The Secret Good News!

Blog Articles

Waiting around to hear back for that rejection you just know is coming can be one of the most painful things you will ever do as a writer.

You worked for this. You sweat for it. Hell, maybe you even bled for it.

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“Yes, paper cuts do count in this industry, thanks very much.”

And then there’s one day when the clouds part and pure, unadulterated Monty Python God-in-the-Heavens sunlight beams down on you… the planets align (literally, in my case), and that rejection… Becomes a yes.

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I’m stoked to announce that my soft sci-fi book has been accepted for publication!

I’m not gonna lie, I may have cried a little (Okay a lot, and my waste bin was full of tissues–don’t judge), after I read through the whole email three times just to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself. And then maybe my husband and I celebrated with a bottle of champagne because

YEAH! I’ve got a book coming out, baby!

I’ll have more updates later on, once I have a better idea of things, but look out for my book to hit shelves in 2017!

*Happy dances out of the room.*

 

But You Don’t Really Care for Edits, Do Ya?

Attitude & Critiques, Uncategorized

The Editor’s Perspective: Giving and Receiving Feedback

By Toni Adwell

Most editors have horror stories about authors being obstinate, oblivious, or downright rude about any changes being made to their work. Don’t get me wrong: I understand where the authors are coming from, too. Some editors and proofreaders have no tact, and there are certain critiques and edits I’ve gotten on my writing that baffle me as an author.

“Your intro comes on too strong.”

“You mean I’m not supposed to hook and engage the reader?”

When it comes down to it, though, there are certain aspects of writing that cannot be compromised the majority of the time, such as grammar and spelling. I’m not talking about dialogue and style, because sometimes those will cause exceptions. When I write dialogue for the Troll in my FanFic, it’s nowhere near grammatically correct, and the spelling reflects my attempt at the Jamaican accent it’s based off of in World of Warcraft.

What I’m talking about are authors who refuse to recognize changes that need to be made due to passive voice, dangling modifiers, common word choice mistakes, such as lose/loose, than/then, their/they’re/there, assure/ensure/insure, and so on.
Those are non-negotiable in the body of the work.

That being said, here are a few friendly tips when giving or receiving critiques and edits:

  • Keep in mind the difference between constructive criticism, and being an asshole. “This is incorrect because of xyz, so here’s what to keep in mind, and an example of what to use instead.”–Good. “Your work is horrible, and as a result I’m not able to differentiate between your work and you as a person, so you must also suck!”–Not good.
  • Tone can be lost in translation on the Internet. What might sound polite to one person can sound completely rude to another. Don’t assume people are being jerks with their critiques/edits, unless it’s obvious like the example above.
  • Remember, even if you don’t like what you’re reading/editing/critiquing, that someone put a lot of effort, work, and likely heart and soul into writing the piece. It’s not cool to trash someone simply because you’re not down with the subject matter. If you can’t handle the content, then correct the technical mistakes, and suggest another editor/proofreader to go over the work for said content. The same goes for their ability to write. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”–Ernest Hemingway
  • We’re losing the ability to be polite in our society, and even if you don’t agree with what someone has to say about your work, thank them for their time, and move on. You’re not going to convince someone to change their mind about it, especially when what a person likes is opinion-based, but they did take time out of their day to read it and respond. Even if they’re being asshats, you don’t need to stoop to their level–you are not a mirror for their behavior. “I respect your opinion, even though I don’t agree. Thank you for your time.” You don’t have to like someone, or their opinion, to be polite to them. 
  • The hardest one? Don’t take it personally. It’s really difficult not to, because of how much proverbial blood, sweat, and tears goes into writing. Hell, sometimes the blood, sweat, and tears are literal. Your work is made from a piece of you, and when someone is down on it or doesn’t like it, that can be a major blow to your self-esteem and ego. The best thing you can do is listen to what they’re saying with your mind, and not your heart.

TL;DR: Don’t be a jerk, don’t assume others are jerks, be polite, and don’t take it personally.

Do you have any horror stories about an editor or an author? Feel free to vent in the comments. No need to name anyone or their work, but sometimes you need to get things off your chest so you can move on. It’s cathartic!

Keep your chin up!

The Always Aspiring Writer

Toni Adwell is an editor with Damnation Inc. and an aspiring author. You can find out more about her at Legends of the Wordsmiths (http://lotwordsmiths.blogspot.com) where she gives book reviews, World of Warcraft fanfic chapters, and excerpts from her own work. 

The Editor’s Perspective: POV and you! …And you… and…

POV and You!

This week we’re exploring different POV styles and how to use them effectively.

Point of view mistakes in writing make up a bigger portion of my editing tasks than you would believe. Many burgeoning new writers may not take the actual method of different points of view into account when they’re working and trust me… it shows. Point of view is an insanely important part of writing; it can make or break a scene, a chapter, or even a book. It’s incredibly important to be aware of the different types and why you should recognize when to use them and how to remain consistent in that style. When I see a book come across my desk with bad POV mistakes, it makes me question the validity of said book being there.

This is NOT the impression you want to make on potential publishers, editors, or readers.

We’re going to take a look at the different types of point of view, or POV for short, and give you a brief break down of why and how to use them, and keep you from making a huge rookie mistake and switching your POV mid-sentence.

(Yes, I have seen this happen… more than you know.)

For the purpose of maintaining consistency in your writing, I am also going to show examples of head-hopping and tell you why you shouldn’t do it!

First, the different points of view:

First Person

Second Person

Third Person

     Limited

     Omniscient

First Person

First person is a cool way to literally have your writer ‘slip’ into the character’s brain and see the word from this perspective. The use of the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me’ or ‘my’ are going to dominate this POV. Why? Because you are the protagonist. You experience the world with the immediacy of someone who’s there and witnessing it firsthand.

Example: I didn’t want to go to the mall, and shook my head curtly. I could already see tears welling up in her eyes, no doubt in an attempt to guilt me into going. I stomped my foot.

“Not again, Clarissa!” I shouted.

First person is used often in genre fiction like Y.A., autobiographical writing, or memoirs. It is never used in academic writing, so please never write your assignments this way!

Adult fiction can be written in first person, but I personally don’t see it done well very often. This POV can often be tricky, but we’ll cover that another week!

Second Person

Second person is unique in that it’s more informal and conversational with the reader. When you write on your blog (as I’m doing now), you are speaking directly to the reader and addressing them as though they are in the room with you. ‘You,’ ‘your,’ and ‘yours’ are going to be the words du jour with second person, since your ‘narrator’ is going to speak directly to them.

Example: Henry’s always getting fired up over nothing, but that’s the sort of thing you’ll come to understand about him. He’s probably just blowin’ off steam, so I wouldn’t take it too personal, if I were you.

Second person is often used in direction/instruction writing, advertisements, songs, blog writing, or occasionally in speaking. It’s not often used in fiction writing, unless your narrator/protagonist is attempting to directly speak to the reader, otherwise known as “breaking the fourth wall,” which pretty much means that your protagonist is expressing awareness of the fact that s/he is being observed by an outside source.

Think of Deadpool’s dialogue… even in a video game, he expresses plenty of awareness of his surroundings by addressing the player directly, and even grabbing health bars to beat other characters with. He is the epitome of a second person view, because he has no problem telling you right where you can shove those bars, either.

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Definitely one way to show sentience…

In fiction writing, you have to have a particular style and skill in order to switch successfully in and out of second person and any other POV, so this should be used sparingly.

Third Person

Third person is the most popular POV to use in American fiction. Most novels you will read in America (and probably some other English speaking countries!) will be written in third person limited or third person omniscient, which I’ll cover in a moment.

Third person limited is more preferable to omniscient, at least in my experience, and is most typically what you’ll come across in modern fiction. It gives your narrator’s voice the ability to describe the world from an outsider’s perspective (like if you’re watching it through a video camera), while still focusing on the main protagonist and relaying their thoughts and feelings. ‘She,’ ‘he,’ ‘it,’ ‘they,’ ‘them,’ ‘her,’ ‘him,’ ‘his,’ ‘hers,’ and ‘its’ are going to be common in this POV.

Example: Amy held her breath, back pressed against the wall. The cold seeped into her bones, but she couldn’t move. The tip of a broken floor tile jammed its way painfully into the underside of her boot, but she didn’t dare make a sound. He might hear it.

Third person omniscient means that your narrator is still looking at things from an outsider’s point of view, but instead of expressing just one character’s intentions, it can express all of them. Third person omniscient means that your narrator is essentially invisible and watching the characters do their thang. They are not a character in your story. They do not express personal thoughts, feelings, or emotions. Something that is important to remember is that in third person omniscient, your narrator is an outside observer, which means that they cannot understand the internal thoughts your character has, and therefore, cannot describe thoughts or feelings that the characters themselves have not already expressed.

Correct:

Harry ran down the sidewalk, his tie furiously flapping over his shoulder. He waved frantically to the bus as it pulled away from the curb. “Wait!” he screamed. “Wait!”

At the stop next to him, Francine flipped her arm over and frowned down nervously at the watch on her wrist. “Thirty minutes ‘til the next one,” she said with a sigh.

Incorrect:

Harry ran down the sidewalk, feeling his lungs almost burst inside of his chest. Ugh, he thought, if I keep this up, I’ll get a stitch in my side.

At the bus stop, Francine glared down at her watch. Thirty minutes, she told herself, biting her lip. I’m gonna be late on my first day!

Third person omniscient is a trickier style to use, because when some writers attempt this, it becomes third person limited with… HEAD-HOPPING. (You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?) The incorrect example is actually a perfect example of something you shouldn’t do.

Let me let you in on a secret: Most editors and publishers are going to hate head-hopping, and most newbie writers are going to do it. Why? Because they don’t know how to consistently write in a proper POV, or because they think they can tackle third person omniscient, and… they can’t. That’s not a dig. If you’re not quite there yet with your ability to write in third person omniscient, keep trying but don’t submit that work until you’ve been able to clean it up once or twice at least and make sure you’re not making us feel like  we’re hearing voices.

(Unless your character, is, in fact, schizophrenic, in which case, okay, cool!)

Don’t ever put two characters’ independent thoughts on the same page unless you’re writing in third person limited and putting page breaks in between them to signify a POV switch from one character to the next.

(A page break is easy: three or four pound keys or hashtags, as the kids call them nowadays (###), or three or four asterisks (***) mid-page will do the trick.)

By head-hopping, you will end up creating a muddled, confusing scene in which we are simultaneously reading different characters’ minds. It’s not pleasant, it’s not good writing, and as an editor, it’s literally one of the most frustrating things to fix because I basically have to reconfigure entire portions of story to best fit who I think is the main protagonist based off of your writing. Basically, it becomes character Jenga, which is not as fun as it sounds.

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Like this except more tears. My tears.

Whether you are writing in first, second, or third person, make absolutely certain that you don’t deviate into another style. How can you keep track of this? Double check the pronouns from each of the styles, and pay attention to what you’re writing.

Does your third person limited style end up head-hopping? Figure out which person is your main character, and then focus on them. Make sure your first person style focuses solely on one character, like you’re in Being John Malkovich staring through his head. If you go second person, make sure your style is addressing the reader as though the character is aware of their presence and doesn’t question their narration of important parts of their life to an invisible stranger.

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I said don’t question it!

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At any rate, it’s really easy to accidentally make your writing sloppy by skipping around these various points of view… and more people than you realize end up doing this by accident.

Remember: Pick ONE and stay with it. You’ll save yourself (and future publishers!) a lot of headaches in the end.

 

The Editor’s Perspective: Too Much Information

Too Much Information...

One of the things that I consistently see—and am guilty of myself—is the habit of over-sharing.

Writers often have the difficult task of not only making up absolutely every part of their story down to where their character has an unsightly mole or embarrassing birthmark, but to do this mental and physical creation for every single character in their story. It’s exhausting!

Think about it: Imagine your friends or coworkers, or even family members. We’ll say just pick three at random. What do you know about them? Favorite color? How many fillings they have? When they were born? Their parents’ current city? The place they lost their virginity? Their first car? Their pet’s name from when they were ten that they use as a password? The amount of their bank account/s?

Now imagine their personal drives, inspirations, or fantasies.

Do they have a tortured secret from their past that haunts them to this day? Was their first love a con artist? Father an abusive drinker? Do they hate alcoholics for that reason? Are they one themselves? What’s their ultimate goal, their dream in life? What makes them keep going, even in the face of complete and total hopelessness?

Hell, what’s their favorite position in bed?

Likely, you won’t even have half of the answers to questions that specific, and probably not at all to that last one about your family members.

 

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Please, no Jaime and Cersei Lannister jokes… except this one.

Moving on…

A writer may not have this specific information, but imagine knowing a person on a much more in-depth scale and then having that depth of knowledge for 10 other people in your book—or even more, if we’re going with Game of Thrones again. Now imagine that you have three stories that you’re working on concurrently, and each of those people also has those individual properties, and not to mention they’re in different genres, so it’s an entirely different type of world…

Oh, and some of them may only exist for one page. Or not even show up in the story at all.

What I’m saying is, there is a lot of information going on in a writer’s head at any given time, and sometimes it’s hard to compress that information to determine what goes into your book and what stays off the page.

I recently edited a short piece where the author randomly decided in the middle of an unrelated paragraph to go into detail about the character’s very specific job, her age, the length of time she had been at said job, the people she liked there, what she hoped to accomplish at the job in a couple of years, and the respect she hoped she garnered from her co-workers. It was random, it was waaaaaay too in-depth, especially given the parameter of what she had been talking about before, and it was absolutely over-share.

The toughest part? Not one single thing about that woman’s job mattered to the story at all, and given its awkward delivery and general unimportantness, it had to be completely cut. Do I feel bad when I make these suggestions? Yes, I do. Someone worked really hard to come up with a believable character with believable background information and wants to show that information. Are the changes necessary?

Let’s just say this: Nine times out of ten you can cut entire paragraphs of over-share from a book and not just make it shorter, but make the story better.

I thought you were supposed to be detailed in writing?

Absolutely! When world developing, it’s good to be as thorough as possible. There are numerous sites whose soul purpose is to help develop worlds and characters with intense detail. In the past, I’ve used LitLift to keep track of specific things about characters from their shady pasts and emotional and physical scars down to height, weight, eye, and hair color. Not all of these things make it into the pages of a book, and honestly, not all of them should. That does not mean you shouldn’t have that information before you write.

Think about how much more information J.K. Rowling was able to divulge about her Harry Potter series after the final book came out. The information you keep back can oftentimes be important to the development of your character or world, but still not entirely pertinent to the story itself.

Confused yet?

Writing differs from world building in that you have to be far more selective about where, when, and even if that information you’ve worked weeks, months, or years on makes it into the final cut. It’s basically having a giant bin of Legos and having to sift through it for all the exact right pieces. Could you use all of those pieces to build a cool spaceship? HELL. YES. Legos are amazing. All of those pieces would fit together one way or another.

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But would they be the streamlined, coherent, amazing spaceship you saw on the box? Uhm… maybe, if you tweaked it here and there, and kinda squinted your eyes and tilted your head…

Okay, no. But that’s basically what writing a book is like.

So how does a writer determine what goes into the story?

This part is going to be difficult, no matter how many times you write a book. You have allllll that information rolling around in your head, itching to get out. Sometimes you know your character’s personal information better than you know your own. Being that close to it, you literally can’t see the forest for the trees. So what helps cut down what the necessary information isn’t?

Outlining and plotting out your story like a well-crafted blueprint, that’s what.

When I was younger, there was no way in hell I was going to outline my work before I wrote. It wasn’t that I was against it, but I’d get the idea and I’d just go for it, full throttle, no easing back until the words had left me.

As I got older and went to school for writing, I started to learn more about the Hero’s Journey and other methods of crafting your story, and outlining became MUCH easier. Using even a vague pattern for outlining your story will give you a better idea of where it’s going, what your important plots and subplots should be, and if you really need to crack that joke on page 156, or divulge your character’s reason for doing that thing on page 79.

Can you sew a pair of pants by hand? Sure, but it’ll be messy as hell. Can you use a pattern to make it much more neat and then clean it up when you’re done? YES. Nobody’s going to want a pair of jeans with seventeen buttons on one pant leg and no fly, or a scarf that’s way too big—

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Never mind. Sorry, Mr. Kravitz.

What I’m saying is that giving yourself time to plan and outline the story before you start writing will give you knowledge about the highlights and important areas in your story, and also tell you which parts can get chopped off right away. Sometimes people write out of order because the parts come to them that way. I do this sometimes when I find the urge to write a particular scene before I’ve gotten there. It can work because I’ve outlined specific instances to happen, so my brain is still working out how they go together, even if I have several pages from the beginning and end done with no middle sections.

Your outline should always be in the order that your book needs to go, regardless of how you write. It gives you a ladder that you can follow to reach the top, even if you’re hopping from the third rung to the eighth.

Does outlining guarantee your story will be right the first time?

In no way does any planning you do beforehand guarantee that everything will work perfectly in the long run. There are always complications in writing, and sometimes, your character will simply run you into a corner before you realize what’s happened. Sometimes the outline needs to change because you realize that parts of it won’t work or don’t suit the direction you’re trying to go. Maybe the goal changes and you need to rewrite that super sweet space battle or remove it entirely.

Just like your writing won’t be perfect the first time around, your outline will often change as the story develops and fleshes out. It’s the nature of writing. It’s a living, moving, writhing, sometimes bratty piece of work. It occasionally has a will of its own and will make you feel like you’re trying to convince a toddler not to stick that shiny thing in their mouth. But the important thing is to push through it and get to the end, whether you’re happy with it or not…

…And then hire a crazy awesome editor to clean it up for you. ;p

Reflections!

Blog Articles

A lot of things have happened for me in the last year. Not all of them great, but some of them pretty wonderful. May 3rd was the anniversary of the day my (now) husband and I officially started dating, waaaaaay back in good ole’ 2011. We celebrated quietly (because one can only have so many anniversaries, I am told, and marriage trumps dating), ate dinner, played GTA 5, and my husband gave me a glorious Sailor Moon figure, because, yes, we really are that much of a geeky couple.

It was, unfortunately, also the day that marked a big sadness in my life: the day I got rear-ended by a–not soccer mom, I was vehemently corrected–woman in her “athletic sport-abled transportation vehicle.” It caused a lot of issues, a lot of pain, and a lot of pure, utter, nonsense. It’s a part of my life I am hoping to put behind me.

Because of these things, May 3rd caused a lot of reflection for me. I will be twenty-eight in a scant few days. If my grandmother were here, she’d tell me I’m only a year away from her favorite age of twenty-nine. When I was little, I actually looked forward to getting to that age so I could tell people the same thing my grandmother told them all the way up until she passed: “I don’t care what my birth certificate says, I’m twenty-nine and holding.” This is the woman whose thick Brooklyn accent I adored to mimic, who always had a electronic gambling game in her purse, a cigarette in her hand, and lipstick on her glass.

It’s amazing the things you think about around birthdays, isn’t it?

These days it doesn’t feel like I have time for anything. Much less for reflection, so the third was an interesting–albeit it bittersweet–period. About a year and a eight months ago, I graduated from college. Half a year after that, I started working as a proofreader. About eight months ago, I got married. Three months ago, I got promoted to editor. About two months ago, I started editing job number two, and hell if my days haven’t just been a whirlwind since then. Working in your industry is great; it’s what you strive for. Of course, the pay doesn’t really cut the mustard some days, and your workload is shit, but the thing is, you adore what you do. And I do. I don’t mind filling my days with editing and my downtimes with video games… but it doesn’t leave much time for my writing stuff.

When I went to school for creative writing, I had grandiose dreams of finishing a couple novels, getting some short stories out, and eventually having a successful editing company of my own. Of course, the real world never works out like a five year plan… and slowly that plan began to look more like fantasy than the novels I read for a living.

(Still, it’s hard to complain. I read books for money and tell them how to make it better!)

so_good

When you can actually fix the misspelled words in a book

I’ve been trying to cram a lot into a very limited amount of time, however, and recently, that meant pushing myself to clean and polish (read: cut 8,000 words out of) a short story of mine, in the hope that I can submit it for publication in an anthology. I’m super stoked, if not perhaps nervous that I’m taking their ‘20,000 words or less rule’ a bit too literally.

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I take word count to heart, thank you very much.

Like all hopefuls, I’m eager to see the acceptance email after working on something so hard, but there’s still the nagging doubt that I’ll be able to do it at all. Editing other people’s work makes me understand how great it is. Editing mine? Not so much.

(Hint to any struggling writers out there: You are probably your own worst critic… so don’t listen to you.)

Maybe the five year plan isn’t working out the way I wanted; maybe my dreams are different now, and maybe a couple got derailed in lieu of more realistic expectations.

That’s okay. Gonna keep at it and hope I hit my mark one day.

Wish me luck! The deadline is June 1st. ;p

Why “Limited Edition” Video Game Stuff Sucks

Blog Articles

These days, video game consoles are well renowned, recognizable, and in a crap ton of homes across the globe. Chances are good you have at least one in your house, if not two. My husband and I have a nice collection of various consoles that are sometimes in duplicate, like our Wiis, or triplicate, in the case of our PS2s, since we each had one before we got married, and now they sit on the shelves and hang out together.

Most titles created these days span platforms, meaning that they are accessible for all systems, from console to handheld to PC. Getting a game for your system is easier than ever, too. You go to the store, check out the section for whichever console you’re trying to get the title on, and voila, you buy that baby and bring it on home. There are, of course, titles that are limited to one system, but I mean hell, I just finished playing the new Tomb Raider on my 360 a couple months ago. I have my original Playstation copies of some of the older games and even a bundle of EVERY Tomb Raider game that I got on Steam when it was on sale—

SteamSummerSaleGabe

Oh, how the wallet groans at the mere mention of a Steam sale.

 —which means that I have digital and physical copies of the same games across four different consoles. In the not too distant past, such a thing would have been absolutely preposterous. When a game had its run, it ran for ONE console, one developer, and if you didn’t have that system, you better hope to hell your rich kid friend’s dad bought it for Christmas just so you could watch it get played, because you got socks and a sweater, mister.

Video games are prolific these days… So why do developers bother with limited edition runs?

The first part of course, is easy to answer: Cha-ching, baby.

Like any human with a predilection for collecting anything, video game collectors want to believe the hoard we’re amassing is important and holds value, even if we never plan on selling any of it. Limited edition runs appeals to us on those levels, certainly, because hey, we’ve got something that they only sold 500 copies of and you don’t, and we don’t have a problem paying the cushy price!

One of the games infamous for this very thing is a little title called Earthbound for the SNES.

EarthBound_Box

For those of you who don’t immediately recognize it, this series introduced the character Ness that you’re not planning on using in Super Smash Bros. but want to unlock anyway.

Earthbound’s run was pretty limited in the US at first because Americans didn’t really care for it. A couple different things like bad marketing and lack of interest in the ‘simple’ graphics were blamed for its poor reception, so America only ended up selling about half as many copies as Japan did of the same title.

America… always complaining… this is why we didn’t get Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels, and got Doki Doki Panic instead, guys.

Later on, everyone turned around and basically said, “We love Earthbound!” and then bought the pixelated graphics out of it on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console.

“But,” you’re probably asking, “what does this have to do with limited edition?”

Good question, astute reader! You know how America only sold half as many original cartridge copies of the game? Guess how much they go for now that it has critical acclaim?

Screenshot 2015-01-17 03.19.22

Free shipping? I’m sold!

That, my friend, is a copy sold by Nintendo itself, and that’s not smudge on your screen. You’ll see that used versions are selling for less, but its still a pretty hefty price tag for a 21 year old game. That’s right guys, if that game were a person, it could totally buy alcohol. Feel old yet?

That particular limited run was an accident, because I guess people were pickier about their pixels then, but limited it is, and expensive as all get out because of it.

Now, a limited run isn’t always a shite situation… sometimes getting that edition is really great because it honestly adds to the game you’re purchasing.

Skyrim’s legendary edition had that amazing dragon sculpture, and Mass Effect 3 had a nifty lithograph and N7 patch that came with it, and in general, people who play the games love the art books and maps and other goods that come with such a purchase. Limited edition stuff makes it special, and we like special. I still display my N7 patch on my bookshelf, as a matter of fact, and I proudly have a limited edition Skyrim poster and at least four maps from the Elder Scroll games displayed in frames. What could be so wrong with that then?

The second part is also easy to answer and is remarkably similar to the first: Cha-ching, baby!

There was (probably) once a time when people bought limited edition goods because they genuinely enjoyed what came in said bundle. These days, the Internet has changed that perspective, however, and buying limited edition has gone from genuine buyers to a grotesquely large group of scalpers who purchase multiple copies of the items just to sell them at higher prices online. They have no intention of playing, enjoying, or gifting them—it all goes immediately online at sometimes double or triple the original price, just so that the people who actually want the item but couldn’t a) get it in time, or b) afford it during its run are screwed over and forced to pay exorbitant prices to scalpers who have no love of the items they’re selling. This doesn’t just affect video games, of course, but they do suffer from it quite a bit.

Recently, Nintendo (yeah, we’re back at you, buddy, even though I love you) released a series of figures for the Wii U called Amiibos. These were plastic Nintendo characters similar to Disney Infinity or Skylanders.

The problem?

Apart from there being confusion over where to buy certain characters or when they were being released, they also immediately started discontinuing certain characters–that’s right, discontinuing them all together. This, of course, caused a run on every store that sold the Amiibos, sending scalpers and collectors alike into a frenzy. Keep in mind that the Wii U itself is about $250-$300 and the games are $60. There was barely any time between the release of the new Super Smash Bros. game before you had to immediately dash back out and spend $12.99 apiece on figures if you didn’t want to miss out on them before they went bye-bye.

Scalpers, on the other hand, ate that shit up. Now, if you go and look online, you’ll see some Amiibos are as high as $45.

This is a constant problem, destroying true fans’ opportunities to get the goods they’re after and giving money to a bunch of asshats on Amazon and eBay who make more selling that stuff per figure than the company that made them did.

Does this mean the limited edition item should die before it wears out its fans? Nah, not really. It does mean that companies are going to have to get tougher on making certain that limited runs reach a wider variety of people in a bit larger numbers, but it could be a while (or never) before that happens. Companies probably aren’t going to be interested in policing the releases more than they have to, because hey, first and foremost, they want to make certain that their product sells, and those d-bag scalpers are definitely buying them up. It’s not like they’re purposely screwing over fans… just creating the scenario that allows their fans to be screwed over, and then letting it happen.

And scalpers? Pssht. Just… just do me a favor, people, and don’t purchase from them.

Oh, and to the creepy old dude at Walmart buying the hell out of those Amiibos to sell online? Eff you.

It’s not like I–I mean some kid wanted them for Christmas… or something…

Minimum wage? More Like Slave Labor

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On the Internet, you find a lot of people willing to spew hatred. It’s just a fact. Whether it’s an honest opinion or general trolling, you typically run into a bunch of people who are simply willing to go out of their way to put you down because

*GASP*

You disagreed with them.

The Internet has always been the home of porn addicts and compulsive spenders, but now thanks to social media, you have an outlet for people who say stupid crap when they’re by themselves to go online and say stupid crap for hundreds and hundreds of thousands to see.

Every. Day.

The problem with this is that, as a whole, the people who are willing to spew these kind of violent outbursts of righteous anger with their noses so high in the air they can’t even see the keyboard are almost always speaking purely from an opinionated point of view… or at least one that is purely decorated with other people’s voices who share the exact same opinion.

(If you get all of your news from a single channel and don’t change your mind about a topic when facts and evidence are presented in the contrary, you are not as well-rounded as you think.)

It’s like a crazy farm. For crazy people. Only, every single one of them thinks that they’re right. I was on Facebook when I came across this gem in my newsfeed:

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This lady, we’ll call her “J”… well, she starts off pretty strong. From the get-go, we know it’s a rant. That in and of itself is not bad. People rant on social media all the time, and it’s become a fairly accepted pastime for most people. Bad day at work? School? You’re sick? Post it to social media! I mean, hell, this blog is basically a giant tribute to my opinion, so clearly, the rant is something that I’m not only familiar with, but chill with pretty frequently.

By the first sentence, I already knew that I was in for a bad time. It’s one of those things that you can just tell by the vibe before you even read it. Someone’s about to blast you with an opinion, and you just. can’t. look. away. It’s like the friggin’ Ark in Raiders. You know it’s gonna be filled with bad shit, and you can either face it or close your eyes and pretend it’s not there.

J starts off immediately by demeaning fast food workers. Immediately. It was almost as if she had been personally offended by a McDonald’s employee who DARED to ask for more money. Was this a personal vendetta? Did she go to said restaurant only to be turned away by a picket line? Who knows? What we do know is that J is really, really, pissed at Johnny Fry-Boy, Baconator (That one’s not so creative, J), and Sally McBurgerFlipper. She is righteously indignant that a fast food worker would request a pay increase to a decent living wage.

I mean, I have no idea how someone could get so angry over someone asking for more when they don’t have enough…. Oh wait.

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Not pictured: J standing off screen yelling at him.

Apparently, if a fast food worker was paid the same amount as someone in the military, it somehow lessens the amount of pay for said soldier. J’s got a bone to pick with those poor employees, and she’s not afraid to show it. Given her utter horror at the idea, and her in-depth knowledge of pay scales in the military, I’d venture a guess that J is married to a soldier and isn’t happy about the money. I can understand that. I actually have a few friends in the military, and I know that things can get tight trying to support their families. I know that there is the issue of them not being paid, being given less than they’re worth, and generally being screwed over if the government is wearing their “Dunce” caps that day (Hint: they are ALWAYS wearing them).

I get it, J. I totally understand that you are angry over the poor pay of men who are willing to sacrifice their lives for us and be apart from their families for long periods of time. I get that it’s unfair, but that’s why all minimum wage should change. Attacking a fast food worker who wants more isn’t the answer.

Dealing all of your fury against people who not only make up a large portion of our economy but also fill necessary jobs so you can feed your kids when you don’t feel like making dinner before a ball game is not going to help. Your rage is misplaced. You should be angry at the government: not at Johnny, Baconator, and Sally. They’re doing their jobs, just like anyone else. They might be putting themselves through school. Did you think of that? They might be trying to pay some increasingly high student debts so they can get a better job. They might be teens trying to work part-time, or even older people who can’t retire because they can’t live on social security. Designed for kids in high school? Honey, this is 2014. I see 60 year olds at Walmart and Subway and Burger King all the time. We have an increasingly pinched middle class and we’re recovering from a recession and the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression.

I think you need to redefine “jobs for high schoolers” because I can even name some people with fantastic degrees working in retail, in grocery stores, customer service, and yes, even fast food. Do they want to do those jobs? No, I’m sure they don’t. But they need to work to eat, and they deserve to be able to live on the wages that they’ve worked so hard for.

Never mind that a large portion of our fast food workers are on food stamps to support their families. Never mind that they are continually thought of as the scum of the earth, regardless of the fact that McDonald’s sells billions of burgers to people just like J. Never mind that they are given ridiculous tasks and can’t go over on their hours. Or that they are frequently victims of wage theft and being forced to work off the clock or threatened with termination. Never mind that they are people who are trying to support themselves on $7.25 an hour when the burgers that they are “flipping” almost cost more than they make.

Yeah J. You have clearly done your research on this topic.

Now, you may not know this, but today is actually a special day! It’s my anniversary!

ImageThe one month anniversary, in fact, of the day that I got rear-ended by a middle-aged soccer mom in her huge-ass van! What do I have to show for it, you might ask? Well, mainly a bigger butt (I’ve put on 5lbs because of inactivity and meds…), a dwindling bank account, oodles of doctor’s bills, and a bigger headache than ever before! I also have a busted up car, neck, arm, and back, but hey, those are the kinda gifts you get when a complete stranger gives your derriere that oh so special “getting to know you” love tap.

In the last month, I have done little to nothing of any major value, unless, of course, you count sitting on your ass, laying about, taking medicine and then sleeping too much as ‘something’.

(If you count that as something, then we need to talk because you might have a problem, and/or also be my new best friend.)

At any rate, I wasn’t at fault for the accident, but that didn’t stop it from putting a hold on literally EVERYTHING in my life. For those of you who don’t know, I recently turned 27 had a birthday and I spent it zonked out on meds and marathoning Netflix shows from my bed. I think I left the room maybe three times, and it was mostly because I had to pee.

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The song of the porcelain throne is a siren’s call.

In this interim of inaction, I’ve had the unfortunate position of having to speak with the insurance company for a length of time, which led to them trying to get me to sign my life over for little more than they probably make in 30 seconds. They also tried to avoid paying the medical bills that occurred as a result of their client’s negligence. They attempted to do all of this days after the accident before I even had knowledge of how bad my injuries really were.

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“Then I told her that we’d pay for the medical bills… for the first week!”

I’m going to let you in on a less than secret “secret”: Insurance companies are evil. I think they might work for Hitler, who is actually subcontracting for the Devil from the innermost circle of Hell in the office next to every serial murderer and across the hall from the room reserved for the Westboro Baptist Church.

Take everything you know about empathy, shred it, throw the bits in the air, have an orgy in the pile, and then shit all over whatever’s left, and you basically have what amounts to the insurance agency’s desire to help you solve your problems.

I’m not posting a picture for that. Use your imaginations. Sickos.

What I’m saying is that they genuinely don’t care one iota about you, your pain, or your problems.

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I couldn’t give less of a shit. I really, truly mean it.

I went into this with the attitude that hey, as long as my medical bills are paid, I’ll be okay and work with them… which promptly had to go straight out the window when they showed their hand. It was about a week after my accident when I realized that I might actually have to get an attorney to handle the travesty, because they were seriously, seriously uninterested in trying to help me.

In the meantime, while I’m waiting for all of this to get sorted, I haven’t been able to work, and my car still hasn’t been repaired because not only is the insurance company trying to wiggle out of it, but I also have the estimate writer at their repair place being downright nasty to me.

(Rodney… what a perfect name for you.)

Add on to this that I’m basically spending 3-5 days a week in a doctor’s office, and it’s literally the most Sisyphean task I’ve ever had to endure.

Now remember, the only reason that I’m in this endless cycle is because someone else was careless, and they have people on their side who are paid to make my road to recovery as difficult as humanly possible. They are paid to make us miserable and to make us accept less than we need to survive, and that, my friends, is not okay.

There are, of course, people in the world who whine a bit too loudly when something like this happens, and I totally get that. But then, there are also people who are just trying to get themselves back to status quo. The many will always suffer for the few, but it just really makes you hate the process that much more when you realize that someone literally has a job where they are told to screw you over as much as possible.

And to those people, I would gladly offer you this lovely double fingered salute, but you’ve seen it so much you’d probably just think of it as a term of endearment by now.

 

 

 

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Mus(e)ic?

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It’s hard to get your muse in gear and actually get your work done by and by. Whether that work is writing or anything else in life that requires even a modicum of attention and energy, there are times when procrastination is key and my best friend and keeper. I know that I sometimes procrastinate without reason, even if the only one I’m disappointing is myself and a perhaps overly large pile of laundry that I’ve meant to fold and/or hang up for like, three days now.

Ahem.

During my writing, editing, or basically anytime I’m in front of the computer, you can guarantee one of two things. One, I will have a word document open in the potential that I will get writing done, and two, that I will have music playing. Doesn’t matter what music, unless I’m in a routine obsession with a particular song—you know, the ones that you play over and over until you’re sick of them?

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They literally almost couldn’t fit all of the 80s in there into this picture. 

Pandora will be coasting through everything from classical music to dubstep like my own personal tunage fairy that constantly batters me with ads. (PAY for music? Please, Internet. I grew up in the Napster and Limewire era, friend.)

While I absolutely love listening to music as I work, I know that the wrong music can be utterly devastating to writing. For instance, sometimes it’s impossible to be able to write while a song with lyrics that you know plays. I have occasionally found myself typing the words to the songs, completely oblivious that I’m doing so until it’s too late and I’ve lost my original train of thought.

I once attended a school for graphic design before switching my degree to creative writing, and I had a lovely Russian art teacher for a semester whose job it was to teach some kids who had no formal training how to draw still-lifes and use shadowing and that weird thumb-and-pencil thing to measure objects that I never quite got around to perfecting. (Or using… ever.) To this day, whenever I pick up the pencil to sketch anything, I still hear her voice in my head telling me to “Drah sroo za shape.” She was very keen on using music to stimulate creativity while drawing, and was a fan of techno beats and discotheque European music. Occasionally, we heard a cool song or two, but what I remember her for most was when she’d forget to change a library from repeating one song to repeating them all, and so we’d hear that self-same wub-wub house music song for about two hours of our four hour long class before she’d realize it was repeating and change it. By the end of two hours of Eastern European techno, you’re about ready to shoot yourself in the head to make it stop. Needless to say, some days were more productive than others.

It’s kind of a given that things that are catchy and upbeat have a tendency to capture the attention, and I definitely can’t write a sad scene to happy music, or vice versa. I find my own moods often mirror my character’s scenario as I think, and there’s no way that I can write a sad scene listening to a tune that makes me smile.

Ever try to kill someone to pop music? Can’t be done.

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There are of course, always exceptions.

If only that grimace was early-onset cardiac arrest.

Music is a strange creation in that it has the ability to regulate our moods and flood our brains as we speak or try to communicate. It’s pretty unique in that it can be both inspiring and ungodly awful with only the difference of maybe a few notes between your favorites and least favorites. Used properly, it does in fact stimulate the brain to work more creatively, or throw you into mind-numbing bouts of self-depression… (Especially if that music is country).

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Look, she didn’t get rich on a long lasting, healthy and fulfilling relationship, is all I’m saying, okay?

Super Bowl-Sh*t

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I am not normally one to watch football and don’t watch any of the matches through the rest of the year, so it doesn’t matter to me which colored jersey wins, ya dig?

(My sister-in-law and brother-in-law and I just so happened to choose the winning side to root for, which was a psychic bonus, I suppose.)

That being said, as a family, we all sit down and watch the Super Bowl, and so I had a chance to spy the infamous ads which would later cause such an online flummox.

At any rate, watching the commercials during the breaks, I wasn’t ‘blown away’ by any, and some even made me smile a bit. I mean, I don’t even drink Budweiser, but I love their Clydesdale commercials—who doesn’t love puppies and horses?!

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 …I digress.

Never once did it occur to me that two ads would have made such an outrageous impact for ALL of the wrong reasons.

Now, I watched both of these ads. I watched them with my whole family, and none of us saw anything wrong with them. We just watched them and moved on, but the Internet was already abuzz with misplaced rage.

Why? Because in this day and age, ignorance can’t be contained. It must be spread online, typically over social media forums that allow for people to spew their idiot vomit in 140 characters or less.

So, in lieu of simply calling people on their backwoods bullshit, let’s break down all of the fun reasons that people who found these commercials offensive are racist, bigoted morons!

Coca Cola has people singing “America the Beautiful” in languages other than English.

1. “I didn’t like people singing the national anthem in another language.”

If you have made it to an age where you can go out into the world and type with any kind of clarity into social media a slightly literate sentence about your opinion… you should at least be able to understand that if you’re going to open your mouth about something, you should have some facts to back it up.

a)    America the Beautiful is NOT our national anthem. Our national anthem is The Star Spangled Banner.

b)   This song was written by Katherine Lee Bates (*gasp*, a WOMAN?!) who was also a lesbian (Double gasp!). She left the Republican party in 1924 over growing xenophobia.

c)    Xenophobia: the intense or irrational dislike and fear of people from other countries (sound familiar?)

2. “This is Uh-meri-cuh. We speak ENGLISH here.”

a)    America has no official national language. This is because we are a melting pot… Think of the Statue of Liberty’s inscription. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” The inscription didn’t say, “Give me people who speak American English and nothing else.”

b)   We have plenty of U.S. citizens (legit citizens, okay?) who speak a language other than English, but are still American. It happens, since, you know, immigration from other countries.

c)    American English is a hard language to learn, but you know what? Some foreign countries actually assign it as a language in their classrooms. There are foreigners all over the world who have mastered the English language better than a good portion of Americans in America.

d)   How many people in America can easily discern the difference between:

It’s and Its;

Two, To, and Too

Your and You’re

They’re, Their, and There

Where and We’re

Write and Right

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Believe it or not, this is foreign language to some Americans…

Cheerios shows an interracial couple with a child.

a)    Welcome to America, where your birthplace doesn’t matter, but the color of your skin does? If you can’t get it through your skull that people are people, and we’re all pink and meaty on the inside regardless of our exteriors, then you really should go back to high school biology class and retake that segment, because clearly, you missed a huge plot twist.

b)   People evolved and adapted over many years to develop different pigmentation in their skin based on their environments and what they required in order to survive. Us extra white white people lived in regions where it was cold, we didn’t stay in the sun all day, and in a lot of places, it snowed. Therefore, we developed lighter skin, because nature decided that was what we needed. The good portion of people with darker skin lived in hotter climates, where their darker skin protected them from a harsher sun, and ensured that they wouldn’t stick out like… well, like a white person on the Savannah.

c)    Science, bitches.

d)   Because we are able to migrate all over the world today, and people of any racial orientation can move wherever they want, there are tons of people from different places everywhere.

e)    Sometimes, those people fall in love with someone who doesn’t look like them. Imagine if there was a fallout because blonde people were marrying brunettes instead of other blondes. See how silly that is? Now apply that ideal to skin color. It’s pretty lame, isn’t it?

Before this totally blows your mind, I assure you, there is no rule where someone of one race can’t fall in love with someone of another race. Our parts all work the same in the end, and again, if you can’t figure out that we’re all just people, you should probably go and learn that so you can understand how someone could have a baby from such a union.

(Hint: It’s the regular way since they’re no different from you)

I would really love for people to stop letting hate-mongering idiots dictate their views.

Let’s drop that racist ‘Murica! mentality for 2014, okay?