Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Parajournalism and arms length fiction

I doubt there was ever a time when fiction and non-fiction were ever truly separate forms of writing, but there was a time when it was considered the norm to try. Parajournalism, using fictional techniques to set up a non-fiction story wasn't considered real reporting. Walter Cronkite's “You were there” series was a teaching tool, not reporting. Michael Moore's “Roger and Me” was an art film about the emotional impact of GM's outsourcing not a report on the outsourcing itself, Tom Wolfe's books were rightly considered fiction about real events. I don't even want to get into “fictional memoirs”.

Fiction used to have Donnee, or an unwritten assumption, and looked out from the main characters worldview even if the character was flawed or outright deranged. The trend is now towards standing back and watching the main character, more like a movie camera following the action than the writer being god of the world they have created.

Now reporting has turned into the host telling people of their opinion and using the guests as props and in fiction the omnipresent voice is considered bad form. So the tones have completely crossed to the point where fictional situations are viewed objectively and actual facts are viewed subjectively.

The reason is laziness. In reporting it's easier to form the story first and pick out the facts that support the story than to go through all the facts and find the story. In fiction it's easier for the reader to follow one voice than hop in and out of people's heads and have someone speaking over their shoulder as well. It is really easy for an writer to leave the reader baffled as to whose head we are in.

So to all the parajournalist and arm's length writers, I say, “Going the easy path is a fine start, but reporting and writing are professions that means you must be constantly improving your skills. Reporters have to learn to report not give editorials on the events and writers need to learn to write, not report the images they see in their heads. It's not easy but truly worthwhile things in life never are.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sympathy for the Devil

My latest Writing Wednesday is up on my writing blog. HERE.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Blame Stream Media Blamers

The idea of killing the messenger for bad new is nothing new. Public figures caught doing or saying things they regret are quick to blame the reporters. But recently it has become an art form into itself. Sarah Palin elevated this art form by blaming the media for quoting her exact words and placing them in proper context to make her look like an idiot.

She had a good run of being a media whore by yelling at the media, but now there is a new king of this art form.

Newt Gingrich was caught on tape being reasonable. A major faux pas for a Republican these days. So naturally he had to put out a press release blaming the main stream media.

“The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding,Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.”

To make this statement more powerful, Stephen Colbert had John Lithgow do a live reading of it.

Newt has raised the bar on blaming the press for reporting what public figures say.

So to all public figures who want to blame reporters for quoting your exact words and placing them in proper context to embarrass you, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, Newt has raised the bar on this art form so high that a lesser person can not survive the billowing smoke and dust of tweets that is released from this challenge. Newt is the true champion of the fight against the literati.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Interview with Karl G. Larew

One of the biggest challenges with selling a self-published book is letting people know you've published it. I'm trying to do my part to change this by interviewing self-published authors so people can learn about their books. This is my first interview in what will hopefully become an ongoing series.

Today I interview Karl G. Larew author of "Candles in the Window".

DBN: Tell me about your book?

Karl: “Candles in the Window” is a nostalgic, but more especially a psychological, look at the love and sex lives of college students in the 1950s, set in the University of Connecticut. A small number of students form a little “family” of their own, drawn together by a golden-haired, beautiful, but enigmatic girl nicknamed “Silky.” This book is a somewhat revised version of the 1999 edition.”

DBN: Where is it available?

Karl: At Amazon “Candles in the Window” and at Smashwords “Candles in the Window”.

DBN: Tell me a little about yourself?

Karl: I’m a 74 year old semi-retired history professor specializing in military history but with many other interests (I am the author of a scholarly article on the image of women in a 1940s comic book, for example). I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1959 and received my Ph.D. from Yale in 1964. In addition to “Candles,” I have published a three-volume family saga about an Army family from WWII through the Korean War and the Cold War/Vietnam era. I have also published a two-volume set of spoofs on vampire/werewolf/James Bond stories. Each of these five books may be read as a stand-alone. They are all for sale through, Kindle, Smashwords, and Nook. In addition, I’ve published a history of the Larew family based largely on a Civil War diary. In terms of professional publications, I am the author of many historical articles, reviews, and encyclopedia entries, mostly in military/diplomatic history but some in popular culture history.

DBN: What Genre is your book?

Karl: Mixed, mostly psychological with some nostalgia and some romance.

DBN: Who is your primary target audience?

Karl: My primary audience for “Candles” is those who wish to understand the culture of the 1950s and those interested in the psychology of (fictional) characters.

DBN: What made you decide to self-publish?

Karl: After many years of seeking an agent and/or a publisher, I decided that “Candles” might never find its audience unless I self-published, which I did in 1999. Last year, I put out this new edition so as to tap into Amazon and various ebook markets.

DBN: What drives your main characters to overcome the challenge in the book?

Karl: The main characters are driven by a sense of generation gap and the need for love; one character is tortured by fears of homosexuality.

DBN: Why do you love your characters?

Karl: It is that capacity for love and friendship that makes the characters attractive, to my way of thinking.

DBN: What inspired you to write this book?

Karl: I was inspired by my own memories and my recollection of things that happened to other 1950s students; nevertheless, the book is genuine fiction, not a memoir in any sense.

DBN: What sort research did you do while writing your book?

Karl: I did not have to do any research; my memories were enough, though I have been influenced both by Freud and Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet.

DBN: What was the hardest part of writing this novel?

Karl: The hardest part of writing this book was to get the characterizations believable.

DBN: What is the hardest part of marketing this novel?

Karl: The hardest marketing chore was, first, searching for an agent and now, after self-publishing, searching for ways to publicize my book. Those who have read it, including the reviewer for the Baltimore Sun, have liked; but I need to publicize it much, much more.

This was my first author interview. If you are a self-published author and would like to be interviewed on Project Savior Reborn please email me at project.savior(at)yahoo(dot)com

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Monday, May 16, 2011

Deleted Scenes and Commentary

When I'm having trouble writing a chapter I like to write the first thing that comes to mind. This sometimes works and I can work it into the story. Other times it's awful. Occasionally I'll write something that I like, but there are continuity problems and I'll have to delete the scene no matter how much I like it.

On my last book MIND THIEF this happened a lot in the chapters involving Debbie, a character I was having trouble with. I thought I'd do the DVD extra type thing and share my deleted scenes and offer author commentary.


Howie looked over to see the oncoming city bus. He was so surprised he wasn't able to say anything or move to help Debbie.

The bus plowed into Debbie at over 100 mph, instantly smashing most of her bones. Her body slid off the grill of bus and got caught on a sharp piece of metal from its damaged bumper. The bumper held Debbie's body for a moment as it hooked onto her ribcage, but as she was pulled under the bus her bones finally yielded and her ribs were pulled out of her body to serve as a bloody hood ornament for the bus.

The bus turned to the right as Debbie was pulled under and the left front tire ran over her head smashing it like a watermelon. The rear tires rolled over her mid-section squeezing her guts out of her body like toothpaste out of a tube.

A flock of seagulls spotted her remains and drove in to devour them. A pair of seagulls fought over her left eye that had been forced out of its socket as a third seagull snatched her right eye and flew off with it.

As Howie watched the seagull disappear into the sunset with Debbie's blue eye hanging from its beak he could only say, “I guess I won't be getting that blowjob.”


Although I liked that scene it had a few continuity problems with the rest of the book. I wrote it after establishing that they were in a study room on the second floor of the library, an unlikely place to be hit by an out of control city bus going nearly double the speed they are designed for.

The second problem is the book takes place in rural Ohio, so there wouldn't be a convenient flock of seagulls.

Finally, it portrayed Howie, the main character, as even more self-centered then he was. I also needed Debbie to be in several more chapters.

So I had to delete that scene.


“Golly, you look awful.” Debbie said when Howie ran into her in the student union.

Without saying a word Howie grabbed her right arm and swung her around so her back was to him. He covered her mouth with his right hand and dragged her through the door that said, “Employees Only”.

He looked around the empty kitchen until he saw the piece of equipment he was after. He dragged Debbie over to the industrial meat grinder and released his grip on her mouth. Her ignored her screams as he took off his belt and made it into a tourniquet to stop all bloodflow into her right hand.

He turned on the meat grinder and forced her right arm into it. The motor strained as it ground up the bones in her hand but the machine still produced a quarter pound of ground Debbie.

Howie grabbed the ground meat in one hand and pulled Debbie over to the grill. He put the meat onto the hot grill and flattened it down into a nice patty. As it grilled he held Debbie's bleeding stump onto the red hot grill, grinning as he heard the sound of her flesh searing.

When he was satisfied that her stump was nicely cauterized and had stopped bleeding, he flipped the ground Debbie patty. When both sides were nearly cooked he grabbed a hamburger bun and put it on the grill so it would be lightly toasted.

He threw Debbie to the floor and held her still by putting his left foot on her chest. She clawed at his leg with her left hand but was unable to free herself.

Howie grabbed the bottom bun with the spatula and placed it next to the grill, he flipped the patty of ground Debbie on top of it. He looked for the ketchup and mustard but saw they were out of reach. He had to make do with a little shredded lettuce and a slice of tomato. Putting the top of the bun on it he smiled at his handiwork.

He grabbed his masterpiece and knelt down next to Debbie. She stopped screaming when he pushed the Debbie burger into her face. She kept her jaw firmly shut as he held the burger to her lips. Howie sighed and reached over with his free hand and held her nose shut.

He held her nose for over a minute before she finally had to open her mouth to breath. Howie took that opening and shoved the burger into her mouth and released her nose. She took a big bite of the Debbie burger and he held her jaw shut until she swallowed.


This scene also had I few continuity problems, it was supposed to take place in between Howie's afternoon classes so the kitchen would be fully staffed. Also the next time Howie runs into Debbie, she asks him to a sorority party. She puts up with a lot of crap from Howie, but I don't think any self-respecting girl, or non self-respecting girl for that matter, would ask a guy out after he chopped off her right hand and fed it to her.


“Howie?” A strong mid-western, female voice pulled him out of his thoughts.

“Oh, Hi Debbie.” Howie pushed the chair across from him out with his leg and Debbie sat down.

“I wanted to thank you for helping me with psych class, you know.” Debbie's face lost its grin and she got pained expression. She rubbed her belly and said, “I don't think breakfast sat right, you know.”

Before Howie could say anything Debbie's head bolted back so she was facing the ceiling. Her chest exploded with such force that it sent one of her ribs flying across the room to plant itself into Howie's English professor's eye and out the back of his skull.

Damn, all that studying for nothing, Howie thought and looked back at Debbie.

A small alien creature climbed out of her open chest. It grabbed two of her ribs and held them over its head. “1...2...3...4,” it yelled out, hitting the ribs together. At the table next to Howie the head of Delta house had an alien burst out of his chest. It grabbed a rib and quickly strung several veins together to make a crude guitar.

Howie looked to the table on the other side of him and noticed that an alien had burst out of the chest of the Varsity Cheerleader Captain and used her lungs to fashion some crude bagpipes.

The aliens on the other tables leaped over to Howie's table as the alien who came out of Debbie's chest scampered up her body to start playing drums on her forehead.

As Howie used his napkin to brush off the pieces flesh that had hit him when his classmates chests exploded, he couldn't help but be impressed by the rocking cover that the aliens did of the Stray Cats, “Gonna rock this town”.


I liked this scene but the purpose of the chapter was to have Debbie ask Howie to a sorority party, she can't do that if her chest has exploded. So unfortunately I had to delete this scene as well.


I'm not sure if writing scenes that I know I'm going to delete later is the most efficient way of writing, but it does help me to work out my feeling towards my characters.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Romance Writers

I was recently discussing the book, THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE with someone and even though I liked the book I had to mention two big problems I had with the book.

The first problem was that the idea of Henry traveling through time because of a genetic condition was absolutely absurd. However I could easily suspend my disbelief as I wrote a time travel novel and I looked at the published papers of physicists who have studied what time is and used all that to make a spot on Earth where three different universes in the Multiverse met in order to make my time traveler's power just highly absurd. The most elegant way I've seen time travel handled was by Kurt Vonnegut in SLAUGHTER HOUSE 5 where he said, “Billy Pilgrim became unstuck in time.”

For this problem I can suspend my disbelief just as easily as when I watch STAR TREK and they travel at 1,516 times the speed of light using the same amount of power that the US uses in a year. To warp space-time that much would require power on the supernova scale.

My second problem with the book is something I've seen in a lot of Romance novels. Henry starts out as a drunken loser, has sex with the love of his life and is suddenly the perfect husband. To give Niffenegger credit the format of the book doesn't show a huge part of their first year together and they do work through some of Henry's issues of feeling his life is out of control as he gets yanked through time at random. But it is a theme that an awful lot of romance writers put in their novels and don't handle as well as she did.

The reason writers use that theme is looking at some couples from the outside it looks like that is what happened. A partier meets the perfect girl, gives up drugs and alcohol and turns into a perfectly stable guy. What really happens is more interesting.

The power of love is strong, all sorts of hormones rush through the brain. These hormones are powerful enough to overwhelm the effects of drugs and alcohol so those things stop effecting the person. However it only lasts for a few months, half a year at most. So falling in love can get a person past the most intense time of withdrawal, but the cravings last for over a year. If the person doesn't truly want to give up drugs and alcohol once the rush of falling in love fades they will be right back to their old ways.

From the outside it does look like a person has been completely changed by having sex with the love of their life, but inside that relationship things are going crazy. The rush of love has gotten the person passed the withdrawal stage when it feels like their brain is declaring mutiny on them, but when the hormones of love subside they are in the recovery stage where everything feels off. It's a numbing stage where the brain can tolerate not having drugs and alcohol but hasn't learned to create its own emotions.

As the hormones that were released by falling in love fade the former addict is in a very bad condition. Sex doesn't have that huge rush that it used to and everything else is totally bland. It is natural to strike out at the closest person while they are getting over their addiction.

For someone who has given up drugs and alcohol for love, the time between the first six months and a year is a time of absolute turmoil. A couple can work together to get passed this time, and an awful lot do it successfully, but it is not an easy time for a relationship.

A lot of romance writers totally ignore phase and just have the female character's magical sexual powers heal the addict with mind blowing sex. This is like having a person want to win a sporting event and doing it without showing the training. It is skipping at least half the process.

The worst part of the romance writers who do this (Niffenegger gets a pass as she did show that having a relationship with someone who is yanked out of time is not the easiest thing in the world) is that they give an unrealistic expectation that mind blowing sex alone can transform a man completely. In real life the mind blowing sex is a good start but to permanently change the patterns of a life time it takes a lot of work and patience.

So to all the romance writers that show great sex totally changing a man forever, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, you're skipping the most interesting time in a relationship, even if it isn't the most pleasant time, and giving false expectations of what happens in true relationships.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Writing Wednesday

My Writing Wednesday post is up HERE

It gives writing tips from 5 authors, check it out.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mommy's Day

funny pictures - momma's hugz makz eberythin in the worl bedder
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

This Mommy's Day remember that Mommy Hugs makes everything in the world better!

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fantastic Future Friday: It's up

I've posted my Future Friday post on my writing blog. HERE

It's not that fantastic as it deals with fictional weapons. What it is fantastic, at least for me, is that I'm typing at nearly my old speed as my finger has healed enough to use it again, with only a little discomfort.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Bin Gotten

I was planning on doing a post on characters with conflicting emotions, and on Sunday night I got some first hand experience in conflicting emotions when I learned the Osama Bin Laden had been killed by a team of Navy Seals under the orders of President Obama.

On the one hand if anyone deserved to be killed it was Bin Laden. After the Soviet Union was defeated in Afghanistan turning him into a folk hero in that part of the world, he had power to be a force for good in the middle east. Instead he used that power to create chaos, leading to a huge loss life.

However, I can't celebrate the loss of anyone's life, not even his. As a result when I first heard the news I was simply stunned and had no emotion at the time.

The only time I can remember a fictional character deal with two conflicting emotions like that was in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS when Clarice was told that the inmate in the cell next to Hannibal Lecter had committed suicide and her first reaction was, “I don't know what to feel.”

Reflecting on it, I know intellectually that the world will be a better place without Bin Laden and he deserved to die. I praise the Navy Seal team and President Obama for carrying out the operation and I'm glad they did. But, I am unable to feel joy over the death of any human, even one as vile and unforgivable as Bin Laden.

So when I'm writing my characters I'll try to remember these feelings so I can have them express their conflicting emotions in a convincing way.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Paul Ryan

The budget deficit is one the problems that this country is facing right now and there are a few ways to deal with it.

The quickest way is to do nothing. By doing nothing the budget deficit would be gone in 8 years. This is quickest, but probably not the best way. By doing nothing all the Bush tax cuts would expire, and the Obama tax cuts would be gone as well. Funding for the 3 wars we are in would stop. Funding for infrastructure projects would drop down to the levels they were under Bush which were way too low. Extended unemployment benefits would be gone. And a host of other things. So it would cure the deficit spending but slow down recovery.

The second way is to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, but keep them for 95% of Americans. Exit the 3 wars over a couple of years. Reduce the military budget. Increase investment in new technologies to stimulate the economy which would start paying back in a few years. And close a lot of the corporate loopholes. Doing that would stretch the deficits out over a decade, but would work to get us out of the recession.

Then there is the Ryan plan. Ax most of the non-defense budget trying to cut $1.5 trillion out of that $600 million budget. Gut Medicare and later Social Security and give huge tax cuts to the rich. Ryan says this would get rid of deficit spending in about 50 years. Everyone who has run the numbers on the plan say it would add $6 trillion to the deficit over that time. That isn't taking into account the cuts to education giving us an uneducated workforce at the time when the bulk of the deficit is supposed to be paid down. Ryan says that's just the opinion of people who can add and subtract.

Shortly after introducing this plan Ryan was surprised that his constituents got angry at him at a town hall meeting. It seems people don't like the idea of having put money into Medicare all their lives only to have it taken away and given to the people that like it the least.

So to Paul Ryan, I say, “Shut-up Stupid and stop whining, Your budget plan makes no sense and everyone can see it is just a front to steal the money that middle class people have paid all there lives and give it to the richest 2% of Americans.”
By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE