SOLDIER—Free Book!

White Mesa Chronicles Book 1:

Fledgling militia officer Tommy Thaxton is used to scavenge missions in the ruined city. He’s not used to being in charge of his team of young men…but he can handle it. They all can handle it. It’s just a simple scavenge mission.

Until things go horribly wrong, and Tommy’s team finds themselves facing a full-scale gang attack – something their superiors never anticipated.

Now, getting home on schedule is the least of Tommy’s worries. Getting the entire team home alive is much more important.


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Notre Dame vs. Notre Pere – Every Cathedral Will Burn

Notre Dame vs. Notre Pere – Every Cathedral Will Burn — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Yahoo news

This week came the shocking news: the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris burned.

We don’t have a television, so it was even more surreal for me to happen upon a public TV and sees shots of the iconic cathedral wreathed in flames.

While now it seems only the roof and spire were destroyed, it’s something that can’t be undone. 850 years of history and more, gone. Some suggest that France does not even have large enough trees to repair the damage.

The whole thing was even more poignant to me since I just watched a video essay about The Hunchback of Notre Dame and how Disney’s version (and the other film adaptations) differed from Victor Hugo’s original vision…which was basically to focus on the cathedral itself, how architecture was used to convey values, and how the written word was rendering that practice obsolete (video link here – language cautions).

Why bother talking about this? Well, it got me thinking – as many things do…

Buildings Decay

If you’ve read the books of Kings and Chronicles, you’ll recall that the Temple of God that Solomon built in Jerusalem kept needing to be repaired (and the kings Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah all raised money for that purpose). (See 2 Chron. 24; 2 Kings 17-20; 2 Chron. 29-30; 2 Kings 22-23; and 2 Chron. 34.) Continue reading

Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s Sheep Toy

That stupid sheep toy of Ezekiel’s…

We spent three long days in the VIP quarters, letting our front-line fighters heal up. Mikael and I had plenty of time to cook things with the vegetables from the storeroom, and Raven kept trying to get us to drink some of his looted wine. (He shouldn’t have smirked like that while he was offering it.)

Well, finally we were all healed up, and started preparing our gear to go back out there.

Ezekiel had this little sheep toy made out of sheepskin – he said he got it from his mentor (y’know, the one who told him about Ao his deity). As he was tucking it in the top of his pack, he unrolled that scroll of Cure Light Wounds we found earlier, and the writing still wasn’t faded from it.

“Praise Ao,” he said. “I still have Cure Light Wounds spells!”

Yeah. That was Ezekiel.

We headed out again – across the lake in the boat, past the dead bodies of the lizardmen we killed, and into the twisty hallway beyond.

“Do you smell something?” asked Ezekiel. “Something like rotting human flesh?”

All Kelsier and I smelled was the lizard stench – which is pretty powerful.

As Lancell turned the corner up ahead, he cried, “I think I found your rotting flesh, Ezekiel!”

Ezekiel, of course, was beside him and exclaimed, “That’s a lot of zombies! Everybody back up to the door!”

Well, I was already at the door, since I hadn’t gotten into the hallway yet, so Kelsier and I readied our bows while the Magic Users backed up past us.

“What are you doing with that little sheep toy, Ezekiel?” asked Mikael, peeking around the corner.

Next thing I heard was Lancell exclaiming.

“Wow! All clear,” came Ezekiel’s voice.

Ezekiel. Performing Turn Undead. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE WORLD EZEKIEL ACTUALLY HAD A SPELL??

The rest of us crowded forward to where the passage opened into a room, where Ezie and Lancell were laughing and shaking their heads.

“I figured it out,” cried Ezekiel, waving the sheep thing over his head. “This Lamb is the holy symbol of Ao, and He granted us the power to Turn these Undead into dust!”

I looked around, but all I saw was a lot of dust piles. Raven made a holy gesture to Merikka, and Mikael looked impressed, too.

(Someone asked if they were the guards we had killed, and Lancell thought that, from the wound placement and the clothes, that they probably were.)

I…I still can’t get it. Ezekiel spent all those years praying for spells, and never got any, and now – boom, he turned fifteen zombies into dust just by showing them his sheep toy Holy Lamb Symbol.

    

We kept going. The only path onward was a staircase, leading further down. I grunted something to Kelsier about how many levels this “dungeon” had…it’d be just our luck for Explictika Defilas to bury herself under 100 levels of charmed minions.

This time, none of us slid down the stairs, and we reached the bottom safely. There, we found a huge mud puddle, but for once it had stepping stones across. We chose the path with the most dry land, and that led us to yet another underground lake (no boat) and a door, which we got open.

Behind the door…something that looked pretty undead. Parts of its face were falling off, and it shuffled toward Ezekiel and Lancell with a groan.

Lancell stabbed it with the magic short sword we looted off the guard-officers earlier this week, and the second time Ezekiel waved his sheep toy at it, it kind of whimpered and turned around, letting Lancell cut it down.

Coming off the corridor beyond, we found a row of cages, with four human prisoners.

Ezekiel (of course – Mr. Minister) introduced himself and started Raven and Kelsier working on the locks of the cages.

(I was all paranoid that they were mind-controlled, but the man explained when they were taken to the snake-lady and she said they would be her slaves, that he said “no” – and the little boy and girl who were there said the same thing. There was also a woman who didn’t say much.)

The man is from Hook Hill, while the two kids are from Orlane (surprise!) and their parents were charmed by Her (the carpenter – be cautious when we return).

We couldn’t get all the locks open, but that’s when I remembered the turnip sandwiches I had stashed in my pack – and Raven handed over some of his truly terrible wine. Your heart really goes out to those people when you see them staring at that food like it’s the best stuff they’ve ever seen.

Ezekiel gave the man his spare mace, and Raven gave the woman one of his daggers that he looted from the armory upstairs.

We all decided we weren’t in a position to escort them to a safer place, so after giving them food and torches, Ramne “locked” the door in that special wizard way. Now nothing can get at the prisoners, and if we lived we could go back for them.

Yeah…if we lived…

That corridor ended in another door. Lancell and Ezekiel opened it, and immediately took fighting stances.

Through the door, I could see someone in flashy robes with a decked-out hammer, and someone in rags rushing forward to engage us.

Kelsier and I nocked arrows, while Raven zipped around us and threw a dagger.

As the fight spread out, I was able to move into the room and saw the altar behind the cleric – yet another snake-lady statue sitting on it.

Raven tore down the room and ducked behind the priest and tried to punch him (you wouldn’t know it from looking at his robes, but that guy can really move!).

Well, Raven didn’t totally distract the cleric from the rest of us on the other side of the room, because he waved his hands and said some words and then I couldn’t see.

Apart from a few cries of surprise, it suddenly got really quiet – except for some grunts from Raven.

I blinked as the room lit up again – the door standing against the wall, behind Ramne, was shining brightly.

I got another arrow off and dinged the cleric. While Ezekiel and Lancell pounded on the assistant, Mikael ran forward and clonked the cleric a good one with his staff – all while Raven was darting back and forth, trying to keep away from the cleric and keep him off balance (and took a couple hard whacks for his trouble).

And then – it was over. Lancell stepped forward and finished off the cleric, and we stood breathing heavily and looking at each other.

Ezekiel whipped out his scroll and stood over the bleeding Raven, while we checked out the cleric’s gear.

His hammer was fancy, for sure, with the head fashioned like a snake head – but Lancell declared it less effective than what we had.

Ezekiel did find some keys on him, which we took.

Something about the altar didn’t look right to me (and not just in the Evil sense). I was going over that – and the back wall – trying to decide what I was feeling when Raven took the idol and hurled it against the altar – smash! (Can’t blame him, since this creature came and charmed his over-priests and defiled his goddess’s temple, but it is becoming a fetish.)

Smashing the statue on the altar must have shaken something loose, because a wooden panel slid down – and next thing you know, Kelsier ran forward and was helping me open a secret door.

Raven was completely healed by Ezie’s scroll (in fact, he looked a tad younger than he had before), so Lancell and Ezekiel strode forward to take point.

And through the secret door…just inside…oh, my…

It was Her. In the flesh. One hundred times bigger than the statues we’d seen, and that much uglier, too…coily snake body and a woman’s head.

She whipped around to look at us, gave a funny little smile, and stared at Lancell.

They charged. Ramne muttered something, then yelled, “Stay close to me if you can!”

Mikael waved his hands in a Druid spell, and then her outline glittered and shone, like my instincts were honing in on the shot.

She snarled and lashed out at Ezekiel…and…he dropped to the ground like a stone.

Jill fired her Magic Missile (it shot past me all fiery and white) and Lancell struck a blow that would have taken off a limb if the slimy freak had limbs.

With Raven’s loud prayers to Merikka in my ears, Kelsier and I took our shots – and landed arrows smack in that scaly hide.

And then Master Ramne said some strange words in a kind of echoey voice, and I flinched as a searing white bolt of lightening shot past my shoulder and hit Explictika Defilas in her uncanny, woman-ish face.

She shrieked, and twisted, and shriveled like an earthworm, and flopped on the ground with a long exhalation.

I think we all stood rooted for a split second.

Then I was kneeling over Ezekiel…and he wasn’t breathing…and I dug the Cure scroll out of his pack, but I couldn’t even pronounce the words, let alone cast them. I asked Ramne if he had a poison cure (and he didn’t) and Lancell (he has a “Cure Disease” because of course he does, but nothing for naga poison) and Mikael (who thinks he might in like three levels but not yet).

Kelsier was digging in the pile of treasure that Evil Defilas used as a sitting cushion, and came back with a leather bag.

“Look,” he said, and put his arm in all the way, and then took it out. “There’s a lot of gold here, too, and skulls…but we’re probably not interested in the skulls.”

Yeah. Great. Dandy. Gold and new boots and lots of other weird stuff. I did dig through the pile for a potion of some kind, but of course one bottle looks much like another.

And every time I came back to Ezekiel, he hadn’t moved. I don’t think his heart is beating.

Raven folded himself into that monk-ish pose, and started praying to Merikka: “I don’t know Ezekiel’s God Ao, but you know Him, Merikka – so would you please petition Him on behalf of His servant Ezekiel?”

Guess I’ll do the same with Ehlonna.

WHY? So I get You don’t care much about having clerics, since You put so little effort into them – and never gave Ezekiel spells – but then You turn around and honor Your symbol (if that’s what it is) and let a brand new, untrained cleric ABSOLUTELY DISINTEGRATE fifteen zombies, and then You just let Your cleric DIE?

I’m so confused.

Ezekiel was kind of bossy, and also straight-laced, and just had to be involved in everything, and had to make himself the one to talk to everybody (like citizens and stuff) and he somehow thought I couldn’t possibly handle myself (like being nineteen somehow makes me immature) and now after all this time telling me about a God that nobody else thinks exists (but maybe He does? how would I know) after all that he’s just…gone.

One slash from – You Know Who. And now You Know Who is dead and rotting, and we’ve chopped the head off her whole cult…but Ezekiel is just lying there and he didn’t even twitch when I waved his “holy symbol” in his face.

Stupid, stupid Ezekiel, who thinks he has to teach me how to properly check the enemies’ pockets, and properly make turnip stew, and like I can’t handle being in the front with Lancell because Kelsier is way stronger than I am and so what if he is? I’m not a kid, and Ezekiel doesn’t have to be in charge of everything –

EXCEPT NOW HE’S NOT IN CHARGE AND HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?

And anyway, Gracious Ehlonna, please pass on – assuming Ao is the great God of the Gods who oversees everything – please just mention to Him that this really doesn’t make sense and I’m confused so thanks…if only there was a Resurrection or something…


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia Wood

Image courtesy of Author Kristen Lamb

I love free stuff. I can’t count the number of free ebooks I have on my computer, and I’m notorious for collecting free leftover food for our chickens.

But maybe enough is enough.

It all started when I read these posts from Kristen Lamb, who blogs about writing, the author business, and having a mentality to succeed. You should really read her posts to get the full impact of her arguments – “How Free is Poisoning the Internet and Killing the Creatives” and “Welcome to the Matrix: You Work For Free and There Is No Payday”, along with others, I’m sure – but here’s the gist…

Savvy Businessman Meets Idealistic Creative

She outlines how content providers (middlemen like Amazon, Apple, Huffington Post, and others) get content from the producers (authors write books and articles; performers give shows; singers produce songs) and offer that content to consumers (the mass public).

Consumers love entertainment, articles, music, etc. The businesses in the middle get paid by advertisers, so they offer a lot of content for Free.

Consumers love Free. I love free. Most of my news or research is found for free online. I love free music, and I love free books.

The sticky part comes in when the actual creators of the work need to be paid.

The Payment Model

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia Wood

Kitty death glare…

Mrs. Lamb says the modern market is operating on an outdated model. Used to be, young, inexperienced authors/actors/singers worked internships for little or nothing…to build bridges, get their name out, and hone their skills.

What makes Mrs. Lamb see red is asking experienced, professional, and high-quality producers to do the same thing.

The Huffington Post is her whipping boy, because they openly make millions from ad revenue, but don’t pay any of their contributors for the content they place on their site. (Smart business move for them…bad deal for the writers.)

Remember: I love free articles. But I agree that making authors feel like the site is doing them a favor by using their content (without paying them to use it) is under-handed.

The Vicious Cycle

Read Mrs. Lamb’s full posts…they’re long, but there are more examples in there:

  • Performers expected to do their show pro bono at a conference because someone famous is hosting.
  • Speakers invited to workshops, but not even offered enough money to cover traveling and food expenses (because she’s supposed to teleport there, I guess).
  • Authors down-rated in a review because their debut book isn’t free, even though they’re a new author (it’s in one of the comments, but I don’t remember where).

Mrs. Lamb’s solution is author organization: authors as a body saying, “Our work is worth something, or you wouldn’t be making such a killing with it. We’re done handing it out for free; we have kids to feed and college to pay for the same as you.”

If you liked it, you should have put a ring on it

Addicted to Free

Once these articles opened my eyes, I started seeing this in other places around us. Our culture really is addicted to free…from free healthcare to free rent to free food to free education.

But generalities are hard to grasp. Let me zoom in the lens.

  • “Kelly” (our foster kids’ mom) got free rent from the state. She and her kids never picked up their wrappers, never cleaned (I’m not sure they did laundry), and didn’t know how to cook. Every time her apartment got too roach-ridden, she would move…without warning the landlord, or even bothering to pack her stuff. It was mostly all hand-outs, anyway. She never paid for any of it, so she didn’t value it.
  • A recent customer at my day job took down forty bolts of fabric to look at. Five minutes before closing. At the manager’s subtle disbelief, the customer displayed no remorse, blamed the whole thing on her daughter, acted oblivious to all the work she was putting others to, and left with her purchase without so much as a “Sorry for making such a mess” or “I’ll help put these back”. The associates were left putting away fabric for ten minutes after closing time. The lady didn’t have to pick them up, so she didn’t care (or maybe didn’t even notice)…”Entitled” is the word someone used.

We’re so disconnected from where things come from, that we don’t value them. I’m super glad I don’t have to butcher my own chickens for my casserole, or fatten my own pig for my ham…but when we don’t pay for anything with our own, hard-earned money, we don’t value it so much.

Let’s Go From Preaching to Meddling

Healthcare. I think my country’s healthcare is pretty good. At the very least, we can walk into the MRI clinic in my hometown and be served…without having to wait ten weeks like in Canada!

State-funded healthcare is just another example of how consumers have been programed to expect everything to be given to them. Even when co-pays or private clinics outside the system could help everyone seeking healthcare, we can’t imagine dipping into our own pockets for a doctor’s visit.

Living Generously

This whole issue lines up with some other things God has been teaching us recently.

A few weeks ago, our washing machine broke…and so did our dryer, the truck’s tire, and the furnace.

I started thinking, “I wonder how God’s going to provide the money for all this?”

After it was resolved, I realized, “He might have just said: You don’t need a washing machine right now.”

Let’s face it: I live a pretty cushy life. There’s a lot around here that I don’t exactly need.

But I’ve been given so much. How can I live in such a way that I hold it with an open hand?

I’m not talking about “Oh, I’m going to give X amount to charity now, because I read a sob story and feel bad about being well off.”

No. I mean a lifestyle change, an attitude change…a Holy Spirit-fueled change!

Generous on Whose Part?

So, yes, God wants us to “give what we’ve decided in our hearts, freely and without coercion” (Kimia’s paraphrase of 2 Cor. 9:7).

But He also said this part:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

—1 Tim. 5: 17-18 (ESV)

The worker is worth his pay.

The definition of “slavery” is “working, under coercion, without getting paid.” Now, there are different ways of being paid:

  • You perform your songs because it’s fun, so the experience and just having an audience are the reward.
  • You send a copy of your book to a beta reader/critique reader in exchange for feedback. Helping you grow as a writer is how they repay you.
  • You believe in helping fatherless children, so you volunteer your time as a mentor. That’s supporting something you believe in.
  • You write because you love the act of writing, and you publish on Amazon because you want to order yourself copies and just hold that gorgeous baby in your hands.
  • You love your mother and help her with chores because she needs the help, and of course you would help her.

All these are perfectly valid and worthwhile elements. But notice that every single one of them is a decision you made about your work and your compensation.

You didn’t say anything about me and my books. That’s not something you have the right to decide.

Bringing It Full Circle

This all started with an article about writers. If you, or I, want to give our work away for free…more power to us.

What gets Kristen Lamb livid is the “entitlement” of others who act like they deserve our labor and our product for nothing.

Like Apple’s streaming service offering consumers three months of free songs (until the musicians stood up for each other and said, “Not with our paycheck, you’re not”).

Or like a website I recently ran across where readers can request a book in order to review it (all for free)…but authors pay a monthly subscription to host their books.

I get it – websites take money to host. And a review is kind of a compensation (though the government won’t let you “give” anything “in exchange for” a review). Before I read Mrs. Lamb’s blog posts, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it.

But now it occurs to me that this is exactly upside down to how it “should” be.

In Soviet Russia, authors pay for you to read books…

Recognize the Value We Provide

Entertainment is a valuable product…otherwise, people wouldn’t be so eager to consume it. There’s nothing wrong in letting the actual creators of this product enjoy the fruits of their labor (in the form of paychecks).

“Nothing wrong”? How about: “It’d be a good thing”!

(Obviously, if nobody wants to read Joe Someone’s book, that’s not our problem. We shouldn’t pay for t-shirts we don’t even own! But if everyone is crazy about Joe’s book, then we should totally pay Joe for his book – and not get it off that piracy site instead!)

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia WoodNot only will paying for things benefit our attitude, but they might even lead to more content.

If authors and entertainers work their butts off but never get enough money to put food on the table, eventually some of them (if not most of them) will give up and do something else. Imagine a world without TV shows, movies, or new books and songs…

However, if we “vote with our money” on the stories and artists we like the most, that will encourage those creators to make even more content! Like a series of books? Writing the author an encouraging note never hurts…but monetary incentive wouldn’t be misplaced, either 🙂

Let the Change Affect Me

Well, all these elements started me on some hard decisions. To live more deliberately, and more generously, I’m going to consider some changes:

Towards Other People

  • If I like a song enough to look up the music video on YouTube…maybe I also like it enough to actually buy it from the actual artist? (Or even buy the whole CD?!?)
  • If I enjoy a free book and want to support the author, maybe I can do more than write a review…maybe I can buy one of their other books and read it, too?

Towards My Own Work

  • I work hard on my projects, and it shows in their quality. Even though I’m content for my writing to not be my main income, I don’t want to feed this vicious cycle.
  • Giving my work away for free trains people to crave FREE FREE FREE. It reinforces the whole paradigm we struggled with above. And I’m no longer convinced it gets more people to actually read my work.
  • It breaks my heart to charge for my work, because I know how much I love FREE and don’t want to be a hypocrite. But I also don’t want to be part of the further degradation of the market as a whole.
  • Besides, I think I personally have reached the point of Decreasing Marginal Returns with free ebooks. Used to be, I snapped them up left and right. Now, it’s no longer an automatic “Add to Cart”…probably because I’ve decided I should actually read them if I get them.
  • Finally…MY BOOKS ARE WORTH IT! The written word is a subjective product (unlike, say, a t-shirt), but I’ve gotten enough feedback from enough different people that it’s not just me talking…I’M A GOOD WRITER. And there’s no shame in charging money for my product!

And maybe, just maybe, charging money will make any reader who takes a chance on me value my books more than they otherwise would.

Maybe they’ll read them…and review them…and tell all their friends…and have fun in the worlds I’ve created.

Will the Change Affect You?

This isn’t just about how much I love free stuff. This is about acknowledging the value of people’s time and labor.

This is about valuing one another…being grateful for what we have…and generously saying, “I don’t need all this.”

What hard decisions will you be led to? How can you “live generously” in a world driven by FREE?

Will you take a hard look at the costs of our culture…and dare to do something about your part of it? (Not someone else’s part – yours.)


Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring novelist, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, gaming, writing, hobby-farming…and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! (Yeah, I know…it’s still free.) You’ll also receive occasional updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

Or visit the book page to see what cool new stuff she’s working on!

Dear Diary…Party vs. Doors

The night passed…I won’t say peacefully, because there seemed to be a lot of traffic in the corridor outside, but it did pass. And we were able to nurse our wounds and rest up.

On venturing out, we explored the tunnels to the south and west. There we found some nice quarters with a fireplace and comfy chairs. A corridor back behind it led to bedrooms with…four beds.

As someone (maybe Lancell) pointed out, we killed three officers outside the guardrooms yesterday.

The last door was locked, and took a combined effort to break down. A desk stood in the corner, with a statuette of a snake with a woman’s face.

While Raven was trying to break the statue of the creature that had “defiled his goddess’ temple”, Kelsier found and unlocked a chest from underneath the bed.

There was a swirly, glowing symbol beside the lock, but Ezekiel opened the chest anyway and seemed to be fine.

Inside we found a robe, a mace, and a scroll.

Ramne took one look at the robe and growled. It’s black and crimson – apparently the colors of a spirit naga, which he said is bad.

If Master Ramne says it’s bad, I guess it’s bad.

Ezekiel took a look at the scroll, and gave a thank-you prayer to Ao.

“Look,” he called to us. “Ao gave me the Cure Light Wounds spell I asked for this morning!”

Well, what do you know about that? I’m all for being grateful to Good deities, I guess. Little did I know how much we’d need that scroll.

Well, Ezie also snagged the mace (as a spare) but we left the robe.

Exploring some more, we came to a door that wouldn’t open – but that’s not exactly a surprise down here. There’s so much moisture in…everywhere.

Lancell and Ezekiel sprinkled a little dirt on themselves while them were hauling on the door, and when they finally did get it open a great ton of mud crashed down on their heads!

As I ran forward from the back of the line, I saw Ezekiel stretched out, face covered with mud.

Lancell “Laid Hands” on him, which let him stand up, but he was pretty shaky and achy. We all decided Kelsier should be in the lead with Lancell, while Ezekiel helped me guard the rear.

(He’s got this crazy idea that I can’t protect myself. Like I didn’t leave home at fourteen to live with my Ranger Master. He and Archy would get along so well.)

Anyway, after all that, there wasn’t anything in the room except several kegs…presumably of beer. If we happen to get thirsty, I guess we’ll come back for it.

South of the VIP quarters, we found a boat on the shore of a little lake. Piling in, Ezekiel and Raven rowed us across. At the very edge of our torchlight, we could see the glinting eyes of crocodiles…but thankfully they ignored us and we crossed the opposite shore safely.

At the end of this new corridor was a door. The moment we opened the door, there was a cry, and something rushed us.

Two lizard-like humanoids fought us. Those slit eyes give me the shivers!

And the stench! Poor Kelsier staggered and bent over, and while the rest of us managed to keep it together, it wasn’t an easy fight.

Jill cast her Magic Missile (she won’t let me call it her magicky lightening bolt anymore) which is good ’cause we needed all the help we could get.

No sooner had we killed the first two than the door beyond flew open and in rushed more of the filthy beasties!

And Lancell got stabbed. You know it’s bad when the Paladin gets hurt.

Ezekiel whipped out his scroll and started reading aloud.

Ramne muttered and waved his hands, and the leading lizardman dropped to the floor, snoring loudly.

Didn’t phase his companions any – they just crowded up to the door, eager to hack at us.

Ezekiel read through the scroll twice (he says there was a second copy at the bottom) and Lancell’s wounds closed.

Kelsier was wheezing badly (and he’s not so good with a sword as his bow, I guess) so he dropped to his knees and killed the sleeping lizard-thing.

Raven flung daggers into the enemy (I didn’t see whether he hit anything) and Mikael and Jill went to it with their staves.

When the dust cleared, six total lizardlings lay stretched out, dead. All of us were standing, which is really an improvement if you think about it…but we were still beat up.

Mikael helped me loot the lizardy humanoids. They had money pouches which added up to a decent sum…but not worth coming here just for that.

Lancell and Ezekiel were both in a bad way, and enough of the rest of us had scratches that we all decided to go back to the VIP quarters and rest up. It’s only mid-morning, but we won’t make it very far in this condition.

This place is kind of weird, like “Empty hallway, empty hallway, empty – LOOK SOMETHING THAT CAN TOTALLY KILL YOU!”

It’s a little boring, sitting here behind our barred door, listening to our companions’ snores. (And Lancell has quite a snore for his age.) But we need to stick together. We need each other.

And besides I can daydream about how I’m going to skin that weasel. Y’know…that enormous, so-big weasel…


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…Battle-o-rama

So much for a quiet afternoon.

We holed up in the guards’ bunk-rooms to let our wounded companions recover. But only a few hours had passed before I heard something in the corridor outside…munching.

Summoning Mikael and Kelsier for backup, I peeked out the door.

In the darkness and shadows, a giant lizard was chewing on one of the guards’ bodies. Well, that’s unsanitary and disrespectful, and I decided to interfere.

Maybe the torchlight confused it (or the guard was really tasty) because it didn’t react to us right away.

The beam of light from the door threw some weird shadows, so my first arrow went high. After that, Kelsier and I both nailed the creature, and it leapt forward to engage.

Mikael helped us take it down, and though it took a bite out of my cloak, none of us got hurt.

To prevent more nonsense like that, we dragged the dead bodies into an unused guardroom. Besides, we had some time to burn while we waited for Ezekiel and Raven to heal up a bit.

Not too long after we’d locked ourselves in again, someone came down the passage and pounded on the door across the way.

He shouted some things like, “Open up, you fools! No time for stupid jokes. I’m getting Jarvis!”

Then he went away.

Within minutes, Ezekiel and Lancell knocked on our door.

“We have company coming! Let us in, so we can ambush them from this room.”

So our whole party crowded into one room, and our lead fighters readied themselves behind the door. Raven was still snickering; apparently he asked the man for a password or something.

Footsteps came down the corridor, then the opposite door echoed with pounding.

“Open up. You’re in big trouble; She won’t be happy to hear you’re neglecting your duty!”

Lancell threw open the door and charged out with the magically shining shield on his arm. A man in scale mail stood there with two fighters at his back. They stared, open-mouthed, while we swung our weapons.

We had the poor guys outnumbered, but they still put up a worthy fight. They seemed to still have their memories, their names, their thinking abilities…but their loyalties were totally invested in Her. Which made them our devoted enemies.

Poor guys. Still, they had some nice loot.

Once everything was over, Mikael cast Detect Magic to examine one of their short swords, that had a design on the blade.

Turns out, that short sword is magic (somehow), so Kelsier traded up for it. The Enemy Commander’s shield was also magic, so Ezekiel snapped it up. We also looted the commander’s long sword for a spare, and Ezekiel insisted I use a shield, since we now had so many spares of that (since the enemies all had shields).

I tried to tell him that I’m already carrying a bow, a long sword, and a torch (and how many arms does he think I have?!) but he says I need to learn so that I’ll have a better Armor Class.

So now I have a shield hanging on my back. Well, whatever keeps me alive, I guess.

We decided that we weren’t getting any rest anyway, so we should explore some more of the tunnels.

Found a storeroom with food and a weapons rack, and Raven cleaned them out of daggers (he does have a history of losing them, I guess). Come to think of it, Raven has collected a lot of things lately…from their turnips and their wine to their daggers.

Hope this won’t cause problems for us later.

We didn’t meet any more “enemies” except for one thing…I was rear-guard, and heard something skittering up behind us.

When I turned…well, it was the biggest weasel I had ever seen.

As I launched an arrow at it, Kelsier beside me said, “That’s a big weasel.”

Weasels can move really fast. And when they’re that enormous, they move comparatively faster! It charged and made a swipe at me with its teeth, forcing me to switch to my sword.

Raven, who was next in the line, said, “Now that is a big weasel.”

Kelsier nailed it with an arrow. As Raven landed some kind of monk-strike on it, Kelsier muttered, “I’ve never seen a weasel that size.”

We killed it, but not before it took a big chomp out of me. Weasels have wicked sharp teeth, too! I mean, the small ones can be pretty vicious if you’re not careful, but when it’s just that freaking huge…!

While I leaned against the wall and Kelsier tried to make me stop bleeding, Ramne shuffled back to us and handed me a flask.

No idea what was in that stuff, but Wow! it packs a punch. One swig, and I felt much better. He said he only had one more dose, but it put me back on my feet, and that’s what matters for now.

Whew. Burned all the way down, though.

Well, us rear guard caught up with the others, and we started down a corridor we had passed by earlier.

“There’s a mud patch, and a door beyond it,” said Lancell from the front.

“I’ll check it for traps,” said Raven, and dashed forward.

I don’t know what happened (since I’m way in the back) but everybody up front started exclaiming or shouting.

“Don’t touch it,” yelled Ramne.

“It burns,” cried Raven.

“We need some help, here,” shouted Ezekiel. “What do we do?”

Raven came back into view, stumbling, with green goo covering his boots.

“Don’t touch it,” cried Ramne.

Lancell drew his sword and scraped the slime off Raven’s feet. Raven uncorked one of his looted bottles of wine, and doused his feet.

Ezekiel borrowed my torch and ran the flame along Lancell’s sword. The sticky something – whatever it was – bubbled and left a dark, ugly stain behind on the sword.

Good thing we just looted another long sword. Lancell put down the damaged one in disgust, and we retreated from the evil mud puddle.

It was evening out in the lands were the sun shines, so we returned to the guard rooms and bedded down.

This time, we’ll just mind our own business and hope nothing tries to invade us.


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

“The Blackwell Epiphany”

"The Blackwell Epiphany" — Kimia Wood

The Blackwell games are point-and-click puzzle adventures in the paranormal detective genre.

The premise: Rosangela Blackwell (and her aunt Lauren Blackwell) and “mediums” who seek out troubled spirits, help them realize their death, and send them to “the light” of the next world. Joey Mallone is their snarky “spirit guide” who bridges the gap between spirit world and living world.

The first four games blended humor and creepy with some excellent writing, then ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger (especially if you knew there was a sequel).

Blackwell Epiphany is that sequel. While it’s not all I might wish it to be, it ends the series on a high note of emotional story-telling and professional game design. Continue reading

Dear Diary…The Dank, Dark Dungeon of Death

By the time the sun reached the horizon, we had come to the end of the swamp path…and our presumed destination.

Sheltered by a circular dyke, a staircase led down into a hole in the ground. It didn’t look as much like a “cave” as I had expected, but you didn’t have to be a genius to assume we had arrived.

Settling down in the relatively drier area inside the dyke, we arranged watches and prepared to rest through the night.

Tomorrow, well-rested, uninjured, and with prepared spells, we will descend into the Dungeon!

****

What a busy morning!

Right after breakfast, we headed down the staircase – Lancell and Ezekiel first. Master Ramne cast a Light spell on the shield for our leading man, so it would shine out in front – and Raven and I would carry torches in the back.

The wooden steps were very muddy and wet…and Ezekiel lost his footing and took Lancell down to the bottom – bump, bump, bump!

We could hear Ezekiel yell, “Hey, guys!” as he descended into darkness.

Ramne, Mikael, and Jill rolled their eyes and started down – only to lose their footing and join our leaders on their backsides.

Raven and Kelsier (no surprise) kept their footing as they followed, and I stopped laughing long enough to also not make a fool of myself.

As we took our time down the creaking stairs, we could hear the clangs and shouts of combat. By the time the three of us in the back had reached the bottom (about sixty steps later), our companions had killed four guards armed with spears.

The guards had nothing on their persons. Jill commented that they never tried to run away, even when Lancell leveled one with a single stroke.

The room was dirt, about ten feet high, shored up with wooden beams that didn’t look too healthy. Given the option, I wouldn’t trust my head to this place, but what choice do we have? We have to get to the bottom of this.

Three corridors led off from the room. Ezekiel picked the western corridors and hustled us into marching order, bustling Lancell into the front with him.

(Probably he’s just excited to finally be in action, close to solving this thing, but he doesn’t have to act like everybody’s big brother. I mean, come on, we know how to do our jobs, Ezie.)

At the end of the passage stood a wooden door. It was hard to see from way in the back (and having the front of Lancell’s shield shining with light throws weird shadows) but I could hear the two leaders breaking it down.

The people in front shouted in surprise. Frogs!

Lancell, Ezekiel, and Mikael killed them, but they whacked Ezekiel with a tongue before they went down.

The group moved forward so Raven could examine the room with his torch, letting me get a look at the frogs. They were bigger than Kelsier, and lived in a pool that filled the room beyond.

Raven waded into the pool, and found it about waist-high. He reached a muddy ledge over to the left, and called, “There’s a door here, but it’s hard to tell if it goes anywhere.”

Kelsier (obviously) wasn’t excited about traveling through the pool, and neither was I. Who knows what’s in there? After all, where did the frogs come from? Who keeps a pool of giant frogs around?!

We returned to the entryway and took the east corridor.

Four wooden doors opened off this passage, and Lancell listened at the first one. He and Ezekiel whispered and gestured dramatically, and then Lancell eased the door opened and rushed into the room.

At the thumps and clangs of combat, Raven followed the leading duo into the room, while Kelsier and I kept our eyes on the rest of the passageway and the two magic users stood against the wall and talked about some brainy thing I didn’t understand.

“Intruders! Intruders!” yelled a woman’s voice from the room, while the thumps and cries continued.

Two of the doors farther down the passageway burst open, and men charged into the corridor, gripping short spears.

While I shoved my torch upright into the mud of the floor and readied my bow, Kelsier let loose an arrow and felled the first man with a single shot.

The corridor quickly crowded with people. There were eight men altogether, and they pressed forward while Kelsier and I riddled them with arrows.

Mikael backed away from the door where our companions were, and Raven emerged, bleeding.

While the two of them fell back and made mud balls, Lancell and Ezekiel charged out of the room and engaged the spearmen.

Maybe the frog spit did something to Ezekiel’s head. The whole thing would have been over quicker if he didn’t keep almost dropping his mace, or missing his opponent and smacking Lancell’s shield.

Of course, Lancell also missed a blow and cut Ezekiel pretty badly. Remind me to stay in the archery division.

Mikael and Raven lobbed their mud balls at the enemy. Raven nailed Lancell in the back of the head (maybe that’s why Lancell accidentally slashed Ezekiel?). Mikael wasn’t so unfortunate, but neither of them hurt the actual enemy, so they fell back to watch with the magic users.

Well, it takes a long time to describe, but the whole thing was over in a matter of moments. All eight spearmen lay sprawled before us in a muddy mess…not even when they saw their companions decapitated with a single stroke did they try to flee, or parlay.

Raven and Ezekiel were our only injured. While Lancell “laid hands” on Ezekiel, and Ramne supervised the first aid, Mikael and I searched our fallen enemies.

The first room had been occupied by four young women with spears…all dead. All twelve were all dressed very simply, and none of them had any personal effects or something to identify them to their relatives.

I’m not a nobleman warrior like Lancell, and I’m not a former man-at-arms like Ezekiel. The smell of human blood and brains does something to me. We have to stop this Evil Explictika Deflias character. Who knows how many deaths are at her door by now? How many villages has she plundered and bewitched?

I can’t wait to get out of this sticky death-trap, but we have to hole up for now. Raven and Ezekiel need to recover strength.

We barricaded ourselves in two of the barracks rooms. Ramne has the wounded and Lancell with him across the way. When Ezekiel mentioned barricading the door, Ramne looked a little smug, and I heard him mutter some strange words after he shut it.

I’m not a wizard, so I’ll lock our door the best I can.

We’ll have some lunch, and ponder out our next move. Taking out eighteen enemies without losing anyone to unconsciousness is pretty good (especially considering our record), but we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’ll all be this easy.

We will end this snake-lady witch if we die for it.

May Ehlonna protect me…protect us all.


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Author Newsletters–A Survey

Author Newsletters–A Survey — Kimia Wood

Blank stares do not equal book sales…

Marketing gurus will advise you to have an author newsletter. This keeps your fans engaged with your brand, updated on your latest works, and excited about your books.

Supposedly. But does it actually work?

I have no experience being a successful newsletter author. But I am a pretty experienced newsletter reader. So I thought I would go through the many newsletters I myself am subscribed to, and consider the elements of each.

What makes me more engaged with an author and their books? What turns me off? Well, fortunately I never delete my emails, because I was able to wade through several years’ worth of other authors’ newsletters, and draw some conclusions about my own habits.

This is obviously very personalized, but I think we can draw a couple broad lessons from this research:

TL;DR: Three Lessons to Keep in Mind

1) Giving away free stuff is an awesome pull to make people sign up, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to sales.

For years, I’ve been told that giving away a free book to people who sign up for your list is one of the best tricks in the business, and “the number one way to build your subscriber list”. But is this true?

I was pretty convicted by something Barb Drozdowich said in a recent #BookMarketingChat (on Twitter):


I know this is true, because it’s true of me. If you offer me free food, free t-shirt, free books, I’ll love it…but I get angry when people charge more that four or five dollars for an ebook. (Seriously…some people charge as much as ten dollars for an ebook novel. What insanity is that?!)

So, while you/we might get lots of “numbers” on our list with a strategy of bribery, are we attracting the clientele that will want to buy? Or do we have a strategy to convert the freebie-seekers into devoted, paying customers?

2) Personal rapport can make or break a brand.

Kristen Lamb can tell you that your “brand” is just how people view you and your product – or, the emotional reaction they have when they see your name.

McDonalds. Steven King. Doctor Strange.

I bet just those simple words communicate a lot, and you have some kind of emotional reaction to each one.

When you go on social media, your blog, your website, etc., people watch you. Maybe one day you snap at someone on Facebook…People see that. Even if you were stressed out that day, and aren’t normally rude like that, and the guy totally deserved it anyway – that single instance might form a large percentage of someone’s perception of you.

You’ll see below that I subscribed to some of these author lists because I “met” the author in some other context, liked who I perceived them to be, and wanted to give them that support (and stay in the loop about their projects).

For a couple other authors, their personality or their writing are so far from my cup of tea that I will never give them my business.

Not anybody’s fault, really. We just “aren’t made for each other.”

3) Connection is potential.

The ideal, of course, is a passionate fan who will buy all your books in hard copies (the better to treasure), tell all their friends about your books, and pounce on every newsletter hoping it contains good news about a new thing to read.

Compared to that, a lurker who sometimes, maybe opens the email and skims for pretty cover images isn’t that impressive.

But it’s a foot in the door.

You’ll notice that some of the authors below don’t send out consistent emails, or I wonder why I don’t unsubscribe because we really don’t have that much in common.

But as long as I’m still subscribed, we have a connection. It’s really depressing when only one or two people open your newsletters (and it’s your parents!) but at least there’s a chance.

Maybe one day they’ll be weeding through their inbox and say, “Oh, what is this? Maybe I’ll read it and find out…”

Or, even if an author’s normal genre isn’t for me, maybe they’ll branch out into [sci fi spy/murder mysteries with something-about-a-long-lost-brother] (fill in your own blank), and I’ll go hmmm…oooohh.

The EvidenceAuthor Newsletters–A Survey — Kimia Wood

In the following survey, I have included how I subscribed to the list, a brief summary of their brand and my relationship to them, and other details like where they host their email (hosting email on your official author domain is more professional than a free email address, just as having an official author website is more professional than just an Amazon Author Page, for example; another thing to keep in mind as we evaluate authors’ brands).

And now, if you really care to wade through the raw data…my case studies: Continue reading

Dear Diary…action at last…?!

Well, our adventure with the blacksmith didn’t teach us a whole lot more than we already knew.

Explictika Defilas or whatever she calls herself is charming people in the swamp, and Abramo has been kidnapping people to take to her.

Master Ramne says that if Abramo was charmed (enchanted) into doing things against his alignment, that would explain the mental strain that could have resulted in all the mad scribbling we found in his room in the temple.

Anyway, we (the party) and Ramne went to the Mayor to discuss our options.

After a lot of talking, and trying to decide what we could do against what we might be up against, we thought that:

1) a party should head into the swamp, tracking the lizardmen who were apparently involved in this cult (y’know, the lizardmen we killed in the cellar). They would have left a distinctive odor trail, such that Ramne’s weasel could follow.

2) whatever innocents remaining in the town should prepare themselves to defend each other against further kidnapping (especially since facing opposition might make the cultists more brazen).

3) someone (or someones) should go to Hochoch, to summon help for the village.

When Ezekiel asked the Mayor if he knew anyone who would be our messenger, he said “no”.

That’s when I blurted out that Alan might do it. I didn’t know much about him, but he was Ramne’s friend, and Ramne seemed willing to help us. (He volunteered the use of his weasel, after all.)

Well, Ramne and I went to talk to Alan. He said it was a two or three week journey to Hochoch, his family needs him, there’s no guarantee that anyone in Hochoch would be willing to help us even if we got there, and besides his adventuring days are over.

But at least now he knows what’s been going on, and can help Olwin at the Slumbering Serpent to look out for any no-good happenings.

With nothing else to do, our party settled down to heal up for our journey to the swamp. Raven, of course, just got leveled by a blacksmith-hammer and Kelsier and I still had wounds (probably from the goblins but really it’s been so long I don’t remember).

Feels good to have something definite to do. It’s true we can’t afford to wait for help from Hochoch…Abramo and his followers can wait us out easily, and there are still innocent people who haven’t been pulled into this who are at risk.

Besides, we have no evidence that Orlane is the only village Explicty D. is exploiting. Striking at the root of this thing is the only way to finish it once and for all.

So, I’m leaving my journal in our chest of loot at the inn. If we never make it back from the swamp, Olwin and his wife shall inherit the chest.

I, Elwyn, being of sound-ish mind do deed my share of the treasure to them, since really that’s the only thing I have to leave. (And my big brother Bartholomew can’t have my bow not even if he says he’s sorry for the thing with the slugs.)

Elwyn

Speaking of the treasure chest, though, Lancell, Raven, and Ezekiel pooled their shares of the gold to buy Ezie a decent shield, since he’s going to be in front protecting the rest of us, and that will benefit the whole party.

Olwin helped us buy it, so we didn’t antagonize the blacksmith any more than necessary.

****

A few days of rest have put us back on our feet. No word on what Abramo and his people have been up to in the meantime, but we have to trust the Mayor and Alan and Olwin to take care of themselves.

Setting out, now. If you’re an adventurer reading this, it’s up to you, now!

****

Ezie is mocking me for packing a spare journal, but it was a good idea!

The first few days out of Orlane were pretty boring, with Whiskers the Weasel leading the way, and Master Ramne shuffling along with us.

(Yes, he joined our party! After all, it’s his weasel, and we’ll probably need all the help we can get fighting Her.)

To reach the Rushmoors Marsh, we had to go through the forest. This forest seemed wrong on so many levels…no animals, no birds, no undergrowth. I can’t tell if that’s “normal” for this part of the world, but it didn’t feel normal to me.

Mikael looked uncomfortable, too. Obed-Hai might not always see eye-to-eye with Ehlonna, but we can all agree forests weren’t meant to be so dreary. The moss hangs down, and the light never makes it all the way through the trees…

Well, finally we left the moss and gloom for the MUD. The Rushmoor swamp is all mud and slime and water, almost up to Kelsier’s chest. Of course the little trooper doesn’t complain (and he’s probably better off on his own feet than with one of us carrying him…I know I would drop him, I just would), but it slows us all down.

Well, we hadn’t gone far before we were ATTACKED in the swamp.

Three ugly bugs that looked like fat bats merged with mosquitos dove toward us, needle-noses first.

Lancell swung his sword, and sliced the first one in half with one chop – splat!

Raven whipped out the dagger he looted off the Assassin, and danced forward to a gap in the battle formation. He flung the dagger at one of the creatures, but it missed and dropped with a plunk into the water.

We archers launched arrows, but I could tell it was hard for Kelsier to draw his bow when his arms were almost in the water, and he only nicked one of the creatures.

I, though, finally acquitted myself like I should. I nailed that sucker right through the body, letting Lancell finish off the last one.

Three giant insect things defeated, and not a one of us were injured!

This is definitely a win.

But I’m getting mud on my journal.


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Magnum, PI, Another Again

Lots of people Magnum, PI, Another Again — Kimia Woodhave talked about the repetitive, unimaginative products Hollywood has been offering us lately…and with much more analysis and detail than I could.

I just want to make a brief comment about a recent reboot that high-lights just how desperate and irrational this phobia of original concepts is.

Magnum, PI

Dad introduced us to this show as part of “pop culture” class. I also watched some episodes on my own, and enjoyed the mystery, the adventure, the detective work, and the charm of Tom Selleck.

Here’s the premise, in my own words:

Thomas Magnum, a Vietnam veteran, now works as a private investigator in Hawaii. He ostensibly works for the reclusive author Robin Masters, whose estate he lives at, and has a strained relationship with Masters’ estate caretaker, Higgins.

Higgins is an older man, a veteran of the First World War, and a straight-laced counterpoint to Magnum’s Hawaiian-shirt-wearing energy.

There. Lots of room for plot, as episodes explored Magnum’s war experiences (his two best friends served alongside him), enjoyed the tropical setting, and pitted the mirthless, proper Higgins against Magnum’s fun-loving demeanor and eclectic working schedule.

The Reboot

CBS has brought the show back – well, as an updated, readjusted form of itself.

Thomas Magnum is now a Hispanic veteran of Afghanistan. This is great. Hispanics can be good-looking, there’s no reason a Hispanic veteran wouldn’t live in Hawaii (and decide to be a PI), and the casting openly acknowledges that you can’t re-create Tom Selleck, so why try?

Just do your own thing, and do it well.

The bigger problem is that “Jonathan” Higgins has been turned into “Juliet” Higgins. As Laura Finch in WORLD Magazine put it, “I think we all know how that story ends.”

And that’s the problem.

This is “supposed” to be Magnum, PI. Part of the whole dynamic there is the conflict between Higgins and Magnum…the old man and the young man…the Brit and the American…the class act and the bend-the-rules…the suit and the Hawaiian shirt…the straight-faced professional and the emotionally-invested professional.

The bickering of two men who didn’t see eye-to-eye, and the grudging respect they gain for each other through long seasons of working together (and saving each other’s lives) was a profound and unique dynamic.

Now…there’s Magnum and Juliet.

As soon as it’s a man and a woman, you have sexual tension. That’s just how it works. A male and female can’t have the same platonic working relationship that two people of the same gender can.

The writer in WORLD already spelled it out. We can all smell where this story is heading. Even if the writers decide to toy with our expectations, and these two don’t get together, the fact that there’s this possibility turns all their interactions on their heads.

Now, a “grudging respect” might be “flirty bickering”. Juliet complaining about Magnum’s methods might be a romantic rebuttal, or an emotionally confused statement (she’s attracted, but doesn’t want to be, so it taints her professional decision-making…or vice versa) – rather than a plain statement about their different working mentalities.

(The new writers also want her to be a “strong female”, with MI6 experience and the skills to defend herself, thank you very much. Whatever, people.)

Another, Again…Except Not

Could a story about a man and a woman in antagonistic professional circumstances be compelling? Could the tale of how they bond over shared adventures and intrigue (both pulling their weight – in a masculine sense – ala Mr. Incredible and the kick-butt ElastaGirl) be entertaining and meaningful?

Sure. But it’s not the story of the original Magnum, PI.

I enjoyed the original. I enjoyed how Higgins and Magnum didn’t really like each other, thought the other one was much too ____, but still had each other’s backs in every sticky situation. It was a uniquely male dynamic, and refreshingly so.

In private, Magnum would troll Higgins, and Higgins would scold Magnum. But when bad stuff hit the fan, they put their personal relationship in the back seat, and worked together to win.

Turning one of these characters into a woman automatically makes the personal relationship a key issue. Women are much more “personal relationship” oriented than men are…and men forming relationships with women have a much harder time not making those relationships “personal” (think of the deep, innate urge to save the princess – even if she’s a jerk).

Even if Magnum and Juliet are both mature, rational adults, you can’t put a man and a woman in a room and not have tension. Further, they’re going to approach whatever problems they face from a male or a female perspective – regardless of whatever cultural, demographic, religious, philosophical, and experiential differences they might have with each other.

To pretend this new show is Magnum, PI, but to change this foundational element, is both disappointing and confusing.

I probably wouldn’t watch the new show either way, because we don’t have a television. (And my brother got more exercised about the gender-swap than I did.) But I really wanted to connect this new show to the issue I started with…the regurgitation of media.

Just do your own thing, and do it well!

What if, once upon a time, a writer had a new premise idea for a great TV show:

Tomas Colt is a Hispanic former SEAL turned private investigator, using his combat skills in the private sector. He lives on the estate of a reclusive author, and has a tense relationship with the estate’s caretaker Juliet, who doesn’t approve of his professional methods and standards.

Little does he suspect she is former MI6, and critiques his detecting and problem-solving techniques because of her own experience in the field…

Well? Why didn’t they do that?

Why did they say, “This is that exact same show you used to love, except with younger actors and good graphics…and also diversity”?

Instead of, “If you loved Magnum, PI, you’ll also love this new show that has some similar elements, but is exploring its own themes for a modern audience! Please tune in to Colt, PI!”

Why? Right when writing coaches and analysts around the internet are bemoaning the lack of originality and risk-taking in modern media…why would they take an old show, change one of its foundational tenants, and try to feed us the same old thing only more diverse?

Just do your own thing, and do it well!

I just watched a YouTube video about how the live-action Beauty and the Beast did the same thing…”fixed” non-existent problems of sexism and bigotry, and created new problems of character motivation, plot inconsistency, irrational bigotry, and emotional impact. (language cautions)

And in case you think I’m a cynic who just hates all female characters, try this YouTube video that explains we just want good female characters…and to not have the writers’ virtue-signaling meta-agenda shoved down our throats.

Sure, let’s make new stories. But let’s make new stories. And let’s be intentional about the dynamics, character motivations and interactions, and thematic assumptions that go into our stories.

Do your own thing…just do it well.


Header picture is from WORLD Magazine.

Magnum, PI, Another Again — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

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