Sunday, September 26, 2021

Book Review: Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3 Second World

Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3 Second World by Brendan Kane

'Lo People,

Her Tangh-i-ness does not review books unless the writer's message appeals to her. Kindles, I must say, are a Book Hoarder's nightmare. They take you straight down the path of book addiction, but that is another topic altogether. Anyhoo, Her Tangh-i-ness read this book and now she has funny thoughts that Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3 Second World will help other writers she knows.

Writers are you listening? Actually, any Creatives in the house can take away Hook Point's actionable strategies. Her Tangh-i-ness believes as the book suggests "Think big." Up the Ante people. I have a feeling that Brendan Kane is a believer in the 100th monkey effect. There will be this explosion of writers building loyal followings because they have come up with their own interpretations of the techniques outlined in Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3 Second World.

But first I have some disturbing news for Writers/Creatives about the book.

Even Writing or Creating can be a business.

Gasp. Her Tangh-i-ness is a Creative and a Writer. I can't possibly be about business at the same time.

Her Tangh-i-ness will now launch into an imaginary conversation with Brendan Kane using quotes from the book.

Brendan Kane: "You provide your value by letting other people experience it."

Her Tangh-i-ness says: I must be ahead of the curve then. I'm priceless.

Brendan Kane: "You can't ask for money right away; you need to provide value first."

Her Tangh-i-ness says: But I'm priceless.

Brendan Kane: "Remember, the more value you give, the more value you get."

Her Tangh-i-ness: You know I'm priceless, right?

Brendan Kane throws up his hands and walks away.

Her Tangh-i-ness: There, I just proved my message.

PS. If you actually read the book you'll understand what that little exchange was about.

Note: Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3 Second World was a self-purchased digital title. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Monday, March 1, 2021

In Defense of Wish-Fullfillment

In Defense of Wish-Fullfillment (An Essay about Writing) by Jarla Tangh

I’ve had it pointed out to me that I write wish-fulfillment stories.

My sister, Bobbi another writer, once took pleasure in a YA series called Sweet Valley High that I loathed. She loved it because it had the 1st-world problems of why won’t anyone in my peer group take me seriously, along with what dress to wear to that event, and what boy would be with the female characters on their quest to have an enviable semester or was it a summer. Who with any brain cells cares?

Yeah, I said it.

Sweet Valley High did nothing for me, as one can see, from my frothing at the mouth. First of all, the characters looked nothing like me. It’s not that I can’t relate to nonBlack characters. I’ll have you know I adore Lucy and Edmund Pevensie. The lovely thing about Narnia is I was able to just dwell there without being reminded of my otherness. C.S. Lewis put two humans in front of me and I wanted to know what would happen with the faun and the lion everyone kept talking about.

I am other. I am also Black. I accept that. So I want to read happy stories about others and Black characters that have magical things happening. I don’t want my others or my Black characters to suffer or struggle. People with 1st-world or Mainstream American problems do not get what it is to walk outside the door in public without being attacked for being other, specifically, Black. So why do I want to read or see others and Blacks getting attacked until the end?

Please don’t tell me that I’ll be inspired. I am not. I get angry. I have suffering and struggle in my ancestry.

It has me cringing when faced with people who look like me still living in tin-roofed shacks with outhouses in North Carolina. Where the hate in a general store leaves the tongue petrified to the floor of one’s mouth when a storekeeper barks at you. If I gave into the urge to verbally dismantle the bigot, I’d possibly end up at the end of a shotgun.

It’s self-preservation that ruled the day there. I understood I didn’t matter to the bigot and there would be no success in attempting to change his mind.

Everything in genre fiction follows the idea that after a character has been through sufficient Hell, they may, or may not, have a happy ending. A dwarf or several may die, and a sandworm will drown. Whole families try to exterminate each other.

It’s the tension and the suspense that will keep one turning pages.


Other times, I just throw the book across the room, and if I’m truly peeved I will have to write my own interpretation of whatever the concept driving the reviled novel or story.

Mine is the mind that thinks a white ex-con who accidentally killed a Black woman’s child ends up as her male submissive instead of that best-seller about the college girl who dallies with getting spanked by a tycoon.

But enough about me.

There are times I just long to be transported as I was with Octavia Butler’s Wildseed, Craig Laurance Gidney’s Skin Deep Magic, Milton Davis’s From Here to Timbuktu, Charles Saunder’s Imaro, Valjeanne Jeffers’ Colony Ascension: An Erotic Space Opera, and Samuel Delany’s Tales of Nevèrÿon.

But those stories have struggle and suffering in them and even plots, you say.

That wasn’t why I kept reading them. I read them because of each author’s brand wish-fulfillment spoke to me. I wish there was a Black Adventurer with a sword instead of that Cimmerian barbarian guy to read. I wish there was a Black woman who could change shape and stand up to a difficult antagonist who falls in love with her. I wish that a gay slave could choose to re-purpose a slave collar into a love token with another gay slave.

I took in these author’s wishes for their characters loud and clear and felt compelled to know how they worked out. So in my own works, I will not be focused on themes, or plots, but what can I wish for these characters that I want to read?

Oh, dear, am I being a Contrarian again?

—Her Tangh-i-ness

Saturday, February 13, 2021

I Can’t Write (An Essay about Writing)

I Can’t Write

(An Essay about Writing)

by Jarla Tangh

I am a Pantser. Pantser means writing to enjoy the journey and getting messy and seeing where the journey takes us. I am in a writing group with a Plotter.

When I put my latest Pantsing effort in for critique, I learn over and over again that I do not have a story. I don’t have the means to transport my reader into my world and have them want to stay there.

Sometimes, I do.

But it’s not often enough for a Plotter. If the story works, it turns out to be hit-or-miss in the Plotter’s opinion. I am fine with not knowing. For me, part of the delight comes in discovering: what am I trying to say? I take in the feedback from someone else who read it and they tell me where they didn't get it.

If I knew what I wanted to say, the impetus for writing it out becomes null and void. It makes me wonder if the other Pantsers have brains like mine. I do not live by goals, or beats, or structures. I begin with a character in a situation and follow her/him to wherever they end up. I also have a hard time with writing short stories. Did I mention that?

I prefer writing longer. It takes me time to wind up and I have to have a good ramble through a lot of sentences with adjectives, gerunds, and fragments before I have something.

If I am lucky, I really enjoy polishing my story when I am writing it, after it sits, and then polishing my story again. I suppose at that point is when I should share it with a Plotter.

Perhaps not.

I will have to write for me. I am who started me on this writing business. I wrote because I wanted to see something I wasn’t seeing. Because I’ve never seen it before may be part of the reason I don’t have the next steps for it or the escalating progression of cause and effect.

This is not an apology for being a Pantser. It’s simply my reality.

‘Nuff said.

—Her Tangh-i-ness