SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

Month: October, 2012

Kids – They Don’t Need No More Education

We’ve all done it.   I’ve done it.  I’ll continue to do it too.  Can’t help myself.  You’ve probably done it too.   We’re happily writing away, creating our little stories and somehow we manage put it in.  The message.  That point we’re trying to make.  Sometimes, we’re subtle.  Other times, we hit you with it with nuclear strength.   The worst offenders among us writers are kids’ book writers.  But if you think they’re bad, have a look at kids’ TV.  Dear me.

Little Jimmy needs to learn not to judge or to keep trying or to be honest or to eat his greens, blah, blah, blah.  No wonder gaming is so popular among kids – especially the violent rpg’s and games like Grand Theft Auto etc.  They have no redeeming features.  They’re not trying to teach the kids anything.  They’re just fun.

I think I’m going to sit down some time over the next week to see if I can plot out a storyline for a book that has no uplifting little life-lesson or message whatsoever.  None.  I want my characters to be as unlikable as possible, for the bad guy (if there is one) to get away and more importantly, for the good guy to lose.  I may not get anywhere.  It may not result in anything other than wasting my time.  Or, it might turn into something.  I’ll let you know.

 

 

I’m Famous!

Check me out guys!  I’ve just done my first Blogtalk Radio interview with the very lovely Sherri Rabinowitz.  You can listen to it online here.

 

This Is Why I Wear A Helmet Cam

Off the bat, let me just say I’m not one of these militant lycra-clad bike-nazis.  That said, I obey the road rules while on my bike, regardless of whether I’m on a path or the road.  I expect drivers to treat me the same as any other vehicle — not like this.

I got a snapshot of the driver’s plates.

 

This incident took place at about 7.45 am, Friday October 26, 2012 on Neerim Rd, Glen Huntly Victoria Australia.  The driver of this blue/green Toyota Corolla, registration number PNT 830, drove dangerously and broke the law.

Shame on you, driver of said Corolla.  Shame.  Yes, I called you a fuckwit – you may have to turn the volume up on the Youtube video to hear it.  You are a fuckwit.  You’re a dangerous, arrogant fuckwit who should not be allowed to drive.

 

 

Classic Mythology For Miss6

So Miss6 has cottoned onto the idea that there are a lot more stories from classic mythology for her to hear. I’ve done my best to give her kid-friendly renderings of Theseus and The Minotaur, and Perseus and Medusa, but that’s stretching even my talents of story-telling.

Sooo, I’ve looked online for some kid-friendly literature about classic mythology that she can either read herself, or that I can read to her. Do you know how fucking hard it is to find age-appropriate stuff like this? It’s all either been dumbed down so far it’s only good for 2 year-olds, or it’s for academics.

I’ve hit up my local library, (and thank god for librarians – they’re MY heroes!) and one angel there has promised to not only dig up all she can find for me to sample, but also raid nearby libraries in her network for more. She even went so far as to ask me if I was interested in doing readings for other kids at the library: something I’m seriously considering taking her up on.

In the meantime, I’m still searching for the right material to buy, but failing that… bugger it. I’m writing the stories myself, using all my references, from Wikipedia and Who’s Who of Classic Mythology to Ovid and Homer.

Wish me luck!

Where I Rant About Romney

This is just plain disgusting.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/10/23/1078181/gop-us-senate-candidate-calls-rape-pregnancies-a-gift-from-god/

This kind of fucked-up thinking is what worries me about Romney.  It’s cool to be pro-life. I get that – even though I’m pro-choice.  It’s fine to be religious, be it Mormon, Muslim, Jewish, Hindi or whatever-the-fuck you want to believe in.  Hell, worship hub-caps if you want.  I just don’t care and it shouldn’t matter so long as your economic policies are sound and you keep your country and its people safe and and prosperous.
What’s not cool is to bring those kinds of beliefs into politics.  The kind of thinking Romney and co want to force America to adopt can set the world back several decades.  Equality for all?  Maybe if by “all” you mean white hetero males with lots of dollars in off-shore accounts.

Like it or not, the US leads the world in many respects, and is often looked up to when it comes to social issues like equality for women and also for minority groups — which, by the way, add up to waaay more than half of the world’s population.

Romney could fuck all that up.  Now really, there’s fuckall I can do about the US system, and it doesn’t directly affect me much anyway, but the flow-on effect of its politics does.  Australia, like many countries in the world, tends to follow the US’ lead.

It’s bad enough Australia has a coward Prime Minister who’s decided the only way she can battle it out in Aussie politics is by calling all her opponents misogynists.  That’s as bad as Obama getting up and saying (something he HASN’T done yet, by the way) that people don’t want him as President because he’s black.  Gillard’s opponents don’t care that she’s a woman — they care that her policies are bad and she breaks promises.

We can only just cope with the disaster we’ve got on our political plate.  We don’t need archaic, discriminatory thinking making things worse.

Ok.  Rant over.  Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, but dammit, I’m a husband, and I’m a father of two little girls and I’d hate to see my wife and daughters live in a world where they’re not free to choose what happens to their own bodies and be forced to live their lives as second-class citizens simply because they have internal plumbing.

Aww Shucks…

Love this.

“After reading “The Borrowed Kitchen” I couldn’t decide whether to accost the missus or cook supper…” (- Russ Whaley)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007WZHY9G

Voting

It’s that time again.  That special time when we as free Australians get to exercise our right to vote; to be part of the democratic process.  This time, we’re voting in the local council elections.  I know it may sound corny, but I love election time.  Always have.  Now, I’ve got an extra reason to enjoy it.

You see, now I have the chance to explain to Miss6 (Miss2’s too young to understand it yet) just how important it is.  She already knows that her maternal grandparents and their children – Superwife being one of them – fled Poland in the 80’s as political refugees.  When I sat her down to let her ‘help’ me fill out the postal ballot paper, I told her how one of the reasons Babcia (that’s Polish for Grandmother) and Djadek (Grandpa) left Poland was because they weren’t allowed to vote.  The people in charge just came in with tanks and guns and soldiers and took over.  Miss6 was awed.  I’m not sure what she thought of being in a country where the people weren’t allowed to have a say as to who ran the show, but she sure did think her grandparents were pretty awesome for getting themselves and her mum and her aunt outta there.

So, with Miss6 on my knee, I ran through the ballot paper and the bio for each candidate.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: See that guy with the ears?  He wants to spend more money on the library.  That lady with the long hair?  She wants to do more with our parks and gardens.  That bloke with the teeth?  He wants to reduce council rates–

Miss6: What’s council rates?

Me: That’s how much we have to pay these guys to do their job and to make sure the roads are right and our rubbish gets taken away and stuff like that.

In the end, I ticked the box for ears guy, much to Miss6’s approval.  Now when we drive around our local area and see his grinning mug up in shop windows, I point him out and remind Miss6 that we voted for him.

Miss6: Will he win, Daddy?

Me: I don’t know, Princess.  I guess it doesn’t matter though.  The real thing that matters is we all get to chose.  That way it’s fair.

Miss6: Yeah.

I Had A Cybercrush

Cybercrushes.  We’ve all had ‘em.  In the eleven years I’ve been with Superwife, I’ve had a number of celeb/cyber crushes.  I’m sure to have more.  Nothing wrong with it, and even if there was, there’s bugger-all I can do about it.  It happens.

When Superwife and I met, I was hanging out each week for the next re-run of Becker, so I could ogle Shawnee Smith who played Linda.  Then came Jeri Ryan who played Seven Of Nine on Star Trek Voyager.  Then there was Pauley Perrette who plays Abby on NCIS.  For a while there I was a little in awe of Tim Roth on Lie To Me.  I had a thing for the queen of gastro-porn, Nigella Lawson for a season or two.   Billie Piper on Doctor Who really floated my boat…  Actually, I have to admit David Tennant did too.  That’s it for on-screen crushes, and right now, I’m in-between fascinations.  Must have something to do with the non-ratings period we’re in leading up to Christmas.

But not all my crushes have been those who grace the screen.  I’ve had a few literary ones as well.  Richelle Mead really had me going there for a while.  So much so that I pounced on her Georgia Kincaid succubus series as eagerly as her characters preyed upon their victims.

Then there was another writer.  I won’t name her.  We follow each other on Twitter, and well, it’d just be weird.  I’m sure she knows I’m a fan…  Or at least, I used to be.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s got a book coming out soon.  I’ve pre-ordered it.  I’ve even set aside a whole day to disappear by myself just so I can read it.  I’ll probably review it on this blog – and I’d like to think I’m adult enough to be able to critique her work without getting personal about her.  I’m just a bit put out with her, and that of course is the end of the whole crush thing.

You see, while I never had any real ‘adult’ fantasies about her, (which is odd considering like most males, I think about sex every three minutes and after all, she is one hot tomale), I did admire her.  I looked up to her.  Then I began noticing a few oddities.  Little niggling things that suggested something wasn’t quite right.

She’d been publicly renouncing her old modelling gig for years, saying she’s an ex-model, and whinging a bit that it was hard for her to get it through the public’s thick heads that she was more than just an air-head clothes-horse.

Then she posed for a couple of adult magazines.  Then she took a gig with a local fashion brand.

Ex-model?  Umm..  No.

Now she’s on the warpath about equality for women etc.  That’s great.  More power to her.  I agree with just about everything she says.

But, I also believe there will never be equality for women while the fashion and cosmetics industries continue to bombard women and young girls with the message that they must dress provocatively to be accepted and that their faces aren’t good enough to be seen in without make-up and that they must be a certain body-shape.  For a woman to be fighting for equality for women and to be working in an industry that actively fights against equality for women – well sorry folks, it just doesn’t wash.

Yes, that’s right.  The fashion industry does not push for equality for women.  Quite the reverse.  It damages the collective psyche of women across the globe, and has done for decades.

How can a woman think of herself as equal or even superior (as many of them should), when she’s constantly bombarded with the message that she’s not up to muster?  She’s too fat.  Her hair’s not right.  Her skin’s got to be painted to look natural…  God help me.  Men aren’t under that kind of pressure, and that gives us an advantage right off the bat.  We’re more confident.  We’re already winning, and women themselves are making that happen by buying into the hype.

My ex-crush should either be a model and shut up about equality for women, or quit sitting in front of a lens presenting herself as an example what women should look like – and of course either way, continue to write her great books.

PS:  It was her writing that first got me interested in her, and I’d probably still enjoy it even if she does something really silly like becoming a holocaust-denier – which we all know would be completely bat-shit crazy, out of character and wouldn’t happen in a million years; I just used it as an example.

Reading To Miss6

Tonight I finished reading Golden Mane to Miss6.  There were times, just as I’m sure there were when we read The Hobbit, that the story was too complex or the situations and dialogue a bit mature for one so young, but she loved it.  I mean, she really loved it.

At the end, I asked her what she’d like me to read next.  Harry Potter?  Some more Famous Five?  Maybe Black Beauty or Robinson Crusoe?  Nope.  She wanted Renegades of Wolfenvald.  So, we began reading that too.

You know something?  It wasn’t until I finished the first chapter – and this is after we’d read the entire epilogue for Golden Mane – that I realised I’d been reading to her for an hour and was loving it every bit as much as she was.  That’s half an hour longer than I normally read to her for.

I’m getting more than just the enjoyment of reading to my daughter out of it.  I’m falling in love with the story all over again.  There were times when I hated Sarah Coppernick.  I was sick of the story and wanted to just delete the whole thing.  I guess that’s one of the reasons I wrote The Borrowed Kitchen.  I needed to get away from my fantasy tale about werewolves and enchanted thingamajigs.  My daughter’s enthusiasm for my little story has washed all those negative feelings away and given me a great sense of inspiration.  Armies Of Nine is coming along nicely, and there will no doubt be more after that.

I’m one lucky bloke.

How To Piss Off A Writer In 10 Easy Steps

Don’t you just love these little lists?  I do.  In my dim-dark past when I used to write and publish newsletters (among other things) as part of my first job in the world of publishing, we used to call them perve lists, and every newsletter, every week had to have at least two of them.  Here’s mine on how to piss off a (self-pubbed) writer:

  1. Ask for free copies of my work.  Holey-moley, that annoys me.  I don’t care about the money I’d lose giving away the book.  Seriously, I don’t.  The thing that pisses me off about that request is that if you make that request, it’s clear you don’t fucking get it.  I need the sales through the legitimate channels to boost my rankings.  I need to see my title up on that all-important top 100 list.  If you’re really so tight you can’t afford my book, then maybe you can wait until there’s a freebie promotional period on Amazon, or be willing to write a review, in which case yes, you can have a free copy.
  2. Tell me about your great ideas for a book.  Dude, come on.  I’ve got more ideas for work than I know what to do with.  If your idea is so good, you write the fucking book.  Go ahead.  I hope it becomes a bestseller.  Good luck to you.
  3. Expect to interrupt my writing without a fucking good reason and live.  Writing’s not like putting together a Lego set.  You can’t just stop and start repeatedly and expect to be able to pick up exactly where you left off.   I need time – long chunks of uninterrupted time – to concentrate on what I’m doing.
  4. Tell me you’d like to write a novel one day when you have time.  Listen mate, I work too.  I have a family and a life as well.  You have the time already.  If you really wanted to write a novel, you’d be writing it.  I don’t know a single writer who can stop writing.  You either are or you aren’t.  You may become one, but that will happen when you have that urge to write that you can’t ignore.  Wanting to write “one day” just doesn’t cut the mustard.
  5. Make like what I do is easy.  Oh yeah?  Look, I love writing, which is a good thing because if I couldn’t do it, I’d go fucking postal and die.  And, it looks as though there’s a very real chance I’ll be able to ditch the day job some time in the next few years and work from home, turning what I love doing into a living.  BUT, please don’t think I just sit there at my screen, muck around on Facebook and watch porn.  Writing is tiring.  Editing is exhausting.  The read-through stage, where you read out-loud every word, is so physically and mentally draining, I need to boost my calorie intake while doing it.
  6. Tell me all about someone else’s book and how wonderful it is.  Mate, I’m glad your writer friend has you to spruik their work.  They sure are lucky.  Tell me, are you doing the same thing for me about my work?  Didn’t think so.
  7. Ask me when I’ll be a “real” writer and get published.  Oh fuck me.  I’ve got three novels out.  Four short stories.  People are buying them.  I’m not going to weigh into the debate of self-pub V trad-pub here.  It just shits me to tears that you think I need a trad-pub house taking a cut of my income to validate me or what I do.  I am a real writer.  I have fan mail and sales records to prove it.
  8. Ask me to “have a look” at your manuscript.  For free.  Umm…  NO!  If you want me to sub-edit, proof-read, line-edit, or assess it – and they are very different services by the way, and there’s a different rate for each (if you don’t know that, fuck off and do some research to find out why) – you can pay me.  Rates start at $0.50 per page, double-spaced, A4, Times New Roman font size 12.
  9. Ask me to review your work online.  Listen, putting a general post out there that you’d like some reviews is one thing, but asking me directly to read and review your book is another entirely.  It’s bad form.  Rude.  It makes me feel obliged to do so and that’s not something you want me to feel if you want anything nice said about your work at all.  Here’s how it really works.  If I have time and if your work is even remotely interesting to me (remember I’m a writer, so being narcissistic is part of my DNA and no, I’m not going to apologise for that,) I might read your work.  Since I’m not going to post reviews of books I think aren’t worth at least 4 stars, don’t get pissy if you don’t see my review out there once I’ve read it.
  10. Ask me for writing advice.  No, I’m not talking about the odd curly grammar or spelling pickle we all find ourselves in.  I’m talking about advice on how to pursue, hone or otherwise engage in the craft of writing.  Jesus.  I’m not a mentor.  Use you head.  Read a fucking style guide.  Get your work edited.  Get beta readers.  Get your work edited.  Pay a professional to do your cover art.  Get your work edited.  Get the message yet?  That’s all the advice I can give.  The rest is up to you.

There.  Now all that makes me sound like a complete and utter narcissistic asshole.  Well, duh. The narcissist bit should be obvious.  I’m a writer.  The asshole bit?  Well, I’m ticked off enough to write this post, so maybe it’s the rage talking.  Lovely day!  Toodle pip!

PS:  There are a few friends out there for whom I will gladly volunteer my time if they have anything they’ve written and think it’d benefit from me having a poke at it.  They know who they are and needn’t worry about ever paying me a damned thing.