Thursday, June 24, 2010

To cut or not to cut...

My Blackberry rings. On the screen I see the number of the caller. "Hey, Janice. How are you?" I say. "It's terrible, Stella. I have to go to this wedding tomorrow and I have no Idea what I'm going to wear. Chandler's ex is going to be there and I gotta make her crazy jealous." Janice explains. "Hmmmmm..." I reply. "Did you see what she did to him the last time we ran into her?" "Uh-huh." "She's such a douche!" "Uh-huh." "Stella? Are you listening to me?" "Oh, yeah. I'm sorry, girl. I've been really preoccupied lately." "Tell me about it maybe I can help." Janice offers. "Well, you see I've been working on this scene in my novel. There's this part were Mia's thinking about the war in Iraq and about how the Americans are intruding on another country's internal affairs. She also thinks about how happy some of the Iraqis were that the Americans were there. Not all the Iraqis are pleased about it of course. She doesn't see it as liberation for the Iraqis, more like liberation into further chaos. She acknowledges that everyone has a different opinion on war." "Mmmmmm..." "I think this part of the scene is a great parallel to Mia's future struggles on Gaia. She is an outsider getting involved in another culture. Some are happy she's there, others want her to leave. This also foreshadows the chaos that will eventually come as a result of Mia's meddling on Gaia." "Uh-huh." My problem is that another writer thinks I should cut the scene entirely. That it makes Mia sound like a whiner, and I could lose the reader. I don' know what to do. I like how this ties together the social and political issues involved, but I don't want to bore the reader." "Uh-huh." "Janice, are you listening to me?" I say. "Oh my God!" "What?" Shuffling sounds come from the earpiece, "I think I just found the perfect dress!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aberrational

While I was thinking about my dislike of the category of chick-lit, I thought of another genre I love to hate. This genre is 'Inspirational'. Again, I don't hate the writing or stories as I hate the title of the category and how pretentious the label sounds. How arrogant the authors or publishers must be to think that people will find a body of work inspirational. A story is just words on paper until the reader picks it up and breaths life into the characters by letting them live in their imaginations. If a story is inspirational it is because of the reader. Another person will think it's garbage, it's all subject to opinion. They both read the same book, one man's trash is another man's treasure, so the cliche goes. It is the reader who can deem a book inspirational, this is not something that can be predetermined. Like telling someone how they should feel about a situation before it happens. How do you know how someone will feel about something before that thing happens? Many will hate the story, even more will dislike it, some will read it and forget, a very select few will remember it for years and an even fewer still will remember it for the rest of their lives. The books I have featured on this blog post are best sellers in this genre. I'm not saying these books aren't inspirational, I haven't read either one. All I'm saying is that how a book will be received isn't the publisher's decision. It is based on the readers very personal set of beliefs. Who are you to tell me what I'd find inspirational?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Audio Books

I used to drive a lot for work. I’d drive all over Alberta at least four times a month. I hate solo road trips. I’m that woman on the highway with her windows down, music blaring, singing/yelling tonelessly to the music. I’m sorry that many had to suffer, but it was for my own safety, I assure you. If I didn’t do all these things I fall asleep behind the wheel. Highway 2 is one boring stretch. Combine that with the sneaky suspicion that I have narcolepsy and I'm ready to do just about anything to stay awake. Seriously, I can sleep anywhere at anytime, ask anyone. I've slept on stairs and right through an earthquake. Audio books were a great answer because they kept my mind occupied. But now that I fly for work, I’d much rather read a book than listen to it. Not that I ever preferred an audio book when I wasn’t driving. I find the reader’s voice gets on my nerves fast. Plus, when I’m not a captive audience I’m a busy body, so I’ll start doing other things and tune the audio book out unintentionally. I have recently discovered an author named Scott Sigler who started out turning his books into podcasts. After developing a huge fan following, publishers discovered something called a computer and then discovered a new thing called the ‘internet’ and realized that readers used such forms of information sharing and communication. (Sorry, I get a little angry when I think about how many publishers and agents don’t/refuse to use the Internet and still rely on archaic forms of communication, like snail mail. ERRRRRRG!) Soon publishers were knocking on Sigler’s door wanting to publish his books. Way to go, Sigler! Talk about the mountain coming to Mohammad. Ding! Ding! I have yet to listen to a whole book in audio form but it made me wonder how many other people have and do. I don’t care about stats. I’m wondering how many people I know listen to audio books. Let me know if you do. I have just recently bought myself an iPod touch. I am in gadget heaven! I was playing around with it the other day when I came across the voice memo device. I recorded part of a conversation that happens in my novel. Props to voice actors out there, it's tough to make them sound interesting and not annoying. My grade 9 drama teacher would be disgusted. Hee-hee!! For those of you interested, Scott Sigler has a few of his books on iTunes for free. You read right. Free! If you have a boring stretch of highway ahead of you, or you enjoy audio books when you're not trying to stay awake/alive, check them out. Stella, out!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Categorical Gripe

When I think of the many genres of books out there I think of them like different flavors of ice cream. Some people like specific tastes, some only eat one certain flavor, while other like to try something new every time. There is: action/adventure, autobiography/biography, detective/spy, family drama, fan fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, historical, horror, literary, medical/forensic, mystery, non-fiction, picture books, poetry, police, romance, science fiction/speculative, sports, suspense, thriller, war, western and more. One category makes me mad though. I don’t understand why the distinction was made in the title of this genre, a division that totally alienates a specific gender from it. I hate the genre chick-lit, also known as women’s fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the stories that fit into this category, I hate the name, the need for the category itself. The name implies that men wouldn’t be interested in these stories, that only women would read them. Does a good plot and story have to be gender specific? No, of course not. People gravitate to what they like, certainly. But am I going to forgo reading a book because the MC is a certain gender? No. I should hope the struggles any gender faces in a story is pertinent to the human condition. Are they trying to say that no man enjoyed Bridget Jones's Diary? I'm sorry but that book was hilarious! Made me laugh out loud so many times my husband questioned my sanity for a while. Why is this distinction not made with men’s fiction or (dare I coin it?) dick-lit? Sorry, it does roll off the tongue better than dude-lit, guy-lit or man-lit. To coin such a term says that women wouldn’t be as interested in male MCs, or in the stories these novels have to tell. Of course this is rubbish, I don’t care what sex the MC is, just give me a good story. Stella out! P.S.- Bevis points at Stella and looks over at Butt-head. “She said dick. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.” "Oh, shut-up!" Stella says.
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