Haiku Review: iZombie (S3E5)

Credit: iZombie Wiki

Dominance guides them

As memories fade to black

In a world on edge

iZombie continues to be one of my favorite, if not my favorite, show on TV. The acting is top notch as always. Rose McIver is wonderful again, taking on yet another personality with ease. Robert Buckley is sadness personified. Malcolm Goodwin remains powerfully stoic and humorous and somber as he deals with how much his life has changed and been affected by Team Z. (Also, I loved yet another GoT reference.) A great episode that portends even greater things in the future. 

Perd Hapley is a Dimension-Traveling Alien

will-the-real-perd-hapley-please-stand-up-2-26474-1428472335-14_dblbigIf you’re like me, then you have a strong and abiding love for Parks & Recreation. I can admit that it is one of my favorite comedies in recent memory, due in large part to the brilliant casting and writing. And Ron Swanson, always Ron Swanson.

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However, I came to an interesting realization the other day: Perd Hapley is a dimension-travelling alien observer who is clearly the most powerful being in the shared TV universe. For eagle-eyed fans, you will notice that Jay Jackson, the actor who plays Perd, has a penchant for reading the news on your favorite TV show.

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What you never noticed though, his how closely he likes to stay to danger and intrigue. Much like the Observers from Fringe, I think that Jay Jackson has created a kind of shape-shifting constant character that is not unlike Stan Lee in every MCU movie.

Starting in 2007, Jackson has played a report or news anchor no less than 14 times, including:

Bones (TV Series)
Scandal (TV Series)
The Catch (TV Series)
Supergirl (TV Series)
Pretty Little Liars (TV Series)
Parks and Recreation (TV Series)
Revenge (TV Series)
Battleship (Movie)
Fred: The Show (TV Series)
Body of Proof (TV Series)
The Mentalist (TV Series)
Fast Five (Movie)
The Closer (TV Series)
Dexter (TV Series)

Now, perhaps you can say that he has been typecast as a reporter/news anchor or even that Jay Jackson likes playing these parts. However, I like to think that a casting agent, writer, producer, director, or even Jackson himself is purposely creating one of the greatest easter eggs in all of TV history.

So, the next time you are watching a TV show and they cut to a reporter in the field or an anchor delivering the news, don’t be surprised if it is Perd Hapley looking back at you.

A New Condition

The world is in crisis.

We have been lied to.

Each of us deceived by those who we thought would protect us. Conditioning has placed us where we are. Conditioning is what will free us once more. There is much about the world around us that we cannot understand for what it is; interconnected parts working for each other against the best interests of humanity. Like lambs to the slaughter, we were shown our roles. We did not fight for what we believed, nor did we conform to what they wished.

We succumbed to the will of perceived inevitability.

I think that we are avoiding the most obvious point of it all. It is not whether it is happening because we started it. The thing that we must remember is that we can do something about it. What we know and believe is little more than what we were told to believe; the wealth of our knowledge is little more than what has been told to us. The nations of this world are divided by walls and barriers that are not physical, but instead ideological and financial. We are not creatures of evil or apathy, but instead we are taught and engrained throughout our lives to behave this way, adhering and following the antediluvian archetypes of centuries and empires past.

What can be offered is not a panacea.

What can be offered is to help find the value in living and the love in what is all around you. These times that face us are powerful and sorrowful, for each day defines the next. A change does not appear before our eyes, but is instead the earnest incremental struggle of ideals and beliefs that will change the world.

It has been said that one human being cannot change the world. This creates a false dichotomy insofar that we have been made to believe that either our actions can change the world, or they cannot. This is not the way of things. We may change, for good or bad, when we lift up (and are lifted up by) our brothers and sisters.

The world is sick.

Humanity is ailing.

We have hunger, famine, disease, and widespread violence the world over. Consuming the resources of this one planet, we do so at such a rate that we will collapse beneath the weight of our own refuse before our time. If we are to survive, then we must fight to stay. We must believe that this world is worth having, and prove that we deserve to occupy this planet.

Some have deferred responsibility, saying that the world will do what it must and technology will catch up. But how can technology match our consumption and destruction pace for pace, if all of our monetary resources are being funneled into that consumption and destruction? All of us are responsible for what we do, how we behave, and the lives we live.

We as a species face such a need for survival. No longer can we look at the plights of the world through rose-colored glasses, or from atop our distant steeples. We must accept responsibility for the actions of the nations in which we live. Though we did not deprive a village of their resources, our constant demand for new things has driven industry to knock on the doors of nations the world over for resources.

It is time to stand up and say no more.

Caring about other people needs to be trendy.

Not because being eco-friendly and caring about your fello human is popular amongst the rich and the famous, but because it can and will save the world. None of us are perfect. Nothing is expected of us in this life except what we are willing to give. But, we must not be afraid to give.

We are a community whether we wish to believe it or otherwise. Even if you strand yourself in the farthest reaches of the world, your existence is dependent upon the creation and distribution of consumer goods that you will need in order to survive. We are an interconnected world. We have this one world and we have to prove that we belong here. I have heard (from loved ones and mentors alike) that we cannot be responsible for what is happening to his world; that we are too insignificant to make an impact.

But this feels like an excuse.

As is such with much of life, we want to be responsible when it is in our best interest. When what we have done appears as a black mark upon who we are, then we decide we can  no longer influence events. People wish to judge others actions, but not be judged on what they do. They wish to say whatever comes to their minds, critiquing and attacking others, but not to be held responsible for the insufferable, illogical discourse that marks their opinions and doubts.

It would appear that empathy is a forgotten emotion.

Creating a system in which the blame falls on the individual despite the nature of the system has become the standard. We think that every person is capable of overcoming circumstances; that advantages are not awarded by birth and affluence. Pop culture has ingrained in us that if we think positively about something, if we dare to dream, then we can influence our future.

But this strikes me as logically incongruent.

And it should sound problematic to the world.

This type of belief blames those who do not rise above their circumstances. There is a passive nature to this time of admonition, hidden behind a beautiful possibility. I ask: is this truly the nature of the world? If you believe something, then doors will open for you? I think the outliers and exceptions have become the norm. We expect that if we try hard, then we will be rewarded.

What of those afflicted with famine and victims of genocide forced into refugee camps the world over? What of rape victims? What of children abused? What of people killed because of the color of their skin? Did these people not wish hard enough? Did they not direct their thoughts in the proper direction to find hope? Certainly I have outlined only the horrors of the world, but we cannot turn a blind eye upon these sores on the back of humanity.

We have to stand up for those who have no voice.

Have we become a nation that hears, but does not listen? Have we become a nation that speaks, but says nothing? Some of my peers, as well as those a generation older, fear assisting those less fortunate; that by giving to them, the will to achieve will be broken. That somehow helping those that cannot help themselves will erode the fabric of who we are.

Is this true?

I am not suggesting that we bankrupt ourselves to help others, but as Peter Singer has suggested, we should give enough so that the least well-off can rise to a level that could be considered basic. When there are children starving in countries where what we pay for a gallon of gas could feed them for a day, I have to question whether sacrificing some of the comfort and affluence so others may simply live should not be mandatory.

We have been tricked into believing something that is not true.

They told us that there is a right way and a wrong way. They said there are Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, pro-war or against war. All around us the constructs of our society dictate endless false dichotomies that force us to choose one over the other without examining the rationality, or possibility, of something that we cannot perceive.

I sometimes try to think of a world that is so unlike this one. The mantra that there is no better place to live, or that we are number one, simply makes me sad. Who wants to be number one in a world where there is so much suffering and sadness? In America, there is immunity to the horrors and travesties of the world. We are insulated from the world that surrounds us.

We rally behind demagogues, partisan rhetoricians who care more about the game of being elected than demanding excellence and change of policy. They have become so assimilated into the culture of domination and conditioning that their campaigning rhetoric is little more than a clever game of chess with words. They dance and shuffle with issues that should matter, but know that the hot button issues (the ones we have been conditioned to care about) should have well-articulated and formulated opinions.

The world does not change because power is assumed. One person can direct the world in a positive direction, but the capacity for change is within each of us. The ability to radically alter our circumstances is in the belief that we are equal, that we can help each other. Leaving those deemed as unworthy to fend in a world that rewards selfishness and shuns those less fortunate prepares us for failure.

I fear that when the times do not regulate themselves quickly enough, that change does not happen with the turn of a phrase or the passing of a single day, that some will be quick to demonize. One person can lead. One person can inspire. But it takes a nation to change. It takes a world to see.

There are times in history we look back upon when reading, or taught in a classroom, that we shudder at the humanitarian violations of a government and the apathy of the people at its base. We wonder to ourselves how a nation loses its moral compass.

Apathy.

Compliance.

Comfort and Conformity.

Ponder the world as it is. Take it in and really think about it. Talk about it amongst your friends and family and encourage intellectual discourse. Find your own answers. Seek out information. Do not be satisfied with the status quo or the regurgitated material that you see on every news channel. Fight against the propaganda and lip service of news that is created for you. Remember that you have the power to change your mind.

People may tell you what to think, but you decide whether or not you will believe what is being feed to you is truth, or if you will search for something that might be difficult. Some may try to convince you that questioning the good life is wrong, or that what you have read is wrong.

There is nothing wrong with disbelief, it encourages discovery.

Do not be afraid to be proven wrong, or to prove something wrong. These are the issues I grapple with every day. These are issues that I think autonomous beings of the free world must talk about. It would be intellectually dishonest of us as thinking beings to not analyze the impact of who we are on the world. We need to demand change, to stand with others instead of standing apart.

A new condition must prevail.

On Strong Female Characters, Face-less Heroes, and Myriad Personalities

Sixth Prime

When I started writing Sixth Prime, I decided early on to do something very deliberate: I would make half the main characters women; I would make sure the personalities better reflected the myriad of the human experience; and I would describe characters without using skin color or any physical identifiers.

You might be wondering: what exactly is the point of that?

Women represent half the population

I would be remiss if I ignored the statistics right in front of me. More than half of the world’s population is female, so why wouldn’t I include a representative number of female characters? I’m talking about adventurers and villains, scientists and soldiers, and everything in between. The goal should be to tell the best possible story. I waited until I had outlined everything, and then randomly assigned characters as men and women (this includes romantic relationships as well, so buckle your seatbelts).

Personality guides behavior and decision-making.

I went to graduate school for psychology, and as such I’ve always had a fascination with why people do what they do. This, naturally, translated into thinking about how I could smuggle personality psychology into a narrative. The Prime saga, beginning with Sixth Prime, is an attempt to do just that. I wanted readers to feel like they were represented by one of the characters in such a way that the decisions and consequences felt more real to them.

The reader should decide how the characters look.  

I know it’s a long shot, but maybe (just maybe) the Prime Saga becomes a movie or limited series. I bring this up because nothing is worse than people arguing how characters should look or the kinds of actors or actresses who should play them. Really, even if an adaptation is not in order, I love the idea of people coming to their own conclusions about how a character should look based on their choices, personality, and behavior. I want the characters to be defined by how they make readers feel; I want a reader to be able to see themselves in the character and as the character.

 

Here is the working teaser:

2.3.5.7.11.13.

A war brews as a galaxy struggles to maintain a peace treaty signed in haste. The Commonwealth boasts sprawling cities built upon slums. The Sovereignty has placed the yoke of industry upon its citizens. Sixteen men and women are connected in a way they cannot yet understand. A murder of a prominent artist begins a chain of events that will ultimately determine the fate of the universe.

Only thirteen will remain.

In the end, there can be only one Prime.

Are you a Prime?

 

Interested yet? I sure hope so. If you are, then how about a brief excerpt? Check it out at: https://authordanobrien.com/2016/07/28/preview-of-sixth-prime/

Perhaps you want to grab the Kindle version for only $2.99? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENLPOVG

 

 

Should You Publish a Book? (Or Why Writing A Book Builds Your Brand)

CTA_writer's deskI know it might sound a bit silly for someone who is both a ghostwriter and a multi-published author to say that you should publish a book to expand you brand, but I guarantee I am not the only one saying it. Writing a book is a wonderful experience, if you approach it in the right way and with the right goals in mind.

Self-publishing has made getting a book out there easier than ever; in many ways having a book is the new en vogue marketing piece for businesses and independent authors alike. Whether you have a story that you really want told (but you don’t want to write it) or you have a sales or business process that would benefit from a wider reach, getting a book out there is important on a variety of levels.

Most readers couldn’t care less where your book was published or if you have the author credentials to publish. What matters is having a story or idea, and then creating and distributing the best possible version for people to read.

 

Should I write a book?

The short answer is: yes. The longer answer is: yes, but only if you plan on following through. The bitter truth is publishing has changed so dramatically that anyone can write and publish a book; the only barrier to entry is the follow-through to actually do it.

Whether you want to publish a fiction or a nonfiction book, the idea behind having a book is the same: you have a message you want to share. Anyone can blog; putting out a book creates social proof, a means to leverage everything else you do after you publish.

For instance, let’s say that you are a brilliant personal trainer and nutritionist who blogs and is social-media savvy. Your personal education and expertise are unquestioned, but in the vast abyss of the internet, your social proof is limited to people who see your posts.

Having a book allows you to separate from other folks trying to do the same thing, and it allows you to reach a new potential customer base.

How about some examples of folks who might want to write a book?

  • Consultants who want to generate more leads.
  • Though-leaders who want to show how and what we lead.
  • Someone who wants to leave something behind.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to spread their brand.
  • Job seekers and freelancers who want to demonstrate their expertise.
  • Someone looking for a stepping stone.
  • Business owners who want another stream of income.
  • Anyone looking for a purpose.
  • Anyone who wants to become an authority/expert (or feels like they know nothing).

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What now?

Write. If you can’t (or won’t), then get a ghostwriter. There is no shame in contracting out the writing of your product. Often, you won’t have the time or inclination to put the words to the page. Unsolicited advice: choose a ghostwriter who fits well with what you are trying to write. Just because someone has a background in a particular area does not necessarily make them the best fit. This is your baby, so choose wisely. 

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Edit. Do yourself a favor and hire out for editing and proofreading. True, you could get out your red pen and mark it up yourself, but feedback is incredibly important in terms of providing the product consumers want. Speaking of feedback, cultivating a group of beta readers can be a real game-changer. Unsolicited advice: most editors worth their salt will charge anywhere from $3 a page up to $10 a page, depending on what they provide. Most editors calculate a page as 250-400 words a page. 

Format. Sometimes, it is the simple things that make or break a book. People like to imagine they don’t judge a book by its cover, but they most certainly do. You can learn how to format a book for print or as an eBook with a simple Google search, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it. Contracting out the formatting guarantees the book looks how you intended. Unsolicited advice: know what you want the interior of your book to look like. Otherwise, you’ll be trading emails with a designer until the end of time. Also, realize that formatters can charge anywhere from $1 a page up through $12 a page. 

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Publish. In many ways, this is the part of the process that has changeed the most. Writers have always had to write; that writing then needs to be edited. However, anyone can publish now. With Kindle and print platforms like CreateSpace, you can have a print copy to pass out at seminars and an eBook version for people to read on their smartphones or tablets. Unsolicited advice: set your release date in the future at least three months in order to maximize the next item, marketing. 

Market. This is what everything comes down to. Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, 90% of your efforts should be focused here, as this is what sells books. Marketing is everything from interviews to advertising to content marketing and beyond. Unsolicited advice: learn to market and build a long-term plan punctuated by smaller, measurable goals. Doing this allows you to better track your progress and make changes where you need to. 

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You knew it was coming. All this talk about publishing and contracting out tasks to help you get there meant a referral to someone who provides said services was coming. So, without further ado, here is the promotional plug for Amalgam Consulting.