30 September 2014

Change of Reason

Changing season, change of reason. Ever notice how people start to change their way of thinking when the planet turns into a new angle? We prepare for winter in the fall physically and mentally. Perhaps this is more noticeable in the East or where the weather gets nasty, but even here in the desert the mindset shifts with the autumnal equinox.

Of course in Tucson, it's a myth that the weather gets cooler when fall arrives. After three to four months of triple-digit temps, most people are quite ready for a nip in the air. But we truly can't expect coolness until the end of October. Even then, we often hit the mid-nineties in November. Just ask the folks who set up the Tucson Celtic Festival and Highland Games, which annually runs the first weekend of November. Wearing wool tartans means sweating profusely and dehydration is likely more often than not.

Winterizing in Tucson means wearing closed-toe shoes and shirts with sleeves. Seriously considering sitting on a restaurant's patio for lunch is no longer a confirmation of insanity.  There is no further need to race other drivers to shady parking spots. We don't have to put up storm windows, worry about raking piles of leaves, or changing the car to snow tires.

Yet, here we are on that cusp of October, eagerly anticipating nights cool enough to open the windows and days when the AC isn't constantly whirring. It's a new outlook of relief. Now ideas fall like leaves to litter the recesses of the imagination, no longer preoccupied with surviving the heat.

Time to rake a few into a pile and jump in!

Happy writing,

19 September 2014

Fanfic v Plagiarism

A friend on Facebook brought an article to my attention yesterday. A person who purports to be a young mother concerned for the religious state of her children's souls decided to "improve" J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter by rewriting it. So "Ann Grace" copied each chapter word for word and changed anything to do with magical aspects into far right Super Christian/anti-everyone-else-but-my church spew.

Here's the mess: http://www.tickld.com/x/this-woman-just-changed-harry-potter-for-her-kids-seriously

I don't care about her religious soapbox. That's her poison to choose. What really bothers me is that she 1) claimed she was writing "fanfic", 2) was "new" to fanfic, and 3) thought the books were "inappropriate and evil" because they contained witchcraft. Let's look at this for a moment, shall we?

1) FANFIC. Short for FAN FICTION. Fan being short for FANATIC, as in a supporter. If you hate a book, you can't write a "fanfic" version of it by definition. You could write satire, but that's not what this is and it takes intelligence to write, so uh, no.

2) She obviously has no clue that fanfic has guidelines and rules to NOT infringe on an author's copyright. If she's so new to it, how did she find a site to publish her horrid production?

3) If you think a book is inappropriate, why would you even consider letting your children read a bastardized version of it? There are a virtual ton of Christian-themed books and videos already available for children, from Veggie Tales on--why would you not simply purchase those books for your kids? If you can't comprehend that FICTION means it is NOT REAL, then don't buy books that are labeled Fantasy in the Fiction section.

What is scary about this is her overt plagiarism and hubris to think she could or even should change a few words around but keep everything else Ms. Rowling created, and then call it "fanfic." She posted the entire thing on a writing site, which is considered to be PUBLISHED, even if she did not sell it to anyone.

Let's call is what it really is: STEALING.  Explain how that fits into the "Christian Values" you claim to be so very concerned about.  If fantasy, magic, and witchcraft are all so very evil, how much worse is it to break your own religion's tenets? Is it not covetous to want to rewrite someone else's creation? Is it not stealing to copy and paste entire sections of someone else's work to change a few words here and there to subvert its meaning? I believe those are two out of ten commandments...

I hope Rowling's people slam down hard on this sort of crap. It could happen to any author in the name of "fanfic" by people who neither are "fanatic supporters" nor understand the concept of fiction.

06 September 2014

Grammar Nazi?

There are times I wish I'd never started writing. It has ruined the pleasure of just reading for me. Typos my eyes used to forgive now pop out and bring a story to a screeching halt. I understand, however, how these things are easily overlooked. Even with an editor and independent proofreaders, accidental misspellings slip past all these eyes to make it into a published book. Nowadays, one or two typos are no big deal. More than that, you have a problem.

Which brings me to a question: Do readers really care? I see glowing reviews for books in which, when I finally get to read them, I see numerous mistakes. Big glaring mistakes, in fact. Do readers forgive all when the story is compelling?

I hear people speak badly all the time. Sometimes it's for silly effect, such as mimicking the LOL Catspeak of "I can has cheeseburger." But unfortunately poor grammar is infiltrating the media more and more. Hearing an announcer say "most teachers is" or " the players is" sends pain up my spinal cord like fingernails on a chalkboard. Does no one else notice?

Is this all part of the same problem? Has the "dumbing down" of America and the cessation of teaching proper grammar in school made such errors irrelevant? I'm not saying we all have to sound like we've attended Cambridge or Oxford, but we must make an effort to at least sound competent in our own language. When we hear ourselves speaking better, perhaps we'll catch more errors when we write as well.