Monday, August 19, 2013

Hanging the Elephant

In September of 1916, circus owner Charlie Sparks made a ghoulish spectacle of his main attraction, Big Mary, a five ton Asian elephant.

Sparks had bought Mary despite warnings that she'd already killed two people working with her, but his desperation to be able to compete on the same level as his rivals forced safety concerns to the back of his mind.

Despite being clever and talented, the elephant, while usually docile, could go on rampages that would leave people fleeing in terror. The final straw came after she publicly trampled a young man who had only recently been brought on as her trainer. (A former bellhop who had remarked to Sparks that he'd always wanted to work with animals.) He'd been riding atop her head in a parade and poked her behind the ear with a stick when she tried to reach for a watermelon rind on the ground. The elephant lifted him off of her head, slammed him to the ground and stepped on his head before flinging his lifeless body into the crowd.

Two days after the incident, public outcry to destroy the creature reached such a fever pitch that Sparks had Mary driven to the rail yard in Erwin, Tennessee in order to conduct a pubic execution by hanging.

During the first attempt, the chain broke, sending the elephant crashing to the ground and breaking her hip. Perhaps mercifully, the severely wounded animal died during the second attempt. It was discovered during an autopsy that she had a grossly infected molar precisely where the inexperienced trainer had prodded her. Though many who witnessed at the time felt that justice had been done, it's clear with the passage of time that she was just an animal in pain, lashing out.

I've been thinking about Mary a lot today. Let's just say there seem to be a whole elephant's worth of stuff that I need to get out from under. A resurgence of a painful, old medical condition that laid waste to my late teens through my early 30's. Money worries. The fear of failing my children due to money worries. So, it should come as no surprise that this morning, while doing the shopping, I was probably a lot shorter with my youngest than I should have been.

Don't get me wrong; she was being a Grade A butt-hole at the time. I noticed the "oh honey, I hear you" looks out of the corners of my eye from other women out with their children every time I lowered my voice to chastise the whining creature in my cart. Finally, after 15 straight minutes of begging and whining and hissing (this is a new, fun thing she's learned from somewhere) I pretty much lost my shit. My voice was NOT lowered when I said, "WHY CAN'T YOU BEHAVE?"

This earned me a look from a nicely dressed, middle aged woman in the aisle next to me that lacked any sort of understanding or sympathy but was pretty clear on its judgement. (Obviously, the woman had never set foot in a WalMart before, because I'm pretty sure I've seen people in there without pants before and I don't think I've ever made a judgey-face quite like the one I got.)

She couldn't see any of it. Any of the things that are threatening to make me cry today. Perhaps she thought they might be well deserved, all things considering, if she considered them at all. But most likely, I was hung in the court of her opinion for raising my voice to my cherubic (albeit satanic) 3 year old.

All I'm saying is don't hang the elephant. Because you just never know.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tough Girls

It's always a pleasure to find something that you've had rattling around in your head for a long time articulated well by someone else. (Even if you are a bit hacked off that they not only beat you to it, but said it way better than you could have hoped to.)

I'm definitely becoming more aware of the female stereotypes my daughters are being exposed to in both television and literature. They were the same ones that I was exposed to only with the addition of the "Strong Female Character." This is what the author of the New Statesman's article "I hate Strong Female Characters" has to say on the subject.

"Nowadays the princesses all know kung fu, and yet they’re still the same princesses. They're still love interests, still the one girl in a team of five boys, and they’re all kind of the same. They march on screen, punch someone to show how they don’t take no shit, throw around a couple of one-liners or forcibly kiss someone because getting consent is for wimps, and then with ladylike discretion they back out of the narrative’s way."

Have a read of the full article. Definitely worth the time of anyone wanting to create nuanced, human female characters.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cover Reveal: Addicted to You

So pleased today to be participating in the cover reveal for Colina Brennan's latest, Addicted to You!


When twenty-one-year-old Leah Carter's latest one night stand burglarizes her apartment, her roommate forces her to attend therapy for sex addicts. Leah insists she isn't a sex addict; she just doesn't do relationships. After all, sooner or later, everyone lets you down.

At first, the group sessions are little more than an education on how to be promiscuous. Until she meets the newest addict—blue eyes, killer body, and a smile that tempts relapse.

Psychology student Will McLean is posing as a fellow addict while researching a case study on unusual addictions. But the more he learns about Leah, the more certain he is that his desire to break through her walls and unearth her secrets has nothing to do with his assignment.

As the uncertainties spike alongside the sexual tension, the only thing Leah knows for sure is that falling in love would be disastrous. Too bad love might be one addiction she can't kick.


About the Author

Colina Brennan is a new adult writer with a love for the fantastical and the romantic. When she isn’t writing, she’s attached at the hip to her kids or chasing her dog or daydreaming about what she wants to write next.

Links:


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

talking to the people in my head

The characters in my book are like particularly irritating co-workers some days.

Me: Okay, I think I'm going to have you go ahead and do THIS.

Protagonist: How about NO?

Me: No, seriously.

Protagonist: COME AT ME, BRO.

Second Protagonist: What, is she trying to tell you what to do again?

Protagonist: Yeah, can you believe it?

Second Protagonist: Wanna have sex instead?

Protagonist: That sounds like a plan.

Me: Guys. GUYS. OH MY GOD, I AM NOT WATCHING THIS. PUT THAT AWAY.

Antagonist: Are you ready for me yet?

Me: (distracted) What? No, just...go back to lurking in the background like a spectre of things to come or some shit.

Antagonist: Are they having sex over there?

Me: NO.

Antagonist: Cause, it looks like they're having sex.

Me: YOU. NOW. WITH THE LURKING.

Antagonist: I never get to have sex.

Completely New Protagonist: Hey, can I get in on this?

Me: BRB. BAZOOKA BARFING.

Friday, May 10, 2013

This.

Whelp.

It took 38 years to make the decision to give this a go. Admittedly, leaving it a bit late. But definitely not TOO late.

I blame a woman called Ann Ahalt.

In 6th grade, I had a life threateningly embarrassing teacher crush. The weird, non-sexual ones that kids get on adults who give them exactly what they need at the moment that they need it. Mrs. Ahalt shamelessly encouraged my writing talent at a time when I felt that my entire existence boiled down to knees, elbows, braces and the unfortunate haircut I'd been saddled with since 5th grade. (And maybe the slightly less non-sexual crush that I had on Matt Barger.)

Something I wrote was entered into a contest, which won me and my glorified deity of an educator a place at an awards dinner where I thought that I might just expire from pure pride. This, I thought, it's all about THIS.

To this day, writing still makes me forget about knees, (which ache sometimes) elbows (small ones, that I find in my face when I wake up) and my unfortunate haircut. (It's actually falling out.) As for Matt Barger, I hope he realizes what a freaking 11 year old catch he missed out on all those years ago.

When it comes to authorship, I'm a toppings kind of girl. At least, up until now, the writing I've done is like the fixings at the all-you-can-eat sundae bar. I liked the bits that make the ice cream look pretty, the details, rather than having to stand there and laboriously pull the handle to create the swirly framework. But, without the ice cream, you have a whole load of toppings in a bowl with nothing to stick to. (Plus, gummy bears and M&Ms are revolting together, no matter WHAT my eldest daughter believes.) I have yet to create the perfect sundae.

But now I'm committed, see?

The handle of my soft machine is kind of shit, if I'm honest. The pressure is bad, I manage to only get small dollops out at a time and sometimes there's an air bubble and I end up with sticky stuff all over my shirt. Annoyingly, sometimes I decide that I want a different flavor halfway through, so I have to go back and change the mixture. (Just like my commitment to writing, I committed to this metaphor two paragraphs ago, okay? I'm going to see it through.) However, it is MY soft serve machine and if I want a banana split, I'm going to have to keep at it.

Okay, I'm done with that now.

So pull up a cone, I guess, and stick around.

(Really done.)