Archive for March, 2012

Am I Back Up?

on March 30, 2012 in Misc 8 Comments »

OMG, I think my blog is back online.

I had a SCARY week there, and truth to tell I’m not completely out of the evil haunted tech woods just yet.  But so far it looks like my Layla blog did not vanish forever into cyberspace, which was almost its fate.

Granted, I coulda started a new blog and just figured that what was gone is scarcely a loss to literature.  But still… Y’all know what it’s like to pour parts of yourself into writing a blog, so we want it to stick around.

THANK YOU, Ciara and Annie, for emailing me about how you couldn’t access this site.  That made me contact my friend Alonzo and ask for his help.  He promptly got on his computer and called my server company and… well, let’s just say that what he told them to do is biologically impossible.  But he couldn’t promptly transfer my blog to a new server company because the present one, for whatever malevolent technical reason, won’t let him back up Becoming Layla’s data, which is why chunks of it could vanish once it’s moved.

Anyway, repairs and transfers are underway, and until Alonzo is completely finished I don’t dare bother him.  See, when he’s in his  mysterious computer office/fortress and trying to save my and other people’s virtual hides, he REALLY doesn’t like to be bothered.  This is my personal image of the place.

So I pretty much keep my distance and send him the occasional gently inquiring email.

I am SO glad Alonzo is on my side.  And this weekend I’m writing a buncha stuff so I can have several posts for the next week or two to make up for my absence.  And now that my job and life have quieted down a little (thing got COMPLETELY CRAZY this last week) and I finally have personal time again, I’ll be visiting your own blogs and catching up.

I missed you all.

The weekend came and went way too fast. I mean seriously – where the hell did it go?

I swear I was gonna go out and do some fun Layla action things, but that didn’t happen. Life and necessities and duties interfered, especially on Sunday when the wind kicked up (60 mph) and blew dust in my face the one hour I did get outside.   Oh fun.  hen my sister called about planning for our Mom’s upcoming birthday and we had to make arrangements, like, RIGHT NOW.

Some of this lost time phenom was my own fault. I thought I’d spend a short while polishing a manuscript. Hours later I get up from my desk and realized the afternoon was almost over. Does that ever happen with you? You sit down to write and lose yourself in your own story, and before you know it you’re late for everything else in your life.

It’s certainly a danger for me.  Sometimes what’s going on in my head fiction-wise is so distracting it’s almost a dull shock to come back to reality. Story-telling can be so exciting, who wants reality?

And now, at last, there’s even scientific proof that fiction can be very real to the brain.  On Sunday (ironically, considering how I ended up spending the day) an article in the New York Times talks about how scientists can measure when you’re reading fiction because of how your brain reacts to it.  Seriously, the piece is called “Your Brain on Fiction.”

It seems that when a person reads a metaphor that involves texture, the sensory cortex responsible for perceiving texture through touch becomes active.  Metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice” and “He had leathery hands” arouses the sensory cortex.  On the other hand, phrases like “The singer had a pleasing voice” and “He had strong hands” does squat.

Take the effects of “John grasped the object” and “Pablo kicked the ball.”  The brain scan (fMRI) reveals activity in the motor cortex that coordinates the body’s movements.  Not only that, the activity is in one part of the motor cortex when the movement described was arm-related and in another when the movement involved the leg.

How cool is that?  The right words in a story – vivid, tactile, physical – can make our brains react as if our bodies were experiencing the reality described by those words.

As a writer, I suddenly feel  more powerful.  This also helps to explain why some novels affects us far more than others.  Not only are we reacting to them on an emotional and mental level, but our bodies are physically participating in the action.

Now if only I could get my body back out in the real world and do some real stuff.  Next weekend, I swear…

Yeah, I figured that title would get your attention.

I’ll summarize the innocent Layla doings first, then move on to the juicy stuff.

Now that spring is here I’m FINALLY getting back into Layla activities.  This means that on Sunday I woulda gone wall climbing if I’d had the time, but since I didn’t I at least studied French and had a solid workout with lots of stretching.

The stretching is important, but getting more limber has been a back-and-forth battle for me.  Any look at action heroes, martial arts, etc. tells you that being very limber is a fundamental necessity.  But now, at long last, I seem to be making consistent headway.  What seems to really work for me is simply…

Doing it till it hurts.

And by that I mean stretching my body, especially my legs and hips, not to the point of injury but to the point where muscles and tendons HURT.  I get into the necessary positions and push and pull and hold it and then go deeper and then ease up and then deeper again and make myself relax into the feeling of the stretch even when it really hurts.  And I hold it long enough until the pain eases… And believe me, I’m really making progress.

This kind of talk is also a natural segue for the porn topic.

In case any of you missed it, on Sunday there was a big article in the New York Times on something that depresses the hell out of me, to whit:  yet another small-time unknown writer has received a HUGE, MILLION-DOLLAR THREE-BOOK CONTRACT and all because she wrote a trilogy that I, also a small-time unknown writer, never thought to write.  And I bet you never penned such stuff either.

Her three novels (her being E L James) are about S&M erotica.  Wags are calling it “Mommy porn” and “Twilight” for grownups.

Here’s what happened.  James wrote the trilogy, which was put out by a small publisher in Australia, where she lives.  She couldn’t even get decent distribution for hard (no pun intended) copies of them, but they were available as e-books in the U.S, where they started selling like crazy even with no advertising or marketing.  This was enough for the Big Six American publishers to go apeshit and start bidding on them.

Sure, commentators have criticized James’ plodding prose, lack of content and pacing, and “have shredded the books for their explicit violence and antiquated treatment of women, made especially clear in the character of Anastasia, an awkward naif who consents to being stalked, slapped and whipped with a leather riding crop.” But hey, but who cares about literary details as long as the books sell?

By the way, that quote is from the NY Times, and here’s the link:

You know what’s really a joke to me?  How big publishers are supposed to be such experts on what sells and what doesn’t and how they keep trying to narrowly define genres that they tell writers to stick to.  But the fact is an obscure book often turns into a bestseller before the “experts” realize that readers are onto something.  That’s what happened with everything from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the self-published Mutant Message Downunder to the godawful Celestine Prophecy.

So for all you writers who want to get published, forget about subscribing to the useless Publishers Weekly and analyzing the market and honing your literary skills and polishing your manuscripts and perfecting your query letters.  Instead, you might as well just tell an imperfect story that comes straight from your heart.

Or from another body part.

Spring is almost sprung and I feel like I’m coming back to life after a loooong winter.

I bet you know just what I mean.  First, we turn a corner in January when the days a tiny bit longer.  Enough to make me poke my head outta my groundhog hole.  Then comes February when there’s a different slant to the sunlight.  This means the sun actually shines in through my job/office window after months of absence.

And then there’s the birdie bootie call.

I’m kinda surprised more people don’t notice this.  But all winter long there are songs you never hear from a lotta birds, especially common ones like sparrows and finches.  During the cold months  they only chirp and squawk like they ain’t too crazy about the weather.  Then around late February you can hear it – melodious, complicated, happy-sounding birdsongs.  And you just know they’re feeling warmer and hornier and they really want to start mating, like, RIGHT NOW!

Granted, this ornithology stuff doesn’t sound like action hero-type fare.  But the point is I’m starting to feel action restless again.  I mean, I’m stir-crazy and starving for adventure and fun and intrigue and just plain everything.  I even feel more like writing, as in novels.  If it weren’t for the nasty cold winds we’ve had all over Colorado, I’d want to run around like Lara Croft on a crazy-ass tomb raiding or something.  Not that we have a lotta big fancy tombs in Colorado.    But spring and then summer are just around the corner, so I’m making my plans.

How about you?  Maybe depending on where you live in the country, winter may have really gotten you down like it did me.  As in Michigan, definitely, but Florida not so much?

Have a warm, almost spring day, y’all.