Saturday, January 23, 2010

Web Politics or Web Satire?

Today a what looks like a political web prank is making waves in Chechnya and in Russia. It purports to promote the candidacy of Chechnya's current president, Ramzan Kadyrov, to the presidency of the Russian Federation in 2012.

To get the full impact of the original site, here,  you need to understand Russian, so you'll have to trust me when I say that it's classic political satire, very well executed, and more dangerous than physical attacks: it makes people think.

All writers know the power of the word. Even more so, the power of the insidious innuendo, the well-written (or well-said) comment that doesn't really hit you until later. The one that stays with you, makes you examine every aspect of the form and the content, and what's more, makes you come back to look at it again.

This is what the authors of the "Ramzan Kadyrov for President of the Russian Federation" site did. There is no overt criticism of Kadyrov, quite the contrary. The site appears to be laudatory and supportive, but...

It's not what is said, or how it's said, it's the context that counts. You have to think about Kadyrov's achievements such as they're praised in the web pages. Indeed, with everything the president of Chechnya has done in Russia's favor, according to this site, he surely would be a good candidate.

Kadyrov didn't find it amusing at all.

I thought it was a fine example of a well-executed political satire, classical in its delivery, worthy of any of its illustrious predecessors.

As a literary sample, of course.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Linda Poitevin, Guest Blogger

Today I welcome Linda Poitevin to my corner of cyberspace. Like most of us writers. Linda leads a life full of challenges, and it's not the big hulking ones that usually bring us down. How we deal with life varies greatly, so I ask Linda: how about you?

And don't miss the excerpt from Linda's latest book, A Fairy Tale for Gwyn. Don't forget, either, to post some comments for a chance to win a prize on Linda's blog tour! If you've joined a Goddess Fish blog tour before, you know how it goes: there are random drawings, and there are prizes for the most posts! So join in the fun.

The Great Juggling Act: On balancing life and writing

I’m often asked how I manage to balance my writing with the rest of my life. My short answer is this: I don’t.

Maybe I’m just balance-impaired. Or challenged. Or just completely off-balance! But whatever the reason, balance in my life resembles one of those little games where you try to maneuver the little bead into a center hole by tipping the game board a little this way and then a little that. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at that kind of game. I invariably tip too far one way, then too far another, never quite achieving the necessary finesse required to master the game.

My life kind of goes like that, too. I tend to be one of those really committed types (no, not one who needs to be least, not yet!) who throws herself into the challenge of the moment. For instance, I'm an avid gardener. One would think that would mean that my houseplants flourish, too, and they do...for approximately six months of the year. But come garden season, the poor babies stagger, parched and gasping, from one erratic watering to the next, barely making it through until I'm confined to the house again and ready to devote my attention to them.

If a clean house becomes a priority, I drive my family insane with my nitpicking about things being left out of place; the moment something else claims my attention, however, the dust bunnies morph into really big grizzly bears. With teeth. It doesn’t really matter what my project is, it pretty much consumes me until it has run its course. Or until my interest runs out, whichever comes first.

So, balance? Sigh. I wish. But I do think I'm getting a little better with age and experience. Over the years, I’ve learned not to make every issue my own (or the dust bears would be woolly mammoths by now!), and to set my own priorities in life (like writing) rather than letting life do that for me. It’s helped tremendously to recognize that this is just how I function sometimes, and to give myself permission to do so. The houseplants will invariably survive, the living room will emerge relatively unscathed from beneath the clutter, and I will climb back onto life’s balance board until the next distraction comes along.

What about you? How do you manage to balance your life? Any tips for the more unbalanced among us?

Linda Poitevin
lives just outside Canada’s capital, Ottawa, with her husband, three daughters, and a varied collection of animals. In her spare time, she gardens (organically), cans and freezes the family’s winter fruit and vegetable supply, knits (basically), crochets (better), and starts way more projects than she ever finishes. (Fortunately that doesn’t hold true of her books!) She loves spending time with her family, having coffee with friends, walking by the river and watching thunderstorms…in about that order.

A Fairy Tale for Gwyn

Gwyn Jacobs doesn’t believe in happy-ever-after.

Ever since her ex-husband walked out four years ago, abandoning her with a toddler and infant twins, Gwyn has been mother, father, and bread-winner all rolled into one. Her own scarred heart and failed marriage aside, she is determined not to open up her children’s lives to the possibility of another heartbreak...until her very own fairy tale falls into her lap -- and the hero won’t take no for an answer!

Excerpt from A Fairy Tale for Gwyn

      Gareth emerged from the bathroom as she reached the top hallway, the gurgle of draining water from the bathtub accompanying his appearance.
      “All done,” he said, a triumphant look on his face, a bucket of congealed ick in his hand, and his soaked shirt molded to the lean six-pack beneath it.
      Gwyn clutched at her resolve with both hands and moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue. What was it she’d intended to say? Oh, yes.
      “Thank you,” she said. She set the books on the folded clothes and shifted the basket to her other hip. “I’m sorry if I sounded ungrateful earlier. I really do appreciate your help. Not just today, but all of it. I don’t know what I’d have done without you this last couple of days.”
      Gareth shook his head at her, looking both amused and exasperated. “You sound like a kid who’s been coached in what to say to some cantankerous old uncle. You don’t have to apologize, Gwyn.”
      “I just don’t want you to think I’m not grateful.”
      “I never thought that,” he told her, smiling in a slow way that had her toes digging into the hall carpet-runner. “Besides, I’m enjoying myself.”
      “Entertaining my sick kids and cleaning out my bathtub?” she asked dryly, hiding her involuntary reaction behind skepticism.
      “No, being with you.” Gareth dropped a towel onto the floor near the top of the stairs and set the bucket on top of it.
      But before Gwyn could do more than draw a startled breath at his unexpected, and confounding honesty, he added, “I’ve missed out on the family thing, remember? It’s nice to be a part of yours for a while.”
      “And besides, I have ulterior motives.” He plucked at his soaking, oatmeal-flecked shirt. “You wouldn’t happen to have something dry I could borrow, would you?”
      “Something dry.”
      Gwyn refrained from shaking her head to clear it, feeling very much like she’d fallen three steps behind in this conversation. “Yes, of course.”  Sandy’s husband, Rob, had left a sweatshirt behind on a visit once that she kept forgetting to return. It might be snug, but “I meant pardon about the other thing. What ulterior motives?”
      Gareth began unbuttoning his shirt. “Sorry, that’s a secret.”
      He hadn’t moved in her direction, but she couldn’t help but shift the basket again, holding it like a barrier between them. The temperature in the hallway seemed to have risen several degrees, flushing her cheeks with heat and turning her mouth dry.
      “A s-s-secret?”
      Lord, ‘s’ was a hard sound to make with your tongue cleaved to the roof of your mouth. She tried very hard to keep her eyes on his face rather than the fascinating trail his hands were taking. The heat in her cheeks snaked a slow, tantalizing path to other parts of her anatomy. Any resolve she’d had when she’d climbed the stairs became a fleeting memory.
      “Mm. But I’ll give you a hint. It hinges on kids recovering and turning their mother free again.”
      Gareth slid the shirt from his shoulders and Gwyn’s knees very nearly buckled. The laundry basket shook in her grasp and she forgot all about not staring. The big screen didn’t even come close to doing the man justice.
      His shoulders…broad, defined, offering a woman’s head a sanctuary like none she’d ever known. His chest, deep, powerful, inviting her touch, and promising.
      Gareth cleared his throat and Gwyn’s gaze flew back to his. As if she’d spoken her every thought aloud, his eyes danced with mischief and smoldered with something darker, deeper.
      “A dry shirt?” he reminded her huskily.
      She fled.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whose names do you care about?

Here's a good question:

The Perfect Storm for Publishing: Are Publishers A Brand? « Bob Mayer – Author Blog

And a darn good blog post.

I hadn't thought about it in quite this light, but I never go look for a book by a certain publisher. I do, however, check who the publisher of a certain author or book may be, but then I'm a writer, and I'm curious about the business.

How about readers? Is Bob Mayer right? Do you ever go looking for the latest from a publisher, or do you only look for the latest from an author? Let's just leave the genre/subject searches out for now. We're talking name recognition here.

And while we're at it, how about e-books? Have you tried them? Do you know any e-publishers? Do you trust them as brands you might follow or check out for some good reading?

I promise I'll be back with my own answers... and yes, I'm e-published and a little biased, but I have some unskewed opinions nevertheless.

So what kind of name recognition do you do?

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