Is Blogging Still Useful to a Writer?

Seven years ago, about when I started blogging, I knew many other novelists who shared tips and trials on blogs.

Then Facebook and Twitter burst onto the scene, and I know many friends who are still active on those. Personally, I am a little worried about the future of those platforms. Once a corporation starts messing around with their algorithms to manipulate rather than serve their users, I begin to feel like a cog in someone else’s machine. I’ve started an account over at, and I hope you’ll click my link (it’s an affiliate link, so I get brownie points or something cool) and sign up so I have some friends there. I hate going to a new social media platform and feeling like I’m at a school dance, blinking at the strobe lights and crowd and feeling more lonely than if I stayed home. The format is pleasant, and more importantly, I hope that platform will stay committed to seeing its users as human beings, not food pellets for conglomerates. I also hope they will maintain their commitment to freedom of speech, as it seems that everywhere you turn these days, the large social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Apple, are selling out freedom of speech to please governments.

Having been away from my blog for a while, I naturally wondered if it was worth reviving it, or if blogs are “so 2010” these days. I idly googled if anyone was still blogging and found this interesting list of top money-earning bloggers for 2017.

First thing I noticed was that, yeah, I was a regular visitor to one of these blogs (Pat Flynn). And I know that he doesn’t just blog. He also runs a podcast, for instance. And he has a book. That’s interesting, and it just goes to show that no matter where you start, as an artist-entrepreneur, you should expand into multiple media as well as onto multiple platforms.

Make Mine Milkshake Is About Bullying, But Not How You Think

The Make Mine Milkshake campaign supposedly started when when an assistant editor at Marvel recoiled from some tweets. Apparently, like some Victorian lady in an over-tight corset, she needed to retire to her fainting couch after exposure to unseemly words. There might even have been a hint of sexual innuendo! (Read In Received Pronunciation:) “Oh, dear, dear, dear! Most alarming!”

These supposed feminists, these supposed champions of valiant female badass superheroes, couldn’t handle a few tweets. Really?


That’s not to say there’s no bullying going on here. But it’s not the kind of bullying you think…it’s not about poor helpless damsels being harried by trolls. It’s much more despicable and dangerous. And that’s what makes it relevant to all readers, writers, artists, and creative souls, not just comic book fans.

It’s probably no coincidence that Marvel is currently rolling out a new line of comics and using the slogan, “Make Mine Marvel.” Gosh, what else alliterates nicely with “Make Mine…” Well, not vodka, whisky, or beer, or other drinks you’d think women in their twenties might be enjoying after a hard day’s work. But milkshake fits right in with the branding campaign, doesn’t it?

I have no problem with a feel-good campaign, or even a “you go, girl!” ra-ra campaign. I do have a problem with creepy Cultural Revolution-styled mobs attacking wrong-thinkers online. The Cultural Revolution analogy may seem over the top, and I’m not saying it’s the same level of violence, but the underlying ideology and overlying methodology is the same. A mob of people acting as ideologues rather than individuals all pile on any dissidents. The mob seems spontaneous, as if they are underdogs “fighting the power,” but actually,  they are encouraged and policed by powerful forces. In this case, and less ironically than you’d think, the Marxist mob works at the behest of huge global corporations. Marvel isn’t working alone. If it were just a case of one large company alienating its own fans, then I would say, let the free market do its work, and let the company die on its own sword.

But when companies, reenforced by “crapitalist” (crony capitalist) cooperation with governments, all work together, like feudal oligarchs, to amplify one “narrative,” there is a dangerous concentration of power. Combine that with an authoritarian ideology like Postmodernism/Cultural Marxism, and freedom of speech is imperiled. Without freedom of speech, the freedom to create and enjoy art for its own sake is also destroyed. All art is warped into propaganda. Dissent is taken as treason and punished.

That’s exactly what happened in this case. A few tweets were seized upon, all out of proportion to common sense, as emblematic of the worst sins of humanity. This (unfair) assessment of the severity of the “crime” served to elevate the “victims” to the (unearned) status of martyrs and heroines. That this served a rather prosaic and transparent commercial purpose (viral marketing for Marvel’s new line of comics) is only disgusting because it had to come at the price of scapegoating free-thinkers as enemies.

And why are fans displeased with Marvel’s comics right now, anyway? Because Marvel has taken so many of their greatest heroes and turned them into empty mouthpieces for Marxist propaganda. Stalin, in his dreams, would have loved to have come up with the bullshit anti-American storyline of Secret Empire. As for Thor…ugh. If you doubt it’s all about promoting the Cult of True Believers and not about a cool story, this whole series is Worthy of wielding the Hammer of Cringe.

Here’s a True Believer swooning over the new Thor:

What may seem like a simple name choice signals that the new Thor, though she is a different gender from the previous, was not going to be defined in relation to the old one. She isn’t some second, female version of Thor; she is Thor.. There was certainly a good measure of push back from dude-bro’s who couldn’t imagine a woman being Thor. Thankfully, the comic came out and after its initial eight-issue run I can say with full confidence that Thor is a woman, she is a feminist, and she is amazing….

One of my favorite moments is when Thor is battling a villain named Crusher Creel. “Damn feminists are ruining everything!” Creel says and then asks “What’d you do, send him [Odinson] to sensitivity training?” In many ways, his mocking resembles the responses of dude-bros over the new Thor.

During a battle scene Aaron is able to equate anti-feminists, such as those who were opposed to this new Thor, with blockheaded (literally) villains like Creel. Thor proceeds to punch Creel in the jaw, thinking to herself “That’s for saying ‘feminist’ like it’s a four-letter word, creep.” It’s absolutely wonderful.

No. No, it’s not wonderful. It’s not amazing. It’s like wearing someone else’s underwear. It’s super creepy. If you wanted to have a strong, Norse-themed warrior-heroine, why not focus more on Sif, who is already a goddess in her own right? Why steal the name Thor? That shows that this is all about an agenda, and not about developing characters in their own right for their own sake. And then, to equate any long-time fan of the traditional Thor with a villain, to deliberately smack him in the face with your agenda…and then gloat about it

Ugh. Gross. That’s not storytelling. There’s a different name for that.

Most comic book readers are dudes, probably because men, biologically, are more visually stimulated than women. That’s not a crime. I won’t pretend I’m a huge comic fan myself, either; I’m familiar with the movies. But I’m the kind of woman that could be drawn into reading more comics, if they had more of what I liked. Marvel claims that’s what they are trying to do, but it’s a lie.

If Marvel really wanted female readers, they wouldn’t have made made Jane Foster take over Thor’s role, they would have kept Thor manly as f*ck and played up the ROMANCE between him and Jane Foster. What’s more, Marvel knows this. I know they know it, because when they made the movie, that’s exactly what they did. They picked the manliest man possible (for a blond), dressed him up sexy as all heck, and sent him into battle to all roughed up and kick-ass, thus making him even more appealing. They set up a nice romance subplot to balance out the action scenes. And there you have it, a great date movie, a movie a mom can enjoy with her ten year old son, a movie that can sell in China as well as the United States because, contrary to what Cultural Marxist racists assert, you don’t have to be the same race as the characters on the screen to enjoy a story.

So, hey, if Marvel wants to turn their zines into the Daily Worker, fine. Just don’t go on Twitter to play crybully and set the cyber lynch mob on freethinkers. And if they actually wanted to sell more comics to a larger audience, they’d focus less on pleasing the cult priests and more on touching the universal themes of human experience.

Fall Plans

This fall, I’ll be going back to work… by which I mean, back to writing full time.

I’ve been on maternity leave for a bit longer than expected. I thought I would take one year off, and I took two. Not that I regret more time at home with my cuties; it’s one of the great things about this job that you can take time off when you need to, whether for family or fighting apocalyptic alien invasions.

Nonetheless, I am really looking forward to jumping back into the saddle. I’ll try to be more active on my blog and social media as well.


The Poetic Origins of Metaphor

Reading poetry is a supremely useless act that everyone ought to do. Writers of prose, in particular, shouldn’t neglect to learn poetry, even try their hand at it. Not, dear God, to make a living at publishing it or anything self-destructive like that, but to improve one’s prose, diction and perhaps even inner eye.


I suppose some schools still teach poetry, although I won’t bet candy on it. (I take no chances with candy.) But I suspect most of the “classics” have been shoved down the shelf to make room for more modern or diverse selections. A breadth of poetry, from many new poets and distant lands, is worthwhile; it’s just hard to have your breadth of knowledge and depth too, and both are important. For students of language, the history of English poetry is part of studying the language itself, since so many of our phrases and expressions derive from yesteryear’s poems.


A lovely and fun-to-read cheat sheet can be found in the book, “Brush Up Your Poetry!” by Michael Macrone (who also wrote another good volume called, naturally, “Brush Up Your Shakesphere!” In this volume, he shows where many of the expressions made famous by poets other than the Bard entered our venacular. For instance, you may have heard the expression, “Stone walls do not a prison make.” The fuller poem, “To Althea from Prison,” by Richard Lovelace, expounds on this theme:


Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take

That for a hermitage.

If I have freedom in my love

And in my soul am free,

Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.


The poem dates from 1648, in the middle of the English Civil War. Richard Lovelace, a loyal courtier to King Charles I, was imprisoned by the anti-Royalist Parliment. But the really interesting question–who was Althea, and was Richard ever reunited with his love?–remains, as far as I know, unanswered. Perhaps a historical novel or romance lies in the answer to the question…? As Byron noted, in Canto XIV of Don Juan,


‘Tis strange–but true; for Truth is always


Stranger than fiction; if it could be told,

How much would novels gain by the exchange!


Recommended for Writers: The Elements of Writing by Charles Euchner

Elements of Writing-coverCharles Euchner has several versions of his book out, but it’s worth overcoming any confusion this may cause to get your hands on a copy. When I bought the book it was called The Big Book of Writing, and in other editions it seems to have been called The Writing Code. Now, glancing at his page on Amazon, I see it’s called The Elements of Writing.

He’s now broken up the book into component parts to sell as separate ebooks, which means that if you only want to focus on one aspect of writing at a time, you can do so. For instance, you might check out his book/section on characters:


But, frankly, his entire series is so good, that I recommend you buy the whole kit’n’kaboodle, The Elements of Writing. Don’t skip his advice on sentences and paragraphs, even if you fancy you can already turn out a good phrase. It’s excellent advice to hone your prose.


From those bare bones, he truly does address nearly every aspect of writing, imparting juicy bits of wisdom at every stage.

Check out the The Elements of Writing.

Do Villains Need Backstory? (Guest Post by Vashti Valant)

Eye of Sauron contact lenseThe question of whether evil is born or bred lies at the heart of many works of fiction. From Frankenstein to Harry Potter, glimpses of “villains’ ” or “monsters’ ” perspectives are usually given to provoke that discussion. Of course, there are also those who decide to keep their villains’ secrets. Here are some bad guys whose motivation we never really learn. They’re just evil, plain and simple.

The eye of Sauron may keep watch and his voice is heard from time to time, but we really only get a few brief accounts of his masterful manipulation of all Middle Earth, creating and gifting the rings of power to each race and saving an all-controlling ring for himself.

Other than that, he’s more of a looming threat than hands-on villain (maybe he would have been more directly involved if he had more of a body to work with). He has henchmen and minions that do his dirty work, but there is never any insight into why he went about subjugating the races of Middle Earth. While some history for Sauron is provided in the Silmarillion, in the more popular Lord of the Rings, Sauron is simply an evil that must be vanquished for the survival of all.

Similarly, the Emperor in Star Wars gets little backstory, even in the three prequels. Darth Vader’s fall from protective Jedi knight to a Sith Lord and the Emperor’s right-hand man are well explained, but how did Palpatine become a Sith? He proves adept at planning and deception, working his way into the established governmental system before setting off a chain reaction that would trigger a coup. Was he born with the Dark Side already flowing through him or, like Vader, was he turned from a different path?

While Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein goes out of its way to give the monster a voice, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is told only from the letters and diaries of those fighting the Transylvanian vampire. How someone becomes a vampire and how to kill a vampire are covered, but only some vague speculation regarding Count Dracula’s pre-vampire days. Nor do the brigade of vampire-hunters care. That is actually a common trait among the heroes of these stories: they have very few if any qualms about their actions. If they debate or question anything along the way, it is restricted to means, method, the plan of action; there’s never a doubt about the desired outcome.

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