Hmmm#11: That Was Scary

Okay, with Halloween coming up soon, I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. How it changes our behavior. How it influences our interactions with others. How it shapes our lives. Then I decided that line of thinking was too heavy so I switched gears toward movies. I love scary movies but I’ve noticed an interesting trend, at least for me. The scare wares off. At first that doesn’t seem so strange but it begs the question, if it can ware off so easily, why were we so scared in the first place? That question doesn’t have an easy answer but we can at least get the ball rolling with these.


What movie completely freaked you out the first time but had little effect during subsequent viewings?

What changed?


For me a great example is Event Horizon with Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neil. It’s not a fine piece of cinema by any means but for my fifteen year old self, it was bladder-shakingly scary. Sam Neil was intensely horrifying in that movie. Every other time I’ve watched it though, it’s felt lame and tame. How about you?


Use This for That: Character Family Trees with Family Echo

So, you’re deep into planning your nine book epic space fantasy focusing on twelve equally important families from different planets. What’s that you say? There are divorces and adoptions, and bastards? Oh My!

How are you going to keep all that straight? How much graph paper will you burn through trying to lay out this tangled web of genetics?

The answer could be “a lot” or “none.” I swear. Here, check this thing out.

I get jazzed about ancestry both in my books and real life. It’s like a scavenger/treasure/easter egg hunt all in one. I got deep into a search of my own heritage a few months ago and found a simple, streamlined family tree website called Family Echo. It’s easy to use and does a great job of organizing your info. I’ve managed to trace one of my family lines back to the 1500’s and the program handled the volume of data just fine. It would let me go on forever if I was able to do so.

The best part is, none of the people you add have to be real. Zorkblat born on Bleetnar Prime in 6743 P.C. can fit just as nicely as Bob Jones born in Akron, OH, in 1974 A.D. There are no restrictions to the data you enter and if you sign up (free, no spam) then you can save your progress and edit as you go. Here’s a quick mock-up to give you a taste of some of the features.


Family Echo Demo


If you’re a planner or more likely an over-planner, then you need to put this baby in your digital tool belt. Check it out, have fun, and you know, if you want to write me in as the grandparent of the mistress of the cousin of the main character, I’d be okay with that.

Hmmm#10: Criticism and Reaction

Criticism, in all its forms is something everyone must endure. For those who create anything, dealing with criticism is part of the job description. Sometimes criticism acts as the perfect tool to fine tune one’s creation. Other times it acts as a poison eating at the mind of the creator.

My questions are…

How well do you take criticism?

What do you do with the information after you’ve received said criticism?

Do you bend to every suggestion? Do you stand indignant to those questioning your artistic vision? Something in the middle?

Is your way of dealing with criticism actually beneficial to you or your project?


And before anyone asks, I’m not writing this with tears falling into my keyboard after a rough critique session. I’ve actually been working with some great local authors whose criticism has been so constructive and positive that I’ve been able to replace the weak wooden supports of my stories with iron girders. Thanks to those who’ve been so helpful in ripping my work apart so I can build it back stronger.