Regardless of whether or you watch the Oscars, you likely watch a movie every now and then.
What Cate Blanchett said in her acceptance speech has been picked up by news outlets around the world.
You could see it as two time winner chastising a male dominated industry: “who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences.”
Or a call to the rest of us to prove that “Audiences want to see them [female centric films] and in fact, they earn money.”
Cate reminds us that how we spend our money is perhaps as important as where we spend our time.
What industry would you like to see grow? Spend your time, talent and treasure there.
A great idea I discovered this week: men of various ages and races, in communities around the world, gathering together to “walk a mile in her shoes.” These men are walking to raise awareness (and money) to fight domestic violence as well as sexual assault against women. I love this idea because violence against women affects men AND women. Once we mobilize the good guys, as well as gals, we’re using both sides of the equation.
Have you heard of a good idea recently?
Yes, that was what someone said to me in a direct message on Twitter. The irony is that the sender likely thought he was paying me a compliment (since his bio lists “life coach” among other roles).
Good news is that on my mid 30s birthday, I can’t be bothered to get upset about this backward compliment.
Because unlike in my 20s – when I had all the earnestness of the me of the present – I have a few more wrinkles and pounds. Yet now people take me more seriously.
So bring it on age. The best is yet to come.
It took nearly two months but someone finally trusted me enough to share her story. I’m amazed how many women are scared of repercussions from their employers. Not by the ‘bad’ ones who don’t pay well or are aggressive in their assignment of tasks, but also of the ‘good’ ones who work in fields like education, where one would expect (rightly or wrongly) more kindness to domestic staff.
Hear what this working mother has to say about why she went overseas to work as a nanny/housemaid.
We hear songs, watch movies, and yes, read books about that most elusive of emotions: love. No matter if your culture practices arranged marriages (Indian/Arab) or not (the west). No matter if your parents are divorced (fell out of love) or not. No matter if you are married (harder to stay in love?) or not. I could tell you how at one point in human history marriage was thought of a business transaction, a way to consolidate wealth within families or across countries. Or that modern society has not eased up on women to have a man (and a baby or two) in order to think we have it all. You’re smart. You know these schemes around the world’s most sought after prize — finding one’s soul mate.
Love is at the core of contemporary culture. Despite your best efforts, there’s no way to avoid it. From Bollywood to Hollywood the themes are the ones passed to us by the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. Star crossed lovers; repudiated love; timid love; the plot lines are as familiar as the headlines for celebrity breakups. Were, for example, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes ever in love? Or was it a career furthering scheme drafted in the cold light of day between agents? What will happen to Suri Curise, the tiny fashion maven?
Those are questions for a very different story than the one I wrote inspired by the dreams, wishes, and desires of young people living in Qatar.
Love Comes Later is my second novel, a meditation on how non-western people of this generation will find happiness. I’m excited to say the book is now available for purchase on Amazon.com.
As a writer I’m not immune to the questions of the commercial love machine. After all romance readers account for a large portion of book sales year round. Romance writers are like country singers; they come out with albums on a yearly basis and their fans make them best sellers. I’m not sure if I’m going to become what’s called a genre writer and stick only to romance from now on. This story, of three protagonists, Abdulla, Hind, and Sangita, came to me as a love triangle.
I can tell you that based on the five books I’ve released this year, the novel is the one everyone gets excited about. Short stories and essays may get a passing look, but a novel still seems to inspire more wonder and likelihood of risk on a new author. This new project will help me further test my hypothesis… or you can share your thoughts on my theory and enlighten me.
If you like your romance more visual than textual, then have a look at the book’s YouTube trailer. As always, writers need readers, so please take a second and let me know what you think!
Last week I hosted my first ever live video chat to talk about self publishing with those who are considering it as an alternative to commercial publishing. I was wracked by nerves, extroverted me who presents at international conferences and have been speaking in public since my high school graduation. The live chat stretched me out of my comfort zone as I keep developing this thing called a writer’s platform. What if nobody shows, I worried. Is the lighting in this room too dim? The live chat came and went (people did show and ask some really good questions) and I realized both how much I had learned about publishing ebooks in the last 8 months as well as how risky it felt to try something new.
Being an author is taking a series of risks; putting your words on paper means that others will read them when you’re not around and draw their own conclusions without the benefit of your expansive comments. For women, the type of self promotion required by indie publishing can often feel uncomfortable, if like me, you were taught that talent shines on its own without having to push oneself forward.
That may be true for some, but for the indie author, male or female, hanging on the fringes of social media waiting to be noticed will have about the same results as sleeping on your manuscript and hoping you wake up to a completed book. You have to put yourself out there. There is no way around it. Even commercially published authors have to go on book tours, meeting with book clubs, talk to media outlets. People can’t read your book if they don’t know about you. And if you’re a writer, not just an author (someone with more than one title in you) then people have to identify with your brand.
Check out my branding trailer (which was another step outside my comfort zone last week). A branding trailer lets you know what an author is about: what kinds of book(s) she writes, what people think about her work. In this one I also have quotes from my reviewers (some people have review trailers as a separate genre). Feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought or if you have questions.
You can also read this guest post by Sheryl Steines, author of the urban fantasy novel, The Day of First Sun where she talks about the challenges facing not just women writers in promoting themselves but also promoting strong female characters.
The Strong Female
I am always amazed to hear that, in the year 2012, women are still talking about strong female characters. It’s funny that we’re always surprised when one comes along. Even in Hollywood, actresses still can’t find roles to sink their teeth into. As a reader, I look for characters that I can relate to in some way; a character who is more than a damsel in distress but less than an unfeeling, mean, witch. I’m putting it gently, but I’m looking for someone, who when facing a problem, doesn’t necessarily need a man to bail her out–a woman who can take care of herself in spite of her vulnerabilities. Because in reality, women are multi-layered and complex. We don’t fall to one end of an extreme or the other.
When I was younger, I started reading Danielle Steele, but I couldn’t read her for long. Her female characters were far too needy and always put themselves in a position of requiring a savior. Even as a child, I couldn’t help but wonder why these characters always needed a man to improve their lives. Why couldn’t they simply take care of themselves? It seemed as though female characters fell into two camps, and only two. They were either villains, witches, someone to be hated and despised, or they were weak, pathetic, your classic damsels in distress. Why is fiction lacking real women, women who can simply be human and celebrate all that they are?
As I got older, I found myself drawn to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I saw in Buffy a strong character. Yes, she could kick ass, kill the vampires and fight the demons. She also had a brain, could plan, and could save the world each week. But she wasn’t uni-dimensional. She also has a side that liked clothes, shoes and boys, a side that was feminine, a little vulnerable; a side that, okay, sometimes needed to be saved. She was a complex female character, real and human, a character with whom I could definitely relate.
The strong female character isn’t a caricature or stereotype. She’s not a total wimp like Snow White, and she’s not a total monster like the evil queen. She falls somewhere in the middle. She’s reactive, emotional, human, sexual, confident and sometimes unsure of herself.
When I originally wrote my character Annie Pearce in The Day of First Sun, I wrote her as a no-nonsense person, strong and smart, the girl who could survive on her own. But she didn’t feel genuine. As the story unfolded and changed, I rewrote her, gave her friends and family with whom she could interact. I gave her feelings, gave her stress. I let the other characters take charge once in awhile and offer some support. I melded two halves into one woman–a strong woman, who can take care of herself and ask for help when necessary. We’re not perfect, so why should our characters be? Instead, why can’t we make them simply authentic?
Charlize Theron made a really compelling comment regarding her character in the movie Young Adult. She said, “Women are usually either really good prostitutes or really good mothers. Maybe women are finally getting the chance to play more honest characters,” Theron said. “We usually don’t get to play bad hookers or bad mothers — or anything in between.”
Maybe it’s time to be a little more real and a little more honest.
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Day of First Sun eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
- Purchase your copy of The Day of First Sun for just 99 cents
- Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
- Visit today’s featured social media event
Help my blog win:
The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to VOTE FOR ME.
About the book: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.
About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.
- Book Review: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel (thebookaddictblog.wordpress.com)
I’m a default random thoughts type because I’m a writer. No matter the people, country, or time period, the role of a writer remains the same: to notice, reflect or ponder the meaning behind the everyday. This past weekend I went to two events on back to back evenings where I saw something which was interesting in and of itself – a counter youth culture amongst young women in Qatar – made slightly dramatic by the reactions others had to them.
In fishbowl like Doha, where the entire population hovers near 2 million and the nationals number 250,o00, you notice those who are different. I’ve talked a lot about how I stand out as a western educated South Asian American woman in a sea of nannies, cooks, and maids. Depending on who is in a room when I walk into a meeting, there can be everything from mild surprise to indifference, or even hostility. The boyas, or girls whose dress is masculine, evoke similar reactions at all the female parties. (That was redundant to those who have lived in the GCC for a while: parties are gender segregated.)
Going to a wedding is no small thing: I had to find a dress, go to a salon to do my hair, pick out shoes, (“Wear pewter color, ma’am,” the girl sales girl told me, impressing me with her vocabulary. I did as I was told) select jewelry and then apply make up. It’s the western equivalent of a prom, with a bride who comes in at midnight. And all of this for an all female audience. People from the West often exclaim “What’s the point?” when they learn there aren’t men around. And this is an interesting reaction: after all, do we only look good for others? Is there no need for approval from other women? So many things about the assumptions of cult of beauty are challenged in an all female environment (though the cattiness and judgement can still remain. Someone whispered “I hate her, she’s so skinny” as another girl walked by). A standard practice is to change your display picture on your phone to show friends (usually only all girls because of the prohibitions of hijab) your glammed up self. “Hot!” A few people messaged me back when I sent photos of the end result (which they requested).
When I got to the wedding, that of all the female family and friends who knew the either the bride or the groom, there were more exclamations, this time from my students. Because while I am well heeled according to some people’s definitions of female faculty, in the land of designer brands, I’m probably only just
serviceable in two inch heels. On a day I’d rather exercise and be on time to class than put on eye liner, it never fails that someone says: “You look tired.”
In the Oscar like garden of floor length dresses that women wear to weddings, some of the boyas were wearing pants, button down shirts, and even a vest or two. The effect was that they not only stood out, as perhaps my being one of a handful of foreigners did (and the only Indian invited as a guest, while there were many Filipino maids standing in attendance on their older patrons) but they demanded attention by sheer dint of their professed masculinity.
Amongst the yards, and yards of teased, curled, and sprayed hair (mine being no exception) not to mention hundreds of dollars of extensions, the boyas had cropped hair, close to their chin and ears. In some cases they came in with girls, ultra feminine, either as escorts or friends, there was no way to be sure. Some say that having another girl, a masculine boya, is a substitute for the value added by a male admirer – which in this gender segregated society would be construed negatively. (In either case their sexuality is not really the point of these ruminations: the expression of a public, counter persona in a communal society is.)
The next night at a fundraiser, a friend said: “I’ve never been with so many in one room.”
The boyas were out in full force, about four or five in a group of eight or so: one girl wearing cut off shorts and biker-style jacket amidst Chanel and couture party dresses. This time they seemed less like standouts and more like a gang or cult. There were clear expectations of dress (masculine, boxy, pants, no dresses) hair (if not short, then styled up in mohawk like ridges) and they hung in tight clusters, really only talking to the people they had come in with. Yet everyone was talking about them. Rather than seem disturbed by this obvious fact, the boyas seemed to enjoy it. They walked into the room as confident as anyone else and has a good a time as the rest of us, judging by their smiles, laughter, comings and goings.
This reminded me a bit of the research I did for my Hip Hop book. Before the days of Footloose and Pepsi commercials break dancing was thought of as street culture; beat bopping and rapping didn’t always make people into millionaires and a pimp’s life often had as many problems as his hoes. When the record industry realized there were multimillion to be made from hip hop, the fringe culture of youth on the streets went from the inner cities into the cars of white boys in the suburbs and then across the oceans onto posters on the walls of teenage rooms around the world. The margin became the center.
That’s not the scale of what we’re seeing yet with the boyas. And given the social and religious strictures, we may not. But that’s not really the point, at least for those who are using this identity at the present moment. For now they seem to be happy as the thorns among the roses.
After saying I needed another account like I need exposure to Ecoli, I signed up for Pinterest. Call it peer pressure, or my mind’s need to indulge in the very visual after hours of wrestling with words, I’ve been pinning my heart away. My boards (the groupings of images I select) reflect my interests or intended projects: a Yum-o! list of recipes I’d love to try for my well deserving family, a Family Wedding collage of ideas for an upcoming celebration, and a Writing Projects smatter of snapshots of dresses,and faces (including Robert Downy Jr.) who remind me of my characters. Getting slightly into it, I created a few more: one for research about Laos for an upcoming novel, another with Books Worth Reading in my heaps of free time, and Word! (Sayings I Love) for those times I need to dwell on the positive.
Revealing my Type-A personality, there’s this other board, Random, where I capture things that are interesting but don’t fit any of the others. “Random” for things that don’t On this board, I put a fairly innocuous image but one that stood out to me nonetheless (left). Continue reading