Category Archives: writing

My Target Audience Epiphany

Check out any writing site and it will tell you how important it is for an author to build her mailing list. Mailing lists help you to get noticed and build a relationship with your readers which, in turn, helps sell books.

I’ve been trying to build my mailing list for my publishing company for a while now, without much luck. It wasn’t until I was organizing yet another Facebook ad that I had an epiphany–I was targeting the wrong people.

Knowing Your Audience

As a publisher, I mistakenly thought I wanted to market to authors. If I could get their attention, they’d see the books I was selling, read about my authors’ successes, visit them when they did their book signings, etc., and want to publish with me. The problem was that most authors I was targeting were self-published and had no need for a publisher.

I had to ask myself: as a publisher, what is my main goal? Signing authors was great, but no matter how many authors I signed, if no one bought my books, my company wouldn’t be very successful.

My ideal audience was composed of people who read English, fiction readers living in North America and maybe the UK. Their sex wasn’t an issue, but since Facebook tends toward an older audience, I needed to target adults, 18 years of age and older.

Offering Incentive

Many sources will tell you to offer people an incentive for subscribing to your email list. Plenty of authors offer free books as an incentive, so I put together a book documenting how I’d planned and executed my last blog tour, complete with links to actual sites I used and statistics for click-throughs vs. impressions vs. sales. It was the perfect incentive for authors.

After my epiphany, I decided to offer a free eBook, any eBook in my catalogue. To do this, I created a Google form on which subscribers could request a specific book or choose a genre and let me choose the book for them.

Results

I generally run my Facebook ads for a week with a budget of $5.00 per day. When targeting authors with my ads, I was lucky to have 10 leads per ad campaign. With the same run of $5.00 per day for a week when targeting readers, I found 62 leads!

The day after my campaign closed, I emailed everyone on my list of new leads with a link to the Google form. Only 5 people replied to ask for books, which was disappointing–eBooks cost nothing to give away, and once my audience had gotten a taste of the quality of my authors, I had hoped to sell more books.

My Newsletter

This month I sent my newsletter out to 62 more people than usual. Two people unsubscribed the next day, which was to be expected. Now, in addition to new books for sale, my newsletter includes a list of advance reader copies (ARCs) which readers can order for free, with the hope they’ll post a (hopefully positive) review when they’re done.  Out of the 82 people on my list (I had 20 people on my list before), 2 people requested ARCs.

A 2% response rate might not seem like a lot, but it’s a start. It’s more engagement than I had before, at any rate.

I’m building it and they are slowly coming.

Sign up for my mailing list to request one of this month’s ARC eBooks for free!

How to use Grammarly

You’ve sweated out your story, lived, died, and bled with your characters, edited your work tens if not hundreds of times, published, and your first reviewer complains about the mistakes.

Tear hair out here!

Though I can’t find a scientific article to prove it, I did search “Why can’t we edit our own work” and most sites agree: it’s because we’re too invested in what we’ve written. Because we’ve read it over so many times, our brains know what we want to say, fill in the blanks, and we miss our errors. Microsoft Word does a good job of highlighting what it thinks are spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, but even that might not be good enough.

Enter Grammarly.

Grammarly might just be the best invention since sliced bread where publishing is concerned, but it does have its faults. Grammarly is only a computer program, it’s not an editing god, and every suggestion it makes must be taken with a grain of salt  (i.e., don’t go making haphazard changes just because Grammarly–or Word, for that matter–says so).

Having published five of my own books with the sixth on the way, and about seven or so more by other authors under my EMSA Publishing imprint,  I’ve adopted Grammarly as my last ditch edit before publishing. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

 1. Canadian spellings are marked as errors.

I’ve blogged about this before. Did you know that Canada (and the UK) are the rule and the US is the exception? What I mean is that what my American friends think are “cute”, Canadian foibles are actually the norm practically everywhere else in the world. And while you can change Grammarly’s dictionary for British English, there is no Canadian option. This might pose a problem because like the UK, we have the odd double consonant rule before adding a suffix, and then there’s the whole “our” ending thing, but unlike the UK, Canadians, for example, prefer “mom” to “mum”. It is for this reason I prefer to keep my dictionary set to American English.

The bottom line is that you have a choice if you’re Canadian: write in American English, or know your Canadian spelling rules and be sure to do a Google search to check all spellings Grammarly marks as incorrect.

2. Do a search and replace.

Grammarly marks words that should be hyphenated but aren’t, or words that are hyphenated but shouldn’t be. It also marks compound words that shouldn’t be or vice versa. The trouble is that it doesn’t do this consistently. I’ve found that, in many cases, it really doesn’t matter as long as you hyphenate or compound consistently.

For example, should it be “eco-terrorist” or “ecoterrorist”? I did a Google search and discovered that Wikipedia and The Toronto Star use the hyphenated version, while the FBI and The Washington Post don’t (and though the Star is Canadian, I don’t believe this is another US-Canada dichotomy). My conclusion is that both are correct, as long as I pick one and stick to it throughout. In some cases, Grammarly picked up on this, in others it didn’t, and I had to go through my manuscript with a search and replace to make sure I was consistent throughout.

3. Know your comma rules.

Oh, those dreaded commas!

I’ve learned quite a bit about them on my editing journey, most of which can be read here, but the bottom line is that while there are rules, there are some exceptions due to style. Grammarly often told me I was missing a comma where I believed there should be none, and told me I had an incorrect comma where I believed there should absolutely be one.  The bottom line is, you have to know your comma rules.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have when using Grammarly is with the Oxford comma, the one that says you must separate all items of a list with a comma. Here’s an article on the Grammarly blog explaining what the Oxford comma is and why people care so much about it. The Oxford comma conundrum is compounded with the rule about commas and conjunctions (that unless you have two independent clauses on either side of the conjunction, no comma is necessary). Grammarly often thought I was connecting two dependent clauses with a comma before my “and” when in fact, it was an item in a list with the Oxford comma.

For example:

He tried to patch things up, went into my room, discovered I was gone, and was waiting up for me.

In this case, Grammarly marks the comma in red as being incorrect, but in my mind, it denotes the fourth item in a list with an Oxford comma. This sentence has a parallel structure, detailing four things my main character’s father did:

  • he tried to patch things up
  • he went into her room
  • he discovered she was gone
  • and he was waiting up for her when she returned.

According to the way the Oxford comma works, to separate items in a list, this is absolutely the correct place for a comma to be, yet Grammarly marked it as an error.

Here’s another example:

Not to mention the fact that I’d just broken my dad’s heart.

So first: yes, this is a sentence fragment, but stylistically so. Secondly, Grammarly suggests a comma go after “dad’s” and before “heart”. The reason: “When speaking directly to people, their names must be set off by commas. Consider adding the comma(s).”

This sentence is a part of my main character’s internal conflict. She is in her bedroom, alone, thinking to herself and not speaking to anyone, least of all her father. Grammarly was way off the mark on this one.

The takeaway? Question every change Grammarly suggests before you make it.

4. Check, check, and double-check.

Grammarly occasionally marks incorrect word use when there is none. Case in point:

“Cain broke up with me,” I bawl, barely intelligible, to myself, anyway, between the sobs.

Grammarly wondered if I didn’t mean “bowl” instead of “bawl”, as if “I bowl, barely intelligible” makes any more sense.

“My sobs have long subsided into sniffles…”

Grammarly wants to change “sobs” to “sons”, because it makes more sense in the context.

Note that I’m not bashing Grammarly here. Rather, I use these examples to explain why it is important to check everything Grammarly suggests against alternate sources, particularly if the resulting change would make little sense.

5. Is your apostrophe used to indicate a possessive or a contraction?

Knowing how and when to use an apostrophe is paramount, especially when you’re relying on an app to find your errors.

For example,

 

They made it into the news because of their less than conventional behaviour during the protest and was forgotten a few days later.

Grammarly suggests that “their” is a “confused possessive and contraction”  and goes on to tell me that “It appears that the possessive pronoun their should be a contraction instead. Consider changing it.”

My option for change is therefore:

because of they are less than conventional

rather than “their” which Google defines as  “belonging to or associated with the people or things previously mentioned or easily identified,” which seems to be the obvious choice.

The moral of the story is: Grammarly is great, but only if you know what you’re doing when you’re using it. Technology should not be used as a replacement for our learning proper spelling, punctuation, and grammatical rules. Having said that, we must recognize that we live in a revolutionary age. We have millions (if not more) web pages to suggest spelling, and punctuation and grammatical usage at our fingertips, and authors must get into the habit of looking things up before they make changes, particularly when a collection of ones and zeros–which have the capacity for neither human speech nor human creativity–tells us our instincts are incorrect.

15 Free Book Promo Sites

image made on placeit.net

I’m on the book promo path again. Newly edited, my last book, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice will be on sale for the month of January 2017 for only $0.99. I threw a lot of money behind it for advertising in the summer when it was released, so this time I’m reluctant to put any new money into the project. To that end, I went searching online and found 15 amazing and free book promo sites. I signed up at all of them, hoping it will help my prospects, and I want to share them all with you.

Without further ado, here are 15 free book promo sites (in no particular order) you can use to help promote your book. Note that I am writing this blog post in advance of seeing my book advertised and having any sales, so I cannot vouch for some of these sites except for the fact that they allow you to upload your book for free.

1. eBookSkill

Free promotions for eBook deals and giveaways.

2. eBookLister

Free promotions for eBooks that are free and/or under $2.99.

3. Armadillo eBooks

Free promotions for eBooks priced under $2.99. There is also a paid option to submit to 25 other sites for $25.00 (of which I did not take advantage).

4. Reading Deals

Free submissions for free and bargain books, though spots are limited and posts are not guaranteed. There is a $29.00 guaranteed post available. Reading Deals will send your post out to the 40,000 people they have on their mailing list.

5. Book Hippo

Book Hippo offers free book promos priced below 3.61 pounds. They will also post something called a “Drabble”, which is a flash fiction piece of 100 words or less. I have used Book Hippo before and they do not disappoint. Note that you will have to create a login for yourself before you will be allowed to post.

6. Discount Bookman

Free promotions for books with a $19.00 option for a featured post.

7. eBooksHabit

I applied to this site even though they require 5 reviews and I only have 3, so we’ll see what happens. They don’t accept erotica and they do check your price, so be sure to have the sale price in place before you apply.

8. This Is Writing

This is Writing offers guest posts, email blasts, interviews, and excerpt postings. Though they claim to get back to you asap, I have not heard back from them yet as of the posting of this blog (almost 1 week later), but they do say that it might take up to a month for them to respond to your request.

9. BookBongo

Free post on their site and Facebook page, though the post is not guaranteed. Guaranteed posts are available for between $9.99 and $29.99.

10. BookBrag

Free book promotion for books under $5.99. Other promotional packages are available for $10.00 and $20.00. I’ve used BookBrag for book promotion before and they always come through. They add your book to their site for free. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you even make their newsletter. It’s nice to open up an email and see your own book being professionally promoted.

11. Book of the Day

Book of the Day will post your book in an “unfiltered” post for free on the day you choose. They also have paid options which allow you greater exposure and access to some of their advertising tools for $11.95. Once your book has been posted, you can pay $7.95 for a 21-day tour around their site for increased exposure.

12. Awesome Gang

Awesome Gang is truly awesome. In addition to offering advice and tools for authors, they allow you to post your books for free. There is a paid option that I’ve used in the past, $10.00 to feature your book, but I didn’t see a boost in sales (or any sales, for that matter), but that’s been the case for many paid features I’ve used at other sites, too.

13. Pretty-Hot

Like Awesome Gang, Pretty-Hot lets you post your books for free. Like BookBrag, you get a permanent listing for your book and sometimes wind up in their email blast. Also like the other sites, there is the option to feature your book for $25.00. I’ve used this site before and they’re pretty reliable as far as posting goes and I’ve made their newsletter more often than some of the other sites.

14. My Book Place

Affiliated with Pretty-Hot, My Book Place will post your books for free. There is also a $25.00 featured book post. Also like Pretty-Hot, My Book Place is reliable when it comes to posting on their site and I’ve seen my book a few times in their email blast, too.

15. Read Write Club

Similar set-up to the previous two sites, you can post your books for free and/or opt for the featured book post for $25.00.

My Marketing Plan

Also in my marketing plan for this sale is a BKKnights post (on Fivver) and boosting a Facebook post for $7. I also plan to do some posting myself in my own newsletter, on my sites, and to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The proceeds from any book sales will go into keeping the momentum going by upping the ante and paying for a few ads to see how many copies in total I can sell.

Do you know of any other sites on which you can post discount books for free? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments of this post.

Bonus sites

I’m still searching for more promotional sites for free. Here is another that I found after I published the above article:

1. Free 99 Books

Though there is no guarantee they will add your book to their newsletter, they do create a page for your book on their site.

 

English is a Funny Language

As I write this post, I am going back and editing my recently published novel, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice, via Grammarly. I do this as a result of a review that claimed I had quite a few errors in my book, which I took as a personal affront, as I freelance as an editor. Grammarly tagged quite a few “errors” that really aren’t errors in the true sense of poor grammar and/or typographical errors (although, admittedly, there were a few, but I could count these on my fingers and still have a few left over). I’ve decided to write this and other posts to set the record straight with respect to grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

OR vs. OUR

Both Canadians and Brits spell words like colour, neighbour, and favour (and a whole host of other words with similar endings) with an extra “u”, probably as a result of our French roots.

L vs. LL

Many words ending in “l” double the letter before adding the ending. Travelling is one of these words (as opposed to “traveling” in American English). There are exceptions to this rule, and “instalment” is one of them, spelled with a single “l” in Canadian but a double “l” (installment) in American. Weird.

The elusive E

It is perfectly acceptable to add an extra “E” in words such as “acknowledgement” and “judgement” in Canadian English (“acknowledgment” and “judgment” in American English respectively). Interestingly enough, the word “jewellery” is the proper, Canadian/British spelling of the American “jewelry”, contrary to what one of my reviewers criticized.

In Canadian English, “insure” tends to refer to issuing and insurance policy, whereas “ensure” means to make sure. Though some sites, like Writer’s Digest,  insist there is a difference, other sites, like The Oxford English Dictionary, say that while the primary meaning for “insure” is the insurance connection, it is sometimes used in American English to mean “to make sure”. It is for this reason that my American clients insist using “insure” throughout.

C vs. S

Many American spellings favour “se” rather than “ce”. Examples of this include “licence” (Canadian) vs. “license” (American); “offence” (Canadian) vs. “offense” (American) ; and “defence” (Candian) vs. “defense” (American).

Commas Inside or Outside of Quotation Marks?

While we’re on the subject of Canadian vs. American, it’s important to note that in American English, the commas and periods go on the inside of quotation marks, while in Canadian and British English, they go on the outside. Note that this does not apply to dialogue. For example,

American: Canadian spellings are frequently tagged by American reviewers as “errors.”

Canadian: Canadian spellings are frequently tagged by American reviewers as “errors”.

Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?

“Dialogue”, as it is spelled above, is correct in Canada, with Americans preferring “dialog”. Some websites say that “dialogue” is to be used for conversation and “dialog” for a pop-up box to communicate with a computer. I also read that “dialogue” is gradually being replaced, primarily in America, for the shorter, “dialog”. I have to wonder if the reason the shorter spelling is used for the computer is because dialog boxes originate in the States, and therefore, the American spelling is used. Definitely a chicken or egg scenario.

Interestingly enough, Canadian English distinguishes between “blonde” for a woman with blonde hair, and “blond” for a man. This is largely due to ties with the French, as this is the rule in French grammar. While some sites say that “blond” is common for both men and women, others say “blond” is always used though it is still acceptable to use “blonde” for a woman in Canadian English. I would argue that this is not the case in Canada and that one should always use “blonde” for women, but with such a loosey-gooesy rule, one can hardly call this an error, unless you use “blonde” to refer to a male.

In Conclusion…

Keep in mind that I come at this from a uniquely Canadian perspective. Many of the “errors” Grammarly marked in my manuscript were simply the difference between American and Canadian spellings, and these should not be considered errors. As most of my clients are American, I’ve learned a few things regarding the differences between Canadian, British, and American English, and I’ve learned that one rule does not fit all, and just when you think you have it, there’s an exception to the rule, and you’ve broken it! Much of what I know about spelling American, is recently learned, as to me, spelling Canadian is the norm (and I’d like to think I’m quite good at it, having won more than a few spelling bees in my youth). An American can no more call the Candian and/or British spelling of a word an error, any more than a Canadian or a Brit can call the American spelling an error.–if you’re going to read, and/or review indie books, you simply

The bottom line is, if you’re going to read, and/or review indie books, you simply must be aware of the differences. Hopefully, my posts will help.

Glints of Light on Broken Glass: the Art of Showing in Writing

Some of the first things new writers are told is to write what you know, and to show, and not tell. Russian playwright and author Anton Checkhov is credited with having said “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass,” underscoring the latter. Showing can be a powerful tool when used with discretion, but all too often new authors forget to do this, preferring instead to paint their word pictures with broad strokes rather than choose a finer brush.

I’ve often written about how writing is a construct, something artificial made to seem real. Everything authors do, from creating and recreating setting, penning plot, and/or developing character and dialogue is not real. Everything about any given scene is there for a purpose; the trick is to add them subtly so they seem happenstance .

One mistake many new authors make is in how to express the physical appearance of a character. Having the character stand in front of a mirror and take stock, making note of his or her own hair and eye colour, and the shape of his or her jaw, lips, and nose doesn’t work. How many times have you looked in the mirror and taken stock? When I look in the mirror, the bow of my eyebrow is only important to me if it’s time to get a waxing. I notice my eye colour if my clothes make them pop. I may make note of my hair colour, but only if it’s time for a dye job.

Here’s another mistake. When I flip my hair back from my face, I don’t think that my hair is brown with red highlights as I’m doing so. I might be cognizant of the fact that I’m flipping too many times in a day and am due for a cut. I might get frustrated and sweep it back into a ponytail, but I don’t take note of the colour. Your characters shouldn’t either.

When you get into your car to go to work in the morning, do you take time to contemplate that it’s a 2010 slate grey, four-door Toyota Camry?  Isn’t it more likely you might think that it’s a beater, or that it’s nearly half-a-decade old and still looks like new? Might you think it needs a wash? Would you rub at a patch of dirt to make sure it wasn’t a scratch? Be annoyed that the neighbourhood kids wrote “Wash Me!” with their finger on the trunk again?

If I describe the car, my reader will know a lot about the make and model of the car, but little about the driver. If I get into the driver’s head and show what he’s thinking, I’m building character. If my reader drives a middle-age Camry, s/he might find a small point of identification with my character. If I show my character as either taking pride in the car or neglecting it, I’ve given my reader a more precise point of connection.

The next time you show detail, consider narrative viewpoint. If you describe something your character wouldn’t normally see, think or hear, then change tack.  For example, if I smile, I can’t see my white teeth gleam in the sunlight. I might feel my cheeks ache, the cold air I let in when I part my lips might hurt my overly-sensitive teeth, or I can imagine I must look like a grinning idiot (but I can’t know for sure).

Never forget your job as a writer is to construct an immersive version of reality.   Paint your word pictures with fine detail, and texture with character, dialogue and setting, using only the palette colours limited by your narrative point of view.

Have you noticed these errors in the books you’re reading? Maybe you’ve made some of these errors yourself? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Indie Lights Book Parade

 

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“Circus Parade” by Alene. alene.deviantart.comI’m

I’m participating in the First Annual Indie Lights Book Parade!

What is a book parade?

Coordinator of the Indie Lights Book Parade, Cheri Roman, describes it this way:

A book parade is like a regular parade, except with books and blogs rather than with floats and city streets. Each author composes one to three blog posts (guest posts, character interviews, excerpts, short stories; the choices are only as limited as you want them to be.) Then, like floats in a parade, each author “visits” a different blog in the parade route each day of the parade.

There’s a Rafflecopter giveaway, too!

Thanks to the wonderful parade authors there are fantastic swag baskets for three awesome winners! Prizes include ebooks, gift cards and fun!

Remember, winning is as easy as visiting, clicking or commenting–easy to enter; easy to win!

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To enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, click here!

My parade schedule…

2 Feb 15 – Charmain Z. Brackett‘s website

4 Feb 15 – Real Life is Better Than Fiction

6 Feb 15 – The Brass Rag

9 Feb 15 – Grilled Cheese and Applesauce

10 Feb 15 – Tracie Robert‘s website

13 Feb 15 – Words

16 Feb 15 – Writing Dreams

18 Feb 15 – Stacy Claflin‘s website

20 Feb 15 –Lisa Buie-Collard‘s website

23 Feb 15 – Gooberella

25 Feb 15 – Ancient City Poets

26 Feb 15 – Whyte’s Wyrd World

27 Feb 15 – Leslie C. Halpern‘s website

Here’s who I’m featuring on my sister site, Britbear’s Book Reviews:

2 Feb 15 – Leslie C. Halpern’s guest post: Six Things I Learned From Writing Children’s Books

4 Feb 15 – Jamie White’s guest post: The Dream

9 Feb 15 – Cynthia CL Eunton’s guest post: Using Video Media for Book Promotions

10 Feb 15 – Lisa Buie-Collard’s guest post: Advice to Up-and-coming Writers

11 Feb 15 – Excerpt from Gone by Stacy Claflin

13 Feb 15 – Interview with author James DiBenedetto

16 Feb 15 – Letter from the correspondence of Lady Fairchild by Jaima Fixen

18 Feb 15 – Cover Reveal for Lily of Peru by David C. Edmonds

25 Feb 15 – Cheri Roman’s guest post: The Shoulda/Coulda/Woulda Series of Writing

26 Feb 15 – Interview with author Ruth O’Neil

27 Feb 15 – Charmain Zimmerman Brackett’s guest post: Circus in Their Blood

Join us online  for the Indie Lights Book Parade Facebook Party! See you there!

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 Indie Lights Book Parade

Join the Ultimate Reading Quest!

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CLICK ON THIS BUTTON TO START YOUR QUEST!

WATCH THE VIDEO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE READING QUEST.

Happy New Year from all the Authors in the Ultimate Reading Quest! This year myself, and all the Quest authors, want you to enjoy your reading experiences more than ever! So in 2015, the Ultimate Reading Quest has more, more, more! More authors and more books, means more mystery, more danger, more intrigue and more edge-of-your-seat adventure awaits you! We want you, our readers, to be able to fill that Kindle, tablet or E-reader you got for Christmas, with fabulous reads to take you through 2015. The Quest is so much fun! Who doesn’t love searching for treasure? The ULTIMATE READING QUEST is about finding books that are “perfectly” suited to your reading taste by clicking on choices. To thank you for participating, the authors have decided to give away oodles of prizes for free! Enter your name to win Amazon cards and free books from authors! Plus a whole store of treasured books are just waiting to be discovered by you!

Enjoy your journey as you travel through the QUEST! Don’t forget to enter the raffle on the first page of the Quest. And please leave comments or questions for the authors of the Quest. We would love to hear from you. What are you waiting for? Click on the button above or below to get started on your QUEST for the next ULTIMATE READ!

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CLICK ON THE BUTTON TO START YOUR QUEST!

Integrating the art of story with technology and curriculum to enhance learning for the 21st century.
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Novel available at the following links : https://www.amazon.com/author/sharonskretting
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Twitter: @QuestTeaching https://twitter.com/QuestTeaching

The Flash is Superman in disguise

I’m the first to confess – I’m not a comic book aficionado. I haven’t picked up a good Archie comic since I was 12. I’ve never read superhero comics, though I  have to admit, I LOVE the upsurge in superhero television. I was sad to see Smallville go, and I look forward to my weekly dose of Gotham, Arrow and The Flash. I understand the hero and villain archetypes are at play here, but this week, The Flash patterned itself a little too closely after the Superman archetype  than the generic superhero one.

[Tweet “#TheFlash is patterned a little too closely on the #Superman #archetype.”]

In The Flash, Barry Allen is struck by dark matter lightning after a supercollider explosion. He is left with the ability to run incredibly fast (an understatement). He teams up with Star Lab’s Dr. Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon, and Dr. Harrison Wells, the scientists responsible for the explosion, to fight crime perpetrated by “meta-humans”, other people affected by the explosion in  Central City. Barry’s mother was killed when he was a child by a man wearing a yellow suit who possessed Flash’s speed, and his father was jailed for the murder. He was raised by his father’s friend, Detective Joe West, alongside Joe’s daughter, Iris. Barry’s in love with Iris, but because he’s too afraid to tell her, Iris is currently dating her father’s partner.

[Tweet “Iris and Barry ARE the new Lois and Clark! #TheFlash #Superman”]

This week on The Flash, Barry defeated a literal “Man of Steel”, the story of Barry’s mother’s murder was re-opened by Joe who believes Barry’s father is innocent. He suspects Dr. Wells was the murderer. He also reveals he knows about Barry’s attraction to his daughter. Meanwhile, Iris is penning a blog about “The Streak”, which puts her in danger. Barry and Joe try to dissuade her from continuing the blog and are unsuccessful. Finding his name in this episode, “The Streak” is renamed “The Flash”. He, too, tries to convince Iris to discontinue the blog. These are the scenes in which The Flash thinks it’s Superman.

In Superman, Lois Lane works with Clark Kent. Clark loves Lois, but he’s too scared to let her know. After meeting him, Lois falls for Superman. Seeing a chance to finally be with the woman of his dreams, Superman capitalizes on the situation. What he does is dishonest, but maybe Lois deserves it, seeing as she can’t see past Clark’s suit, glasses, and awkward social graces. Fans live for the moment when she finally uncovers his ruse.

In The Flash, Iris and Barry are friends. Barry loves Iris, but he’s too scared to let her know. After meeting him, Iris seems to be falling for The Flash. Seeing a chance to finally be with the woman of his dreams, The Flash capitalizes on the situation, flirting with Iris in a number of scenes. What he’s doing is dishonest, but maybe Iris deserves it, seeing as she can’t see past Barry’s geeky exterior and the fact that they were raised as foster brother and sister. Fans will live for the moment when she finally uncovers his ruse.

Get the picture?

[Tweet “Flash IS Superman. Think about it: Dr. Wells is Lex Luthor. Joe is Jonathan. Barry is Clark.”]

Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying The Flash. I can’t wait to see what Lex Luthor’s Dr. Wells’s plan is, and I love the fact that Joe has assumed the role of Jonathan Kent to Barry’s Superman. I just wish they stopped hitting us over the head with the comparison.

Move Over Fonzie…OUAT may be along for the ride!

This blog entry was written last week, after Once Upon a Time‘s “Breaking Glass” episode. I was unable to post then, but I’m choosing to do so now because last night’s episode, “The Snow Queen,” echoed the sentiments expressed in it.

Though “The Snow Queen” drew even further connections between the characters we’ve grown to love (Rumple, Belle and Emma), it still focuses more on the Frozen theme than not, which poses a problem for me. And while I dig the role reversal between Rumple and Belle–with Belle as the headstrong and Rumple as vulnerable–Belle was too quick to rush to control Rumple and Rumple too forgiving with no indication of a desire to remedy the situation in the future. Of course, there’s always the possibility that it really wasn’t his dagger and he was just playing along. The thought of this intrigues me more than does any amount of Frozen business.

Move Over Fonzie…OUAT may be along for the ride!


I love (Love, LOVE) Once Upon A Time, but I’m afraid it’s jumped the shark.

I’m not digging the whole Frozen vibe.

[Last] week’s episode took a long time to give up few teasers: Emma’s previous relationship with Lily; Emma reaching out to Regina; the Snow Queen assembling her mirror. Elsa’s search for Anna, the “filler” in this episode, seemed belaboured and contrived.

That’s right. Even a storyline populated with fairy tale and Disney characters, [last] week seemed contrived.

I recently had the opportunity to re-watch OUAT’s first episode when I shared it with my students in a lesson on literary archetypes. I watched the whole episode, twice in a single day (the fourth and fifth time I’ve watched it in entirety) and loved every second of it. By contrast, I don’t think I could ever be persuaded to watch [last] week’s one again.

Maybe it’s because the Frozen episodes come after a rather strong season in Neverland followed by an interesting season in Oz. Maybe it’s because I never saw Frozen. Maybe it’s because this episode lacked the mesmerizing talent of Robert Carlyle.

Whatever the reason, I put my faith in the writers of the show to draw it out of its slump. I’m with you for the long haul, OUAT. Fonzie survived jumping the shark, my hope is that you, too, will emerge victorious for many seasons to come
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Why We Fear Things that go Bump in the Night

rf-hide-and-seek

Ready or Not

I never climbed into bed as a child without checking under it first. I’d kneel to the floor in the centre of the room to do it, making sure there was enough distance between the bed and me to have a head start in case I had to make a run for it. The closet door had to stay open, too, for fear something might materialize in it during the night and try to get out. I blame Scholastic’s Real Canadian Ghost Stories series. That and the nightmare I had about the ghost that lived in our basement. (Of course, the fact that there was a Hydro field in our backyard beaming EMFs into my brain might also have had something to do with it.)

[Tweet “I never climbed into bed without checking under it first.”]

As a teen, I played Ouija board with my friends until The Exorcist put a stop to it, read Stephen King, and Peter Straub and Dean Koontz, and relished each and every Freddie and Jason and Michael movie, but was never seriously freaked out until I saw Videodrome and An American Werewolf in London.

As an adult, my fears are of more realistic things–family members sick or dying, school shootings, planes going down (especially with me on them). At some point between hiding under my bedsheets, feeling safe only if all body parts were covered and now, I’ve become immune to the fear of the supernatural in popular culture. Even though I sort of believe in the reality of spirits due to personal experience, I am nevertheless able to watch Ghost Adventures into the wee hours of the morning unaffected.

[Tweet “As an adult I fear more realistic things than the paranormal.”]

Still, I wonder why so many people, including myself, are drawn to horror as a genre and the paranormal in general.

Allegra Ringo, in her article, Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear? explains that, when people experience fear, the body releases adrenaline, dopamine and endorphins, in a fight or flight response. It is how our bodies handle these chemicals that determines if we will enjoy a good scare.

[Tweet “How our bodies handle adrenaline, dopamine and endorphines determines if we enjoy being scared.”]

In Why Some People Love Horror Movies While Others Hate Them, Margarita Tartakovsky says it’s because people know the threat isn’t real. People love horror “because they enjoy the adrenaline rush of of being scared while being safe.” She adds that horror, particularly stories involving the supernatural is what scares adults the most. Disease is also an adult fear, which may explain the recent upsurge in zombie fiction.

[Tweet “People love horror because they “enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared while staying safe.””]

The Revenant was a first for me in the genres of young adult and paranormal fiction. In it I explore the horror of having to lead life after death as a mindless  zombie slave, as well as experiment with the blood and gore of a good Walking Dead episode, at the climax of the story.  The scary elements serve as a backdrop to the central themes of good triumphing over evil and persevering in the face of adversity.