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Emmie’s Everest

This post will deal a lot with my writing career, so I reckon I’ll esplain right off the bat why I’m putting it here instead of over at my um…writing blog.

The first reason is because that there blog is for writing about urban fantasy and the business side of my career. Though I might make the occasional foray into the personal there when the occasion demands, this little leafy blog is where my personal meanderings (hence the name) occur. The second is because I got homework today, and I decided to share the concrete bits with whoever feels like reading them.

Without further ado, I give you………*drumroll*………..Emmie’s Not-Top-Secret Goals for Her Writing Career in 2012 and Beyond!

That title needs some work. Cut me some slack.

My assignment was to assess my personal goals for my writing career. Who do I want to be? Where do I want to be in five years? Ten? Three? What do I want out of my writing? Who do I want to reach? What is my definition of success for my career, and how on earth will I know when I get there? What kind of income do I want to get from it? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Let’s start with the introspection.

Who do I want to be as a writer? As Forrest Gump might say, “Aren’t I going  to be me?” Well, yes. Essentially, I’m not aiming to be the next Stephen King or Jo Rowling or Stephenie Meyer or “the next” anyone. I want to pave my own way and establish my own niche in my market.

I know that’s a cop-out answer. I hope this one is a little better: I want to be a best-selling urban fantasy author who turns out new books, each better than the ones that came before them. I want a writing career where I am always striving to be better, bolder, and unique.

Who do I want to reach? I want to reach the lovers of magic and the supernatural. People who love vampires and shapeshifters and twists on our world. People who love human stories in the midst of all that. My ideal audience is people who love the grittiness of Buffy — or Twilight fans after some of the glitter has worn off the vampires. People who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty and like their sweet with a touch of bitter.

What is my definition of success? I will consider myself successful when I can amply provide for myself and my family by the sole means of my writing. When I can quit my day job and still have wiggle room after the squeak of the bills grinds to a halt, I’ll know I got there.

Where do I want to be in three years? In three years, I want to have a book somewhere on the New York Times or Amazon.com bestseller lists. I want to be planning a migration to Scotland and maybe thinking of building our home. Maybe even thinking of spawning some little Emmies.

Where do I want to be in five years? In five years, I would like my family to be ensconced in our home in Scotland with a charming husky and a fluffy orange cat that meows a lot. I want to spend my days writing in my library and continuing to hone my craft. I’d like to have filled another passport up with stamps from all over the world.

I’d also like to have met an elephant by then.

In TEN YEARS?! Ten years from now, I’d like to be done popping out kids so I can make my husband get a vasectomy and stop having to deal with foreign hormones clogging up my body. I want to write every day. I want to teach my children to love books and that they can be whoever they want to be. I want to show them the world. I want to share what I have with others and give back as much as possible. Some dreams I have in that sense are to make hefty donations to cancer research (I’ve lost several loved ones to that cursed disease), to Eve Ensler‘s heroic work for V-Day to stop violence against women, and to find some little girls that remind me of myself and make some of their dreams come true.

What kind of income do I want to make? I would love to have enough to build our dream home (which, by the way, is NOT 10,000 square feet, nor does it have a pool or any columns or more than 5 bedrooms or any other such nonsense), pay off all my debt (including the debt of my immediate family, of which there is quite a lot), and make the aforementioned hefty donations as possible. I don’t care about millions per year. One thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of never having enough of it is that money does not buy “happiness,” but it can alleviate a great deal of stress and improve quality of life. I want my children to have more than I did, but still to know the value of their own work and to take joy in earning something for themselves. I don’t have a specific number of how much money I want to make, just that I want to be able to pay for the things I value: family, books (ha), travel, and causes that matter to me.

That is my Everest. Right now I’m at base camp, starting the trek. Took a long time to get prepared for even this leg of the journey, now I’m about to begin my ascent.

And oh, yeah…

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? This depends on whether it is an African swallow, or a European swallow. It’s unlikely that either variety of swallow would be capable of carrying a large burden, such as a coconut, over any distance, but perhaps if the swallow were being chased by a large horde of zombie swallows it might have enough adrenaline to do so. Though why it would want to is a question for a greater mind than mine. Perhaps for one known as…Tim?

English: Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler is my hero for too many reasons to name here, but to give you two: she is a champion for women around the world, and she kicked cancer's ass. Image via Wikipedia

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Urban Fantasy’s Hammer

While the high fantasy and sci-fi genres still seem to be dominated by male authors (with a few notable exceptions, of course), in the urban fantasy world, there are some interesting things going on in that age old gender war. People sometimes underestimate the power and social influence that books and television exert over the world. For instance, before Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the idea of a female hero (not a heroine, not someone who seemed strong until they needed to beef up a macho man and have him swoop in to save her) was unfathomable in the mainstream media. Buffy Summers paved the way for protagonists like Veronica Mars and others who flooded in after her.

I was reading my Twitter feed yesterday, and there was a little trend of hashtags inspired by Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, entitled Things Anita Blake Taught Me. Here are some that stood out to me:

“It’s okay to have wild monkey sex with more than one man at one time. Rawr!”

“Being a woman — and a petite one at that — doesn’t mean shit. Stand up for yourself!”

“Loving two men is okay.”

“A woman can be tough, carry a gun, be beautiful, smart — can be herself and still have lots of men want her.”

“It’s okay to date men who are prettier than you are.”

“Being a bad ass and being a woman are not mutually exclusive.”

“It’s easier to live in a man’s world if they secretly suspect you can kick their asses.”

“It’s too much of a burden to saddle men with always being the strong ones, just as it’s too much to saddle women with being the weak ones.”

Some people might argue that Anita Blake is oversexualized, but I am going to step out on the edge of the sword and say that she is an empowering figure. How many millions of times have we seen the man with his gaggle of women? How many references to men being more bad ass, more sexy, stronger, more manly for having more sexual partners, yet women are sluts and whores?

The power comes in because writers like Laurell Hamilton and Charlaine Harris are lending a hammer to the glass divider between the sides of that double standard, blurring the Madonna-Whore complex and showing that women can be sexual, can have multiple partners, and still be strong, confident, intelligent, and competent. It’s not the shattering blow yet, but there are cracks appearing, and that gives me hope.

 

zombies, gender stereotyping, and really soggy feet

so today finds me contemplating any number of important factoids.  for instance, i’ve remembered precisely why i gave up on white socks so many years ago (my feet got soaked and the socks got stained/ruined), discovered quite the fascinating array of fungi to appear after a maryland rainstorm, and have guzzled nearly a gallon of green tea, which is a lot.

but onto more important things.  this blog entry will encompass two very important subjects that have been weighing heavily on my mind in recent days, so do prepare yourself for some deep thinking.  i’ll go in alphabetical order, and since both subjects find themselves rather toward the end of our 26-letter string, we’re starting with w.

women in pop culture
can i just say….annoying?  i can’t count the number of times i’ve sat down to watch a movie recently and been utterly pissed off by the obnoxious depiction of 21st century women.  allow me to sum up.  according to hollywood right now, women are:  whiny, overbearing, controlling, manipulative, obsessed with fashion, obsessed with shopping, vapid, obsessed with shoes, obsessed with being attractive to men at the expense of their personality and individuality, and generally really fucking annoying.  the message is that women only care about securing a man, pussy whipping him, and then keeping him on a leash and forcing him to give up his hobbies whilst she whines about shoes and spends hundreds of dollars on pointless designer crap.  and whines in general.  where on earth do these women come from?  i suppose they exist in real life.  actually, i know they do.  but we’re not all like that, for god’s sake.

i saw the hangover last night.  after the first scene involving stu’s girlfriend melissa, i cringed.  when phil made some pompous remark about getting away from his wife and kid, i cringed more.  doug’s fiancee had this martyred, pitiful expression in the opening scene as well.  i braced myself for a movie that would continue to depict that women are nothing but clingy, whiny creatures who wish nothing more than to keep their husbands/boyfriends from having any amount of fun whatsoever, to the point that to escape their grasping tendrils, the poor, downtrodden men must lie to get away.  i was pretty relieved that it didn’t really go that way and ended up being an awesome movie, but it made me think about how a lot of women have been portrayed in movies lately and in pop culture in general.

is that how we want to live, women?  really?  i for one don’t want to ever be those women.  i never want to be so insecure in myself that feel the need to curtail my significant other’s life in order to feel like i’m in control.  i’m my own person.  i don’t want to be defined by a relationship — god, no — i want a relationship in which i’m more a partner in crime than a distressed damsel.  i’ve never been one for damseling.  what on earth is wrong with being yourself?  i do desire love, but it’s not all i desire.  and i believe pretty firmly that if you’re being yourself, doing your thing, you’ll meet people who like you for you.  that’s the most important bit.  too often i think people (not just women, this applies to men as well) try so hard to fit themselves into a mold they perceive as attractive to the opposite sex that they lose themselves and end up miserable and misunderstood.  i mean, what on earth do they expect in that scenario?   i’ve done it before.  i only hope i’ll never be stupid enough to do it again.

i’m intensely fed up with seeing women in movies who have no aspirations greater than obtaining the newest louis vuitton handbag.  how utterly assinine it makes them look.  women are so much more than that.  i would love to see a movie with women having an adventure that doesn’t revolve around fashion or shoes or whining about men.  in fact, i’d like to see a bromance style comedy where the women are fun, interesting, and there for the ride, not sitting at home with a quivering lip wondering why their significant others would rather be off doing anything (and anyone) but them.  look at the cool women in movies — princess leia is a perfect example.  she’s got a mind of her own.  she’s doing her thing, trying to save her world, having an adventure.  she doesn’t take any shit, but she doesn’t try to beat anyone down, either.  and the untameable han solo doesn’t have to get tamed.  they can have an adventure together…which they do.  that’s what i’m talkin’ about, ladies and gents.  less lovelorn damseling, more independent kickassery.

seen fanboys yet?  zoe is a perfect example of said independent kickassery.  she’s fun, smart, and no-nonsense.  she doesn’t sit in the corner sniveling about how things aren’t going her way; she jumps in the fray and does her thing, not wanting to miss out on the action.  and she’s awesome.  so there.  and for all you dudes out there, which sort of girl would you rather have in your life and your bed?  the one who freaks out if you don’t call her every hour on the hour and only cares about paris hilton and/or gets pouty and resentful when you want to do something cool?  or the one who’s out doing something cool anyway and wants to join in?  in the end, i’ll tie this subject into my next subject by saying that for me, the ideal dude to have around would be someone i’d want by my side (not shielding me and pushing me behind him, mind you) in a zombie apocalypse.

zombie apocalypse
that brings me to the meat of my ruminations for today.  i’ve been reading a pretty kickass book called world war z: an oral history of the zombie war, on loan from someone who — let’s face it — i would actually want around during a zombie apocalypse.  and it’s gotten me thinking.  in case of a zombie apocalypse, one really oughta have a game plan.  because it could totally happen.

this strategy is in its early stages, and it operates on a few basic assuptions:

  • the dead are reanimated due to some scientific phenomena as opposed to metaphysical
  • decapitation will effectively stop a zombie
  • reanimation of corpses will not grant them any sort of preternatural strength or powers
  • the condition will be contagious via saliva or other bodily fluids making contact with a heretofore uninfected person’s bodily fluids (probably biting)

operating on those assumptions, a zombie apocalypse would feasibly take place through the prolific spread of infection, and most of the world would be fucked.  most of the world would panic, and panic would be tantamount to a death sentence.  so here’re my brilliant musings on the subject.

first, be practical.  a massive pandemic of zombies would cause mass hysteria and send people fleeing for the hills.  because of this, the zombies would most likely follow the crowds who would gather and get stuck on blocked interstates.  think rush hour is bad?  put all those people plus some and add a healthy dose of extreme blind panic.  the freeways would be blocked with wrecks in no time at all, and what better place for an all-you-can-eat zombie buffet than streams of people packed up like lunchables in their stationary vehicles?

you’d be better off barricading yourself in a secure location, as most people will flee and get eaten/bitten/otherwise zombified.  it’s not foolproof, but the hordes of undead would be most likely acting only upon sheer primal impulse and driven for one thing only, therefore following the most likely and easily accessible food source:  the fleeing masses.  my rationale for this is that zombies would probably lack any higher brain function, meaning they wouldn’t be able to perform the kind of deductive reasoning that would lead them to go, “golly gee whiz, that thur’s a house.  i bet it’s full of crunchy human delectables just locked away and waiting to be eaten.  come on, guys!  let’s go check it out.”  probably more like, “food run that way.  me follow food.”  so if you have to leave your hideaway at any point, just don’t be a fucking dumbass and lead them back to it if you happen to encounter any of them during your excursion.

so what sort of supplies would you need?  here’s what i’m thinking.  you want function, portability, and efficiency.  obviously food is a given, concentrating on high energy non-perishables.  get a stash of multivitamins and ration them to avoid scurvy or malnutrition.  concentrate on survival first.  fill your bunker with as many supplies of clean water as possible.

in terms of weapons, ranged weapons might be effective, but a gun’s only as good as your aim, and it’ll only last as long as the bullets you have.  firing randomly will accomplish a fat lot of nothing.  a sword on the other hand doesn’t require reloading, and although it does take a certain amount of skill, it’s a lot easier to aim than a firearm.  assuming that zombies would be dependent upon a functioning cerebral cortex, if you can sever the head, the body will die.  messy, but effective.  grenades would probably be a pretty solid idea, but let’s face it — who the fuck has access to military-grade weapons?  besides, an inexperienced person with a grenade has probably just as much chance of blowing his or her own ass to kingdom come as an advancing horde of moaning undead.

a radio is always important, along with a supply of batteries or some other way to charge it in case of electrical failure, which will probably happen.  technicians getting eaten, etc.  some quality rope, a compass, and a good map would be good as well.  basic survival gear is a given.

also, i was thinking about clothing.  if you have to leave your bunker, you’ll want tight fitting clothing with little room for grasping onto so the zombies can’t grab you and bite you.  leather would be good, because the human jaw isn’t really capable of biting through something so tough unless you plan on holding still so the zombies can gnaw through it.  leather pants, jacket, and gloves.  matrix-style.  or, you know.  evil knievel.

so those are my basic survival thoughts in case of a zombie apocalypse.  hunker down, lock yourself up with provisions, only venture out if you must, and never follow the herd — hordes follow herds.  also, get a badass sword and start practicing.  so that’s my plan.  it’s probably got some holes, but what can ya do.  at least i’ve got an idea of what i’d do.  and if worse really does come to worse, well.  you know what they say.  if you can’t beat ’em…a non-life of shambling cannibalism might not be all that bad.  just be sure to go out swinging.

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A Shout-Out to the 21st Century Liberal Male

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I decided this warrants a post.  I had a couple conversations in the past few weeks that have given me an extraordinary amount of hope for the future of male-female relationships, and I think it deserves some dialogue…or, because no one reads my blog, some monologue.

Awesome.

I’ve been discovering that the new wave of feminists for the 21st century are…male.  This is not to say that female feminists are a dying breed–I don’t think we are–but just that the new generation of men, specifically the current 18-30s, are reconstructing traditional gender roles in a way that I think will prove to hugely impact the way men and women relate to one another in positive ways.

They believe in equality.  That is the truest, most sincere basis of feminism–that  men and women should be treated as equals and be granted equal opportunity.  And they believe this because they have been shaped by the earlier waves of feminism–they take it for granted that men and women are equal.

They abhor violence toward women.  Whether it is rape, spousal abuse, or emotional/verbal abuse, it isn’t okay with these guys.  Really not okay.  In fact, they speak out about it vehemently and passionately.

They are opening up about their own issues of mistreatment.  Abusive wives and girlfriends definitely exist, but instances of physical and emotional abuse of men are usually either unreported or simply dismissed.  This new generation is speaking out, and rightfully so.  Equality is equality, for all people.  And violence and abuse is unacceptable, regardless of who perpetrates it.

They are opening up, period.  They express themselves.  They tell how they feel.  They ask for help.  They are thoughtful and tender and kind.  They are protective and gentle and honest when they are conflicted.

They believe that women’s sexuality is beautiful and vital.  They want to please their partners.  They see women’s sexuality as something valuable, something important, and something fascinating.  They see it as a strength, and they respect women’s confidence in the bedrooms.

The words “whore” and “slut” have long been the only ways of describing women who have had multiple sexual partners.  Men are “players,” but women are “sluts.”  The staggering difference in connotation, even on a purely etymological level, is one of the remaining barriers in women’s equality in the sexual realm.  I recently came across a new term, made popular by a song–and it holds a connotation much more similar to “player” than “slut.”  The term is “maneater”–and while it might sound negative, it’s usually spoken with a modicum of the respect given to “player.”  I have to say, I’m pretty content with that.

These men are hands-down amazing.  They are hugely impressive.  They believe in partnership–and I think that they will have more successful relationships than their predecessors.

To all of you 21st century men out there–you are awesome.