Month: February 2013

Thursday’s Children: 02.28.2013

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Nighttime inspires me.

You’re probably not surprised to discover I’m one of those nocturnal people. If I could, I’d sleep until 4PM and be awake (and writing) all night. But, I have a day job and a social life (sorta haha) so this isn’t possible.

Nighttime in Stevensville, Montana isn’t like nighttime in the city. There’s almost zero light pollution and I’m not exaggerating when I say the sky looks like this:

????????????

It’s times like these in which I feel blessed to live where I do. (Other times, not so much . . .)

But nighttime, nighttime. There are so many things . . . Night has a distinct smell. It’s fresh, it’s a little wild, and it’s a little cold. And I love the dark. I produce my best writing when it’s dark out. I can focus with intense clarity I don’t have during the day.

I often go outside and think at night. Yes, even in February. The world is quiet, and there is this permeating energy in the very essence of matter that brings me into some sort of brilliant awareness. It’s as if there’s a secret there, somewhere, and if you could just . . . breathe it in . . .

Anyway.

I solve most of my problems this way—writing related and otherwise. Just sitting there, thinking, merging with the darkness and the cool, night air.

How about you? How do you feel about nighttime?

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YA Romance

As a writer navigating the YA romance world, I hear a lot about the message we (writers) are sending our audience (mainly teenage girls). I’ve noticed two vastly different, equally irritating frames of mind that often come out of the same people at different times, depending on the subject at hand. In fact, here’s an article that (unintentionally) argues both sides.

Mentality #1

The “traditional” relationship that gives men dominance over women is sexist and sends the wrong message to our teen readers.  We as writers need to branch out and show our audience that there are other options.

Mentality #2

The “non-traditional” relationships—female-dominated, same-sex, polyamorous, friends-with-benefits, etc.—are unhealthy and send the wrong message to our teen readers. We as writers need to show them there are better ways of self-expression.

headdesk

After reading a bunch of crap from both sides, here’s what I’ve gathered. If you write a “traditional” trope in which the relationship dynamic is male dominated, you are telling teens that it’s okay to be a weak, brainless, pretty princess. However, if you write a “non-traditional” trope in which the relationship is female dominated, you are telling teens it’s okay to be a controlling bitch and emasculate men. Furthermore, if you write something for teens that explores a same-sex, poly, or NSA sex relationship you are just plain creepy.

It would seem to me that the ONLY relationship acceptable in YA, then, is a heterosexual relationship in which both parties have equal footing, neither is dominant, both have absolutely “pure” intentions, neither fucks up (because if the offended party forgives the offending party, the offended party is weak), and they dance through life constantly (and equally) lifting each other’s spirits and getting on just wonderfully.

This doesn’t exist in real life. It would be BORING to read, and it’s unattainable (and what we really need are more teenage girls striving for unattainable relationships).

edward and bella gif2

Relationships are messy, sometimes harmonic, sometimes tug-of-war, beautiful, ever-changing creatures, and they can develop for any reason. Whether the reason is “right” seems to be an issue in this discussion, but how many real teenagers get into a relationship for the “right” reasons? And can you please define for me the “right” reasons to get into a relationship?

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe we need to be aware of the message we’re sending to YA readers, because whether we intend to send one or not, we do. But at the same time, it’s important to talk about real-life situations.

Yes. I would love to teach teenage girls (and teenage me) that the most important thing in the world isn’t to have a boyfriend. But I remember how important it seemed. Even if you weren’t “boy-crazy,” we all knew someone who was. It’s relatable. It makes sense to the audience.

Yes. I would love to teach teenage girls that bad things can come out of an NSA hook-up. You can get your feelings hurt. Your reputation can suffer. And if you don’t do it safely, there can be far worse consequences.  But seriously? Our slut-shaming society makes things so much worse than they are. Hookups wouldn’t have horrible results if we talked about things like this and weren’t so concerned about sex being evil. Somebody write a book where the heroine has a friend-with-benefits and something good comes of it. Please.

Yes. I would LOVE to teach teenage girls that there is so, SO much more to a guy than his looks. Combine this with, you don’t need a hot guy to “save you.” We aren’t Disney Princesses, ladies. I wish more YA novels would convey this message.  BUT—and let me preface this by reminding you that I’m genderqueer, pansexual, and all kinds of non-traditional. Sexism enrages me to the point of speechlessness, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t need a man. BUT. There is a reason Prince Charming characters are written. There is and always will be something sexy about a strong, gorgeous guy.  Even if you are a ferociously independent woman, this is still attractive:

hot guy

No. It’s not okay for men be misogynistic, sexist assholes, and it’s certainly not okay for women to put up with it.  But they do.  Forget sexism; women stay in downright abusive relationships all the time for any number of reasons: pride, fear, kids, you name it. I’m not saying it’s right or that it’s okay. But I am saying it happens. We as writers have to talk about real things. If your YA hero makes some idiotic, gender-and-sex-organ-related comments and the heroine ends up forgiving and dating him, you may have just written about a real-life situation.

And finally, I’m delighted that LGBT YA romance is on the upswing, but there is still so much heteronormative BS out there that I could devote an entire, ranty blog post to it. (I reserve the right to do this in the future). The discussion surrounding LGBT YA baffles me too—many authors talk about having to or being asked to “straighten” their LGBT characters—and I’m like

shocked and appalled

Here’s a post on this and here’s another one.

This aside, there seems to be a lot of support for LGBT YA. However,  there are so few actual books in the category that I get a little sad about it. CS Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone,” and I agree. But what do you do if you read and read and read and you can’t find anyone like you? Now you think you’re weird or a freak because you’re a guy who likes guys or you’re a girl who’d rather be in a relationship with more than one person at a time or you’re someone who identifies as neither a guy nor a girl and are outside the gender binary entirely and oh my lord how on Earth am I supposed to have a romantic relationship now because ALL I CAN FIND IN LITERATURE ARE STRAIGHT, CISGENDER PROTAGONISTS?!?!

Okay. More non-traditional YA romance, please.

There’s a reason things are stereotypical and traditional. Because they happen in real life. And it’s okay to write about them, as long as you give the full picture.

There’s also a reason things remain taboo; because we don’t talk about them. So no, I don’t  think it’s creepy if an author writes sex into YA.  Many teenagers are sexually active and what do they have to look to for advice—porn? Because that’s realistic/creates positive gender roles. And I don’t think it’s creepy if a YA author wants to explore a relationship outside of the accepted norm. Again, as long as you give the full picture.

Bottom line: write whatever relationship you want, but be aware of what you’re telling your readers.

 

Comments? Discussion?

Thursday’s Children: 02.21.2013

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Music! Music inspires me!

I have a “soundtrack” to SHADOW that narrates the entire novel from beginning to end. I’m also putting one together (slowly, as the songs come to me) for the sequel, BLEED, and my other project, SOME KIND OF QUEER. 😀 There are very specific lines in each song that apply to different scenes and conversations and usually each song “belongs” to a character.

It’s fun. I like to listen to the soundtracks while I drive or exercise or something. It’s like going on the story’s journey from beginning to end again. I’ll have to post the soundtracks on here at some point.

Aside from those, there are songs that don’t make the list (because the don’t suit a character or the story) but still inspire me deeply. These are the songs that I listen to overandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandover on repeat for DAYS while I write. I can’t say exactly what defines these songs—they don’t have much in common. There’s been screamo, dance, rock, 90s pop, hip-hop, etc, etc. There was even a Taylor Swift song once. I don’t want to talk about it.

So, here’s the song of the moment. It’s called Two Men in Love and it’s by The Irrepressibles. It’s six and a half minutes of WONDERFUL. Listen to the end if you have time. It’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard and it gets really intense. The Irrepressibles are a 10 piece orchestral group and the singer’s voice is like heaven. Also, the lyrics of this song are poetry.

So many feels.

Does music inspire your writing? If so, how?

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A Quote

“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for love relationships is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don’t know where it will end.”
― Michel Foucault

I got this in an email from my grandma this morning. It’s pertinent to me at the moment. Seemed worth sharing.

Thursday’s Children: 02.14.2013

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Okay, some of you know that I started writing this post last week. I’ve been working on it, but. Ack! I came here with the intention of explaining to you my muse, the lifeblood of my work, my greatest inspiration. But I’m not sure I know how. I’ve never tried to explain this particular inspiration to anyone.

I’m also a little worried that you will laugh at me.

Okay.

I am most inspired by my character, Lord Caden. Some of you had the pleasure of “meeting” him last week. THAT was fun (and entertaining). He’s lovely. But—I really don’t know how to do this. I guess I’ll start with the basics.

In SHADOW, Lord Caden is an incubus and the secondary leader of a planet (and also an assassin—multi-talented I guess). Uh, here’s the description of him from my query:

The incubus. The dark, sarcastic, damn-near-invincible incubus who oozes sex appeal and never loses.

And here’s the first description of him in the book:

His smile was breathtaking, his beauty; matchless—his pale skin contrasting with black, lustrous hair and such dark, lustful eyes.

He also always  wears black. I’m into that sort of thing. 😀 So you kind of have a picture of him now (hopefully) but this isn’t about his looks. Lord Caden is so much more than a character in a story to me. He sort of embodies everything I wish I could be. He’s powerful. He’s in absolute control of every situation. The only thing that trips him up is my MC, Sera. I had to give him some weakness, didn’t I? He’s never awkward and he’s never been embarrassed in his 12,000-something years. He’s brilliant and charismatic
and . . .

Writing this is making me breathless.

I have a very deep connection with this character. I had to write a poem about my greatest inspiration for a creative writing class in college, and I had this, sort of, revelation about my relationship with him while writing it. So, I think the easiest way to explain what I’m (wordily and futilely) trying to explain is to just let you read it.

0.0

Let me just say that poetry is not my forte . . . fair warning.
 

 

L.  Caden

 

And to think
That I invented you.
 

Eclipsing
Eyes that speak only the truth.
 

Blackest hair,
Lustrous even in the night
 

Seductive
Lustful, cool—with burning might.
 

Body white
Perfection, simple complexity combined.
 

And in my mind
I’ve known you for millennia.
This is a rework.
A replica
A copy that’s been made                    to set me free.

 

 

 

And to think

That you invented me.

 
***

Soooo . . . that’s that, folks. Talking about this is like exposing my soul. To the internet. So, be gentle.

 

 

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Cupid’s Kissing Scene Competition!

     Lord Caden is a dark, sexy incubus and the secondary ruler of a planet. Lux loathes him; one, because Lux is a rebel in the planet’s civil war and two, because Lord Caden swept the girl Lux loves off her feet. But when he tries threatening Lord Caden to get the girl back, Lord Caden just laughs and Lux winds up in his bed. Now, after a week of battling guilt and temptation, Lux stands outside Lord Caden’s palace.

     Lord Caden opened the door and Lux started.  The black-haired incubus leaned against the jamb. He smiled.
     Lux opened his mouth and then closed it again.  “I don’t even know what to say to you.”
     Lord Caden laughed.  “You may have an addiction.”
     Lux flexed his hands in their checkered, fingerless gloves.  “I need to touch you.” Lord Caden held his palms up and spread them apart in invitation. Lux’s heart raced and he reached out.  His fingertips hovered above Lord Caden’s chest.  Finally they connected, brushing the expensive black fabric.  He breathed in.  He traced the shirt’s seam to the buttons, toying with one.  Lord Caden unfastened it for him, then the third, then the fourth.  Lux trailed his fingers down, afraid to touch his skin.
     “It’s okay,” Lord Caden said.  Lux flicked the hair out of his eyes and glanced away.  “Lux.” Lux allowed his thumb to venture off the black fabric onto the smooth, white skin of Lord Caden’s chest and shuddered.  “Come inside,” Lord Caden said.

***

     “This can’t keep happening,” Lux groaned.
     Lord Caden ripped through Lux’s jacket and shirt and cast them onto the bedroom floor.  “You may have wanted to consider that before you turned up on my doorstep.”
     “I just—” Lord Caden laced his fingers in the back of Lux’s hair and kissed him.  His tongue delved into Lux’s mouth, curling, coaxing.  Lux couldn’t breathe. Burning, dark liquidity wound its way from the base of his spine up into his throat, pulsing in his veins.  He whimpered.  The sweet, rich taste of Lord Caden was almost too much to bear. Lord Caden tugged his hair and a pleasured sound escaped Lux’s throat.  “Oh, good god.  I need to be closer to you.”
     “Mm,” Lord Caden agreed.  He let his shirt drop onto the floor.
     Lux ran his hands over the lord’s chest, his gloved palms sliding over the hard muscles.  Desire clenched his stomach.  “I’ve been thinking about this for a week,” he whispered.
     “Impressive self-control,” Lord Caden remarked.
     “Hardly.  I’m here, aren’t I?”