WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

Earlier this week someone released a video from Anonymous claiming that NASA was about to reveal the existence of extraterrestrials on Earth. While that would have been some mind-blowing stuff to drop into the world’s lap, it turned out they did it just for the lulz.

Which is probably for the better.

There’s been an ongoing conspiracy theory that aliens have been among us for a very long time, but hiding out lest they be seen. Whether or not this is true is a matter of some fearsome debate. What is interesting is a little known sub-conspiracy theory that says the powers that be are well aware of the existence of extraterrestrials and are ready to tell the world. There’s just one teeny little problem: that knowledge – especially after decades of claiming there are no aliens on the planet – would likely blow more than a few minds. So, in an attempt to minimize the damage a bombshell like that would cause, the information will be leaked slowly. Like, over years or decades.

I read that theory a long time ago when I was in college and for some reason or another, it stuck with me. Now, every time I see a new bit of news about new planets in habitable zones or the possible existence of microscopic life out there, I always wonder if it’s just interesting news or if the plan is proceeding as expected.

That said, we’re living on a planet that’s getting a little rough around the edges and run by a bunch of jack offs that don’t seem interested in fixing it up. So, it’s nice to see this might not be the only planet out there that can support life somewhat similar to ours.

We still have that pesky problem of actually getting someplace that’s multiple light years away, but at least we have a good idea that there might be something to get to. NASA has recently discovered ten new potentially habitable planets, so when the Earth finally kerplodes, we might actually be able to find a new place to live as a species.

Hopefully the new planets won’t be run by the slumlords that run the current one.

Check, check, check it out here.

If you’d like to get hold of more news that doesn’t suck, go check out this month’s hosts:

Lynn Hallbrooks, Michelle Wallace,
Sylvia Stein, Sylvia McGrath and Belinda Witzenhausen

If you’d like to join up with We Are The World Blogfest, I have good news for you: it’s free. Go check it out here.


1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Father’s Day 2017

A few jokes for you for Father’s Day 2017.


During the Middle Ages intelligence was just as important as it is now. Wars are won and lost by intelligence and while a strong army is necessary to win the day, it’s intelligence that tells that army where to be and what to expect. Without good intel, armies can wind up in the wrong place or get smashed by a vastly superior force that could have been defeated if only they moved the fight to Thermopylae.

Gregor Badnick wanted desperately to rule the country. He had the best army, the best weapons, and the best uniforms. The problem was, he was fighting an invisible force. The best way to fight a numerically superior force was with hit and run tactics and since Badnick’s army was the best, his enemy nipped at his heels and disappeared into the wilderness.

Badnick understood intelligence and his spies managed to capture an incredible asset: the Count of VanGoodstan. The good Count was responsible for commanding his small, but mobile army in the ongoing war and he knew where the small army was going to be next.

The Count of VanGoodstan was strapped to a wooden bench with a masked man holding a giant hatchet standing next to him. He knew that telling Gregor where the army was would mean death for everything they stood for, so he clenched his fists and refused to answer any questions.

“Where is the army?” Gregor roared.


“Tell me or I’ll slice your head off and decorate my carriage with it!”


Gregor snapped his fingers and the masked man brought the blade down in a sweeping arc, stopping inches from the Count’s throat. Count VanGoodstan gulped hard. His resolve was already wavering.

“Where is the army?” Gregor asked quietly.

“What army?” the Count asked.

Gregor snapped his fingers and the blade swept down through the air. This time, the blade caressed the Count’s throat. Blood welled up through the cut, thick and warm, and dripped down his throat.

“Last chance,” Gregor said.

The Count steeled his resolve. He didn’t want to die, but he didn’t want to see anyone else die. “Never,” he whispered through white lips.

Gregor snapped his fingers again. The blade arced through the air like a mighty sliver blur. Thoughts poured through the Count’s mind as time seemed to slow down. He saw his wife, all flowing hair and beautiful smile. His son’s bright eyes flashed.

“Wait!” the Count said, “I’ll talk!”

But it was too late. The hatchet took his head. Gregor roared his anger to the heavens. His last chance at success was bleeding out all over the floor. In the end, Gregor Badnick lost the war and his head because he forgot the cardinal rule of warfare: Never hatchet your Count before he chickens.


People say “mad scientist” like it means something. Every idea that changes the status quo is called “madness” by small-minded people who cannot understand the great plan.

Dr. Wilford Ostenhoffer was not man who cared what the little people thought. He wanted immortality and when it was right he would offer it to the world. Then they would appreciate his greatness.

So, Dr. Ostenhoffer did what he did best: he stuck his middle-finger in Mother Nature’s face and found a way to clone himself.

The clone was perfect! A magical creation that looked and thought just like him. While the clone Ostenhoffer traveled the world speaking about the wondrous new science being created, regular Ostenhoffer continued on his quest for immortality.

Unfortunately, the clone began to break down. It started with his mind. First, he just started using smaller and smaller words, but soon he started releasing the occasional obscenity during his speeches. Eventually, the speeches were nothing more than shrieking tirades.

Real Ostenhoffer knew he had a problem on his hands. He still had work to do and the clone was causing problems. Ostenhoffer wasn’t a violent man, though, and couldn’t bring himself to shoot the clone. He lured the babbling clone to the top of the biggest building in the city and they both watched the city below. As the clone continued ranting, Ostenhoffer pushed it off the building.

Unfortunately for him, a CCTV camera caught the event and, before Dr. Ostenhoffer could finish saving the world, he was arrested for making an obscene clone fall.


Have a happy Father’s Day, everyone. Try to at least crack a smile when us dads casually toss around some bad jokes.

Cover Fonts – Evoking Emotion Through Typography

Since the explosion of self-publishing, a cottage industry of graphic designers has cropped up to create the covers that sell the books. I know, I know, you should never judge a book by its cover, but let’s be realistic here: we all look at covers as our first line of decision making. Imagine for a moment you’ve never heard of Ray Bradbury. He’s just another guy cranking out books. You come across this cover.


Would it catch your eye?

Probably not. To be fair, I just grabbed some clip art I had lying around and threw some text on the cover, so it’s admittedly not my best work. The font, by the way, is the default Inkscape sans-serif font, cleverly named “sans-serif”.

If you’re unfamiliar with Fahrenheit 451, drop what you’re doing and go read it. It’s an important piece of literature and that’s not something I say lightly. If you are familiar with it, you’ll recognize the element of a burning book that is central to the story.

So, okay, it’s not a good cover from really any point of view, but rather than worry about the images of the flames and the book, we’re going to focus on the fonts and the emotions they invoke. That’s right, your font choice can elicit an emotional response. And that’s a very good thing, provided you’re eliciting the response you intend to elicit.

Inkscape’s default sans-serif font doesn’t do much to evoke a response, but it probably wasn’t intended to. It’s clean and easy to read, but it’s about as emotional as VCR instructions. Fahrenheit 451 is a very passionate book and saddling its cover with a font meant for memos and yard sale posters isn’t doing it credit. This is where exploring your font choices can make a huge impact. Just like you’d take the time to find the right images, it’s extremely important to find the right fonts – and that’s where a lot of beginners take a hit.

I’ve harped on fonts and typography in general before, so if you want a bit of background (including some cool free tips on Inkscape and GIMP), check these out. This post is going to be less historical and technical than some of the past ones, but no less important in terms of effective design.

Back in 2006, the Wichita State University’s Software Usability Research Laboratory conducted a study to see how people perceived certain fonts. Attaching something as nebulous and fleeting as an emotion or a perception to a font is no easy task, but the results were interesting. Using some standard Windows fonts, the researchers asked people to associate a font with a personality trait. You can go read more about that here, but the takeaway was people associate fonts with traits, sometimes quite strongly. Interestingly enough, sans-serif fonts didn’t seem to raise any noticeable good or bad personality associations, which would explain why the cover text for our mock-up of F451 looks so bland. But they did make some interesting associations (from blog.hubspot.com/marketing):

  • Serif fonts were rated as “stable,” “practical,” and “mature.”

  • Sans serif fonts didn’t receive any particularly positive or negative personality associations.

  • Script fonts were perceived as “feminine,” “funny,” and “casual.”

  • Modern fonts were categorized as “masculine,” “assertive,” and “coarse.”

  • Monospaced fonts were called “dull,” “plain,” and “unimaginative.”

Recently, CreativeMarket.com had a font sale – a whopping 43 fonts for 21 bucks (link at bottom). Some of them I’ll likely never use, but there were enough standouts in the collection to warrant purchasing it.

Just to show how font choice can affect the tone of a word, I chose a handful of the fonts and applied them to one word: Evolution. The word itself is something that could conceivably fit almost any genre of book from sci-fi to romance to horror. Watch what happens:

Inkscape default sans-serif, not bad, but not exciting, either
Inkscape standard serif font. At least has a bit more oomph, even if it’s evocative of newsprint.
Flanela Sans. Now we’re getting somewhere. The stark, thin lines could be good for sci-fi or a thriller. There’s a certain coldness to the font. Very computer-y without resorting to the standard monotype fonts that people seem to think computers still use.
Beautiful Friday 01. A playful font that’s more evocative of harmless fun. This would definitely not work for horror or thriller; it’s too happy. Would be good for romcom or feel-good fiction.
Castrina Typescript. Maybe it’s just me, but this feels very feminine. Probably a good choice for romance or summer beach reading.
Mutiara. The harsh lines don’t speak of safety or even sanity. Mutiara has an almost sinister, slasher-like feel to it. This would be a good choice for horror, but probably not a lot else unless it’s paired with another font; it’s too rough thrillers and far too in your face for romance.
Lost Volution. The Gothic lines are neat and tidier than Mutiara’s, but the decorative nature of the font is still overpowering. Emotionally, this has a somewhat sinister feel to it that would work well with horror or even steampunk. Westerns could possibly make good use of this one.
Solid70 Type System. Even though this is really retro font (those of who grew up in the 70s will recognize the style) it’s been modernized enough that it could work today. It’s a playful font, but the harsh angles still give it a very technical feel. With a bit of work, this could be effective in sci-fi or cyberpunk settings. Especially a 70s cyberpunk with big, clunky, plastic phones and loud keyboards.

Just a gander at those should evoke different emotional responses. They feel different. And even though each of them spell out the same word, that word takes on a different sense of meaning based on what font is used to present it.

So, if a font can impact how we feel about a word, it’s easy to imagine how a font can change the feel of a cover. Take the Fahrenheit 451 cover above, for instance. We know it’s not a lighthearted tale, so Beautiful Friday and Castrina are right out the window. Mutiara wouldn’t work on its own (more on that later) and Lost Volution is far too fussy. That leaves the default Inkscape fonts (which we’re going to ignore), Flanela Sans, and Solid70.

Much as I love Solid70, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the cover, but Flanela Sans just might work.

Not great, but better

The problem with Flanela is the coldness it inspires with its thin lines and tall letters. It’s a good font, but Flanela alone ain’t going to cut it a book about burning books; it needs some heat.

Which leads me to another point. There is no rule that says you can only use one font at a time. Mixing fonts is a bit of an art form, but it’s not completely inaccessible. Creative Market has a bunch of infographics on how to do it and do it well.

Let’s see if we can do some mixing and evoke more of an emotional response. Rather than sticking exclusively with Flanela, I’m going to bam it up a notch with Mutiara.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

The images and the layout still aren’t spectacular, but the text is looking pretty good. Now we’ve got Flanela’s cold, sterile feel combined with Mutiara’s in-your-face passion and a title that is a hell of a lot more eye catching than the original. And bear in mind, we did it with two fonts and only white. Adding yellow or orange to the 451, especially with a faint glow effect, might make it pop even more.



You can have the absolute best image for your cover and completely blow it with the font choice. Fonts elicit an emotional response and that response has to match up with what the book feels like. Just like it wouldn’t be appropriate to use Castrina Typescript or Beautiful Friday 01 for Fahrenheit 451, using a combination of Flanela and Mutiara for Lady Chatterly’s Lover or The Girl On The Train would be a recipe for disaster. Although, I guess if you were to rewrite Lady Chatterly’s Lover and include zombies (Lady Chatterly’s Zombie Lover?), Flanela and Mutiara might work.

And, please, unless you’re designing the interface for Microsoft Bob, avoid Comic Sans.

Got any comments or other tips you’d like to add? Drop ’em in the comments. I love comments.

Get Lostvoltype’s Mega Font Bundle on Creative Market for only 21 bucks.

A couple posts about fonts and emotion.

By the way, if you’re wondering what the current cover for Fahrenheit 451 looks like, it looks like this. It’s a clean, clever play on the book and matches with a start font-set and stark color scheme that’s evocative of repressive governments everywhere. Brilliant, if you ask me.


Celebration Week Marches On


Today (6/1) and tomorrow (6/1 + 1) will be the last days of the celebration week, celebrating this week by giving away free ebooks on Amazon. I had intended to have the Complete Saxton free, too, but due to some error or another on Amazon’s end, that will have to wait for another time.

Still, you’ve got some time to get the latest and greatest in the Henchmen series: Transmute for the cost of absolutely nothing. You don’t even have to leave a review (but it would be nice if you did).

All he wants is a dinner date with his girlfriend, but there are jerks everywhere.
As if Steven doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica, and the entire world could be at stake.
New god. New powers. New problems. At least he’s still got friends.


Get your copy here

Celebration Week

It’s gonna be a free week to celebrate, uh, this week. 5/28 & 5/29: Henchmen will be 100% free. Arise will be free 5/30 & 5/31. Transmute will be free 6/1 & 6/2. As an added bonus, from 5/29 to 6/2, the Complete Saxton will be 100%free. Quantities are limited so get ’em while they’re hot. Click the links on the sidebar and get ready to dance with your wild side, or you can grab Henchmen right here.

Join a small organization of lovable bad guys: a super villain and her henchmen. Eve, the seven-foot-tall, bulletproof blonde is their leader. Frank and Jean are a couple that can get into any computer or building unseen. Jacob is a rough-around-the-edges biker type that has a deep and abiding love of guns and explosives. And Steven? Well, he’s really good at manipulating people and pretty handy to have around in a fight. As supervillainy goes, they’re just starting out. They don’t have much of a secret base. They don’t have matching uniforms. Not a one of them owns a single pair of tights.

A chance encounter at a sushi bar has led them to a young woman with a terrifying secret she doesn’t even know she possesses. The Yakuza wants to use her to put pressure on a missing father. No one’s entirely certain exactly what the secret is, but it smells like a weapon and it might be just the sort of thing to help topple a nation.

They’re done pulling small jobs. Now they’re aiming for the top – because why bother robbing jewelry stores when you can topple governments?
Yakuza gang fights.
Incursions into high-security, top-secret government buildings.
Picking fake fights with losers in bars.
A psycho ex-coworker who has some strange friends.
And a well-dressed older gentleman who haunts dreams.
It’s all in a day’s work for Steven…one of the world’s most dedicated and dangerous…

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

In a world where some nut sack gets a wild hair up his ass and decides to detonate himself at a concert, it’s not always easy to find good news out there in the wild. Sure, there are a plethora of cute animal pictures and videos about people rescuing bear cubs, but those things don’t exactly have world-changing properties.

So, if you’ve been living on Mars, in a cave, with your fingers in your ears, you’ve probably heard about the jackass (sorry, I refuse to use nice words for terrorists) who blew himself and whole host of people up at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Go ahead and add that to the list of things jackasses have done with alarming regularity accomplishing nothing but making people hate their pathetic little guts more.

Of course, that hatred flows over into an entire group of people, most of whom have done nothing wrong and don’t deserve the vitriol that gets heaped on them by other idiots. Thus, the cycle of miserable little lives continues unabated.

This is sad state of affairs, but all it takes to knock it out of whack is a little bit of kindness. I’ll admit, I had to do some serious searching to find something good for the month, but I did find a story about a Muslim man helping a Jewish woman at the site of the Manchester massacre.

Check it here

That’s exactly the sort of thing that we should be celebrating and the beautiful thing is, it didn’t cost anything, it didn’t require risk, no one had to go and save a busload of nuns from a roving band of bikers. All it took was being a decent human being and deciding it was easier to not be a dick than it was to be a dick.

So, here’s your homework for the week: next time you feel like lighting someone up, try not doing that thing and see how it feels. Hold the elevator for someone rather than furiously pushing the door close button. When someone wants to get in front of you in traffic, let them. It’s pretty easy to not be a jackass and takes less effort than it takes to be a jackass.

And, just because I’m not feeling like a jackass, have a picture of a cute pit bull.

The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by six co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Peter Nena, Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal , Roshan Radhakrishnan , Emerald Barnes and Lynn Hallbrooks.

If you’d like to join up with We Are The World Blogfest, I have good news for you: it’s free. Go check it out here.


1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Spin Cycle

Several years ago, while I was still a young punk learning the dark arts of persuasion and rhetoric, I asked one my professors what propaganda was. He hemmed and hawed a bit, but finally came down to “a type of persuasion that provides a ready-made answer.” Or words to that effect. To be fair, this was a long time ago.

Propaganda, as it’s commonly defined these days, falls into a few major categories:

  • Information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
  • The deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

There’s also the Roman Catholic version that pertains to the training and oversight of foreign missions, but that’s not what most people think about when they hear propaganda, and the Catholics are using the traditional Latin meaning of propaganda – to propagate – rather than the political meaning of the word.

There’s an old joke: How do you know when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.

It’s funny that we expect our politicians will lie to us, yet we are constantly surprised when they do. Of course, most of them will gleefully tell you they didn’t lie, you only misunderstood the totality of the events that lead to what you see as a lie. In the long run, it wasn’t that they lied, they were simply victims of circumstances that went beyond their control. And, besides, those other guys did it first, so it’s totally okay.

I’ve got a long and undying love of propaganda posters. The above is a great example of simple propaganda. The ape, with his fangs bared and holding a bloody stick in one hand and a swooning maiden (possibly representing Liberty) in the other tells us a lot about how the artist (Harry Ryle Hopps, c.1917) wanted the viewer to see the Germans. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this one doesn’t have a single kind one to say about the Germans during WWI. Of course, it’s a poster that’s aiming to get people to join the Army and you don’t win a war by humanizing the enemy.

Posters like this fall perfectly into propaganda because they give us a pre-built answer about to expect from Germans; they’re brutish thugs set on crushing skulls and stealing our women. It promotes information and ideas about an entire nation that are not completely accurate. As an aside, because of images like this a lot of German-Americans suffered discrimination and beatings during WWI. Probably WWII, too.

But this is a long-term propaganda project. WWI ran from 1914 to 1918, with the U.S. being involved only in the very last part. Support for the war in United States was meager at best and it took a lot of propaganda to build up stateside interest in a war on the other side of the ocean.

In the information age, things happen very quickly. While there’s still plenty of time to ratchet up a good long-term propaganda campaign, scandals and events happen and are discovered almost instantaneously. Traditional propaganda doesn’t work in instantaneous timelines. Think about Mitt Romney’s comment about 47% of the population not voting for him because they pay no taxes or Hillary Clinton’s remark about baskets full of deplorables. These are immediate scandals and shooting out some posters or long-term propaganda efforts won’t work.

This is where propaganda twirls madly off into our good friend spin. Think of spin as propaganda light; same great taste, but it applies to more immediate concerns. Whereas a propaganda campaign may be a long-running task, spin happens in the here and now.

The Trump campaign’s response to Clinton’s comment about a basket of deplorables with immediate and predictable spin. “She thinks she’s better than you!” “This shows just how much Hillary Clinton hates real Americans.” On and on and on.

And you know what? Clinton made a huge mistake with that line. She’s a career politician and should have seen the response to her comment coming a mile away. Just like Romney should have seen the response to his 47% comment coming a mile away.

Argumentation requires a clash of ideas. I say X. You say X goes to far. I retort that your plan, Y, doesn’t go too far enough. That sort of thing is what discourse is supposed to be made of. Propaganda ignores the clash of ideas because it quashes them entirely. Spin ignores the clash of ideas of by completely ignoring the argument in the first place and spinning off into someplace else entirely. Take, for instance, Clinton’s comment about the basket of deplorables:

“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Hillary Clinton – 2016

The spin came from focusing exclusively on part of her statement and completely ignoring the rest of the argument. Were some of Trump’s supporters sexist, racist, xenophobic jackasses? Sure. Was it half? I don’t know. I work with plenty of Trump supporters and plenty of people who fall into the second basket – the folks who held their noses and voted. They’re all decent people who didn’t think Clinton would do a good job.

The spin – saying Clinton’s comment showed her contempt for everyday Americans – ignored the entire second paragraph. It was the rhetorical version of saying so’s your face. And guess what? It worked.

It worked because we don’t want argumentation. We want immediate, crushing, bumper-sticker logic that we don’t have to think about. We don’t want “Four score and seven years ago”, we want “Hillary for Prison 2016” because that’s easier to digest.

This is primarily a writing blog, so you may be asking yourself exactly what political spin has to do with writing. Hunter S. Thompson could probably tell you why it’s important, but he was a political writer. In the world of fiction, understanding spin gives you a great way for characters to rationalize their behavior, even at the macro level.

Think about this way: if spin works well enough to determine international politics, it should work quite nicely with fictional characters and plots. If you’re writing fiction, you can use spin and propaganda techniques to your advantage.

There are always motivations in story-telling. Why does a character do something? Why does the villain do such heinous things? The cool thing about using propaganda and spin techniques in writing is you don’t have to feel like you need a shower when you’re done. Unlike the real world, using those skills in fiction only impacts made-up characters and places, so your karma will still be free of taint.

For instance: I’m currently working on Greetings From Sunny Aluna. It’s essentially a fantasy novel with drugs, religion, and real-world implications in a place where magic and mythology collide. Gutter fantasy, if you will. Very bad things are happening and the baddies need reasons to do those things and justify their actions to themselves. Even the good guys do less-than-savory things. They use propaganda and spin techniques to sell their actions to themselves and the other characters. Henchmen was basically one big propaganda and spin job with guns and cheeseburgers, but it was a pretty political novel to begin with.

Besides, if you want to see how propaganda and spin can be used effectively in story, just ask this guy.