Tag Archives: LDS authors

Monsters! Mormons! Not necessarily synonymous!

My editor and partner, Theric Jepson, who runs Peculiar Pages alongside my running of B10 Mediaworx, made some sort of joke on Twitter (don’t remember the joke), and Wm Morris of A Motley Vision (a MoLit blog) had an idea. And the idea was to skewer the 19th-century literary tradition of using Mormons as stock villains in pulp fiction by turning the Mormons into the protagonists instead of the antagonists.

Plans were being made. I felt no compunction to submit a story to this anthology of pulp fiction because a) I don’t read pulp fiction; I read trashy romance novels aka porn for women and so b) I didn’t feel qualified to write anything for it. But then Wm posted an update on AMV saying, “I’d like to see X, Y, Z, and A, B, and C.” Well, I thought. I could do Y, Z, and B. So I did.

When I got it done and Wm liked it (Theric was not my editor this time), I had second thoughts. Considering I’m kind of, you know, responsible for its publication, I figured there would be seen some sort of “in,” or conflict of interest. Theric and I discussed it and decided I’d withdraw it, but Wm thought my withdrawing it was a bad idea. So, okay. Onward.

What has resulted is the most wonderful collection of tales of the supernatural and bizarre. Supernaturally bizarre. Or bizarrely supernatural. Whatever. Including! Get this! TWO graphic novels!

So here’s a little taste of my story, of a Mormon self-styled “nun” packing nuclear weapons powered by cold fusion to zap demons left and right.

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

He’s never been here.

I can tell because he can barely keep from puking into the swamp, and his neoprene skin is making him fidget and wiggle.

Definitely a roving monk.

“Gas mask?” I ask and offer him something that very much resembles Cthulhu.

“I am not wearing that,” he snaps.

“Little bit touchy, are we, Monk?”

“Shut up, Nun.” He doesn’t offer his name. Probably something boring like John. “Pray.”

I do.

The sun is just setting when he locks his 0.75-gigajoule disperser down to his titanium gauntlet with much exaggeration. “Got your affairs in order?”

Break a leg in nun-and-monk speak.

I stand for a minute and stare at his gauntlet and matching gun, both so much more decorated than mine, engraved with lightning bolts. My gauntlets and weapons are engraved with paisleys. Pretty, but…

Pretty.

Feminine.

To do a job like this.

I grit my teeth and pull my left-hand disperser out of its case, lock it down to the gauntlet, lay the telescoping barrel along my titanium-covered index finger, then lock it down with tiny clips.

Point and shoot.

Once my right extremity is similarly burdened, I click my night-vision goggles down over my specs, and lead the way into the twilight, into the swamp where it’s already dark as midnight, downdowndown, gradually being covered in slime until I’m chest deep in it.

Yeah, it stinks. But this is where I work, so I’m used to it and I’ve already stuffed my nose with Mentholatum. I have the clearest sinuses in the Atchafalaya basin.

I haven’t been allowed to go into the swamp for the last two weeks, since the flood waters from up north began rising in earnest. It’s taken that long for my sensors and weapons to be recalibrated for the extreme change in environment. The animals have been driven up out of the swamp and what crude oil was left on land has been pulled back into the water. With water comes mold, fungus, mosquitoes, and other diseases, but that’s not a concern for hunters. The crude, well…I don’t know how—or even if—the sludge will react to the extra radioactivity my partner brings, which is orders of magnitude above mine.

But we don’t question, because to question is to die. The general authorities overseeing our gadgetry supply us with whatever we need to do our jobs.

“Why aren’t we taking your boat?” Only now do I detect a mid-Utah accent. Great. A JelloBeltian.

I grab a palm full of water and let it trickle back out through my fingers. I still have a hand full of refuse. “Look at that. It’s soup. Chock full of plants. Oil. Trash from the floods. I don’t want my motor bound up in—” I point to a heavy drape of Spanish moss that floats on the surface. He looks around. Spanish moss is everywhere. “—that.”

He says nothing and we trudge through the thick water.

“Crocodiles?” he asks after a while.

“’Gators, rather,” I say. “They won’t bother us.”

“I know that,” he snaps. Again. He might as well be a ’gator, he’s snappin’ so much. He’s not questioning, but he sure is murmuring.

Murmuring doesn’t get you dead. It might get you injured, though. Very distracting activity, murmuring. I’d rather he not murmur around me when he’s got enough energy to melt a ton of steel.

(I bet it kills him he can’t control a whole gigajoule.)

“Where were you last?” I ask conversationally as we wade through slime, our dispersers primed to shoot.

“Gobi Desert,” he answers, and I catch something wistful in his voice.

“You liked it there.”

“Yes.”

“What were you hunting?”

“Had a band of specter demons going through the villages. Wiped ’em out.”

Specter demons.

Psychiatrists call it “auditory or visual hallucinations,” a symptom of several psychiatric disorders, but we know what they are: Lucifer’s army, waging war on those of us with bodies—on our bodies—because he can’t make any real headway in his war on Father and Mother.

Specter demons are the grub worms of the psyche, chewing up people’s neural pathways like grass roots, leaving dead lawn behind. We’re allowed to attempt to heal the damage, but we mostly can’t. We’re only required to get the demons out of our plane and bar them from future entry.

Like internet trolls.

But there are a lot of internet trolls.

At the blip of a shadow in the corner of my eye, I point and blast. Swamp water explodes and covers us like debris-ridden oil rain.

“Eeewww.” Even I’m grossed out as I flick it off my neoprene skin.

The monk rubs his fingers together, brings the substance to his nose. “Well, you got ’em.”

Good. The sacrifice of my skin will not have been vain.

Demolition demons are the worst. They usually show up in hospitals, disguised as Staph infections, gangrene, pneumonia. The advanced demolitionists manifest as cancer catalysts. The more skilled a demolitionist, the greater power it has over a cell’s ecosystem. Medicine will arrest what it can, and we may be able to do the rest, if we get there in time.

No demon has the power to kill a human; they can only sow the seeds of disease—physical or mental—and let nature take its course. That’s the pact the Parents have with us, their children: Lucifer cannot kill us. Yet he continues to search for a way to do so and this, the Atchafalaya basin, is one of his biggest training grounds and laboratories.

I don’t know why he bothers.

Generally, we don’t interfere in a disease process. There is a time and a season for everything. Repairing psychological damage—attempting to, anyway—is different. The schizophrenics, bipolars—not all are caused by specters, just as not all diseases are caused by demolitionists. But it’s very rare that science loses a human body to disease if its turn on earth isn’t done. Not so with specter-induced mental illness.

Several hundred demolitionists burst up in rapid succession, coming for us. They’re small, about the size of a barn owl, and usually invisible to all but us.

It takes both my 3-megajoule dispersers and the monk’s behemoth to pop that ambush right on back to hell, for lack of a better word. Technically outer darkness either hasn’t been built yet or stands empty awaiting its prisoners once this Earth is cast back into the celestial recycle bin.

“Hmm,” I say, and because I can’t keep myself from stating the obvious, “this is not normal.”

The swamp waters aren’t as still as usual. I don’t know if it’s the oil or if there are more demons here than the water can hide. With pelts of moss and a slick over it, it should be harder to displace than water alone.

A battalion bursts out of the water and charges us. They’re no match for us both, but the sheer number of them is cause for concern.

So. The flooding and oil aren’t the only reasons I have a roving monk at my side.

… the unique dangers. I wish I knew what that meant.

Generally, we only make a little headway each night when we hunt. Lucifer replaces the demons almost as fast as we can dispatch them, but never quite fast enough. Out of the hundreds or—like tonight—the thousands that we send back to him in an evening, perhaps collectively, we will have lessened their numbers by a factor of ten.

Sometimes I wonder why we bother.

The water settles.

“I don’t know why we bother,” says the monk wearily.

I look at him sharply. Can he read my mind? I’ve heard it’s a possibility, a gift given to the upper echelons of our kind.

I answer by rote: “So someone can live and fulfill the measure of their creation.”

“Deb, I heard it in correlation meeting last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. Don’t want or need to hear it while I’m hunting.”

He’s jaded.

Bitter.

“How old are you?”

“Four twenty-three.”

Oh. I’m only fifty-eight. I feel that I’ve missed some important information.

No wonder he didn’t like having a nun—and such a young one—take the dictation.

He knows my name. He probably knows everything about me.

“What’s your name?”

“Ezekiel Alleyn.”

Oh. My. Stars.

The water bubbles and I don’t dare think about him as we go about magnifying our callings with weapons powered by cold fusion. Not magic, not supernatural.

Technologically advanced and genetically enhanced.

Like the demons.

Like the hunters.

There is no supernatural, no magic, only puzzles that haven’t been solved. Even we hunters don’t know how most of our technology works, and I’ve always wondered how much the general authorities who build this stuff know.

I figure they get their instructions like Noah did: Here are the blueprints and the supply list. Go to it. Don’t ask any questions.

The hunters’ DNA is altered when we’re set apart for our callings. I don’t know how that works, either, but considering Jesus healed the blind and the lepers…

Something brushes up against the back of my leg, wiggles its way between my feet. “Bonjour, mon ami.” The smallish ’gator flips his tail up behind me, making a splash.

The monk steps away to escape the oil-and-debris rain.

“You have a lot of friends here?” he asks.

What an odd question. “Of course I do.” He, of all people, should know the extent of my enhancements. I couldn’t work this swamp without having the flora and fauna understanding of and sympathetic to my purpose.

The ’gator maneuvers through my legs, and around again, making a figure eight, like a cat. He wants my attention, so I trudge to a log and he climbs out of the water so I can scratch his oil-slicked head with my titanium claws.

He almost purrs.

Non, chèr,” I tell him in Cajun. He doesn’t understand English. “I can’t get rid of him, sorry. He’s my boss.”

“He’s whining, Deb. What are you doing to this place?”

“He’s just a baby.”

“A baby you’ve spoiled rotten. Tell him to go home. We have work to do.” I translate as kindly as I can and he slides back into the sludge, but not without a swipe of a tail at the back of Ezekiel’s knees.

He glares at me. “You tell him he better never do that again.”

We spend the night sludging through the swamp, sending demons back to Lucifer. Our dispersers mess with their molecular structure somehow—or at least, that’s how it’s been explained to me.

We don’t speak. Ezekiel—

Oh. My. Stars. I can’t believe I’m hunting with Ezekiel.

—isn’t familiar with this terrain and I need to keep the awe out of my eyes and voice.

“Don’t believe everything you hear,” he mutters.

I don’t like that he can read my mind. I feel…naked. I don’t look so good naked.

“Are you trying to mess me up?” I ask. “Pick a fight? Because if so, I’ll take some personal time for the rest of the night and let you do this by yourself.”

“Watch your mouth, Sister Judge.”

I gulp. That’s the second time he’s dressed me down tonight, on top of his surliness at being here. It makes me rethink my abilities, my attitude.

“Don’t start doubting yourself now,” he grumbles as we trudge through the swamp. “I don’t need a hunter with a self-esteem problem at my back.” I purse my lips. “And no, I’m not here to kill you… Yet.

If you like science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, zombies, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night, go get the whole collection! It’s only available in digital now from the B10 site and the Kindle store, but print is forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.

My editor likes me!

He really likes me!

Scroll down to #64.

064) Stay by Moriah Jovan (MS POLICY), finished July 15.

My faith that I put in Moriah after reading The Proviso was justified. This book is good. Parts of it are excellent. And it’s still only a draft. It still has explicit sex (though not as much) but you should have no other qualms about checking this one out when it’s released in a few months.

Congratulations, Moriah, on a great book. Keep ‘em coming.

MS POLICY

I am positively giddy.

Also, independent publishers Zoe Murdock and Riley Noehren and I had a roundtable chat about independent publishing. What we have in common: We’re female, LDS, and publishing ourselves. That transcript (and awesome discussion) are up at A Motley Vision.

Book Review: The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife
by Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury USA

I feel like I just got jerked around in an extremely passive-aggressive manner by a narcissistic fuckwad.

I can’t tell you how pissed off I am at this moment.

No review. No more crit. You can see previous entries here and here. It’s completely irrelevant.

Tell you what. I’ll read Stephenie Meyer again before I’ll read anything else this author’s ever written. I can’t imagine Breaking Dawn is a worse betrayal by an author than this.

ETA:

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails about what actually happened, so here you go. Spoiler warning.

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Okay, here was the deal:

All the way through this book, Felix is in love with Becky. Almost painfully so. Obviously so (which is its own irritation that nobody picks up on this). He’s a very nice guy and fairly fleshed out and he’s only an ass for maybe 5 pages of the whole book.

Okay.

Her husband dies at the 2/3 mark. So, for 2/3 of the book she’s all about Felix when her husband’s around. Then, for the last 1/3, she’s all mourning her husband for two years, and Felix is there, wanting to marry her, tells her he’s been in love with her (and oh, this comes as a complete shock to her, right? Pfffttt), and now she’s all about her husband. So for pages and pages and pages and pages she’s all, “NO I’M STILL MARRIED TO MIKE!!!” (this is after 2 years of widowhood, remember) and breaking Felix’s heart, then she finally decides, yeah, okay, I can marry him. He’s my best friend after all. I’m 45 and my kids are way grown (youngest is 13 or something and oldest 2 are gone) and Felix and I can grow old together, so yeah, I think maybe I’ll think about marrying him after all.

And then they go away for a while so they can kiss uninterrupted. So they do.

And it is (I quote), “a belly-flop” of a kiss. No passion. So that’s it. They go their separate ways, I guess still being best pals on the phone or whatever.

Cuz they aren’t made for each other after all.

Because they didn’t get horny when they kissed for the first time.

Happy happy joy joy.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? AFTER ALL THAT FUCKING ANGST? HOW DO YOU NOT GET HORNY ABOUT THE PERSON YOU’VE BEEN IN LOVE WITH FOR ELEVEN YEARS???

She spends the first 2/3 thirds of the book w/her husband being all about Felix and the last 1/3 with Felix being all about her husband.

I have no way to reconcile any of this to any reality, writerly or Mormonly or humanly. None. It makes no sense on any level.

Update on the creepy book.

Okay, I’m about halfway through The Actor and the Housewife and things have started to become a little clearer.

The actor is clearly in love with the housewife; I don’t believe he is in denial about this, although he puts up a good act. Because he’s an actor. Heh. He’s a nice man.

The housewife is in complete and total denial. On purpose. She’s smart; she knows what’s up. She doesn’t want to deal with it because it’s gonna be nasty messy and painful. That is to say, she’s bored and she’s lonely and she’s completely unappreciated and she’s not getting much in the way of sexual healing from her husband. So handsome clever dude comes along and appreciates her as a woman, and of course it’s gonna go to her head. All the while she’s saying, “I have the perfect husband and I love him so much!” What she needs to do is wake up and tell her husband they need marriage counseling. I don’t excuse her actions. She’s lying to herself. IMO, that’s her biggest sin and she needs slapped.

The husband is . . . not a creep or a dick or an asshole. He’s lazy. Possibly stupid, but I’m leaning toward lazy. He’s lazy about his marriage. He’s lazy about taking care of his wife. He’s lazy about seeing her value to him as an unpaid (oh, but she gets room and board!) maid, chauffeur, nanny, and for the occasional (I think? He doesn’t seem interested.) sexual favor. Maybe. If she pushes hard enough.

He’s disturbed by her relationship with the actor (who calls every day; tells her he misses her), but he doesn’t notice when she’s trying to be sexy for him and his idea of a romantic evening is sitting on the family room floor after the kids go to bed watching the ten o’clock news and drinking chocolate milk—and that’s AFTER he’s already had his little pout about her friendship with the actor. He never gets really mad and yells at her. He does a couple of really passive-aggressive things to let her know he’s pouting. He can’t even be bothered to manifest his jealousy properly. (Is he that sure of her or does he think she’s not attractive enough? I can’t tell.) Yet he’s not disturbed enough to seduce her or romance her (or take what she offers, for that fact); either he doesn’t know how or he doesn’t see a need. Idiot lazy ass. You deserve to lose your wife to someone who’d sweep her off her feet given half a chance. Oh wait. You already have. Fight for her, you stupid fuck.

This is turning pretty dark with (dare I say it? I shall!) SPARKLES all over it to make it look like it’s all bright and shiny and cute and fun, and that the housewife is the only one with a little problem.

So far it’s shaping up not to be so much the story of her (without doubt) emotional affair with a (IMO) pretty awesome dude who’s head over heels in love with her.

It’s shaping up to be the story of an already fractured marriage that needs the x-ray of aforementioned affair to show it for what it is. It’s not a spiral fracture or a comminuted fracture. It’s not even a clean break. It’s a stress fracture, the kind that gives you twinges of discomfort that you can ignore for a long time until it breaks and you’re like, “I didn’t do anything to it!” But catch it early enough, and all it’ll need to heal is a cast and time and a helluva lot of TLC.

There’s a quiet desperation about it that’s starting to get heartbreaking (I have sprouted tears in a couple of spots). I suspect there are a lot of those kinds of marriages in the church. In a lot of churches. And outside them, too.

And oh, it’s so not chick lit. This is Women’s Fiction with a capital W and capital F. Dark and angsty without letting you KNOW it’s dark and angsty (and the bright perky cover is complicit in the deceit).

If this is where Shannon Hale meant to go without letting the reader figure out where she’s taking you, then I salute her. She’s effing brilliant.

But I haven’t finished it, so I may again change my opinion. I shoulda waited until I was finished, but this is too dense with subtext not to share as I go along. I hope it’s intentional. Dear Sister Hale, please don’t pull a Stephenie Meyer on me. Please. Pretty please.

This book’s kinda giving me the willies.

And I’m only 50 pages in.

Right now I’m reading The Actor and the Housewife, and I just don’t quite know what to think. Here’s the blurb:

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter . . .

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened . . . though nothing has happened.

It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special . . . something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it?

A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

This part is what gets me: “It isn’t sexual.”

My. Ass.

Now, look, Sister Hale. I realize that I shouldn’t be coming to this novel from the perspective of a romance reader, because it’s not a romance. (I know it’s not because the library cataloging block told me it isn’t. It says it’s “chick lit,” and library cataloging blocks don’t lie.) But I am coming to it from a romance reader’s perspective because it’s whispering naughty thing in romance’s ear at this point. Yet I don’t know a die-hard romance reader in the world who wouldn’t tear her hair out.

Becky Jack (the main character) is, thus far, what we romance readers would call TSTL.

Too Stupid To Live.

Also? Flirting *kofffallinginlovekoff* with someone while you’re happily married is a HUGE romance no-no.

I had to take a break from the gore of this woman’s squished IQ and blog it. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to finish the book, except . . .

I must get back to the trainwreck that she is. I should turn my eyes away. Look somewhere else. But I can’t.

Don’t you like ANYTHING?

I’ve been stewing about this for several months, but perhaps my problem could be alleviated by not hanging out on litrachoor blogs, where it’s the nature of the beast to say what you don’t like about a particular work.

Anyway, at one niche blog I hang out on a lot (but don’t post much because I have nothing constructive to add, whether positive or negative), there are a couple of posters who comment on each and every literary offering (whether they’ve read the work or not) with a *sniff* and variations on a theme of “I don’t like this.” Usually for weird X reason.

I get that. I don’t like everything I read, either. Whether I say so is a function of A) how lazy I am that day (I can’t be arsed to sign in and comment a negative), B) how confident I am in my own scholarship (as in, I’m not a litrachoor type nor an intellectual nor even a pseudo intellectual), C) whether I actually liked the work or not (I can be arsed to sign in to make a positive comment or to take a counter position to the negative poster if I feel strongly enough about the negative comment).

Aside: Oh, I forgot. Good litrachoor criticism means you are not allowed to A) like it and B) say anything positive about it.

However, what I don’t get is the constant not liking of everything that’s posted and feeling a need to say so. And! Worse! When the commenter enumerates how the work lacks everything s/he thinks it should have, that it isn’t what s/he thought the work would/should be, i.e., “Why don’t you people write what I want to read?” while yet not actually writing anything him/herself. Especially in a niche that has precious little to offer the world to begin with. If you don’t like what’s there, write it your owndamnself.

Another aside: Why am I stuck on having been instructed in novel-writing techniques by someone who’s never written a novel (nor, as far as I know, a novella, or a short story)? And teaches an adult extended education class on the subject?

The latest offering was a poem. I liked it, and while I’ve not traditionally been a fan of poetry, Th. and Tyler (and Tyler again and Th.’s posting of May Swenson) and some dude named Danny Nelson are all seducing me to the dark side.

This was not a constructive post. I realize this. I try to offer some solution to whatever I think is a problem if I start to bitch, which is why I’ve kept a lid on this for so long. But, look, not every work that’s posted or linked is a piece of crap.

And if you think every work actually is a piece of crap, do something about it instead of hanging out on litrachoor blogs and trashing everything that walks by.

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Beethoven makes me peevish

Not really. I’ll take Ludwig over Wolfgang any day. But I have not bitched in at least 1/2 hour; thus, I am overdue.

One thing that totally gives me an emotional wedgie is this: When you reply to a blog post that asks an open-ended question, and you put a lot of time and care and thought into your reply, and you’re not acknowledged by the original poster, not told that you’re brilliant, not told that you’re a fucking idiot. What I mean is, NO ONE who comments is acknowledged and the blog doesn’t have enough traffic (read: any personality) to generate its own activity.

Hit’n’run poster who was doing her time on a group blog. I’m on several like that. They have one thing in common: They’re LDS. They’re about writing. PLONK

I don’t think I’ve done this (I try to be conscientious about commenting), but if I have, feel free to shove it back in my face.

And while I’m bitching, might as well throw this out, too:

Takes me about 3 days through the blogosphere these days to get tired of the latest catch phrases and buzzwords. And I’ve used some of them in the last 6 months. Well, no more.

drinking the Kool-Aid (thank you, O’Reilly, like, 3 years ago)
honing your craft (and plain ol’ “craft” by itself by now, no matter what it’s in reference to)
made of awesome
made of win
meme
OMGWTFBBQ and any variant thereof
FTW (for the win)
trope
srsly

And also? My blog is just way too cluttered for my taste. I’m going to have to figure out something workable before my ADD gets violent.

What are you latest internet pet peeves?

For fun and a free e-copy of The Proviso, be the first to peg the reference in this post’s title.

The gatekeepers, part 1

I haven’t read Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn. I read Twilight and while I like cotton candy, I can only take so much. Like, one cone every 10 years or so or.

By now I’m sure everyone’s heard about the backlash against what is reputed to be the shoddy workmanship of Breaking Dawn and the push to return it to the bookstores after having read it. Mind you, the complaints ranged from the fact that Meyer tore her own world’s rules asunder to the poor editing job (i.e., grammar, spelling, typos). I found more than a few of those in Twilight and it bugged me then that a major publisher would release it like that. It looked so [sneer] vanity published.

I’ve heard ad nauseam about the gatekeepers, the agents and the editors, whose self-appointed Prime Directive is to keep out the unwashed masses of illiteracy who think they have a bestseller in them somewhere. They are there to not only 1) screen out the dreck and vet work that is potentially money-making, but once that is finished, to 2) put out a product that is well edited, well designed, and doesn’t look like it’s [sneer] vanity published.

Well, with Twilight, they did the first part right: They found a piece that would make money.

With the second part, they dropped the ball (especially with regard to Breaking Dawn) and Meyer ended up being put on the spot for a) bad writing, b) violation of her world’s rules, and c) bad editing in all stages.

I think that’s totally unfair.

I’ve been thinking about one particular Breaking Dawn post/thread on Dear Author for over a month now, wherein the commonly held die-hard fan opinion [that Meyer wrote by whimsy alone (putting forethought and craft aside)] was reiterated by author K.Z. Snow:

What’s so irksome is this: Meyer seemed to have a serious–and, to me, really appalling–lack of commitment to and respect for the craft. So shoot me for idealizing what we do, but one doesn’t become a writer on a freakin’ whim. I’m not surprised there’s been a degeneration from one book to the next.

and I opined:

I think this is clearly a case of wringing blood out of a turnip by the publisher and editors. They’re the ones who control the channel to the marketplace. If Meyer doesn’t have a commitment to the craft, who’s to blame? Meyer? No. The publisher and editors who facilitated her in that. If she has any thought about “craft” at all, I’d be surprised–and that’s not her fault. She hasn’t been required to to sell a gazillion+1 books.

Nora Roberts disagreed with me:

Yes, it is. Her name’s on the book. It’s her work. [...] But it is the author who’s responsible for what’s on the page.

And this comment is what’s had me thinking about this for so long after it’s been done and gone.

Ms. Roberts’s comment is borne out in the fact that Meyer alone was held accountable for what’s widely perceived as shoddy workmanship. Do we know who her editors (content, line, and copy) are? Undoubtedly somebody does, but they aren’t the ones being burned in effigy. I wonder if they got dragged into a meeting to find out why so many die-hard fans took their books back? I wonder if they got sent to Remedial Editing? I wonder if Meyer went back and said, “Hey, why didn’t you do your job? You made me look bad and you’re supposed to make me look good. You’re the gatekeepers.”

She was also responsible for selling those gazillion+1 books and making a helluva lot of money for those gatekeepers, whimsy and shoddy workmanship and all.

Yet why should Meyer bear sole responsibility for what is obviously a case of “Bless her heart. It ain’ her fault; she doan know no better”? Moreover, she doesn’t know she “doan know no better” as evidenced by the fact that she’s trying to defend the book by blaming readers. “They just didn’t get it.” Well, maybe they didn’t, but you don’t say that in public. If you can’t keep from digging yourself into a hole, shut the hell up.

(And ahem, Stephenie. You’re college educated. Could you not have gone through your manuscript to make sure you caught all the typos? Oh, right. That was the copy editor’s job, wasn’t it?)

Meyer’s editors, in looking for a quick buck sooner rather than later, threw Meyer to the wolves. They, as the self-appointed gatekeepers should have done their jobs and when they didn’t, they let her take the fall because, as Ms. Roberts points out, it’s her name on the book.

They also threw the readers and die-hard fans to the wolves–who howled loud, long, and with their checkbooks. Who knows how many die-hard fans felt betrayed who did not take their books back and did not burn them (as some did)?

I have come to no conclusion except that, at this point, I think both Ms. Roberts and I are right. But how can that be? I don’t know, because obviously Meyer was held accountable for it, but she wasn’t the one who enthusiastically put it in the editorial pipeline. I can’t think she had much control over it after that other than galley proofs.

Right now, though, I only have two questions:

1. What, again, are the gatekeepers for?

2. How did such work warrant such gorgeous covers?

A week!

I cannot believe a week has gone by and I haven’t posted. Tax Deduction #1 just went into kindergarten and I find myself being forced by the school district to keep a schedule. (Blech.) Being a WAHM is its own precious kind of insanity and my chaos is getting beaten into submission. Thank heavens I still have Tax Deduction #2 to keep my days a little off balance. I just don’t know what I’m going to do when he goes to school, too, and we’re all perfectly regulated and scheduled by default.

FYI, I thought y’all might like to know what editing a book (for me) looks like:


.

That stack of papers is one manuscript. Take about 100 pages off the top and that’s about how much of a dent I’ve made, which isn’t, admittedly, that much. Once I got through crying over all the bloodletting, though, I’ve started to have a lot of fun.

I’ll admit that when I’m under the gun like this (or otherwise preoccupied with Fun Stuff*), my blog reading goes way down (oh noes! missing drahmah!) and obviously, so does my posting. Hopefully I’ll be back on track in a couple of weeks and with any luck, I’ll get to start really cranking out the pages for book #2 in the Dunham series.

*So in the last week, Fun Stuff has consisted of reading. A lot. I finished a couple of erotic historical romance author Pam Rosenthal‘s books, which I enjoyed for their voice and odd cadences, but didn’t find terribly erotic. Both books were remarkable for how they took people from different classes and had them work to reconcile their thought processes and worldviews. To me, the sex wasn’t terribly descriptive anyway, so I don’t know why they’re billed as erotic. They’re fairly cerebral books. I liked The Slightest Provocation better than I liked The Bookseller’s Daughter. Almost a Gentleman was the one I couldn’t finish because I figured out the whodunnit a quarter of the way in and, again, the sex wasn’t enough to sustain the story if you already had it figured out.

I’m reading a (published) book by my crit partner. I’m reading a book by Rachel Ann Nunes (because really, how can I pound LDS lit into the ground if I don’t read it?), but I have to admit it’s just not holding my attention. I made an order to Deseret Book because I figured out that two of the books I bought in Nauvoo 2 weeks ago (yeah, I’ll post about that) are sequels (WHY don’t they put this on the cover?).

I was, uh, gifted with boxes and boxes of old LDS books, some of which are old-timey LDS romances and some others of which I think might be valuable, so I’m looking into that.

Hey Sam Weller’s. Call me!

“Little Lion Face”

Thmazing posted this poem by May Swenson (1919-1989), Mormon poet, in April. I don’t usually “get” poetry, but I sure as heck got this and it is…beautiful. I’m going to have to invest some time in her work.

Little lion face
I stopped to pick
among the mass of thick
succulent blooms, the twice

streaked flanges of your silk
sunwheel relaxed in wide
dilation, I brought inside,
placed in a vase.Milk

of your shaggy stem
sticky on my fingers, and
your barbs hooked to my hand,
sudden stings from them

were sweet.Now I’m bold
to touch your swollen neck,
put careful lips to slick
petals, snuff up gold

pollen in your navel cup.
Still fresh before night
I leave you, dawn’s appetite
to renew our glide and suck.

An hour ahead of sun
I come to find you.You’re
twisted shut as a burr,
neck drooped unconscious,

an inert, limp bundle,
a furled cocoon, your
sun-streaked aureole
eclipsed and dun.

Strange feral flower asleep
with flame-ruff wilted,
all magic halted,
a drink I pour, steep

in the glass for your
undulant stem to suck.
Oh, lift your young neck,
open and expand to your

lover, hot light.
Gold corona, widen to sky.
I hold you lion in my eye
sunup until night.

The price of nice

I was over on Dear Author talking about Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, which I have not read. One commenter expressed disapproval of Meyer on the basis that she’s a Mormon mother and shouldn’t be writing stuff like that anyway. I will go so far as to guess this commenter was not Mormon because she spelled it “Morman.”

I could crack on Meyer for a couple of different things, but when the religion gets broken out as a generic weapon to say “You can’t write that because you’re a Mormon,” I’m on Meyer’s side. Period.

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Genre, let me show u it

I am bored with the below discussion (but don’t let me rain on your parade, so carry on). However, I do need to use it as the springboard for what’s on my ADHD mind today: What, precisely, defines a genre?

We’re very specific in romance. Got an email yesterday from my newest BFF (kidding! but the offer’s open!) who said, “I know you don’t write romance…” Well, yeah, I do. It’s just got so much other STUFF in it that it can’t be classified, which is why I’m publishing it myself. In fact, it’s got THREE (count ’em, 1, 2, 3) full-length romances going on at the same time all woven together (which is why it’s going to top 700 pages and who-knows-how-many megabytes). And they have sex and there is no fade-to-black and they say the f-word and the c-word. They live a certain political philosophy (some more than others) that will probably be uncomfortable for other types of readers. The story takes place over the course of 5 years and oh, by the way, they’re all in their late 30s and early 40s and wow is that so not part of genre romance.

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Mormon-Vampire tale blows up intrawebs

This post is for the non-Mormon readers of this blog who come from (most likely) the genre romance corner of the net.

Backstory: LDS fiction
(aka Mormon fiction)
is analogous to, say,
what Steeple Hill puts
out or any other run-
of-the-mill Christian/
evangelical inspira-
tional romance. No
swearing, no sex, very
clean. No taking the Lord’s name in vain,
no smoking, no drink-
ing, no allusions to any of these things. For all intents and purposes, the term “LDS fiction” has come to be defined informally in the same milieu as inspirational romance category fiction.

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Book Review: Angel Falling Softly

Angel Falling Softly
by Eugene Woodbury
published by Zarahemla Books

Perhaps I should admit upfront that I consider myself an undemanding reader. I’ll happily go wherever the author wants to take me as long as it’s logical, consistent, and interesting. Let me add that I don’t even particularly care whether a story is plot-driven or character-driven; give me something to chaw on intellectually and I’m good to go. Make me laugh and I’ll forgive almost anything.

This is one reason why, when I read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, I was highly annoyed. I like vampires. I’ve studied vampire myths since I fell in love with Vlad the Impaler somewhere in the early ’90s, so her inconsistent worldbuilding, her habit of telling rather than showing, and her mostly flat characterizations grated.

By contrast, Eugene Woodbury’s take is haunting. Poignant, even.

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What the hell is Mormon romance?

So I went a-seekin’ keywords for my website header information and, naturally, plugged “Mormon romance” into Google and what did I get? This:

Mormon romance novels seduce book buyers

Germane point:

“I realized that there was a big hole in the LDS market for women’s fiction and I felt like I could do better,” [author Anita] Stansfield said. “I couldn’t find anything to read that satisfied me.”

Several years ago Stansfield wrote about a woman recovering from breast cancer. An important part of the book was the woman’s relationship with her husband, which included their relations in the bedroom, Stansfield said.

The novel’s bedroom scene dealt sensitively and obscurely with the topic of sex, referring more to the woman’s feelings than the couple’s activities. And yet Stansfield doesn’t believe those scenes would make it through the editing process today.

“I know I couldn’t write that now. They have cracked down,” she said.

WTF?

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