Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chick Lit vs. Women's Fiction: The Constant Whining of Artistes

I've been a superfan of Chick Lit and Chick Flick probably since the mid to late 90's. I loved love stories, funny stories, and stories with awesome clothes. The fact that I loved writing these stories in college was kind of a thorn in the side of my teachers and classmates, who thought my love of Romantic Comedy wasn't worth their time (Seriously). In fact, my best friend, Lauren, and I bonded after our Screenwriting class, on our way to the Commons for lunch, because we were both discouraged that our screenplays, hers a black romantic comedy, and mind a fluffy romantic comedy, were torn apart by classmates whose own works were, for lack of a better word, weird.

Last week, I read an article on Buzzfeed about how Chick Lit is a degrading title that holds women back from their works being viewed as "Literature." This article actually made me mad, because I see Chick Lit as a specific genre. Wikipedia describes Chick Lit as genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.

I took it to my Facebook Writer's group, and their reactions pretty much matched my own: that women are so afraid of their work being construed as Chick Lit that they bash a genre that's not even theirs. A book can be funny, engaging, and have some of the same themes as Chick Lit and NOT be Chick Lit.

What bothers me the most about the Buzzfeed article is that it compares Women's Fiction to books that are a completely separate genre. They claim they're just marketed differently just because they're written by men. The books shown on the article Dead Man's Room by Peter James and The Kill Room by Jeffrey Deaver. Both books are thrillers, not dramas or comedies. Of COURSE they're going to be marketed differently than something like It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane. They involve two different subject matters.

Now, yes. I agree, based on the cover of McFarlane's book, it does look like Chick Lit. But let's take a step back. How much of a say did she have in the cover design? The marketing? Could she have said no at any time to how it was portrayed in the media? I don't know the ins and outs of traditional publishing, but I do believe that we can take ourselves out of the equation at any time if it's not what we want.

According tWikipedia
The Women's Fiction Writers Association guiding statement is broad and comprehensive: An inclusive organization of writers who create stories about a woman’s emotional journey. These stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds them together is the focus on a woman’s emotional journey.[2]
While I can kind of see how aggravating it is that your work is referred to as something that it's not, Chick Lit is a specific genre. There are authors out there who proudly publish Chick Lit.

I'm part of a proud group of women writers who love the light, fluffy genre, and we write it with the best of our ability. We take control of our writing by being true to who we are and what we love. We don't tear down another genre because of stereotypes. People like McFarlane and Marian Keyes are tearing down a genre that doesn't match their own ideals. Instead of fighting against a genre they don't want to be considered as, they should be fighting for their own work.

Author Brea Brown had this to say about the article, and I agree with her.
 It's pretentious and doubly sickening, because it's denigrating one form of expression in order to glorify another. "What *I* write isn't chick lit. Oh, no, no, no! Heavens no! It's women's fiction. I really wish people would stop referring to it in such debase terms." It's only debased because of the people who continue to perpetuate that stereotype!
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I don't know why Chick Lit gets a bad rap. I'm all about escapism in my writing. Peeking in and experiencing someone else's life for a couple hundred pages. When I read Chick Lit, I want to laugh, relate, and hopefully fall in love with the characters. I think all writers hope that people have similar emotions and actions when reading.

Real Chick Lit has nothing to do with being anti-feminist, which is an argument that many people on the Buzzfeed article complained about. It can have serious undertones, while written in a lighthearted manner. I don't think it's a bad thing to like stories that have a happily ever after. The stories might not be realistic, but not every book has to have deep, philosophical meaning. And that's okay.

  • What are your thoughts on whether or not Chick Lit should be banned as a descriptor?
  • Do you like/read Chick Lit?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Can You Paint With All the Colors of Acrylic? (The Vino Van Gogh Experience + GIVEAWAY!)

I haven't sat down to paint a picture since I took painting 101 when I was a freshman in high school. Back then, I learned several techniques, but then left them in the classroom. I did give my grandmother a painting I did of Green Gables (Of Anne of Green Gables fame. I was a massive fan back then) for her nursing home room when I was eighteen, though. Otherwise, I never really took the time to paint.

Sister Date!!!!
When I got the opportunity to try Vino Van Gogh, a local traveling painting class, I was on top of that so fast. I was given the opportunity to try a class for free with a friend, so I chose my sister to come with me. You guys know I'm always up for a sister date!

Vino Van Gogh has you pick a class based on what the painting is that's being taught, and the restaurant it's being taught as. Teachers travel to different places, and ask that you also get something from the restaurant. The restaurant we went to was Fernando's on Pacific in Omaha, a festive Mexican restaurant on a main drag. They've got a full bar, and a wide selection of classic entrees. Kiri and I planned to split the Nachos, get drinks, and get sopapillas, but by the time we were done painting, and noshing on Nachos, neither of us felt like dessert. Next time. We'll definitely be back.

Blue Margarita on the Rocks

Nacho El Kitchen Sinko~MASSIVE!!!!!
The painting portion was intriguing. Our teacher, Calinda Davis, explained different ways to ready the brushes, load the paint for perfect blending, and how to get the most out of our experience. She was great.
Calinda holding up the Model
I actually took pictures of each layer I painted when I finished. Almost like a flip book (except, not really).
A bit of white in the middle, covered by yellow

Almost done!
Finished product, with my signature in the corner <3
It was such a great experience. Being able to go hang out with friends and paint is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. One of the most important things to do as an adult is take time to do something fun, and hopefully make something beautiful. I think I accomplished both, and will definitely try it again. My sister and I kept saying how much fun it would be to do with our parents.

We were sat three to a table, and our table mate told us of another place in town that taught glassblowing, and blacksmithing. Who knew Omaha had all of this stuff?! I certainly didn't. Further proof that Omaha is one of the greatest places to live with a lot to do.

I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Vino Van Gogh if you want to have a fun date night, a night with your friends, or even just to learn new techniques, and develop a new talent.

I also got to meet a couple blogger friends, which was awesome! Be sure to check out their blogs! Robyn's is a Mommy Blog with reviews of things she does with her kids, and Rachael's blog is all about healthy living, complete with recipes! I'm jazzed to add them to my Blog Roll!

Robyn, Rachael, and Me
If you're interested in trying Vino Van Gogh for yourself, here's a chance for a lucky reader to get TWO tickets for the class of your choice!

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

What You Don't Know

Today, I'm part of a blogger link up, and I'm really excited about sharing some things that you might not know about me. I like to think I'm an open book, but everyone has their secrets, or just things people don't notice about them.

Here goes:

  • The older I get, the more in tune I get with animals. I think for most people, it starts out that way, as children, but leaves them as they age. I'm pretty sure I'm the exact opposite. I feel like if I don't like an animal, that animal doesn't have a good side (Going off my opinions here).
  • I'm a hardcore iced coffee drinker. I had two mediocre iced coffees this week from Scooter's and Dunkin' Donuts, so I decided to use Ree Drummond's Iced Coffee Concentrate method. It's delicious!
  • I've seen Titanic over 200 times. Not recently, but it came out in 1997, when I'd just gotten my new TV. Plus, like every 12-13 year old girl, I was obsessed. Not with Leonardo DiCaprio, but just with the whole spectacle of it. I immersed myself in Titanic trivia. It was the first movie I'd ever pre-ordered, and my dad made sure I got the widescreen VHS tapes. All my friends were wondering why my copy was gold, and theirs were blue. Because mine was hella awesome, that's why. 
  • I recently finished the outline for my next book. I've tried to be a pantser and I've tried being a planner. Being a planning writer seems to work for me, because I can see where I want to go. I haven't been this excited about a new story in AGES. It's been great. I got inspiration here.
  • I don't like KFC. It doesn't matter what state I'm in, or what franchise, it's always dirty, the service is lousy, and the food is always cold. Even the one time I was craving it in college, it was a total letdown. 
  • I honestly don't know what I'd be if I weren't a writer. I thought I'd be an actress or singer, but the more I learn about the business, the more I realize that life isn't for me. Being a writer has been my calling since I was nine. I've been honing my craft for over twenty years. 
So, that's me. Some little factoids about yours truly. What are some factoids about you? Tell me in the comments!

Helene in Between

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pure Puppy Passion: Frisket Gets a Present (Affiliate Post)

Post Sponsored By Chewy

Frisket is a super playful puppy. He always has been. He loves all kinds of game, playing fetch, especially. He even likes playing with the cats if they'll let him.

They usually don't.

He's going to be thirteen next month, and while he's turning into quite the grumpy curmudgeon, he still loves cuddles, getting his belly rubbed, and playing fetch.

When we were camping a few weeks back, he actually fell out of the truck. Not sure if he jumped, and slipped, or if he actually fell out, but for awhile there, we actually thought he may have dislocated his arm. We gave him half of an ibuprofen, and aside from acting a little stoned, he seemed to have felt better.

He seems to be doing much better now, and when I got contacted by Chewy.com to try something new for my pets, I knew that I wanted to get something for Frisket. Old dog that he's becoming (but he'll always be my pupper), I wanted to get him something that would help him feel like a young pup.

Nutramax Cosequin Minis are soft chews that provide needed medicine for healthy joints. They help provide mobility, cartilage, and joint support so Frisket can run and not grow weary or sore. Since they're soft chews, Frisket can chew them easily, and he's always left wanting more.

Chewy is so sweet, they also sent him a little rubber toy that almost looks like a tiny strand of DNA. I wasn't sure if Frisket would actually play with it, because he usually likes tennis balls, and ripping soft toys to shreds, but when he saw this, he went absolutely BANANAS for it! It was hilarious watching him. He took it everywhere for the first few days, too.

Now, that's a happy dog. <3

Disclaimer: Products provided by Chewy.com for my opinion, which are all my own.