Star Trek:TOS – The Worst to Best Episodes

Overview

Screen Shot 2020-09-20 at 10.33.35 AMI wrote a little program that sorts episodes based on my opinion of each. Remember the old website “Hot or Not” – where you’d be shown the pictures of two people and asked which is hotter? The same idea here.

There are 79 episodes (78 if you consider the two-part “The Menagerie” as one) and the program asked me 400 questions to determine the order.

I broke them down into the four categories: Worst, Mediocre, Good, and Best. Let me know if you agree with my list.

The Worst

  1. Catspaw – The crew of the Enterprise encounter two aliens from another galaxy with magical-seeming powers
  2. Spocks Brain – an alien female beams aboard the Enterprise and after incapacitating the rest of the crew surgically removes Spocks brain. Captain Kirk and the crew have just hours to locate and restore it before Spocks body dies. The episode is widely regarded as the worst episode of the series.
  3. The Tholian Web – Captain Kirk is caught between dimensions while the crew of the Enterprise works to retrieve him. All the while the Tholians are weaving a destructive energy web around the Enterprise.
  4. Day of the Dove – an alien force drives the crew of the Enterprise into brutal conflict with the Klingons.
  5. That Which Survives – the crew of the Enterprise visit an abandoned planet guarded by a mysterious woman.
  6. The Omega Glory – Captain Kirk must find the cure to a deadly disease and put an end to another Starfleet captains cultural interference.”
  7. The Cloud Minders – Captain Kirk races against time to acquire plague-fighting minerals from a world suffering from a grievous social class disparity.
  8. A Taste of Armageddon – the crew of the Enterprise visits a planet engaged in a completely computer-simulated war with a neighboring planet but the casualties including the Enterprises crew are supposed to be real.
  9. The Alternative Factor – the crew of the USS Enterprise encounters a “reality jumping” madman. It is the first Star Trek episode to deal with a parallel universe.
  10. For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky – the crew of the Enterprise rush to stop an asteroid from colliding with a Federation world but discover the asteroid is actually an inhabited ship.
  11. Wink of an Eye – normally invisible time-accelerated aliens take over the Enterprise and attempt to abduct the crew for use as breeding stock.
  12. The Paradise Syndrome – an alien device on a primitive planet erases Captain Kirks memory and he begins a new life with the planets indigenous people modeled on Native Americans.”
  13. Whom Gods Destroy – Captain Kirk faces off with a deranged shape-shifting starship captain determined to control the universe.
  14. The Apple – the crew of the Enterprise visits a planet whose inhabitants live only to serve a machine.

The Mediocre

  1. Fridays Child – the crew of the Enterprise become entangled in a planets tribal power struggle. Adding to their difficulty is the presence of the Klingons and a woman (Julie Newmar) who does not want her unborn child.”
  2. Turnabout Intruder – a woman switches bodies with Captain Kirk and then tries to take over command of the Enterprise.
  3. The Lights of Zetar – strange incorporeal aliens threaten the Memory Alpha station and the Enterprise.
  4. And the Children Shall Lead – the crew of the Enterprise find children with great powers at their disposal.
  5. The Empath – while visiting a doomed planet the landing party is subjected to torturous experiments by powerful aliens.
  6. The Way to Eden – the Enterprise is hijacked by a hippie-like group obsessed with finding a mythical paradise.
  7. Elaan of Troyius – the Enterprise ferries a spoiled princess whose betrothal is hoped will bring peace to a star system at war.
  8. Wolf in the Fold – a series of horrific murders of women on a world where such things never happen points to Mr. Scott as the prime suspect.
  9. A Private Little War – the crew of the Enterprise discovers Klingon interference in the development of a formerly peaceful planet and joins them in what becomes an arms race.
  10. The Mark of Gideon – a race of aliens from an overpopulated planet abduct Captain Kirk to solve their problem.
  11. Where No Man Has Gone Before – after the Enterprise attempts to cross the Great Barrier at the edge of the galaxy two crew members develop powerful ESP abilities which threaten the safety of the crew.
  12. What Are Little Girls Made Of? – Nurse Chapel searches for her long lost fiancé and uncovers his secret plan to create sophisticated androids for galactic conquest.
  13. The Man Trap – the crew visit an outpost on planet M-113 to conduct routine medical exams on the residents only to be attacked by a shapeshifting alien who kills by extracting salt from the victims body.”
  14. Requiem for Methuselah – the crew of the Enterprise encounters an immortal human.
  15. Let That Be Your Last Battlefield – the Enterprise encounters two survivors of a war-torn planet each half black and half white each committed to destroying each other.
  16. The Galileo Seven – First Officer Spock leads a scientific team from the Enterprise aboard the shuttlecraft Galileo on an ill-fated mission facing tough decisions when the shuttle crashes on a planet populated by aggressive giants.
  17. The Immunity Syndrome – the crew of the Enterprise encounters an energy-draining space-dwelling organism.
  18. Is There in Truth No Beauty? – the Enterprise travels with an alien ambassador whose appearance induces madness.
  19. The Savage Curtain – aliens force Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock to join forces with beings who appear to be Abraham Lincoln and Surak to battle villains in a contest between good and evil.
  20. Platos Stepchildren – the crew of the Enterprise encounter an ageless and sadistic race of humanoids with the power of telekinesis.”
  21. By Any Other Name – beings from another galaxy commandeer the Enterprise in an attempt to return home.
  22. Bread and Circuses – Captain Kirk and his companions are forced to fight in gladiatorial games on a planet resembling the Roman Empire but possessing mid-20th century Earth technology.

The Good

  1. Arena – while pursuing a Gorn vessel for an apparently unprovoked attack on a Federation outpost Captain Kirk is forced by powerful entities to battle the opposing captain.
  2. Return to Tomorrow – telepathic aliens take control of Captain Kirk Dr. Ann Mulhall (Diana Muldaur) and First Officer Spocks bodies in order to construct android hosts.
  3. Obsession – Captain Kirk becomes obsessed with destroying a deadly cloud-like entity that killed a crew he was on in the past.
  4. Who Mourns for Adonais? – the crew of the Enterprise are held captive by an alien who claims to be the Greek god Apollo.
  5. The Squire of Gothos – the childish but powerful ruler of the planet Gothos captures the crew of the Enterprise for his own amusement.
  6. The Conscience of the King – Captain Kirk crosses paths with an actor suspected of having been a mass-murdering dictator many years before.
  7. I, Mudd – The crew of the Enterprise has a second encounter with the conman Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) first seen in the Season One episode “Mudds Women”. Mudd is now the supreme ruler of a planet of androids who cater to his every whim.`
  8. Mudd’s Women – the Enterprise pursues a vessel and rescues its occupants Harry Mudd an interstellar con man and the three mysteriously beautiful women he is transporting to become the wives of dilithium miners.”
  9. Charlie X – the Enterprise picks up an unstable 17-year-old boy who spent 14 years alone on a deserted planet and lacks the training and restraint to handle his superhuman mental powers wisely.
  10. Miri – the Enterprise discovers an exact duplicate of Earth where the only survivors of a deadly man-made plague are some of the planets children.”
  11. Errand of Mercy – with a war with the Klingons declared Captain Kirk and his First Officer Mr. Spock attempt to sway the incomprehensibly placid population of a planet near the Klingon border to resist an invading military occupation.
  12. The Corbomite Maneuver – the Enterprise encounters a massive and powerful alien starship and its unusual commander.
  13. Assignment: Earth – engaged in “historical research” the USS Enterprise travels back through time to 1968 Earth where they encounter an interstellar agent planning to intervene in 20th-century events. Kirk and Spock are uncertain of his motives.
  14. The Devil in the Dark – Captain Kirk and Spock face off with a deadly subterranean creature. They are called to investigate a mining facility on a planet and go on an away mission to the facility to try to resolve the issue.
  15. Spectre of the Gun – having been found trespassing into Melkotian space Captain Kirk and members of his crew are sent to die in a re-enactment of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  16. Operation — Annihilate! – the crew of the Enterprise must find a way to exterminate behavior-altering parasites that have taken over the bodies of residents of a Federation colony.
  17. The Return of the Archons – the crew of the Enterprise visit a seemingly peaceful planet whose inhabitants are “of the Body” are controlled by an unseen ruler and enjoy a night of violence during “festival”.
  18. The Gamesters of Triskelion – Captain Kirk and his companions are abducted into slavery and trained to fight as gladiators for the gambling entertainment of three disembodied beings.
  19. Shore Leave – the crew of the Enterprise visits a bizarre planet where the fantasies of the landing party become reality.
  20. Patterns of Force – the crew of the Enterprise tracks down a Federation observer on a planet dominated by a “Naziesque” regime.
  21. Dagger of the Mind – the Enterprise visits a rehabilitation facility for the criminally insane where the chief doctor has been using a device which destroys the human mind.
  22. The Enemy Within – while beaming up from planet Alpha 177 a transporter malfunction causes Captain Kirk to be split into two people one “good” but indecisive and ineffectual; the other “evil” impulsive and irrational.
  23. The Ultimate Computer – the crew of the Enterprise race to disable a rogue computer in total control of the ship.
  24. Court Martial – Captain Kirk stands trial on charges of criminal negligence after jettisoning a manned pod during an emergency.
  25. Tomorrow Is Yesterday – the Enterprise is thrown back to Earth in the 1960s where the US Air Force detects it so the crew must find a way to correct the damage to the timeline.
  26. All Our Yesterdays – Captain Kirk Spock and Dr. McCoy are trapped in two timeframes of another planets past.”
  27. This Side of Paradise – the USS Enterprise visits a planet where the inhabitants are under the influence of strange plant life.
  28. Journey to Babel – the Enterprise must transport dignitaries to a diplomatic conference.
  29. The Naked Time – a strange intoxicating infection which lowers the crews inhibitions spreads throughout the Enterprise. As the madness spreads the entire ship is endangered.

The Best

  1. The Deadly Years – strange radiation causes members of the crew of the Enterprise to age rapidly.
  2. Metamorphosis – a shuttle crew from the USS Enterprise encounters a man out of history and his mysterious alien companion.
  3. A Piece of the Action – The Enterprise visits a planet with an Earth-like 1920s gangster culture with Runyonesque dialog and costumes.
  4. The Trouble with Tribbles – In this comic episode the starship Enterprise visits a space station that soon becomes overwhelmed by rapidly-reproducing small furry creatures called “tribbles”.
  5. Amok Time – The episode features First Officer Spock returning to his homeworld for a brutal Vulcan wedding ritual. It is the only episode of The Original Series to depict scenes on the planet Vulcan.
  6. Space Seed – the Enterprise crew encounter a sleeper ship holding selectively bred superpeople from Earths past. Their leader Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán) attempts to take control of the Enterprise.”
  7. The Enterprise Incident – the crew of the Enterprise are on a secret mission to steal a Romulan cloaking device. A sub-plot is a romance of sorts between Spock and a Romulan commander.
  8. Mirror Mirror – a transporter malfunction that swaps Captain Kirk and his companions with their evil counterparts from a parallel universe. In this “mirror universe” the Enterprise is a ship of the Terran Empire a conquering and murdering organization where officers are assassinated as punishment and as a means of promotion.
  9. The Changeling – The crew of the USS Enterprise deals with a life-destroying space probe originally launched from Earth. The plot contains similarities to the later 1979 Star Trek film.[1]
  10. Balance of Terror – the Enterprise battles a Romulan ship after investigating an unidentified assailant who methodically destroys the Federations outposts at the Neutral Zone.”
  11. The Doomsday Machine – the starship Enterprise fights a powerful planet-killing machine from another galaxy.
  12. The Menagerie – Spock abducts his former commander Christopher Pike locks the Enterprise on a course to the forbidden planet Talos IV and turns himself in for court-martial where he presents an elaborate story explaining his actions.
  13. The City on the Edge of Forever – after a heavily medicated Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) travels back in time and changes history, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) follow him to correct the timeline. In doing so, Kirk falls in love with Edith Keeler (Joan Collins), but realizes that in order to save his future, he must allow her to die.’

Star Trek First Frontier – Review

One of the groups of fan fiction filmmakers has released their feature Star Trek film “First Frontier.” It took five years to produce and violates many of Viacom/CBS’s guidelines for a fan-fic-film:

1: It’s 70 minutes long (the limit is 30 minutes)
2: They built their own set
3: They use professional actors
4: They use non-CBS props and costumes

Some of the interviews I’ve read indicate that the writer/producers feel they were grandfathered in – but that designation is a bit in the gray space.

The Plot

The setting is 10 years before Kirk and friends launch on their 5-year mission. Commander Robert April is having family issues as he and his wife are trying to work out their marital problems. April is being offered command of a Constitution class starship, but he flatly refuses.

Meanwhile, a deadly alien force is killing people in the solar system – just because. And they are on their way to Earth with designs to kill everyone. It is up to April’s friend Captain Colins to take a not-quite-ready NCC-1701 Enterprise out to prevent the deadly force from succeeding. For some reason, April is on board the Enterprise to help Colins get the Enterprise ship-shape.

Long story short – Colins is incapacitated and it’s up to April to take the Enterprise and it’s not-quite-ready crew into the unknown to save the Earth.

The Good

ST:FF is more like Star Trek: The Original Series than anything we’ve seen since Star Trek: The Next Generation. In addition to capturing the technology of the 22nd century, the look of the original pilot(s) [The Cage/The Menagerie and Where No Man Has Gone Before], the pholosophy, and the general atmosphere of the original, the special effects are modern and yet still true to the orginal.

The acting is quite good and consistent with what we became enamored with in the late 1960s Star Trek universe. Certain elements relating to women as being weaker than men and gender issues are updated for modern tastes. I believe even the costumes (though very true to the ST:TOS pilots) were upgraded to be less obviously exploitive.

I believe this production built their own sets. And they are beautiful. The sets look like our familiar Enterprise, but somehow fresh, clean, and new. Special attention was paid to lighting the sets that made the bridge bright but not garish.

The script calls back to many of the same themes that made Star Trek iconic. We have a conflicted captain, an existential crisis, modern themes of the roles of men and women (in the workplace as well as husband and wife working in the same office space).

To the writers’ credit, this script felt very much like classic Trek. The word choices, the conflicts, the characterizations all reflect the original series and could easily have been written by someone of that era. The Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II fan-fic episodes included veteran Star Trek actors, writers, and directors. Still, ST:FF supersedes them all by having a script that captures the essence of ST:TOS.

The Bad

A big complaint of mine with the production of ST:FF is the audio. There’s a mish-mash of ST:TOS and ST:TNG music. And it seems as if the music is unrelenting. It is constantly running. At times when silence and just the humming of the engines would be both familiar and suspenseful, there’s a soundtrack and a cacophony of beeps and bleeps playing over the dialog.

Which brings me to my second biggest complaint – the audio was randomly variable. This film needs a serious overhaul in audio editing. There are times I cannot hear the actors’ words because of all the noise. And some actors seem closer to the microphones while others are further away – making it hard to hear important plot points.

While the practical effects are quite good, some of the interior-shot CGI left much to be desired. Some of the sets were green screen backgrounds and the actors had that “halo” effect that is a distraction. Also, there were problems with scale (especially surrounding the shuttlecraft – sometimes the shuttlecraft dwarfed the actors).

The alien being was particularly bizarre harkening back to 1950s horror films and Outer Limits. The eyes were especially confusing as they seemed to jiggle around on the alien’s head. It’s not clear if this was intentional or designed to reflect a 1960s special effects aesthetic. This alien didn’t seem to belong in a Star Trek universe. It seemed more like a Dr. Who reject.

The Ugly

ST:FF stayed scrupulously close to canon – except where it didn’t. I got the impression that the Federation had not yet ventured far out into the void. Yet, there were a large number of aliens on board – and even in command of the virgin Constellation class starships. I seem to recall that it was quite novel for Spock, an alien, to be on the bride of the ST:TOS Enterprise. Yet Capt. April’s Enterprise was quite literally crawling with them.

Many of the Hollywood and the fan-fic Star Trek franchises suffer from a nauseating amount of fan service in the form of call-backs to ST:TOS. In particular, we see tribbles, Tranya, Romulan Ale, etc… scattered randomly around the sets of modern incarnations of Star Trek. We don’t see a lot of that in ST:FF.

But there are an alarming number of “stolen” themes. April hides the ship in asteroid field noting that “we won’t be able to see them, but they won’t be able to see us either” which echoes Star Trek: Wrath of Khan. The alien ship must lower its shield before it can fire its weapon – much like the Romulan cloaking device of ST:TOS. The all-evil, unconvinceable aliens remind me of the Borg. Even the final line of the film is a cut-and-paste from earlier Treks. These are just a few of the many “feels” that were borrowed from other Star Trek incarnations.

Conclusions

Perhaps my biggest complaint is the aliens and the general theme of the episode. The aliens are pure evil with no clear motivation. We never really see a conversation with them. Gene Roddenberry insisted that aliens have some sort of humanity such that we could identify with them. These aliens are bent on the destruction of anything in their path – for no apparent reason.

In both ST:TOS and ST:TNG we would often see Kirk or Picard debating with the alien force. There was always a human element to the conflicts with alien forces. The captains often wondered if perhaps, this was a misunderstanding and that the enemy could be turned into an ally.

But here, the alien is a mere prop to allow us to establish Capt. April and his crew as the first Five Year mission. There is no real moral to this story. While April finds his place in the stars, there’s not real point to the story. And as such – it falls flat as a proper Star Trek story. As much as I liked Star Trek First Frontier, I think they squandered a huge opportunity to capture the essence of Star Trek – our humanity.

You can watch the full feature on Youtube.com here: Star Trek First Frontier

Agile Writer Adenike Lucas Publishes “Birthright”!

Congratulations to our own Adenike (Brandi) Lucas for her publication of “Birthright”!

Lucas let me know back in May and with everything going on, it slipped my attention to send out a notice.
Check it out on Amazon:

Meet Medallion. The great niece to Mary; a distinguished woman with a vast family fortune. Mary wants to pass the family traditions of healing to Medallion, but Medallion is distracted by the torrid affair she’s having with Rodney, her husband Waymen’s work rival. Medallion is pregnant with her first child and doesn’t know if Rodney or Waymen is the father and uses the revelation as a way to keep at least one of the men by her side.

Medallion’s married life is tumultuous, but Aunt Mary believes some time spent at the family home, Glory Hill Plantation, could be just what the young couple needs to rekindle their love and bond over their new baby. Unfortunately, time spent at Glory Hill could possibly be the end of their marriage and their family when a mysterious woman makes friends with Medallion. 

In 1858, Sunta, the youngest of seven enslaved women on Glory Hill Plantation dies while giving birth to her son Elijah. Only wanting to be with her first born, Sunta waits in The White, a space between the realm of life and where the ancestor’s dwell. When the reunion she longs to have with Elijah never comes, she finds her way back to the realm of life clinging to a soul she thought belonged to her baby. Now back on Glory Hill with the child she thought she lost, Sunta makes the choice to take them back to The White where they can both rest in peace. 

Birthright is the story of legacy. Follow Medallion as she learns the power her ancestors possessed also lives within her. Before her powers can be bestowed, she has to learn the power of love and sacrifice which will keep her family together. With the help of her Aunt Mary, her husband Waymen, and her new friend Nurse Jackie, will she finally make the sacrifice of love, or will she allow her selfishness to rip her away from her true destiny?

Experimenter (2015)

Experimenter (2015)
Director: Michael Almereyda
Writer: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, John PalladinoAnthony EdwardsJim Gaffigan 

Peter Sarsgaard plays Dr. Stanley Milgram who in 1961 performed a series of experiments where unwitting subjects asked another person questions and shocked them with up to 450 volts of electricity for each wrong answer. The fact was, that no one was actually shocked. The “shockee” (or learner) was behind a wall and the “shocker” (or teacher) was instructed to continue to shock the learner as long as they got the answer wrong.

In the experiment, the “shockee” would complain loudly of pain, even begging for help. If Experimenter_Posterthe “shocker” asked the director to stop, they would be blithely asked to continue. The conclusions of the test were that people would do what they were told in the face of authority.

The show is shot in a unique fashion. They purposely used flat murals and old 16mm backgrounds to simulate driving giving the film a period-piece feel by using period filming techniques. Also, there’s a scene where Milgram is talking to the screen while walking the halls of Harvard – with an elephant walking behind him. Possibly that’s the “elephant in the room?”

Experimenter re-raises some old questions about using human subjects in psychological experiments. Since the subjects were “fooled” into the situation, they had no control over how they were treated. And, they may have suffered adverse affects due to the stress of hurting another person under perceived duress.

This film went to great pains to show that “no one was harmed” in the study. They even went so far as to show Milgram enjoying an episode of “Candid Camera” where people faced the back of an elevator to induce conformity. (Interestingly, there was no mention of his friendship and collaboration with high school chum Philip Zimbardo of the famed Stanford prison experiment from 1971. The two were fans of Alan Funt’s show).

In the end, Experimenter is an interesting look at the work of a man who uncovered startling truths about the psychology of modern man. It begs the question – is there a ‘banality of evil’ in each of us. Unfortunately, the story is told as a fictionalization that makes us very aware that we’re looking at a movie. Ironically, it casts some serious shade on a 1975 fictionalization of Milgram’s work staring William Shatner (The Tenth Level). Milgram was apparently so upset with the work that it threatened his marriage.

To this day, Milgram’s work is required reading in psychology curricula – despite the fact that modern standards would never allow their reproduction. Many scientists dispute the results – despite Milgram’s repetition of the experiment in several countries which all come to the same conclusions.

Is there a “banality of evil” in each of us? This film doesn’t try to answer that question. It only attempts to set the record straight on Milgram’s research methods and their benign effects on its subjects. However, it is notable that Philip Zimbardo who came to similar conclusions as Milgram after his Stanford prison experiment, now proclaims a “banality of heroism” in each of us and is a leader in the Heroism Science community.

From a storytelling point of view, Experimenter is very non-standard. It straddles the line between documentary and fiction. Having the protagonist talk to the screen gives us an immediacy you don’t normally get in a movie. But it also opens the opportunity for Milgram to be an “unreliable narrator”. So, it comes off as a sort of “Milgram apologetic” – validating his work.

  • Recommendation:
  • See it now
  • ✔️See it eventually
  • Good cure for amnesia
  • Skip it

Agile Writer Ken Hubona Does it Again: Shades Released!

David Quinn isn’t about to get drafted into the Army. Let someone else slog around the jungle to fight Lyndon Johnson’s war. But his student deferment is about to run out, and the Navy and Air Force recruiters are already swamped with panicked college boys in the same pickle. He can’t run to Canada. That would kill his dad. And getting a conscientious-objector deferment practically requires being a priest. So when a recruiter shows up on campus pitching the sizzle of naval aviation, Dave is seduced by the golden wings, ultra-cool aviator shades, and the promise of a jumbo jet career as a Pan Am captain. It is both his way out and the glamorous career he deserves.

 

But he lands in a remote outpost, where he struggles against a demanding superior, aging aircraft, and his own fears. When his dogged ambition inflicts devastation, he has to face the kind of man he has become, profiting from war while others suffer. Now, he must make an agonizing choice.

 

SHADES is a story of ambition and friendship, sacrifice and loss, and ultimately, discovery and hope. In the worst of times we find the best in ourselves.

 

Author Bio:
Ken Hubona earned his Navy wings in 1969. Stationed in the Philippines, he deployed to bases throughout the Far East, including Da Nang and Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, and logged carrier landings aboard the USS Constellation, USS America, and USS Shangri La. This novel was inspired by that experience. He now lives and writes in suburban Richmond, Virginia.

 

Get the Paperback or Kindle at Amazon.com.

 

Public Library Shuns Writer

From Publishers’ Weekly:

“YA author Julia Watts has been removed from the slate of authors participating in LitUp, a teen literary festival sponsored by the Knox County (Tenn.) Public Library that was inspired by a teen book festival of the same name launched last year in the Kansas City area. Knoxville’s inaugural LitUp festival is scheduled to take place on October 13 with a full day of programming, including appearances by 10 YA authors, a mix of regional and national names.

“According to Watts, a local indie bookseller who is involved in the LitUp festival’s planning65133-v1-245x asked her in July to be one of its featured authors. “My name and photo went up on the website,” she said. Last Friday, however, that same bookseller called Watts to tell her that she was no longer slated to appear, as, after Googling her name, a member of the organizing committee had expressed concerns that she has also written erotica.”

I’ve seen this before. When a public organization or non-profit decides they don’t like what an author has written, they withdraw support. In this case, Julia Watts is in every way a “legitimate” writer. While she’s written erotica (which is essentially pornography in print), she was not presenting that content. She was presenting her traditionally published YA/LGBTQ fiction.

This is a case of confusing the author and the art. There is no law against writing pornography. Generally speaking there is a difference between erotic romance and erotica.

While I don’t allow erotica in my workshops (I tell the writers no worse than “R-rated” content, please), I have never turned an author away for their content. I wonder if this library would have turned Shel Silversteen away for writing for Playboy? I certainly think not.

Shunning authors for any reason is unacceptable. Content does not maketh the man*. If an author has a catalog that includes works that are essentially illegal, that is one thing. But shunning an author for artistic expression is the worst form of censorship.

Read More at Pubisher’s Weekly

* I hope you will forgive my appropriation of the cliche and its associated gender bias.

Some Definitions

“Erotic romance, according to a definition from the Romance Writers of America, refers to “novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the love story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline.”

“And erotica? “Erotica is just people doing it,” says Cordelia Logan, who has written 19 stories under five pen names and is beginning to focus on BDSM. (To maintain privacy, she declined to reveal her pseudonyms.) “[Characters] are having sex in interesting ways and with interesting people,” she says. “There’s not a lot of character development. The plot revolves around how these people are going to do it, and what’s getting in the way.”

From Publisher’s Weekly

Good vs. Bad book? Don’t Judge

(loudandcleargraphics.co.uk)

K.M. Weiland is an excellent resource for writers of all types. Her website Helping Writers Become Authors should be on everyone’s short list of helpful websites. Also, her books on writing are excellent and merge well with Agile Writer theory. But, in a recent site article by Katherine Marsh entitled “Why Do So Many Bad Books Sell on Amazon?” steps over the line from advice to judgement. Let me explain.

In the article Marsh explains that Amazon has started promoting eBooks that are newer – like only 30 days old. This has allowed ‘ghost writers’ to churn out new stories using a template from a previous book (replace princess with enchantress, replace castle with mansion, etc…). Thus, these writers are producing a book a month and getting (presumably) good sales.

What Ms. Marsh argues is that this promotes ‘bad books’. At Agile Writers the definition of success is getting your book into the hands of readers who want them. If readers are buying these copycats, then they are probably satisfied. Otherwise, they’d return them (you *can* return eBooks, you know). Therefore, these are not bad books. They are finding a home with people who crave the same plot lines with different characters and locations. The Romance genre is rife with this sort of churning.

And that’s, Okay.

It’s the responsibility of the author to work the system – to play the game – to get their work into the hands of readers who want to read it. Knowing how the game is played and then playing the game well does that.

Ms. Marsh goes on to lay out a plan to deliver *good* books (in her estimation) by splitting a novel into segments that are released every 30 days. This is a brilliant strategy the uses the Amazon system to the author’s benefit. There is no need to qualify ‘good’ vs. ‘bad.’

The READER determines what is good or bad, not the author – and not the algorithms at Amazon nor the publishers in the ivory towers of the Big Four publishing houses.

I heartily recommend Ms. Marsh’s article because it lays out the information you’ll need to get your book in front of more readers’ eyes.

However, this should be only one arrow in your quiver of promotional tools. Remember – Amazon is a *destination* site. People go there because THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. Impulse buys on Amazon are far less likely than in a bricks-and-mortar store like Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. People go to bookstores, newsstands, drug stores, and others without knowing precisely what book they want – if any.

But because the self-published author doesn’t have the advantage of in-store sales, we have to rely on self-promotion. And by self-promotion I mean social media and search advertising.

Learn the rules of the game. Then play the game well. The definition of a ‘good book’ is one that finds its reader. Make sure your book finds its home in the hands of the reader waiting for it.

Is Agile Writers a Good Value?

A nearby writer’s group is offering the following:

Category Local MFA Offering Agile Writers
Instructor: MFA Grad/Novelist Agile Writer Coach
Price $1,399 $160 ($5/week)
Entry Requirements 10-page sample None.
Start Date September 9, 2019 Any time you’re ready
Class Size Limit 10 students Limited by Space
Length of Program 39 weeks
(9 months)
32 weeks
(6 weeks Storyboarding + 26 weeks writing / critque)
Meeting Frequency 1-2x per month Every Week
Number of Mtgs 13 32
Time with Coach 30 minutes 6+ weeks Agile Storyboarding
Critique Style Individual Study Groups of 3 Critique Partners
Number of Critiques 2 (from teacher and peers) 32 (6 from Agile Coach on Storyboard, 26 from peers)
Total Hours In Class 13*3 = 39hrs 32*2 = 64hrs
Cost / Hour $1399/39hrs = $35.87/hr $160/64hrs = $2.5/hr

Agile Writer Ken Hubona Publishes First Novel “Brewing Justice”

Agile Writers’ Ken Hubona has published his debut novel, Brewing Justice. Ken came to Agile Writers in 2014 to convert a work-in-progress screenplay to a novel format. Since then Ken has been a constant presence at Agile Writers informing the method and contributing valuable inputs to our study of rewriting and critique.

Ken finished his first novel “Shades” (a semi-autobiographical story about fighter pilots in Viet Nam) and put it on the shelf to cool off. He then picked up with a new story he called simply “Bob.” Over time “Bob” developed into what Ken has now released as “Brewing Justice.”

Please share us in congratulating Ken Hubona on his achievement. And take a minute to go to Amazon.com and read the first few chapters for free:  https://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Justice-Ken-Hubona-ebook/dp/B07KSNGWTQ

Legal dynamo Bob Baldwin forges corporate mergers that reap millions for CEOs, investment bankers, and law firms. Meanwhile, rank-and-file workers watch their jobs disappear, families suffer, and communities crumble. Bob soothes his guilt with the balm of a grand salary and beautiful wife. But when an act of betrayal claims his woman, his income, and even his health, he learns the pain of an indifferent world and can no longer ignore the carnage of his work. In a defiant rage, he steals millions from the law firm and flees to start a new life in a remote village where the values of honesty, loyalty, and community still survive.

Despised by a tyrannical boss, deceived by a manipulative trophy wife, and pursued by a dogged but conflicted detective, Bob struggles to rebuild the town that corporate “right-sizing” has destroyed—before his ex-employer can track him down and exact revenge. As the hounds close in, Bob realizes that war is not won by hiding in the trenches. He must take the battle to the citadel.

Brewing Justice is a story of greed and betrayal, sacrifice and loss, and ultimately love and redemption. In the worst of times, we find the best in ourselves.

Ken Hubona has been a naval aviator, attorney, engineer, and bureaucrat. He lives and writes in suburban Richmond, Virginia. He can be contacted at KenHubona@comcast.net

 

Brewing Justice is available on Amazon at

https://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Justice-Ken-Hubona-ebook/dp/B07KSNGWTQ

Speaking at “Awesomize Your Life”

I just found out about Shawn Furey’sAwesomize Your Life” seminar next week (March 23rd, 2019) in Augusta, Maine. Shawn is a leader in the heroism science community and applies his special knowledge of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to help facilitate psycho-educational groups and provide one-on-one counseling to people in recovery from opioid addiction. He’s a true hero.

So, he asked me if the Agile Writer Method could be used in autobiography and memoir to help recovering addicts and others tell their stories. And I said yes, and many people at Agile Writers have done just that. The Hero’s Journey is superbly attuned to just such stories.

So, I signed up for Shawn’s conference and wouldn’t you know it? He asked me to speak. I’ll be presenting alongside other hero science luminaries as David Rendall, author of the book “The Freak Factor” and Dan & Carrie Chavanne who stopped a shooting at a Wal-mart in Augusta, Maine.

I’ll be talking about how we use the hero’s journey to write autobiography and memoir at the Agile Writer Workshop. I hope you’ll drop by Shawn’s web page to learn more and take a look at his Facebook group “The Hero Science Think Tank” where many people in the hero science community gather to share thoughts, opinions, and research on heroes and heroism.

 

 

https://success4.com/blog/the-hero-forge-shawn-fury/