Monthly Archives: May 2012

Do you re-read?

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I love to read. Love. Love. Love. When I find a book I adore, or better yet a series,  it becomes something I want to revisit. Frequently.

I am a bit of a speed reader. I skip a lot of the little words and get the gist of what’s going on. I’m so excited to read new books that I want to zoom through so I can find out what happens! When I do this, it’s inevitable that I’m going to miss the little things. I tend to give it a couple of months and then go back and re-read the book slower, really enjoying the word play, the details, etc.

To me, books are like movies and TV shows.  I bet a lot of you are still watching re-runs of Friends, Seinfeld, Sex in the City, etc. I know someone who’s seen the new Avengers movie three or four times already since it opened. So why not re-runs of your favorite stories in print form? Just because you remember what happens in the story doesn’t mean it will be a boring read the second or third time around. Maybe you’ll make more in depth connections about the morals or the story or see more of the character development. They are things you can miss if you race through reading it the first time. I find, as someone who reads well over one hundred books a year, that by the time I get to the re-read, I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened anyway.

I do know some people who say “I’ve read this already so why would I bother to read it again?” It’s a loss on their part in my opinion.

What makes you want to re-read your books? You enjoy the story? The main character has a special place in your heart? It made you laugh? What are some of your favorite stories to revisit?

 

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Schedule a Book Break

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Writers are busy folks. Many of us work a full time job in addition to our writing “job”. Then there are friends, family, carting kids to events and sports, etc. Most authors I know have more than one project in the works at once with a million and one other ideas percolating in their brains.It’s always go, go, go. Write. Edit. Re-read. Edit again. Promote. So on and so forth. All of this doesn’t leave time for much other than bathing and sleeping.

Discussed in previous posts was the need to schedule a time in your busy daily life to write. In addition to that, you really ought to schedule in a time to read. No, re-reading your own work does not count towards this break time. As an author, you need to keep up with the trends and things going on in your genre. The best way to do that is to take the time to read what other authors are putting out there. Not only will it help you know what is going on, it can also improve your writing and formatting not to mention give you new ideas.

I’ve heard, on more than one occasion, an aspiring author say “Oh I like to write but I don’t really read books.” It makes me cringe. Every.Single.Time. What? Why would you even want to write if you don’t like to read? I just don’t get it. It’s often easy to spot who those authors are as well. Their formatting is an eye watering, headache inducing jumbled mess of giant paragraphs with no dialog broken out. Their plot lines are erratic, filled with holes or jammed full of unnecessary information that bogs down the pacing.  I’m not saying these folks don’t have the capability of becoming enjoyable to read authors, but they need to actually read books and absorb the flow and format and how to develop their characters, etc.

I know many of us have looming deadlines, whether they are self induced or given by agents, editors or publishers, but everyone needs a break. You can’t take your laptop into the bubble bath to work and relax at the same time (those two words don’t go well together anyhow). Take a break. Bring a book into the bath. Read a chapter before going to bed. Scan some pages while your kid is at t-ball practice. Work it in however you can. Not only will it be enjoyable to loose yourself in a world of words, but it will help you be a better writer in the long run. Don’t you love the duality of that? We writers like to be multitaskers as well!

Fifty Shades of Degradation? I think not

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A couple of days ago I Tweeted something silly about Fifty Shades of Grey and was hit back with a Tweet telling me to read an article when I was done reading the book.  I was already onto the second in the series so I took a break from the steamy novel and checked out the article. It left me annoyed and upset. I posted on Facebook about it and got some responses from others. I decided I needed to go a little more in depth about what bothers me about it.

So the article, written by an English professor and feminist scholar,  claims that the Fifty Shades of Grey books are degrading to women. That it’s “mommy porn” and the women reading it are swatting away their children and not taking care of themselves in order to read these books. She claims that instead of our daughters learning to be strong women, they will be looking to be submissive to men so they can be taken care of and not make any decisions on their own.

Firstly, the term mommy porn makes me chuckle. Like it’s something new?  Obviously,  the author of the article has never read a Harlequin romance novel, a.k.a. bodice ripper.  While there is more clenching than quivering in Fifty Shades,  they are not that different. Personally, I would dub the books by E.L. James as BDSM mainstream erotica, but I can guess that she dubs them as merely steamy romance since words like c*ck, pu$$y or even penis are not used. Slightly off topic, but it annoys me that the author refers to the pleasure spots as “down there” and simply erection, but whatever.

Secondly, it bothers me to no end that this Professor thinks that women can be so easily swayed by a piece of fiction. If that were truly the case, I feel it lays more in the reader’s upbringing than in the “message” of the book.  For a feminist, she’s not giving us women a lot of credit.  The book is a piece of fiction. Reading fiction should be entertaining and maybe a bit educational (depending on what you’re reading) but by no means should it be a  “How To” manual for people to live their lives by. Might reading Fifty Shades turn some women on to the world of BDSM? Maybe, but even if it did, what is wrong with that? It’s not a lifestyle people should just jump into but perhaps it will lead the reader to learn more about themselves and their sexuality and what they like. I would think a feminist wouldn’t have an issue with women wanting to learn more about what pleases them in the bedroom or pain room, should that be the case.

Thirdly, I almost wonder if the author of the article even read the book or did any research about BDSM. While I don’t lead the lifestyle myself, I have read a decent deal about it (oooh internet, you are a wealth of information, aren’t you?) and it seems to me that the Submissive is the one holding the power in the relationship because they have the final say on what happens. If they don’t like it, they safe word and their Dominate has to stop.  In the books, there is a contract drawn up by the male MC, Christian Grey, that talks about hard limits (definite no-nos), soft limits, eating habits, personal hygiene, etc. I don’t know if this happens in the real world of BDSM, but I’d have to think it’s at least discussed if not written up and signed .  The book’s female MC, Anastasia Steele, negotiates with Mr. Grey about what she finds acceptable and unacceptable, so she’s not going into blind and she’s not merely accepting his offer, she makes it work for her as well. I can understand how a feminist would have issue with anyone being submissive to someone else, but maybe those who are submissive in the bedroom are dominate elsewhere. Maybe they need that break.  Most of the mommies I know are the ones who make the majority of the decisions for the family. They set up the schedules and cart the kids around and have to make a lot of the decisions because the daddies are off working or don’t necessarily know what choices work best for the daily lives of their kids (I’m sure that’s not always the case but I see it happening often) so maybe they need an outlet in life where they don’t have that control, where decisions are made for them. I see no issue in that. I don’t think it’s degrading, I think it’s making yourself happy. Remember, the  BDSM lifestyle is about pain AND pleasure and the amount of each depends on the submissive and not the dominate.

Lastly, I’m not sure what the lady has against these women and their fantasies.  She states that these moms are letting themselves go, ignoring their husbands and swatting their kids away. I find it hard to believe any mom is going to ignore her child to read these books. Might she put them to bed earlier? Maybe, but hey, growing kids need lots of sleep. Also, I’m not sure how people could read these books and not get turned on and want to get it on with their significant others. And really lady, you’re complaining because people are reading?! I’ve always said it doesn’t matter what people read, so long as they’re reading something. Who cares if it’s smut or articles on genetics? Reading keeps the mind active and if what you’re reading leads to fantasies, I see no problem with that. Maybe the reader will have the chance to live them out someday, but even if they don’t what’s the harm in having them?

All in all I think it comes down to remembering that these books are fictional and women are not going to run out looking for men to tell them what to do and beat them silly, all for money. That’s not what it’s about. It’s a super steamy love story about an alternate lifestyle.  The author of the books controls the outcome but gives the reader insight into something they may not know about. Maybe it’ll peak their curiosity to learn more about what they enjoy and maybe it’ll perk up things in their own bedrooms/red room of pain. Maybe it’ll just give them something to giggle about with the other moms while waiting to pick up their kids from school.

So moms and others, go ahead and keep reading your mommy porn without shame. It’s not degrading and it’s not going to knock you back to a 1950’s mentality. We’ve come too far to let a piece of fiction make us regress. Just enjoy and don’t worry about the opinions of others who think it’s wrong. They’re probably just too shy and prudish to admit they want to read it as well.

 

Do books start trends?

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All you need to do is turn on one of those entertainment news TV shows or browse celebrity news websites to see how actors and musicians are starting and setting trends. Fashion magazines will show you how to dress like your favorite celebs and what products they use, what they’re eating, etc. Music and movies (and television) are important parts of trend setting, but what about books? Do they start trends? You bet your bippy they do!

Let’s look at some examples:

Hunger Games: inspired fashion trends and a nail polish line (while yes this is a movie, many people read the books as well). Also it inspired some kind of new workout at gyms.

Harry Potter: Perhaps not a trend (short of maybe scarf wearing?) but a “real” sport (real depending on who you ask I suppose) came out of the books as people have made and play their own versions of Quidditch, which is really pretty freakin’ cool when you think about it.

Twilight: I’m not sure how popular it is here in the states but I have heard that the book series, along with several other popular vampire based books have started a tooth sharpening trend with people asking to have their teeth filed to look like fangs or they get caps that  can be permanent or removable. Can’t say it’s a trend I want to take part in, but to each their own.   Also, there’s a horrible trend of bad Twilight tattoos

Comic books have long been causing trends from tattoos to Halloween costumes to cosplay (check out these awesome cosplayers!)

I’m sure there are other instances and I think as people read more, we’ll see more things popping up. Heck, maybe we’ll see a trend of BDSM clubs opening thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey…although, those things are kind of kept on the down-low, so who really knows if the non-goers will notice such a thing? Heh.

What other trends have you spotted coming from books? What do you think we might see in the future, thanks to best sellers?

A winner am I!

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So the month of April has flown by and there was much procrastination, but I have prevailed and pulled up my bootstraps for the final push today (well, yesterday by the time this posts) to hit 100 pages of my script, Resolution.  Let me tell you, it was not easy to get into a screenplay mind frame. I had to make sure I stayed away from those pesky inner monologues and had to be sure to describe the scenes and what everyone was wearing. I know I didn’t do as well describing things as I should have. When the story is finally done (it’s just about there, hitting the climax/resolution now and then the wrap up stuff) I know I will have to go back and do a lot of adding so that the reader really sees the picture the shot would paint. I wanted to say Oooh just leave it up to the set dresser (HA! As if it’ll ever be made into a real film) but I guess they need some guidelines to go by.

Script Frenzy was a different animal than NaNoWriMo. While there was definitely a community, it just wasn’t as hyped as NaNo and I didn’t feel like I wanted to get as involved. No write-ins (physical anyhow), no really local folks to meet with it seemed. I don’t know if it’s just because I was new to the Frenzy or if I just felt like doing things on my own. Maybe it was lack of others doing it with me (next year you join me, Mike and Sasha! :D).

Now that I’ve got one screenplay under my belt (well, almost), will I be doing more? I just don’t know. It was definitely an interesting exercise that I think will help my writing in the long run. I may give it another run next year depending on where other projects are (there’s always something simmering in some stage of completion).

All and all, it was fun to try and I certainly don’t regret it and am happy to have given it a try. I’m interested enough to want to finish it and pass it along to see if it is any good or compete garbage! Heh

Congratulations to all other winning participants! Those who didn’t make it, there’s always next year!