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Giving credit where credit is due

When I posted last week about my short story Happiest Place on Earth appearing in LOLcraft, I didn’t have the name of the cover artist. Now I do.The cover is by Don England. I added that update to the previous post but I’m not sure how many people ever read updated posts, so …

The book is available on Amazon.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Let No Man Put Asunder: Finding the Sweet Spot

So last month I finished the first chapter of my rewrite of my second novel, Let No Man Put Asunder. I rewrote it once some 15-20 years back; I’d have rewritten it again by now except most of the manuscript is gone. I did get a couple of chapters beyond the cutoff, but somehow every attempt to progress further hit a mental dead end.

This version though is a radical break. My protagonists, Adrienne and Neil, were mostly in good shape when the bad guys kidnap them into another dimension. To their surprise, it turns out that a weekend of death and danger (the story moved pretty fast) also gave them things that were missing in their life. Fresh adventures would have lain in wait …

New protagonists Paul and Amanda aren’t in such great shape. Mandy has been de facto mother for her five siblings and caregiver for her terminally ill dad since she was fifteen — as we learn in the first chapter, Mom decided terminal illness wasn’t something she wanted to deal with and walked out. However it’s been twelve years and Mandy’s recovered from Mom’s betrayal (but has not forgiven her at all).

Paul is in much worse shape as his big blow came less than two years ago. His academically prominent parents pushed him to excel from elementary on. He’s had no social life, has no idea who he’d be if he didn’t have his nose buried in books all the time, so finally he told them, right before senior year, he was taking a year off after college. When he arrived back at school Paul discovered his folks hadn’t paid his tuition, had broken the lease on his apartment and drained the joint bank account they used to provide him with ready cash. But no problem, just take back your foolish decision, son, and everything gets back to normal!

He didn’t take it back.

The Adrienne/Neil version had a first chapter set here on Earth, then we were off into other, wilder dimensions. I’m not sure that’s the way I want to go. The town of Blue Ivy, where Mandy and Paul meet in 1976, feels like a good setting. It’s a grimy industrial town but it also has several colleges, with the usual college/townie conflicts. It seems a shame to just forget about it and go elsewhere, particularly in America’s bicentennial year (I don’t know if I’ll keep using that year but if I do, I should be able to make something of it).

The trouble is, I don’t want to go the urban fantasy route. I enjoy reading books where the normal world is just a shell hiding a reality full of magic but I don’t seem inclined to write them. Southern Discomfort is closer to intrusion fantasy: the normal world works much as we see it but something magical has intruded in, disrupting things. In Questionable Minds there’s no hiding: the world is full of psychic powers but they’re being wielded in plain sight.  In Atoms for Peace the mad science that’s made the world so different from our 1950s is also commonly known. In Impossible Takes a Little Longer, super-powers are the same way.

If I set Asunder on Earth, I want it feel like magic is an intruder, not a regular resident. That was doable in Southern Discomfort because the magic almost all stems from the elves Olwen, Aubric and Gwalchmai and it’s limited to one small town in Georgia. Asunder has a lot more magical people running around with much flashier powers. And the different characters — Mountebank, Grainge, Cordelia Winters and Hypatia, to name four — don’t fit into the same magical mythos. They didn’t have to in the original version and I see no need to change that. But it would, again, make an odd urban fantasy

So do I go urban fantasy anyway and find some way to make it work? Go back to dimensional jumping and kiss Blue Ivy goodbye? Maybe make Blue Ivy some kind of Hellmouth where, like Sunnydale, things are weirder than the rest of the world?

There’s also the practical point that I’d like my protagonists isolated, at least for the first few chapters. That’s harder to do in a setting where they know everyone.

Normally I’d plunge ahead and pants these questions as I go but the first chapter ends with Mandy and Paul falling through a magical gate of some kind. I need to know where they land.

Wish me luck!

#SFWApro. Cover by Samantha Collins, rights to the image are mine.

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Undead sexist cliche: Wives are obligated to make love to their husbands

(As I’m writing an upbeat Thanksgiving post for tomorrow, here’s the political post that would have appeared on a regular Thursday).

“Why do we assume that it is terribly irresponsible for a man to refuse to go to work because he is not in the mood, but a woman can — indeed, ought to — refuse sex because she is not in the mood?” was an insight from right-winger Dennis Prager some years ago. In other words, having sex with him is her job, her responsibility — how dare she shirk it just because she isn’t feeling the urge. It’s the fault of those stupid baby boomers prioritizing their fragile fee-fees, leading to the ridiculous idea that “the only right time for a wife to have sex with her husband is when she feels like having it.”

That actually seems reasonable to me, though of course I am one of those Boomers who cares about feelings. I actually think neither man nor woman is obligated to put out when they don’t want to ever. As Jezebel points out, a woman might have very good reasons for not feeling like sex: her husband cheats, he’s an abusive drunk, there’s no money for the bills, he’s flushed her birth control down the toilet. Or she’s spent the day working, then provided child-care and cooking after getting off work and she’s just too tired. No, I don’t think “just lie there” is the best solution.

According to Prager (quoted at Jezebel), men see women having sex with them as proof of love; fell0w right-wing misogynist D.C. McAllister takes the reverse view, that men use sex to show their own love but she likewise concludes that women must therefore forget their own wants and focus on the man’s because that’s what love is, sacrifice! The idea that this works in reverse — don’t demand sex from someone who’s not in the mood — doesn’t occur to her.

I don’t agree with Jezebel that this proves Prager’s pro-marital rape — saying a wife is obligated isn’t the same as saying the husband has a right to force her (though it wouldn’t shock me if I were wrong). However pressuring someone who’s not into it (“Prove that you love me.”) is still unpleasant, and  the idea anyone is ever duty bound to put out is bullshit (though Jesus and John Wayne showed it’s a common one on the right).

It’s also a recipe for lousy sex. If a wife assumes that having sex when you don’t want it and don’t enjoy it is normal, she has little reason to become enthused, or to explore what would feel good. If she just lies there and thinks of England, the husband may never know she’s not satisfied. But as Rebecca Traister says, that’s not surprising in a society where women’s pleasure is disposable: “Male climax remains the accepted finish of hetero encounters; a woman’s orgasm is still the elusive, optional bonus round.” If the sex is unwanted, uncomfortable or painful, well that’s just the way it is for women. No big.

Prager goes on that compared to women “men’s sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. So what? That is the way he is made. Blame God and nature. Telling your husband to control it is a fine idea. But he already does. Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual natures desire for variety for the rest of his life. To ask that he also regularly deny himself sex with the one woman in the world with whom he is permitted sex is asking far too much.”

This is another common view (writer Tracy McMillan made it some years ago) but it ignores that women also give up their option to take other lovers when they enter a monogamous relationship. Prager apparently thinks they wouldn’t do that because women aren’t animals like their men. But biologically a human male is closer to a human female than to any other living creature. And the question arises, which animals is Prager thinking of? Lots of animals only have sex when the female comes into heat. A few animals apparently mate for life. No animal (as far as I know) follows the common human pattern of outward monogamy/covert cheating.

And providing sex is not the equivalent of the husband’s job.

I write more about sex and related topics in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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This was a week. And it had days in it. And I worked on some of them.

Not enough, though. I succumbed to one of my weaknesses — knowing I wouldn’t meet most of my writing goals and that I wasn’t going to make my writing goals, I just threw up my hands and did even less.

I did get a lot of Leaf work done so I’m ending the month in good financial shape. But that was about. TYG and I had some stuff we had to get done Thursday so I blocked the day off for no-writing. When it turned out we were done in a couple of hours I was way out of the zone. My bad.

But now the month ends! The slate is wiped clean! Next week I shall have no excuse! And while I will be taking some time away (blood donation, among other things) I’ve already factored that into my schedule. Victory will be mine!

At least that’s what I tell myself.

Wisp laughs at my confidence, but what does she know?


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“Typhoid Ron” DeSantis and other political topics

Typhoid Ron DeSantis’ bill to let parents sue teachers for discussions that make kids uncomfortable is kind of brilliant: rather than clear government rules, you have parents who may push back on almost anything. Saying the Civil War was about race or discussing the brutality of slavery or the Holocaust for example. Of course this frees up parents to sue from the left too but I’m guessing DeSantis is okay with that. The bill still helps make him look good to right-wing racists and the wing of the religious right that hates public education for teaching their kids reality will love him too.

I notice it also bans diversity training at businesses that makes anyone uncomfortable. I suspect what this means in practice is that as training makes racists and harassers uncomfortable, Republican political correctness requires protecting their fragile fee-fees. As Rebecca Fachner says, having parents report adults to the state used to be one of those things that distinguished totalitarian states from the US. As I’ve said before, Republicans are the new Communists.

“The complete list of moral and social issues in America that have nothing to do with racism is that there aren’t any.”

ALEC, a right-wing lobbying group, is pushing Republican legislatures to pass bills that block companies that divest fossil fuel stocks from doing business with the state. Bizarrely I learned that similar bills about Israel boycotts once extended to individuals — people receiving hurricane relief, a teacher told she’d have to sign a no-boycott pledge to keep her job (fortunately the courts were not down with this).

Michigan Trumper politicians are pushing a bill that would let politicians sue social media for deplatforming them for any reason. For the usual reasons (First Amendment! Freedom!).

Here’s how a big, powerful company can afford to laugh off court losses and legal sanctions.

Joe Rogan uses the n-word a lot in his podcasts. Trump, of course, is furious Rogan’s apologized. DeSantis immediately said the same. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before DeSantis or some other ambitious right-winger tries to prove their right-wing cred by saying the word publicly themselves.

Republicans attempt to play the race card by claiming white guys are victims. This is not new: remember when Trump claimed a Latino judge was prima facie biased against Trump?

Unsurprisingly, Virginia Republicans have killed bills that would have removed anti-gay marriage language from the state lawbooks and automatically restored voting rights to felons. But I was struck by the blatant lies of the Family Foundation of Virginia that their only problem is that allowing gay marriage would also allow polygamy. In other words, gay marriage is not the issue — but as their website states they’re anti-gay marriage and also oppose civil rights protection for gays, claiming there’s no evidence of discrimination. Methinks they lie …

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Let’s start today’s post with a sad, bad cover

I mean, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror is a classic of cosmic horror, right? Yet, the uncredited artist couldn’t do better than the bland image below?This next uncredited image at least looks more like a horror cover.Then we have Charles Binger whose cover does not, I think, capture the spirit of Huxley’s Brave New World.And doesn’t this Robert Gibson Jones 1951 cover look a lot like the Star Trek episode “Bread and Circuses?”#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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In just a couple of days …

All these books and reference magazines are going back on the shelves.I use the Internet for a lot of stuff but reference books are frequently preferable to clicking on a half-dozen sites about a film or TV show until I find one that has the information I need.


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Out of time? Yes, feels that way

Finishing the alien pregnancy chapter with the spotlight on Village of the Damned is taking longer than I thought. So this Frank Frazetta cover will have to do.#SFWApro

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My haunted bedroom

Lying in bed recently, I thought this looked eerie enough to be worth photographing.But not too spooky. After all, look who was next to me.#SFWApro.

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I hope your week has been better than Stephen Strange’s

And that the Spawn of Sligguth didn’t drag you down!I got my permanent crown in Wednesday, so I feel definitely victorious over darkness. No more worrying about biting down on nuts or toffee, whoo-hoo!

#SFWApro. Art by Frank Brunner, all rights remain with current holder.

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