Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ahhh, My Favorite...the F-Word (WARNING: Contents may not be suitable for all audiences)

So, I stumbled upon a tumblr post by way of a retweet from another author which led me to a blog post, both of which discuss the issue of "profanity" being used and thus rated in books. Now I'm not really going to get into why I strongly disagree with the generalization of the study and therefore the movement to rate YA literature in a similar way as movies are, because both of those aforementioned posts do quite an excellent job of stating my beliefs on that subject. However, I would like to take a moment to discuss my viewpoint on swearing in general and my choice in swearing in Shark Bait and the rest of the novels in the Grab Your Pole Series.

I didn't grow up with parents that swore constantly, but they did occasionally and quite honestly, it never bothered me to hear any cuss words as a child. Hearing adult family members swear or hearing it in movies really didn't contribute to my delinquency either. I was, quite frankly, a little Miss Priss for most of my pre-teen life. As such, I didn't use swear words myself until I was a bit older, but even then, I pretty much kept it simple. You know, the basics like bitch and shit, and I usually had a good reason for popping off--well, as much of a good reason as an 11 year old can justify. Like inadvertently stepping in dog...well, shit.

In high school I definitely branched out, though, and found it amusing when I would throw out the abhorrent "C" word, which always seemed to garner shocked reactions of varying levels. But contrary to almost every female on the planet, that one really doesn't get to me in the least. It's just a word. And like one of my dearest friend's mother has said, "a word only has as much power as you are willing to give it." Yes, words have power and they can be wielded in a variety of ways, but to allow a single word to affect you so deeply that it has power over you? Well, I see that as ludicrous to the nth degree. And I'm not saying swearing is for everyone. It's not. I respect the choice to not swear but I'm not gonna pretend to be someone I'm not and I'm pro-swearing. I do try to keep it to minimum in certain company, but I'm not looking for approval by doing that. It's simply done out of respect because the fact is, there are people out there who might be offended by an f-bomb being shoved down their throat without warning. You know, like I really don't think walking up to my pastor after church and saying "Oh my God! That was the best fucking sermon EVER! I mean you really preached the motherfucking shit outta that one!" is going to be the best way to pay him a compliment.

Personally, the f-word is one of my all time favorites. It just carries such a sense of biting satisfaction at the most crucial times that other, less profane words don't offer. Plus, I find the word fuck's versatility to be unparalleled. Monty Python's Usage of the Word Fuck explains it best and I couldn't agree more. So, I use it. A lot. And I use it in my writing. A lot. But that's basically because although I write fiction, I'm still writing about the lives of your average, contemporary teenagers, and guess what? A lot of them swear. Even more than I do and that's fucking saying something. Don't believe me? Just ask my 15 year old daughter, A, who, unbeknownst to them, occasionally puts her friends on speaker phone.

And although A is just a mere 15 and one 1/2  years old (almost), she's been allowed to read all of my books. But that decision had nothing to do with the swearing in the books, it was simply because her parents--myself and my husband--recognize that she's mature enough to handle reading about some of the ugly truth inherent in the imperfect world in which she lives. The fact of the matter is, life isn't all unicorns and rainbows; something she's already discovered to be true in her own misadventures in living and if she hadn't already experienced that to some degree, she would eventually. To that end, I also wouldn't have a problem with my 12-year-old daughter, F, reading my work—although I'd have to explain what certain content actually means. Which is fine, because really, she's gonna hear about it at some point anyway and I'd much rather have her learn what 69 is from me than from one of her peers who'll probably get it wrong in the first place. And just so you know, F is anti-swearing, even in the music she chooses to listen to. For the most part, if she feels it's inappropriate, she doesn't participate in any respect other than to make her feelings known, which I applaud her for. However, she did admit to me that she was tempted to flip a boy off today after school when he flippantly told her to lower her standards after she'd confessed to him that she liked him. I called him a dick. It was probably the only time since mastering speech that she didn't berate me for my language.

Now would I allow my 10-year-old daughter to read my work? Sure. In like six or seven years, and even then, she'll have to prove she's ready by making a presentation to her father and me on why she wants to read Mommy's books-without using her beloved Monster High dolls as visual aids. I think I've got some time there, wouldn't you agree? And here again,  that decision isn't based on the swearing in the books--I mean she lives in my house. She's heard almost all of them and still refers to "stupid" as the S-word, bless her 10-year-old little heart.

Just like having mobile art (tattoos) doesn't make someone a thug, swearing in books doesn't make them unsuitable for a YA audience. Often times, it just makes the characters that much more human. And as both a writer and a mom, I believe it's up to parents to decide if their young adult can handle reading the words they've most likely been hearing for years or if they'd prefer to keep little Johnny's eyes more virginal than his ears for a while longer.

But hey, that's just me...realist and unabashed user of the word fuck in all its forms and glory.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Anonymous Me, No More

Okay, so I've spent the majority of my online life in anonymity. I don't necessarily have a hard and fast reason for this, but I just felt more comfortable posting personal information about myself and my family without the world knowing who we are. I mean like Sally of When Harry Met Sally said, "...you can't take it back, it's already out there." And people have been known to post certain things that probably should've remained "thinking thoughts." They inevitably wind up unemployed or even sued for libel from their poor choice to post pictures exhibiting their bi-sexual tendencies which spontaneously came to light at the company Christmas party. Not that I have ever done that-I mean I'm not remotely gay for one thing, but I know my friends and they have quick trigger fingers so chances are, they're gonna get something on camera and it'll wind up on freaking Facebook, so, I just don't do anything too untoward in the first place.

However, anonymity poses a certain set of issues when you go to market yourself and/or your product.  This is especially true for authors and other artist type people. The crux of it is this: How are you supposed to garner attention if no one knows who the hell you are? It's true I considered writing under a pseudonym, but as it was pointed out to me, readers aren't stupid; they'll eventually figure out who you are. It also seems a little pointless when you look to your friends and word of mouth to get things rolling...there's explaining to your friends why you're not who are, there's difficulty in keeping your multiple personalities organized (trust me, I know from whence I speak here), etc... The solution I've decided to go with is to just be me. Jenn Cooksey.

The problem I face now is making myself public. It's not easy. I've had to create a whole new blog and things have changed from the last time I designed one. That in turn has created some unexpected headaches for me. For example; I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make sure that damned little FB Like button is attached properly to every blog post. It's there on every one, but it's not an individual post Like...it's a Like for the page in general. Also, I've reluctantly created a public Twitter account. I'll be honest, I feel like both Twitter and Facebook are huge time sucks and I'd rather spend my time writing. This won't do, though, if I'm to hope my books will have any kind of success--thus "going public" in the first place. I have also joined some online communities specific to writing and reading such as goodreads.

All these things equate to a part-time job if not a full-time gig, and the thing is... I kind of suck at PR and marketing (And I have my doubts as to whether I'm even a decent friend sometimes, too. I can be *ahem* extremely self-involved even though I don't mean to be. My friends are for the most part and, sadly, used to it. I really think I owe some of them enormous gift baskets of Bacon for putting up with me). That being said, I'm a writer, not a salesperson. At one point in the past I ventured into direct sales (I wanted the discounts and freebies that consultants get) and I found myself so unbelievably uncomfortable asking my friends to host parties, I chose to give up doing so and only placed orders if people came and told me they wanted something. That's not gonna cut it this time. That is, not if I want people to actually read my books. Thankfully, I've already written 3.25 out of 6 in the current series I'm working on, because I just have a feeling that doing all the required networking I need to do to launch Shark Bait is gonna keep me from writing for a bit. Not to mention all the technical aspects of publishing.

I mean seriously, UGH.

And let me just give you an idea of what I go through a daily basis... I search and search the web for, let's say, how to make or build an ARC (advanced reading copy) so that I can give them out to book bloggers and other people so that they can review my work before it's actually published. Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, usually by the time I've searched and searched using multiple different key words and so on, I have a migraine, both my daughter's female cat and dog are discovered to have erectile dysfunction, and I still have no answer as to how to make an ARC--although I did find the blueprints for building a replica of biblical proportions the ark Noah made so if anyone's interested, hit me up and I'll point you in the general direction.

Oh and did I mention that in addition to learning how to market myself to the public (which still weirds me out a little), I really have no idea how to even go about launching a book? Yeah, I don't have the foggiest clue. I'm afraid to Google it, though, because I think I might be closing in on the last of A's cat's 9 lives. For now, though, I think the safest route for everyone is for me to continue building up my real name, putting some feelers out to people with experience in web design and such, other self-pubbed authors and whatnot, and then concentrating on what I do best, writing...as me. There's editing to be done and it won't get done if Jenn Cooksey is busy inflicting embarrassing disorders or deadly diseases on her family's pets.

Yeah, see? Typing and then reading my name on something that's going out into cyberspace is just odd. I wonder if Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling felt the inherent weirdness in the beginning or if they were too busy raking it in to notice. Oh to be so fortunate...

PS. As I said, the stupid like button is general (you can still like the page, I mean I won't complain) but if you feel so inclined as to "Like" this particular blog entry, maybe do me a favor and share it wherever it is you share things. Thanks, you're the best.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Joss Whedon is a ROCKSTAR

I've been living in a cave of frustration and ineptitude for more than two weeks now. My sojourn to that place of despair, however, was self-inflicted. Book publishing is tricky business, and when I was told it was time to get Shark Bait out into the homes and hearts of readers, I willingly put writing book 4 on the back burner and jumped into seeing book 1 published. Needless to say, I had no idea how in over my head I would become, so deep are those waters.

Now I'm not gonna get into the reasons for my myriad irritations right now, because the fact is, most of you probably don't give two squirts about the intricacies of formatting and book cover art—although I might write a blog about my publishing nightmares...er, experiences at some point in the future. I'll give you fair warning when I do, though. That way you have time to figure out a viable excuse for not reading my blog that particular day.

That being said, today is all about His Awesomeness Joss, the king of snark.

Knowing me as well as she does, K-E-L-L-Y dragged me out of the house yesterday and forced me to take a break. In doing so, she also accomplished the feat of making me laugh, rather than the grumbling and growling I'd been doing, and, she got me to take my mind off of my job. Not an easy task by any means as I'm an obsessive personality type (Shhh). Not to mention it was barely double digits when she picked me up... 

And how you ask, did she do all that? Well it's quite simple really, she took me to see The Avengers.

I knew it was gonna be great—I mean come on...look at the cast, how could it not be great?—but Joss Whedon far and away surpassed all my expectations, skyrocketing The Avengers into a realm of the phenomenal. 

For those of you don't know who Joss is, well, put in basic terms, he's the bomb. He's responsible for much-loved TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of his more recent forays onto the big screen, The Cabin in the Woods. Yet, it will be Joss's work in The Avengers that will put him smack-dab on top of the Hollywood Mainstream Map.

I honestly believe that without the genius he poured into the making of it, The Avengers would've been a let down, similar to Captain America. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but overall I found it to be a little meh. Alternately, Joss's influence on the actors in The Avengers was rampantly apparent thru out, making the movie engaging and compelling, but also often times, laugh-out-loud funny. His snarky witt prevalent in the dialogue as well as in the actors' mannerisms and delivery made for some of the best on screen word play I've seen in quite some time—then probably being the last time I watched Buffy. 

Need action? Want to see stuff explode? Like aliens and evil plots to destroy humankind? Yep. He got all that in there too...in spades in fact, all the while maintaining a quality of realism that enables a viewer to think to themselves, "You know, if alternate realms of existence were real, I bet it would go down exactly like this." Besides, Joss's affinity for putting hot guys in dusters and tailcoats will always be a plus in my book.

But I beg you, don't take my word for it. If you haven't had the chance or inclination to see The Avengers yet, go. Go now. And if you have the good fortune to have already seen it, go again. It's that amazing. 

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