Sunday, March 31, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #42

Ludovico Einaudi -- Newton's Cradle
Album -- In A Time Lapse (2013)


Yes, another Ludovico song. I love his music, and this is a dark and chilling piece from his newest album. The video I found on YouTube is a time lapse video, and it's awesome. Do watch! Of course, to get the full effect of the music, it's best to listen on a headset or ear buds, but if you don't have either, watch this anyway and turn up the volume.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I'm Still Alive

I've been rather quiet on my blog lately, with good reason. I've been working on the edits of my manuscript for the past few weeks now that I'm out of my funk from having broken up with my boyfriend of seven years and moving back home with my parents. I still get mopey from time to time, but I'm doing better.

Today I finished my first pass of edits on this draft. I don't plan to have other drafts other than the first and this one, I just don't see the point in keeping so many versions (but, who knows, I may change my mind). I'll just hack away at this one until it's as tight as I can make it. I didn't get anywhere near my goal of cutting the manuscript down from 189k to 150k, I managed to cut a measly 7000 words. I'll let the manuscript sit for a week or so and then I'll start on pass number two. Hopefully I can cut more then with a little distance from it. Afterward I'll be seeking betas and their advice or suggestions. I've never edited a piece like this before, so perhaps I just don't know what to look for to cut when editing.

So while book one is marinating, I'll go back to book two which I've sadly neglected for a long while now. Though I'm sure Vlad is in no hurry to go into a war.

On a side note, it looks like spring may finally start to arrive. One side of me wishes for it to get here, the other side hopes it stays away for a while longer. Once the weather warms I'll be busy digging new beds around my mom's house to make room for all of the plants I will be going back for in Ohio. No way am I leaving my babies there. If I have to dig up half her yard to house them until I can find my own, hopefully permanent, place, then so be it. She won't mind, though. She likes flowers as much as I do. And all of that time spent in the yard will be time taken away from my writing, of which I usually neglect during the warmer months. At least I don't have a job yet taking over the rest of my time, though I have been looking. Me needs some monies. So that's why I've been putting most of my energies toward getting this book done and neglecting the blog. I'm running out of winter!

Soon, my preciouses, soon. Momma will miss you.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #41

Pearl Jam -- Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
Album -- Vs. (1993)

I seem to recognize your face
haunting, familiar, yet I can't seem to place it
cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
lifetimes are catching up with me
all these changes taking place, I wish I'd seen the place
but no one's ever taken me
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away...
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away... 

I swear I recognize your breath
memories like fingerprints are slowly raising
me, you wouldn't recall, for I'm not my former
it's hard when, you're stuck upon the shelf

I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate
perhaps that's what no one wants to see
I just want to scream...hello...
my god its been so long, never dreamed you'd return
but now here you are, and here I am
hearts and thoughts they fade...away...
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away...
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away...
hearts and thoughts they fade...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #40

Richard Burmer -- A Story From The Rain
Album -- Across The View (1988) & Sunday Morning Coffee (1991)

Electronic ambient artist and Michigan native, Richard Burmer. If you have a good set of headphones or ear buds, you may want to listen to this on those, then turn the sound up and prepare for your skin to goose pimple.

Rest in peace, Mr. Burmer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

New Specs

So Thursday I finally went to see an ophthalmologist to get my eyes examined and to get some new contact lenses, only I didn't get new contacts this time around (yet), I got glasses instead. And let me tell you, wearing them feels strange! It's been since the early nineties when I last wore glasses, I've always worn contacts because of the comfort of not having something sitting on my nose and being able to wear sunglasses. Putting them on for the first time in many moons is such a weird sensation, everything seems farther away and rounded and distorted and when I walk or even move I feel dizzy and out of balance. I'm sure in a few days I'll adjust, but until then I'm not driving or going into public.

I've always told myself for the past several years that I should have a pair of glasses in case something should happen to my contact lenses, or to give my eyes a rest from wearing them. But I didn't, and now I'm paying the price for my procrastination and laziness. You see, I'm terrible at taking them out at night, and rarely do. Granted, the ones I have been getting are extended wear contacts made to be worn day and night. Still, I should have taken them out more often than not at all or when they irritated my eyes. I also had the bad habit of keeping them long after I should have thrown them away.

So on this last visit, my doctor found deposits building up in the cornea of my right eye which indicated an infection from wearing my contacts for too long and not taking them out. So now I have to take these prescription eye drops, which cost a pretty penny considering I'm amongst the millions with no insurance in this country (won't get into that rant), and have to put them in both eyes for the next week to clear up this infection. I couldn't begin to tell you what the name of this infection is, I'm terrible about remembering medical jargon, but the doctor told me had I gone on with what I was doing with the old lenses in my eyes, my eyes certainly could have gotten to the point where I could lose part or all of my vision, at least in the right eye.

So now I'm wearing glasses because with the treatment I'm not supposed to wear contacts. I pretty much had no choice but to get glasses now, but once this is all cleared up I'm going back to contacts, I'll just have to not be lazy and take them out every night, and wear my glasses more often. I certainly don't want to lose my vision. For someone like me who loves to write and draw, and garden, losing my sight would suck greatly. I'm just glad I went to the doctor when I had and caught it when I did. Let this be a lesson to those who've done the no no I've been doing. My lesson has been learned.

Shitty, grainy webcam picture of me in my new specs.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #39

Madonna -- Take A Bow
Album -- Bedtime Stories (1994)

Take a bow, the night is over
This masquerade is getting older
Light are low, the curtains down
There's no one here
(There's no one here, there's no one in the crowd)
Say your lines but do you feel them
Do you mean what you say when there's no one around (no one around)
Watching you, watching me, one lonely star
(One lonely star you don't know who you are)

I've always been in love with you (always with you)
I guess you've always known it's true (you know it's true)
You took my love for granted, why oh why
The show is over, say good-bye

Say good-bye (bye bye), say good-bye

Make them laugh, it comes so easy
When you get to the part
Where you're breaking my heart (breaking my heart)
Hide behind your smile, all the world loves a clown
(Just make 'em smile the whole world loves a clown)
Wish you well, I cannot stay
You deserve an award for the role that you played (role that you played)
No more masquerade, you're one lonely star
(One lonely star and you don't know who you are)

I've always been in love with you (always with you)
I guess you've always known it's true (you know it's true)
You took my love for granted, why oh why
The show is over, say good-bye

Say good-bye (bye bye), say good-bye

All the world is a stage (world is a stage)
And everyone has their part (has their part)
But how was I to know which way the story'd go
How was I to know you'd break
(You'd break, you'd break, you'd break)
You'd break my heart

I've always been in love with you
(I've always been in love with you)
Guess you've always known
You took my love for granted, why oh why
The show is over, say good-bye

I've always been in love with you (always with you)
I guess you've always known it's true (you know it's true)
You took my love for granted, why oh why
The show is over, say good-bye

Say good-bye (bye bye), say good-bye
Say good-bye

Saturday, March 2, 2013

QUILTBAG Characters

QUILTBAG. What does that mean? Here's the definition according to the Queer Dictionary:

QUILTBAG is an acronym. It stands for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer. It is meant to be a more inclusive term than GLBT/LGBT and to be more pronounceable (and memorable) than some of the other variations or extensions on the GLBT/LGBT abbreviation.

When I first came across this acronym, I thought, what the hell does QUILTBAG mean? It can't mean a bag made out of a quilt, because, you know, silly me, that's the first thing that popped into my mind. So I looked it up and it all made sense to me. The acronym itself is befitting, like a quilt it represents patches of the different aspects of queer life, all wrapped up into one acronym like a bag.

The representation of queer folks in entertainment has grown in the last several years as the world becomes more accepting: from books to TV and movies to music, QUILTBAG characters are finding their place in different genres. I remember when queer characters were starting to make their way onto the small screen they were portrayed as cutesie, even silly yet adorable people. Will & Grace springs to mind, which is okay because I liked that show, and maybe it's my craptastic memory, but the gay male characters were never shown having relationships in the show (kissing, embracing, holding hands, that sort of thing), they were always talked about through the dialog. I don't watch much TV nowadays, but I've noticed the trend of showing queer characters in relationships like their straight counterparts, kissing and hugging and laying together in bed and such. Which is a step in the right direction, I think. People are still squeamish when they see two chicks or two dudes kissing and having a relationship; loving, lustful, or otherwise, and the more it is portrayed in a positive light not only on TV, but in other entertainment media, including books, perhaps, just perhaps, people will become more tolerant and accepting. It may be asking a lot for the human race since we still cannot get over our issues with different skin colors, let alone same sex couples and other queer people loving one another.

Different cultures during different eras of history were accepting of queer people and same sex relationships were not anything to garner attention, they were just as normal as hetero relationships. The ancient Greeks come to mind. But other cultures frowned upon it, and still even to this day, resulting in the death of a person who was found gay, whether they partook in sodomy or not. Uganda comes to mind. Other places throughout history have been a mix of different levels of acceptance, but the act of sodomy has been an issue in many a culture and time period resulting in different levels of punishment. Writer Oscar Wilde did two years hard labor in prison for his relations with young men.

When it comes to writing QUILTBAG characters, the most important thing to remember when writing them is to write them as people. That's it. I've seen on writing forums people asking how to write a queer character, and the most given answer is to write them as people: give them flaws, give them likes, dislikes, fears, a goal—just like any other character. When it comes to showing relationships, show them like one would with a hetero couple having the same nervous first kiss, the same butterflies in the stomach, uncertainties that a love interest likes them in return, show them having spats and quarrels. Show them being human. Of course, there are the prejudices, the fear of others showing malice toward them for being who they are, so on and so forth. It's going to come up, unless you happen to be writing your story in a fantasy world or during one of those periods in history where being queer didn't much matter. For all those uncertainties in writing queer folks, one can always join forums and discuss the issues one has questions about, and people will be gracious in helping you, as long as you're not being a dumbass.

In my work in progress, Draculești, I have a few QUILTBAG characters of my own. The main character, Vlad, being one. When I first wrote him I had no intention of him being bisexual, he just sort of sprung it on me one day. Yeah, it happens. Even he didn't know he was bisexual until he was gifted a carved wood statue of his beloved Frisian horse by his soon-to-be male love interest, Miklós (who I didn't know was Bi when I first created him either), which sparked a strange and curious feeling in Vlad, one that he could not ignore. Once he learned the feeling was mutual between them, Vlad explains to Miklós that the desire to want to be with a man must have always been there, he just never knew it until the day he gave him the gift, and soon afterward they have their first kiss.

The two end up having a secret love affair of which only Vlad's servant boy, Izsák, knows about and keeps secret. At the time Vlad is married to a powerful Hungarian family and he and the in-laws were not on very friendly terms, and if his affair were to be known, either or both of them would be punished for their crime. In Vlad's days, men caught partaking in sodomy often times had their privates cut off and/or were burned alive. Or any other various tortures, often leading to death. Now, I'm not certain how gay people were perceived 100 percent during the time my book is written in Hungary, but I've portrayed it that Vlad doesn't trust the Báthory's (his in-laws) with his and Miklós's affair and so that element of danger is there, and despite it, the two fall deep in love and sneak around to seek the others' company.

Over the course of the story, through hints I wrote here and there, I show that Vlad's servant boy, Izsák, is gay. When I created him I didn't know he would be gay but a little further into the story he begins crushing on Vlad, but it would not be Izsák whom Vlad has his first man crush. Izsák is only twelve when they first meet, Vlad seventeen, and at the time he has no interest in his obnoxious servant, but he comes to love the boy as a friend.

And then we meet Anna. Anna is a healer (don't dare call her a witch) who serves Vlad's wife's aunt with her healing abilities to keep her well with her chronic illness. With Anna, as was the case with the other QUILTBAG characters in my story, I didn't know she would end up being asexual, not until near the end of the story. Anna is sweet and nurturing to many of the other characters, except toward Vlad and Miklós. It isn't that she hates them, rather she treats them with mild aggression in order to distance them from her as a coping mechanism to keep them from making any kind of an advance on her. And it works. Anna has no interest in forming any kind of relationship, sexual or otherwise, and she makes herself unavailable because of it. Interesting, I wrote her with this aggression toward Vlad and Miklós without really knowing why, not until toward the end when a light bulb flickered on and I realized the reason.

Instincts, my friends.

And that's what one needs to do when writing QUILTBAG characters. Trust your instincts, that voice in your noggin. When I write my QUILTBAG characters I don't force them to be something they aren't. The same goes for my straight characters. I let them develop naturally through the story and if they are gay, fine. Straight, fine. With the exception of my historical characters that have a known orientation (except for Vlad, little is known of him other than being Vlad the Impaler's second son and having a son himself, so he has become, in a sense, my own creation), I often don't know if they are straight or queer when I first create them, they develop as I write them. Which I think is the best way to write any character. Unless you're writing a story about queer people, one shouldn't force a character to be gay just because one wants one in there to even out the playing field. Same could be said for any type of character. Write them as real people, and everything will come out naturally in the end.

That's my opinion, anyway.

And now I end this post with a drawing I made of a scene with Vlad and Miklós at the budding of their relationship. Vlad senses Miklós is nervous around him, with good reason. Vlad, the son of the Impaler, a noble also married into one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Hungary, is trying to make a move on a mere stable hand. So he tries to quell Miklós's nerves with conversation and getting him drunk on wine.

   Vlad rose from his seat and stepped behind Miklós. He leaned over him and, with the cup of wine in his hand, wrapped his arms about Miklós's shoulders. His body tensed in his arms. Vlad realized his being so close made him uneasy. He pressed his cheek to Miklós's ear and in a low voice said, “Tell me. Does my being this close make you nervous? Do you not wish me to be?”