A Dose of Discontent

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

Oscar Wilde

Yeah…and the man was just working on a POEM. Imagine applying that much obsession to nearly 90,000 words in a novel.

I do not use the word “hate” lightly, but right now I hate those organized, plotting, planning bastards who can create a detailed novel outline, write out a story from beginning to end following the original plan, then polish up what they’ve written with simple grammar and punctuation corrections before sending off the final draft for review. Argh. I HATE them.

For me, writing fiction is easy. Creating tension in a scene is easy. Creating snarky dialogue is easy. Racking up raw word counts in the thousands is easy. Polishing up what I’ve written is not exactly difficult…unless I’m trying to make deep changes. Then it gets a bit difficult. Like performing brain surgery while playing the violin and tap dancing. Like swimming across the English Channel with a tea cup balanced on my head. Like juggling flaming bowling balls while skiing.

Ugh. But all this pain is going to be worth it. I swear!

photo credit: Olivander via photopin cc

Leia…a Disney Princess?

I have a bad feeling about this…

The last Tuesday of October was not a good day in America. It was a day filled with news reports detailing the horror and devastation of Superstorm Sandy interspersed with doomsday financial predictions and a few stray bits of pre-election rhetoric (three topics filled with such anger, fear & aggression as to make me avoid my television entirely), but there was one piece of entertainment news significant enough to break through the terrible melee.

Tuesday October 30, 2012 will be a day long remembered by Star Wars fans. It saw the announcement of Disney’s agreement to purchase Lucasfilms and the promise of more Star Wars films to come.


This affects my life in two very important ways:

  1. I have a novel coming out in 2013. My novel’s target audience is Star Wars fans. 95% of my marketing plan for this book (and the two books to follow) revolves around connecting with Star Wars fans. The fact that Disney will be whipping up the Star Wars marketing as only Disney can is GOOD NEWS. Hello, Platform! Woo hoo! Hallelujah! The FORCE will be with me!
  2. But I am AFRAID. I am deeply and desperately afraid that my beloved galaxy far, far away will be transformed in ways that will tear everything apart.

I don’t want the franchise to become a caricature of its former self (though some would argue this has already happened with new trilogy characters such as Jar Jar Binks). I don’t want the Star Wars galaxy to reach a critical mass and crumble in on itself. While I do want to see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher &/or Harrison Ford reprise their roles in new films (and recent internet buzz says Carrie will definitely appear in Episode VII), I don’t want those films to suck.

Most of all, I don’t want Leia to be a Disney princess.

The Importance of Leia (with apologies to Honey Badger)

Let’s get one thing straight…Leia is badass.

Deadly laser blasts exploding in all directions? Big, nasty, Sith bastard hunting her down? Leia don’t care! Leia never gives up. She hides the secret plans in her trusty astromech droid and gets in a few shots before the Stormtroopers capture her.

Paraded around in handcuffs after withstanding hours of interrogation? Home planet threatened with imminent annihilation? Okay, Leia cares. But she still doesn’t give up! Leia never willingly discloses the location of the hidden rebel base. She gives those Imperial goons a false address and still manages to let them know they have a “foul stench.”

Imprisoned on Imperial death row? Scheduled for termination? Forced to deal with inept rescuers who blasted their way in there with no plan for escape? Leia don’t care! She blasts a hole in the wall and jumps right into a rancid garbage shoot…without any underwear!

Why? Because Leia is BADASS.

Leia don’t chirp out songs to the birdies about her hopes and wishes for a better life. Leia don’t bow and acquiesce to some greedy old stepmother and her two ugly daughters. Leia certainly don’t lay around waiting for some prince to awaken her. And Leia don’t never, EVER willingly sacrifice her voice in order to catch a man.

Oh no! Leia leads a successful rebellion to restore democracy to the galaxy AND still finds time to strap on a thermal detonator to rescue her not-so-princely lover…right before she strangles his enemy with the slave chain attached to her own throat.

Leia is BADASS and it matters deeply to me that she always and forever remain BADASS. It just does. Any change to Leia’s character would be…hmmmmm, well, it would be much like creating a new and improved secret formula for Coca-Cola — in other words, a HORRIBLE idea.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not a hater. I don’t actually hate the Disney princesses the way some modern women are prone to do. The Disney princess have their place in the world of fantasy and entertainment. Many of them are quite clever and…you might even call them plucky. Although my favorite Disney films tend to feature animals (Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, The Aristocats and The Rescuers to name a few), I have greatly enjoyed some of the princess films (Beauty and the Beast comes to mind).

Dear Disney,

I love you. I do. I love your magical worlds and your Star Wars weekends and your mighty marketing machine. Yes, I even think it’s cute and funny when you dress up Minnie to look like Leia.

I know that we Star Wars fans seem like a strange, obsessive, fierce and mentally-unstable lot.  Perhaps, my own personal little fairy tale will shed some light on the situation.

Once upon a time — not so very long ago, not so very far away — there lived a young girl who was brown and round and loud and awkward and not at all the sort of girl anyone would ever think was particularly special on her own planet. She looked very much like thousands, maybe even millions, of other little girls of her species, but she was hiding a terrible secret. This girl was an alien in her own skin and she was suffering from a big, empty, gaping hole in her soul that made it difficult just to breathe.

Then, on a day when she least expected it, this little girl walked into a movie theater and everything changed. EVERYTHING. Among many strange and wonderful possibilities, the little girl discovered a princess unlike any other — a princess who helped her understand that there was more to real, true, lasting beauty than perfectly flipped hair or the whitest teeth or a sweet, kittenish voice. As crazy as it sounds, this rebel princess might have saved that little girl’s life.

Please, please, PLEASE don’t mess up my princess!

photo credits: JD Hancock via photopin cc, Ѕolo via photopin cc, gadgetgirl via photopin cc, Scott Smith (SRisonS) via photopin cc & sk.art via photopin cc

Fun, Fear & Loathing at Dragon*Con 2012

All of the experts agree. The top, #1, most important key to success for any author is to KNOW THY TARGET AUDIENCE. Which is followed closely by the second most important key to success: FIGURE OUT HOW TO CONNECT TO THY TARGET AUDIENCE.

Let me introduce you to my target audience…

All of the above pictures were taken at Dragon*Con. I don’t know any of the people in the pictures. I’ve never met any of the photographers. And yet I love every person who contributed to the creation of these images with a fierce and deeply loyal sort of love.

At the same time, I kind of fear them. Standing next to all of this flamboyant, wildly-creative geekery makes me feel like a washed-out wallflower in the Star Wars galaxy of fandom. Which probably explains why I have lived in the North Georgia area for over four years, but never ventured near the annual Labor Day celebration of pop-culture geekery known as Dragon*Con….until this year. Emboldened by the pressing need to come up with a concrete marketing strategy to connect with my audience in 2013, I finally took the plunge and purchased a Saturday membership (which is just a Con-ish way to say I bought a ticket).

Ahhhh….Dragon*Con! If you’ve never heard of it or have no idea what it’s all about, I’m not going to be able to explain it. Luckily, I don’t have to. Because PBS has done all the work for me. Check out Four Days at Dragon*Con (a look inside the largest fan-run, pop-culture con in the US).

It’s fascinating. Seriously. Click on the link. I’ll wait here while you enjoy the show.

OK, welcome back. Now here’s what I learned…about myself, about the con and about Star Wars fans:

  1. This thing is HUGE. Some people tried to tell me how big this thing is, but my brain did not even begin to fathom the mind-boggling, overwhelming size and density of this event. I attended Mardi Gras in 1990. It was kind of like that, except 80-90% of the crowd is wearing incredible costumes and (as far as I could tell) no one was sloppy drunk &/or urinating in public places.
  2. To avoid being chewed up and spit out by this event, I should have studied the program tracks and a map of the hotels BEFORE the event. Since I did not do this, I wandered around feeling small and confused, snapped a few pictures, perused the vendor rooms (where I had to talk myself out of purchasing a purple lightsaber), chatted with and received kind encouragement from some awesome Star Wars folks (see items 3 & 4) and, ultimately, hid out most of the day in a Mediterranean restaurant sipping white wine and chatting with a sales representative from Premier Digital Publishing about the brave new publishing world and its opportunities for authors.
  3. There are not one, but TWO international costuming organizations dedicated to Star Wars costuming:  Rebel Legion is dedicated to costumes for the good guys (Jedi, Rebels, Princesses and even Wookies) and 501st Legion is the world’s definitive Imperial costuming organization.
  4. There’s also an international club of R2 builders!
  5. If I’m going to do this thing next year and truly make the most of this HUGE marketing opportunity that happens every year so close to my own hidden rebel base, I’m going to need:
    • A partner (or two) in crime. (Flying Solo might be a personal fantasy come true, but flying solo at Dragon*Con is not my idea of a good time.)
    • Lots and lots of glossy, pretty bookmarks &/or cards to drop all over this event.
    • A full, four-day membership (gulp).
    • Some creative way to visually identify myself as a Star Wars geek that does NOT involve (1) a metal bikini, (2) hiding inside a helmet, (3) hundreds of dollars and hours of work creating the perfect costume, or (4) being forced to APPROACH total strangers showing off their finest Star Wars gear to tell them about my book

Hmmmmm….this is where I would love, love, LOVE some help.

I know I will need to attend events with a high density of Star Wars fans throughout 2013. But I need a strategy. An action plan. Some way to draw the Star Wars fans to me and start a conversation. (Note: While I feel perfectly comfortable talking to anyone who approaches me, I’m entirely incapable of thrusting myself into another person’s path without an invitation.)

I’m in desperate need of your ideas and suggestions. If you don’t feel comfortable posting them here, please send an email to “Slayzak” using the AOL address.

photo credits: Cayusa via photopin cc, greyloch via photopin cc, sjmck via photopin cc, & Courtarro via photopin cc

Dahlonega Literary Festival is this Weekend!

It’s going to be a gorgeous weekend here in Dahlonega, with a high of 70 on Saturday, plenty of colorful leaves still on the trees and an abundance of golden autumn sunlight all weekend long. We have local wineries with tasting rooms on the square. We have incredible restaurants. We have options to explore art, history and nature galore.

If that’s not enough enticement, this weekend is the 9th Annual Dahlonega Literary Festival. It’s free, free, FREE! Come on, you KNOW you want to come join us! Check out the full details here.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this year:

  • Lunch with the Authors – This is a great feature of our festival. All of the authors in attendance host a table for ten at one of our amazing local restaurants. (I can’t wait to meet Karen White. Her Charleston ghost mysteries have caused me to miss sleep…but in a good way!)
  • Extravaganza at the Crimson Moon (featuring Nick Wynne).
  • Joe Morgan: Life as a Death Investigator – I met him at a book signing event awhile back and I can’t wait to tell him how much I loved his book. (Fair warning:  It is the “real deal” and not a sanitized, glamorized version of death scene investigation. Highly recommended only if you have a strong interest and a stronger stomach!)

On a personal note: Mike and I met at this festival three years ago so it will always be near and dear to our hearts. (Note: Any man who invites a writer to a literary festival for a first date is more precious than Dahlonega gold.) Since we now live within walking distance, we will be volunteering &/or attending events for the entire festival. We really, truly and fervently want this festival to continue to flourish and grow…otherwise, how will we celebrate our anniversary in years to come? If you can’t join in the fun this year, please consider supporting the festival in other ways.

photo credit: Artiom Ponkratenko via photopin cc