Monday, December 12, 2016

Argh! Rawr! Smash!

Taken by the incomparable Charlie Marie
Dear Fashion Designers,

I get it. Fat girls are supposed to be ashamed of our flappy arms.

You've made it perfectly clear with your pretty party dresses punctuated by layers of ugly mesh on the arms and back. I understand that for some reason, you feel a sick need to pile on and accentuate the body shame you want us to feel because we like our mashed potatoes with extra butter.

I also know that some fat chicks buy into that. They demand to be covered up burqa style, so they can feel glamorous while simultaneously tricking the public into forgetting that they have stretchmarks and arm wobbles. That's cool. It's not my place to tell them what is right for them. I can only speak for me.

See, I'm a hot girl. I'm a hot, plus size girl. Or woman if you prefer. I'm hot for many reasons. The shape of my rear. The birthmark on my neck that invites kisses. The sexy of my strut in combat boots.

But more importantly, I'm just...hot. And your damned affordable rayon/polyester/sequinned whatevers make me sweat like I'm taking a calculus test. So please. PLEASE. Stop insulating me further with your shame coverings. Stop with the capelets and droopy illusion shoulder flaps and that horrid ashy, arm-hugging hooker mesh, cuz, you ain't fooling anybody and neither am I.

Godzilla has excellent self-esteem.
This year, I want to go out for my birthday and eat crab legs at Outback Steakhouse and I want to wear a sparkly dress while I'm at it, and I don't give a flying fuck if my arms flap around while I do that. I'm wondering though, if you might know something I don't. Perhaps if people see me in my natural, shameful state, they will gag, or begin to weep and rend their clothes. Perhaps they will run screaming, as if my arms are twin Godzillas, rising from the briny deep to smash all their Bloomin' Onions.

I can't say what kind of mass hysteria I might cause with my naked flesh on display. But I know what kind of hysteria I feel when my clothing roasts me like rump steak, so I'm going to plead with you to remember that fat chicks like to be cute and a good many of us are out of fucks to give about how others view our bodies and want to simply be comfortable as we are. That means we want to wear bathing suits, short skirts and yes, dresses that bare our arms. So could you work on that? Pretty please? I'll make you some mashed potatoes. With extra butter.

And gravy.


A Hot Girl

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Man, current politics rendered me terribly serious didn't they? Let's get back to the funny. If you're bored and want to have some fun, feel free to comment and ask me questions. I will be giving out terrible advice from now until Friday. I'm thinking about making this a weekly thing on Facebook. We shall see.  Enjoy this fuckery!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Locker Room Talk

Trigger Warning: sexual assault;unwanted touching

A 59-year-old man with a long history of sexism gets on a bus and jokes about grabbing women without consent and then dismisses it as "locker room talk," apologizing not because he understands, but only "if you're offended." This man cares so little about women that he sent his 14-year-old daughter to a modeling agency run by his buddy,  an unrepentant molester of teenage models.  

I wish there was a punchline to this, but it's not a joke. That said, I'm not here to talk politics. I'm here to talk about assault.

My friend recently posted on Facebook about an experience she had at age eleven where a boy called her and threatened to rape her because she wouldn't "go out" with him. What is sad is how common this is. Most of the women I've ever known have been threatened with sexual violence or assaulted at least once in their lives. I myself am (possibly) the product of a sexual assault. But that's not my story to tell.

When I was ten, two racist kids moved in down the street. They were perhaps twelve and thirteen years old. Troubled kids. I've talked openly about them hitting me in the face with ice balls, yanking on my hair and calling me a nigger. But my worst memory I tend to brush off, lumping it in as just another act of racism. But in light of what's being discussed in the media, I want to separate it for a moment, because it was also a sexual assault.

The school moved our bus stop. It used to be right across from my house but they moved it to the end of a long dirt road, in front of the fire station. It was a ten minute walk home and I had to walk with these boys. I don't remember what set it off, but as soon as we got off the bus they started in on me and I looked straight ahead and didn't speak and kept walking. Irritated that I wasn't responding, they grabbed me and threw me on the ground. I was screaming for them to get off me. One sat on my chest while his brother sat on my legs and shouted "Kiss her nigger lips!" He licked my lips and then spit in my face. I was crying. They were satisfied that they'd terrified me and I had to walk home beside them, shaking the whole time.

I've never talk about it in terms of assault because it's overwhelming to think of it like that. My hands are shaking as I write this. I was sexually assaulted and then I had to walk home beside my attackers. And get on the bus with them the next day. And the day after that.

I wasn't penetrated. I wasn't stripped naked, but I felt like I was. Being grabbed against my will left me feeling weak and vulnerable. Knowing that if someone wanted to touch me, nothing would stop them.

This was not my first or last brush with sexual aggression, it is simply the most raw one.  At six, there was a boy who had a habit of looking up girls' skirts, He pressured me for days to go behind the school with him, but he freaked me out so I kept saying no. When I was seven, there was the grown man at my church who rubbed my shoulders as I stood frozen and told me I was pretty and wanted me to go to the basement with him. Later, at twelve, there was the adult lifeguard  at church camp who played the harmonica and wrote songs about how beautiful he found me. Everyone, including the other adults thought it was funny (and referred to him as my boyfriend). Then he tried to put his hand down my pants and when I pushed him away, he became enraged and with each passing day, was so hostile to me that I quit swimming for the rest of camp and  hid when I saw him.

So when it's treated as a joke that a "prankster" grabbed a celebrity by the ankles and knocked her over, and then again, grabbed her and put his face on her bottom, or a 71 year-old-man running for the highest office in my country treats grabbing women against their will as "locker-room talk," I want to scream.

This isn't me being overly-sensitive or accusing all men of being rapists. This isn't about being politically correct. This is me knowing what it feels like to be grabbed, and touched, and coerced. This is me knowing what it's like to be afraid of saying no. Every time it happened, I became more numb to it. I began to accept it even as it made me feel tiny and afraid. It made me fear men.

So, to quote my friend, "Locker room talk? Fuck you."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

IWSG: In Which My Ego Turns Everything into a Blistering Inferno

The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writers Support Group. A fabulous blog-hop. Head to the list and support some other writers today. 

 I'm halfway through my big picture edit/rewrite of this manuscript and I'm ready to set it THE FUCK ON FIRE.

No but seriously. Burn it.

I thought I had my subplots tightened up. I thought I had my  hero and heroine figured out. I've written the story essentially three times now. But here I am, ready to scream and break things as this manuscript refuses to be... GOOD.

Okay I have a couple of issues at play here. One is that I have been using scenes I've already written sort of piecemeal. "Oh, this scene will work right here!" So I move it. And now, I'm halfway through this rewrite/revamp/hell and I have completely lost the thread of tension and narrative. I don't know if it's moving too fast or too slow. No idea if it even makes sense any more. Argh!

The second, larger issue, is my ego.

My friend Lyssa Kay Adams just indie published her first novel and it's effin' good, ya'll. So effin' good. Funny and snarky and well-written and the reviews are pouring in and they are all saying what I'm saying. The book is freaking GREAT. I'm super happy for her. She's rad and she deserves the applause.

What if I don't get that? What if my first book comes out to the sound of crickets chirping? What if none of our mutual friends say a word? I didn't become a writer for applause, I really didn't (and if you did, you're in for some pain, I fear) but I also don't want to be the suckiest writer out of my group of writer friends. This worry comes from a place of deep insecurity within me, I know. Many of my writer friends are professional writers. They were journalists or work in publishing or advertising. They know a side of the business that I don't and they are way more educated than I am.

Often when I'm forced to defend my genre from people who want to make me feel small about it, I say that many romance writers are highly educated and that a great deal of my favorites went to ivy league schools and teach writing. Which is all true and it's a great brag, but I'm not one of those people. I dropped out of community college because it was putting me into debt and it wasn't actually helping. I consider myself a fairly smart human being and I stand by that decision. Community college wasn't preparing me for a writing career and it wasn't worth the stress or money. But I never expected to be surrounded by so many educated, brilliant writers. I figured my smarts would carry me through. But I'm still never sure when I should be using a semi-colon and I still have to Google how to punctuate parentheticals in parenthesis and I feel like at any moment, I could screw something up and no one will ever take me seriously and I'll deserve it because I couldn't even hack community college and who do I think I am trying to write novels?

Worse yet, am I going to be the kind of unskilled writer used as kindling on the blaze of derision that eternally burns the romance community like wildfire? Is that labored simile my fate?

This has been bumping around in my head, bruising my brain for a month now. I am burning with insecurity and it's making my editing clunky and impossible. I am losing perspective faster than Supernatural episodes lose narrative cohesion, which is to say, FAST.

Angels are so touchy.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

This Post Will Give You Cooties

Hubs and I have been a couple for going-on ten years but as of today we've been married for five of them. As a romance writer, I feel I must honor this occasion with a loving missive for the guy who puts up with just ... so much bullshit and loves me anyway. Though not enough to watch Gossip Girl. Some things, not even love can do.

[Salutation] Hubs,

Can you believe it's been [small amount of time conflated to seem epic in scale when it's barely a drop in the bucket of our time on earth] years since we got married? You are [gross romantic declaration that will make my readers barf]. My best friend [amusing anecdote about how how my favorite peer viewed the relationship]. I knew you were the one [barely truthful statement about the nature of love and our ability to perceive it before it occurs] and I was right.

Without you [another romantic declaration that works more in theory than in the reality - a reality in which we are autonomous individuals who can function without one another, however sad that would make us]. I just wouldn't know how to be [sincere statement about the nature of accepting love when we aren't sure of our own value]. Happy [arbitrary block of time celebrated as a milestone based on our simple ability to tolerate one another enough to preclude the possibility of separating]

Your [closing words that will make our single friends roll their eyes until they fall out of their heads],


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: Remove Your Pants!

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writers Support Group. A fabulous blog-hop. Head to the list and support some other writers today. 

This is going to seem like a weird thing to talk about in February but bear with me.... Do you know why I love NaNoWriMo?

It's because, back before 2009, I couldn't finish a draft. Or even come close to it. Then my fantastically talented friend Jean said,"Hey this thing? We're doing it!" It wasn't even November--I think it was March. But we read No Plot, No Problem, made a whole bunch of horrible videos on writing that no one thought was funny except for us and then wrote some damn novels. And it was rad.

NaNoWriMo gave me one of the most valuable tools a writers needs (in my humble blah blah blah). It taught me the value of a deadline. It cannot be overstated that just sitting down with the vague notion of write something, is a recipe for avoidance. You check Facebook. You snap a selfie, annoy your cat with a paper bag and  then take a Buzzfeed quiz to find out which Friends character you'd be.**

And after all of that, you'd open your writing software or notebook and write... nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So once I had a deadline, I wrote. I wrote a lot. And it was THE WORST writing. But that was okay, because I got better. And since 2009 I've written three full manuscripts. But I haven't successfully edited any of them. I fell into the same patterns with editing that I did with writing. I'd sit at my desk with the vague intent to "edit." This often became an exercise in futility as I rewrote and rewrote, hoping the problems with plot and pacing would fix themselves.

I'd somehow missed the most important thing NaNoWriMo waved in front of my snoot... the knowledge that a deadline is nothing but a goal and it's goal-setting that matters most if you want to achieve a dream.

I feel a little dense that it's taken me so long to realize this. If I want a writing career, I can't pants it. I just can't. Now I know, you can probably name someone who is doing it. Some famous person who doesn't take notes or make outlines and if they exist, GREAT. But I think once you get to editing, being a pantser is like putting on a blindfold while walking backward and sideways at the same time. Yeah, you might get somewhere but it's more likely you'll just fall on your ass.

I think this is the point in the process where pantsers just throw their hands up and shout "Fuck it!" They have the story. They wrote it and liked it. But now they don't know how to make it better. So vague promises to edit turn into guilt and self-doubt and then you set fire to the manuscript and start a new one.The bird toy endlessly drinking... never satiated.

 So I've set a deadline for my editing and a goal. First goal was an outline. I outlined the story as it was. Then I wrote a rough synopsis of how I wanted the story to flow with better character arcs and a stronger secondary plot.  Then I re outlined it, scene by scene on color-coded sticky notes. Coral for scenes I've written from my hero's POV, blue for my heroine's. Neon yellow for scenes I haven't written yet.

Look at all this m-effin' cohesion
What I ended up with was a cohesive look at my novel and a very measurable method of goal-setting. writing lobster and I set a deadline of March 31st, for me to do a complete big-picture edit and for her to finish her current novel. So we set word count and edited-page goals, and we printed calendars that we could put stickers on to mark our progress. When one of us hits so many stickers, the other buys that person a small gift.

We are plotter-ing it up over here and we're both making progress.

I guess what I'm saying is pants the crap out of your story if that's what you want to do. But if you're struggling, whether in the writing or the editing, it's time to set some goals. Make some deadlines. Be a plotter. Because it's really effing hard to work when you are vague about what you want to achieve.

Plot on!

**The answer of course is... I'm what would happen if Chandler and Monica fell into a puddle of nuclear waste and melted into one neurotic, funny, perfectionist mess.

My Lisa Frank stickers bring all the words to the yard...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016: The Year of Big Steps

I'm not a party animal.

Or if I am, I'm sort of a party sloth, so I don't really go anywhere on New Years Eve because people-ing take way too much energy. But I do  love the concept of new year rituals. The kiss at midnight, the grapes for wishes and the resolutions. All rituals of HOPE. I'm a fan of that.

In that spirit, I assign each new year a theme and a goal. I don't like reductive resolutions designed to empty wallets and fuel self-loathing. I've made those resolutions and they never make my life feel better or more purposeful. So the last few years, I assigned themed goals like this:

2014: The Year of Peaceful Living
2015: The Year of Joyful Living 
2016: The Year of BIG STEPS

I really enjoyed meeting my 2015 resolutions like Go to a museum to see real dinosaur bones. That sparked a fun, memorable trip to Chicago, which I would never have done because I'm also a travel sloth.

So here are my resolutions:

1. Have a fully edited novel manuscript (or two) and one novella on Amazon by the end of the year.
2. Start seriously shopping for our dream house by November.
3. Buy a damn elliptical machine and use it.

I know number three sounds like one of those reductive resolutions I was thumbing my nose at earlier, but I have no weight loss goals. What I do have is diabetes. And if I don't start joyfully moving my body, I won't be around for the fruits of my writing labors. So a big step for me is HEALTH. Not clothing size. Not how many chins I have. Just my overall sense of well-being and my ability to eat a twinkie without passing out. It's a big step because it requires me to grow up and get over my perfectionist and fatalistic attitude that says I shouldn't bother because the damage is already done.

Anyhow, back on point, this is the year I'm turning my writing into a writing career.One of my big steps that goes along with number one, is to find my editing process. I'm figuring it out I think and I'll have pictures and thoughts about that soon.

Forcing myself to turn my hopes and dreams into concrete goals is so liberating. They don't feel so far away when I start making plans. I'm so optimistic about this whole writing thing, I started an Instagram account! Do I hate it? You betcha! But the point is I'm working on the dreaded P-word... platform. Ugh. Do I have to? Yes I do. Because a writing career isn't a dream.

It's a resolution.