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Monthly Archives: March 2012

April Fool’s. Hindrance or help?

A friend told me about a writing challenge that is more flexible than NaNoWriMo but still operates to kickstart writing and keep it going. She also asked me to advertise it. You can find the details here:

April Fool’s (the FAQ) (and April Fool’s Forums)

You can set your own goals, include non-fiction/academic writing of various kinds, and get support from others who have signed up.

For once, I’m tempted.

I have followed the adventures of various writer friends on NaNoWriMo and frankly, have not been impressed. I have watched people fail, and be miserable. I have watched them succeed in producing work that will take an eternity to edit into anything worthwhile. I have watched people spend more time worrying about their wordcount than about the words they need to fill it. I have watched people sit back satisfied with second-rate work because they managed to produce it in the allotted time.

Having said that, I am sure some writers find they work well to a deadline and get things finished that would otherwise languish in WIP folders. And if they don’t mind the editing, who am I to criticise?

I have never worked well under pressure. Stress has two possible effects on me. Sometimes I panic and dig my heels in as a form of resistance. Not helpful. Sometimes I just fall apart and do nothing which has the same result. This applies even if I am the one exerting the pressure… It also applies in any sphere – driving, cooking, writing, even getting ready to go out.

I am not at all sure why. I used to work happily under the pressure imposed by exam deadlines. Perhaps that’s the trouble? So many exams and qualifications and courses and I burnt out?

I imagine everyone (even the career academic), has a point at which enough is more than enough.

So why the change of heart? Well, after my recent hospital experience my concentration and clarity are shot to pieces and perhaps I need to set myself some goals to help them recover. If the goals really are self-set, they can also be self-averted if they prove ineffective or negative. I hope.

I think I shall give it a try. I need something to get me going again… And it has come at just the right time. I have already signed up for a fanfic challenge – a novella for ‘publication’ within the fandom later in the year. My beta needs something to work on by June at the latest, and I also need a rough draft to attract an artist or vidder by then. I have the plot and have done some research. Now I need to start typing.

Meanwhile, some of you might work at your best under deadlines and pressure and might welcome this April challenge instead of having to wait till November.

Maybe I’ll see some of you on the forum?

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in writing

 

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The Addle-brained Dictionary

First, a brief apology for the long gap between posts. Some of you know I’ve been in hospital. I’m on the road to recovery and had this post in reserve for an occasion when I wasn’t up to writing anything long. Enjoy!

THE ADDLEBRAINED DICTIONARY  compiled by Jay Mountney

It has often been noted that people using the internet make many typos. More, it is thought, than typists using typewriters. The reasons for this are many and varied but it is also known that some of the typos are made frequently by a lot of people and have become accepted words in their own right. Others have quirky and fascinating meanings which the keyboard users didn’t quite intend. Some have been collected here, with their new meanings. Notice that some of the words appear to be normal dictionary fodder, but are used in strange and beautiful ways, quite unconnected with their original meanings. In some cases examples are given of the usage of words where this is thought necessary or appropriate. There are, to date, no entries for U, X and Z. It is possible that words beginning with X and Z are sufficiently rare to cause the writer to pause and think. The lack of a list for U is inexplicable. There was, it must be admitted, a dearth of entries for M, even more inexplicable than for U; but during the compilation of this list three turned up, or sneaked in… The author/compiler has a deeply held belief that words have a life of their own.

Note that the words in this dictionary have almost all been genuinely used in the ways outlined below online or in writing by the compiler, friends, colleagues and writers (or students) whose work the compiler has been reading: e.g. the first word appeared in a story the compiler was reading and was quite clearly meant to be read as ‘absentia’. One word has merely been heard. Another appears in stone. The compiler takes no responsibility for the truth of the definitions but suggests the reader searches his/her heart to reach a rational conclusion. The compiler goes through life reading meanings that are not there into things that are. For example, notices warning ‘heavy plant crossing’ invariably suggest Triffids and there is always a faint worry on behalf of an ‘alarmed door’. So typos lead down delightful primrose paths into a maze of confusion. Anyone is welcome to join in!

A

abscentia… this is the form to use if someone is being judged ‘in absentia’ and their absence really stinks of foul play or evil intent.

adaptions…adaptations that are carried out very quickly wiht little or no attention to detail.

adn…a form of ‘and’ used when the speaker/writer is at their wits’ end. “I have a lot to do: wash the dishes, cook the tea, make the beds and feed the cat. Adn then the phone rings.”

annoyued… a cross between annoyed and fatigued, used when the speaker/writer is ‘fed up to the back teeth’ with something. “I am annoyued with that cat; it keeps scratching the sofa even though I have bought it a variety of scratching posts.”

anopther… literally ‘another’ but said between pursed lips as in: “You mean there’s anopther set of papers for me to deal with? I thought it was home time!”

B

badk… extremely bad; possibly even ‘f..king’ bad. “That is a really badk cat. It has eaten my dinner.”

bedf… the kind of bed you sink into with an ‘umph’ of relief after a really hard day. “I’m so tired; I really need my bedf!

bear insurance… presumably intended to refer to basic insurance (e.g. the legal minimum requirement for cars). It probably insures the driver against basic predations by bears, or perhaps insures teddy bears for long distance travel.

bereak… a break that seems to happen in slow motion. “I knew the plate was going to bereak when it hit the floor; I tried to catch it but I was too slow.”

Boogoe Babies… a variant of a toddler group music and dance activity more often called Boogie Babies. The Boogoe’ form is used by grandparents who are desperate for their offspring to take their toddlers away to annoyue someone else. (see ‘annoyue’)”My daughter is taking my grandson to Boogoe Babies this afternoon; such a great idea and so good for him!”

bootle… a very long thin bottle. Nothing to do with the UK place of the same name.

BVSH HOVSE… this is shown in block capitals herebecause it is the way the name appears, carved in stone, above the BBC centre, Bush House. It would be kind to suggest it is easier to carve a V than a U but the presence of a perfectly executed O and two examples of S suggest this is not the case. Possibly an attempt to look very erudite and somehow ‘Latin’ but as it is not Latin it just succeeds in confusing the reader. May be connected with unpronounceable and frequently misunderstood regional accents within Britian.

C

cacoon… this is like the cocoon of a moth or butterfly but is constructed from sheets, blankets and any clothes that happened to be lying around. It surrounds a child who does not want to wake up. Especially if they are late for school.

calanders… calendars somehow crossed with cullenders so that the days and dates slip through the holes, leaving the user bewildered about where the time has gone. Possibly connected with vague recollections of the town of Callander in Scotland.

catchin (catchin up)… the shortened spelling is used with the preposition to imply speed in the attempt to catch up – there is no time for a ‘g’.

celebrat… this is what the average teenager does at a birthday party.

childlren… very slippery childlren e.g. in a soapy bathtub

Christams… the origin of this is obscure but may have some connection with Australian Christmas biscuits.

cirriculum… the part of the curriculum concerned with cirrus clouds.

cofotable… applied to a state of comfort reached by curling up as small as possible in a cosy armchair.

commentns… a lot of comments, usually made online by posts or replies, where people are all aware that others in the group are nodding agreement as they read.

compiation… a very brief compilation of only two or three items, often brought together as a kind of apology or expiation.

consolide… employers sometimes attempt to consolide jobs or work structures by packing staff and tasks so densely that the original aims cannot be met in the resulting crush and collision. They should, of course, consolidate instead.

crokscrew … a very curly corkscrew which doesn’t quite work. The compiler’s family bought one recently and it was too short for most real corks though it might have worked with plastic ones.

D

dicionary… a short dictionary that lacks a lot of the elements usually found in normal dictionaries. In other words, a dicionary like this one.

dleighted… A slightly posh, slightly effete, Brit expression. “Dleighted to meet you; how’d’ye do?”

doctro/docotr… a doctor in a hurry who is so anxious to see the next patient that he/she ignores the last few words of the one currently in the surgery.

dowqnloaded… sometimes there is a bug in the computer and a download fails or partially fails. This is known as dowqnloading. The ‘q’ is silent.

draging… dragging really slowly and causing anger/rage in the process.

dwon… it means down but is used when downward movement is somewhat erratic as when someone falls dwonstairs.

E

exceptipons… used for exceptions that are day/date related. “Parking costs £1 per hour or part thereof on most days. The exceptipons are Bank Holidays and some saint’s days.”

extremelt… extremely hot and runny. “The pudding had an extremelt chocolate sauce.”

F

feeback… Writers hope for feeback on their work, feeback that will lead to more sales, e.g. good reviews. Some writers actually pay reviewers and this practice is known as double feeback.

firdge… a fridge with a lot of sludge and mould in those little hard-to-clean places at the back.

flat… in UK this can mean horizontal and/or even but can also mean an apartment. Foreigners have been known (to the compiler) to search the ‘flat racing results’ in the newspapers for accommodation, with little success and great discouragement. Natives find it hard to explain through their uncontrollable laughter.

fo … a variant of ‘of’ used with the word ‘course’ as in ‘fo course’. This is usually said in a way that implies the speaker has slight contempt for the audience. “Fo course it is!! You should know that, Stoopid!!”

fond…. means found when used with something the writer or speaker is actually fond of and has found or rediscovered. “I fond the teddy bear under the bed!” or “I fond another typo.”

fould… foul with extra wrinkles. “The bulldog was in a fould temper.”

frim… a lightweight firm that produces trashy items or provides trivial services.

frineds… fine friends, as opposed to fiends, who are the kind of friends in the saying, ‘With fiends like these, who needs enemies?”

G

gald… glad – so gald you are in a whirl.

gogeous… a variant of ‘gorgeous’, when the speaker or writer is taking a deep breath on account of the extreme ‘gogeousness’ of the person or thing observed.

gril… a girl, the sort who asks a lot of questions.

H

heersefl… herself, at leisure, stretched out, perhaps beside a pool. “She went to the spa to pamper heersefl in the jacuzzi.”

hooping… hoping but displaying extreme anxiety with alternating hope and despair.

I

i… a lower case version of the personal pronoun. Used when the writer/speaker has low self esteem, either in general or in this particular instance. In extreme cases the pronoun disappears. “We went to IKEA but i couldn’t find anything i liked and we wasted a whole afternoon because couldn’t make my mind up.”

icob… a variant of icon, used in the context of screen icons for social networking sites. The makers of these icons sometimes get frustrated and wish they could ‘cob’ (Brit slang) or throw away the one they are working on. Hence ‘icob’.

indivbidual… used for individual portions of very special desserts.

ineficient… so inefficient that the person in question can’t even spell.

interrupt… sometimes incorrectly used in place of ‘interpret’, leading to confusion that no interpreting will put right. “He interrupted her actions to mean she was happy with the arrangements.”

intyernet… someone else’s internet. “Your intyernet skills are lacking.”

ititnerary…. a pornographic journey plan

J

juat…. used in place of ‘just’ to express surprise. “Juat a moment!! What’s going on?”

K

kitcehn… this is the kind of kitchen found in a flat sought by a foreign (or dyslexic) student. It is usually small, poky, and fitted with second-hand appliances of dubious safety. The compiler has known foreign students attempt to amend the spelling to something that to them seems more likely and was once informed that a student was now the proud owner/tenant of two rooms and a chicken.

L

lackedf… used when the thing that was lacking was f…ing essential

lastest… this appears in two wholly different contexts. It is an extreme form of ‘last’, as in: “She bought the very lastest one in the shop,” and is also occasionally preferred to the past tense of ‘to last’ as in: “Old fashioned washing machines lastest and lastest and lastest, not like modern ones that wear out in a couple of years.”

leasst… an extreme form of ‘least’.

legivtivacy… this has so far never been spotted in print (or online) but has been heard in a TV interview with a politician whose first language was not English. Assumed to mean ‘legitimacy’.

liips… lips that have been enhanced with botox injections.

lunnch… a long, lingering lunch, of the kind once enjoyed by bankers but now more usually the preserve of retired ‘ladies who lunnch’.

M

mew… as in ‘here are some mew typos’. Contrary to popular belief this has nothing to do with cats. The ‘mews’ in question are the stables or falconry buildings connected with aristocratic property and nowadays converted into new (or mew) bijou residences for aristocratic descendants who can’t afford servants (or falcons) but can afford, and want, a nice city pad.

moeny…so little money that someone feels forced to complain about it; usually connected with low wages or high prices.

mopes… a contraction of ‘my hopes’, usually rather vain hopes . It’s the unlikelihood of these mopes ever being realised which makes the writer miserable.

N

nieghbours.. very close neighbours, the sort you can hear through the party wall when they are shouting at the TV or each other. An alternative spelling is niegghbours, used when most of what you can hear is giggles. (Or, just possibly, a print rendering of Australian/Cockney neighbours.)

npw… a variant of ‘now’, spoken or written in a peremptory fashion with a hint of capital letters and pursed lips.

O

occassion… a very special occasion with a lot of sparkling wine and/or champagne.

P

paaassing… sometimes time paaasses so slowly that the only way to describe it is to add a few ‘a’s.

perforted… perforated with very small pinpricks.

phschological… first seen in the sentence:As a phschological study it was a disaster. Clearly the word has much in common with ‘scatalogical’ and saying it aloud suggests s..t hitting fans.

plain… occasionally seen in phrases such as ‘a higher plain of existence’ which immediately suggests high Russian steppes or the highlands of Central Africa.

possilbe… possible but improbable.

priacy… the privacy of pirates who prefer to do their darker deeds out of the public eye.

proative… creatively proactive.

psh… posh but very small. “I bought a very psh handbag last week; it doesn’t have room for my glasses.” For American readers, a handbag is a purse. Brit readers – don’t go there – you would never put glasses in a Brit purse and I have no idea what a Brit purse is in American.

Q

quicklcky…very fast and rather jerky.

quitely… quite quietly.

R

ray… a tray. This is connected with the children’s song Twinkle. twinkle, little star. In a playground version the star is said to be shining like a tea-tray, presumably a metal one. Seen recently in the sentence ‘I need a perforted baking ray for my halogen cooker’ . (see ‘perforted’.)

remebering… remembering in a rather fuzzy fashion.

reside… used instead of ‘preside’ in the phrase ‘reside over the proceedings’ where the proceedings are presumably to take place where the person who will preside lives/resides.

restrauant… a restaurant frequented by young people playing truant from school or college, or by adults playing truant from their jobs.

roat… used instead of ‘roast’ when the ingredients remain inexplicably raw. “We had roat parsnips with our Christams dinner but the turkey was well cooked. (see ‘Christams’.)

role.. sometimes confused with ‘roll’. Examples: “He’s on a role and he’s acting like an idiot” and “There is very little foil left on the role – a small piece will have to act the part of a big one.”

royalities…this is the word that authors use when the mismatch beween the royalties they had expected and the reality becomes apparent.

S

Sanatas… musical Santas who sing Jingle Bells instead of saying, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’

scenary…rather watery scenery.

si-fi… a form of sci-fi in which the underlying science is incorrect or plain silly.

somehwere… a variant of ‘somewhere’ used in circumstances such as: ‘I know I had it somehwere

but I can’t find it!’ and possibly in ideas such as: ‘Somehwere over the rainbow.’

sontacted… contacted by a method involving sound, especially Skype.

stream… occasionally used in place of ‘steam’ as in: I usually stream the vegetables but today I roated them. (See ‘roat’.) N.B. still connected with moisture.

swtiched… when young girls were expected to sew samplers and spent most of the time pricking their fingers with the needles, it was said that they ‘swtiched’ industriously.

T

tact… sometimes used in the phrase ‘in tact’ as in: He checked the injured man to see if everything was in tact.’ This use denotes extreme (and possibly unnecessary) tact on the part of the person doing the checking.

teh… a common variant of ‘the’. Prolonged internet usage will probably add this form to the major dictionaries.

thank… may be used in place of ‘think’ as in: ‘I thank that’s normal’. Probably denotes thankfulness on the part of the speaker or writer for the truth/normality of their thought.

thrid… a variant of ‘third’. Tends to give the mental impression of a grid, a graph or perhaps a pie chart. May also be used by employers who want to reduce their workforce by a ‘thrid’.

too… a variant of ‘to’ as in: I wonder what they are up too. Suggests a longing to know.

tpape… older people, familiar with cassette and video recorders, will recognise this as a type of tape, one previously used for recording but now unwanted and available for re-use.

Tudsday… an extra day of the week, coming between Tuesday and Wednesday . Experienced by people who don’t know what day of the week it is; it is probably Tudsday.

U

V

vein… a variant of ‘vain’ e.g. His mopes were in vein. (See ‘mopes’.) If this is used observers should be aware that the speaker/writer/character may be suicidal.

viewibgs… a variant of ‘viewings’ used when the person who has to view e.g. a new apartment, has a bad cold and doesn’t want to miss the appointment and of course doesn’t care about infecting the agent who is showing them round. It could, of course, be the agent who has the cold and a desperate desire not to miss commission.

vistim… a distant victim, such as the victim of internet scams.

W

Wander… sometimes used as a variant of the name ‘Wanda’; this spelling implies that the bearer of the name is somewhat flighty.

waht…a variant of ‘what’, only used in a question, usually with an implication of disbelief. “Waht did you say?” Always emphasised or printed in italics.

workds/worrkds…wicked words. The alternative spelling with a double ‘r’ is the Scots variation.

wrold… the world, meaning the planet itself, which is, of course, very old.

wya… the way, but maybe not the most direct way. “I’ll show you the wya home but I hope you don’t mind if we just go to A,B and C first.”

X

Y

yoursefl… yourself when you are in a flat spin.

Z

Have you any to add? Have you any further definitions? I’d love to hear from you!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in writing

 

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Erotica or not?

I started to write this post some time ago but now find myself talking about a very current topic. I am horrified at Paypal’s attempts to censor what Smashwords should publish. Self publishing has always been the last resort of those whose work was rejected for any reason by official publishers and to prevent any publication of legal material seems like a step on the road to fascism. I also believe it is a first step in an attempt by the financial institutions to control people who self-publish. They’ve started with what they see as a soft target – a sub-genre of erotica. If they succeed they can go on to other things they disapprove of…

I neither read nor write the type of erotica they are talking about but have no problem with people who do. It’s their choice, and I am glad for them when companies like Smashwords facilitate that choice.  On the other hand, I have to say that the loose wording of the ‘ban’, would, over the centuries, have prevented the publication of parts of the bible and many myths and legends. We would all be poorer as a result.

And all writers, particularly those who write either ‘thrillers’ or historical fiction might well find themselves including rape or under-age sex in their work. Anyone who wrote about ancient Egyptian royalty would have a hard time avoiding incest. Are those books to be at risk too?

For a good explanation of the issues involved in censorship I would refer you to Neil Gaiman’s blog: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-icky-speech.html

For ongoing discussion of the financial implications you could start by following: http://maxkeiser1.blogspot.com/

But what do I think about erotica in general? Not rape, bestiality or incest, but explicit sex.

I have a confession to make. I love romance novels, whether they are subdivided into supernatural, historical, crime, modern or whatever. I am quite happy to read about explicit sex, m/f or m/m. But, I find the mechanics of sex, as portrayed in so many bestsellers as well as erotic writing, really, really boring.

I have been thinking about this and have come to a few conclusions. These only hold good for me but I wonder if any of you share similar feelings.

*I don’t like the old-fashioned convention of leaving lovers at the bedroom door and fading to black. I think (and have always thought) that cheats the reader and is a bit like the habit of using euphemisms for e.g. death. If the story will benefit from following the characters through the door, then modern writers have almost a duty to take that step. I understand why older writers didn’t and how prudish censorship created a yawing gulf between mainstream writing and porn with no gradations between. I would personally censor violence and war long before I would censor sex. But sex censorship no longer applies in books intended for adult readers. (Provided they aren’t self-published and paid for by Paypal, of course.)

*I like to use my imagination. I like to have to work for some of the emotions a book can inspire. And yes, the physical reactions. Books can make us laugh, cry, breathe differently, feel hot or cold, etc. They can also give a type of sexual reaction, felt as a result of intense empathy with a character. The greatest writers have always been aware of this.

These two points would seem to be opposites, but there is a difference between following a couple into the bedroom and a blow-by-blow account of the sexual encounter. If a story has the explicit sex as its main focus and goes into great detail without any plot or character development it has to be extraordinarily good writing to avoid being labelled as pornographic. But sometimes some writers want to use that detail to achieve their effects and if they do so within a fully developed story I see no reason to call that porn. However, I also see no reason, personally, to read it. It doesn’t offend me but it doesn’t interest me.

*In almost every case, where a piece of writing has had an erotic effect, for me, that has been achieved by a focus on feelings, reactions, emotions, not physical description. If a story drags me into sharing the character’s desire, rather than their physical reactions, that’s when I find the work ‘sexy’.

*Most adults, and probably 99% of adults who read romance, have some kind of sexual experience of their own to inform their reading, even if it’s only masturbation and dreams. That experience might be heterosexual or homosexual, mature or experimental, regular or rare, successful or otherwise, but the fact remains that they have something to base their thoughts on. They can relate to the characters at a fundamental level. They can also visualise the encounter unless the sex is so kinky that details are essential. And even then it is probably only the sex toys and suchlike that need fleeting explanation. (I read a story that described a glass dildo in detail and found that quite acceptable as its purchase added to the story.)

*There are only so many permutations of what is sometimes termed tab A into slot B and the foreplay that gets them there. What makes each encounter special is the emotional content. I don’t necessarily mean emotional in the romantic sense. The emotions might be a struggle for dominance, a feeling of regret, a desire to replace the ‘other’ with a fantasy figure, all sorts of things. It’s the psychological ‘hook’ that captures my interest, and that, I suspect, of many readers. The mechanics are well-known and hold no real interest in themselves.

*To be of interest a sex scene needs to further the plot or add to character development. Without one of those it seems (to me) to be self indulgence on the part of the writer. I usually skim to reach more plot…

*Surely (I can hear people saying) some readers deliberately seek detailed descriptions of sex as a ‘turn on’. Not just in porn, which tends to have little or no plot and two dimensional characters, but in ‘hot’ stories – the ‘bonkbusters’ of the paperback world or the ‘steamy romances’ of e-publishing. Certainly authors seem to vie with each other to provide more and more explicit description. But I think this is publisher-led. I know one or two authors who have been told by (mainly US) publishers that their work is not explicit enough. But many ‘best sellers’ on those publishers’ sites are there through other merits – great plots, great characters, great general description and style. I’m not sure why publishers assume the sex description is what sells the book instead of the description of desire. Is it because until fairly recently they wouldn’t have dared publish it other than under a brown wrapper in a back room and now the very ‘daring’ nature of their publications leads them into strange and unsubstantiated beliefs?

*My own view is that anyone who needs two dimensional porn, whether as text or on film, as a turn-on must be somehow lacking in imagination or experience and the porn acts as a kind of manual. I have no objection to it, nor do I think it is at all likely to lead to abuses such as rape; quite the contrary because it probably provides an outlet for inarticulated feelings. But I don’t think most of us need it. Watching it or reading it for fun is another matter but surely nobody would call it romantic.

*Similarly, I have no objection to erotica in general and think that in small doses it can add spice and beauty to life. But I don’t think its place is at the heart of every romance story. Michael Angelo’s David is erotic but while I admire it and think it adds something to the world, I wouldn’t necessarily want a replica on my mantelpiece. In some respects erotica has or can have the same effect, for me, as overblown descriptions and ‘purple’ prose. I find truly erotic stories or scenes have not usually been written deliberately as such. I recently watched the film Bent, based on Martin Sherman’s play. There is a scene in a concentration camp where the hero and a fellow inmate bring each other to orgasm purely by the power of words and imagination, while standing at attention and not touching. Whilst the overall story is a tragedy (brilliantly executed) the sex scene was both moving and erotic.

So…

I want to write about romance and therefore about sex because to ignore the sex is to be unrealistic. But I don’t want to be bullied into too many explicit sex scenes by publishers. On the other hand, one of my beta readers thought I should have left the explicit sex out of a story (currently in its third draft) in order to make the book suitable for the YA market. They thought I was bowing to publisher demand whereas in fact I thought the story demanded the sex (and in fact that had been the first swirling image at the planning stage). Needless to say, I won’t be removing the scene and the YA market will have to do without this particular story. It wasn’t meant for them, anyway.

Having said that – how many of you know older teenagers who are unaware of sex? I can’t believe we really need to ‘protect’ them and find the prevailing attitude hypocritical. Plus – I’d much rather make sure that we don’t provide them with a diet of violence where guns become commonplace and death is somehow part of the entertainment. Besides, the age of consent differs widely from country to country and it would be perfectly normal for a Brit writer to have a couple (of either gender) who were sixteen or seventeen years old without there being any thought of underage sex although American publishers would throw up their hands in horror.

I want to write about sex in a way that doesn’t ignore the mechanics but assumes nobody needs a blueprint, and I want to concentrate on the psychological causes and effects.

Incidentally, when I do have to refer to the mechanics, I have no intention of using euphemisms for body parts. To me, that jumps off the page in much the same way as using too many synonyms for ‘said’ so unless it’s within dialogue and justified by the character using it, I don’t do it!

And I want the books I read to focus on thoughts, not to the exclusion of the flesh, but to the extent that lets me enter a character’s mind and be transported into another person’s feelings.

Am I the one who is being unrealistic? What are your thoughts on this?

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in writing

 

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Reading and watching. February 2012

Books read/finished (as usual, E denotes e-book and P denotes print version)

3Feb P Fat-free Indian – Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani. Useful. Some interesting low fat cooking techniques, and a good, helpful overview of ingredients. Some nice new recipes, too.

9Feb P My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?) – Caroline Taggart and J. A. Wines. I bought this for a friend who keeps saying she recognises correct language but doesn’t have the vocabulary to explain it to others. And I bought a copy for myself. It’s good – concise, up-to-date and written in a humorous style that makes points really memorable. A useful resource.

11Feb P The Book of Night with Moon – Diane Duane. A long fantasy novel. I loved the cat characters and the world/language builiding but thought the overall plot was rubbish.

13 Feb E Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage – Seanan McGuire (short story). Fabulous, in every sense, like all this author’s work, and desperately sad. How and why young adults forget the dreamworlds of childhood.

13Feb E Uncle Sam – Seanan McGuire. A short horror story, purporting to explain why American women go in groups to public restrooms. Truly creepy.

14Feb E Calvin’s Cowboy – Drew Hunt. A sweet m/m romance (suitable for Valentine’s Day). Believable characters in a Texas and then a New York setting. Slightly flawed by too many euphemisms in the sex scenes; I counted five in one paragraph.

15Feb E Caught – A.B.Gayle. Well written m/m romance novella set in Sydney. Daniel tries to rescue Taylor from what he thinks is a suicide bid. Lighthouses, disabled landladies, professional photography, kung fu, cross dressing and tropical fish all contribute to this intriguing story.

17Feb P The Unbearable Lightness of being in Aberystwyth – Malcolm Pryce. Rather pretentious spoof detective/horror. I read it because it was lent to me and people were insisting it was good. I didn’t enjoy it very much.

18Feb E Publish Yourself E-book – J M Snyder. Extremely useful guide to formatting and distribution.

19Feb E Smashwords guide to publishing and style guide to formatting. Scary but well put together and I might be beginning to understand.

20Feb E Arcane Sampler – ed. Nathan Shumate. Anthology of short horror stories, cheap to enocurage readers to buy later annual anthologies. There were one or two good stories but the quality was mostly poor (though the editing standard was high) and I shall not buy any future issues.

26Feb E Stormfront – Jim Butcher. I had heard so much about the Harry Dresden ‘files’ and I was bitterly disappointed. Flat writing, far too much extraneous description, boring demons and ‘overkill’ in the fight scenes. Plus, scorpions are not insects.

27Feb E Sullivan’s Yard – Chris Quinton. A delightful m/m novella in which the m/m protagonists fall in love with a house, which they hope to turn into a hotel. Lots of detail about various cultures – New Orleans French, American Spanish, Andalusian Spanish – something quite hard to get across in the short format and very praiseworthy since Chris is Brit.

i seem to have gone in for horror in February – something I don’t often read. I think maybe the books about formatting fall into the horror category too…

Films (and TV Series)

10Feb We Were Here – documentary film about the height of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Harrowing, beautifully produced and very informative.

16Feb Inception. Sci-fic adventure… Boring. Very very boring. I’d rented it from LoveFilm, partly because I had just finished a beta of a long fanfic which included some of the Inception characters and I wanted to put faces to them. I quickly realised it wasn’t for me but decided to get my money’s worth – but kept reaching for a book. As the book I was reading was The Unbearable Lightness (see above) I had a less than interesting evening.

21Feb The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. A Terry Gilliam film. Heath Ledger and Christopher Plummer with guest appearances by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and others. Visually stunning plus remarkable acting. Convoluted plot along the lines of Faustus but with the daughter’s soul as the bargaining chip.

24Feb Transamerica. (Felicity Huffman). Really good. This is the one that lost out to Brokeback Mountain in the Oscars. In my opinion it should have won. Stanley is about to become Sabrina when he finds he had a son, Toby, an underage hustler. ‘She’ bails him out of NY police custody and agrees to take him to LA. Together they travel across America and through aspects of their lives until Toby finds out that Bree is his father.

I ought perhaps to note that I subscribe to and read a number of magazines (cover to cover) every month.

Writing: a useful resource with interesting articles

Searchlight: the magazine of the anti-fascist research group (European focus)

Good Food: recipes, techniques and food-related news

Cardmaking: papercraft ideas, techniques and resources

Saga: travel and lifestyle for the over 50s – some interesting articles

And some more that I skim weekly.

Radio Times: weekly listings and reviews plus interesting interviews with actors and directors

The Week: current events UK and worldwide. This is a trial subscription and I won’t continue it. I get as much from Google.

The Economist: another trial subscription. Mainly, as the title implies, finance.

Have you read or seen any of these and if so, what did you think? What have you been reading and watching?

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in reviews

 

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