Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hugs from the Naked Chick

I’ve been told that I am a GREAT hugger. I’m tall and have long arms and can engulf just about anyone in safe softness. I guess that squishy thing may be at the heart of the matter here. There will always be a lot of me. But when someone who doesn’t know me is looking at the lineup of hugs being offered, they don’t know that sometimes more is more. At first glance it can be intimidating… there is too much. Do you see where I’m going? My novel, like me, is large. Thick characters steeped in deep relationships, and all of it has to do with a complex, carefully woven plot. If engulfs and embraces and gives pleasure, but it is more than someone unfamiliar with me is quite prepared for. Trimmed of the fat, it will still be an Amazon Queen, but in that delicious, tempting way a stranger may be more willing to give a try. I’ve trimmed an average of a thousand words a chapter thus far (only 7 in, of 35) and it hurts a little, but only those who love me deeply will miss it. I figure my long range goal is to have a wide readership who can’t get enough of me, so I can give up the diet and dish the hugs and novels as they were meant to be, but in the beginning, it is inevitably about aesthetics. That said, I am taking applications for a personal trainer, dietician, and masseuse. I will also listen to offers from Sugar Daddies so I have time to both trim the fat, and work on my next project. Men uncomfortable with their feminine side need not apply.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Castle Aaaaaaaaggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I have discovered why this message was so cryptic, and felt compelled to share it with you. Joseph of Aramathea was under a strict word count limit from the clue publishers in charge of the Holy Grail. Photobucket Now far be it for me to complain about the keepers of the grail making rules, I’m just saying sometimes their rules led to a poorer communication than would have been possible without such rules. If Joseph of Aramathea had instead been permitted to describe where the castle Aaaaaaaaaagggghhhhhhhhhh was, then the Knights of the round table would not have had to traipse every bog in Scotland looking for it. CONFLUENCE is too long… long enough no agent will probably ever be willing to look at it. It’s bitter medicine, but I look at it like an anti-biotic… some evil medicines are just necessary, and I thank the doctor, Colleen Gleason (the groovy author I met through my hot neighbor) for prescribing it, because my google search gave me ball parks ALL concentrating on 90L-100K for a first author ‘ideal’ and 120K for about the upper bound. I believe it is possible to strategize and find a few agents who will stretch to 150K, but above that, I just don’t see it happening. So I am cutting. I managed to cut 1100 words from chapter 1 without a lot of pain and no ‘content loss’ unless you are a person who sort of digs backstory of various characters and thought processes (which I am, or I wouldn’t have written it, but I don’t think it hurts the STORY). That times 35 chapters puts me clear down to 170K, making me think one or two subplots might throw me in the ball park. Still, I have to confess to hoping for such success with this that they request the Unabridged version and the public cries out that they should have just wanted the whole thing to begin with… Hey, a girl can dream…

Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Hook In Drabble

This morning I ran across http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/] generous offer for all blog READERS to share their own story in 100 words or less. Since my own writer's group has a website dedicated to Drabbles (stories in exactly 100 words) I thought it was a nice opportunity to come HERE and both promote The Burrow (http://www.the-burrow.org/) and to share my book hook in exactly 100 words. When Mac Rawlins is recruited to a prestigious genetics program in a university town, it seems the perfect launch to his career and to raise his young children. The move however, is burdened with obstacles; his unwilling fifteen-year-old daughter from an earlier marriage accompanies the family, and when they arrive, they find a town with divided loyalties and strange undercurrents. Unwelcome occurrences begin to alter their lives one by one. Things come to a head as a grand event shakes them all and forces them to pull together to learn the real reason the family was brought to Clear Springs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Candy Dish

Those of you who have known me may have seen this before, but it is a favorite piece of mine and I thought I'd share it here. A toddling tart circa 1967... (with the world's best-ever grandma) The Candy Dish There's not a time in my memory before my awareness of the dish, yet I feel certain that the first time I dared to ask, it was filled with lemon drops. I asked if I could have one, and of course my grandmother said yes. In forty years with her, I don't remember her ever telling me no. I spent a lot of time with her when I was a child, so Im sure she must have. I also wanted a lot, maximizing the potential for no-worthy occasions, but I can't think of a time when she did. Every visit to her house the dish had a treat, butterscotches in their yellow papers, powdery pink mints, mixed tootsie rolls. The most special ones were the big chocolates with bright, sweet fillings. They weren't there very often. I remember asking why at one point and my grandmother whispered back conspiratorially, "Clay eats too many when we have them." Clay was my grandpa. At family events the dish always felt a bit forbidding. I didn't like to be seen as too greedy, even though I was. My cousins would get scolded by their mom or my grandpa. Grandpa never scolded me because I was the only girl, but his scolding them made me feel guilty. So the candy dish became sort of an intimate symbol. It represented time I had alone with my grandma and the little indulgences we shared. She and I would spend an afternoon playing Blew It (a dice game), or she would iron my coloring projects between two pieces of paper so the wax would melt and be smooth to the touch. When I turned 15 she allowed me to have a glass of wine at family get-togethers; it was always pink. She preferred pretty wine. As I grew up, the indulgences changed in flavor, but never in feel. I always entered a haven in her home where no trouble could touch me. When my parents became embarrassing necessities, I still adored my grandma. When I needed an escape with no questions asked, I could flee to her house, climb her willow tree, dig in the trunks of old fashioned clothes, talk or be quiet as I needed. But I was always safe and loved. My grandmother had a very special gift of making people just feel good. It was nice to be in my own skin when I was near her. She told me I was the prettiest, or the smartest, or the nicest. Whatever the insecurity, grandma could convince me it was unfounded. My grandfather was extremely handsome as a young man, yet I learned at his funeral that it was my cute, perky, somewhat feisty grandmother who had had half a dozen suitors as World War 2 was ending. She was an optimist about everything. It always drove my mother, the pragmatist, crazy. Yet I can't think of a person I'd rather be like. I want to see the world through eyes in which my loved ones can do no wrong. I want to believe in the good things and show resilience when it doesn't quite work out that way. I want to be funny and charming and fiercely loyal. I moved across the country several years ago for mostly educational reasons, though I still havent gotten back to school. The biggest price was leaving family behind. My mother and I can stay caught up by phone ands email, but I miss family gatherings. I miss a glass of wine with my grandma and a piece of candy from the dish. My grandmother remarried after my grandpa died and traveled for a few years, but by the time I had settled into a house, her husband had Alzheimers. They only got out to see us once. Last summer, a year after Grandma lost Ray, my mom began to talk about grandma not doing so well. She had a few falls; she spent a lot of time in hospitals and physical therapy. I didnt know what to believe. To my mother the sky is always falling, or so it seems to the more optimistic members of our family. I wanted to believe she was wrong. Yet I scheduled a trip home for Christmas and as it approached I feared my family might not get there in time. My mom talked of confusion and failing this and failing that. She told me clearly that the doctors had said grandma wouldnt recover. Her liver was failing. Two days after Christmas my kids and I boarded the plane. We de-boarded in Spokane and were picked up by my parents. The next day my cousin and his family came to my moms. My cousin and his own mom had been feuding, but hed gotten the same message I had, grandma doesn't have much longer. My kids and his stayed with my mom and his wife. My two cousins and I drove to Troy where my grandma was staying with my aunt, the estranged mother of the one cousin. We said our hellos and went back in the back bedroom where a makeshift hospital room had been set up. My grandma was thin and frail, but her eyes lit up and she smiled so big. She was sitting up and wearing a lavender sweat suit and it was so hard to believe she was so sick. We all hugged her and visited. We each got some time alone with her. The last thing she said was that she wanted for my cousin and his mom to make peace. She said it only to me. She still believed I could do anything. When they cool off I will make sure they know. We all owe her that. That day was my grandmother's last day of consciousness. I will believe forever that she waited to say good-bye to me. She hung on for three days after that, technically. We sat with her and talked and held her hands, but her last big effort was to see my cousins and I when she was fully alert. A few days later my mom was insistent that we go to grandmas apartment and that I put my name on a few things to remember grandma by. I am the only one so far away that I would not be back later. I felt funny about it; my mom has three siblings and all four of them I felt should have first dibs. But I wrote a note saying that they were all welcome to bump me if they also felt attached to anything I put notes on. I got a table cloth, a picture book of the Pacific Northwest, a crystal bowl, and several tea cups. And I also got the candy dish. It arrived this week. I put it on a set of shelves in our main room. I put fancy hard toffees in it because they are an indulgent candy to me. I might even buy a bottle of pink wine this weekend. Every time I see the dish I will think of my grandma.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grief from Grainne

You’d think a king…er… Empress… wouldn’t have mother issues… I suppose before I go any further I should warn off those of you expecting my typical literary blog… this is rather a random gripe, a grumble, I’m grouchy with grief from grandparental kvetching (not MY grandparents, mind you… my children’s). And before anybody protests, which 98% of those who know my mother might be inclined to do, I will give the disclaimer that she is a wonderful, kind, generous person… with too little ability to keep her opinions to herself, lousy communication skills, and a vendetta against my husband for having the balls to marry her daughter. I suppose had it ceased with the wedding vows I might have forgiven it as a well-meaning attempt to lead me down a different path (though ANYONE who knows me gets that telling me I am WRONG is the WRONG way to go about getting me to change my mind, and you'd THINK my mother would know me…) But it has continued… I met my husband twenty-one years ago in September and we now share two children, and she STILL can’t be civil. So my parents came for a visit, my mild-mannered, friendly, always-civil step dad, who for more than a decade seemed to calm the whirlwind that is my mother, but somehow has ceased to be effective there, and my mother. There were grumbles about the flower bed--the one facing the street that is the all-important ‘first impression’ (I grew up understanding that if things LOOKED okay, then everyone would think they WERE okay). It looked nice in May when the bulbs were in bloom; it is currently admittedly shabby. I explained that we chose to put our effort on the vegetable garden… I only have so much time. She looks incredulously at me, telepathically asking well WHY DOESN’T HE DO IT THEN? He… my husband, is our primary parent, cook, homemaker, chauffer, lawn keeper, and currently a student, and HE happens to disagree with me about the virtues of eradication (he would like chemicals, I have begged him to refrain) so the flower beds have ended up MY domain. But you know what? I want fresh vegetables MORE than I care about curbside appeal--we're not selling. More than that, I want to sell my NOVEL and write NEW novels more than I ever want to garden again. There are grumbles about the dog, He’s too fat--the vet says so, so we have replaced most of his treats with carrots… my mom whimpered and sympathized about how if it was up to HER he’d get the treats; they’d just go on extra walks. Oh yeah? YOU try to walk him extra. He WON’T go. Corgys do not bend to the will of mere mortals. As it is, he will only walk with my husband who takes him twice a day. But the clincher for me… my husband the student, is taking a math class. He is math-phobic (I know there must be a formal word for this, as I’ve known too many people who have it) and it is the first time he’s had it in thirty years. So I was assisting him and my mom filled in the rest of the steps in a tone that implied “any dumbshit knows that”. Well I happen to have had to tread very carefully for a very long time to get him first to try, then to NOT QUIT, so that was the last thing he needed to hear. I turned and glared furiously, made a zip-lipping motion and she seemed completely oblivious as to how rude she’d just been. Now I want my mom to be able to visit. I want my kids to have a good relationship with their grandparents. But what would REALLY facilitate all this, is if my mother would just grow the hell up or at least begin therapy to discover WHY she can’t seem to be nice to this one individual who happens to be flawed, but also a loving father and husband. After all, what better could you ask for than that?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Camelot Comes Through

It may be a silly place. There was definitely a lot of drinking, and I’d venture some singing and dancing before it was time to roast marshmallows for s’mores, but I was rather stunned at how darned USEFUL this year’s neighborhood picnic has proven to be.

It began with a little jolt. One of my neighborhood friends who was an organizer greeted me with, “I’ve been reading your blog.” *Gasp* I’m not sure what brain fart caused me to not consider that when I advertise on Facebook, my Facebook friends may READ it. I suppose it is that I ventured into Facebook earlyish with several online-only friends. Then I began accumulating high school and college friends who mostly live across the country, and a handful of my daughter’s friends (who I am only NOW realizing may also have read *dies* though I doubt it) and their mothers--but only cool moms, so I‘m okay there. But only more recently have I begun adding these more proximal people I see with some regularity. I guess I could have photos of me passed out with a mustache drawn on… though I’m not sure everyone looks at leading a Naked World Domination Tour as that much different. In my defense, my NWDT is because naked people are rarely mean to each other. Okay… and because it’s more comfortable and less material, and all that…

That said, they are a very cool batch of neighbors. I’m not likely to friend the grouchy people down the street who reported my neighbor for her ‘natural’ yard. So it’s all good.

The next surprise, a very cool one… I was standing by the keg (where else?) and peripherally a part of a conversation about the drama of getting the field mowed. You see, Rob Reiner had a crew who wanted to use OUR FIELD to make a movie this summer, but had requested we not mow until then so it looked natural (a little internal irony there, ne?) Well the field got mowed this week, so ‘the scoop’ was a topic of some gossip. Apparently Rob didn’t like our tree. There is a big old tree in the field, but he wanted a Sycamore. It’s his movie, I guess, though a little disappointing for those of us hoping to catch a glimpse of Aidan Quinn. But the picnic was only days away, and our field no longer needed to remain UNMOWED (picture your ankles after spending 6 hours in grass that is 8 inches deep). So there was a woman who kicked some butt and got things moving, and got it mowed and there I was talking to her.

She looked at my name tag, which is supposed to contain two facts about ourselves. Mine read “1) trying to publish a novel“, and “2) I’m a Harry Potter Geek”. She went on to rave about Harry Potter and we talked a long time about the things Jo Rowling does so well in her writing and then she asked about my book. Turns out this woman is the City Council Woman for our ward. Who knew? She was FABULOUS though. Smart about politics as well as literature. I will definitely vote to reelect.

Then a little while later I was talking to Scott, the only single homeowner younger than me in our neighborhood--Ann Arbor is pretty expensive and not many can do it alone. And Scott looks at my tag and says, ‘you know, I had a friend who just got a book published. Do you want me to connect you?” It took a lot of effort not to drool--not a random obliging online connection, but a published author with a common real life friend who I can ask for advice and help more specific than just a one line question without feeling like I‘m imposing.

Finally, Ann Arbor’s paper is going under. As an old journalism major, the death of newspapers is so sad to me (though not nearly as sad as it is to my husband the crossword junkie). But an online daily is starting up and they will deliver Thursday and Sunday, so there will be a hard copy twice a week. Well one of the founding section heads was there and she is totally open to suggestions for making this user friendly. I suggested a system of networking where local people can connect with other local people with some common interest and goal. There is a local writer’s group, but somehow my Tuesday nights are never free, and a local writer’s website, but it isn’t interactive, but if it was a cyber community where people could then decide to meet for coffee or something, or break into subgroups with like genres… now THAT would be useful! She was totally open to the idea.

So all in all, however silly Camelot can be, there can still be some FINE networking done over burgers and beer.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Madness in children's verse

Going on an agent hunt. Gunna catch a big one. I’m not afraid. What’s that ahead? Agent choice quagmire! Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it. Gotta slog through it! Squish, squish squish squish Going on an agent hunt. Gunna catch a big one. I’m not afraid. What’s that ahead? Decision tree! Can’t jump over it. Can’t climb under it. Can’t get around it.’ Gotta climb it. Reach, pull, reach pull, reach pull. Going on an agent hunt. Gunna catch a big one. I’m not afraid. What’s that ahead? Query letter! Can’t step over it. Can’t crawl under it. Can’t get around it. Gotta write it! Research, write schmooze, spell check. Going on an agent hunt. Gunna catch a big one. I’m not afraid. What’s that ahead? AN AGENT Oh crap! What do I do?!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Large Wooden Badger

So I’ve already sent six query letters. I’ve received 4 rejections (still waiting on numbers three and six) and I’ve realized I forgot to load it with Bedevere, Gallahad, and I. In other words… my failure to plot my novel among the OTHER novels that are selling out there may have left them thinking “too long for something I have no clue how to place”. It is long. 200,000 words. It runs 800 pages when I use 12 point, double space Times. I mean, I know there are tricks to make it a shorter novel (small font and thin paper seem to be most common) but it is a big book. Add to that the broad label of ‘commercial fiction’ and it really is no wonder they aren’t banging down my door. Enter badger. (Two badgers thus far, though actually, one of them prefers to think of herself as an eagle.) I was browsing agents a few days ago and ran across a guy who was no longer taking new clients, but he had a page on his site with advice for authors. Lo and behold. He has written a book on writing queries that can be downloaded from Amazon FOR FREE. He said in ten years he saw 100,000 query letters and the book is his advice--three paragraphs only… though as far as I have gotten on what those three paragraphs need is ‘know the literature in your target market‘. Not only do you want to place the book. You want to choose agents who represent authors who have succeeded with books similar to yours because they already know how to do it. His name is Noah Lukeman and the Book is How to Write a Great Query Letter. Seriously… free. Though I haven't gotten far, so the review is only preliminary, free is a very good price. The downside, is once the badger suggestion was out there, I knew I was screwed. Not literally of course, that I wouldn’t probably have minded as much. I have NEVER read a book like mine. Not a one. It is a family drama, sort of, but the family is interacting with spooky, weird community juju, so there is a mystery underlying the thing. There is weird cult stuff in the background, and some suspense. There is emotional tension over the different characters' views of one particular conflict (a five year old child has befriended a homeless man (I called him Tim, sometimes you have to be subtle in your Python references)--this was my original seed, by the way--credit goes to the Eberwhite Woods and my then five year old daughter--sheesh, has it been 9 years... but then I wasn't writing then, just dreaming I might someday write). So to get unscrewed, I went to my trusty friend, a dedicated bibliophile who has a side job at a book store to support her habit and is USED TO “I loved this, what would you recommend?” I should mention Leanne is part of my writer’s group and is fabulously playing punctuation and grammar police for me, so she has READ my book. Twice. Along with about five books a week BESIDES that since she was three… She is MORE than qualified. Thus far she has given me six names of authors whose work mine reminds her of and it is AMAZING. I can then figure out who the agents are (of four so far) and dig in to truly research them, because they may be the ones, so it feels less like a stab in the dark and I can really commit. And you know… their profiles SOUND more like the ones! That isn’t to say I haven’t fallen in love with a DIFFERENT agent--his website was HYSTERICAL and there were a couple Oregon references that only people like me who will always consider Oregon home will get. Michael Murphy at Max & Co. Seriously… just go read his website for a chuckle. I LOVE HIM, but as I have no heroine addicts or incest, or similarly gritty material, I am not quite sure he will love me as much… so I am saving him until EVERYTHING is perfect. And that was the digression for this blog … Back to my point. I am feeling new hope, and a rare thing… patience… I can wait to send this next batch of query letters until my badger is filled with not only Gallahad, Bedevere, and I, but also a shiny new streamlined body and a newly polished hook!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blame the Naked Chick

A Nudist has to do what she has to do, but sometimes it gets me into trouble. It isn’t so much the literally naked stuff, which people seem to expect by now, but the figuratively naked stuff, that seems to have consequences. In other words, I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut. Oh, I know… quiet observations leads to better decisions in the long run, but there is some deep-seeded part of me that feels it isn’t ethical to keep my opinions to myself. You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I heard somebody snort. See, it’s like this. Shutting up when I feel something strongly feels like manipulation to me, like I am colluding in some scam in which people deceive each other through some ‘appropriateness’ filter—better to lay it all out there. In this networking thing—Facebook, blogging, now Twitter (sort of), I have friended some people in the business. A few fellow writers have been EXTREMELY gracious (thank you Beth and Elizabeth)—responding kindly when I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut, and nobody has been disparaging or rude. But I am a little worried about the perceptions of the agents involved. Before I get to it, I should probably clarify that it was an agent blog that STARTED this whole string of events. She said in her blog that she had a Facebook account specifically for this kind of networking so I friended her. (I definitely need to thank her, too—Thank you Jessica!) She accepted my friendship and then I proceeded to browse her friends for people who either had writing related statuses, posted something on her page about writing blogs, or had bookcover images that looked really intriguing (and not Romance—I have a strong suspicion there is a whole subculture there that I completely couldn’t grasp). But mystery—great—my book I’m working on now is sort of a mystery. Fantasy, fine. I read a lot of fantasy. Mainstream, fabulous. That is my Confluence market. Then they told two friends and they told two friends… you get the picture. All in all this seems to be working beautifully. I’ve had friend requests from people who I’ve had conversations with on OTHER peoples’ posts. It is all feeling far more manageable. Enter nudist tendencies. Somebody posted a blog asking about the age of recommendation for reading Twilight and related books. Now I’m learning one of the most offensive things a writer can do is criticize a book that actually GETS PUBLISHED. Why? Well apparently because there is a long string of people involved in the decision and process and to call something a bad book is to put all of them down. So let me just get this out there. Twilight may be a bad book, and Stephanie Meyer, I believe only has limited talent—but it is all MARKETING GENIUS. There was definitely a need and it was filled and a lot of people are getting rich… does that absolve me of all but the crime of putting down the writing skill? But I digress. My point is that even though I KNOW all this, I can’t keep my freaking mouth shut (or fingers in this case). I can’t just walk away. And then yesterday FABULOUS Jessica, who I have to thank for any networking successes I’ve had, posts a note about writers complaining about query letters, chastising us for saying the process will keep fabulous books from getting printed. I should raise my hand here… I’ve complained of the process in this very set of blogs… I hope, in fact, it wasn’t me who inspired her. I ADORE Jessica, because I think she ascribes to my ‘lay it out there’ philosophy, and we (writers) definitely need somebody to be honest with us about an agent’s perspective on matters—coddling will not help us. But I STILL can’t keep my mouth shut… so I responded, ultimately suggesting something along the lines of GoogleAgent where the process is still one of queries but the number is greatly reduced because we could then query the RIGHT agents for our book… I am just hoping that my streaking hasn’t offended her… I did make a writer friend in the whole thing, though, so I suppose being the Naked Chick isn’t all bad…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grail Shaped Beacon

The Holy Grail for anybody who has just finished her first ‘Ready-for-Mass-Consumption’ novel is publishing. Getting my book out there, my name out there, making a career of writing things more than 10% of the population can follow… a beautiful dream. And it will happen. But I am discovering, as with any intense pursuit, distractions. “It’s not the real grail?” I should probably explain that for a rather mellow personality, I can be quite obsessive. My first obsession in memory was cartwheels. I spent most of 1970 to 1984 upside down. In the interim there, a poor boy named Brian received daily letters from me when I was eleven as the penalty he earned for being nice to me while I was on vacation. More recently obsessions have been running, Harry Potter, and now writing. The writing is at least a practical obsession, as I hope someday it earns me a living. But if you saw the neglected piles in my bedroom and basement, you’d know it is no small thing to be obsessed. (Did you hear my husband just groan?) There is a price. The problem at hand however, is that I keep running across Grail Shaped Beacons… sweet, shining mirages promising to propel my writing out into the cosmos. My Facebook writer’s profile? As if I didn’t already spend enough time on Facebook! Now I am tracing the friend paths of people from the writing world to find other promising ‘friends’. Oi! Researching Agents (who has time? But it can’t be skipped!) And now… Blogs. The problem with the Blog, like the Microbrew thing in the 90s… is I really LIKE this one. It could suck me in far deeper than it is healthy to be. Writing a few paragraphs without having to obsess over whether they move the story forward. The main character is ME! There is a narcissism to it that is fabulously reinforcing. And I can justify it as necessary! But do I risk getting bogged down in this fun ‘tool’ and miss some of the other necessities and opportunities? I could be researching those agents right now! But might this silly exercise get me noticed? The trouble is, it’s hard to say. And because I know nobody with connections to get my novel read by a decision-making person in the business, I suppose I need to do all of it. Blogs, writing contests (which take away time from writing my next book, mind you). My feeble attempt at networking. Oh… and then there’s my day job. So what I want to know is, if this is only a grail shaped beacon, and not the real grail, where is Dingo to set things right, and where do we line up for our spankings?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sexy is as Sexy Does?

Er… Or not. I have very definite opinions about sex in literature, and oddly, they are more conservative than my opinions about sex in film. I can watch Eyes Wide Shut, or even Caligula, and feel rather hot and bothered (Dick of Death not so much, pornography still needs a plot). But the point of reading, in my opinion, is to let the imagination take some of the slack. I’ve been trying to analyze this… Why would a tart be annoyed with sex in literature? The analysis leads me to the conclusion that I am not offended by sex. (Seriously, how could I be? Without sex, there goes the human race.) I just usually find it fairly ridiculous when the details are put into words. Further circumspection reminds me that at age 15 the love scenes in Princess Daisy were very gratifying. Romance novels offered a taste of what I had yet to experience for myself. Now however, I just find such scenes laughable. Why? The eye of experience? I haven’t tried everything (rumors to the contrary notwithstanding) so even a very descriptive scene, if truly unique (think the Clockworks in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues--Yam oil--an email heading a likeminded twisted freak once sent with nothing in the body… yeah… I can get worked up if you truly appeal to something that has never occurred to me before). In fact Tom Robbins nearly always arouses me in ways the romances don’t. Why? Because he writes sex so fabulous it sends a stick, an old sock, and a can of beans on a transcendental journey. Who has sex that great? I know I’d like to. There are some song-writers who get it. Red Hot Chili Peppers and Cherry Poppin' Daddies both have songs that hit it right. Sir Psycho Sexy and Dirty Mother Fuzz are my favorite examples. In fact just this morning I heard Chad Kroeger from Nickelback singing, "I'd like to cover you with jello in the tub, and roll around for hours like we're never coming up." Now that is hot. (Then again Chad Kroeger could probably say 'I'd like to watch you folding laundry, scrubbing floors and pulling weeds' and I would get hot and bothered. Still. It's a good line) The point is, it is the outrageousness that crosses the act from ‘been there, so what?’ to ‘oh my god, I need to shower.’ Most sex, even with a glorious, hunky stranger, is just sex, as adults have had sex. My other issue is typically parts. Is there a word for penis that isn’t more funny than sexy? Tell me ‘throbbing member’ doesn’t make you laugh. You can’t can you? How about a ‘sizable shaft’? Are you giggling? These are words that distract from what it is they are meant to display (pun probably appropriate, if not intended). I would rather experience a sex scene from an emotional perception level of one of the parties (I could feel his eyes undressing me from across the room), or occasionally from a physiological perception level, but not from a bird’s eye view. And honestly… it still needs to move the plot forward. Oddly, in fantasy I often like sex because it is associated with some magic or atrocity or spell. Dark fantasy in particular I seem able to overlook all but the most ridiculous descriptions. But again, it is the fact that there is some component that makes it unreal. My mind even goes there inappropriately (am I the only one to wonder what the Imperious Curse was REALLY used for?) My conclusion is that sex in fact is a rather silly, ridiculous thing, unless we are in fact one of the participants, or it is written to appeal to a very personal angle. It involves unattractive parts and awkward movements that require high levels of hormones to overlook. It isn’t like what is written, though it is close enough to what is written to remind anyone who has been there that it is in fact impossible to get from point A to point B without adjusting ones self in an embarrassing way. In twenty-five years I’ve had maybe a dozen sexual experiences that would make somebody ELSE hot to read about were I to write them play-by-play (and I’m not sharing)--and those mostly because of scene or situation. Mostly it is only because we are in the moment ourselves, and not thinking about them, but rather experiencing them, that we enjoy it so much. I know a great many people disagree. The romance genre is very popular, so perhaps I’m the freak. I just prefer to be entertained with outrageous details, or given an idea that has never once occurred to me, or else invested in the emotions of the moment. I’m not interested in heaving bosoms or electrified loins. I mean, seriously? If it is just normal sex, I will be far more aroused if my own imagination can fill in the blanks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Distributin’ Swords

I have to confess this sword distribution plan wasn’t my idea. A mandate from the masses seems to have more authenticity. But Merlin, my father, assured me that people are sheep, which probably explains the empty grazing fields in our area, but I digress. His point, I suppose, was that if every writer gave the people what they believed the people wanted, the people would be overwhelmed by too many choices and become unable to sort the good stuff from the oozing crap. (Dennis, there’s some lovely muck over here!) Unfortunately, and don’t tell him I said, so, he has a point. Morally and philosophically I believe that if we write something good, we ought to be able to put it out there and readers ought to be able to read it. Writers should benefit from people just enjoying their work, and readers shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to read. Making the most requested lists at libraries ought to count for as much as sales… in a fair world. Unfortunately, people tend to always believe the result of their own sweat and toil is good enough for mass consumption, so there is no self-screening. I’ve perused novels available online (the free ones that lack screening) and I’ve seen a couple ‘vanity published’ books. The only one worth owning, in my opinion, is the one my grandfather wrote, and the only reason it is worth owning is it is my own family history. (You’ll want to own it too when I turn it from a list of facts and detail into a coherent story and use fiction to fill in the gaps, but that is years from now, for now, I swear, you don’t want it.) My point is that I decided the agent/publisher route is the only way to reassure readers that my work has been quality screened and professionally edited. It is the only way to share it with many people, because I won’t lose all the people unwilling to wade through the crap that is out there. It is also my only hope of quitting my day job for a career as a novelist (my real goal). So I’ve been distributin’ swords, and getting stabbed through the heart for my efforts. I don’t like it much, in spite of the little thrill each time I push send. When I’m empress however, things will change in the publishing world. They will work by a mandate from the masses, which, in raw form, are unruly, but if you have an autonomous collective reviewing work, and a majority vote earns an agent, and a two thirds majority earns publication, then the worthy work will be published, without the game of who knows who coming into play. In my other super secret life, I publish scientifically, where the review process works much that way. Every work submitted has 2-4 reviews and all reviewers stamp recommendations on the work (publish, revise then publish, revise a lot and MAYBE we’ll publish, or this stinks, go to a lower tier journal). The reviewers offer feedback on what the shortcomings are--what must be changed, and what, though technically okay, could still make improvements. That is not to say there is no nepotism in the system… the big fish still get an easier ride. But it makes it less impossible for the beginners… an ultimately improves the quality, while still keeping the field open. So my minions… remember that when the empress elections come around. A new and improved system of publication government…

Friday, June 12, 2009

Getting Wet

This is my first ever blog post. It's an experiment of sorts, because exhibitionist inclinations aside, I never thought I'd be one to lay it all out there. Don't get me wrong, I love being the center of attention when I have on my online alter-ego, but this is for real. My goal is to find an audience for a book that has taken me three years to write, and public perception is far more important than in in any of the places I dally just for fun.

I've made an important decision though. Who I am is who I am, and I can hear the Dread Pirate Roberts scolding me, "then why didn't you list that among our assets?" My ability to play, may very well be part of what earns me a readership, even if my writing is not nearly so silly. I know among my fan fiction *gasp* readership it has certainly contributed. My following there is what it is, partially because between updates, the playful banter is still amusing.

Thus my maintenance of 'Watery Tart' as an identifier. It pays homage to Monty Python, as everyone should, but between my love for innuendo, my naked world domination tour, and the fact that I write in the bathtub, it just seems a fitting name with which to carry out my blog.

Confessions will typically be of a literary kind (rejected again), but hopefully complaints will maintain humor, and from time to time I will make an observation that will make you laugh out loud or blush. When I send you off to try something truly outrageous, I will know I have succeeded.