Dark Truths About Some Contemporary Readers

I’ve had a theory for several years that readers are becoming less capable of internalizing deep thought and extracting the meaning of words. That immersion into electronic culture has somehow radically changed the human mind, the mechanics of how we think, and the very essence of who we are.

This was personally noticeable to me during the 1990s when, by reason of my job as a computer software developer, I was forced to change my thinking from linear coding to object-oriented development. Essentially, when we (used to) think, we thought in a linear pattern. This was reflected in the chronology of our stories, the way we spoke, the way we internalized information. We never would say “I bought a gadget at the store, I went to the store, I got in the car, I ate dinner, then I had breakfast” in telling about our day. There was a linear progression that nailed our actions to the great stream of time, to provide context to our activities and without it, sentences, stories, life did not make much sense. Not so after learning how to “quantum leap.” We all learned to do it. We no longer needed the preliminaries and prerequisites of learning. Just “cut to the chase.” We could say “I bought a gadget at the store” and fill in all the rest. We learned to make assumptions about what people did not say. Story-telling became less of an art, and more of an expedience. Our acceptance of material became fragmented. We watched movies, jumping from scene to scene and demanding that our subconscious fill in the blanks. Our lives became that way. Our imaginations. How is it that so many people who failed ninth grade algebra tout “quantum physics” as a metaphysical base for this dimensional reality? Have any of them have even studied quantum physics? Mostly not. They just took a quantum leap to get the concept.

And that’s what our books became like. Start in the middle of the action. Forget the setup and character development. The reader wants a fix, right now. Tickle those synapses immediately, or the book dies. Push those reader buttons. No more luring into another world by sleight of pen in hand. Bang. Give it to them in simple words. Right now. Emulate movies, texting, other electronic stimuli. The written word became no more than a drug, with authors the supplier, and readers needing a thirty-second fix. Hook them in thirty-seconds or they move onto the next supplier. And with all the free books, they have a ready supply. No more cherishing a book of old. They’re inundated. And authors feel forced to crank out books like machines, forever pushing reader buttons to supply the next fix, forgetting the deeper reasons for their callings to write.

This became even more evident to me after a recent attack by the Goodreads bullies. These people don’t purchase books to read, they just attack authors by giving one-star reviews and saying nasty things. A couple of them go so far as to download free books to have material to attack, while the rest applaud them for their alleged ability and facility with the language. Some of them might even download a free book to have something to attack, but they do not approach the material as true readers–they approach it as an enemy seeking something to obliterate. To do this, they attempt to use intellectual prowess to destroy the spirit of authors and the thing they hate: books. How can these people claim to be readers when they clearly hate authors and books? After reading some of their statements the reason became evident: these attackers are not only not readers, they cannot read. They have lost the ability to internalize the written word, to extract meaning from symbols on paper. They do not understand metaphor, subtext, theme. They do not allow for character development, allusion, scene setup. They cannot understand the finer points and deeper meanings of word choices. They are incapable of reading, so they attack that which they do not understand—like any bad guy in any book. For whatever personal reasons—abusive childhoods, internal scarring, lack of connection with nature or humanity—they have lost the ability to look inward, to feel their hearts, to join with authors in an adventure.

This may not change until the power goes out and we’re forced to recover the humanness of our existence. Or until texting goes out of style.

I was heartened to read that I’m not the only one who has noticed this trend. A recent article published in the Washington Post backs me up.

To loyal fans, my apologies for unpublishing my books (and for skewing the text on those published). I’m attempting to reclaim my rights which were violated by the bullies of Goodreads and Amazon.

Posted in Links for Authors | Comments Off

Are You Fiddling with my Violin?

Are You Fiddling with my Violin?

Fiddler in Desert

Fiddler in Desert

Some fans who have read Deep Naked have written with confusions of what a fiddle is, versus a violin. Since most people don’t know the difference, I decided to give them my real-world take.

For those of you who know me, you know I’ve been playing fiddle, aka violin, for  decades. I first learned classical violin, on an instrument that was more suited to a fiddle, and now I play fiddle on an instrument that is a better violin. I’ve attended festivals around the United States and have shared notes with famous fiddlers and symphony members as well.

So are these terms interchangeable?

Of course. It’s in the context. Playing fiddle is more about the style of music you play, rather than the instrument itself. The instrument is still a violin.  (Some players with a Hardanger or cigar-box violin might disagree; but I’m talking about a traditional four-stringed instrument here.)

Again, in the context, some luthiers may hand-build (or home-build) an instrument with the idea that it be used as a fiddle. Then it is a fiddle. (I’m not going to tangle with these guys!) Some players may even use a shoe box with strings, in a pinch.

Which is the violin? Which is the Fiddle? The one on the left is a Stradivarius copy; the one on the right is a home-built.

Which is the violin? Which is the Fiddle?
The one on the left is a Stradivarius copy; the one on the right is a home-built.

However, if you intend to play a lot of fiddle, and primarily play fiddle music, you may refer to your violin as a fiddle. That has to do with intention. Then again, some fine instruments might never be referred to as “fiddles,” unless it’s tongue-in-cheek. For example, Crystal’s Guarnerius del Gesu would have been worth in the six figures, and would be considered a fine violin. However, since she makes up her own style of fiddle music (called improvisation), she might refer to it as her fiddle or violin.

Author Riley Hill's fiddle

Author Riley Hill’s fiddle

Entire classical orchestras might play fiddle music, and the bass violin is also called a bass fiddle.

You can play fiddle music on a violin, although attempting violin music on a fiddle is a bit more difficult, as skilled fiddler will normally have the bridge flattened out to improve the ability to play double-stops (two strings at once). However, this isn’t a given and isn’t a criterion for playing fiddle.

What are some of the other differences?

Some fiddle tunes will call for alternate tunings of the strings. Where “normal” orchestral music calls for a G, D, A, E tuning, it is common for Appalachian fiddle to call for A, E, A, E or other tunings.  Also, a fiddle player is not as stringent in how he or she holds the instrument. They hold the violin for comfort and playability, rather than “correct form.” Since many fiddlers are self-taught, the classical form would not often be known to them, nor would they care.

Since re-tuning the strings is hard on them, some people keep more than one instrument. I keep two: my better instrument in a traditional tuning, and my “beater,” with strings I can re-tune easily and not care so much if they break.

When a violin player decides to play fiddle, s/he might switch the bow from one strung with fine-haired stallion tail to a coarser haired bow. This provides a “grit” to the playing, which can lend dimension.

Many fiddlers prefer “steel” strings, and some classical players still prefer “gut.” Personally, I think there are no better strings than Obligatos, and I like them for fiddle or violin playing.

When some people think of fiddle music, they think of Bluegrass or  Appalachian. But there are many forms of fiddle music that predate these renditions. In fact, Appalachian music stems from Celtic (where often the fiddle is set to emulate the bagpipes). As in “Deep Naked,” other fiddle music stems from the Scandinavian countries and is popular there. British fiddle tunes are often played by violins. Just pick up any music book and see examples for yourself.

Are fiddlers and violinists the same people?

They might be, as some classical players also play fiddle music at festivals for fun. Then again, the beards of some self-taught fiddlers would prickle straight out if you implied they were classically trained. And most would not use fine tuners, either. Some play with the instrument on their breast bones so they can squint at you easier. Many fiddle players play “by ear,” like Crystal did in the book.

Some well-known fiddlers (who showed up with Crystal in Deep Naked) are as follows: Darol Anger Babs Lamb Laurie Lewis Bela Balough

My personal inspirations were Vassar Clements and Yehudi Menuhin. (Neither of whom I play like.)

Numerous other famous American fiddlers can be found listed on Wiki. Here are other opinions by other fiddlers on Flying Fiddle. Still confused? Get your copy of Deep Naked and decide for yourself.

All photos and text are copyrighted by Riley Hill. All rights reserved.

Posted in Links for Authors | Comments Off

The Night of the Super Moon: DEEP NAKED

DEEP NAKED

COMING JUNE 23, 2013

My new YA/NA novel. This one is a hybrid, like some of you. It came from some dark place, and some light place. It’s a work combining paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and a little romance (which will grow in the next book). It follows Kristine through the development of supra-normal abilities into other dimensions, as she runs from black ops and a cult that seeks to control her. This is the first in my Y/A series.

Deep Naked

Posted in Links for Authors | Leave a comment

Riley Twists into Paranormal/Sci-Fi

Hello Friends,

Deep Naked  dips into mythos of a young woman’s background, and calls forth forces of the universe which must be laid to rest. Can she find the powers within her to call back her friend from another dimension? Can she open the portal to another world and heal the events of this one? This experimental novel contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, mythology, romance, and drama. Sounds like the kitchen sink, huh?

I laid in the last strokes to my new novel, Deep Naked, to be released in June 2013. The wonderful and prolific Elle Casey helped me to locate some beta readers who are busy scrubbing their eyeballs for the task ahead. As soon as they’re done, it will be the final edit and then release!

The book is first in a series of time travel/interdimensional explorations by the characters, which I hope will broaden the perspectives of and add entertainment to the lives of readers.

In the meantime, enjoy real life. There are stranger things going on out there than you can imagine. And some of them appear in Deep Naked.

Love,

Riley

Posted in Links for Authors | Leave a comment

The Dark Side of Sunny Arizona is Here

A mutated twin of Burn Pile is now released on Amazon! Burn Pile all takes place on an island, a dark island, where mysterious events bind the residents. My new book, Bone Pile, takes place in the sunlight, in the daytime, where you’re safe and nothing could go wrong.

Click the Cover to Go to the Dark Side of the Sun

 

Posted in Links for Authors | Comments Off

Split River Around the World!

The last giveaway turned out great, especially considering that I forgot to tell anyone until the last minute.

But copies were downloaded in Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, India, and the USA, so the book is feeling pretty happy.

Actually, I’m feeling pretty good too. It’s amazing how much you can love someone you’ve never met, because they cared enough to download your book. I hope each of you enjoys the read and basks in the darkness and light.

--Riley

PS: If you did enjoy the book, please leave a review on Amazon. These help the book to “get seen” by other readers. Thank you!

Posted in Links for Authors | Comments Off

FREE on SMASHWORDS

FREE–If you enjoy horror and don’t require hand-holding

Don’t expect anyone to hold your hand and explain things to you. If your mind feels twisted, time is disjointed, life doesn’t seem normal, you may have been cooking in the Burn Pile.

 

If you enjoyed reading this free book, please go to Amazon or Smashwords and leave a review! 

Posted in Links for Authors | Comments Off

Get Rid of Your Likes!

Maybe using Facebook makes people “Like” happy. We learn to click “like” to show we hate something (or agree with the poster’s hate of something). Never has the word been more in our vocabulary, so it’s easy to miss if you are overusing it.

 The “like” I’m talking about, though, is indicative of similes. Recently, while editing a manuscript, I noticed a lot of similes on a page—like four. It seemed excessive, so I did a search and found over 240 instances in the ms. of the word “like.” Granted, some of these were expressions like “I don’t like that,” but most indicated the use of a simile, like “He ate like a bear fresh from hibernation.”

Don’t get me wrong. Similes aren’t bad, per se, and they can add color and excitement to a novel. They can help to describe, in a short statement, something that is of minor importance to the scene, but still needs to be expressed. There are good similes and bad similes.

Say you have a scene where the protagonist is sneaking up on the bad guy who has been hiding in a cave. This is an outdoors novel, and the good guy has been traipsing all over the mountain in pursuit. The bad guy has been running for days, and has found an abandoned back-pack, full of goodies. He’s engaged in eating when the good guy sneaks up on him. What’s important to the scene is not a description of the manner in which he eats; what’s important is that he is otherwise engaged and the good guy gets him. So do you want to spend a paragraph describing the way he eats, or give it a once over with a simile?

Try this:

Jack slipped through the shadows in the cave mouth and took refuge behind a boulder. He watched as Aaron dug into the backpack—pulling out item after item, ripping apart packages and cramming the contents into his mouth. There went a Mr. Goodbar. There went a packet of juice. Aaron’s throat worked as he jammed in trail mix and his jaws labored over some jerky. He growled as he ate. Jack slugged him from behind and fell atop him….

Or this:

Jack slipped through the shadows in the cave mouth and took refuge behind a boulder. He watched as Aaron dug into the backpack and ate like a bear fresh from hibernation. Jack slugged him from behind and fell atop him….

Or, use an inappropriate simile:

Jack slipped through the shadows in the cave mouth and took refuge behind a boulder. He watched as Aaron dug into the backpack and ate like a man who only had a salad for lunch and then found a MacDonalds. Jack slugged him from behind and fell atop him….

In the first example, it just isn’t important what he eats or how he eats. Sometimes it is okay to tell, not show, and a simile is a colorful way of doing this.

The second example is better because, through the use of a simile, we show what the bad guy is doing, but we get right to the point of the scene, which is the ensuing battle.

 

The third example shows how a simile can be botched. In the second example, we have used elements of the surroundings to create a fresh simile that is appropriate for the situation and the locale. We’re in a cave, so a hungry bear from hibernation is similar to a hungry man in a cave. In the third example, we’re nowhere near a MacDonalds, so the simile pulls us out of the story, throws us into town, and we have to struggle to get back to where the story is taking place.

So when do we use similes? When we need to express something descriptive that is subordinate to the scene purpose.

How do we use similes? Keep the content relevant to the scene.

How do we get rid of all those “likes” in a novel? Restructure your sentences. Use  metaphors, or sometimes, you can rearrange the wording to include more active verbs and modifiers. If you really look at a sentence, you can determine what you’re trying to convey. Is it that he ate, or how he ate?

Metaphor: A bear out of hibernation, he jammed the food down his gullet.

Rearrange: With growls and snorts, he crammed the food into his mouth.

Now, just for fun…

I came across this great list of some really bad similes. They’re as rotten as a hunk of steak left for three days on a bench next to a horse stable in mid-summer.

Enjoy!  

http://bethanyamandamiller.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/the-56-bestworst-analogies-written-by-high-school-students/#comment-957

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Links for Authors | Comments Off