Rape As Trope

I am privileged. I have never found myself in a rapeable situation. But, more importantly, I have never allowed myself to be in that kind of situation. And let me tell you, I have been in  some doozies. Like stopping random people on the south side of the City of Chicago, near 24th and Rockwell actually, asking them how to shift gears on a manual volkswagen cuz my boyfriend is passed out drunk.

Here is the thing. A certain well-known blogger and author did a column on rape being used unnecessarily as a plot device. This is stupid. Rape is not a plot device. If it is in the story it is to authenticate the historical period. It is not a trope. It is a reality. And to avoid talking about it is disingenuous. So maybe it wasn’t used as a plot device. Maybe it was a somewhat strained attempt to introduce a reality into the story. Or, we could have people saying, “Gee, that was a swell story. It is nice that people didn’t rape or even know what it was in those times.”

And  how profound is this?  “Truth in fiction is about authenticity.”  What the fuck does that mean? Since we are trying to redefine everything else in our culture, at least semantically, are we going to redefine “fiction”or “truth” and/or “authenticity”. I mean,  I have  seriously wasted my whole long fucking life if, all along, I have been looking for truth and authenticity in my  fiction reading. Fuck you, Raggedy Ann.

Comments closed, Chuck? You’re not the boss of my comments.

MOB ACTION

This just happened in the last few hours in a rough area of a city that will not be named. Tell me, honestly, from your gut and heart, without any political correct  bull shit, do you have to ask the race of these people?  The situation is, of this moment, unresolved, and several similar incidents occur regularly, many times each week.  Who was in danger?  Who was at fault?  If you are not in the trenches, don’t comment on the war.

*****

All times are approximate.

Patient was brought to ICU room 119 at 2000 after code blue on floor. Patient coded at 2016. Pulse returned, and family members were allowed to bedside two at a time. Patient coded again at 2050. While staff were running code, patient family members were congregating at the doorway of the room, yelling at staff to “Do something!”. Security was called for crowd control purposes. Patient expired at approximately 2105. ER Dr. went to family waiting room, where approximately 30 family members were waiting at request of security. When ER doctor informed the crowd that family had passed away, all of the family members began screaming and charging through the waiting room doors. Security officer was attempting to restrain them all from charging into the ICU, but there were too many of them pushing him and screaming. They pushed past him, scratching his arms and drawing blood in the process. Code grey was called at 2108. One more security officer arrived to room 119 in response to code grey. One security officer was standing in the doorway of the room, attempting to prevent them all from running into the room at the same time. Several staff members attempted to explain that the family needed to remain calm and they would all be allowed to see the patient in an orderly fashion. At least five family members were shoving the security officer in the room’s doorway, and screaming that they were going to “Beat the shit outta y’all”. I attempted to call the nursing supervisor (who had NOT been present at either of the code blues or the code grey) and after four failed attempts to reach the supervisor’s portable phone, I called the operator and asked her to page the supervisor overhead at approx 2114. She offered to call the supervisor’s portable phone, and I told her I had already done that several times, to no avail. She then said that she would page her. After three minutes of not hearing an overhead page, I called the operator back and asked her to please overhead page the supervisor, in the event that this was an emergency situation. At that time, she overhead paged the supervisor. During this time, every single one of the patient’s family members was standing in the hallway of the unit, wailing and screaming multiple obscenities. All the other patients on the unit were disturbed. Other patient family members were afraid to walk down the hallway to exit the unit. Several staff members, including myself, were taken away from providing care for their respective patients. When the nursing supervisor arrived, I told her that this group of family members was overpowering security and the situation was continually escalating, instead of calming down. She informed me she was going to call the CNO, because “her husband is a cop, and maybe he can do something under the radar”. Then she left the immediate area.

At this time, I decided the only option to ensure the safety of the staff (nurses and security) was to call (redacted) Police. I called 911 and explained the situation to them and requested their presence.

A Matter of Personal Taste and Dignity

First disclaimer:  if you haven’t noticed yet, I am a bitter old crone.

I don’t blog much anymore. But I have gone through dry spells before. Lately, something just keeps me from that keyboard. And as for my fiction, I have notebooks of three or four works in progress. Just can’t get it onto the machine. Think I know why. Think I am warming up. I am just not caught up in the excitement of the process anymore. I show spikes in readership that have no relationship to my activity. I get royalties for sales that don’t show up in any analytics. How am I supposed to know what works? There is no explanation for having 183 blog hits one day and 52 the next when I haven’t even posted of late. I know. Something showed up in someone’s comments, or on some google entry. But I am tired of floundering around like a beached fish searching for the right water hole.

I read a lot about trad pub versus e pub. These are two schools of mind that have nothing in common. One is playing football, the other is ice skating, but they think they are doing the same thing cuz they both are “sportsing”.

I always wanted to put my two cents in, but lately 2 out of 3 comments I make, I erase instead of submitting. How my public must be suffering!

Today, on an agent’s blog, something struck me. She is really nice and helpful and seems kind. (Some are such sharks.) The commentors were having a healthy back and forth about making changes in your work to please some agent or editor or publisher. Can’t do it. If you don’t like my style, oh, well.  I am very fond of it. So I wrote this comment and erased it without submitting. I could only think of a not too decorous kind of an analogy. Here, my page, my editing, I can let it roll.

A pimp tells his stable they need to wear shorter skirts. Business is slow. The newest member of the family takes this to heart and complies. Unbeknownst to her, the guy in the little black BMW is cruising, looking for his favorite fetish  –  a cute little chick in a kilt and argyles.

No point in trying to please “the customer”. Maybe there is a general trend or style that appeals to more, but if that’s not your style, you have to wait for the customer who likes your style. So go out there and get ’em with your argyle sox and plaid skirt. At least you will find someone who appreciates you.

Photo attribution:  Acid Cow.com

Apology

I have been remiss in copying stuff from my regular blog, so there is a lot of new stuff today.  Cherry pick.

I have lots of really good excuses, but mostly it is just because that is the kid of a human I am.

I learned a wonderful new word today, and cannot wait to use it.  Arguendo.  I knew it was the Latin gerundive for argue, but I did go and check its exact meaning:  “for the sake of argument”.  I probably should change the name of my blog from Fine Whine to Arguendo.  But I won’t.

Repost From Passive Voice — Author Anonymous

The author of this needed anonymity for understandable reasons.

So…yesterday, Jane Litte announced on her blog (Dear Author) that she has been writing new adult romance under the pseudonym Jen Frederick. I’m not going to rehash it all, but here is the link if you’d like to read the reasons behind her decision in her own words. (Link not evident)

First off, I want to make it clear that I harbor no ill will toward Jane. I think she’s whip-smart, and a fabulous businesswoman. I also congratulate her on her amazing success as an author. In the past, I have agreed with a lot of what she says about reviews and reviewers rights, and have lauded her efforts to take a stand against author and publisher misconduct. I also know how influential she is in the industry. Which is why I spent pretty much my whole day writing and deleting this and, ultimately decided to post anonymously. Because I KNOW I would lose friendly author acquaintances over this. I KNOW I would get emails and tweets and people coming at me because I didn’t just jump on the kumbaya bandwagon and high five her about her announcement. But when I thought back through the Ellora’s Cave/Dear Author situation, I kept coming back to the hashtag…
#notchilled.
And guess what? I’m not chilled with this. I respect Jane. I don’t think her intention was to hurt anyone with her choice not to disclose her author name. I also don’t think she used her unique position to intentionally benefit herself as an author or reviewer, or to benefit her publisher. What I do think is that there are other, much more complex issues at play here that the reading (and reviewing) public might not be aware of. I’m going to lay them out for you now, as I see them.
BUT FIRST!
I want to clarify something here (because I know it will come up). I am not a bitter author who is reveling in the potential GOTCHA! moment for Jane due to a bad review on her blog or some personal beef. Full disclosure: I have been reviewed by Dear Author more than once and have received reviews ranging between a C+ and a B-. I was happy that she reviewed me, thought the reviews were even-handed, and I believe I re-tweeted and squeed when I was notified that I’d been reviewed. I’ve never been lambasted by Jane or anyone else on her review blog (that I know of, at any rate) and I have no ax to grind with her on a personal level.
I’m writing this specifically because I don’t want to.
I’m writing this specifically for all the people I know who feel the way I do and are too afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation.
Here are the two main things I’m #notchilled about:
Firstly, reviews are sacrosanct. Reviewers are sacrosanct. We are told on a daily basis, as authors, that we are not allowed to respond to reviews publicly, whether a review is gushing, fabulous and insightful and we want to thank the reviewer, or the review is cruel, misinformed, or downright threatening and we want to defend ourselves. I agree with this (although, there are times I admit I don’t like it so much, lol, because I’m human) and have spent the last five years as a professional author adhering to this tenet (although, I admit, before I knew better, when my first book released, I did cry on Twitter once and solicit virtual hugs the first time I got a “This author should go die in a fire” type review that laid me low for a week before I grew thicker skin. I did not comment on said review, or send in troops to defend me. I just…cried). Now that I know better, I make sure that, if I vent at all about anything industry or book related, I vent to trusted friends and colleagues and in loops with other authors. In those private loops (and yes, I’m aware nothing online is ever truly private) likeminded authors speak more freely. Because you have to understand, we don’t have an after work softball team, or a water cooler, or a birthday cake for Sally on Tuesday where we get to bitch about old Mr. Jennings and how he’s really busting our hump at work that day.
We just have each other and those loops. Most of us never see another author face to face more than once or twice in a given year, if that.
In those loops, we talk industry and strategy and marketing and pricing and trends and hard sales numbers. We talk about the writing process and how hard it can be sometimes, and acknowledge that the muse doesn’t necessarily pepper our dreams with glittery ideas for bestsellers and that it’s a freaking GRIND sometimes, or how we just HATE our current manuscript and are terrified our readers will hate it too, and what a struggle it’s been, and yes, some authors talk reviews. It’s the place that we get to speak freely and treat our business like exactly that. A for profit business. A place where we don’t have to wear our public hat that, by necessity, requires us to stifle ourselves to some degree or risk ostracizing our readership. A place where we take our bra off and stretch for a minute with other braless writer-types. Not that I’m pretending to be someone else on open social media, but there are definitely things I say to authors in “private” that would pull back the curtain, so to speak, in a way that would make me uncomfortable in public, not unlike a school teacher talking politics on Facebook or something.
Imagine my surprise, then, to realize that Jane is on more than one of these loops with me as Jen Frederick. I find myself…not okay with that. Not because I’m ashamed by anything I’ve said, but because I even have to sit here and worry about it. And I’m feeling even sicker for the authors who thought they were in a place that was safe to share certain things and did so who would NOT have done so had they known Jane was present. Do I believe Jane would or has intentionally retaliated against these authors if they said something negatively about her site, her books, her writing partner, or the EC case or any myriad of things? No. But that doesn’t change the fact that it feels like a violation. And the thing that readers of this post need to realize is that JANE KNOWS THAT. There is no way that a right-minded person would be privy to the posts and information she was privy to who would not realize that they were eavesdropping on a conversation that they weren’t supposed to hear. That they were peeking through someone’s window who wasn’t aware they were watching. Yes, it’s the internet. Yes, maybe we should’ve closed the bedroom door more tightly. Yes, maybe would shouldn’t have left our curtains open. But morally, there is no question in that situation, a right-thinking person knows they should look away. Especially a person as smart as Jane.
And as much as I believe the intention was to “wear two hats” and not let one influence the other, or let what she may have read poison the well, I just don’t think brains are like hats. Jane’s a lawyer, so I’ll use a (fictional) law analogy. I always see these legal shows on TV where one of the lawyers says something KNOWING it’s going to be objected to, or coaches a witness into a response that reveals something inadmissible. The judge slaps their wrist and has it stricken from the record, and advises the jury to “disregard it”. Why would a lawyer do something like that when they know it’s going to get stricken and the jury is supposed to disregard it? BECAUSE THAT’S NOT HOW LIFE WORKS. The same way cases get moved from one place to another because one area has been tainted by media coverage. They can advise the person not to pay attention to that. Not to consider any of that information when making a decision, but that’s just not doable. You can try, but once it’s heard, you can’t unhear it. Just like Jane can’t UNSEE if someone posted they thought her blog was cruel, or that they didn’t support her legal fees gofundme because they disagreed with her, or that they think her publisher’s contract is crappy or herr agent is unethical etc. (Not that these things were discussed, necessarily, but they might have, as they SHOULD be, if that’s what the authors in that loop feel like discussing). Because that’s where we get to do that without censure. That’s where we get to learn and teach and help and support one another without judgment.
I recall one specific conversation on an Indie author loop about the EC/DA case where authors expressed varying points of view. Jane was (according to various members) part of this loop. Would people have spoken so freely if they knew she was there? The answer is unequivocally no. And I’m extremely uncomfortable with that. Like Old Mr. Jennings who was busting my hump was also hiding next to me at the water cooler in a fake mustache and glasses this whole time, listening it.
That’s not okay for me and I feel like I lost something today. Something that I’m already mourning because it’s something that, in this solitary profession, I needed very badly. And it makes me really sad.
The second issue I have is the lack of disclosure on a professional level. Whether Jane promoted her own books, her writing partner’s books, or her publisher’s books, or did or did not review her publisher’s books during the time between the signing of her contract and today, it doesn’t matter. Everything comes into question now, regardless, because what she didn’t do merits as much scrutiny as what she did do and even the potential for impropriety cracks it all open. Everything becomes something to reconsider from a different lens. From choosing to write an exposé on one publisher’s misconduct while wondering if she would do the same, as aggressively or as objectively, to her own, to the DABWAHA nominees, to positive reviews for pub sisters whose Berkeley books she might not have reviewed but who ALSO write for other publishers whose books she did review, to opinions on other authors that would be one thing coming from an impartial point of view become very different animal coming from an author who writes in the same genre she runs a majorly influential review blog about. There are soooo many potential and complex ways that lines could have been crossed here, it would take hours to explore them all, but I do think they shouldn’t be ignored.
Again, do I think that she intentionally took advantage? I don’t think so. And loads of people are going to chime in and say, “Jane would never do that.” Which is all well and good, but guess what? I don’t know Jane. And I daresay most of you don’t either, even if you thought you did yesterday. The way I see it, she’s no different than a judge who recuses himself in a case because he knows the defendant or plays golf with the father of the plaintiff. Does that judge have it in him to not abuse his position and still make an unbiased decision? Maybe he does. But it doesn’t matter. That’s NOT how it works because even the possibility of it would later call everything that happened in that case into question. Jane’s a lawyer. She knows this and she did it anyway.
And it makes me feel…squitchy. Catfished. Sock-puppeted. Hoodwinked, to be honest. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I did what I do. I wrote about it. I’m sorry it’s not the popular thing to say, but it needed to be said.
I’m not angry, and I don’t wish Jane ill will. I hope she comes out the other side of this happy and successful, both as a person and as an author. But seeing a person who has built a career on commenting on the quality of romance novels and behaving as a watchdog…a person who has publicly wagged a journalistic finger at every wrong-doing, real or perceived, from every publisher and author in the industry (and would go back for seconds or thirds when an apology came off like not a good enough apology or when she felt that a person hadn’t been humbled enough), watching this pass by with only stunned whispers behind closed doors because authors are afraid they’ll find themselves at the bottom of a bloody dog-pile? That sticks in my craw. She is in a position of power, whether she wants to be or not. Whether she uses that power or not. And we feel silenced because of that power.
But someone needs to wag a finger here.
Someone needs to do what Jane would have done if this hadn’t been about Jane.
Someone needs to stand up and say that what she did was wrong.
So I’m saying it.
You wrong, Jane. You wrong
.
Image Attribution:  www.theguardian.com

Tip Toeing

From:

http://www.artistssuitcase.com/5questions/

3. What is the critic’s motive?

You can’t read people’s minds, but most of the time you can discern someone’s motive when they criticize you. Is it constructive criticism tempered with love and concern? Or is it destructive criticism designed to bring you down? The critic’s motive can be a clue to whether or not the criticism is legitimate.

Image Attribution:  La Follia del Giullare: A volte ritornano