Archives

Two Truths and a Deep Dive

If you follow me, all five or six of you stalwart stubborn folk, you know that I’m supposedly working on a historical fiction series at this time. This is comical because I started, and got the “Oh, God, what the hell was I thinking?” mindset, which is quite common among authors, and the mental writing police immediately put up roadblocks as they are wont to do. Little bastards.

Part of my anti-block therapy (which is really just feeding into a research addiction) is to get books (I know that should say “read books,” but did I mention that I like to shop and Amazon was foolish enough to give me a credit card?) about all the minutiae of the subject I plan to write about, like clothing, historical backdrop, ships (seriously), firearms, law, etc. I have done that.

I also burn candles and do vision boards. When it comes to procrastinating, I am creative.

I’ve taken care of the stressful things that I was blaming for my lack of words in a form visible outside of my brain. I have shopped until I dropped and found inspirational images…

“Chicks with Guns and Knives,” a working title (and the image on the left is a shower curtain. No I will not buy it).

First truth: I am not really a romance writer. There, I’ve said it. When I was a tween and teen, I would Hoover up all the historical romances I could lay my hands on at the library (and ran up fines on a monthly basis for being late with a LOT of books) and go through them like a bulldozer. Regency romances, the Almacks patroness of the historical romance genre (and if you recognize the reference, you are also a consumer of them), Barbara Cartland, with essentially the same delicate, feminine heroine (time periods ranged from 1790s to 1910. According to Barbara, she didn’t want the men wearing wigs from the early end, and didn’t want to get too modern and WW I on the other end. Fine by me) who was either broke and at risk of being exploited or fading to nothing in the countryside, or wealthy and at risk from fortune hunters. Until the hero swoops in and saves her, at which point our girl would inevitably develop a severe stammer and couldn’t get a sentence out in less than 3 paragraphs. Lots of ellipses. Es.

Whereas teenaged me soaked that stuff up, grown up me sits back and says, “Really? She’s not pissed off? There’s a gun on the table and she’s going to wait for someone to come in and use it? While the bad guy is threatening to rape her?”

There is also a category that I loved of women who went from poverty and abandonment to self-made wealth and power (Not always happily, but if it was smooth sailing all the way, it would be boring). “A Woman of Substance” by Barbara Taylor Bradford caught my attention. She didn’t wait to be rescued or look to marry well. Emma Harte rolled up her sleeves and got to solving her own problems. Romance was not the central theme, but she got her heart broken a couple of times, then got on with her life and taking care of herself. You also get a variation on this with “Mildred Pierce.” Mildred is abandoned with 2 girls by her husband, gets a job as a waitress, works her ass off, opens restaurants, gets wealthy, and gets her heart broken again by a cad she married (fortune hunter) and who had an affair with her daughter (Ick). It didn’t end well for him.

I love Jane Austen, but the Bennett sisters and the Dashwoods were simps for waiting to be married well and have someone rescue them. Sorry Jane, but you set a tone here that’s been duplicated. A lot.

Now, I get that Austen was writing in the mode of her times when women were sidelined from making their own way in the world sans husband (the exception being a companion to an older relative in hopes of getting an inheritance. Essentially, waiting for rescue). In the film version of “Sense and Sensibility,” Elinor Dashwood speaks to the rock and the hard place of modestly well-bred women with no great fortune to attract suitors and essentially barred from earning their own living (I think that was more Emma Thompson than Jane Austen, but I’ll take it).

(Personally, I gave up hoping for rescue a long time ago. No takers. Enough rejection and you get the message. You’re on your own)

When I got older, I discovered the historical novels of Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Anne Krentz). She wrote Regencies, too, but her heroines had scholarly interests in things like how seashells formed, or illuminated manuscripts. The heroes didn’t try to change the girls, but became intrigued by their passions (or were already rivals on the hunt for a particular manuscript), and fell for the smart, independent women they were. Now we’re talkin’.

The second truth: I am out of excuses for not progressing on this story. I’m not worried about a publisher; whatever Amazon is calling Createspace these days makes that unnecessary. Either people will read these books or not. Getting at least 2-5 in the series in published form will give me a good reason to hit the book fairs again, so I can see my author friends in person.

But…I have one more procrastination trick up my sleeve.

There’s a certain “voice” in writing historical romances. The language is more formal: you can’t have your heroine saying “Yeah, right, I bet” or “that’s so gross.” She would be more likely to say, “I do not believe you” or “Heavens, that’s disgusting. Ring for the maid to clean it up.” (Servants. Always. Even the “whatever shall we do?” heroines living in genteel poverty have faithful old family retainers who seem to work for them out of love, loyalty, and hopes of better days when maybe they can collect 25 years of back wages). I don’t quite have that voice.

An excuse for more research! And books in the genre to get my head back into the game! Shopping! Goodie!

(I just grabbed a cover from Google)

Julia Quinn to the rescue (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know – I’m not into rescues. I’m a hypocrite. Go suck an egg. See? I don’t have the voice. Yet)

I watched the Bridgerton series on Netflix and enjoyed it immensely. Took me a minimal amount of time because I stayed engaged. I had not heard of the series before the TV show. Right off the bad, some of the tropes were turned upside-down (the teenaged girls who were not part of the debutante/ballroom world were no shrinking violets). There was humor. It wasn’t all genteel. Julia Quinn had done to the Regency romance genre what I would have done years ago; taken it, shaken off the tired, rusty pieces, and infused vibrancy by tweaking things a bit. Atta Girl.

So, the deep dive? I got all the books from Amazon, and whereas my reading lately has been heavier slogs (“The Diabetes Code” by Jason Fung. Two posts back, I discussed my recent diagnosis. This book has helped a lot). I have some leisure time, and I am going to immerse myself back in the Regency world and good writing, then grab myself by the scruff and get my damned books done and out in the world.

Wish me luck. I have candles burning.

 

Oh No, You Didn’t

(I think smoke is still coming out of my ears)

Today, August 26th, is Woman’s Equality Day, which celebrates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Yea!

Wikipedia says this about the 19th: “prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.”

Remember that particular phrase. It’s going to be crucial.

This being the age of social media, one of the popular Facebook pages posted pictures. The following picture.

 

We live in an age of movements and slogans being co-opted and undermined by members of the oppressing group, and then acting like victims when the backlash hits them. “Mansplaining” and “whitesplaining ” come under this heading.

Well, Readers, we got mansplained. “Don’t forget to be grateful to the Nation, its system of governance, related Constitution and Bills that paved the way for the fight.”

Wait. What?

Gratitude to the system that had not provided the right to women in the first place, the governance that had deployed police officers to arrest and beat women for demonstrating for this right, and force fed them in prison when they went on hunger strikes. The related Constitution and laws that refused to enumerate the right to vote regardless of sex. The one our great (or great-great) grandmothers had to FIGHT for.

You just gave it to us?

Hell fuckity no.

I’ve been seeing this sort of sidestep lately, mostly from men, and mostly from white men. It’s a way to avoid ownership of oppression and terrible deeds done to maintain a grip on power. And to still claim ownership of power.

“It was white peoples who freed the slaves.” (My personal favorite)

It was white people who enslaved them in the first place. I even had a Southerner tell me straight-faced that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery because they were going to free the slaves, it was all states’ rights. Read the various Articles of Secession: they are EXPLICIT about leaving the Union to preserve slavery. This guy also told me they were teaching slave to read. Sorry, but it was the death penalty to teach slaves to read.

“We gave you that right.”

That’s akin to Britain saying to the US, “Well, we gave you your independence.”

Not without bloodshed. Not by being asked nicely.

It is patronizing, this “we gave, we allowed.” It implies that the speaker holds all the power and it cannot be taken from him without consent. Even if there have been uprisings, protests, marches. No. The benevolent overlord shall grant unto you. Not because he’s been convinced of the right of it, but because it is his pleasure. “We let you win.”

And, yeah, we’re going with “him” and “his.”

For 50 plus years, I didn’t believe, didn’t want to believe, didn’t see discrimination against me on the basis of sex. I thought I got what came to me in the workplace on the basis of merit, even as guys who’d been working at the same place less time than I had got promoted, then promoted their buddies, leaving women on the bottom tiers of the office hierarchy (and sitting around talking about those women in sexual terms when they thought no one could hear).

There are women who whole-heartedly support the patriarchy because they have a niche of privilege within it as long as they support the men. Why? How about a collection of stories, self-serving laws, and self-serving letters written in a dead Bronze Age language that has been interpreted and re-interpreted so many times nobody knows for sure what the actual words were? Claiming it’s the will of a God unknown, but damned if He didn’t create men in his image as opposed to the more likely Man created God in his image. And will you look at that? God wants mento rule the world, and that’s gotten narrowed down to white men. What? The Biblical teaching was that people of color had no souls. It was the rationalization for Christians to own slaves.

Don’t forget: Genesis claims that the first family was a man, a woman created from him (let’s reinforcement lesser status, y’all), and their three SONS. The usual response is that “faith trumps facts.” Want to make a fundamentalist crazy? Tell them that one of the surviving boys must have undergone sexual transition to make the human race happen.

FiveThirtyEight.com released two maps in October 2016 showing the difference if only women voted and if only men voted. On the women’s side, it’s overwhelmingly blue for Hillary Clinton. On the men’s side, near solid red.

Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump

There were cries, not many, but they existed, for #Repealthe19th.

And we know how it turned out anyway.

Men giveth, men taketh away if their power is threatened, apparently. Benevolent overlords?

Right now, voter suppression is an ugly fact of life in the US. Thank you, Supreme Court for gutting the Voting Rights Act. Quick primer: the Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed racial discrimination in voting.
“The Act also contains “special provisions” that apply to only certain jurisdictions. A core special provision is the Section 5 preclearance requirement, which prohibits certain jurisdictions from implementing any change affecting voting without receiving preapproval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. that the change does not discriminate against protected minorities.[10] Another special provision requires jurisdictions containing significant language minority populations to provide bilingual ballots and other election materials.”

On June 25, 2013, this pre-clearance requirement was struck down by the Supreme Court and within HOURS, states that that had been subject to that requirement began filing new laws requiring voter IDs, began striking voters from the rolls, began disallowing certain kinds of addresses. Few if any of these requirements affected the white men who wrote them.
Oppression is oppression. And yes, I recognize that the 19th was largely for white women due to the Jim Crow laws and resurgent KKK.

Grateful to the Nation and the governance.

There is a small grain of truth, I suppose. You can fight until the last warrior falls and still lose. Most peace treaties are some form of compromise, but someone is losing before they’re signed. It’s still not “giving” freedom, rights, etc. it’s an accommodation so the winners don’t obliterate your side.

I am grateful to be an American. I give thanks to the women who made it possible for me to vote. But in no way am I going to bow and kiss the ring of those who denied it to us in the first place.

 

Finding the Path Around Self-Created Obstacles

Prepping for For Love of Books and Florida on Saturday (Got your tickets?), working the day job, dealing with the boo boo foot…life has challenges.

The subtitle of this web space is “Finding Inner Strength.” As i see it, that includes overcoming obstacles of your own creation.

For instance, my lack of effective marketing for my books. All on me.

I’m rather pleased with myself tonight. I had 2 issues: bookmarks promoting my Susan Thatcher books that had no contact info and promotional items (chocolate lips) for Monique DeSoto that had no context. No contact info.

Enter QR Codes.

If you’re not familiar with the term, QRs are those boxy-looking abstract designs that you can scan and they’ll take you to a website or a coupon. One of these:

Susan Thatcher QR Amazon or this Monique DeSoto Facebook QR

Yes, they work. Try them.

With the purchase of Avery labels (8293 rounds), I was able to correct both issues – slap a label with a QR code onto the items.

Image may contain: food

Chocolate lips become a marketing tool.

Image may contain: jewelry Image may contain: food

Oh yeah, I made bracelets, too.

Mind you, I’ve been in a funk over the past few days. I haven’t made a lot of money at these signings (but they are fun and I make friends), some of the money that I’d set aside for it had to go to new brakes, my foot is bugging me; I wasn’t into it and was ready to stay home and eat the table fee as a sunk cost. However, with various friendly boots applied to my backside (and some well-timed praise for what I make, book and bracelet-wise), I found it within myself to string together those bracelets, go through extended nonsense with my printer to make those labels, and get out of my own way.

I feel better for having done so. I posted those pictures on the attendee group in Facebook and got an order for a bracelet. Those bookmarks have been bugging me; now they don’t. Scanning the code will take you to my Amazon page where you can buy books. The lips? That link will take you to Monique DeSoto’s Facebook page (and Monique got some inspiration for the next funnydirty short while in the shower).

A couple of Blackened Voodoo Lagers (by Dixie. If you’re not in Nawlins, Total Wine can help you) helped, too.

Sometimes, you need to grab yourself by the scruff and just do it, you know?

 

06/15/2017

And that’s about it.

I owe a blog post, a short story, more on “Baldie Chronicles” (or whatever the hell it’s going to be).

The well is dry.

Dry, dryer, driest. Like Atacama desert dry (there are places in the Atacama that have never been rained on. 4 billion years is a long time to be thirsty).

Mudcracks in a dry riverbed, Pan de Azucar National Park. Only about once every decade water runs here for a short period of time.

If writer’s block was a block of cheese, no problem. I’d eat that sumbitch and look for seconds. Especially if it was cheddar and accompanied by a Honeycrisp apple.

 

If writer’s block was an engine block, you could hook it up to get a jump start from someone else. Nope. My writing engine is as dead as my previous car, Yaz, who died in spectacular fashion June 13, 2016.

If writer’s block was a Lego block, it would be embedded in my foot right now.

If it was a politician, it would be hiring a lawyer right about now.

Image result for better call saul

 

(I may be off my game, but I’m still funny as hell)