Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Writer Magazine

I subscribe to free email of The Writer Magazine. It's full of interesting articles. Now, because I'm not a "paid customer", I don't get the access to all the articles... Even though they offer a lot of interesting articles for free (like importance of reading bad writing), there's always some that are not free... Like "To make good conflict, play with the motivation", "7 tricks for the perfect pitch", or
"The importance of inclusive writing"... which made me think of something people say to me all the time: "Don't write about gay people just because you would like to have a homosexual character in what you are writing, if you are not gay, because you don't know enough of their culture and might say something a gay person would never say..." 
Isn't THAT something really prejudiced to say? And it's usually gay people who say so.

I can understand that people are afraid to be described as charicatures and token samples of their group by chauvinist people, but what would the harm be, if I described the person just like any other person in the story, but just switched the gender of their beloved one? Is really the "gay people don't act like that, they wouldn't ever say things like that, have those hobbies, behave like that" the worst thing that can happen?
I perhaps need to try to be more clear. I have been thinking about inclusivity, and I would want to create a world that is NOT just white, heterosexual and Western. I was asking if I could just let the character kiss her girlfriend, the same way I would kiss my husband. The relation would be mentioned not because of her sexuality, but because she is the main character's BFF, and I want to add more color and depth to her character. My husband is an important part of my life, and I find it hard to imagine any BFF whose relations wouldn't matter.

Of course I don't know anything about being a gay and trying to hide that fact from the world, just as precaution, I know nothing about the things people do to avoid uncomfortable consequences, or... well... what ever motives people have. Some take the difference and turn it up, some play it down, and I know nothing about how people with differences different from mine do it, why and what are the consequences...

But in the same way, I know nothing about neuronormal people. I know nothing about people who are not white, female, social-liberal, polylingual, middle-aged, straight, Pagan, bla bla bla. In fact, most of the people know nothing about the life of people different from themselves - AND WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT - we are all unique individuals... so if people were to write only about what you know, and only about people who are like you - we shouldn't ever write anything. Except horrible egocentric memoires. What a wonderful reading that would be... >;->

Well, then there's "Zombies can bring your story to life". I haven't read the article - I can't as I'm not a subscriber - but I was thinking about the things zombies are symbols of... or some people I know who are like zombies. There's emotional vampires, why not emotional zombies?
Come to think about it... what if Edward WAS a "real life" vampire... emotional one. What if he "really" was "sparkling"... you know some people with such a charm they seem to be sparkling, dazzling, shiny things? You know these enigmatic, extremely attractive people you just cannot turn to look at? Aren't all the vampires always described like that? Most psychopaths and narcissists are very charming. They need their followers, fan club, entourage... they don't seem to exist without people telling them they exist...
What about writing Dracula but in modern time and with psychological vampire as Dracula? Bah. Someone has certainly come up with that idea several times already :-D

How to turn into a werewolf. Really interesting insight to the world of Otherkin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Mortal Instruments"

Such a stupid name...

The story was great, original, interesting and well told.  But...

I hate Clary. I really don't see any good qualities in her. She's selfish, so darn egocentric, and then is supposed to dislike Jace for being conceited... I suppose she does, because he steals her stage. Which is why I suppose he had to fall in love with her, and make her the center of the universe again.She is unfair. She is immature, whiny, drama queen, never thinks about anyone else, it's always Clary, Clary, Clary. MY mother, MY brother, MY best friend, MY, MY, ME, ME, ME...

The book starts by a scene in a club she keeps going, even though her only friend hates the place and follows with her only because he's in love with her. Later in the book we find out her mother hates her going there too.
Such a lovely, considerate person, who puts her beloved ones' needs and wishes before her own, huh?

She does things that she resents when someone does them to her.
First time she sees her mother after she's been in coma for a long time she dares to be afraid of her, because "oh my god, you don't look like my bohemian artist mother! You look dangerous! Stay away from me!" Then she starts screaming at her because she didn't tell her her real father is a psychopath and they used to live in a fairyland and she's in reality a demon-fighting half-angel. Yeah... that's something you tell your kid. Nevertheless, she herself doesn't even think twice before choosing not to tell someone the truth because it might be hard to hear or something.

I suppose it's really nasty of me, but Clary... she tried to tell you, but what did you do? You rushed to listen to bad poetry with your best buddy .
And what does the mother do? APOLOGIZES!!! As if Clary was right! As if she had the right to yell at her mother!
I suppose the mother deserves it, not for "lying", but for having totally spoiled her daughter and making her the bitch she is.

The girl always did what she wanted, no matter how convenient it was for others, how well it fitted the general plan, how smart it was etc. Uh.

I threw the third book to the wall and broke its back. That's how infuriating the little bitch was to me.

Okay, let's play a little with marysue litmus test.

Is the character named after you?
Let's see - Clarissa "Clary" Fray by Cassandra Clare (pen name)

Is the character's name an unusual spelling of a more common word or name?
Well, yes it is! 99% of Clarissas are either Cassie, Clare (Claire) or Rissa :-)

Does the character's name describe her/his personality?
Clara - clear, bright
Fray - fight
She's sort of a half angel and sort of genetically designed to fight... Yeah, I'd say so.

Does your (mortal) character appear to be much younger than she/he really is?
Yes

Is the character highly attractive without having to work at it? She's really beautiful and she doesn't know it... It's repeated over and over again how she looks like her mother, but her mother is beautiful and she's not. So yes.

Are one or more other characters attracted to her/him?
Yes

Is an otherwise chaste or stoic character immediately attracted to her/him?
Oh, but see - yes! You see, there's this angelboy who was brough up to believe love makes you weak, but then he meets this girl and from the first moment he's a changed boy...

Does the character have an unusual eye color, or otherwise exceptional eyes?
Green - I'd say so.
(The hero's eyes are golden, and the villain's eyes are black.)

Does the character have unusual or exceptional hair?
Well, it's red. I would say yes.

Character

Well... she doesn't have a clone or identical twin, she isn't a genius but she has this miraculous angel gift, talent, that no-one has ever had and won't ever have either bla bla bla
She isn't really related to royalty, but her father is the archvillain and her mother is like a fairytale heroine in their hometown, so I would say "yes".
"Is the character rich or well-to-do" - well, for a daughter of a single mom who's an artist - I would say so. Because of course, her mother is like the most talented artist in the world, and one of the very few artists who actually not only can support themselves with their art but are reasonably wealthy.
(Oh, and Clary, of course, has inherited her talents, even though she thinks she doesn't draw so well and all.)

Was the character ever estranged from her family/tribe/country/etc.
Well, yes! Her mother took her away from her homecountry to protect her, and no-one knew she existed.

Does the character have amnesia?
Oh, look at that, she does!

Is the character a minority, a woman, or a member of a lower caste, who succeeds or makes a contribution in spite of her/his social disadvantage?
Yes, she is! She's a minor and brought up away from the traditions of this proud race and somehow saves everyone. Hooray!

Does she have an angsty past and does she angst about it during the story?
Yes, to both. Oh, her mother LIED to her, and STOLE her memory, even though it never happened, and she wasn't raised like an half-angel, even though she would have been so good at it, and is, even though her mother LIED to her... you get it.

Was the character an illegitimate birth?
No, but a "secret baby"

She wasn't really ever abducted, her mother was.
She wasn't really ever abandoned, because her mother wonderfully disappeared straight after she had found someone else to take care of her
She never really run away from home, that was sort of taken care by the mother being abducted and her home trashed, and... well...
But yes to all. 

Is the character unusually accomplished for her/his age/species/etc.?
Yes

Does the character have a faithful pet or animal familiar?
She has a best friend who acts like her familiar and pet dog, except he is very much smarter than that. To Nephilim mundanes are a bit like pets, so I think this counts.

Does the character ever easily learn a difficult skill
Oh, but she's BORN a half-angel, so of course she knows how to use weapons by nature!

Is the character the sole or last practitioner of a particular martial art or magic?
Yes

Does the character have any particular skill at which she/he the best or among the best?
Yes

And is she/he widely knows for this skill?
In the end of the book she is.

I don't know anything about Cassandra Clare's taste in music, clothes etc. but Clary's taste in music, clothes etc. is described, so I assume Cassie and Clary share these preferences. Wouldn't know.

Also, Clary looks like a 12 years old boy, being 5 feet short, thin with "small chest and narrow hips", yet she is like the most beautiful girl this half-angel brought up by other perfect human specimen "the most beautiful people Clary had ever seen"... Cassandra Clare looks very much like me, and I kind of have two favorite "marysue" looks, one is a 5 foot fairy and the other 6 foot amazon.

Anyway. Marysue. In a fantasy book it's sort of okay to be marysue, but... she's too much.

Nevertheless It was a really good story, such a pity the main character was such a bitch I just wanted to slap her... or put her head in a bucket of water and keep it there until the bubbling stopped.

P.S. I'm so infuriated with Clary and other such little details in these books that I had to go to Amazon.com and read the negative reviews to feel a little better, and was reminded of other little details that made me grit my teeth, and I was told that this story wasn't quite that original, but - I liked it, and I could see past the annoying little problems - something I couldn't do with Outlander, so I still think it's a good story. :-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sorry about the absence

I've been busy. Not writing, now... or that too, but about languages.
I have these... seasons, I suppose they could be called. One can follow my blogs, and see clearly that there's a lot of posts in certain months, and then the blog is practically dead the rest of the year. Which reminds me of that I need to update at least two of them, for the sake of other things. Anyway.
Seasons... this the season to be j... er... to be learning languages. I'm taking the 52 in 52 challenge.
Yes, you guessed right. I'm learning 52 languages in 52 weeks.
Yes, that makes a language a week, about 200 words a day, the whole year, and in the end of the year I will have at least the basic understanding of 52 more languages.
I have chosen European languages (and a couple of non-European; Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic, because those two Ara-s are being spoken in this area by the countless of refugees from Middle East, and Hebrew - well... it's not only because my husband is Jewish, (that's why I'm going to learn Yiddish) but because a lot of magical scriptures written in Hebrew. It's kind of the third Classical Language, even though it's mostly just Christians who study that. Which, BTW, is the reason why Alphonse Constant... uh. What ever. And also because I have chosen languages related to each other and if I'm going to study Arabic, Aramaic and Maltese, I can just as well study Hebrew. I assume the vocabulary will be mostly similar, and thus easier to learn.)
I have also chosen some languages I already know a little, like French and Spanish and... well... I have been studying languages on and off since I was about 10. Okay, okay, I'm a linguaphile. What ever. ;-) The purpose - for me - is not to learn 50 totally new languages, but to improve my knowledge of 52 languages. I could have chosen English as one of them, heaven knows I could use improving, but I am all right with the amount of Finnish, English and Swedish I have. I read books in all three language all the time, and I think that's enough "brushing" I need. With the languages I've already studied the goal is to learn to read fluently, or at least comfortably... what ever the difference is. To get better in the passive language. I firmly believe in reading, and I can't wait to get my hands to the novels written in some of these languages... I am certain that I will read at least five of the languages on my 52 list well enough to dive into the literature... (says she with a mad gleen in her eyes...)

I have no doubt in my ability to learn 200 words a day, and understand, comprehend, grasp a language in a day so that I can also use the vocabulary, at least as passive understanding. I've done that before. (Come on - I'm an Aspie. I am Autistic - to some level. The girl has to have some benefits of the condition!) But I'm a fickle person, not especially steadfast, and I doubt my ability to stick to the challenge and commit and actually do the work. If my past tells anything about me, that's the thing. I am amazing to start things, and the worst to finish things. I noticed to my surprise that this is my seventh year with NaNo! SEVEN YEARS!!! And I haven't manage to stick to it longer than about a week, until last year, when I had the support of my husband. I just couldn't let him finish and not finish myself. :-D

Anyway, that's why I'm here.

NaNo is coming, are you ready?

I have lost my Otherkin Scribe. :-( I lost it when the computer crashed, then my genius husband managed to retrieve it, and now I've lost it again... and this time I lost it... somewhere. I have put it somewhere and I don't have the slightest idea where. It's not where I was certain of it was. Maybe it got a life of its own and wandered off. Uh. Hate when that happens. Maybe the Otherkin took it. Oh, well. I have written it once, I can write it again. It's not that it was something extra super special and wonderful and amazingly well written. LOL It was written 2005. Or something. I have learned a lot after that, and I still suck in English, compared to what natives do.

No, I am not going to actively improve my English, I will let reading work its magic. And I just read the Percy Jackson 5+2 and I am on Mortal Instruments, book 3. Interesting little detail - what these two series have in common is ichor.
Another little thing here... I just said to my husband, that one of the downsides with being a person who loves fantasy books written to 12 years olds is that there's plenty of supply, so we will never run out of books to read... so there is really no NEED to write a book I'd like to read. Even though it would be nice to read a book where the hero is acting like a real 12 years old, and the world treats them as it does preteens. It would also be nice to miss this teen anxiety and hissyfits. It would be nice to read about sensible teenagers - they do exist, you know. Actually, most teenagers are sensible. Sure, your brains fail you just when you need them most, and there are all kinds of new emotions and sensations and by now you know most of the people are lying, but - hey, that's life. That's the way it is. Nevertheless, most teens are "good kids". Nice, kind, sensible, relatively calm, lively and lovely. Yes, they will yap back if they think you're stupid, and they will, because you are, and they will rebel and they will question and they will think they know enough and you're just an obsolete relic of some ancient eras put on earth to bother them, but they still will not behave like spoiled, selfish, stupid brats. Most of them actually understands that it's important, even essential, in "can save your life" to do as you are told by someone you know is a lot better equipped to deal with the situation, like a teacher, a parent, a werewolf, angel, god, hero or what ever who's been doing "this" before you were even born, when the situation is some sort of an emergency or in other ways such that you have not dealt with that before. Fifteen years olds who go to dark backrooms after a bunch of guys waving knives is suicidal or stupid - or both, not a brave kid doing what she believes to be right. Stupid. A 12 years old kid who hasn't held a sword in his life does not win - or even manage to keep the sword for five minutes - when fighting the God of War or another kid whose been fencing since she was 7. A skeleton detective does not take a 13 years old girl he hasn't seen before this day with him to the world of demons, monsters and dark secrets, to "help" him investigate her uncle's murder. He takes her to her mom, and tells the mom what she did so that she will not let her sneak out the bedroom window.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"I like my heroines with bite"

Stella Duffy wrote in Huffington Post about sympathethic heroines... the thing is that we have to find something likable in the characters we read about, to want to read about them. I think she has mixed likable and "niceness".

For example her Theodora."I say this with an awareness that the protagonist of my latest novel, "Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore" has been seen as unsympathetic by some. Of course, sympathy is in the eye of the beholder, so while some readers have found her cold, or even ruthless, others have found her funny, smart, passionate, as well as ambitious."

Yes, and a lot of people find Scarlett O'Hara unlikable. Like me, for example, or Alexandra Ripley, who was chosen to write a sequel to Gone With The Wind. And surprisingly many find the "new and improved" Scarlett likable, as they made a tv series of the damned sequel and more sequels and what not. That to me is disrespectful, extremely unlikable and hateful.

If you don't LIKE your main character, DON'T WRITE ABOUT HER. 
If she's yours, go ahead and change her. 
If she's not, DON'T WRITE ABOUT HER. 
You have no right, no excuses, no acceptable explanation to take someone else's character and change her to your liking, just because you can.

So, Alexandra, thanks to Scarlett, I will not read one book of yours. You should have had the ovaries to say "no", and leave the sequel to someone who finds Scarlett likable, because she is passionate, ambitious and has bite.
Also, as Margaret descibes her very clearly in the beginning of her book, and says she has BLACK hair and pea green eyes, you don't go on giving her RED hair, just because you think it fits better, or because her name was Scarlett or because in some movie, tv-series, fan art or something she's depicted as redhaired.
No, if you think there's something wrong with Scarlett, you write a book about Ruby O'Donnell from Kerry, who has in every other way the same life as Scarlett, except that she doesn't, because your Ruby would not have seduced her sister's beau, and your Ruby would have realized the value of Rhett - or Seth Valet, and been happily married to him and mother of several babies, as brilliant and beautiful as their parents. Or something.

So - I like my heroines with bite too, but I find the biting girls likable... Sympathethic. I like heroines who are really intelligent, not just think they are SOOOO smart, and "wise gals". I like heroines who have self confidence enough to be kind and tolerant and friendly. I like heroines who have ovaries to stand for what they believe in, even when it's not "nice". I want a heroine who is personal and interesting rather than beautiful, I want a heroine who is rather strong than cute, rather salt than sugar, rather old and experienced, and mellowed down by the experience, than young and innocent and stupid. I want a heroine who is equal to all the males in the book, not submissive and worshiping. I want a heroine who behaves well, due to her kindness and compassion to her fellow human beings, not because she has been "raised right". I want a heroine who dresses nicely, but is not a fashionista. I want a heroine who used to be a tomboy, someone who doesn't curl her lips or roll her eyes, someone who is no-nonsense and takes on the jobs she knows she can do, because someone must do them, and does her work well, swiftly and without whining, because I don't drink whine, not even with cheese and crackers. I don't find the preppy High School girls likable, or shallow people who care only about their looks, or Paris Hilton types, or cheerleaders or Dora from Anne of Green Gables. It's interesting that even Lucy found her bland and boring, so she isn't talked about much.

Anyway. I found out that Texas board of education bans books because someone with the same name has written something else they don't like. On the other hand, they don't like music, if they disagree with the composer's/lyricist's/artist's opinions on something that has nothing to do with music.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Percy Jackson

I have been reading Percy Jackson. Now... I like the idea. I think the movie was okay. I liked the book a lot.

Except...

He's 12. Sure, half-god, superman, but still 12. I mean - this is what you should be seeing. This is a 12-year-old girl (Joey King) and a 12-year-old boy (Quinn Lord with green eyes and black hair). You know, 12, the age when Harry Potter fought the snake in the dungeon. Remember how bravely Daniel Radcliffe tried to fight the basilisk but didn't manage to look very convincing? I do. That is a 12-year-old.
This 12 years old superchild beats the other superchildren the first week he's on the superchild camp. All the other superkids have more experience, knowledge and training.
He fights an adult super-superman within a month and - wins? An adult super-superman who is an expert in fighting. This kid has barely held a sword in his hand before June of his 12th year alive, but who cares, he manages to keep his side against the thousands of years old God. Yeah...
And the guy who wrote this is a father...

He likes Greek myths. He's been studying Greek myths. In depth. But he doesn't recognize Dionysos when he sees him, doesn't recognize a faun when he sees one, doesn't recognize anything he sees... and he has to be explained things from... eggs. I mean - he's sitting by a table with a satyr, having killed a minotaur and seen a flying horse, and the guys have to convince him that he lives in a world where the Greek gods are not just tales... I mean... I would believe I was dreaming or something, and if there are satyrs in my dreams, sure, pour in Greek gods and anything. I'll believe. Geesh.

It's like Donaldson and the white gold guy. Every step of the road insisting nothing that happened was happening, and even though some unbelievable, miraculous things happened all the time - like he not having leper any more - he refused to believe he was "not in Kansas anymore", and everyone else in the world he was knew better than him what it was all about. No way. Idiot.

They yap at him about not mentioning names, but when he guesses, then the names start dropping all over the place. Geesh!

"You mean the Greek gods are here? Like ... in America?”
"Well, certainly. The gods move with the heart of the West.”

What?!

What?!

WHAT!?

Oh, yeah. Europe is dead. Who cares what happens here. This is the Old World, so old it's practically dead. Just like the Old Testament, you know. Joka vanhoja kaivaa sitä tikulla silmään, as they say.

The girls' bathroom "smelled just like any public bathroom" - I don't think so. Girls' bathrooms don't smell as much as boys' bathrooms to begin with and this is the summer camp of halfbloods. It would have been kept squekey clean.
Also, the kid makes the water wash away the bullies. These experts on Greek mythology wonder who's his daddy...
He's not good at anything but canoeing. Who's his daddy? No idea...
He doesn't have the looks of any of the other campers, even though all the other kids look like each other, and his mother told he looks like his father. Who's his daddy? Blank stare.
He gets in the water and immediately gets better. Huh?
They have to see a glowing trident above the boy's head to get it!
Geesh.

And why the stereotypes? Why keep only some?

"If you're a child of Aphrodite or Demeter, you're probably not a real powerful force."
Yeah... I mean, Aphrodite's and Demeter's kids were really nothing compared to the kinds of... Orpheus and Heracles. Or Perseus Jackson. I mean... they just caused people to fall in love or fear, invented agriculture and stuff... nothing important. Whereas using water as weapon is something really big and mighty and powerful, a true force to consider. Yeah.

"You're probably a child of Hermes. Or maybe even one of the minor gods, like Nemesis, the god of revenge."
So there are children of the lesser gods around, but still Aphrodite's and Demeter's kids are not important?

"Number eight, the silver one, belongs to Artemis," he said. "She vowed to be a maiden forever. So of course, no kids.”
Athena was a maiden Goddess as well. No kids. Nevertheless, she's given them, and plenty of them.
"Annabeth sat at table six with a bunch of serious-looking athletic kids, all with her gray eyes and honey-blond hair."
Yeah... "male logic"?

I mean, if he twists the myths, why not twist properly? I suppose girls are not interesting. Demeter and Hera are the "three big ones" sisters... who cares. They are not interesting.

BTW Rick, goats don't eat metal. They don't eat tin cans nor aluminium cans. It's really stupid to make your satyr pack his backpack full of scrap metal and apples to snack on.
And a 28 year old faun doesn't know more than two songs? Sure.

Then the movie... He beats Athena's daughter, who is more or less a regular camper, the first week on the camp? Poseidon couldn't beat Athena, how would his idiot son won over Athena's daughter in her game? Please.
Golden blonde California Girl? And 12...?
At least the film makers realized how impossible it is for a 12-year-old to do what the book says.

P.S. The second book was not as good as the first one, but still okay.

Helle and Frixos! Not Europe and Cadmus! Now... that is unforgivable... almost got me off reading the book.

Harpies: "plump little hags with pinched faces and talons and feathery wings too small for their bodies" - like cafeteria ladies and dodos.
Oh. Let's use the later misfiguration to describe harpies, after all, they are female.
In reality harpies are the spirits of storm winds and gusts and very beautiful.