Seleste deLaney (romance/erotica/adult stuff): www.selestedelaney.com & www.selestedelaney.com/Wordpress
Julie Particka (young adult work): www.julieparticka.com & www.julieparticka.com/blog
This is the big bad warning that this post contains foul language and a lot of it. Stop reading now if such things offend you ;-)
"fuck fuck fuck
mother mother fuck
mother mother fuck fuck
mother fuck mother fuck"
For those not in the know, that was a snippet of Jay's song from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Now most of my friends know, I <3 me some Silent Bob, but that isn't what this post is about (Sorry to disappoint). Instead it's about characters, of which Jay and Silent Bob are two of my faves and make for perfect examples of what I want to demonstrate/rant about.
I started reading a book last night in which the author is attempting to set up the main character (a teenage female) as your typical urban fantasy bad ass chick. Okay, so far, so good, I have zero issues with the persona. The problem for me is she is ruining it with the character's cussing.
Don't get me wrong, people who know me know that I can cuss up a blue streak and I don't have any issue with other people doing it. The problem I have in this case is that, with very few exceptions, REAL bad ass characters don't cuss unless it is necessary in the context of the action. They don't pepper their phrases with goddamn, bitch, shit, fuck, etc. just to do it.
What kind of character does?
Now think about it for a minute. Seeing them on the street, who would you be more afraid of meeting pissed off in a dark alley? I'm not thinking it's Jay, and that's discounting the fact that he looks like my seven-year-old son could take him in a fair fight. The only thing Jay would do is talk you to death. Silent Bob, big teddy bear that he is, has more of an aura of bad-ass than Jay.
So that leads me back to the book. Are there instances where the character swearing is appropriate? Sure. But the way it's written, she's doing it all the time, just because. It is the mark of the pansy-ass character who can't hold their own.
I have a friend who would argue the point. She would bring up Mary Janice Davidson's Betsy the Vampire Queen. Said friend thinks Betsy, who cusses all the time is a bad ass; I don't. I think Betsy is a whiny prom queen who accidentally landed with supernatural strength. It makes her a fun character, but just because she could squash you like a bug doesn't make her a bad-ass. She is, at best, a bad-ass wannabe.
The ONLY character I could think of off the top of my head that cusses all the time and is still a bad-ass is John McClane. But here's the thing about McClane (and yes, I also <3 me some Bruce Willis), he is not only a bad-ass but a smart-ass as well. It's a mix that many have tried and very few are successful at. And in the new book, the heroine isn't coming off as a smart ass either.
The way it's written, she's coming across as a teenager with a chip on her shoulder (another stereotype, and one I'm fearful the target YA audience might not embrace) who SHOULD be a bad-ass, but is nothing more than a poseur. I'm having an incredibly difficult time suspending my disbelief long enough to embrace her as a character, much less like her.
The moral in all this? If you want your character to BE the bad-ass (or the spoiled rich bitch, or the poster child for birth control, or whatever), embrace that and figure out what it really means. Figure out how those personalities really act. And if you are trying to subvert the stereotype, that's fine, just make sure what you are doing improves on it.
Oh, and yes, I'm going to finish the book in hopes it will get better (even though I also feel like the plot set-up was ripped straight from one of my favorite TV shows *sigh).
I've done the "talk to someone" thing. I've done the workout thing. I've done the "do something nice for yourself" (okay, it wasn't a big thing, but it was something). I know that eventually I'll do what I always do, and I'll knock the bugger out for a nice long nap again, but I don't want to sit here accomplishing nothing in the meantime.
So, I guess I'm asking for advice. Someone please kick me in the ass and make me get over myself. KK? Thanks
The economy is in the crapper. Most people know that, even if it hasn't hit them hard individually yet. My husband found out yesterday that everyone in his company has to take a week off in March unpaid (what that really means is they take a week off from the office, but still have to be "on call" - don't get me started). I have a brother-in-law who has been out of work for a while and two siblings whose jobs are eternally in "iffy" status. We are all paying more for the things we buy because they raised prices when gas cost more, and they haven't lowered them yet to match the decrease in gas prices (and let's not kid ourselves, they never will). Businesses, big and small, are closing their doors right and left. Those that stay afloat are often doing so at the cost of fewer employees.
Thus, the lousy economy isn't a surprise.
But the response to it by many a business kind of is.
I was involved in a car accident in January: a truck rear-ended me on an icy road. The impact blew out two windows in my van and caused all told about $9000 damage. Plus, I got to have the fun experience of being strapped to the board to immobilize my neck. Fortunately, I was the only one hurt and it ended up just being muscle damage. The bigger issue came when I called my auto insurance (Allstate) to inform them of the accident. The representative on the phone grilled me like I was on trial for something. Keep in mind, I called the day after the accident and was still on muscle relaxers and pain medication. The entire ordeal left a sour taste in my mouth with regard to the insurance company. Then, they sent my car for repairs but somehow told the repair place it was a total. So my car sat in their back lot for a week or two until another adjuster told them to fix it. Because of that, I was without a car for over a month. Then there was the car seat issue. I thank my lucky stars my kids (and my niece) weren't hurt, but the car seats can't be used any more and have to be replaced. My son's booster was brand new, so they'll replace that no problem. My daughter's seat? That is prorated since it wasn't brand new (um hello? I have to buy a new one to replace it.), and they said we had to buy the same model. I wouldn't care, but that is a waste of money as she is ready to move up to a bigger seat. It would seem to me the logical thing to do in this case is get the information on the car seats and send a check for whatever they WILL cover, then let me replace them. No, I have to replace them and send in receipts. It's stupid and a waste of everyone's time. Needless to say, we aren't happy with the way things were handled.
In a completely separate story, two people have recently complained online about Sony products and the experiences they've had with Sony customer service. One was a literary agent who's e-reader stopped working less than six months after she had purchased it. The receipt had been lost during a move, and though Sony had a record of her purchase, they kept jerking her around, not offering her any sort of real help. This is a piece of equipment she needs for her work, as such, she found herself debating the merits of a new e-reader or a Kindle. In that time, she linked to another agent who had experienced issues with his Kindle. She said she found it funny that people from Amazon were checking out her blog comments, but a Sony rep had never popped in. Then yesterday, a friend of mine told me about the XBox 360 she had bought for her family as a Christmas gift. From the day they opened it, the machine didn't work. She had repeatedly contacted Sony and kept getting brushed off. She said she thought they were just stringing her along until the 90 day warranty was expired. Luckily, the store she had bought the machine from is taking care of the problem (Yay for Costco!), but the experiences of these two women are sadly similar.
You might wonder what these tales all have in common: lack of customer service. Businesses are struggling right now, most people understand that fact. However, the short-sightedness of crappy customer service simply astounds me. How can they not understand that a good solid relationship with the consumer will help them stay in business? I know I will now be wary of purchasing a Sony, and we are seriously contemplating a new insurance carrier. And with the viral nature of the internet, how many people will read the blogs and do the same thing? We are at a point where businesses need to make better products so they don't have too many expensive "problems" later on so that the few times there are issues, they can heed the adage of "the customer is always right" and fix things without it seriously affecting their bottom line.
To Sony, Allstate, and any other company not thinking ahead: without customers, you have no business. Treat your customers like people instead of numbers, it's the only smart thing to do.