Yesterday I Cried: Writing over Winter Break

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Don't look at me! Seriously, I look terrible today.Yesterday, I cried. I wanted to be ALONE. I wanted to WRITE. And I wrote this long-winded draft about the things that were getting in my way, but they boil down to these quotes. Guess which one finally brought me to tears?

  1. “Cincinnati Public Schools are CLOSED.”
  2. “Sorry, we don’t have that in the back, either.”
  3. “You’re cheating! I don’t know how, I just know it!”
  4. “Of course I took a shower! Sniff me!”
  5. “Run the fucking ball!”

My routine is closely connected to the Fiancé’s work hours and Sugar’s school hours. Now I see I haven’t come up with anything for breaks. I am exhausted. I have been wrung dry of all winter break enthusiasm. Please help me. I am at risk of becoming nocturnal. Staying up until my family is asleep is the only way I’ve been able to get any quiet. Nocturnal and college student don’t mix. Nocturnal and attentive parent don’t mix. I’ve been sleeping through SpongeBob marathons most of the weekend.

I have to get myself together. I’m sick of being an aspiring writer. And I’m sick of looking just shy of zombie from the terrible quality sleep I’ve been getting. I woke up like this. People screamed and cried, and I went back inside.

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She had seven children and lived in Cincinnati. Why can’t I be just like her?

I’m disappointed in myself. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin with her kids running around the table. Jack Bickham wrote several books (as well as my favorite how-to book) by putting writing first, literally: getting up to write at 5 am before getting his kids ready and going to work as a journalist. I don’t even have a job. I quit when my RA got severe. but I’m blessed to be able to write. I need to do it every day, even just a little bit. Hell, this blog post is about 300 words. I’m not going to post it until I’ve written my requisite 1k, though.

[Bonus Question: it was 5. Football-related screaming at ten till midnight? I sat here and wept into my hands because punching one’s fiancé is frowned upon.]

A belated response to that damn Bill Cosby rant

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Someone posted Bill Cosby’s rant about the problems of the black community and tagged it “wisdom from my timeline”. I about lost my shit. I didn’t want to clog up my friend’s page, so I decided my counter-rant was better off here. 

1. “We’re not Africans…It would be like white people saying they are European-American”: White people don’t have to declare themselves European American, because White people get to know where they came from.
2. Cosby seems to be saying that we shouldn’t distinguish ourselves as African Americans, but who is he talking to here? Shaniqua, Mohammed, the descendants of those who marched for an education. He is talking to African Americans because he can see African Americans. He, like everyone else, sees race. So to ask people who have suffered, in part from the seeing of race, to stop seeing our race, and assimilate, is senseless.
3. Shaniqua? Mohammed? To deny black people the uniqueness of our names is pernicious indeed. It plays into the idea that we should assimilate (as if we could), that if we’d just embrace “normality” we’d be accepted. Anyone who would throw away Shaniqua’s job application just because of her name would reject her after an in-person interview because of her skin. Being named Sharon doesn’t help when dealing with a racist. Furthermore, Mohammed is the most common boy’s name IN THE WORLD. For Cosby to treat it like a strange appellation deserving of shame is to embrace white supremacy.
4. For a doctor of education, Cosby shows remarkably little understanding of generational patterns. If a mother can’t read, how can her child? When was the last time Cosby, or anyone spouting assimilation garbage, went into a struggling community and tried to help? When was the last time any of us went to a failing public school and said “can I tutor? can I donate books? can I teach a literacy class for the parents?”

He says we can’t blame “white people”. I say, “who ever was?” Individual racists are not the issue. I blame the structure that creates a school-to-prison pipeline and benefits from decreasing the competition for jobs. I blame the structure that benefited from redlining, sub-urbanization, and the fragmentation of school systems, and still benefits. I blame governments that won’t invest in public transit because suburbanites don’t want inner city people being able to reach their homes. I blame Bill Cosby and other black apologists who are so ashamed to be black that they can only get their pride back by shaming those of us who struggle. I blame myself for only volunteering a few times a year. But I don’t blame the people. Dr. Cosby ought to be ashamed of himself.

I’m not sure I’m writing a romance…

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Everyday with the Facebook statuses...

Don’t you hate a girl whose whole life seems to revolve around her man? Who has nothing else to contribute to any conversation besides what he’s said to her, done for her, or bought for her?

You and me both, and that’s the issue I have with many romances. We get about a page of career talk. A few paragraphs about the aggravating sister and mother whose values clash with those of our protagonist. Maybe we talk about the weather.

Then he shows up. Lightning strikes. The earth moves. Time stops and the very sun dims because it is no match for his dazzling smile and diamond watch. And our lucky protagonist ends up stuck with him somehow, fighting her attraction for some reason, and secretly hoping that someday he’ll love her back.

What does she do in the meantime? Oh, the usual. A lot of lunches with girlfriends where she can talk about him. A few shifts at work where she can drag down productivity and think about him. Ooh, maybe she’ll get fired! More time to spend with him, right? And with all this free time, she can get dressed up and go to a party with him. If all goes well, she’ll be confronted by his bitchy ex, which will dampen her feelings for him, giving us a reason to flip past a silly argument to the makeup sex.

I sound like the worst romance writer ever, don’t I? I don’t even sound like I like romance. I even sound like one of those pretentious individuals who think genre books are beneath them. And I swear I’m not!

I love romance. For the sex, for the fashion, for the fights filled with passion. It is nice to read about those first love experiences. Who doesn’t want to quiver at someone’s touch, to have mind-blowing orgasms and Veuve Cliquot afterward?

The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that I’m not actually writing a romance. There’s sex, yes. There’s a few conflicts to keep them unsure of one another, and there’s a happily ever after.

There’s also a story arc all about hiring an architect. The backstory is not a few lines about a crazy father or no-good ex. I explore Rey’s issues in detail. I write what I want to read, and I want to read about racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, the usefulness of MFA programs, the difficulty of caring for a sick family member, and the ways we create a narrative for ourselves, picking up identity pieces and discarding what doesn’t fit. I want to talk cognitive dissonance.

This gives me a whole new set of worries, not that I was sick of the old ones or anything. What if I’m just writing a bloated romance? What if romance readers find it too long and women’s fiction fans find it too short? What if, Christ preserve us, I am just a pretentious romance writer? A wannabe novelist swinging too hard and striking out? And what about ask this preliminary research I’ve been doing about marketing a romance? Somebody pour me some Veuve.

I know what I need to do. First, I need to read more. I’ve been downloading romances for the commute, but it’s time to sit down for some focused reading and find out what works and what doesn’t.

That’s where you come in, dear reader. Do you think I’m stressing over nothing? How important is genre distinction? What books should I read if I’m transitioning more to women’s fiction? Please leave a book title in the comments that you think I should read. and whatever else you want to say, of course 🙂

Review: The Boss by Abigail Barnette

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In Short: Get It When It’s Free

Likes:
1) Very steamy sex

2) An interesting story about Sophie’s work life and friends. I learned a lot.

3) Sophie was real. She contradicted herself, she made mistakes, she lied…it was interesting.

Dislikes:
1) I didn’t know it was a preview. Kindle was telling me I was 99% in and I was confused. Unless they patched things up in the last two sentences…
2) I don’t think anyone should pay for a preview. I feel like if you pay 99 cents or 9 dollars, you should get a book. Beginning, middle, end. What I felt at the end of this story was described in the book as “sub drop”…getting someone emotionally involved then yanking the rug from under them. I was annoyed, but at least I didn’t pay to be annoyed. I don’t know if it will go back to free download again.
3) I hate when a book has so much sex I find myself skipping over it. Back to back sex scenes were very well written but they were so close together I became overstimulated. I prefer a leveling-off between sex scenes, so that anticipation can build when the next one begins.
4) Some people may like this, but you should know there are some painful sex scenes. The talent the author has for making you feel it sometimes translated into discomfort too. Depends on your comfort level.

 

This is my first low review and I’m feeling bad about it. Abigail Barnette is also known as Jenny_Trout, a funny Tweeter and blogger, whose takedown of 50 Shades of Gray drew me to her. I think I’m reviewing the cliffhanger presentation more than the book itself.

I’m sure there’s a deeper post in here about the value of books in the Kindle era, but I have midterms next week.

Since one’s supposed to clarify these things, I got this book when it was free on Kindle.

 

Review: Seduction’s Canvas by KM Jackson

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In short: buy it! 4.0 stars.

Likes:

  1. An interesting story for those of us who love gossip blogs and Page 6.
  2. An interesting heroine with talent and beauty, but insecurity too. Samara faces difficulty from her family who wants her to grow up and join the business, as well as the media and its consumers, who view her as a “poor little rich girl” with no brain.
  3. A very sexy hero. The biker-boy type is used perfectly here, given some lively dialogue and a sweet heart under a massively muscled chest J
  4. An adorable backstory. Just freaking adorable.
  5. A twist in the story that I wasn’t expecting, and haven’t seen in any other book so far.

Dislikes:

  1. That adorable backstory? Turns into the fuel for a crazy-ass argument that just seemed included because “every romance has a black moment”. I think her reaction to Mark’s backstory was inconsistent. Up until the argument, she’d mostly worried about what her father would think of Mark, but the tiniest thing made her decide he was untrustworthy. I couldn’t see why she lost it over something so small.

I bought this myself, and I’m glad I did. I like Kwana, she’s great fun on Twitter.

(wordpress won’t let me post links today)

Review: Worth the Wait by Synithia Williams

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In short: buy it! I gave it 4 stars on Amazon. I wish they had decimals, because I’d give this one 4.25 overall.

Likes:

  1. A nice, normal heroine with a nice, normal job and a backstory that’s fairly common but very well-written. I felt like I understood the heroine’s reasoning, and felt for her difficulty in making the decision to have premarital sex.
  2. An attractive hero with a reason to be in the heroine’s life and an interesting backstory.
  3. An interesting story: a virgin picks a player to deflower her, figuring he’ll at least be good in bed.
  4. He is really good in bed, and their chemistry is always believable and sexy.
  5. Some fun, caring side characters who are all close-knit and add some humor and good advice.
  6. The ending will make you laugh, cry and roll your eyes just a little bit.

Dislikes:

  1. Needed a bit of line editing. A few sentences seem completely jumbled; some dialogue has dropped quotation marks so it’s hard to tell who is speaking. I’ve had this issue with other Crimson Romances.
  2. Also, there’s a huge spoiler for another Synithia Williams book that I wanted to read. I haven’t bought that one yet, and now I don’t think I will. I like the close friendships between the characters, and of course in romance an HEA isn’t a surprise. The fact that some of Tasha’s friends get married or hook up isn’t the spoiler. What’s spoiled is the mechanism for how one of the couples ends up together. Maybe the books should be read in order, but I see nothing to indicate that. 

One should disclose these things, so, I bought this myself 🙂

Amazon

Synithia Williams’ Twitter

Review: Through the Lens by K.M. Jackson

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In short: buy it!

I liked the characters and their chemistry. It was good to see a woman in a romance whose work wasn’t just a background to her romance, but part of her life. The job of photography is quite interesting. The island and the characters came to life. The hero is handsome and the heroine is pretty and relatable. The love scenes are really good.

The big conflict between the characters didn’t seem as urgent to the heroine as I would have liked, but I did like how sweetly it was resolved.

Apparently, one should disclose these things, so I can tell you I won my copy in a Twitter contest a few months back.

Amazon Link

KM Jackson’s Twitter