean=2940154648575
 

Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/some-very-messy-medieval-magic
 

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/some-very-messy-medieval-magic/id1324257652?mt=11
 
Kindle - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079V72G8R
 

Foyles - http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/childrens/some-very-messy-medieval-magic,c-lee-mckenzie-9781939844460
 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37537343-some-very-messy-medieval-magic

What is SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC about?

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. 


But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. 

His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. 


Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? 


Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones 

and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...
Release date – May 15, 2018
 
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477



DID YOU KNOW?

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication?

But these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. 

When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga 

or asking a lot of questions about things she still doesn’t understand. 

At least she's still attempting to grow, right?  

Her blog is
http://cleemckenziebooks.com

But as you can understand, Lee will be taking time off to mourn and to heal. 

LET US DO WHAT WE CAN 
TO TELL LEE THAT WE CARE.

Monday, May 21, 2018

WHAT STORY ARE YOU IN?



Carl Jung once wrote:

"Whether you know it or not, you are in a story.  

If it is not YOUR story, you can be sure you will have a bit part.

If it is your story, do you know what kind?  

If not, you may be sure that its ending will be bad.

Or if it is a thoroughly bad story, its ending will be worse."


Jung also said that you did not want to be a person who could not be cruel.  

Instead, you must be someone who could be cruel but chose not to be.

A man who cannot be cruel will be a perpetual victim.  

Rather be a person who can be dangerous if need be.

"Who looks outside, dreams.  Who looks within, awakes."


My students often said that they hated me assigning them books that took thought to understand and enjoy.

I choose to write my own stories in that vein.  

I guess I have chosen to live out my story in a similar fashion. 

WHAT STORY ARE YOU IN?

Did you pick it?

or

Did it pick you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

PORTRAIT of an ARTISTIC SURVIVOR





She was born Maria Górska on 16 May 1898 in Warsaw, then part of the Russian Empire.


When she was ten, her mother commissioned a pastel portrait of her by a prominent local artist.

 She detested posing and was dissatisfied with the finished work.

 She took the pastels, had her younger sister pose, and made her first portrait.




How many artists and authors started like that,
saying
"I could do better than that!"





In 1915, she met and fell in love with a prominent Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Łempicki
(1888–1951).

Her family offered him a large dowry, and they were married in 1916 in the chapel of the Knights of Malta in St. Petersburg.



The Russian Revolution in 1917 shattered their lives.


In December 1917, Tadeusz Łempicki was arrested in the middle of the night by the secret police.

Tamara searched the prisons for him, and with the help of the Swedish consul, to whom she offered her "favors," she secured his release.


The couple struggled their way to Paris  where Tamara's family had also found refuge.

Tadeusz proved unwilling or unable to find suitable work.

To support their daughters, Tamara turned to selling her paintings.

In 1928 she was divorced from Tadeusz Łempicki.

That same year, she met Raoul Kuffner, a baron of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and an art collector.



He commissioned her to paint his mistress, the Spanish dancer Nana de Herrera.

Lempicka finished the portrait (which was not very flattering to de Herrera)

and took the place of de Herrera as the mistress of the baron.

In 1929, Lempicka painted one of her best-known works, Autoportrait --
(Tamara in a green Bugatti)


The wife of Baron Kuffner died in 1933. De Lempicka married him on 3 February 1934 in Zurich.

She was alarmed by the rise of the Nazis and persuaded her husband to sell most of his properties in Hungary and to move his fortune and his belongings to Switzerland.

Her Art Deco style fell out of fashion.

Art Deco was "rediscovered" in the late 1960's.

Her "rediscovery" amused Tamara. 
She needed no one's approval to feel whole.


The best description of Lempicka's work was her own:

"I was the first woman to make clear paintings
and that was the origin of my success.
 Among a hundred canvases,
mine were always recognizable"


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Is TECHNOLOGY Clouding Your Mind?



The 1930's character, The Shadow, possessed the power to cloud men's minds so they couldn't see him.


Any stage magician will tell you that there are 

blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, 

so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. 

Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.



1.) CLOUDING METHOD ONE

IF YOU CONTROL THE MENU, YOU CONTROL THE CHOICES

 Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. 

Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, 

while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn’t choose in the first place.



This is exactly what magicians do. 

They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. 

I can’t stress enough the importance of this insight.

When people see a menu, they do not ask:

WHAT'S NOT ON THE MENU?

WHY AM I GIVEN THESE OPTIONS AND NOT OTHERS?

WHAT ARE THE PROVIDER'S GOALS?

Say you're out with friends having a meal and a good conversation.

You want to keep it going so you ask Yelp for nearby recommendations and get a list of bars.

Yelp substituted the group’s original question (“where can we go to keep talking?”) 

with a different question (“what’s a bar with good photos of cocktails?”) all by shaping the menu.






 While looking down at your phones, 

you and they don’t see the park across the street with a band playing live music. 

They miss the pop-up gallery on the other side of the street serving crepes and coffee. 

 Neither of those show up on Yelp’s menu.



2.) CLOUDING METHOD TWO

 Put a slot machine in a billion pockets.

How do you keep people hooked on an app?

COVERT IT INTO A SLOT MACHINE.

The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. 

Why do we do this? 

Are we making 150 conscious choices?

 The #1 psychological ingredient in slot machines:

Intermittent Variable Rewards

Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable.

 Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks
combined!

 If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action with a variable reward.



 Oh, but you don't play slot machines you say.

Wrong

Several billion people have slots machines in their pockets.


When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.

 When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.

 When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.

 When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.

 When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.



3.) CLOUDING METHOD THREE

 Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.”

 If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities —

 it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — 

because (aha, I win) you might miss something important.

 * This keeps us subscribed to newsletters even after they haven’t delivered recent benefits 

(“what if I miss a future announcement?”)

*  This keeps us “friended” to people with whom we haven’t spoke in ages 

(“what if I miss something important from them?”)

*  This keeps us using social media 

(“what if I miss that important news story or
 fall behind what my friends are talking about?”)

NEWSFLASH!

 We’ll always miss something important at any point when we stop using something.

Remember:

We don’t miss what we don’t see.

HAVE YOU HAD YOUR MIND CLOUDED 
BY THE INTERNET LATELY?