31 March 2013

Do Asian People See Less?

My good friend, +Brian Workman, over at thegesslar inspired me with this post.

Diversity is a great thing! When you have a diverse group of people who do and love the same things and share a common bond, it is beautiful. Why shouldn't everyone have the same experience with diversity as we fortunate ones who have shed our fears of different cultures and belief systems? Because, they are being educated by those who are ignorant and fearful. I'm not saying it's so bad, but we can fix it.

My friend Brian answered some stereotypical questions which popped up on his Google type ahead for the partial keyword list: do gay people. The suggested choices from Google were interesting, so I decided to do my own question and answer session, representing my folk, Asian people. I'm only a subset, being Japanese. However, I wanted a more general and broad stereotype to deal with. So, here you have my search results and I will answer all of these questions below.

1. Do Asian people see less?

No, we see more. Because of the slant in our eyes, we see everyone as being fat and skewed horizontally.

2. Do Asian people eat dog?

Not in America! Jesus, I hope not. In America, dogs are our domestic pets. We love our dogs! However, in other countries, all different cultures of people eat dog meat, including people in Asian countries. If you were to visit a Korean restaurant, you may find dog meat as an entree, but the meat used in the restaurants are of a particular breed of dog raised for consumption by humans, no different from chickens raised for KFC. You would have to research each country to determine their culture and belief over the consumption of dog meat.

3. Do Asian people eat cat?

See number 2 above.

4. Do Asian people celebrate Christmas? 

It depends on an individual's religious beliefs whether they celebrate Christmas, not their ethnicity. Many Asians practice other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. However, people in other religions do celebrate Christmas. With widespread commercialism and the prospect of receiving gifts, it is hard NOT to celebrate Christmas.

5. Do Asian people get drunk faster?

An estimated one out of three people in East Asian countries have an alcohol flush reaction, colloquially known as "Asian Glow", a condition where the body metabolizes alcohol nearly 100-times more efficiently into acetaldehyde, a toxic metabolite. Flushing, or blushing, is associated with the erythema (reddening caused by dilation of capillaries) of the face, neck, and shoulder, after consumption of alcohol. In other words, they don't get drunk faster, but they are more likely to have this reaction.

The rate with which a person gets drunk is based on tolerance, not ethnicity. However, differences in tolerance levels are also influenced by socio-economic and cultural difference including diet, average body weight, and patterns of consumption.

6. Do Asian people age well?

God, I hope so! I'm coming up on another 10-year stretch, so thank goodness my eyes have gone first. I try to eat well, exercise, and use plenty of moisturizer. But, hey, we can't stay young forever. Most of the differences you might find in Asian culture, with respect to aging, are skin care and diet. Stay out of the sun and eat plenty of pickled veggies and fish!

7. Do Asian people eat cheese?

If they like it, sure! What kind of cheese? I like Cheddar cheese on my tacos, but I like Swiss with ham. In addition, Mozzarella, not Pepper Jack, belongs in lasagna. Pssh, do Asians like cheese? We like to hear the word when we pull out our cameras. "Say cheese!"

8. Do Asian people have curly hair?

For the most part, Asian people have straight, dark hair. It's part of genetics. However, when mixed with other gene pools, the offspring could likely have curly hair. Nobody is ever happy with how they were originally created. When I was a teenager, I got up every morning and curled my hair for school. Other girls with curly hair would get up every morning and straighten theirs. Who cares about my hair anyway? Is it going to raise my Asian IQ any higher than it already is?

9. Do Asian people tan?

Is this question asking if Asian people participate in the ritual of lying upon a blanket on the beach and exposing themselves to the harmful rays of the sun? Or is it asking if Asian people have skin which will turn a darker shade when exposed to the sun? The answer to the first is, that is an individual decision, not tied to a person's ethnicity. The answer to the second depends. If said Asian had a skin pigmentation disorder, I don't know. I will turn darker when exposed to the sun. I haven't been told that I have any skin pigmentation disorders, so my guess is that I tan and it is normal.

10. Do Asian people have body hair?

We're not born as hairy as the average Neanderthal, but we are born with a certain amount of body hair. Again, this is genetics. When mixed with other gene pools, the likelihood of an Asian offspring having more body hair increases.

I am happy to have dispelled any stereotypes which may (or may not) be out there about Asian people. I don't represent all Asian people, and this post is more based on my own opinion and experience with Asians and their culture, having had more exposure than the average NON Asian. So, if there's anything inaccurate about what I wrote, I don't really care. I'll just have to refer you to Google!

Have you ever had to dispel a stereotype? Was your attempt to educate received well, or has it been your experience people wish to remain ignorant and completely disregard what you say?

28 March 2013

My Protagonist Cooks For You

Today, Kelly Cooper, the protagonist of my future novel, Precinct 9, will share with you one of her favorite recipes.  

Kelly is a police sergeant caught up in the mining of data from various internet sites and producing information that draws similarities between two unrelated cold cases. Just as she begins to place the final pieces of the puzzle together to reveal a serial killer, she becomes engaged in a heated verbal altercation with her ex-boss over a scandal beyond her control. 

When the ex-boss is murdered and Kelly's gun goes missing, she is declared a person of interest and placed on administrative leave. The gloves are off. 

With a serial killer on the loose and her life on the line, Kelly must do everything she can to clear herself of any wrong-doing, and find a way to complete the puzzle, all while operating outside the limits of the law.

Take it away, Kelly!

While Diane figures out how I’ll piece together that puzzle, let us see if I can’t piece together for you,  this recipe of lightly crusted pork medallions. 

You will need the following ingredients:

1 roll of center cut pork tenderloin
½ cup of all-purpose flour
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the pork loin into equal slices about a half-inch thick. Salt and pepper them to your desired taste and soak them in egg batter for 10 minutes, then lightly dust them with flour. Let them set while you fire up the deep fryer.

Fry them at 375 degrees for exactly 5 minutes. Use whatever method you want to drain the excess fat. I put them on paper towels and let them set for a couple of minutes. 

A serving size is 3 medallions. Plate them with country fried potatoes and buttered asparagus. The recipe for the potatoes has to come from mother. She never shared that one. 

I hope you try this dish. It’s fantabulous! 

Now, I have a serial killer to find. Ah, a computer!

25 March 2013

O is for Objectives, Obstacles, and Outcomes

I had read many books in my life before I discovered I wanted to write fiction. Here are some of the ones which are memorable for me. Check them out if you like. It is my belief the books we read contribute to the development of our psyches. I also invite you to research your timeline of memorable stories and tell me if they have contributed to the development of your spirit.

Curious George, age 6 
Corduroy, age 7 
1984, age 16 
Various Harlequin Romances and occasional erotica, ages 15-24
Misery, age 25 
The Alienist, age 30 
False Memory, age 38

What was profound at a particular age isn't necessarily profound later on in life, but if it sticks with you, there’s a reason. Something in that story spoke to you. So go the stepping stones in our understanding of literature and fiction. Why have these stories been ingrained in my memory for so many years? What did I yearn for and what kept me reading to the point I got it and kept it? While delving deeper into my thoughts, I pondered closure. And then I realized I still had not come up with a topic for the letter O.


When I start my journey with a set of prose, I expect to know what the objective is, whether it's character development, a vessel for back-story, an introduction of a new character, or a plot twist. A reader anticipates these things in order to decide how to spend time reading that chapter. To coddle or to skim? Sike. I never skim.

If I like the protagonist, I want to read about her development. So, if I know the objective of the chapter is to introduce a situation which will tax my protagonist, I'll be more likely to stay engaged and immerse myself into the chapter.

Don't wait until mid-chapter to reveal the objective. It’s like treading water and the hum drum pace will give me a chance to dog ear the book and come back later. If I know the objective right away, I'm not likely to dog ear until the end of the chapter because I'm focused on the objective. If your reader dog ears in the middle of the chapter, the last impression they have of your chapter is what? There was no objective, what's the point in returning? That would be terrible!

Every chapter should have an objective and it should be apparent from the beginning what that objective is. You can vary the types of objectives from chapter to chapter, whether introducing a new character or plot twist, etc, so that you have a mixture which appeals to the diversity in your readership. Not every reader wants to follow your world descriptions, and not every reader cares about your protagonist's development. Some may just care about learning how the plot unwinds or picking up clues as to who did it. I agree, lazy readers!


Where you have an objective in your chapter, you must also have an obstacle. Otherwise, you may as well be writing an entry for a recipe book. Do recipes tell you how to deal with a grease fire? Or what to do when your soufflé collapses? These are obstacles which may occur in your quest to building a meal. Excluding these possibilities will not harm your recipe. However, excluding obstacles in your chapters will harm your fictional stories.

 Obstacles need to be present in fiction because you don't want to leave your reader an ending with a drabness for which you will never be forgiven. You want to introduce your objective to an obstacle in order to create conflict and friction for your characters. Together they create results—surprising and delightful results. To keep from having "expected" results, and thus boring the hell out of your reader, you must have obstacles.

Contrary to my line of work as a software developer, where expected results are the far better outcome, fiction definitely is more rewarding when the results are skewed.


This was originally titled Oh Nos. What are Oh Nos? Something I made up to have a third O word to share. Seriously. Imagine your favorite protagonist met an obstacle you felt they might not be prepared to deal with. You go, "Oh no!" Then after I wrote this third O element, I realized I was discussing Outcomes and so now my short lived “Oh Nos” is obsolete.

What is an outcome? They will survive the ordeal, or they will perish. Not every obstacle results in an outcome this extreme, but in some form or another, they either have a positive outcome or a negative one. By the time I reach the end of a chapter, I need to know the outcome of the objective. It's very important to me in moving to the next chapter, because if you don't have closure in one chapter, at least closure for the chapter's objective, then how is the reader supposed to trust you with future chapters?

If the objective is for Nancy to retrieve a magic scroll and the obstacle is she becomes lost in the forest, you absolutely cannot end the chapter at this point. She must fight her way out of the forest. She must retrieve the scroll, yes, but the outcome of her meeting that objective must further the story or end it. She retrieved the scroll. What's the outcome? Did the magic scroll unleash an evil spirit she must fight in the next chapter? Did she uncover a healing potion she will need in another chapter along the way? That outcome is what ends the chapter and invites a new chapter.

So, what makes you stick with a story, chapter by chapter? Have you noticed a pattern in the stories which rivet you to your seat and stick in your mind throughout a lifetime?

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21 March 2013

Just Bad Enough to Not Be Good

Thoughts from a Connoisseur of Bad Writing
-by David J. Schmidt

“Hikaru kumo o tsukinuke furai a wei.”

-Japanese folk saying. Translation: “Rice must be cooked just right—neither too hard nor too soft. This is the manifestation of perfection.”

I’ll be frank with you, dear reader—I am an avid collector of bad literature.

I am a literary crap enthusiast. Like the young Joseph Smith in upstate New York, I take my proverbial shovel in hand and head out into the woods, searching for those golden tablets of text that are a cut above the rest. There is a unique quality to exceptionally bad writing: if it crosses a certain threshold, it suddenly becomes immensely fun to read. I feel that the scale of “good to bad writing” is not a continuum; rather, it is horseshoe shaped, with good and bad nearly meeting at the bottom. Some books are so bad that they are able to jump that synapse and cross over into Awesome Territory.

One such book was a little gem I stumbled upon last year titled “Leave the Wine Glass Lay”. A friend of mine met the author in person—he came to her unannounced, like the Angel Moroni, to tell her about his literary opus. The author assured my friend, with a self-important air about him, that his book would be “the next big thing”. She went online and checked the book’s description on Amazon—and then immediately sent me an e-mail marked urgent, with a link and the comment, “you have to buy this book”.

As soon as I read the Amazon synopsis of “Leave the Wine Glass Lay”, I knew that I had struck gold.

Three things stuck out to me:

1. The modifier “all kinds of” is used twice in the first paragraph of the description. The main character, a powerful wizard, has “all kinds of magical powers” and encounters “all kinds of characters”.

2. By the second paragraph, we already have a full fledged cluster-eff of pronouns.

He befriends a 10-yr-old child, Laden, who finds the Evil Wine Glass at the seashore and invites him and his family to dinner along with his friends.

Whose family? Whose friends? Which he is who? Zuh?

3. The author went to the trouble of writing a quote of recommendation for himself. Unfortunately, he couldn’t think of anybody to attribute this quote to. All we have, at the end of the book’s description, is this:

This story is unlike any other and author Jackie O Brien is truly unique by writing this story.

I should note: that quote is also on the back cover of the book itself. In the print version, however, the author was nice enough to add some quotation marks—but still no person to whom the compliment is attributed. The punctuation itself appears to beg of us, “Come on, guys, honest, somebody said that. Look—there’s punctuation marks around it!”

That’s right, dear reader—I purchased this book.

And it was worth every penny. It truly was so bad that it became amazing. Where to begin? Well, how about at the beginning. Seriously, the first sentence of the book already has major verb tense confusion:

I am the wizard Translucence and the year was 1503.

The punctuation is devil-may-care and haphazard, as are the spelling and grammar. “Its” and “it’s” are used interchangeably, as are “they’re”, “there” and “their”. At several points throughout the book, the author appears to have forgotten what he’d already said—or lost the ability to scroll up on his word processor—and inserts sudden interjections like, “oh, but did I mention”, and “oh, I forgot to say such-and-such”. Some words are inexplicably capitalized, only to be written lowercase later in the text.

The descriptive language is just as avant garde in nature. This is one of my favorite quotes:

Another enchantment, I instantly thought as the veins on my neck puffed in horror.

I have no idea what “neck veins puffing in horror” looks like, but I imagine something akin to a bullfrog when threatened.

And the story itself. Oh, dear, sweet Lord, the story. It jumps around, introducing plot developments suddenly and without warning. The entire thing appears to have been written in one sitting, the author overcome with the white heat of drunken inspiration. “Leave the Wine Glass Lay” truly jumps the gap between good and bad, moving with Nietzschean boldness into that netherworld beyond good and evil.

But oh, did I mention that “Leave the Wine Glass Lay” wasn’t the initial book I came here to discuss, dear reader? No, the book that truly makes my neck veins puff up in horror is none other than “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

* * * *

The above-quoted Japanese proverb illustrates the ideal of perfection—something that walks that delicate balance between hard and soft, undercooked and overcooked—in Japanese culture. It is my opinion that the same principle applies to something that is of poor quality. For writing to be truly bad, it can’t be overly bad, like Jackie O Brien’s book of wizardly adventures. His book is too bad to really even be considered bad, in my opinion. Nay, I believe that truly bad writing must be just bad enough to frustrate the reader without amusing him/her.

Enter “Fifty Shades of Grey”, stage left.

The most infuriating thing about the entire “Fifty Shades” trilogy is that it walks that delicate, Japanese line of balance and equilibrium. It is not nearly good enough to be worth reading. However, it is not quite bad enough to be entertaining. “Fifty Shades” is just bad enough to be truly bad writing—drab, poorly constructed, unsophisticated. Its badness is, well—grey.

I am reminded of M. Scott Peck’s description of evil as “gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring”. [People of the Lie, p. 264.] And of C. S. Lewis’s depiction of Hell as a gray, drizzly English city with nothing particularly interesting about it. True evil is not exciting or interesting—it is uncreative and pedestrian.

Perhaps more infuriating than its mundane badness, however, is the fact that people pay money for “Fifty Shades”. At least “Leave the Wine Glass Lay” has been left “laying” on the shelf. E. L. James’s erotica stories have become a cultural phenomenon, sparking a mini-industry of merchandise, knock-offs, parodies, late night talk show references, and even involving the participation of Gilbert Gottfried.

Well, if you can’t beat them, join them.

I decided to climb on board the sticky, dubiously-stained bandwagon of the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon and write a satirical work of my own. My book, “Pirates of the Danube”, is not a direct parody of the S & M trilogy per se, however; rather, it is an homage to an entire genre of rambling romance-erotica tales. It is part “Fifty Shades”, part Harlequin romance, part “Leave the Wine Glass Lay”, and 100% awesome.

And it will be available for free this weekend. See below for details.

-David J. Schmidt

*One note on the Japanese proverb quoted above:

I wasn’t able to find the actual folk proverb, so I just inserted a quote from the opening credits to the Japanese cartoon Dragonball Z instead. But I swear, that proverb about properly cooked rice exists somewhere in Japan—a real Japanese man told it to me once, while he shared a bottle of vodka with me in southern Russia. But that’s a different story for a different time.

David J. Schmidt is the author of the satirical romance novel, “Pirates of the Danube”, as well as its sequel, “The Baron Rides Again”. The former, “Pirates of the Danube”, will be available on the Kindle store for free this Passover / Palm Sunday weekend, March 23 and 24.

Schmidt has received various recognitions for his charitable contributions toward the preservation of Peyronie’s Disease. In 2004, he was granted knighthood by the Basque Republic, becoming Sir David J. Schmidt for the following three years. The title was stripped from him by the United Nations Council on Fallacious Royal Families in 2007. Schmidt lives with his beloved ex-wife of 14 years, his two cats, and his indentured servant. He can be reached via his blog, www.donguero.blogspot.com or via email at thebaroninsideyou@gmail.com

See this link to find the book on Kindle:

17 March 2013

Another Picture Story With Oil Paintings

Tim and I visited the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens last weekend while on a short getaway hiatus. Sometimes you have to break from the humdrum of coming up with new material and just let it come naturally. So please excuse my latest digression with my Xtranormal hack last week. Though it came about naturally, it was a bit gratuitous.

I now present to you the beauty I found in Jacksonville Beach. I will comment briefly on each piece of art and why I liked it. Forgive me, but I did not document the artists' names for each of these. Some are from the same era, others you will know they were created by the same artist.

Here we go!

These are oils on canvas, which garners a great deal of respect being I used to paint with oils. The artists here depict so much in their paintings, it's impossible for me to get it right, not having been part of the different eras. But, doesn't it look like the women and the animals are doing all the work? What's up with the two men relaxing and enjoying this leisurely ride? Get off your asses and do something. Holy crap.

This is a lovely picture below. Is it vanity? I guess if she were in the presence of others, this might be considered a bit off color. Wait, this reminds me of the present day. Yes, she looks like every other person in a restaurant obsessing over their phones.

Seriously, I immediately felt like the painting was of a prostitute because back in these days, I wouldn't think that hookers would be out on the street. They would be hidden away like this, in their rooms, waiting on the gentlemen to come calling. Is this not your impression?

The portrait below haunts me for some reason. Tim says it's her eyes. I'm convinced it's the flowers. It's like she's barely holding onto them, and they're wilted. She's happy, but sad. Freaky combination, but it works.

The ladies in the painting below are not prostitutes. They are wealthy women.

But, how do you know this, Diane?

Because poor women would be at home cooking dinner for the family, and prostitutes are hidden upstairs in pink, frilly garments.

Another prostitute? I'm not hung up on ladies of the night, it's just that women are depicted differently in social situations or when there's work to be done, in which case their breasts are exposed (go look at that first painting again if you don't recall).

When alone, they appear sad and reflective. I'm starting to develop a theme here and it's not the type of theme I'm liking.

This girl ain't having that. Just look at the expression on her face. Doesn't it look like she's seeing the same theme? Is she trying to tell me something here? Is that little girl tired of doing all the work while her little brother runs off to the streets to play stick-ball or to the river to fish? Indeed!

Well, I hope you enjoyed these pieces of art as much as I did. Whatever story they tell, it would be different each time. Try it, I think you will have fun. Start with the first painting. What's going on in that picture? Then with each picture that follows, what do you see?

The title of this picture story? Admit First, Liberate Second.

15 March 2013

X is for Xtranormal Voodoo Dolls

I'm sorry, but I cannot go through the rest of the alphabet fast enough to get to the letter X, so I'm cheating. I imagine X is the most difficult letter to use in this series, especially for a blog themed around anything to do with writing and the manipulation of characters as does happen in every novel.

While I was contemplating a blog post, thinking I'd have at least another month to find a word which begins with the letter X, I found a place where I could give two of my characters a voice of their own. What do they do? They boycott me. Ungrateful shits.

Voodooz Movie
by: Diane Carlisle

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14 March 2013

N is for Narration

10 Signs Your Narration is Failing

  1. You're writing in 1st person POV and every sentence starts with an "I" or "My".
  2. There is no white space on the first page of your manuscript.
  3. It takes you 3 sentences to describe what should only take you a few choice words.
  4. The first page of your manuscript reminds you of the Star Wars opening crawl.
  5. Your manuscript contains a mixture of past and present tense verbs...everywhere.
  6. A scan for the word "that" in the first two chapters of your manuscript retrieves a count of 89. Likewise for the linking verb "was".
  7. The first page of your manuscript makes you think been there, done that.
  8. There exists a typographical error on the first page of your manuscript, worse...it's in the first paragraph.
  9. You haven't mastered the use of there, their, and they're.
  10. Your narrator herd a noise instead of heard it.

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11 March 2013

Leprechaun Poem Now You See Me

This month's prompt at Absolute Write:
What the Leprechaun Said

Yep, it's March. The theme is one of general St. Patrick-ness, so don't worry if you're not comfortable with writing fantasy creatures like the 'Chauns.

Here is more mischief from the little guy. It's a poem I wrote many years ago. I just haven't shared it much with anyone. Also, I list more participants at the end. Visit their take on the Leprechaun, and as always, we love lots of feedback!

Now you see me, now you don't
Come and get me if you want
I can show you things that shine
You will be a friend of mine

I am evil, I am good
I am mostly misunderstood
Having fun and causing strife
Makes a difference in my life

Be it here or be it there
You will find me everywhere
Follow me and you will see
Treasures and gifts abound for thee

I hide behind this wicked mask
Though find it's not a pleasant task
To sometimes have to lie to you
And lead you down a path that's true

Participants and posts:
orion_mk3 -  (link to post)
robeiae -  (link to post)
writingismypassion -  (link to post)
Sudo_One -  (link to post)
randi.lee -  (link to post)
pyrosama -  (You are HERE)
katci13 -  (link to post)
MsLaylaCakes -  (link to post)
Angyl78 -  (link to post)
KitCat -  (link to post)
Bloo -  (link to post)
dlclary -  (link to post)
ConnieBDowell -  (link to post)
Lady Cat -  (link to post)
Araenvo -  (link to post)
MichaelP -  (link to post)
Ralph Pines -  (link to post)
mdgreene50 - (link to post)
dolores haze -  (link to post)

SRHowen -  (link to post)
areteus -  (link to post)
meowzbark -  (link to post)

03 March 2013

M is for a Manuscript Snippet

I had a hard time coming up with a topic for the letter M, so I thought I'd share some of my work with you instead. I feel like I'm always sharing things I learn from various workshops and online writing courses, but I don't really share much of what I've been working on in the realm of fiction writing.

Here's a snippet from chapter eight of my current WIP, Precinct 9.

Lyle snapped a photo of the wound against a retractable tape measure.
Kelly quickly wrote down the findings. The mixture in the air of death and ammonia invaded suddenly. She un-wrapped her Peppermint gum and folded it into her mouth. 
The doctor covered the top portion of the subject’s body and lifted the bottom of the tarp. The subject’s legs, placed at an angle 20 degrees from one another, exposed the horror of what had happened to Jennifer Whorley. Kelly looked away, but the rips and lacerations on the young woman’s body would remain with her forever. Corpse. It’s a corpse. She straightened her shoulders and looked back at the injuries. 
Lyle made his way to the other side of the table. His unaffected, emotionless expression and his professional demeanor made him a monster for the moment and Kelly felt tears but forced them away. Is this what she’d become? 
Dr. Stinson paused. “The tissue in the walls of the vaginal canal and the tears and lacerations to the Labias Minora and Majora are indicative of violation after the onset of rigor mortis.”
The nausea in the pit of Kelly’s stomach spread quickly and a slow, warming prickle crept up her spine.
Again, the camera. Flash.
Who does this? Who takes someone away from this world and then violates their body like this? How does one explain this to a parent?

The numbness in her heart seemed to create a warp speed for the rest of the autopsy - the various swabs, bone fragment extractions, organ slicing, and cut up parts placed discreetly into a plastic trash bag and dumped into the victim's gaping body cavity.
Kelly excused herself when the doctor pulled out a Hagedorn needle and heavy twine. There would be nothing to gain by witnessing the sewing of the body. Not after the damage had been done.

Would you want to read more of this manuscript? Let me know why or why not.

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