Category Archives: #WhateverWednesday

#WhateverWednesday A Moment of Clarity at the Passenger Gig

Frankie Av

Last night my sister-in-law and I took my son to his very first concert in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. We’d been trying for a while to get tickets to go see Passenger, and as a first concert, I think it might have blown my boys mind. It blew my mind and I’ve been to some amazing concerts! But, what started as taking my son to his first ever gig, became a moment of self-realization, and for that reason alone, last night is one of the best gigs I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.

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The thing about Passenger–Mike Rosenberg–is there is always a message to his music. I’ve always felt his music means more than just the beat, tempo or lyrics, and seeing him live proved that even more. The energy Mike has on stage is amazing. He never stops moving, plays the guitar like it’s part of his anatomy and sings like his heart is melting. Even his explanations for the lyrics and his amusing–sometimes sorrowful–anecdotes between songs tell me that Mike really means what he sings about.

There is emotion, amusement, tragedy, energy, amazing arrangements and just pure awesome on the stage of a Passenger gig. There is passion behind the lyrics, true meaning behind the words. His songs are not written with the express intent of gaining fame or money, but to send a message to all who might listen.

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But there was one particular part of the show which really resonated with me. He introduced the song Twenty-Seven with a short explanation of why he wrote it. At a time when he was low, fed up, tired and frustrated about his career, he wrote Twenty-Seven to cheer himself up, and to remind himself that if you are passionate about something, don’t be discouraged. Do whatever it is, and do it from the heart. Don’t listen to those who might discourage you, because this is damaging to a creative mind.

The words he used last night were along the lines of feeling frustrated about getting nowhere, about feeling like you are doing something for nothing and no one is interested. As a writer, I often feel this way. There are times I’ve sat and cried frustrated tears and wondered why the hell I waste my time with writing books and blogs and make vlogs no one really looks at.

Often wonder why I bother, or sometimes why I even try. Yet I do it because I want to convey messages, too. I want to spread joy, amusement, my love of people, of animals, of good music and great stories. I want to raise awareness for those in need, want to fight for this world and everything which lives upon it. I want to tell folk how a stupid toy pony can make my day, or how my book sold a single copy and put a smile on my face for a week. I do it because I enjoy it, I love making people smile, and because it means something to me and others.

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I wish I’d had my camera running at that moment last night just to remember the exact words Mike said. When I got home I wondered if he said them in another concert so I searched and found the video below, but with slightly different wording. The message is still the same, still means something. So while there are times I get tired, low and frustrated about the lack of interaction or interest, Mike is right–keep doing what you love, no matter what, and I intend to. 

If you ever get the chance to see Passenger live, do yourself a favor and grab tickets and go see him. Amazing!

Passenger Official Site

Twitter: @passengermusic

Facebook: Passenger Facebook

YouTube: Passenger YouTube Channel

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

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#WhateverWednesday Goal Achieved!

Frankie Av

Well, I managed to hit the NaNoWriMo 50k word goal today and I’m still writing. I’ve not finished Emergence quite yet, only completed the 50k NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ll keep adding to the total as I go and hopefully will be finished soon 😀
I hope everyone taking part is doing well! Just remember, it’s not a race, nor a competition, it’s simply a goal to achieve or strive towards. Whatever you manage to write, well done! Keep going! 😀

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F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

#WhateverWednesday And They’re Off!

Frankie Av

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NaNoWriMo started yesterday and I think I’ve made a pretty good start considering I’ve worked two consecutive 12.5 hour night shifts these last two nights! I have almost 5000 words written and plan to write more after I upload this blog.
What I love about NaNoWriMo is not just the writing, the goal setting and the planning, it’s how fired up all my writing friends are. How their imaginations are creating an explosion of ideas all over the writing forums and groups. There is excitement in the air, a real buzz of creativity and everyone is enjoying themselves!
Of course, we are only into day two, but that excitement never really fades. Some might get disheartened at times, maybe stuck a little, probably frustrated, but the excitement of writing a novel in 30 days wins out in the end!

Even though I am sleep deprived, even though my mind is working slower than usual, and even though I am getting distracted by almost everything today, I set a word count goal and I intend to meet it. So I will go make yet another coffee, stretch my body out a little, maybe fire up Spotify to keep me company, and then write ALL the words 😀

Good luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo this year! I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

#WhateverWednesday: Writing Playlist

Sam av

A lot of my friends have a writing playlist. Some claim that they cannot write without music. I’m in a sort of…in-between category? There is certain music that inspires me. There are other songs I can and will listen to while I’m writing. But then there are also times that I just need the quiet.

Music that Inspires

What I listen to for this category kind of depends on what I am writing. Often, I am writing stories where bratty, bold women are the leading characters. For most of those, I listen to some fantastic female vocalists. Examples of this: Halestorm, Barlow Girl, Evanescence, Fireflight, Digital Daggers, Plumb, Halsey, Banks, The Pretty Reckless, Lana Del Rey. Of these, I often listen to Halestorm’s “Familiar Taste of Poison,” Banks’ “Beggin’ for Thread,” and Fireflight’s “Forever” on repeat. If this is something you like, try plugging “Familiar Taste of Poison” into Pandora.

(Note, this next one may not be safe for work)

If I am writing something emotional, I drift towards songs that have affected me in some way. I have a whole bunch of these that I’ve gathered throughout the years. Artists include Over the Ocean (“I Will Be Silent”), X Ambassadors (“Unsteady”), Anberlin (“Fin”), Avicii “Waiting for Love”), Starsailor (“Way to Fall”), Great Big World (“Say Something”), Imagine Dragons (“It’s Time”), Nate Ruess/Fun. (pretty much everything).

(Not gonna lie…75% of the reason I love this next song is because of this video)

Bonus: I loved all of the music of the early 2000s, and I have found that the magical formula to get Pandora to give you what you want is to make a Collective Soul radio station. Magic.

Writing Music

Usually for the actual act of writing, I need something that either doesn’t have words or has words I cannot understand. Otherwise, my mind focuses on the words and I end up wanting to sing instead of write. Either I listen to piano and instrumentals or I listen to music in a foreign language.

For the instrumentals, I love Frederik Chopin on the piano. Chopin also kicks out a KILLER Pandora station if you like that kind of thing. The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit soundracks are awesome. There is also Audiomachine, Balmorhea, Thomas Bergerson Two Steps from Hell.

My absolute favorites in this category, though, are the songs from basically the entire soundtrack of Fairy Tail. It’s Celtic inspired, heavy on the violin and electric guitar. SO AWESOME.

In the category of words I don’t understand, I listen to a LOT of Japanese music. Some I have found from watching anime and just thinking “That’s cool!” while some I found just by clicking round the internet. Among my favorites are Kalafina, Flow, and Wagakkiband.

And this one, which was on constant repeat while I was writing Achillea:

These two are on CONSTANT repeat,

The theme song for Attack on Titan

and one of the opening theme songs for Naruto Shippuden


Since my silver Mac died, I lost 600 songs. Luckily, I have amazing friends who stepped up to offer help. One is sending me a flash drive from California. My mother-in-law offered to let me try her Slacker radio app, my boss gave my flash drive to his wife to load up for me, and my sister’s boyfriend offered to transfer songs from his computer to mine.

I had to reload up the iTunes on the backup laptop, but unfortunately attaining the same magnitude of musical worldliness is going to take a long time, and, well…

NaNo is only a few weeks away.


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

Check out the #WhateverWednesday category every Wednesday to hear about whatever random topic has taken up all of the real estate in our minds!

 

#WhateverWednesday The Dragon Gets a Surprise!

Frankie Av

My husband was acting all suspicious last night before I went to work. He had this side-smile he usually gets when he is plotting something and disappeared not long before I left for work. To say I was intrigued is an understatement. I knew he was up to something, but he didn’t give me so much as a hint as to what he was scheming.

Then, after about an hour of wondering and worrying where he was, I got a call from him. He was on his way home, and he had bought me something that I’d been wanting. Now, there was only one thing that I’ve been moaning about for a while now, and it has been my poor old laptop, Midway.

Last week, Windows 10 updated three times on Midway. The last one was on Sunday and it all but killed my lovely workhorse. Afterwards, Midway took over an hour to switch on and in the end I had to force close the damned thing. When he finally did boot up, half the programs were struggling to run and I was so angry! Looking at social media, I am not the only one to find their laptop completely mucked up after this update. There are a lot of angry Windows 10 users out there!

But this was the final straw for Midway. I use him so much his keys are scratched and the letters have worn off. His memory is slowing down and he struggles with some of the things I demand of him these days. I’ve had to dive into his code in order to disable some bad processes which rendered him useless. In all, Midway has been on the way to laptop heaven for a while now.

So, my husband went out last night and picked me up a new laptop!

image host

It is a Hewlett Packard Pavilion, and so far, I love it! It has those lovely slim and flat keys I’ve been desperate for since my old Macbook died a few years ago. It has a lovely 15.6 crystal clear display. It’s a quad core processor with 8 gig of RAM and 1tb HDD which will take me forever to fill up!

All of my tech has names so they are easily identifiable. Instead of; “Can you switch on the silver Dell?” or “My bigger netbook is not working,” I just say,  “Midway’s not working,” and folk know exactly what laptop or piece of kit I’m talking about. The reason for this is the fact I have so many bits of tech for different things. My main powerhouse is HAL, the desktop in my office. Midway is my writing laptop and workhorse. SAL is my smallest netbook which I use in bed. Wraith is the netbook I use when out on the go. Pegasus is my tablet PC with digitized screen which I use for drawing. HUD is my 12” portable dvd player. The list does not include my external HDDs and older tech, which I keep after upgrades for many reasons. If you are into Sci-fi, I’m sure you can see a theme…

I’ve decided to name this new laptop….Atlantis! Most of my kit is named after something in Stargate Atlantis, and this laptop will be the first I’ve named after the show title. A new book to write, a new NaNoWriMo starting soon, a new laptop to kick start everything!
Last night, my friends said I’m a spoiled bitch…but I just think I have the best husband in the entire damned world 😉

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#WhateverWednesday: Hosting a Spot! SALT IN THE WATER Book Release Party

Sam av

Well, this is rather exciting.

I was just invited to a host a slot during S. Cushaway’s book release party. This will be my first time ever doing such a thing. Actually, I’m a little nervous! Putting myself in a spotlight is always a little nerve-wracking, but it’s for a good cause. S. Cushaway is another local author from my hometown, and this is her first book!

s-cushaway-release-banner

There are a thousand ways to die in the desert– desperate outlaws, deadly predators, murderous elements, and betrayal. . .

Kaitar Besh, a veteran scout as legendary for his cynicism as his skills, is ordered to brave the deadly Shy’war-Anquai desert one last time. Escorting Leigh Enderi– a greenhorn Enforcer with a reputation as shady as his own–he soon realizes the ghosts of his past have come to haunt more than his nightmares.

When the mission breaks down in the wake of bitter hatred and mistrust, even Kaitar’s fabled skills may not be enough to bring them home again. Stranded in the red wasteland without contact, food, or water, they uncover a betrayal that could bring all they hold dear crumbling to the dust. . . and tear down the wall of lies surrounding them.

This is an unusual subgenre that I just learned about called ‘weird western.’ It’s kind of like a Western adventure, but it’s also a science fiction/fantasy novel. It’s not a subgenre I’ve dabbled in, so now I’m looking forward to reading it as well!

I will be hosting the 8-9pm slot on Thursday, October 27, 2016. Go check out the event to RSVP!

So I had to research what the heck I’m supposed to do for these things so I don’t make an ass of myself. I have an hour slot. I was almost certain it was going to be like an hour of video or radio where I’d have to be constantly interesting for 60 full minutes. My greatest fear with that is that I’ll ask a question and get total silence because no one actually cares.

As it turns out, it’s way easier than I thought. Basically there will be questions, maybe some games, and maybe I’ll even give away my own book, THE BLOOD OF NERYS. Sadly, I have not yet found a cost-effective way to ship internationally, but maybe there is a way to offer the eBook for free? I’ll have to look into it.

And since the invitation, I’ve begun considering what it might be like to have my own release party. I didn’t want to get too fancy with my first book. The world doesn’t quite know who I am yet, so I figured participation would be incredibly low. After writing all of that fan fiction, I’m fairly certain that it will be easier for me to find new readers if I have more than one novel to offer. People like a little variety. My online popularity took off when I had more than a handful of stories, so I’m not going to get antsy until I’ve been doing this awhile.

So when the next book comes out, who knows? Maybe it will be my finest hour!

You’ll definitely be the first to know!


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

Check out our #WhateverWednesday category every Wednesday to hear about whatever random topic has taken up all of the real estate in our minds!

#WhateverWednesday – NaNoWriMo Approacheth

Sam av

 

NaNoWriMo is coming sooner than I am ready for! I have too much to do!

On Saturday, I met with my Municipal Liaison (ML) for our regional NaNoWriMo group. She’s been asking for some help for a while and I had some ideas, so we met for about an hour at the library.

In the past, we’ve cited events and such that we’ve been wanting to do, but every year there’s this pattern of feverishly writing in November and then slowly dropping off in winter to be alone until next year. We keep saying we want to keep doing writing exercises and be more prepared when November comes. We keep saying we want to talk about publishing, too.

So she and I met and hammered out a schedule.

  • For the last week of September, we’re going to meet with everyone who wants to know about NaNoWriMo and talk about the event.
  • The first week of October, we’re going to work on the first steps of building a story. There will be character sheets, outlines, worldbuilding, NaNo veterans to talk to and share their experiences, prompts, etc. The focus will be on coming up with a solid idea that can get you through 30 days of writing it.
  • The second week will be left open…the intention is that NaNos will spend it putting their idea together and making it more cohesive.
  • The following week will be talking about what we came up with and focusing on what needs to be worked on to get it ready.
  • The last week will be like a survival preparation. How to get through it. What to do when you get stuck. We’ll be sharing our experiences if we’ve done it before, and what common pitfalls we’ve run into.

As I told you on Monday(ish), I came up with the idea for the story I will be doing. I’m looking forward to the variety of reactions from the other NaNos.

 

I’m sure that Frankie and I will both have plenty to say before NaNo actually gets here. It’s a very exciting time of year.


P.S., sorry if this post seems…off? Short? I don’t know? I’m sick…my head is pounding. I’m going to head to bed now.


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#WhateverWednesday If It Wasn’t for Baaaad Luck….

Frankie Av

Today’s hashtag has never been more appropriate than it is for this week’s post. Not in a “Whatever Wednesday! Wooo!!!!” kind of way, but rather a “Whatever, Wednesday…” way. In fact, I’ve had a “Whatever, Monday…” a “Whatever, Tuesday…” and have the feeling it will continue to become a week of disasters which might end with me running naked down the road screaming and cursing while tearing out my hair–a thing of nightmares for anyone who might witness this.

I think it started a couple of weeks ago when a large wall-mounted mirrored jewellery box I ordered arrived in pieces. It wasn’t a build-your-own project, it had been mishandled by the gormless delivery man who appeared to be playing an old childhood game of Knock-the-Door-and-Run-Away.  He thought it would be fun to leave my parcel on the front step, knock the door, then guiltily jump in his van and drive off at top speed. Instead of a gorgeous large mirrored box to store my bits and bobs and aid me in fixing my hair in the morning, I was left with cleaning up the shards of sharp mirror which fell from the box when I lifted it into the house. Since then I’ve been riding a wave of bad luck on a chewed surfboard as sharks swim in the surf waiting on me whale-diving into the water like an eager feast.

My main laptop keeps breaking down with all the flashing lights of death and blank screens of doom. It would appear to be a memory problem–badly seated RAM which is easily fixed–but it could well be signs of imminent motherboard failure. If this is the case, I will need a new laptop. Which will suck immensely as I grow rather attached to my tech.

Yesterday my dog ran excitedly across the room, dragging my little netbook with her. As a result, the charging port is broken. Probably an easy fix as my husband has fixed it before. He sure was glad to hear it was broken again…

This morning I went to take a photograph of a doodle I did in my drawing pad, only to find that the camera in my phone is not working. It is a brand new phone, it was definitely working last night and has had no accidents since. Upon reading about it on the net, it appears to be a common issue with no real fix except sending it back to Sony. There could be an easy fix if it turns out to be conflicting software problem or dodgy update data. I will find out if this is the case after I’ve charged its perpetually drained battery.

Then there is the case of the brusque belittlement I received in the form of an email which burned through my inbox like a flaming torch. I didn’t take the contents well even though they are innocuous enough. Bad timing to receive such a thing. Perhaps if I had received it last week I would have laughed, but this week I just want to return a napalm-laced reply and burn down sender’s inbox.

To top all of this off, we are still decorating the living room. Six coats of paint ought to be enough to cover even the most awful of graffitied walls, but apparently our walls are a little more resistant to paint colour. Either that or there is a platoon of elves coming in at night trying to recreate a Jackson Pollock masterpiece for us to find in the morning. Except I’m not a shoemaker, and I don’t appreciate their interference…

These are all bad enough, but I’m not mentioning half the stuff which has happened in the past few days. It would seem that I have ran out of luck and good fortune. Maybe I walked under a ladder I failed to notice, or kicked an invisible black cat or something, but there is a definite shift in my karma and it’s all making for a rather cantankerous and furious Dragon. I’m not exactly a pleasantly peppy princess today, nor was I yesterday or Monday when I discovered the parts for my new shower had been delivered to and signed for by someone else.

I’m more like a walking death ray on full charge waiting for an excuse to lose my shit. And that moment is getting closer with every mishap and breakage which trundles my way. In the back of my mind there is a voice that keeps telling me, “This, too, shall pass,” yet I feel the worst is yet to come. I’m scared to think of what might happen the rest of the week. Terrified to look out of the window in case a damned UFO appears and destroys my house while little smiling martians scream “Ulla!!”

At this point, I could honestly believe this could happen. I’m half expecting one of the sheep in the field next to my house to mutate and evolve into some horrendous representation of Albert King and sing me a deafening altered rendition of “Born under a Bad Sign” every morning when I open the curtains, just to prepare me for the day.

“If it wasn’t for baaaaaaad luck, you wouldn’t have no luck at all….”

So, whatever, Wednesday, I’m done with you and done with this week. I need to go find me a magical creature and turn this karma around….

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#WhateverWednesday: Another Unpopular Opinion RE: Diversity

Sam av

Apparently I am still in a disagreeable mood.

But disagreeing is fine. Having an opinion is part of being human. We don’t have to agree with the masses in order to be allowed to exist. In fact, I have a pretty major disagreement I was considering rolling out next Tuesday. In all honesty, this blog post could be another Tuesday, but my Tuesdays are full of American Politics through the election, and this one’s just a personal beef.

This one is about diversity.

And the reason I’m writing this is that there has been a major shift in literature in recent years, thanks to the progressive mood of our current society. Before this conversation derails, let me be clear: this is a positive step for humanity. We’re trying our best to push forward into a period of history where we become more tolerant, and the rest of the world will eventually be forced to come with us kicking and screaming. No reasonable person thinks that sharing ideas and learning about people different than we are is a bad thing. 

But the 2015 Hugo awards have reignited an ongoing controversy in writing. The Hugo Awards are considered amongst the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing.

In 2015, two groups of science fiction writers, the “Sad Puppies” led by Brad R. Torgersen and Larry Correia, and the “Rabid Puppies” led by Vox Day, each put forward a similar slate of suggested nominations which came to dominate the ballot. The Sad Puppies campaign had run for two years prior on a smaller scale, with limited success. The leaders of the campaigns characterized them as a reaction to “niche, academic, overtly [leftist]” nominees and winners in opposition to “an affirmative action award” that preferred female and non-white authors and characters. In response, five nominees declined their nomination before and, for the first time, two after the ballot was published. Multiple-Hugo-winner Connie Willis declined to present the awards. The slates were characterized by some journalists as a “right wing”, “orchestrated backlash” by a “group of white guys”and were linked with the Gamergate controversy. Multiple Hugo winner Samuel R. Delany characterized the campaigns as a response to “socio-economic” changes such as minority authors gaining prominence and thus “economic heft”.  In all but the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form category, “no award” placed above all nominees that were on either slate, and it won all five categories that only contained slate nominees.

–Wikipedia

To make it clear, there appears to be a rift.

There’s the section of the community that is fighting the good fight of the downtrodden and actively pursuing books that feature diverse characters. In fact, there’s a Twitter crusade for precisely that. This is a wonderful movement that should be celebrated. There are people who, until now, have been deprived of good literature featuring people like them. As we all know, our favorite books can shape our lives. Being able to relate to heroes and heroines can give us the courage to be heroic ourselves.

There’s another section of the community, however, that thinks we’re trying too hard. And yeah, there are quite a few people in this community that are just ANTI. Anti-gay, anti-women, anti-empowerment.

But I think the truth lies somewhere in between there.

The other day on Facebook, this comment by a Reddit user was floating around:

I read somewhere that the average SF reader is getting older and older, because they have trouble attracting new readers. As a kid I read authors like Asimov and Herbert, but I have to wonder if books about Captain Homo’s gay adventures on planet Diversity, is something that attracts all that many new readers.

And I have to admit, I laughed aloud, too. Partly because I know there’s quite a large amount of people I know personally that would love to read that book. Someone out there is probably writing “Captain Homo’s Gay Adventures on Planet Diversity” right now in direct response to the vitriolic comments that have come about from this.

(Actually, there’s some pretty hot stuff in the same-sex romance category, particularly when it comes to fan art…heh heh)

But it reminded me that I’ve been mostly keeping this opinion to myself for a long time because I know that it’s unpopular. Good people don’t like to oppose the momentum of a positive movement, but I think we’ve gotten a little overzealous. It is possible for us to get so caught up in our convictions as to become ignorant ourselves. It is even easier to believe we are right in doing so if we’ve been a member of the downtrodden before.

I’m a female writer. Historically speaking, my gender has been suppressed in science fiction and fantasy. I fall into this category. Actually, I’ve written about this before on my Wiselike, and how I plan to deal with being female in a male-dominated industry. That’s the social current, though. I don’t lose sleep over it. I adapt and trudge forward.

Despite that, I’ve been witness to the shift. I was seeking an agent at a time when most are seeking diverse books. My books fall into this category, too. Most of my protagonists are female. A lot of my antagonists are also female. Several of my characters are queer. I have cultures in some of my stories that are discriminated against for irrational reasons, just the way it is in the real world. I write in ways I hope will highlight social injustices without making a lot of noise on the matter. It’s just that I don’t make a big deal about it. I don’t market my book as containing these elements because that’s not why I want to be published. I don’t want my books to be picked up because Heike likes to sleep with guys and with girls. I want my books to be picked up because they are good. And if they aren’t good, then I don’t deserve to be picked up…but that’s never going to stop me from writing, or publishing them myself.

(I do think I’m good. Top 25% good. Definitely not top 5% good).

But although I write these into my stories because I find them important doesn’t mean we should select against the traditional norms that currently pervade literature – straight white dudes in one-note, male-dominated cultures. There do exist more traditional readers who still want to read about sword-swinging burly heroes who always get the girl. They don’t choose them based on them excluding minorities or objectifying women. They choose them because they like the story. The story is familiar, tried and true, just the way one might feel about a trope-heavy epic fantasy:

The reluctant hero fighting for the forces of light against the darkness with his friends and newly discovered magical powers, learning to be a master of the sword and ultimately getting the sassy, pretty princess.

And who are we to tell them what story they must like?

If that means they want books that don’t fit our current vision of social justice, we shouldn’t shame them for it. Yeah, they’ve had their turn. There were hundreds of thousands of books published that fit their ideal, and very few that were diverse or published by diverse authors. But denying them an entire generation’s worth of literature in the name of diversity because we’ve finally found our moment makes us no better than the intolerant society we’re trying to transform. That’s like saying, “You had your turn…now shut up and let us have ours. Yeah, I don’t care if you feel slighted. We were slighted before.”

This tit-for-tat attitude is also part of the problem. Retaliation based on a history of injustice only perpetuates the issue.

If we truly want diverse books, we need to keep the old books, too, and keep publishing those. I mean, sometimes I want to read about Captain Homo, but I like variety on my plate. Sometimes I also want to read Lord of the Rings, and Arwen isn’t important at all until the appendix. I still love the Wheel of Time, where women are almost portrayed like bossy biddies and the major protagonist has three girlfriends, while his best friends are a henpecked husband and a womanizer who grudgingly settles down.

We like what we like.

I love the spike in interest in diverse books. I’m thrilled that we’re getting more LGBTQ books and movies and that women are doing much better than we were.

But I’m also having a hard time finding anything that I enjoy lately. And I’m not even an old straight white dude who hates the gays.

And I’m also concerned that we don’t allow good people to have opinions like these because it’s somehow a detriment to the movement towards tolerance. It’s not. If anything, we’ve leapt from one extreme to the other when what we were trying for all along was balance.

By all means…let us write the books we need. Let’s write what’s in our hearts and pen a new generation of heroes for our kids to find some meaning in the universe. But let’s not shame our old books and past authors who wrote the books we grew up with by denying them a place in the present.


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#WhateverWednesday Scores of Scores

It has been a strange week so far. I haven’t even had my laptop on for two days, which is unheard of! It is usually on up to sixteen hours a day! Our heating system has finally been renewed and the workmen are gone, but now we have to decorate the house after ripping up carpets and floors. We also have to re-paper the walls after removal of old radiators, as well as get yet another workman in to quote us for new windows. So, it’s going to be a busy week.

Anyway, I know I gave Wolf’s Rain a right bashing the other day, and while I have not forgiven the awful ending, I have to say how much I love the OST. There is one song in particular which I have had on repeat since I heard it in one of the final episodes. I love it so much, it is now added to my Emergence playlist.
The composer is Yoko Kanno who is well known, respected and much loved in the anime industry for scores of beauty and heartache. Her talent is not wasted on Wolf’s Rain. It provided a score which underlined the harsh and dangerous journey the wolves took throughout the show. One song in particular, Shiro: Long tail’s is just a gorgeous composition.

Another of the songs is Heaven’s Not Enough with vocals by Steve Conte who also did the title song, Stray. Again, it is a haunting song and heartbreaking. This is the one I have placed in my Emergence playlist. It is so beautiful.

So in the end Wolf’s Rain wasn’t a complete loss.

I have so many original soundtracks, every one of them invoking different emotions and I find them so helpful when writing or drawing to enable me to concentrate while stirring my imagination. I couldn’t choose one favourite if I tried, but here are some of my favourite tracks which make it into many of my creative playlists.

1) Advent Children: Divinity I and II by composer Nobuo Uematsu. I use this one often when drawing or painting. It helps that this is from what is probably my most favourite film of all.

2) Caleb Leaves – Marco Beltrami score for the movie Knowing.
This one tears the heart out of me and I use it when I am writing a particularly sad scene. When watching the movie, this song always reduces me to tears as it lends to the scene so well. The slow build to a father’s grief is almost unbearable. It is a great writing song.

3) Flynn Lives – Daft Punk for the film Tron Legacy
This song is so powerful. It builds and builds into a gorgeous crescendo which makes my heart soar. I use this song and others from the OST for various things. Plus, it is one of my all time favourite films and soundtracks.

4) Oblivion – M8 with Susanne Sundfør on vocals, for the movie Oblivion.
I absolutely LOVE this song. I use it when painting and drawing and occasionally when editing. This is from another of my favourite films and soundtracks.

5) Baba Yetu, by Christopher Tin for the Civilization IV video game. I find this song so uplifting, so happy and just a perfect piece to use when creating and editing.

6) Che vuole questa musica stasera by Peppino Gagliardi, used in the movie The Man From U.N.C.L.E. This song is one of my very favourites. I think one reason is that during the scene in which this song is played, we get to see a nonchalant “Superman” eat a sandwich while his partner gets chased around a river XD No, seriously though, it is a beautiful piece of music and lends itself to many of my creative outlets.

Electric Romeo, and Serenata by Immediate Music. This is one of my favourite score orchestras. These guys are amazing and I have listened to them for years–as well as their lyrical band, Globus. Their songs are powerful, ranging from uplifting and joyous to sad and heart wrenching. I listen to their music during many projects.


This is only a tiny, tiny fraction of the music I use while writing and drawing. There is so much great music out there, from epic scores to silly ditties which can help bolster imagination and bring scenes to life in your mind. If I had the time, I would show you all my music faves, but that would take a very, very, very long time!
F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE