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Showing posts from September, 2014

Visual Shortcuts that Cut

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As both a writer and a reader, I’m always trying to figure out why authors do some of the things we do: End scenes in particular ways, juxtapose dialogue and description, harness the rhythm of words to craft verbal songs… Use visual shortcuts as symbols for the characters’, well, character. Maybe it’s due to my rather colorful political sensibilities, or maybe because my dissertation focused on, in part, lookism, but I’m especially sensitive to the symbolism contained in the physical descriptions of literary characters. As I’ve written about before, I’m pretty devoted to making sure I representunder-represented physicalities, and I particularly delight in subverting traditional physical tropes. Given all this, I find it so disappointing when I read books that reinforce all the old, tired symbolism surrounding characters’ physical presentations. You know what’s super fun and reflects a lot more creativity than relying on the usual physical symbols? Messin’ with ‘em! So, for example, in Hu…

Thursday Threads: A Pretty Penny by Neva Brown

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A Pretty Penny Neva Brown
Wealthy, arrogant Clayton Brandt knows well the costs of a woman. Not until Penelope (Penny) Jones comes into his life does he know the value of a woman. Anger at Clayton, her new boss, causes Penny to snap out of the lethargy she’s experienced after seeing her husband killed. She puts to use all her innate abilities, learned skills, and intuitiveness to cope with the overbearing Clayton and the women in his life. Penny, in time, knows she loves him, but will not become one of his women—not on his terms. On her terms, they marry only to be parted by federal agents before they leave their wedding reception. The ensuing intrigue, danger, and antics of Clayton’s ex-wife play a part in Penny being in eminent peril. Even after their love survives all this, it is once again threatened by a letter from a vindictive woman who is dead. The letter devastates Clayton and crushes his hopes for happiness. How Clayton and Penny find their happy-ever-after is a breath-holding ad…

Thursday Threads: Rescued by Larynn Ford

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Rescued  Larynn Ford
Genre: Paranormal Romance Heat Level: Sizzling
Blurb: Fiercely independent and determined to be taken seriously in a man’s world, PI Rose Baxter will do whatever it takes to find the kids who are disappearing from the streets and bring them home safe, even teaming up with PI Marty Brown, a man hot enough to burn whatever part of her gets too close – her fingers, her sheets, her life, and her other nature’s whiskers.  But her other nature knows whiskers grow back and will accept nothing less than this man as her mate for life, a plan Marty’s all in on. Sparks fly when she refuses to be the little woman. Besides, those kids need her and their time’s running out. But, thrown together 24/7 can she fight it?
Excerpt: Rose heard the unmistakable sound of duct tape stripping from its roll. Her hands, bound together behind her back and another piece loosely secured the bag around her neck. Her memory of stored scents identified Mabel and Stan even before they spoke. “Take her to …

More Politics of the Smile: Resting Bitch Face

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Sometime in 2010, while driving through Hollywood, I passed a sign advertising an artistic exhibit exploring “beauty culture.” The sign featured a close-up of a White woman, sans facial expression and (much) make-up.
“Dang, that woman looks grumpy,” I thought. Then it hit me: No, she didn’t. She looked completely neutral. She had relaxed her facial muscles, and her lips rested in a gentle, natural downward arc. But why did the absence of a smile, of crinkling eyes, initially strike me as embodying grouchiness? Because, I realized, smiling has become the natural facial default for women.
In the last post, I went full-out, old-school sociology nerd in discussing expectations to smile while interacting with others. I waxed all dramaturgical, I used phrases like “social convention”; heck, I broke out Erving Goffman. That’s all fine and dandy, but I neglected one key element: power dynamics.
I do think part of the reason we expect smiles – even correct people for not giving them to us – s…