Archive for April, 2012

Screw You, Botox!

There comes a time in a woman’s life when she just has to learn to make friends with herself. Sounds silly doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, most of us were raised by our culture to believe that our appearances were somehow mistakes of nature, and science and technology was created to make us better. We’re too fat, too old, our pores are too big, we stink, we have too much hair in all the wrong places, and the hair we’re allowed to keep on our skulls is the wrong color, style, texture, etc. If we have boobs, they’re only permissible if they are hiked up to our chins by spandexic feats of engineering that leave such painful marks of the day’s suffering behind, it looks like our bras are secretly made out of sand paper.

Men have their own problems, and it usually revolves around the function of their pee-pees. Beyond that, they don’t seem to worry all that much about their appearance, especially if they are happily ensconced in a committed relationship. Case in point: If I go up a pants size, the world is a horrible place and I should just crawl into a dark hole and die, lest I shame my species with my repugnance. My husband goes up a pants size, shrugs, and observes that he must now buy bigger pants.

Obviously, this is different for men who make their living looking a certain way, or are single and want to attract a mate. That’s because, in my humble opinion, men are motivated by more instinctual, less complicated rules (see this post). Women, on the other hand, are neurotic nightmares of their own making. We never like ourselves, outside, and sometimes in. That’s why we worry. That’s why we don’t sleep. That’s why we have wrinkles. That’s why science invented botox.

Ah, botox. Is something wrong with me, that I think it’s completely insane to voluntarily allow another human being to put a needle just a couple of centimeters from my frontal lobe and inject pig botulism into my scalp to paralyze the nerves in my face for several weeks, and pay him/her exorbitant amounts of cash to do so? It’s about as crazy as letting another human being put hot wax all over one’s coochie and rip out the hair…oh wait, women are doing that too.

I was looking for something in one of my old photo albums, and I came across a picture of myself when I was eighteen. It blew my mind. I had no hips, seriously, I was so skinny looking in that picture, and I remember feeling grotesquely fat. I remember obsessing just as much about my weight SEVENTY POUNDS AGO as I do now. It’s just ridiculous.

Do you know why we don’t have a cure for cancer? Do you know why we haven’t solved the energy crisis, or found world peace, or gone to Mars? It’s because our science is being spent on creating superficial, useless products that only accomplish one stupid thing, perpetuate the war women have with themselves. Stop it. Stop it right now. If that former hottie of me demonstrates nothing else, it’s that I will never win the war with myself. Torturing my body and my brain for the hope of some small molecule of self-satisfaction is a waste of time and money and energy that could go to something so much more useful.

Your body is not the enemy. Your body keeps your brain from being a useless pile of wet sawdust on the floor. Accept it for what it is and appreciate who you are right now, cellulite, zits, hairy moles and all. Of course I have wrinkles. I have a lot on my mind. If you notice that my forehead looks like a 3D road map of Nebraska, that’s OK. It means I’ve been thinking…

What time is it?

There are two reasons for that question. The first is, that’s what I ask myself when I wake up in the middle of the night and realize I have to fix a fatal flaw in my writing. The second is, this time anyway, the timing in the story is what woke me up.

Some authors carry the concept of time in their books to extremes. Like in Wuthering Heights or Great Expectations, story plots spread out across decades while characters brood and pine, wringing their hands in abject frustration as they stare out across the bleak, depressing moors. Great stories, but as a writer, I just don’t have that kind of patience. Michael Crichton’s novel, Airframe, had the entire book take place in 24 hours. That is also a great story, but then the focus has to be all about the action without a lot of time for emoting or inner monologue.

Both Book 1 and Book 2 in my Dairlyland Murders series had the majority of the action take place in about a week. Time is still an entity I struggle with. Some things have to take place in a specific time frame, like the decomposition of a body. Time can also make readers squirm, “Oh crap! Is he (or she) going to get there before it’s too late?” And all around the stuff the reader takes for granted is me trying to choreograph my twisted neighborhood of make-believe into something that runs smoothly through the illusion of time.

In the second book, I thought I had everything timed perfectly. Then I sent it out to my editors. One editor (and one of my best friends of twenty-some odd years) fixated on one word, one little adjective, and threw the entire first quarter of the book into a tailspin. The word was “waning”, referring to the sun, as the time of day was in the afternoon. This was bad because the editor pointed out that there was still a whole bunch of stuff that took place, and she was not convinced it could be accomplished in the time I had allotted. She was right, and it was all over one barely acknowledged word that I casually threw in from my vocabulary.

Now in the third book, I’m approaching an important action scene, and I woke up in the middle of the night (4:12am to be precise), and thought: “Oh crap! It’s Deer Season in the book. I have to work in that schedule… People are working in a public school. How do I fit vacation in, or Thanksgiving? I was going to have this catastrophic piece of action take place at this time, but I’m a day too early. So do I work the sex scene in before? Because I was going to drag out the tension on that for a couple more days, but I can’t because the consequences of the action scene are going to drag out, then that’ll throw the sex scene off; it won’t make sense…”

Maybe if I just drop everyone in a worm hole and send them to Victorian England to wander out on the moors for a while…

Why do you have sex in your books?

This sounds like a silly question to me, but our puritanical society is so much more comfortable with the immorality of violence than the natural (usually) biological urge to procreate, that I do get asked that question on occasion. I will attempt to answer it. I will be blushing while I type.

The simpler answer is because I like to write about people having sex. It’s fun. It’s a guilty pleasure for me, just like it’s probably a guilty pleasure for my readers. Unlike the scary dark places I have to go to in my head to create cunning killers and creepy crime scenes, I get to imagine attractive (at least in my head; you have your own fetishes) people and their naked body parts in all their glory.

We are blessed as homosapians to come in so many varieties and still be the same species. The human body itself is a vast pallet of colors and textures, volumes and masses, and when it’s aroused, everything changes in preparation for intercourse. I find it fascinating to describe those changes and the emotional buildup to the climax. If you think that’s dirty, you’re reading the wrong book.

I also write about sex because I like adding a romantic aspect to my characters. Sexual tension is exciting, but the relationship is really the meat of the story. It’s the glue that holds the series together from case to case, murder to murder if you will.

Will the characters ever be happy? Will they ever be able to get together? Especially in the case of my main characters, their entire relationship is built on the addictive passion they feel toward each other. My readers want them to be together. They want them to get to that happy ending, and the more difficult I make that goal to attain, the hotter the sex gets. Supply and demand.

And I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge just a little bit that sex does sell, but I refuse to believe it is the end all to be all of my stories. There is no formula in my head as to when people have sex; I don’t have some sort of Boinking Quota in mind. The characters have sex when it seems right to me. There’s a time for body count and a time for orgasms. In my books, you get both. What more could you ask for? Zombies? No! I have to draw the line somewhere.