A Woman’s Worth

It’s a pet peeve that keeps coming up…

If, as a woman, you see your greatest accomplishment as your children, then I’m thrilled for you.  I have a lot of friends who are brilliant moms and I love and respect you.

But if, as a woman, you see your greatest accomplishment as your children – and then proceed to turn around and judge me for choosing not to have children, then you have a problem with your own self-worth.  Why are the choices I make to not be like you, your problem?  If you only value other women based on their ability to have children, then you clearly don’t value yourself, let alone your daughter’s right to decide her life’s path.

I am more than my ability to incubate. 

And with all the lonely, starving, abused and unwanted children already in the world, I’d love for you to explain why I’m selfish for not wanting to bring another child into this world.

And frankly, just because I can do something doesn’t mean I have to do it, or should. 

I value your right to make your own decisions, so don’t dare to judge mine because you don’t value yourself.

Does This Mean I’m a Book Snob?

First off, I fully acknowledge that I’m not a published author, nor have I completed any of my novel ideas yet, so I apologize if my following critique of a published work seems harsh.  But wow…

This past weekend was the annual Greek Festival at one of the local churches here in Cleveland.  One of the best parts about this festival (apart from the yummy pastries) is the flea market.  Every year I make a beeline for the market and I pick up all sorts of do-dads, thingamabobs and knick-knack-y things (this year I picked up seven Tamagotchis.  Silly, sure, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it) and, of course, books!  

Where there’s a book, there’s a me.

This year I picked up a few books on mythology and legends, etc. mainly for story ideas and research.  But I also happened across two fantasy novels.  And if someone is trying to write in the fantasy genre, one must read from the fantasy genre, I figured this was a good opportunity to take a chance on something so blatantly put before me.

At fifty cents a book I couldn’t really go wrong…well, live and learn.

I got the books home and took a closer look.  They looked brand new, never been read…and Hey!  They’re signed by the authors!  That’s pretty cool, but sad to say, I’ve been trying really hard to give the story the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve only been able to force my way through to chapter three, and last night – for the sake of my sanity – I just had to stop.

First, it was beyond clear that one of the authors was totally into role-playing games, which I think are cool enough, but it was a painful clarity that I couldn’t ignore.  

Secondly, the failed attempts at 18th Century prose were so distracting that I handed my husband the book, where he randomly turned to a page and burst out laughing.  Enough to tell me that it continues throughout…at least they’re consistent…

And finally, I kind of felt insulted by the triteness of it.  At best it was a poor reflection of real emotions.  It wasn’t gripping, it wasn’t clever, and I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the characters, so how on earth could I continue?  I know some books have a rocky start – I’ve read a few – and I usually manage to get past it…not this time.

All I can think is that these books were left at the flea market as a plant, maybe garner some new interest.  The publisher is an independent publisher and native to Ohio, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

But despite my guttural reaction to the books I have to accept the fact that they were, in fact, published…and not only that, these same authors have had like five or six of their books published!  It’s just astonishing to me…

Maybe that makes me a book snob.  I mean, I don’t have a published novel so what gives me the right to be so critical about someone else’s accomplishment?  But wow…

In retrospect, what I don’t want to take away from this is the idea that “they’ll publish anything”.  But what I will take away from this is an important lesson in what not to do.

Have you ever come across a book (to your mind) so poorly written that you were shocked it was published?

Writing, – insert life pause – Planning, and Writing Again

It’s been crazy here at home.

It’s not surprising, but just when everything starts to settle down and you devise an action plan something happens and suddenly you’re derailed.

Last week* my kitty got sick and was diagnosed with pancreatitis.  In short, her digestive enzymes thought it would be a good idea to leak out and try to digest her.  Absolutely terrifying.  And there is nothing to treat it (in animals or humans).  All you can do is manage the pain, nausea and fluids and hope that it goes away.

(*Update: I just looked at the calendar and it was 2 weeks ago she got sick…time really did stop for me.)

Needless to say my whole world stopped.  I was paralyzed by fear and, frankly, premature grieving…if anything happens to her, I will be inconsolable…

So far she seems to be doing well, and I am desperately hoping for a full recovery and no recurrences, ever.  If she continues along the positive path she seems to be on right now, next week we’ll take her in to check her blood to see how she’s doing.

In the meantime, now that my heart has started beating again, I’ve been getting back to work on my writing.

Just before this incident, I decided to purchase a composition notebook for writing my story.  I was finding that I’m too easily distracted on the computer; after I write a few lines I immediately turn around and edit them.  I can’t do that as easily with pen and paper, at least not to the extent I can in a word processor.  I need better focus, so I’m playing it old school.

I’ve managed to write a few pages so far, and through that process discovered that I need to do some more skeletal planning for my story.  In the past, I was able to simply start writing and just see where it went.  I still think that will be the best course because a story that follows a natural flow will be better than one that forces its way unnaturally to the end you think you want.  But without an idea of how to get to where I think I want to go (love the conditionals) I’ll still be stopping and starting more than writing.

So right now I’m in the process of further character development / sketches and story world design to help make the flow of my writing come more easily.

And this brings me to my question: how much information should an author publicly share about his or her character development plans in the early stages of writing?

I’ve seen a number of blogs that share full character descriptions, but often they’ve already got at least one story / book out there.  Is it premature to share this information because it could give away too much of the story OR is it better to start sharing the bare bones of it to garner interest and a potential reader base?

What do you think?

 

 

 

Moody Monday – A Short Story

whats_my_mood_today___by_morfium-d6t8azwIt wasn’t an easy thing picking what mood to wear. After all, no one wants to intentionally ruin another person’s day. It was just too dangerous, not to mention unforgivably rude.

Pauley couldn’t decide if she should feel ‘cranky’ today because she burnt her coffee, or if she should choose the ‘stressed out’ option instead. She was always more productive when she was stressed out, even if it was an exhausting choice by the end of the day. But what better mood for a Monday.

Pauley got up from her morning seat and left behind her disappointing coffee to go set the Mood Maker 3000. She typed her selection onto the screen and toggled the knob on the side to slightly increase the setting. Just slightly, though, because high-strung only suited her to a point. Too far to the right and she would be impossible to deal with all day, and she had far too many meetings today to allow that to happen.

With the dials in their optimal positions, Pauley lowered her face to optimally position her face into the main visor of the Mood Maker and tapped the start key. A purple light flashed twice, and it was done.

Oh my god! I’m going to be late, Pauley thought to herself. When she stepped back from the machine she proceeded to step on the cat’s tail which yelped and made Pauley lose her balance. She managed to catch herself before she fell over, but now had to face an even bigger problem than an upset kitty. For the life of her, Pauley couldn’t remember where she put her keys!

After a frantic search, she found the keys where she always left them, on the ring by the door. Keys in hand she flew out the door of her apartment, ran down the hall and punched the elevator button several times. Pauley began to impatiently rap her fingers on her purse. Why did everything seem to take that much longer when you were stressed out? Maybe I adjusted the setting a little too high today, she considered. But finally the elevator door opened.

“Would you hurry it up, woman! This isn’t your personal carriage you know,” bellowed Mr. Katz who was already waiting impatiently for the ride down. Pauley lowered her head quickly and didn’t say a word. It was useless to say anything when Mr. Katz chose to be angry. It didn’t happen all that often which was a blessing. She had once overheard him remark that one time he chose ‘angry’ two days in a row – just to get it over with – and he nearly had a heart attack. Pauley just didn’t understand why anyone would be foolish enough to wear the same emotion two days in a row except perhaps by accident. Being angry was another one of those exhausting settings, so it was understandable that most people wanted to get their quota out of the way quickly. But the whole point to the Mood Maker 3000 was – as the slogan said – to secure healthier living through emotional stability, and angry was just one of those moods you had to go through.

Finally, the interminable elevator ride ended with a subtle jerking sensation. Mr. Katz growled and loudly stormed out, nearly knocking over Charlie the doorman, while Pauley became pre-occupied with digging through her purse in search of her bus pass. She was going to be so late! And, of course, as soon as she found her missing pass buried in the depths of her purse, she lost her grip on the bag and completely upended it, scattering all its contents across the floor.

Charlie immediately ran over and started to pick up some of the runaway items. Pauley knew he was only trying to help, but it wasn’t helping because he kept handing things to her out of order. Then, to top it all off, Charlie made to catch her eye.

“Miss Pauley,” he exalted, “you’re looking lovelier than ever today.”

“Thank you, Charlie,” she said curtly. “But I’m in a hurry.” How could Charlie be so stupid as to try and cheer people up, especially on a Monday morning?

Pauley tried to push past him, but Charlie just smiled and took her arm gently – but firmly – and escorted her through the front entrance.

“It’s such a beautiful day, Miss Pauley! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there’s a magical sense of peace settling on the world today. It’s just a joy to behold,” sighed Charlie. He smiled even more brightly. As they stepped outside he reached out and snapped off a lilac blossom from the bush outside the door.

He presented it to Pauley.

For a moment, as the scent of the flower caught her nose, Pauley was caught off guard and she accepted Charlie’s gift with a mild sense of wonder. It was just so beautiful that Pauley couldn’t help but breathe in the fragrant beauty of the lilac. Then she smiled, forgetting all about her worries for the day to come.

“There,” Charlie said. “Isn’t that better?”

Coming out of her reverie, Pauley shook her head to regain her focus and glared back at Charlie. She turned and quickly walked to the curb to hail a taxi, the bus would be decidedly too slow. After about the longest two minutes, an empty cab finally arrived. As Pauley opened the door and climbed in, she glanced back at Charlie. There he was, still with that bright smile on his face, pressed against the pavement and being handcuffed by two officers as they read him his rights.

Pauley almost felt sorry for Charlie, but he clearly hadn’t planned his mood selection quotas well enough for the last few weeks. How could he be so stupid to only have the ‘jovial’ selection remaining, and on a Monday morning of all things!

She wanted to feel sorry for him, but it was his own fault. Everyone knew it wasn’t healthy to ruin someone else’s mood.

End.

(I was inspired to write this one day when I was in a very bad mood and something in the news made me laugh, oddly, all I could think was “how dare you try to make me feel better!”  It was one of ‘those’ days.  Note: this story was rejected by Daily Science Fiction…live and learn.)

Image Credit: morfium via CC BY – SA 3.0

I’m Back!!

After a long delay, I’m back!

It was a bit longer than I expected, but that’s okay. Just as I was getting into the swing of things of writing, I received a crochet commission – and my first commission at that – that I couldn’t refuse.

For those of you who love science fiction (both books and tv) will likely have enjoyed Babylon 5. Well…… I was recently commissioned by the office of J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, to recreate two of his characters from the show for his birthday.

I had previously made Londo and G’Kar for myself. My original creations had somehow, through the wonders of the ethernet, come to his attention. And so, I was bowled over with excitement when I was contacted and asked if I’d be willing to make them for “the Creator”. And not only that, I was asked to crochet JMS’ cat, Buddy (such a darling).

So, I set to work and sent them off…he loved them!!

DSC00937

G’Kar and Londo from Babylon 5 – created by J. Michael Straczynski, crocheted by me.

Buddy

Buddy “The Miracle Cat” – J. Michael Straczynski’s cat

And, not only that…with the help of his fantastic staff, he recorded a thank you video for me!!!

I am so fangirling at the moment!!!

For the latest on Babylon 5 visit http://B5books.com