Thursday, June 23, 2016

Social Media Is A New Kind of Fiction (PART ONE)

Social media is a new kind of fiction.

Those of you who know me know that I don’t normally like to post anything serious on social media, but lately I’ve been feeling a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in annoyance and were suddenly…amplified. 

I know some people who are perfectly delightful when I see them out and about in the world. Strangely, when I encounter them on social media, they often seem strident, angry and nastily opinionated. Not that they don’t have strong opinions when I’m physically with them, they just seem to be more dimensional and rounded beings out in the midst of reality. That roundedness makes them easier and more enjoyable to be around. And based on experience, I think it is closer to who they really are than what I see on the Internet. I know other people who in the real world have difficulties and issues they’re facing, but on social media, they seem to lead lives of perfection, bliss and triumph. They look as if they’ve got it all together and are just pausing for a second to post a photo of an awesome brunch that they are going to enjoy without worrying about calories or cleaning up after. Neither group much resembles the versions of them I think of as real. Many people I know actually seem to be amplified in both directions at the same time when I read their tweets, view their Instagram pictures or see their Facebook posts. 

And so I have come to the conclusion that social media is a new (and currently insidious) kind of fiction. Think hard about the people you know in real life, and compare them to the versions of them you see on the Internet. Do they seem the same to you? Or are they a bit like caricatures of the people you know or maybe commercials for themselves?

I have no objection to fiction—as a writer, I relish fiction—and I would normally be very excited at the discovery of a new form of it, but I am currently concerned. You see, the insidious bit that I mentioned earlier is that a lot of people appear to be viewing social media as a new kind of reality. I first encountered this “new reality” idea while doing branding work. We’d receive brand research, and it would refer to social-media marketing as “reality-based” or call it the “new reality.” Many brands are using social media as a way to gather information and insights about their audiences—just the way many businesses are gathering “big data” about who people are by tracking their use of the Internet and their interactions on social media. And they are using this information to shape how they think about people and interact with them…on social media. Seems a bit like weighing something with your thumb on the scale.

However, it’s not just brands and businesses interpreting social media as reality. More and more people are getting more and more of their news and information from social media. More and more people are interacting with their friends and acquaintances more and more often through the filter of social media. More and more people have friends and acquaintances they have only ever interacted with on social media. And the view social media provides is different from the reality of people that I know, the society I think I’m a part of and the world I feel I live in. Everything is a bit amplified, exaggerated, cartoonish—less real. This fictional landscape is a minefield of conspiracy theories, vicious personal attacks, middle school–style “unfriendings,” self-doubt-generating success stories and aspirationally beautiful but taken-out-of-context moments that make life seem like a library of genre fiction thrown into a blender with a few dodgy news reports. 

I think this may be dangerous. I think that if we remain unaware or simply don’t acknowledge that social media is a new kind of fiction, we risk growing increasingly disconnected from reality and may drift dangerously toward living in weird little pockets of fantasy, many of which seem to violently repel each other and push us farther away from each other and from reality. I like social media. It is fun. It is a great way to keep in touch with people who are physically too far away to stay in close personal contact with otherwise. It’s an interesting place to find rumors and occasional facts about what’s going on in the parts of the world that aren’t right outside one’s window. It’s a great place to find a moment (often way too many moments that turn into hours) of amusing distraction and playful creativity. It’s a great place to share and tell stories. But it isn’t reality. It’s a new kind of fiction, and it’s always dangerous to mistake fiction for reality. 

Of course, I could be wrong. What are your thoughts?

Friday, August 21, 2015

And the Winner Is...

Well, the votes are in on the T-shirt design and the fins-down winner is the shirt featuring Bradfast (the fish) pictured above. I did receive a bunch of suggestions that I put the Fish Wielder title on the back or sleeve of the shirt, which I'm working on now. Once I've gotten an acceptable proof from the T-shirt guys, I'll probably print a bunch of these.

The runners up (because two designs tied with 15 votes each) were the ones featuring Thoral and Brad side by side and the one featuring the full artwork from the book cover. Because many of the people that voted for these ones seemed to like them a whole lot, I may actually print up a few.

Thanks to everyone who participated! I'll keep you posted when the shirts are available for give-aways!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

T Shirt Designs!

So, I've been working up some T Shirt designs for a promotional T shirt and these are the four front runners at the moment. I'm very interested in hearing your opinion about which of these shirts you like better. Your vote matters! Help me pick the Fish Wielder shirt!


Friday, July 24, 2015

BAM! Tagline Two Takes the Lead

BAM! After dozens of people weighed in on Facebook about which tagline they preferred for Fish Wielder, the clear audience favorite is tagline two:

"Fish Wielder is an epically silly epic fantasy, like Lord of the Rings set in Narnia if it had been written by the Monty Python troupe working with the band They Might Be Giants."

So, that will be the one I recommend to my publisher, Fiery Seas. Thanks to everyone who weighed in with their thoughts! 

In other news, I'm beginning to make plans for how I'm going to go about promoting the book over the course of the next year while it is being readied for publication. A year seems like an awfully long time to get people engaged and keep them interested in a book that's not even available to pre-order yet, but that's exactly what I've got to do. Once I get a plan figured out, I may post parts of it here. And of course, if you have any suggestions or ideas, I'd love to hear them!



Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Quest for the Perfect Tagline

So, I'm trying to figure out the perfect tagline for Fish Wielder, and I could use your help. I've had a little experience writing taglines before for movies, TV shows and even comic books, but I hadn't realized I needed one for my book until the awesome folks at Fiery Seas Publishing sent me their production package which asked for my tagline.

Since I hadn't already picked one out, and trying to respond as promptly as possible to their request, I quickly sent them two options. For the first one, I tried to be descriptive of the things that happen in the story:

"The Brotherhood of the Bad Religion is trying to resurrect the Dark Lord Mauron… again, and only the barbarian warrior Thoral Mighty Fist and his talking goldfish, Brad, can stop them from finding the ancient chocolate Pudding of Power and enslaving the magic land of Grome."  In the second one, I tried to be more suggestive of the flavor of the story--the tone and feel:

"Fish Wielder is a bit like Lord of the Rings set in Narnia if it had been written by the Monty Python troupe working with the band They Might be Giants."

Since then, I've modified the second one slightly to read:

"Fish Wielder is a ridiculously epic fantasy, like Lord of the Rings set in Narnia if it had been written by the Monty Python troupe working with the band They Might be Giants."

And at that point, I put them both up on the Fish Wielder Facebook page in order to ask the people there which they liked better. So far, #2 is winning by a large margin (large margin always makes me think of Large Marge from Pee Wee's Big Adventure).  

While the votes are still coming in, I did get a suggestion from someone who has read the book that I should alter #2 again to read:

"Fish Wielder is an epically silly epic fantasy, like Lord of the Rings set in Narnia if it had been written by the Monty Python troupe working with the band They Might Be Giants."

So, that's where things stand at the moment. I'm working on my tag-line and I'd appreciate your feedback. Please let me know what you think in the comments, or by putting in your two cents on the Facebook page.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Start of a new Blog

Well! Here I am starting up a new blog, just on time to announce that my fantasy novel, Fish Wielder, has been picked up by Fiery Seas Publishing for release in August of 2016.

Fish Wielder is a ridiculously epic fantasy, kind of like Lord of the Rings set in Narnia if it had been written by the Monty Python troupe working with the band They Might Be Giants. It's got hulking barbarian warriors, talking fish, calculating elf maidens, necromancers, giant snakes, two-headed wolves, evil cults that worship Cthulhu, a Dark Lord in need of resurrecting and an ancient chocolate pudding so powerful that it could destroy the world.

There's still a lot of work to be done to get the book ready for release, and August of 2016 is still a long way off, but I hope you'll follow along as I document my progress in this blog--and I've got my fingers crossed that you'll pick up a copy when it's finally available and have as much fun reading it as I've had writing it.

OK! Guess that's all for now! Thanks for stopping by, and please follow the blog and leave me some comments.