Monthly Archives: July 2006

Tragedy Strikes Franklin Woman

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"She seemed nice," say neighbors

In a scene out of a Stephen King novel, Jessica Kennedy-Rockefeller (not her real last name) returned this evening to her apartment and realized she’d forgotten the book she was reading.

"It was… horrible," she said, choking through tears. "I… I’d been catsitting, and I guess I must have left the book over there."

The book in question is Dead Watch, by John Sandford, an author as good as any of the zillions of popular suspense writers out there, and a damn sight better than most.

And far, far better than Zane or Frank Peretti. Kennedy-Rockefeller, a rising star with the eminent Ebsco database NoveList, had previously spent time working with popular writers in the Black Erotica and Christian Thriller fiction genres, respectively. "Zane and Peretti were terrible. Reading them was like severing your own foot at the ankle with no anaesthesia."

"Though I was honored to do them," she added, sniffling. "They were assignments no one else would take. They needed to be done. Our readers needed those articles. The world needed them."

Even in her sorrow, her puffy red eyes clashing with her orange hair ("Copper, actually; they sell it cheap at Eckerd’s"), Kennedy-Rockefeller’s modesty is apparent; her lack of conceit is refreshing. "But after the Zane and Peretti ordeals, I was so happy to read someone tolerable. Sandford’s characters are complex and the plots are fascinating. And now this."

Police are investigating foul play. The primary suspect is Felick, a tawny 11-year-old cat. Though lame in one leg, it is possible he hid the book under the couch. "I can’t bear to think of it," says Kennedy-Rockefeller. "He was purring in my lap this evening. He couldn’t have."

And the worst part? "I was in the middle of a chapter."

We can only pray the situation will be resolved tomorrow when Kennedy-Rockefeller returns to catsit again. "I can’t drive over tonight," she explained. "I’m already in my jammies."

In the meantime, Ms. Kennedy-Rockeller will console herself with Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett. "In a situation like this," she said stoically, "you can only make sense of things with Discworld logic."

For her sake, this reporter hopes she’s right. A woman who is tired of Ankh-Morpork… it doesn’t bear saying.


Dude, where’s my yacht?

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You know you’re doing something right when your editor’s email starts out like this:

"Jessica, you’re a treasure"

especially if your name is Jessica, which mine is.

This is not typical behavior for editors. Editors like to spend their time saying nasty things about what you’ve written. That their job. They get paid to do it. If they couldn’t find fault in your submission they’d be unemployed.

The only sad part of this story is that my editor isn’t editing my book. Likely this is because I haven’t written it yet, but trust me, it’ll be The Great American Novel when I get around to it. Really.

Instead my editor was editing my most recent article for NoveList, the premier readers’ advisory database in America (and probably the world, but I haven’t checked.) It is very, very cool that I get to write for NoveList, but getting praise for a (mildly) scholarly article just ain’t the same as getting praise for a critically acclaimed, bestselling novel, or so I imagine.

See, it turns out that writing professional articles for library databases doesn’t really lead to fame. My job with NoveList has led me to, at last count:

0 wild parties
0 exotic dancers
0 Jessica fan clubs
0 stalkers (not really complaining about that, but it’s the principle)
0 paparazzi
0 yachts
*statistical significance of 97% with a +/- 3 point margin of error

This is all very disillusioning for me, as I’m sure you can understand. I have come to the bitter conclusion that NO ONE is salivating for my next article.

They’re not reading my articles because I wrote them. They’re reading my articles because they want to know who writes like Frank Peretti. There’s a good chance they don’t even notice my name at all.

Ingrates. Peons.

To my knowledge NO ONE has developed a crush on me based on my eloquent, insightful treatment of Alice Walker or my hard-hitting analysis of George Orwell. I am chagrined. I am devestated. I am indignant.

(Though I would like to take this opportunity to note that Neil Gaiman told me, IN PERSON, that he thought my read-alike of him was "very interesting." That is a DIRECT QUOTE.)

I am going to recommend to my editor that we run my articles alongside that picture of Raquel Welch in that bikini getup. Perhaps that will generate more interest.

My starring role in the adult entertainment industry

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That’s right, I work in the adult entertainment industry. More specifically, I work as the adult-level collection developer in a regional library system. I don’t buy the kids’ books or the young adult books but I do buy the books for grown-ups. See?

My other, part-time, job is writing articles for a library database called NoveList. (Check with your local public library to see if you have access.) I write read-alike articles. I take a specific author– Neil Gaiman, for instance– and describe his appeal characteristics, e.g., he has interesting characters, and his books move at a good clip, and he has a lyrical style to his writing. That kind of thing. Then I recommend five other authors who have similar appeal characteristics. It’s an informed version of "If you like so-and-so, you’ll probably enjoy reading these authors– and here’s why."

Writing about Neil Gaiman was fun. Writing about some of these other folks is not so fun, and by "not so fun" I mean "better than a root canal without anaesthesia, but just barely."

Remember, not only do I have to read enough works by the author to be able to describe her or him with authority, I have to read enough works by five other authors to be informed. Sometimes it’s more than five other authors, in the case that I start reading somebody and then realize that it’s not a good match.

Recently I wrote about Zane, who’s this incredibly popular black erotica writer. It was painful. I have no problems with African-American-themed books, or with erotica, but I have plenty of problems with bad writing. (My definition of ‘bad writing’ involves poor/incorrect word choice and overabundant comma splices.)

Also painful was my study of Frank Peretti, a Christian horror writer. I love horror and I have no problems with Christian writing per se, or with any religious fiction, for that matter. But I resent that so much of Christian writing is conservative. One of Peretti’s novels is an anti-Darwin tract. Please. It is quite possible to be a Christian and subscribe to evolution. I do it myself. It is even possible to be a Christian and a liberal. I pull off that trick, too. So it makes me furious to realize that "Christian fiction" is actually a euphemism for "conservative evangelical Christian fiction." There are lots of Christian writers out there, but they’ve mostly co-opted the theology for their own narrow interpretation. Which is fine, but I’m not pleased that it masquerades under the broad label of "Christian." Where’s the fiction for my kind of Christian, hmm?

…I have this fantasy about a job interview. It’s set in a saloon (not very probable, but bear with me) and all these other people are competing for a readers’ advisory position, but then I swing open the doors and come sauntering in, all ominous-like. A hush falls over the drunks/interviewers, and then in a parched-yet-menacing voice, I whisper the words of legend: "Aye. I’ve read Peretti. And Zane. And lived to tell about it."

Then everyone’s so impressed and awed that they offer me the job, preferably with a higher salary than what they’d advertised, and I ride off into the sunset.

Unrequited Love

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Here, for the edification of many, I list for the first time ever a sampling of my crushes on fictional characters. With very few exceptions these crushes are more meaningful, vibrant, and realistic than my any crushes I have, have had, or will have had on flesh humans. They are also more likely to lead to sustainable relationships. Sad but true.

  • Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte; also Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys)
  • Mo (Dykes to Watch Out For – Alison Bechdel)
  • Olivia the Pig (The Olivia books – Ian Falconer)
  • Severus Snape (The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling)
  • Lucius Malfoy (The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling)
  • Hopey (Locas – Jaime Hernandez)
  • Constantine (Sunshine – Robin McKinley)
  • Spider (Transmetropolitan – Warren Ellis)
  • Hannibal Lecter (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal – Thomas Harris)
  • Humbert Humbert (Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov)
  • Dream (The Sandman series – Neil Gaiman)
  • Hamlet (Hamlet – William Shakespeare)
  • Ophelia (Hamlet – William Shakespeare)
  • Dmitri Karamazov (The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky)
  • Ivan Karamazov (The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky)
  • Cliff Janeway (The Bookman series – Cliff Janeway)
  • Rincewind (The Discworld series – Terry Pratchett)
  • Edmond Dantès (The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas)