booby trap

I’m a rebel at heart, so as I stumbled across the idea that bras are actually not the healtiest thing a woman could wear (some studies have shown a possible link with breast cancer) I was all ears. I read a bit more on the subject, and the idea grew to me. I mean, even without the breast cancer link the benefits of not wearing a bra are obvious. Tissue strengthening, resulting in perkyness, and, most importantly, no restrictive garment on your body.

I never really had a problem with bras, but I also don’t have huge tatas, so… But I figured, not having huge tatas might be worth giving the whole idea a test run. See, women and breasts have been around for far longer than bras, we’re just brainwashed to believe for no reason at all that breasts need support. They don’t. (Although I’m willing to believe that better nutrition resulted in bigger breasts – they’re squishy bags of fat after all – so larger sizes might indeed need some sort of support.) I wanted to see if I could live without that ‘support’.

One sunny sunday afternoon I mounted my trusty aluminium steed (aka bike) and cycled 28km with the boyfriend but without a bra. To my great surprise, the jiggling was hardly noticeable. And that’s what most women are concerned about: jiggly breasts are an eye magnet. I decided to broaden the experiment to a week, with going to work and everything.

The first day I practically felt naked. I was hyperaware of everything, and that was exhausting. Walking results in movement, and I was in constant worry one might see my nipples. Until I gave myself a prep talk. Women have nipples. So do men. They’re there to feed babies. They are entirely normal, natural things. It’s not my responsibility if someone else wants to see something sexual in them.

After a week it began to feel normal. After two weeks it was normal. I forgot about my bras. I bought some snugglier fitting tank tops for wearing under light blouses. It’s now around four weeks and I don’t miss wearing a bra at all. I’m not more aware of my breasts as I would be with wearing one. I learned that not wearing a bra subconciously forces me into straightening my spine when I walk and pulling back my shoulders, because that in turn reduces the bouncing. A yay for better posture! Off the shoulder tops are my new favourite thing, because there’s no pesky bra strap anymore.

I assume there are some garments that might look better with a bra underneath. And I might actually buy some really nice, expensive ones for special occasions. But like high-heeled shoes bras probably won’t be something I’m wearing in my day to day life from now on.

If you want to read more on the subject of bras and possible health risks and the benefits of not wearing a bra, go here: Brafree.org

the week in review, 13.09.2014

Word Count: 48.040

Confession time: I’m not writing as much as I like to, and even worse, I keep deleting stuff, which is not helping on the word count front. The good thing about this: My place doesn’t look like a dystopian frathouse anymore, I’m giving my body the nutrition that it needs and I act more like a responsible adult on top of having a very stressful time at my dayjob.

Also, I’m dipping my toes very carefully into yoga. Veeeeery carefully. I’m still afraid this is going to turn me into an elightened esoteric version of a crazy cat lady. There’s no denying though that sitting on a chair the whole day is taking its toll on my body, so I better get moving. I also like challenges and trying to get my body into twisted poses is right up my alley.

It’s kind of ironic that a lot of writers online complain about writer’s block (which in my holy opinion is just a side effect of bad plotting) while I have the opposite problem: I want to write all the time and in consequence procrastinate on everything else. Which is not a good habit to have. Balance is everything, that goes for yoga as well as writing. Something else is true though: Writing is easier when your mind is at ease. I wasn’t at ease with my life anymore and switched things up, so now writing can settle back in too. It’s now such an integral part of me that I’m sure I’ll not stop doing it alltogether just because I’m not doing it every free minute of my waking day.

I very much hope I find the time to edit a short story with Nate and Adelie over the weekend, so that I can publish it, because the next part of Chapter One will be delayed. It’s from their cadet days and full of summer and motorcycles and picnics at the beach, and basically just cute and sweet.

Tell me, how was your week, friend? Did life treat you kindly?

Housekeeping

One of the hardest lessons to swallow is, that you do not have time to do everything. Especially not if your day job eats up a considerable amount of your waking hours. And then there are other obligations, like housework, maybe you want to work out, you should eat something, yadda yadda yadda. Oh, and sleep.

So, I want to blog more, but I know that I will never have the time to keep both my blogs – this one, and the more personal one – updated in the same amount. Because, d’uh, my time is limited. After much thinking I decided to keep this one and add the personal note, and discard the other one.

In this progress I cleaned up some posts here, so if you’re looking for the German version of the Apples, I’m sorry, this got deleted. It was horribily out of date and had nothing in common with the English one. But the short stories are still there, until I decide I cringe to much over them and take them down.

I also added some new categories and have great plans, as usual. :)

Apples of Eden, Chapter One, Part 1

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Apples of Eden

I did it! I finished Chapter One! *runs around her desk flailing*
At some point I seriously thought I would never make it. And there is still some polishing to do – but I intend to share it now in parts, as 43 people have downloaded the Prologue and I really don’t want to keep anybody waiting. Not that anybody was complaining.

Chapter Two is plodding along slowly, but surely. Current total word count is 47.000 words. The 50.000 is sooo close. I’m afraid this thing is going to be a doorstopper of a book. Which would suit the genre, but also means I’ll write for some more years. *ugh*

Teaser: “I really hope that was just an unfortunate experiment in one of the laboratories. And not an earthquake.”

fruits of hard work

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Apples of Eden

So, yes – very long time, no see. As you can see, I’m still alive and kicking though. Most importantly, I’m still writing. The current word count is some 40.000 words, which makes this thing officially the longest thing I ever wrote. I’m also just a mere 10k away from 50.000 words, which would make this novel length. Ha, I’m nowhere near the end…

Writing is no fun without readers, so today I actually have something for you – the Prologue! The day our dashing heroine and handsome hero lay eyes on each other for the very first time.

My thanks go out to Tack, who is my faithful alpha reader, always comes up with suggestions and improvements and endures my skipping through the storyline patiently.

I hope you enjoy it. Feedback is always welcome.

transformation, or: the process of finding the right words

This is how the short story “Cadets” began, as I wrote it the very first time, in German:

Seite an Seite standen die Kadetten der beiden Schwesternstaffeln Albatros Alpha und Albatros Omega in ihren dunkelblauen Uniformen neben dem Flugfeld der Westerhaven Airbase Academy. 50 Köpfe mit akkurant sitzenden Berrets auf kerzengerade gehaltenen Körpern hatten ihren Blick unverwandt nach vorne gerichtet, während die Mittagssonne erbarmungslos gleißend am wolkenlosen, augustblauen Himmel stand. Die wabernde Luft über dem Beton verwandelte die geparkten Camaro-Fighter auf der anderen Seite der Startbahn in undeutlich flirrende Schatten.

This is how it looked like after I translated it into English:

Side by side the cadets of sister squadrons Albatros Alpha and Albatros Omega stood in their dark blue uniforms next to the airfield of Westerhaven Airbase Academy. 50 heads with accurately placed berets, on bodies held straight as poles, were staring steadfastly ahead, while the midday sun burned mercilessly from the August blue sky. The flickering air above the tarmac turned the Camaro jets on the other side of the runway into hazy shimmering shadows.

Pretty close. And both are pretty boring. Something was missing. I couldn’t feel the sun, the airfield, the heat. So this is how it looks now, as the beginning of the prologue for the Apples of Eden:

The air over the tarmac of the runway flickered. Camaro jets, parked and ready for combat, were glimmering shadows behind a hazy veil. The light breeze felt as hot as jet exhaust against the skin of the 50 cadets, standing on the scorched grass next to the airfield of Westerhaven Airbase Academy. The sister squadrons Albatross Alpha and Albatross Omega suffered silently, while the August sun burned mercilessly on their dark-blue uniforms.

Of course, in all three versions I knew how this scene looked like, because I could see the 50 cadets standing there, but it took me several rewrites to finally find the words that would make the scene come alive, to make Nate’s wish for a cool drink in the next paragraph understandable.

The following was the beginning of the actual story of the Apples until this afternoon. It is not working the way I want it to work.

They were playing their favourite game: Comparing the customs on their respective home planets. She was packing up her desk after a sixteen hour workday, while he was casually leaning in the doorframe of her office, watching her and explaining a special flirting technique.
“… and they often employ a manoeuvre that is called the bend and snap.”
“That sounds more like a pretty painful combat move than anything I would use to gain a man’s attention. What do Earth girls do then, when they ‘bend and snap’?”

My original idea was to start with the main characters and introduce the setting bit by bit. But I feel like the whole part (not just the paragraph above) is sort of hanging in nothingness. Ironically, this what they actually do, but I want to give the reader a better impression of where we are before actually telling. So this is what now precedes the paragraph above:

The corridor stretched along in a slight curve, a gleaming tube of sterile whiteness. On one side, long windows interrupted the seamless wallpanels in regular intervals, showing nothing but pitchblack darkness outside. On the other side the windows were mirrored by a endless row of identical looking doors, one after the other, like pearls on a string. It was late, and all offices were empty, except one.

Not quite there yet, but better. The hunt for better words continues.

writing and… skin tones

I have to confess, it took me an ridiculous amount of time to understand why many descriptions of darker skin tones are so offensive. It is not that they are likened to precious stones, fine wood or food. As an aside, many find the food category offensive, because it not only objectifies people, but it treats them also as if they are consumable. That rings true to me, but I can think of certain intimate events in the bedroom when I find this totally appropriate.

But the true offence is not the objectification. And I really didn’t understand this for longer I’m willing to admit. The true offence is, that dark skin tones are often the only skin tones that are described in any detail at all in many stories. In beautiful, poetic language. While the skin tone of a white character isn’t even mentioned. It’s the default, not worth mentioning. That is the insult. People of Colour accuse white writers rightfully to not even have the same elaborate vocabulary to describe white skin the same way.

At first, I felt guilty. Then my little brain gears got churning. See, I really like describing skin tones, and coincidentially, any skin tone. It doesn’t matter if the person is white or brown or black or rainbow-coloured. Because I like colour. I like skin and its many qualities beside its tone. It’s beautiful. It’s important. Just leaving it out wasn’t an option. So I decided to pay special attention to all my characters skin tones, and I also tried to not make it the first thing to mention about my black character. I don’t know if that is any better now, but I leave it to the reader to judge.

But is the accusation right that there aren’t as many descriptions for white skin available as there are for darker skin tones? I’ll go and challenge myself now to come up with as many beautiful (purple) descriptions of white skin as I can – and you can chime in and say what you think or add your own.

Truly white skin:
snowy, alabaster, marble, icy, skin like a lace doily, skin like a spray of cherry blossoms, the luminous white of a pearl, as transparent as fine bone china, eggshell, ivory, skin like liquid moonlight, lily white, frosted glass white, whipped cream, …

Rosy and pink skin:
skin like magnolias or daisies, skin like the morning sky before sunrise, skin like a strawberry daiquirí, like rose quartz, like fondant roses, peachy, candy floss, …

Beige and tanned skin:
honey, caramel, sand, golden, skin like yellowed paper, bronzy, the colour of muddy puddles, butter, olive, teak, …

Okay, coming up with metaphors and similes for beige is hard. Harder than I thought, and it doesn’t matter which of my two languages I try. Treating the norm as exotic is not an easy feat. But I won’t give up yet, but instead add to this collection if more comes to my mind.

oh look, i made an audio track!

Okay, this is just some sort of test run – feedback would be greatly appreciated – because a certain someone in Connecticut wanted me to read some of my own writing. So I took the “recently turned into prologue” short story “Cadets” and tested the voice memo function of my phone. Of course I would not be me, if I wouldn’t add a bit of bells and whistles via Garage Band, though.

Anyhow, here it is, this audio track thingy…

What’s going on with “the Apples”?

I’m still writing, in case you are wondering. Since stepping back from the madness that is trying to reach a certain amount of words in a day or a week, I just let it flow. It will be finished, sooner or later.
I translated almost everything that I wrote in German, and then proceeded to more or less rewrite the first chapter. Not because I didn’t like it, but because it wasn’t working from a reader’s perspective who didn’t read the short stories. There’s now a better introduction to the main characters, I merged some scenes too, and gave the budding romance more setup time. It felt so rushed.

If you are still writing, why aren’t you publishing any new parts?
Because I don’t write in a linear fashion. I have bits and pieces from all over the book in the document now. Some even from very close to the end. As I know have a better grasp of what is going to happen, I might (really just might) start publishing again when I have finished (and thoroughly revised) the first two chapters. But what I plan to do is writing a sort of travel guide here, to show you more of this universe in my head. And to make you excited about the Apples, or that’s at least my evil master plan.

Speaking of plans, as the thing that I have dubbed “the Meeting of Doom” is not just on the horizon but only mere weeks away, it doesn’t really make sense to make great plans about blogging more right now. After May 10th I will hopefully have more brainpower left to write more around here too.