Things that Need to Come Back

No, I certainly don’t want to bring back the 1950’s, but some things are disappearing or gone, and I think we should fight for them to stay.

  • First, the use of whom. It’s not that hard, folks. If you’d use the word him or her when you replaced the interrogative or relative pronoun, then you use the word whom. The dog rescue sticker I see on many automobiles? It should read, Who rescued whom? You have a crush on a celebrity and you meet him? I met the celebrity whom I love. But if the celebrity has a crush on you? I met the celebrity who loves me. [By the way, there is a well-covered song and not one singer has fixed the grammar error in it. In “Life is a Highway” a line in the song goes, “There is a distance between you and I.” I want to scream every time I hear it. It’s “between you and me,” damn it!!! You’d think one person would sing it correctly. (You probably don’t want me to rant about the subjunctive here.)]
  • The passenger pigeon. Yes, I know the subject of cloning is fraught, Jurassic Park and all that, but I don’t care. I want the passenger pigeon. While we’re at it, let’s bring back the great auk, the northern white rhino,  the ivory-billed woodpecker, the Tasmanian tiger, and even the dodo. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a real live dodo? Heck, let’s bring all them animals back that should be here.
  • Firefly
  • Comfortable air travel
  • More big publishing houses (or the opposite of bringing back, fewer conglomerates)
  • Art and music in the schools
  • And vocational training

Anything else you want to add here? Please feel free.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

 

The Foot Post

Two things you have to know before I go on: first, I’ve had surgery on my feet that don’t allow my toes to bend all the way down; second, I have a high threshold of pain tolerance.

This post is about feeling good about myself. I recently started Taekwando, and took my first belt test this weekend. It involved learning the first twelve punches, three sets of kicking sequences, the first form (taegeuk il jang) and breaking two boards with two different kicks. I passed.

So I am now officially a white belt with a black stripe. I have a long way to go, but this first step made me prouder than expected.

And now, a warning. I hate feet, but I took a picture of one of mine, the one I kicked the boards with. I had a monster kick and broke right through the board. It felt amazing and powerful. But remember above where I mentioned I’ve had foot surgery? To kick through a board, you’re supposed to use the top of your foot. I did. That’s why I broke the board so easily. But even with pointing my foot, my toes don’t bend beneath the top of my foot. So I ended up with this (foot pic coming)

Yup, those are bruises. Before I sat down, the bruises were already showing. At first I thought, wow, that board must have been dusty because I have a line of dirt on my toes. Nope. Bruises.

But I’ve also told you that I have a high pain threshold. I am weirdly proud of these bruises, and they don’t hurt.

I hesitated to post this blog because I hate feet (I said that already) and I really don’t want to attract and foot fetish people. I also think my toes are particularly ugly (I call them snausages because they’re short and weird looking). But I like the bruises. And no, I’m not into BDSM.

By the way, the second kick through a board uses the heel, so no problem there.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.

June

Yes, I know it’s May for a few more days at least.  I’ve posted here before about nor really celebrating NewYear’s (yes, I’m aware it’s May) with resolutions or even considering January as a new beginning. Time measurement is an artificial construct and I tend to be contrary. So in a few days it’s June, and I fell the urge to do the whole new beginning thing now.

I’ve had a marvelous and busy past few weeks. I’ve been in Boston, where MYSTIC won second place in a writing contest and I had a chance to visit with one daughter; I’ve been to Reno and the last RT (which so plays into the whole spectrum of my luck in the writing business); I’ve been to SoCal to visit with another daughter and other family (and, of course, a trip to the “happiest place on earth,” where this Disney fan walked until she couldn’t walk any more). So now I’m home, and ready to get back to work. That’s the perfect time to have a new beginning.

So in June I plan to finish the sequel to Mystic (first draft), get my newsletter updated and GDPR compliant, put myself out there, and be professional.

Of course, in keeping with my run of luck in the writing business, I got called for jury duty starting June 15.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Issacson

A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

Word of Mouth

I just finished rereading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Sigh. I have never reached the tipping point with any of my novels.

At some point you have to believe that it’s you and not just luck. Even though my writing has won awards and contests –heck, I’m up for the New England Reader’s Choice award with Mystic (two weeks from now)–I can’t seem to break out. And it doesn’t help that I see an acquaintance get excited about her first book. It has reached number four on some YA list. I’m am truly thrilled for her. Really. I am also wondering what the heck she did or didn’t do to get such word of mouth about her first book. I can’t get such reception on book fourteen!

Am I whinging? Perhaps. But as I said above, at some point you have to believe it’s your writing. You’d think that if you were truly good, people would have discovered you by now. I just don’t seem to generate word of mouth.

When I read a book I love I talk about it–to friends, on social media, in lists. I’ve talked about Ready Player One and Theft of Swords. I’ve loaned out my copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society until a friend spilled coffee on it and had to replace it for me. I’ve taught Dandelion Wine and bought From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler for my kids and will buy it again for my grandkids should I ever have any. I have recommended Jennifer Crusie and Julia Quinn when people claim romance is mindless.  You want a scare? And Then There Were None.

I don’t claim literary genius, a case I can make for the above books. However, I don’t even seem to touch or reach the mavens (see The Tipping Point). MysticCover

Do your favorite authors, or even the ones you just enjoyed,  a favor. Become a mini maven. Leave a review at Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads, or wherever. Or tell a friend or twenty. Or tweet about it. Or whatever. Or send the author a note. That can make an author’s day.  But word of mouth helps. It’s still the best way to build readership, and no one really knows how to create word of mouth except to write the best book you can.

Hope this wasn’t too self-centered and self-pitying.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Tippping Point by Malcom Gladwell

Trial and Error by Jack Woodford

 

If You Think…

I love language and languages. I especially love when I learn something new about it. Like the saying “getting his just deserts.” One “S”. Because it not about that sweet thing you eat after a meal and getting one that fits what you’ve done, although that makes sense and it’s what most people think, but because deserts is a noun form from the verb deserve, so it means getting what one deserves. (Oversimplified, but, hey, you get what I mean.)

Just desserts (One of my favorite Hungarian cakes)

Stuff like that probably makes me a pedant, but I wear that badge proudly. I like knowing things. It’s because I like learning things. I make mistakes. I know for a fact that at least one of my early books makes the mistake between loathe and loath. The copy editor didn’t catch it, so it’s in print that way forever. I know the difference now (loathe is the verb meaning to hate, and loath is the adjective meaning reluctant).

So back to the title of this post. You know the saying, “If you think …, then you have another…” and there I pause. We learn language by making errors. Little children will say things like, “I goed,” or “He drinked.” They have internalized adding -ed to make the past tense, but haven’t learned that irregular verbs have different forms. We internalize language and don’t think about grammar when we speak. We just speak.

So when someone makes an error on purpose, it’s hard not to try to correct it in our minds. The saying actually is, “If you think you’re right, you have another think coming.” Think about it (there’s that word again). It’s grammatically incorrect on purpose. It sounds strange to our ears to use a verb, think, as a noun, but doesn’t think make a whole lot more sense than thing? What does “You have another thing coming” even mean? Oh, we’ve tried to make sense of it, like the dessert vs desert thing (there’s that word again). Before I knew the true form, I always thought the saying meant you should get a punishment of some sort. But, really, how harsh is that for thinking something (Oooo, think and thing in the same sentence)? Thing is so vague, so meaningless. Yet look how often we use it, even in this post. Think makes more sense, when you analyze it. (I almost wrote “when you think about it,” but that would be excessive, don’t you think?)

But language is nothing if not fluid, and most people will tell you that the saying is “If you think you’re right, then you have another thing coming.” That’s our internalized grammar editor trying to correct an error made on purpose. We know English, and you can’t use the verb think as a noun. So using thing has become acceptable. You will hear thing used on TV or see it in books, but now you know better.

Perhaps it will drive you as nuts as it does me. >twisting my evil villain mustache< Bwhahahaha. Wait until I point out the difference between fewer and less.

–Gabi

Books I am reading now:

The Unseducible Earl by Sheri Humphreys

Sonnet Coupled by Roxanne D Howard

 

 

My Favorite Pieces of Art

There are two. One is  “Youki desse de la neige” in the Petit Palais in Geneva. I saw this painting when I was 20 and it stuck with me. I thought she was beautiful.

This is a picture of the postcard I bought of the painting. It’s now in the album I made during my year abroad.

The other is “El Rio de Luz” by Frederic Edwin Church. There’s something about this painting, the yellows and browns and greens  with that tiny burst of red on the bird at the almost center. I could stare at it for hours. I always make sure I view it when I get to the National Gallery of Art in DC (so far about four times).

https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.50299.html

(I didn’t want to break copyright laws by posting a picture, but definitely click on the link. ) The canvas is enormous so no picture does it justice.

Do you have any favorites?

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake

Violence

Since my last post was about sex, I thought I’d follow up with violence.

It’s funny to analyze where we’ve drawn our lines of acceptable fare. Again, I maintain it’s a matter of taste. What one person declares wonderful and gripping, another person will close their eyes and refuse to watch or read. The issue arises when you are faced with an unfamiliar author or work and you have nothing to gauge your personal reactions on. Vague descriptions on the back of the book don’t always give you an accurate picture of what’s inside. For example, in my WISH trilogy, the back cover copy doesn’t indicate that I write with a lot of humor in my stories (at least, I think they’re humorous) and that I have a light touch. The cover of the first book, The Wish List, gives an indication, but the covers of the second two absolutely do not. And yet, there’s violence and even death in the stories. My current work in progress (WIP) has a really high body count, but because I end up writing with a light touch, it isn’t as noticeable.

Because that’s how I like my violence. Cartoonish. I can handle the Roadrunner vs Wile E. Coyote, but I cringe and wince when I watch nature shows (and yes, have cried as well–never watch how barnacle goslings leave the nest). I can handle the violence in the Marvel movies and even cheer when the bad guys get “theirs,” but Breaking Bad is not my thing. I watched every episode and acknowledge the brilliant writing and acting, but it makes me uncomfortable. I won’t and can’t watch boxing or MFA fighting, but I can handle wrestling (Not that I watch it, but it’s a perfectly valid form of entertainment. Just not my taste. And I’m not saying they pro wrestlers aren’t athletes, because they are, but it is scripted.) KINGSMAN was one of the most violent movies I have ever seen, but it was cartoonish, so it didn’t bother me. I thoroughly enjoyed that movie. Paranormal violence doesn’t bother me much because by definition it isn’t real, but movies like Black Hawk Down are too realistic. DUNKIRK, a brilliant movie,  is excruciating to watch, and should be, so that we never do such things to one another again.

Let me live in my bubble, which in today’s world is getting harder and harder to do. Reality is rapping at our doors right now. I hope it doesn’t start pounding, but I have no control over it. In the meantime, I don’t enjoy realistic violence in my entertainment. If I do watch or read such things, it’s for a purpose other than entertainment.

And one last note… Have you ever noticed how people get more upset with sex than violence? As if sex and expressions of love are somehow more offensive than the brutality that humans can show.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Harry Potter und die Orden des Phönix by JK Rowling

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

 

 

 

Gratuitous Sex

I love a good story, so when my friends talk about a new TV show that is wonderful, I listen. And when I have time, I will watch it. But I am leery because many times the show, especially on the “premium” channels, will suddenly lose the story in order to show two people having sex.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve written romances, and mine all include sex scenes. I have no problems with sex scenes…when they are appropriate to the story. But too often the scenes on the TV shows are gratuitous. They’re there for throwing sex on the screen, not for advancing the story. They’re there because sex sells, not because it helps characterization, or plot, or conflict, all of which are good reasons for sex scenes. It’s a writing issue, not a moral judgment.

I stopped watching a certain paranormal series for that reason. I was on the fence about the show, but was interested enough to continue. Then came the gratuitous sex scene. There was no reason for it except titillation. I stopped watching. It happened again yesterday. I was watching a show about colonial America, and two characters have sex. They have completed a dangerous assignment, and they are angry with each other because of how they had to behave. One of these characters has just learned her husband is dead, and the other has a wife. I get it. It’s the release, it’s the sudden revelry in success after danger, it’s a celebration of being alive. Except. Except the concept of honor and decorum which has been portrayed as huge elements of both their characters has been conveniently forgotten and thus undermined. I might have bought it if they were so caught up in the emotions of their success that they tear the clothes off each other and do the act without thinking, but it was a slow, relishing of each other. For me, it didn’t support what the writers have established.

The same is true for nudity. First of all it’s not a big deal. I have long thought we make too much of showing the human body. We all have one set of parts or another (generally speaking), and while we can enjoy those parts, parts are thrown on the screen just for the shock effect. Sorry. If I wanted to see a pair of boobs, I can look down my shirt. Does that sound hypocritical? First I say we make too much of it, then I say TV shouldn’t show parts. No, what I’m saying is that using body parts for shock effect is wrong. I believe it perpetuates the drooling culture, which should have disappeared long ago. When a show like Games of Thrones, an intricate, political, and gripping drama, can be reduced to nudity jokes by comedians, it’s a sign of gratuitous nudity.

Look, sex is boring unless you’re doing it (Of course, I have the same opinion of viewing sports). The act itself looks rather funny too. In writing there are only so many ways to describe a fairly basic act. It’s the reason I don’t read many romances any more. The sex is the least interesting part of the book and now there is an emphasis on the sex instead of the why. (That and the emotional baggage characters carry these days, so I can’t believe in a happy ending unless these people go through serous psychoanalysis.)

Maybe I’m a prude.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Harry Potter und der Orden des Phönix by JK Rowling

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Crying at Commercials

I can’t watch TV any more without a box of tissues by my side. I cry at everything these days. My emotion button is so big and so easy to punch that I feel as if I’m leaking. I used to cry like this when I was a kid until my parents kept telling me to stop, so I did. It’s taken decades to let myself cry at anything again. And I love it. They’re not usually tears of sadness, just tears of emotion (Except at those dog videos on FB. Why are people posting those?). And it feels great. And then I laugh at myself and I feel even better. Here are a bunch of holiday ones to start you off.

It’s the same with movies. I just saw Moana. I cried through half of it. Not because it’s sad, but because it’s so . And because I realized that I need to hear the voice of my soul again, which is the key message of the movie. I haven’t heard it for a while and it’s time for me to listen again. I think all the crying I’ve been doing (good crying) will help clear away the muck that’s been dampening the song.

Time to sing again.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

And the point is ….

I have been frozen. Figuratively, not literally. I can’t bring myself to write because of the explosive and uncertain times we now live in. As a student of history (yes, I have a history degree), I can’t bring myself to think that my puny little career can change anything. As a student of literature (I have two lit degrees), I know that fiction doesn’t change the world. Few, very few, books have had an effect on bringing about social progress. Yes, I know that reading fiction encourages empathy, but I don’t have enough readers to make much of a difference anyway (That is not a whine; it is a statement of fact. I write because I like to tell stories; I have long since given up the delusion that I will have enough influence to affect a difference.)

Right now I’m trying to figure out what I can do.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Rereading for escape: The Ryria Chronicles by Michael J Sullivan