Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Canadian Election Explained Using The Lord of the Rings

LOTRelection
The Short Story:
An author attempts to explain the upcoming Canadian election using The Lord of the Rings references. Apologies to JRR Tolkien.
The Medium Story:
Liberals = Elves
NDP = Dwarves
Conservatives = I'll let you find out

The Full Story
Canada is a democracy. This may come as a surprise to people outside the country who assumed we were still a monarchy. We just let the queen visit sometimes and ooh and aaw when her progeny have progeny and put them in fancy clothes. But we are a very complicated democracy and the prime minister is head of government for Canada. There are 338 seats across the country and three major parties vying for those seats and the Canadians use a 'first past the post' system which means...oh, what am I saying? Boooring! The winner will be whoever gets the One Ring of Power. Simple as that.

A Story Told from the Liberal Point of View
Liberals are a middle-of-the-road, today-I-lean-left-tomorrow-I-lean-right, type of party. Or as they like to say: we're a big tent party (don't confuse that with a big party in a tent). This "big tent" means they enjoy camping. And who doesn't enjoy camping more than Elves? Yes, the Liberals are the pointy-eared Elves of the Canadian electoral world. They enjoyed a golden age of rule over the kingdom. Then the great sponsorship darkness came and they had to retreat into the backwoods of Middle Earth and hide from the electorate. The leader of the Liberals is Justin Trudeau, or, as the party likes to call him, Legolas Trudeau Longhair. See my bow? My arrow? Watch me slay Orcish policies and wink at the same time. The Liberals are locked in a good-versus-evil struggle with Stephen "Sauron" Harper. Alas, when the Liberal Elves were busy patting themselves on the back for being such great rulers sneaky Sauron Harper forged his One Ring of ultimate partisan power and stole the throne. The Liberal Elves are going to destroy that ring and get the power back--Elves are the rightful rulers of Middle Class Canadian Earth. But who keeps shouting in the background? Tom Mulcair, the leader of the NDP. It's obvious who he is: Boromir. The man with a great beard who wants to grab the ring for himself. No way, Boromir, you can't have it. That ring is ours! In fact, the parliament is ours forever or my name isn't Legolas Trudeau Longhair. Long live the Elves!

A Story Told From The NDP Point of View
The NDP (or New Democratic Party) finds its roots in the Canadian socialist movement of the deep dark past (it's described on page 1254 of the Silmarillion). If you're American just insert the word communist every time you see socialist and it'll all make sense. The NDP are a left-leaning party that lately has been swerving their ideological wagon to the middle of the road. They draw support from all types of workers: the farmers, the hewers of wood and the miners of metals--so obviously they are the Dwarves of this story. And Dwarves hate Elves. For over a thousand years the Dwarves have been crouching in their mines, watching those cute little Elves rule. Then came Sauron Harper with his One Ring of Power scattering the Elves. Oh, how the Dwarves laughed until they realized the Dark Conservative Lord was worse than Elves. So the New Dwarves Party grew their playoff beards and climbed to the great mount of Opposition Party Status. Their leader is Tom Mulcair and, unsurprisingly, he has a beard. What's his dwarf name, you ask? Oin? Gloin? No, no, no, it's Gimli! He was given The Great Axe Of Chopping Conservative Ideology by Tommy "beardless but still a dwarf" Douglas. Gimli Mulcair is also good with a hammer, using it to build a wall around Quebec. He'd even forge a coalition with his mighty hammer if the people would let him.  The Dwarves have made their own union-approved Seven Rings of Power. And they will use them to get the One Ring. But that silly Legolas Trudeau Longhair is in the way.  Stand back Elves! It's time for Dwarven rule!

A Story Told from the Conservative Point of View
Long ago there was a party called the Conservatives, a middle-of-the-road, right-leaning party. Then they became the Unionist party and after that named themselves the Liberal-Conservatives and finally settled on the Progressive Conservatives who would lean right and punch with the left. Then came the Reform Party and the Alliance and...ah, this is so confusing. They're the Conservatives again. Simple, right? And they are Hobbits. I know. I know. You can't see it at all. Short? Hairy feet? Cute? But think about it. Hobbits are rural. Conservatives sprang from rural ridings. Hobbits are about bread and butter and beer issues. Pierre "Proudfoot" Poilievre is their spokesperson. And it's obvious that Peter Mackay is Sam Gamgee and Stephen Harper is Frodo. And--
Wait. This isn't working.
The Conservatives are in power. And the only group who had power at the start of The Lord of the Rings is the Dark Lord and his forces. I know, I know: it's a cliché to paint the Conservatives as the Orcs and Goblins of this story. Here is the real truth: Stephen Sauron Harper is a great, kind and strong leader--he even has the cowboy hat to prove it.  And this Sauron is really sore on taxes (get it?).The CBC and other liberal media gave you that whole "the Elves and Dwarves and Free Men band together to defeat the Dark Lord" story. Blah. Blah. Blah. It was total communist propaganda. Friends, let's be perfectly clear. The Elves were running the government for thousands of years and giving money to their cronies. The Dwarves and their unions conspired so that all you good citizens of Middle Earth were paying far too many taxes. And the governmental system was bloated with Hobbits. Bloated Hobbits, I tell you! So Stephen Sauron Harper forged the One Ring of Power with elements of metal given to him by Mulroney and Manning. He took that one ring and brought the country a new vision, the vision of a Conservative Middle Earth where taxes were low and no one had to ever, ever, ever, ever fill out that long form census again. Down with the gold spending Elves! Boot out the union-loving Dwarves! Sauron Harper will cut the taxes on your flaxes (the motto is working great in the Shire). That's the real story. It's better than news, because it's truthful.

The End
Just like the novel, this political story is a nail-biter right to the finish. Will the Liberal Elves rise out of the forest and claim their long lost throne? Will the New Dwarves Party succeed despite the fact that Canadians don't always trust people with facial hair? Or will Sauron Harper don his blue sweater of softness and unleash his Sword of Ten Thousand Tax Cuts. How will it all end? Well, as was mentioned before, Canada has a 338 ridings and a "first-past-the-post" system and with an estimated 25 million votes it all comes down to election day when ... oh what am I saying? Whoever gets the One Ring will win. Or to put it more poetically:

One election to rule them all, One election to find them, One election to bring them all, and in a representative democracy bind them.
Other Characters:
Elizabeth May is Galadriel. She's an elf, there in the background. Reminding us we should probably save the environment.
Gilles Duceppe is Wormtongue. Well, according to everyone in Western Canada. To the Bloc Quebecois he is Frodo. And it's a long, long way to Mount Doom.
David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, is Gandalf. Just add a long white beard and it'll totally make sense.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Giveaway on Goodreads!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Modo by Arthur Slade

Modo

by Arthur Slade

Giveaway ends July 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Editor Says That These Two Words I Use Make Kitties Cry

The short of it:

My editor finds an innovative way to point out my repetitious writing habits.

How it began:

I handed in draft number umpteen (that's an understatement) of my 1920's horror novel, Flickers. A short time later (geologically speaking) I received the edited version all marked up in Microsoft Word. All was well and I even laughed when I came across this:


So I dutifully changed it to this:





Then a few pages later this appeared:


Another uproarious laugh exploded from my lips. Exploded, I tell you! This is the kind of back and forth authors love with their editors. And on the next page I found this:


Aha! Game on, I thought. Game on! So for fun, I changed it to this:

And the next one I changed to this:

But something horrible happened. The kitties kept coming. A calvacade of crying kitties. 







A cry of pain strangled itself in my throat. The horror! The horror!
There was only one logical response:




**No editors were hurt in this process. 17 kittens in total cried. Only one author was slightly damaged.


More fiction, zaniness & stuff at:


This post make you laugh? Help an author out by sharing it. Click on any of the links below:

Share on Facebook*Share on Twitter*Share on Google+*Share on LinkedIn* Send Email to a Pal

Friday, June 05, 2015

The 1st Page Critique Offer

slademail

Let me read your writing!

The first page of your writing project is the most important. It's where you hook the readers. This is the same truth whether it's a short story, novel, or non-fiction piece. So I'm offering to do a critique of the first page of your piece of writing for anyone who's a subscriber to my newsletter. The actual offer will be in my next newsletter (to come out on June 16th) and will be available until June 30th, 2015.

Hmmm. The word critique bothers me. It implies criticism. Instead I should call it here-are-my-humble-suggestions-take-them-or-leave them. I've been doing this sort of work for over twenty years. In fact I just finished spending nine months as a writer in residence. The most important part of my job was to go over the writing of other writers, mark the work up line by line, then have a one on one discussion (we talked out heads off).  I read everything from memoirs, to poetry, to fantastical fiction. Oh, and one engineering paper.

So this is my way of offering a similar virtual experience to you. You can even submit the 1st page on behalf of someone else (a student, your offspring, an elf...even literary pets). Just sign up in the handy dandy box below.
   

My Clever Newsletter

* indicates required
Email Format

The newsletter itself is monthly-ish and has lots of goodies for fans, readers, teachers and other humans. And there's often a prize and competitions. I have so much fun putting the newsletters together--it's the perfect way to procrastinate.

So, please hop on board. And if there's anyone else you think might enjoy this offer (and the newsletter) just click and share on the links below.

Keep on rocking!

Art

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn Send Email

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Writing lessons from Mad Max: Fury Road

*minor spoilers follow
Totally Understated 


Mad Max: Fury Road is an understated movie. Oh, I know, I know it's perhaps the greatest action/car chase/things-blow-up movie in existence. But it's also very understated and that serves to make it more powerful.

One of the things I think about when writing is the relationship with the reader. Am I telling the reader too much (IE the ol' show don't tell rule). Am I trusting the reader to put two and two together (and make four, of course) or am I not trusting them and telling them too much backstory (again!)? Readers become more engaged if they are allowed to participate in the story. To not have every scene and emotion handed to them. As writers we must give them space and just enough information to figure out for themselves what the character is feeling. We must keep the story tantalizing.

That's one of the brilliant aspects of Mad Max: Fury Road. Charlize Theoron's character, Imperator Furiosa (love that name), has a disability. She is missing an arm. But the director doesn't give us a long shot of her missing arm and dwell on it. In fact we see her several times before we get a hint that she is using a prosthetic. And even once it is clear that she is missing an arm no one makes a note of it. In fact it's a non-issue (and makes her cooler because of her metal arm). No boring forced dramatic back story. We just know that she has been scarred by some past event and has risen above it. We are allowed to come to that conclusion on our own.

Max himself has a back story. We are told in frightening micro-second flashbacks that he has lost his family. But we aren't hit over the head with a long backstory. He doesn't stop to shout out "My family is gone and that's why I'm so messed up." Again, the viewer is allowed to come to that conclusion.
The world they live in is a dystopian world. Again, there isn't a long dramatic voice over telling us all the horrible things that happened to make it that way. We are just thrust into the world as it is and have to figure out the rest for ourselves.

Throughout the movie we are given just enough information to flesh out the characters or the background of the world we are inhabiting. But not once are we slowed down from our pursuit of the story.

And what a relentless story it is.

Friday, May 01, 2015

10,000 Copies Sold! Now I Can Retire

Well, my total eBook sales across all platforms is now 10, 016 copies. I'm happy to have reached this magic milestone and have now ordered a yacht for my backyard. All hands report on deck! Or perhaps I should write about about how to sell ebooks for the YA and Children's market. It could be titled: How To Sell 10,000 Copies in Fifty Months!

All kidding aside I'm glad that this ebook adventure has been (sometimes) a tidy little addition to my regular income. All of the books that I'm selling are either out of print editions that I've re-issued in various countries or collections of new work (for example my short stories). And the work I did at the beginning of this experiment has paid off. Basically, I don't have to lift a finger to keep that income trickling in.

If you're curious about reading this adventure from the beginning click:  beginning.

Oh, why don't we look at the handy dandy chart?


It does look a bit like a patient who has flatlined, doesn't it? Except for that little burst of life at the end there. To quote Monty Python: I'm not dead yet. I think I'll go for a walk. The basic story to the graphic is this: when I started selling eBooks in 2011 you could give away free books then when you switched your book back to being paid it would (sometimes) rocket up the charts. That's why there are those two big mountains at the start of the chart. But in 2012 Amazon changed its logarithms so that this "trick" didn't work as well. And from that point on the books sold whenever someone stumbled across them. The smaller "mountains" are when I lowered the price to 99 cents and the book gained a bit more traction then went back to selling 10-30 copies a month again. And that's why the graph begins to rise at the end. One of my books (DUST) was on sale and briefly went up the charts. The graph will drop back down again this month. I'm certain of it.

I have 16 different books for sale and the majority of my sales (90%) have been to Kindle. Dust has sold the majority of the copies (6500). I think that's because it's a book that crosses over from YA to adult reading and the majority of ebook sales are to the adult market. And it has the most reviews.

  
The Hunchback Assignments are in second place. My self published versions are only sold in the UK (because publishers in other countries own the erights). The four books have totalled 1600 in sales. That's a tidy sum over time for very little extra work on my part.



Anyway, as I said, I'm pleased to have reached this milestone. And it's still my experience that in general books for younger audiences sell a lot more copies in paperback than they do eBooks unless they are able to attract adult eyeballs online. I do plan more experiments in the future, including a How to Write Kid Lit book and other "manual" type books to test out that part of the market.

Until then...tally ho!

Art

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Hootsuite

I rarely rave about products, but I must say Hootsuite just keeps getting better and better. If you're one of those social media crazies like me...well, you have far too much to keep track of. But Hootsuite.com allows me to track my Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram...(actually the list goes on) all at once.

 

And it's allowing me to write this blog directly to my Blogger account. So I'm just testing it out.

 

I get no money from Hootesuite. In fact I'm paying them for a pro account. But it really is saving me time...

 

End of product placement portion of this blog.

 

Art

Hootesuite