Friday, October 26, 2018

How monetisation of the media has influenced truth in reporting and the representation of complex issues

Every time you turn around these days, you hear someone criticizing the media. Claims of bias, lies, fake news and agendas are thrown around very often, by politicians, and celebrities, but most viciously by the journalists themselves. It’s like reporters have given up searching for facts because they are too busy throwing stones across an ever-widening chasm of conflicting ideals. We in the western world are quick to throw stones at countries that control the media, like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, or most infamously, China. And we are up in arms for murdered journalists like Jamal Khashoggi, crying with shrill voices that a free press is the cornerstone of a good democracy. But I think we all know that it’s been a long time since the news media was truly free. Media is the worst example of the free market veering off its path to the detriment of everyone in pursuit of low effort, easy money. The recent reporting about the seven-thousand refuges, escaping gang violence in Honduras by fleeing to the US, is yet another example of journalism splitting down political lines to and take pot shots at each other with hollow, unfounded and alarmist rhetoric. From warning us not to believe everything we read, to Fox News warning us that these people are bringing economic ruin and disease, this real issue, where the lives of real people hang in the balance, has become yet another battleground for the media to attack each other without any need for pesky for facts to get involved.

The best example of this callous disregard for facts is a story which managed to construct a six hundred-and six-word news story about an eleven-word speculation from the president. Let me quote it for you. “There's no proof of anything. But they (terrorists) could very well be (inside the caravan).” This ridiculous news story drags on for pages centering on what even the president admitted was only a guess. This news story adds nothing of substance to the debate.

But if only all the articles were this vapid.  Fox news has a different take on the event, labelling it “an invasion into this country.” On The Ingram Angle, Laura Ingraham talks to a couple of experts about the event, but it’s her questions that really stand out. In a question that takes nearly 30 seconds to ask, she calls it a national security issue, an economic issue, a schooling and a healthcare issue. She highlights the range of wild diseases the people “might” bring into the country. She’s hitting the appeal to fear, again and again, beating up anxiety over sickness, and security with very little information in her report. She calls the situation “a national emergency, maybe most of them are unarmed, we don’t know, this is an invasion into this country.” This is a ludicrous statement. The only unarmed invasion is a zombie invasion, and zombies aren’t real. But what I think is most disturbing about this kind of reporting is the number of times the pundits in this kind of show can say “Might,” “maybe,” and “we don’t know,” and never be asked Why don’t you know? If this is the news, and you don’t know anything, why am I listening to you? Why are any of us watching these people who don’t even know what’s going on?

Misinformation is one thing, but lack of information is reprehensible. So you’ll be happy to know that Wired has us covered. At least, a little bit. In its article ALERT: Don’t believe everything you read about the Migrant caravan we get a one-hundred-and-forty word summary about the event including the date it began, “the 13th of October,” where it began, “northern Honduras.” How many people are marching, “around 7,500,” and how far it is to the US border, “approximately 2,000 miles.” Great, now I know slightly more than nothing about what’s going on. What’s really unfortunate that instead of continuing on with the detail about the underlying problems that caused this massive group of people to make a dangerous trek across inhospitable countries with their children clutched in their arms, Wired goes on with nearly seven hundred words of navel-gazing discussing not the issue, but what other news outlets are reporting about the issue. This doesn’t even include the other 130 words of introduction about the crisis of trust that currently plagues the media.

The media is a business which needs to make money, and the problem with that is that finding out things is extremely time-consuming, and expensive. You can imagine that to find out what is really happening with these refugees you would need to send a person to talk to them, and another one to Honduras to interview people there who know the situation. You would need to spend time sorting out facts from lies and to write that up in a calm and responsible manner. It’s a lot more expedient to simply say, “we don’t know,” and then report on what someone else has said. Even if that other person has no idea what’s going on either. When even the president has, “no proof,” should we expect more from our media?

My answer to that is yes. We do need to expect more from our media, but sadly at the moment, that’s not what we are getting. There is a pathological unwillingness in this modern age to engage with real issues on a deep and complex level. Media these days is little more than weeping and gnashing of teeth. It has become a competition about who can make the wildest unfounded speculation and the winner is the one who can get the most clicks before getting sued. What has happened to the public interest standard? Prior to the 1980s media companies were required to provide programming that was in the public interest, and the news was seen as good for society, but not good fur the hip pocket. How can we get back to honesty?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The next book is a prequel

There is a massive gaping hole in the first story and that it the origin story of one of the minor characters Emily.

She's a tiny little girl who is always buried behind her massive trio of monitors. Who is she? There's no real detail in the first story.

But in this second chapter, I'm giving her a wild adventure to invite her into this world.

I'm trying a new method of writing. I have written an outline, I know some of the characters and how they play out. It's a much more linear narrative.

But as I continue to think (I just had a flashback idea just now) little details fill themselves in and flesh themselves out.

I'll see how writing to an outline works this time compared to letting the world unfold in a random and lumbering way.  I'm also going to try 100% first-person.

Your genre is dead

I have been spending some time thinking and digesting the feedback from a literary agent that I received a few weeks ago.

Your genre is dead. No one is buying it. No one is publishing it. It's been dead for a good long while now after being utterly flooded with books in that genre.

You know, I get it. There are a LOT of books in the genre. There are PLENTY of stories that are told and told and told in this and I have been having a lot of trouble thinking about the answer to "What about your book is different?"

Can I answer this question?  Maybe. Maybe the difference I can give is something that people won't like though. Maybe sensible isn't what people want from their fiction.

But what she did say was that I can write. That what I write is easy to read and flows nicely.

So..................... there's nothing I can do with that, other than just keep doing it. Write all the stories and get better at writing overall.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Vampire + eggs

Having finished... No, I'm not going to tell you, you'll just figure it out.  No one is reading this anyway.

So anyway - what if you were a new vampire, and someone asked you to eat eggs from breakfast?

Here's my take:

I lifted a fork of the yellow stuff to my lips and moved it around in my mouth. That’s the chicken shit alright. And the dirt under their feet. That’s the fetus and the undeveloped feathers. I had to fight my gag reflex to swallow it but as soon as it was down, I knew it was wrong.

How would you describe their experience?

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Blurb

As part of the 20 pages in 20 minutes, I had to write a bit of summary of the story. Here it is:

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance where Vampires are not the good guys and they certainly do not sparkle.

Synopsis: Jasmine Morgan, a 23-year-old co-owner of a traditional Hungarian Bakery, was supposed to return to her tertiary studies. But she has fallen in love with the nocturnal lifestyle of a baker and has begun spending her hours before work enjoying Brisbane’s nightlife.

But her cousin Jennifer is worried about her. Brisbane is in the grips of fear. A serial killer has been causing disappearances all over the city. Now bodies are showing up, drained of blood, and dumped in public places. Jasmine refuses to succumb to this sensationalised terror and is determined to debunk some of the more ridiculous stories that are coming out of Fortitude Valley’s club scene. But when she wakes up in the hospital with a gap in her memory, she starts to question her reality.

Meanwhile, Constable James Bailey has been desperate to get involved in the case, but his colleagues think he's too young and inexperienced to join the team. So, when ‘hard-as-nails’ Elizabeth Dawkins is sent up from Sydney to get this case under control, he sees an opportunity. She invites the young officer onto her team and gives him the task of watching Jasmine.

But Elizabeth Dawkins remains tight-lipped about what is going on, and James is becoming frustrated. After he also suffers a case of memory loss, he decides to take matters into his own hands and follow a line of investigation without telling his boss.

When James and Jasmine are forced together by events, again and again, attraction gets in the way of better judgment. They will need to work together, closely, but not too closely, to unravel the ancient conflict that is playing out in their city.

About the world: This is a story where women can be unapologetically strong, where characters are forced to make choices between what is right, and what is practical, and where vampires might be enticing but are also manipulative and by human terms, rather evil. Vampires are definitely not the good guys in my story, but the thing is, none of these characters is evil for the sake of it. They all have their own agenda, and the struggle comes from their conflicting versions of ‘good.’This is the first part of a saga. This story follows Jasmine as she discovers what she is. It takes place almost exclusively in the present, but as we delve deeper into this world, we will discover a complex and dark past influenced by myths and urban legends across history. As well as the vampires, there are two distinct groups of humans; those who hunt, and those who serve. Future stories will delve into the politics and struggle between these groups as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

20 Pages in 20 Minutes

Something else that happened recently was submitting part of my story to the Brisbane Writer's Festival '20 pages in 20 minutes.'

You had to apply to this thing. It didn't say anything about money, but yes, it cost $150.
That's fine. Honestly, having to read 20 pages of text takes time and then getting to wherever and sitting down with people giving them your considered opinion takes thought. $150 is actually a bargain. I'm annoyed that there was no indication of the cost up front but at the same time, I don't mind paying. 

So, my appointment for this is in a week and I'm terrified as well as excited.

After next Thursday I'll come back to update you on how that went. If I can. If I'm not shattered into a million pieces.

The Cover

Having finished the draft and handed it off to beta readers, I got to work on the idea I had for the cover. I have to say, I think my last name makes a for a great book cover. I have to thank my husband for that, it's really out of my control. But those four powerful looking letters along the bottom of the page appeal to me.
Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. But I'm on holidays. I'm in the dreamy land of fantasy where my life is better than it is, and everything falls into place.  So let me give you the words version because I clearly don't have the artistic ability to really pull off my idea.

Imagine a fire burning, except it's not fire. It's blood and isn't shiny. And then it's smoke. Only, it's not smoke, it's dust. It's a little more substantial than smoke. Then if we could get the Brisbane skyline to glow red in the background... just the lights against a black background, that would be good.

Well, that was simple.  While I'm here, lets have a look at some other covers which make me what to read the book. Or at least the blurb.

Image result for book covers    Image result for book covers Image result for book covers

What draws your eye to a book cover?

Beta Reading and Literary Agents

I have now given printed copies to two friends, one stranger and one husband. 
Gotta love my husband's reviews. Sometimes I realize I hate things. And I change them. Then he will say stuff like; "That's so much better."  The thing is, he doesn't point it out first. He just likes stuff more than before. Only after given another choice can he see the fault in the first version.

And that's why he's great.

And this is why he isn't great: I made the mistake of introducing him to an audiobook from one of his favourites authors. Specifically this one:

And I don't blame him. Yahtzee Croshaw is an amazing writer and Jam is also set in Brisbane. This makes the story just so much better for me.

I have also been reading a couple of books. Just finished 's . I read  and  already, so this was out of order. But I borrowed them from the library, and it didn't affect the story. Not really.
Then right now, as I type I'm listening to Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. It's a great story, but the shitty American version of a cockney accent is something I could have lived my whole loife without.

Another book I have purchased recently and admit that I have taken some pleasure from is ." But don't worry, it's not the pleasure as intended by the author. I'm not recommending this book unless the following sentence is up your alley. "Ropes of come hit my chest and paint the shower walls." Let's not even judge too harshly that the incorrect spelling of 'cum' didn't come to the attention of anyone who was involved with getting this ready for publication. What's really problematic is the imagery. It is so disgusting, unrealistic and childish that it's vomit inducing.  I'm sorry to say that the literary agent who let this one through is off my list. WAY off my list.

It's bloody hard to locate literary agents in fact. No, that's not true. There are too many to pin one down. Too many names that mean nothing to me. And who knows if they are any good? So the research process is going to prove time-consuming. It's hard to find the name of the agent backwards from the title of a book. So having read so many books isn't helping me. And if backwards mapping from the book title isn't difficult, then I just don't know how to do it. Then there is the above example, which has put me off trying to go in the other direction - agent to book. So What shall I do?  HELP!!!

For now, I can wait to receive the feedback from my very good friends *heart* and do a final edit. But I would like to have a couple of agent names in my pocket for when I am ready.

Pink Moto