Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bad Publicity

Once upon a time when Hollywood was young and controlled by the studios, there were departments in the studios just to keep the movie stars out of trouble. They cleaned up messes, kept secrets secret and generally polished images, just like the CIA's clean-up crews without the ubiquitous men in black. In those days, studios believed that bad press would ruin an actor's career for good, make them box office poison. That was in the days before Mommie Dearest was published. After all, Joan Crawford's career was already over so it really didn't matter. After that, all the skeletons came out of all the closets in a mad rush to be open and authentic and prove everyone was human, as if we didn't already know that. Let's face it. All outhouses stink. It's the smell of rotting crap.

People have become so enamored of the cult of celebrity that even writers have fallen prey to putting their personal lives on display to sell more books. Unless you're Norman Mailer, don't try this at home. Yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity and some information is just too much information. Writers are people, too, but it's not their personal lives that sell books but the words they put into them, as this week's very good article from Writer's Digest puts it. Authenticity is important -- in your writing voice -- but keep the skeletons on a short leash and close to the closet.

Many writers succumb to the temptation to put it all out there, thinking their experiences will resonate with other writers, but when all is said and done it's usually too much information. No one needs to know your husband or wife abused you unless you're writing a book about recovering from spousal abuse and poison pen diatribes only end up showing how petty you are, especially when you focus on the same thing over and over ad infinitum and ad nauseam. It makes you look schizophrenic to write books about friendship and romance if you portray yourself as the eternal victim who always gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop. In cases like this, it's best to err on the side of caution. Who can forget Anne Rice's diatribe on Amazon where she went on forever lambasting a reviewer who criticized her books or Patricia Cornwell's publicized rants about the real Jack the Ripper? Not everyone is willing to overlook that kind of break with reality and inevitably book sales will dwindle. If the Dixie Chicks' teach you anything, it's that your private opinions aired in public do matter.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Doctor is In

Color me surprised and very happy. Doctor Who is back with the first miniseries of the season: The Planet of the Dead. I can't wait to watch it. Torchwood is still not up and running and the 21st is the straight to DVD/immediate podcast of the new BSG series, Caprica. Since I'm down to Lost I've focused on work and writing and editing instead of watching DVDs, although I have been watching As Times Goes By and I'm nearly through the entire series. I really enjoyed, and still enjoy, Jean and Lionel's adventures and rows. It's funny that two people so much in love can still have their prickly moments and be endearing and quirky and still be in love.

For those of you that have never seen the show, it's British. It's about two people, Jean Pargeter and Lionel Hardcastle, who meet in later life (both in their fifties). Once upon a time, in the 1950s, Lionel and Jean met and fell in love. Then Lionel was posted to Korea and wrote a letter that Jean never received. Jean was heartbroken when she didn't hear from Lionel but she got on with her life, married, had a daughter and her husband died. She opened a business (temporary office personnel) and 38 years later she and Lionel meet when he hires a secretary from Jean's company. Lionel was dissatisfied with the service and Jean sent her daughter, Judith, to smooth Lionel's ruffled feathers. Lionel, like any red-blooded middle-aged male faced with an attractive woman young enough to be his daughter asks Judy to join him for dinner, picks her up and discovers her mother is his long lost love. Lionel thought that Jean had received his letter but never written back, and the letter features in a much later episode, turning up in the war museum still unopened. It was lost in British military mail systems and preserved as a relic. Good thing fate stepped in to put them back together 38 years later.

At any rate, Lionel and Jean meet at his hotel to discuss what happened and Judy, who seems to have a penchant for older men, has to settle for Lionel's publisher, Alistair Deacon, who is quite the flashy and fast talking (although usually unintelligible to Lionel and Jean) salesman and man of the world. The show is a gem and has something for everyone who enjoys British comedy. Lionel's father, Rocky, is wonderful and Rocky's housekeeper, Mrs. Bale, is priceless. Check it out.

For now, I'm off to shower, breakfast and dive into work after a relaxing weekend of reading review books and editing, which I need to finish today, so enjoy yourselves -- even if you have to force the issue.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex

Can you tell this post is about sex?

This article describes perfectly the trouble we writers have describing the most intimate and messiest of moments in life -- writing erotic scenes. I also discovered there is an award for Bad Sex in Fiction Writing award. They even have a ceremony. I definitely wouldn't want it -- the ceremony or the award. I would at least be in stellar company.

I recently read an excerpt from an erotic paranormal book and cringed when I read how the heroine's "...juices dripped down his muscular thigh." Yuck! Yes, sex is messy. Yes, sex is often hilarious and awkward. And, yes, it is nearly impossible to write a good sex scene without being either too clinical or too poetic. Moths caught in lampshades and penises angrily slapping against bellies is enough to make me never want to have sex again if it just weren't for the nerve tingling, hot rush of emotions and sensory overload that goes with good sex when you lose yourself in someone else and all that exists for that moment is the thrust and undulating movements of two people in perfect sync as the world falls away and nothing matters but this moment, this feeling, this . . . this.

This is where writers falter and stumble and ultimately expend the most energy in seeking to make the sublime (or ludicrously horrid) moments transcend words in the moments when no words are needed.

Poetic license

In going through some old poems to use in a reply, I found quite a few I haven't read for a while, some of which have been posted here. I declare this to be a poetry day.

Let the poetry flow:

Night Vision

Darkness around me,
Glinting stars above,
pinpoints of brightness
in the velvet night.

Alone and lonely,
aimlessly walking
where silent crickets watch
as fireflies spark
in zigzag flight.

Glorious light shining
in a frame of clouds,
a figure reaches out to me.
"You are my chosen,
the seed of hope."

"I am a battered package
no one wants."
Eyes smiling, He offers
"Come, be made whole."

Touching, accepting,
a well fills and spills
over a once battered package
now bright and new.


Beforever More

All around peace and no peace inside
Burning desire, empty wishes
Longing to touch and be touched
And in the touching lost
No meaning, only sight
And sound
And taste
And nothing.
Emotions running high,
Fever burning incandescent
Tossed and swept with cold fires
Unable to quench bottomless desire
And need
Empty motion, bodies locked,
Endless hunger never spent.
A bright shining moment caught
In time and space moving closer
Dead layers burnt away to reveal
Fresh bleeding soul.
Love long lost reclaimed
In a moment out of time,
Virtual reality made real.
Connected by speeding electrons
And souls out of time
The emptiness filled at last
Chaos all around and peace inside
Fulfilled as before and forever more.


Long Fatal Love Chase

She begs for death's cold touch,
a respite from unrecognized success,
its fruits barely tasted.
She awaits quiet and release
from the demons, an inheritance
drunk with mother's milk
that soured the first fruits
of life and love.

Death comes slowly,
a reluctant lover,
a fiery touch
of searing emptiness and
lasting pain,
lingering hunger
for the last sight
and breath,
for escape into the
silence of the


Of Wriggling

Wormy wriggling
in tight packed dirt below feet
fertile airy earth



Correct me if you dare,
leave your brain at the door.
I am master here
logic and debate
I will destroy.

Don't correct my language,
my words, my thoughts, or deeds,
for I am king;
and you're a trespasser here.

I'll invite you in,
dangle gifts and prizes, too,
but don't you dare correct me,
I'll holler if you do.

My opinions are paramount
and stronger than logic
and will not bear the light.
I will not be corrected
for I am always right.

That is all. Disperse.

Quick change artist

When I woke I felt languorous and relaxed. I recognize the feeling; it's the one I always get when I can relax and really sleep because the pending low pressure has broken and the weather has changed. My body knew what my eyes were unfogged enough to see: it was raining. There is no more beautiful sound -- to me -- than the sound of a slow, relentless rain. The only thing that would make it better here is if the roof were tin.

I climbed back into bed with my laptop to watch the rain out the bedroom window and suddenly it changed. It wasn't raining any more. It was snowing. Great wet clumps of snow are falling like an impossible curtain of snow. The wind isn't blowing so the snow is falling straight down, so heavy with the weight of water than it shoots down to the ground like arrows or spears, piling up on the ground with a speed I haven't seen all winter. And it is beautiful. This is what I've waited for and the reason I've been so congested.

My sinuses are sensitive to barometric pressure and much more accurate than weathermen and it's been that way since I moved to Colorado. But what a beautiful sight as the clumps get bigger and bigger, falling heavily to the ground like a Hollywood effect. Edward is working furiously with his scissor hands.

Before a storm like this breaks, I am cranky and lethargic and tense, my mood matching the pent up energy of the coming storm. Most people won't pick that up because outwardly I seem the same. I don't impose my mood on other people. There's no need for them to feel as badly as I do. But I do get quiet and more introspective and my nesting instinct is strong, or maybe it's just that antsy feeling that overtakes me so that I can't sit still for long. I fidget and pace and fiddle, unable to settle to any one task for long, doing things in spurts. Today is different. Today I feel like baking bread.

A snowy day like this calls for homemade bread and muffins, a celebration of life, an expression of happiness. For me, that's working with my hands and filling the cottage with smells of home and hearth and contentment. There's nothing like fresh baked bread dripping with butter and honey and a pot of chamomile or jasmine tea to turn a humdrum day into a satisfying afternoon. This is a day to curl up on the sofa or chaise and open the blinds to watch the snow fall and cover everything in silence, softening the rough and sharp edges of the outside world with an ermine mantle of glistening crystals that will become a field of flashing fiery brilliance when the sun breaks through the clouds.

Nature is the ultimate quick change artists, a mischievous sprightly elemental with a sense of the dramatic and this morning there was nothing more dramatic than watching the rain turn to snow and the dun pre-spring world into a white shrouded faery land.