pegkerr: (But this is terrible!)
Here's an interesting article about the difficulties inherent in attempting to write sex scenes. Specifically, good sex scenes, the ones that don't pull the reader out of the story because he or she is too busy guffawing. Apparently, there is an annual award for the worst of the worst: the Literary Review's Bad Sex award.
While these nominations provide testimony to the creative potholes authors can slip down when they stray into the bedroom, the awards themselves prove their opposite – good sex writing - does exist. Against that the bad is selected, according to Jonathan Beckman, assistant editor of The Literary Review.

But for all the vituperation at authors who get it wrong, there appears to be little consensus on how to get it right. Some writers follow the forensic language of anatomy, others adopt metaphor and euphemism, while opponents of literary sex shun it for crass approximations with pornography.
I've actually been thinking a bit about this during the past month because for unknown reasons (in fact, I've been rather mystified about it) for the past three months I've been gorging on romance novels. It's really my first attempt for a wide-ranging exploration of the genre. Well, not so wide-ranging, as a matter of fact. I've been reading almost exclusively Regency romances, ignoring other niches such as paranormals, highlanders and westerns. What have I discovered?

First of all, that there are an awful lot of bad romances. Secondly, much of what I've read in the field is very repetitive and/or derivative.

I don't know why on earth I'm reading this stuff. Maybe I'm restlessly searching for someone who is doing it right, even as I'm wading through so many books where the author is doing it wrong. In fact, this compulsion (and it has truly seemed like a compulions; I've read possibly fifty of the damn things in the past two months) is downright baffling to me. One possibility is that I'm studying the use of the erotic in fiction. This is one area that I never felt comfortable attempting myself, and I thought it was a true deficit in my own writing. I envy writers that can manage it gracefully (Kij Johnson is certainly one whose confidence in this type of writing just always made me marvel) I just never had the courage to try it because I knew (and know) that when done clumsily, the result could be so very embarrassing. My overly developed critical review of my own work (the same thing that led to my writers block) made me so self conscious that I couldn't really even bring myself to write sex scenes, even when I wrote with the intention that I would only ever be the only reader. The bravest thing I ever attempted was chapter twelve in The Wild Swans, when Sean and Elias went to the bathhouse, but neither of my two main characters actually participated in the graphic encounters right there on the page, and I cut to black several times in that book rather than writing an encounter with the camera on, so to speak. I almost broke out in hives when my critique group went over Chapter 12, I found it so stressful.

One of the most erotic scenes I've read in my romp through the pages of a host of romance novels is particularly striking because of its restraint. It took place when a man and a woman are sitting next to each other in a theater box. The man slowly unbuttons the buttons on her glove, one by one and slowly insinuates a finger inside to stroke the palm of her hand.

Who are authors you admire who do sex scenes well? Have you attempted to write them yourself? Do you find it easy or difficult? Do you balk at showing your work to other people? Does practice make perfect? Do you that a wide-ranging sexual experience is necessary to write sexually explicit prose with ease and confidence? Other thoughts?


Mar. 4th, 2009 09:32 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
I'm preoccupied with reading and writing. I've been reading several different books, depending on my location: the third in the Botswana series by Alexander Smith (Morality for Beautiful Girls), a trashy romance novel I'm too embarrassed to even mention, and I'm also reading [ profile] kijjohnson's next novel in draft, Kylen: The Moveable City. Oh, what fun! I'm just galloping through without making notes on this pass, but will go back and make notations after gathering my first impressions. I'm also busy writing and planning on [ profile] hpalternity (some FUN stuff is coming up in the next month, including, about a month from now, a BIG change for one of my characters). So this is why I've been a bit quieter lately. Sorry, I'm boring.

The knee continues to be annoying. I'll sit for two hours, get up, and my first few steps are badly limping. Then, as I move around, and it will start to feel better, and I'm like, did I just imagine it? Then I sit down for another two hours, get up again and--ouch. I'm not convinced I'm correctly diagnosed yet. Yeah, the MRI said pre-arthritis, no sprain, but if the coating is wearing away under the point of the patella, why am I experiencing most pain in the side of the knee?

I avoided class Monday (sparring) and yesterday (the tough black stripe class) but I believe I'll try class tomorrow, the easier (!) brown belt class.

What I did today to make the world a better place )
pegkerr: (Default)
Happy birthday to my best friend, [ profile] kijjohnson. And look! I got you the BEST PRESENT EVAH! A shiny new President!
pegkerr: (Default)
Saw [ profile] kijjohnson this morning, who has spent the past two weeks in Rice Lake, Wisconsin with her parents, to help out since her mother suffered an injury. She came to town and stayed with her brother last night, and then met me for breakfast on her way to the airport to fly back to Seattle. She looks great, as usual. We talked about the book she's working on, the Decrease Worldsuck project, and how we see the coming year. It's a year that is going to bring change to both of our lives, some of it forced upon us. But we felt rather hopeful contemplating it, I think, judging that we were both doing a pretty good job of facing the challenges life has dealt us in the past few months.

What I did today to make the world a better place )

I went to the Powderhorn (our local neighborhood center)'s celebration for the MLK holiday. I tried to get the girls to go with me, but they begged off, citing homework. I felt rather irritated about this, and disappointed for their sakes, because it really was a great event. I only came in the last twenty minutes or so, but they had a succession of performers up on the stage: folksingers, breakdancers, South American dancers, African drummers, slam poets, all very good, and I hugely enjoyed what I got to hear. A busy kitchen was serving up rice and beans, chicken, greens, cake and cornbread. Fun. I was glad I went.

I've been dipping into the inauguration coverage on and off this weekend (I had an amusing moment this morning when I went downstairs and tried to turn on the TV and see if there was anything about the inauguration, and after several minutes of befuddlement I realized that I have absolutely no idea how to work the TV clickers in my own house. I think the last time I turned on the television set was to watch the opening night of the Olympics. It shows you how little television I watch.) I wish I could just watch the coverage tomorrow, but alas, one of my attorneys has three enormous federal filings tomorrow, which means I'll be too busy to breathe at work tomorrow, let alone watch the swearing in on the television in the lunchroom at work. And then there is a church council meeting tomorrow night that I CANNOT duck out of, so I can't watch any repeat coverage tomorrow night, which is quite frustrating. Nevertheless, I am very hopeful for the country as it charts a new path under our new President, although I know it's going to take a long time to pull us out of this mess. (And, as is probably no surprise to anyone who has read this journal for awhile, I am ECSTATIC that George W. Bush is leaving the White House.
pegkerr: (Default)
[ profile] arian1 updates here that it turns out it's the tibia, and not the fibula as Kij said when we spoke previously. This is good news, as apparently it means a smaller cast, but she still has a long recovery ahead of her. She's heading home (after groceries), so watch for updates on her own journal.

Edited to add: Nope, Kij says it's the fibula. She's home now.


Nov. 19th, 2007 10:42 am
pegkerr: (Peg and Kij color)
My dear friend [ profile] kijjohnson broke her leg climbing last night. She called me from the hospital but had to cut the call off as she is still dealing with being at the hospital. It's her fibula, near the knee, and she has a sprained ankle as well. She's going to need a full leg cast. She was worried because her gym just replaced the pea gravel with mats, which she considered much less safe. And now this happens.

Dammit, dammit, dammit, I wish I could BE there to help her.

Edited to add: [ profile] arian1 updates here that it turns out it's the tibia, and not the fibula as Kij said when we spoke previously. This is good news, as apparently it means a smaller cast, but she still has a long recovery ahead of her. She's heading home (after groceries), so watch for updates on her own journal.
pegkerr: (Peg and Kij color)
See what I received in the mail yesterday!

(For those not familiar with this custom between [ profile] kijjohnson and me, read the entries tagged "Friendship Ball.")

Usually, we just send things back and forth in the ball itself, but knowing that I've been feeling kinda low lately, Kij included other little gifties in the box itself, turning my surprise package into a lovely early Easter basket.

Friendship Ball April 2007 Friendship Ball April 2007
Kij sent me a mini Easter basket when she sent back the Friendship ball! In the foreground, a silly refrigerator magnet (is your best friend a psycho?) Second row, a chocolate bunny, jelly beans, "bunny candy corn" and a tissue paper flower. In the back, three wee pamphlet/books, one called "These Blooming Herbs: A Book of Aromatic Gossip" and one called "On Gardens and Gardening" and one a handmade book that Kij has filled with affirmations.

The Friendship Ball, opened The Friendship Ball, opened
Opened, the Friendship ball reveals a wee lamb and two Pascal coins.

(Do I not have a cool best friend or what?)

Edited to add: Since people have asked: I got our friendship ball at a gift shop which has since gone out of business, but you can find them easily on the Internet. Here's one, and here's another. This second one looks like the one Kij and I have. Here's a heart-shaped one. Here's another, and another.
pegkerr: (Default)
([ profile] kijjohnson, this one's for you.)

[ profile] kijjohnson turned me onto this song, and I like it a lot. It captures what it's like to be a decent person working at a soul-sucking job while dreaming of a better life. In fact, I find it downright endearing. It's surprisingly touching; listen to it/download it here.

Here are the lyrics )

Here is a video of the composer performing it )

And here's an illustration.

Now this is where it gets interesting: a lot of people have gotten interested in this song and have responded by doing videos on YouTube.

Here are three that I like the best:

The Code Monkey dance )

An animated video )

The Code Monkey song, using video from the Canadian show Traders )

So interesting to see three COMPLETELY different creative takes on this.

Edited to add: And then there are the Code Monkey re-mixes, here.
pegkerr: (Peg and Kij color)
Here is her account of our day together. I am particularly smug about the coat we found for her, reversable acid green/forest green double-breasted, pea jacket style. It looks stunning on her.

Damn, she looks stunning, period. Besides the fact that I was just delighted to see her, she is, no lie, just drop dead gorgeous. Eight months of serious climbing has wrought an amazing change, and she is in serious kick-butt shape, with great legs and really cut muscles, particularly in her upper body.

Lordy, I thought I was looking pretty good these days, but wow . . .

It inspires me want to hit the weights HARD myself. And get back into karate again, dammit. So I can look that kick-butt, too.

Hey, we need to get a newer picture of the two of us.
pegkerr: (Default)
but last night, I was seized by an overwhelming feeling of, 'I'm so goddamned tired of being the grownup."

I wanted to do nothing but eat tortilla chips and drink Bailey's. Well, maybe not together. And to read junk.

I told the girls to make their own dinner. I ate a few Tortilla chips but managed to stop myself before the damage was too great. Then I made homemade butterscotch pudding for my dinner and retired to the bathtub. Got to bed at 9:30 p.m.

[ profile] kijjohnson has instituted KDAW=ON, (Kitten Down a Well Alert = ON) meaning, unless a kitten has fallen down a well and been rescued, she doesn't want to hear about it. I created a "kitten down a well alert" icon for her:

Given the state of the nation and the way I felt last night, I can certainly understand the appeal of this idea.
pegkerr: (Peg and Kij color)
Have been thinking about [ profile] kijjohnson's journal bio: My goal is to be the bravest person I know.

Is that a goal of mine, too? Should it be?

How would that work for me?
pegkerr: (candle)
My church had a simple ceremony today which impressed me quite a bit. When I arrived there this morning, there was a table in the narthex, covered with informational packets and brochures about various mental illnesses. It was staffed by a woman who was, I was told, the congregational representative for mental illness issues. I had a long talk with her; she has a daughter who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and she has been doing this as her mission to the church for nine years.

Then, during the children's message, the pastor talked to the children about mental illness, explaining simply that just as people can become sick with a cold or a flu, they can develop a sickness in their minds, but that God loves and supports us at those times, too. The candle lighting was explained to them. Next, members of the congregation were invited to come up and light a candle for either themselves or someone else they know who is living with mental illness. This is, apparently, done traditionally in this church every year on the first Sunday of October.

Here are the prayers said during this point in the service )

The girls asked to go up to light candles for Kij. I had planned to light one for her myself, but since both girls asked to go, I told them fine, and stood with them as they lit them. I decided that one candle was for Kij and one was for me. I would say about forty people came up to light candles. I felt moved to tears as I watched them there, flickering before the congregation, when all were seated again. And what a simple, lovely thing to do at this time of year, when the darkness is growing, and it is time to pull out my Seasonal Affective Disorder light box. It comforts me to know that my church is a source of light for me during dark times.

We will be joining the church, finally on October 30. There is no doubt in my mind that we have found our true new church home.
pegkerr: (Default)
I asked [ profile] kijjohnson what I should read for a good introduction to Heian Japan (she's the go-to girl for answering questions like these) and she answered The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. AND sent me a copy (it's thoughtfulness like this that makes me love her so). How did I get through forty-five years without reading The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon? I am immediately seized by a compulsion to make lists:

Hateful Things
Badly trained dogs which jump up at one when one comes for a visit. How inconsiderate their owners are, who have inflicted such ill-trained rudeness on a guest!
Very hateful is a mouse that scurries all over the place [on this one agrees with Sei Shonagon]
Bats flying around one's room at night when when is trying to sleep--how hateful!
Discarded cigarette butts in dirty snowbanks
Persons who leave wet towels on the floor
Persons who cough continually during a music concert, who do not leave or attempt to stop themselves by sucking on a cough drop, very inconsiderate

Adorable Things
Young children sleeping
A boy tossing sticks for a dog to fetch
A baby eating a first birthday cake, smearing frosting on its face

Things That Give A Clean Feeling
Bars of new soap, wrapped in paper
New shelf paper
Pine needles
Cedar balls tucked into a drawer

Edited to add: Kij, take note: Here's The Pillow Book written in blogspeak! Thanks, [ profile] whumpdotcom for the link!
pegkerr: (Peg and Kij color)
[ profile] kijjohnson pointed out we needed an icon of the two of us together, so I pulled out a couple of double portraits that we had taken to celebrate our fortieth birthdays, and I made these icons.


Damn, we looked good.

Here's to us, darling. I hope to do something like this for our fiftieth.
pegkerr: (Default)
Went to the Irish Fair, where I met [ profile] minnehaha B and K, [ profile] buttonlass, [ profile] lollardfish, and [ profile] 90_percent_sure. (And thanks to [ profile] minnehaha B. for helping me get parking.) Flogging Molly was playing, and the crowd was in a definite party mood. It was packed. The show was great, but I started being bugged by TMI ), so I headed out again at about 10:00.

Came home and had a long phone call with [ profile] kijjohnson. I am pleased that she likes the collage I got for her at the Powderhorn Art Fair.

The girls weren't down until after 11:00--we have GOT to get them back on something resembling a normal schedule.

Am heading off to bed.
pegkerr: (Do I not hit near the mark?)
Tonight, the head instructor of the girls' karate school, Mr. Sidner, was testing for his fourth degree black belt, so Rob and I and the girls went to watch the exam. It was the first time we've seen a black belt exam, for all the black belts testing region-wide. The whole thing lasted about three hours. I found it fascinating (the girls were interested, for the most part, although Delia did get restless toward the end). In the defensive section, Mr. Sidner did one of defenses from a wheel chair, taking out his attacker using only his arms. Quite convincingly, too.

As I watched the students kick and punch, I thought about something [ profile] kijjohnson said once, that the practice of writing should become like the practice of karate: if you want to become good, you have to practice your forms every day. I want to study karate, but I will have to wait until the girls are out of daycare, and so we have a little more margin in the budget. I thought about discipline, watching those intricate forms, the jumps, the kicks, the looks of intensity on faces, young and old. My discipline in terms of my writing life has been nonexistent for the last several years. I am not sure whether motherhood is a sufficient excuse or not. In my blacker moments, I think it is not, that I am flunking being a writer. But I have been trying, to get my life back to the point where I can give the writing the discipline I need, by cutting other extraneous stuff out of my life. I'm almost there--but I sit down in front of the keyboard and . . . .nothing.

Architecture intimidates me. It intimidates the hell out of me. For my first book, I had to learn about jewelry making. I don't know why that didn't seem quite so scary. Perhaps because I was describing Renaissance jewelry making, and I didn't think there would be scads of people who knew enough about the subject to tsk tsk if I got it wrong. The second book got more intimidating: I was trying to get into the mindset of gay Manhattan subculture, and what the hell did I know about that? I worried incessantly whether or not I got it right, but . . . I dunno . . . there didn't seem to me to be anything technical about it.

Architecture, now. Mathematical and precise, with an engineering mindset which is foreign to me--is that what's paralyzing me? Or is it simply Jack the mysterious who is the problem, Jack the maddening, the elusive, who in my low moments I have started to dub Jack-the-jerk?

What is my beginning form here? What is my target to kick and punch? And should I have been acting as if I have been testing for my belt all along, and I haven't even known it? When are they going to inform me that they're kicking me out of the writer's karate school for lack of progress?

Or for self-absorbed navel-gazing instead of writing, for that matter. Yeesh.
pegkerr: (Speak friend and enter)
You can buy it, too, here. This, I think, is the one that Kij and I have:

Here is another lovely one:

My quick research on the Internet mentions that it's a custom that dates back to Victorian times.
pegkerr: (Speak friend and enter)
I just got the friendship ball back from [ profile] kijjohnson, with a gift that made me laugh: a little guest towel folded up inside that reads: "You'll always be my best friend. You know too much."

Have I explained already about the friendship ball? This was one of the most scathingly brilliant gifts I ever hit upon. I gave it to Kij several years ago, for her birthday, I think, and we've been trading it back and forth ever since. It's a little silver-plated metal ball, round and three inches in diameter, with a hinge on it so that you can open it. Any small hinged container will do, like a little box. You put a small gift into it, and send it to your friend, and she puts a gift into it that she's found and sends it back, and you just keep trading it back and forth. The ball is so small that you can put tiny things into it that are inexpensive. The fun of it is finding the tiny perfect things to send. It's a terrific way to maintain a long distance friendship, and it's a lot of fun. I have sent Kij, among other things, a coyote shaped pin, glass beads shaped like monkey heads, a tiny cardboard pot sown with strawberry seeds. She has sent me little magnets with photographs that are stuck to the metal shelves in my office, a gorgeous silk scarf, and antique ribbons to sew on my ribbon coat.

Fiona has started exchanging letters with a little girl she met in daycare when she was two. They've been apart for years, but have always kept in touch. I'm going to suggest that we find a little hinged box, and they can start it as a friendship box.

Edited to add: See my later entry here, which includes pictures and ordering information if you'd like to get your own friendship ball.
pegkerr: (Peg and Kij color)
[ profile] kijjohnson, my dear hench wench, has received a Publishers Weekly fiction pick of the month review on her newest about-to-be-released novel, Fudoki. I've read it in manuscript, and it's fabulous. All readers of this LiveJournal are strongly urged to pick up a copy. You won't regret it. Love and kisses to Kij. Darling, you still show me the way.

pegkerr: (Default)
[ profile] truepenny's short story "Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland" won the 2003 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Short Fiction. The story was based upon a necklace of that name that [ profile] elisem created. (Click here to see [ profile] truepenny wearing the necklace. [ profile] matociquala gave the acceptance speech for her).

In other happy news, [ profile] kijjohnson just sold a novelette "At the Mouth of the River of Bees" to Ellen Datlow for

Congratulations to both! I have such talented friends.


pegkerr: (Default)

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