Guest Post: Jim McDonald

The Enchanted Alley would like to welcome today’s guest, Jim McDonald! 


About Jim McDonald

Jim has spent over 25 years as a business and technology consultant, which has allowed him to travel around much of the world.  Now somewhat settled down in the Carolinas, he is using a lifelong interest in history, mythology, anthropology, the hard sciences and B movies to bring his own versions of folklore to life.

When not clacking away at a laptop either for the job that pays the bills or drawing the odd ideas from his head to paper to disturb and amuse the readers, he can be found playing with hot glass or running around in a kilt promoting Celtic culture with his wife and three dogs pretending not to know him.


Today Jim is talking about what it’s like to be a writer, constantly being judged, and how to handle that fear and criticism. 

Fear in a Sea of Judgement

Has your finger ever hovered over the button, poised to send your manuscript off to your beat readers? Your editor? Your publisher?

The one that shoves it out into the world on Kindle?

When your heart races, the sheen of sweat on your brow, dampness in your palms that sends you to make another cup of coffee instead of sharing your work?

Do you have thoughts about the controversial scene? The one that kept you up at nights, or that you wrote around for weeks, knowing you’d have to come back to it at some point?

That statement you know will bring down scorn from some people?

Just even the simple internal doubt about whether or not your work is good enough to warrant a form rejection letter from the slush pile?

You know, that old friend. Fear.

As a writer, you pour your heart and soul into words streaming on the page. Your thoughts stretch to wondering what people will think of you, because of what you have written. What will you do if people don’t like it? Even worse, what if a lot of people read it, and you stir up a lot of noise because of the subject?

Good.

There’s an old saying. Kill your darlings. I carry it a little further. Give life to your dreams and fears.

If your writing is truly worthwhile, it is not only entertaining, but will energize some, and infuriate others. Trying to make everyone happy leaves no one satisfied.

The key to having your message heard, is giving people something worth remembering. And almost always, this comes from triggering one or more of our four core emotions. Happiness, Sadness, Fear or Anger.

When I look at the books that hold the most meaning for me, they are the ones that pushed the limits for their time. Robert Heinlein is one of my favorite authors, and he was more than able of stirring up people of every ilk, and pushing buttons. Some people saw Stranger in a Strange Land as the foundation for the Free Love movement of the 60’s. Others saw Starship Troopers as both an endorsement and an indictment of the military industrial complex. Both are stories that spurred controversy, satires of their subject matter and the societies he modeled.

Not so far on my end of preferred reading has been the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon from E. L. James. Definitely controversial, sending some people into frenzies that it promotes and glamorizes abuse. For others, it’s been freeing to give a tantalizing glimpse into a niche lifestyle.

What do these have in common? They are controversial, and influential in society. I have to think that when Robert H. was writing freely about incest, it gave him a little pause. E. L. James has certainly taken some backlash, as well as praise.

Writing gives us a medium to explore those ideas that fascinate, titillate, and terrify us. And then we get to share that with our readers, and do the same for them.

So why do we hold ourselves back, and ultimately fail our readers?

We are afraid what people will think. We worry about how others will judge us.

And guess what?

They are going to do it anyway.

I’ve been guilty of toning down some of my writing. It’s often been my regret about some of my work. I worried about how people would view me based on something from a story, and I’d cut it, or at least trim it back. When I talk to my readers afterwards, and they talk about how they read something, or how it affected them, I’ve realized how much of a punch I’ve pulled in a few cases.

I’ve gotten better about this, and the reactions I get these days are much more visceral. On a couple of earlier works when I’ve new editions to fix the little things, I’ve taken opportunities to make small enhancements to restore some of that impact. But at some point, you’ve got to push your children out into the world, warts and all.

So I hereby challenge myself to push more boundaries, especially the ones that make me uncomfortable. The ones that make me grow. And hopefully, touch at least one reader out there.

I’d rather be judged for pushing some limit, testing some boundary, shoving someone’s darling off a cliff with a hand grenade attached than being judged for doing something without substance or meaning. And no, I’m not looking to make everyone happy. Really, I’m not looking to make anyone happy. Except myself.

Even if I worry how my work will be received, I’d rather people look at me and shake their head because of what I do, not because of what I might have done.

Will you do the same?

Want more of this? Come by and see me at http://www.jim-mcdonald.net/. And soon will be launching a podcast over at: http://www.thewritermind.com/.

Thank you, Jim!

We’re really looking forward to seeing you push those boundaries and see where you go from here! 


Jim can be found all along the interwebs at the following places:

Be sure to show Jim’s latests releases some love as well! 


51rxx8jz1xlWe Are Not This 

Over two dozen writers from North Carolina or with deep ties to the Tarheel State band together to raise money for LGBTQ charities in Charlotte and North Carolina as a response to the NC General Assembly’s passage of HB2, the “bathroom bill.”

We are not discrimination.
We are not hate.
We are not fear.
We are not oppression.
We Are Not This.

Proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to support LGBTQ charities and non-profits in North Carolina.


51ucbzaj9dlUnbound and Determined

Greyson Forrester, born and raised to be a powerful wizard, has survived his trial but left with bigger mysteries behind it all than before. Discovering the trial was just the first battle in a much longer war and the veils between the realms nearly impenetrable, Grey’s lost everything and is again on the run, trying to keep a tenuous hold on life and discover if his restored powers are a gift or a curse.Lost, injured, and alone, someone makes the offer he can’t refuse. To save the two women he loves, and amend for the trail of destruction in his wake, all he has to do is one little job.One thing is certain.The ferryman’s price is a lot more expensive on the return trip from the land of the dead.

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Book Review: Octavia E. Butler by Gerry Canavan

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Enchanted Review

I’ve recently become intrigued by Octavia E. Butler and her award-winning science fiction, so when Gerry Canavan, a professor of English at Marquette University, came out with this book about Butler, I knew I wanted to read it.  Canavan has delved into the Octavia E. Butler archive at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, to illuminate her character and her works in an accessible way for the general public—not the academic one. He details a shy, depressed, and lonely African-American woman who grew up as an only child to a mother who worked as a cleaning lady for white people. Her father had died when she was only seven. She fell in love of reading at an early age, especially comic books, but certainly science fiction, and was an avid reader. She kept journals throughout her life and practiced a “positive obsession” in writing down her goals and dreams. She wanted to be a writer. She wanted to make good money at being a writer. This, however, would be something that she struggled to do throughout her life, performing odd jobs to make ends meet, and always teetering toward bankruptcy. That would change when she won the $295,000 MacArthur Fellowship (aka “Genius Award”) that allowed her to purchase a home and live more comfortably.

Canavan does an excellent job of analyzing Butler’s various novels through the lenses of her journals and other drafts accessible at the Huntington Library. He shows how Butler focused on certain topics over her career: power, racism, sexism, slavery, procreation, and rape. Though her stories can be seen as “bleak,” she did not see a how the societies she explored could lead to a happy ending. She definitely did not write utopian fiction.

This is a must-read book for any Octavia E. Butler fan, or for anyone who is interested in alternate views in science fiction. Canavan proves an excellent guide through Butler’s fiction, and you’ll want to take time with this book, exploring Butler’s books and stories as Canavan moves through them. There is absolutely so much to be explored here, and I’m sure much fruit will be born from the Huntington Library on Octavia E. Butler. I’ll be rereading and enjoying this book for some time to come.

 

Reviewed by Christina


About the Book

I began writing about power because I had so little, Octavia E. Butler once said. Butler’s life as an African American woman–an alien in American society and among science fiction writers–informed the powerful works that earned her an ardent readership and acclaim both inside and outside science fiction. Gerry Canavan offers a critical and holistic consideration of Butler’s career. Drawing on Butler’s personal papers, Canavan tracks the false starts, abandoned drafts, tireless rewrites, and real-life obstacles that fed Butler’s frustrations and launched her triumphs. Canavan departs from other studies to approach Butler first and foremost as a science fiction writer working within, responding to, and reacting against the genre’s particular canon. The result is an illuminating study of how an essential SF figure shaped themes, unconventional ideas, and an unflagging creative urge into brilliant works of fiction.


51vbc4ropsl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Essential Info

Title: Octavia E. Butler

Author: Gerry Canavan

Publisher: University of Illinois Press

Cost: $22.00 (paperback)

Length: 224 pages

Purchase Link: CLICK HERE


Guest Post: Cindy Koepp

The Enchanted Alley would like to welcome Cindy Koepp.

Please give her a very enchanted welcome!


Virtual Tour
Author: Cindy Koepp
Featured Book Releases: Remnant in the Stars and The Loudest Actions
November 7 – 21, 2017

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Without further ado… here’s Cindy! 

Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology: Mechanized Armor

In Remnant in the Stars and The Loudest Actions, the League pilots (the bad guys) used mechanized armor or “mechs” for fighter craft. These are huge (much taller than a person) robots piloted by someone who communicates mentally with the computer from inside a cockpit located in the chest. The mechs come in two varieties: the smaller and lighter Dervishes and the much sturdier and larger Samurai.

The mechs have the advantage of being able to work in space and in atmosphere. They have shielding and armor to protect them and three kinds of weapons for offense. Each mech has railguns, lasers, and missiles. The pilot selects targets and weaponry and actually flies the mech around.

This is hardly a new concept. Anime has had powered suits and piloted robots for decades. I remember watching anime as a kid and seeing some of these mechs. Some of them look more human than others. Mechs show up in role-playing games (RPGs), too. Even movies have gotten into the act with Iron Man popping up here and there.

That’s all grand fun in fiction, but do powered armor suits and mechs exist in real life?

Yes, they do, sort of.

You won’t be able to see Iron Man flying around any time soon, and the Dervishes and Samurai in the stories are still a long way off, but there are powered armor suits that can protect the wearer and improve their strength and agility in stressful situations. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/which-sci-fi-armor-armys-fancy-new-battle-suit-actually-180949726/?no-ist)

These powered suits are called “TALOS,” an acronym for “Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.”  Yep, I can see why they gave it an acronym. TALOS doesn’t have all the cool stuff Iron Man has. Nor does it carry energy shields, railguns, lasers, and missiles. The person wearing the suit doesn’t have to “jack in” to the computer with a cable feeding to his brain.

Revision’s TALOS does provide protection for the wearer, increased strength, and improved situational awareness through a wearable computer that provides handy info. Not quite Tony Stark’s Jarvis, but helpful nevertheless. Revision’s TALOS is slated for release into the field in 2018

Here’s more info

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIYHVE1We54

And, you can check it out in motion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9Wbj1-pZcQ

There are other versions of this. Another company, Lockheed Martin, has come up with one they’re calling HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier). This one is less about armor and more about helping people carry an excessive load under adverse conditions. The interesting thing about HULC is that it even bears its own weight so the wearer doesn’t have to.

Want to see it in motion? Here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2W23ysgWKI

So, powered suits already exist, at least in prototype mode. Some are only slightly better than armor plus a radio, but others are helping the wearer carry loads and even gain situational awareness.

Will we see Dervish and Samurai type mechs someday? Maybe. Keep an eye on the sky as robotics moves forward.

Wow! That was cool! Thank you, Cindy! I think I’d like the HULC for carrying around my books. 🙂 

Enchanted readers, look below to find out more about Cindy’s two latests releases and to check out the rest of her blog tour stops! 


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About the Author: Originally from Michigan, Cindy Koepp has a degree in Wildlife Sciences and teaching certification in Elementary Education from rival universities. After teaching for fourteen years, she pursued a master’s degree in Adult Learning with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Cindy has five published science fiction and fantasy novels, a serial published online, short stories in five anthologies, and a few self-published teacher resource books. When she isn’t reading or writing, Cindy spends time whistling with a crazy African Grey. Cindy is currently working as an optician in Iowa and as an editor with PDMI Publishing and Barking Rain Press.

 


remnantinthestarscover_1200x800Book Synopsis for Remnant in the Stars: Two hundred years ago, the Aolanian home world exploded and a remnant of survivors escaped. As their convoy combed the galaxy looking for a new world to colonize, they discovered Earth and were given permission to establish a temporary base while they continued their search for a new home world. When an Aolanian exploration vessel goes missing after transmitting a garbled distress call, the uneasy alliance between the humans and the Aolanians is put to the test as two anti-Aolanian groups jockey to use this opportunity to press their own agendas by foiling the rescue mission.

Because his daughter was onboard the Kesha when it vanished, Calonti Sora reluctantly signs on as an astrogator with the Gyrfalcon, one of the ships in the search party. There he meets up with an old human friend, Kirsten Abbott. Together, they work to overcome prejudice and political plots as they race toward an enemy no one could expect.


loudest_actions_cover_1200x933Book Synopsis for The Loudest Actions: First contact missions are hard enough, but they get even tougher when the negotiator has an ego the size of a gas giant.

Burke Zacharias, a first contact researcher, is chosen to spearhead humanity’s first official contact with Montans, an insect race that has already had a run-in with less friendly humans. Although his words and overtures toward the Montans are cordial enough, the Montans are put off by how he treats the crew of the scout ship that brought him to the world.

With other, less friendly forces trying to establish a foothold on the world, the negotiation must succeed in spite of Burke, or the Montans could be facing extinction.


Author Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KoeppC

Twitter: @CCKoepp

Website: http://ckoepp.com/


Tour Schedule and Activities

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour! They’re sure to be lots of fun! 

11/7 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post

11/7 The Seventh Star Interview

11/8 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Interview

11/9 Jordan Hirsch Review

11/10 Magic of Books Guest Post

11/10 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! Top Ten’s List

11/11 Sheila’s Guests and Reviews Guest Post

11/11 Novel-ties Review

11/12 KylieJude.com Top-Tens List (Blogger Picks Topic)

11/13 Darkling Delights Guest Post

11/14 Enchanted Alley Guest Post

11/15 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review

11/15 The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn Guest Post

11/16 Jorie Loves a Story Review

11/16 The Word Nerds Guest Post

11/17 SpecMusicMuse Review

11/18 Jorie Loves a Story Q and A

11/18 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Guest Post

11/19 Deal Sharing Aunt Interview

11/20 Jorie Loves a Story Review

11/20 D.L. Gardner Blog Guest Post

11/21 The Swill Blog Review

11/21 Willow Star Serenity Review


Purchase Links

Amazon Link for Remnant in the Stars

Kindle Version

Amazon Links for The Loudest Actions

Kindle Version