Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Meet the staff of Meredith Manor Hotel--Moira Donnelly

Moira is a 17-year-old high school senior who works weekends and holidays at Meredith Manor Hotel. An honor student, she is also taking college courses in Mandarin at the local liberal arts school. She has her eyes on a diplomatic career.

Moira developed an eating disorder when her father left the family, but with the support of her mother and family friend/physician Dr. Amina Kabli, she is recovering

She is dating Travis Hodges, who has been accepted at MIT (early admission), along with his twin brother Conor.

She is very close to her younger brothers--redheaded twins Ryan and Sean. The boys spend a fair amount of time at the hotel, and everyone there is fond of them. Ryan is convinced that since he's a twin and his sister's boyfriend is a twin that everyone has a twin but only some people are lucky enough to be able to see their twin. This theory will be tested in The Prodigal, a Meredith Manor Hotel novella due out in November 2018)

Moira speaks several languages and serves as an interpreter when the hotel has foreign guests. At the suggestion of Miranda Weston, Peter Meredith has hired her for an internship in the French office of the  Meredith family charity, Light a Candle Alliance the summer before her first year of college.

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

I was troubled by this book, a story set in the near future where a Joan of Arc-like figure has been martyred and an older woman has decided to die during a performance of a new kind of entertainment known as "grafting." She intends her graft to be a song of this new Joan  and an epic defiance of the fascist regime in which she lives.

The author is clearly talented and this book has garnered lavish praise and it's easy to see why. She has created an elaborate construct for her near-future story with its overtly political message--the villain is a "rage-mouthed" former lifestyle guru-turned unlikely celebrity-turned billionaire-turned politician. Who could that possibly remind us of? The book's prose is quite consciously incendiary--the novel's first words are, "Burning is an art," and much of what comes in the next pages has to do with the delicate art of "grafting," a form of scarification carried out as a medium of communication. (The details are not for the squeamish.)

Such a Sensitive Boy...flash fiction for a cold November day

SUCH A SENSITIVE BOY by Katherine Tomlinson

I wish Devin wasn’t such a sensitive boy, Marla thought as she watched her son happily chow down on a plate of store-bought chocolate chip cookies and a glass of skim milk. The cookies were a rare indulgence, a reward for the good grades he’d brought home on his report card. Marla didn’t want Devin to end up squishy fat like some character on a redneck reality show. (Like his daddy)
They didn’t have the money to eat organic, but she kept junk food out of the house as much as she could, trying to steer the boy away from the greasy fried pork rinds his father favored and toward apple chips and veggies with humus. Not that she called it “humus” around Lee, lest it set off a rant about “Ay-rab food.”
Her mother-in-law thought she was being mean denying Devin sweets, so whenever the boy went over to his nana’s, Marla felt like she had to search his backpack for contraband when he came home.
It annoyed her that Barbara wouldn’t respect her wishes. “It’s my job to spoil my grandbaby,” her mother-in-law always said. “A little love never hurt anyone.” Then she’d give Marla a significant look. “It’s no wonder he such a sensitive boy.”
Marla’s husband wasn’t much help. Lee still ate breakfast at his momma’s nearly every morning because she’d make him sausage gravy and biscuits like he liked while Marla and Devin ate yogurt and fruit.
Lee had voted for the president who’d won and ever since election night, he’d doubled down on being an asshole, like he was sure any minute a Mexican Muslim was going to show up in Huntsville and take his job as produce manager at the Winn-Dixie.
Not that it was much of a job any more. The store had cut his hours last spring and he still wasn’t bringing in a full paycheck.
Marla had been an inventory clerk at Redstone Arsenal before she got married, but Lee didn’t want her working “outside the home,” even though they could have used the extra income now that Devin was in middle school and didn’t need so much supervision.
“No wife of mine is going to work,” Lee had declared even as he sold off their washer and dryer to cover the rent one especially lean month.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cover Reveal!! Secrets in the Shadows

A boxed set of shifters, shifters, and more shifters--coming out in May 2018.  Edited by Jena Gregoire, the set includes all-new material by writers Catherine Vale, Gina Wynn, Heather Hildenbrand, Liz Gavin, Nicole Zotack, Madeline Sheehan, Heather Magoon Felder, Brandy Dorsch, Victoria Cleave, and me, Kat Parrish. I'm quite excited!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A review of An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

It's a few years in the future and China's now-discarded "One Child" Policy has created a surplus of middle-aged men who have no hope of marrying. To serve the needs of this demographic, which the State has dubbed, "the Bounty," a new form of marriage has been created--the Advanced Family. Women can marry two men (or even three, although that's a bit frowned on) and in the process, can collect a handsome dowry.

Wei-guo, who owns his own fitness business desperately hopes that Wu May-ling will take him on as a third husband but has no idea of just how complicated her relationships are. She's married to brothers Hann and XX and both men have secrets they've shared with her but which could get them sterilized--or even imprisoned--if the government found out. 

This is a debut novel from author King and it is spectacular. She tells the story from four different viewpoints, and each voice is beautifully crafted. Along the way there's a generous helping of Chinese custom as well as an overlay of the ponderous bureaucracy of the Communist state, and it all works really well. You can read an excerpt here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

United for Puerto Rico

You've seen the pictures. You've watched the interviews with the mayor of San Juan. This is a crisis. Puerto Ricans are  Americans. Donate here.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A List of Books About Women in Hollywood

I've thought a lot about the role of women in Hollywood. I have worked as a reader, as an executive, as a screenwriter, and even as a set caterer. I've worked for some terrific women--Lauren Shuler Donner, Kathryn Bigelow, Nina Jacobson--and I've seen how male Hollywood is consistently surprised when "women's movies" actually make money. As if, somehow, those execs didn't realize that women went to movies too. I decided to look around and see if there were any books on the topic.  Here's a short list.

1.  A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930-1960 by Jeanine Basinger.

Now, Voyager, Stella Dallas, Leaver Her to Heaven, Imitation of Life, Mildred Pierce, Gilda…these are only a few of the hundreds of “women’s films” that poured out of Hollywood during the thirties, forties, and fifties. The films were widely disparate in subject, sentiment, and technique, they nonetheless shared one dual purpose: to provide the audience (of women, primarily) with temporary liberation into a screen dream—of romance, sexuality, luxury, suffering, or even wickedness—and then send it home reminded of, reassured by, and resigned to the fact that no matter what else she might do, a woman’s most important job was…to be a woman. Now, with boundless knowledge and infectious enthusiasm, Jeanine Basinger illuminates the various surprising and subversive ways in which women’s films delivered their message.

2.  In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

Over 100 exceptional and influential women describe how they embraced their creative spirit, overcame adversity, and sparked a global movement of entrepreneurship. Media titans and ceramicists, hoteliers and tattoo artists, comedians and architects—taken together, these profiles paint a beautiful picture of what happens when we pursue our passions and dreams.

3.  Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers: Redefining Feminism on Screen by Kathleen Rowe Karlyn.

This is a scholarly book from the University of Texas, and the continued examination of ideas first articulated in Karlyn's book Unruly Women.  I haven't read this book and would love to, but it's hideously expensive--the Kindle version is $30, which is kind of beside the point of making books available in digital editions.

4.  Go West Young Women!  The Rise of Early Hollywood by Mary A. Hallett. 

In the early part of the twentieth century, migrants  made their way from rural homes to cities in record numbers and many traveled west. Los Angeles became a destination. Women flocked to the growing town to join the film industry as workers and spectators, creating a "New Woman." Their efforts transformed filmmaking from a marginal business to a cosmopolitan, glamorous, and bohemian one. By 1920, Los Angeles had become the only western city where women outnumbered men. In Go West, Young Women, Hilary A. Hallett explores these relatively unknown new western women and their role in the development of Los Angeles and the nascent film industry.