Smut and the Modern Female- Pt 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about sex lately- yes, I know, but not the fictional kind. I’ve been thinking about how my first romance book is being published soon, and how I’ve asked my parents not to read it. I’ve been thinking about how my daughter is so proud her mama writes books, but hasn’t the slightest clue what’s in them. I’ve been reading this blog (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/erika-lust/how-i-will-tell-my-daughter-i-work-in-porn_b_1562266.html) by the phenomenal feminist erotica director Erika Lust.

I AM a feminist. And I believe in a sex-positive environment for girls. I’ve even gotten a head-start on this stuff through my day-job as a nanny for a 13 year old girl. “You don’t want to be the first one to have sex, and you don’t want to be the last one,” I tell her. “But in the end, everyone does it, and it isn’t special to be doing it- you just want to make it special for YOU.”

It’s easy for me to spout this stuff off because I haven’t raised her. It’s also easy for me to tell her things like, “If he asks for oral, but doesn’t offer in return, NO.” And I believe that, but will I be comfortable telling my kid that? I hope so, but we’re still years away from that kind of discussion.

So maybe, mom, if you’re reading this, you CAN read my book. And maybe, someday, my daughter can too. And maybe, hopefully a much sooner day, I’ll stop feeling like III need to put warnings on such a normal, reasonable, everyday act.

The No. 1 Writer’s Influence Club

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. A couple weeks ago, I got tagged in a FB post to share 10 books that have stuck with you. Not your favorites (though there was some overlap), but ones that have haunted, changed, or just plain wormed their way into your worldview.

It got me thinking- I’d have a completely DIFFERENT list from either favorite OR stuck-with if you asked me to list the books that have influenced my writing. And of course, that would be a meandering list as well. When I first started writing, it was YA and had a whole different set. Right now, though? With romance?

Well, it isn’t a romance writer whom I have realized has probably informed my writing style the most. It’s Alexander McCall Smith. You guys, if you don’t know him- you lucky ducks, he’s so prolific that you suddenly have series after series to read and enjoy. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is probably his most well known. Confession- I only watched the (brilliant and charming) HBO series, haven’t actually read the books. My favorite is 44 Scotland Street, a series about an apartment building and it’s inhabitants. There are one-offs and other series a-plenty, though, and I have never read something by this man that hasn’t both delighted and informed me.

Seriously. He’s SO SMART and it comes through in the books. You will learn things. Fun things, too! Like wine and poetry and art and culture.

The thing that he does, which I have realized I have adopted as well, is what I call The Tangent. You know when you are thinking, very hard and very seriously about something, and next thing you know, you’re actually having a long hard think about the word Wednesday or cheesemaking, or your 5th grade teacher instead? He writes that way. And I adore the realism, and the character development that results from it.

And today, while I was meant to be revising, and instead found myself gazing down at a character’s tangent and thinking about Mr. McCall Smith instead, I thought I should blog about it.

Just for funsies, here’s a recent interview with him where he captures my heart forever by admitting to “second sleeps” and also “siestas”.

http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/books/497612/Alexander-McCall-Smith-on-how-he-writes

Things Leah Miller Has Taught Me Part One

So it turns out that other people do NOT experience physical symptoms of anxiety when they worry about whether or not they might be reincarnated into a time with no or few books. Turns out that’s actually not something other people even think about, much less on a fairly regular basis. Turns out when you mention things like this to other people, there is a long silence, followed by a swift subject change.

 

Well, you learn something new every day.

OH HAI IT’S BEEN A WHILE

As Laurelin Paige and I finish the last chapter of the second book in our duo, we’ve spent more time reflecting on our writing process NOW than we ever did during the actual writing. I’m thinking we will spend a lot of time addressing the co-writing roses and thorns during our publicity for the actual books. So right (write?) now, I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I have personally addressed a lot of MY writing during the whole shebang.

Laurelin, as some of you may know from her “about me” posts, is a Theater Person. Not so, I. In high school, I was an art kid. When I could be bothered to wake up and go to class at all, that is. (Seriously, I was THE WORST in school. The absolute WORST.) The fun of the stage for LL was putting on personas, having an audience. Me, I liked the back row of every class, and nobody look over my shoulder at what I am drawing stop that’s embarrassing oh god don’t make eye contact.

So imagine my HORROR when Laurelin told me that I write like a method actor. I AM NOT AN ACTOR DO NOT MAKE ME TALK TO PEOPLE OH GOD NO. Was basically my reaction. But like she always effing is, she was right. Because here is how I do my scenes.

One of us writes them. Usually dialogue only, no action or setting or anything. Context-less. Then the fun starts. I read a page of dialogue, and start pacing around my apartment. You know how after you’ve had a great convo or a shitty fight and you replay it in your mind ad nauseum thinking of all the things you COULD have said? I do that. From both POV’s. Pacing. Gesturing. Than I go fit it all in, in writing. I do it for days. Chapters we finished months ago suddenly occur to me THAT’S WHAT I WANTED TO SAY! And in goes a new insult.

Turns out, there’s an actor in this introverted art nerd after all. But don’t you DARE think I will karaoke with you, Laurelin.

My Favorite Thing Ever

I read this blog post by the inestimable Rainbow Rowell quite a while ago. I recommend it to EVERYONE. Tonight I forced it upon yet another friend whom I thought might understand it. Because not everyone does. This addiction doesn’t hit everyone the way it did her, and me. But if you, like us, learned to read the same way some people learn to shoot heroin, this blog is for you.

 

http://rainbowrowell.com/blog/2013/02/learn-to-read-kid-but-dont-fall-in-love/

A Short Story, Just For Fun.

Zoltack was born under unusual circumstances. Never before had it been believed possible for a fairy-tale and a superhero story to produce offspring. Yet here she was, a bona fide princess with superpowers. She surveyed the library, and considered her position.
โ€œInkblot!โ€ She suddenly screamed, and her dragon came soaring down and sat beside her. Also contrary to popular belief, one did not ride oneโ€™s dragon around. They positively smoldered with the heat in their scaly bellies. To ride a dragon was to invite blistering burns in the most delicate of places.
โ€œInkblot, I am utterly bored.โ€ Her rapidly moving hands braided and unbraided her long blonde hair. The dragon regarded her with cool orange eyes.
โ€œYou donโ€™t have enough to do already? What with learning to rule your kingdom through poetry and prose?โ€
โ€œIt isnโ€™t enough. My hands grow idle.โ€ The braid appeared and then reappeared six times before the sentence was out. โ€œAnd my prose is nearly perfect.โ€
โ€œWhat of your poetry?โ€
โ€œI do not believe my people must be ruled with rhyme and fancy. I shall rule in a most modern fashion, through prose alone.โ€ The blur that was her hands in motion fluttered around as she spoke, creating a fierce draft.
โ€œAnd how do you know what is modern in statecraft, young Zoltack?โ€ For the dragon was indeed, slightly older than his mistress, by a page or so.
โ€œA book from Politics was mis-shelved yesterday. It was simply wonderful. The King of America told me many things about his methods. I could nearly have fallen in love with Jefferson right there, but then I was introduced to both his wife and his lover, and I saw that I would not receive the attention I require in a husband.โ€ She sighed a heavy sigh and reflected upon this state of affairs. โ€œIt occurs to me that I should rather prefer his kingdom than his love.โ€
โ€œShall I wing over to Geography and learn about this new land?โ€ Inkblot would normally prefer to stay quietly at home in Fantasy, but he too had found himself ever bored of late.
โ€œYes, bring me a full report at once. I will begin readying my plans.โ€ Zoltack was growing less bored each moment. After a time, her dragon flew back.
โ€œIt seems that no less than fifty smaller tribes operate within the kingdom. I suggest you divide and conquer. One by one, we shall expand your kingdom.โ€ Zoltack smiled, and Inkblot released a sharp exhale of steam from his nostrils. It whistled like a teakettle. They both shrank back as the silhouette of Mister Dewey fell heavily upon the stacks. After he passed, they returned to their plans. It seemed Fortuna had smiled upon the pair, for Mister Deweyโ€™s increasingly poor eyesight had led him to shelve not one, but two books mistakenly near the schemers.
โ€œThe Grapes of Wrath,โ€ read Zoltack. โ€œIt does sound a bit like a fantasy. In my kingdom, the fruit offers no opinion whatsoever. You are certain this book comes from America?โ€ Inkblot assured her that California was a powerful tribe to control. He opened the cover, and her hands began to blur as she rapidly changed the words. As always, her dragon admired the powers she wielded, even as he kept away from her speedy digits. A piece of his right wing had once been lost in a moment of inattention as the princess worked. Though Inkblot had favored the left wing even before that, truth be told.
โ€œI must say, Inkblot, that I did not find The California to be a difficult place to conquer. The people were fairly crying out for a leader such as myself. Are you quite certain they are powerful at all? The reputedly fearsome grapes even cowered before my edits.โ€ The beast assured her that she would find more resistance within the next book. For to capture the City of Orleans New, Zoltack must surely first defeat three powerful vampires.
This time, the whizzing hands worked much harder and longer. When at last the cover slammed shut, the princess sagged against it. A trickle of blood ran down her neck.
โ€œThe good news, dear Inkblot, is that we now rule the City of Orleans New. The bad news is that you may wish to avoid me after dark. Come, I must ice my hands.โ€
Over the next few days, Zoltack and Inkblot were able to convert three more tribes without further incident. Well, without much further incident.
New York did not fall before a torrid affair was had with one Sir Gatsby, although she left his outcome unchanged. In Georgia, the princess found a local army to do much of the work for her. It was really rather easy to blame the accidental death of that little twit Scarlett Oโ€™Hare on their carelessness. Kansas, though, Kansas was a breeze. She even annexed a Village called Oz during that edit.
It took some time for another round of books to be shelved improperly, and by then Zoltack was fairly drunk on her growing power. She decided to conquer some nearby neighborhoods in the meantime.
Soon, she had won the Puzzle of Crowns by editing all seven warring houses to fight for her. Inkblot made his way into that story quite easily as well, and even received two ill-tempered brothers.
Nar Nia bored her, so she did second-pass edits leaving its ruling to a friend Who Shall Not Be Named that she met on a sojourn in Magical England. She found too many distasteful children there to motivate a battle for power over the Warty Hog. A minor tweak or two ensured her Nameless Noseless friend would have the ending he had longed for over the course of those seven books as well.
Mister Dewey, in the meantime, was growing quite cross. Patrons of the Library were beginning to complain. Their stories were not at all what they ought to be. It was mortally embarrassing to be known as the Librarian of the Misbehaving Books.
It was not long before he located his reading glasses (on his head, much to his surprise, theyโ€™d been missing for weeks) and discovered a common culprit in the princess superhero Zoltack. Grasping her book in his ink-stained fingers, he carried her to his desk drawer, slammed it shut, turned the key, removed and swallowed it. There would be no further disruptions on his watch.
Meanwhile, over in Non-Fiction, Zoltack and Inkblot were clambering around Eating, Praying, and Loving. It was lucky she had edited this story on a whim last month. True, the two had only a minor cameo in a meditation, but it was enough to allow their escape.
The kingdom of America had long since been re-christened Zoltackia by the time Mister Dewey once again caught on.
This time, he determined to create a more permanent solution. Swallowing his life-long aversion to the destruction of literature, he carried the alarmingly tall pile of afflicted books out back and set them aflame. The ashes scattered in the wind like dandelion wishes, and upon each one, Zoltack vowed she would return.
Emerging from her hiding place in Mathematics, where she had found herself equally charmed and befuddled by Pythagoras, she set to work. No tome was safe, no kingdom too mighty for the heavy-handed edits of Zoltack. By the time Inkblot gave her the heads up that a sooty Mister Dewey was returning, nearly half of the Library was reigned over by the intrepid princess.
As Mister Dewey opened book after re-written book, it dawned on him that there was truly only one solution to his problem. He removed a piece of parchment from his desk, and dipped his quill into a little pot of ink.
โ€œOnce upon a Time,โ€ he wrote. โ€œa naughty young princess had allowed her powers to run away with her.โ€
Zoltack stomped her foot and Inkblot steamed and all at once it occurred to the princess what to do. She raced into action before her name was set down upon Mister Dew__โ€™s paper. The Librarian began to fade as she rearranged the words in this very story to exclude Mister De____. Presently, Mrโ€” Mrโ€ฆ
Presently the author must humbly beg your pardon, for she has quite forgotten whom she is meant to be writing about.
Oh yes. Once upon a time, there was a Library, ruled by a beautiful Queen, and all the pages in the land rejoiced.

Hallelujeh

 

Writing Book 2 of our Boston series is tough. Lacy lost her fiance to a drug overdose, and hasn’t been able to write a song since. She’s got studio time booked, a tour looming- and she’s creatively stuck. I’m picturing this as a song she pulls inspiration from. It’s gorgeous, it’s heartbreaking, it’s covered by one of my favorite (Boston) artists.

I can’t find a version on YouTube that I’m allowed to link to here. So google Amanda Palmer “Hallelujeh” and click on any single one of the videos. She does such a beautiful and moving job, every single time.

Inspiration

This quote: ‘The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.’ โ€“ Sรธren Kierkegaard

And Someone gave me a line to use, “Ashes fluttered in the wind, like dandelion wishes.”

Short story to follow.