Twilight: In Which I Am Extremely Lost

Twilight Recap: Bella is googling for information on 'vampires'.

Twilight, Chapter 7: Nightmare

I have a confession to make: There comes a point at which I find myself rapidly losing hold of the plot of this novel. And that point is here.

I spent a good portion of the week creating a Twilight entry for the blog deconstruction index. We're seven chapters into this book and -- had I not already seen the movies and lived through all the hype -- I would have no idea what this book is about. I'm going purely off of memory here, but I'm pretty sure this has been the outline of the book so far:

Metapost: Comment Policy Change (Again)

Ramblites, in light of the Misandry/Misogyny thread, there is a new comment policy update.

Please read it, if you can. I'd appreciate it, in all seriousness. But if you can't, here's the short version:

I want a safe-space here, as much as possible. But I'm one person. I eat, sleep, and work outside the home 40 hours a week. So I need your help to flag posts that are triggering or offensive or problematic. I'm pretty sure if you flag a comment, Disqus sends me an email (we'll test that below). If not, you can pull up the permalink to the comment by clicking the comment-datetime, and you can send me an email. Nothing fancy needed, just "hey, Ana, this bothers me".

I read every comment on the site. But after 11,055 comments (and counting), I don't always trust my judgment as to when Fluffy Bunny Ana is called for and when Norse Goddess of Fury Ana is needed. I distrust myself, and I need your help. Please. Because I really don't want all of you to get triggered, discouraged, and frustrated, and then quit. That would make me deeply distressed. But nor do I want all of you to feel oppressed, terrified, unable to participate, and stifled, and then quit. I do not want either of these things.

Content Note: Transvaginal Ultrasounds, Rape

And now something a little more personal. Next week there will be a post on transvaginal ultrasounds and the Texas rape law currently in effect in my state. If I even think a comment is suggesting that men or specific male law-makers should be similarly raped in response to this law, I'm going to delete the comment as soon as I see it. I don't usually truck with deleting comments, but this is an exception I'm willing to make. And if I have to, I will lock the thread in question.

End Content Note

Thank you all for helping me sort out a workable comment policy for the blog. It will continue to grow,and I appreciate your current and future willingness to provide me feedback and concerns. I want to make this a safe space for all of you, and I appreciate any help you can provide me with that. Thank you.

Tropes: Moving the Fitzpatrick Scale

This deconstruction is one that... isn't. I guess it's one part deconstruction, one part open thread.

Husband and I saw The Hunger Games this weekend. Now, I have to say that I love-love-love those books. The Hunger Games trilogy is my favorite of all time, and I don't say that lightly. Husband, on the other hand, went through the series feeling kind of meh. So I wasn't sure he would like the movie. I wasn't sure I would like the movie.

But I did. I loved it. I thought it was practically perfect in every way. And I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a fantastic job as Katniss; I thought she nailed the role in every scene.

But there's this:


Much of the criticisms are going to be waved away with some variation on "but Jennifer Lawrence is BRILLIANT!" and she is. But the fact that Lawrence is brilliant as the central character, Katniss Everdeen, does not retroactively justify the casting call for an olive-skinned, dark-haired, grey-eyed character which contained the specifications: "She should be Caucasian, between ages 15 and 20, who could portray someone 'underfed but strong,' and 'naturally pretty underneath her tomboyishness.'"

Actresses of color were not even given a chance.

And I still don't know how to feel about the Katniss call. On the one hand, I personally imagined Katniss as white, and I (mistakenly) thought white = Caucasian (without understanding the nuances of Appalachian lineages), so at no point did I expect Katniss to be anything other than white. And that's my own Privilege showing. And I absolutely do think it's a problem that Hollywood doesn't even give actresses of color a chance at these roles.

On the other hand, apparently that casting call came out from the actual author. (I can't find a source for this, though.) And I have unclear feelings on how much an author should be able to dictate the transfer to visual media, but my initial feeling is "kind of a lot" since the visual version is probably going to be what sticks in everyone's mind from here on out. (For instance, as disappointing as the movie was, Mrs. Coulter will now always be Nicole Kidman to me.)

And I don't know how to correlate my one feeling on Author Influence over my other feelings that Multi-Racial Casts are the way we should go for movies because they're awesome and genetics and continuity be damned. So I have no idea how to feel about any of this. I'm doing a lot of listening and thinking mostly.

But then there's this. I was listening to audiobook version of "The Help" yesterday, and I realized something: Hilly Holbrook has "olive skin". Just like Katniss Everdeen. Huh. So now I'm wondering just how many "olive skinned" protagonists have been whitened by Hollywood lately.

Olive Skin
@ bloggang.com and cdn.buzznet.com
Olive Skin: Hollywood is moving the Fitzpatrick Scale.

Miss Hilly got a round face and dark brown hair in the beehive. Her skin be olive color, with freckles and moles. ~ The Help, Chapter 1

He could be my brother. Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes. ~ The Hunger Games, Chapter 1

Open thread below.

Feminism: Misogyny Masquerading As Misandry

[Content Note: Rape, Forced Pregnancy, TV Ultrasounds, Sexual Language]

I'm a feminist.

I believe that women should have equal rights as men under the law. I believe that women should have full and legal right to do what they want with their bodies, their lives, their fertility, and their lady bits. I believe that I live in a world that is hostile to the concept of female consent, a world where sex and pregnancy and transvaginal ultrasounds are forced on women no matter how many times they say "no".  I believe that no woman can truly be free until these issues are addressed for all women, regardless of age, race, or financial status.

Author Interview: Matt Stevens on "Little Sister Charly"

Content Note: Drug Use, Homelessness, Cancer

Ana: Today we have Matt Stevens introducing their book, Little Sister Charly. I haven't read this book myself, but Matt was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Matt, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

Matt: The story is about my younger sister and allowing her to live with me while I try and rehabilitate her from a heroin addiction and over two decades of drug abuse. The readers must ask themselves if they would assist a family member knowing they were an addict and criminal with outstanding warrants, or would they turn their back, without a guilty conscious, in having a sibling be homeless?

The book describes how a young person can take a wrong path and never recover even though loved ones are constantly throwing life preservers in their direction. It illustrates that changing a person must come from within regardless of any positive intervention.

The story begins with my sister virtually on her last leg; in-and-out of jail, sleeping in a boat in a random person’s backyard, warrants for her arrest and having to glue in her teeth. Having incinerated every family bridge, I’m the last person she can turn to for help.

At this point the story goes back-and-forth from taking my sister into my home and how her life of drugs began as a teenager. Both narratives paint a sobering reality of the life of an addict and the challenges faced within a family. In the end, the stories collide back into the present amid chaos, but then a surprise gesture of love.

It is a true story, so I hope you enjoy the book.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

Matt The book asks the reader how far they will go to help a family member, and at what point do you just let a family member go on with their life regardless if its going to be a terrible outcome. It is a real test of faith and hope.

On the other hand, the book describes what a horrible life it can be if you have a drug addiction. There is no light at the end of the tunnel if you are addicted, in fact, the tunnel only gets darker.

The story is a true testament of a tug-of-air over the bond you have with a sibling.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Matt: My motivation writing the book was to tell my sister's story about how she had survived. It was to piece together years of not knowing my sister's whereabouts and the demons she faced. In the end, I wanted the story to have a happy ending and inspire other addicts that they could overcome a life on drugs. However, drug addicts don't have a happy ending, not only is it the same bad story, but the same sad one. With that being said, this story does have a happy ending because you can never cut ties of a family bond.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

Matt: Since the story is true that makes it unique. There is no other book that can even come close to Little Sister Charly. A lot of readers will think the story isn't true, but in reality, its a little watered down to protect my sister's children.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

Matt: I wrote a book about my experience of overcoming testicular cancer. It described the horrible side effects of chemotherapy. It's not published because it is difficult for me to reflect back on those days. If time permits I will wrote more books and perhaps have the courage to dust off that particular story.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

Matt: Readers can purchase the book on Amazon and Kindle. Also, there is a website at www.littlesistercharly.com

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Matt: Please enjoy.

If you are an indie author interested in being interviewed, please read the interview policy here.

Claymore: Fighting for a Cause

Content Note: Violence, Partial Nudity

Claymore Recap: Clare and Priscilla have awakened and are fighting on the mountain outside Pieta.

Claymore, Episode 25: For Whose Sake

Episode 25 is an episode that I can only think of as a character study, an episode that explores each character thus far and what motivates them to continue this deadly fight. It's the episode before the end, the second-to-last, and I think it's worth exploring the people within.

Metapost: Work

Content Note: Health Issues

Ramblites, my boss came by to talk to me today.

Up until now, I've been working in an area that has a small parking lot (which helps, because walking hurts me), an internet connection, access to my cell phone, and the freedom to telecommute on Tuesdays and Thursdays as a means to try to keep my back pain under control. But for reasons related to budget, I'm soon going to be reassigned to an area that has a huge parking lot, no internet connection, no cell phone use, and no telecommuting. There's no word on if this assignment will be temporary or permanent; I suspect we're edging closer to permanent. This is also just something that simply has to be right now, and can't be fixed easily.

I'm not at the moment certain how this will change my life. I know for a fact that pain and pain management will be a major issue. I also know that my internet access is going to drop drastically from my current 12+ hours a day to something like 3-4 hours. Both of these things, frankly, scare me a lot.

I also don't know how these things will affect the blog. I want Narnia Tuesdays and Twilight Saturdays to be unaffected by this. Review Mondays, Interview Wednesdays, Random Thursdays, Open Fridays, and Recommends Sundays may become sporadic based on my time and spoon management. Words cannot express how sorry I am about that.

I don't like to flood the board with my "issues", but I wanted to share this and -- selfishly -- solicit hugs if anyone wants to give them. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this, and I'm feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

Metapost: Homework

I'm working on fleshing out the Deconstructions page here.

First and foremost, if someone can find the comment where someone suggested that trees solve a lot of world-building problems because they're the perfect historians and can remember Aslan before the time of the Witch, I'd be ever so grateful.

Second, if there are any other FAQ points that need to go into the LWW Narnia section, please let me know. I'm trying to keep it simple while still being informative.

Third, the Twilight posts will come along shortly, as I can add them. Suggestions on FAQ items for Twilight are welcome here; links to where a meme or explanation first went up will be received with much gratitude.

Thank you!

NOTE: The Recent Rambles widget is probably going to be a little wonky as I go through these for the next month or so -- I'm editing archived posts to have consistencies throughout with regards to image use, content notes, chapter recaps, etc. I apologize for any inconvenience. 

Recommends: Teaspooning on Women's Day

I'm late to the party on this one, but I just want to note how much I loved this post by Will Wildman:

Note to everyone everywhere ever: 'bleeding heart' is a terrible insult that really only serves to highlight what a hilariously awful person you are. It’s like a wardrobe malfunction, but instead of a harmless nipple, your clothes slipped and everyone saw the gaping void where your soul should be.

This. Releatedly: Calling someone "politically correct" is an insult in the same way that "you try not to hurt people's feelings!" is an insult. Which is to say, it says more about the speaker than the subject. That is all.


What has everyone been writing and reading online lately?

Twilight: Hot! Google! Action!

Content Note: Witch-Hunts, Persecution of Minorities

Twilight Recap: Bella has been told by Jacob Black that the Cullens are vampires and that Jacob's clan descended from werewolves. Subsequently, she has gone home, gone to bed, and has dreamed that Edward is a vampire and Jacob is a werewolf.

Twilight, Chapter 7: Nightmare

This is the chapter so many of you have been waiting for: the Google chapter. The chapter that thrills, chills, and leaves you wanting so much more. I know it did for me, anyway! Let's dive right into it. And let's also keep in mind that I'm writing this at 9 pm on Friday night having spent most of my day dealing with AT&T and trying to coax them to give me my phone line and internet back. So this one may not be as highly polished as all my posts, but I hope we have fun anyway. Wheeee!

Open Thread: What are you reading?

Well, I mean, besides this post. Read any good books lately?

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Disability: Why Are You So Hostile?

[Content Note: Disabilities, Rape, Surgery]

Ana's Note: This piece was composed in February 2012 and is an unintentional two-parter piece about ableism, with the first piece set to run 3/8/2012. The first piece was the Kindness & Cookies piece; this second part is the Firebrand piece.

It's getting harder and harder to avoid conversations about J.K. Rowling these days.

Last year in 2011, an announcement went out that the Harry Potter books would be available in eBook form in October 2011. And there was much rejoicing, because these books are probably the most sought after not-currently-sold-in-eBook-form books on the planet. There was rejoicing among eReading people in general, but there was rejoicing among People With Disabilities even more.

Author Interview: Uvi Poznansky on "Apart From Love"

Content Note: Book Cover Image Possibly NSFW, Rape, Suicide, Mental Illness

Ana: Today we have Uvi Poznansky introducing their novel, Apart From Love. I haven't read this book myself, but Uvi was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Uvi, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Uvi: This is a story of forbidden love between Ben, a dropout medical student who comes back to his childhood home in Santa Monica, and Anita, a plain, uneducated twenty-six years old girl, who is married to his father.

To say that Love appears sparingly in the text would be an understatement. Ben and Anita seem to avoid saying this word, quite deliberately at times, even when being consumed by its fire.

Because of her past, Anita is skeptical of the idea of love. Here she is the age of sixteen, during her first meeting with Lenny: "After a while I whispered, like, “Just say something to me. Anything.” And I thought, Any other word apart from Love, ‘cause that word is diluted, and no one knows what it really means, anyway."

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Uvi: Behind his father's back, Ben finds themselves increasingly drawn to Anita. They take turns using an old tape recorder to express their most intimate thoughts, not realizing at first that their voices are being captured by him.

Meanwhile, Lenny keeps a secret from both of them: his ex-wife, Ben’s mother, a talented pianist, has been stricken with an early-onset Alzheimer. Taking care of her gradually weighs him down.

What emerges in these characters is a struggle, a desperate, daring struggle to find a path out of conflicts, out of isolation, from guilt to forgiveness.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Uvi: Over a year ago I wrote a short story about a twelve years old boy coming face to face, for the first time in his life, with the sad spectacle of dying. He watches his father trying to revive his frail grandma, and later he attempts the same technique on the fish tilting upside down in his new aquarium:

“I cannot allow myself to weep. No, not now. So I wipe the corner of my eye. Now if you watch closely, right here, you can see that the tail is still crinkling. I gasp, and blow again. I blow and blow, and with a last-gasp effort I go on blowing until all is lost, until I don’t care anymore, I mean it, I don’t care but the tears, the tears come, they are starting to flow, and there is nothing, nothing more I can do--”

I set the story aside, thinking I was done with it. But the character of the boy, Ben, came back to me and started chatting, chatting, chatting in my head. So, in writing the novel Apart From Love, I asked myself, what if I ‘aged’ him by fifteen years? Where would he be then? Would he still admire his father as a hero, or will he be disillusioned at that point? What secrets would come to light in the life of this family? How would it feel for Ben to come back to his childhood home, and have his memories play tricks on him? What if I introduce a girl, Anita, a redhead who looks as beautiful as his mother used to be, but is extremely different from her in all other respects? And what if this girl were married to his father? What if the father were an author, attempting to capture the thoughts, the voices of Ben and Anita, in order to write his book?

So the process of writing became, for me, simply listening to the characters and trying, as fast as I could, to capture their thoughts.

My role as an author was merely suggesting a place, coming up with the stage set, imagining the way they see the scene, for example at night, with the two luminous tips, which mark the hands of the alarm clock down there, in the hall.

Other times I would bring the characters outdoors. Take for example San Vicente Avenue in Santa Monica, with its gorgeous naked coral trees. Here is how Ben sees them: “Above me, the bare limbs—some of which have been pruned recently—are branching apart, and looking at them you can imagine a knee here, an elbow there, someone wrestling, someone in embrace.”

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Uvi: If you liked The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster, you will like Apart From Love, because it brings to the fore that conflicted father-son relationship and the pain of coming of age.

Also, if you liked the book Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying by Ram Dass, you will like Apart From Love. In it, you may find the descriptions of Natasha, Ben's mother who has been stricken with early-onset Alzheimer's, particularly poignant and heart-wrenching.

I would also add Still Alice by Lisa Genova. In my book, the mother, Natasha, suffers early onset Alzheimer, and her son constantly wonders about her perspective, what she knows and remembers.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Uvi: Apart From Love is my debut novel. I have published short stories, some of which are available to read on my website, uviart.com. Also, I have published children books and even created animations for them. You can see these animations in my author page on amazon. (Simply go down the page to the two little icons under Author Video, and you will know what to do...)

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Uvi: Readers can buy my book through Amazon or Barnes and Noble, simply by searching for the author name or by the ISBN: 978-0-9849932-0-8. Apart From Love is available as an ebook on the Kindle (ASIN: B006WPITP0), on the Nook (BN ID: 2940013704022) and on the iPad and iPhone. The iBookstore is accessed from within the iBooks app. From the bookshelf view in iBooks, tap Store to open the iBookstore. From the iBookstore, you can search for books. Try searching using the author name (Uvi Poznansky) or using the book name.

Readers may subscribe to my blog to be notified of my next novel and to read my posts.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Uvi: The first three chapters are available on Amazon.

Deals: Amazon Gift Card and Coraline

As a deal from Amazon Local, you can today buy a $10 Amazon Gift Card for the low price of $5.

The Audible version of Coraline -- which I own and enjoy quite a bit -- is on sale at Audible this week for $8.23. (Note that audible proprietary files are not open standard like mp3, are a real pain to convert, and can essentially only be played on Kindles, most smartphones/tablets, and your higher end music players. So there's that.)

Claymore: Love and Loyalty

Content Note: Violence, Partial Nudity

Claymore Recap: Clare has partially awakened in order to defeat the Awakened Being Rigaldo and save her friends.

Claymore, Episode 24: Critical Point, Part 2

Episode 24 starts with a feeling of jubilation. Clare has defeated Rigaldo; the Claymore are safe for the moment. Helen runs to inform the wounded of Clare's awesomeness and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. But out in the snow, Clare writhes in pain as she fights for control of her body.

Deals: Twilight and Bottled Water

There's another Kindle Big Deal Sale this month, but most of the titles look like either bonnet-rippers or conservative screeds (The Flipside of Feminism? Really. *sigh*) but there are two that interested me and might interest you.


"Seduced By Twilight" which claims to "examine how the Twilight series offers addictively appealing messages about love, romance, sex, beauty and body image, and how these charged themes interact with cultural issues regarding race, class, gender and sexuality." It looks to be a largely positive (as in, woohoo! Twilight!) examination, but some of you may find it interesting.


"Bottled and Sold", which I've reviewed here, and which I remember thinking was one of the best non-fiction books I read in 2010 (I had an Advance Review Copy, iirc).

Review: Answer Them Nothing

Answer Them Nothing: Bringing Down the Polygamous Empire of Warren JeffsAnswer Them Nothing
by Debra Weyermann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Answer Them Nothing / 9781569765319

So you've read "Escape" and "Stolen Innocence". You've read "Under the Banner of Heaven" and "When Men Become Gods". And you came away from those books with a warm sense of relief: Warren Jeffs had been arrested and convicted, and the Short Creek area was being gently and carefully restored to a place of law, order, and peace.

But then, if you watched the news, you may have felt more than a little confused. The FLDS polygamists running the Short Creek police -- men who were terrorizing non- and ex-FLDS residents and physically barring young girls from escaping the community -- were not removed from their public jobs. Certain public officials seemed to withdraw their support for the non- and ex-FLDS Short Creek residents, even as they were being denied hospital access, public utilities, and being arrested for "trespassing" in their own backyards.

A federal judge attempted to wrest management of the financial trust trying to restore property rights to individual families (regardless of their "good standing" in the religion) and hand control of that trust to the FLDS leadership, despite the fact that numerous non- and ex-FLDS members would be evicted from their homes by the decision. The Utah Supreme Court reversed Warren Jeffs' rape conviction based on a bizarre technicality, apparently saying that the jury should have determined if the groom in an underage marriage was also in the "position of trust" that the Prophet was determined to hold.

The news was confusing and surprising to people who had come away from previous polygamist memoirs and historical analyses with a sense of hope. Now "Answer Them Nothing" cuts through the confusion to bring an book that is part history, part biography, and part current events (up to late 2010 in my edition), and all meticulously researched and laid out in searingly intense prose.

As much as I can enjoy a book like this, I enjoyed "Answer Them Nothing". There are very few happy endings in sight at the end of this book, nothing like the hopefulness that permeates the earlier FLDS books in my collection, but the fault is not with the author but with the world she documents. (Just to demonstrate how bizarre this universe is, Texas Governor Rick Perry is a rare good guy in this political and judicial saga because he ... bravely decided to prosecute a man who made a sex tape of him raping a 12 year-old-girl. That's a pretty low decency bar to hold our justice system to.)

This book isn't for everyone. As far as I can tell, the author seems not to draw a line between harmful religious polygamy and harmless consenting polyamory, but given the context of the book it's not always clear that denouncements of the one aren't intended as denouncements of the other. I didn't find the book problematic, but others might. The author also has a frustrating habit of occasionally using the words "crazy" or "schizophrenic" to describe things that are not; I would prefer more precise, less medically loaded terms like "unfathomable" or "inconsistent".

If you want a book that carefully wraps up the history of the FLDS, the biographies of some of its lesser known escapees, and the court battles that have continued well into 2010, I recommend this book. But be warned: if you care at all about welfare fraud, police brutality, child abuse, legal harassment, and the unwillingness of elected American officials to address these terrible injustices in our nation, then this book will leave you both sad and seething.

~ Ana Mardoll

Recommends: Feminist Harry Potter

This is the best thing I've seen all week: Feminist Harry Potter.

All of the pictures are crispy fried awesome.

OPEN THREAD BELOW! What have you been reading/writing?

Twilight: Linkin Park is the Soundtrack of Your Spirit Journey

Content Note: Disordered Eating, Self-Harm, March-Abelism-Sports-Term

Twilight Recap: Bella has heard from Jacob that the Cullens are vampires.  

Twilight, Chapter 7: Nightmare

Chapter 7 is a very important chapter in the Twilight novel. As some of you will remember from last week, Chapter 6 was the chapter in which Jacob Black told Bella Swan directly, no bones about it, that the Cullens are vampires. This was a very important chapter for the development of narrative tension because now Bella is faced with the challenge of researching what a vampire is.

This is riveting stuff, I must say.

Open Thread: Efficient Combination Thread!

This is the Totally Efficient Combination Thread that combines Open Threadiness with a Moving Update!

We closed on our houses (the old-one-being-sold and the new-one-being-bought) on Tuesday and Wednesday, and started moving to the new house Thursday (yesterday). Today is Official "Trying To Find All The Stuff We Put In Boxes" day, possibly with a side of "Update Our Address At Every Place Online". Although that last one will be tricky because we won't have internet until next Friday because oh my god, I hate AT&T so much you cannot even believe, but no one else services this otherwise-perfect-for-us house. Seriously, I hate AT&T, ya'll. I'm a normally very peaceful person, but talking to AT&T makes me want to blow up one of Saturn's moons just to be a jackwagon. Take that, Mimas!

Anyway! Happy thoughts! Happy moving thoughts! There will not be internet in our house for a week! (*sounds of weeping*) But! There will be tethering-of-laptops-to-3G-smartphones! Which is very very slow internet! But it is internet!

In the meantime, you guys should be set for posts, although next week's Twilight post might be a touch late. I'll try to make sure it's on time. I don't think I've missed one yet. *grin*

OPEN THREAD BELOW! What have you been doing with your awesome selves while Ana has descended into the self-absorption and sleepy morass of house buying?

Tropes: The Subversive Power of Slash-Fic

Ana's Note: This article originally ran as a Slacktiverse Special. This is a repost in case you missed it the first time.

I've been thinking a lot about fan-fic and slash-fic lately.

Now, it's really difficult to write a post about fan-fic and slash-fic without defining the terms for the readers who aren't familiar with either. And it's really difficult to accurately define these terms because they mean different things for different people. So I'm going to try to define what the terms mean to me, but with the advance warning that I tend to define these terms more loosely and more broadly than many other people do. And, it's worth noting: I don't own the terms and I'm not the definitive guide for using them. So there's that!

Author Interview: Charlie Cole on "Headhunters"

Ana: Today we have Charlie Cole introducing their novel, Headhunters. I haven't read this book myself, but Charlie was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Charlie, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Charlie: Thanks, Ana! Headhunters is a spy thriller about a man who recruits people into a privatized intelligence agency. He discovers a threat to homeland security that threatens his family and the country as a whole.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Charlie: I wanted to explore the lengths that people will go to protect what's dear to them. In the case of our hero, Simon Parks, he makes choices to protect his family when he realizes they're in danger. With our villain, it's the things he will do in a post-9/11 world.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Charlie: You can make money writing?? I had no idea. That's good to know! I've worked as a professional headhunter, recruiting talent for companies or government contractors for 15 years. It always interested me how closely that business was to the work done by intelligence agencies to recruit assets. In addition, I worked as a licensed private investigator, so that lends some interest to the genre.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If  you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Charlie: I've been told by some readers that if Headhunters were made into a movie, they could see Bruce Willis cast as Simon Parks. That's not a bad choice. Some portions of the book read like Barry Eisler's thrillers. I do also have some adult scenes between my two leads and I've received favorable comments on those.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Charlie: I've written a second novel called Damascus Road that was also a thriller and it still sits in rewrites. More importantly, I'm working on a book called Suicide Doors. It's a horror novel about three ghosts entangled in an ongoing string of murders.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Charlie: Readers can find Headhunters for sale on Amazon's Kindle here, as well as a reading sample. They can contact me anytime on Twitter @CharlieCole or check out my author site and follow my blog.

Ana: Thank you. Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Charlie: Well, thank you for the opportunity, Ana! I definitely would encourage readers to check out Headhunters now and keep an eye out for Suicide Doors coming in April 2012.

Claymore: Evolving Through Learning

Content Note: Violence

Claymore Recap: The Awakened Being Rigaldo has arrived in Pieta and massacred the leaders of the Claymore. Raki has discovered that Priscilla and Isley are Awakened Beings.

Claymore, Episode 23: Critical Point, Part 1

As Episode 23 begins, Rigaldo is still in the process of beating down Miria. Clare and the others continually attempt to intervene, but they are too slow and too weak to be effective. Rigaldo brushes Clare off each time as though she were nothing more than a gnat to him. Clare descends into a blood-rage and pushes herself to be just a little faster...

Review: How Not to Write a Novel

How Not to Write a NovelHow Not to Write a Novel
by Howard Mittelmark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How Not To Write a Novel / 9780061862892

If you write, or if you work as an editor, or if you're a reviewer (hobbyist or professional!), or if you simply like to read a lot, I think you will like this book.

"How Not To Write a Novel" is an absolutely hilarious romp through some of the easy and common mistakes to avoid when writing a novel. Each mistake is carefully demonstrated with over-the-top, detailed examples that clearly show why something is a very bad idea. The reader going through this book will be nodding their head at many of the examples, amused to finally have a name to place on a phenomena they've encountered before, and the light tone and humorous example had me laughing so hard I was gasping for breath.

I don't agree with every single piece of advice here (just 95% of it!) but I honestly think that's part of the point. The authors make it very clear in the beginning, and then several times throughout, that these are stylistic choices and that someone, somewhere has managed to break one or more of these rules in a novel and still be successful. Critically acclaimed, even! This, to me, is more like very useful guidelines to help a writer *understand* a rule before they can decide whether or not to try to bend or break it.

I enjoyed this book completely, and it's one that I wanted to turn around and read right over again when I finished. I highly recommend it.

~ Ana Mardoll

Recommends: 6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying

Today's Recommends is another Cracked.com article, cross-linked from a commenter at Shakesville: 6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying. My favorite bits were this:

Or, as Hamilton Nolan at Gawker put it, "'Sure, it's an objectively large sum of money,' they say. 'But it is far smaller after I spend it.'"

and this:

You can reply that if some other field paid more, you'd have just simply switched to it and been equally successful, due to your smarts and determination. You know, like how the smart and determined Michael Jordan was equally successful as a basketball player (six titles, $70 million a year) and baseball player (batted .202 in the minors) and team owner (his Charlotte Bobcats are currently 4-28).

and this:

So to sum it up: If you make good money, but have to work 80-hour weeks to get it, you're still lucky. Just swallow your pride and fucking acknowledge it.

Oh, heck. The whole thing is my favorite part.

OPEN THREAD BELOW! What have you been reading/writing? 

Deals: Still Missing

I book I love-love-love is $2.99 today on Kindle and B&N: Still Missing.

Review here.

Twilight: Lying Liars Who Lie

Content Note: Emotional Manipulation

Twilight Recap: Bella has arrived at the weekend beach get-away and has met Jacob, a young man from her distant past. Lauren the Evil Blond has needled Bella about her young conquest. 

Twilight, Chapter 6: Scary Stories

Before we go any further, let's get one thing absolutely straight: Bella Swan is a bad liar.

Open Thread: Characterization

Because a huge percentage of the readers here are authors, writers, fan fic'ers, and/or people who make up stories in their head:

How do characters come to you? 

I have been reading about this lately, and I think I may be doing some kind of primitive outlining/snowflake method with my writing where I start with a plot of a few sentences and a handful of protagonists and then I start pasting qualities onto them from there. Somewhere in that process the magic happens. I'm given to understand, however, that there are 8,572 other methods out there to creating/discovering/meeting new characters.

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

(Please try to be respectful that there are a lot of right ways and possibly no wrong way to go about all this.)

Deals: Atwood Book!

People! Margaret Atwood has a new book! It's an e-book novella, so probably not very big, but you can get it at B&N and Amazon and probably other places!

Disability: When Context Matters

[Content Note: Infertility, Pain Management, Surgery, Religious Proselytization]

Ana's Note: This piece was composed in January 2012 and was inspired by Froborr's excellent post The Problem of Proselytizing. This piece is also an unintentional two-partner piece about ableism, with the second piece to run 3/22/2012. This is the Kindness & Cookies piece; the second part is the Firebrand piece. Never let it be said that I am consistent.

I went to see my scoliosis specialist this weekend.

I haven't been to see him since 2010. The long delay between that visit and this one had special significance: during that time, I was trying -- and failing -- to get pregnant. This visit represented the culmination of two very painful realities. One, my persistent back pain is getting worse. Two, I and my Husband will not be having a child together.

Author Interview: Dan O'Brien on "The Journey"

Ana: Today we have Dan O'Brien introducing their novel, The Journey. I haven't read this book myself, but Dan was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Dan, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Dan: The Frozen Man. The Translucent Man. The Burning Man. The Wicker Man. The guide known only as the Crossroads, together these are the signposts and totems of the world that the being called the Lonely inhabits. Seeking out the meaning of his journey, the Lonely is a being consumed by philosophical inquiry and adventure. Filled with exotic places and age-old questions, The Journey is a book that seeks to merge the fantastical and real. Join the Lonely as he seeks out answers to his own existence and perhaps the meaning for us all. The Journey is many things. While it is philosophical in nature, it explores the issues that face all of us. There is a fantastical element that guides readers along, coaxing out the best possible experience while reading the novel.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Dan: The Journey explores a few themes. Chief among them would be the first question posed by philosophers: who are we and why are we here? The journey of life is varied and complex, but is entwined by a singular thread: searching for a sense of belonging, or a purpose. How does the pursuit of such heady questions influence the nature of how we perceive ourselves – and to what extent do we contemplate such issues – is juxtaposed with characters that are archetypes of the types of people we encounter throughout our lives.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Dan: I started writing this novel because I was struck by the necessity to create something deeply moving and philosophical. I had always enjoyed novels by Gibran and Hesse and I thought I might attempt to contribute to that genre on some level. At the time, I was engaged in a lot of philosophical discourse, so it seemed to be a timely novel to tackle.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If  you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Dan: If you loved Ishmael, The Giver, or The Prophet, then you will want to read The Journey. First and foremost, the novel focuses on asking serious questions and demanding deliberation about potential answers. The background is firmly rooted in fantasy, which sets it apart from all three of the novels to which there is a comparison: The Giver, Ishmael, and The Prophet. It is meant to utilize strong metaphors, and most of all to make the reader think.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Dan: I have three other novels in print: The Ocean and the Hourglass, Bitten, and Cerulean Dreams. Four more novels will hopefully be available in 2012: The Fallen Chronicles Trilogy and Deviance of Time. Most of the novels are part of a larger series -- especially Bitten, which is a series of mystery novels that follows Agent Lauren Westlake -- and are of the fantasy variety. The Fallen Chronicles and Deviance of Time are both the beginnings of two vast, epic series as well.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Dan: The novels are in both print and Kindle versions here: The Journey, Bitten, Cerulean Dreams. You can follow me on Twitter @AuthorDanOBrien, on Facebook, on my blog, or my website.

Ana: Thank you, Dan. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Dan: Yes, there is a Kindle preview online of The Journey at Amazon. Please follow me on Twitter to receive updates. My blog and author page on Facebook also provide timely updates about where my writing is going. Thanks for talking with me today, Ana.

Claymore: Survival Ethics

Content Note: Violence, Light Nudity

Claymore Recap: The Claymore are preparing for the invasion of Pieta. Raki travels toward Pieta with Priscilla and Isley, unaware of their true natures. Episode 21 and 22 are very closely tied together, so I am going to handle both in one post.

Claymore, Episode 21/22: Invasion of Pieta, Part 1/2

Episode 21 and 22 cut back and forth between the Claymore and the three travelers, so let's take Pieta as a whole and then see how Raki is doing. The episode opens with the northern army of Awakened Beings on the move against Pieta with orders from Isley to eradicate all life, even down to the smallest insect. Isley patiently urges Priscilla and Raki to continue their journey, saying that the battle in Pieta will be over before they arrive. Raki follows quietly, still unsure what to make of his strange companions.

Self-Promotion: March Newsletter

If you weren't subscribed to the Ramblings newsletter on or before March 1st, here is what you missed. I'll repost these on occasion, but for the most part I won't duplicate the monthly newsletters since that kind of defeats the point. ;)

Metapost: Recent Rambles Update

Since the Blogger RSS widget has not updated for over a week now, I've abandoned it and gone with a new widget provider for Recent Rambles. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience.

Recommends: Friday Fiction

I like writing exercises, but I rarely find any that really tickle me. After seeing Gela's Fun With Descriptions this week, I'm now thinking that my problem isn't with the exercises, it's with needing to see someone else do something awesome first and then following. Without that, it seems like I'm left flailing. So I thoroughly enjoyed this week's Friday Fiction, I look forward to seeing more, and for the record this was my favorite one:

Once upon a time there was a quiet, unassuming country where the people tried to be pleasant to each other, with the usual exceptions of awkward relatives and overbearing neighbors, and where a stranger was just as likely to encounter a friendly smile as elsewhere in the world.

Heh. I like interesting ways to describe places as "sort of average, but in a good way". 

Twilight: Women Behaving Badly

Content Note: Depression, Social In-Fighting, Criticism of Writing Styles

Twilight Recap: Bella has arrived at the weekend beach get-away. 

Twilight, Chapter 6: Scary Stories

We've theorized in the past that Bella Swan, as a character, is in some ways an almost perfect portrayal of depression, or (at the very least) a deeply sad and withdrawn young woman. Because of that theory, I haven't criticized her for many of her thoughts and actions, primarily because I do think that thoughts are generally private things and because her actions have for the most part been significantly less noteworthy than, say, Edward's. Today we're going to take a bit of a hiatus from that approach and I'm going to treat Bella Swan from a different angle -- one where she's not depressed because I don't think the author intended her to be so. How could Bella's thoughts and actions appear differently in such a light?

Open Thread: Love Triangles

It's not that I can't handle a good love triangle so much as I would just please like advance notice that a book contains a love triangle. Can we start having, like, an FDA warning label for love triangles?

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Suggested topics: Love triangles you hated, love triangles you loved, and love triangles where you wanted to toss one or more of the members off a bridge. Derail as desired!

Feminism: Marginalization of the Self

I've been buying a lot of e-books for my library lately.

I started about a year ago when I got my eReader. I didn't usually visit the library very often, which was odd because there is one less than 5 minutes from our house. Husband and I would sometimes check out movies and TV shows from there, but I would almost never check out an actual book because I was so afraid of hurting the book somehow. This is not a rational fear; I have books in my personal library that I've owned for decades without blemishing them, but it was a fear I held nevertheless. But then an eReader entered our home, and with it a world of possibilities: e-books from the library!