Wednesday, 26 November 2008
This happened last night. It scared me silly, but my husband laughed his ass off when I told him about it.
Last October, my father-in-law, Charlie, passed away. He was one of those odd souls who didn’t like to clean or have much to take care of, so he chose to live in a small camper. He had his TV, his DVD player, VHS player, and a radio; everything you could fit into an efficiency apartment was in that camper.
Well, this summer, my husband finally moved the camper to the house, and the girls and I turned it into my get-away office. Now some of you might have read a blog that I wrote about Charlie and the mysterious coffee cup that he used. Well, Charlie was also the most mischievous old fart you can imagine....
Last night, the snow fell hard, the wind blew hard, and by dark, a couple of inches of the white stuff coated the ground. Matthew turned the heat on in the camper, and later, I made my way out there to work on revisions for a paranormal romance I’ve finished. The wind blew so fiercely that the camper swayed and vibrated.
The scene that I was working on involved a scary moment for my protagonist. A big rat enters a public restroom and turns into this vaporous she-monster. Something began knocking behind me where I always sit. At first it startled me, and I jumped. It kept rapping, so I thought maybe the window wasn’t secured, but after checking it, I discovered that it was. Rap. Rap. Thonk. Bang. Frowning, I thought maybe it was tree limb because the camper sits under a big maple with low branches, or it might have been that the wind had torn the under penning loose.
The black rat thing in the novel’s scene transformed and attacked the heroine. The heroine escaped its claws and trapped it in a toilet stall.
A gust of wind slammed into the camper. Rap. Thonk. Bang!
The rat transformed into the vaporous yet half-solid monster, and the heroine beat it with her purse until the restaurant manager walked into the bathroom. The she-thing disappeared into a puff of smoke. The heroine told the manager a story about a big rat that jumped into the toilet and crawled down the hole.
Something rattled next to me—on the damn table.
I glanced over at my elbow. A long, dark tail slipped by and hid under the mirrored Faith shelf you see in that photo.
I leaped out of the bench seat and stood in my oh-so-big 24″ x 24″ living area and screamed some more.
Now, mind you, I don’t do girly-girl screams. Nope. Not me. I’m an Appalachian gal. I let out war whoops that can clear a football stadium and put the fear of God into my kids. Even my husband will vacate the premises when I’m startled or scared. Why? Because scaring me pisses me off. (Thank you psycho ex-husband!)
“You li’l son of a bitch!” I performed a jig in my oh-so-big living area.
The “huge” rodent ran out from under the shelf on the table, up over my big pillow, over the top of the books in the corner (there are several in that corner behind the red dictionary), and across the long shelf behind the bench seat. The li’l snot jumped up on the stovetop and stopped. It stopped! It sat up on its hind legs and looked at me! Looked at me!
“You li’l bastard! Get! Get out o’ here! You’re not welcome!”
I swear, its beady, black eyes appeared as if they were going to explode from its head. (I imagine mine did too, but that’s beside the point.) The rodent ran along the back wall, around the covered sink and the jam box playing Hotel California (how ironic is that???), down to the furnace, and jumped from it to the floor.
“Get lost, you furry son of a bitch! You’re not welcome here! Out!”
It disappeared through the crack in the bathroom door.
Exhausted, I stood there for a moment, then decided to go to the garage where my husband was sitting by the pot-bellied stove. I told him my story.
“And if your dad came back as a mouse,” I ranted, “he’s now in the bathroom shitting a brick!” I finished my story, and my husband howled with laughter.
No, it wasn’t a rat that whizzed by my arm on the table, but seeing that frickin’ li’l black tail after tweaking a scene in a paranormal romance that involves a rat really wigged me out.
Later, when I went back to the camper, the mouse came out from under the bunk. I realized that he was a determined li’l bastard; there was something he wanted. Then it occurred to me. Snow, cold, and hunger. My oldest boy had left a bag of sunflower seeds in the camper, so I sprinkled some on the floor. Mr. FIL in Mouse Form slipped out, snatched a seed, and scurried under the bed where I heard him munching away.
And Charlie? Well, I truly believe his presence is in that camper. Too many odd things happen out there in that writer’s get-away. And since he delighted in reading my fiction and teasing me to pieces, I’m not surprised that he was reading over my shoulder again.
If he came back in mouse form, he better behave from now on. I don’t mind sharing the space and yes, I’m a soft touch...but just don’t startle me while I’m revising scary scenes.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
This morning I was looking to see if I had uploaded a book cover to Wild Child and found an old picture of me in costume surrounded by ghosts. It's creepy, and if you look closely enough, you can see faces (and not just human faces) in the fog around me.
Friday, 21 November 2008
Anyway, this book has a great plot, but if I hadn't spent eight bucks on it, I'd have thrown the damn thing in the trash even if it does. I'd never read this author before and liked the title, so I took a chance and picked it up. I won't take another chance like that. No more buying without having read the author before.
Unless, of course, I get a really good recommendation.
I mentioned this book a couple of days ago on the Avoid Writers Hell group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/avoid_writers_hell in regard to head hopping. I was only three chaps into the book then, but now I am over half way. This author has taken head hopping to new and dizzying heights. She doesn't just hop from hero head to heroine head and back again. This author hops through the heads of several characters--all within a couple of paragraphs. I swear to God, one scene that took place during a Thanksgiving dinner party had to be read four times to figure out what the hell was going on.
With that said, the passivity of it is just as bad. It's glaring. Truly glaring. I have gotten to the point that I am only reading the book so I can edit the damn thing as I read and reassure myself there is hope that some day I'll hit the NYTBS LIST.
Because if this author can make it, I damn sure can. Worst editing and writing job I've ever seen. I am so in awe of just how bad it is that I googled the author and discovered she is quite old and has written a slew of books. I had never heard of her. I am hoping that since this is the most recent book, the problems have something to do with her advanced years. However, I can't excuse her editor or her publisher. The punctuation and grammar are fine, but head hopping and passive voice ruined this book for me.
I'm one of those readers who can handle an occasional pov change from one character to another as long as I think it works (easily understandable) and as long as the author doesn't hop back to the other character, but in this book there was absolutely no restraint. As a result, the book has been difficult to read and understand. In the end this book does have one redeeming quality. It's a classic example of why we have editors and so many rules within the mechanics of writing.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
No, I didn't say imagination. I said mind. My mind will NOT shut off. I've often been asked about my muse. Is it male or female? What does she look like? Is she bossy? Lazy? Nagging?
She. Is. A. Bitch.
I dubbed her Lady Muse a.k.a. The Bitch. I don't mean just bitch. Oh, no...not this chickie. She wears black leather, high-heeled thigh-high boots, carries a bullwhip--and the wench uses it too! She cracks the whip while I wash dishes or clothes. Lady Muse cracks it whenever I'm at the desk or pick up my laptop. She screams at me as I drive to the library or the grocery store. And God help me if I want to just read or laze and watch TV.
"You are on my last nerve." I try to shove her into the dark part of my mind.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Friday, 14 November 2008
No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-- Kristen, age 10
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
-- Camille, age 10
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-- Derrick, age 8
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
Both don't want any more kids.
-- Lori, age 8
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
-- Lynnette, age 8
On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
-- Martin, age 10
WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON A FIRST DATE THAT WAS TURNING SOUR?
I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns. -- Craig, age 9
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
When they're rich.
-- Pam, age 7
The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- - Curt, age 7
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
-- Howard, age 8
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-- Anita, age 9
HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED? There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
-- Kelvin, age 8
And the #1 Favourite is........
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
-- Ricky, age 10
I lay in bed last night so nervous that my heart kept skipping beats. To the point it scared me. Deep breaths, girl, stop being so silly. It’s only an hour of your time each week. How hard can it be?
Upon waking, it all crashed back into my mind. Where I had to be at 11.30. What I had to do. Nerves slapped me once again. I hadn’t made any notes. Didn’t know what the first session would even be about. Oh, Lord. Could I do this?
11 a.m. rolled round. Pooping one’s pants—not literally, thank goodness—I scurried to the school. Signed in, took a visitor’s sticker, walked to the IT room where my class would take place. A little early, I busied myself sorting out the children’s ‘Author’s Toolbox’, a clear plastic wallet with different coloured paper inside for each section of the course. The story outline, the character’s traits, cool words, and notes on what we’d discuss each week.
The children, all girls, walked in, and one asked, “Are you Mrs. Ellis?”
“Oh, hi!” I said. “Yes, that’s me.”
And they sat at the table with me. And I told them the news that Marci had kindly agreed that if they wrote stories and we compiled a book of well over 50K that she would print it.
Their faces! The gasps! Made my day. Hell, my entire week, month, and year. (Thank you, Marci! You made a difference over here to those girls.)
I read one of the girl’s tales. Oh my. She is good—and I mean good. For an 11 year old, well, she’s got some talent. Amazing. She writes like an adult.
So, I’ll be working with these girls every Friday morning at the school, teaching them how to expand, tighten, hone their craft and stories, and then, when we’re as close to the best they can get them after weeks of revision, I’ll work with them via email on edits.
These girls are wonderful, determined, clever young ladies. And they’ve given me a new lease of life—a focus. To have made them so excited they grabbed at one another, to know they will be in a published print book, really touched my heart. I’d made a difference, let them know that writing stories isn’t just about writing stories. That it’s an outlet for their emotions as well, and that they can do this. Hopefully this experience will inspire them to become our authors of the future.
The school has a Gifted and Talented thing going on, where everyone is gifted and talented in something, no matter how small. Makes the kids feel special. So I have the T&Gs that write, and I’ve asked that the T&Gs in art each create a stunning picture (and man, these kids can draw) to be chosen as the cover art for the book.
From the sample I read, I’m betting this book will be astounding when it’s finished. I’m so excited I could squee!
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors, and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!
So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:
Floor 1: These Men Have Jobs.
She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 2: These Men Have Jobs and Love Kids.
“That’s nice,” she thinks, “but I want more.”
So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:
Floor 3: These Men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.
“Wow,” she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.
She goes to the fourth floor, and the sign reads:
Floor 4: These Men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help with Housework.
“Oh, mercy me!” she exclaims, “I can hardly stand it!”
Still, she goes to the fifth floor, and the sign reads:
Floor 5: These Men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.
She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 6: You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.
To avoid gender bias charges, the store’s owner opened a New Wives store just across the street.
The first floor has wives that love sex.
The second floor has wives that love sex, have money, and like beer.
The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth floors have never been visited.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
- Nicole Kidman's daughter Sunday Roast*
- Michael Jackson's son Blanket (yes, that's the one he dangled off the balcony with a blanket on its head)
- Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter Apple
- Nicolas Cage's son Kal-el -- the real name of Superman
- Jason Lee's child Pilot Inspektor
- Big Boi (of Outcast) has a child named Bamboo
- Demi Moore and Bruce Willis's daughter Rumer ("I Heard a Rumor")
- Shithead (pronounced shu-theed) Imagine the poor teacher who had to pronounce that name for the first time and think of the poor child who had to bear that name...at least until she could change it;
- Immaculata Concepcion -- um, yeah. We believe it;
- Placenta -- Imagine what happened when she reached sex education class or all of the times older kids who knew what that meant giggled whenever she was around;
- Cherry -- not so bad? Ever heard the phrase "popped the cherry?" Think again;
- Jack Goff --say it aloud. My father went to school with him;
- Dick Goff -- yes, they were brothers;
- Celestial Star -- this person changed her name to this. I can't blame it on her parents.
A chicken and an egg are lying in bed…
The chicken is leaning against the headboard smoking a cigarette, with a satisfied smile on its face.
The egg, looking a bit pissed off, grabs the sheet, rolls over, and says, "Well, I guess we finally answered THAT question."
Monday, 10 November 2008
Our blogging sisterhood posted on groups for letters from people with problems. We don’t really care what the problem is—we’re up for any type of discussion. Since everyone knows we’re involved in the publishing industry, I suppose it makes sense our very first letter would be about writing.
I saw the offer of writing this letter on a group. I would bring it up on the group, but my problem may offend someone on there and make me look bad. It involves beta reading and critiquing.
I can’t bring myself to tell the truth when critiquing because first I’m afraid of hurting the writer’s feelings, and second because it would make me sound bad. I wouldn’t want to upset the writers because they have become my friends, but at the same time I think the writers need to be told certain things.
I’m a writer also, and while I don’t know everything, I know enough to gain an acceptance, though I am learning a lot through professional edits. I’m able to give advice on grammar etc. and be comfortable in what I’ve said, knowing I haven’t given the wrong advice. My problem is that I’m seeing mistakes that I feel I can’t comment on because they involve more than just me mentioning the basics.
How do I tell someone who has worked hard on their book that it needs too much work for it to be submitted in its present form? I worry that they’d think I’d gone weird since getting professional edits. It’s not just the basics, but bad writing. I read some things that are so bad that I know the writer will be rejected, but how do I tell them that without sounding horrible or that I think I’m better than them? The problem is also that the writers are getting rejections, and then I feel bad because if I’d said something and they could fix their errors, maybe they would have gotten an acceptance. Is keeping my mouth shut causing more hurt than me opening it?
I would never be downright nasty, but have yet to figure a way of making my criticism sound constructive rather than spiteful. However I try and word it, it sounds just wrong to me, so I delete what I’ve written and concentrate on punctuation and small plot holes.
I also feel bad because some people in my critique group just shouldn’t be writing, period. I keep those opinions to myself, but as I’m growing in the craft, I’m getting tired of reading things that have so much wrong with them. I’m in the situation where if I say I don’t want to beta read them anymore, I’ll have no one to beta read me. Then I feel bad for thinking on selfish terms.
I’ve stopped going to my critique group as often because every time I read something I think it’s awful. Am I just being a big head? I feel bad because I don’t want to waste my time and effort trying to explain what’s wrong for me to be ignored anyway, plus me coming off as a know-it-all bitch. I don’t know it all, I don’t pretend to. Sometimes I want to scream at them to try another hobby, because clearly they aren’t taking writing seriously. Even that sounded mean.
First of all, your problem is something a great many writers discuss. You’re not alone. We all feel that way sometimes. I agree you should not bring this up on group. I don’t suppose there is any perfect forum for this problem. However, it does deserve discussion and hopefully together we can find a solution or as close to one as possible. I’m sure the readers of this blog have many good ideas to help.
Personally, I think bringing it out in the open is a good way to start. You’ve expressed how you’d really like to help with constructive criticism. I applaud that. Where your critique group is concerned, it sounds as though you may have surpassed their level of expertise or understanding of the writing craft. It’s possible it’s time for you move on for the sake of your own career. It does no good by continuing with the group unless YOU get something from it. That may sound hard-nosed as hell, but it’s the truth.
The other thing you could do is to buy everyone in your critique group a wonderful Christmas gift. I highly recommend my bud, Faith Bicknell Brown’s series on How to Avoid Writer’s Hell. Yep, that’s a shameless promo for her, but!!! Big but here, lol, the books are worth it. They are written in such a way that no one will be bored and impart easy to understand lessons on writing—everything from grammar and punctuation to how to write a query. The publishing industry in general is discussed quite thoroughly. Your friends would definitely pick up some knowledge from reading these books. There are four of them available from Wild Child Publishing.
All at these books are very affordable at $3.25 each. Not too bad for the wealth of information Faith has shared. Now that is a practical solution. The books certainly won’t bestow talent on someone who doesn’t have it, but will indeed sharpen writing skills in general.
Another thing you could try is to speak privately with the writer/writers in question. Of course, you’d have to feel very comfortable with that person to do this and you are the only one who can judge that relationship. You seem to truly care about your critique group. I know for a fact that you can become quite close to your critique partners. I’m not sure I could do it, but it’s certainly worth consideration.
I’d also like to address this a bit further. First, are these authors published anywhere? I saw that you mentioned they kept getting rejections. If they are published, well, you have to remember something—not all publishing houses are equal. And I don’t mean that in a demeaning way. Whether you are working in the print world or the e pub world, edits are different. Some of that has to do with the editors themselves and just how savvy they are. A lot has to do with house style. Too often, I don’t think authors consider house style when submitting their work. It’s up to the writer to know the product each publisher sells. Some publishing houses have a more relaxed editing style than others. It’s a matter of determining where your work fits. Maybe your friends need to shop around and not target the same houses.
Second, and this may sound, again, hard-nosed as hell, but if your friends are getting nothing but rejections and are not published, sooner or later they will figure it out and dissolve into the scenery. Sad, but true.
You asked, “How do I tell someone who has worked hard on their book that it needs too much work for it to be submitted in its present form?” The answer to that question is quite simple. YOU DON’T. That is not your job. It’s the job of an acquisitions editor to do that. Your job as a critique partner/beta reader is to offer an overall opinion of the work. To help with minor grammar and punctuation. Maybe even point out a time line problem or a glaring plot hole, but not to decide if the work is worthy of publishing. When you do that, you step into the shoes of an editor.
I hope this discussion has helped put things into perspective for you. And I invite all the readers of this blog to please post your own concerns regarding this issue and any solutions you might have for it.
Keep the letters coming! We want to hear from everyone.
‘Til next time,
Sunday, 9 November 2008
M.E: Whey hey! Hiya, MJ, me old mucker. How are you this wet, horrible day? Is it even wet in your corner of the UK?
MJ: Helloooo me old china! [China plate = mate. Speakers of US English may find the subtitled version of this broadcast helpful.] I’m well, thanks, and thank you for having me here today. It is indeed cold and wet in Cornwall, though it’s hard to tell, as our natural weather for about nine months of the year is mizzle: not quite mist, but not quite drizzle. It’s all very atmospheric.
M.E: LMAO @ subtitled version. Mizzle—nice word. Almost like if you combine piddle and sozzled and, when you pee yourself when out drunk, you can say, “Eeee by gum, I’ve just pizzled myself!” Or not. Ahem.
MJ: You could indeed. Or, in my local, which is frequented by dairy farmers in flat caps and other odd folk, you could say, “Oo-arrgh m’snarrf hic, varrrghhh!” You can’t move in Cornish villages of a Saturday night for tipsy rural types being taken home in wheelbarrows. And to think we Brits have a dodgy reputation for booze.
M.E: LOL @ other odd folk.
This question is one I’ve always wanted to ask m/m authors but never had the balls, so to speak. (I’m glad I haven’t got balls literally because they’d hang down and chafe, I’m sure. How do men put up with them there?) Anyway, the question is, why do you write about man love? What is it that makes a woman choose m/m as their genre?
MJ: It’s things like sitting down and riding bicycles I’ve always wondered about. I mean, I think it’s why men can’t multi-task. A little part of them is always worried about making sure the happy sacks aren’t in immediate danger of being crushed, chafed or…. Ahem.
M.E: Indeed. Imaging getting those little ball bags pinched in something. Like your zip. Or, what if you were a house-proud male and you decided to do the housework in the noddy (nude)? With our UK front-loading washing machines, you could have quite an accident.
MJ: Yeeowch! I do know a bloke who tried to cook a romantic Valentine’s Day breakfast for his significant other, neglected to put a pinny on and, um, burned his sausage. Such are the tribulations of manhood, I suppose. It’s enough to put you off fry-ups for life.
MJ: Um. Where were we? Oh, yes. Speaking of sausages. Why do I write m/m? The most basic answer, and the truest one in the case of Breaking Faith, is that’s just how the characters turned out. Rather like life, really. I write across a range of genres, and my characters always start out in my head as three-dimensional people (I do have other friends. Honest!), so their orientation is a key part of them, but not always something that defines them. In a book like Breaking Faith, where the love story is central to the plot, there’s scope for the developing romance between the characters to reveal so much more: Brett’s self-discovery of his identity as a gay man, Tommy’s acceptance of Brett’s love and the way they deal with their relationship in the face of the circumstances that unfold.
As to the issue of women writers in general dealing with m/m romance and erotica, it’s a can o’ worms, but an interesting one. I think there’s often an element of the same attitude that sees male audiences very eager to consume lipstick lesbian encounters—double the fun, with none of the comparing yourself to the man/woman in the scene and coming up short. There’s also the plain and basic fact that the male body, and masculinity, are beautiful. And two men will often express that better in writing than a female point of view.
However, for me, there’s also the fact that I love writing from different viewpoints and, maybe because I’m a bit of a geezer-bird, I often favour a male perspective in characters. [Hawks and spits her chewing tobacco and adjusts the straps of her denim dungarees.]
M.E: Aaaaaaaaaahahahahahha! I’m a geezer bird too. No wonder we get along so well. [Farts loudly.]
As you know, your novel, Breaking Faith converted me from one who shied away from reading m/m into one who would consider reading it again if it wasn’t overpowered by explicit sex scenes. I loved BF so much that I still think about it every so often. What I enjoy most about your work is that you always put ‘hidden’ things in there that mean so much more than the actual words and are linked to the scene they appear in. Do you plan where you will insert those wonderful lines, or do they just occur as you write?
MJ: A-ha-haaaa…you’re so converted. There’s a funny handshake you have to learn next, you know. It goes like…this…where’s the Crisco?
Seriously, I’m so flattered. I have to go through doors sideways now.
Uhm…hard question. I think probably they happen as I write, because I get involved in the scene, how it’s all coming together and how the characters react. I know if I’m feeling particularly down, or particularly good, I’ll notice different things about my environment, or simple everyday things will take on an additional layer of meaning. Who hasn’t noticed that it’s raining when they feel really crap and decided it’s thoroughly appropriate? I find it’s also a really good way of avoiding info dumps in a story—if I can build the atmosphere and draw the reader in to the point where they experience it with me and my characters, I’ve succeeded.
Hey, it’s my world. But you’re all invited.
M.E: It’s now confession time. Whose willies appear in your books, and do they know their manparts are used in such a manner?
MJ: Ohhhhh dear…! I never kiss and tell. Well, not much. And besides, if I told them their old chaps would turn up in a novel, d’you think they’d let me take the Polaroids, much less sign the waivers? Ahem. I mean…. My characters are entirely fictitious and bear no similarity to any person living or dead.
No, really. If they’re based on anyone, they’re amalgams of different people. I think all writers do this. It’s why people avoid our company…they’re scared of seeing what we do to them on the page.
M.E: I agree. Now I’m picturing the different parts of different men’s willies all made into one winkle. This is seriously disturbing my chaka khan.
What other genres are you interested in exploring?
MJ: I never say no a potential idea when it turns up at three in the morning with a bindle on a stick and unpacks itself into my brain. Some of the projects I’m working on at the moment include paranormal and fairly high fantasy elements. Fantasy’s always something I’ve wanted to try, since reading Tolkien as a child, and I love the open-ended possibilities of sci-fi. I’d also like to try my hand at crime, which would be really interesting. I’m a big fan of those kinds of puzzles, and I’m not averse to the odd murder either, so….
Um. Writing crime. Yes. That’s it. Writing about it. Not anything else.
M.E: Yes. Quite…. [Sidles away from M.K. with the tune I Feel For You in her head. Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan….]
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
MJ: Ugh. Quite probably forgetting the name of a poem I’d written while doing a live radio interview about it. Oh, the shame! I like to think I covered well, and I was prompted during commercial. Phew!
M.E: Ooooh! Good job it was on the radio. No one can see your blushes then!
What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever seen? Come on, make me heave!
MJ: The gross things I encounter are usually to do with animals. I fostered a litter of emaciated feral puppies a couple of years ago. They had the worst infestation of tapeworm I’ve ever seen. After dosing them with wormer, I went out to do poopy patrol with my trusty scooper, picked up a turd and—I kid you not—a tapeworm thicker than a pencil waved at me from the poo. I swear it was smiling. And still alive. I screamed like a girl.
So, either that, or the time the neighbour’s brain-damaged tabby cat I was looking after ate a vole and threw it back up in my hair. The Barnet [Barnet Fair = hair] is long, naturally very curly and extremely thick…. Let’s just say I decided it was time for a trim.
M.E: OMG, I can’t breathe for laughing here. You poor woman!
Have you ever been so scared you thought you’d poop your Gok Gwon knickers? Assuming you wear Granny Pants at all! If you don’t wear them, you are forced to admit what your underwear preference is as well as answering the question. I have a lightsaber and I’m not afraid to use it!
MJ: Eek! Get that thing away from me! I need both hands to type! Bend to the Dark Side I will not. Neither are you my father. Probably.
I do indeed wear Granny Pants. I thought everyone did, though this doesn’t explain why I recently saw an advert for sanitary towels that will fit into thongs. Surely this is just asking for trouble.
Aaaanyway, the answer to this one is probably when I was fifteen, being arrested on a school trip to Germany. I was (falsely, I hasten to add) accused of shoplifting a lipstick in a department store and—having been chased down the street by two German store detectives in leather jackets screaming “Lipstick! Lipstick!”, to which I initially replied “Get your own” before realising what they wanted—was remanded, with a group of friends from the same school party, to a dark, windowless basement office.
MJ: After the first couple of hours, we realised our high school German (“Where is the swimming pool? My hair is brown” etc) was woefully inadequate, when what we needed to say was “I am innocent. Take me to the British Embassy.” We got out by sheer luck. A friend saw us being carted off and ran to fetch our German teacher from the local bier keller. After a few minutes’ of conversation, he ascertained that not only had the detectives NOT seen us take anything on the security cameras, the store didn’t actually HAVE security cameras. Believe me, learning to swear in a foreign language is always an advantage. But not as much of one as learning important key phrases concerning your embassy and the need for a lawyer.
M.E: I have a neighbour who grew up in Germany. She said Pimmlekopf or something is a rude word.
MJ: It is indeed, kopf being “head” and pimmel being “willy”.
M.E: Giggles at willy head.
MJ: Other useful things I discovered in Germany include the fact that it was really hard for German teenagers to pronounce the word “arse”, and that there really is a family—famous in the automobile trade—who have a four letter surname beginning with F and ending in K, and emblazoned it down the side of their factory in massive red letters. Heh. I also discovered cranberry-flavoured vodka at two marks a bottle. But that’s another story.
M.E: What’s your favourite sandwich filling?
MJ: I’m a sucker for the illicit pleasure of a bacon butty [A particular type of sandwich which must, by UK law, be made with thick white bread, huge slices of fried bacon and lashings of HP sauce, a historic spicy English condiment] in my normally fairly vegetarian diet, but failing that chicken mayo and toasted cheese can duke it out, preferably with some of that knobbly French mustard and some crisp lettuce. Yum.
M.E: You know what mine is—2 pieces of toast, 1 with peanut butter, the other with chocolate spread, squashed together. Lovely!
MJ: Fake Snickers toast! Whee! I have to confess, chocolate spread in this house only ever leaves the jar on a spoon. (Burp.)
M.E: What’s your worst habit? If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you all mine. Yeah, I have many. All gross.
MJ: Me? Bad habits? Aside from burping and farting contests, gurning while I’m thinking and singing the Marseilles in my sleep? (Don’t even ask about this one. No one knows why it happens.) Never. I’m the very pinnacle of ladylike behaviour; a veritable English Rose.
’Scuse me. Um. I’ll get me coat.
M.E: Oh, I knew we were kindred spirits. I also fart. That’s an awful confession. I’ve been known to drink Dr. Pepper (makes the loudest burps, don’t you know?) and belch swear words. I pick my nose. I’m terribly sorry. I’ll get my coat too. Oh, by the way…thank you so much for taking part today. My ribs hurt now.
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Ava: Great, besides the cold front that is raging outdoors. I like the cool weather in fall and the pretty colors, but it seems that time has passed here in Missouri. *Sigh*
M.E: That’s a bummer, and I know what you mean. It got really cold here a couple of weeks ago, but now it has warmed up a little.
So, do you have any confessions about where your inspiration for writing romance comes from? Like, umm, have any of your love scenes happened for real? And does the guy know his willy now features in a book/tale?
Ava: My inspiration is life. Or what life could be. I like to delve into fantastical worlds where anything is possible.
With my book, The Eagle at Midnight, dedicated to my husband, you can only guess whose willy is featured. He knows it is dedicated to him, but he isn’t much of a reader. More of an action man, so let your imagination run wild there.
M.E: Action man brings boy toys to mind (not those ones!). The lads here can play with a Barbie-like doll that’s called Action Man.
Do you create your female characters based on yourself, or do you give them attributes you wish you had? For me, I’d have a character with boobs, because I have bee stings the shape of bananas.
Ava: I want them to be strong women with a sense of humour and their fair share of flaws. Some of my friends say that they see me in my characters, especially in their funny remarks.
Physically, I write whatever woman fits the story. Deryn, the heroine in The Eagle at Midnight, regrets being without her granny panties on one particular occasion.
M.E: Oh, I have several pairs of them. I call them my Gok Gwons. There’s this guy here in the UK on TV who helps women make the best of what figure they have. There are these hosiery-type pants that go from the knee to just under your boobies. Only thing is, they roll down to the waist. Still, they hold it all in without causing cracked ribs.
Similar question, but about the male character. Is he always your dream man? I have a feeling I know the answer to this one, and it involves the name David Beckham….
Ava: Llaw, my hero in The Eagle at Midnight, resembles the soccer star and is a fantasy man. But I also like the everyday guy, the one that we all meet and fall for in real life. Demetri Tiberius, my hero in Waking Up, is more the everyday guy. He’s the one that has encountered cottage cheese thighs and lived to tell the tale.
What’s next on your writing agenda?
Ava: Writing more romance, of course. I have three up-coming releases, two of which are in December. The Eagle at Midnight will be released from Freya’s Bower Dec. 2nd, and Waking Up will be released in the One Touch, One Glance Sweet Romance Anthology on Dec 9th. My third story, A Crone’s Query, is soon to come to Wild Child Publishing.
There are always more stories to tell, and I am currently working on a few such tales.
M.E: I loved all your tales, especially The Eagle at Midnight because I got to imagine Mr. Beckham, who I think is quite a dish so long as he doesn’t open his mouth and show those awful teeth. Bless him.
As you know, I adored the crone in A Crone’s Query. That part where she says “Ey?” still makes me smile when I think about it, and that’s what’s so special about writing. You get to ‘touch’ people with it, and that dialogue will remain with me forever. Amazing that we have the power as humans to influence lives we would never have dreamed possible.
Do you plan to write anything out of your comfort zone? What would that be?
Ava: No. Out of my comfort zone includes the major no-no topics. I will never write anything that involves rape. I am a member of the local Sexual Assault Response Team, so when there is a rape reported in our county, I am one of the people they call to support the victim while they are in the hospital. No one should ever suffer through something as damaging as that, and I would never write anything that involved such an act.
M.E: That’s got to be tough doing that. You must be a very strong woman.
Let’s veer away from writing now. What’s your favourite drink—the one drink you’d pick if it was the only drink left on the planet?
Ava: Alcoholic drink? Yin-Yang. A fabulous chocolate martini that you can only get at this fondue place called The Melting Pot. It has a delicious blend of white and dark Godiva chocolate shavings on the top to form the yin and yang. It’s smooth, sweet, and decadent.
If I can’t get the alcohol, ice cold water.
M.E: That sounds lovely. The water does too. I really must go back to drinking water.
Do you have any embarrassing occurrences you’d like to share? Or, if you wouldn’t like to share them, I’m prodding you to share them anyway. Go on, be a devil….
Ava: Okay, pushy, picture this…I am fifteen, on the stairs in line for the new, really tall water slide at the local water park. The line is very long, and I’ve been waiting a good long while to ride this new attraction.
The boys in front of me keep looking back and giggling. They are a few years younger than me, so I try to ignore them. But they carry on, so I ask, “What’s your problem?”
“Nothing,” the taller one replies, barely keeping a straight face, before turning back around.
Irritated, I turn to my friend standing on the step behind me and ask, “What’s with them?”
“Umm, you’re sticking out!” she says in a hushed voice, a panicked expression on her face.
I look down to where her eyes are fixed and realize that half of my left nipple is sticking out of my swimsuit top.
Did I get out of line, run to the bathroom in humiliation, and call my parents to pick me up?
No. I re-adjusted the top, turned around, and informed the boys that if they didn’t shut the bleep up I’d kick their scrawny butts. I was a mouthy little lady.
M.E: LOL @ ‘pushy’. I’d have been mortified in your position, what with the banana aspect. In fact, at that age, I don’t think I owned anything in the chest department BUT nipples!
What’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Ava: I am a nanny for a wonderful and very high-profile family. They are the president and vice president of two major international corporations. So, on my birthday last year, the children made a ridiculous excuse of having to show me the Lego town they’d built and continued to barrage me with things I “had to see.”
At 5:00 on the dot, Brooke, their eleven-year-old daughter, says that we should go to the kitchen. When we walk into the kitchen, both her parents are there with a giant banner the kids made, a cake and candles, and a grilled steak dinner that they had prepared just for me.
I could have said the sweetest thing was when my husband proposed, but I thought this ranked pretty high.
M.E: Awww, that’s really lovely. I could just eat a steak now, despite it being only 9 a.m.
When was the last time you laughed so hard your ribs hurt? And what was so funny?
Ava: Good one—ever heard the song White and Nerdy? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xEzGIuY7kw Watch the video and you would know exactly what Weird Al Yankovic was doing to make me LMAO.
M.E: That is really creepy, because I watched a few of his songs last night before you sent this back. How weird? I laughed out loud at a few, but White and Nerdy was my fave.
What do you want for Christmas?
Ava: A 1967 Corvette Stingray convertible, in factory light blue with white interior and roof. I am fairly certain the elves are all out of this, but I would certainly take a rain check. Could you see if they have any 1969 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda Convertibles in red and white, complete with 440 side panels? That’d be just as good.
M.E: I’ll ask Santa if that’s possible, though I don’t want you blaming me if the old geezer doesn’t deliver!
Ava: Honestly, one of my long time wishes is coming true with the release of my first book.
Thank you for having me and helping me achieve one of my goals!
M.E: Well, now. Fancy making your pushy editor cry! You’re most welcome, my dear. You’re a pleasure to work with.
Well, folks, that wraps up our little chat with the wonderfully talented Ava James. To find out more, visit her website and blog.
I believe in spirits. Yep, I do. Yesterday, on my Midnight Seductions Group,
one of our authors, Wendi Darlin, told us she had to put her beloved pet to sleep. It was very sad. I've had to do the same thing myself. She reported an unusual occurrence as a result--check out her blog--http://nicennaughtyauthors.blogspot.com/2008/11/co-cos-smile.html -- all of which prompted a bit of discussion on our group about some of our otherworldly experiences.
This morning I read about President Elect Obama and a remark he made in regard to Nancy Reagan holding seances in the White House which he had to apologize for. Yep, Mr. Perfect slipped up (and yes, I voted for him, but realize we are all human after all...). Anyway, I had heard this about Nancy Reagan before and about other First Ladies as well. Supposedly, Hillary Clinton tried talking to Eleanore Roosevelt. Well, I get that. Let's face it, Hillary looks a lot like her (that's a joke people, actually I think Hillary is a reasonably attractive older woman--looks much better than she did when she was in the White House).
It's reported that Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, tried to contact her two dead sons. And I believe everyone has heard about Lyndon Johnson's relationship with noted psychic Jeanne Dixon.
None of this surprises me. We as humans have long sought answers we can't find here on this plane of existence. To know if the hereafter exists. If there is anything else after we die. Quite frankly, I believe this search indicates intelligence on our part. To believe means we accept more than what we are now. I think it would be pretty arrogant of us to think this is all there is. To believe that we are all that exists. And yes, that includes my belief that we are not the only living souls in the universe.
So what do you believe? Have YOU had otherworldly experiences? Have you conferred with a psychic? Give us your thoughts.
Friday, 7 November 2008
A woman is at home happily jumping unclothed on her bed and squealing with delight.
Her husband watches her for a while and asks, “Do you have any idea how ridiculous you look? What's the matter with you?”
The woman continues to bounce on the bed and says, “I don't care what you think. I just came from having a mammogram, and the doctor said that not only am I healthy but I have the breasts of an eighteen year old.”
The husband replies, “What did he say about your forty-two-year-old arse?”
“Your name never came up.”
Bad stomach if the sides aren’t disinfected afterwards, anyone?
No, I don’t enjoy continually washing my surfaces just in case. No, I don’t enjoy seeing his smug little grin—and yes, he’s grinning all right—when I catch him on the sides. No, I don’t find him sweet or amusing. No, “He’s just a kitten!” doesn’t wash with me anymore.
He’s a demon reincarnated, sent to upset my chakra, or whatever the heck it’s called.
Yes, I’d like to strangle him, but that isn’t allowed. I mean, I’d be in serious trouble if I did that.
I realise there are, in fact, many awful things going on in the world that far exceed my Bug of the Day regarding Little Bleeder and Big Bro. I remind myself each day that I am a lucky individual to live the life I live. I try and make sure I don’t sweat the small stuff. I really, really do. But that effing cat….
And what the hell has possessed Big Bro—who, let me tell you, is a big effing cat—to start climbing in the kitchen bin, hiding under the piggin’ lid, and feasting on whatever I’ve thrown away? Where did he get that idea?
I tell you, I’m a massive cat lover, but these four sods are sorely testing my patience!