Thursday, May 30, 2013

"You sound like you want to be sick," AKA, the story of how I got crippled by a shitty doctor.

In 2008, I was a healthy- if just a touch overweight- twenty-eight year old when I gave birth to my daughter, Wednesday. Labor was so easy, I actually stayed at home and did laundry until my grandparents and husband pushed me out the door, fearing I would give birth in the car. I arrived at the hospital just four hours before Wednesday came into the world, and I shoved her out with one heroic push. ONE.

With the exception of my slightly premature daughter's inability to nurse, the entire experience was easy. So easy that I was up and walking around my hospital room within thirty minutes of delivery, to the horror of my doctor.

So you can imagine that it came as a huge shock when, a mere eight weeks later, I could no longer walk, stay awake, or otherwise function.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roadhouse: "D-Rock is unemployed"

This week's Roadhouse is a little sad. But we get the sadness out of the way up front, then hit you with an amazing idea for a super cool reality show.

NOTE: D-Rock is aware of her legal rights. Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, it would be awesome if we could refrain from offering legal advice or "you should" or "if I were you." However, we encourage you to share your stories of workplace harassment and discrimination in the comments.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S01E11, "Out of Mind, Out of Sight."

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will finish Hemlock Grove and sit there for an hour going, "What the hell did I just watch?" She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they're watching along with me, and that's awesome, but I've seen the entire series already and I'll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So... you know, take that under consideration, if you're a person who can't enjoy something if you know future details about it.


Do you ever have one of those moments where you think, "I should do [x] before [y] happens," and then, before you can do anything else, [y] happens and you're like, "Fuck you, self. Why didn't you warn me in time?"

Last night, I lost all of The Girlfriend and The Stranger. 

Through the help of my miracle tweeps, I was able to recover all of The Girlfriend and 3,000 words of The Stranger, which had been sitting at 17k, but I'll take what I can get!

Thank you so much to everyone who talked me through this on Twitter all night long. I was up until six in the morning trying to save The Stranger, but ultimately I had to give up. However, when you guys are reading The Girlfriend, be sure to thank your lucky stars for Twitter user I Am The Liquor, who saved every piece of it.

I'm about to throw I Am The Liquor a goddamned parade, LOL!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sudden and unexpected blog hiatus

Something wretched has happened to me. I think I have food poisoning. I'll be back if I don't die. Recap of Buffy is on hold. Recap of 50 Shades Freed is on hold, because I'm nauseated enough.

Sorry, guys.

ETA: I am no longer dying, but if I don't wind up P90X ripped from the workout my chest and abdomen got last night, I'm going to be piiiiiiiiissed. Look for a Buffy recap and a late edition of Roadhouse on Monday.

As for everyone who suggested I was intentionally poisoning myself to avoid reading 50 Shades Freed... that's actually quite a good idea.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Amazon and The Big Damn Beta Reader Post

If you follow me on twitter, or if you were awakened this morning by what sounded like the screams of a thousand beansidhe wailing for the future of original fiction and fandom in one long, desperate howl, then you're aware that Amazon is a nest of fucking vampires who will not rest until they suck the very life out of the industry that built them. I'm speaking, of course, about the new Kindle Worlds program, a venue for fanfic writers who really don't give a shit about the creations they're purporting to love to exploit the fuck out of fandom and sell what in the past has always been given away for free out of integrity and a need to not get sued. You can read about the fucking travesty here at The Mary Sue, although they take a much different view of this bullshit than I do.

I was going to come here and write a scathing post about why this is shitty and why it will harm both fandom and original fiction, but you know what? I am tired of feeling like Ned Stark at King's Landing. I'm not going to be the Hand of the King on this one. If readers and ficcers want to be Robert Baratheon and refuse to see that the boar of paid fanfiction is wearing Amazon's Lannister colors...

Wait. Let me dial my nerd back a little.

Basically, I'm not going to rant on the subject (at least here; my twitter account is going to be bitter and terrible for A WHILE), because it has yet to do me any good other than getting a nice mad on and whipping you all up in an angry frenzy. Instead, I'm going to do something constructive that I've been considering for a little while.

Ever since I started recapping 50 Shades last year (Jesus, a year. A year of my fucking life) I have had requests to read people's original fiction and fanfiction. Some of you have written to me asking if I can be as critical of your work as I am of 50, and that's very flattering. However, everyone has gotten a no. Not because I don't love and care about you all, dear readers, but I just don't have the time to fulfill these requests. I write about forty-thousand words a month, excluding the 50 and Buffy recaps, so I really just don't have time left over for stuff like beta reading or leaving the house or showering.

In my spare time (which exists in the same magical realm as dragons and unicorns and plus-sized jeans that aren't made of stretch material that make them super fall-downish), I'm the president of a not-for-profit group that seeks to help writers at all stages of their careers. We have a mentor program, in which an author further along in their career helps someone who is either just starting out or is stuck and doesn't know the next step or whatever, and sometimes that turns into a beta reading relationship. I don't know why this didn't occur to me before, but you can credit one of the blog regulars, Thea K, with giving me the mental push into, "Oh yeah, I could do this" land.

If so many of you are looking for beta readers... why not pair y'all up HERE?

So, this is how it's going to work:

  1. Leave a brief comment with the genre, word count (or estimated word count), and a one sentence description of your work. That's really all that someone needs to know whether or not their project is for you. "High Fantasy, 100k, a girl embarks on a quest to avenge her father, murdered by a wizard."
  2. Leave people some way of getting ahold of you. Your twitter (if your account is unprotected), your facebook, your GoodReads account, your email address (youraddress at domain dot com, to avoid spambots) so that if someone is interested in beta reading your work, they can find you.
  3. Volunteer to read someone else's work. This will only be beneficial to everyone if everyone participates and volunteers their time. You can work it out between yourselves and set your own limits, whether you're looking for someone to read a chapter at a time or the whole work in one piece, and what you're willing to do in return. But you have to give something back, either to the person who volunteers or another person in the comments section.
  4. Leave a follow up comment when you have a reader. This is for two reasons: one, so you don't keep getting people offering you help when other people on the list are waiting, and so there's a record that someone read your work, in case something... untoward goes down. Which leads us to the next and final step:
  5. Don't be a dick. Don't plagiarize, don't leak chapters, don't mock people, just don't. Don't be a dick. I think most of us here are not dicks, so this should be a pretty easy one to follow.
This is not a fanfic beta reader search. It's easier to find a reader in fandom to beta your fandom works. Go through those message boards and channels instead. This is for original fiction only.

With that said, I'll just leave the rest of it in your hands. If you're looking for a beta and this post helps, awesome. If it all collapses like one of Clara's souffles, then whatever. At this point, I just want to do whatever I can to help original fiction writers. It seems pretty clear that it's going to get more difficult for all of us as the industry leans toward the joys of destroying fiction in general.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some Valjean/Javert "What if they were gay and also in high school?" fanfic I need to polish off so I can make thirty-nine bajillion dollars.

Monday, May 20, 2013

50 Shades Freed chapter 16 recap, or "Blind to Recursion"

The other day, I got the most delightful tweet:

The description DRF is talking about is:
I sit on the barstool beside my husband, who just looks radiant: freshly showered, his hair damp, wearing a crisp white shirt and that silver-gray tie. My favorite tie. I have fond memories of that tie.

And the picture that resulted?
Well done, my friend. Well done.

Also, Thea K believes this link will be of particular interest to everyone, and I am inclined to agree. It's an E! documentary on 50 Shades of Grey. I tried to watch it, but they said the book was selling at a rate of 1 per second, and I had to turn it off because I'm trying not to self harm anymore.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

ARCs of The Boss are now available for review

Hey there everybody! I've got .pdf ARCs of The Boss available for reviewers. To request one, fill out this form.

I'm asking that only people who seriously want to review the book, either on their blog, or another blog they review for, or a GoodReads account, request ARCs. I'm not trying to be elitist or jerky and let some readers have something other readers don't get, it's just a signal boost for the book as we near the end and the release of the free ebook and the paperback version.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

This is not a proper blog post.

This is not a proper post, just link spamming, but I felt like this link might speak to a large portion of my readership and if any of you had missed it, well. I would feel terrible knowing such a horrible tragedy could have been prevented. So, here's a link to pictures of Prince Harry looking so hot, the bottoms of your feet will tingle.

That is all.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S01E10 "Nightmares"

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will forget to change this opening comment before posting. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they're watching along with me, and that's awesome, but I've seen the entire series already and I'll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So... you know, take that under consideration, if you're a person who can't enjoy something if you know future details about it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to judge readers and alienate people.

Step one: write this blog post.  The post has since been deleted. But I'm still mad about it, and I still want to make a point here.

Kendall Grey feels that her art, her true passion, is urban fantasy, a genre that is apparently leagues above erotic romance in terms of merit and morality. I find this stance so patently absurd; I wrote some fairly successful urban fantasy, and no one seemed to feel those had any artistic merit. The most common question I faced from people who didn't "get" the genre or who thought it was some worthless fad was, "Isn't that just paranormal romance?" Because it wasn't enough. It was genre fiction, it wasn't smart, it wasn't worth reading.

Sounds kind of like what people like Kendall Grey would say about erotic romance.

I became so fed up with and hurt by people and their foolish misconceptions about what was and wasn't real writing. I loved my books. Writing them was fun, and I was proud of them. The added bonus was that I could support myself writing them. I didn't feel like I'd sold out because I wasn't writing literary fiction, because I was happy.

Those are the three magic ingredients to a successful writing career, by the way: Fun, Pride, and Money. In that order of importance.

Eventually, I burnt out on urban fantasy. It wasn't as fun for me anymore, and I wasn't excited about any of my urban fantasy ideas. So, I picked up a pen name and turned to a genre that was fun. The first book I wrote was Ravenous, a pirate-vampire-menage-a-trois. No, seriously. It was silly and fun and the prose got super purple. I had a blast. Did it make me ten thousand dollars in a week, like the book Kendall Grey only deigned to write? No. I don't think it's made ten thousand dollars since it came out years and years ago. But I'm still proud of it, and I still have good memories of writing it.

Next, I wrote Glass Slipper, a novella that I fell in love with from the first page. I could honestly write seven more stories just about Josephine and Julien and all the hot sex they could get up to as a married couple. You know, when you've been together a while and you can really let go? Yeah, they're doing something naughty right now, I'll bet. But I digress. I am proud of that novella, I had fun with it, and it made me a little money.

As I started out down the erotic romance path, I began to meet people who wrote in the genre, people whose paths I never really crossed before just because that's the nature of the business. They were all warm and funny and incredibly good at karaoke. The readers? They loved their genre without reservation. And everyone involved in that community? They weren't ashamed of what they wrote, read, and loved. Everyone was celebrating their love of reading and writing dirty books. I was writing something I really enjoyed it, I was proud of what I was doing, it wasn't making me the most money ever but hey, the other two made up for that. I felt like a writer again.

I recently had a book, well. Fail to meet my expectations for sales. I am devastated. For the past few weeks, I have been struggling in deep depression, doubting myself, doubting my career, wondering if all my failures are a sign that I should give up, that I am a terrible writer, that I am worthless. But do you know what keeps me going? The Boss. A story I wrote because it was fun, and I was having fun writing it. And I'm proud of it. I've never been so proud of anything I've ever written before (with the exception of a eulogy, but that's a downer and it was definitely not erotic romance because that would have been grossly inappropriate for the occasion). Is it making me money? Nah, I'm giving it away for free. Because I'm proud of it, and I want people to read this thing I did. And according to Kendall Grey? I'm doing it wrong:
"You can be noble and stick to your guns and say, 'Screw that! I’m gonna keep writing what’s in my heart no matter what!' Fine and groovy, as long as you accept that this guerilla mentality of badassery won’t pay your bills. More power to you for upholding your principles!"
I disagree fundamentally with anyone claiming writing anything will "pay your bills." See, I'm pursuing what I love- erotic romance- in a market that Kendall Grey seems to be claiming will make authors heaps of money, if only they compromise themselves. Here's a cold, hard fact: Kendall Grey made ten thousand in a week? I made ten thousand last year. Same "trashy smut" that's all the rage these days. And you know her failed UF series? Turns out that one of the most highly anticipated books of 2013 was Dead Ever After, an urban fantasy! What a fucking concept! It's almost as though no matter which genre an author writes in, some will succeed financially and some will fail!

I would be a liar if I said I didn't get bitter and envious when I see other authors, you know, paying their water bills or going to the dentist since 1998 or wearing clothes that don't have holes in them. At the end of the day, though, I'm a pretty happy person, and I consider myself a success. Because when I sit down to write, I'm not forcing myself to write something I don't care about, or actively hate. I'm not victimizing myself by choosing to write what I write. I don't walk away feeling cheap, dirty, or ashamed.

And another really cool thing about the path that I'm on? I'm meeting an amazing little group of weirdos just like me, but also just slightly different enough from me that we can all be interesting to each other. We can all bring something to the table.
"Once you’ve done your part to feed the reader machine, and you get paid ridiculous amounts of money for publicly shaming yourself and lowering your standards, you’ll be armed with the power to write what you want. Once you’ve built your readership, there’s a good chance many of your readers will follow you into your preferred, artsy-fartsy genre because they like you. Yes, you may have to compromise and write more sell-out books along the way to feed YOUR machine, but the beauty is that you can do BOTH and make it work."
I can't even get my head around a statement like this. When one of you guys draws me a flag of a fish with a severed arm in its mouth? That's amazing. When you tell me about how your husband passed away unexpectedly and my 50 Shades posts are the only thing you can laugh at? You have no idea how much that touches and baffles me. And then I see someone encouraging other writers to "feed the reader machine." This advice robs the struggling writer of the experience of connecting to their readers. A little over a year ago, I felt so incredibly alone and like such a failure. And now I feel like I have a success that, while unmeasurable in sales figures or dollar amounts, is truly greater than the money I was making before.

The reason Kendall Grey feels ashamed isn't because the genre is "trashy smut." The reason Kendall Grey feels ashamed is because she feels the erotic romance genre has no value or artistic merit, and she's prostituting herself to it. Because she apparently believes that erotic romance authors don't take the same amount of care and pride in their work as she did with her artistic urban fantasy. These are not problems with the genre. They're problems of an individual.

We would all like to experience the runaway success of a 50 Shades or a Harry Potter. But if that's why you're in the business, you're always going to be bitterly disappointed. There will always be a publishing company who doesn't want you. There will always be a book you work hard on that doesn't perform the way you want it to. And there will never be a rhyme or reason to why some books become insanely popular, while other books sell five copies. If the only way to make yourself feel better about your writing and your choices is to apologize for them and justify them with dollar figures... you're doing something very wrong. And if a part of that involves insulting readers and writers and tarring an incredibly diverse genre with a judgmental and narrow-minded brush? Then what are you even doing writing in that genre in the first place?

Erotic romance has plenty of detractors from the outside (and some from the inside). We don't have to be a Sunshine Sisterhood; that's a mentality I've complained about, myself. But we do at least owe the genre and the readers the respect of doing the best we can, and believing in our own work.

So to everyone aspiring to cash in on 50 Shades by dashing off a dirty book on your lunch hour: If you don't like erotic romance, then you shouldn't feel the need to grace the genre with your artistic presence. It won't suffer without you and the books you lower yourself to write.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

50 Shades Freed recap Chapter Fifteen or: "Take the blue pill, it's just better that way."

I had a whole bunch of links compiled for this post, and then I went and accidentally deleted my sticky note where they were waiting. Mea culpa.

We're saved! Just as I was working on this post, I got an email from Thea K asking for me to share these links to her rip-it-to-shreds blog fest: link the firstLink the second.

At least I coming out of the haze of allergy, pain, and seizure medications I've been struggling with. Sorry for the long gap between recaps, I meant to just skip one week, do a Buffy recap during the first week and a 50 Shades recap in the second one, but then I got confused and did two Buffy recaps in a row. Hoping to correct that and get back to a recap each a week. But further patience would be awesome.

Another thing I want to address is the length of the recaps. I've had a few comments about the recaps of 50 Shades Freed being shorter than the recaps of previous books. There's a really simple explanation of that, and maybe I should have mentioned it before: the chapters in the book are shorter. Which, by the way, is hilarious; remember when I was recapping 50 Shades Darker and I was like, NO ONE NEEDS TO WRITE A THIRTY PAGE CHAPTER THAT IS MADNESS? Okay, so, full disclosure time? There's a twenty-nine page chapter in The Boss.


Okay, so get into the recap Jenny, Jesus.

Once again, Ana begins a chapter waking up. And once again, Christian is winding around her like goddamned kudzu:
I am too warm. Christian warm. His head is on my shoulder, and he's breathing softly on my neck while he sleeps, his legs threaded through mine, his arm around my waist. I linger on the edge of consciousness, aware that if I wake fully I'll wake him, too, and he doesn't sleep enough.
This paragraph opens the chapter and somehow manages to sum up everything that is wrong with their relationship. One partner is willing to lie, hot and uncomfortable, so as to not wake the other partner. One partner is unwilling to let the other partner make a single decision for herself because it makes him emotionally uncomfortable.

Juuuuuuuuuuuust sayin'.
I drank too much- boy, did I drink too much. I'm amazed Christian let me.
"I am amazed another human being allowed me to chose what substance and what quantity of that substance I would put into my own digestive system." Gosh, everyone who told me he gets so much better was completely right, I guess.

Let me tell it like it fucking is: there is a difference between a character learning and growing on an arc, and a character who doesn't change at all while all the other the characters insist he has changed. The latter is what's happening here. Just because some characters are learning to tolerate or ignore Chedward's dickish behavior doesn't mean he's getting better or changing at all. Here's a fun exercise, guys. Go back and read some of Ana's parts in the first book. Compared to the character she is at this point in 50 Shades Freed, 50 Shades of Grey Ana is practically Xena, Warrior Princess.

Sorry, Xena. I know.

That's because at this point, Ana has bent her hopes, her expectations, her own personality quirks (eye rolling, for example), everything about herself, into a pretzel to be what Christian wants. That isn't character growth for Christian. That's not how you do character growth.
My palm is still red from last night.
It's nice that for once, she's waking up with an injury given to her by someone other than her husband. It's a refreshing change. But what was the creeper guy's face made out of? Granite?
I smile as I remember him putting me to bed. That was sweet, real sweet, and unexpected.
So, you expected him to leave you in the car? Or at the nightclub? Or was it just that you didn't have sex, and we're once again heaping praise on him for behaving like a fucking human being and not a wind-up rape machine?

Christian wakes up, tells Ana that he cherishes her and he wants to take care of her, and then he flips out:
He clasps my hand and I wince. He releases me immediately, alarmed. "The punch?" he asks. His eyes frost as he scrutinizes mine, and his voice is laced with sudden anger.
"I slapped him. I didn't punch him."
"That fucker!"
I thought we'd dealt with this last night. 
"I can't bear that he touched you."
"He didn't hurt me, he was just inappropriate. Christian, I'm okay. My hand's a little red, that's all. Surely you know what that's like?" I smirk, and his expression changes to one of amused surprise.
"Why, Mrs. Grey, I am very familiar with that." His lips twist in amusement. "I could reacquaint myself with that feeling this minute, should you so wish."
So, remember how Christian always wants to punish Ana right after she's done something "bad" and has caused him some worry or another? Is he saying he would spank her because some guy groped her against her will at the bar? That's healthy. This is a healthy relationship.
"I'd fight you any day, Mrs. Grey. In fact, subduing you in bed is a fantasy of mine."
Because he's tired of jacking off to the many ways he's subdued her in the rest of her life?

Ana considers the idea of fight-fucking from all angles:
What's this about? Brawling? Fantasy? Will he hurt me? My inner goddess shakes her head- Never.
Check in with your subconscious, she usually makes more sense.

Remember how David Walliams in drag is Ana's subconscious now? No, it's not just an excuse for me to lust over David Walliams and I resent your totally on the mark accusation. Good day, sir!

It's kind of sad that one of the first things Ana thinks when considering a new sexual kink to explore is will my husband, the man who is supposed to love me and be a caring lover, harm me. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP!

They do this whole "let's play rough" thing that's basically just Christian holding Ana down so she can't move. Well, actually, first Ana asks him if he wants to play rough, and her idea of playing rough is to get a drink of water, and... urgh:
Taking a leaf from his impressive repertoire, I lean forward and kiss him, pouring clear cool water into his mouth.
So, they're apparently back to the spitting in someone's mouth thing? You know how much me and my OCD love that old chestnut.

Anyway, then they do this whole thing I described before, where Christian tells her to fight him, but he can't let her win even a little bit on anything, so it's just a scene of her struggling while he holds her still, and then:
 I seize the front of his pajamas and yank them down, freeing his erection. I grab and squeeze him. He's hard.
No shit, dicks are hard when they're erect? I don't have a secret filthy Tumblr, so I had no idea.

They have sex, and I skip it, because I'm tired of reading the same shit over and over. They have amazing sex, and Ana is just relaxing and chilling out and enjoying the afterglow when, nope, can't have that:
"You're quiet," I whisper and kiss his shoulder. He turns and looks at me, his expression giving nothing away. "That was fun."
Shit, something is wrong.
"You confound me, Ana."
"Confound you?"
He shifts so that we're face to face. "Yes. You. Calling the shots. It's... different."
So, after he tells her to fight him in bed because it's a fantasy of his, and she does fight him in bed, he now has to make a big, dramatic deal about it. He is CONFOUNDED that Ana, the woman he has groomed from day one of their relationship to be unquestioningly obedient, has done something he asked. And of course, since he's expressed how CONFOUNDED he is, she scrambles to try and fix it, because she wants nothing but his happiness.
"You've never indulged this little fantasy before?" I blush as I say it. Do I really want to know any more about my husband's colorful... um, kaleidoscopic sex life before me? My subconscious eyes me warily over her tortoiseshell half-moon specs. Do you really want to go there?
Of course not. Because there are definitely things husbands and wives should hide from each other. Emotional intimacy is waaaaaay overrated.
"No, Anastasia. You can touch me." It's a simple explanation that speaks volumes. Of course, the fifteen couldn't.
 This naturally leads into a discussion of Mrs. Robinson, the ghost that haunts their sex life due to Ana's distaste at discussing Christian's sexual past. She asks him if he liked it when Mrs. Robinson touched him, and he tells her that he did at the time, but not anymore. Which leads Ana to think:
My lost boy.
I'm starting to get this really uncomfortable feeling that if Christian ever did get mentally healthy and he wasn't Ana's lost boy anymore, Ana wouldn't really be into him. Every time they're together in any way, she's like, "Tell me about your tortured past (so that I can feel bad for you)." I wonder if Christian would be as appealing to her if he wasn't a wrecked up project. After all, this is the girl who apparently thinks Thomas Hardy was writing romance.

After they make slow, tender love one more time- off the page, so I don't have to skim over it- Ana goes down to breakfast, where there is ACTUALLY A SCENE IN THIS GODDAMNED BOOK THAT I APPRECIATED AND ENJOYED:
As the two men amble across the lawn toward the house, lost in their conversation, Christian casually bends to pick up what looks like a bamboo cane that must have been blown over or discarded in the flower bed. Pausing, Christian absentmindedly holds out the cane at arm's length as if weighing it carefully and swipes it through the air, just once.
This scene would be more funny and enjoyable if didn't lead to a heart-to-heart two pages later, but I'll take whatever meager crumb of enjoyment I can get, like a Dickensian urchin peering through a frosted window at a glowing feast of roast goose and treacle tart.

Pictured: Jenny writing a recap.

Kate sees Ana looking out the window, and then this happens:
"What are you doing?" asks Kate.
"Just watching Christian."
"You have got it bad." She snorts.
I think it's weird that other characters have to blatantly tell the readers how Ana feels about her husband. It's almost as if the main characters aren't developed enough to prove their love to the reader on their own...
"And you don't, oh soon-to-be-sister-in-law?" I reply, grinning and trying to bury the disquieting visual of Christian wielding a cane. I am startled when Kate leaps up and hugs me.
"Sister!" she exclaims, and it's hard not to be swept up in her joy.
This is the most effusive we've seen Kate about the marriage so far, and of course, it's because she's gaining an Ana, not marrying the love of her life or anything. I'd personally rather chew my own arm off to escape a bear trap than be legally related to Anastasia Rose Steel Grey (most unwieldy stripper name EVER).

After a break, Christian is once again waking Ana up to start a new scene, to tell her to buckle her seatbelt because they're about to land. So, they're on the plane. Mia is sad and reading a book, Ana peeks up at Christian "through my lashes" (I had started to miss the one, actually) and Elliot is sleeping.
 I have yet to corner Elliot and quiz him about Gia, but it's been impossible to pry him away from Kate. Christian isn't interested enough to ask, which is irritating, but I haven't pressed him. We've been enjoying ourselves too much.
We haven't done a list in a while, so...

  1. It's none of your business, Ana.
  2. It's none of Christian's business and at least he knows that.
  3. It's more irritating to meddle in other people's relationships.
  4. You obviously don't care that fucking much if your good time can't be compromised for something you apparently think of as super important to your friend's happiness.
  5. You are terrible person.
Elliot rests his hand possessively on Kate's knee. She looks radiant, and to think that only yesterday afternoon she was so unsure of him.
You know when you like a show or something, and you introduce someone to it, and then they start acting like they know more about it than you do? That's how Ana is with Kate's entire relationship with Elliot. It's like Ana thinks she knows what's best for Kate or what Kate is feeling just because Ana is married. Yet, Kate has the most experience with relationships, because she's, you know, had them before. Ana's love life is only months old, and she's trying to speak to Kate's uncertainty like she's an authority or something.

At this point, the chapter begins doing its best to avoid plot and starts just filling up pages for no reason. There is a section break, then a brief scene of Ana and Christian in the car, where they talk about how fun the weekend was and how Christian was relaxed because Ana was safe. Basically, rehashing a scene we've already read a thousand times, in settings that are more striking than the backseat of an Audi. Then, Christian asks Ana if she's ready to "face Gia":
"I might want to keep you out of the way, keep you safe." I smirk.
"Protecting me?" Christian is laughing at me.
"As ever, Mr. Grey. From all sexual predators," I whisper.
Oh for fuck's sake.

Then there's a section break, and they're going to bed. We don't even get to see this supposedly exciting, nerve-wracking meeting between Ana and Gia. Now that they're back home, Ana is thinking about the Jack Hyde thing again:
Tomorrow we go back to reality- back to work, the paparazzi, and to Jack in custody but with the possibility that he has an accomplice. Hmm... Christian was vague about that. Does he know? And if he did know, would he tell me? I sigh. Getting information out of Christian is like pulling teeth, and we've had such a lovely weekend. Do I want to ruin the feel-good moment by trying to drag the information out of him?
She brought up the woman who took advantage of him in his youth on the trip, but does she want to ruin the afterglow by asking questions about the dangerous man who was clearly plotting to kidnap and rape her and who may have an accomplice still gunning for her? Nah, that's not important, because it has to do with Ana, and Ana's entire life revolves around Christian.
It's been a revelation to see him out of his normal environment, outside this apartment, relaxed and happy with his family. I wonder vaguely if it's because we're here in this apartment with all its memories and associations that he gets wound up. Maybe we should move.
You are moving, Ana. That's why he bought a house.
I snort. We are moving- we're having a huge house refurbished on the coast.
Oh, I see, that wasn't a rhetorical statement you were making, it was an excuse to talk about Gia and the scene E.L. couldn't be arsed to write:
I chuckle as I recall Gia's shocked expression when I told her that I'd seen her in Aspen. Turns out it was nothing but coincidence. She'd camped out at her holiday place to work solely on our plans. For one awful moment I'd thought she'd had a hand in choosing the ring, but apparently not. But I still didn't trust Gia. I want to hear the same story from Elliot. At least she kept her distance from Christian this time.
Wouldn't it have been cool to see the scene where Ana, with her newfound backbone, confronted Gia and asked point blank if she'd picked Kate's ring or was still involved with Elliot? Well, too bad, because E.L. isn't interested in that scene. She's more interested in hanging out in Ana's head while Ana thinks about foreshadowing:
Yet with his family around him, he is less controlling, less anxious- freer, happier. I wonder what Flynn would make of all that. Holy crap! Maybe that's the answer. Maybe he needs his own family. I shake my head in denial- we're too young, too new to all this. 
You should definitely have a baby to fix your abusive marriage, Ana. That's a great idea. Men never get more possessive or weird or crazy when their wives or girlfriends get pregnant. And he definitely won't be able to hold the baby as a hostage against you leaving him.

Christian comes to bed, and Ana has to turn the only part of this book that I've enjoyed into something shitty because she's awful:
"Do you miss it?"
"Miss what?" he asks, perplexed.
"You know, the caning... and stuff," I whisper, embarrassed.
He stares at me, his gaze impassive. Then doubt crosses his face, his where-is-she-going-with-this look.
By the way, that's the second time that description has been used in five pages, and I still don't have any idea what the expression looks like.
"No Anastasia, I don't." His voice is steady and quiet. He caresses my cheek. "Dr. Flynn said something to me when you left, something that's stayed with me. He said I couldn't be that way if you weren't so inclined. It was a revelation." He stops and frowns. "I didn't know any other way, Ana. Now I do. It's been educational."
It's a revelation to Christian that he can't force a woman to participate in sex acts she doesn't want to engage in.

No, really. That's what that says.

Someone else had to tell Christian Grey that it's not okay to force women into BDSM if they don't find it appealing. He is an adult and he's managed to live his life thus far without figuring that out. He had to pay someone to tell him.

This passage just furthers the anti-BDSM message in the book, the message that E.L. James denies is there. While the author runs around every media outlet clamoring to interview her, boasting about how she's been such a boon to the BDSM lifestyle and she's introduced women to their deepest, most secret desires, she's written a character whose involvement in BDSM is a mental illness that had to be cured. Christian has only been involved in BDSM because he doesn't know better. How is this in any way complimentary to the BDSM lifestyle, or people involved in it?

50 Shades fans are even worse about this. I saw a woman tweet a couple weeks ago that people can't judge those involved in BDSM, even though she doesn't "agree" with it. And her tone, as she argued with multiple twitter accounts, seemed to be the tone of a born again Christian trying to defend their stance on gay marriage. It was very hate the sin, love the sinner, like she was secretly rooting for all the BDSM perverts out there to find their true loves and see the light or something. That is what E.L. James has done for BDSM with these books. She's destroyed public perception of it.

She is the reason my face looks like this all of the time.

Then, as if this misunderstanding of BDSM isn't enough, we have to continue:
"I don't want you to hurt me, but I like to play, Christian. You know that. If you wanted to do something..." I shrug, gazing at him.
"You know, with a flogger or your crop-" I stop, blushing.
Uh... excuse me. But floggers and crops HURT. They're supposed to hurt. That's the draw. That's why some of us like them. I suppose there are ways you could use both of these implements without causing pain. You could use a rubber flogger to tickle someone, or a crop to... train climbing vines? But the point of being flogged or snapped with a riding crop is to hurt. I just... I can't get my head around this. Maybe because I like pain during sex. I just can't see the point of using those tools in a non-painful way.

There's a section break, and some emails that begin on August 29th, wherein Ana and Christian tell each other they love each other, and he reminds her about the Shipbuilding Association dinner. Apparently, Christian builds ships now. I don't fucking know, and it's not really covered. Ana's assistant comes in and tells her she's had to move some appointments around for her (spoiler alert, one of those appointments is for her birth control shot, but Ana interrupts her before she can mention that), Roach calls and asks Ana to come to his office, and we have another section break, followed by more emails on August 30th, in which Ana and Christian vaguely hint at the fantastic sex they had following the boring boat dinner. Then Ana's assistant comes in again and tells her she's had to move some appointments again, and then Roach calls again pulling Ana away to a meeting. Then there is another section break and HOLY SHIT AM I IN THE MATRIX?

Seriously, the deja vu is strong with this shitty, shitty, go nowhere chapter.

Pictured: A 50 Shades fan's contortions to suspend disbelief.

After the section break, there are MORE EMAILS, dated September 1st. Christian tells Ana that Hyde has been refused bail and he's been charged with attempted kidnapping and arson. Ana asks:
Does this mean you'll lighten up on security?
I really don't see eye to eye with Prescott.
No, Ana, you don't see eye to eye with your husband. Prescott is just following his orders. We've never seen any evidence of a personal beef between the two women, just Ana's exasperation at being shadowed. She gives the white men on the security team leeway in this, reminding the readers over and over that they're just doing their job. But when Prescott, a black woman, does her job, Ana takes it personally.

Christian's response:
What's wrong with Prescott? If you don't like her, we'll replace her.
Note that when Ana has complained about being followed the white men, Christian has never offered to fire them. Which is pretty funny, considering how threatening Christian considers white men who are in Ana's presence.
I scowl at his high-handed email. Prescott isn't that bad.
WHAT? Ana, you have done nothing but bitch about Prescott since she's arrived in the storyline, seemingly only to be bitched at. Prescott has, until this line, just been a vehicle for Ana's pointless exasperation. What the hell, now she's "not that bad?" Ana responds to Christian's email:
I was just asking (rolls eyes). And I'll think about Prescott.
Stow that twitchy palm.
Ah, the repetition of fanfic/fanservice writing. Also, nice to see Ana talking casually about affecting someone else's livelihood and career in the negative. She's certainly adapted well to being a part of the 1%.


These emails are dated September 5th, and the subject line of the first one is "Sailing & Soaring & Spanking," so basically there was this amazing scene where they did interesting things and we get to hear about it like this:
You sure know how to show a girl a good time.
I shall of course be expecting this kind of treatment every weekend.
And then there is an exchange about how much they love each other and how their life is beautiful and perfect and romantic. Then there is a section break and:
The following day, I gaze at the calendar on my desk. Only five days until September 10- my birthday.
The emails are dated the 5th, and Ana is looking at them the next day, which means it's only four days until the 10th. I guess it's a good thing she's an editor and not a mathematician.
Hannah taps on my door.
"Come in."
Prescott is hovering outside. Odd...
How is that odd? All we've been hearing about Prescott is about how closely she follows you and how much you hate it.
"Hi, Ana," says Hannah.
LOL, that rhymes.
"There's a Leila Williams here to see you? She says it's personal."
"Leila Williams? I don't know a... " My mouth goes dry, and Hannah's eyes widen at my expression.
Leila? Fuck. What does she want?

I can only hope that the next chapter doesn't begin with a five page series of emails hinting at what happened when she met with Leila.

Wait, no, I hope it does. Because I don't give a shit about this book, the characters, or what happens to them. And no one else should, either, because the author doesn't seem interested in writing the rest of this damn book, anyway.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Roadhouse update and The Boss!

First of all, The Boss chapter fifteen is up!

Second of all, Roadhouse will be up tomorrow night. Thanks for being patient with our late upload times while we adjust to D-Rock's new job.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Most Unexpectedly Bittersweet Thing You'll See Today

This post is the beginning of a series about my favorite YouTubers. I promise they won't all be about spiders.

I dislike spiders. Immensely. I have blogged about my hatred in the past. Last fall, I went to a reptile show with D-Rock, and it seemed like everybody there had fucking deli containers overflowing with goddamned tarantulas.

What kind of insane person voluntarily brings something like this into their home? I wondered judgmentally as we wandered the aisles. I overheard a guy talking about preferring one breed of tarantula to another, saying, "Yeah, with these they don't shoot those little hairs off. Those can really irritate your skin, so if you're planning to handle it, you need to get a guy like this." WTF, who would handle a spider?

These people:

This is TarantulaGuy1976's channel. I don't know exactly how I wound up there, because I fucking hate spiders. But I did wind up there, and I watched a ton of his videos. Why? Because I got sucked into the saga of a molt gone wrong.

Over the course of six videos, TarantulaGuy1976 documents his care for a spider that he obviously cares about very much. I started watching in the middle, when he surgically removed the hardened shell that the spider couldn't dislodge on its own. Then I went back and watched from the beginning.  I still can't believe how invested I became in his struggle to save his pet, an animal which I would, under normal circumstances, happily daydream about beating to death with a shovel.

It's not about the animal, though. It's about this guy, who clearly has an amazingly open heart if he can connect with something as ooky as a giant spider, and his devotion and care. I know people who haven't treated their elderly relatives with as much loving respect as he shows for the tarantula.

The strangest thing is, his tenderness toward this spider has changed my view of them, somewhat. Now, I'm not about to run out and adopt one of Satan's fuzziest abominations for my very own, but I'm not quite as creeped out by them as I was before. And I was, unfairly, stereotyping "spider people" as weirdos, another ignorant assumption of mine that this guy blew all to smithereens.

If you have some time to kill- and you don't mind watching what amounts to the spider equivalent of a dog tragedy movie- watch these videos after the jump.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S01E09 "The Puppet Show"

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone is probably going to die from this cold, so start planning her memorial right now. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they're watching along with me, and that's awesome, but I've seen the entire series already and I'll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So... you know, take that under consideration, if you're a person who can't enjoy something if you know future details about it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

It's Roadhouse Time!

This posted on YouTube some time in the night, but I was in a Benadryl stupor and didn't post it to the blog. This week, on Roadhouse, we discuss bad days and how to cope with them:

Tired of waiting for weekly chapters of THE BOSS?!

You're not having deja vu, this is cross-posted to The Boss blog, as well.

Are you tired of waiting for chapter by chapter updates? Wanna read the entire novel right now? Well, it's your lucky day, because from now until May 11th, you can register to win the uncorrected proof of The Boss. The winner will get to know what happens to Sophie and Neil before anyone else. That's some pretty big incentive.

I'm going to tell you where to go and how to win, but first, I have to share something that blew me away this morning. I logged in to blogger to make this post, and this is what I found:

Over a hundred thousand views? That's unbelievable! Thank you so much to everyone who has tweeted, facebooked, blogged, or just outright badgered your friends into reading.

So, now you want to know how to win the full version of The Boss. Over the past weeks, people have been fan-casting Neil in the comments section of each chapter. We want you to go to That's What I'm Talking About and tell us what real-life person you're imagining as Neil Elwood. And of course, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. Follow the instructions and you can earn up to 5 entries per day!

Writing Neil and Sophie's story has been the most fun I've ever had writing. Your reception of this project has been overwhelming. Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you next week with chapter fifteen!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Boss chapter fourteen posted early!

Hey guys! Last night, I posted chapter fourteen of The Boss early, because someone pointed out how shitty is was that they were getting snow in the midwestern United States. I took pity on them, because for freaking ONCE, Michigan is getting some actually awesome weather right now. So, you can find chapter fourteen here.

This Saturday, you're also going to be able to enter to win the entire uncorrected .pdf proof of The Boss. As in, you'd get to read the ending ahead of everyone else. So, tune in on Saturday for the link to that contest.

Also, I'm sorry I haven't gotten the Buffy recap up. I'm struggling with some hell combo of allergies and the common cold, on top of adjusting to my new seizure medication. It's like being on a roller coaster except for it's no fun and there's more nausea. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Keep on rockin' in the free world, and as always, you guys are the absolute best.