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More Than 7 Reasons ‘Frozen’ is Not a Progressive Movie

24 Jan

So, I love Frozen. Like, fairly legitimately love. I’ve already seen it twice and plan on throwing money at Disney a third time once the sing-along version hits theaters. And Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer? Definitely on my “most favorite fictional characters” list. They possibly have the most common sense out of all the characters in the movie. Seriously. I love the look on Sven’s face near the end of the movie before he and Kristoff go hurtling back into Arendelle that clearly says, “Why do I have to fix everybody’s shit? I always fix everybody’s shit…”

Thanks Disney! Source: http://www.disney.co.za/movies/frozen/gallery

This face.

But, given all that, I would not label Frozen as “progessive.” Sure, on some points it does marginally better than some of Disney’s previous movies have done, but I think the points made in Gina Luttrell’s PolicyMic article, “7 Moments That Made ‘Frozen’ the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever” are fairly shortsighted in their praise. I’m rather horrified at the thought that hype around surface impressions of the movie will set Frozen as the new standard for Disney progressivism. Disney still needs to do way better before I grant it the label of “progressive.”

Here’s why.

1. “Elsa and Anna’s abusive parents”

Since when is having abusive parents in a fairy tale progressive? It’s not even new. Cinderella’s stepmother forces her to be a domestic slave. In the original fairy tale, it even happens while Cinderella’s father is still alive. He lets his new wife subjugate his biological daughter. Then there’s Snow White’s stepmother who tries to have her killed. Hansel and Gretel’s father tries to send his children off into the woods to die (but hey, they weren’t his problem anymore, right?) once he remarries. In Aladdin, Jasmine’s father treats her in the usual fashion of female objectification as property. In Mulan, the namesake protagonist’s father orders her about and expects her to be a docile, obedient daughter willing to take her father’s words and decisions without a peep. And while not a Disney film, but in Shrek, Fiona’s parents lock her away because they think it’s the best way to handle her curse. Sound familiar?

Yes, parental misunderstanding of the best way to help a kid with idiosyncrasies of some sort or other is rampant these days. Just like it’s been rampant since always. But while Elsa and Anna’s parents are obviously ignorant when it comes to what they should actually do (like embrace Elsa’s gift and help her learn about it openly, instead of telling her to basically pretend like it doesn’t exist), they clearly always act out of love. And while abuse can often come under the “title” of “love,” I really don’t see anything malicious in what Elsa’s parents do. They were told that if people became afraid of their daughter, they would hurt her. So they in their shortsighted way do what they thought was the best way to make sure nobody would ever be afraid of their daughter. And at no point does Elsa ever indicate that she thinks there’s a better way to handle it or ask for something different. She turns Anna away voluntarily, because she also thought her isolation was for the best.

But then there’s also the fact that even if the actions of Elsa’s parents were abusive, the movie never ventures on to explicitly point out why their response was wrong or suggest how it should have been different.

2. “Elsa’s self-empowerment”

So, I love the song “Let It Go.” I play it on loop. But let’s examine the song in a larger context. Yes, Elsa feels she is finally free to be herself…

…now that she’s been chased out of her community, cut ties with everyone she loves, explicitly told her brand of individuality isn’t appreciated, and decided to continue her life of self-imposed isolation. What’s the message here? “You can be yourself, but only if you’re completely isolated away from the rest of society where you’ll have to deal with disapproval if you do show that you’re different.”

Besides, Elsa still doesn’t completely understand herself or her powers. Sure, she can do some cool shit with it, but she still can’t control it, as we see when she later accidentally nearly kills her sister again. It’s clear that all of the creation that happens during “Let It Go” is coming from emotions like rage, vengeance, and smugness. She’s not calm when she creates. She’s still in emotional throes.

What’s more, it’s not like Elsa’s newfound semi-embrace of her powers came from within. She didn’t just walk outside into Arandelle all, “Look here, people, I’m a BAMF! Watch what I can do!” No. She lost control and was forced to out herself while trying to escape an uncomfortable social situation. The set-up of “go take your strangeness and have it by yourself on some mountain!” is the equivalent of “she was crazy, so we locked her in an asylum.”

Also, what the hell is she going to eat in an ice castle??

3. “Anna’s clumsiness, awkwardness, and honesty.”

Yeah, four words: Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Seriously. All Disney’s done is trade one limiting trope for another.

Also, “until Brave, the idea of an outspoken princess is unheard of.” Really??? How about Belle from Beauty and the Beast, who managed to be outspoken and didn’t sound like an idiot half the time while doing it?

4. “Kristoff’s ability to lead next to a strong woman”

Ah yes, how progressive, we definitely needed another male figure whose authority still trumps that of the strong female lead. Also, “Kristoff is a wonderful example of what a masculine, 21st century man looks like.” Blond, muscular, self-confident and self-made? Ah yes, that totally defies stereotypes and expands the bounds of what we’ve come to understand a man can be in these progressive times…

Really. Kristoff doesn’t seem like the Disney Princes of old because Frozen adjusted its tone to match that of modern teens and twenty-somethings. The characters don’t use the formal language or etiquette portrayed in more period-true movies like Cinderella. For years, Disney’s basically taken modern day people and stuck them in old clothing. But that doesn’t mean they’ve inherently changed at all. When Kristoff first interacts with Anna, it’s to gruffly tell her to move. Dang women, always getting in the way of what men want! Seriously, he can’t even say “please.” Because apparently Anna, obviously a stranger to those parts, is supposed to magically read his mind to know what he wants (because every woman should intuitively know how to please a man, right?). Later, Kristoff escorts Anna to the mountain first because he feels he owes her for the supplies she bought him, and then because he wants Anna to give him a new sleigh. Throughout the entire movie, it’s clear to the audience that Kristoff is condescending towards Anna and doubtful of her judgment. “He’s not afraid to call Anna out on her poor decisions?” Yeah, telling a woman she’s wrong and that a man knows better is really progressive.

Yes, in the end Kristoff falls in love with Anna and tolerates her “quirkiness.” But hey, she is a manic pixie dream girl after all.

5. “Oaken’s gay family”

How progressive is it really if most of the audience isn’t even going to catch what’s going on in this scene? “Oh hey, we’ll make a statement, but nobody will hear it!”

Besides, the man in the sauna isn’t “clearly” Oaken’s husband – he’s much younger and in fact looks like he’s more in the age cohort of the woman next to him. All in all, it’s inconclusive. If he is the gay partner, then great, props. But again, Disney could have done much better.

6. “Arendelle’s unquestioning acceptance of a queen”

“Unquestioning acceptance?” Sure, as long as she’s exactly what they want and expect her to be. But as soon as she exhibits unexpected power, the immediate response is to distrust her and chase her out of the kingdom. Besides, who else does the kingdom even have to rule them??? The previous two monarchs died and the runner-up has been locked in a castle (just like in Sleeping Beauty…) until she came of age. There’s no potential male competitor ever mentioned. And what’s more, all we see is the coronation. Who knows what pressure there could have been on Elsa to marry after that?

Besides, female queens? How about Tangled? Flynn rider wasn’t a prince. He only became royalty because he married into it. Then there’s Brave, which focuses on explicitly proving why Merida’s totally capable of being a ruler all on her own.

And Luttrell’s comment about how at least Anna and Elsa aren’t sitting by twirling around in their ball gowns while a male rules? Yeah, still looks like they’re wearing ball gowns to me. Ball gowns that show off their stereotypical unachievable female figure, no less. And are we supposed to forget the scene immediately before that? The “For the First Time in Forever” sequence where Anna sings about how she’ll get to twirl around in her ballgown and flirt with boys now?

7. “Everyone’s reaction to Anna’s foolish engagement”

Alrighty. The “da fuq?” response to the snap engagement is pretty cool. But yet again, what about Merida, whose story kinda centered around her not wanting to get married at all? I’d say it addresses the trope expecting women to want marriage much more successfully than Frozen, in which, uh, Anna wants to get married. And how about the fact that it’s only Anna who gets chastised for the decision? Everyone focuses on telling her that she’s wrong, but not one single person ever rebukes Hans! Of course, when a bad situation crops up, it’s always the woman’s fault, yet again.

And anyway, what about Disney movies that don’t focus on marriage at all? Alice in Wonderland? Lilo and Stitch? Women have adventures without marriage or relationships even having to be remotely a causative factor.

8. ALL THE REST

There are still so many remaining issues to bar Frozen from being counted as progressive. Like Disney’s continued insistence on perpetuating an factually infeasible female body image. In fact, there was a fair amount of heat before the movie was even released over the comment from Disney’s head animator that no matter what they’re experiencing, no matter what emotion they’re going through, when animating females, “you have to keep them pretty.” Seriously. The very construction of the female’s bodies is ridiculous. BOTH female protagonists, and most of the other women, are still portrayed as stick-thin with eyes that have bigger circumferences than their wrists, heads that have bigger circumferences than their waists, and hands that are actually impossibly too small. The male protagonists fare no better. Both male leads are portrayed as big and burly.

You can’t be “progressive” if you haven’t actually changed anything.

All in all, Frozen takes no drastic steps towards being any different from the rest of Disney’s canon. It’s amusing, it’s got a great soundtrack, and it does mildly better on some points. But better enough to be deemed “progressive?” I don’t think so.

 

Frustration

20 Jan

A lot of America’s pre-college education seems to focus around making sure that kids know things. I think it should focus more on teaching kids that they don’t.

We teach kids the equations they’ll need for their plug-and-chug recognition homework. “Question type a takes equation process type b with steps c through g.” It focuses on making sure that kids can recall what chapter heading a certain phraseology fell under and and what process they were told in that chapter they should use to solve it. “Do you know what sort of thing it is that you needed to know in order to attack this problem?”

But we never teach kids how to handle not knowing what they need to do to attack a problem.

It’s a problem I first ran into in college. My math and physics problems, they were derivation and proof based. “Here are the theorems and axioms, have fun figuring out how to build your own damn process.”

Uh, no.

Especially since by “figure out your own damn process” my TA’s definitely meant “recreate the already universally-accepted specific series of variable translations we’ve written down in our solution set. No no, don’t do math, originate it.”

Now, there is a dichotomy in me. I am not a math or physics person. You start to say either of those words at me, and I’m going to run screaming into the nearest hipster humanities student-filled coffee shop. I’m writer. I’m also a biologist. Once Caltech finally prints my diploma, it’ll say I earned a B.S. in both.

But really, the workings of biology are something that make much more inherent sense to me. I spent months’ worth of free time hours over the course of my high school career lolling around on my bed, Google searching the shit out of my laptop and staring at the wall while playing around with concepts and generating designs in my head for ways to tweak biomolecules into HIV-attacking machines. There was – is – no set process to calculate the cure for AIDS. That meant I was free to run around with factoids in my own imagination, hurtling through a tunnel of question-answer-roadblock, question-answer-roadblock, as I tried to use what I knew and what I could learn to fill in the blanks of what I didn’t know while wrestling with this problem. Nobody was grading me on how I worked out the problem. No one was going to tell me I had to figure it all out by a certain time and then slap some red slashes and a hopefully two-digit number evaluation at the top. The project was entirely mine to work on. There wasn’t the pressure of expected performance to numb my thinking capacity with adequacy-anxiety. I had the time and mental freedom to think and rethink and unthink and think again without anyone telling me I wasn’t doing it well enough, fast enough, proper enough.

The work I did entirely on my own self-motivation and un-judged learning capacity ended up getting me into a lab the summer after my frosh year of college to work on a project that was in fact trying to build a new sort of biomolecule, a grandaddy triton of antibodies, essentially, to overcome the whole HIV-has-ridiculously-sparse-spikes, oh-shit-normal-antibodies-can’t-get-good-avidity-to-that. ‘Course, that’s when I found out that while for me the mindwork of research is tantalizing, I despise petri dishes and aliquots of clear liquid with a passion so fiery it burnt my enthusiasm for the underlying problem to a dead crisp. And so ended my lab career.

But anyhoo, I tell all of that to contrast it to those terrible math and physics problems I had to grapple with on my frosh and sophomore college homework. The problem there was that there was a particular blueprint for building the process. I couldn’t just fiddle around dreamily with the nuts and bolts, wandering around in factland away from the glowering stare of a deadline. Because those math and physics homeworks were due tomorrow. And I needed to know how their axiomatic parts fit together by, like, yesterday. Probably by last week, actually.

But, despite going to one of the top universities in the nation, I was at a school full of smart researching professors and smart ready-to-learn students where the smart researching professors didn’t know how to communicate with their smart students through the language of lecturer for shit. I had the axioms chucked at me in a lump and never had time spent or given to think about their implications. Sure, there was this phrase, and it said this thing, but goodness knows I was never given a chance to properly think about what the fuck did the phrase actually mean. And when it came to those homework proofs and derivations, there was no set protocol or process for doing them. This wasn’t “how do you do this computational procedure?” This wasn’t “how do you fit these parts to this process?” This was “what tricks of second-order cleverness do you need to play hide and seek with these notation symbols and thus pop out in Neverland?”

How. the fuck.

And, because I’d gone through high school being a good student who’d always made sure she knew what process a question was asking her to proceed with, I naturally looked at these procedureless questions due in a matter of hours and began to cry.

No, actually. My hours of struggling through physics and math sets are more saturated with tears and skin-grating frustration than anything else. I didn’t know how to go about figuring out the problem, and I was time-limited enough that I felt too pressured to spend time playing around with its components to see if maybe something I did would work. I expected myself to know what I was supposed to do, now. And I didn’t.

I was paralyzed. I didn’t know what I needed to know, and I had very little confidence that I’d be able to figure out what I needed to know before the set was due in any manner that wouldn’t result in my brain feeling like a nuclear bomb had gone off in it a despairingly short time in, and so I froze. I hated myself. I felt so. fucking. inadequate. All because I’d not been taught how to figure out a solution – because there was a known, set solution already – from scratch. Because with all the good lectures did me, I was approaching my homework sets with an effective knowledge base of zero.

Sure, there were lots of issues going on with my math and physics education for those two years, and those problems weren’t all because of my lack of mathematical capacity or the style of my pre-college education. (Take, for example, the unmedicated clinical depression I had at the time.) But the fact that I wasn’t emotionally or conceptually prepared to handle not knowing at least what it was that I should have known to figure out a problem – that was still a factor.

So, three years later, having gotten my head out the mire enough to figure out how to at least somewhat productively stumble around in the muck of it all, I do say that freshman-me might have benefited quite a bit if my pre-undergrad education had focused a mite less on “let’s check if you know what to know” and more on helping us learn how to bear up against when we wouldn’t know. I’d have appreciated learning how to the statement, “Okay, kids. You don’t know anything.”

“Now, deal with it.”

Late

17 Jan

time storm

I hate being late. And by “hate,” I mean honest-to-goodness hate. For most of my childhood, I had what was pretty damn near a phobia of being late. To school. To a friend’s house. To a movie. If my mother went to get concessions after we’ve picked our seats, I’d stare back at the auditorium doors in frozen, petrified, high-pitched-whine kind of fear until she got back. Because what if the line was really long and she didn’t get back till after the movie started? What if they didn’t let her in because they’d already closed the auditorium doors??? (I didn’t quite understand the way that movie theaters worked back at age seven…) Same thing happened if we were flying somewhere. What if we got the airport too late and didn’t make it through security on time??? I basically held my breath through the entire line. And then once we got to the gate, I practically refused to let anyone, especially my mother, leave to – oh, say, got to the bathroom, or get breakfast. Because what if she didn’t make it back on time and the plane left without her??? I always carried with me some sense of dread foreboding, that being late was either going to bring irrepudiation crashing down on me in a burning criticism of my evident laziness or would otherwise cause something to go horridly, painfully wrong. It’s like if I were late to something, than life turned into a scary, ravenous monster that was going to tear apart me and my hopes and dreams with its gnashing teeth and then gobble down all the fragments.

I was a very imaginative child.

Sure, I’ve gotten a *bit* less neurotically anxious about the whole “being a few minutes late” thing. But still, there is the preference in me to be absurdly early than even the tiniest bit tardy. And when life happens and I pass the “few minutes late” threshold, I still haven’t entirely figured out how to handle it.

Like… I still expect to be forevermore considered a terrible human being (or employee or volunteer or friend or whatever) for showing up late. Egregiously late. Like this morning, when I somehow managed to miss my 8:20 am alarm (did I sleep through it? did my phone lie to me last night about the alarm being set? did the alarm just never go off this morning? who knows…) and woke up to some random 9:20 am alarm that I’d set for several days ago.

“Oh, great!” you might be thinking. “So you did at least wake up to one alarm!”

Yeah, ONE ALARM THAT WENT OFF TWENTY MINUTES AFTER I WAS ALREADY SUPPOSED TO BE AT WORK!!!

There was a great deal of groaning and panicking and frustration and indecision in the few minutes more I remained in my bed, eyes tightly clasped shut and hands clenched into fists around my blankets as if I could will the world to go back an hour. I’d awoken from yet another stream of nightmares (dearest brain of mine, what the fuck is wrong???) and felt pretty pummeled. So, you know, my usual morning start. But hey, I’d slept through an alarm while presumable trapped in one of my sickening nightmares, and woken up with a bit of a raw feeling in my throat. Again, typical and after one downed cup of coffee I’d be functional, but not exactly the picture of health, at least mentally so.

So, I’m lying there in bed, seething with regret at the iniquity that was my having over slept, wondering what the fuck I should do about work. I only had a two hour shift that morning, 9 to 11, and it was already 9:30. By the time I’d get to work, it would be 9:40. Aaaaagh.

Should I call my supervisor and explained that I’d overslept and was feeling a bit under the weather (I’d done that before, when I’d awoken two hours late to find myself dripping with sinus infection, and hey, my mental state certainly wasn’t sporting the brightest of blue skies) and that sorry, I wouldn’t be coming in today? Should I try to obliterate myself back into unconsciousness and email my supervisor later with basically the same spiel? Should I whip my ass out of bed and hurtle it across campus and offer as penitent an apology as I could muster?

Some of you might be sitting there at your computers (or smartphones) with raised eyebrows wondering, “What’s the big deal? You were late. You’re human, it happens. Suck it up and just go to work.”

To which I respond, you all are entirely reasonable. Yes. That “what’s the big deal” statement is in fact the correct answer. Especially since my supervisor is one of the nicest, most understanding women I know. I am not in fact entirely certain whether she actually even has the capability of raising her voice at well-meaning employees who normally are on top of their shit but occasionally have issues with the whole “non-disordered sleeping” business.

So yeah, eventually I did get my ass out of bed and into jeans and across campus to my job by 9:40 am. And my punishment for such a tardy appearance? A good-natured laugh from my supervisor. The slim Asian woman did not in fact turn into an unappeasable time monster waiting to rip me into morsel-sized shreds. Go figure.

I think my remaining trepidation about being late is a continued vestige of my tendency towards the all-or-nothing kind of thinking. I either know how to figure out a homework problem or I’m afraid to even start trying. I’m either a brilliant employee who’s always on time or a mess of a wasted paycheck. I’m either gloriously happy in my relationship or cripplingly insecure.

Sure, a lot of this all-or-nothingness is constrained – might I say bottled? – within me, so it doesn’t actually get outwardly expressed in actions. It’s not like I’m always toggling between chanting “om” and flipping a shit about falling sky. Outwardly, there’s mediation.

But holy fuck is there a tempest inside.

And I know when I’m being all-or-nothing. Putting on those negative lenses. Responding irrationally in the feels department. I know the what’s going on with the weather forecast, but being able to psychologically categorize what’s going on doesn’t mean the rain’s pelting the windows to my soul any less hard. My frame still thunders and rattles and shakes. I still worry that I will be stormed off my hinges.

I think that I worry so about being late because I am afraid that one day, I really am going to miss something important. And then, I will be left out in the open with the storm and the waste-laying time monster.

And then, there will be no more seconds left to run.

bloggedy blog blogs

17 Dec

In which I say to hell with grammar and tell you about some other awesome blogs. NO, you don’t need to buy anything, repost anything, sell your soul to corporate America for anything, or any such nonsense.

I’m just writing this post to say, “Oh hey, it’s the winter holidays when we’re supposed to be sharing and giving and spreading joy throughout livingkind and stuff, so how ’bout I do some of that with my readers?” ‘Cause, you know, there are other bloggers besides me (oh god please don’t leave me I love you all I need you please please stay and keep giving me someone to write for *continue desperate begging of an underly-caffeinated Miceala*) – and of those other bloggers, there are some who make me laugh and smile and nod approvingly at their writerly wit that I think they’re worth telling y’all about too.

So. Really what I’m doing is just giving you a bigger reading list. That’s a good thing, right?

Anyhoo. On to my fangirling.

 

I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog, Katherine Fritz

Okay, maybe it’s just that this woman has the same sarcastic snark that I do, but I consistently love her posts. Every. single. one. And that’s no easy feat for a blogger. And when I say her posts are real, I don’t just mean in the “Hallmark touchy-feely” sense. I mean that her posts are filled with all the fucks and damns and laughter and pissyness and appreciation and grunge and lust and luster of a typical day in the life of a twenty-something. She’s got mega-good insights without being preachy or trite, and she’s blunt without being crass. She’s a freelance costume designer in Philly, so a lot of her posts are about artsy stuff, but she also posts about everything and anything. Including mistaking sweater fluff for a spider. Best. Halloween post. ever.

 

Mommy Man, Jerry Mahoney

So a lot of you have probably already heard me go on and on about this dad-superman-comedian-gay guy writer in a previous post about the book he’s got coming out in March. He’s hilarious, he loves his kids and will tell you about them in all their awkward, selfish, innocent, just-barely-not-a-toddler glory, and he’s got some pretty interesting thoughts to share on what it’s like being a gay stay-at-home-dad in today’s times.

 

The Blog, Patrick Rothfuss

Apparently Patrick Rothfuss is *just too busy* finishing up that third book of his to come up with a wittier name for his blog. To be fair, the man’s throwing his energy into being a family man, a fantasy writer, an expert geek, and a cultural critique, and he’s got so much excellence outputting there, it’s understandable that he didn’t feel the need to agonize over his blog title. But seriously, if you want to keep up with the goings-on of someone I think is one of the world’s most interesting people, check out his blog. Also follow him on Facebook – not for publicity’s sake, but because a lot of the best snippets he writes show up as status posts rather than blog entries.

 

Let’s share the blogginess! I’m always happy to find other excellent internet writers out there I can use to procrastinate on work by reading their posts. So comment with your favorites! 😀

Let’s Make Some Goats

1 Dec

All right. I try really hard not to throw promo stuff at you all too often. There are so many ad pop ups and commercials and “after these messages from our sponsors” in life, I really don’t feel the need and in fact cringe at the thought of adding to the splew of buy-this-you-need-it and give-money-to-insert-cause-here that’s already descended upon our society as the eleventh Great Egyptian Plague that God apparently forgot about until just recently.

But… sometimes, there are really cool things happening, and they’re worth talking about, and, well, they just inherently involve asking for money…

This is one of those times.

Let’s start by talking about some books. For those of you already familiar with Patrick Rothfuss and his book series The Kingkiller Chronicles, I’ll just leave you to go finish your fangirl squealing for a bit and explain what’s driven you all to hysteria to those poor unfortunate souls who don’t know about the Amazingness that is Rothfuss and his literary brainchild, Kvothe.

So, Rothfuss is an orgasmically well-spoken geek of a fantasy author who’s churned out two books of a three-book series, known as The Kingkiller Chronicles. The books’ve got a paradoxically mysterious yet entirely relatable main male character, subtly complex side characters, a couple or so Strong Female Characters who are also weak and smart and stubborn and loving and bullheaded and real. And he’s got a beautifully constructed fantasy world, a plot mercifully free of irrelevance and wonderfully full of hints and riddles you don’t even realize are there till long after you’ve read them. Basically, Rothfuss’s writing is what I strive toward as an author. If you want to know more, go look up his books your goddamn self.

Because our most beloved fangirls are probably done squealing now, and I haven’t even gotten to my main point.

So. Rothfuss, this spectacular human writer thing, is also apparently a spectacular human philanthropist thing. The Tinker’s Pack, Rothfuss’s writerly “gift shop” of sorts, donates proceeds to Heifer International, an impressively corruption-free charitable organization that turns money donations into animals – like goats – that by providing milk, labor, babies, and eventually meat give families sustainable solutions to hunger.

Yeah. Pretty damn awesome.

And what’s more, in an attempt to garner more traffic through the Tinker’s Pack and thus churn out more goats for starving children, Rothfuss is having a Thanksgiving sale all through this weekend, and a Worldbuilders event (Worldbuilders is Rothfuss’s name for the umbrella organization of his charitable schemes) coming up soon.

So. Yes, I am telling you to go visit the Tinker’s Pack this weekend and buy something. Yes, I am telling you to keep an eye out for the upcoming Worldbuilders event and participate in that too. But hey, by spending $30 on a cool book, or some talent pipe earrings, you get something super awesome, and somewhere a kid gets the best any-day-of-the-year-present of a livestock animal that’s gonna keep them from starving anymore.

Honestly, sounds like a win-win.

And, to incentivize you all even further, I’ll even throw in a chance to get something FREE out of all of this! FREE! Woohoo!!!

After you’ve gone and bought something from the Tinker’s Pack sale, comment below with what you got (honor code, people, no lying. let’s all be decent human beings here). You can even make a separate entry per item purchased! The give-away will run until the midnight interface between Monday December 2nd and Tuesday December 3rd Pacific Standard Time, when I’ll throw all the names into a hat (no, seriously, my boyfriend has a top hat that I’m totally stealing to do this with later) and pick out a couple. The two people chosen will receive a FREE signed copy of my memoir AND a poem I’ll write specifically in their honor. AND I’ll ship the whole shabang to the lucky winners and pay for postage and whatnot all myself.

Sounds pretty cool, hunh? Yup, I thought so. So hurry up! Get out of here! Go ravage the Tinker’s Pack! Let’s make some goats! Now Now Now!

Writer’s Digest Book Awards: The Result

17 Oct

Hello, lovely readers, from me and my welcome-overstaying sinus infections germs. It’s a tissue party over here.

But at least I’ve got something to really celebrate! As some of you might remember, waaaaaaay back in March, I sent my memoir, its ink freshly dried after a mere two months of official existence, to compete in the “life stories” arena of the 21st annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Books Award. You know, this post: https://thequillwritings.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/writers-digest-contest/

Well, the results are in! No, I didn’t win. But I did get something pretty damn cool: a FANTASTIC score AND an AWESOME review from the judges!

Books were evaluated in five different categories along a scale, with 1 meaning “Needs Improvement” and meaning “Outstanding.” A 0 was given if the category wasn’t applicable.

Here are my scores:

Structure and Organization: 4

Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

 Plot (if applicable): 0

Character Development (if applicable): 0

All 4’s for a first-time memoir that I wrote, edited, and published entirely on my own? I’ll take it!

But what I was even more excited about was the review:

The best part of Drop Dead Gorgeous by author Miceala Shocklee is her passion to write her own story about her eating disorder.   She writes about how eating disorders hold a deadly attraction.  There is the attraction of winning, of reaching “ultimate thinness” but there is also the attraction of playing.  There is a seductive temptation in the eating disorder game.

But eating disorders are not beautiful.  They are not pretty.  Eating disorders are not just an attraction, an addiction, a disease.  They are not just a way of life, they are an obsession.  How could I want such a deadly disease so much?  Good question.  You see, it’s not the disease I wanted–it was the promises it made.  The promises of superiority and power, of satisfaction and happiness.”

Perhaps one of the deadiest facets of eating disorders is that because you can always go farther and farther, there is always, always a competition going on.   The author realizes how through therapy her recovery is not done.

A must read for those who are going through an eating disorder and or recovery.

                – Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards

Seriously, the only feedback I got was this amazing review, and a suggestion to possibly add pictures to increase readers’ understanding of the disease. I totally respect the judges’ feedback (have I mentioned yet how SUPERBLY GRATEFUL I am for their review???), but I don’t think I’ll be adding pictures – at least, not the kind they mean. There was a reason I didn’t include pictures in the first place. Too much emphasis has been put on the way that eating disorders look. To be sick, you must be stick thin. But that’s not true. Even technically “overweight” people can starve themselves. Some people can eat next to nothing for a week and lose three pounds. Some people can eat next to nothing for a week and gain two pounds. Sure, a lot of the danger of eating disorders is on the physical toll they take on a body. But the media, whether we’re talking tabloids or medical websites or individual blogs, have done a fair amount of showing what eating disorders can look like on the outside. The whole point of my book was to show what eating disorders look like on the inside. And that’s not easily done with pictures.

I want victims of eating disorders to have a voice out there who says, “yes, I have lived this life too,” but even more than that, I want victims of eating disorders to have something they can hand to their friends and family, the ones who never be privy to that world of eating disorder mind, and say, “this is what it’s like.” In all my years of encounters with other victims, there have been just as many ways as there were victims that eating disorders looked. For the most part, however, there was really only one way that eating disorders feel.

And besides, do you know how daunting it is to have to sit down in front of those who mean the most to you and try to explain yourself? Oh god. What are you even going to say? What if you can’t explain it right? What if they don’t perceive it accurately? What if they keep interrupting you while you’re trying to tell them things? What if as soon as you open your mouth you start to cry?

I hope that maybe, my book will take that burden from some people out there who find resonance in my words and can just hand all those loved ones my book and say, “here, read this. Then we can talk.”

So. Long story short, I think I’ll pass on the pictures.

But seriously, Writer’s Digest judges, I’m tickled pink. More than pink. I’m tickled fuchsia.

 

And by the way, in case you’re interested in checking out this book that I’ve just spent half a tonjillion paragraphs going on about, it’s currently available in both print and kindle form:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Drop-Dead-Gorgeous-Miceala-Shocklee/dp/1300583037/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382045551&sr=8-1&keywords=miceala+shocklee

Lulu – http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/miceala-shocklee/drop-dead-gorgeous/paperback/product-20635940.html

… and please, take a goody bag!

5 Oct

Good evening lovely readers. Guess what?

;)

😉

WE FREAKING DID IT!!!! 

That’s right! Jerry Mahoney‘s book Mommy Man: How I Went from Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad broke into the ranks of the top 1000 books sold on Amazon! And boy, did it happen in style. Here’s the latest updates of where Jerry’s book stands:

# 260 Overall

# 9 in Parenting

# 2 on Amazon’s ‘Movers and Shakers’ chart

# 1 (that’s right, NUMBER ONE!) in Gay & Lesbian Biography/Memoir AND featured as “hot new release!”

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated. Seriously, you all made a HUGE difference. Now you can be all smiley for the rest of the day over having helped an author’s wild dream come true. Good goin’ 🙂

In case you haven’t gotten a chance to order the book yet, there’s still time! Just click on the hyperlinked text above to check out Jerry’s blog and the Amazon pre-order page for his book.

Happy reading, everyone.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program…

You are cordially invited… ;)

1 Oct

Hello lovely readers! You all are invited to a party. On the internet. For a book! 🙂

I try not to throw a bunch of promotional crap at you all in my blog posts (ewwww marketing), since I really hate writing advert kind of stuff and you and I both have better writing to attend to (brand name dropping is so BO-RING!), but one of my fellow writers has a pretty brilliant goal he’d like to reach and, well, it involves buying some stuff.

(Caveat to the above paragraph: If I’m the one who’s got some writing to sell, I’ll probably plug it to y’all like no other. Seriously. Y’all might need to create your very own special email filter just for me. But I’ll try not to be that bad. 😉 )

Anyhoo. Mommy Man (a.k.a. Jerry Mahoney, one of my favorite bloggers-con-authors) is releasing a book about how he “went from mild-mannered geek to gay superdad” – which in and of itself is awesome. I mean, HOORAH SNAGGING A PUBLISHER!

But Mommy Man’s got a scheme to hatch that’s about as big as a four-year-old’s temper tantrum, so he needs OUR help!

Mommy Man wants to try to break into the ranks of the top 1000 books sold on Amazon. And in order to do that, he needs people – lots and lots and lots of people – to buy his book.

The catch? It’s gotta be ALL AT ONCE.

Or, you know, as close to “all at once” as possible. So here’s the dealio: this Friday, October 4th, at as close to whatever 12:00PM EDT translates to in your time zone as you can get, go to Amazon.com and pre-order Mommy Man’s book. Here’s the link you’ll need:

http://www.amazon.com/Mommy-Man-Went-Mild-Mannered-Superdad/dp/1589799224/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1380655054&sr=8-3&keywords=jerry+mahoney

Not sure you want to read the book? Go check out his blog (jerry-mahoney.com) and skim a few posts. You’ll pretty much either be fist-pumping and shouting “YES!” or falling out of your seat in stitches. And if you’re not, then I think you’ve probably broken either your funny or your feeling, and you should really get that looked at as soon as possible.

Anyhoo. This isn’t about making money off the preorders. It’s about helping one writer-dad’s dream happen. Because really, us writers, we don’t work for pay. We work for pride.

And when it comes to Mommy Man and his book, Pride is a really good thing.

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