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
OMGWTFBBQ and any variant thereof
FTW (for the win)

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.


I’ve had something rolling around in my head for a while since Dear Author asked, “What’s wrong with a C Review?” More recently, a discussion at Racy Romance Reviews involving a book I must get expanded on the conversation at Dear Author (I have a sneaking suspicion RfP and I are on the same wavelength with regard to this).

To clarify: C means neither good nor bad, but average.

To me, an average book = meh = forgettable. In my opinion, if a book is forgettable, it didn’t finish the job it started. What I haven’t figured out yet is if a book is so bad it’s not possible to forget, did it do its job?

I’m trying to distill this out for myself, but I’m reading a lot of books lately that are meh. In fact, they are so meh I forget I was reading them the minute I turn my ebook reader off to tend to other things. As I said on the Dear Author thread, I found a dozen books by bestselling authors that I didn’t remember buying and, worse, that I didn’t remember reading until I scanned the blurbs. Mind you, these are books that got high marks at Dear Author and Smart Bitches (I know, ’cause I went back and looked).

Now we have DocTurtle reading a Harlequin Blaze as a challenge by Smart Bitches to read a “real romance” and see how wonderful it is. Turns out he’s having fun, but not of the type everyone expected. He seems to read in fits and starts, so obviously it’s not keeping his eyeballs glued to the pages, unless that’s the type of reader he is, which I don’t know.

So what is this meh? Where’s it coming from? One of the last non-meh books I read was Ann’s because it was so damned different. What made it different?

I’ll tell you what made it different. She broke all the “rules.” Somewhere, somehow, with the evolution of RWA and its sister organizations and their writing workshops, easier access to agents and editors, more stringent-yet-vague criteria on how to write a query letter, and more propagation of some writing “rules” (the ones that would get you a D in any college creative writing course–ask me how I know), there’s been some weird homogenization. (And I started noticing this really begin to gather steam in the early ’90s.) Yeah, you can have unique plot devices or tried-and-true plot devices done differently, but essentially, the voice has become the same: same meter, same literalness (thanks, RfP) to supposedly make for clarity, and same explanation of things that I (Random Reader with a modicum of intelligence) don’t have to be told and would have rather inferred or been left wondering.

Tired, y’all. I’m tired of reading the same stuff over and over again. Even the stuff I’m getting mad at and simply not finishing–one reason is because the voice is tired on top of other problems. Everybody’s taking voice lessons from the same singing teacher out of the same songbook. The only reason I remember any of these books is to say, “Oh. That.” And off it goes to be archived on CD or in the box to take to the used bookstore–without finishing. One book I’ve been looking forward to reading and bought on its release date (because I had it on my calendar as a reminder) was a real let-down.

This “write from the heart and you’ll get sold if you try hard enough” cheerleading? Bullshit. Don’t write from the heart; write from the rules. Write what the gatekeepers tell you to write and, more importantly, how they tell you to write it. Obviously, lots of people love it, and I am the High Priestess of Capitalism, so I’m not arguing with an established market.

But…if everyone’s following the rules, how do you know the reading public wouldn’t like what you wrote from the heart? I know how you know. The gatekeepers won’t buy it because why mess with the homogeneity of voice? People like it; people buy it. [Insert philosophical plug for doing things independently, but that’s not what this post is about.]

Nothing, but nothing, makes me realize how homogenized the romance voice has become until I read something different. Kristan Higgins’s books were different and I enjoyed them muchly (although I heard some whisperings they weren’t romance so much as women’s fiction/chick lit and honestly I don’t know what the hell difference it makes). Ann’s, of course. Laura Kinsale, always.  Eva Gale, who came here as a poster (never heard of her before that), whose voice (albeit short pieces) just pushes all my right buttons (not talking about the erotic aspect, either).

Remember, I’m not talking about archetypes, plots, and themes. I’m talking about rhythm, word choice (e.g., the obsessing over avoiding “be” verbs and adverbs that spawns ridiculously tedious prose), dialog tags, over-explanation, and, yes, punctuation, which is one of the biggest tools in keeping your rhythm and singing in your own voice.

RfP said it best over at Racy Romance Reviews:

My most frequent complaint lately is that genre romance has no voice: it’s overly literal and can over-explain mundane detail to the detriment of style. Some of my favorite novels include more impressionistic passages in which I’m not sure exactly what’s happening, but they’re wonderfully referential and evocative.

I mean, come on. If I’ve noticed it and other people have noticed it enough to remark upon it and complain about it (and we’re only a fraction of a percent of the reading public), maybe there are a lot more people tired of it than the gatekeepers think.

Abolish marriage

“Marriage” is an ancient artificial construct that, in modern US society with no property rights attached to the female (i.e., dowry), has no real place.

As I said on chosha’s blog A Little East of Reality, what’s going on with California’s Prop 8 and the LDS church’s involvement with that, is one of defining the term. What needs to happen is that the underpinning law defining the term needs to change and then let linguistic evolution take over as to what is and is not marriage.

Here’s what needs to happen:

You and your intended(s) go to a lawyer and draw up a contract (people already to this for prenuptial agreements). You specify things like kids, power of attorney, healthcare decisionmaking, who does and does not have access to your healthcare information (thank you, HIPAA), and other things that heterosexual couples just…get…legally because they’re married as defined by law. In this case, the contract becomes the law. The lawyer files it with the court (like a divorce decree, only it’d be called something else like, oh, a companionship contract), the state collects its data, and everybody’s good to go.

If you and your intended(s) then want to go to your local ecclesiastical entity (whatever it is) and have a rite performed, you do that. Or don’t, if you don’t want to.

Or…do none of the above and after X number of years, you’ve converted from cohabitating to common-law “marriage” and that could apply to whatever living arrangement you have.

Here’s the thing. You change the labels and the populace will decide what marriage is based on their vocabulary.

Since I’m a libertarian, I have no investment in regulating what people do with their bodies as long as it doesn’t endanger me and mine.

I also have no investment in helping the church attempt to define “marriage” in California (although thankfully I haven’t been asked because then I’d be forced to be rude) because marriage has historically been about money and alliances.

What I find hypocritical is that the people who are most invested in re-defining marriage to include same-sex couples then turn around and vehemently protest polyamorous unions, which should have the same protections under whatever law gets passed.

William Saletan goes to great lengths to define why this should not be allowed and I find that simply ridiculous. Two people know what they’re doing, but three or more don’t? Let’s protect you from yourselves!

Here’s the answer. The number isn’t two. It’s one. You commit to one person, and that person commits wholly to you. Second, the number isn’t arbitrary. It’s based on human nature. Specifically, on jealousy.

Ah, okay. There’s a good argument.

In an excellent Weekly Standard article against gay marriage and polygamy, Stanley Kurtz of the Hudson Institute discusses several recent polygamous unions. In one case, “two wives agreed to allow their husbands to establish a public and steady sexual relationship.” Unfortunately, “one of the wives remains uncomfortable with this arrangement,” so “the story ends with at least the prospect of one marriage breaking up.” In another case, “two bisexual-leaning men meet a woman and create a threesome that produces two children, one by each man.” Same result: “the trio’s eventual breakup.”

Let’s protect the women and children!

Then he resorts to quoting the Bible, so he loses credibility with me right there.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: What’s good for the homosexual goose is good for the polyamorous gander and I defy any same-sex couple to give me a decent argument why that isn’t so…

…but that’s not my main point. My main point is this: You make it a civil contract between consenting adults, then let society’s usage of the word “marriage” define the word “marriage.”

The cold-blooded murder of the English tongue

I am resigned, although I have yet to make the official transition.

I have finally, irrevocably, inexorably decided that I cannot stem the tide of the use of “to raise” in reference to human beings. Much like the law of chastity, the use of “to rear” in reference to humans versus the use of “to raise” in reference to animals was beaten into my head from an early age and, well…

…I give up.

But I swear, they’ll have to waterboard me before I’ll give into “alright.”