Let’s Not Forget The Balcony Scene

We seem beset lately with academics being funded to study high-profile, fantasist entertainment. We’ve recently been informed that “Disney Princesses” are dangerous to young girls. Now, for older ones, it’s being widely reported that so are the likes of Love, Actually:

Screen capture of the Telegraph.
Screen capture of the Telegraph.

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The La Clusaz Chalet: A Year On

The chalet staff is much the same as last year. The major change is the young Polish woman who worked in the bar, and whose French was so good we’d initially thought she was French, is gone. She had told us the job was only a stopgap until she got one in her field, so her departure isn’t a shock. (I don’t remember her field, but she was a recent graduate.) A similar aged Frenchwoman is in her role now.

Looking out from La Clusaz, on Monday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Looking out from La Clusaz, on Monday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
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“Disney Princesses”: An Existential Threat?

Whenever I see reports like this, I sit up and take notice. I wonder: how I am doing? I have quite a few women characters, so I take my portrayal of them seriously:

Screen capture of the Washington Post.
Screen capture of the Washington Post.

Its main argument is:

….The plot of “The Little Mermaid,” of course, involves Ariel literally losing her voice — but in the five Disney princess movies that followed, the women speak even less. On average in those films, men have three times as many lines as women.

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The Joys Of Locating That Out Of Print Book

It’s satisfying when you get hold of “that book” you’ve been trying to find when it doesn’t exist as an e-book and, worst of all, is long out of print. It arrived yesterday – and a week earlier than I’d expected it to turn up, a copy that had been termed “used,” but is actually like new. I wanted one for research for the new novel and I’d found it (appropriately) over in France:

From the third party seller receipt. [Photo by me 2016.]
From the third party seller receipt. [Photo by me 2016.]

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Semi-Random Thoughts For This Morning

Good morning! The mind can sometimes be all over the place on a Monday morning. So this post is something of a mishmash. :-)

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“Hello” new followers!

I see my tongue-in-cheek “letter” I’d written in 18th century English was something some of you found amusing.

Warning: I’m not always that amusing!

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Letter To 230 Years Ago

Outside of Bristol England 22nd January 2016

DEAR SIR

I write to you in the 18th century thinking I might dispatch this to you in Nantes post restrante, but we don’t do that commonly in our time & consigning it to the English mail is not what I wished to do either not because it will be opened and read by some scoundrel as in your time but because now the price of a letter has become so great as to cause one to need to secure a bank loan first & you are long dead anyway. I have decided it is best placed on our inter-net which is easily found & we accept our governments to-day read every thing we write on there. Centuries passing have not changed everything.

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Warmth Amidst Winter’s Chill

As we know, e-books have changed writing in more ways than we can hope to count. Yet certain aspects of the “old-fashioned” paperback are hard to top. For instance, you can pull one you’d authored off a shelf and try to impress your nephew’s girlfriend…. ;-)

Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Naturally, it’s, uh, “tougher” to autograph Kindles. If you have one or more of my novels, I just wanted once more to say “Thank you.” I hope you have enjoyed, or will enjoy, the read(s).

After all, without you there is really no point to any of this. And in a more personal sense I mean you beyond being a reader/follower. The three months since the sudden deaths of my mother and my uncle (and with many a conversation with my father since then taking to spiraling downwards into his depressingly declaring he’s wishes he was dead too) have been the toughest and saddest of my life….

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Were Those Corpses Driving Motorcycles?

I watch new films only intermittently. Looking for something last night, we all agreed to try Mad Max: Fury Road. As it started, I joked, “Remember, it’s Oscar nominated….”

Uh, we managed about 15 minutes of it before all four of us gave up. (For one, it was the second time he’d tried to sit through it.) I’m sorry, “Best Picture?” Seriously?

We’ve seen a “diversity controversy” erupt around the Academy Awards as well. I haven’t followed it closely, other than I’ve noticed it argued the films Creed and/or Concussion should have been nominated for “Best Picture,” and that African-American actors have been largely ignored in other categories. I haven’t seen either film, but frankly, given that Mad Max was nominated, it seems indefensible one of those wasn’t.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of film.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of film.

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To Please Everybody

Readership out there now is truly global. As a writer, you can never know exactly who’s reading your book(s), or where, or why. Perhaps most importantly, you never know what a reader individually takes away from it – unless they tell you.

And do you always really want to know? I’m struck at times also by how some readers review a book on social media evidently hoping they had read a different book. I say that here because a review I’d recently seen on Goodreads of another author’s novel included – and I’m paraphrasing – this weird observation:

I liked it a lot. The characters are great. But it’s a romance novel. I don’t like romance novels.

As the author, how could you possibly satisfy someone like that? Answer: you couldn’t. “I’m sorry it’s a ‘romance’ novel,” I’d think, “but the book’s description made that pretty clear. Treatises on the Battle of Midway are found elsewhere….”

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The Big Fear: “What if it’s awful?”

Whether we like it or not, life is one big risk-taking venture. Yet fearing to fail is one reason most of us don’t try to do what we want to do. Who really wants to look like a fool?

Free Stock Photo: Closeup of business man burying head in hand.
Free Stock Photo: Closeup of business man burying head in hand.

So failure may be in the back of our mind. But I have usually found myself motivated to achieve something positive as being worth the risk of failing. I enjoy proving doubters wrong as well, and although I haven’t always succeeded on that score, whenever I have it has been a tremendously satisfying feeling.

I ventured into fiction-writing because I felt certain that if I put my back into it I could produce novels that would be solid reading. Now, though, I’ve moved my own goal posts. After three semi-biographical/ semi-autobiographical novels, the idea of trying something new within fiction is more than a bit intimidating, and even scary.

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