Wednesday, June 26, 2013

That's what girls are for?

Saw this tweet on my feed this afternoon:

Guys: if all your mates turned into chicks, would you try to get some? Or just too weird?

It was an ad for The Turning by Mark Barwell, also the author of the tweet. I'm not going to talk about the book, but since I'm about to say not-so-nice things about the tweet, I thought I'd give you a bit of the description at Amazon, in case you're interested.
What would you do if all the men in your life started turning into women? Such is the predicament faced by Reuben, a twenty-something lad from contemporary urban Australia. Affable, likable and at least moderately handsome, Reuben is a bit miffed with life. His career has stalled, he's mired firmly in Best Friends Country with the loins-achingly beautiful Deidre, and his best mate Morrie's shag-happy ways are making Reuben wonder why he ever liked the womanising man-whore in the first place. So when a terrorist group of Militant Feminists unleashes a terrible biological weapon upon the world, a weapon guaranteed to turn every single man into a woman, Reuben can't help but feel that there may in fact be a great steaming turd in his hat. As it were.

Sounds like a lot of fun, no?

But the tweet...If all of your male friends turned into women...the question Barwell asks is..."would you try to get some?"

Because, that's what girls are for, right?

Seriously, it put this picture in my head of men running around a chicken coop without pants on trying to "get some" from any and all the chicks they can manage to hold down.

I found this a tad disconcerting, having just read about the latest study showing that neither men nor women, but mostly not the men, could tell the difference between statements made in men's magazines and statements made by convicted rapists.

I get that it's biological. I get that men are constantly in sex mode and every woman they hear coming is a potential romp partner, until they see her face and weight, at which point only some of them are. But still. That's what women are for, to the vast majority of men in this world. Women are walking sets of orifices for male pleasure.

If all your friends turned into women, you wouldn't think of them the same, would you? You wouldn't still want to play basketball with them, or talk politics, certainly not gym talk, and you wouldn't want their opinions on anything important. Nope. Once they sprout breasts and a vagina, your main concern is whether or not you should try to "get some."

From the pretty ones, at least.

Because another study has shown that men prefer to marry less attractive women and just boink the pretty ones. Still, all women are for sex. You just trust the ugly [relative to your own looks, we presume] ones not to be unfaithful to you.

It's just sad, so sad; it's a sad, sad situation.

Men appear to me to be sexually frustrated. They think of women as purely sexual objects. That's what they're for. And they don't seem to understand why women aren't constantly happy to oblige.

Some men just assume all women really want to have sex with them--they're just pretending to be disgusted by their cocky overtures. And because of that, some men "get some" whether the girl admits she wants to give it to him or not. Some men just walk around pissed off all the time because women won't lay down on the sidewalk and spread their legs when they walk past. Because that's what girls are for.

It's enough to make you feel sorry for them, biologically speaking, of course. Cursed, they are. Clearly.

So, that leads to the question...Gals: if all of your friends became men...?

Don't be gross.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where death is held more sacred than life...

I love a good cemetery. It's no surprise to me that in my next two novels (Camelia and JoJo's Ghost) there will be scenes set in cemeteries. But not the kind I like.

Photo by Joel Kramer via Flickr

I like shady, hilly graveyards peppered with ancient, moss-covered oaks. They're meant to be meandered through; they invite long visits. I want to see a hundred statues of despondent angels, cherubs, robed sons of God with heaven-cast gazes, and creepy little girls. I want mausoleums. I want a place in which ghosts would roam. Where the hairs on the back of your neck often prickle and you feel like you're being watched. Where death is held more sacred than life.

But putting a cemetery like that in my books won't do. No, I'm going for a cemetery very much like Webb Cemetery in Webb Alabama, just across from Webb Baptist Church. It's plain. It's old. It's unkempt. It's depressingly awful. And it's wonderful.

Webb Cemetery, Webb AL
Despite knowing that my husband thought I was out-of-my-mind morbid, I made him drive me up to Alabama to see that cemetery. There's a very good reason I chose that one, of course. And I'm so glad that it's perfectly horrifying.

Sure, it has all the usual tear-inducing tombstones that most others have. The children who died in their birth year. The two-year olds. The three-year olds. The families who lost five children under the age of six. But when you're interred on a grassy slope overlooking a woodsy copse or a pond, you've got it eternally made.

Austin Lee McNeal 2005-2008

Try being two-year old Austin Lee McNeal, lying in the back corner, far from one of the two trees in a barren wasteland of deadness. Up against a back fence and a ramshackle trailer, home of dogs threatening anyone who dares to visit. You know how much your mommy loved you because she's left toy trucks and a plastic dinosaur for you. But the angel at your feet has fallen and broken and no one's come by recently to set it right.

That's the grave of novels, my friend!

Maybe it's strange to drive from the Space Coast to Webb, Alabama just to see a tombstone in person instead of on the Internet. But you get to do these sorts of odd things when you're a writer. You can call it research, even if it's also personally gratifying--even if it heals you in some way.

But isn't that what some novels do for us? They close up wounds even as we slice them open to bleed out the horror of our suffering onto the page. I don't think I was made whole by standing in front of that tombstone. But I think I will be when I write the story of standing there.

Call me crazy; I'm a writer.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The new dystopian bondage genre

Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly tells us that "[h]alf of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either Fifty Shades titles or Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L. James or Suzanne Collins...cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark for the year..."*

Fifty Shades of a Grey Cat
photo by ColKorn 1982 via flickr

Nerds, please join me in a deep, unsexy, all-too-normal sigh. Bondage and dystopia, dystopia and bondage. The people have spoken. It’s time to strap on the–uh...pen–and get to work.

Behold, the battle plan for 2013.

Step one: Get thyself to the nearest sex-toy-extravaganza warehouse and buy up all the paraphernalia you can find. You can’t expect to write about bondage without getting tied up. My husband won’t mind helping me out with this research–and no doubt you too can find someone willing. How bad could it be? Bring on the feathered handcuffs and cutesy leopard-print whips. Don’t forget the stilettos. And men, you’re not getting out of it–you have wear the eight-inch heels, too. Or whatever it is they do. Be masochistic–is that like whining? ‘Cause I’m good at that. And then be sadistic. That’s the nagging part. I think I could do this!

Remember, kama sutra is old school. You need a trapeze of some sort. Maybe a Dance Dance Revolution mat. (Music is better ambiance than a spinner in your face; and anyway, when I think of Twister, I feel my back ache.) You'll want some lacy underthings, over which you will wear black leather with stain protection. (This has already gone too far.) No laughing allowed. Stop giggling. This is serious love/business/research.

I think you’re supposed to have a safe word that you shout out if you want to stop. Mine will be "Seriously?" I mean, seriously. I’m supposed to enjoy that?

Step one complete.

Step two: Become a prepper. You know. Doomsday. Apocalypse. The end of the world as we know it. You’ll have to move to the mountains of Tennessee and put in an underground bunker. But it’s probably tax deductible. Hoard seeds. And canned goods. Practice scenarios for when the moochers come for your gold and silver coins. Teach your children to be very afraid. Booby trap everything. Watch marathons of Survivorman–possibly the only part of this I will be able to handle.

And now that I think of it...has anyone on Doomsday Preppers showed us that they can make water out of pee?

Don’t forget to plot out hikes to the lake and your boat, in case you have to get to the lake and your boat. Never mind that if a boat is important, it would have been stolen long before then. Just hike the fifty miles there and back–digging up the gallon jugs of water and plastic bags of granola you’ve pre-buried along the way– prepared.

And no, this is not just an excuse to tromp around in the woods and play with firearms. This is serious research. But...just in case...maybe toy guns are an option.

Step two complete.

These two activities should scar us sufficiently; thus we are now ready to join E.L. James and Suzanne Collins in famous-writer paradise. But, we won’t just write about sado-masochistic sexual relationships or dystopian futures. Heck no. We will be on the forefront of the new dystopian/bondage genre.

Our characters will be thrust into an horrific dystopian future where all sex is sado-masochistic bondage. Only our heroine, Hissatme Nevermore, and her lover, Chrissmackme Darkly can subvert the tyranny of President Ron Jeremy** and make their way to the paradise colony of Nerdland... without accidentally asphyxiating each other first.

It sounds simple enough, sure. But can we all pull it off? Take me for instance. I’m not fond of reading sex scenes...much less writing them. If someone doesn’t crawl out from under the bed mid-copulano and shoot someone, what’s the point? And I’m prone to making up magical worlds or putting my characters right here in the one we’ve got–it’s awful enough when you think about it.

Bottom line: I don’t want to create a dystopian future...and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to imagine sex that requires a trapeze. Not right now, anyway.

So, here we are again nerds. Right back at that same-old, lame-old, just-write-the-story-in-your-head advice. We may not be famous–our books might not make readers hyperventilate. But they excite us in their own way.

Still. A few packs of seeds and some fluffy handcuffs could come in handy one day.

*Originally published on 02/14/2013
**All our wishes for a full recovery go out to Mr. Jeremy.