Archive for May, 2006

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What Stace had to say on Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
Alan Moore and Lost Girls

Okay, I said I was going to blog about this so here it goes. (And yes, I’m aware that opening line is about as insipid as it gets. Too bad.)

Alan Moore, for those of you who don’t know, is a comic book writer. He wrote From Hell, V For Vendetta, Watchmen (which is one of my favorite books, btw)…a whole list of others, excellent reads all. I especially liked his run on Swamp Thing which was both romantic and spooky, and Promethea which I think any writer would do well to read.
Anyway. Alan Moore has a new work coming out. It’s called Lost Girls and is what Moore describes as “pornography”. Basically, he’s taken three characters familiar to all of us-Alice (in Wonderland), Wendy (Peter Pan), and Dorothy (Wizard of Oz), and written a long, erotic tome about their sexual adventures, which apparently includes their sexual awakenings. There’s an interview with him about the book here (make sure you go back to Newsarama home to read Part 2 when you’re done).

Now, while there’s a whole other issue with this book (child pornography. For more explanation on that go here, although it is discussed as well in the Newsarama interview) the part of the interview I take strong issue with is right near the beginning, where Moore discusses his reasons for writing Lost Girls:

“The only way that we can talk about or refer to sex – we have two choices: we can either do it in grubby works of pornography that will be read by people who are desperately ashamed of what they are reading, or we can discuss sex in the clinical manner of sex manuals or The Joy of Sex.”

Now, perhaps I’m looking at this in the wrong way. Perhaps I’m reading something into it that shouldn’t be there, and I must remember that Alan Moore, while being an incredibly intelligent man, is still a man. He probably doesn’t read romance, and so would not have read any erotic romance.

I believe that erotic romance transcends the very idea of “grubby porn”. I think when you’re reading an erotic romance you’re reading something that not only describes the sex act as a beautiful thing and an important part of life, but that does that in such a way that the reader is–let’s be honest here–turned on. Isn’t that the point of any erotic work?

You’re supposed to be turned on by this stuff. You’re supposed to have your mind, heart, and body engaged in what you’re reading. A good sex scene will involve all three of those aspects of your reader, no matter how kinky the scene is. And good ones abound. Check out anything written by any of the authors I’ve linked to on the right. Hell, go to either of the publisher’s sites I’ve linked to. Go to Ellora’s Cave. Go to Amber Quill. Buy a damned Harlequin Blaze, for that matter.

All of these works-an entire genre of books that are as sexy and beautifully written as anyone can hope for-are being discounted because someone claiming to write a book because of a lack of beautiful erotica, or beautiful porn, hasn’t actually researched what’s out there.

I really admire Alan Moore. I love his work, and I’m not disinterested in Lost Girls, although £50 or whatever it’s going to cost is a little steep for me. But I’m disappointed to see that erotic romance doesn’t even come up once in Newsarama’s lengthy forum discussions on this topic. If comic books are a “male” genre, and romance/erotic romance are “female” genres, isn’t it about time they met?

(In other, very sad news,Paul Gleason has died. There is an absolutely awesome eulogy/restrospective on him here at Ain’t It Cool News. Read it. Laugh. Paul Gleason rocked.)

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What Stace had to say on Monday, May 29th, 2006
Shut UP!

(or, why I hate writing dialogue in sex scenes.)

Yeah, it sounds like the title for a nice long post, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s the title for a short whiny post, namely this post, in which I confess that as much as I think my dialogue is generally pretty good, my dialogue in sex scenes is usually…well…let’s just say I prefer to have less talky sex scenes. (As Miranda Hobbes said, “Sex is the one place where it’s okay not to talk.”)

The problem is, almost anything anybody says in the middle of a hot sex scene has probably already been said in a porno film. This holds especially true if you are a certain very well-known writer whose once exciting books have lately gone down the really bad erotica tubes, with sex scene dialogue so bad it actually made me laugh. At least my characters don’t form entire, page-long conversations using only the words “You”, “I”, “am”, “Are, “So”, “hot”, “tight”, “and”, and “wet”. Seriously. Picture a conversation like this, but substitute the adjectives above for the ones below:

Hero: I love how sweet and pretty you are.

heroine: I love it when I’m sweet and pretty.

H: I notice when I touch you get get very sweet and pretty.

h: When you touch me it does make me sweet and pretty.

H: I can feel how sweet and pretty you are. Do you like being sweet and pretty?

h: God, yes. I am sweet and pretty. I love when you tell me how sweet and pretty I am. It makes me even more sweet and pretty.

H: You are so sweet and pretty.

h: Feel how sweet and pretty you make me.

Scintillating, isn’t it? Makes “Showgirls” look like Oscar material.

It’s just so hard! (No pun intended.) It’s so hard to have your hero say sexy things that aren’t offputting but also aren’t overly romantic. Very romantic sex dialogue is fine later, when they’re really in love. In the earlier scenes, though, it’s got to be more complimentary, and it’s hard to write that stuff without the Hero sounding like some kind of perverted Eddie Haskell.

So that’s where I am now. I’m in the middle of a scene, and somebody needs to say something, but they both feel a little stupid saying the standard stuff.

What kinds of things sound sexy to you?

What Stace had to say on Sunday, May 28th, 2006
Okay…lemme have it

Here’s my Johari window:

Say Nice Things about Me

And here’s my Nohari window!

Say Bad Things about Me

What Stace had to say on Sunday, May 28th, 2006
My New Hair

So I dyed my hair red. I took a picture. It’s not a great photo, because I photgraph badly. But there it is. I made it a little icon so take a look.

Up to 10k on my new WIP! Yay me! And once I’ve fiddled and futzed with it it will probably be closer to 11. Some people write too much and take away. I write way too little and have to go add stuff, like description. I don’t describe anything in much detail, and my first drafts are always pretty sparse. Lots of action, lots of dialogue, not much else–at least, the first few chapters. It takes me a while to get into the swing of things, you know? To get a real feel for the characters and how they think and feel and react. I always start out plot-based, and somewhere around chapter 3 or 4–so getting close to that now–the characters take over.

Then I go back and basically redo the whole beginning, taking stuff out to keep it as a surprise, putting stuff in that it turns ot we needed to know right away.

I also have some thoughts on something I read yesterday, and interview with Alan Moore on his new graphic novel, Lost Girls. I know you guys are probably wondering why the hell you’d want to read about a comic book. Trust me, you’ll be interested.

What Stace had to say on Saturday, May 27th, 2006
More more more!

NOTE: The SFWA’s 20 Worst Agents List is now ~2 on a Google srarch for Barbara Bauer! YES!!

So in addition to following the Barbara Bauer scandal with a fascination almost scary, I’ve been working pretty hard.
Really, though, it’s the Barbara Bauer thing that’s held most of my attention. I’m so proud of the writing community for standing up. I’m so pleased to be a part of it.

As I put in my last post, the plot has indeed thickened. The woman who ran AW’s web hosting, Stephanie Cordray created a post about her decision to reopen her own message board for writers. Apparently because the boards that were out there lacked information. (insert eye roll here.)

Check out the comment threads on that post. They’re pretty vicious.

It’s not a good idea to make writers mad. We spend so much time in our own heads anyway, that when something like this happens all we do is sit and stew. And oh yeah, write.

I’ve got another thought going through my head, too. With apologies to the person who started it, it’s been implied elsewhere that it is A)Somehow unethical to start a website to help people and at the same time ecourage them to buy your book on how to be helped; B) Somehow unethical to buy the books of your friends and/or fellow writers just to support them.

That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of buying a friend’s work to help them described as “unethical”. Frankly, I didn’t know there was a more ethical and kind thing to do. Don’t you want to do everything you can to help your friends succeed? Since when is doing something completely legal to acheive that a bad or wrong thing to do?

I just find it frustrating. I buy my friends’ books. Even if I wouldn;t ordinarily have bought them, I buy them. Because it’s a nice thing to do, a good thing to do. Most of my writing buddies are just starting out, like me. We buy each other’s books. We help promote each others books. If someone who read my book sees my plug for one of the other Indulge Authors’ books, and decides to buy it, have I done something unethical in recommending it?

We’re all in this together, folks. I’m a writer, you’re a writer (wouldn’t you like to be a writer too?). We don’t generally work with each other, we work alone. We don’t generally have marketing blitzes at our disposal. What sells us is word of mouth, through both the readers and our fellow writers. How this is any more or less ethical than, say, going to A Sporting Goods rather and B Sporting Goods because you know the guy who owns A Sporting Goods is beyond me. How it’s unethical to buy a book you might not read is unethical totally confuses me, as I have several books upstairs written by complete strangers that I haven’t gotten around to reading. It’s bad enough they’re up there unread without me now feeling I have somehow committed a disgraceful act by not reading them.

In happier news:
2 projects going. One that I’m doing with a buddy is at like 15k already and we’ve been working for a week. The other is at 8 and I’ve been doing it for 2 days. I’m on fire, baby!
Getting mad must be good for me. :-)

What Stace had to say on Thursday, May 25th, 2006
More on the Barbara Bauer Scandal

So this is interesting. Apparently, the woman Barbara Bauer called up and threatened, the woman who ran the company that gave Absolute Write its web hosting and shut it down because if the empty threats of Barbara Bauer, is setting up her very own writer’s forum. Funny, isn;t it, how she decided to start her own forum just before shutting down Absolute Write?

this post explains it further.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, May 25th, 2006
So Nice I’ll Do It Thrice

Barbara Bauer has been added to the list on links on my website, of course, and I’ll just add a little post here about how I’m adding Barbara Bauer over there. I’m also encouraging anyone who reads this to click on the link and check out Barbara Bauer. In a second I’ll add Barbara Bauer to my list of links on the right, and then I’ll head over to the dj and add Barbara Bauer there.

And if by some insane chance you’re someone who reads this blog and doesn’t know why I keep mentioning Barbara Bauer, go read Miss Snark this morning.

I’ll do a content post later. For now, just click the links.

What Stace had to say on Monday, May 22nd, 2006
Screw You, Remasterer-Man

So in an effort to finally somewhat complete my music collection (okay, here’s the story. My ex boyfriend had every album I would ever want, and a whle bunch I didn’t, and so I recorded everything on tapes and didn’t need to buy the albums. So after we split and he moved out and I got married I just never got around to buying the stuff. So slowly over the years I’ve been picking stuff up. And a lot of it is totally basic stuff but that’s why I don’t have it anymore) I’ve been rebuying the first few Ramones albums.

WHAT is up with this?

They aren’t available anymore. At least, not the Ramones albums I know and love. They’re all “digitally remastered”. And there’s extra stuff added to them.

I don’t WANT digitally remastered. I don’t want live versions. I don’t want songs I have on other albums. I certainly don’t need more than one version of songs like “I Wanna be Sedated”, which IMO is one of the weakest Ramones songs, in spite of its popularity (or maybe it’s popular because of it. I’ve always had my suspicions about people whose favorite Ramones songs are “I Wanna be Sedated”, “Gimme Shock Treatment” or, especially, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”. I mistrust them instinctively. I see people in Ramones shirts–people who don’t look like real fans–and have to suppress the rabid urge to make them recite the Rules to me, and if they can’t, I want to rip the shirt off their bodies.) (Who can tell me the Third Rule, btw? Any Ramones fans out there?) (And for the record, mine are “53rd and 3rd”, “Rockaway Beach”, and the third one varies. Right now it’s “Glad to See You Go”. Anyway.)

Point is, stop screwing with what was perfect! Who are you, Remasterer Man? You’re as bad as George Lucas!

Digitally remastered, my ass. Sometimes that’s okay. “The Lost ’77 Mixes” of Johnny Thunders’s “LAMF” is much better than the other versions. It’s not technically a remaster, I guess, but it’s a different mix. And I know remasters generally sound cleaner and stuff, because it isn’t actually music you’re hearing, it’s digital coding that sounds just like music. But why change things around? Clean up? If you must. But quit adding shit and taking stuff away and messing about, or at least follow George Lucas’s example (took him LONG enough, but bless him he’s come around) and let us choose between the REAL ones and the new.

How about you? What do you think about remasters, new versions, etc.?

What Stace had to say on Sunday, May 21st, 2006
Kid’s party craziness

So we’ve just come home from our first birthday party of the day. (The Princess, social butterfly that she is, has another to attend today in about an hour and a half.)

I don’t know if this is a UK thing or what, but when did we stop just letting kids run around and scream at parties, and start hiring magicians and entertainers to make balloon animals (I HATE balloon animals) and play music? It’s like instead of a party, they’re going to a little show with scotch eggs at intermission. In the past two weeks, I’ve sat through two of these little plate-spinning performances, and I anticipate sitting through a third a little later.

Unless I get to leave, which is doubtful. Princess has apparently reached the age where the parents drop the kids off and go, but since somebody needs to give her her enzymes before she eats, I’ll probably need to stay, because I hate to ask someone else to do it for her.

When I was a kid, my Mom would set up a couple of boardgames and we’d be busy for an hour. Or, since my birthday is in August–the “dog days” of summer, you can imagine what that did for my self-esteem as a child–she’d shove us all into the backyard and make us attempt to play in the sweltering Missouri heat. Then we’d have pitchers of Kool-Aid and hot dogs for everyone. Cake, present opening, and we were done. Everyone would go home and change clothes, then we’d play some more later. (BTW, I don’t miss the present-opening ceremony…but I cannot figure out why dessert has to be provided and cake is sent home in gift bags. I’m going to bake a cake for Princess’s birthday, because birthday cakes here are horrible. I digress.)

Anyway. I just really don’t like these new, soulless parties. I guess it’s good to have someone to entertain the little monsters, but it just seems so bland. If I’d had to sit and watch that stuff as a kid, I would have been pissed. I remember once a clown came to my brother’s boy scout meeting, or banquet, or something, and we had to watch him do his clown makeup forever, then at the end we got a “prize” which was a picture of him. I felt royally screwed. I’d been promised entertainment and a gift!

What do you guys think? Entertainers or no? Is this a good trend, or does it turn kids into bland little automatons?

What Stace had to say on Saturday, May 20th, 2006
Apple Custard Meringue Pie

(Note: We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you the following recipe, that I promised to Sam some time ago. Thank you.)

OK, the ingredients are kind of mixed in because you do the recipe in steps. It’s very important, with this one, you read it all first, because it lays everything out carefully. SO:

For Pie Crust (I did use this crust, but you can always buy one if you’re not a pastry maker):
1 1/4 cups sifted AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp shortening
add about 3 tbsp milk or water to bind ingredients. Knead gently a few seconds. Shape into a patty, and roll a 13-inch circle. Line an 8 or 9 inch pie plate with the dough. Sprinkle bottom of dough with 2 tbsp dry bread crumbs.

The Apple Filling
1 lb apples (Jonathan or winesap preferred, but I’m pretty sure I just used Macintosh or something, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 to 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (it doesn’t specify, I used light)
a little cinnamon and nutmeg
1 tbp butter in pieces

Arrange apples in unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon over apples. Add butter. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350 and cover pie with double thickness of aluminum foil to prevent drying out. Bake about 30 minutes at 350.
Meanwhile, prepare custard filling.

Custard

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup AP flour
3 egg yolks combined with 1/2 cup cool milk (keep whites for meringue)
1 cup warm milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, yolks, flour, salt, and 1/2 cup cool milk. Stir until smooth. Add warm milk. Cook over medium heat, then reduce heat and cook very slowly about 5 minutes. When done, add butter. (If you start this as soon as you reduce the heat on the pie, they’re done at about the same time, if memory serves. This was the first custard I ever made from scratch and I was ludicrously proud.)

Remove pie from oven. Pour hot custard over top. Set aside. Raise oven temp to 400 while preparing meringue.

Meringue

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla to egg whites in mixing bowl, and beat until they form a very soft meringue that still slides out of the bowl. Add sugar a little at a time, and keep beating at high speed a minute or so after all the sugar has been added. (I’d go a little longer, as my meringue was still a little soft.)

Immediately spread meringue over pie, being sure to cover rim of crust with meringue. Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over top. Place back in oven at 400 and bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden. Remove, cool, and refrigerate several hours before cutting.

It’s labor intensive, but fun, and I felt like I’d really done something special when it was done. My hubby’s co-workers ate this thing in record time.



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