Fantasy, Reality, Reviews and Drama Lessons from Gordon A. Long
Products: fantasy books, social commentary, ebooks, humor, reviews, and short stories. 
Self-publishing services: editing, proof-reading, graphic art, formatting, and promoting e books or traditional books. 
Drama: for teachers of spoken language, drama, and second languages improving classroom skills and resources.
 

Are We Stupid? Blog admits "Why Canadians Fear Bernie Sanders"
Renaissance Writer reviews a whole genre, the "To Hell with Convention" Book.
Indies Unlimited Post "Find and Replace: the Writer's Best Friend”
YouTube Video "Out of Mischief Trailer"
YouTube Video "On the Road in Southeast Asia" the vibrant street life of the bustling cities of Cambodia and Vietnam.
YouTube Video  "The Rhyme of the Swiftsure Mariner"  For any sailor who ever had a race where the wind just wouldn't cooperate.
YouTube Video  "To The Ends of Argentina"   Travel to Iguassu Falls and Cape Horn

Books

Why Are People So Stupid?

 eBook $2.99

 amazon.com

A Sword Called…Kitten?

 eBook: $1.99

Smashwords.com 

Soft Cover: $14.95

Amazon.com

 


Drama Materials

Expressive Poetry Performance

   Student Handbook

   Teacher Guide

The Dramatic Classroom Blog

Latest post: Get the "Amateur" off the Board of Directors


Interesting Contacts

Cas Peace -  Novelist, Editor
 
Kaz Augustin  -  Sandalpress
 
Yvonne Hertzberger  - Fantasy Writer 

The Indie View - Indie Book Reviews from Around the Web
 

Anachronism Pictures

Including the award-winning mechanical squid,"Septopus"
 

Generations

The Surrey Intergenerational Theatre Troupe
 

The Vaudevillians

 B. C's. #1 Seniors Entertainment Troupe

 


 

New Material: The "To Hell With Convention" Genre
 



(“Monkeys on Typewriters,” sounded like a catchy title, but then I thought my writer clients might be upset.)

First-Time Odds

When you buy a lottery ticket, you probably have a million-to-one chance of winning. But consider those million chances as opposed to all the other trillions of chances you have of not winning, if you didn’t buy a ticket at all. All the monkeys typing on all the typewriters in an imaginary universe can’t write you a win if you don’t buy a ticket. So buying your first ticket improves your odds of winning immensely. Buying your second or seventy-third ticket only increases your odds by one millionth.

Likewise, the first time a two-year-old screams “No!” it is a momentous occasion. Especially for the two-year-old, because it marks a huge developmental jump towards individuality. And for his poor parents, because it augurs a change in their lives as well. The seventy-third “No!” is just another terrible twos tantrum, and means almost nothing. Unless you’re in a nice restaurant.

Remember these points when we speak of artists who break the rules. Let us leave the monkeys on typewriters and move to a more concrete image.

Originality Or …?

When you design and build a wonderful log home in the wilderness, you create a unique living experience that is specifically designed to your wants and needs and disregards the rules of the conventional houses that most people want.

When you go to sell your home, you discover how specific your design was. The client who is thinking of buying your unique home has to decide whether that unique lifestyle is the one he envisions. He also has to make up his mind whether you were truly creative when you broke all those normal housing conventions, or whether you just made a lot of mistakes because of inexperience or lack of due diligence.

So he is counting on you to have considered the water table so the well doesn’t go dry every fall, and checked out the topography so that it is possible to drive into the property, even in winter.

And if a few of these items look to be poorly thought out, then the buyer can be forgiven for suspecting that you weren’t really creative at all; you just don’t give a damn about the rules. And then all the wonderful assets of your home become suspect as well.

Back to the Monkeys with their Futile Typing

If you are trying to be very creative in art by breaking all the rules at once, you are creating the baby’s first “no.” The first one is very impressive. Thereafter, every rule you break is of no more use than the seventy-third lottery ticket. It just says, “Look at me, breaking all the rules. Whee!” And we don’t care.

If, on the other hand, you break only a few of the rules of your medium and you break them consistently, and you are scrupulous about keeping the other rules, then the observer trusts that you really mean what you say. That you have put your effort where your ideas are. If those ideas click with the customers and they, too, feel constrained by the same rules that you broke, then the isolation and the challenge and the constant upkeep of that country home become positives, and you’ve got a customer.

A Tip from the Master of Mayhem

When Salvador Dali paints a clock, it is a clock. It is realistic in colour and shading. It has a face and hands and numbers in a circle. But it hangs like a dishrag. And we look at that and our imaginations go on fire. We trust that Dali is communicating something to us, because he has only broken one rule. He has invested time and talent and years of training into creating this work, so it must mean a lot to him. So it also must mean a lot to him to communicate his message to us. And we love it and we do our darndest to figure out what that message is.

So if you are a fan of Slaughterhouse 5 and One Hundred Years of Solitude and you think you’re up to writing the next Ulysses, be very careful. Above all, make sure you have a very experienced editor onside.

Don’t Break All Your Eggs in one Basket

Smashing a few conventions can be wonderful. But if at the same time your syntax is lousy and your manuscript is full of spelling errors, then nobody will be able to tell whether you intended to break those conventions, or if you just didn’t know any better. Worse yet, that you don’t care.

The Fractured Timeline

I am always suspicious of people who write novels that are purposefully fragmented, jumping back and forth in point of view, setting, and time. Complicated sentence structure, obscure references, that sort of thing. I wonder if they aren’t disguising the fact that they really don’t have much to say. All they have created is a very complicated treasure hunt with a box of cotton candy at the end.

Do You Like Puzzles?

To be fair, some people like these stories. As long as the journey is considered most of the fun and the end is a decent reward, that’s fine. As long as readers think they have a fair chance to solve the puzzle.

And are warned ahead of time. Otherwise you’re going to have a lot of 1-star reviews for a work that may deserve more. As a way of earning income, that ranks right up there with the seventy-third lottery ticket.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Audience response is good for any artist.
Too much or too little can be a problem for creative development.

Warning and Disclaimer
 
It is a common complaint among internet reviewers and writers that everybody and his dog (Please read "The Art of Racing in the Rain" if you don't believe me. It's a great book.) can publish something nowadays, and many of the results look like it. 

With all this junk clogging up the retailers, it's hard to find a book that isn't going to disappoint you with lousy spelling and punctuation, poor characterization, multiple point of view switches, and all sorts of silliness that a touchup by a good editor should have corrected. 

I do a certain amount of reviewing for The Book Rooster on Amazon, because they (usually) weed out the amateur efforts before offering them to me. If anyone asks me to review an editorial travesty, my response is, "This book is not ready for reviewing." I hope that lets the author down more gently and sends the message more clearly than, "This book is a pile of junk." Or less polite words.

So anything that I review has reached a certain standard of writing professionalism. 

There will be some books – usually self-published but not always – that I will review in spite of what I think is poor editing, because they have other redeeming values. Genre fiction of the simpler sort comes to mind. I like a rollicking space opera or paranormal romance, and the accepted standard for this type of book is lower. I might toss in a sentence to warn finicky readers, but that's all. When it comes to the crunch editing is an art, and sometimes the problem isn't poor editing, just an editor who makes different choices from those I would have made. Use of commas comes to mind. Adjectives and adverbs are a big bone of contention as well.

The moral of the story for beginning writers is, "You Can't Edit Your Own Work." Tattoo that on the inside of your eyelids and read it over every night before you go to sleep. 

For prospective readers of my reviews, it means that any book I comment on at least shows evidence of reasonable editing, although that does not guarantee it a rave.  It also means you won't be subjected to my litany of complaints in every review: a win-win situation all round.

If you are a writer looking for a review and the above hasn't warned you off, submissions are cheerfully accepted. 

Happy Reading

Gordon A. Long

 

 

 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


Novel 
and
Television series
 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


Mind of the Beast

Brian and Juliet Freyermuth


As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Alan Bradley


Raven's Wing

Shawna Reppert


Hooligans

Chaz Fenwick


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
Erik Kort


 
(Short Story)

Aine Greaney


Mysteries of Shetland

Anne Cleeves


Ravensblood

Shawna Reppert


The Cold Forever

Dmitry Pavlovsky


Ava's Man

Rick Bragg


Ava's Man

Rick Bragg


The Best Laid Plans

Terry Fallis

 

 

Wordscapist: the Myth

Arpan Panicker


Murder and Mendelssohn
Kerry Greenwood

Drawing Conclusions
Donna Leon

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon
Alexander McCall Smith

The Dead in their Vaulted Arches
Alan Bradley


The Commons Book 1

The Journeyman
Michael Alan Peck


At War With Satan
Steff Metal

Phobos: Mayan Fear
Steve Alten

Guystuff
Linton Robinson

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

You Can't Get There From Here
Gayle Forman

Psychic Warrior
T. D. McKinnon

Forager
Peter R. Stone

Butterman (Time Travel) Inc.
PK Hrezo

Winter Fire
Laurie Dubay 

Canadian Pie
Will Ferguson 

Bertie Plays the Blues
Alexander McCall Smith

Miss Timmins' School for Girls
Nayana Currimbhoy

Xenophobia
Peter Cawdron

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile
Enid Shomer

The Importance of Being Seven
Alexander McCall Smith

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic
Meghan Ciana Doidge

Unnatural Habits
A Phryne Fisher Mystery

Kerry Greenwood

Strays
Book I of The Glaring Chronicles

Matthew Krause

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Richard C. Morais

The Crooked House
John Longeway

Eye Candy
by
Ryan Schneider

Season of the Harvest
Michael R. Hicks

Chronicles of Trellah Book I:
The Perpetual Rain

T. S. Graham


The Casual Vacancy
J. K. Rowling
Alexander McCall Smith
Charlotte Henley Babb

David Litwack 
G. T. Denny
John Patrick Gallagher
Cas Peace
Steve Umstead
L.M.Dewalt
J.W.Bacarro
Mark Everett Stone