Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Last week I read an article where Adam Winguard, the director of the disaster that is Netflix’s adaptation of the Death Note franchise, had to quit Twitter because he was receiving so much hate mail and even death threats over his adaptation. And yesterday, the admins of a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing and discussing anime and manga received death threats for posting a positive review of the movie.

Let that sink in for a moment. A whole bunch of people are sending people hate mail and threatening to kill them over the Internet for either making or liking what many consider a bad movie. And I’d bet one of my anime figurines the majority of these angry people are fans of the Death Note anime and manga who are incensed that the director cast white actors in the movie and the numerous changes from the source material, as well as just making a really bad film, or that anyone would like the film.

Now, all three complaints are legitimate: the casting of white actors as what were originally non-white characters is a serious problem that Hollywood and the public are continuing to grapple with even now. The many changes from the source material were not only unnecessary, but actually made the film more of a mess than a wonder. And it was a really bad film (check my review here for my own thoughts on the subject).

But there is absolutely no excuse or reason–ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE OR REASON–to send hate mail or threaten someone’s life. Especially not for their creative work, no matter what decisions they make or the quality of it. And those who think nothing of doing it have some serious issues that need addressing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time fans of a franchise or a character or something along those lines have gone a little bonkers. I was ranting about this issue of fans going crazy back in 2013, when people were leaving intentionally bad reviews of Charlaine Harris’s last Sookie Stackhouse book because it was the last book, and threatening harm to themselves and others if their favorite couples didn’t end up together (and possibly followed through after a copy leaked in Germany). Later that year, people were sending tons of mail to Warner Bros. and trying to get the White House to intervene in the casting of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie (not sure what they expected to happen with that one).

Seriously, was this worth the hate campaign? I actually enjoyed the movie.

Since then we’ve seen negative reactions to the idea of the Ghostbusters reboot, and then the female-led cast, which was so hateful everyone involved in the movie felt the need to comment and even make a joke about it in the movie. We’ve also seen people react negatively to Captain America becoming an agent of Hydra in the comics, with some people threatening the writers behind this move. One man claiming to be a Marine even said that he would abandon his moral code and become a stone-cold killer because of the change (seriously, did any of these nincompoops think that maybe this was a mind-controlled Cap, or one from another dimension, which apparently is the case?). We’ve probably all seen articles about angry males attacking women online for attempting to be part of the video gaming community and industry. And there are more of these than I’m probably aware of, with this Death Note thing just being the latest.

What’s causing people to become so angry and violent over fictional characters and worlds? Well, it might actually be nothing new. As long as there have been creative works and their creators, there have been people who have gotten passionate about them, sometimes a little too passionate (*cough* John Hinckley Jr. and Ricardo Lopez *cough*). And sometimes people even feel that their love of a property gives them some sort of ownership over said property, and therefore they have a legitimate voice in any decisions over said work. And with the Internet as both means to reach like-minded individuals and platform to voice their vitriol without worry of censure, some of these overly-passionate fans can gather en masse and make their anger heard, warranted or not. Sometimes, a few of them even feel emboldened to make threats of violence.

And I get it. I hated the Death Note movie too. I can think of several ways the Star Wars prequels or some episodes of Doctor Who could’ve been better (I actually nearly threw a shoe at the TV once because I really disliked an episode). And God, was I upset when shows I really liked, such as Dracula or Sleepy Hollow, got canceled. I would have loved to find the people responsible for all these mistakes and given them a piece of my mind.

But therein lies the problem: none of these fans have any actual ownership or say in the decisions revolving around these stories, and at the end of the day, it’s the creators themselves who get to make those decisions. And we should let them. After all, they are spending valuable time and energy to bring us these stories we love so much. It’s essentially a gift from them to us, the readers and viewers. And while not all these creative variations are welcome (*cough* first three DCEU movies *cough*), some of these creative risks have led to some the greatest pieces of storytelling ever made. Remember there was a time when the Winter Soldier wasn’t a thing, let alone a former friend of Captain America gone evil. When Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, people swore it was the worst casting decision that could be made, and yet Ledger’s Joker is arguably one of the best Jokers ever brought to life. And let’s be real, William Shakespeare ripped off and made changes to most of the stories he’s famous for! And look at him!

A decision that turned out to be right after all.

And this is not just for variations in already established characters and stories. Creators should be able to experiment with stories and characters. Otherwise, would we have Doctor Who? Harry Potter? Death Note the manga? Stephen King’s IT?

So what should you do if a story you like or an adaptation of a story goes in a direction you dislike? Well, there are two possible decisions that you could go that won’t make you look like a tool (trust me, as both fanboy and creator, they work). One is to do what I did with Death Note: calmly point out what was wrong with it or what you disliked. You don’t have to be angry to get your point across. I’ve found calmly discussing what you disliked about something does more than shouting. And besides, being rude or angry or telling someone to die never convinced anyone to your point of view or made them change their ways.

The other is to just not take part at all. After Jodie Whitaker was announced as the 13th Doctor, many fans reacted by simply deciding not to watch the show anymore. I even have a friend who decided to do that, and while I disagree with their view, I respect how adult their reactions were. (Thought to be fair, after all those years of Moffat tropes, it might’ve been easier to leave than to work up anger over a casting decision). So if you don’t like what the creators are doing, just leave. Don’t ruin the experience for everyone else who may want to try out the new direction.

And if you’re a parent with kids who may get overly passionate about fictional works, maybe have a conversation with them about how to respond to this sort of thing. It might save someone a lot of headaches later on.

While I doubt this problem will go away anytime soon–if anything, it might get worse over time–we can at least approach it in a healthy manner, rather than with further fear and anger, as well as to find healthy alternatives to anger and/or death threats. Either that, or we never get any sort of new stories ever. And I really don’t want to see that.

 

That’s all the ranting for now. The next week and a half will be crazy for me, so I have no idea how much, if at all, I’ll be able to post until October 1st. I’ll try and get something out next week, though if I don’t, please don’t hold it against me or send death threats.

Until next time, Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

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I’ve got a new article from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors today, and it’s a good one. If you remember the last time I wrote one of these articles, it was about an author named Lani Sarem who had conned her way to the top of the New York Times bestseller list with her YA novel, “Handbook for Mortals,” and how the YA Twitter community found her out (click here for the article). Well, today’s article is a follow-up of that first article, based on the author’s own response to the controversy. I go over her response and give my two cents on the matter. Was she unfairly targeted by Twitter, or is she as bad as everyone says? Click here, and we can maybe make some educated guesses.

And if you haven’t had a chance, check out the entirety of Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. I and other indie authors bring you the very best in advice for writing, editing, publishing, and marketing independently. We’ve got just about everything, and we do an awesome job of it. Check it out, and see what you can learn.

So back in the beginning of the year, I took a number of steps to improve visibility on my blog, maybe grow my audience, and  become a better writer in general (jury’s still out on whether or not that’s working). One of those was to get a special email account through WordPress, one exclusively for this site and for use as an author. Studies show that professional looking email addresses are taken much more seriously than ones that look like awesomesoccerdude83 [at] website [dot] com. And while I love my personal email account, it’s not exactly the kind of email address that’s conducive for looking professional. And if I’m going to try and get an agent or publisher, might as well look a bit more professional. Even if my idea of high fashion involves a Sailor Moon-themed sweatshirt (don’t ask for photos. I just got that sweatshirt, and I’m waiting for the right weather to wear it).

For some reason though, I have to log out of my Google Mail account (which I only use to make sure I have access to a YouTube account. Priorities!) and then log into the other account. I can’t access both at the same time. And sometime after I got the account, I forgot the password. And then I didn’t pursue getting a new password for a while. Mainly because to get it back, Google wanted the last password I could remember. Which I couldn’t remember.

There’s a GIF for this situation. Which should I use?

That’s it. Thank you Hermione. I should’ve written the password down in the first place. You’re always and forever awesome.

But two months ago, I tried to get a new password. And that started the email equivalent of broken telephone. One person would answer my email to the WordPress help team asking for an explanation. I’d explain and send the email back. A second person would answer back and ask more questions. I’d answer those questions. A third person answered and gave me the exact wrong thing for my problem. Yeah, after a while of this, I just gave up and stopped.

And then two weeks ago, I decided to give it another try. No reason, I just thought if I got the email account, I might as well use it. I sent WordPress another message, this time wording it so that even a chipmunk would understand what I wanted. A week later, I got the link to change my password. And I wrote down the password, hiding the note in a secret location.

So finally, I have my author email account back! And I’ve set a reminder on my phone so I can check the account at least once a week. And I plan to be using it as much as possible for all author-y things. For submitting stories, querying agents and publishers, and even communicating with fans (I’m sure some of you exist) and friends.

So what’s this mysterious email address? Glad you asked. Here it is:

ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com

Simple and easy to remember, right? I’ll be posting it on my About Me page, so if you can’t find this particular post or your memory is as bad as mine, you’ll still be able to contact me.

So if you’re a friend or Follower of Fear, I look forward to emailing you from this new address.

If you’re an agent or publisher, I’m always willing to talk to you about business propositions.

If you’re a stalker and imagine showing up at my home, possibly with a knife, please seek professional help for that. You can live a happy life without being in close proximity to me and/or my corpse 24/7!

If you’re planning on sending me nude photos, please don’t. Those can ruin lives when uploaded to the Internet. And depending on your age, sending and/or receiving them can send us both to prison.

If you’re a troll or con artist looking to use me for your own sick purposes, please refrain from doing so. And if you still insist on sending me emails meant to make me angry or take my money, then…YOUR MOTHER IS A ***** ***** ****ING **** **** LORUM IPSUM ****** AGMINTUM VEVEUM ****** **** ***** ***** TRUGULA ***** **** ***** *** HIPPOPOTAMUS ***** ***** REPUBLICAN ***** ***** **** ***** AND DANIEL RADCLIFFE *** **** **** ***** WITH A BUCKET OF ***** **** **** **** AND A CASTLE FAR AWAY WHERE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU *** **** **** **** SOUP ***** **** **** WITH A BUCKET OF **** *** ***** MICKEY MOUSE **** *** AND A STICK OF DYNAMITE *** ***** *** MAGICAL *** **** ***** *** ***** ALAKAZAM!!!!

Points to whoever can correctly guess what the hell I’m referencing with that long profanity.

Well, that’s all, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check the email account next week, and maybe even see an email from you guys. Until then or the next blog post, pleasant nightmares!

I know, I usually try to get these reviews out a day after the movie or show premieres, especially with American Horror Story, because I have to stream it the next day (I don’t need another bill). Unfortunately, the past couple of days I’ve been busy with personal stuff and I didn’t really have time to deal with watching and writing reviews. The only thing I’ve seen for it was a review on Twitter by someone I follow, stating that the season opening was intriguing, but not outright scary.

Well, I finally had some time to watch and review the episode, so let’s get into it. American Horror Story: Cult begins with news footage from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, starting from when the Donald started running and ending with his election as President. From there, the story follows two very different characters: Allie (played by Sarah Paulson), a woman with an anxiety disorder whose phobias, including clowns and even objects full of holes, come back in full force after Trump’s election. The other is Kai (played by Evan Peters), a purple-haired Trump supporter who has some bizarre beliefs, including that Trump’s election is the beginning of a revolution. From the look of things, their lives are going to be intertwined in strange ways.

As the Twitter reviewer said, Cult‘s first episode is less scary than intriguing. There’s a lot of focus on how the election affects everyone. Allie, being married to and having a child with another woman, is understandably scared that her family will be torn apart under the new administration, and that activates her other phobias, to the point that it’s affecting her marriage and her son negatively. Kai, on the opposite end of the spectrum, feels empowered to speak his views loud and proud, even if not everyone is interested in hearing them. The characters are exaggerated  amalgamations of reactions from both sides of the aisle, but they do get to a lot of what many Americans felt post-election.

Speaking of which, there’s an interesting scene during the first half of the episode where Allie walks into a store, and starts up a conversation with someone, only to find out they’re a Trump supporter, even though at first glance, they didn’t seem like the stereotypical Trump supporter. I had an experience like that at a drug store during the primaries, where I made a comment about the Trump campaign, and a store clerk said he might vote for Trump. And like Allie, I felt a little perturbed afterwards, because I didn’t really care for some of Trump’s policies, and I thought someone working a minimum wage job wouldn’t either. But then you got to remind yourself that the Trump campaign drew people from a number of walks of life, which lead to his election. This scene portrays that well, to the point where I felt a little deja vu.

But as for scares, it’s pretty lacking. The design of the clowns is very freaky (especially when you’re not sure if they’re real or hallucinations), and Kai is freaky all on his own, but it’s not going to scare anyone used to horror scenery. If it were more like the opening of the fifth season, where every ten minutes there was a bloody, out-of-left-field scare or death. Here, it’s just not that impactful, they’re more concerned with setting up the story. And while that has worked in other seasons and in the first episode of The Defenders, here it just doesn’t work. After all, this is American Horror Story, and the setup needs to be balanced with that horror we were promised.

It makes me hope that in the next ten episodes it’ll really ramp up on the scares and make for a fun season. And it makes me hopeful that Colton Haynes’s character gets a lot of screentime (I love him whenever I see him in anything).

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the first episode of AHS: Cult a 3.2 out 5. Good setup with believable characters and excellent tapping into America’s fractured post-election psyche, but definitely a lot more horror is needed.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Join me Saturday at some point when I review another scary thing with clowns, IT. Prepare to float!

My latest article on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors came out today. The article is called Handbook for Mortals: How One Woman Scammed the NYT Bestseller List, and How a Twitter Community Exposed It. And that’s really it in a nutshell. A woman tried to con her way to the top of one of the New York Times’ bestseller lists, and how fiction fans on Twitter noticed something was fishy and decided to take a look at what was going on. But it’s such an interesting story, from how she and her publisher did it to how these Twitter users exposed it. It’s almost like Spotlight for fiction lovers, in a way. And it made me realize something about writing, and what serious writers do that this woman tried to avoid (and failed miserably).

If you get the chance, please check out the article. If you like it, let us know with a like or a comment. And if you like what you read, consider exploring some of our other articles. Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors is a great website brought to you by indie authors, just like myself, who contribute articles for authors of all stripes on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Trust me, this is a great resource you do not want to miss out on.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

I’ve been keen to read this novel since Stephen King tweeted about it months ago, saying this novel, which apparently is the first work of an already-established author published under a pen name, was the first great thriller of 2017.* By the time it came out on July 11th, I was one of the first people to get a copy at the library. And while I don’t always agree with King on what makes a good story (see my review for A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay), I have to say, he was right that this is a great thriller novel, possibly the first great one of 2017 (I haven’t read most of the others that came out this year, so who am I to judge?).

Final Girls follows Quincy Carpenter, the lone survivor of the Pine Cottage Massacre, in which a man she only refers to as Him killed all her friends while on a camping trip and she was the only survivor. This has made Quincy part of an exclusive club known as the Final Girls, women who have survived horror-movie style massacres and, like the girls in those movies, are the only ones to survive. The other two are Lisa Milner, the survivor of a sorority house murder spree in Indiana, and Samantha Boyd, who escaped and killed a killer known as the Sack Man at a motel in Florida. Quincy, who has no memory of the events at Pine Cottage, wants nothing but to keep up her baking blog, maybe marry her defense attorney boyfriend someday, and have some definition of normal.

That is, until Lisa Milner dies under mysterious circumstances in Indiana, and Samantha Boyd shows up at Quincy’s apartment in New York to talk. Suddenly Quincy’s life is thrown into a maelstrom as Sam’s presence threatens not just to unearth the memories from that fateful night, but change her world forever.

Immediately, you feel like this is two stories in one, a standard slasher and a mystery/thriller. On the slasher hand, you get to read Quincy’s recollections of Pine Cottage, which are told in third-person POV and past tense. And on the other hand, you get the events of Quincy’s current life, which are told in first-person POV and present tense, which is a mystery/thriller mixed with the story of two completely opposite people trying to bond over an incredible and dark situation. And both stories are peppered with references to horror movies, especially the best of the slasher genre. There are some obvious ones: Quincy’s last name is a reference to director John Carpenter of the Halloween series, while Lisa Milner’s massacre is an obvious reference to Black Christmas. But there are other, subtler references.  The mystery elements definitely remind me of the Scream movies and the TV series, which utilize mystery to offset themselves from tried-and-done-to-death slasher stories, as well as elements that make me think of Urban Legend. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are probably references I don’t recognize from movies/comics/shows/books I haven’t seen or read yet.

I also really enjoyed the characters. Quincy felt incredibly real to me: rather than being a character who’s always good and delicate or always damaged and dealing with her issues, she’s actually a pretty good balance of both. She’s clearly made some progress in trying to move on and have a new normal, but she also has issues that she doesn’t want to address, even takes some joy in, and those occasionally threaten the balance she’s trying to maintain in her life. It’s very refreshing to see such a realistic character like that. I also found Samantha Boyd (or Sam, as she prefers), to be very real. She’s a girl whose life is one defined by horrors, and who’s trying, in her own way, to reach out to the one person left in the world who knows what it’s like to have felt horrors like hers. The way she does it isn’t exactly smooth, but it does feel like someone with her background might use to reach out and find some mutual catharsis.

But the best part of the story is definitely how twisty it is. Even when we go back to Quincy’s past, it is anything but a standard slasher, going in directions you don’t see coming. Just today, while reading the last 70 or so pages, I kept marveling at surprise after surprise after surprise. And that’s pretty much how it is for most of the book, especially in the latter half of it. I think even some veteran mystery/thriller fans will find themselves surprised at the twists in store here in Final Girls.

If there’s one thing that might have been a drawback for this novel, I felt that the moments that Quincy and Sam were trying to bond were a little slow at times, but that may be nitpicking on my part. They were still well-written parts, and they showed both how much these girls wanted to be friends and how much they rubbed against each other as people.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Final Girls a well-earned 4.6. From one page to the next, you never know what to expect, and it will only leave you wanting more. Go ahead, pick it up, and find you have a hard time putting it down.

* This tweet and hints about the author’s identity make me think it might be Stephen King’s son Joe Hill doing his own Richard Bachman turn, but that’s just my guess.

I believe every writer  I’ve ever read is a teacher of sorts to me. It’s rare though that any of my flesh-and-blood teachers are already writers. Not only is today’s interview both one of my teachers and a writer, but I’ve read his most recent book Late One Night, and I enjoyed it greatly. And in honor of Late One Night coming out in paperback this coming August, I figured now would be a good time to bring him on the show. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome one of the greatest professors in Ohio State’s English Department (mostly because he survived teaching a class with me in it) and the author of several books, Lee Martin!

RU: Welcome to the show, Lee. Great to have you here. Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.

LM: It seems like I always wrote. As an only child of older parents who lived in a rural setting, I didn’t have many playmates around. I fell in love with make-believe instead. I loved living inside stories, so I suppose it was only natural that I start to tell a few of my own. Then at a certain age I decided to get serious about it, so I went to the University of Arkansas for my MFA, where I found out how much I didn’t know about the craft, but where my real apprenticeship as a writer began—an apprenticeship that continues to this day. There’s always something new to learn and to practice.

RU: I really enjoyed reading Late One Night. Can you tell us what inspired it and your writing process for it?

LM: Late One Night is based on a tragic news event from my home area in Illinois. A tragic house trailer fire on a cold winter night. I started playing the “what-if?” game. What if the husband/father of that family was living outside the home at the time of the fire? What if the fire was suspicious? What if the small town gossip started to swirl around what this man might have done? What if this all happened while he was fighting for custody of his children and trying to prove his innocence. As with most of my books, I started with that premise and then wrote a little each day, pushing the story along. I try to make myself curious, and then I try to satisfy that curiosity while not quite fully satisfying it until the very end of the book. That’s where readers of this novel find out what really happened, late one night.

RU: Your main character Ronnie Black is at times sad and sympathetic, and at other times you just hate him. Did you intend for him to be that way when you wrote him, or did he just turn out that way?

LM: I like to take characters who are put upon by life’s circumstances and their own ill-considered choices. Characters are interesting to me only if they have a balance of rough edges and redeeming qualities. An all good character isn’t interesting. Neither is an all evil one. I write realistic fiction that’s character-based, and the truth is we’re all made up of contradictory qualities. Those contradictions are what make us interesting.

RU: Who is your favorite character in Late  One Night, and why?

LM: I really didn’t have a favorite character. They all appealed to me because they were all human. They all felt great joys and sorrows, and they made mistakes, and they tried to do the right thing, but sometimes their own selfish interests got in the way. Missy Wade badly wanted children. Ronnie Black loved his own even though he was often a man of temper and poor judgment. Captain missed his own mother and yet had a big heart that led him to love indiscriminately and to even idolize Ronnie. Captain’s father, Shooter, wanted to protect his son. Brandi Tate wanted love and a family. All these characters, and others, were precious to me because of their imperfections.

RU: Are you working on anything right now?

LM: I have a couple of novel manuscripts that I’m working on, plus smaller things like short stories and essays. I have a craft book, Telling Stories, coming out in October.

RU: I may have to read that craft book. Speaking of which, can you tell us about your other books?

LM: I suppose my best known book is The Bright Forever, which was fortunate enough to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 2006. It’s the story of the abduction of a young girl in a small Midwestern town in 1972. I suppose some would call it a literary suspense novel. My novel, Break the Skin, would fall into that same category. I like to take true-crime stories from my native southeastern Illinois and let my imagination turn them into novels.  I’ve also published three memoirs, From Our House, Turning Bones, and Such a Life. They deal with family and particularly with the farming accident that cost my father both of his hands and the way that accident came to settle in our family. My other novels are Quakertown and River of Heaven. I also have a story collection, The Least You Need to Know, and another one, The Mutual UFO Network, will be published in 2018.

RU: Note to self, put The Bright Forever on my reading list. Sounds like my sort of story. Now you have a number of students who have continued writing and publishing after college and have kept in contact with you (including yours truly), and have kept in contact. What’s it like seeing that happen?

LM: It’s always gratifying to see students do well. It makes me feel that I may have had a small part in that success.

RU: Do you think the role of literature in society is changing, especially as we become more reliant on technology and our attention spans seem to shorten?

LM: I think there will always be not only room for, but a necessity for, narrative.  The forms of that narrative may change, but the importance of it in our culture won’t. We understand ourselves, others, and the world around us via stories. Such has always been the case, and I don’t see that changing.

RU: If you could give advice to any writer, no matter background, genre or level of experience, what would you say?

LM: Don’t be in a hurry. Study and practice your craft without thought of publishing. Fall in love with the process and the journey will take you where you’re meant to go. Read the way a writer must—with an eye toward how something is made.

RU: And finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a while and could only take three books with you, which would you take?

LM: Richard Ford’s Rock Springs, Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and (I’d cheat and sneak in a fourth) Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

RU: You’re a university professor! You know the consequences for cheating! Anyway, thanks for joining us today, Lee. We wish you luck with the paperback edition of Late One Night.

If you would like to learn more about Lee Martin and his works, you can check out his website, Facebook, and Twitter. Or you can enroll yourself as an English major in Ohio State’s undergraduate or graduate program and work with him directly by taking classes with him (though that option has both pros and cons).

And if you’re an author who would like to be interviewed, check out my Interviews page and leave a comment. Who knows? Perhaps we can work some magic.

That’s all for now. Have a great day, my Followers of Fear.