Saturday, September 02, 2006

Just in Time


Comments on Carla's blog put me in mind of another engineering design that may develop in the construction of time travel stories and possibly some historicals and SF/fantasies - politically correct architecture.
Of course, in the conventional romance, the heroine's liberal training in such subjects as human rights, equality, the environment, etc. provide for great sexually-charged shouting matches/ conflicts between her and the hero and his society - when she isn't busy fomenting revolution among the serfs and servants, succoring the sick, defending the helpless, and converting the lot to her kinder, gentler world view.
At the same time, she depends on the hero's strong right arm and his sword, battle axe, lance and boon companions to protect her from the usual rape and pillage, while she shrinks up against the tapestries.
In reacting thus she is being entirely consistent in some respects.
Seldom do we see said female picking up a seax and defending herself, because that would mean embracing a survival philosophy at odds with her sensitive upbringing.
I may be wrong but I don't think there are many fictional instances of said female actually offing some brutal brigand type bent on mutilation and murder.
I wonder how readers would react to one who does?

Sela, whose novel Not Quite Dead has been released by Samhain posted some interesting links yesterday concerning ball-park e-publishing statistics and challenges.
Seems in 2005, the 18 or so contributing publishers reported 1,692,964 e-units were sold for 5,242 e-books published. The market grows.

Congratulations to Flood and Jaye for Reader's Choice and Honourable Mentions in Jason's The Lonely Moon short fiction contest . Both entries were delightful and entertaining and among my favourite stories.

Also, I am pleased to announce that a short fiction piece of mine has been chosen by incredible editor M.E.Ellis (who has 3 books already under her belt and more coming) to be published by the literary e-zine Wild Child Publishing on Sept 15.

The fresco above graced a house at Stabiae buried by Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

53 comments:

December Quinn said...

Yay Bernita! Can't wait to read it!

Erik Ivan James said...

Congratulations! I've made note the 15th to be a special day.

Sela Carsen said...

Congratulations on your release, Bernita!! Can't wait to read it!

Re the big-mouth, but not so kick-ass heroine. I shudderingly recall an older category romance wherein the heroine had gone into security work rather than be a cop because she was afraid to pull the trigger. And in the end, when the chips were down, she still didn't. Deus ex machina, the villain fell over a waterfall.

Auto-wallbanger.

Sela Carsen said...

Oh, and thanks for the link back! I'm getting some first time-commenters, so I wondered who had put up my link! I figured it had to be you. :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, December, Erik and Sela.
My first fiction pub.

Definitely an auto-wallbanger, Sela!
Can't understand this lack of survival gene. Besides, it seems to self-indulgent when some innocent may be threatened, but she-just-can't-overcome-her-high-mind.
You're welcome. It was a good, useful and needed post.

Jeff said...

Congatulations on your publication, Bernita! I'm looking forward to reading it. :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jeff. Very nice of you.
~she beams~

Ric said...

Congrats!

This is wonderful news - of course, most of us knew your wonderful writing was destined for a much larger audience than we few blogger buddies.

On to more glorious things, the first steps have been taken.

MissWrite said...

YAHOO! Boy you snuck that in so cleverly as to almost slide by it. I'm so happy for you, Bernita. Well deserved, and ABOUT DAMN TIME!

Heehee

Tami

Bernita said...

My dearest Ric, always so encouraging...thank you.

Hee, Tami, you sweetheart!
Think this is only the second time I've submitted short fiction anywhere.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Big ol' WOOTs to everyone!! Many congrats on the story, Bernita! (I'd read about it on Michelle's blog :-)

Hey, does that mean we can both say we're WCP authors now? :-)

Bernita said...

YOU can say you're a WCP "author," Sonja. Think all I can say is I'm a writer.

Bernita said...

Different categories there, Girl, between full and associate - but thank you.

MissWrite said...

Bernita, your humility never ceases... repeat after me, 'I am a WCP author.'

See, not so hard, was it? LOL

Bernita said...

Tami, I have an indelible reluctance to claim anything I am not.
It is a nice e-zine credit though, is it not?

Jaye Wells said...

Congrats, Bernita! That's exciting. Haven't read that ezine, but I looks forward to discovering it and reading your story.

kmfrontain said...

Congrats on the short story acceptance, Bernita. :D

Women offing men in fantasies -- not hard, because they're fantasies. Women can be Amazons. They can have something bigger than life about them.

But historicals? In reality based fiction, women offing men has to have the real in it, which means the physical weakness of the sex must show. So. That means the heroine must hit the baddie over the head with the cast iron frying pan, and then keep on hitting until he'll never move again, because if he gets up, good-bye heroine. This is, of course, assuming the heroine has the strength to continue raising that frying pan until the deed is done, and also that she gave him a good enough clout to stun him the first time, or again, good-bye heroine. Women that go for frontal attacks aren't likely to make it through a fight alive. Really. So I advise authors to stay away from Tomb Raider type heroines when fiction is based on reaility.

Rick said...

Congrats, Bernita!

Definitely a wall banger, Sela. At this late date, shouldn't there be some more kick-ass heroines around? We have female hardboiled PIs now, and warrior maidens are a fairly standard trope in fantasies. Can no time traveler use a snub-nose, or for that matter a dagger if she has one at hand?

No time travel, but shamelessly hijacking your comments section for a couple of paras ...

The man laughed, and drew sword and dagger. Amid the crowd in the Great Hall, she'd not seen the sword – she should have known he'd wear one; he was a gentleman-retainer after all. This was not good at all. Her father disapproved of gentlemen wearing their swords in the street, saying that in his day they hung on the wall until called for in the King's service. Madeleine had thought him old-fashioned. Now she hoped she would live long enough to tell him he was right.

Shouting something in Theudish the man charged her. She had just time to think, Bon Dieu, he's going to kill me! – then brought up her sword to parry, as the dancing master had taught her, and Papa before him. Blades clanged, her hilt twisting so sharply in her hand she thought she would lose it, but her wrist turned with it and she held on. She swirled her cloak; it caught on something and ripped. Springing to her right, she swept her blade at the torchlit figure before her. He parried with his dagger, then lunged; twirling her cloak again she caught his sword-tip on her blade, twisted it aside, and danced back out of reach. Dancing was something Madeleine knew how to do.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jaye
~still beaming~

Thank you, Karen.
I totally agree that the physics of it must be logical, though a modern woman is not in as much a disadvantage regarding height and weight as one might think. It's as much the mental attitude of passivity that makes me shake my head.
I'd like to see a little more "damn your eyes" attitude and less of "I cannot kill a fly."

Thank you, Rick.
One thing I like about that passage is the mention of her foot-work - very important in sword-play.
If he's also using main gauche, she facing a formidable opponent.

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carla said...

Congratulations, Bernita!

One of my heroines cuts a bad guy's throat in a fight by coming up behind him while he's fighting someone else. (A dagger isn't as heavy as frying pan.) Does that count?

Rick said...

Carla - certainly it does! She's wading into a situation where the natural impulse would be to flee.

But in that situation, wouldn't sticking him in the back be a lot easier?


Bernita - A damn-your-eyes attitude was generally a survival value in the eras and milieux into which heroines tend to get dumped!

The man is indeed using main gauche, which I believe was typical of the era (and certainly my synologue). Happily, Madeleine is the best dancer at the Court of la Trémouille, and a more formidable opponent than she herself realizes!

And a bit from the aftermath:

"Should ladies not defend their honor?" asked Princesse Catherine.

"They should perish in the attempt, Altesse. Poets gain subject matter; the Church sometimes gains a saint." Antoine shrugged. "Everyone is happy, except the unfortunate lady. As it is, Mademoiselle du Lac has caused something of a scandal. The world will be told that it was a drunken accident – in a sense, perhaps, it was – but some will guess the truth."

"And if they do?"

"They will blame you, Altesse!" said Antoine. "Whether Madeleine du Lac finds a husband with courage to enter her bedchamber is her concern. Whether you find one concerns the world, including his Majesty, and therefore me ..."

M.E Ellis said...

You are a WCP author. Once you go online your name gets added to the list on the mag site as an author there...so then you can join the WCP author group and natter with us.

So there!

;o)

Bernita said...

I certainly think so, Carla!
After all, I have Damie drive one into a guy's kidneys.
And thank you.

Think such ladies should be inclined to assess their environments for useful weapons, Rick.

I take it the conversation deals with a related and secondary question - because I got the idea it was her life - not her honour - that your lady of the lake was defending in that incident.

Bernita said...

Michelle...gimme your feet...

EA Monroe said...

Congrats, Bernita! I'm excited for you and can't wait to read your story! I've enjoyed your always excellent posts for the past week.

The book that made me hoot was when the crocodile nabbed the bad guy -- wasn't Captain Hook either!

Rick said...

Bernita - oops! Good catch. The young lady was in fact intervening in an attempted rape, but ends up fighting for her life. And it's the swordfight, not the rape attempt, that has political consequences!

In interesting times, assessing the environment for useful weapons is always a good idea ...

Carla said...

Rick - He's wearing chain mail so the throat is more likely to be lethal.

Bernita said...

EA, thank you.
Now, if the heroine manouvered him into the situation with that hopefully in mind, that would be all right, but I gather not.

I expect he's sorry he didn't wear a gorget, Carla, but then she could have stabbed him the eye just the same.

Rick there's always the ham-stringing potential too. And I think the arm-pit is a rather vulnerable spot, mail or not.
Many women today have a few vague ideas about self defense, it's irritating when they always seem to be overborne by "superior" strength.

Rick said...

Carla - yeah, the chain mail does sort of rule out the simple stick-it-in-his-back!

Here I'd reasonably expect a difference between an in-her-own-age character and a visitor like Damie - a 20th c. woman could be very skilled in self-defense and still be thrown desperately off-stride by someone in armor. (Though this is changing in the 21st c., with the re-introduction of body armor!)

Dennie McDonald said...

Congrats on the publication - that is so great!

Bernita said...

Curious why you should think so, Rick, considering television and all that.

Dennie, thank you.
~beaming~

Rick said...

Armor as such is familiar enough from Hollywood, etc., but self-defense training - from unarmed martial arts to training in various weapons - probably doesn't deal much if at all with armored opponents. How useful would modern fencing experience be against an armored guy with a broadsword?

There may even be a question of whether handgun rounds can penetrate mail or plate. A .45 automatic, probably yes, but a .30 snubnose might just give the guy a bad attitude. :>

Bernita said...

Hmm, though the very first thing self-defense taught one was to assess the vulnerable spots, Rick.
Actually I think someone with modern fencing experience would have a fair chance, they are used to fighting pretty padded and protected themselves, and often such fencers learn broadsword as well as rapier.
And a coat of mail does not automatically a warrior make.
The main thing a modern sword weilder might lack is the killer instinct.

Ballpoint Wren said...

Congratulations, Bernita!

I don't know about historical fiction, but (historical) movies are full of heroines who defend themselves. Like Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Carribean. "You like pain? Try wearing a corset!"

Of course, she didn't kill the guy, but she did have the strength of mind to dispose of somebody in the sequel.

Bernita said...

Thought that was the best line in the entire movie, Bonnie.
Thank you.
~beaming~

Rick said...

Bernita - fair points!

Regarding corsets, though, I've heard from historical costumers that well-made ones are not uncomfortable, and I don't think earlier practice had the extreme tight-lacing that was fashionable around the turn of the last century - just before corsets fell out of use entirely (save as kinkwear).

So while it was a great line, a real 18th c. lady/wench probably wouldn't say it, however apt she was at defending herself!

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, I have my share of killer instinct.

I really prefer active heroines. No, they must not single-handedly overcome the Evil Overlord with a hatpin, they must not have a black belt in karate and ten other fighting techniques, but please, don't have her shrink against the wall and bulge here eyes out at the sight of the monster when there's a heavy fire poker handy.

She can even lose and need the help of the hero, but make her do something.

/end rant mode

Bernita said...

I wonderer if she would be more apt to say "stays" instead, Rick.

Now, don't stereotype the ladies of the period.

Robyn said...

WOO-HOO!!! Your dedicated fangurl SQUEEEEEEES!

Absolutely agree on the big-mouth time travelling heroine. "Violence is not the solution! Never...unless you're defending me. In that case, carry on."

Bernita said...

Right on, Gabriele!
None 'o this mewling and puking stuff. She's got to try !

~beaming at sweet Robyn~
You've summed it up perfectly.

Gabriele C. said...

It's particularly bad in a certain sort of films where the good guy and bad guy have the final fight in some room and the girl is glued to the wall. I always see a room full of interesting objects to shorten the bad guy's lifespan, and she never uses a single one of them. Duh. It's a family joke, "take the fire poker, you silly thing," when a woman acts stupidly, thanks to my comments on such films.

Also, personally I don't want my hero battered and buised if I can avoid it. ;)

Rick said...

Really, I'm surprised to hear that the fainting-in-coils heroine is still around! I thought we were pretty much rid of her 20 years ago.

Bernita said...

Hee, the family lexicon, Gabriele. Know just what you mean!

She seems as fluttery as ever, Rick, at least in romance.

Flood said...

Bernita, wonderful news! Congratulations, can't wait to read the story.

J.H. Bográn said...

I hope I'm posting at the right entry! I've been known to do it in other places then scream at Blogger missing my posts! Anyway, the point you make about female hero kicking butts might be uncommon in writing. But in other media like movies it is on a roll! Flicks like Kill Bill, Resident Evil, Lara Croft, even oldies like Long Kiss Good night and G.I Jane come to mind for putting an action-prone female lead centerstage.
As a matter of fect, in a group I was whining the other day about the complete lack of tough guys anymore, guys who could kill raising an eyebrow like John Wayne, Charles Bronso, even Silvester Stallone.
I like a woman to fight by my side, not to act damsel-in-distress, but neither being me in need of a rescuer. lol

Bernita said...

"a woman to fight by my side"
Smooches, JH.
That's what I'd like to see more of.
Lee Child's Jack Reacher is that sort of hero, so the alpha guy has not disappeared.

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