Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another Tirade for Housewives



Today I was in the dentist office reading an article about how second wave feminists would hate the women of the world today because they believed that if women had the same educational opportunities as men, they wouldn’t choose to stay home and raise their children like little house wives.  Unfortunately, they are discovering that nowadays highly educated women marry wealthy men and now that they have the pleasure of choosing which sort of life they want to lead, an astonishingly large number of them are choosing to stay home.  Don’t you just hate that?

Loads of you know I’m a housewife, and I’m not dismissing feminism.  I am all about equal opportunity.  I just think that the housewives who angsted about being stuck home with the kids in the 60s did not have the same luxuries the housewives of today. 

I remember my mother making pancakes – a rare treat when I was a child.  And she used to cook them two at a time on two frying pans.  It used to take forever.  In my home, I have a humongous electric hotplate that can cook eight pancakes at once.  I say I’m making pancakes and there are pancakes for everyone five minutes later (even if I make the batter from scratch).  Fancy new appliances aren’t even scratching the surface of today’s power for housewifery.

What about the internet?  I am standing in my kitchen looking around at what I can make, I pull out my phone, tell it what I have and milliseconds later, I’m looking at recipes for things I can make.  I can even watch a movie showing how to make it and if the first movie doesn’t do it for me; I can find another one in seconds. 

Not only is there all that glory, but since communication is easier these days, being home is a lot less lonely than it used to be.  Miss your ma down in Tennessee?  It has never been easier to get in touch with her.

And not to be too much of a pain in the bum, but The Feminine Mystique was published in 1963. That was 16 or 17 years before baby wipes were invented.  No wonder those mommies were crying.   Just as P.S. here, once I read an absolutely stunning column by Erma Bombeck (who naturally had cloth diapers for her babies since she was old enough to be my grandma) about how society should stop using disposable everything to save the environment – except diapers.  My favourite was when she said she’d rather have boiling coffee poured into her bare hands in order to give up the disposable cup than see another woman on her knees swirling a poopy diaper around in the toilet bowl. Ah, she kills me.

Yeah.  I don’t think motherhood is as oppressive as it used to be.  Anywhoo – I’m guessing it was a man who developed the Bosch mixer.  In which case, they’ve served their purpose.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The First Chapter



Contrary to popular belief, the first chapter of a book is the hardest.  It’s amateurs who think it’s the easiest.  Here’s why:

You get an idea.  You sit down and start writing.  The work is brisk because you’ve got a lot on your mind.  A day or two later, you have a first chapter that looks good enough to eat.  Then you get all chipper and start on chapter two, chapter three, chapter four, chapter five – you’re in the heat of the day now.  Personally, chapter five doesn’t scare me in the least.  The key is going on and on until you finish.

Then you get back to chapter one and do you know what?  It’s a mess.  It looks like you vomited chop suey on the fun rug at Chunky Cheese.  Nearly every sentence needs dissecting.  Do you know why?  Because when you started out with your original premise, you thought you had what you were doing nailed.  You didn’t.  You are so much wiser about your plot by this point, so you see how many changes you need to make to make the thing flow as a whole the way it is supposed to.

You can say, ‘that’s poor planning’ if you want to criticize me, but I’ll just retaliate by saying that you’re an amateur.  An artist who doesn’t let their work grow organically (without their stamp of approval) is going to get bored writing their book awfully quickly.  You have to let your book do what it wants to a certain degree.  It could be that your subconscious is driving at something your fingers didn’t exactly know about.  To force it back down is the same as swallowing throw-up (later I’ll write about how writing is exactly like trimming a tree, which is absolutely nothing like throwing up … just warning you).

So chapter one is going to get hacked apart and sewn back together like Frankenstein’s monster until you are so tired of your opening line you could just die.  But that means you’re doing it right.

The thing that makes ripping apart the first chapter so hard is that it was the thing that got you started to begin with.  An inexperienced author feels like they’re killing the sweetest part of their inspiration.  An experienced author cuts it without the tiniest fragment of remorse.  They’re playing that game we all learned on Sesame Street – one of these things doesn’t belong.  One of these things isn’t the same.  Really!  Why isn’t there a musical note key on the keyboard instead of the letter C?  We don’t really need the C as much as we need to have a piece of punctuation that indicates loud, obnoxious singing.  I do that as much as I talk.

In summation – chapter one is a worm ridden corpse that the author must somehow turn into a glittering 15 second commercial for the book or no one will read it.

Here's a link to read my novel Rose Red for free https://www.fictionpress.com/story/story_preview.php?storyid=3151941&chapter=1

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pinata

I made this piñata.  It is supposed to be a spider, but I wussed out and only gave him six legs instead of eight.  This is actually my second try at making a piñata.  The first one was a dinosaur made mostly of cardboard and those streamers everyone buys for special occasions and have no idea how to use.  This guy is a Paper Mache covered balloon at his core.

What do you get when you mix together a rat’s nest and a pancake?  That’s right.  Paper Mache.  To make the glue for Paper Mache, you mix equal parts water and flour until it looks like a pancake.  I blew up a balloon and starting dousing the strips of flyers in the mixture.  The first layer was fun, but if you don’t let it dry completely apparently it will get mold in it, so I let it dry.  I did four layers.  By the end, I was picking little painful wads of flour-water off my arms and wondering if it would really work.  It smelled like play dough.

Next, I cut up about a million squares of tissue paper and wadding them up on the end of a pencil, I glued the middle to achieve the ‘puffy look.’  That was a lot more work than I expected.  I’m not going to lie.  I won’t be doing that again. 

The eyes and the legs are exactly what they look like. 

The real challenge was securing it with the rope.  I carved holes in the Paper Mache with a knife, but it broke off the chain a few times, so even though this guy looks somewhat adorable, he was also a bit of a flop because I had to reattach him to the string twice so that each kid could have one turn.  Luckily, there were a few kids there (over 10) so it wasn’t like it died after the second kid.

I think the key is building your piñatas skeleton out of cardboard, then doing a layer of Paper Mache over that (maybe two) and then … I still have to figure out that.  There are so many options for the outside.  I guess it will depend on what creature I want to make.  I’m such a sucker.  If I thought of something else round, I’d probably just go ahead and do another balloon piñata.  I just need to figure out how to make that rope more secure.  Anyone have any age-old piñata wisdom to share?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rose Red

Today, I’m announcing a re-release of one of my novels.  This one is called Rose Red and it will be going up one chapter at a time (on Thursdays) on fictionpress.com.  The first chapter is already up and here is a link for those of you who like links. http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3151941/1/Rose-Red

You can’t buy a girl!

But in the year 2214, you can.  She can whip you into shape, design a diet for you, help you with your business contacts, be your personal stylist, and turn you from geek to chic in just one year.  After buying a model at Sleeping Beauty Inc. your life will never be the same again. 

At least that’s what they told Harrison Fox, and after a testimonial from a friend, he decides to give it a try.  But what will happen when the model he buys isn’t exactly what he bargained for?

All right, now I’ll give you a description of what fictionpress.com is.  It’s a site where people can put their work up for free to be read and critiqued.  Writers are jealous, stubborn people, so often there are not tons of reviews for stories.  There are many stories that have no reviews because authors are too selfish to review something even if they liked it.  I like putting my work up on this site because it gives me the opportunity to write a novel in a serial, posting one chapter per week.  I work really well under a weekly deadline.  The other thing I like is that fictionpress is a really fast way to find out if your writing is any good.  Your family and friends may rave about your talents, but stuff will only get ton-o-reviews on fictionpress if it is actually interesting and well-put-together.  Beginner writers are often terrified to put their work up for free because they are afraid of being plagiarized.  This makes me giggle.  There are squillions of writers out there.  Just have fun. 

It’s also comfortable for me because I haven’t been criticized for anything worse than making me aware of a typing mistake for years.  I can scarcely even remember the last time I was told I have rotten ideas.  Anyhoo – fictionpress is a site I’d recommend to any aspiring author.  It will certainly take your vanity down a peg and make you try a little harder.

Rose Red is my 17th novel.  Don’t you ever interrupt me while I’m writing a book!  I may attack you with a potato masher because you caught me writing something creepy.  Not that Rose Red is creepy, but I’m not saying that it isn’t.  It’s fun … meaning there is a little bit of everything.  Please enjoy.