Monday, October 30, 2006

Fess Up Monday!

Did you write? Did you sell? How many words? Tell, tell tell!

The Global Existential Threat Level has gone back down to GUARDED.

My personal existential threat level has gone down as well. It's nice to be back.

This week's inspiration are my favorite jokes. I hope they inspire you. too.

Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Banana.

So, Mr. Hydrogen Atom rushes into the Periodic Chart Police Station in a great tizzy, crying, "Help, help, someone has stolen my electron!"

"Calm down, Mr. Hydrogen Atom," says the nearest Periodic Chart Police Officer, "are you sure someone's stolen your electron?"

Says Mr. Hydrogen Atom, "Oh, yes! I'm positive."

What's your favorite joke?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Provoke a Thought Or Two.

Racy Li kindly pointed me at The Sixth Feminist SF Blog Carnival, which has kindly linked to my rant about the place of virgin heroines. (Read below.)

Dozens of interesting links discuss the roles of female protagonists in books, TV, movies, comics and video games.

I was glad to see that I was not the only one let down by the season finale of Eureka. It's so great to see a sci-fi show that dares to focus on relationships, but holy crap, could we break outta the box just a bit, fellas? In a town where the rules of physics are broken left and right, can we maybe get ourselves a little more challenging of a relationship going on?
Fess Up Monday!

Did you write? Did you sell? How many words? Tell, tell tell!

The Global Existential Threat Level remains at ELEVATED.

My personal existential threat level is much, much higher.

This week's inspiration:

Fall seven times, stand up eight. - Japanese proverb

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do Virgins Suck?

An astute Specrom member sent me a challenge on my disdain for virgin heroines. She had a story to enter the (cancelled for lack of entries) Zircon contest, but, knowing the market, knew that submitting a virgin heroine to the Zircons would be like submitting hot, same-sex polygamy to Guideposts. She suggested that in a genre like romance it's hard to escape the virgins, and because of my prejudice against virgins I'm missing lots of good fiction.

She might be right. Then again, maybe not.

In one of my very first reviews for SpecRom, I encountered a contemporary paranormal romance featuring a VH. The story could have been just as effective if she wasn't a virgin. Although a plausible (for some) reason was provided for her virginity, it just smacked of manipulation. I asked myself WHY an author might choose to write about a VH in contemporary America, and didn't like the reasons that came to mind.

Reason #1: The heroine must be a virgin because Virgins=Goodness. If an author chooses Reason #1, then I think it's just an example of sloppy characterization. Halos, white hats and intact hymens are lazy ways to cue the reader to cheer. You may in your personal philosophy believe that virginity is a sign of goodness. All well and good, but recognize that it won't connect with all readers unless you are writing to a niche audience.

Reason #2: The heroine must be a virgin so she won't make sensible choices about romance and sex, and then the plot can go on for 90,000 words. Insulting on so many, many levels, is it not? To assume that a contemporary heroine who has no sexual experience hasn't the wits to make good choices…yikes. To assume that a contemporary heroine who has sexual experience also has the wits to make good choices…yikes, again. I have yet to find a biology book which equates sexual experience and intelligence.

Reason #3: The heroine must be a virgin because this is a romance novel, and I don't want to defeat my reader's expectation. Get a calendar.

So I just couldn't figure out why an author writing a contemporary would choose to write a VH except out of personal storytelling choice. And hey, that's great. But expect me to exercise my personal reading choices right back. With few exceptions, stories set in our contemporary world with a VH aren't going to be great fiction to me. I mean, if the heroine is a virgin because she was abducted as a two-year old and kept in a basement by a gang of alien Satanists for sacrificial purposes, hell ya I'm interested. Chances are, you're not. Remember, the greatness of fiction is always subjective.

But, I hear you asking in legion, about speculative worlds? Can't the VH be plausible in those settings? The answer is of course. I have myself written and am trying to sell a short story set in the future featuring (gasp) a Virgin Heroine, and I didn't even realize it until Astute Specrom Member brought this issue up and exposed my own base hypocrisy. My compliments to you, Astute Specrom Member!

I guess I would ask authors to ask themselves, as they sit down to craft a speculative world, WHY are you creating a world in which virginity matters? As long as you can answer that question honestly and completely from either personal or story logic, then you write what moves you and audience be damned. If the characters ring true and the plot sweeps me off my feet, even a hypocritical virgin-hater like myself probably will like it.

Or not. Such is the subjective way fiction works. We write what moves us and hope that it connects with a reader somewhere. It's the nature of the beast we ride. It truly has two backs -- the reader and the author -- and one cannot control the other. It's a courtship, as tricky as any held in singles bars or speed dating sessions.

So I am officially no longer the founding member of the Deflower the Virgins Literary Action Committee, and I think a better author and reader for it. So bring on the virgins, but don't expect me to like them. Not all of them, at least.

So I put the question to you, speculative romance readers and authors: Do Virgins Suck?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fess Up Monday!

Did you write? Did you sell? How many words? Tell, tell tell!

The Global Existential Threat Level has been upgraded to ELEVATED.

That damn North Korea...

Here's some inspiration, but if you had a week like mine, you need more perspiration and less playing Sid Meyer's Pirates...

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.
Robin Williams

Thursday, October 05, 2006

News 2 Use!!!!

This is Your Brain…Being Responsible?

As neuroscience continues to link behavior – both bad and good – to biological complexities beyond our control, how do we define criminal and moral liability?

The article draws parallels between free will and determinism. Once we thought our behavior was determined by supernatural forces. In the future, will we conclude that much of our behavior is determined by biology? And if we can excise violence from the brain with a few simple surgeries, how will the issue of free will and consent factor in then? Story fodder galore.

A Real Live Speculative Romantic Hero In Wales

A man with no identification, apparently no past and, even more weirdly, apparently using a language translators cannot identify, has been caught breaking into the same house in Wales three times. He refuses to identify his country of origin, or give authorities any personal information.

Run with it folks, it's a life-to-page situation.

TV To the Stars

Coming this fall from France, CosmicConnexion will broadcast the first television program aimed, literally, at a universal audience. Content will we beamed into outer space using the National Centre for Space Studies antennae.

So of all the shows on this fall, which one would YOU beam out into space for the enjoyment of aliens? I vote Showtime's WEEDS.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fess Up Monday!

Did you write? Did you sell? How many words? Tell, tell tell!

The Global Existential Threat Level remains at GUARDED.

I wonder what circumstances must prevail for the threat level to reach low?

And instead of inspiration, I'll leave you with my new motto:

When does CPR become necrophilia? -- Kevin Nealon, WEEDS