MZB & Feminism in the 70’s

I’m reading a Marion Zimmer Bradley novel called The Ruins of Isis. The premise is a great one. An ancient planet ruled by women who subjugate and own their men. It was written in 1978 and speaks volumes about that time and about human relations in general. It flips things on its head and shows how ridiculous the whole idea is, for anyone. Male or female.ruins isis

I have always been a feminist. Vehemently so. I can’t/won’t accept a world where I am not considered an equal. I remember telling my husband-to-be that I would NOT stay home and be some kind of brood mare for him. I glared at him as I did so, as if he was suggesting just such a thing (he wasn’t). I had reason to be so forceful. I’d watched my mother being dominated by my stepfather–who had control issues to say the least. She fought the good fight but he wore her down. On the flip side, my father’s mother is the matriarch of our family. She rules, and everyone else follows. My father, as a result, is very gentle, when I flipped his car and nearly killed us at 12 years old he went home and took a shower then went and waxed his truck, very unperturbed. This feels right to me. Not some sort of domination between the sexes but a mutual respect and kindness. Does this mean that some men will have to take a backseat to their dominating nature? Probably. But a good man won’t mind that or even take note of it.

When this book was written equality between the sexes was still a new concept and the subject needed to be addressed, nay it needed to be described in just this beautiful and detailed way– showing how much had been accomplished and how far away we still were from a state of gender balance. This is such a tightwire balancing act so deftly done that I am in awe of MZB’s skills. After all, who was she following after in the Sci Fi field but the likes of Asimov and his tired male centered sexist view of the universe (so bad in fact that I wonder if he ever had a decent relationship with any woman?–If you don’t believe me read ANY of his short stories or novels and count the females who aren’t wives, mothers, or coffee-getters. You’ll find the total to be a very sad, and very telling, zero.) From Asimov’s world to what we enjoy today is yet another world away. We’ve come a long way and I can’t help but think that books like these and other pioneers helped to pave the way. For them, I’m grateful.

As a child of the 80’s and 90’s I benefited greatly from these ‘new’ ideas. My children will benefit even more. What about YOU? Do you take it for granted? Do you think it’s a tired overdone subject? How has feminism affected you?

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Oh Yeah, Gonna Buy It

Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You give a F*ckthug kitchen

I have to admit to being a bit of a miser when it comes to buying books. I get them at discount stores, garage sales, thrift stores, Amazon used, you name it. I rarely buy anything new (Stephen King for example, or Harry Potter are my most recent new purchases).

I came across a video on Facebook that made me laugh out loud. (Watch it. Thank me later.) I was astounded to be told that it was a real book. Now anyone who knows me, knows that cooking is NOT on my list of preferred activities. It’s one of those things I do to keep my family alive, out of love. It’s not something I have a burning desire to expand my knowledge of, or expect to ever be good at. Yet–that book trailer piqued my interest. I put a hold on it from my library and picked it up today.

Oh man. I’ve laughed til I’ve cried–seriously I had to wipe my eyes to keep reading. I’m still in the Introduction, folks. This book is comedy gold.

But–I’m learning too. For example in the section entitled Pay.Fucking.Attention I learned that liquid and dry ingredients measure differently. Wuh–what? And in You Do You, they tell me that the recipes are a guide and offer this advice: ‘…we wrote this shit so a stranger could get down on what is being served up, but you know what the fuck you like. Taste while you’re cooking, not right before you are about to serve it when it’s to late to change shit.” Solid advice, and one I never do.

Regarding beans: “The beans are done when at least five of them taste tender and are cooked through. One bean can be a fucking liar so taste a few. Keep simmering until you get there. Simple shit.” I’ve never successfully cooked beans in my life. I’m gonna have a go at it for sure now. And with this kind of advice at my back, “You’re not going to fuck anything up. You got this.” I bet I’ll do just fine.

Other sections so far: Basic Tools for Kitchen Domination, and Staple Ingredients on Lock. This book explodes with personality. And they have a website, and a Facebook, too, in case you were wondering.

So, long story short: I will be buying this book. In fact, I can’t wait to buy it. I must own it. And like Julia Child I plan to go from one end of this book and drag my family along for the culinary ride all the way to the end.

 

 

Book Reviews–Horror/Thriller/Historical Romance???

I tried to make this a top 10 list but either my memory is too dreadful to remember that many books in a row, or I’ve been slouching in my fiction reading this summer. I have read a couple dozen nonfiction so I suppose the second is true. Anyway, I added books from winter time.

last daysapt 16the ritualAdam Nevill’s Last Days and Apartment 16 and The Ritual. This author was a fun find. My library had a display of horror books for Halloween last year and I pretty much grabbed every book that was set out. Then kept them for six months. I’m an awesome library patron! I won’t paraphrase or cut and paste here. Go check out Amazon for more info. Anyway, I read Last Days and really liked it. It’s touted as being much like the Blair Witch project but since I’ve never seen that movie–gasp! true–I can’t speak to that. I did learn a lot about film making, the author is quite detailed on that subject and makes it interesting and relevant. I liked it well enough to request more of his books and so far I have read Apartment 16 and The Ritual as well. I felt like Apt 16 ended abruptly though which was a turn off. The Ritual seemed to struggle with an antagonist but not enough to turn me away. I am a fan and I’ll come back for more at a later date. Check him out if you are unfamiliar. I would give this author a solid 3.5/5.

the birthingkilling ghostChristopher Ransom’s The Birthing House and Killing Ghost. Same situation here, found this author on the Halloween display. I really liked The Birthing House and got Killing Ghost as a follow up. In the Birthing House the characters “attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife.” I wish that the photo album had had more of a role in the story. I wanted to know more! It was removed from the story as if he didn’t quite know what he wanted to do with it, and getting rid of it was the only viable solution. The novel Killing Ghost was…okay. It was a bit disjointed like maybe it needed one more edit after a long break away from the novel so that the author could better see its problems and fix them. With that said, it had some nice twists and turns. I kept reading because the character was obviously inspired by Eminem and I kind of have a thing for him. (The author confirms this in the afterword, by the way.)  I give this author a 2.5/5. I’ll come back for more.

creepersDavid Morrell’s Creepers. I bought this novel totally on accident. I thought that it was a horror novel based on the title. Turns out it is a thriller and it grabs you and shoves you through doorway after doorway both literally in the story and figuratively as a reader.  I couldn’t hardly put it down. Loved it! Will be back for more for sure, sooner rather than later. It’s about urban creepers–people who explore boarded up time capsule real estate for its historic value. In this novel, the antagonist is the key to the whole thing and you don’t know that piece of information until the very end. 4.5/5

 

riverBee Ridgeway’s River of No Return. A Mom and Me book club selection. A historical romance it turns out. I liked it, even though much of the dialogue had a modern rhythm to it. I was frustrated that book two–there must be one, right? was not available. 3.5/5

 

unlikelyJudy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event. This is an author who needs no introduction but maybe you didn’t know that she writes adult novels, too. This is one of them. I read Summer Sisters an age ago and positively loved it. I didn’t like this novel as much but it was still wonderful in its own way. It’s a multi-POV story so be prepared to keep track of a lot of characters. Once you adjust to that, you will enjoy. It’s based around the true facts of several plane crashes that occurred in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950’s. The coming of age scenes are just as titillating as you might expect from the author of Deenie and Are you There, God, Its Me Margaret… 4.5/5

Gillian Flynn‘s Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects. I could go on and on for a long time about this author. She is one of my favorites and I am impatiently awaiting her next book. Like really, really, impatiently waiting. Gone Girls gets 5/5, Dark Places gets 5/5 and Sharp Objects gets 3.5/5 Her kind of sick wacko is my kind of sick wacko, too.

 

Emma Donoghue’s Room. They made a movie out of this one but the book is not to be missed. It is a flawless portrayal of the life of a kidnap victim told through the eyes of her five year old boy and it is SUPERB. I came across this novel walking the stacks at my library. They had three copies on the shelf so I figured that meant it was good and I wasn’t wrong. This is one of best novels that I have ever read. 5/5.room

 

 

Life Through a Horror Lens

resurretion dreamsI just finished Resurrection Dreams by Richard Laymon and I have to give it a 10 for plot and twists. A great twist on the zombie genre. I finished it in my car because while at the doctor’s office I got within 15 pages of the end and I just wanted to finish it unmolested. (You will understand this if you have children.) The day was still new, not too hot, so I sat in my car in  my driveway and enjoyed the last bit with no interruption.

I love the horror genre, find it infinitely satisfying. I have several more Laymon on my shelf but I am going to switch to John Saul’s The Homing which virtually shrieked at me from the back of my double stacked horror bookshelf. I’m already 65 pages into it and I’m liking it.the homing

Thank goodness, I’m a book hoarder. I have hundreds of books just ready to go at any time. This Saul book has been on my shelf for 14 years according to the sticker. Turns out the MC is almost my age. Maybe that’s why now was the perfect time to pluck it of the shelf and read it. I have Stephen King’s latest next to me as well. I’ve had it for two weeks and have felt no particular urge to pick it up. This is unusual to say the least. I guess as he ages I worry about running out of King stories, it makes me reluctant to begin. This is the end of the series so of course I’ll finish it. It just makes me kind of sad to do so. Like I’m approaching the last day of camp, or something.

Who’s your favorite horror writer? Who curls your toes and makes you pant for more?

Busy is Best, Busy is Beautiful

I’m doing Camp Nanowrimo this month. I had about 8 hours to prepare for it and all of those hours were sleeping. So..yeah. But I am committed to doing the project although the likelihood of my hitting 50,000 words by July 31st is close to null. 30,000, yes. I think that those 30,000 words (plus more to get to the end of the novel) will produce a very interesting project. I’m thrilled with it.

I want to try new ways of writing and Nanowrimo fits right into that. Taking on the impossible is kind of my thing. Write a whole novel with no planning? Write a multi-character, Multi-POV, multi-generational, fantasy that stretches me? Sure, why the hell not. How else do you grow as a writer?

This week has been particularly busy. I am in an Iron Writer challenge (5 Writers, 4 Elements, 500 words in 5 days), due Monday–my first challenge. I have my piece written already–I did it the first day. Hopefully, today I will like it as much as I did yesterday and I can send it in. Go vote for it, starting, I think, Thursday or Friday. theironwriter.com I’ll get back to you on that. Like I said, it’s my first one.

This morning, I woke up from a very unsettling dream that sat me down and told me to write it. 1200 words later, and I am quite pleased with it. It’s completely different than my usual faire–it’s in present tense for one. It has a short staccato style reminiscent of Noir stories and beyond the first scene I had no idea while writing it what was going to happen. I was pleasantly pleased at the ending. It was a surprise to me, but there was closure. A nice wrap up.

If that sounds self-congratulatory–I’m sorry. The attitude comes from the way that I write. How I channel it–it’s full of discovery for me. I’m writer AND reader, for all my stories. Always. Is that wacky? Well, I’m in good company.

I love writing short stories because of the sense of completion they give you as a writer. You bear the satisfaction of having a complete project (hopefully) well done in no time at all. Like taking a break in the middle of my novel to have an orgasm.

Speaking of my novel–I have six betas–SIX!!!– reading my finished novel, The Independence of Annika. I am joyous–jump on the couch joyous.

Leave a comment and let me know how YOU write. Are you a channeller like me, or more of a outliner? Do you plan the whole thing out in advance or do you prefer to be surprised like me?

Admit it, you do this too

Every writer retells the story of their lives. Mostly in taking the moments, sometimes only the emotion of something that they witnessed. We use our experiences in our fiction. Stephen King wrote about a pet cemetery; the real one was out back behind his rental. One of his children walked out to the highway, nearly getting run over. That event (taken to its final conclusion) plus the emotion all takes place in Pet Sematary. We all plagiarize our lives.

Rarely is an event written as it happened. Sometimes that’s because it’s too hard to do.

I wrote the following piece for writing club. Our assignment was to write a nonfiction piece, but take the perspective of the other person. I chose to write about the last time I ever spoke to my stepfather. From his perspective.

It is a true event.

 

Forever
Word Count: 507

 

She stood in front of him, her face blazing, her fists clenched.

Petulant child.

Her hair curled around her face just so, while her eyes pinned him to the floor.

Oh, how he loved her.

She raged at him, spitting hurtful phrases, so many that he couldn’t concentrate. He was  caught in her web of lies and pain, sticky with it, ensnared.

“Why are you so jealous?” she spit at him.

He couldn’t shut her out, he couldn’t hear her, she stood before him destroying him by pieces.

“It’s weird!” she argued. He was saying something, he didn’t know what, his words made her more angry.

A woman-child stood before him exerting her independence with the ferocity of war. Anger and confusion and disgust and exasperation splayed across her face, in turns.

His face mirrored hers, contortions of vexation. Indignation.

He thought of the little imp that had cautiously welcomed him into her home, ten years before. A spark she had been, and a spark she had remained. Now she was graduating high school in a few months, fighting everyone around her like she was drowning and just trying to catch her breath.

She’d been an obstinate child, she was one now, no matter how grown she thought she was.

But he loved her. This was love.

If he was dominating it was out of love. If he was controlling it was with a protective ferocity that matched her own of destruction. She needed him. She wasn’t her own, she was his. Not his child, but more than his child. Not his seed, but a seed grown and blossoming.

So much like her mother had been, a pint sized version of fiery blaze. He glanced at her mother now, down the hall, her face empty, more than subdued, she was angrily checked out, separated from him, emotionally lost to him. Did she realize it?

Now all that was left for him in the world was the girl, not his progeny, but more to him than that.

She was standing ramrod stiff, her shoulders hunched. Her eyes spiked with meanness. She had an especially barbed retort ready to go.

Suddenly, he felt sadness, this became a glutinous mass of despair. His eyes maybe betrayed this but his face–it was a mask of barbarity. He was lost in the eyes of the woman, he was diminished in the eyes of the youth. Anger bubbled too, therein, deeply, poisoning ten years of memories, sickening the future. He looked at the girl and knew he was finished. All the ties were ripping, thick ropy masses of love, tearing with an audible rip though his heart.

To the girl he asked, “Do you want me to leave?”

The barb, the win presented itself, and she spat it out. “Yes!” Her face blazing, nova, triumphant.

He left, clothes on his back all that he took.

He left everything else–his possessions, his memories, his past. The woman.

The girl.

She meant the afternoon.

He meant, forever.

 

“How, Where, When, Why, What Do You Write?”

art of short storyI recently read an interesting piece by Kate Chopin, a 19th century writer, on her author’s perspective. (Google her: she wrote some way-before-her-time stuff, thank me later.) She was asked the question, ‘How, where, when, why, what do you write?’

I thought that I would answer in kind:

How: I usually write with a pencil on one of many many notebooks, journals, and yellow legal pads spread all over the house.  I’ve always written with pencil–easy to erase although I rarely erase. I keep at least a dozen sharpened pencils on my desk that are swiped from my kids’ school supplies and rotate them out frequently. (A personal quirk of mine.) Lately, my husband bought me a few pens because of my wrist and I do find them easier to write with but… 98% of the time I still write with pencil. 1% of the time I actually type directly from my brain, like now.

Where: I am lucky enough to share a hobby space with my family so while I write (or craft) they are all around me at any given time. I have a table for a writing desk which suits me quite fine. It’s almost always a nightmare mess, though. I sit in a maroon office chair that we bought in college, which, at this point, has got to be the oldest piece of furniture we own.

When: Not to sound trite, but anytime I want to. During commercial breaks, after breakfast, all morning, in the afternoon, late, late, late into the evening. I always have time for writing because I make time. There will always be dishes to do or other chores to do but my muse won’t always hang around and wait.

Why: I write because to not do so would cause my brain to suffer. I would get mental constipation.

What: I write speculative fiction. That’s the easy answer. Horror, Sci Fi (not Syfy which any Grammar Nazi will tell you is pronounced sif fee), General Fiction, whatever  flits through my mind at the time. A lot of the time I write the first line having no idea whatsoever how the story will go, who it is about, or what will happen. Occasionally, I don’t even know the sex of the main character. I trust the universe to provide, and it always does.

So, that’s my author perspective. Hope you enjoyed it. As always, hit the like button if you can find it, comment your little hearts out, and until next time…

Welcome to My Writer’s Blog

So, here I am on the web doing this crazy blog stuff.

Welcome. I’ll be making lots of changes that hopefully will keep you coming back for more. And more. And more. Like a story addiction. Come glut yourself on my blog.

I’ll share my stories, mostly short shorts of under 1500 words. Occasionally a longer piece in the 3-5,000 word range. Speculative Fiction is my forte.  Horror, Sci Fi, some General Fiction. Look for new stuff on Fridays. I might share something writerly about myself on Mondays, or whatever day catches my fancy.

Enjoy, leave comments.

Til later….