Archive | July 2016

Social Media and the Election

Twitter and Facebook (and the internet in general) have been killing my productivity lately, mainly because of this crazy U.S. election and the pressing issue of climate change.

People are starting to catch on that our elections have been rigged to further corporate interests. Our mainstream media has little integrity left, and with the rise of the internet, people are noticing. Add to that the insanity of Trump and the corruption and scandals of Hillary, and it’s easy to get lost in all the chatter and lose most of the day.

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At the Universty of Oregon, I majored in Sociology and specialized in these types of issues. Capitalism and its effect on politics and the climate have always fascinated me. They are the most pressing problems we must face as a species, now and into the future, and I realized this back in the 90s when I was in high school. That was more than seventeen years ago, and we haven’t made much progress. But I have learned a lot since then.

Sometimes it’s hard to resist telling people what I’ve learned. Especially when the stakes are so high, but maybe tweeting about it all day isn’t the solution.

If you are interested in climate change too, I highly recommend Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. This book is an excellent primer and a fascinating read.

For awhile, at least, I’m limiting my time on the internet and getting some writing done, for my mental health, if for nothing else.

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You need more than love.

Love is a strong emotion like anger. Anger clouds your judgment and so does love.

Animal-Bird-Martinet-Le-Faisan-Hupe-de-Chine-Pheasant1Contrary to popular culture, you shouldn’t make any long-term commitments based on the overwhelming rapture of love.

Love is a nice feeling to have for someone you are committed to, but you’ll feel other emotions during a long term relationship. Love isn’t a reason to make yourself miserable and stay with someone who isn’t right for you, just as anger isn’t a good reason to part ways.

In my romance novel, I’m currently writing, I don’t want to gloss over this idea. The myths about love can be damaging, and I want my love story to be more honest and genuine.

Romance isn’t just a feeling; it’s finding a worthy partner.

Art and Propaganda

Like many words, “art” has many definitions.

When someone says it’s “not art,” they often mean it’s not good art, or it’s not what they value about art, etc. People generally agree on the artistic merits of classical forms of art but disagree on modern forms.

 

Portrait-Face-Painting-Odilon-Redon-La-Cellule-dOrThe art world is a separate monster. It’s not necessarily about the art itself. Like money is a cultural narrative, the art world is a group of people agreeing on the value of something that often has no intrinsic value. Much of this  value and narrative is tied into attracting social connections, sexual and otherwise.

Of course this competition for social status, by way of art creation and appreciation, is elitist. If everyone loved “art,” then how would art appreciation make a person stand out as an attractive mate or make a person feel better about oneself?

The literary word has not escaped from this art world umbrella. “Literary fiction” has suffered the most from this elitism.

As for “propaganda,” this is a loaded term, and anything with a viewpoint could be called propaganda. I prefer to think of propaganda as anything that is trying to make a group of people believe something that is mostly false to manipulate behavior.

 

The Witness

The Witness

In college, they accused my short stories of being propaganda. When I asked them what my message was–What was I trying to make them think?–they didn’t know. People are often suspect of strong opinions stated simply. Even statements of fact can make some people uncomfortable in the context of art.

Tarot-Death-Cups.jpgSadly, if art has something to say, there will always be people accusing it of being propaganda.

There is a lot of “art” that tries to fake depth by not taking any stand on anything. Meaninglessness is not a great type of art, in my opinion. For many people, this type of art gives them a chance to think; for me, I think just fine without encountering meaninglessness.

I love art that gives me something to bounce off of. If I have to bring everything to it, what am I really getting out of the exchange?

What is some of your favorite art? What art have you read that challenged your assumptions about the word?

Brief Pose Covers

Yesterday, instead of writing, I gave making covers for Brief Pose a try. Here are the fruits of my labour.

Most of the day was just me endlessly searching through stock photos. I wanted this to be my first book with a sexy, modern cover, so I knew I couldn’t just get a free domain picture like my last few books.

Let’s go through the covers one by one. Note that these are just mockups. I don’t own the rights to these pictures yet. If I remember correctly, it’s only ten bucks to purchase one for publications under 500,000 copies. That seems very reasonable.

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The upside of this one is that it’s not symmetrical, so it draws the eye. The text is clear. The image is a little boring, and the lack of color could be a problem. It’s sexual, without being overly so. It also works with the theme of the novel. I’m not a huge fan of my name over his stomach.

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This cover looks the most like an A&F Quarterly, but I’m not sure how many people would get the reference. Is this cover too sexual? It got the most likes on Twitter. This one is my personal favorite, I think.

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Romance? The darkness of the book isn’t really suggested by this image, even though this is pretty much a scene straight from the book. It also feels a bit too much like a random photograph. This might could be improved with a different font.

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This one is still kind of rough, and there is too much light blue, but I like how it suggests the surreal aspect of the book. If I played with the image a little more, it might work.

How about this? Better. I’ll have to decide soon.

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What is Brief Pose?

Brief Pose is my next novel, scheduled to be released on Oct. 15th. (It can be downloaded HERE. Free Oct. 17th and 18th.)

Brief Pose is inspired by Abercrombie and Fitch’s “megalog” called the A&F Quarterly and the rise of sexual imagery in the 1990s and early 2000s by Calvin Kline and others in mainstream advertisement campaigns.

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A & F Quarterly, Spring Break Issue 2001: XXX [Abercrombie and Fitch] by Weber, Bruce

When the economy prospers and people feel safe and secure, advertising tends to become more sexually liberal. When a recession is in full swing, the general population feels threatened, and adverting tends to be more conservative. With the downturn in the economy, the Quarterly was discontinued.

The Quarterly caused many controversies during its run. One of the main causes for this outrage was its sexual and homoerotic imagery. This was also what captured my imagination when I was in my twenties, coming to terms with my own sexuality.

It was validating to see same-sex intimacy in an advertisement for a mainstream company, but there was an obvious darker side. The reality they depicted was exclusionary. The Quarterly purposefully manipulated consumers to feel inadequate so that they could sell more A&F products.

In Brief Pose, I wanted to take that a step further. What if advertisements drove people to suicide and homicide? And how could people fight back?

Brief Pose is finished!

I finished Brief Pose and earlier than I expected! Now it has a tentative release date of August 9th. I’ve been working on this story in different forms since 2007 (maybe even 2006). Wow, that’s at least nine years. It’s a bit of a shock not to be writing on it anymore.

Time keeps ticking, but this will be the third book I’ve released this year. I still have a lot to do before its release the 9th, and I’ll be talking more about its creation in the coming days, but I just wanted to say thank you for your support.