Rationalization, marketing and iphones.

Like many technophiles of the world, I was sucked into the hype around the new iphones. I have had an android phone in the past, but, I prefer Apple. My wife, on the other hand, prefers Microsoft OS phones. That, however is not the point of this post.

I was determined to resist the urge to upgrade my phone early. I still have nine months on my iphone5 contract. I was just going to wait for the iphone7 (or 6s). At first the huge screened iphone plus seemed very unweildly. Then I was in a store with a display and put my phone beside the 6 plus. Bigger isn’t always better, right? Why do we keep having to remind ourselves, then? Still, I resisted. If I truly wanted one come March, I could upgrade on one of my kids lines and pass my phone down through the ranks. This is what everyone does with teenager phones, right? they get last years phones so we adults can stay trendy.

I discussed the situation and the unnatural draw of Apples marketing with my wife. We decided I would wait. We’d leave the option open for when we needed a phone to replace a dead or dropped phone. No, I didn’t ‘Accidently’ drop my phone in the blender or anything. I didn’t slam my phone into a closing car door, not that anyone does that. I resolutely stuck to my guns. No new phone. Period.

And then my wife comes into our room one day and says, “You’re son’s iphone screen stopped working. The picture is there but no touch. He can’t even turn the phone off. I guess you get to order that new phone.” My oldest kid has an iphone4. He would inherit my wife’s iphone4s and my wife would get my iphone5 until we could get her the HTC phone she wants. It took me about ten minutes to have the iphone6 plus ordered.

Then my rational mind kicked in. Not rational enough to try anything like cancel the order, however. I just realized I hadn’t actually tried to fix my son’s phone yet. I went and got it and sure enough, no touch capability. I then remembered you can turn an iphone off by holding the power button and the home button at the same time for a few seconds. When the phone rebooted, it worked fine.

Hey, I followed the agreement. There was a broken phone at the time I ordered the new one.

My wife has killed a phone inside an otter box. Gravity, combined with a closing car door – ’nuff said. To replace that phone, we got an old iphone 4sfrom her friend. Currently her iphone, which might still be her best friend’s iphone on loan, has a shattered backplate. That’s a new thing since it was given/loaned to us. The case will drip glass shards on occassion. So I’m just eliminating an injury risk.

And that’s how I’m rationalizing getting the new iphone.

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Referencing Pop Culture When Writing Fiction

One of the most difficult things to do when writing stories that take place in the present is to avoid too many pop-culture references. When writing about times in history it adds a little depth to involve people from history. When writing in the present, we can’t do that because people don’t like to have their lives fictionalized without their permission.

We have to be careful how often we reference things that are very popular now, like television shows. They might seem like a way to create a common bond with the reading audience, but sometimes our audience might absolutely hate something in pop culture our characters like and this can turn off a reader’s interest. And readers don’t really like it when they feel something went over their head, so if we do use a pop-culture reference, make sure it’s something the audience will get or miss entirely.

In “Blood Reprisal”, I make a ‘Friends’ pop-reference that is a little oblique. However, I don’t mention the show directly. I like to think I used it like a double-entendre in a kids’ movie – something people who know will get and something people who don’t won’t actually realize they missed something.

Since my vampire stories take place almost entirely during the nighttime hours (duh, it’s vampires) I spend a lot of time with my characters in bars and clubs. So there is a lot of music in the atmosphere. Trying to avoid pop-references means I can’t use a lot of actual band names. I have to come up with new ones. Naming bands is hard. Finding a good name that isn’t already being used by someone is harder. No one wants to make an unintentional pop-culture reference. But, I have three that I’ve come to like: Skeledudes as a Grateful dead cover band, Dire Monotony as a goth rock band and Jalapeno Pop as a band that does instrumental covers of bubblegum pop songs.

And as much as I’d like to mock the teenybopper vampmances out there, I can’t outright disdain the sparkly vampires in my stories. I do gently mock the genre of vampire books that are really just erotica for women in the first chapter of the first book of The Blooddaughter Trilogy. I do this by having two fans of the book talk about a new vampire book. It seems cheesy, talking about vampire writing in my own vampire book, but that particular book in a book (think play in a play) actually is important to parts of the plot of “Second Blood”.

Then there is Pop-History. Taking real history and using popular myths around that real history. All vampire books do this if they mention Vlad Dracula. Elizabeth Bathory is a very major player in The Blooddaughter Trilogy. I also rib on Alex Dumas with my Milady DeWinter character in “Blood Huntress”. No, I did not take every Femme Fatale from history (and historical fiction) and make them into a vampire in my fictional history. Lucrezia Borgia barely makes an appearance in the Trilogy. The only other Historical figures I use are Artemis and Virginia Dare (though I don’t think I ever call that last one by name. Okay, so I name drop a dozen or so more – sometimes making the historical figure a vampire, other times outright mocking the use of historical figures as vampires.

Most avid readers will get the Vlad Dracula and Dumas references. Vampire fans will almost always get the Elizabeth Bathory references and the Lucrezia Borgia ones.  Everyone gets the Artemis reference. I try to stick to a historicaly verifiable version of my fictionalized historical characters. Dracula was a bad, evil man. So was Countess Bathory, but she got better. With these guys, I had to try very hard to create characters that would act like readers would expect if they knew the character’s history and/or myth. At the same time, I had to make them unique characters to my stories. Okay, so not so much with Dracula. His part in my books is so minor it’s non-existent. Like pop-references, historical references have to be obvious or so obscure, a reader won’t want to stop and look it up on wikipedia. If they do, if I did my job right, they will see the actual history as just more of the story presented in my books — an added depth to my novel.

 

New Novel Published

I just published “Blood Huntress”, the second book of the Blooddaughter Trilogy. It’s available at Amazon. com right now.

Shauna, Adjusting to life without the Sun and the need to feed, travels to Europe to track down the notorious vampire hunter, Henry the Inquisitor. She finds the night culture there in upheaval as hunters have decimated the vampire populations of France and the surrounding countries. The royalty she meets are not as friendly as she is accustomed to.
Her companion and best friend, the Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory, has particular difficulty adjusting to the new powers in Europe. Defending her friend may make enemies among the vampire royalty.
In case Shauna doesn’t have enough to worry about, her twin sister and vampiric progeny, Laura, free of her mortal addictions, may have found a new, deadlier, habit.

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Huntress-The-Blooddaughter-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00GGNSUSY/

I’m working on the third book as my Nanowrimo project. It wont be ready to publish in a  month–give me about six months to have it out there.

Print Version of Blood Huntress will be available soon. If you can’t wait, Amazon’s sub-company Createspace has it now:

https://www.createspace.com/4462036

Who’s really to blame for the government shutdown?

We all know the government shut down because Congress, who has the responsibility to figure out how to both acquire and spend the government’s money, has not passed a budget to allow for the continued funding of the government itself. It is congress’s constitutional responsibility to pay our nation’s bills.

What we are hearing is that the GOP is insisting that the budget cut funding for the Affordable Care Act, which most people know as Obamacare. The GOP is claiming they will negotiate.

The Democrats are not willing to negotiate on the subject of defunding Obamacare.

Should they? That’s the question.

Let’s back up a bit. The Affordable Care Act was passed by congress. In passing such a set of laws, they agreed, by majority vote, to provide the funds necessary to enact the Affordable Care Act.

The Act has survived dozens of attempts to repeal it. At no time could a majority of the elected representatives of the people of the United States agree that Obamacare should be repealed. This pretty much plainly says that it is the will of the people, through chosen representation, to keep Obamacare in place.

So the GOP is playing the politics game, trying to get ‘tit for tat’. They’re saying “We’ll give you what you want, the continued functioning of the government, if you give us what we want, to make Obamacare unfunded, thus non-functioning.” Yes, this is clearly stating that the GOP considers the continued functionality of the United States government is not their priority.

The GOP claims they are trying to impose the will of the people of the country by defunding or repealing or delaying Obamacare. If this really were the will of the people, at least one of their dozens of attempts to do so through the normal process would have succeeded. Representation might not be 100% true to the will of the people, but considering how persistent the GOP has been, and how many attempts they’ve made to repeal Obamacare, if the people really wanted to repeal it, they’d have let their representatives know and it would have been repealed by now. While not everyone likes Obamacare, most people accept it as better than the alternatives.

So the answer to ‘Should the Democrats be willing to negotiate with defunding Obamacare?’ is: No. Congress already approved Obamacare and all the costs that come with it. The proper way to disapprove it is to repeal it, not play politics.

Granted, ‘tit for tat’ is politics as normal. Congressmen add riders all the time to bills that have nothing to do with what they are adding to it. This is usually small, local to one constituency, projects or laws attached to large popular bills where the piddly riders aren’t worth not passing the larger bill.

And granted, compared to the continued functioning of the nation’s government, Obamacare is a smaller, lesser subject. But, it’s not, by any means, piddly.

So, yes, the GOP is doing it wrong. They are trying to play piddly ‘rider’ politics with nationally affecting programs. They can’t repeal Obamacare the normal way so they are willing to hold hostage all of the Americans who are furloughed from their government jobs.

I don’t like Obamacare. I’ve said so repeatedly on my blog. I think it was wrong approach the problem. Instead of ensuring everyone had access to health care, it merely ensures we all have access to health insurance. That’s not even a small difference. Health insurance does not guarantee proper health care. That said, it’s better than the nothing we had before. I’d have rather waited for a better solution, but we have Obamacare now. Rather than repealing it, we should focus on changing it to what it should be, whatever we think that is. However, we should not hold the government’s ability to function as a bargaining chip to impose our will when the people of the country so clearly don’t agree with our will.

To be clear, if the majority of the people of the country wanted to repeal Obamacare, it would be repealed by now. We’ve all had ample opportunity to elect new senators and representatives. We’ve all had the chance to tell our congressmen how we think we should be represented. Still, Obamacare has not been repealed. I’m not saying the GOP should give up on repealing Obamacare. If they want to keep slamming their heads into a brick wall, I say it’s their heads. I’m saying Obamacare is too big an issue to try to play ‘tit for tat’ with, when tat is the well being of our whole nation. They need to just do their job and sign the checks to pay the bills they’ve already agreed to pay.

When the time comes to sign the checks is not the time to decide which checks to write. We’ve already agreed on what needs to be paid for. Pay for it. Then start trying to decide what we should and shouldn’t pay for next time and next time, if they can’t decide by that time to not keep Obamacare, they’re going to have to keep paying for it. Well, they won’t have to. They have the option to keep acting stupid.