Monday, October 31, 2005
Last night, the SO and I went to a party. We showed up "late and unprepared" (which meant only one shoe on, pants down, shirts mis-buttoned, etc.) We were FEMA. (rimshot) Thank you- thank you very much.
The real horror of my day was preparing my MS for submission. Why oh why oh why can't there be one standard for anything in the publishing world? But no.
Take, for instance, the request by a certain publisher for a "chapter-by-chapter" outline. I already hate synopsis with a burning passion, but a chapter by chapter outline? I'd rather have salt in a papercut.
So I grab out my handy-dandy little book with samples of every submission, query, or manuscript format a screenwriter or freelance writer could ever want. It calls for a one page synopsis of each chapter. Can you hear me groaning from there?
Never content with one source of information, I went online. Surfing only muddied the waters. Now, I'll admit that I was searching for the answer I wanted to hear, but what I found were samples ranging from a couple words about the chapter to several paragraphs, to pages(!) about the chapter.
Damn. Now I'll have to ask.
I hate asking. Not because of pride, but because my sneaking suspicion that it immediately flags me as a high maintenance writer. I don't need to start off with a bad impression. *sigh* What's a girl to do? Ask anyway, and hope the diva cooties don't stick to my MS.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
I walked into our place Friday night to find it infested with 8,9, and 10 year old girls.
ME: *Picture the Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Hands fluttering as I reel from side to side as if I'll go into a dead faint from sheer horror.* "Children! There are children here!"
SO: * Grinning sheepishly* "Oh yeah, my sister asked if we could watch the girls overnight."
ME: "Correct me if I'm wrong, but your sister has only two kids. There appear to be seven girls here."
SO: "Yeah, it's a sleepover."
ME: *Gaze sliding to smugly simpering manipulative niecelets* "Oh joy. Oh rapture. How long have WE known about this?"
SO: *turns away, mumbling something under his breath.* "I ordered pizza!"
GIRLS: *commence shrieking and jumping*
ME: *shudder* "If you need me, I'll be in the bottom of a martini."
SO: "What's the matter? Chicken?" *lifting one eyebrow*
Oh, he was so going down for that.
Let me just state for the record that I make a lousy girl. The day they taught girls to care about things like make-up, hair, clothes, shrieking, pink, fluffy things, stuffed animals, cuteness, babies, etc., I was apparently still out on the playground with the boys. Most women are a separate tribe from me that speaks a different language and practices strange customs. (One day I will write about the special hell that is the Baby Shower/Wedding Shower ritual. Three words: toilet paper brides. Do a Google image search if you don't believe me. There are stranger things, Horatio...)
The SO went on an indulgency binge in preparation for the sleepover. He takes his role as favorite Uncle very seriously. The girls had craft kits to make necklaces, little make-up kits full of sparkly stuff for them to spill on the furniture, hot chocolate with whipped cream (two sips, then set aside), chips (ground into the carpet), dip (also into the carpet), sodas (opened, left to get warm and flat, never actually drank), ring pops, several suitably girly movies (Princess Diaries, UpTown Girls....), a karaoke machine loaded with Britney Spears songs (for the love of humanity - make it STOP!), popcorn, cake, and ice cream.
We were lucky only one puked.
Those tiny little ballerina wanna-bes shoved our furniture to the far walls and spread out over the floor with their sleeping bags like pilgrims on their way to Barbie-Mecca. Everything was lurid pink and purple. Mercifully, they didn't get into the mean girl mode and make anyone cry. (Even the puker was remarkable sanguine about the experience. After cleaning up, she went right back to the party. I foresee Spring Break greatness in her future.) They were, however, bouncing off the walls. About 1 AM, the SO and I decided to lead by example and crawl into bed.
I have no idea why they call them sleepovers. There was no sleeping involved. The girls had sleeping bags. They had pajamas. They had stuffed animals. But at no time did any of them sleep.
Nor did we.
Over the next four hours, we took turns pleading, cajoling, threatening, and crying for mercy. The girls were on an estrogen high though, and they weren't going to come down. More than anything, it was the shrieking giggles that plucked every nerve up my spine. There was no escaping it. That sound could slice through solid lead like it was butter.
The cruel, long, slow, painful death of a thousand giggles.
About 5AM, another round of riotous laughter burst from the TV room.
SO: *shoving my shoulder* "Your turn."
ME: *shoving back* "Your effing blood relatives."
SO: "I'm too cute to go to prison."
ME: * reluctantly agreeing.* "You so owe me."
SO: *rolls over and puts pillow over head.*
I dragged out to the TV room. Every step down the hall, the giggles got louder. I looked into the room. The TV was on, playing a movie that they weren't watching. They had the pizza out again and were eating the cold leftovers from dinner the night before.
SO's younger niece put her hand to her chest. And then - she belched.
Dark haired girl: "Yeah, but can you do words?" *proceeds to belch part of the alphabet*
Blonde girl: "That's so Gross! You're supposed to do --." *Lifts up one buttcheek and farts.*
Older niece: "You should do that in class!"
Blonde girl: "Oh, totally!"
Chorus: *riotous laughter, giggles, forced burps, and more farts*
I tip-toed back down the hall and climbed into bed.
SO: "What was it this time?"
ME: "I think they were gossiping about movie stars."
I may not be much of a girl, but I know better than to give men a sneak peek behind the curtain. Oh sure, you can try to tell men, you can warn them, but they will insist on the feminine mystique. Sometimes, it's just better to let them have their dreams.
We survived the night. Every child was delivered back to her parents-- alive. Just before the designated pick-up time though, I let the girls spray cheap perfume in their hair, gave them full-sugared sodas to drink, and had them main-line pixie stix. By the time mini-vans pulled into the driveway, every girl was vibrating on sugar-induced highs. The puker looked a little green.
ME: *rubbing hands together* "Excellent."
That'll teach those parents to trust me with their kids ever again.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Anyway, a couple stories I read recently made me wonder if:
1) the writer was a (straight) guy, despite the female pen name, and
2) if you can tell that the writer gives seriously lousy head from reading their story.
Have you ever read erotica that turned you off or made you cringe (not squwick factor stuff like scat, just bad sex)?
Since I'm such a trooper, and will do anything to improve my writing, I'm thinking about handing the SO a post-coital questionnaire. Think Count Tyrone Rugen from the Princess Bride: "What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity, so... be honest. How did this make you feel?"
Friday, October 21, 2005
My stack of unread books now reaches up to my waist. It will topple and kill me some day, but I MUST write my novel synopsis before I'm allowed to open any of them.
To DH: the reason I asked is because I am insane enough to flirt with the idea of pitching an erotica anthology.
I may be a literary masochist after all. I know I don't care for Hemingway's style, but I'm forcing myself to slog through a collection of his short stories. Why? People think he's good. I want to improve my skills. So I read him. Ugh. Like taking bitter medicine. However, I am incredibly jealous of this sentence:
It [the Big Hearted River] stretched away, pebbly-bottomed with shallows and big boulders and a deep pool as it curved away from the foot of a bluff.
To answer StrangeDaze:
The reason why I don't post any of my stories is because -
1) rampant theft of material on the internet (Hey Google - maybe LIBRARIES said it was okay to scan their content and post it, but libraries don't own the copyrights to the books on their shelves, do they? BTW Google, can I take all your content and post it somewhere else? I asked my librarian. She shrugged and said "sure, whatever," so it must be okay.)
2) I don't want the US government to use erotica as an excuse to silence my political voice, and
3) Um, I'm trying to SELL it, dude.
That is all. Carry on.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Some of my favorite books are Dune, Left Hand of Darkness, the Vorkosigan saga, Frankenstein, Altered Carbon (Richard Morgan's new Takeshi Kovacs novel Woken Furies is out. Yay!), Fahrenheit 451, Dracula (forgive me, Judgja) and Ubik.
Many people dismiss science fiction as genre garbage, but science fiction reflects our society in its darkest light. Caves of Steel is about racism. War of the Worlds is about imperialism. The genre dares question who we are and where we're going. To me, that has a lot more merit than beautiful words strung across the page.
I spend a lot of time commuting, so I work on writing exercises that don't involve typing. Speculative fiction - encompassing science fiction and fantasy - lends itself to "what if" games, because the entire genre answers "what if?"
Taking an idea from current news, and some of my knowledge of the past, I spent my rainy commute yesterday wondering what will happen if bird flu becomes a pandemic like it did back in 1918. Thinking back to how slow travel was in 1918, it's amazing how that virus spread around the world. With our current rate of travel and open borders, it's possible that within a week, most major cities would have a Patient Zero moving among their population.
Okay. That's the set-up.
There are a million ways to run with this idea. The Action/Adventure Scientist as Savior story, the survivalist/ rebuilding society story, evolving utopia, evolving distopia, rise of tyrants, escape from earth, evolution of humans, rise of a new sentient earth species (my favorite being the Giant Squid theory) , Ways to Serve Man type alien invasion....
But I like near-future stories. So what I was thinking is how we might quick-adapt to the threat. My first thought is that it will be refelcted in fashion. Clothes? Absolutely. How about everyone wearing gloves, for a start? We know that viruses are spread mostly by hand. But how would that change things? Showing a naked palm could become a sign of ultimate trust, or aggression. (And it would most certainly become a fetish.)
Take it further. As we go to biometric scans to protect ourselves from identity theft, that would clash with the use of gloves. Stripping off a glove to spend money or prove identity could become a very private matter. Imagine stepping into a secluded booth to pay for your groceries. Filthy lucre, anyone?
What if we decided that covering our noses and mouths was a better way to protect against infection? Would we veil ourselves? If we draped our entire bodies for protection, what would that do to gender identifiers? Would gender become irrelevant, or would people dare spread out along the spectrum of the Kinsey scale to where they were comfortable? How frustrated would a cross-dresser be? How would dating work? How would manners change? What would become taboo, and what would be erotic?
Could it be that in their misogyny, men who insist on heavily veiling their women have saved those women from infection - but left themselves open to it? What would happen to a patriarchal society if a large percent of the men died off in a short span of time? (In reality, they'd go home, infect their wives and children, and drag the whole family into the grave too, but put that aside for now.)
Space proxemics, interpersonal relations, everything could be affected by our fear of death from that virus. Or - we could blithely go along with our same lives while people dropped dead around us. Those who died could be blamed for some sort of moral or genetic weakness, and the survivors could claim that their bio-cleanliness was next to godliness.
So take it, run with it, push it to the edge of the absurd, and then push it beyond. Speculate. Then write a damn fine story and let me read it.
Monday, October 17, 2005
or: getting back to work.
I coasted all last week on my Clean Sheets victory, but a rejection broke me out of my smug haze.
The story that got rejected had been sitting with that particular editor for 16 months. I was tempted several times to pull the submission because this editor has a poor reputation-- something I wish I'd known 16 months ago-- but I had no compelling reason to yank it other than a serious case of dislike. (For the record, even if my story had been accepted, it would be my last submission to that editor.)
No matter how I felt about the editor, a rejection always gets me blue. I give myself 24 hours to mope on my mental velvet fainting couch and then I have to get over it. Playing the Tragic Muse gets damn dull pretty quick.
The good side of that rejection is that I got a chance to dive back into a story that I wrote nearly two years ago, but armed with a better set of writing skills. Writing is a craft, and like any craft, you never stop learning how to do it better. I didn't find anything cringe-worthy, but I did cut redundant phrases and sharpen word choices.
Rewriting is the true art, I think.
I'd love to see my story in print. It is one of my favorites-- surreal and profane. I'll give the rewrite a week to ripen, re-read it to find errors, and then that story is going back in the mail to a different editor. That work ethic, more than anything else, makes me feel like a real writer.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
This time, I'm perfectly happy to be the bridesmaid instead of the bride.
I won second place in Clean Sheet's Rock Me Contest with my story Solace or Moonlight (Clair de Lune).
I'm having a good writing month, as my story Kells is on ERWA, and I was a panelist for the writer's workshop at Conjecture 4.
This isn't something that I like to talk about, because talking about donations I've made seems too much like bragging, but I want to encourage you to give a little bit too, so.... In my continuing effort to keep my porn karma in good balance, my winnings from Clean Sheets were donated to NO/AIDS Task Force in loving memory of Jim Sands, an ERWA lister who passed away a couple weeks ago. Check out NO/AIDS Task Force. It's a worthy cause, and they could sure use your help to reach a population our government wishes would simply disappear.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Sexual Orientation Tests for Authors (hint: if you're queer, no matter what you've written, it's offensive.)
Let me add a disclaimer on this one: I never read anything on this site. Some people claim it had underage character in erotica. I am COMPLETELY against non-consensual sex, and I don't think children can give informed consent. However, my objection here isn't based on content. It is based on plea that posters not make political statements on his site. Wow. Get accused of a crime and lose your 1st Amendment rights. Scared silent by the government. That's what bothers me.
"I Was Just Following Orders" in NO excuse. (Or: FBI agents: Did you swear to uphold the Constitution? People of conscience refuse to obey orders that violate rights, even if its legal to do so under unjust laws.)
Self-Censorship is a victory for the Foes of the Bill of Rights. (Or: Where the hell is our generation's Edward R. Murrow? Someone stop the witchhunt!)
Have You Gone to Bat for Your Librarian Today? (Or: Mild mannered? Think again. Librarians are the front-line warriors on the privacy battleground.)
Government Informers? Try Aisle 5. (Or: How much balls did it take for a government agent to terrify a kid? Here's a hint Mr. Agent Man: You look like a big dick now, but that isn't because of the size of your penis.)
And just so you realize what's at risk here:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This one might come in handy too:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Lest We Forget.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
It may be my imagination, but I think that the artist who came up with this idea for an observation deck over the Grand Canyon might have previously worked in industrial design. If he added sparklies, shells, and plastic fish, I'd so be there.
Or is it just me?
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Who, in his right mind, thinks that Joe Redstate needs to be protected from pictures of naked titties? Certainly not Joe Redstate. He probably thinks his right to read Hustler and Playboy is protected. He probably also thinks that his right to watch CSI is as safe as his wife's right to read a Harlequin Blaze romance novel. But they aren't safe. The government has declared open season on the Bill of Rights.
Joe Redstate-- according to the Bush administration, you don't need no stinkin' rights. An FBI agent could bust down your door and burn your vintage Playboy collection in order to keep you safe from those dangerous naked women. Think it won't happen? German citizens were kept safe from subversive thoughts and art in the late 1930s by their compassionate conservative government too.
Supposedly, an FBI memo on how best to subvert the rights of Americans is to attack anything that "includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior."
Having to listen to Senator Santorum talk is painful to me. Should any news media that prints words he says, or shows him on TV be censored to stop me from indulging in mashochistic behavior when I force myself to listen to him? Believe me, it isn't pleasant.
I can think of a CSI episode where a man enjoyed infatilism, including enemas and diapers. (King Baby, Feb, 2005) Other memorable, hot episodes have shown Mistress Heather's establishment. (Lady Heather's Box, Slaves of Las Vegas) I had a great deal of respect for the writers of those episodes for their ability to look deeper than the smirk factor to bring the human element to their stories.
I once saw an episode of I Love Lucy where Ricky put Lucy over his knee and smacked her ass. That was the first episode I remember ever seeing, and I watched the show fanatically for about a year waiting for another episode like it. I was sadly disappointed. Are I Love Lucy episodes endangered?
Probably not, because they never start with the big companies who have lawyers and money to fight. This will be very selective enforcement. Some companies are more equal than others. ABC, GE, Hustler, Harlequin - they're safe. This whole ridiculous game looks like a Bush Administration effort to shut down competition in the porn industry, protect big porn business, and kill the little provider. Given the complete lack of ethics in the current administration, I wouldn't be surprised.
According to Gellman's article, anything that depicts "Consenting Adults," and is marketed to "Consenting Adults," is fair game. Because they know how to be sneaky about this, at first they attack the small, obscure fetishes. Who is going to stand up for yiffing Furries? (Fur and Loathing, CSI, October 2003) Who is brave enough to stand in front of their community to defend the rights of enema aficionados? How about those women dressed as ponies pulling a chariot? (Hmmm, you might be thinking, I'd at least like to see a glimpse of that.) Would you be upset if every picture of two men kissing was destroyed? How about two women? How about a man and a woman? In some places, that's considered an obscenity. (Read the story about the couple arrested and fined for kissing at their wedding.) Where are you drawing the line? Don't assume that what you think is okay would pass the arbitrary test of obscenity. After all, performing oral sex on your spouse is sodomy, and was against the law in most states until recently. If Senator Santorum had his way, you could still be arrested for getting or giving a blowjob to your spouse. I don't know about you, but the idea of a bunch of white male Republicans monitoring what goes on in my bedroom seems sort of, well, unAmerican. And creepy. Mustn't forget creepy.
Eventually, your CSI TV show and your favorite girlie magazine will be targeted. Tyranny starts with silence and ends with fear. It's a slippery slope of arbitrary value judgments. Like a bully on a playground, they go after the ones that are perceived weakest first, but when no one steps in to make it stop, they get bolder and start going after YOU. Yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. Redstate. And you too, Mrs. Redstate. (I know what you're doing in the tub while reading that smutty book. No one needs to soak that long, honey.) Say bye-bye to Rome and it's depiction of actual sex slaves. Say goodbye to Deadwood and the Sopranos too.
Now I'm asking you, are you man/woman enough to stand up and demand your right to ogle naked titties? If you're man/woman enough to buy it, you should have the decency to protect it.
Here, call your congressman and tell him/her you want the FBI out of your bedroom and internet. (While you're at it, protest 2257 as a bad law. Don't know about it? Wake up and smell the censorship, Joe. I'm not going to hand you everything. Do a little research and open your eyes to what your government is trying to do to you.) Trust me, you'll feel much better in the morning. A little rebellion looks good on you.
Find your misrepresentative here:
Tell them that you want FBI agents to work on something important, like real crimes. You know - Enron and other connected corporate criminals, drugs, child porn, no-bid government contracts, White House aides "buying" news, domestic and foreign terrorists, blowing the cover of CIA operatives, campaign finance law violations...
Oh wait, the Bush administration doesn't want authorities looking into those things. This is all a plot to distract law enforcement with pictures of naked women!
Well, now it all makes perfect sense.