Pokemon Go Safety Fail

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So I play Pokemon Go. I love walking around and participating in random discussions while finding little pixel critters to collect. It makes me happy.

Unfortunately it has also made me lax in my ‘female safety routine.’

You know the FSR right?

Basically because you can’t leave your vagina at home you have to make sure no one is going to try to occupy it without your permission.

You do this by being aware of where you are and who you are with. Are you alone? Do you have safety measures at hand? A back up plan? A back up, back up plan? Did you tell people where you would be and when you would be back? Do you have a code word among your friends for when you feel uncomfortable?

Personally I don’t depend on code words and comfort. If someone makes me feel weird I walk away toward people I am fairly sure will be a barrier or hinderance to whatever some perv is doing.

I’m also not shy about telling someone they are being inappropriate or creepy. I’m definitely not shy about teaching other people, younger women mostly, how to tell strange men to get lost without feeling like they are breaking the rules of politeness.

I’m embarrassed to say though that politeness has gotten me out of many awkward situations when I’m alone.

If I think I’m in danger, I smile and keep walking, if I can’t keep walking I tell whomever is the threat that I’m meeting someone. If someone touches me I escalate from there.

I’m not a strong woman and I have invisible handicaps that make it impossible for  me to run and/or fight. I’m not comfortable carrying a gun, and I’ve been raped by people I trusted.

Therefore caution is my first defense and confidence my weapon.

In this case I forgot to be cautious and I got out of my car in a dimly lit parking lot looking for a charmander that regularly appears there.

I ran into two big young men who were rather lecherous when I said hello. Fortunately there was another car arriving with more charmander hunters.

I was shaken by the experience because I let my guard down when I know better.

I’m not giving up my hobby, but I am going to be more cautious.

I wish that were the end of the story. It never is though, and it never will be.

Because rapists rape. They don’t care that I should be able to do what I want when I want anytime I want.

I have to be careful every day, all day, like I said, I can’t leave my lady bits at home. And I can’t feel entirely safe there either.

PS. Fuck you lecherous assholes who think you’re being funny. Just because I was polite doesn’t mean I enjoyed the company.

 

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Cover Art: Writing Wednesday

Wysocki Buffalo

I love art. The above painting is one I purchased from one of my favorite artists that I knew while in college, Stephen Wysocki. (He is a working artist you can connect with on FB.)

I’m showing it to you because I have books to sell as a self publisher and now I need to choose art for the cover.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

I learned to do covers using stock photos and graphics but frankly I think the covers using this method look cheap. If you do this method and it works for you, then good for you, but it doesn’t work for me, call me an elitist.

(I’m proud of my art degree, I worked hard to get one and I know how to create, critique, curate, conserve, and show.)

Cover art is a strange thing. I admit I’ve rejected a book based on bad art and read mediocre books because of the great covers. I’m not going to name names because I live in this business, and taste is subjective. Just because I’m an educated artist doesn’t mean everyone enjoys what I do.

So that brings me to my dilemma.

I can’t just put my favorite artists on my covers.

*Sigh.*

I need to shop for a good deal because I’m a struggling writer. I also need it to stand out from the other books that are competing for the readers attention. Then I need to make sure the cover matches the content. Something that looks YA can’t turn out to be Erotica, people will get pissed.

That brings me to a second point.

In perusing artists on Amazon I open the e-book, look for the artist name, and then I can’t help but read the blurbs, the reviews, and of course a few pages of the novel.

I’ve come to several conclusion but one stands out. There are a lot of authors who could use some lessons in writing. And I’m not just talking from a taste perspective.

Weak openings. No description. No setting. Bad typesetting. Absence of editing. Nothing to keep me engaged to the next page.

I know it’s hard to grab someone in one chapter but when you’re self published you HAVE to learn to do this. A good writer does this from page one and all the way through to the end.

Best selling authors often don’t do anything other than have a good editor, good premise, a good cover, and technically good writing skills.

What’s contained within those pages can be filled with plot holes, over used tropes, incomplete threads, and madness, but the general reading population will eat it up like popcorn if they can understand the structure.

*Sigh again.*

Art was easier for me, writing has been a challenge.

Back to the cover art search.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gen Con Update

So I went to Gen Con even though I was feeling depressed, anti-social, and vulnerable. It was crazy, it was fun, it was productive, I caught about 500 Pokemon.

I’m glad I went and not just because of the hunting. I’m glad because I pushed myself to take a chance when I was down. I spoke to several people I had concerns with and only came away from one conversation thinking perhaps the friendship was better set aside. I made a few new friends and a few new contacts.

Gen Con is the best.IMG_7163

The above picture is a sculpture garden along the canal walk near the Indiana State Museum, three blocks from Gen Con. It was full of water Pokemon and a dragon dwells near there.

Fully refreshed, I will continue with my blog again every Sunday with a Social Sunday post and Wednesday’s with a Writer Wednesday post.

See ya,

Kerrie

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Hatred is a Mental Illness

Hatred is a Mental Illness

I read an opinion that we as a society cannot say that all acts of terrorism and violence are a result of mental illness, that to do so makes real mental illness invalid. I can’t agree with this and here is why.

Mental illness covers a wide range of issues from schizophrenia to suicidal impulses to depression. It covers addiction and PTSD. It also covers disruptive behavior, impulse control and conduct disorders.

It covers quite a bit.

I think the mistake many people are making is not understanding what a mental illness is, and thinking that mental illness means you aren’t responsible, that you couldn’t control yourself. Sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t.

When someone commits violence, when someone has a deep hatred, I truly believe they are mentally ill. It doesn’t mean I excuse what they do.

I also think we should take this one step further and recognize that we as humans have poor social skills. Some of us are so bad at it that we commit violence on our spouses, families, acquaintances and strangers. This goes beyond poor social skills into what I think of as social illness.

What’s almost as bad are those of us who look at a rapist and blame the victim.

Who look at a mass shooting and deny that the shooting happened.

Who watch a violent attack and transform the perpetrator into a monster and then transfer the blame to anyone who resembles the monster.

Hatred is a mental illness.

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This is me back in 2003 in front of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

 

 

 

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Shedding My Skin

M.C. Escher

Every so often, perhaps every 7-10 years, I shed my past and move forward with a new persona. I call this shedding my skin.

I’ll play with a few ideas before it happens, measure my level of dissatisfaction and discomfort, and then make a list of what I can change.

This is a process I invite everyone to do because without it I’d still be a vulnerable person who is defined by her abusers.

(And yes, I know I’m privileged to be able to do this but I’m telling you if I looked at people with privilege, and shook my fist rather than change what I can, I’d still be where I was.)

I don’t want to discuss what I’m getting rid of in specific terms but I will tell you that I am no longer allowing people to bully me in order to achieve my career goals.

I understand that creative people have had to fight for their space and identity but that doesn’t mean they are entitled to be jerks to me.

It also doesn’t mean I get to be a jerk in retaliation. That’s not who I am.

I’m also getting rid of some behaviors and habits that I don’t care to continue. This will take time and I’m going to have setbacks but that’s pretty much the sum of my life.

While I was contemplating this post I realized something about my writing.

All my stories are about character driven transformation.

I love that.

K.L. Hughes

(Image is Sky and Water by M.C. Escher.)

 

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Drama For Drama’s Sake

upon_the_back_of_a_beast_by_jaded_ink-d4fpoy9

We all know them.

The people who become drama queens and kings because they want things their way or the highway.

They make up lies, create unrealistic standards, and generally make you hate every moment you spend in their shadow.

But damn do we love to read about them and see them on the screen.

So when is your drama king too much?

When does the drama queen become tedious?

This is a difficult question for every writer because it pretty much depends on the tone, setting, genre, and most of all… personal taste.

When I’m watching my favorite cartoons I notice that the ones I watch again and again are the ones where the main characters are really awful people.

The ones where everyone does the rights thing and there’s a moral to the story I can enjoy once… maybe twice.

But in reading I get easily exhausted by characters that have fits of drama on the page and I suspect the only reason it’s happening is so the author can generate some artificial drama.

Sometimes it works but generally it’s my opinion that it doesn’t.

Except in YA. Why is that?

Are we being realistic when we write YA? Or do we tend to accept that anyone under the age of 25 is a hot mess?

I know more adults over the age of 40 that are hot messes than under 25.

Perhaps it’s because we aren’t paying attention to the people who have real problems because we’re too distracted by the drama dorks?

I’m not talking about angst when I talk about fake drama. Angst is a very real emotion that everyone has gone through and most likely still goes through. I’m talking about drama that gets tossed into a plot because you don’t really have a good plot going.

I think it’s because it’s easy to hide the fact that you don’t have an original believable plot when you write YA.

And what about romance?

Fake drama is precisely why I stopped reading romance. I dropped that genre when I was sixteen because I realized I was reading it just for the adventure. I kept getting annoyed that the main characters were stopping to kiss and do sexy things.

I quit watching most action films because there was so much action and tacked on drama that I felt like I was being mugged.

I stopped reading most Westerns because the characters were tropes. Fake drama tropes.

I quit reading mysteries when it became clear that villains and heroes were more fake than the drama kings/queens.

It was all fun when I was a reader, but when I learned to write I became disenchanted… when I learned to edit I became jaded… all the carnival barkers and clowns looked like drama queens and kings because I could see behind the curtain.

Now here is where I have my epiphany.

IT’S ALL FAKE DRAMA.

Oh crap.

So what’s keeping me in the stories that I read again and again?

How do I write a good story without relying on smoke and mirrors?

Put simply…  a masterful blend of plot, tension, and interactions led by character driven scenarios.

BAM!

I need to get back to work. The show must go on and I have some new Magick for you to see.

And it ain’t fake.

Kerrie

 

Art is Upon The Back Of The Beast by Jaded Ink at Deviant Art

http://jaded-ink.deviantart.com/art/Upon-the-Back-of-a-Beast-268257681

 

 

 

 

 

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Skin Color

Pantone skin

One of the hardest things about describing a character is the color of skin. We rely on some curious similes that generally relate to food. Peaches, cream, mocha, olive… to name a few.

Some descriptions bear a great deal of baggage because they carry the weight of racism, sexism, and ignorance. I’m not getting into a detailed analysis of that because it’s something that can’t be done justice in a blog post.

So how do you describe a character’s skin color?

I do it like this…

Google Pantone skin colors. I’ll wait.

Back? Did you notice something? All the colors of skin in the world are a continuum of pink, beige, and brown. You might not be able to notice it easily but they also have undertones of red, yellow, blue and green. On the far end of the spectrum we get people who are nearly white and some who are nearly black but they still have undertones.

Painters know this and now you do too.

I’ve been making it a policy lately to describe every person in my novels without referring to food. This has been hard to do without using words like peach and cream because those are really good descriptions of beige. I hate the word beige.

In general I used to use the words that cosmetic companies use like ivory, porcelain, rose, tan, golden, bronze, and espresso but it carries sexist connotations. This may work in a romance but romance isn’t really my thing.

Some authors don’t describe their characters but I’ve never enjoyed that. So in general I have personal guidelines… don’t I always?

If I’m writing in first person I let the character do the description based on their skill sets.

If I’m doing third person I do the description based on the tone and genre of the story.

If I think a description sounds racist, I try again. Unless the character is racist.

I generally stay away from food words, sometimes they work, and sometimes they just offend. Skin is not olive, it may have green undertones but it isn’t overtly olive. It’s been used to describe people of Mediterranean origins but it’s just not accurate and has been used in a racist fashion.

I stay away from words that don’t bring up a universal description. Porcelain and cream are actually very pale versions of white and not light beige in the way cosmetics companies use them. Earth and sand are as varied in color as… well… earth and sand.

I stay away from archaic words like swarthy, ruddy, or dusky. They mean black, red and dark but traditionally they are also used to describe a ‘bad guy’ and I just don’t want to go there. see olive

I’m experimenting with saying things like light brown with yellow undertones and a smattering of freckles across her nose, or fair with a pink cheeks, or so pale you could see the blue veins across his nose. I may still use peachy and rosy to describe variations of beige. I haven’t decided yet.

It’s not perfect but I haven’t come up with anything better.

Overall I’m not saying you can’t use certain words and descriptions I’m just saying you’re better off challenging yourself to be more accurate… and try not to be ignorant about it.

Good luck.

 

 

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