Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Well, at least it will be when I return.  I think I’ll take this week off of blogging, seeing as how I’m busy and I can’t think of anything to post!  See you in 2012!

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Good-bye, Good Riddance!

You thought you were really clever, sending irrelevant, overly flattering comments to a rather boring blog.  You sent them from your multiple email addresses, then told your spammer buddies to do the same.  Now you can go sit in a corner and cry until you find another blog to molest.  So long, loser.  I’ve beaten you at last.

Okay, with that said, let’s dive into the meat of this post.

No, I’m not talking to you.  You’re probably a legitimate reader of blogs who may be feeling a bit insulted by my rant.  Hopefully, you aren’t about to leave my blog or leave a scathing comment.  Let me tell you what’s really happening here.

When I started my website, I installed WordPress.org for use as a place to post news updates.  For two months it sat somewhat undisturbed, with only a couple occasional spam comments.  Then, in November, they hit.

It started slowly, with one or two every couple of days trickling in, but then it picked up, to at least one every day in early December, then at least three every day.  Starting to get fed up with dealing with the notification emails, I moved posts from the website blog to this blog (see my earlier post).     I put up with it for a few more days, but today I’ve finally had enough.  As of right now, going to http://www.sopoweredproductions.com/blog will take you absolutely nowhere.  The directory no longer exists.  Take that, spammers!

So why am I telling you this?  What’s the lesson I’ve learned that I’m trying to share?  It is this: WordPress.com blogs have, built-in, the plug-in Askimet, a spam filter.  For free.  WordPress.org blogs do not have that plug-in – you’ll have to pay for it yourself.  While you’ll still receive spam, Askimet will filter it out so all you have to do is double-check the spam folder for real messages.  Without Askimet, you’ll have to look through all the spam and mark it as such.  Plus, you’ll receive email notification for every spam message you get.  Not so with Askimet.  So it really comes down to how much worthless mail you want in your inbox.  If, like me, you don’t want a bunch of spam showing up in your inbox, use WordPress.com for your website’s blog.  If you enjoy wasting time wading hip-high in spam… well, more power to you.

There, I made it through without unleashing a torrent of curses on spammers.

How Much Inspiration Is Too Much? – Eragon vs. Star Wars

Sometimes authors draw inspiration from existing novels, games, or movies.  To a new author, drawing inspiration from the creativity of others can lend a much-needed element of coolness to the new work, but how much drawing of inspiration can be defined as too much?

For example:  I recently read (well, listened to the audiobook of) Eragon for the first time.  The story was interesting enough, but some points of the storyline troubled me. Being somewhat of a Star Wars fan, I noticed these similarities:

  • Book intro started with a rebel lady getting captured
  • Scene shifted to a farm-boy living with his uncle in an evil empire headed by a powerful good-guy-gone-bad
  • Evil came to the farm, killed uncle, boy left with old man
  • Old man reveals past as mystic warrior (Jedi, Dragon Rider, what’s the difference?)
  • Old man dies protecting boy, helpful new hero comes
  • Boy and hero rescue lady, flee to rebel base
  • Epic battle ensues, where boy is the savior

That’s the basic storyline right there.  No joke, and I’m sure there are some finer points I’m forgetting.  So what’s the real problem here?

Now, don’t get me wrong, Eragon was still fairly enjoyable.  Parts of the story seemed original enough to me, so I listened to the whole thing.  But there’s a deeper issue here than Christopher Paolini’s apparent Star Wars clone (pardon the pun).  I’m not going to hate on the guy, but I will admit that I’m somewhat disappointed.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my own story has some Star Wars influences, but those have mainly to do with equipment and not the storyline itself.  I may be somewhat biased, but I think there’s a significant difference there.

Sometimes another person’s ideas are just too inspirational to resist, so you take the idea, tweak it a little, and then integrate it into your own works.  In some instances, the idea may become an important part of your work (why am I using the term ‘work’?  Because this topic doesn’t only apply to writing or film).  Sometimes it doesn’t really matter, especially if it’s a comparatively small similarity and you aren’t the only one using it.  But when your storyline seems to be matching another, it gets hard to honestly call it original.

These are my thoughts on the matter, and I’m very interested in hearing what you think.  If you’ve got an opinion, please leave a comment on the post and we can further the discussion from there!

The Merge – How To Combine Blogs

Not that it’s very important, but I have just combined two of my blogs into one.  The blog at my website, SoPoweredProductions.com, was mainly used as a place to put news updates having to do with the site and my books.  Using WordPress’ import functions, I’ve successfully transferred posts from my website’s blog (which was a WordPress.org blog) to this blog.  The posts were placed in chronological order with the existing posts here.  Hopefully my subscribers weren’t bombarded with ‘new post’ messages (if so, sorry guys!).

The process really couldn’t have been easier.  If you’re moving WordPress to WordPress, simply use the Export function to download an export file to your computer from the blog you’re transferring from.  This will contain posts, comments, and pages.

Next, go to the blog you are moving content to and use the Import function.  It’s really that easy!  You’ll receive a confirmation email from WordPress when the import is finished.

Now, just so you know, WordPress can also import content from blogs on other sites (i.e., Blogger).  If you have friends with Blogger blogs, you might even use this fact to entice them over to WordPress, right? 😉

If you REALLY want to see working results, go ahead and scroll down my blog and go back to the oldest posts.  You’ll find posts from the old blog to prove that this actually works.  But again, it’s not really that important.  Hopefully this information comes in handy sometime!

Visualizing Your Story

XR Hunter

Technically Heroic - The Hunter

Sometimes it’s good to just take a break from typing out your novel.  Just because you’re breaking, though, does not mean you must mentally abandon the story which is probably starting to rule your life (and your dreams even).  When you’re writing, it may be a good idea to get out a sketch pad and pencil and just sketch elements of your story, whether they’re characters, vehicles, or locations.  This is especially true when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi.

Now, don’t worry if your artistic skills are somewhat limited. Mine aren’t by any means perfect. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you can get an idea down on paper. You can always develop the idea further, which will give you great visualization help when daydreaming and writing.   In some cases it is very helpful to get on the web and look for inspiration.  This is especially useful if you’re trying to visualize scenery and landscapes, and may help greatly when it comes to designing weapons and tech.

I often enjoyed drawing stuff from my stories, and sometimes I would draw something before I actually put it in the story.  Maybe this idea will help your creative process.  You never know, so why not try?

Overwhelmed

Over Black Friday I bought myself Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium, and I now own the newest Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Audition, and After Effects, among other minor applications.  The last three applications are entirely new to me, leaving me with a lot of power to unlock.  Just having After Effects is intimidating, yet exciting at the same time.  I know that I have the software to create great things, but when it comes to ideas and a crew to work with, I’m falling flat on my face.  Currently, I pretty much run a one-man show.  I do everything myself, which can be a pain in the rear when it comes to dreaming up fantastic video content.  I have so much to figure out that I’m stuck just deciding where to begin.  Thankfully, I don’t have to learn alone:  My vocational school is getting the same software, so what I can’t figure out a home I can get help with in class.  As much as I’d like to jump in and just do stuff, my perfectionism is telling me that if I try something big now, as After Effects will allow, I will fail horribly since I know nothing about the program.  Darn perfectionism.

Writing Therapy

There are times in everyone’s life where a single emotion runs high, and sometimes writing can be a great outlet for that emotion.  Maybe something great gave your morning a jumpstart and you’re feeling happy or excited.  Maybe that person you had a secret crush on revealed their guy/girlfriend to you, leaving you feeling angry or maybe depressed.  Or perhaps you lost someone or something very important in your life, leaving you sad or lonely.  In times like these, words can flow from your fingers like hot water from Old Faithful.  Your hands fly over the keys, making your computer work overtime to put your words on the screen.  Okay, maybe that last bit was somewhat exaggerated.  Like blood you’ll pump out words straight from your heart, then when you’re finished you’ll save your work and walk away, perhaps considering making a published short story out of it (unless you wrote a poem – then you might put it on your blog).  In any case, you’ll live your life for a day, come back to your new work days after, and either hate your work for reminding you of a past emotional high or bask in its awesomeness.  In most cases, I suppose it would depend on the emotion underlying the work.  In any case, sometimes it helps to just write and get it out of your system.  The principle applies to many things, including writing to your political representatives (makes sense, right?).  So, now that you’ve read this, are you going to sit down and write next time you feel angry,  depressed, or elated?