I’m over at Word Whores this chilly Sunday, talking about using myths and how far I’m willing to twist them.
You have to visit Pearls Cast Before a McPig to see it. Voodoo Bride is a big fan and wanted the privilege.
Here’s the official description (which I forgot to give Sullivan-oops!):
Althea Grant is doing fine. Sure, her Charleston gallery is suffering from the bad economy, and her artistic aspirations have gone nowhere. But she’s happy enough. When rugged metal sculptor Steel rides up on his motorcycle looking to rent studio space, his infusion of cash is more than welcome. But his art is raw, visceral, sexual—and completely inappropriate for her pastel world of watercolor landscapes.
Steel, fascinated by Althea’s rare albino coloring, sees in her the key to his next piece: a metal satyr that can be used for bondage games. Moving into her gallery basement is the first step; seducing the coolly polite lady into modeling for him is the second.
As Steel peels away her careful manners and tasteful outfits, Althea begins to realize her life isn’t just fine at all—it’s as pale and washed-out as the watercolor paintings she’s failing to sell. Can she transform her life and accept her most secret desires?
Out February 25!
There’s this trope in the movies – especially a certain kind of teen movie – where someone pays/bribes/coerces one of the popular kids to pretend to like/love/date the nerdy kid, thereby conveying that special magic upon them and elevating the unpopular kid into the lofty ranks. You all have seen this movie, right? Inevitably it turns out that everyone loves the previously unpopular kid and the formerly golden kid has plummeted in the rankings because everyone now sees them for who they truly are, whatever that may be.
Of course, we understand from this that popularity is A) not a real thing, B) easily created and destroyed and C) a false goal that leads only to pain and suffering.
Popularity very often is a mysterious thing. Why does everyone think that one cheerleader is the prettiest? Or that one guy is the one everyone wants to hang with? It’s easy to put it down to money, the right clothes, personal charm, luck. In the end, nobody really knows the answers and, after a certain point, we all leave high school and we don’t worry about it so much anymore. It is what it is and popularity doesn’t really matter.
Unless you’re engaged in a field where you’re trying to get people’s attention.
Then you’re plunged right back into the social frenzy. Why does one book get passed around and talked about while another languishes? How come everyone seems to LOVE that author, that book blogger, the one agent who everybody knows is really kind of smarmy? But they do, we still don’t know the answers and now, unfortunately, it really DOES matter.
Recently on a number of the author loops I’m on, people have been engaging in “Like” and “Tagging” parties. People ask for “Likes” on their FB author pages. For example, here’s mine https://www.facebook.com/Author.Jeffe.Kennedy. You can see there’s a “Like” button (which is at least way better than the old “Fan” button). If you click, then you see my posts. And look! it’s a measurable indicator of popularity! There’s a similar deal on Amazon, which is arguably more important to the book’s success. For example, if you look at Rogue’s Pawn on Amazon, you can see the little thumbs-up symbol under the title, which is meant to show how many people liked the book. If you scroll ALLLLL the way down, below the reviews, you’ll see “Tags Customers Associate with this Product,” – again, meant to be a way for customers to rate and describe the product.
Well, there’s all sorts of mutterings and schemings about how a book needs 25 Likes to make it into Amazon’s recommendations. And that the tags are EVERYTHING if you want to sell books. Of course, a lot of this is trying to discern the system behind the curtain and make it play for us. So what are these authors on my loops doing?
They’re attempting to create the appearance of popularity. “I’ll like your book if you’ll like mine” is just the grown-up iteration of paying the popular kid to sit with you at lunch. And there’s a certain logic. Hopefully real readers – and by this I mean, people who’ve actually read and liked the book, as opposed to clicking to do you reciprocal favor – will see all those frisky likes and think “Hey, look at all the people who like this, it must be good! I want to be one of those people!”
But, in the end, though the number of Likes might look much better than it did before, it’s still not a real measure of anything. You’re kidding yourself. I suspect that at some point, like the kids in the teen movies, we realize that popularity cannot be bought, sold or traded. That it comes down to who we really are or, in the case of our books, what kind of reading experience we offer.
And it is what it is.
I suppose our choices aren’t always rational ones.
Lately, despite my INTJ nature (if you know what that is, you’re nodding in understanding; if you don’t, don’t worry about it), I’ve been the Queen of Non-Rational Choices. At least when it comes to writing. This is part of the mister curse. I rarely ever feel like I get to control a story or make decisions about it. It’s like this great slippery many-tentacled thing that I’m trying to wedge into a Vera Wang gown. Never mind the make-up and hair-I just want the story to be able to walk down the runway without turning into a pile of goo.
So here I am in the middle of RP2. Just past the middle, actually. I’ve got about 63K written and I’m predicting I have about 48K to go. And bizarre things keep happening. I get one tentacle neatly tucked in and three more pop out.
It’s times like this that I wish I could pre-plot, when I’m envious of all those neat little outlines and well-behaved characters who simply suit up and behave. I know, too, that I simply need to slog through this part, that the story is trying to communicate something to me and I have to find out what it is. Writing the words then becomes like saying a rosary or Kaddish – you sit your butt down and put in the time, trusting that the transformation will take place.
Meanwhile, I’m all kinds of cranky. If I were the sort of writer who locked themselves in an attic room, demanded that food be left outside the door and threw temper tantrums, I would SO be doing that right now. But I don’t have that luxury, so I plug along, observing my rituals and routines to stay more or less on an even keel.
This morning, after I lifted weights at the gym, I put the check for the water bill in the dropbox. Taped to it was a note. You know the kind of note I mean. The passive-aggressive kind. It said something along the lines of “Please do not repeatedly slam the dropbox door. The bills will drop easily on the first try.” Clearly this person’s desk is on the other side of the wall the dropbox is attached to and said person is tired of hearing the dropbox door repeatedly slammed.
Now I want to type up a little note of my own and tape it on there. Something like “Please don’t post bitchy little notes.”
Ah, the irony.
This, my friends, is how my crazy writerliness manifests.
Maybe you should all just find me an attic room after all. Just leave food outside the door.