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Things I dislike in books, films, etc.

I thought it was time, as a reviewer, that I posted about the things I dislike in books and films (including TV); the things that throw me out of a story, the things that make me abandon a book or a series and the things that stop me buying. Some of the following might result in a bad review. Some might prevent purchase. Some are just a warning sign and I might like a book despite their inclusion. Some are very personal dislikes and don’t say anything about the book or film. But you deserve to know where I am coming from! In alphabetical order:

* Bad language in the sense of curses and similar.
I know it might be realistic, but when it’s constant, I can’t read or listen to it. Recent examples include The Wolf of Wall Street who used f…g as every other word, and Dominus, a novel about ancient Rome that had so many curses and uses of ‘s..t’ that I just couldn’t carry on. We all use expletives from time to time but most people, particularly people with even a modicum of education, reserve them for important issues (like hammering your thumb…) and I think constant usage diminishes their impact in real life and is bordering on unlikely in scripts and novels. At any rate, I thoroughly dislike it.

*Bad language in the sense of poor grammar, spelling, etc.
I don’t mean typos though those annoy me when they come thick and fast.

I do mean the misuse of vocabulary where either the author either hasn’t a clue what the right word is, or cravenly believes their wordchecker’s correction.

I also mean the dizzying switching of tenses or points of view within one section of text.

I mean, too, the frequent use of poor punctuation (which a wordchecker would soon put right). (Punctuation should make a text easier to read.)

I mean, in addition, the frequent use of things like ‘er’, meant, I think, to add verisimilitude to speech but actually just making it hard to read. (When we listen to someone who hesitates we ignore the hesitations, but that’s harder when they’re written down and we are forced to process them.)

I certainly mean poor grammar – not what Word’s spag checker regards as bad grammar but what the average English teacher means. As an ex-English teacher, I am always annoyed by it and it almost always throws me out of the story and ensures I won’t return to the author. I’m aware that grammar isn’t every writer’s strength, but that’s what editors are for.

*Forced comedy
I hate comedy that seems to be telling me I must laugh. I am highly amused at some jokes, cartoons and situations but I rarely enjoy stand-up comedians or comedy shows, I often have to switch off if there’s canned laughter, and I don’t enjoy books that employ similar techniques. I realise I’m in a minority here! My sense of humour tends more towards irony than banana skin slips. I say ‘tends’ because there are exceptions but they’re few and far between.

*Fundamental objections.
It should go without saying that I don’t appreciate any attempt to ‘sell’ me racism, sexism, or fundamentalist religion of any kind in the guise of fiction. I actually binned a couple of children’s books given to my daughter with these themes, because I wouldn’t let her read them till she was old enough to ‘see through’ the message (by which time she wouldn’t enjoy the stories) and I didn’t want to be responsible for unleashing them on others via a charity shop. Not quite book burning, but yes, a kind of censorship. I would, of course, defend the right of the writers and publishers to produce these, but at the same time defend my own right to decide not to have anything to do with them and to discourage others.

*Insistence on using experimental prose.
I appreciate that some people think this is clever, and certainly it isn’t something that is actually wrong. It just strikes me as pretentious and annoying, whether it’s done by a Booker prize winner or a fanfic writer. For example, Hilary Mantel does it in A Place of Greater Safety – the whole style changes from chapter to chapter, with some of it reading like a TV script, and some like a history book. Irritating.

*Plot devices that are almost guaranteed to make me abandon the book or film.
I personally dislike stories that are told from the point of view of the villain or criminal. I feel cheated, because I enjoy crime stories where I try to work out ‘whodunnit’ or how they did it alongside the detectives.

I dislike ambiguous endings unless there’s a sequel in the pipeline, though obviously I won’t know till I reach the ending and just end up feeling furious.

The same goes for endings that are not consistent with the story and seem to be a kind of ‘how on earth can I end this’ attitude on the part of the author. As a teacher I used to dislike children’s stories that ended ‘and then I woke up’ or ‘and then I died’ and I find adults have similar tendencies at times… I think the worst book I read was one that was a crime story which ended abruptly. Apparently the author died and friends got the book published as a kind of memorial. The reader could be pretty sure who the criminal was, but there were so many unanswered questions I wanted to throw the book in the trash – some memorial!

*Plot holes.
I know some of these are probably not even noticed by the writer till after the book or film has gone public. They should have been noticed by beta readers, editors, etc. Oddly, I have seen more of these in books published by mainstream ‘big’ publishing houses than in genre fiction or fanfic. Maybe a lack of beta readers and discussion groups?

*Serious anachronisms and cultural errors.
I’m not talking about using modern language when the story is about e.g. ancient Rome. That makes the writing more accessible to the modern reader and unless the writer is going to write in Latin (and even then, Latin changed, as all languages do) it’s not something that worries me. Linguistic anachronisms do ‘throw’ me; the use of slang terms should be always be carefully researched. It’s no good using modern language for a book about e.g. mediaeval society and including slang that is obviously twenty-first century in origin. Yes, the mediaeval people would have used slang, but unless it is very carefully done, the text shouldn’t really include it. It’s easy to say something like, ‘he cursed roundly’ rather than have him saying ‘Shit’. So should the correct usage of period phrases be researched – like ‘methinks’ or ‘prithee’ though I really wish writers wouldn’t use them at all. Film makers can just about get away with it if they’re staging Shakespeare…

One type of anachronism that infuriated me was in a book that purported to be about the mediaeval popes and their families. A party was described and the meal ended with chocolates with exotic fillings. I instantly distrusted all the other historical research the writer had done.

Similarly, books by e.g. American writers who clearly have a foggy grasp of Brit geography, customs, or conversational norms annoy me, as do Brit books that play fast and loose with American (or any other) culture. Whilst I don’t think the exhortation to ‘write what you know’ holds water, I do think a writer should ‘know what they write’ which is a different thing and assumes writers do their research meticulously. I don’t think a writer who sets their work in the past or in a foreign country needs to be an expert, but they should make sure they don’t make glaringly obvious errors. Also, I am more likely to be annoyed if the blurb or the notes about the author try to suggest expertise.

Even fantasy or sci fi needs to be grounded in some kind of reality. I once abandoned the notion of having two moons on a world when I realised I would need to alter all references to tides, seasons, etc. Fairies and aliens work best when they follow ‘laws’ made clear in the story and not random ideas that have appealed to the author as pretty or interesting. If it’s a truly alien or alternate world, it needs internal consistency and sensible natural rules.

*Things I am less keen on but will try.
I am a lover of fantasy but I am not at all keen on books where the main character ends up crossing into another world or reality. I have read a few where it worked, but it’s not my favourite genre.

The same goes for time travel where I find it hard to suspend disbelief.

Mpreg is only acceptable for me if there’s a sensible scientific explanation e.g. an alien race with fluid gender roles, an experiment on humans, an alternative universe where this is the norm.

I am less than fond of vampires (I have read some good ones but hate Anne Rice…), the invasion of earth by monstrous aliens (they need to stay on other planets where the likes of SG1 or SGA can deal with them), and most m/m/f menage tropes. I am also reluctant to read about either zombies or superheroes. I think I like my protagonists to be flawed and human or ‘normal’ within their non-human community.

*Too much explicit sex.
I have no desire for a return to the ‘fade to black’ fashion of writing, whether the romance/marriage/hook-up/whatever is m/m, m/f, f/f or any permutation. However, I want the sex scenes to further either the plot or the character development. If they appear to be merely there for titillation, I skim them, and if they appear too often or are too long, I usually abandon the story. I don’t find the ‘tab A into slot B’ approach to sex scenes hot, in the least, just boring. I am much more interested in the emotions engendered by the sex (or lack of it). Some of my favourite romances don’t get the protagonists into bed until near the end of the story.

*Too much explicit violence.
Although I enjoy crime books and thrillers, I don’t particularly want battle or gore dwelled on lovingly by the writer or the film maker. I tend to skim or look away if any kind of violence lasts too long, and complex battle scenes pass me by in a blur. This probably explains my own difficulties in writing such scenes, even short ones, and I do realise they are sometimes needed to further the plot, but that doesn’t stop me hating them!

Also, while I will read some BDSM, I personally can’t cope with kinks involving things like blood, enemas, excreta, etc. The sex doesn’t have to be vanilla but I have personal limits though I understand that they really are personal and that violence and gore may appeal to some readers and can be well written. Also, I will read about darker things if they are essential to a crime investigation but still don’t like them described in too much detail. For instance, I can read about a detective seeing the aftermath of violence or even a pathologist finding out what happened, but don’t want a blow-by-blow account of the killer’s actions as they happen.

*Too much purple prose and too much description.
Descriptions are all the better for being sparse. Adjectives are overused by a lot of writers just starting out – maybe a hangover from their schooldays when they were encouraged to use too many, presumably to increase their vocabulary and add at least some interest to whatever they were producing.

In a novel, over-description jars the reader. Even world building, which is essential, is better done in very small increments with a lot left to the imagination. We do not need to know every detail of what every character (even minor ones) is wearing, and nor do we need an estate agent’s description of a building or its surroundings. Too many modern writers seem to think that descriptions of clothing will introduce characters to their readers. Actually, for me, it doesn’t work. I am so hung up on trying to visualise the dress, shoes, etc. that it’s hard to get back to what is being said or done. When I meet someone in real life I rarely notice every detail of their outfit though I might focus on a particularly attractive tie or scarf and on a general colour scheme. So I don’t expect to be forced to concentrate on itemised clothing when I meet a character in text, either. (I really don’t need to know what a detective is wearing at the scene of a crime, though it might be more relevant if he has to work under cover.)

Film makers are better in this respect. They get someone to make sure the costumes and location are perfect then just let them speak for themselves to the viewer. Basically, we would notice if things clashed or were not true to the period (which might actually be important if the character liked them that way). Otherwise, we can just leave them in their proper place, the background.

*****

It might seem surprising, in view of the above list, that I find so many books and films to love! That just means there are some seriously good writers and directors out there and they make me very happy indeed.

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Posted by on March 23, 2019 in other writers, personal

 

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February Reviews

Films and TV

The excellent (watch if you can and if they’re still available).

They Shall Not Grow Old*****
The special version of WW1 footage, edited and coloured under the direction of Michael Jackson. A fantastic feat, though beginning with a long section of flickering black and white might have been good cinema but nearly made me switch off with a headache.

Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain*****
Fascinating because it basically covered my life. While you’re living through events you’re not always aware of the wider picture.

Reginald D Hunter’s Songs of the South*****
I loved hearing the history of some of the American music, but even more, I enjoyed the road trip through the southern states. Whilst I knew perfectly well where they were it’s actually rare, on Brit TV, to see any film of that part of USA and I now feel I have a much more detailed mental map.

Grantchester Season 4*****
This is the first Grantchester season I’ve seen and I loved it. Since I was new to it, the departure of Sid didn’t upset me. I’ve always liked Robson Green and I enjoyed the mix of crime with the accurate and detailed look at the period, which was the time of my childhood, and as I was the daughter of a country vicar this was inevitably going to appeal!

100 Vaginas *****
Amazing, excellent, poignant, and intriguing. I think it’s still on catch up TV in UK (ch4) and if it is, watch it! It unravelled women’s attitudes to what is sometimes seen as a taboo subject with incredible photography and sensitive narration.

Desperate Romantics*****
Fabulous. I knew that with Aidan Turner as Dante Gabriel Rosetti it was likely to be good, but Millais, Hunt and Lizzie Siddall were good too. So was Tom Hollander as Ruskin. I bought it ages ago and forgot about it. Six hours of fantastic acting in a mesmerising story about some of our most famous artists. Plus, I’ve seen some of the originals of the paintings that were the focus of the story and have been to a number of pre-Raphaelite exhibitions. I wallowed in this and will be watching it again.

The good.

British History’s Biggest Fibs****
Lucy Worsley makes history interesting, as usual, but I think this started with an odd premise. Most people who studied any history beyond the age of about 14 (or just did a lot of reading) wouldn’t believe these fibs anyway, and the rest of the general population wouldn’t remember them. That’s as far as the Wars of the Roses, and the Glorious Revolution are concerned, at any rate. But maybe Victoria and the empire are a little more recent and people do look back to what they think was a golden age. And maybe this was an attempt to alter the public perception of the empire carefully slotted into a more general history lesson.

Dogs behaving (very) badly****
Really, it was the owners, in every case, who were behaving, if not badly, at least foolishly. The trainer gently but firmly put them on the right track.

Death in Paradise Season 8****
‘Cosy’ mysteries with a beautiful tropical background and an interesting ensemble cast. I felt nostalgia for my trips to the Caribbean, and I enjoyed the banter. There were plotholes galore but I would watch again for the humour and the scenery. I kept thinking about the ‘backstory’ in Lewis that had Lewis in the BVI after his wife’s death, and wondered why we never got a series about that period – maybe this was it?

The real Saudi Arabia: why I had to leave****
The young fashion designer who went to visit relatives in Saudi to see whether she could live there might have known it would end in tears, but she really did try hard. I was surprised by the ending.

The vaguely watchable.

Moulin Rouge***
Nowhere near as good as I was led to expect. When we went to Paris we stayed near the Moulin Rouge and the film didn’t give a real picture of the area. In fact, I found it unlikely and faintly annoying.

And the unwatchable.

Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities – abandoned
I couldn’t stand the way this was presented. Not sure if it was the narrator’s voice but I found myself falling asleep despite the inherent interest of what was being shown.

Gavin and Stacey – abandoned.
It was supposed to be a romantic comedy but I didn’t think it was either… Not sure why I bought it in a charity shop but it’s going back there.

Master and Commander – abandoned
I was looking forward to this but… Too much sea and too much gore. Since I’d read some of the books I already knew the characters and there wasn’t going to be any element of mystery or development so I gave up.

Books

The really really good (highly recommended):

Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee*****
Both the second and final volumes of The Machineries of Empire were wonderful sci fi, with plenty of aliens, space battles, futuristic science, sex, and explorations of ‘big’ themes like gender identity, loyalty and democracy. I was dying to know what happened but didn’t want them to end. I was initially disappointed in the ending but then realised I just hadn’t wanted the story to end at all. It was perfectly satisfactory except that I wanted more! Highly recommended series for anyone who likes sci fic. And a huge thank you to the person on my DW f’list who recced it!

Snow and Secrets by RJ Scott (Stanford Creek series 3)*****
This was almost stand-alone but is actually part of a series. Nice characterisation and an interesting plot. The series as a whole deals with m/f relationships but this volume is m/m. I much prefer Scott’s writing when she is developing the story of a whole group or community. She is very good at locating the reader in a ‘place’ with ‘real’ people, and I would rather follow her series than read her shorter standalones.

Cops and Comix by Rhys Ford (Murder and Mayhem)*****
I love this series, with the dysfunctional but rich family, the cops trying hard to keep up, the background of valuable artefacts in the film and comic industries, and the mayhem that seems to follow everyone who gets anywhere near. Another writer who pulls the reader into a fully realised location and group of people.

My Anti-Valentine by DJ Jamison *****
Three stories here, all on an ‘anti-valentine’ theme and all well written and satisfyingly romantic in the end.

The Station by Keira Andrews*****
A fascinating story based in the convict days of Australia. The research was detailed and the reader learns a lot about the deportation process and about the outback in those early times.

Apple Boy by Isobel Starling*****
A gorgeous introduction to what promises to be a fascinating series. As I pre-ordered it, I was sent a beautiful map too. The world building is excellent, slow and detailed with no sense of any ‘info-dump’. The magic is unusual and interesting. I gather we will meet new characters in the sequels but already the minor characters are almost as well developed as the main protagonists and we can trust the author to introduce worthwhile personalities to inhabit her world.

Concierge Service by P.D.Singer*****
I loved the angst in this romance, with the main character desperate not to compromise his position as a brilliant metropolitan concierge at a top hotel despite falling for a guest. I liked the way the relationship developed and the fact that there was very little sex until the end. The UST was much more exciting than the more explicit accounts in so many books.

Two for the Road by Alexa Milne *****
A May/December story about a man who falls in love with his friend’s son, a young man who has in turn loved him since they first met. Most of the relationship is developed during the lifts to and from work which underpin both the plot and the title. I also enjoy reading stories set in my own part of the world (northern UK) especially when the author obviously knows the area well and loves it. I read this while I was doing the final edits on a May/December story of my own, so it was even more appealing.

The Holly Groweth Green by Amy Rae Durreson*****
This is a Christmas fairy tale (which is a kind of contradiction in terms). It takes place after WWII when a naval doctor, damaged by the war to the extent that he can no longer practise, is stranded in a snowstorm and meets someone living in a house in the countryside – a house that later turns out to be an uninhabited ruin. But this is not a ghost story, and although it takes place over the twelve days of Christmas, that’s because those are the days the fairies have chosen when they laid a curse on Avery. A fabulous story (in both senses) and one which I must read every Christmas. This year it didn’t reach my notice till February but now that I have it, I shall treasure it!

The good. Good enough to recommend but I probably wouldn’t re-read them (usually because they’re very short). All these are well written and are excellent examples of the art of the short story.

The Fall Guy by Chris Quinton****
A Pinkerton agent ends up following suspects across the Atlantic to London. I actually hope this might turn into a series.

Bad Valentine ****
Four novella by four authors, all well written and worth reading.
Love Magic by Jesi Lea Ryan ****
Oliver thinks Derrick is ‘just’ a conjuror but it turns out Derrick has real magic.
Quill Me Now by Jordan Castillo Price****
Dixon thinks he is a failed spellcrafter but when he meets Yuri he learns the truth about himself and his family.
Hidden Hearts by Clare London****
Ethan and Kel survive clumsiness and disasters to make something of a valentine date.
Temporary Dad by Dev Bentham****
Nick and Dylan work through minor deception and fantasy to a good relationship in the end.

His Spark by DJ Jamison ****
A very short story in which Josh and Dylan act the parts of Harry and Draco from Harry Potter but find their own personalities are better in the end. Nicely written but this is another author whose series appeal to me more than her shorts.

Valentine’s Day with Princess Petunia by K-Lee Klein****
How easy or difficult can it be to find romance when you’re a single dad? Bobby finds out when he meets Greg.

Drawing Love by Tully Vincent****
A short story with a focus on a drawing one of the main characters did in primary school. The love he was trying to convey then has lasted.

Blitz by Charlie Cochrane****
Two guys who fancy each other but have never acted on their feelings are thrown together sheltering from the blitz.

The readable (just)

Forgive me Father by PL Travis***
Jamie underwent an appalling childhood which is reconstructed in almost loving detail. The second half of the book deals with his experiences in adulthood when he has overcome his past, but it is told in a blur of events and people, with a lot of death and angst all round. Jamie has a good life in the end, but I wouldn’t read this again.

The Ultimate Greetings Card Book by Caroline Green (re-read) ***
Some of the techniques are good but most of them are already well known to me. A reasonable reference book but no really new ideas or anything I’d forgotten about.

The dire

Three Sisters (Emily Castle Mysteries 1) by Helen Smith *
I was mesmerised by just how awful the characters were, how unlikely the plot, and how garbled the explanations. I did finish it but only just. The style was irritating, too, with attempts at purple prose and experimental prose too.

Hunter’s Chase (The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries 1) by Val Penny – abandoned
I think this was making an attempt to be the next Inspector Rebus series. It failed.

Fanfic

I eventually finished the Lewis Christmas Challenge stories, the SGA Secret Santa ones, and the Bandom Big Bang. Lewis and SGA demanded in-depth knowledge of canon, but two of the Bandom stories would, I think, work well for the new reader. Both are m/m stories that use real people, or at least their media personas, to explore sci fi/supernatural themes. I really enjoy AU stories in Bandom, because nobody can complain that the stars are being unfairly treated – after all, everybody knows they don’t live in a world with space travel, vampires, werewolves, magic, etc.

ataraxia by akamine_chan https://archiveofourown.org/works/17224229 (3707 words) studies possible attitudes to androids, with obvious reference to canon stories and films in the genre. Frank meets Gerard on Venus and is excited to be working with him.

Ethici Strix by ermengarde https://archiveofourown.org/works/17212841 (2458 words) Gerard is job-hunting when he accidentally meets Frank, who is cool, but weird. An eventual vampire theme.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2019 in reviews

 

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International Women’s Day

(First, a confession. The photo is taken from Tripadvisor. Yesterday was incredibly wet and I couldn’t take a decent photograph.)

My daughter and I and a couple of friends went to a talk on Elizabeth Gaskell’s Heroines at Elizabeth Gaskell House in Manchester on Thursday. The talk, given in honour of International Women’s Day, was given by Dr Diane Duffy and was well worth attending.

Dr. Duffy clearly knew a great deal about the Victorian novelist and her life and works, but also gave us plenty of food for thought. I had read a couple of Gaskell’s works and had watched the BBC costume dramas but too long ago to recall the details or the names of all the characters but our speaker soon made sure we all knew the outline of the stories.

She started by unpacking the word ‘heroine’, pointing out the recent de-gendering of the term so that we now have female heroes, and gave a slide presentation showing aspects of the way heroines had been depicted in Britain in the past in both text and art. Some of her listeners felt she paid too little attention to attitudes in other countries, and other literatures, but so far as Britain was concerned I think her points were valid, even if somewhat ‘parochial’.

We were asked to consider the attributes we expected to be assigned to male or female heroes, and to look at the true nature of heroism. This was interesting and thought-provoking, especially given the preponderance of ‘hero’ movies today. Even in an atmosphere of ‘liberation’ for women we are capable of automatic stereotyping and a failure to notice or admire characters who do not conform to those stereotypes.

It was clear that Gaskell tried to push the boundaries of what was acceptable to Victorian readers, just as other novelists did, particularly Charlotte Bronte, who was a friend of Gaskell’s. Some of the characterisation they developed might seem very slight to us but was really subversive in Victorian times. Women, then, were advised that if they were intelligent or well-informed, they should hide the fact, and in most publications it was thought obvious that a blonde beauty would not only be the main character but would also be ‘innocent’ and would ‘get her man’ whereas anyone with dark hair would inevitably turn out to be a villain. So a dark-haired heroine was a really new departure for the audience of the time. Some listeners made the point that Disney was in fact one of the first to go against the trend, and although their depiction of Snow White with dark hair was in keeping with Grimm’s text, it was also in direct opposition to the prevailing norms.

Gaskell had publishers to contend with, too; you can’t get a message across if you can’t get your book printed and sold. She was perhaps more subtle in her attempts to subvert the ‘normal’ way of thinking, and did not meet the same kinds of publisher outrage and panic experienced by Charlotte, or by Wilkie Collins. I know today’s publishers are driven by the profit motive just as much as their forebears were, and I wonder how far the current development of self-publishing and small indie publishers/co-operatives will allow more widespread questioning of the social order.

The talk was certainly relevant to anyone who writes female heroes and perhaps to all writers, given the way that prejudices and stereotypes were questioned.

The Elizabeth Gaskell House is a beautifully presented small museum just outside central Manchester. The building has been renovated by Manchester University and lovingly restored to its nineteenth century incarnation as a Unitarian minister’s house – and that of his wife who gave us some enjoyable and provocative novels. I would recommend a visit if you’re in the area!

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2019 in other writers, reviews

 

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Sale! (and some freebies)

I’m participating in the Smashwords Read an e-book week sale. All my titles have been discounted by 75% for one week, running from 3rd to 10th March. That means some of them are free and the rest are at silly prices. The discounts will be automatically applied when you add a book to your cart.

The Lord of Shalott (a novella) FREE
Silkskin and the Forest Dwellers (a novella) FREE
Silver Chains (a novella) FREE
Three Legends (three short stories) FREE
The Skilled Investigators (series):
The Scroll (book 1) FREE
The Market (book 2) FREE
The Crown (book 3) $1
The Lantern (book 4) $1
Living Fae (series):
Growing Up Fae (book 1) $1.25
Tales from Tara (book 2) FREE (I wouldn’t recommend reading this without reading book 1 first)

This is a pricing experiment to see if I can tweak my marketing somehow. No guarantees it will happen again so make the most of it if you’re interested in what I write!

Go to https://www.smashwords.com and search Jay Mountney in the search box at the top.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2019 in publishing, writing

 

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Silver Chains

chain-941229_1920 (1) - Copy

Shameless advertising. A short story, outside my ‘normal’ style. This one’s a contemporary May/December romance and is 99p on both Amazon and Smashwords. It’s been up for about 48 hours but then Smashwords had a hissy fit when I mentioned my Amazon page in the ‘about the author’ section, though Amazon didn’t seem to care about Smashwords. That delayed things a bit while I hastily edited so that Smashwords would send it out to other platforms.
Incidentally, I wrote it ages ago and it first saw the light of day in an online zine under the title ‘Angus’ (the main character) but I now have the rights back and have done some edits and changed the title. I know some of the zine group follow this blog and I wouldn’t like them to buy the story and feel cheated.
Links:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/924818

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2019 in publishing, writing

 

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What fanworks mean to me.

The Organisation for Transformative Works (OTW) which has Archive Of Our Own (AO3) as one of its projects, asked members for contributions to Fanworks Day on February 15th. One suggestion they made was 350 words (max) on ‘what fandom means to you’. I jotted down my thoughts then spent ages getting them into some kind of coherent shape and exactly 350 words. Then I found the ‘box’ in the communication form didn’t actually allow for 350 words… I emailed them but got no reply, so Fanworks Day passed me by. However, I thought my social media friends might be interested in what I came up with. (I shall also post it to my AO3 account as Meta.) Any omissions are due to the constraints of the word count. Today’s picture is my new membership icon/badge which arrived by email this morning. Clearly they’ve forgiven me for leaving the staff!

What fanworks mean to me: an A to E of fanworks.
A.

Fanworks mean adventure: they take me to places I never imagined. This applies to the ones I enjoy and the ones I create myself, whether they are text, art, video, crafts, or anything else. My life is enriched.

Fanworks mean ambiguity: I can now find subtexts and subtle new agendas in almost everything I view. My imagination is stimulated to find new perspectives and I can share those imaginings with others who will not think me mad!

B.

Fanworks mean belonging: a space where (mostly) women come together to share. It’s a homecoming, of sorts. Finding fandom was like sinking into a warm and welcoming bath after a lifetime of feeling ‘different’. It’s empowering to find others react to canon creations in a similar way.

Fanworks mean brilliance: some fanworks can be much better than a lot of mainstream creations. Yes, there is dross, but then there is in all creative output. Yes, there is a mass of material by young creators who may or may not improve; they have to start somewhere – and should!

C.

Fanworks mean community: the people who create, consume and critique them. People come together online and offline and have a common starting point.

Fanworks mean continuity: the characters and worlds I love get new life and fresh ideas. They don’t just die or remain encapsulated in their original form.

D.

Fanworks mean development: storylines and characters are developed beyond their origins by creators. The creators themselves, and their fans in turn, develop their skills and perceptions. Even the occasional disagreements contribute.

Fanworks mean discussion: comments and ratings, in archives and on social media add to the pleasure and interest of finding new works. In turn, they add to discussions among friends both at conventions, and in private conversations online and off.

E.

Fanworks mean enjoyment: the pleasure of seeing works from known and trusted creators and the pleasure of finding new ones.

Fanworks mean excitement: the thrill of seeing something from a totally new point of view, or in a new medium.

And if anyone wants to look at my fanworks, you can find my account under moth2fic (same as my Dreamwidth pseudonym).

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2019 in other writers, writing

 

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Knocking at heaven’s door (a ficlet).

The Watchtower lady was very attractive but seemed more concerned with her soul than her body. Anyone’s body. Julia lounged in the doorway in her half-open housecoat watching the play of sunshine on the Watchtower lady’s blonde hair and wondering what lay beneath the prim but pretty beige coat. She tried, too, to get a gleam from the blue eyes but for once her famed charm wasn’t working.

“You see,” the lady was saying earnestly (odd how she was definitely a lady and not a woman or a girl), we believe that human beings are doing their best to ruin God’s world and we are trying so hard to stop them. Aren’t you concerned about the state of the world?”

‘Nowhere near as much as I’m concerned about the state of my arousal,’ thought Julia, but she managed some kind of non-committal reply about how she believed in humanity’s innate goodness and the likelihood of a successful outcome.

“And then,” the beige angel went on, “there’s the worry about getting into heaven.”

Julia considered. Getting inside the beige coat and further might be glorious but probably wasn’t worth the extra hassle. After all, this was Sunday and she’d promised herself a lie-in till the doorbell had dragged her down to this delectable but irritating visitor.

“Don’t your lot believe there are only so many places?” she asked. “What are my chances?”

“Nil, if you don’t even try,” came the glib retort. Like the lottery then. If you didn’t play you couldn’t dream. But Julia could go back to bed and dream of playing.

She heard some kind of query as to whether she was interested in the bible and heard herself saying, “ Not today thank you,” as if it was an encyclopaedia or a new kind of vacuum cleaner rather than the chance of an afterlife. The lady muttered about ‘no interest at all’and flounced in an extremely ladylike fashion down the path.

‘Oh, there’s interest, all right,’ thought Julia, sighing. ‘Just, probably the wrong kind. Although it would lead to heaven, that’s for sure.’

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2019 in ficlets

 

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