Saturday, 5 April 2014

It's A Dirty Job And We've Probably Done It

Lately me and Housemate have had occasion to rework our current business plan because, well, things in business rarely go as planned. Doing so led us the other night to reminiscing about our first foray into business and our own early jobs...

We got into the whole idea of self-employment in the early 90s when I becamse possessed by the overwhelming notion that dating services were going to be HUGE in the future. Back then there were only maybe two majors in the UK, neither of which were utilizing the burgeoning new technology known as 'the internet', and maybe a handful of those homemade penpal-mag types. The idea took real hold after I joined one of the agencies as part of the market research ( they were having a half-price sale and it seemed like too good an opportunity to waste ) and found that most of the clients using them were ordinary folks, not a bunch of sexual deviants and serial killers. That came later with the internet...Anyway, fast forward and we had this brilliant business plan ( "Sitting on a goldmine" as one of our business advisors put it ) and we couldn't get the funding we required for love nor money ( pun intended ). Not just were the banks and the government leery of such an idea, it was actively prohibited as a loan or grant option! Which, I think, proves that those bland-faced financial types in their boring pinstripe suits really don't have a scrap of creative vision to pass around between them. So we had to go sideways, starting a cleaning business instead to get the funding we needed, with the intention of quickly diversifying into the online dating service. I mean, us? cleaning? You can all stop laughing any time.

Remember those best laid plans? We got stuck in the cleaning thing for so long that by the time we were in a position to diversify, the online dating market had already boomed and for us to enter it would only have been us adding a whisper to that increasingly loud white noise. So we diversified into something else that we'd never intended to do. Such is self-employed life.

On the My Weird Job subject, Housemate once sold teatowels and other gimcrackery to tourists on a boat. Which wasn't too bad except that most of the tourists were drunk and quite a few were obnoxious ( what is it about being in someone else's country that makes some people think it's okay to act like an ass-clown? Or do they behave like that at home too, and if so why are they still living? ) and Scotland's lochs, although very picturesque, can also be surprisingly choppy, and cold. Freeze-your-tits-off cold. She also cleaned houses for a while. Until one day she found herself standing on a rickety wooden chair, scrubbing the baby-food handprints off someone's patio doors with some Windex and a crappy little excuse for a chamois, beautiful day outside, the pub just a couple miles down the road beckoning to her, and she suddenly thought "What the fuck am I doing here? I went to college for this?" And no, don't even ask how a baby's hand-prints got to the top of a patio door. She once found a dildo inside the lamp shade in another house. The lamp shade in the kitchen. Do not even go there. Please. Housemate also had a more recent cleaning job where she accidentally let a rather expensive brand-new Vax vacuum cleaner fall down the stairs. I swear I almost ended myself laughing when she came home and told me that!

As for me, my wackiest job was manning one of those 0800 read-your-Tarot phone lines. The office was one of those rent-a-lemon places at the arse-end of a badly-lit street in a crappy part of Glasgow that you'd be dubious about going to in full daylight with an armed escort. I took a friend along to the interview and when the guy interviewing me said "You shouldn't really bring your friend to an interview" I laughed at him and pointed out, "Do you seriously think any female in her right mind would come to a place like this, for a strange job interview like this, alone? You're not from around here then, are you?" I guess he liked my cheek because I got the job! It was a relatively easy job, you just sat back on a comfy couch, drinking tea, and suckers phoned up to have their fortunes read. It was all storytelling...the longer the story you told, the more money the company made from their £1000-per-minute number. And it wasn't all tea that was being drunk by the storytellers either. You worked from 7pm-11pm ( because those are the hours when the suckers were most likely to be unable to resist the lure of the 0800 number ) and Glaswegian women do enjoy their vodka...even in a cup of tea. I stuck with that job until the boss began asking us to work the 'other' lines...the ones which had nothing to do with Tarot cards. Don't get me wrong, I didn't give the job up because I found it disgusting or sick or any such thing. Hell no, I could sit there and talk dirty to some stranger on the phone until the cows came home and never have a single moral qualm about it, because sex is only dirty if you're doing it right, right? No, I had to pack it in because I couldn't stop laughing. Seriously, that was the problem... I just couldn't take it all seriously. And let's face it, the last thing that the bloke with his knob in his hand wants to hear is the woman he's talking to laughing like a maniac! So I left the employ of the 0800 numbers.
In an interesting little twist, it turned out that I actually possess something of a real talent for reading Tarot cards. I have no idea how, nor where it comes from, nor do I even believe in fortune-telling or any of its offshoots, but apparently I have a spooky accuracy when reading cards. Maybe I just read people well, who knows?
"Hello caller...yes, I can tell you that a feeling of sexual supremacy is definitely not in your future!"

Less wacky and more I-can't-believe-this-shit-goes-on was the job I had in a bingo hall. This was one of the early mega-bingo places, not so much a palace, however, as converted from a one-time fleapit cinema which might have been called The Palace but that's about as close as it ever came. The boss was a Hitler-in-tights, so twitchy and tightly wound that you spent the whole time wondering if that severely scraped back hair in the impossibly tight bun was really the only thing keeping her head from exploding. She would make us stay behind at lunch time, or after our shifts had ended, to count all the loose change and bag it. Unpaid, I should add. Labor laws in the late 80s under a Tory government were a joke. She also decreed that females were not allowed to wear trousers, only skirts, which really made me wonder about her because the punters were mostly women and they were so intent on their bingo numbers they wouldn't have noticed if the attendants were naked on rollerskates, nor would they have cared. So long as you hustled with their change. I left that job after less than one week and in the wake of *ahem* having had words with Madam Hitler over her whole there's-a-dress-code-if-I-say-there's-one-and-never-mind-company-policy demands.

Anyway, I daresay we shall find our way now to diversifying and reworking, as we have always done. But it was fun to have a laugh along the way reminiscing about the weird and not always wonderful things we have been paid to do in the past.

Combining housekeeper with sexy bingo caller who might also work an 0800 number in her spare time?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Spanking Good Read - The Prejudice Against Fetish Fiction

Spanking fiction. What is it, and why does it engender such acrimony amongst some folks? I was inspired to this blog post by questions and incidents relating to spanking fiction which recently have come up in two different Facebook reader/writer groups, one of which is a relatively small lesfic group and the other a fairly large general fiction group. What struck me was that despite the differences in the sexuality of the members of each group, their reactions to posts raised on spanking fiction were very similar. First of all, the strongest objections to it came largely from females even in the hetero group, and used much the same language of protest i.e. abuse, disrespect, violence etc. Two things, in fact, struck me: one, how two groups of people - straight females and gay females - who often will display prejudices otherwise toward one another, can be united on some subjects; and two, how misunderstood spanking fiction - and indeed most kinds of fetish fiction - is by both groups.

So, first of all, let’s clear up what this kind of fiction is and is not. Spanking and other fetish fiction, whether it be BDSM or toe-licking, is not about one-sided humiliation or disrespect or violence or rape coming from the dominant partner and directed toward some terrified and unwilling, helpless submissive victim. Fetish fiction is about exactly the same as any other erotic - or even romantic - fiction, it is about the mutual sexual pleasure of two consenting adult individuals. If the fiction glorifies the hurt and humiliation of one person without their consent and pleasure, or above the other, then it’s being done wrong ( And don't even try to use Fifty Shades as a justification for your dislike because the only thing it managed to be was an example of how to write truly bad fetish erotica ). Fetishes, as all sexual relationships, should and mostly do involve exactly that - two consenting adults and mutual pleasure. Most fetishists are just as horrified as non-fetishists by things like rape, pedophilia, bestiality ( the latter of which an unfortunate amount of urban legend has sprung up around ), and anything that involves the unwilling degradation of another sentient being. Yes, it may be difficult for some people to wrap their heads around why anyone would get off on being hog-tied and paddled with something that involves hard rubber and spikes. Or equally why someone would derive pleasure from being the Sub in a Sub-Dom relationship. This seems to be especially difficult for women to understand when it is the woman who is the Sub to a man’s Dom. It’s hard too for lesbians to understand why one woman would want to be a Sub to another woman’s Dom and a lot of the butch-daddy erotic fiction causes such ripples of horror and revulsion to pulsate through the faintly trembling hearts of many lesbians that it’s almost amusing to see. Well, it would be if it wasn’t that they can make people who are in such a relationship feel about two inches high and somehow ‘dirty’ and that makes their disgust not funny but both irritating and abusive. Yes. Abusive. Because it’s not a femme’s butch daddy who is making her feel small and grubby, but you, dear stranger, with all your moral superiority and rush to judgment of another person’s chosen sexual lifestyle.

Within the lesfic community, there is much sneering and ado about what is termed F/F or Female/Female fiction. This and all the other variants - M/M, M/F/M etc - apparently started out as an industry shorthand for helping readers to know what they could expect in their erotic fiction. For example, M/F/F would mean a threesome involving a male-female couple who invite another female to join them in sex. F/F fiction largely involves two women who are not necessarily lesbians, or who don’t necessarily identify their lives as lesbian, but who enjoy sexual and even romantic relationships with other women. It can be a good deal more complicated than that - because human relationships are nothing if not complicated - and this is just a very generalized outline. Lesfic, or lesbian fiction, is supposed to be about women who identify in all ways as lesbians, having relationships with others of the same mindset. Of course, these lines have been blurred just like the rest. That causes more of those ripples of horror and revulsion especially amongst a certain faction of the community who make a practice of noisily self-righteous protest in groups whenever they see something that offends their high moral sensibilities by being something that they are ‘not into’ and therefore do not understand ( and refuse to even find out the facts about or engage in sensible discussion of ). This results usually in either getting the perpetrators banned from the group or making them so uncomfortable that they leave. Apparently the irony at work here of the oppressed becoming the oppressors quite escapes them. Part of the horror is rooted in the fact that fetishism comes up more often in F/F fiction than it does in lesfic. Fetishism is a no-no in lesifc where the average storyline goes something like this:

Girl meets girl, and girls initially don’t like each other. Girls face some kind of ‘adversity’ together ( getting snowed in at some remote mountain cabin is very popular ) and during the course of this trial girls fall so totally in love that they go from all the crying and arguing of Chapter 1 to talking marriage and babies in Chapter 4. Girls then have some ‘misunderstanding’ such as Girl A overhearing Girl B’s telephone conversation with another woman and, instead of just asking her about it which would be the sensible fucking thing to do after all, Girl A jumps to all sort of way-out conclusions and runs off in high dudgeon. After some angst and confusion, Girl B eventually finds out - through some third-party best buddy - what got Girl A’s goat like that, and she then charges off to explain everything and win Girl A back, never once stopping to ask herself why she would even want to win back some ditzy bitch who‘s going to freak out every Girl B has a conversation with another woman. Anyway, they get back together amidst much declaring of everlasting love and you-are-the-only-one-baby ( There must be a lot of calling each other 'baby', it seems to be a prerequisite for lesbian romance to be True Romance - don't ask me why. Anyone calls me 'baby' the only true thing they can rely on is to be truly losing some teeth ). And they live Happily Ever After. Presumably with their matching wedding rings and perfect little babies in a wonderfully supportive lesbian community.

Nary a spikey paddle nor a whip or chain in sight. Hell, it’s considered ‘racy’ ( and sometimes too racy ) if a dildo gets involved, and the mere mention of leather underwear would probably cause many to faint dead away ( That I’m pretty certain there’s more fetish sexuality going on in the world than these laced-up soccer moms on both sides of the sexuality fence want to admit, well, that’d be a Part B to this post, I think ). What they say in public amounts to: the lesbians want the F/F fetishists to go and join the hetero community where they think these women belong; and the heteros want the F/F fetishists to stay in the lesbian community where they think those women belong. Both sides like to put on their best Puritan sneers when regarding fetishists in general. Both sides also like to demonstrate unpleasant prejudice against the other from time to time ( “I just don’t understand how lesbians can like that - ugh!” “I just don’t understand how a straight woman can like that - ugh!” ) Neither side sees the irony also at work here. How contrary we all are, and how prejudice is ugly, no matter what form in which it rears it head. For one person to be unable to comprehend the pleasure derived by another person from a consensual, mutually-pleasing act is understandable and, acceptable if expressed in a reasonable, non-judgmental way. What is unacceptable is for anyone to claim some kind of automatic moral high ground and to use it as a platform from which decry the other’s sexual choices. Emphasis on the word choices. People's emotions do have an effect on their moral judgments, so if a person is afraid of or disgusted by something they are more likely to make a harsh moral judgment of it. But this emotional knee-jerk reacting can be easily un-learned. All that's needed is to pause for a moment before hitting that CAPS LOCK button, put aside your personal feelings, and look at it from an objective view-point.

As a final word, there is also a prejudice that all fetish fiction is poorly written. This is so obviously not true that it doesn't even bear too much arguing against. I've read - as I'm sure we all have - plenty of non-fetish poorly written fiction. If someone writes a poor cop thriller it doesn't create a widespread and prejudicial notion that all cop thrillers are poorly written. Because that would be silly, right? Right. So the idea that all fetish fiction is poorly written is frankly nothing more than a bollocks excuse for all that noisy, uptight Puritan sexual prejudice. Bad enough that you are prejudiced, but do you have to make it worse by using intellectual snobbery to try to justify it? Get over yourselves with that.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Making Me An Offer I CAN Refuse

The Pink Mafia discuss who should
occupy the pedestal next...
I’ve never been one for making idols out of mere mortals. Idolizing just doesn’t seem to be in my nature but if there is a particular reason for my lack of enthusiasm for idols it would be the knowledge that we are all human. All too human. And if there is one thing at which we humans excel it is being flawed. Idols made out of mortals too frequently turn out to have feet of clay. And when they do, those who have idolized them lash out in some of the most virulently bitter disappointment to be seen.

If there is something then which can get my goat in a lather in a hurry it is the smug attempts of the Pink Mafia to dictate to the rest of us who is in and who is out, who we should be placing upon a pedestal, and who we should be placing in the Dumpster. These self-appointed ( and appropriately self-important ) mavens of lesbian taste use the media to create icons for us, or if you like “dyke-cons”, and then they ram those chosen ones down our throats via the same media created them. Once, becoming a lesbian icon meant at least that you had Done Something Important, usually for the women’s movement or the gay movement, or both, or stood up for equality in some way. People like Billie Jean King. In today’s world of much shallower waters where the obsession is with only that which is reflected upon the shiny surface, all you need to do to become a “dyke-con” is come outta the closet. Yeah, getting hitched to a woman will certainly help, especially if you succeed in cutting a lucrative deal with Hello magazine for the wedding pix, but just coming out is usually enough to get the mavens chirping. Sometimes you don’t even need to be gay. The Pink Mafia took what was a mediocre TV soap-drama and turned it into a global phenomenon with The L Word and in the process single-handedly revived the career of a straight actress who never stopped reminding everyone how straight she is and how wonderfully male her hubby is…still, all she needed was that one character in her otherwise uninspiring repertoire to make her a dyke icon for all time.

What grates on me is how history gets rewritten around these emergent icons of dykedom in such a way that often affords them more bravery and integrity than they have ever truly displayed. Most have remained securely in the closet until their careers have been in a place they deem suitable to taking the risk of cracking open those doors. Does no one else recall Martina Navratilova’s first ‘autobiography’ Being Myself in which she made a carefully-worded downplay of the whole bisexual rumor and indeed made sure to do some swooning over hockey player Wayne Gretsky? It’s a tough book to even find a copy of now and goes for some ridiculous sums on Amazon but I read it back in the day ( because I was into biographies and tennis - I read Chris Evert’s too ) and I do recall it. Nowadays, with her status as icon in dykedom firmly established, Martina feels free to accuse her own idols of internalized homophobia and being closeted themselves, and all because those idols disappointed her with their big old feet of clay. Well, boo hoo.

By far the most visible examples of today’s media-made icons are the comediennes. It’s “All hail, thee shalt love and pay obeisance to The Ellen and The Wanda!” Ever since Ellen Degeneres finally admitted what we all knew, she has made a steady climb to iconic status, helped along the way by a veritable army of chirping mavens, Oprah Winfrey being not least of her personal champion mavens. All and any flaws are glossed over, looked away from, thoroughly denied, and woe betide any who remark that if the empress isn’t exactly naked, then her clothes certainly aren’t as fine as they are being made out…We are to see the pretty wife, the fairytale wedding and wonderfully twee domestic life together…would that be the one which includes eleven house moves in ten years of marriage, that one? It’s not as though we’re talking about a working-class joe moving home to follow the jobs either - we’re talking about incredibly rich people buying incredibly expensive homes. Pretty wife might a joke out of this peripatetic lifestyle but that many moves in a single decade suggests there is a deeper issue at work here. But we don’t talk about any of that. No, no, no. Just as we must never point out how Ellen often rudely interrupts her guests, especially if they are getting more laughs from the audience than she is, worse if it happens to be a female guest doing so…But don’t talk about it. Just keep showing appropriate blind faith and devotion as you bow low before the idol, watched over by the priestly mavens, ready to peck out the eyes of any dissenter. As for Wanda Sykes, well, she hits the trifecta for being just the person that the Pink Mafia love to punt…she’s a woman, she’s black, and she’s a lesbian. All the more power to your politically-correct elbow if you can champion a lesbian minority, eh? Whether Wanda Sykes is truly a funny comedienne or not is a matter of surely personal taste? Not all lesbians like all lesbian comics, no more than all straight people like all straight comics. Just don’t tell the Mafioso mavens you think that. Personally I don’t find it funny in the least to mention your wife’s vagina on national TV. I find it disrespectful and crude, the kind of humor that 15 yr-old boys resort to on the school yard ( some might say that many lesbians possess the emotional maturity of 15 yr-old boys when it comes to matters of sex but I won’t even go there ), and don’t even try to tell me that if a male comic had said the same thing that there wouldn’t have been an outcry of “Sexist pig!” from the same people who giggle and pronounce adoration for Wanda Sykes?

Oh, and whilst I’m on the subject of the school yard…I can hear the accusation being thrown at me, “Oh you’re just jealous!” This response to anyone who does not share in your own glowing opinion of someone has its roots in the school yard and I think its sheer lack of logic reflects this. To be jealous of someone requires that you want something they have. Since there is nothing that either Ellen or Wanda or any of these others have that I want, jealousy does not come into it. Jealousy of what another has also implies a dissatisfaction with what you have, and I can’t say I’ve ever been that unhappy with my lot that I have had the slightest inclination to waste what time I have upon this earth wrestling with the green-eyed monster over someone else’s lot. Sure, I wouldn’t mind having more money but show me someone who wouldn’t like to have more money ( do so and I’ll show you someone who is either already very wealthy, or an idiot ), and since there are an awful lot of people in this world who do have more money than me, being jealous of all of them would be pretty fucking exhausting. Frankly, I don’t have that kind of energy to spare. So, take your “Oh you’re just jealous!” argument back to the school yard where it belongs and try instead to wrap your head around the fact that not everyone shares in your chosen form of idolatry.

In the end, the trouble with idolizing mere mortals is that they will always disappoint. Just ask Melissa Ethridge. Once, she all but led the pack of Anointed Ones, until she had the temerity to be human and get a messy, bitter divorce from the wife she once proclaimed undying love for…how fast the crown was snatched from head by the outraged denizens of dykedom. But really, what did they expect? In the words of Marc Almond…all gods fall in the end.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Mystery of Missing Time

Missing time, the phenomenon often described by those who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Maybe it's the 'flu bug and raging fever I've been fighting for a couple weeks, maybe it was spending three days at the worst of this watching a marathon of History channel programs about UFOs, aliens, and conspiracy theories, whatever it was I got to wondering about the phenomenon...and in particular just how easy it is to misplace great globs of time.

There is a week in January 1987 of which I have no recollection whatsoever. A routine operation which turned out not to be so routine after all, and a hefty bout of viral pneumonia immediately afterward, led to me losing an entire week of my life. I have not just forgotten parts of it. It's not simply that the memories are hazy. They're gone. It's like someone dug into my brain with some kind of memory-wiping device and completely excised that week from existence for me. Of course this isn't a scary memory loss...I know why it happened and I know that I was safe in hospital at the time it was happening. The sheer completeness of the time/memory loss is kind of awe-inspiring though.

Now imagine if you were driving in your car one minute, happily tootling along and very much minding your own...and the next thing you know several hours have passed and can't recall a blessed fucking thing about those hours. That's got to be somewhat peturbing. And it gets worse when no one will believe you.

I can't say that I'm a believer in either extraterrestrial life or that those same ETs come to our planet on a regular basis for the purpose of whisking away Betty from Bumfuck, Idaho for a few hours of intimate probing and ovary-snatching...but I can't say that I disbelieve it either. Call me an open-minded skeptic then. I do know that the human memory is fickle, often untrustworthy, and can be fooled or even wiped with relative ease. There are plenty of drugs can wipe or alter memory, so too can head injuries or fever, or even imbibing a little too much of the fortified wine! Heck, it could be said that we all experience 'missing time' every night to a degree when we go to sleep. So, accepting that lots of people have exprienced a great glob of their time going astray as they have tootled along in their vehicles or whatever is not difficult for me.

An acceptable explanation as to why so many people have had this experience is a little trickier for my open-but-skeptical mind to deal with. Are aliens really snatching human beings away in spaceships? Are our own earthly governments behind it, and if so, why on earth -? Is it some kind of mass hysteria? A global mass hysteria affecting people who don't know each other, who have had no contact with each other, and occurring at varying times? The fact that people are very often alone when the missing time occurs would surely argue against mass hysteria as an explanation? And then there are the recovered memories of many of these abductees...

Memory is tricky too. We humans have an extraordinary ability to wall off those bad memories at which we don't wish to look, and to polish the good memories until they shine with a brilliance which the actual events probably did not possess. When we witness an event, many factors can influence how we view it and how we recall it later on - time since the event, our physical perception of it, our particular psychological makeup, and even time of day and lighting all play a part. No wonder then that our memories of events can be so easily influenced and often distorted. How far then can we trust memory under the best of conditions? When a great glob of time - and the memory of what occurred within that time - has departed our halls of recollection how much less trustworthy will be anything we may subsequently recall? But just because memories might be patchy or subject to outside influences, does not necessarily make what is recalled completely false, especially if there should be independent corroborating evidence to support what is recalled. Whether weird, inexplicable objects found embedded under the skin of alleged abductees constitutes independent corroborating evidence or not very much depends upon whether you are a UFO/ET believer or skeptic, I suppose...

Time spent with the aliens just melts away...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Much rejoicings in the Marshall household...Book 2 is finally written!

Ding! Dong! The bitch is done!

Finally. Finally, Book 2 in the Vampires of Hollywood series ( Dante's Choice ) is finished and ready to be sent on its merry way ( with much merry fucking rejoicing indeed from me ) to Untreed Reads. I hope Jay will be as happy to receive it there as I am to see the back of the damned thing here. Never has a project cost me so much in terms of my creativity and damned near my mind too.

The whole thing - from start to finish - was the property of that bastard Murphy to take out his law upon as he saw fit, and boy, did Murphy find some interesting ways in which to make my life seem like I had wandered into some hitherto undiscovered Circle of Hell. From catastrophic computer crashes which took the entire manuscript with it, to the head-tossing walk-out of The Muse, I even became convinced at one point that this project was cursed. Yes, actually cursed. Convinced enough anyway to find myself looking at cleansing sage bundles and bottles of High John the Conqueror and all that New Age bollocks in online stores, one hand reaching for my credit card, before common sense kicked in and reminded me that I do not believe in any of that hoodoo crap.

But I do believe in Murphy’s law.

Today, on this day and in the year of our Lord ( or Lords, or Goddesses, or whatever ) August 17th, 2013, I finally typed the last fucking syllable in 21 chapters and almost 76, 000 words. And I fully intend not to even think about vampires for at least the next six months. It may be a year or more before Book 3 appears so make the most of this one. Jay at Untreed Reads has told me that he’s keeping a place in the publishing schedule of 2013 for me, which is exceedingly nice of him considering that the bloody thing must be about a year overdue by now! I’m not sure what I shall work on next, writing-wise. Maybe nothing for a little while. Maybe I’ll do something completely out of the blue.

I’ll decide that after I’ve had a well-earned celebratory weekend. Think of Paul Sheldon at the beginning of Misery, dancing around his hotel room with a bottle of champagne after he had written the last word on his hated character Misery Chastain…well, without the whole car crash and Annie Wilkes and the eye-watering ankle-breaking stuff. And with Stella Artois rather than champagne because I’m one of probably only a handful of strange people in the universe who dislike champagne, even the pricey stuff.

For now let me just say it one more time to reassure myself that it's true…Ding! Dong! The bitch is done!

Annie Wilkes: It's the swearing, Paul. It has no nobility.
Paul Sheldon: These are slum kids, I was a slum kid. Everybody talks like that.
Annie Wilkes: THEY DO NOT! At the feedstore do I say, 'Oh, now Wally, give me a bag of that F-in' pig feed, and a pound of that bitchly cow corn'? At the bank do I say, 'Oh, Mrs. Malenger, here is one big bastard of a check, now give me some of your Christing money!' THERE, LOOK THERE, NOW SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Muse Returns...

...Finally, the annoying fickle creature has returned from her impromptu vacation ( and she didn't even bring me back a stick of rock, jeez ) and I am once again able to write without wanting to cut off all of my own fingers and throw my computer through the nearest window in sheer frustration.

Don't get me wrong, the situation is not yet perfect - the Muse is being fickle still, attending to topping up her tan when she ought to be whispering sweetly creative somethings in my ear - but hell, this is an imperfect world in which we, including me and the Muse, live in, and so one cannot reasonably expect 24/7 perfection. 300 words-a-day may seem like a mere paragraph to those fortunate souls whose Muse is forever attendant or who can function without her, but to me right now it's a major frickin' achievement and no one is going to take that away from me. Not even if I scrub 226 of those words next day. You want perfection, look elsewhere than  this world. And hey, I'm not ungrateful...I mean, this has not been a bad year so far...Andy Murray won Wimbledon ( first Brit male in 77 years to do so and first Scots person ever, as far as I am aware ), we are having our first ( and probably only ) heatwave of summer in the UK, and mine and the Housemate's new business is coming along nicely, so I can't hardly complain about my lot. In fact, I am quite, quite happy and near-deliriously hopeful for the first time in many months...

But more on that later.

For now all I shall say is, I am writing again. It's coming slowly, in pieces, sometimes not without the odd grimace of frustration still, and I refuse to even try to force it, so heaven knows Mr Allison how long it may yet take, but the 2nd instalment of the 'Vampires of Hollywood' saga WILL get written and, I suspect, within 2013...which is a damn sight better prediction than I was making a couple months ago! As for everything else...all I can say is, just be patient for a wee while yet and ye shall be rewarded of your waiting!

So, celebrate like these bitches are doing...Go on, you know you want to...

Oh yes indeed, celebrate it, bitches!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

All You Ever Wanted To Ask But Were Afraid To Know... GeeGee Interviews Me!

Go follow the link, peoples, and read GeeGee Curtained's review of 'Voodoo Woman' and her fun, insightful interview with yours truly! Go here for Behind GeeGee's Curtain at The Modern L.

Hurry now! Whilst it's hot and fresh!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Normal Services Shall Be Resumed...umm, in a while?

Been a little on the poorly side lately and not around much. After the disaster with the 'Vampires of Hollywood #2' manuscript which has necessitated a lengthy and stressful rewrite, things began to take a bit of a physical toll on my health. I've had to step out of the cockpit and let that plane fly itself for a wee while. I'm not sure when those normal services will be resumed ( nor indeed how normal they will be, or ever have been ), so please just have patience and bear with me!

Meantime, enjoy the above pic. It's about as close to freakin' summer as the UK is likely to get at the moment!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ever Have One of THOSE Days...

... where it's Friday 28th February for everyone else but you apparently have awoken in some horrible time warp where it is Friday 13th? Well, I'm having one right now. And it's living up to its reputation in fucking style!

Okay, let's be honest...some of it is my fault for being a hidebound old technophobe who does not deal well with change.

I've been trying to get Book 2 in 'The Vampires of Hollywood' series finished and off to Untreed Reads before I embark upon what I am certain will be a gruelling learning curve as I finally have my computer upgraded and Microsoft Office 2010 installed. I simply can't concentrate on finishing a book - especially one which has already been a whore of a thing to get cranked out - whilst learning some newfangled software...program...oh whatever, the same time. My head would explode. Simple as that. Worse, other peoples' heads may explode too...because that's what tends to happen when heads are brought into forceful contact with heavy objects thrown at them by writers who have started to absolutely hate their own creation.

Anyway, until now - this very day, in fact - I have continued the archaic habit of writing everything to disk ( yes, what we used to call a floppy disk - laugh now, go on ) and after getting sick of continually renewing the back-ups on the hard drive because I rewrite everything a dozen times before I'm even near happy with it, I kind of stopped backing things up quite so often. Sometimes I'd have something 3/4 finished before I'd remember to back it up.

That happened with Book 2. Hadn't got round to backing it up. Put the disk in this morning...

...and the bottom fell out of my writing world. The disk had corrupted. All data was irretrievable.

I sat there in front of the little message box displayed on my computer screen - absolutely certain, of course, that the fucker was laughing at me - a high-pitched mental scream echoing in my head "NOOOO-OOOOO!!!!" and no doubt wearing that stunned, hammered expression of someone who, happily picking flowers buy the railway tracks, has just caught the 5.15 express in the back ( I think I'm actually still in shock and so the reality of the mountainous task ahead of me hasn't quite sunk in yet ). After several minutes of this, I finally called A Guy Who Fixes Computers and he's coming round tomorrow afternoon to take a look at my elderly, ailing machine, see if he can do anything about the corrupted files. He isn't hopeful that he can retrieve them from the disk, however. So unless the files are hidden somewhere on my hard drive, I'm screwed. I shall have to rewrite Book 2 in its entirety from word one to the damn near end that I had finally gotten to just a few nights ago.
Yeah, this is more
like it...

Anyway, one way or another I suspect the release date for Book 2 ( which was intended to be June/July 2013 ) will have to be re-scheduled. I may well be without a computer for up to a week if he needs to take it off-site to upgrade and fix. Maybe longer depending upon how busy The Guy is and how fast he works. I know I shall feel bereft, set adrift in a strange and frightening Internet-less universe, forced back to the PenandInk Age without a computer keyboard to tap-tap-tap upon. Okay, that last doesn't bother me so much. I only gave up writing everything out longhand first because my wrist joints can't take it anymore. Ah, the trusty old I loved thee. No, wait, those things used to go to buggeration on me too...

Oh, and I just discovered that I've ben taking out-of-date medication for, well, who the hell knows how long! Another thing that I ought to have been paying more attention to. Shouldn't make too much difference...but you know that wee sinking feeling you get when you realize something like that? Yeah. That one. And my electricity bill came in and it is gi-normous. And don't even start me on the ongoing battle with the local council ass-clowns over their precious wheelie bins...

Putting on a pair of sandals and just walking out into the desert suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
Might be an idea to keep these away from me at the moment...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Have Some Guilt-Free Pleasure!

Guaranteed guilt-free!
Although I get the concept of a “guilty pleasure” I don’t have any personal empathy with it and frankly, I dislike the entire loaded phrase.

Let’s look at the two words: “guilty” and “pleasure”. Since they have opposing meanings they make the phrase an oxymoron. We feel guilty when we have done something bad or harmful, usually to another party. We might feel guilty as children when we see that our actions have upset or disappointed our parents. As adults we might feel guilty for cheating on our spouse, or for stealing money out of the petty cash at work. Guilt is inherently an unpleasant feeling. It is our conscience pricking at us, making us feel bad about ourselves and ashamed of our actions. Because it’s such a bad feeling we don’t want to repeat the experience which caused it. Pleasure, on the other hand, is something which makes us feel good. It makes us happy. Therefore we want to repeat the experience, often as many times as possible. If a pleasure makes you feel guilty, then it makes you feel bad or ashamed, and it cannot possibly be a pleasure. Our pleasures - given that they don’t harm anyone else or break too many obvious laws - should never make us feel guilty.

It’s easy to dismiss the concept of “guilty pleasure” with a casual “Oh, it’s just a saying. It doesn’t mean anything.” Granted, there are lots of words and phrases in our rich old English language which we do use casually and which are not freighted with meaning, and God knows I’m rarely ever an unbearably pc word-Nazi who takes issue with every sentence uttered. Who the hell has time for that? And even if I did have that kind of time on my hands, I could better occupy my hands with a chocolate éclair, a few bottles of Stella ( okay, okay least ten bottles of Stella ), and maybe a woman if I’m feeling so inclined. None of which I ever feel the least bit guilty about. And I'm not a feminist either ( wait...I just got to thinking about how ludicrous that is and now I need to quickly stitch my sides back together )! But there are just some bugbears too grizzly not to take a poke at them, and “guilty pleasure” is not an innocent phrase. Therefore I will always spare a little time between getting better acquainted with Madame Artois and deciding how many varities of full-fat cheese I want on my pizza for taking a poke at this bugbear. In the case of “guilty pleasure” words do have meaning, and not a positive meaning either. Labeling our indulgences and pleasures as “guilty” is just another verbal means of oppressing women. Plenty enough women have issues with self-esteem, often linked to other issues such as an ongoing battle with food and weight and appearance, things which are already preyed on by rapacious, unscrupulous companies flogging everything from fat-sucking diet pills to wrinkle-banishing miracle face creams, and a media obsessed with this year’s crop of vacuous skinny-ass celebrities. That it is women themselves who most often bandy inquiries like “Ooh, what's your guilty pleasure?” around in the company of other women, makes the darker implications with which this phrase is weighted even more insidious. Women help to perpetuate their own oppression, and to bolster their own feelings of inferiority by continuing to employ uselessly outdated, irritatingly loaded phrases like this, each and all of which should be banished from the English language for good.

Think about this for a moment: when was the last time you heard a conversation between two men at a bar in which guilty pleasures were mentioned?


Joe: “Oh man, I gotta tell you…watching porn is my guilty pleasure! Sheer wicked indulgence!”
Bob: “Oooh! I know! My guilty pleasure is having an extra pint on Friday evening. Sooo bad, but sooo good!”

I mean, Jesus, it even sounds weird and silly, doesn’t it? I know I want to be as far from these two loony old fishwives as it would be possible to get without falling off a continent. Men don’t talk about guilty pleasures because, quite simply, men rarely feel guilty about their pleasures. Certainly they don’t see pleasures or indulgences as something bad, something to be ashamed of, something to keep a secret, nearly as often as women do. And it is high time we women joined our male counterparts in making our pleasures a guilt-free zone too!

Now, if y'all would excuse me, I'm off to indulge in some non-guilty, free-from-recriminations beers on this Sunday evening!