Category Archives: Random WTF stuff
Well, I’m going through a major organizational thingie up in here. No biggie. Every so often, I get rid of bunches of stuff and find better, sleeker strategies for keeping things in order. I have this issue whereby if I have too much stuff, I start freaking out and I feel trapped, so I go through a purge of sorts. It helps clear my mind and calm me down. Heh.
Generally, my office is a study in relatively controlled chaos. I have bookshelves and other shelving that I decided no longer serves me as well as I’d like. So I’m looking at options. I’ve gotten kind of into cubby storage lately, some of which are designed for those cloth containers you can then slide in. Like so.
I’m into no-frills, (relatively) inexpensive stuff and if it’s something I can fix up myself, that’s cool, too, though I don’t have a lot of extra time (found objects–cool!). I’m also trying to figure out some ideas for bathroom storage. I have a tall linen closet in my bathroom with really deep shelves. I’m not very tall myself, so I can’t really access the top shelf (that’s my apocalypse shelf–lots of toilet paper!) all the time. I’m trying to pare down my bathroom stuff and figure out, again, sleeker organizational strategies for that, too. I tend to be a bit minimalist (kind of Ikea-ish/Swedish design mixed with Japanese zen space), I guess, and if my furniture is big and clunky, it kind of stresses me out.
Unless it’s some kind of cool historic-looking thing. I have some shelves I bought from a Mexican import store that I really like. Rough around the edges, kind of crooked, but super sturdy. Kinda like this.
These are some of my ideal spaces:
How about you? Got any good storage ideas? And what’s YOUR ideal space?
Hi, everybody! Every once in a while, I take random questions from people and post them here along with my answers. This is one of those times. So here, you go. Auntie Andi’s on it.
1. From Fran (a 2-fer!)
A. “Is it easier now for lesbian authors to get published without having to go the vanity press route?”
Yes. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your view. Here are my pros and cons, which I stated elsewhere today:
PRO: gets more books to people, allows easier access for those who are isolated.
PRO: brings more attention to lesfic and F/F writing, which allows access to more “mainstream” venues.
PRO: expands the audience for lesfic and F/F
PRO: expands networks of writers worldwide
CON: through “mainstreaming,” are we perhaps losing an aspect of creative lesbian culture that has sustained us for decades?
CON: (this applies across the board, though)–loss of “gatekeeping” and, in some cases, quality control (not all, and I’m certainly not suggesting that traditional houses don’t publish poo or mistake-ridden books–this does happen).
CON: perhaps unravels tight-knit lesfic creative culture and instead creates disparate pockets of lesfic without coherent networks.
CON: an overabundance of writers means a market glut and it becomes more difficult for individual writers to find an audience.
NOTE: I am not in any way judging either traditional or indie publishing, as I do both. These are merely observations.
B. Also from Fran: “Are you seeing more lesbian/gay content in mainstream writing? Is it gaining cultural acceptance?”
I’m not sure how to define “mainstream.” I think that LGBT characters are appearing more and more in so-called “mainstream” fiction, but I think it’s harder to find LGBT main characters (a few exceptions–e.g. Ellen Hart, Sandra Scopettone) and when you do find them, their sexual relationships are totally curtailed. Whereas in, say, a “heterosexual” thriller you’ll have the main character having sex (however that author expresses the scene, there’s no mistaking what’s going on), but you certainly won’t have an LGBT character having sex (not even a hint of it) in a more “mainstream” book. If there is stuff out there along those lines, let me know!
Overall, I think that will change, with time, however, and same-sex relationships will start to be accepted within mainstream canons. It’s a matter of time, I think.
2. Eh: “Beer or Wine”
3. E.J.: “Are you going to get married?”
Dunno. Depends on the woman.
4. From Stephni (another 2-fer!):
A. “Of the seven deadly sins, which do you think is the lesser of the aforementioned?”
I don’t believe in “sin.” Everything on that list is a personal choice, so it’s your choice whether you want to engage in it. Too much of any of ‘em might make people think you’re a douchecanoe, so it’s in your best interest, I suppose, to not be a douchecanoe.
B. Also from Stephni: “Lastly and to finish the seven theme which of the 7 heavenly virtues is the most trying for you to maintain?”
None of them. I try not to be a douchecanoe overall. Except sometimes at the holidays, I might get a little crazy and suck down too much chocolate, which could mean I’m being a glutton, but it seems to me that to be a glutton, you have to do that stuff all the time and not share your chocolate. Is it gluttony if you share your chocolate? I don’t think so. :D
5. From Daniela: “Have you met a deaf person?”
6. Also from Eh: “Ever consider updating your covers on your older work? (Just looking at your Far Seek Chronicles)”
Yes. But I don’t consider it “updating.” I consider it “changing.” And if you’re an artist who does that sort of thing for this genre, send me stuff from your portfolio to have a look at.
7. From Joan: “Do you approach fiction writing differently than nonfiction? Are there different rituals or habits of mind you employ? Do you find it harder to do one or the other? Or easier? Wording of your choice, my friend!”
Yes. I enjoy writing fiction more than nonfiction. I write to music, incense, and candles when I’m working on a fiction project (which makes it sound like I’m dating my fiction). Nonfiction stresses me out a bit more because I’m super-anal and it has to have valid, solid sources that support it. I don’t really have a ritual with regard to nonfiction, though I have been known to procrastinate a lot more before working on a nonfiction project than a fiction project. I’d rather be in my own private batcave, writing fiction.
8. From Tara: “Is there anything you can’t do?”
Yes. I still can’t fly, walk through walls, go invisible, or run faster than a speeding train. I keep trying, though. And I can’t field dress a deer. Though it looked pretty cute in that matching camouflage outfit. Oh, and you probably wouldn’t want to trust me with brain surgery.
9. From MM Perry: “Boxers or Briefs?”
10. From Linda: “Have you ever written a time-travel story? If not, would you?”
No, I haven’t. I don’t know if I ever will. I have written historical fiction (19th-century; unpublished), but there are lots of time travel stories out there, so I’m not sure what would make anything I’d do different or interesting in that regard. If a story comes along in that vein, I suppose I’ll write it. None have, though.
11. From Diane: “You are a fan of Walking Dead – have you ever thought of writing a lesbian-themed zombie story?”
Yes. I’ve got one kicking around in my head and it has been for a few years. Not sure I’d call it lesfic, though, since it’s the apocalypse and there’s not a whole lot of sexy-time going on. And honestly, there shouldn’t be. You should be busy surviving and not getting your swerve on with every survivor you think is hot. That should be the farthest thing from your mind. Having said that, the MC in the story I’ve been kicking around identified as lesbian prior to the collapse of civilization as we know it.
12. From PA Andrews: “Do you listen the music when you write? If so, what type do you prefer?”
Yes. Each genre has its own type of music and each project has its own soundtrack. You can find out what by checking out my playlists at Spotify. Here are links on my blog:
Far Seek Chronicles: Friends in High Places, A Matter of Blood; Land of Entrapment; From the Boots Up; From the Hat Down.
13. S. Marie: “Toilet paper roll- over or under?”
Depends on whose house I’m visiting. When in Rome…
14. JRob: “How tall are you?”
Not very. But I’m loud, which makes me seem ginormous.
15. J. Chavez: “What are your ties to New Mexico?”
I was born in Albuquerque. I ended up growing up in southwestern Colorado, but spent a lot of time in NM with the family. I returned to Albuquerque in ’92 and was there until ’04. Returned to the Southwest in ’08. New Mexico is home, and will always be home, whether I’m living there or not.
There you go, peeps. Another round of questions answered. Here’s the first round, in case you wondered.
It’s true. I curse. And, like many people who do, I generally use swearage in contexts in which there is precedent for it (i.e. friends and yes, family).
For those of you who know me personally, you’re not shocked by this revelation. For those of you who don’t, sorry. I’ve blown your image of me as a pristine, untainted virginal woman with an entire closet full of white dresses who coyly smiles and demurely defers.
I bring this up today because I was recently answering some questions for a book group and one of the questions I got asked was why there was so much swearing in the book.
Context of question: The book was one of my mysteries, whose main characters identify as lesbian. The book group was predominantly (if not all) women and, I presume, lesbian.
Someone else then said that she hadn’t even noticed the swearing. I responded that there was far more swearing in one of the other mysteries I’d written, and that some people swear. Ergo, some of my characters swear. It’s unrealistic, I think, for characters not to swear. I did wonder what the person considered “swearing.” There were a few F-bombs in the book, but for the most part, it’s “hell” and “damn” in my books, which, on my swearage scale, ranks a bit above “crap” and much below “fuck.”
But the deeper issue here is this:
If I were a man writing mysteries and thrillers (regardless of sexual orientation), would that question even have come up?
I doubt it.
Language conveys many things, including where in the social hierarchy someone is. The way you use language and the way you express yourself linguistically signals certain things to listeners. Language can convey power, and the way you say things (your intonations) as well as what you say provides clues about how you think of yourself, where you’re from, and what your background might be.
Swear words (which are found in pretty much every human language) are typically considered “power” words (maybe “scary” words), and have historically been most associated with men. Women who curse have historically (and still) been viewed as “unladylike,” “dangerous,” “uncouth,” “ugly,” “trashy,” “harlots,” and [fill in epithets here; the list does go on]. Buzzfeed has a nice GIF-ridden list that addresses the double standard that women face when they curse.
Professor of linguistics Robin Lakoff opened a whole new field in linguistics — language and gender as an object of study — in 1975. She identified “women’s language,” i.e. the characteristics and kinds of language women were expected to use and often were socialized to use. Here’s a chapter she did, “Talking Like a Lady” (Language and a Woman’s Place, 1975). Below, a relevant quote from said chapter.
Allowing men stronger means of expression than are open to women further reinforces men’s position of strength in the real world: for surely we listen with more attention the more strongly and forcefully someone expresses opinions, and a speaker — unable for whatever reason — to be forceful in stating his views is much less likely to be taken seriously. Ability to use strong particles like “shit” and “hell” is, of course, only incidental to the inequity that exists rather than its cause. But once again, apparently accidental linguistic usage suggests that women are denied equality partially for linguistic reasons, and that an examination of language points up precisely an area in which inequity exists. Further, if someone is allowed to show emotions, and consequently does, others may well be able to view him as a real individual in his own right, as they could not if he never showed emotions. Here again, then, the behavior a woman learns as “correct” prevents her from being taken seriously as an individual, and further considered “correct” and necessary for a woman precisely because society does not consider her seriously as an individual.
And if a woman “appropriates” what’s considered male language, she also runs the risk of being ridiculed and dismissed for “stepping out of line.” Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t (see what I did there?).
This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked that question. And each time (around 7 or 8 times, now) it gets asked, it’s a woman who identifies as lesbian wanting to know why there’s “so much cursing” in my books. Have you read John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books, I ask. And usually, the answer is “no.” Well, I say, there’s your point of comparison.
And, yes, swearage can also be a function of one’s background. I grew up in a household that used swearage in appropriate contexts. I also grew up around a lot of public defenders and other attorney-types and I’ll tell you right now, the swearage was strong with that group. Both men AND women. I grew up in a rural western town, where we snuck swearage into our conversations during high school lunch breaks and after school, and learned how to wield it with our friends. Furthermore, I’m not religious, so any kind of religious moratorium on swearage has no context in my life. And, let’s be honest, here. I grew up with strong women. Who swear.
I come by my swearage honestly.
But again, the deeper issue here is the fact that if I were a man writing, I doubt I would ever get asked why there’s “so much swearing” in (some of) my books.
And what, exactly, is “so much”? How much is that? I’m only granted one F-bomb per 100 pages? I have a finite number of “hells” and “damns” I can use? Do dudes writing have a finite number of swear words they can apply to their work? Again, I doubt it.
Regardless, I don’t believe in quotas on swearing. And I don’t believe that women shouldn’t swear, because I think ultimately, that’s what’s really at the root of that question. Some people swear. Others don’t. Some of my characters swear. Others don’t. It depends on the scene, genre, story, and the characters’ arcs.
Basically, in my world, women swear.
To explore this further, see the following links:
Robin Lakoff, The Language War (2001)
“Profanity and Gender: A Diachronic Analysis of Men’s and Women’s Use and Perceptions of Swear Words”
An Encyclopedia of Swearing
A Brief History of Swearing
Swearing: A Social History…
Swearing can help with pain
9 things you may not have known about swearing
Happy Friday, everybody!
I saw this commercial for Mr. Sketch Markers and I laughed so hard I practically cried. You know Mr. Sketch, right? The markers that allegedly smell like fruit? They’ve been around in this country since I was a kid. Anyway, this ad shows you how they put the smell in Mr. Sketch. It’s total Beavis and Butthead humor, but OMG sometimes that just makes me laugh.
Oh, and how about this weird but strangely cool video from Basement Jaxx for their song “Never Say Never”? It might not be entirely safe for some workplaces, so be careful. The premise is that in the future, people lose the ability to dance. So a Japanese company’s scientists develop a device to help people re-discover dancing.
In other, more serious matters, check out this blog by author Bridget Essex about how book piracy not only affects her, but can have ramifications in the lesfic community.
Y’know, I get why file-sharing sites exist. For the record, though, any copies of my books that you find out there that are not affiliated with a legitimate bookselling site and are available for free are illegal. I have not given and do not give permission to anyone to upload or download my copyrighted work for free on any site, anywhere. My publishers have not given and do not give permission for that, either. So if the site you’re on is telling you that oh, everything is copacetic and legal, that’s not true.
So if you are a fan of my work and you can’t afford it, drop me a line. Let’s chat. As my colleague Jove Belle says, maybe we can arrange an alternative to you downloading from a site that could eventually infect your device or computer with some kind of evil spyware.
So share some luv, and support this awesome community of lesfickers (writers, readers, publisher, editors, designers, typesetters) and booksellers by legally purchasing or legally acquiring (i.e. through giveaways or if you’re a book reviewer with a site) their work. Help ‘em keep writing. :D
And let’s hope that the world never forgets how to dance.
I kept thinking that I was going to do a giant “here’s what happened at GCLS,” but ultimately, I decided not to. The conference schedule is still available so you can see what panels were offered and who was on them (click HERE). The vendor layout is also available, so you can see where everybody was in the Grand Ballroom, which was the vendor room. I even took photos. You can see those HERE. And you can check out the list of Goldie finalists HERE and then the list of winners HERE.
I will say that the panels I was on included absolutely fab fellow panelists and moderators and I was extremely excited to be on them. I was also one of the awards presenters this year, along with fellow author R.G. Emanuelle. That was a new experience, but I enjoyed it immensely and considered it an honor.
So here, I’ll do a round-up of the crazy that goes into attending a conference. Some of you may remember that I did an earlier post on prepping for one. Well, here’s the bag of controlled chaos that goes into attending a con.
And I love me some peanuts!
So here we go, people. Questions people asked me on Facebook.
“What is the most crazy thing you ever did…and why?”
Gurrrrrrrl, there is no way I can answer this with just one crazy thing. And sometimes, it’s not like I planned to do crazy things. Crazy things just kind of happened. And my definition of crazy might not be somebody else’s definition. So here, I’ll share 3 weird incidents:
1. Walked across the border from San Diego, California into Tijuana, Mexico with friends one night. Went bar-hopping then came back and got caught in the middle of a fight between a group of Mexican guys and American frat dudes at the border crossing. I was the mostly sober one, so I had to maneuver a bunch of drunks through that hot mess. I’m pleased to say we made it pretty much unscathed. Why did I do that? Cuz it seemed like a good idea at the time. LOL
2. Got stuck on the island of Lesvos (Lesbos, people) for a week. No place to stay in town, so I lived on the beach instead in this cheap-ass tent I and a friend managed to score in this weird little store. After a week, I managed to catch a ferry back to Athens, but I left the tent with my friend and she went on to Mykonos with it. Why? Hell, it was Greece! Who WOULDN’T want to live on a beach for a week there?
3. Drove to New Orleans from Denver with a group of friends non-stop for Mardi Gras. It took us about 18 hours one way driving in shifts. We’d all pitched in to rent a place in the French Quarter. I slept on the floor all three nights but hey, it was Mardi Gras. Why? Two words: Mardi. Gras. :D
“Why is New Mexico “the land of enchantment”? Or really entrapment?”
Those of us who are New Mexicans really can’t explain this to someone who’s never been. Trust me on this, people who have not been. It’s the Land of Enchantment because it’s like no place you’ve ever been. It’s where the past has melded with the present in this really awesome blend of cultures and customs across high desert landscapes of such preternatural beauty that you can’t believe you’re on Earth.
It’s the Land of Entrapment because really, once you go, it’s extremely difficult to leave and when you do, you miss it constantly.
“Have you ever worn a flannel shirt with matching argyle socks and birkenstocks?”
I have, indeed, worn a flannel shirt with Birkenstocks. However, I do not wear such an ensemble with argyle socks. Rather, in the winter, I wear my Birks with thick hiking socks. And if all of y’all must know, I have one pair of Birks, the Arizonas. I have worn them for 10 years, just getting them re-soled about every 3 years. Oh, and my middle name is Hermione. (not really, but wouldn’t it be kind of cool?)
“What is wrong with people?”
Gurl, if we knew that, we’d solve all the world’s problems. I’m thinking part of it might be more legal pot and craft brewing and distilling for all. Plus neighborhood community centers that had great day care for working parents, national Hawaiian Shirt Days once a month, more telecommuting, health insurance for all, cheap higher education, and casual Fridays every day.
Would you pay $200 for a pair of jeans? Or even $50? What do you think of Crocs footwear? (There’s only one correct answer.) Who has more gray hair, you or me? I’ll bet it’s you because I dye mine. Finally, and most importantly, what is your secret? You are so much more productive than any other writer I know, by which I mean me. I want to be as productive as you are. Vitamins? A tonic? Electromagnetic socks? What?!
Let’s see. $200? NO WAY. That’s almost a plane ticket! $50? No. I mostly buy in the $30 range.
Crocs: ugh. I owned one pair once. I’ll just take responsibility for that right now. They were red. And they were good for dog walking in Nashville, because the grass was often wet in the spring mornings. But yes, they started to reek. And that’s when I put them out of my misery.
More gray hair: Probably me. I stopped highlighting my hair in 2008 because it cost too much to do that in the recession. So now I have “recession” highlights (i.e. gray).
My secret: A vitamin tonic that I strain through electromagnetic socks. It contains glitter from sparkle ponies and the hair of a unicorn.
“Marshmallows. Where do they come from?”
DO NOT THINK ABOUT MARSHMALLOWS.
“Why is the song ‘Wonderwall’ so great …even though the Wonderwall was just an old school LCD projector?”
The song is way better than those projectors because the song only lasts about 4 minutes while it took about 10 times that to actually get a wonderwall to work.
THANKS, Gallery! Happy weekend!
Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s Sunday and I’m supposed to be resting.
NOT! Day of rest? WTF? Clearly somebody who wasn’t a writer started that meme.
So here’s my tongue-in-cheek list of things that might make writers insecure. I mean, beyond the usual “OMG I TOTALLY SUCK AT THIS WHY AM I WRITING THIS IS POO” angst. As we all know, many creative-types (whether you write, paint, sculpt, do music or whatever it is) are a bit on the sensitive side. Which is actually contradictory, because we’re putting things out into the public world for people to look at, which invariably will draw critics who will smash our sensitive sides into quivering piles of angst, whether they have valid points or not. So on the one hand, here we are all sensitive about what we’re doing and yet we put it out there for lambasting. I haven’t figured out that contradiction, yet. Maybe it’s a type of sickness. Regardless, there are things that just make people who work in creative fields get their insecurities all up in a twist. These are some of them, but most of us won’t tell you that. So here I am, gossip-mongering. :D
1. Getting ready to release a book just a few weeks after a fellow writer releases a book and that fellow writer’s book is getting gajillions of accolades and everybody’s talking about how awesome it is. This makes some writers want to just quietly gather their things and go home, put on the TV and lament that they could’ve been a contender, maybe, had that other writer not been so much more awesome.
2. Blurbs on other writers’ sites that say how awesome their books are and your life is a meaningless desert of ennui if you don’t read that author’s work. Meanwhile, the blurb on your site says: “fun read, good to kill some time” or “doesn’t suck.”
3. Parties where it comes up that you’re a writer and someone invariably asks what you write and then says “never heard of it” and adds “should I read it?” To which the writer is stuck. If she says “yes, you must read my work. You’re deprived otherwise.” then she looks kind of like a douchecanoe. But if she says, “oh, I don’t know. If you’d like to, I guess so.” which then makes her look like a sad and shipwrecked douchecanoe. Although, to be fair, there are many, many writers who are brilliant shining lights in literary-land who have never been heard of at some party in a state far away. Hold on to that.
4. As a follow-up, people who say something like, “If you’re published, how come I haven’t heard of you?” Um. Maybe because there are almost 1,000,000 books published in this country every year? Nevertheless, this makes some authors start twitching about not doing enough promo work.
5. As another follow-up, somebody saying something like “how come you can’t make much money if you’ve published that many books?” At this point, you’re better off taking your sad, shipwrecked douchecanoe right into the rapids rather than attempting to explain the vagaries of the publishing world.
6. Reading “how to write” blogs and realizing that you have engaged in every single one of those DON’T DO THIS in terms of craft. At which point the writer feels cold and clammy because the book she’s just about to release has several writing no-nos in it.
7. Bad reviews that somebody forwards to you with the subject line “FYI.” (here is a pep talk blog)
8. A really super-cool cover on another writer’s book. Especially if everybody is talking about how super-cool it is. This causes some writers to immediately scrap all forthcoming covers, go home, turn the TV on, and think how they could’ve been a contender, if only they had awesome covers, too.
9. A really cool promo thing that an author does and it gets everybody talking about that author and that book while you’re still trying to figure out how to get something like “sparkle pony” into your title because you’re sure that’ll sell.
10. Hammering away on a book and you’re about halfway through when you go onto Goodreads and see another book whose plot is pretty similar to yours and you wonder if writing Godzilla into your romance will thus distinguish you from the pack.
Other than that, WRITING IS FUN, people!
Hope your day of rest is filled with happy reading, happy writing, happy happy joy joy!
Hi, gang –
Well, I’m still a bit of a Writer McCrankypants. My apologies for that. This project, as excited as I am about it, is rather stressful as all these disparate elements have to come together so that I can launch it to the best of my abilities (and then do the whole thing again with yet another project in the pipeline…LOL).
Remind me again why I do this job? Oh, I remember.
Because I luuuuuuuv it!
As I’ve been working on the project I’m about to launch I’m also finishing up a short story for an anthology. That one’s been a bit of a pain in the butt. Sometimes stories almost write themselves. Other times, they’re divas and require certain things just so, taking scenes out and re-doing them, and a whole host of other issues. This was one of those. Who knows why. It just was. I’m just about done and then I’ll leave it for a few days and go back and read it and see how it all feels.
Anyway, the past couple of months have gotten me thinking, because not only have I been totally swamped in the writing world, but also in my non-writing world. Yes, friends, writers have non-writing lives, too. Like anybody else, we have shopping, cleaning, and laundry to do (unless you’re all super-famous and can hire that out), cars to get fixed, animals to take care of, jobs to go to, family and friends to check in with and/or take care of, home repairs, doctors’ appointments, haircuts, bills to pay, taxes to do (ARGH)…
Which means for those of us who write and work full-time day jobs, there isn’t a whole lot of time for either. And that got me thinking about much larger things that maybe writers and other creative pursuit-types don’t think about.
Hope everybody’s super-groovy.
As a little reminder, in case you haven’t read it, here’s my freebie Valentine’s Day story Floral Designs.
Author Jove Belle and I are doing a 2-hour gabfest at the Virtual Livingroom this Saturday the 15th 1 PM-3 PM EST (US time). We’ll be chatting to each other and taking questions from anyone who wants to chime in. We do have a topic we’ll be discussing (JUICY, people! JUICY!) but we’re not going to tell you what it is. We’ll spring it on yuh Saturday. Here’s the rundown of what’s up at the VLR this weekend:
AT THE VIRTUAL LIVING ROOM
Coming this weekend Saturday 15th February and Sunday 16th February from 11:00 to 21:00 EST
The following authors will be discussing ROMANCE
D. JACKSON LEIGH AND LARKIN ROSE
ANDI MARQUETTE AND JOVE BELLE
CHRIS PAYNTER AND CP ROWLANDS
KATE CHRISTIE AND AMY DAWSON ROBERTSON
DK HAWK AND RRROSE
JAE AND LOIS CLOAREC HART
ANGELA PEACH AND JADE WINTERS
AJ ADAIR AND BARBARA WINKES
MJ WILLIAMZ AND PJ TREBELHORN
DIANA SIMMONDS AND J-L HEYLEN