Saturday, August 20, 2005

BURNOUT ~ NOT just for the Big Dogs!

BURNOUT happens to the
Less-than-Successful too.
A mid-list ebook author can snap just as easily as a top-selling print book author. I'm watching it happen to a stack of ebook authors attempting to juggle a full-time job, a full-time family, and the pressures of having a public image – all while trying to write another book.

Burnout can happen to ANYONE suffering from a severe drain on their Imagination.
It happens all the time to “Idea People” like programmers and webmasters -- severe burnout, triggered by severe boredom. If they become successful enough to quit their day job, the problem is often worsened by having too much time on their hands.

Authors go quietly insane, and then to the hospital with ailments the doctors have difficulty diagnosing.

(The doctors can't seem to make up their mind if it's exhaustion or stress. It's neither. It's a psychosomatic reaction caused by "I don't want to do that anymore!" It's BOREDOM.)

The Pressure to Produce
Most of us ebook authors write for Love, not Money. Good thing too, ebook authors normally don't make all that much money. However ~ ebook authors get a LOT of encouragement. Sometimes more than our print-published siblings - and overnight. (Like, the day after a book is released.)

We’re all email-connected to our publishers, our editors, our reviewers, each other, and our adoring fans. They beg for more, and we strive to deliver -- even though it kills us.

When an author suddenly gets a stack of fan-letters on ONE particular book, and a jump in their royalty checks, an author can become convinced that: "THIS is my BIG HIT! THIS is what I should be Writing!"

Enthusiastically, they start writing more of that same story, or the same kind of story, to repeat that success…

Tick… Tick… Tick…

Ebooks come out MUCH faster than NY print books.
A fast-typing e-author can write, and release, well over a dozen 60k books in one year. (60k is the length of a typical Category novel.) Compared to print authors, ebook authors can -- and do -- produce almost double what most print authors publish – in HALF the time. But at that speed, authors can run low on ideas, and imagination.

When a story is needed in a hurry, many authors resort to rewriting an idea they already used, (especially if it’s a fan favorite.)
And then again.
And again…
Until boredom sets in.
Then writer's block.
And eventually -- BURNOUT.

This happens to semi-popular ebook authors, as well as wildly popular print authors.

(If you look among all the book promos, you can SEE -- right in the book blurb -- who is writing the same story over, and over, and over... Can you say: “Candidate for BURNOUT?”)

Once an e-author gains even a small amount of recognition, they start getting contacted by other e-publishers that want their work too. The flattered, or greedy, author will make promises to write for a few too many of them, and then start freaking out when they can't meet their deadlines. They just -- CAN'T!

Over-commitment is a sure way to start building the coffin for your writing career - BEFORE it ever gets to NY.

(I write for two publishers. That's it – because that’s all I can handle. And I DON’T have a day job. I write full time.)

This form of burnout is not only preventable -- it's curable. IF you can get the author to take the cure.

Prevention: Keep the imagination pumped with lots of movies, and play-time, (video games, comic books, BDSM...,) and commit work to no more than two publishers - in two different genres - so you can switch back and forth.

(Erotic High-Fantasy and Contemporary, Erotic Suspense count as two different genres.)

Cure: When severe burnout starts to happen, cut down the number of books to ONE book a year, and CHANGE GENRES. Yes, it's a pay-cut, (which is why no one wants to take the cure,) but it's a choice between KEEPING your writing talent and career intact - or destroying your enjoyment in the one thing you truly love to do.

More money, more money, more money...
I have witnessed a number of mid-list ebook authors with good strong imaginations, pumping out book, after book, at top speed -- but making little money. Goaded by dissatisfaction, these authors write MORE, and FASTER.

Frustration with nit-picking editors, tepid review ratings, plus moderate sales numbers, eventually combines into an ugly mess of: “Oh God, I Suck!” And then, “Why do I Bother?” And then… BURNOUT.


More often than not, lukewarm sales, (in spite of a large book list,) is most often due to a ‘lack of polish’ in the writing itself.
  • Less than finished characters (TSTL / Mary Sue)
  • Wandering plots
  • Vague scenery
  • Stilted dialogue
  • Characters that don’t belong
  • Weak action
  • Weaker description
  • Characters that took over the story
  • Dangling plotlines
  • Poor grammar skills
  • Head-hopping
These flaws are a sure sign that the author was rushed into getting published before they had developed the writing skills to MATCH their talented imaginations. When an almost-but-not-quite wonderful author is published (by a less-than-quality publisher looking to fill a slot,) that author can become SPOILED.

Fixing a spoiled author is just a matter of getting them to slow down, and take the time to work on their Craft. A good hard editor can work wonders on them – if those authors will LISTEN.

Once they make it to a better publisher, quite often, a Spoiled Author will REFUSE see what’s wrong, and FIGHT the professional editors trying to help them. “But my other publisher said it was just fine!”

AUTHORS: Repeat after me:
Publication Does NOT mean PERFECT!
The Editor is NOT my Enemy!
(Continue to repeat as needed.)

EDITORS: Repeat after me:
Spare the Rod ~ Spoil the Author.

Mercenary Desperation
My earliest writing mentor was a ghostwriter / book doctor who worked in the romance industry for over 10 years. She told me some horrific Burnout stories among the top names in romance.

Here’s the scary part: books are still coming out wearing the names of those burned authors.

How are they doing it? They're NOT. Most of the names in the top 250 are NOT writing their own books any more. They're handing outlines to ghost-writers and having those books written for them. Nice huh?

NOT for the ghost-writer. Ghost-writers burn out faster than normal authors. They have to write in that author’s style, following a strict character outline, and an even stricter plot formula -- and they can't tell ANYBODY. They're trapped under painfully constricting confidentiality agreements.

Tick… Tick… Tick…

Then why do they do it?

For the CASH – and the cash is Very Nice. A ghost writer makes more money than a regular author, because they are writing under an Already Popular Name. Their sales are guaranteed.

My mentor had bills to pay. She took the money, and became a ghost-writer, (at her agent’s urging.) She got the worst case of burnout you could possibly imagine. Her ENTIRE writing career lasted just short of 10 years.

Now you know why top-name authors change styles every now and again. They're changing ghost-writers, after they burn them out – one series at a time.

The No-Fame Drain
“Why Bother?”
Many, many, authors go into writing for Recognition. They want to be known for their work, they want to get noticed in the news, on radio, and maybe even by Opra. There's a perfectly good precedent. Soap actors get recognition. Pro sportspeople get recognition. Rock stars, Pop stars, Radio personalities, all get recognition.

Unfortunately this is not the case for writers – unless they’re in the top 100 best-sellers, or a child prodigy. Sometimes, not even then. (How many of your favorite authors do you know on SIGHT? I know TWO.) Heck, even screenwriters for multi-million dollar movies barely get any recognition.

Who directed it?
Who wrote the screenplay?

(No cheating with Google.)

For those of us lower on the food-chain, we write our little hearts out, we publish our books, and… Nothing. No one wants to talk to us. No one on radio, no one on TV, heck, we have to ASK the bookstores if we can promote our books there! Our closest friends nod, smile, and change the subject.

(My mother says: “Another one? Oh, how nice! When are you going to write something I can show to my friends?” Mom doesn’t want anyone to know she reads SMUT. )

Add to all of this, some less-than-spectacular royalty checks.

Many authors discover, the hard way, that they CAN’T afford to quit their day job, and although they have a bunch of books out, no one knows who they are. They’re not special.

No fame, and small checks, make Jack a frustrated writer. This triggers the most Common form of burnout among authors:“Why bother doing all this work, if no one CARES?”

So a perfectly good writer, with perfectly good stories – quits.

-----Original Message-----
“…What they wanted was recognition. They wanted to be known, and for their work to get reviewed and noticed.

I've had about 250 books published now, mostly paperback. Many are reading scheme, which are fairly school-based, but I have had at LEAST 50 trade titles available in bookshops. People living in the town I've been in all my life, still occasionally ask me if I'm "doing any writing now?" Even school teachers, who would, you'd think, have seen my school library titles, say it. This year I have had 6 trade titles out in paper - three short kids books, a longer teen romance, a fantasy for middle school readers and a historical melodrama for adults. This year NO ONE I've spoken to face-to-face has commented on any one of them. A couple of other writers have mentioned them via e-mail or letter.

I'm used to this, but I'm sure it's what got my ex-colleagues down. They wanted to be known as writers. Instead, their lives went on just as if they'd never written a book, as far as their friends and relatives were concerned.”
A best-selling author on why many of her fellow authors – quit.

What the cure for this form of Burnout?There isn’t one.

In Conclusion...

Those who pursue writing for Recognition as an AUTHOR and an ARTISTE -- are doomed.
To gain Fame as an author you have to be dead. (Edgar Allen Poe, Hemmingway, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain...)

To make a Fortune as a writer, you have to be 'Famous' for 'Something Else' already, like a rock star, or an actor. (Or be a ghost-writer to a famous person. Of course, your name will not be on the cover.)

For those who write for the joy of telling a story -- burnout is easily curable.
You are not chasing a dream, (Fame & Fortune,) your dream is chasing You! "Write me! Write Me!" It's just a matter of slowing down and listening to what your dream is telling you.

"But what if my Story isn't Publishable?"
Oops! Sorry, can't help you there. Writing is an Art -- Publication is a Business. Like any business, Publishers are run by their MARKETING department, who gives them regulations and guidelines designed to contract what is already being purchased.

Write it anyway, to the best of your ability, and keep it in your drawer. The markets change all the time -- and sometimes overnight. YOUR story could suddenly become the hottest selling thing out there!

Why do I write?
Because I’m INSANE! Obviously.
I'm not into it for the fame. (You can tell. I don't schmooze near enough.) I write because I HAVE to. I have a lot of stories eating me from the inside out, so I write them down to get some peace.

That people want to Publish them, and Buy them, to the point that I happen to be able to pay my bills on them, has come as something of a surprise. I NEVER expected it.

Oh, and occasionally, I DO get recognition, but in the weirdest places – like, the grocery store, and Media Play. “Are you the Morgan Hawke that writes…those stories?”

Why yes. Yes I am.

Morgan Hawke

Who directed it? Francis Ford Coppola
Who wrote the screenplay? Mario Puzo
(And it was a bestselling paperback too.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

BURNOUT ~ SUCCESS is out to Get You!

Raped from an interview with corporate psychologist Steven Berglas, who deals with burnout among the ultra-successful.

The most detrimental problem for a writer,
isn’t Failure, it’s SUCCESS.

The Mystery of the Missing Best-selling Authors.
You see it all the time. A hot new author puts out book after book, then suddenly the story quality drops, and those books aren’t so wonderful any more. But you keep buying them on the hope that what made them great (in the first 9 books,) will resurface. Instead, that author suddenly drops off the face of the earth; sometimes for years – sometimes for ever.

What Happened?


In the corporate arena, the wildly successful with nothing left to achieve, often turn to self-destructive behavior -- drinking, drug use, extramarital sex, embezzlement -- just for something to DO.

Authors, become self-destructive too, but internally, rather than externally. They destroy themselves -- and their relationships, rather than turn to actual crime. Burnout causes many authors to become mentally unstable, neurotically paranoid, and bi-polar, as well as secret drinkers, and perscription-drug abusers. (How many of you take Xanax already?) Authors typically end up in the hospital, rather than in jail.

What causes burnout?
One of the primary reasons for burnout, is tedium. While building your career, you're developing your skills, and experimenting with techniques. With every new revelation, ("Wow! This works!") you feel psychologically rewarded.

Once you have your technique down, and are recognized for a specific ‘style’ of plot or characters, you become locked in to producing that ONE style, often by the publishing house that recognized you. And don’t discount your adoring fans! To keep that recognition, you start replicating the same story, over, and over, and over..., Dull, dull, dull…

Out of sheer self defense against the mind-grinding boredom, your brain shuts down into Writer's Block. And then your brain, and your body, rebels. Exhaustion, mood-swings, health problems that the doctor swears is stress-related...(and this can take YEARS,) until you get total mental and physical meltdown -- BURNOUT.

“I do a lot of work with white-collar criminals, and invariably -- and I mean invariably -- they're not doing it for the money. They're doing it because they're bored.” -- Steven Berglas

From multi-published author:
Lena Austin

-----Original Message-----
Boredom began when I became bored with the sex scenes. (Yawn) Okay, you showed me how to fix that. Then, it was (writing) the series. Oh, yes, the series. That creativity-eating monotony of being locked into "What do I do now?" Oh, yes, how well I understand the series author's pain.

However, I will add one thing: Over-commitment.

Authors are, by and large, a hungry bunch. We love praise, and sparkle when we get it. We succumb so easily to flattery, especially when the publisher that made us successful asks for you to "squeeze in just this little story" for the themed promo, the continuity, or whatever. (I have managed to resist, but not without a modicum of guilt.)

Let's not forget the other form of overcommitment: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket/publisher." Two baskets are good. Three may be pushing. Four is a killer, at least for me.
Writing for different pubs allows the author to stretch their creative muscles, change voices, and even experiment a little. In theory, that's good.

Until they all want your time and effort.

Until you start saying, "I'm sorry, I won't start on the book for you for another three months." One publisher actually said to me, "The fans will forget you in six months!" (They didn't.)

Publishers have their own timetables, and are not above trying to push an author into working harder than they should by moving a deadline or deliberately misunderstanding you. If you say, "I won't start on this book until June," it's entirely possible they'll set the release date for June! It's happened to me three times.

I no longer give them any clues like that.

Lena Austin


What about money and success?
Don’t they offer a sense of accomplishment?

At first, but to Keep that success going, to Keep those paychecks rolling in, you strangle your creativity to keep manufacturing the stories that made those paychecks happen in the first place – and put a time-limit on your whole writing career. Tick… Tick… Tick…

In most cases, the problem is NOT with the author -- it's with the Publisher. The bigger publishing house DON’T encourage Change. They encourage stasis -- especially with something that proves successful. They have no desire to fix -- what ain't broke.

To many of the larger publishing houses, authors are consumable products -- like Pepsi cola. The last thing they want is a change in the recipe. But authors AREN’T like Pepsi -- their work is NOT mass-produced, so this kind of thinking actually encourages author turnover, especially among the best sellers.

“When you try to get people off that track, they say, "What am I supposed to do? Take my kids out of Exeter, move from Nob Hill?" I say, "Well, what are the alternatives? You loathe your job, and you're gonna take it out on them." This is why you get these flagrant burnouts. When jobs become constraining, we will often do things that will (deliberately) throw us off the fast track.” -- Steven Berglas

Is leaving the Publishing House or Quitting the only option?
Nope. Leaving one publishing house for another is just as career-killing as quitting altogether. (The publishing world is VERY small. The editors are constantly talking to each other.) Rather than scrapping everything, your books, your publishers, your careers... EXPAND on what you are already doing. Add an interesting twist, or a change in locations.

“The paradox is that to prevent burnout you need more challenges, not fewer.” -- Steven Berglas

What role does stress play in burnout?
Stress ISN’T the problem. Stress can actually help alleviate the boredom by making you work harder to get that story down on paper.

“Stress and burnout are unrelated. Stress is being thwarted from a goal. A traffic jam causes stress. Burnout would be giving a canned lecture every day of the week for four months.” -- Steven Berglas

Can you tell who is Least likely to suffer from burnout?
Those who are PASSIONATE in their work. The pains in the ass authors that constantly shift their style, their characters, and sometimes their genres, are never bored. These authors tend to avoid writing long-playing series, but instead, have a ton of good-selling, well-written, single-title books.

They’re the ones that publishers point to, and wince. “They could be superstars, if they only stuck to one thing.” And yet, they are far more likely to have steady careers that span decades.

These authors are usually passionately supportive of their fellow authors, (even if their fellow authors don’t want to hear it,) because they have a million ideas running through their heads, and aren’t afraid to share. They may not always play well with others, but they are NEVER accused of back-stabbing, or idea theft.

“Throughout my career, I've noted that the most authentically motivated employees are the ones who will get in your face and get angry. I always counsel managers that the yes-man/yes-woman is the most malicious force in organizational life because they're the ones who are whoring, who are mercenary, who are talking behind your back.” -- Steven Berglas

Who are candidates for burnout?

The wildly successful authors who made their success writing ONE type of story, or one long-playing series.

Robert Jorden, for example, is boring many of his more passionate readers to tears, because his Wheel of Time series, stopped evolving. Laurell K. Hamilton, is fighting tooth and nail to keep her Anita Blake series going, by adding character after character, and a lot of sex. Jim Butcher is well aware of the danger, and intends to end his Harry Dresden series, and in fact, has already started another series. However, the big question is, will his Publisher LET him stop writing Harry Dresden books? Will his bank account?

“Let's take an entrepreneur for example -- Michael Dell. What did Dell do? He created a distribution system that was both economical and efficient. Ted Waitt, at Gateway, did the same thing. Those two men, I think, are in jeopardy of burning out because they're replicating and refining a single paradigm. When you're changing your product, that's when you're happy.” -- Steven Berglas

What can you do early in your career to stay Inspired?

KEEP your Passion. If you are stuck doing a series, make sure that the fictional universe you’ve created is big enough to sustain radical shifts in theme, story-line, and characters. Fight boredom by giving yourself room to grow, and change.

“Easy for the fantasy authors,” you might say, “but what about us contemporary authors?”

For those of you trapped in the mundane world, try a Location Change. Put your established characters in New places, and New situations. Send your characters to other cities, other countries. At least get them fired from their job, and have to deal with a new one.

Already stuck? Try writing a new series, something different from your old one. Contract it with a new publisher, under a new name, if you have to. When a book in one series gets to be too tedious, you can switch over and write a book for the other series, to refresh your mind, body, and creative soul.

“Stay angry. When you notice you're not committed to an organization anymore, when you don't need to fight for changes, take stock. When Bill Gates handed over the running of Microsoft to Ballmer, he said, "I'm going back to the drawing board." About five other CEOs did the same thing.” -- Steven Berglas

How can Publishers & Agents keep from losing their Selling Authors?
STAY CONNECTED to both the authors you work with, and their reading audience.

With the advent of the Internet, the reading market changes faster than ever before. With access to email, instant messaging, weblogs, and fan-groups lists, Authors are no longer isolated. They’re directly connected to other Authors, as well as their fans, and their fans talk to each other.

USE THAT RESOURCE! Don’t leave everything up to the Marketing department. Marketing is all about Packaging, it's Advertising. They don't have a clue about managing your bread-winning authors, or dealing with their fans. They’re ‘idea’ folks with a pile of sales numbers on their desks – and those numbers are DATED, usually by months. Authors are actually more aware of the fluctuations in their readers’ tastes than Marketing is. They are connected directly to the source -- the BUYERS.
  • Want to know what’s happening in the reading market?
  • Want to know where the trends are going?
  • Want to know who has buzz -- and who is getting a bad reputation?
  • Want to know if your Author is dealing with undue stress – or extreme boredom?
Get your answers straight from the source – the authors you work with, and the readers they talk to. Get a blog (weblog) and encourage the readers to talk to you directly. Run a poll, ask questions and get answers – before you lose that money-making author.

“If you're a manager and you don't have someone to tell you that you're a fool, then you're in big trouble. Hire a court jester. Just give someone carte blanche to say, "Berglas, you're an asshole." And "Berglas, this is (what’s being said on) the grapevine.

"What managers don't understand is that they will not know (what’s being said on) the grapevine unless they beg for it. The grapevine will give them the negative information, (that they can’t get anywhere else)."
-- Steven Berglas

The Business end is killing me!

Them’s the breaks. Publishing IS a corporate business. Dealing with contracts, filing taxes, convincing your family that you need to be left alone to WORK, and handling publicity, is part of the job – and not the fun part.

If you have an agent, you can shunt a lot of the legal crap on them, that’s what they’re there for, but managing your time and handling Publicity -- going to conventions, book-signings, managing a fan-group, and a building a website to promote your work -- is ALL YOU.

Welcome to the world of Fame.

Morgan Hawke
Nothing Thwarts Burnout Like a Healthy Dose of Rage
By Stephanie Clifford, Business 102 Magazine, August, 2001

Reclaiming the Fire: How Successful People Overcome Burnout
By Steven Berglas Random House

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Enemy of Good Fiction ~ Propaganda!

Where are YOUR Ideas coming from?

TV = The Tool of Propaganda
By Phil Cunningham
(My little brother. I'm so proud of him!)

Propaganda and Advertising, affects us all. The two operate using the exact same techniques, so it can be very difficult to recognize one from the other. The only major difference between the two is that advertising sells Products, while propaganda sells IDEALS.

Increasingly, the corporate advertising of goods and services is being coupled with political, "moral", and religious value messages - Propaganda.

Advertising = You should Have this...
Propaganda = You should Think this...

It is called TV Programming, for a Reason.
Many people say that they don't pay attention to TV commercials, and are not affected by them.

They are mistaken.

You might watch 1000 commercials for every time that you actually purchase something, or maybe you only shop for clothes at second hand stores, buy only used cars, and bake your own bread... You’re affected by advertising -- and propaganda -- nonetheless.

Much of the effective propaganda material, is not in the commercial advertisements, but in the actual TV shows between the commercials.

Television shows, movies, and commercial advertisements, have a lot in common, (when it comes to branding messages on your brain,) but television shows, and movies, have more time to present complex messages. These can include simple things like product placement, which are relatively harmless, (E.T. and Reece's Pieces = Reece's Pieces are Cool,) but messages that induce us to think that something is cool, while something else is NOT Cool, encourages behavior modification.

Cool vs. UnCool = Behavior Modification
Behavior Modification = PROPAGANDA

This is Propaganda.Propaganda TEACHES us, through sitcoms and commercials, what is GOOD, “Polite people can be Trusted,” and what is BAD “Rude people are Criminals” – so we don’t have to decide for ourselves.
  • We have reality shows to tell us how to be normal, and show us how to react to stressful situations.
  • We have talent search programs, which tell us what we should consider to be good, and acceptable, musical fare.
  • We have sitcoms, which guide us through social and moral dilemmas.
  • We have dating shows to show us what should be desirable in a partner, and shows like "Jerry Springer" to show us what is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, we quietly absorb the other messages within the programming themselves, about:
  • How to dress: “Preppies look like this…”, “Druggies look like that…”, “Hoodlums look like this…”,
  • What to buy: “Expensive = Successful!”, "Inexpensive = Failure."
  • What to eat: “Fast Food = Youthful!”, "A healthy diet = Old."
  • What to drink: “Being drunk gets you laid!” and, “Being extremely hyper on a chosen power drink, makes you Clever!”
  • How to Act:"Being Clumsy makes you Popular!" (Seinfield, Friends, Cheers, anyone?)
The TV people are glamorous, and we quietly want to be like the successful happy ones, and avoid being like the ones carried off by the police.
  • Popular = beautiful, foolish, and desirable -- with good grades
  • Criminal = uneducated moron
  • IT guys = smart but socially inept
  • Corporate Americans = smart, good-looking and powerful

Monkey See = Monkey Do

We are primates (creationists can ignore this, you will anyway,) and we have a lot of things in common with our tree-dwelling cousins. We copy behavior without consciously deciding to do so. Monkey see, monkey do.

We should know better, and those of us who are paying attention, do.

What IS the Monkey Showing us?
uses the same tools as Advertising, but the messages are angled somewhat differently.

Advertising = You should Have this...
Propaganda = You should Think this...

Propaganda tells us who we can Trust:
  • The Government and its many agencies (Six-Million Dollar Man, MIB, X-Files, The Profiler…)
  • Well-dressed people driving shiny new vehicles (Criminals drive clunkers)
  • The police (Do you even know what the Patrot Act says they can do to you -- without a warrent?)
Propaganda also shows us who, and what, to Hate.
  • Dirty-clothes people -- who are all that way because they are bad.
  • Poor people – who are lazy, and all need to get a job.
  • Foreigners – who all want to destroy our way of life, (except for the EU of course).
  • Anybody who is different, from the normal people that we see on TV -- is suspect.
Cool vs. UnCool = Behavior Modification
Behavior Modification = PROPAGANDA

The Nature of Un-Reality

We learn from what we see. When what you see isn't real, then you can learn unrealistic things without knowing any better.

As people spend more time indoors looking at the idiot tube, their real world experience decreases – and their ability to judge a book beyond its cover, decreases with it. We can shop, and work from home. We have in-home entertainment. The TV people might be the people we see most frequently. This is certainly so with children who rarely play outside anymore.

People grow to trust, fear, or hate other people based on their representation on the TV screen -- because they, honestly, don't know any better. (THINK: Is ignorance Really bliss?)

How Life-Experienced are You? Really?
People judge others based on what they see and their sub-conscious associations relative to their "experience." Propaganda programming most affects individuals who lack the real life experience -- to see that they are being manipulated. In fact, they never see it coming.

By the time television inundated people go out into the real world, if they ever do, they already have firm notions of what to think based on years of their vicarious TELEVISION-based experience.
  • They can recognize bad people by their clothes and habits -- they saw such things on "COPS."
  • They know not to trust anyone that the friendly, TV police would pick out of a crowd. (Anyone that doesn't LOOK like everyone else.)
  • Obliging "rebellious" youths even buy their bad-person-rebel uniforms at "HOT TOPIC" -- so the cops can easily identify them as bad-person-rebels.
Without the experience of real-time social interaction, to measure against the fantasy of the ‘TV programs they’ve ‘imprinted’ on their minds, for hours - and days, if not years - at a time, how CAN they know the difference – between a book and its cover?

If the TV is right:
  • All Veterans are unstable
  • All bikers are bad
  • All kids who push drugs wear ratty clothes and leather
Good people are:
  • clean
  • well fed
  • get good grades
  • likable
  • look just like everybody else who is good (See: Friends, Seinfeld, and similar shlock.)

Following in Hitler’s Footsteps
TV, widely used by Hitler, has proved to be the best propaganda tool yet conceived.

Corporate and governmental agencies employ armies of expert industrial-strength psychologists to modify our beliefs. They produce messages designed to be appealing and persuasive to the most amount of people, in the shortest amount of time -- all the while representing other ideas as backwards, or otherwise inferior.

These messages are repeatedly worked into commercials, movies, and TV programs. Then they poll the viewing public to gauge the effectiveness of those messages for future reference.

Ideally, the entire culture becomes brainwashed (this is GOOD -- this is BAD) as effectively as any fundamentalist Christian cult member.

The Goal of Propaganda?
Make the general public: predictable, docile, homogenous and paranoid of anyone not like us, all without conscious thought.

Make us: weak – and submissive.

It is time to become conscious of what we are sticking in our heads.
A good start is unplugging your TV.

First published in: "The Clock," Plymouth State University newspaper
By Phil Cunningham
Phil's Bio: "I'm a Pagan and a senior studying at PSU, Majoring in Environmental Biology and Minoring in Marine Science. I'm an Army veteran, single, looking -- and nice to look at too!" (He looks like Tom Cruise -- I kid you not. MH)
Posted with Permission.

What does this have to do with
Writing Fiction?
How much Propaganda are YOU writing into Your Fiction? Seriously.

How much Propaganda do you have in your Characters?
  • What do your Villains Look like, and how do they Act?
  • What do your Heroes Look like, and how do they Act?
  • In your stories - who is Trustworthy, and how do you identify them -- to the Reader?
  • How many of your Characters are STEREOTYPED from TV or Movie Characters?
How much Propaganda do you have in your Situations?
  • How do you show a Good relationship?
  • How do you show a Bad relationship?
  • How do you show how a Good friend treats someone, as opposed to a Bad friend?
  • How many of your Situations -- and their Solutions -- are STEREOTYPED from TV or Movie Situations?
How much Real-Time Experience
--are you writing from?

WHO do you KNOW?
Have you ever met:
  • A real Criminal?
  • A real Hero?
  • A real Romantic?
  • A real Stalker?
  • A real Witch?
  • A real Cop?
  • A real PI?
  • A real Soldier?
  • A real Stripper?
  • A real political figure?
  • A real rebellious Teen?
  • Someone truly in Love?
  • A real happily married couple? -- with children?
  • Someone who Defied the stereotypes seen on TV?
What have you DONE?
Have you ever Experienced:
  • A real loving relationship?
  • An abusive relationship?
  • An obsessive infatuation?
  • College?
  • Camping?
  • Driving cross country?
  • Being a problem child?
  • A corporate job?
  • A fast food job?
  • A foriegn country?
  • Military service?
  • Using a sword?
  • Magic?
HOW do you KNOW?
Where is your knowledge actually coming from?
  • Books?
  • Role Playing Games?
  • Movies?
  • TV shows?
  • First-hand Experience?

Where are your Ideas coming from?

How much do you rely on the TV & Movies

for references and accuracy?

How much Propaganda are YOU writing into Your Fiction?THINK About it. Seriously.

Morgan Hawke

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Morgan Hawke's BOOKLIST

Click on the Book Cover for juicy Excerpts!
Kiss of the Wolf
House of Shadows
Hungry Spirits
Kiss of the Wolf
House of Shadows
Hungry Spirits
Uber Gothic
Victorious Star
Fallen Star
Writing Erotic Romance
Uber Gothic
Victorious Star
Fallen Star
Cheaters Guide to Writing Erotic Romance
In Arrears
Security Issues
Lost Star
In Arrears
Security Issues
Lost Star
Winter's Kiss
Fortune's Star
Illicit Magick
Winter's Kiss
Fortune's Star
Illict Magick
Passion's Vintage
Pirate's Pixie
Passion's Vintage
Pirate's Pixie
The Imperial Stars Series
"This series continues to blow away the cobwebs on sci fi romantic erotica! It not only creates a believable world for the characters to play in but draws the reader into the fast paced action and allows them to relate to the emotions of the people that populate it.”
Patrice - The Romance Studio-Blue
Lost Star
Victorious Star
Fallen Star
Fortune's Star
Lost Star

Victorious Star
Fallen Star
Fortune's Star

The Novelized MANGA Series
In Arrears
Security Issues
Hungry Spirits
In Arrears
Security Issues
Hungry Spirits

The Penumbral Realm Series
Kisso of the Wolf
Kiss of the Wolf
Short Stories
New & Current
Bad Girl
Bad Girl
FREE Stories
Little Red Ballgown
Alchemical Ink
Shattered Angel
Little Red Ballgown
Alchemical Ink
Bombs Away

~ Rated G ~
Older Work ~ my very first Erotica stories published.
  at ExtasyBooks!


Snow Moon
Queen of Dragons
Temple of Lillith
Molly Coddle
Night Waitress
Teacher's Pet