Sunday, December 28, 2014

I am so bored of comic book heroes

The Flash is showing on foxtell at the moment and the few glimpses I've had of it bore me to death. It's such a typical comic book cliche plot: insert young male nerd who is incredibly smart and is usually a scientist + random weather event or science experiment gone wrong = super hero! I think he gets hit by lightning and that gives him his speed powers and his super hero bod. How boring. Why does it happen? How does the lightning do that to him? I prefer super heroes who have magical origins like Superman or Sailor Moon. It's more believable than a random act of God turning them into a super hero. I think I prefer super hero worlds that are more magical because I can suspend my belief more. I don't like the comic book worlds as much where science is responsible for all the good and bad things that happen. I feel like it has been done to death and it just does not interest me anymore. Part of the reason I like Sailor Moon is because she is an ordinary, average girl. She is not really smart. She is not brave. She is just a student at school. She doesn't have huge aspirations. She just wants to be a housewife and be happy. In the ads for the Flash he says he is your "average forensic scientist" like that is a job that is really common. That bugs me for some reason. If you are a forensic scientist you are not normal in any way. You are clearly a very intelligent person and have managed to find success in a very small field. There isn't a huge need for forensic scientists. I know some people might think Usagi might not be a great role model because of her desire to be a simple housewife instead of getting a career. But I disagree. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a housewife and a mother. There's nothing wrong with being a forensic scientist, either. I am just tired of comic book heroes always being made out of cookie cutter molds so to speak. This is why Buffy was so good. She was the opposite of a cliche. Instead of being the beautiful blonde being chased by monsters she chased them. It was fresh. It was new. It was exciting. We need more human super heroes. People like Buffy and Usagi. Because in real life most people have an average job and an average intelligence and might hesitate to put themselves in danger.

Fifty Shades of Grey has ruined the romance/erotica genre

I detest the term "Mummy porn" I also hate the term "Mummy blogger" why is it once you have had a child that as a woman you are always a mother first and whatever else you want to be second? Long before Fifty Shades of Grey came out the media had a weird fascination with romance writers. Every so often they would do a puff piece about some bored housewife who has gotten into dabbling in the romance genre and it has always irritated the shit out of me. I read one the other day about a female cop doing it and the article was called "Smutty Mummy" and it made references to fucking Fifty Shades of Grey (of course) as if that book was responsible for the sexual awakening of every woman on the planet.

Let me clear something up. Women like sex. Women like porn. Women like these things as much as men. And romance/erotica is NOT porn. "Mummy Porn" does not exist. Romance/erotica is very, very different to porn. Romance novels are not smut. It is not porn. They have a plot and characters. They are stories that revolve around romantic relationships. It is not just about the sex. Yes, all things do LEAD to sex. But it is not three hundred pages of endless fucking. How boring would that be? Porn is nothing but sex. A romance novel is exactly what it says it is: a romance. Not just a fuckfest. Just because something has sex in it does NOT make it porn.

I am not anti-porn I just grow tired of the giggling and finger pointing the media does when they do a puff piece about a romance writer. What is their fascination with romance writers? What about horror writers? or fantasy? or historical fiction? What is it about female romance writers that is so interesting to them? Men write romance as well. What would you call their books? "Daddy porn?"

I read Fifty Shades of Grey from beginning to end and I am very curious about the film and I'm actually looking forward to it. Will it be hot? Eh, maybe, but I reckon it'd way, way tamer than what people are expecting. If we see actual cock and balls I'll be very surprised. Fifty Shades of Grey was not terrible but it was not great either. It's good that it's gotten people interested in erotica but I really hate this idea that the media has that women did not like sex until that book came along. There is a big wide world of much better erotica fiction out there that women and men have been enjoying for a long, long time.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Bayonetta is an interesting twist on a strong female character

I bought myself Bayonetta in the Boxing day sales and just played 45 minutes of it for the first time. I already knew a bit about Bayonetta before hand. I knew she was over the top sexual to the point her actions in the game border on satire. Her body proportions are unrealistic. She has huge legs that go up to her arm pits and long arms. But that's okay. She carries guns in both hands and has some attached to her ankles. When she fights her clothes sometimes disappear and she goes completely nude. In one scene her clothes get ripped off her and she moans as her dress slides off her and her battle outfit appears. She has this one attack when she goes nude and her hair wraps around her body. I had my concerns before purchasing this game that Bayonetta's antics would add nothing to the game and just irritate me. But Bayonetta is different. She isn't just eye candy. She isn't a damsel in distress. She is strong, smart and powerful. She uses her sexuality as a weapon to distract her enemies. She is proud of how she looks. She struts around because she thinks she looks awesome. It's not to entice men. It's her saying "I am fucking great"

I saw a video on You Tube the other day of a 5 year old girl telling her Dad how she likes Princess Leia's slave costume in Return of the Jedi despite the fact that Leia is forced to wear it by Jabba. Her Dad tries to explain to her how it is bad to make her dress up like that against her will and that she would not like to be a slave. Her daughter says no, she would not like to be a slave, she would just get rescued and then would ask if she could continue to wear the dress. The comments in YouTube were as disgusting as you could expect full of trolls. A lot of them thought it was disgusting that the little girl thought it was okay to dress like Slave Leia and that she thought the look was pretty. Women should be more than eye candy for men. But then other people argued that the whole point of feminism was to let women decide for themselves what they wanted to wear without judgement from others. If that girl thinks that look is pretty and would like to dress like that then there is nothing wrong with that. She should be free to dress how she likes without judgement.

Which brings me back to Bayonetta. A lot of people think that Bayonetta is a bad role model for women because of how she dresses and acts but shouldn't Bayonetta, just like the little girl who likes Star Wars, be able to dress and act how she likes? I think people who have concerns about this game should play it for a little bit because they will see that this game is satire, for adults, and embraces both sexes.

Friday, December 26, 2014

You don't need a professional editor to prepare your book for publication

I just read this interesting article on Listverse about the top ten worst dreams to chase and number two was writing a novel. To be honest I was surprised it was not number one. The article said that it's very hard to get published and even then your chances of being successful is very slim as well. All true. But then they said that you have added expenses like a professional editor among things. You don't need to hire a professional editor to get your book up to publishable standards. If you have the money and want to do it and save yourself the time, sure, do it. But they charge through the roof to do something that you can do yourself. As a writer it is YOUR JOB to learn how to write creatively, to learn grammer and spelling, and what makes a manuscript publishable.

You should be able to do the job of an editor yourself. Read editing books, talk to other writers, do research on the internet, even take a class. But you should be able to do it yourself. It bugs me so much when people tell writers that getting an editor is an expense that they would have to endure because it's NOT. A decent writing teacher or person with experience in the industry would encourage their students to do their research and learn how to prepare a manuscript themselves. You are a writer. Write. Learn your trade. Don't spend money on services that you can do yourself if you can teach yourself.

Now if you are going to self publish there is one thing I do recommend that you go ahead and do and that is get a professional looking cover made. If you have the skills to do it yourself then save yourself the money but if you're like me and do not have the skills or equipment to do it then look around on the net and pay between $50 and $100 for a good cover. I would spend good money on a cover because people really do judge a book by its cover. I've seen far too many shitty ebooks out there that have covers that look like they were made in MS paint. Get something that looks so good it would not look out of place in a real life bookstore. Get something you can be proud of.

As for the rest of the expenses of being a writer all you need is a computer and an internet connection.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In defence of Tuxedo Mask

Tuxedo Mask is a unique character because he a lot of the time in Sailor Moon he plays the role of damsel in distress. Tuxedo Mask is one of the few men in Sailor Moon. He is not a regular human but he is not powerful like the Senshi are. He cannot control the elements and he doesn't have a magical weapon. He has healing abilities, can teleport, and has physic powers and is immortal. Doesn't sound too shabby but when you compare him to the Senshi he comes off as the weakest in the bunch. Tuxedo Mask is a unique male character because he often plays the role of the damsel in distress. It is the girls who have to rescue him a lot of the time.

Tuxedo Mask is there to provide moral and sometimes physical support to the girls. He gives advice (sometimes good and sometimes bad) he will often stand back and let the girls take control of a situation but when things get hairy he will also jump into the fray and do his best to help which is pretty brave of him considering how weak he is compared to Usagi and the others. In the original anime I don't think his character was written the best. I know Sailor Moon is all about girl power and that's great and is one of the reasons I love the show, but it would've been nice if Tux had been a bit of a stronger character and a bit more Usagi's equal. I would have liked to have seen him develop stronger powers. In the manga he does a little but never to the point where he becomes equally as powerful as the girls. And that becomes a sore point for him. He feels bad that he cannot help them more. He feels like he should be the one to protect them. His inability to be able to do that makes him feel like less than a man.

I don't have a problem with Tux swooping in to save Sailor Moon every once in a while. I know some people find it annoying especially when in the new anime it says in the opening song that they do not protection from men in the lyrics. But it's not like Sailor Moon is incapable of fighting on her own and needs saving every five minutes. Far from it. In the new anime she is ten times more brave and fit as a leader then she was in the older anime. There have been several moments in Sailor Moon Crystal when Usagi has really shocked me by being so confident and secure in herself as Sailor Moon. In the old anime she was frightened and cried a lot which was fine (but got old fast) it's nice to see her the complete opposite in the Sailor Moon Crystal.

One of the biggest criticisms about Tux is the difference in age between him and Usagi. He is 17 and she is 14. He is in high school and she is in junior high. I really get mad when people call him creepy, a pedophile, or a statutory rapist because of a measly THREE YEAR AGE DIFFERENCE. He is not a pedophile, for God's sake. There is nothing creepy or wrong about their relationship. Three years is a really small age gap. And the two of them do not even get serious and start having sex until way, way, later when both of them are older. This is not a 30 year old dating a teenager. It is a kid who is 3 years older. The fact that there are people out there who if this was a real life situation would report him to the police really, really, depresses me. They would destroy a young man's life over a stupid, tiny age gap. I'm pretty sure in a lot of places when the age gap between two kids is that small and that close that most police would've even charge the kids with anything. I think they're called Romeo and Juliet laws.

Now if you want to hear about a disturbing relationship then you should check out Cardcaptor Sakura. I love that anime but I've always been disturbed by the TEN YEAR OLD GIRL in that who is secretly engaged to her GROWN ADULT TEACHER. I mean seriously, what the hell? What sort of a grown man proposes to a ten year old girl? Now that is creepy and weird. Usagi and Tux are just a normal pair of kids.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Carry Me Away has been downloaded 340 times

What an excellent result! I'm very happy that it has been received so well. It has been downloaded more times in the past two weeks than my other two stories have been in the last 5 months. Can You See Me Now and When I Look Into Your Eyes have both been downloaded over 200 times each since May which I was very happy about. In the past I would have been lucky to get 11 sales a month back when I wasn't publishing on Smashwords. It's amazing to think that so many people have downloaded my stories. I have started working on a new story that is similar to Carry Me Away but it has a bit more plot and will be a bit longer. I'm still working on a title at the moment I am calling it "The Midnight Visitor" for a working title. It is the first new story I have worked on since 2012. I've suffered a lot with writers block for the past two years. But thankfully that is behind me. I've had to do a lot of creative writing for university this year and it really kicked me back into gear again. I've learnt that it does help to write a plot summary and to have a basic idea of the bones of the book. I took a break from doing that because I felt like I was spending too much time world building and that my creativity suffered. I wanted to dive in and WRITE not spend weeks doing research. I admire writers who are good at world building and do put in that effort. There is a down side to not world building though and that is staring at a blank page and wondering what the hell you're going to write about. I wrote Can You See Me Now and When I Look Into Your Eyes without any clue what I was doing and they both turned out all right. It was fun watching the story develop naturally. I was the writer and also the observer. It was exciting to see twists develop on their own. But that sort of writing can also be really hard and more often than not leads to brick walls. I've found that I do need to know what I am going to write but it needs to be a tiny summary not pages and pages long. All I need is an idea. Then you plant that idea and watch is grow. It's much easier then having nothing to start with.

Princess Zelda deserves her own game

I'm playing Hyrule Warriors at the moment and I finally got to a level which gave me the option of fighting as Zelda and she was awesome. She was light, graceful, and wicked with a sword. She really does need her own game. As I said in my previous post Zelda is not a weak damsel like Peach is. Zelda knows how to ride a horse and how to fight and is hard to capture and once she is free she will kick your butt with Link by her side. In more than one Legend of Zelda game she avoids capture for most of the game and is either off on her own adventure or trails Link in disguise.

A spin off just about her would be a great game. What does Zelda do on her own adventures? What is it like for her to walk around in disguise and avoid capture? How much does she know about Hyrule and its hidden wonders? Where does she go on her adventures? Tell us more about her background, her history, her powers. While we're at it lets expand on the character of Impa as well. She is another awesome strong character. What about her past? I want her to have a game as well.

A Legend of Zelda game that allows the player to play as someone other than Link probably will not happen because playing just as Link is tradition and I'm fine with that but Zelda is a great character and would work wonders as a main character. It would be great to have a game that stars a female character that isn't running in terror from monsters or winking at the camera as she waggles her butt at the enemies.

Swing that sword Zelda! Girls can be heroes too! We're not just decoration or damsels!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Princess Zelda is the anti-Peach

Princess Zelda is the exact opposite of Princess Peach. Princess Peach is defined by her status as a Damsel in Distress. We don't know to know anything more about her except that she is the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom. She isn't a fleshed out character. She is a plot device. Princess Zelda often fills the roles of Damsel in Distress as well but unlike Peach is a fleshed out character that has her own strengths and weaknesses, a unique personality and style, and a rich and detailed background and history.

Zelda is more than just a Princess. She is the leader of the Sages and she possesses a piece of the triforce. She possesses her own unique abilities such as the ability to fire light arrows. She often fills the role of side kick to Link and in several games it is impossible to beat the final level without her assistance. Zelda knows how to ride a horse, fight with a sword, shoot an arrow, fight hand to hand, and has her own magic abilities. She is wise and elegant and graceful. She will help Link in battle either with advice or with a sword in her hand. She will cross unfamiliar landscapes and battle monsters to aide Link. She has traveled through time and in Wind Waker was even a pirate!

Zelda is an example of a well written strong willed female character. The difference between her and Peach is that Zelda often goes to great lengths to avoid capture from the enemy, can survive on her own, and will attempt to escape from the enemy herself. After she is freed she will join Link in battle and combine her powers with him to seal the enemy away and win the game. Zelda is not a weak character because like Peach she is often captured and fills the role of Damsel in Distress. Zelda is a good character because unlike Peach she does not always need a male to rescue her. Zelda is fine 90% of the time. In Skyward Sword it is only in the last half of the game that she needs rescuing. For 90% of the game she is running around having her own adventure and avoiding Link.

It isn't necessarily bad for a female character to fill the role of Damsel in Distress. I don't think it reflects badly on Zelda's character that there is a point in every game when she needs Link's assistance. It's okay to ask for help. What's annoying about Peach is that she never tries to escape herself or to avoid being kidnapped again. She just screams "Marrrrioooo!" and waves a tissue. At least Zelda makes it difficult for the baddie to capture her.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peach is a bad role model for little girls

I said in my post about Dixie Kong that there is nothing wrong with having a female character that likes pink, make up or dresses. Sometimes people can be so anti-princess we reject the idea of little girls embracing anything feminine at all. And that's dumb. The thing about Dixie that makes her a good character is she is not just a cookie cut out of a female character. Yes she wears pink and has long blonde hair but she can also fly, attack enemies, and has a unique personality. She is not just a token female. You want to play as Dixie because she has abilities that no other player has and Dixie is rarely a damsel in distress.

Peach is a bad role model for little girls not because she is plays the role of the damsel in distress but because she is a bad and unoriginal and lazy stereotype of what it is to be female.

Peach exists to be kidnapped and for Mario to rescue. We know that she is the ruler of the mushroom kingdom and that she joins Mario and his friends in the Mario Kart and sporting games. And that's it for her character development. We know nothing about her personality, what she is like as a ruler, or even what her relationship with Mario is really like. Her character is a lazy creation. She is more of a plot device than a fleshed out character. The fact is all we need to know about her is that she is a princess, that she's been kidnapped, and that Mario has been tasked again to rescue her. Her likes, dislikes, personality...none of that is relevant to the game. She is the ball that starts the game. She is the prize. And that wouldn't bug me so much if she wasn't a cookie cut out of a princess. The pink puffy dress, the umbrella, the's all a cliche. She is an example of the passive weak female that needs a man to rescue her.

I like Peach the best in the Mario Kart games when she rides a motorbike because she wears an awesome pink body suit instead of her usual big dress. She looks awesome and bad ass. Look at her!

She's almost a completely different person! The look of determination on her face, the focus... why can't she be like this in the Mario games? Peach's worst appearance in a game was in Super Princess Peach which might be the most sexist game of all time. In that bloody terrible game Peach's "powers" is her female emotions. Behold the ugly...

When she cries her tears become a river and wash enemies away. Cause female mood swings are powerful...amiirite? In Super Mario 3D World Nintendo makes up for that terrible game by giving Peach the same powers as Mario and the others and she is actually my favorite character in the game because of her floating ability.

Peach could be a good character if she was expanded upon to be something other than a victim. We got a glimpse of her potential in Super Mario 3D world. Hopefully she will be included in future games in a similar fashion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I said I would do it before the end of the year and I have!

Carry Me Away is finally available on Smashwords. I finished editing it last night. I wrote it two years ago. It needed a lot of trimming but most of it was pretty good. Carry Me Away is my version of the myth about Leda and the Swan. It seems to be doing pretty well so far. It's had over 73 downloads just overnight. I might go back and re-write all of my old unpublished stories and put them up on Smashwords next. It will be nice to see them published. Now that university is wrapping up for this year I will need something to keep me occupied between now and when I go back to work.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What is a gender stereotype?

How should a woman be shown to the audience as a woman? Should they have a bow in their hair? Wear a dress? Dress in pink? Why is it that in books, films, TV and video games it is automatically thought that most characters will be male that when a female is introduced that the character has to be given something to identity them as female?

Sometimes it's stupid and pointless and not necessary. Look at Mrs Pac Man. She's Pac Man with a bow and lipstick. Mrs Pac Man doesn't need to exist. Pac Man is a circle with a mouth that eats fruit and ghosts. Mrs Pac Man was invented so the game would appeal the women. Why did the developers think that the game wouldn't appeal to women without a character that wears lippy? Growing up I loved Nintendo games. Yeah, sure, I would've loved more female characters, but that didn't stop me from playing as Link or as Mario. I had no problem playing as them. What's annoying about Mrs Pac Man is how sexualised she is compared to Pac Man. She wears a feather boa, has long legs, and puckers her lips. She is a big yellow circle. If you want to have a female version of a male character - fine - but why does she have to be so over the top and over sexualised compared to her male counterpart who remains a circle with just a mouth?

And then look at Candy Kong from the Donkey Kong series.

I adore Donkey Kong but Candy has always bugged me. Why the big boobs, the blonde hair, and the red lips? I'm re-playing Donkey Kong county at the moment and when you go and visit Candy she blows kisses at Donkey and sticks her butt out.

It is lazy writing to show female characters like the above two examples. Why is it that we put so much importance on a female character's attractiveness? Why do female characters have to have long legs, big boobs, make up and pose seductively?

I am not anti-pink or anti-sex appeal. Look at Dixie Kong.

Dixie is my favourite character in the Donkey Kong games because her pig tails allow her to fly. Dixie is an example of a good female version of a male character. You know she is female because of her long blonde hair and pink clothes and eyelashes. And that's where her female-ness ends. She isn't over sexual like Candy or Mrs Pac Man. She doesn't bat her eyelashes, make kissy faces, or wear a tight outfit.

She is playable and she is often required to complete a level. She has unique abilities that no one else has. She is not just Diddy Kong in a pink top with blonde hair. Diddy cannot fly. Dixie can. She is not his clone. She is completely different. She also has a personality that makes her different from Diddy and Donkey. She is not a bad stereotype like Candy or a male clone of a character like Mrs Pac Man is. She even stars in Donkey Kong Country 3.

How do you define a character as female? Dressing a character in pink and giving them traditional "female" looks like long eyelashes, a piggy tail, or make up is not bad. It's okay to like pink and pig tails and make up. It's when characters are over sexualised or just a male clone of another character that I get annoyed. It's unoriginal and lazy.

This is how you write a strong female character

The new version of Sailor Moon in the updated version of the show Sailor Moon crystal continues to impress me. I will always love the old anime but it had a lot of flaws. It was so repetitive. Sailor Moon always had to be told when to transform, when to attack, and after a couple of seasons it got a bit old because you would think she would have matured and gotten a little braver. But at the same time it was her cry-baby-ness that made her so loveable and realistic because if I was in her shoes I might burst into tears if someone attacked me with magic powers too.

A couple of years back when they announced the new anime they said it would follow the manga and be more for adults and they were not kidding. Sailor Moon feels and acts more mature and it's great. Instead of wailing and waiting to be rescued she acts like a real leader and charges into battle and tells Tuxedo Mask who has no powers to stay out of the way so he does not get hurt. She doesn't always make all the right decisions and still needs recusing every now and then but that's okay. It wouldn't be Sailor Moon if Tuxedo Mask did not make an entrance at least once an episode.

Just because Sailor Moon does need to be rescued sometimes doesn't make her a strong female character. It would be unrealistic if she never got into trouble. But for the most part she is a thousand times more capable than she was in the old anime. Tuxedo Mask gives her emotional (and sometimes physical) support. He is happy to stand on the sidelines and let her take charge most of the time. When he does jump in it is a big moment because he has no powers. He is troubled by that. He feels like he should be able to do more but knows that the girls are more powerful than him so it would be better to let them lead. This is what makes Sailor Moon such a good show for little girls and Sailor Moon such a good role model. She charges into battle (but) will also accept help when she needs it. Tuxedo Mask is a good role model too. He doesn't try to take charge because he is a man. He lets the girls lead and only steps in when the situation gets desperate. It's brave of him to do that as a man without any powers.

The thing I liked the most about the last episode was when Sailor Moon kissed Tuxedo Mask. Yes she kissed him. The old Usagi wouldn't have done that. She would have been too shy and too nervous. When Sailor Moon kissed Tuxedo Mask it was an amazing moment to see her be so bold, she went in and took that kiss, and then ran off to fight and told him to stay out of harm. Gender stereotypes were reversed. In that moment she was acting like the traditional male and Tuxedo was the female.

It was an awesome moment that was ruined by her immediately needing help. LOL. Poor Sailor Moon. Points for effort. I'm not sure if your old self would've been that ballsy in season one. Maybe season five.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Ahhh Amazon. You can find so many weird and wonderful things on that website. From hilarious joke reviews of products to things that make me want to shriek in horror .

I stumbled across a book recently that made me groan. Behold! Mummy laid an egg!

I was just like...what? really? an egg? Oh my god. I had a peek inside the book and it has cutesy kid drawn images of naked men and women and explains how babies are made by saying women have "eggs" inside them and men have "seeds" in a "seed pod"

Just...kill me now. I know this book is supposed to be tongue in cheek but dear GOD would it confuse kids. You can't just say "Mummy laid an egg" and that women have eggs inside them and then just leave it at that because kids are immediately going to think " a chicken egg?" and don't even get me started on the seed pods...ugh.

Why do we continue to have such a weird attitude when it comes to being honest to children about how our bodies work? Penis. Vagina. Testicles. It's not that hard to use the proper terms, people. Women do not lay eggs. We have babies. And our eggs are smaller than the head of a pin. Lets stop confusing children with dancing round the bush and just tell it to them straight for the love of God.

A Beautifully Flawed Character

Star Trek Voyager has been one of my favourite TV shows since I was in high school. I like the show so much I even named my daughter after one of the characters! One of the things I have always liked about the show is how realistic some of the characters are. In particular B'elanna Torres.

Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine both had a lot of strong female characters. Captain Janeway, Seven of Nine, Kira, Jadzia and Ezri were all wonderfully written. But there has always been something special about B'elanna. B'elanna reminds me a bit of myself. I''m not as smart as her but she is terribly insecure of herself and because of her low confidence can sometimes lash out at others in anger. B'elanna is wonderfully flawed but she also grows as the series progresses and becomes more mature and a more loyal officer.

There's a lot about her that I don't like. She's racist towards Cardassians which I do understand considering that she was fighting against them before she joined the ship. What bugs me is how she thinks every single one of them are cold blooded killers. You can't judge an entire race over the actions of the military and government. That is something that Kira learns in Deep Space Nine.

And then there's how she treats Seven of Nine. When Seven first joins the ship B'elanna asks her if she feels guilty for the millions of lives that she helped to destroy. She acts like Seven went up to the Borg recruitment office and decided to become a drone. Seven is a victim of the Borg who was horribly assimilated by them in front of her parents and then was raised by the Borg and forced to do all of those things because she was a mindless drone. And yet B'elanna thinks she should feel guilty over what she did. Seven has nothing to feel guilty about. B'elanna is a horrible person for suggesting otherwise.

B'elanna has many different sides to her. She can be a bitch and a racist but that makes her realistic because none of us are perfect. She is still likeable despite her bad attitude and temper. She is a good example of how to write a beautifully flawed character. No one is perfect. We are all like B'elanna sometimes. A little bit bitchy and a little bit rude.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The differences between Outlander and Game of Thrones

I haven't read Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" books yet but my Mum has been a fan of them for years so I've known about them for a while. Years ago when my Mum first got into them she would tell me how talented Diana was and how detailed all of the description and research was in her books. I would've read them years ago but I hate hauling around giant books but I recently bought the first one on e-book so I have no excuse not to read it now. Outlander was made into a TV show this year and it's now one of my most favourite TV shows alongside Nurse Jackie, Adventure Time, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

One thing that sets Outlander apart from several of those other shows is that you get the impression that this show was made for women. I love Game of Thrones (both the books and the show) but one of the things that bugs me about the show is how most of the women are just sexy props who walk around and show off their tits, the sex scenes are over the top, most of the women on screen are whores, and the few who are not just on screen to have sex with a man are usually scheming, horrible people (but so are most of the men...)

Game of Thrones is terrific but the number of bouncing tits in each episode gets on my nerves. Women are prizes to be won, objects to be traded, and sex is both something that can be bought, gifted, and used as a weapon. Game of Thrones has a lot of both male and female fans but sometimes the show feels like it is made for men and that is why there are so many butts and boobs in it.

Outlander has a lot of sex in it as well but it is softer, gentler, and more intimate. Claire is a strong willed intelligent woman who enjoys having sex with her husband Frank and later on with her second husband Jamie. Claire is unafraid to ask for sex and it is sexy without being silly, no one bounces up and down comically, and there isn't close ups of her butt and boobs.

Outlander feels like it was made for women and it is really refreshing to have a show that treats women as human beings and not just as pretty toys to be passed around and squeezed and pinched.

Friday, October 3, 2014

I really like Tuxedo Mask in the new Sailor Moon anime

Tuxedo Mask was a bit of a joke in the old Sailor Moon anime. He would throw a rose, say some stupid line that would make you cringe, and then either stand back and do nothing or sweep in and rescue Sailor Moon who spent four out of five seasons being hopeless. In the new anime he's a lot more mature and closer to his manga counterpart. He's in highschool so he's closer in age to Usagi for a start. He knows he is Tuxedo Mask and he figures out who Usagi is ages before she discovers who he is. I just watched the latest episode and the writers are really continuing to write him very good. He tells Sailor Moon in the episode that he is not powerful like them and does not have special abilities. She tells him that she is not powerful either and cannot summon fire, mist, or lightning. She feels inferior next to her comrades. He tells her she has the ability to make them smile and to encourage them to strive to achieve their best which makes her a good leader. He encourages Sailor Moon to transform and rescue her friends while he stands back and watches. I like how he did not attempt to take control or save them from Beryl. He let Sailor Moon do it herself. I also really like how Sailor Moon seems a lot more confident, intelligent, and braver in this version of the anime. Her antics got annoying in the old anime sometimes. After a while you just wanted to slap her and tell her to grow up. Another thing I am loving about this anime is how much more realistic the relationship between her and Tuxedo Mask feels. In the old anime their relationship sometimes felt a little...strained. Usagi was super into him but sometimes he acted like he wasn't so much into her which left you wondering if he was only with her because he felt considering their history that he had no choice? I mean think about it. You meet your unborn daughter from the future. Would YOU break up with your girlfriend and erase the future that your unborn child lives in? They have no choice but to stay together. In the latest episode of Crystal Usagi wakes up in Tuxedo Mask's bed and she sees him in his tuxedo and realizes who he is. It is Waking up in his bed. This Sailor Moon really is more mature than the original anime was and I am loving it. I will always have a soft spot for the old anime but it is just so awesome to see Usagi and Tuxedo Mask falling for each other before they find out about their past. It makes it more believable. I can't wait until the next episode!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sex objects are okay...just tone them down a bit

Some people think that when people complain about sex objects in fiction that they don't want women or men to be shown as sex objects at all. No, not at all. Sex sells. It would just be nice if when people put sex into fiction that the characters are not made so...unrealistic. It's not just women in comics and video games that have to put up with being made into hyper-sex goddesses. Male characters also go through the same treatment. Look at this picture of a Batman figurine....

How silly does he look? Does he have to look that muscled? Yeah, I know, he wears a rubber suit that bulks him up at bit, but still. He looks unrealistic and dumb. When I say men and women should be shown with realistic bodies I don't mean they should all be a bit chubby round the middle. No. You could start with giving big breasted women clothing that fits and actually looks like it might be wearable in real life and actually covers their body and gives their breasts support. A woman shouldn't have to have her tits out on display to be "sexy" I'm not saying women should all wear pants suits or something. No. Just something that doesn't look so tight if she bent over it would split open.

As for men...lets tone back the muscles a bit to something a bit more realistic that a regular bloke can achieve in a gym. There's a reason why female characters are mostly big breasted and beautiful and that's because at the heart of every story you will most likely find a beautiful woman who is being sought after by a couple of men because we still treat women like property or prizes. With men we put a lot of importance on them being manly, strong, and brave so you have characters like Batman who looks like he could probably knock a tree over with a single punch. Both cliches are annoying and sexist and it's time companies and writers began to think outside of the box and stopped lowering themselves to these tired old stereotypes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why is it when women are made into sex objects they look so...stupid?

I've been playing Hyrule Warriors on Wii U for about a week now and I've been enjoying it. I was a bit hesitant to buy it at first because I was unsure if I would enjoy it but it's been a pleasant surprise. It's enjoyable (but slightly repetitive) and difficult enough without being too hard I want to give up on it. One thing that annoys about it is this person....

This is the baddie of the game. Her name is Cia. Just...look at her. Look at those breasts. You can tell she was probably designed by a man. Her poor back. And just think of the trouble she has shopping for bras. Just look at the poor woman. She can't even find a sexy evil witch outfit that fits properly. I like to have my ladies supported not hanging out like that. One of the things I've always liked about Nintendo games is that the women in them (and they're aren't many) have never looked like her. The female characters in Nintendo games have always been very children friendly. Peach is a terrible character. She's more of a plot device than a well fleshed out character. She exists to be kidnapped. She's a terrible cliche, unoriginal, and boring. Rosalina, the princess from the Galaxy games, is cooler. She doesn't get kidnapped and controls the little Star creatures. She helps Mario and is not just a victim. Rosalina and Peach may be boring and background decoration but at least they don't prance around in their underwear and have breasts bigger than their heads.

Now look at the character of Samus...

This is one of her outfits in the upcoming Smash Brothers Wii U game. Why is she fighting in her underwear? SIGH. What's stupid about her fighting in her underwear is Samus usually wears a suit of high tech armor. If you had a robot suit that fired weapons why would you ditch that and fight in your knickers? I don't have a problem with women being sex objects from time to time. But why oh why do they have to be so unrealistic looking? I mean look at Cia. What's with the breasts? The female characters in the Legend of Zelda universe are some of the better female Nintendo characters. Unlike Peach Zelda has magic powers, can fire a bow and fight with a sword, and ride a horse. She still gets kidnapped a lot but most games usually end with her joining Link and helping him to defend the villain. Without Zelda Link would not be able to win.

And then there are characters like Impa. Look at her.

This is her in Hyrule warriors. How cool does she look? The thing I like about her appearance is she isn't unrealistic looking (although the size of her sword is). She hasn't got super thin high legs, an impossible waist, giant breasts and a huge butt. Oh and her outfit doesn't highlight her boobs and butt and actually covers her body. Why is it so hard to portray realistic women as sex objects? Why does Cia's breasts have to be so stupidly big? And why does so much attention have to be on her breasts? I think it's laziness. It's just the opposite end of the spectrum from Peach and Rosalina. One of the things I like about the Legend of Zelda is how the women in it are powerful, strong, but not defined by their looks. With Zelda it's her strength and power and with Impa it's with her skills as a warrior and loyalty to the princess.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I can tell if you are lying in your autobiography

This past year I have started reading non-fiction books in particular autobiographies. I like true crime stories so anyone who has dabbled in crime or been a victim of it. I read Captain Phillip's book and that was interesting. I read Michelle Knight's book and all I can say is MY GOD that woman suffered through some unspeakable horrors. I don't know how she gets up every morning with a smile on her face and goes out to face the world because if I was her I think I would find just getting out of bed a struggle. The thing I think that makes autobiographies a good gripping read is when people do not shy away from the truth. In reality we all make mistakes, we are flawed human beings, and we have multiple sides to our personalities. Some of us make bad decisions and others find themselves in terrifying situations that they must find the courage to survive. I know there is a level of fiction to autobiographies. They are stories and good stories must have a beginning, a middle and an end and most importantly they must have tension, a plot, and a villain and a hero. I read one autobiography earlier this year and it was so painful to finish. There was no tension in it, there was little character development or plot, and the author wanted everyone to think that everyone in the prison she went too loved her to death and treasured her as a friend. It was so unrealistic. The author showed remorse for her actions but did not really show herself as a flawed person who made mistakes more like a person who was led astray like an innocent lamb. I found it unrealistic that she wanted us to believe that her stint in prison made her lifelong friends. I know prison life can be boring and that's exactly what this book was. It was nothing but a recount of her day to day activities like fixing toasters and putting up wall hooks and eating lunch. The story needed a villain desperately. I actually think that the more interesting story was not her stint in prison but what she did to get herself in there but she did not go into too much detail about that part of her life because she did not want to incriminate herself. No, she wanted to come across as pitiful, she wanted people to feel sorry for her being in prison. I find it hard to believe that in a women's prison that no one picked on her or flirted with her or made her life hell. Women in groups are difficult enough to deal with in regular social situations I shudder to think what it would be like to be locked up with them. I don't think we would all hold hands and sing kumbaya.

Go to Fucking Sleep is getting a sequel

Go to Fucking Sleep is a parody/comedy picture book for adults about a father who keeps trying to put his toddler to bed but the little devil keeps asking for another drink, another story, until he finally falls asleep. I loved the book before I was a parent and I'm excited that there is a sequel coming out. I hope he makes it into a series because he could milk this. Just think about all the things that kids do that piss off their parents. Put on your Fucking shoes. Stop fucking demanding junk food. And so and so on. I know some people think these books are harmful because shouldn't a good parent not think these things about their kids? All parents have moments of frustration with their children but it doesn't mean they don't love them. Yes, you shouldn't swear at your child, but if you privately think to yourself "Please GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP!" it doesn't make you a bad parent it makes you a tired human being who is struggling to hold onto their patience and just wants to go to bed yourself. I would love to give Go the Fuck to sleep to other parents I know as a joke present but I'm afraid of offending them. So I will enjoy them myself. There is even a "G" friendly version of the book without swear words that you can read to your kids.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why do romance novels treat women like babies or possessions?

I've read a lot of romance novels and maybe I'm just starting to get tired of them. I'm in the middle of one at the moment and the man keeps calling the girl "His woman" and tells other how proud he is that she wants to defend herself against vampires. If any guy called me HIS woman I think I would punch him in the balls. I am not a piece of property. No woman is. But we still think of women are prizes or the property of men. I mean just look in video games, movies and comic books. How many women exist to be the girlfriend of the hero? How many stories use the damsel in distress plot? It's tired, it's old, it's cliche. On the flip side, though, when an author tries to paint a woman as the man's equal it just comes across as treating the woman like a child. Being proud of a woman who wants to or is able to defend herself instead of depending on a male is condescending because you're saying that her actions are unusual and that most women are weak, fragile, and innocent and hide behind their men.

I watched a YouTube video yesterday about sexism in video games and I agreed with everything that was said. I love video games and I love books and comics and movies as well but that doesn't mean I can't be critical of how women are shown in them. You have the ultra-feminine woman who sings, wear dresses, cooks, may or may not be religious, and might have some sort of Disney Princess like powers. Then you have the tough girl who fights with the boys. Oh and don't forget the ultra-sexy crime fighter. I should point out that it is not just bad female stereotypes that annoy me. I am also irritated by sexist images of men as well. In romance novels men are often ultra-strong, very muscled, incredibly violent, can kill people with their bare hands, and sometimes have little emotion other than anger. This bugs me too. Oh, I forgot to mention, romance novels also write women as being insanely beautiful with eyes like jewels and hair like silk.'s all so unrealistic. Why do the men have to be so rough and violent? Why do the women have to be so fragile, delicate, and insanely beautiful?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tara's death on True Blood was an insult to her character

Now that the final season of True Blood is on the Australian iTunes store I am finally watching it. I'm only a couple of episodes in and it's okay, so far, for true blood standards. I already knew some spoilers thanks to the internet so Tara's off screen death in the first episode was not a surprise to me. Unlike the rest of the internet I actually really liked Tara. I like her sass, her bad attitude, her southern accent, and I really liked it when they made her into a vampire. Vampire Tara was a great move because it took her character in a bold, exciting new direction. I just wish they'd done it earlier in the show and explored the area in more detail. Killing Tara off screen was a really piss poor way to end her character's time on the show. Tara has always been the character to pity on True Blood. She was the one who got the most kicks in the gut. Life was a bitch to her. While Sookie was off being romanced by vampires, Tara was being kidnapped by vampire psychos, raped, or being brainwashed. And it would always be a long time before Sookie or anyone else would even notice.

Tara was a very loyal friend to Sookie and I always felt that Sookie did not deserve her. After Sookie has her turned into a vampire, a very selfish decision on her part, Sookie says "She'll get over it" when discussing how mad Tara is at her. How unbelievably fucked up is that? Tara was kidnapped and raped by a vampire. Becoming one of them was the last thing Tara would have wanted but Sookie was too selfish to let her friend die. She made her into a vampire because she felt guilty about Tara taking a bullet for her. She should have let her die.

Tara deserved more than to die off screen. After all the incredible crap she had to go through in life and death she could have at least been granted the privilege to die in the front of the audience with her fangs bared in defiance.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Should writers be paid a living wage?

I would love to make money from my books. The most I've ever made was five dollars. If I ever cracked $100 I would be thrilled. I would go out and spend it on something shiny and awesome like some books, shoes, or maybe a video game. I would be so proud of whatever I purchased because I got it with money I earned from writing. It's incredibly hard to be a writer. You spend thousands of hours writing a book, then spend thousands of hours marketing it to publishers or agents, and then you have to market it and pray that someone will purchase it. I realized a long time ago that it was just too hard to put all my eggs into one basket and hope to be able to live off writing profits one day. There are too many publishers out there and too many other authors that the chances of "striking it big" and making some actual decent money is very, very slim.

The sad fact about writing was even if I struck somewhere in the middle and sold a decent amount of books to amass a following I probably still would not come close to earning enough to be able to quit my job and live off writing. To be able to do that I would need a smash hit. We're talking Twilight or Hunger Games level of hit.

So I resigned myself to the fact that the chances of that happening was pretty slim. I'm okay with that too. I don't think it reflects badly on me as a writer. It's all up to chance. I'm sure right now there are dozens if not hundreds of books gathering dust out there that could be the next Hunger Games if enough people discovered them. The fact of the matter is it is hard to get noticed and sometimes good writers and good books slip under the radar.

Which is why I think writers need to be realistic about their chances of success and not expect to be able to quit their jobs one day and work full time as a writer and be able to live comfortably at the same time. might happen. You could also win the lotto or find a treasure chest at the end of a rainbow.

I hate writers who whinge about their lack of success like it's the fault of readers or booksellers or something. Write a better book that will get noticed. And get your head out of the clouds and treat writing like a hobby that might if you're lucky reward with a little money one day if you're lucky.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

How much violence is too much violence?

I bought an Xbox a couple of weeks back and I've been playing Tomb Raider. It's a great game. It's open world, it's got great graphics, it's dark and gritty, the controls are great, it's got voice acting and is fun. One thing that is starting to bother me about it, though, is the amount of gruesome ways Lara keeps getting killed. I have been crushed under a rock, stabbed, shot, ripped apart by wolves, strangled to death, felt up, beat up and I've fallen off waterfalls.

Lara is also dirty and bloody in every scene and either crying, panicking, or in fear. It's nice the game has a female main character but does she have to be beaten, bruised, and scared all the time? Do the men in the game have to be raping, bellowing monsters? I know the game is supposed to be about how Lara "toughens up" and becomes a great explorer/adventurer later on in life but does it have to be such a brutal coming of age?

I don't mind violence most of the time if it serves a point. I think it can enhance a story well. The problem I'm having with Tomb Raider is how so much of the violence is directed towards Lara and there are only so many times I can see her brutally ripped apart before I start to raise an eyebrow and question is this violence enhancing the game or is it being needlessly graphic just to shock people? How much violence is too much violence?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A realistic romance - how refreshing!

I just finished reading Divergence and really enjoyed it. One thing I liked a lot was the romance subplot between Tris and Four. Unlike in other romance books there was no "our eyes met and stars exploded" moment between the two. It wasn't until 190 pages in that they both realized that they even liked each other. They spend most of the book getting into arguments. It felt real. It made me realize how annoying most romance books are. I've read a lot of them and it's really common for characters to fall for each other at first glance and it's a real cliche. It was nice to read about two characters who don't even start off as friends but then fall in love with each other not because of fate or their insane good looks or a hunger for sex. They fell in love with each other because they realized they were equals. They respect each other. They value things like strength and morals and bravery. Four is not a brute and Tris is not some fragile, ultra-girly flower, who makes cookies and is perfect at sewing and other female things. I even liked that Tris was scared of being intimate with him. It made her so realistic. I liked how she slowly got over her fears of intimacy and warmed to Four. He was just as scared to get into a relationship too which was a good touch. Now don't get me wrong. I don't dislike romances. They are fun escapism. But it's nice to read a story with two flawed characters who act and speak like real people in the real world.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Whinging Writers

Every so often a writer will soar to dizzying levels of fame and that causes other writers to moan and become really bitter and childish about it like the successful writer...cheated, or something? EL James and Stephanie Meyer are two of the most beloved and hated writers to come about for a while. I hated Fifty Shades of Grey (I did read it to the end though) but I loved the Twilight books (despite their flaws)

I was on a blog the other day reading about the new trailer to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie (which I admit I will go and see out of curiosity if it is better than the book)one person in the comments started complaining about how it wasn't fair that their writer friend was languishing in obscurity on Amazon while EL James and Stephanie Meyer continued to rake in the cash.

I'll admit it is annoying that EL James is making money off a badly written piece of fan fiction but she did not cheat or con her way to the top she got there all on her own even if I find it slightly questionable ethically that her book is based so much off Twilight. I don't judge her for her success. She has earned it. She wrote a book that appealed to a lot of women (and conned the stupid term "Mommy Porn" - vomit)

At least with Stephanie Meyer she wrote an original piece of fiction that was not a piece of fan fiction. One of the things I like the most about her books is one of the things people hate the most. I love how her vampires glitter. Think about it. They look like porcelain gods and they use their supernatural beauty to lure people close and then CHOMP they have their dinner. What I didn't like about their vampires was how they didn't have fangs. That was dumb. I think a lot of people hate on the Twilight books a little too much and chose to view the books through weird coloured lenses. When I read the books I didn't see an abusive relationship. Yes, Bella was way too attached, but I didn't think Edward was bad or creepy like so many other people do. I certainly did not think the book was overly sexual. If anything the books were tame as shit. They barley even kissed until they were married for Christ's sake.

I really hate it when other writers whinge that it's not fair that they haven't been successful yet. It's childish and annoying. If you have not been discovered yet work harder at writing a better book and then get out there and market the hell out of it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes is so funny!

Carry Me Away has a cover!

Carry Me Away has a cover and it is beautiful! It was made by Yocla Designs. I'm very happy with it. I'm in the middle of doing some edits and minor rewrites of Carry Me Away. I am almost finished but with a new baby and university beginning again on Monday my time is a little restricted especially when my little peanut demands cuddles from me all day long. I am hoping to finish it soon though. I wrote it back in 2012 so it is going to be great to finally see it polished and published. I am thinking of rewriting a story I wrote back in 2009/2010 next called "Forever In Your Arms" which is another short story that focuses on Zeus.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Clones: why haven't more people written about them?

I just finished watching Orphan Black season two. I really enjoyed it. I really like how the show is about clones. The idea feels so fresh. It got me wondering how come clones haven't been done more in books, tv and films? It's hard to come up with an original idea for anything these days because a lot of things have been done to death: vampires, witches, zombies gods and goddesses, fairies, mermaids and so on. But yet somehow clones have not. The only thing I can think that used them is Star Wars Attack of the Clones. It's nice to see something on TV that is brand new and original and not a reboot or based on a bored tired idea.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

George R.R Martin says "Fuck you" to people who question if he will ever finish a Song of Ice and Fire series

George Martin's series "A Song of Ice and Fire" has been popular for over 20 years but did not shoot to super pop culture fame until the HBO series "Game of Thrones" came onto television. With the show due to start its fifth season next year a lot of people are becoming worried that the show is going to catch up to the books and even surpass them putting even more pressure on George to finish his mammoth series than ever before. On top of that he has to constantly answer questions about his age and health. People think that because he is a big man that he must be very unhealthy and coupled with being in his late sixties they think he is going to die before he finishes his books.

I can remember reading back when JK Rowling was writing Harry Potter she had such bad writers block writing the fourth book and was under so much pressure to finish something she considered breaking her arm to give herself a break from writing. She didn't end up doing anything that drastic, thankfully, and was able to finish the book.

It must be terrible to be under so much pressure as a writer. I don't know how George R.R Martin does it. His series is insane. I don't know how he remembers all the plots and characters and other tiny details of his huge world. He is brilliant at what he does. I could never tackle a task as huge as a Song of Ice and Fire. Hell, in the last couple of years, I have only written short stories because I do not have the energy to tackle anything bigger than that which would involve any world building or research. It takes a long time to write a novel and a huge amount of creative energy and dedication.

George should be congratulated with sticking with his series for so long and continuing at it at a pace he is comfortable with. I'e read that even if he does die tomorrow he has already set the ground work for how the whole thing will end so people can relax something will come out to tie up all those lose ends.

The new Sailor Moon anime Sailor Moon Crystal is totally awesome

I've been a huge Sailor Moon fan since I first saw the show in 1997. The thing that sucked me in was the transformations. I loved the music, the lights, and how they spun around. It was just so magical. I'm 30 now and I am still a huge fan and have a collection of Sailor Moon books and toys that is pretty impressive. I've been thinking about my next big purchase and I'm torn between a high quality moon wand, a large figurine, or some perfume. Decisions! Decisions!

I first heard about the new anime two years ago and promptly lost my shit. It was exciting enough for me as a fan when they re-released the manga in English enabling me to read the entire series from start to finish. Then new merchandice started trickling in. Suddenly, instead of my choice of over priced dolls on ebay from the original anime to pick from, I had my choice of a big wide wonderful world of new stuff.

I'd watched the live action, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, back when it aired in 2004 and liked it enough. It took the show in some interesting directions but it was nothing compared to the master piece that was the anime. Sailor Moon Crystal was everything I hoped it would be: awesome animation, new and improved music, and a more faithful adaption of the manga.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the series and hopefully seeing some awesome manga moments come to the screen: Venus's sword, the flashbacks to the Moon Kingdom, and Usagi's wand lengthening into a big staff in her final fight with Beryl. There were some things about the anime I did not like: the mouths are funny, I don't like the new design of Jedite (although it was not as bad as the stupid wig the poor guy had to wear who played him in the live action...)

One thing I loved, loved, loved about the new anime was its theme song Moon Pride. I know a lot of people were disappointed they did not go with Moonlight Destiny but I'm glad they did something new and took a risk. The song is awesome. I particularly like the bit that says "We are not helpless girls who need men's protection!"


Seriously...we need more shows like Sailor Moon that have messages like that for little girls. I have a little girl now and I get pissed off in the shops when I see spider-girl costumes that come with a tutu. Spider-girl does NOT wear a tutu so why is there one on this stupid outfit!?! Does everything for girls have to be cute? Don't get me wrong I love buying cute stuff for my daughter but girls can sometimes want to kick butt too and you can't do that in a tutu.

Which I guess does bring up a point about Sailor Moon's outfit being super impractical for fighting crime...hahaha...yeah, that's true, but the bit about them not needing men's protection is still awesome. I love how Sailor Moon is not always brave, she falls and gets hurt, but gets up again and defeats the bad guy. And then goes for ice cream.

Side note: if I was going to be a super hero I would have the Pink Ranger's costume from the first season. It's the most practical female super hero costume ever: it has a helmet to protect your head, it's pink, light weight, has sensible fighting boots and a little skirt. It's a little bit sexy while being light weight enough to do back flips in and ride a motorcycle too and from crime. I've always hated how female super heroes (yes even Sailor Moon) are always made to have really sexy outfits when in reality the last thing you want to do is fight crime in a mini skirt and go go boots.

Some of the comments about Sailor Moon Crystal on the internet made me roll my eyes. I hate the people who think that everything should send a positive message to kids. People think that Usagi is too skinny now and complained that unlike in the manga and original anime she did not have a bit of toast in her mouth as she ran out the door on the way to school. I read one comment that said if she'd be shown with the toast it would have sent a positive message to kids about the importance of eating breakfast.

Oh for god's sake. Pull that stick out of your butt and just enjoy the damn show.

Then there were complaints about Usagi being made to stand outside her classroom door for being late (HOW WILL SHE IMPROVE IN HER STUDIES?!?) and her mother kicking her out of the house for an afternoon for failing a test (SHE IS ONLY FOURTEEN WHERE WILL SHE GO?) In answer to the last one, she was kicked out for an afternoon, not forever. Jesus. Lighten up. Take a breath.

There were comments about Tuxedo Mask walking around in a tuxedo. Yeah, granted, he's not trying super hard to get his identity a secret and Usagi is a bit dumb to not connect the dots sooner. But I get annoyed when people call him a pedophile for his relationship with Usagi. Yes, she is fourteen, but the age of consent in Japan is 13 and Tuxedo Mask is supposed to be 16-18 in the manga. The age difference between them is not that extreme.

I hope their relationship is shown in a more flattering light in this new anime than in the last one. In the manga they have a really healthy sex life and it'd be great if they show that in later seasons tastefully. The manga also showed that they had an interest in each other before they found out about their past lives. The anime sometimes made it come across that they were only together because they were in the past and had to remain together or else Chibi-Usa would not exist one day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Write what you know...what do you mean by that?

"Write what you know" is one of the most common pieces of advice given to writers. There is a belief among some that you should only write about your own experiences and observations in life and you should not touch upon subjects that you have no experience or knowledge about. I've never understood why people think this is a good idea. We are writers. If we do not know the answer to something we research it. We go out and experience it. We read about it. We ask questions. We go online. We imagine. We create worlds that do not exist. Or we imagine what it would be like to visit a place on the other side of the world.

I'm sure most writers would love to be able to spend most of their waking hours researching their next project. If I had the chance to do it I would travel to Greece and visit all of the museums and historical sites. But I can't afford it. So I research those places and then I use the best tool I have. I imagine what it would be like to be there.

Drawing on your own life experiences can be a good source of inspiration for writers but do not restrict yourself to writing just about your own observations in life. Research, research, research. There is some advice you should listen too. If you want to write about the Amazon jungle but you can't afford to go there then read up about it! Watch some videos! Try and find someone who has gone and ask them what it was like. As long as you have an imagination you can write about anything.

Emotional connections to characters

How do you get readers to emotionally connect with a character? Can a reader only care for a character who is in a situation that they can relate to? Is is possible to connect with a character in a setting that is far from reality?

It's an interesting question. How far can we, as readers, suspend belief? Does a story have to be rooted in reality to make us want to root for the characters? I don't think so. I think most people read for escapism. We want a good story and most of the time we will probably want an interesting story set in an interesting world far from our own. That is the definition of escapism. Life can be boring, tiring, monotonous. Sometimes we want to get away from it all. We want to pretend we are a cowboy in the old west, a captain of a space ship, an alien, a witch, or a princess locked in a tower. It's fun. It's enjoyable. It doesn't matter that the stories are fantastical. We care for the characters because we become them.

Harry Potter, Frodo Bagins, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker...are all characters set in fantastical worlds that people care deeply for. I'm sure if they kill off Han in the new Star Wars films there will be an uproar because he is one of the most beloved characters in science fiction history. People do care. It doesn't matter that the world these characters live in is different from our own. We can imagine living in it. Because that's what an imagination is for.

I think it can be good to leave reality behind for a little bit sometimes. We all need a break from our lives and books and TV and film can provide us with a way to relax and unwind and forget about work for an hour or so. That's not to say that readers cannot connect to characters in literature or non fiction stories either. In the past couple of years I have gotten into reading autobiographies and they can be just as enjoyable. The difference with those stories is the people in them are real and the events really happened. It's less escapism and more being an observer to someone else's life. Personally, I find fiction more enjoyable, but there is something fascinating about non-fiction. I guess I do emotionally root more for characters in autobiographies (especially since I read true crime books) because I know they're a real person and the events I'm reading about actually happened. But that does not mean that I do not care just as much for fictional characters.

How much a reader cares for a character (whether they are in a fiction or non-fiction book) comes down to the talent of the writer in the end NOT the choice in genre.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to handle it when someone gives you a bad review

It can be hard when someone gives you a bad review. It stings. It's like a slap to the face. Ordinarily, I don't mind them if someone gives me constructive criticism. Tell me what you did not like. What did not work? How can I improve the story? How can I improve as a writer and write better stories in the future? Don't just tell me "It sucked" or insult me and my level of skill. Give me advice. Help me. That's what a good critique should be. Give me something to work with.

As annoying as unhelpful criticism can be on the flip side it can be equally annoying when someone tells me "It's good" or "I liked it" and doesn't go into any further detail. What did you like? What worked? What did not work? What was your favorite bit? I also hate it when I get critiques that are too glowing, people who gush "Oh my goood you are the most talented writer ever!" That's great you think so! Thanks! But surely there was something I could improve. No one is perfect. Tell me what you didn't like!

In summary, a good critique lists both good and bad points, has constructive criticism, a little praise and does not include personal bias or insults. Some writers don't know how to handle raw honest opinions. I've seen more than one writer on the internet embarrass themselves by throwing a tantrum after someone gave their book a review that wasn't that harsh just honest about some flaws in their writing and was nice enough to contain some really good constructive criticism!

There was this one woman who self published her book and it got reviewed on a blog. The reviewer gave it three stars and said it had some issues but was otherwise not bad. The woman responded in the comments really aggressively and accused him of reviewing an unedited version of the manuscript (which he denied) and the whole thing snowballed from there. The whole thing went viral and other people started commenting on the blog. The number of comments swelled to a couple of thousand and soon the woman was being mocked all over the internet for her unprofessional attitude.

I've even seen some famous writers throw tantrums online after someone gave their book a less than glowing review. Writers being unable to accept bad reviews has gotten so bad in some circumstances there have been some who have gone on crusades against their reviewers and done "revenge reviews" on their books to "get back" at them for daring to call their own works anything less than a masterpiece.

If you want to succeed at anything in life you need to be able to accept criticism even when you disagree with everything the person is saying and think they're a total douchecanoe. Even if someone tells you right to your face "You have no talent and I would not wipe my ass with pages from your book!" you need to force a smile, nod, tell them "Thank you for taking the time to read my book" and then you go home and bitch about the whole thing in private to your best friend over the phone while eating ice cream straight out of a tub.

But it can be so hard to do that sometimes. I got an irritatingly bad review this week and it frustrated the hell out of me because I got marked down not for something that was wrong with my story but for my choice of genre. I disagreed with everything this person had to say about my work and I was all ready to bang out an email to politely debate each of her points with her but then I stopped myself.

I thought "No. It's not worth it. She won't change her mind. I still passed. I should be grateful for that I suppose. I don't agree with her comments but she is entitled to them."

I deleted the email and spent the rest of the day pacing the house irritated instead. I'm glad I did not make an ass out of myself over the whole thing. I think I did the right thing not emailing her. I don't agree with a word that she said and her comments were a little hurtful, but she is entitled to them.

I've been thinking about the whole thing a lot. I think after the initial hurt of bad reviews wears off they can actually be a source of inspiration for writers. I got a really hurtful comment about my writing back in high school from some random kid online and it stayed with me for years. It haunted me. I was angry for a long time over what that kid said to me but eventually I decided I was going to set out to prove her wrong about my ability to write. I got back into writing with even more determination than before.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What is the point writing about myths?

I was asked recently what is the point of rewriting Greek myths if everyone already knows the stories? Is it boring, tired, unoriginal? How can you make a story that is thousands of years old fresh again? What is the point?

How many times has Cinderella, or little Red Riding Hood, or the Little Mermaid been rewritten? Fairy tales and myths are a wonderful toy shop that writers can run around in, take things off the shelves, play with them for a bit and then put them back for someone else to have a turn with. All of these stories are in the public domain which means that no one owns the copyright to them. You can take whichever character you want, completely change them, and put them in a new and exciting environment. It's a great way for writers to experiment and have a little fun.

I don't think it's unoriginal to take these stories and to try and make them your own. Yes, people have heard of them before. So what? Should stories come with a shelf life? Should we not be able to write about them after a certain number of years have passed? Yes, some fairy tales have been done to death, like King Arthur. But that does not mean that no one should ever write about him again. It just means that in a market already flooded with King Arthur stories if you want to have a go at that myth you will have to do a lot of research to figure out how you can make your story fresh and stand out.

At the end of the day, I write for my own enjoyment, which I think is a good thing. So what is the point of rewriting old myths? For fun. It interests me. I think the stories are fascinating, the world rich and colourful, and I love putting my own spin on it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What exactly is literary fiction and is it better than genre fiction?

I am taking two classes at university this semester that both involve a lot of creative writing and discussion about the publishing industry. One class wants to focus on literary fiction and poetry and the other class is the complete opposite and has asked the question "What is literary fiction and is it better than genre fiction?"

Literature is fiction that has been deemed to have "literary merit" and can be studied in schools and universities. It is considered more posh and sophisticated than genre, or popular fiction, which is considered not as well written because it is written to a strict formula and is sold to the masses to make a profit.

When I was younger I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I wanted it to be my career. I did not want to be rolling in cash exactly I just wanted to earn enough from writing that I could live comfortably off what I made and spend my entire days writing. JK Rowling was my hero. I loved her books and the story of how she made it big almost felt like a story itself. The poor, single mother writing in a notebook in a coffee shop with her baby asleep in a pram next to her. It felt almost like a Cinderella story. A fairy tale. I wanted to be her so much.

Who decides that a book has literary merit? It's an interesting question because the definition of good writing is something that will change with each passing generation. The works of Shakespeare are considered masterpieces now. They are classics. But they are also genre pieces: they are comedies and tragedies. So in his day he was a genre writer. But now his work is considered literature.

And then there is Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, and stories like the Tales of Earthsea, all of which are fantasy novels but are also considered literature. So is literature just works of genre fiction that have stood the test of time and cemented themselves into popular culture? Is the only difference between literature and genre writing is how well known a book has become? When does something become a classic? In 40 years time will Harry Potter be considered literature?

I get annoyed when university teachers ask me to write literature because I have no idea what they want from me. I write stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. I write stories with characters, description, and a plot. I have been writing since I was 14 and my brain has been wired to work a certain way: no purple prose and my story must be easy to understand and follow! I have written a short story for my first assingment and I am worried it will not "literary" enough to pass. How do you define something as literary? How can a writer declare their work to be a work of literature? Isn't that a bit arrogant? To say "My work has more MERIT than YOUR dirty genre story. They will be studying my book in universities next year."

There is this perception among some that genre writing is dirty and that is wrong to write to make a living from writing. I write first and foremost because I want to do it and when it happens and the words flow through me it is the most wonderful creative experience ever. If I get published it is icing on the cake for me. There is nothing shameful about genre fiction. After all romance is the best selling genre there is and it is a known fact that genre works sell more than literature works because people read books as a form of relaxation and to escape.

So how am I supposed to write a literature piece? I have no idea. I cannot just throw out the door everything I have learnt about genre writing and write some long rambling nonsensical piece full of purple prose and call it good. I have been trained too much to reject purple prose. Writing should a point. A sentence should say something. It should not be a long rambling paragraph with no grammar that gives me a headache because it makes no sense to me whatsoever. If a book does not a beginning, a middle and an end for me I will reject it as rubbish because I cannot understand its structure.

Writing should not be about showing off and using as many descriptive phrases as you can. You are there to tell a STORY.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My cat would make a great character in a children's book

A couple of months back we got our first pet a cat called Felix. I was afraid we were rushing into things and that we might be making a mistake and get an "asshole" cat which is a cat that doesn't like to be cuddled and will only make an appearance when he wants food. We ended up with Felix - and what a bundle of character he is. He gives me so much enjoyment. He is so full of personality. He is an indoor cat because we live on a busy road but that doesn't stop him from finding things to get up to inside the house. He often sprints from the front of the house to the back doing big leaps over anything in his way and squeezing himself through gaps in doors. We have no idea what he is chasing it could be cars, birds, or his own reflection.

The weirdest thing about him is how is unafraid of water. He will follow us into the bathroom and hide in the corner under some towels while one of us will shower. He is fascinated by water. He has started trying to "catch" droplets that roll down the side of the glass shower stall. It is the most cutest thing ever. Imagine a cat frantically pawing at a sheet of glass as droplets of water roll down it. Then the drops hit the tiles and form a puddle and he will slap his paw on the tile in an effort to catch the drop.

We keep a bucket in the shower to collect spare water to put on our garden. Quite often we'll walk past the bathroom and there will be Felix with his head in the bucket staring at his reflection or dipping his paw in the water or taking a drink. He is also fascinated with the drain hole. He pulls it out with his paw and stares down the dark drain at we have no idea what and then will wander away.

When we do our washing we are lazy. Instead of hanging it up outside, we hang it up inside, in the back room on a set of clothes horses. Felix loves it when we do this because he burrows into the clothes and likes to hide in there. Often we'll come into the room and will see a bushy tail sticking out from the clothes or his head poking out. He gets quite excited when we put the clothes up. His eyes will twinkle and he'll sometimes pull down a sock or a pair of underpants and snuggle up to it and fall asleep. He also likes to fight with us when we try to take the clothes away. He'll grab a pants leg and hold onto it - no! no! don't take apart my cubby house!

Felix is unusually affectionate for a cat. When he is bored he will wander around the house and call out for us. He loves crawling onto laps and falling asleep or flopping down next to you and snuggling up against the side of a leg. The funny thing is he will do this to people he barely knows. He is a cuddle whore! Just met? Hug me, hold me, tug at my fur...

He is a very social animal and will often sit in the middle of a room full of people just so he can see what is going on. My parents cats are very skittish. When they have people over you'll often find them in the linen cupboard, under a table, or asleep on a couch in the back room. But never, ever, in the thick of things!

I think Felix is going to be a great cat to have around a baby. We are going to have a difficult phase when he learns to stay out of the baby's room but we are going to deal with it. He'll learn his place and in time will be coming up to our toddler demanding a cuddle.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Is it wrong for writers to "profit" from writing about emotionally distressing subjects?

I finished the Fault in Our Stars yesterday and went on Amazon to read some of the 1 star reviews out of curiosity. One comment stood out as interesting to me: an actual stage 4 cancer patient complained about John Green using cancer kids to "make a quick buck" and wondered how much of the profits he was going to use off his book and movie deal to give back to cancer patients. While I do have sympathy with the poster for their situation, I felt like their comment was a bit harsh. Other posters said similar things. One person asked who would be sick enough to write about terminally ill kids falling in love? Again I ask the question...what is wrong with that?

A lot of the people on Amazon complained that reading should be an escape from reality and that writing about topics like cancer and death was "wrong" because it made people feel sad. They felt that stories should not depress the reader with showing them how raw and naked and harsh reality can be. I have a lot of respect for writers who are unafraid to write about sensitive topics. Cancer patients, in particular kids, are still people with thoughts and dreams and desires. They are not just a disease. I thought John Green's book was a fascinating insight into the mind of a person with a terminal illness: How would you cope if you had to breathe with the aide of an oxygen tank day after day? How would you feel about not reaching your 20th birthday? What you want to do with your final days? Would you want to kiss a boy or travel or do something silly and stupid like watch some bad TV? What makes life worth living? How would you accept your fate? Your stars?

John Green's book asks all of these questions and more and would be a great tool to get discussions started in the classroom. Is he "profiting" off cancer patients? Is that wrong? Are there some subjects writers should avoid? No, to all of these questions. He is not profiting off cancer patients, that makes it sounds like he stole something from them, he made this story up from scratch, it is fiction, thus he owns no one any profits. Saying that he should be ashamed for writing about terminally ill kids and that he should give them some money is like saying that every crime writer should give money to a victims of crime organisation. He has done nothing wrong. He used his imagination to write a sad romance story. That's not a crime. Life is full of sad stories. Life is unfair. Not all of us will be blessed to live to a ripe old age. Some of us will die young. And that's okay. That's a good message to give across to readers. Enjoy life. Every moment of it. Do not question the fates. Just accept things. And find love if you can. These are all good things to tell kids.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is "Sick-Lit" bad for teenagers?

I'm reading a book at the moment called "The Fault in our stars" by John Green. It's about two teenagers with terminal cancer who fall in love and find joy in their final days together. I'm pregnant at the moment and last night I read a particularly sad bit and I started bawling, tears streaming down my face, big loud sad sobs that had my husband rushing up to me all concerned.

"What's wrong?" He gasped.

"This-book-is-really-sad!" I said between sobs.

He rolled his eyes, smiled, and said "Aww, Jeez..." and walked off shaking his head at his crazy, adorable pregnant wife.

"The Fault in our stars" has been labeled "Sick Lit" by some people in the media and publishing. "Sick Lit" is a genre of fiction that deals with teenagers combating real life issues like death, illness, self-harm, drugs, bullying and drinking. Another famous book in this genre is "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold. The Lovely Bones is about a girl who is raped and murdered and spends the book looking down on her family and friends from haven and watching them as they move on with their life.

I've read the book twice and it's a sad, wonderful story. I loved the film version too but not a lot of others did. It wasn't that it was a bad film, it was just depressing, and I think the reason it failed was because not a lot of people want to go and see a film about a little girl who is raped and murdered and goes to heaven. We don't want to think about such terrible things happening.

I told my Mum she should read "The fault in our stars" because I think it's written really well. Her response was "I don't like sad books" The problem a lot of people have with "sick lit" is they think that these books are too emotionally intense and that readers in particular young adults should not have to "deal" with the real life issues featured in them.

I actually read one article about sick lit that said Twilight was a better book for young adults to read because it was a harmless fantasy. There is something a little hilarious about people wanting young adults to read books about vampires rather than a book about real life issues like death, illness, and depression because god forbid they even think about such things.

Death, illness, depression and sadness are a part of life. Vampires, while fun to read about, are not. Why should we hide these books from young teens? Some people think that if kids read about sick kids dying from cancer it somehow "glorifies" being sick or if they read about kids who self-harm that they might run out and try it themselves.

There's also been a lot of criticism about kids in sick lit books having bucket lists that include having sex. That's encouragin pre-martial sex!!! Um, so? If a kid is 16 and dying of cancer, let them have sex, let them live the rest of their short life out how they choose. After all it's THEIR bucket list.

And how, exactly, can you glorify having cancer? I'm about half way through the fault in our stars and there is nothing about the kids in that book that makes me go "Wow, these kids are so inspiring!" It just makes me sad. Imagine being 16 and knowing you will not live more than a couple of years. Imagine having to go to bed at night hooked up to an oxygen tank. It does not sound like fun. This book makes me grateful to be healthy, alive, happy and about to have my first child. It does not make me want to develop cancer to get attention and special gifts from people.

Why do we treat teenagers like idiot children? And why do some people want to shield them from everything in life? It's just stupid. You can plug your child's ears with cotton wool, you can wrap them in bubble wrap, and you can put them up on a shelf but eventually they'll wiggle free, pull the wool out of their ears and unwrap themselves and will go out into the big world on their own. A good parent raises a child to become an adult. They do not hide a child in a cupboard so it will remain young and innocent and shielded forever. You cannot hide things like cancer and death. They exist in this world. Let you child read these books. It will not harm them. It will make them appreciate life more and the feel of sunshine on their face.