An Open Apology to Bloggers

One day, I will write a novel.  This novel might be a creative catharsis for emotional traumas I’ve experienced in my early adulthood.   Perhaps I will endeavor epic research and transplant myself to another place, another time, assume the persona of a controversial monarch or create fantasy world in which I can create the life I cannot live on this Earth.  A more remote possibility is that I would channel the inner comedian, dormant for my entire existence until the clever wit descended upon a couple of hundred of pages. 

When I write this novel, perhaps I won’t have the network, the timing or even the blessing of the Fates to acquire an editor, an agent, a publisher.  When I take matters into my own hands and fumble and blunder, I will follow my rookie writer foibles with this letter:  An Open Apology to Bloggers

Dear Blogger,

I am terribly sorry if, in a fit of love angst I sent you, your friends, and your friends’ friends hard copies of my ARC with the expectation that you review it.  Please don’t.  As my now EX, there is nothing that would please me more than for you and your associates to burn every copy you have been mailed.  Use them as kitty litter.  Distribute them to the homeless.  I don’t care, but please, for the love of all Gods Christian, Pagan, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or any other faith, DON’T review my book.  Even if we departed on amicable terms, nothing good will come of your review.  I once respected your input; I now kindly request your total departure from my life. 

Secondly, I sincerely apologize for assuming that you have the living space for innumerable ARCs.  I can imagine your living room:  the radiator covers stacked with tomes, reducing the efficiency of their heat.  The ceiling vents are blocked, so the A/C does not flow to cool the room in the summer.  I now understand that, in order to sit on your one good chair, you are in a constant state of transferring stacks of books from one spot to another in order to sit and respond to my repeated requests to publish a five-star review of my first stab at sentence writing. 

Lastly, I was completely Mad-Hatter Mad to expect that you spend your day exclusively speed reading ARCs, taking them to the toilet, the dinner table, the bedside.  I now know that my writing has not caused you to forego sex or food to devour every last line.  Your writing skills are not as supernatural as I had assumed, and it does actually take a few hours, if not days for you to piece together a coherent, thoughtful review.  My Jedi powers must have failed me, and this is my fault, and this is why you aren’t seeing multiple stars highlighted across your GoodReads screen. 

What I should have done, and I will endeavor to do so in the future, is to have done some research on your blog.  I can see from a cursory glance that you don’t review young adult manga fantasy and that your authors are more literary and are frequent award winners.  Silly me to think that homework ended in high school!  Next time I will send an electronic copy of my first chapter.  If you find it worth propping up the electronic device of your choice up by the kitchen sink while you are chopping vegetables for your four ankle-biters, I’d be thrilled to send you the rest via e-mail.  In the event that I really require a timely review, I will contract with you at a minimum rate of $250 for your time reading and writing about my drivel. 

I hope by now you received the apology tea gift basket.  I was going to send chocolate (yes, I’ll admit I was pandering to the chick stereotype), but I saw your tweet that chocolate makes you break out.  Perhaps you’ll find the chamomile relaxing and will be less likely to vent to your fellow bloggers about what an asshat I have been. 

Well, now, I’m off to make my novel #2 professionalism checklist.  My 12-step program for reformed novel writing is well underway with this letter of apology.  Whew!  I feel like I’ve just left adolescence and can put my big boy pants on. 

Thanks again, and this will be the last pestering communication you receive from me.  I’d hate for you to think that I’m some stalker. 

All my best (and yes my best this time),

Author Me

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SHINE SHINE SHINE

Yes, Sunny is an icon for the extreme struggles of motherhood, but what about her husband?

When MImageaxon Mann walks through the doorway of his home, his conscious thought is divided into a decision-tree.  If wife = scowling, then speak from the set {“What is wrong?”; “How can I help?”; “Let’s get take-out.”}.  Such logical reasoning drives Maxon’s very social existence.  The observational learning of childhood was lost to this somewhat robotic form of a man.  While most children learn how to interpret social situations with ease, Maxon has struggled to assign IF, THEN statements to social cues and their appropriate responses.  Throughout Lydia Netzer’s debut novel, SHINE SHINE SHINE, the underlying question emerges:  Can a robot love?

In Maxon’s world, love is defined by mathematically determined correct choices.  A man should be married.  Married men should be parents.  Therefore, a man should be a parent.  His love for Sunny follows a Marital Transitive Property of Equality.  Every puzzle piece in his highly functioning, possibly autistic, world has a mathematically defined place.  It’s easy to poke a little fun at this seemingly socially incompetent character, but Maxon shares with us frustrations of the male communicator.

My husband posted a picture on Facebook entitled “5 Deadly Terms Used by a Woman.”  Included in this set were “Fine,” “Nothing,” “Go Ahead,” “Whatever,” and “That’s O.K.”  This post was followed by several AMEN-type comments.  This comedic attempt to translate and routinize men’s (successful) communications with women shows the robot in every man in a relationship:  they just want to know the formula.  Maxon is simply every man, taken to the extreme.  For my robot, love is a decision, executed by pleasing choices.  What do I want?  I want my robot.  And yes, my robot can love.

NOTE:  The subtle irony here is that the equations written in SHINE SHINE SHINE  to desImagecribe Maxon’s inner thoughts were written by me, a woman.  When Lydia Netzer approached me to assign mathematical expressions to social interactions, I at first approached the request with a great bit of amusement.  As I gave the project some thought, I was surprised at how many social norms could be expressed with set theory and matrix expressions.  Netzer hit a big nail on the head:  our interactions are more mathematical than we think.

SHINE SHINE SHINE

Lydia Netzer

St. Martin’s Press

July 2012

Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar

I can always feel the invisible tether bound permanently around my ankle.  In the gym, I am bound by the clock, at home, by the schedule.   Even while driving, I am reminded of the cord’s length – the seven seats of my mini-van enumerate the responsibility, recall the fact that I am not a one, I am bound by responsibility to a group.  Closing my eyes, I feel a connection with the tether of the 1900’s Western woman, bound by social calls, teas and escorts.  Both of us lead somewhat privileged, yet limited lives.  Both of us are content, yet yearning.

On a bicycle, the tether unravels.  My escort, the gas pump, fades, and my only limits are those proclaimed by my muscles.  The gears overcome my handicaps of fatigue; my destination knows no lane or parking spot.  My horse requires no feed or rest.  For me or against me, the wind and sky are my only escorts.  I can visit sites unreachable by car, too distant by foot.  Exploration and speed are rivals to the high of complete freedom attainable by this assembly of simple machines.

Author Suzanne Joinson takes these sentiments and gives them life in the bicycle-propelled mystery, Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar. Two British women, attempting to break both their real and perceived bounds of family, find escape in the two-wheeled vehicle.  The bicycle functions as the liberator and the gateway.  Through cycling, these women push the boundaries of social norms to their limit.  Alternating between the 1920’s and the present day, this novel takes the reader across Europe and into remote areas of Asia and raises questions that resonate for women across time.  Where does freedom end and chaos begin?  Is it possible to hold the security of the family unit in one hand and the wings of freedom in another?  Does motherhood necessitate the end of exploration?

I read Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar on the heels of the 2012 Franklin Omnium.  In Franklin, VA, the untethering rides to a new level.  This series of races offers women a unique opportunity:  serious competition in Southeastern Virginia.  But why cycling for women?

Brooke Miller, multiple women’s national cycling champion, has repeatedly reported that women’s average late entry into the sport allows women to compete at ages beyond men’s typical burnout age.  In her 2009 Examiner interview, Miller states, “In endurance sports, women peak much later in life… It is true that there are often not a lot of opportunities for women to continue their athletic pursuits- but their bodies are often much more capable than they were when they were in college.”

Not yet fully embraced by women, cycling offers an undiscovered road.  The cyclist finds speeds unattainable in a foot race, urgency unparalleled in a tennis match and precision rivaling golf.  Women may find inspiration in Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar.  The exhilaration of legitimate competition past college may be found on the open road.

Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar

Suzanne Joinson

Bloomsbury

2012