Tag Archives: trigger warning

Yes, It’s Happening in Books

For a while now, in light of the recent string of tragedies we’ve seen in the world, I’ve watched fellow authors make a particular comment. (Most of the time on social media.) It can be paraphrased as such:

“None of the things happening in the world right now are happening in books.”

Okay, I can understand where they are coming from, but such a blanket statement feels a touch fantastical. Yes, the violence, destruction, hatred, and bigotry in books have little impact on the real-life lives of people, and yes, there is a solace there. But, to say those things don’t happen in the pages of fiction feels a little naive. Fiction deals with challenging topics all the time. Look at many popular book series on the market today; nothing is off-limits.

Take J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which began as a children’s book; it danced with bullying, bigotry, racism, and the aftereffects of murder. Harry Potter himself suffers, at the very least, mental abuse at the hands of his aunt and uncle (you could probably argue physical abuse as well.)

The world of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, a darling of the YA genre, is horrific. The children of an enslaved populace are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of a wealthy, hedonistic society and its corrupt government. It’s not a pleasant place.

George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, which is the most mature of these examples, deals with the consequences following a myriad of tragedies. You name it, and it’s there: violence, rape, murder, torture, war, slavery, incest, rebellion, terrorism, bigotry, regicide, patricide and on and on and on and on. The novels are laden with grim events.

That is how it should be. It is what makes fiction so great. Fiction is a safe space that lets us confront those problems; fiction lets us experience both the beautiful and the terrible. It allows us to see different perspectives that we may never face in our daily lives. That kind of intellectual experience hones us as people. It makes it possible for us to build up generous amounts of empathy, so when real-world problems confront us (and they will, believe me), we will have the tools to face them. As Neil Gaiman so eloquently explained in his essay Little Triggers,

“There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the Web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.”

It does a great disservice to hand-wave away the terrible and sometimes disturbing themes of fiction. If anything, I believe that they should be celebrated. The personal value brought on by these perspectives is unmeasurable to us as a society, and thankfully—unlike real life—if a book ever gets to be too much, we can always close it for a little while.

Friday Link Pack - 09/25/2015

Friday Link Pack 09/25/2015

Friday is here! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack. Some of these links I’ve mentioned on Twitter this week, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

RED LITTEN WORLD:

The Red Litten World ARC Giveaway
In celebration of the launch, I am giving away five signed advanced review copies of Red Litten World to five very lucky winners via Goodreads. Signing up is easy. Winners will be selected on October 2nd, a few days before Red Litten World arrives.

First Look: Red Litten World Paperback
Over the weekend, I received the last proof of the trade paperback edition of Red Litten World. It looks absolutely fantastic. Check out some photos and watch a video of the unboxing.

The Red Litten World Instagram Countdown
I’m posting Red Litten World inspired art and exclusive lines from my upcoming novel on Instagram. Check out the first two posts and follow me on Instagram to see more!

WRITING:

Gravity Basics For Sci-fi Authors
Are you writing a sci-fi and want to get the facts around gravity right? Well, author and scientist Dan Koboldt has put together a great post covering the basics of gravity. Nice resource to have. [Thanks to Ben Vanik for this excellent submission.]

Writing Begins With Forgiveness
We have all heard the same advice, “Write every single day.” But what if that advice is actually… wrong? What if the challenge isn’t finding time to write every single day, but actually the discovery of your own writing rhythm. [I’m usually really good about remembering who shared an article, but I cannot for the life of me remember this one. If it was you, contact me and I’ll get you the proper credit.]

72% Of Writers Struggle With THIS
Ideas are cheap, it’s the follow-through that is the toughest. Some great advice from Joe Bunting on what it takes to finish that manuscript. [Thanks to William Munn for sharing.]

NaNoWriMo Cometh – Four Early Tips To Enhance Your Novel Writing
We’re over a month away from the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepping for success. In this article, I give you four simple tips you can use to give yourself an advantage before you begin.

ART:

The Art Of Kirokaze
I’m a big fan of pixel art, I have even dabbled myself in a past life. So when I saw these amazing pieces by DeviantArt artist, Kirokaze, I knew they’d show up in this week’s Friday Link Pack. Great stuff, both the static and animated versions. My favorite piece right now, probably Red City. (It’s also the featured image at the top of today’s Link Pack.)

With Smiles On Our Lips
The toy company 3A is having an enormous show in Japan right now, headlined by artists like: Ashley Wood, Phil Hale, William Wray, Amanda Visell, and more. There’s a lot of really engaging work from figurines, sculpture, some great prints, and original pieces.

The Art Of Lisa Wright
UK based artist, Lisa Wright, paints figures but the tone in which she paints them carries with them a disconcerting nature that makes each piece hard to pin down. The result is a selection of work that is engaging as it is challenging and ultimately beautiful.

RANDOM:

The Cultural History Of The Hoodie
I am a big fan of the hoodie, maybe it’s my PNW roots, maybe it’s my love of autumn and the winter, but in my opinion there’s not a better garment. This video from Gary Warnett goes into a lot of detail about this garments history and the baggage associated.

New Discoveries Could Explain What Happened To Roanoke
The lost colony of Roanoke might be one of America’s biggest mysteries, but a recent archeological dig referred to as Sight X could hold the clues that will help unravel the mystery.

The Coddling Of The American Mind
“In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.” Great piece from The Atlantic.

Wherever You Go, Your Personal Cloud Of Microbes Follows
Sorry introverts, as it turns out, we’re never truly alone. You can thank your personal cloud of microbes.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Alien Hand Syndrome
“Alien hand syndrome (AHS) is a rare neurological disorder that causes hand movement without the person being aware of what is happening or having control over the action. The afflicted person may sometimes reach for objects and manipulate them without wanting to do so, even to the point of having to use the healthy hand to restrain the alien hand.”

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

Supernatural Horror In Literature
Not a story this time but a long essay on the state of supernatural horror and the gothic novel during Lovecraft’s time. The essay has its list of critics (M. R. James being one) and its champions (David G. Hartwell, Edmund Wilson). Even if you end up loathing it, it’s worth a read, just to get at the core of Lovecraft’s feelings on horror.

GIF OF THE WEEK:
Hey, Red Litten World is coming. I don't know if you noticed, but notice.

Friday Link Pack 08/07/2015

Friday Link Pack 08/07/2015

Happy Friday folks. Here is today’s Friday Link Pack! Some of these links I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

WRITING:

Here Are 5 Tips To Writing Better Query Letters
Ah, the dreaded query letter. If you’ve embarked down the traditional publishing path then you know how pesky these little letters can be. Thankfully the wise minds at The Writer’s Circle compiled a list of five handy tips for crafting the perfect letter. [Thanks to Will for sharing this.]

What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under A Male Name
I wish I could say this was surprising, but it really isn’t. There has long been a culture of sexism within the publishing industry. This despite the fact that women authors often outnumber men in the bestseller lists. [Thanks to Lola for point me in this direction.]

Cormac McCarthy’s Three Punctuation Rules
His writing style isn’t for everyone, but there is definitely something to be admired about how McCarthy tackles simplism in his prose. In this article, Open Culture breaks down his approach into three specific rules.

Western Lit, Shot To Death By ‘Trigger Warnings’
Politico explores this recent and disturbing trend among liberals encouraging the banning of fiction based on the troubling or disturbing content.

Business Musings: Price Wars And Victims
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an industry veteran and indie success story. I thought this post musing about the sudden rise in ebooks pricing and the sudden drop in hardcovers was fascinating. Especially when she breaks down the royalty costs that everyone faces.

ART:

Nathan Walsh’s Unusual Urban Landscapes
I found these hyper-realistic landscapes from realist British artist Nathan Walsh to be both fascinating and technically impressive.

War Photo Negatives Sunburned Onto Skin In ‘Illustrated People’
Good art challenges our perceptions, often taking what we perceive as ordinary and placing them somewhere outside of what we expect. Artist Thomas Mailaender does that with these negatives of war photos and the results are quite interesting.

Jason Parker, Paintings
These showed up in my feed this weekend and I found the work to be very engaging. I’ve always enjoyed rougher work, things like sketches and street art. I like seeing the construction of a piece of art and Parker’s work does a good job of not shying away from being a painting and reminding the viewer that it is, but in a way it still becomes something more.

RANDOM:

Creepy Lullabies
“The hardship will teach you soon, while the day turns to night, that people feel love, loss, sadness and longing.” Iceland, you’re crazy. (And I cannot wait to visit you in a few weeks.)

Rosetta’s Philae Lander Discovers A Comet’s Organic Molecules
Despite it’s troubles, Rosetta is sending some interesting data. Organic molecules on a comet? That’s big news. Space is so cool, I have a feeling over the next few decades that things are going to get very very interesting.

There’s One Secret The Rick And Morty Guys Will Never Reveal
The Adult Swim hit, Rick and Morty might be the best show on television. The Onion’s AV Club interviews the creators and discuss why it works so well with today’s audience.

How the Earth Would Look Like Without Oceans
In this video, we get to see what the earth would look like without 71% of its surface covered in water. On some level, it reminds me of Monument Valley but on a titanic scale.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Sam Kee Building
“The Sam Kee Building, located at 8 West Pender Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is noteworthy for being the shallowest commercial building in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Sam Kee Company—one of the wealthiest firms in Chinatown—purchased a standard-sized lot in 1903. The basement extends beneath the sidewalk and originally housed public baths, while the ground floor was used for offices and shops and the top story for living quarters.”

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

Pickman’s Model
It’s strange that I haven’t featured yet. The story centers around the artist Richard Upton Pickman who paints art so terrifying that it gets him kicked out of Boston Art Club. But a question, however, remains… where did his ideas come from?

GIF OF THE WEEK:

giphy[Thanks to Sky for submitting today’s terrifying gif]

Neil Gaiman on TriggerWarnings

#TriggerWarning

“But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.”

Neil Gaiman, Little Triggers

I absolutely loved this line. I highly recommend you read the full essay here. You can pick up Neil Gaiman‘s newest collection of stories, aptly title Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, pretty much everywhere.

Friday Link Pack 05/01/2015

Happy Friday! It’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

Writing:

A Question About Editing
Interesting post from Hugh Howey about editing, today’s reader, and the modern expectation of perfection in writing.

The State Of Storytelling In The Internet Age
A quick overview covering how amazing things are to how much of the industry is in flux. It’s now so much easier to reach so many people, and the internet has opened up so many new channels for creators, but new struggles have emerged.

Little Triggers
I am wary of the phrase “trigger warning”, and I’m glad to see Neil Gaiman is with me. I highly recommend checking out this post from his new book Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. In this excerpt Neil explores how fiction is supposed to push us, teach us things, and help us grow.

The Story You Want to Read
Fellow author and writing group pal, Michael Ripplinger, explores a specific story arc—the return of an ancient evil—that attracted him to writing. It’s always fun recognizing these sort of things in our writing.

A CthulhuCon Debriefing
Last weekend we didn’t have a Friday Link Pack because I was heading down to Portland for CthulhuCon. How did it go? Fantastic! I break it down in this post, hit the highlights, and share a few pictures.

Art:

Artist Transforms The 12 Zodiac Signs Into Terrifying Monsters
I love monsters. Who doesn’t? So I was on board when I saw Damon Hellandbrand‘s take on the familiar zodiac signs. Libra is my favorite.

Catch My Fade – Seamus Conley
So one of Kari-Lise and my favorite artists is Seamus Conley. There’s something so emotional in every one of his pieces. His latest series, Catch My Fade, currently being show at the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, California is nothing short of amazing.

Re-Covered Books Contest: ‘The Old Man and the Sea’
I really enjoy these recover contests that the Fox in Black does occasionally. They’re really handy for indie authors to get some good ideas on cover designs, plus you always find some really beautiful pieces. April’s contest for re-covering Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea is no exception.

Random:

The Dezeen Guide To Brutalist Architecture
Not everyone is a fan of brutalism, but I am. There’s something so combative about the buildings, something arrogant. I love the brash unapologetic retro-future style. In this article Dezeen Magazine explores brutalism architecture, and discusses how we should preserve the legacy.

It’s Time to Retire “Boob Plate” Armor. Because It Would Kill You
I think we’re all well aware at how ridiculous (and often sexist) “boob plate” armor can be, but armor’s job is safety, and in this article for Tor.com writer Emily Asher-Perrin gives us the best reason to avoid it: it would kill the wearer. [Thanks to Spencer for sharing this.]

18 Delightfully Artistic Vintage STD Posters
These vintage PSAs from the U.S. Army shows their focus of stamping out VD. They are amusing, terrifying, and well… a bit strange. It’s interesting how it seems to point the finger at women and not the male soldiers who were the guys actually doing most of the sleeping around. Ah, good ol’ sexism solidly alive and well in postwar America.

The Wikipedia Entry For Guam, Retold As A YA Novel
The fake-wikipedia article you always wanted to read. Tropes delightfully abound. [Big thanks to Christine for sharing this one. Hilarious stuff.]

Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

The Hyphen War
“The Hyphen War (in Czech, Pomlčková válka; in Slovak, Pomlčková vojna—literally “Dash War”) was the tongue-in-cheek name given to the conflict over what to call Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Communist government.”

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Other Gods
Barzai the Wise and his disciple Atal climb a mountain to gaze upon the gods of the earth and discover more than they bargained for.

Gif of the Week:

gotta go fast!