Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It’s been a long time

But I am still here. 🙂

I know, I haven’t blogged in a year. Not that there haven’t been things worth blogging about, but I’m sure plenty of other people have covered them.

So onto the writing. I haven’t done much. Somehow, the time is never there. Or if the time is there, the ability to focus often isn’t. Surprising how much of the issue is focus and not time, really. You can’t always be creative just when a small window of time is open.

Let’s move on. I have written a story! I’ll even provide a link. There’s a catch: you’ll have to guess which story is mine from the list.

Those of you who have read my stories on Literotica may remember that I participated in a couple of “Friendly, Anonymous Writing Challenges,” or FAWCs. They were organized by a user who went by slyc_willie, and unfortunately, he passed away in October of this year.

Several other Lit users, including myself, wanted to pay a little tribute and keep the spirit of  FAWC going and so a memorial challenge was quickly organized, and the stories are now available. Each participant selected one of the letters in the word “slyc,” then received four words starting with that letter, around which the story had to be built. I can say that for each letter, the choices were indeed challenging.

The stories are available here. You can read, vote and comment anonymously at Lit, or you can create an account. Please do enjoy all the stories, and leave a little feedback — we writers love that.

Special thanks to user/moderator _Lynn_ at Lit for all of her help.

Advertisements

Update

I wanted to let you know that E.F. Turner’s stolen stories have been removed. She still does have a couple of stories up on Amazon, but they appear to be her own work, and that’s fine. I only wanted her to stop trying to pass off others’ work as her own.

She has a blog at blogspot.com (I won’t link; might be small of me, but don’t want to even have that connection), and the most recent entry does not address this, not that I thought she would. 

Thanks to everyone who shared and supported, and if you were one of the ones she stole from, I hope there’s some relief that this incident appears to be over.

 

It’s just a story

I sometimes edit for other people, and sometimes it’s a bit of work. I’m sure some of those writers think I’m too serious about it. I don’t mean to be too serious, but yeah, I admit I am more serious than others. I have always been the kind of person who wants my work to be the best it can be, because it’s mine. I generally don’t like it if I have to finish something and feel it’s not what it should be.

This goes for my stories. I know a lot of people don’t care overly much how good or proper their stories are, and I certainly don’t stay up nights worried about the odd typo. What I do worry about is: does my story make sense? Did I contradict myself somewhere? Did I establish a rule for my story and break it? Did I follow my rules?

So when I edit, as I go along, I ask myself: does this make sense? And when I ask that, I mean, does this make sense in the author’s world?

I think just about any premise will work for a story, provided the author sets it up. I have written stories about people who turn into animals, about witches and vampires. I have read stories about dragons, and stories about secret Nazi groups attempting to assert control over the world, and many things in between. I do not demand “realistic realism,” to coin a phrase, from people I edit for.

So to a point, “It’s just a story” is a fine excuse. But I think it only gets you so far. If you want to write about werewolves, then great. It’s just a story. You want to write about a secret group of conspirators who want to take over the government, no problem. It’s just a story. And so on, for stories ranging from Stephen King’s It to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

After that, though, the onus is on the author to set out the rules for their world, and more importantly, to stick with them. And not just the new rules about the werewolves or aliens or whatever. You also have to keep the rules for whatever parts of the story are “normal.”

If you have spies dealing with aliens, in a contemporary world, the those spies need to act plausibly like spies. They can’t just start acting like this happens all the time. They need to adjust, to figure it out, to figure out how they apply what they know to this new situation. In a story like The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen can’t be a frivolous teenager; such a thing might kill her. So she’s not like that. Collins has made her heroine plausible for the world she inhabits, and that makes the story as a whole believable to the reader.

So yes, I will encourage a writer to make things believable and consistent, both for themselves and the reader.

I Liked the Oscars

Last night, my husband and I watched the Oscars. I had not — and still have not — seen any of the best picture nominees, but that didn’t stop me from printing out a ballot and filling in what I wanted based on what I’d read. The two movies I did see that received Oscar noms were Marvel’s The Avengers (nominated for best visual effects) and Pixar’s Brave (winner of best animated feature film).

I am a movie fan — I’d like to call myself a buff, but I think that implies a level of knowledge of both movies and the stars that I don’t quite have, so I’ll call myself a buffette. I like good movies and bad ones. My husband and I are suckers for the $3 and $5 bins at stores like Walmart and Big Lots. We own a copy of every Pixar film, and many other animated ones, at my instigation (not the kids’). I have a stash of movies made by the “mockbuster” studio The Asylum, including “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus,” which contains performances by Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah Debbie Gibson, in case you’re wondering whatever happened to them.

I don’t expect a whole lot from the Oscar telecast, or even the host. It’s a pretty thankless job — make people laugh while the film industry, which makes a boatload of money every year despite the perennial gnashing of teeth, pats itself on the back. Don’t offend too many people, but don’t be too milquetoast either. With those kind of low to mediocre expectations, it’s hard to get disappointed and if I’m going to invest 3.5 hours into a show, I at least want not to be disappointed.

So I watched last night, I laughed, I was entertained, I was pleased to see Ang Lee win Best Director for Life of Pi, and somewhat disappointed that Frankenweenie did not win Best Animated Feature. What can I say? I’m a big Tim Burton fan. On the other hand, I haven’t seen Frankenweenie, so perhaps Brave was the better film. (Or perhaps people feared being stomped on by Pixar’s desk lamp).

Yet I get up this morning, and everywhere I look, the Oscars are being slammed. MacFarlane was lame and unfunny and misogynistic. (Really?) According to Tom Shales over at Roger Ebert’s site (and I enjoy Shales’ articles), MacFarlane also couldn’t sing or dance (again, really?). For MacFarlane himself, I had no expectations — I have not watched Family Guy, although I’ve seen bits and pieces, and I did not see the movie he wrote, Ted.

But I thought he was funny. I actually liked the opening number “We Saw Your Boobs.” I just found the whole idea of singing such a song — backed by a gay mens’ chorus! — great fun. Some of his one-liners hit and others missed. I admit I squirmed at the Django Unchained/Chris Brown/Rihanna joke, but hey, you can’t like it all. And I could have lived without “All that Jazz,” from Chicago. You had John Travolta there — give us a number from Hairspray!

I was relieved to find a couple of articles over at Slate.com written by people who, like me, were in fact not offended by MacFarlane’s routine. Even in this day of constant commentary, guess what? You are free to turn off the television. You are not obligated to watch the Oscars, nor, even with the ease of access of Twitter, et al, are you obligated to express your opinion of it to the world (but if you want to, have at).

A lot of people went on about the boobs song and how it was degrading, etc. True, there is not likely to be a male equivalent like “We Saw Your Balls” or “We Saw Your Junk.” (Although wouldn’t it be fun, and let’s get Meryl Streep to sing it, with that same chorus.) Why? Because aside from Harvey Keitel in The Piano, you won’t find much male frontal nudity in mainstream US movies. (Wait, there was that guy in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, right?) So why can we not poke a little fun at nudity in the movies? Yeah, it’s female nudity mostly, but who’s fault is that? Until the MPAA and other groups loosen up, and/or the actresses decide to keep their shirts on until there’s topless equality, this is the state of things for a while. So let’s sing a song about how silly that is.

(Aside: Some may note that Jodie Foster baring breasts in The Accused was different than Kate Winslet in Titanic, and I’d agree. But this is slippery ground in humor. Should MacFarlane have limited himself to only rom-coms, or coms, or roms, or trashy horror movies? I don’t know. It wouldn’t have made a difference to me, but others might have carped at that very limiting. It’s up to MacFarlane to decide, then up to us to be offended or not.)

But perhaps in a more egalitarian song, MacFarlane could sing “We Saw Your Butt,” because I’d say male and female derrieres appear in about equal numbers of movies.

I can’t keep up with all of the things I’m supposed to be upset about, to fight for or against. So I’ll just pick my battles. This is not one of them.

Years ago, on MTV, they ran a special that dealt with things like the influence of music on suicidal people, and other “dark” things. You know the type of thing — did Black Sabbath really get people into Satanism and what not. Personally I’m guessing the guys in Sabbath were too drunk and/or high to do much with inverted crosses. What I remember is Lemmy from Motorhead saying that there are always people who will be offended, that there are people who go around with little notebooks, waiting to be offended so they can write it down.

And now they take it to Twitter.

 

But I didn’t like it — book reviews

This article at Slate.com got my attention today. The author discusses more the role of critics and such as social media rises, but it had me thinking about other things.

I haven’t reviewed much, either here or on Amazon, although I’d like to. Problem is, I’m a critical reader and while I’m willing to let certain things slide, I’m not going to give a glossy review to something I think is below par. I don’t want to become known as a troll or anything, because I know how hard it is to write something, polish it up and put it out there for the world at large to read and criticize. So I hold back.

A few months ago, an online friend asked me to a review a story (maybe novella length) that they’d written and post it on my site or Amazon or both. I read the story and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t think it was very good, and my mind did not change when he told me it had been reviewed by an editor. All I could think was that the editor must not have been very good. I thought the basic premise was good but the writing was kind of clunky, the dialogue was awkward and a few other things were problematic. We’re still friendly but I doubt they will be asking me to review any others. And if you looked on the Amazon page for that book, you’d see at least a couple of 5-star reviews (I haven’t checked in a while).

Sometimes, people don’t hold back. Go to this page at Amazon for 50 Shades of Grey, and read the comments, both good and bad. I have long since decided I will read this book when I am lacking anything else interesting to read, like the fine print on my cell phone contract, and when I can get it for free. I read the sample on Amazon, and before I even go to any of the sex, I was baffled by the newspaper editor sending her roommate to interview someone, when it seemed more logical she’d send one of the staff. If you can’t be logical from the beginning, then sorry, I’m out of there.

But as the Slate article points out, a lot of reviews are basically done by friends of the author, who are going to say it’s good, even if it really isn’t. In my previous situation, I simply refrained from writing a review. I didn’t want any hurt feelings, but I sure wasn’t going to lie and say it was good. Could I have found good things to say? Sure, in that kind of double-edged way, or in a vague way. Here is, in fact, a review of the story I disliked:

This was a great read. The story is interesting, with good plot twists. The romance is strong, and the characters well developed. I look forward to more work from this author.

Is that all true? Not to me, but everyone has an opinion, of course. I would have spelled out my problems with it, because a review like this doesn’t tell you much. And it wasn’t that I thought the story wasn’t interesting — I thought it was poorly written, and that is something no one seems to want to take issue with, whether it’s mechanical issues like spelling or content issues like plot inconsistencies.

Back to 50 Shades — check out those reviews and you’ll see some who are just astounded by the sex. But a few others will note that there is better sex available. And there is, and it’s not even all that hard to find. There are plenty of authors at Amazon, you can see a few blogs on the right side of my page and you can always go to sites like Literotica or LushStories and poke around a little. Still, people who are impressed by poorly-written erotica probably haven’t read much of it to start with.

Can’t we be honest? I don’t mean I want to trash people, because like I said, I know how hard this is. But when I had stories published by Republica Press, my editor/publisher made no bones about things she didn’t like in stories, errors she’d thought I made, whatever. And I thought it was my duty as a writer she was publishing to at least hear her out. However, it seems like once someone says something’s fine, it’s almost impossible for a writer to hear any criticism, even if it’s constructive.

In my short experience with writing and publishing, both for free and pay, I’ve learned you need a thick skin. Not so thick that you can let everything bounce off of you, but not so thin that you become defensive at the mere mention of a contrary opinion. If you have given your story to someone for their opinion, you’d better be ready for their opinion to not be glowing. And criticism isn’t a bad thing. It can help you improve. If someone says your characters are inconsistent — and best would be if they gave examples — then check it out, because maybe they are, even if an editor said it’s good.

So while I appreciate the effort that goes into a story, I’m not going to blindly praise it if the grammar is awkward, the punctuation incorrect, or the characters contradictory. That’s not doing anyone any favors, least of all the writer. I thought from the start that if you want people to take the time to read your story, then you can take the time to make it readable in both mechanics and content.

New stories to read

I have two new stories up, and I hope you enjoy them.

First up is the third chapter of my latest hockey romance, Rhythm and the Blue Line. In this chapter, Brody goes to see Ryan’s band perform, and decides to convince her to go out with him. You’ll have to read and see if he succeeds.

Next is a Christmas story that’s up and entered in Literotica’s Winter Holiday Contest. It’s called Christmas Creep. Here’s an excerpt:

“You’re sexy when you cook.” Joe placed a kiss on the nape of her neck; she’d pulled her hair back in a ponytail.

“You’re distracting me.” She closed her eyes and clenched her hand around the measuring cup.

“I’m just admiring. You can’t expect me not to admire you in that outfit.”

“Busted.”

Joe slid his hands around her and cupped her breasts. “Indeed.”

Noelle considered ditching the cookies and just taking Joe down with her to floor, but the floor was tile and uncomfortable and she still had plans. Joe was adjusting nicely to Christmas things before Christmas, but she wasn’t done.

“No, no. Later.” She tapped his hands with the spatula.

He let her go and grinned. “Now that’s something I hadn’t thought of. How many spatulas do you have?”

“None of your business. Now, get the sugar, please.”

You can read Part 3 of Rhythm and the Blue Line at these sites:

You can read Christmas Creep at these sites:

Baseball

My boy joined a pony league baseball team this year. It’s been a lot of fun, doing something so traditional and “American.” And it’s raised one question.

How did I get to know so much about baseball?

I was never much of a baseball fan growing up. Nothing personal. My dad was (and is) a Phillies’ fan, so if we watched games, we watched the Phillies, and I’ll even date myself by noting this was before interleague play. I remember a few names: Tug McGraw, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Von Hayes and for some reason, Manny Trillo. I remember them winning the World Series in 1980, and George Brett and the Kansas City Royals and a scandal about pine tar on the bat. But that was pretty much it.

Now I did play catch, don’t get me wrong. Dad taught me. 🙂

A few years later I found hockey and got into that. I rooted for the Flyers, borrowed all seven books the library had. I fell away from hockey in college and grad school, and got back into it via the Capitals.

When I lived in the DC area, the Nationals were still the Expos, and so it was the Orioles who got all the press and coverage. They were American League. My reaction: who the hell are these people? Never mind the players — I barely recognized the names of the teams. I got on board with Cal Ripken, Jr., and his streak, and watched the games where he tied and broke Lou Gehrig’s record of consecutive games played. I mean, come on; not a dry eye in the house. I even made it to some games at Camden Yards (an excellent park).

And I met my husband, a life-long Orioles’ fan. We watched games, went to games, and somehow I picked a few things up.

I noticed this while playing some catch with the boy. Suddenly I’m advising him to watch the ball into his glove; cover with the other hand to make sure it stays; get his glove on the ground to get the grounders; step and throw quickly so as not to lose time in getting the out at first instead of making the exaggerated pitcher-type move that all the kids want to do.

Excuse me?

So between Dad and the O’s, somehow it all stuck. I honestly didn’t know how much I knew, or could put together, about baseball until I’m out on the front lawn, advising the boy to hold his glove this way or that, and giving pointers on his batting stance. And every time I do this, I’m amazed that I know it.

Wouldn’t Dad be proud?

 

%d bloggers like this: