Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘phd’ Category

This post my take up a bit of your time. POPCAANZ16 was my first academic conference ever! I didn’t present. I went to sus it out-network etc and to see if I could present next time. POPCAANZ stands for the Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand. It was so fab. Every presentation I went to was interesting and somewhat exciting. For me it was like an ideal SF convention where all the panels added to the view of my world and filled me with excitement that people were actually talking about stuff, about pop culture things that are relevant to the now.

There are a number of streams ranging from fashion, movies, television, gothic horror, crime fiction, creative writing etc. Unfortunately there was no romance fiction stream as they were undersubscribed or so I heard. Also about half the people were from New Zealand.

Day one

There were three streams per day and sometimes the choices were difficult to make. Also, all speakers presented their paper and then there were questions so generally once in the room you were likely to stay. My first stream was the Disability/Gender & Queer on Wednesday morning. The first paper was one on Beauty Contests for Landmine Survivors by Fran Hassencahl. She talked about a documentary about Morten Taavik’s beauty pageant that challenges our concepts of beauty. Apparently Cambodia pulled the plug on the documentary as the victims were symbols of shame. Fran was saying that as a Buddhist country there is a strong sense of Karma and that the victims somehow deserved their fate either in a past life or this one. This translated to very little opportunity for being reestablished in society, work etc. I was quite struck with that. Also that only intact women compete in regular beauty competitions. There have been in recent years some entrants with impairments, such as a  contestant being deaf or wearing in insulin dispenser. But visible impairments not really. Fran was saying that Morten wanted to draw attention to these women’s plight but also that everywoman deserves to feel beautiful.

The next speaker was Michaela Baker talking about Mental Illness and Artistic Creation. She talked mostly about David Bowie’s concept album, Outside. This was an interesting piece about depictions of madness and provided insights into Bowie’s creative process.

The next paper was on Mental Illness in the X-Files by Kimberley McMahon-Coleman. This was an insightful analysis of the show. The role reversal between Scully and Mulder. Scully is the scientist, the skeptic, the logical one a role traditional ascribed to the male protagonist and Mulder is the intuitive, feeling one. However, Mulder is invariably right. Scully gets kidnapped a lot. What Kimberley was highlighting in her talk was the medical model of mental illness with the immediate listing of symptoms, that anyone with a mental illness was immediately discredited/testimony discredited by Scully and then proved right by Mulder. She also talked about the depiction of Autism and how wrong that was. That Autism wasn’t a mental illness but a communication disorder.

The last paper in this stream was on post-racial feminism by Holly Randell-Moon. Holly used a portion of Angela McRobbie’s (2004) paper in her paper and also about recent debate about People of Colour (POC) and about how whites don’t acknowledge their whiteness. My thoughts on this paper was that some delving into McRobbie’s position. I’ve read McRobbie (some) and she’s very interesting but she reads to me like a radical second wave feminist, using Marxist analysis. I also think that as a white from a dominant white culture we don’t want to draw attention to our privilege. Just my thought there.

After a nice lunch where I tried to talk to people I didn’t know and succeeded, I went to the Film stream. First up was Sequential Multimplicity in Franchise Cinema by Tara Lomax, a phd candidate. This was the most technical of the papers for me and also interesting. I mean Marvel right? She talked abit about Marvel’s transmedia strategy and the groups of writers that keep track of the stories and copyright etc. Apparently DC didn’t want to copy Marvel’s strategy but that may be changing. This speaker was very enthusiastic about her topic and ran out of time. Next up was Exploded Views by Pansy Duncan. My notes are going to fail me here, but the essence of this for me was the study of explosions on film from the 1900s to the present and how they have evolved and that the new ones were going in upwards directions instead of down. Apparently in Independence Day movie, the first came down, the second just hovers, but in Xmen Apocalypse the bits of Earth go up. I’m going to keep an eye out for those. Seeing the Future of American Industry by Christian Long. He talked about John Carpenter’s film, Escape from New York and the politics in there. He discussed the crime rate in the 1970s in New York in the lead up to the film. He also talked about in this future envisioning, the USA could live without its financial centre.Inside the prison of New York lack of industry lead to problems. Kurt Russell (Snake) was to rescue the president to make world peace. The irony is that when saved the president shoots the baddie with glee. A very enjoyable paper and I must watch more John Carpenter.

Next I ducked into the Fiction:Words on paper stream. “It’s all in the detail” Historical crime writing by Jean Anderson. Jean talked a lot about the paratextual in historical crime novels, that is the text on the outside of the book, blurb, about the author etc. In the novels she discussed there was an effort to establish the author’s authority through the non fiction they published or academic career etc. Some part of the talk was on the recipes in some of these novels and also how if an author gets this wrong who responds. Most readers won’t notice but some do and will let you know. Jillene Bydder talked about Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriaason and the detective Erlendur. I know have to read all these books and the Icelandic sagas. Jillene did a comparative analysis of Arnaldur’s books and the Icelandic sagas. I’m to start with Jar City because that talks about the DNA project that is going on in Iceland. Next was Beatrice Dahl: JG Ballard’s Hidden Heroine? by Tracy Clement. Again an excellent talks. Tracy is doing her phd on the book, The Drowned World. I recall she said it was a fine arts degree which included sculpture and her doing an additional chapter of The Drowned World. Utterly fascinating and another book on the to read pile. Next up was In Search of Australian Noir: by Leigh Redhead. More books on the to read pile. Hannah Kent Burial Rites. Anyway, for me an introduction to what noir is. Negative ending.

Day two

I was a bit late. Bus caught in Sydney traffic so I only caught the end of the first session and I chose the big room because I would be less conspicuous on entering. This was the performance stream and I only caught the end of Tilda Swinton: Performing Fashion. Apologies to Karen De Perthuis the presenter. Lorde, Lady Gaga and ‘Authentic’ David Bowie tribute by Alison Blair was entirely enthralling. An analysis of the two performances and the reaction, particularly on twitter. Lorde’s performance being the most appreciated. The crux of the matter for me was that Lady Gaga was performing David Bowie and sensationalizing him and Lorde performed as herself singing Bowie with a low key and respectful performance. Who knew this stuff was so interesting and complicated? Costume, Condertfeit in Neil Armfield’s ‘King Lear’ by Julie Lynch. I met Julie first up and she’s from NIDA. Her first time at this conference too. This was an eyeopening talk that discussed the costumes used in this performance but also a bit about the Sydney Theatre Company, particularly under Cate Blanchet and co.

Next session I ducked over to the gothic horror stream. Dining at the table of (cultural) horrors by Lorna Piatti-Farnell. Some interesting preamble about eating and manners and how we have manners because eating is violent. Loved it. She talked about a move, The Sushi Girl. Another movie for the to watch pile. She deconstructed some horror tropes for me which makes me thinks I could watch some. The Gothic Heart of ‘Hinterland’ by Emma Doolan was an exploration in settings and liminal spaces. She discussed the series Hinterland set in Wales and yet another DVD series to watch. To end that session was (Im)moratlities of Style in ‘American Horror Story’ by Samuel Finegan. Again for me a refreshing look at a genre that I don’t gel with normally. He explained this so well and how ‘camp’ the horror was. We have some of these at home so they have been star rated for watching with my partner, Matthew, who loves horror movies.

After lunch I switched to Television because of Zombies as you do. First up was LIving with Zombism in ‘I Zombie’ by Kayleigh Murphy. I hadn’t really been aware of this show. And yes another one on the to buy pile. This was an interesting analysis of this TV show and what zombies are embodying-social fears etc. I Zombie apparently is about stigma and living with disease or something else that can be hidden but is not socially accepted. It is a show that is focused on young people too. I won’t spoil it for you but I’d love to read this paper. Hopefully it will be in the conference proceedings. Gender in ‘The Bachelor’ New Zealand. Interesting and I guess typical of those shows. Performing gender. Lots of good quotes for Judith Butler which I appreciated. Thank you Ximena Smith. Utipic Spaces and the Rewritable West in Mad Men by Grace Torcasio. I’m not a watcher of Mad Men but I have heard of it. This talked about the spaces New York and California and how California served as a type of holiday space, a place where the character (Fred?) could reinvent himself. I hope I got that right. I’m working off memory here.

The last sessions were hard to pick but I left Gothic and Horror and chose History/journalism/religion mostly because first up was Ritualistic Societies and the Neo-Victorian Perspective by Matthew Thompson. He talked about Downey’s Sherlock so I’m cool with that. Second reason for this stream was Sue Green’s talk Knitting Needles as Weapons of War. I’d chatted to Sue before but I’d already picked this session. I mean Knitting Needles! So yes this was fabric, textile paper with a feminist perspective. It was quite eye opening as it discussed knitting patterns and how they were used to manipulate women, even in their language. Women knitted socks and other bits for men at war. One million in WW1 and 3 million in WW2. Also was the change in patterns after the war, particular WW2 when they changed from utilitarian to lacy, feminine things. Also the new look and corsets constraining women back into the home after working in men’s jobs during the war. Loved this. Please, please universe put this paper in the conference proceedings. Some great historical images in this talk too. IN the program there is a session listed, The Dispute is Not About Oil, by Michael Potts. I’ve got nothing for that. I was either transported to another reality while he spoke or he wasn’t there. Last up on day two was Warhol’s Religio-Secular Incongraph by Jewell Homad  Johnson. This was fascinating. I had no idea Warhol was religious! Ta daa! And I had no idea someone tried to kill him and that person was from SCUM (society for cutting up men). Now I have to read the manifesto because I had no idea. Interesting piece. Nice work Jewell.

Day three (last day)

Filled with the proceeding day’s awesomeness and post Alex Caine Series book launch at Galaxy Book shop, I made it in only a little late. Again bus, traffic etc. The first talk was Gothic Wedding Cake Decoration by Carmel Cedro. This garnered so much discussion. I decorate cakes as you know. I’m probably the kind of person who would put a bleeding heart on my wedding cake. I’m geek and I’m proud to be so. Apparently goths express their identity with these cakes. Carmel said the rest of the ceremony is very traditional except for the cake. Just google gothic wedding cakes and you’ll see. It’s a thing but mostly USA centred apparently. The Frankenstein Myth and Deals with the Devil by Naomi Von Senff. This was an interesting talk. The only problem was the speaker spoke so quickly, reading off her paper that it’s impact was lessened. Naomi did a analysis of novels with the Frankenstein myth but said there wasn’t much in recent novels. If you know of some let her know. She’s on Twitter maybe. I have two unpublished books that deal with the Frankenstein myth…as in resurrected monsters type thing. Weird Tales and Monstrous Subverions by Cory R Walden. I’m drawing a blank here. There were pictures! Sorry I’m going from memory. He did do the talk but I need a hint to trigger my memory.

After lunch which was very yum, (Great catering at Sydney University Village) was the visual arts stream with Socialist Realism (un) popular culture by Ryszard Dabek. This looked at socialist realism in art and architecture. Those North Koreans are weird. Soda_jerk’s science fictional Aesthetics by Andrew Frost. I have to look into this art work, by these two anonymous artists. Apparently they mine the edge of copyright infringement taking bits of film and reworking it. Fascinating. Hurrah for Art! 20th century popular culture by Eric Riddler, which was a picture stream with commentary that was very encompassing. Last up was Arabic Appearance in a Predominantly Anglo Culture by Cherine Fahd. A very striking paper about how we use visual cues to judge, probably incorrectly. The main part of her presentation was a series of photos in black and white with white background with men with dark hair and beards. The men wore the beard by choice not for religion and not all were of Arabic/middle eastern/sub continent decent. The main upshot from this presentation was could  hipster beards coexist with the jihad beards. Some mentions of people being beaten up for having a beard and being mistaken for middle eastern or jihady or terrorist beards. A thought provoking session all up.

Last sessions were on biography & life writing and girlhood. The Militant Suffragette by Anne Reddacliff and Rachel Franks provided a good overview on the Australian suffragette story with a focus on the holdings from the State Library of NSW. Some excellent sources provided. Hateful Eight Contains the Uncanny Power of Girlhood by Juliette Peers. This was an amazing presentation but somewhat over long. This was due to this session not having a chair or the chair not being able to communicate with the speaker. Not sure which. I haven’t seen Hateful Eight, nor Carrie or The Exorcist, which were part of the analysis. After hearing the talk and the images I don’t want to either. Juliette put a pretty powerful argument about this movie. Little Miss ANZAC by Anita Callaway was an interesting exploration of a (for me) lost work. A children’s story that features a beleaguered wooden doll. It was very evocative of the effects on war on men, I think, but as Anita pointed out, the illustrator died before the war and the book was renamed. She also showed us illustrations from the author and the illustrator (I think) but very interesting stuff. Finally, Hashtag Skater Girl: Pop Culture and Extreme Sports by Jessica Jackson. As an aside I introduced myself to Jessica and we got talking. She’s a writer too. It was her first conference and her first presentation. She’s African American, the elder of identical quadruplets who were adopted. I’m going to check out her books. She and her siblings are writing books together. Link below. Jessica had to have given one of the best presentations at the conference. She didn’t read from a paper but spoke to her slides very eloquently. I was very impressed obviously. Her talk was about skaters, what we call skateboarding, and also surfing and snowboarding. She looked at the treatment of girls in the sports by men, the funding arrangements which prejudice women and the lack of take up of the sports by women. (I hope that is right, Jess). And what a way to end the conference.

So I’ve only given a very short impression on what these sessions were about. I was engaged throughout and I wish to thank the organisers for all their hard work. Great venue, great speakers and topics. Also, I should note that there is GANZA, The Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia. ganza.co.nz and they are on twitter @GANZA_Official

There is currently a call for papers for their conference in Auckland in January.

Also, what the hell is the Uni of Sydney doing closing the Sydney College of the Arts!

Links

POPCAANZ here

GANZA here

And if you want to keep in touch with Jessica and her three siblings, her blog is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I say this quite a bit these days. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I want to learn so much, do many more things that I can see that I won’t do all of them. It’s not possible. I would need many lifetimes to do that. Even then the world is ever changing. Is that what living forever is like? No wonder I love reading and writing science fiction and fantasy and paranormal romance. Within fiction there are no boundaries.

I thought I’d having something interesting to say. This last week with the PhD has been about admin and also trying to work out how I can talk about the fiction I’m reading. I have to learn to be more academic, pick a position and analyse with that mind set. That’s hard. Not too hard, but requires some mind bending. I can no longer just be enthusiastic! Also, there’s that paper I’m working on…

I finished the revision of The Crystal Gate and sent it to beta readers. I fear I have some more hard work ahead of me to make this novel all that it could be. A kick up the bum from beta readers usually galvanizes me, particularly when they tell me things I know I think is a problem but I’m not listening to the little voice that told me so. I thought I would rip into The Ungiven Land straight up…but alas…I’m a slacktard. There’s 50,000 words sitting there and I haven’t even read them through let alone drafted more words. I guess I’ve been resting my brain…maybe…actually I’ve finally finished listening to The Magician (Raymond E Feist). This was an Eighties’ classic that I’d never caught at the time. It’s high fantasy, elves, dwarves, dragons etc, but it  has something else too which caught my interest. My main problem is that I didn’t like the narrator. I can’t pinpoint why. It made the 35 hours of listening a bit hard, not impossible though. It was Audible and my first time really not enjoying the experience amazingly.

On the Argenterra front. I ran a Goodreads giveaway for the print book. I have no idea how that translates into book sales, but I think not many. However, five more people are following me on Goodreads. Waves! Thank you. Hundreds of people have added Argenterra as a ‘want to read’. I’ve sent three books out, one to Canada that should arrive quite soon and two in the UK, which Amazon says will take a few weeks to organise. Book  Depository haven’t got Argenterra listed yet as it can take 6 weeks for them to get it up. Maybe if the readers are generous they’ll do a review. Totally worth it for the possible reviews and exposure.I thought it would be nice if 500 people entered the Goodreads giveway and 866 people did and that’s awesome.

I joined Kindle Boards. Lots of advice and information there. It is possible that if you spend too long there you might grow a beard and find the world has moved on a hundred years.

Other bits of procrastination this week includes seeing X-Men Apocalypse. I really enjoyed that despite missing Days of Future Past. It was massive in scope. I liked the action and I also liked that it stopped for the emotional stops. I ate more chocolate this week than in the last year I’m sure. I re-watched North and South  (BBC 1975) starring Patrick Stewart’s hair. It was a nice way to pass a wet weekend with my niece visiting.

Now back to the PhD.

 

 

Read Full Post »

I first read some Mills & Boon romances in may late teens. I was a young, stay at home mum to be pretty bored and poor too. I didn’t read masses of these books. I remember dark Latin lovers, girls marrying their rapists in two cases. It was the late 1970s. Perhaps that was par for the course. I was captured by science fiction and fantasy so I read a lot of that in the intervening years. As I reflect back on this I wish I had kept reading romance. It might have helped me in a lot of ways such as relationships, self esteem and sex. But alas I had a preference for outerspace and other worlds not as useful for those more personal issues.

My reading did expand into paranormal romance, historical romance and science fiction romance, probably in my late thirties. Outlander (Crossttich here) combined all three of my favourite things, a bit of SF& F with the time travel and Scottish romance, with a fine touch of the paranormal elements. My romance drug of choice was: Scottish historicals (and English too), Regency romance and paranormal romance with lashings of urban fantasy. I must say I came across Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey. I was so excited as this book was SF romance. Not very politically correct these days but I still love it and I don’t care. Suck it up detractors. Challen rivals Jamie Fraser and Darcy in my mind.

It wasn’t until I was published with Escape Publishing (Harlequin’s Australian Digital Imprint) that I started reading contemporary romance fiction again. (I’ve even tried to write some, but I want to put a ghost or a vampire in there). Mostly this was to explore what was on offer with Escape but to learn about the genre too. I read some amazing stuff that gave me a love for contemporary romance that I hadn’t had before.

Here are some of the books I read:

A Man Like Mike  by Sami Lee

Bound by his Ring by Nicole Flockton

A Basic Renovation  by Sandra Antonelli

What Love Sounds Like  by Alissa Callen

Finding Elizabeth by Louise Forster

The Lies We Tell by Elizabeth Dunk

Rescue Heat by Nina Hamilton

Short Soup by Colleen Kwan

Grease Monkey Jive and Floored by Ainslie Paton

You can find these titles here.

They were all so good. Do I sound surprised? Not so much surprised by the quality just that I really liked reading these contemporary romances that didn’t contain any weird stuff. This was new to me.

Then we come to the PhD and I’m focusing on contemporary romance (either written in the 1970s or in the present) and maybe that’s a bit weird, you know. Yet, it’s an genre I don’t know well and I am curious…about the past…about the present…

To put boundaries on what I’m reading I am containing the genre to Mills & Boon category romances and like products. But I don’t forget that there’s so much more out there.

The sobering thought for me is that I’ll never be as knowledgeable as the avid readers of romance. I can read what I can and examine it with certain parameters in mind, but I can’t duplicate 20 to 30 years of avid romance reading. I’m lucky that I know a couple of these knowledgeable readers and they are so helpful but they keep me humble.

 

Read Full Post »

This morning I went to the dentist to get my chipped tooth fixed. I now have my smile back. It was a small chip to my front tooth, but it happened just after I gave up my extras health cover. Anyway, the damage wasn’t too bad financially. I will have to be careful about what I eat in future. Given my weight gain, I could probably stand no eating!

I’m at the stage of my PhD where the more I read the more stupid I feel. There is so much to know about the world and I know I haven’t even touched a 0.000001 per cent of it. I feel like if I open my mouth something stupid is going to come out. Or does come out. I know this is untrue of course! I’m not entirely stupid! (just marginally or slightly stupid, lol) It’s just that I’m dwelling in some emotional gutter where PhD candidates fall after the first splurge of excitement. I want to know everything about my topic! I can only do a small portion of what I’m aiming for. Live with it!

Writing/drafting an academic paper was like sliding a stiletto around my insides while singing the national anthem. A relief when it is over. I will be getting comments from my supervisor to get it to the next stage so I’ll just put the stiletto over here so it’s ready for when I need it.

I had a wonderful long series of dreams/thoughts about my creative piece for the PhD. It was the most rounded piece of imagination in relation to it, that I might even draft a rough outline. Today, I’ve printed out an article that the lovely Russell Kirkpatrick recommended to me after I was whining about how hard Gender Trouble by Judith Butler was to understand, particularly when she starts dissecting the psychoanalysts. Butler’s book inspired lots of creative thoughts for my fiction piece. I may not get it all into my head, but it was thought provoking. The article is Taking Butler elsewhere: performativities, spatialities and subjectivities by Gregson, N and Rose, G, 199. It’s right here in front of me.

Another issue I find is that I have to reread articles and books. I take notes, of course, but then on rereading I see other things that I’d missed before. This is because the reading expands your understanding and then you read something else and make further connections until you get an ‘aha’ moment.  I have a lot of reading done, heaps more to do but the thought I may have to read it again. Eep! Add to the that the suspicion that my reading mojo is not quite up to par yet. Retention is difficult at times. I need to find the right balance of stress and relaxation so that my retention is better.

I have a few retro romances waiting for me to read them. I find I am developing preferences and dislikes. I don’t think movie star love stories thrill me much. The lifestyles of the uber rich likewise, unless written by Roberta Leigh because she excels at that stuff. The stories with  a young, ignorant nanny employed in the Bahamas doesn’t do it for me either, but there might be exceptions. I don’t mind the cowboy romances. Usually the dude is not a rich guy, machoing over someone. This is based on only limited number of books so far. Marriage of convenience stories are usually not bad. A lot of my selection appears to be Australian and New Zealand romances (funny that) and they are usually different from the English ones. It appears I have no Helen Bianchin so I’ll have to get some of those.

In other news, I went to listen to Dan O’Malley being interviewed by Colin Steele last night about his new book, Stiletto. The theatre was packed. Dan was amusing (as ever) and the signing queue long.

The Goodreads giveaway for Argenterra is progressing well. I’ve not ever done one before. I will post back here and let you know how it goes and what it means in the wash.

The link to the Giveaway is here.

Read Full Post »

So this week has been busy!

My son who works in China developing computer games was visiting this week. So there was him and grandchildren and daughters and stuff.

I read mostly romances this week and following on from my previous post, most had no social issues. The Charlotte Lamb I sampled were full on Bronte channeling with a rampaging Heathcliff in one. However, at present I am reading a Love Swept title featuring a deaf hero so of course it deals with discrimination. So I have a happy face.

My academic paper will be back in front of me on Monday. I was taking a breather and waiting for comments from my supervisor.

As for Canberra, it was chilly this week although today is glorious!

And for the other me, Dani Kristoff, this news.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

A fun part of my PhD is reading romances. Mostly I’m concentrating on retros–1970s and 1980s but I want to read up to and including current titles.

The President of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA), Debbie Phillips, gave me four boxes of books. These were mostly Harlequin Silhouette novels from the late 1980s and early 1990s. I’ve read two so far.

boxes

Then I unpacked the books!

IMG_6294

And then I didn’t have the heart to put them back in the box so I bought some bookshelves for them. (I’m not supposed to be doing that being frugal. Alas, the savings were attacked!)

IMG_6295

 

I’ve read one cowboy romance by Lass Small called No Trespassers Allowed and I enjoyed that a lot. I even sniffled a bit at the end. It wasn’t feminist but it did discuss gender roles and was almost entirely told from the male perspective. I noticed I have about 5 more of Lass Small’s titles. She’s deceased now but published a lot in her life time.

Cherokee Thunder by Rachel Lee was published in 1992/93 and is from the Silhouette Jasmine imprint. It appears to be slightly longer than the traditional category romance. I’m sure someone can tell me all about that line. I’ve not read Rachel Lee or heard of her before. A quick look on line tells me she is still writing and is using the same setting, Conard County. And she’s won awards etc. I’m not surprised.

For someone reading with an eye for feminist or social issues in these book like I am, there was heaps in this book to interest me. It’s main theme is domestic violence and the secondary theme is racism. There was also some discussion about being a working woman, being independent, being a wife and mother and liking housework. The kind of book this is-set in a small county in Wyoming- being a house wife is a natural aspiration.

I’m not sure how politically correct the half-Cherokee character/heroe, Micah Parish, is but I found him to be represented in a very positive way.This is a character who is solitary, cut off from family, both his white and his First Nation side. He is honorable and emotionally amoured and very gentle.  I ‘heart’ him very much.

Faith, the heroine is a battered wife. She’s not ordinary, run of the mill, battered wife either. She’s seriously battered, stabbed, brutalised…you name it and her ex husband is a crim and an ex cop and a psycho!. Six months pregnant and her ex has even tried to carve the baby out of her. Seriously, scary, stuff!

She’s the frightened kitten, small, petite and hurting. Micah is a big man and he’s got a soft spot for strays. She may be battered but with his caring way, she’s able to find her spirit and over come her timidity. Never though is her abuse trivialised. It is discussed throughout that she’ll have flashbacks (she does) and that it will take time to heal.

As I read this I could see that there could be other stories in this setting. There were some interesting male characters but I haven’t looked up to see if this was a first or a third in a series.

Faith in her reminiscence about life reflects that she’s been betrayed. She was brought up to be a wife and mother and all she got was  abuse. Her stepfather had conditioned her to have low self esteem and told her she deserved a beating. The representation of the abused woman in this story was very accurate to my mind. It takes someone very special to help her. And man does Micah do that.  As I read this I was thinking this is really good. This would make a great movie.

The story seemed to me to be predominantly from the male point of view, except it wasn’t. It was a shared point of view, slipping between Micah and Faith within scenes. It was smoothly done. The only other time I’ve seen this style was in Cory Daniels The Last T’en. It is certainly different from the pseudo omnicient/weird quasi from the male perspective that some of the other retro Mills & Boon had. (apparently before the 1980s they couldn’t use the male PoV)

What I loved about this book (and being a victim of abuse myself) is that it’s so positive. The message here is that there not all men are the same. That even a big, hard man can be tender and kind. It’s such a powerful message. I know Micah is a constructed male. A hero drawn from a woman’s imagination. But I can’t understand how something like this can be denigrated, the way romance fiction, is generally denigrated. It’s a healing story. So there are so romantic foibles-some things the hero says a man probably never would, but still…

I recall JD Robb’s In death series and I remember being so impressed that (Nora Roberts) discussed child abuse in the story line. The unspeakable trauma that the main character, Eve Dallas, went through as a child is revealed slowly over the series and I was so heartened that she discussed that topic. It’s not a nice topic but it happens and it’s important.

I’m still at the beginning on my retro reading. It’s been an interesting and enjoyable experience so far.

Cherokee Thunder was a touching tale. Thank you Rachel Lee for the lovely piece of fiction.

IMG_6297

Read Full Post »

Today marks the end of my working life in the Australian Public Service. It’s my last pay day. I can’t begin to express how big a change this is for me at this time of my life. I gave up my big paying job, my ‘social capital’ as an educated woman and well-paid over spender/consumer. I gave up building my nest egg and putting heaps of money into my house, or using it to go traveling or just buying shit. I’m sure this will bother me in future, but now I don’t have regrets. (I’m pretty scared about not having money but its’ not like I’ll have none just less! Okay a lot less. A $100,000 less on paper.)

The bottom line was my arthritic spine was making my life pretty miserable and I wanted to spend what productive time I have doing what I want, while I can.

Upside, I can now talk about politics and stupid things that bother me without being threatened with the sack.

I think doing the PhD allowed me not to think about anything but the Phd. It gave me something to put my mental claws in. I am enjoying it. Now, I didn’t get a stipend so that makes things tougher financially. Not that stipends are huge, but it would have helped. Needless to say I’m going to apply again (and fill out the forms correctly this time) at the end of the year. But I have to face the fact that this is it. It’s me, my superannuation and my mortgage. I have the lovely Matthew but I don’t want to impose on him at all, so I’ll be paying my way on the household stuff. My life decisions shouldn’t be reducing his quality of lifestyle.

Then there’s the writing. Still a big part of my  life. The self publishing/Indie publishing thing well I have to see where that takes me.

My previous post I spoke about Print on Demand publishing. I have made my first stupid mistake that cost me money. Not a lot of money, but still I already paid that bugger and had to pay it again. And today is when the money just stops!

You see I found a typo on the very last line of my acknowledgements. It was one letter on a page that maybe no one would read. So I changed the files (I haven’t done iBooks yet as I need a Mac!). For everything it wasn’t a problem, except of Ingram Sparks. I didn’t realise they were going to charge me for the set up fee again, even for the epub file. They charge US $25 to upload your epub file and another $25 for the print. I think other places like Smashwords (which I didn’t use) doesn’t charge.  So fingers burnt. If I waited until other people reported typos then I could have done a lot at the same time, but no I had to change this one letter for about $60 Australian. So lesson learnt.

I’m not complaining that people have to be paid to do their job. Fair enough. I’m complaining that I was stupid, didn’t even think about it and got my fingers burnt.

Createspace hasn’t charged me to reload the print file but I have to go through the review process again. Lesson make sure the file is typo free (it’s really hard) and if you find a typo and it’s a wee thing live with it. That’s what you had to do in the old off-set days.

Read Full Post »

So Argenterra, my YA/adult crossover fantasy is out there in the world. Fly baby, fly.

I have paid for some advertising,  and stuff, but essentially the only copies that have sold so far were friends buying the pre order. I’m very grateful to them! Thanks guys.

I have sent out a couple of review copies. All reviews help! I am waiting to see what the reviewers think. If you want to review it, please let me know.

It’s early days so I’m not going to stress about sales. From past experiences it goes in ups and downs. Discoverability is the biggest challenge with ebooks or small press or Indie publishing. The book is not sitting on a shelf in a book store waving hello to you as you walk in. (As an aside the print book is discounted to book stores at 40% and can be ordered via Ingrams.) For buy links click  here or see My Books Tab.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

What I did want to say is that Argenterra is first in a series and I’m committed to putting the three books out. There should be a cliff hanger warning too! For that reason I’ve included the first chapter of book two at the end of book one.

As a self/Indie publisher I can make the commitment to publish the whole series. I may not put them all out in hard copy print, but we’ll see what demand is like. I’m currently revising/polishing book 2, The Crystal Gate. It’s written but I haven’t looked at the draft since 2009. My writing has changed a bit since then. I need to have it beta read, edited before I can layout etc. The proofing and stuff can take a couple of weeks too. I’m hoping to finish the revision by the end of May.

Book Three is partially drafted at 50,000 words. At the time I was writing it, I figured it wasn’t worth finishing a trilogy that hadn’t sold. Now the publishing world is completely different. Now it’s my trilogy and I’m in control so I will get it done and out there.Drafting book three to 135,000 words may take until much later in the year.

Control is so underrated.

As Dragon Wine was put out by Momentum, I had no say in the book being split in two, which people complained about. And as the books didn’t sell sufficiently well, they declined to publish the next book in the series.  A nice blow after working on it for ten years! Thousands were downloaded for free, but unfortunately that didn’t translate to sales. However, the next book is drafted and I will try to get it out later in the year. It’s a bit hard when I don’t have the rights to the first book and given it’s lack lustre performance and it’s very dark nature I can’t quite make up my mind what to do. It’s hard not to get disheartened and lose faith in your work. Alas, Momentum is no more, but Pan Mac have the rights. The Dragon Wine series is quite complex and dark. I may have to lighten it a bit before I publish the next installment. If I publish it.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

My previous post may have sounded a bit down on traditional publishers. It wasn’t meant to be. It’s just that the crisis in publishing is affecting everyone in the industry and it makes life difficult, particularly here in Australia. I have an agent trying sell a book to traditional publishers.It’s a good book-hasn’t sold but I’m not giving up yet on that. I’ve only half written the sequel to that.  I have more books written that I’d like to see get traditional publishing deals. It’s just tough out there and it takes a lot of time. With 15 years worth of writing behind me, I have a little bit of a back list of unpublished novels. I’m also working on new ones. I may be hyper active. Here’s hoping the PhD will keep me busy, too busy to write anything else but the PhD novel.

Read Full Post »

I’ve always known about subjectivity. I like something. The next person doesn’t. Sometimes I’m at a loss as why they just don’t get that fab book or that amazing TV series. It’s subjective. Right.

So what does that mean exactly?

This is a self-exploration so I don’t have any academic texts to back this up, except maybe a vague reference to Bourdieu-type thinking such as ‘reflexivity’ and ‘habitus’ (but I’m new to this so don’t roast me)

I’ve been reading retro romances right. A few of them make me angry, uneasy or just bored. Most I love for many reasons. I was thinking about the ones that trigger my dislike.

For instance, creepy boss love affair stories. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Why is this so? Office romances happen. My previous partner was once my boss, but not my boss when we got together. Actually being a workmake is probably what allowed us to get together because it wouldn’t have happened that otherwise. Not that I had the hots for him when he was my boss. Anyway….whole subject awkward!!! So why then do these stories creep me out that little bit. I had been thinking before I recollected my office romance that I didn’t fancy any of my bosses (apologies) but yeah…nah!

When I got my first office job in 1976 with a stockbroker, they were all like fuddy, duddy old men and one fuddy duddy old lady (first female stockbroker!). The girls weren’t allowed to wear pants. Yeah that’s how conservative they were. I remember one day coming in wearing a jump suit. My job was to give the big boss his coffee as soon as he sat down, otherwise yelling would ensue. So I romp in with a coffee and a good morning smile. I get quizzed about what I’m wearing. I say, “It’s a jump suit.” The boss says,”Next time you wear that you can jump out the window.” Anyway, I digress. Memory digging will do that.

This morning I remembered my job before the office job. I had a short stint as a hairdressing apprentice and I was sexually harassed. I was dragged into the change room by the owner of a hairdressing chain and quizzed about my sex life. It was weird. He didn’t touch me. He made me very uncomfortable and I was at a loss at what to say. What sex positions do you like? Do you like having sex? etc. I was bloody 15! I kept clear of him and was sacked soon after.  Actually some of these questions he asked  and approaches are in those dark, Italian type retro romances. The salon I worked in at the firm did contain a harasser.My bestie at the time also had an apprenticeship and was molested often by her hairdresser boss who was married.

Oh dear! I’ve just remembered another job where that happened. In New Zealand, I worked for a car company in the service department. I was the only woman and I was touched up and perved on all the time and commented on. Finally I stood up to them and then they got the shits with me. Lucky I quit no long after.

So while my many years in the public service provided a harassment free workplace , there were times in my dark past when it wasn’t so. And these retro stories take me back to that time in a big way.

The other thing that I find that triggers me is the violence. Just about all the books have the man grabbing the woman by the upper arms or shoulders and shaking her. Lucky they didn’t break the woman’s neck. Anyway, one particular story where the woman cried out in pain. He was really hurting her. And he’s like I’m sorry, it’s just that I love you and want you only to be mine. I’m like egads! Domestic Violence! All my flags go up. It had been a promising story until then. My note say something like. ‘Creepy ending with potential abuser!’

I grew up with domestic violence and I’ve experienced it first hand, especially the jealous boyfriend who broke in to where I was living and smashed me up. So yeah. Subjectivity!

I’m sure I’ll find more things that affect my objectivity as I read the retro and contemporary romance fiction. I certainly found that objectivity can be difficult to maintain when I read the article by Peter Darbyshire about the Love Inspired imprint! A few posts ago.

If I apply the above to other readers then it is easier to understand why people react in different ways to books or films. They are shaped to a large extent by their experiences and their environment, like I have been. I try to overcome this when I’m aware of it.  If anything, study has lead me to ask these questions of myself. Why do I think that? Or Why do I have that reaction?

 

 

Read Full Post »

Last week I worked out that I was being too intense and trying too hard and that I’d burn out. Today after a four day weekend, I’m feeling relaxed but alert.

Today’s chore is to review all the research proposal material to submit it for ethics approval. The ethics approval process is very long. I would have given up on it I think if not for my supervisor Tony knowing what was to go where. Thanks Tony! I want to ask some romance readers and writers questions but I have to do the same process as if I was going to take tissue samples from them and combine their DNA with animals. Sigh!

But now that it is close to being done, I’m feeling quite good about it all. I would like a year of researching books and academic articles before formulating my questions but alas I have to think them up now. At present I’m hunting for some definitions of strong, female heroine in relation to popular romance. If you see one please give me a hoy! I’ll need this to do my introductory seminar but it would also be useful for the questionnaires.

When I’ve tidied up the above papers…quite a few of them, I need to start working on a paper to be included in a conference. I don’t get to present this paper as there are too many other people wanting too and well I’m just starting out so I’m at the bottom end of the pecking order. It is fantastic though that there is so much romance scholarship that there is an oversupply of presenters. However, I can write the paper so it can be peer reviewed etc. I wrote an extract in February. Now I have to get my head back into that space and write the bloody paper.

Meanwhile reading lots of articles etc which make ideas percolate all the time and sends my mind into hyperspace and back again so rapidly I spin on the spot.

image

Me, mother of swords, Queen of food

so I’m just doing the day in the life of a PhD candidate thing because that’s what I do these days.

PS We just blitz-watched Game of Throne season five. Nooo. Not Jon Snow!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »