Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Six: Firefly Theme

As much as I love Buffy/Angel, that love pales in comparison to Firefly. I have three keys (car, house and mailbox) and two key chains. One I got at a sneak preview of the movie Serenity. (the other you'll find out on Day 11) I was fortunate enough to go to two of the sneak previews. I am a Browncoat through and through. I even dressed up as Inara for one of the previews.

I have written many essays about the television series and the movie. I will be posting some of them here in the next few weeks.

So I give you, the theme to the television series Firefly, written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sonny Rhodes


Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me...


Video of opening credits with theme song

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Five: I've Got a Theory

I have lots of theories. It's one of the most Jeaniest parts of being Jeanie.

While I am still on the topic of friends, I will share how I met my best friends and many of my other net friends.

The site All Things Philosophical About Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series has a discussion forum where I used to frequent frequently. It was a great outlet for my essays that went beyond "OMG iz Angel haut." I learned from the people there, both their ideas and their friendships. Best of all, the board made me feel less like a freak and more like the cute little nerd I am.

I am going to be reposting some of my favorite essays. I started with I've Got A Theory from Once More with Feeling. It gives you a good idea of the types of essays I used to write and will write again, once I find a fandom I like.

I've got a theory,
that it's a demon,
a dancing demon,
no,something isn't right there.

I've got a theory,
some kid is dreaming,
and we're all stuck inside his wacky broadway nightmare

I've got a theory we should work this out,

(Willow, Tara, Anya)
its getting eerie whats this cheery singing all about.

It could be witches, some evil witches,
which is ridiculous cause witches they were persecuted, and wicca,
good and loved the earth, and woman power, and i'll be over here.

I've got a theory it could be bunnies!...............

I've got a theo--

Bunnies arent just cute like everybody supposes,
They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses,
And whats with all the carrots?
What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?
Bunnies, Bunnies, it must be bunnies!
.... Or maybe midgets?

I've got a theory we should work this fast,

(Willow, Giles)
Because it clearly could get serious before it's past.

I've got a theory, It doesnt matter.
What can't we face if we're together?
What's in this place that we can't weather?
Apocalypse... we've all been there,
the same old trips, why should we care?

What cant we do if we get in it?
We'll work it through within a minute,
We have to try, we'll pay the price,
Its do or die,

Hey i've died twice!

What can't we face if we're together?
What's in this place that we can't weather?
There's nothing we cant face....

.... except for bunnies

I've Got A Feeling



For a little humor, the Potter Puppets do I've got a feeling

I've Got a Theory

One of the ways I learned to write was analyzing the work of Joss Whedon. I will be moving some of my essays over here in the next few weeks. I start with the song "I've Got A Theory" from his masterpiece (as if every episode wasn't a masterpiece) Once More with Feeling.

This originally appeared on the discussion forum of All Things Philosophical about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series.

I've Got a Theory

I just wanted to share something I noticed. The flow of the song "I've Got a Theory" is probably the best example in the Buffyverse of how Joss views society. Not his perfect society, but the reality of how it is.

It opens with Giles, representing the Patriarchy singing first. His first reaction is what he knows, demons. "That it's a demon." He goes on a bit further, "A dancing demon." To his logical mind that sound ridiculous. Demons don't dance and he dismisses it. The thing to remember is that Giles is right. It is a dancing demon. Giles not only represents the Patriarchy, but someone who is limited/hurt by it This won't be resolved until the finale of the series.

Then we go to Willow, who really doesn't want to sing (at least AH doesn't). Her inclusion is very important. No one else could have said those lines, so poor AH had to sing a bit. The Patriarchy is unable to solve the problem, so what happens? Something that happened in the first season is remembered "some kid is dreamin.'" When we don't know what to do, we often do fall back to the past. Willow's image of herself, which is based on her past, is going to seriously mess her up this season and the next. This too really isn't resolved until the finale of the series.

Next comes Everyman Xander. He is concerned with the practical "we should work this out." That is importantly followed by the trio of Willow/Anya/Tara who are concerned with feelings "It's getting eerie. What's this cheery singing all about." The rhyme scheme paired Giles' patriarchy with Willow's reliance on the past. It also pairs the male Xander with the female trio.

What follows is probably the best statement of what Joss believes and why he is a feminist. Everyman Xander comes after the pairs are set up. There is no rhyming scheme and he is paired with no one really. His first reaction, his gut reaction is "It could be witches. Some evil witches." Joss has been raised in the Patriarchy. No matter how much he carries the banner of Feminism high, his gut reaction is still "It could be witches. Some evil witches." In "Hush" when he needs 2 new characters to be terrified of the Gentlemen, he relies on Tara and Olivia. As much as he hated seeing the blond victim in the alley in horror movies and empowered her, when he needed victims, he turned to two women.

Then Xander sees Tara and Willow's reaction and changes his statement. "Which is ridiculous 'cause witches they were persecuted wicca good and love the earth and women power." Joss' feminism is a corrective measure to counter the Patriarchy that causes him to think "some evil witches." We have seen an evil witch, again in that first season. Witches aren't all wiccan good. Still, Xander feels bad and so now "and I'll be over here." The music drops off after "ridiculous" and comes back after he leaves. Xander has been taken out of the song by trying to correct the Patriarchy's view. Could there be a more succinct statement of the male feminist's dilemma which includes why he is a feminist in the first place?

Then we get Anya. Anya's reason is her biggest fear. She too doesn't rhyme with any one. Our fears separate us. It is simply stated. It sounds completely logical to her. The others look at her weird. To the audience, it is a ridiculous answer, but often our fears are completely rational to us, but to others aren't.

Tara tries to speak. She is almost the last person to give her idea and speaks quietly. She can barely be heard. We don't get to hear her. Before Anya's fear was calmly stated and fit with the melody. Now it overcomes her and Tara doesn't get a chance to be heard. Instead the music changes to a driving rock beat. She tries to rationalize her fear, giving us ridiculous reasons why "Bunnies aren't just cute like everybody supposes." She is incredibly insistent that "Bunnies, bunnies, It must be bunnies," but then the melody returns and she ditches that answer for an equally ridiculous one "Or maybe midgets." Fear tends to be rather irrational and can grip us one minute and cause us to do wild things. Then just as quickly, it leaves. Think of the mob mentality that follows national tragedies. It grips us and then just goes away.

Fear drowned out the feminine represented by Tara and Tara doesn't reassert herself. Earlier we had Xander - male Willow/Tara/Anya - female. The fear of Anya drowned out Tara, so next to sing is poor Willow. She goes over to Giles and opens a book. "we should work this fast." Tara couldn't to that and neither could Anya. Willow is representing the female here and she is trying to work with Giles. When this happens, the next line is a duet between Giles and Willow who are focused on the problem "Because it clearly could get serious before it's passed." They are right.

Then enter in Buffy. The music changes as Buffy rallies the troops. Buffy isn't concerned about the current problem. She is really the everyperson in this song. How many of us try to actually solve problems (I'll give you a hint we live in a REPRESENTATIVE democracy)? They just get solved somehow.

Everyone, but Giles joins in the song. Eventually he does join, but as the descant voice, not singing with the others. The song ends with they can face anything "except for bunnies." Fear is even stronger than together.

That song is more than just exposition to music. The flow of it shows stuff not only about each character and their motivation, but the flow of it from one character to another, shows how Joss sees society, most importantly, his/Xander's view.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Four: Everything

Alanis Morissette is one of my favorite artist. I knew I wanted to include her in the 12 Days of Jeanie, but her songs cover so many different facets. Narrowing it down was hard, until I decided I didn't want the angry or hurt Jeanie and I didn't want a love song. Each of her albums corresponds with a different phase of my life. The CD So-Called Chaos came out in 2004. That was a very important year for me, perhaps the most important in my life.

I have the most amazing best friends in the whole world. Not only can't I imagine my life without them, but I wouldn't even have a life without them. They pick up the pieces when I shatter. They remind me I'm more than my problems. They make me laugh when I need to. They are the people I celebrate life with. This song is about them.

I can be an asshole of the grandest kind
I can withhold like it's going out of style
I can be the moodiest baby and you've never met anyone
who is as negative as I am sometimes

I am the wisest woman you've ever met.
I am the kindest soul with whom you've connected.
I have the bravest heart that you've ever seen
And you've never met anyone
Who's as positive as I am sometimes.

You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything to which you can't relate
And you're still here

I blame everyone else, not my own partaking
My passive-aggressiveness can be devastating
I'm terrified and mistrusting
And you've never met anyone as,
As closed down as I am sometimes.

You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything to which you can't relate
And you're still here

What I resist, persists, and speaks louder than I know
What I resist, you love, no matter how low or high I go

I'm the funniest woman you've ever known.
I am the dullest woman you've ever known.
I'm the most gorgeous woman you've ever known
And you've never met anyone as, as everything as I am sometimes.

You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything to which you can't relate
And you're still here

And you're still here
And you're still here...



And because Alanis live is made of awesome:

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Three: Never Here Alone

Collective Soul is one of my favorite bands. Besides having the best name in rock and roll, I can't decide on a favorite album, let alone favorite song. They were my children's first rock concert. Younger was so young, Hubby carried her in one of those baby backpacks. Yes, the band is still together, minus Ross Childress on lead guitar. The song I choose is from their 2007 CD Afterword.

I chose this song because the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends" was too obvious. I want to include songs in the 12 Days of Jeanie that not only illustrate me, but expose my friends to songs they may not have heard. This song wasn't even released as a single.

Had a thought but it hurt
So I let it go
I let it go
See I don't need these verses
Laying down their blues on me today

I'm never here alone
I thought I heard some angel say
You'll never be alone
I know I heard my father sing
I'm never here alone
I'm never here alone

Have a scar, yeah a scar
So I let it show
I let it show show
See I don't need tomorrow
Fearing from the pain of yesterday


I'm starting back where love begins
Gonna get me those blue skies
Those blue skies again


Never Here Alone

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Two: Intuition

I don't like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. Most of the questions I want to answer "both" or "neither." I tend to test right down the center on all the traits. Someone once called me an introverted extrovert. As I learn to trust myself more, one trait has been increasing--Intuition. It's the only category in the MBTI I test decidedly in one category.

So today, I give you Jewel's "Intuition."


I'm just a simple girl
In a high tech digital world
I really try to understand
All the powers that rule this land
They say Miss J's big butt is boss
Kate Moss can't find a job
In a world of post modern fad
What was good now is bad

It's not hard to understand
Just follow this simple plan

Follow your heart
Your intuition
It will lead you in the right direction
Let go of your mind
Your Intuition
It's easy to find
Just follow your heart baby

You look at me
but you're not quite sure
Am I it or could you get more?
You learn cool from magazines
You learn love from Charlie Sheen

If you want me let me know
I promise I won't say no


You got something that you want me to sell
Sell your sin. Just cash in.
You got something that you want me to tell
You'll love me. Wait and see.

If you want me
Don't play games
I promise
it won't be in vain




Because Atlantic Records is made of suck, the video can't be embedded. You'll have to check it out here. Believe me, it's worth it.

Because Jewel live is just made of awesome, here's just one of the many clips of this song.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Twelve Days of Jeanie: Unwritten

Santa brought Hubby Bose speakers for his computer, which means I get his old ones. I love them. The speakers on the iBook were designed poorly. According to my brother-in-law, the sound engineer who has a page on IMDB (which is wicked), they are too small for bass. Same with ear buds. Not to mention, the speakers are quiet.

Now I can crank them up and hear my music in the shower. Life doesn't get much better than that. In honor of this change in my life, I give you the 12 Days of Jeanie, a new song each day that reveals something about me.

The first choice is easy. Last week, my family was coming home from Christmas shopping and as usual music was a major topic of discussion. The Allman Brother's "Jessica" came on, which was written by Gregg Allman and inspired by his young daughter. It is Younger's theme song. We decided to come up with theme songs for each of us. Younger (who is now 9 whimper), chose Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten." My gut reaction was because I have yet to finish my novel. She said it was because of all the writing references. The more I listened to it, the more I realized how perfect this song was for me. Besides, it's an awesome song.

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you can not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you can not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Song: Unwritten
(available for 7 days. If you are reading this after that, let me know and I'll reupload it.)


and an acoustic version:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

RWA Go Boom

Eight things comprise the Association of Authors Representatives' Code of Ethics. These things are specifically listed because there are so-called agents who use fraud to play on the hopes of aspiring authors. These agents steal thousands of dollars from individual writers and give genuine agents a bad name. Because of the educational endeavors of author groups such as Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America, writers are weary of scams.

So why did Harlequin Enterprises think they could pull one over on us? By us I mean the writing community. Why did they think they were above the most basic ethical principles? Did they think RWA, SFWA, and MWA would sit by and let them prey on the dreams of writers? Did they think that educated authors were just going to sit by and not warn others? Of course RWA is going to issue alerts. Of course writers are going to be up in arms. These are not new games. All that is new is that a formerly reputable publisher is now playing them (or giving them the benefit of the doubt, are being forced to play them by their parent company).

I am proud and grateful to belong to an organization like RWA, and one day hope to qualify for membership to SFWA. I am hopeful that now that Harlequin's actions have seen the light of day, they will wither and die and this won't affect future RWA conferences.

Now onto other things, like what do to after Horizons is removed and Carina, Harlequin's new epub imprint, still exists. RWA Nationals will be interesting.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Full Monty

My kids LOVE Monty Python. My youngest is particularly fond of the albatross sketch. If she hears the word, she launches into "Albatross...albatross...ALBATROSS" including the Pink Floyd song "Echoes," which makes Hubby very happy.

While Younger was at a sleep over, we let Older (age 12) see The Holy Grail minus one scene
(we'll let Younger (age 8) see it later. We just needed something fun for Older to do)
me: She can't see this scene.
hubby: Sure she can.
me: NO she can't. Don't you remember what it's about? If she asks questions, you get to answer them.
Hubby doesn't change it until the scene reminds him why she can't see it. I didn't think human fingers could move so quickly.

Older loved the movie and now knows where all those quotes Hubby and I say are from.

Today I needed something absurd for Daniel to find on the net and the airspeed velocity of an unladen African swallow came to mind. It fits since he likes to quote movies and you can't get any more absurd. I wanted to make sure I had the quote exactly right so I googled it and found this:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How I write

Some of the feedback I receive about my writing is overwhelming. I print out the compliments and keep them in a "good feelings" file for those moments of doubt when I want to throw the computer across the room and cry. Many of these compliments aren't for The Mark of Abel, but short emails I've written. My voice was developed writing highly personal essays. I'm trying to transfer that level of emotion to my fiction.

I wrote much of the original story stream of consciousness during National Novel Writing Month 2007. I'm basically what you call a pantser, though I prefer that I write into the mist. I rarely wear pants. Skirtser sounds even weirder and dresser makes me sound like furniture. Now I'm trying to make sense of the various changes the story has gone through.

When I concentrate on the plot, scenes tend to fall flat. When I ask myself "what do I want to show about this character" the scenes often sing. That's how I wrote the beginning. What was important for the reader to know? Then I designed a scene around that.

The little stories I tell about my life on the various email loops are written with this approach. I want to convey share something about myself or convey an emotions, so I tell a story that illustrates this.

I fell into a trap. Conflict conflict conflict. Over and over again conflict's importance is stressed. I internalized this so much, when I had to write the final scene, where conflict doesn't rule, I couldn't. Conflict isn't my voice. Emotional connection is. When I focused on conflict, I lost that, I lost the characters and I lost myself.

So I'm rediscovering this. What do I want to show the reader about my character in each scene? Goal-Motivation-Conflict are important, but "Craft is always secondary to the truth of emotional connection" Kontanti Stanislavsky. I will do my best to remember that.

Or to put it another way, one of the agents at Upstart Crowe put it this way "I promise to approach your manuscript with an open mind, if you promise to approach your writing with an open heart."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why I write - part 2

There is another part to the why I write question--what book made you a writer. Many people read a book and it inspired them to write. They thought "I could do this" or "I want to do this." It's a common question--what book inspired you to write.

There are a great many books which have influenced me, but none of them caused me to pick up a pencil while I was still a child. That honor goes to my mother. Her favorite way of punishing me was to send me to my room, sometimes for hours. That didn't bother me. I could still do my favorite thing, read. She could put my body wherever she wanted. My heart, mind and soul lived in Narnia and Oz. She decided it wasn't a real punishment if I could still enjoy myself, so she took all the books out of my room.

She couldn't stop my very active imagination. I would sit by my window and imagine a prince coming to rescue me from the witch who stole me from my parents. Many imaginary friends kept me company and we came up with stories together. Eventually, I started writing down my stories as a form of rebellion. I told my mother I was doing school work.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's official

Back in high school, I was an active member on the Speech and Debate team. I was the only girl on it and it was my first experience with sexism, both from the judges and my team. Things could get really bad. One of my team's favorite activities was to see if they could make me blush.

Then I received my first major loss. It was an incredible speech and unlike most of my competition I had it memorized. My teammates who were there congratulated me on winning, even while the judges were in another room deciding. Then the results came in. I didn't win. I didn't even place.

The next day at school was hard. I almost didn't go. I wanted to stay in bed and hide, but my parents said I had to go. The whole day tears were behind my eyes, and I felt like a dry brown leaf crumpled up and ready to blow away. I resolved at the end of the day, I would leave the team.

Right after the final bell rang, the debate captain came up to me at my locker. There was no way I could put up with the shit he was about to give me, but before I could tell him that he looked at me and said, "It's official. You're part of the team now. You've received
your first shaft."

The team still harassed me, but it was more good natured, and I developed a much thicker skin. By the end of the year, I could make them blush. I learned to play the sexist games of the judges.

I'm telling this story because yesterday I received my first rejection. Not one, but two. There should be a rule that your first two rejections don't come on the same day. I'm not saying the agents were wrong. One was a very nice personal letter and I see where I can improve the story greatly. I'm looking forward to it.

But the feeling I got with those letters was the same I felt after I suffered my first crushing defeat. On the bright side, I'm officially a writer. I've received my first rejection letter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If humans can change, so can weres and vampires

It is generally accepted that weres and vamps represented various aspects of human sexuality to repressed Victorian England. These aspects were feared, as such, weres and vamps were scary.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the present. I believe there is a reason women are the ones who have most changed weres and vamps. These same aspects which were feared and repressed are now accepted and even openly celebrated. As women's relationship with sexuality changed, so did the creatures which represent it. I do not believe this evolution was entirely conscious. Symbols work best when they speak to or for our unconscious.

Many writers of urban fantasy and paranormal romance have weres and vamps as integrated parts of society. Few have them as necessarily evil, or if the race is inherently evil, there are those struggling not to be or are motivated by the heroine to be good. This parallels our feelings about sexuality.

There was a recent article about how the popularity of vamps can be explained because women want to have sex with gay men. The writer missed the point. There are many reasons weres and vamps are popular now. If there weren't, they wouldn't be so popular. It takes many individual reasons to make a phenomenon. I would put having sex with gay men very far down the list. Near the top is modern weres and vamps are a statement of female sexual liberation. They are a way for us to externalize the rapid changes going on within us. By externalizing it, we can better understand it.

Which to me is the highest goal of writing--to help us understand something, hopefully ourselves. You will see me write about this topic often. Even escapist literature, or most likely especially escapist literature, bypasses conscious thought and can speak to the unconscious. This happens both to the writer and the reader. Weres and vamps are two popular vehicles for this currently.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Even my daughters are unconventional

Last year, searching for Halloween costumes was a pain, to say the least. My youngest daughter wanted to be a cowgirl faerie. I loved the idea and spent several hours going from store to store looking for a cowgirl outfit. We already had wings. When we had been to every store and came up with nothing, my daughter decided to change her costume. She found a way too bright psychedelic costume and decided to be a hippy faerie. She is my flexible daughter.

Not so with my oldest daughter. She's a tween, a very tall one. She no longer fits into kiddie costumes. After going to every store, I was tired and wanted to go home. I let her get a Dorothy costume that cost way too much. Her father said she had to wear it the next year.

Now is that next year and my daughter doesn't want to be Dorothy. I told her we could play with the idea. She could be Zombie Dorothy or my favorite, Vampire Dorothy. Dorothy strayed off the yellow brick road and was attacked by a vampire. She didn't like these ideas. Hubby and I tried to convince her how cool this would be, when mother's intuition told me she didn't want to wear the wig again. I was right. After being told she didn't need to wear the wig, the idea wasn't so bad. Hubby said we would get her ruby slippers.

"Daaaaaad," she said in that voice tweens start practicing, so when they are teens, they have it perfected. "Dorothy didn't wear ruby slippers. She wore silver ones."

That's my girl. I told her we could get her silver shoes and she could explain to everyone why she wasn't wearing ruby slippers. She loves the idea.

So my youngest this year is going to be Bat Girl. I think she just wants to go POW and BAM every chance she gets. My oldest is going to be BOOK Dorothy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why I write

When most writers are asked why they write, the standard answer is "I have to" or some variant. One thing you will quickly learn about me is these types of answers never satisfy me. I always have to know why. In this case, why do I have to. There are as many answers to this as there are writers, but here's what I figured out.

After I got out of the "I want to be a faerie princess" stage, I wanted to be a paleoanthropologist. I loved the idea of working through the puzzle of human evolution. That is until I decided the actual field work was the last thing I wanted to do. Next I wanted to be a geneticist. I loved figuring out the puzzle of the human genome. Again, that is until I decided I hated lab work. Next came psychology. I loved puzzling through the human psyche. That is until I decided I would want to slap most of my clients.

The common thread is I love puzzles, but I hate what I have to do to collect the pieces. Not so with writing. Writing is one big puzzle, but I don't collect pieces. I create them. If X isn't working, I can toss it out or create something to make it work. I love the actual process of writing and love working with the pieces I create.

Another common thread is I love puzzles that deal with our very humanity. That is what books are. They tap into our collective unconscious and touch us on a profound level. Writing is not just dealing with any puzzle. Storytelling is encoded in us and one of the things that makes us human.

I am a paleoanthropologist who studies what environmental pressures affect my story. I am a geneticist who explores the various building blocks of my story and sees the results of various combinations. I am a psychologist who need to understand my characters and why they act the way they do.