#OpenBook – “Masculine Energy” and The Woman Writer   Leave a comment

Posted June 10, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Writing Characters of the Opposite Sex #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

Source: Writing Characters of the Opposite Sex #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted June 10, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Blog hopping, let’s talk about sex.   Leave a comment

Now that I have your attention, let’s get on to this weeks topic.

Source: Blog hopping, let’s talk about sex.

Posted June 10, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Male Mystique   13 comments

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?


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What an interesting question to ask and answer, especially from an Alaska woman’s perspective.

I essentially grew up in a foreign country. Alaska in my childhood was a rugged frontier world that got limited television. The male-female ratio was four to one. Even today, Alaska has a fairly male-oriented culture. Women certainly participate fully in the society here, but we are participating in what are traditionally “men’s” activities. Alaska is where men are truly men and women win the Iditarod. So, hunting, fishing, mountain climbing, dog handling, chopping our own wood and hauling our own water. Yeah, I also quilt, which is a traditionally “women” activity that my husband sometimes helps me with. Many of the “male characteristics” that I’m going to discuss below are cultural features here in Alaska that are practiced by both men and women.

Coming from that perspective —

I enjoy writing male characters and the majority of my main characters are male. Good thing because I write apocalyptic and fantasy fiction and the bean counters say more men read those genres and, maybe, not surprisingly, they prefer their fiction from the male perspective. I don’t know exactly why male characters assert themselves in my head more often than female characters. It could be because I grew up the way that I did, so I may have actually had more experience with men than women and few of the women I grew up with were of the girly sort. You’d get awfully lonely in your tiny little minority if you didn’t join the guys and so women of my mother’s generation embraced the outdoors long before that became a thing in the Lower 48. I think it’s one reason so many women reacted negatively to Sarah Palin – here was a woman who clearly embraced her feminine side, but sounded a lot like a man. That’s the Alaska culture.

The fact is, I like men. I like spending time with them. I like the way they think — usually. I am fascinated by the differences I hear from them compared to my female friends.

This is a conversation I overheard between two guys at work the other day.

“New boots?”

“Yup! Big Rays. Sales over tomorrow. You catch the hockey game?”

A similar conversation between women would have included the colors the shoes came in, the other stores or online outlets it was available at, the price including that there is a coupon code to apply to it, and whether the women though that style of shoe made their feet look chunky. Then they would have talked about similar shoes they own and what clothing they have that will go with the shoes and how they feel about that clothing. Maybe they caught the hockey game, but their lunch hour is over so they won’t discuss it.

Just writing that last paragraph made this woman who was born with the male shopping gene, want to fling myself off a cliff just to end the fictional conversation.

I’ve never found men to be a mystery because there were so many around me as a child. I’m married to a verbal guy and we’re not shy about talking about the things that make him tick. He understands it’s research for writing, but it also helps me to understand his moods and aspirations. I’ve learned that men don’t always think like women, even women like me who don’t think much like other women, but there’s more similarity than differences. We agree on most of the big things. It’s just how we arrive at our agreement that differs and I respect those differences.

Men tend to know their worth, which many women see as egotistical. Men don’t beat around the bush. They say what they mean and mean what they say and they tend to not care if you’re offended by honesty. They are convinced by facts and once convinced are usually difficult to displace from their position. They thus have stronger opinions than women (who tend to want to placate opponents) and they will strongly argue their opinion and refuse to apologize if you don’t like their stance. It’s not that they don’t feel. It’s that they recognize feelings are subjective and therefore, they’re suspicious of them. They also don’t talk as much as women and when they do, they want to discuss world events rather than personal topics and they really prefer to keep their feelings to themselves. You can ask them what they feel and they will tell you want they think — and then, they might tell you what they feel. Women feel first and think later — and by the way, most women won’t admit that. It’s why we seem much more emotional than men and why they accuse us of being irrational. From their perspective of think-before-you-feel, we are irrational. Women will tell you what they feel even if you don’t want to know while, more often than not, you have to infer male feelings from slight facial expressions, gestures or actions, which is an incredible gold mine for writers.

Men are typically results oriented, so when they see a problem, they immediately want to fix it and prefer to be in charge of the project, so they can achieve the goal and move onto something else. In contrast women will talk about a problem and how they feel about it for hours and then, often, sweep it under the rug to not deal with it until it oozes out again as a bigger problem. Alternatively, they’ll give it to their significant other to fix or form a team to deal with it. This tendency to not fix problems drives the result-oriented male crazy, by the way, and is a primary reason the so-called “helping” profession of social work is 75% staffed by women. Men want to fix irreparable problems and, when they can’t, they burn out and go take jobs in the construction field where they confront problems that they can solve through their direct efforts.

Men are strongly influenced by images — particularly of women, and most especially of naked women — but they tend to forget the details women remember the tiniest nuance of. They do think about sex a fair bit, but not as much as portrayed in the media and believed by women who don’t hang out with men. They can have a relationship with a woman that is not sexually-oriented provided she respects male boundaries. Keep your clothes on, don’t touch, don’t flirt and above all don’t talk about sex unless you’re willing to have sex with them because that stimulates parts of their brain that interfere with the whole friendship dynamic.

Men tend to take more risks than women, who have historically had to take care of the kids. Fear excites men, who tend to look beyond the fear to how they’re going to survive the risk. Women may think that is reckless, but men think of it as a good reason to get up in the morning.

Men are less detail oriented than women — unless it involves something where details MATTER – like bridge design or the exact angle of a miter joint.

Men want to move on from conflict after it has been “settled”. They want to kiss and make-up and be done with it. They don’t want to talk about the feelings associated with an argument into the wee hours of the night and rehash every little detail of the argument because they don’t even remember the details.

Woman – “Why’d you make that facial expression when I mentioned Cheryl?

Guy (thinking) – “we discussed Cheryl?” And, “what facial expression? I don’t have facial expressions.”

And since he can’t possibly win an argument about an event he doesn’t fully remember, he will roll over and face the wall and refuse to talk to the woman further, because he was done with this argument hours ago and he doesn’t have any feelings (that he wants to share) to discuss.

All of the above are generalities that are good to know as a writer, but shouldn’t define a character. Slavish devotion to stereotypes makes for poor character development. The plumbing between the legs and how it affects the mind is of less importance than people think and I like to write characters who are not stereotypes, so my readers can feel like they might meet this person over the fence while their dogs sniff each other’s butts.

The difference matters

So what’s the hardest part of a female writing male characters? The difficulties are ameliorated by being a female who grew up in a male majority culture, but there are things I have to watch myself on. Remembering the little details that are distinct and lend credence to the male perspective is critical. Men put on their pants and socks first and then put on their shirts, even their undershirts. I recently beta read a romance novel and the writer twice had the male main character put on his shirt first and then his pants. That’s how (most) women dress. Guys don’t (and by the way, I’ve checked this with “experts”). It’s a subtle difference that means the world for selling to a male reader that the male MC is really a male.

Men’s shirts button from the right and women’s blouses button from the left. Why? I have no idea, but the zippers on our jeans are also reversed. I love to wear men’s 501 shrink-to-fit button-fly jeans, but using the other hand to work the buttons did take some getting used to (well worth it for the comfort!). Again, it’s a detail to remember for selling that this is a male protagonist and not just a female character with three-day scruff.

When two men shake hands, they clasp firmly and they actually shake hands. When a woman “shakes” hands, she just gives a man her hand but she doesn’t move it. She keeps her hand motionless. Guys don’t know what that means and they find it a little shifty — unless it’s a really pretty girl and then they don’t care. I freak them out because I shake like a guy and they’re not used to that. Generally, when women meet each other, they don’t shake hands unless their boss is there and he did, by the way.

Women see thousands of shades of color and men see about 32. It has to do with the cones in their retinas, so there aren’t a lot of exceptions (though there are a few). A woman might say “grab the lilac napkins” and then get irritated that her guy grabbed the maroon napkins, but seriously, he just sees purple and he went for the ones that seemed less washed out.

Women have a better sense of smell than men. I have a scene in A Threatening Fragility where Shane and Jazz are walking by a flower garden. I had to rewrite it from her perspective because she could smell the different flowers while Shane just smelled flowers … and they are all purple, pink and blue — not the 50 shades she would see that I mostly chose not to put in the book out of deference for my male readers.

All those little touches need to be kept in mind so that as a woman who writes male MCs, I’m selling the notion that these are really guys and not women who can stand up when they pee. I think I do a pretty good job. And because I don’t have a slavish devotion to intersectionality, I think I do a pretty good job of showing men as human beings with different characteristics. In Transformation Project, Shane is taciturn by nature while his brother Cai is a bit of a chatterbox. Shane often uses controlled violence to solve the community’s problems while Cai worries about the results of that violence. Shane’s heart is pretty hardened, but his father Rob can cry over somethings. In “What If Wasn’t” (WIP) Peter, who is a guy just out of prison for killing someone in an accident, wishes he didn’t feel the emotions he feels, but he’s helpless against them and so, sometimes, the people around him know he’s feeling them. He’s probably the hardest to make sure I’m not depicting a woman who can stand up when she pees, but I strive to create different men who aren’t stereotypical. You can check out my books at this link and let me know how I’m doing.

I wonder where my fellow blog-hoppers struggle.

Posted June 10, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Subsidizing Everyone   6 comments

I’m running down the top 13 candidates in the Democratic Game of Thrones, in reverse order of their polling, and today I’m looking at Andrew Yang. You can catch my earlier posts in the hyperlinks below.

freedom dividend

Ten days after the midterm election, Andrew Yang gathered a group of about forty people, mostly college students and active community members, in Iowa City, Iowa, to discuss the 2020 presidential election.

Yang seems intelligent, articulate, and he’s done his homework. His website has his views on more than 70 different issues and policy proposals. He could talk in depth on just about all of them. The biggest piece of his platform is a Universal Basic Income, which he calls a “freedom dividend,” but it isn’t the only idea he’s trying to bring to the forefront of political discussion. He also wants to modernize the metric for national success, which is currently the Gross Domestic Product, and provide an alternate currency for community involvement. He’s definitely not a libertarian, but his ideas ought to be discussed.

If I was a Democrat and could only have five candidates to choose from, I’d want Yang to be one. His ideas are new and different, and still boldly progressive. He’s a genuine, intelligent, and well-spoken man.

If I was a Trump supporter and wanted a sure victory, I would not want Andrew Yang to be nominated. Trump could defeat him on the fringe ideas alone (UBI is largely untested anywhere, let alone in the US, except in Alaska and it’s failing here), but it wouldn’t be the sure win as he could manage against Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker, polarizing politicians with a wealth of public garbage to pick through.

Yang is not a career politician (sound familiar?), so he lacks that incredible baggage train of just about everyone else in the race, including the one Trump has now accumulated, and he’s focusing on solutions for blue-collar swing-state voters who handed Trump the 2016 victories. I’m not saying Trump wouldn’t win, but that he’d have a headwind with Yang that he wouldn’t have with most other candidates.

And if I were a conservative Republican (which Trump isn’t), I’d be gearing up for 2024 on a platform of cleaning up the mess Yang’s UBI would cause. Trust me. Check out the Alaska Legislature if you want to see what that might look like on the national scale.

Yang is definitely more qualified to lead than Marianne Williamson and if I weren’t living through the mess in Juneau, I might think UBI was a tempting idea. But I just know that it makes no sense to tax one group of American who produce a lot in order to subsidize another group of Americans to sit on their rears. There’d never be enough money to support everyone who wanted to sit around watching daytime television.

My big libertarian issue with Yang is that his proposals require a LOT of aggression to accomplish. The math on UBI requires tremendous redistribution and redistribution is nothing more than hiring government agents to stick up your wealthier neighbors in the park. It’s a violation of the non-aggression principle.

Socialist with a Side of Therapy   5 comments

This is the start of my series looking at the Democratic candidates from a libertarian perspective. There are 23 declared candidates. I’m working off the following list of 13 because they have qualified for the debates later in June. I’m looking at them from lowest rating to highest.

Marianne Williamson - 33252886458 (cropped).jpg

Marianne Deborah Williamson is a 66-year-old author, lecturer, and activist. She has written 13 books, including four that have been New York Times #1 bestsellers. She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery program that serves home-bound people with life-threatening illnesses. She is also the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a nonprofit grassroots education and advocacy organization supporting peace-building projects.

Williamson was born in Houston, Texas, the youngest o three children. Her parents Sam and Sophie were an immigration lawyer and a homemaker. Her family is Jewish. After graduating from high school, Williamson spent two years studying theater and philosophy at Pomona Collect, but dropped out in her junior year and moved to New York City, intending to become a cabaret singer. She returned the Houston in 1979 to run a metaphysical bookstore/coffeeshop.

In 1983 she moved to Los Angeles. She began regularly lecturing on   A Course in Miracles  in Los Angeles and New York City, and eventually in other cities in the U.S. and Europe as well.

She published her first book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, in 1992.

She’s been advocating for the fundamental transformation of American society along her philosophical beliefs ever since.

She wrote in the book,

It is a task of our generation to recreate the American politeia, to awaken from our culture of distraction and re-engage the process of democracy with soulfulness and hope. Yes, we see there are problems in the world. But we believe in a universal force that, when activated by the human heart, has the power to make all things right. Such is the divine authority of love: to renew the heart, renew the nations, and ultimately, renew the world.

In 2014, Williamson ran unsuccessfully as an Independent for the California 33rd Congressional district of the US House of Representatives. On January 29, 2019, she announced her campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election.

While emphasizing that politics needs more than external remedies, Williamson has stated that she agrees with many of the positions of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, including Medicare for All and the $15 minimum wage. She has also spoken favorably of Glass-Steagall legislation. She has publically advocated for racial justice, demanding public apologies for slavery and paying reparations to the descendents of slaves. She supports reformation of the criminal justice system. She has embraced the Green New Deal and wants the United States to sign onto the Paris Climate Accord (remember, Obama “signed” onto it, but Congress never ratified it), and she wants to reform the Environmental Protect Agency.

She is a life-long anti-war activist who condemned Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, including favoring an embargo on American arms being sold to the Saudis. She says the US needs to be an “honest broker” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and she isn’t sure how she feels about Afghanistan. After all, she’s only anti-war unless there’s a need to free women from the Taliban.

She has a 24-year-old daughter named India.

Williamson doesn’t hide that she is a “progressive.” She is proud of it.

There are some good things about progressives, but from a libertarian perspective, their ideals are problematic. She ran as an independent in 2014, but she was really not an independent. She was and is very much a Democrat, who was endorsed by Democrats during that failed race in 2014, including Dennis Kucnich and Keith Ellison.

She is essentially a female Tony Robbins running for President. How is that better than Donald Trump? Yes, she’s charismatic and attractive, but let’s be honest about this — she’s a Hollywood self-help guru. We need someone who can figure out how to reduce the debt, stop deficit spending, reform entitlements. Does her history suggest skills in any of those arenas?

Do we really need a Therapist-in-Chief?

Snarking aside, my libertarian objection to her is that her policies would require major redistribution. While she claims to be a very peaceful individual, the violence and coercion necessary to move that much wealth around (against the will of the original owners) is massive. We should stop the wars that abuse the citizens of other countries, but the alternative should not be to abuse our own citizens.

Final 13   Leave a comment

Yeah, 21. (Picks up jaw from floor). So, who would you vote for and why? Yes, you can vote if you’re not an American. This is my unofficial poll of sentiment on the Democratic field. But please say why you’d vote for the candidate you’d vote for.

According to an ABC News analysis, among the 21 qualifying candidates, 13 have cleared both the polling and grassroots criteria set by the DNC, clinching a secured spot on the stage for the first debate (June 26-27).

The qualifying candidates are –

  • -Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • -New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
  • -South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • -Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
  • -Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • -California Sen. Kamala Harris 
  • -Washington Gov. Jay Inslee 
  • -Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar 
  • -Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke 
  • -Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 
  • -Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • -Tech Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 
  • -Motivational speaker Marianne Williamson

I’ve decided to research these candidates to see if any of them are worth voting for. I’m going to take a libertarian view of this, so let’s see where that takes us.

Posted June 5, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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