Friday, July 25, 2014

Introduce (verb) - Make someone known by name to another person, especially formally

Hi, I'm Sylvia.  That's normally how I introduce myself, and since each member's first post is to do just that, I'm starting out traditionally. Sometimes when I'm introducing myself, in an informal setting, I'll just say "hey", but today, on my first posting, it's "hi".  I am from the south and when I'm visiting there the drawl comes out and it's, "How ya'll doing?"

So, my fellow co-blogger, Jennifer, introduced her comments style as taking on the female roles.  My postings will begin with a word that will describe my comments and go on from there. By way of introduction, I want you to know that I'm a self-published author of romantic mystery novels and/or mystery romance novels.  Here's what happened...for years I thought my first book, The Agreement, was a rip-roaring mystery novel with a romance subplot, then I met my co-bloggers who sorta kinda made me see the light. Granted, other readers told me that my story had a lot of romance in it and that the last one hundred pages reflected the mystery but I thought...yeah...right. It took a while but now I know that, at least the first book, has more romance in it.  "Hi.  My name is Sylvia, and a brick has to land on my head sometimes for me to see the light."

I look at it the same way I see trying to introduce main characters in a new work of fiction. Sometimes you swoop the reader up from the get-go and bombard them with all the characters names. Other times you set the mood and then sneak a character in the story one at a an Easter egg hunt.  Make the reader search the main characters out.  Me. I'm a swooper. I like to get my characters out there and BAM your face! Not what a lot of people like but it's my way. Every writer has their own way.

Introductions are key... whether it's the face to face kind or it's introducing a character in a story.  My point is find your own style and if it works for you, stick to it and own it.

Hi, I'm Sylvia.  Welcome to our blog.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Now I Get Why Harry Potter is a Boy

     First off, let me introduce myself: I’m the long-winded one.
     This is the first post of a group blog, so I figured I’d jump right in and get to the topic I’ll mostly be posting about. Gender roles. Before you drift off to sleep, let me tie it in to the whimsical fake gossip column tearing up the Internet. Officially over my HP obsession, I can now be objective and voice the opinion I’ve always held: Harry should’ve been a Harriet. That’s why I started my own middle-grade fantasy starring a girl. Seven years later, I just finished this story and I understand why JK Rowling chose to write about a boy. It’s way easier.
     Let me be clear. I write for girls. I could care less if a boy ever picks up a single book of mine. I mean, they might be too busy conquering the world, and I wouldn’t want to get in the way of that. Yet, if they ever have the urge…I’ve gotta say, Donovan Hunt is a pretty good male character.
You're in a movie and see this coming. Run!
     To put this all into context, let me cite a movie I saw years ago when I fancied myself a connoisseur of film. The Comfort of Strangers is a thriller (sort of, I guess) about a truly British couple entrapped by social etiquette into a relationship with another couple who, at first, appear merely eccentric. Trust me, if the main characters in this film had been American, there would be no movie, because they’d’ve have run for the hills the moment Christopher Walken approached (a good practice for whenever Christopher Walken approaches in a film, mind you.) 
     Instead, the couple sits meekly by sipping tea and nodding politely, as the psycho couple tells them about all the deviant things they do. This leads to nothing good. It’s not a film for children, but there is one scene that applies directly to my children’s book. The Natasha Richardson character is telling the Helen Mirren character about a women’s theatre troupe she once belonged to (before it dissipated as a result of some of the women wanting to include men.) Helen Mirren says something along the lines of: “How can you do a play with only women? I mean, what could happen?”  then—later in the convo—adds: “They’d probably be waiting for a man. And then he’d come and something would happen.”
True....but there's more to it.
     At nineteen, my response to this was WTF? Having now written my book, my response is: You’ve hit the nail right on the head, sister!
     A girl character can’t fuel a story by her lonesome, and not because she’s weak. It’s because female readers look for different things than male readers in a story—better things. It’s a strength of our gender, this curiosity about The Other. Plus, I think girls recognize reading as a forbidden fruit, the privilege having been so hard won. So if you write about a girl, be prepared to write about a boy with equal fervor. (Don’t tell me that Hermione is as developed as Harry. She’s not!) And get ready to tackle issues of gender, which is hard to do with entertainment as the goal. (Note: The Comfort of Strangers is one of the least entertaining movies I’ve ever seen. Click at your own discretion, and I'll take you to a HP fan art pic that makes you feel the same sort of ickiness.)
     In Thief’s Cipher, I’ve tried my best with a race bred to be domestic servants (a la The Stepford Wives); a coven of witches that parallels a corporation; a male character who takes on the demons of childhood abuse and a hero role in which he’s been unwillingly cast; not to mention, a lingering prophecy that amounts to an arranged marriage between the two main characters.
     Oh yeah, and by poking fun of gender roles at every opportunity. Sorry, gender roles. You’re toast.
     (Told you I was long-winded.)