So I ended up having one of those oh-dear-god conversations with a man who is a work acquaintance of my husband. I’ll call this man Fredo, after Michael Corleone’s pathetic brother in The Godfather. The brother Michael arranges to have someone else shoot in the head and dump his body to sleep with the fishes.
Like a lot of fans of The Godfather, I do not think Fredo is a horrible person, though he does make poor decisions, since he is a rather bumbling and pathetic individual, beset by deep feelings of inadequacy and a long list of fears. He is an incredibly human kind of human, flawed and weak and hungry for love. I hate watching him executed and dumped overboard.
I haven’t watched The Godfather movies in more than a decade, but thinking of Fredo’s demise always conjures thoughts of a short-sighted fool who doesn’t deserve to be murdered, a man I pity a great deal.
So. Back to this work acquaintance of my husband’s, who I am calling Fredo for the purposes of this blog post — since I do not want to publicly insult anyone, but I also want to express my displeasure at general assholery and sh*ttiness in the world at large, which is my right as a blogger. (Blogger Power, 101)
Since this conversation took place on Friday, February 10, 2017, Fredo began by expressing his contempt for everyone in the country who opposed the appointment of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education. I was uninterested in debating this with him, since Ms. DeVos is officially the Secretary now and I’m tired of talking about her. Saturday Night Live did the best job of summarizing why so many Americans were upset about her nomination, in the Sean Spicer Press Conference skit (with Melissa McCarthy playing Sean Spicer) that aired on February 4. (If you haven’t seen this yet, you can watch the skit on YouTube at the link here.)
Even though Ms. DeVos stated that she supported guns in schools to protect against possible grizzly attacks, Fredo continued his rant against “special snowflake” Americans by saying that the biggest problem with the U.S. education system is that boys are being taught by female teachers, and that this is why boys have been falling behind in school — because “women don’t understand anything about guns. And boys want to learn about guns.”
“Interesting,” I said. “What makes you think women don’t understand anything about guns?”
“Because women don’t know sh*t about war,” Fredo said. “Women want to sit around on their asses, nursing babies all day. Men are the ones who actually want to get up and DO something. Something important. Women sit around watching that Fifty Shades sh*t about men who beat their girlfriends with riding crops. I mean, that is just f*cking pathetic. Women like this should not be teaching our children. Little boys want to write stories about guns and warfare, but their teachers won’t let them do that in school. Why not? Because women want boys to write about puppies and rainbows and a lot of faggot sh*t like that. Not guns and war and dropping bombs on people. Little boy starts writing a war story in school, someone says he needs medication, and that’s f*cked up. Boys ought to be encouraged to learn about war and write about it. Not that stupid romance sh*t women write.”
I had a strong sense that Fredo was speaking from personal experience. I asked if he thought boys were discouraged from writing “warfare stories” in high school as much as in elementary school.
“Absolutely!” he said. “You bet your damn sh*tter they are. The best thing that could happen in this country, is if we put men back in the classroom again. Our kids ought to be learning useful skills in school, and women don’t know sh*t about anything that really matters in life, so how good a teacher can a woman be?”
I said, “Well, I’ve seen a lot of fine teachers, who know an awful lot of stuff about life, and many of those teachers have been women.” Fredo rolled his eyes and snorted. “And for the record,” I added, “I never wanted to have a baby, even though I do possess a fully-functioning uterus. I also haven’t seen the Fifty Shades movie, I’d probably murder anyone who hit me with a riding crop, and I like to write stories about war.”
Fredo gave me a shocked expression. Then he scowled. “What the hell do YOU know about war?”
I just stood there smiling a moment, not meeting his gaze anymore, but not walking away from him, either.
Which had the effect of pissing him off.
And then dear Fredo stormed off. No doubt cursing me in his head the whole way to his pickup.
Which was for the best, really. Because who knows what would’ve come out of my mouth, at that point. I kind of wanted to reassure him that I only wrote about rainbows and puppies and BDSM. And to make sure he understood that in my books, women want to nurse babies all day and get hit with riding crops, while the men go out and DO stuff, like drop bombs and shoot people. Except — not only would that be a lie, but also cruel, dishing out sarcasm to Fredo. By storming away from me, he made it clear he wasn’t ready to discuss much more than his own feelings of inadequacy and that giant chip on his shoulder. In another context, Fredo could be a KKK member or an ISIS combatant, or pick your fanatical fundamentalist movement, predicated upon strict gender roles, male dominance, and this idea that heterosexual men are inherently violent.
And where did Fredo ever get the idea that Betsy DeVos was in favor of replacing female teachers with male teachers? That was a new one for me.
It does sadden me to know that Fredo probably *did* write a great war story in school, and a female teacher probably *did* tell him he was wrong to want to write about violence, and someone probably *did* put him on medication as a result, and the whole episode probably felt like a punishment. That does not justify Fredo’s beliefs, or his language, but it does provide the reasoning for his views.
Speaking of war stories, this afternoon, I spent some time working on a new opening date for Book II in Mark of the Pterren. I don’t have a working title for this novel yet, I just call it Mark of the Pterren: Book II.
I wrote a first draft of this book a few years ago, which I used to help write the final drafts of Book I. I had originally started Book II a few weeks after Terrence Davin returns home to Mirador, but as I started working on this project again last week, I realized the sequel begins two days after he arrives home.
Which meant I needed to calculate the specific day of the month that would be, so I can print that date in my chapter headings.
According to my calculations, Terrence Davin arrives home in Mirador on April 12, 2415. This is the final full day of Book I.
The novel actually *ends* in the early-morning hours of April 13, 2415.
Immediately after Book I ends, Terrence spends the entire day of April 13 doing a number of administrative things — and Book II begins the following morning, shortly before dawn — on April 14, 2415.
Which made my heart start beating SO HARD with excitement. Because here is something I know as an author, but these facts wouldn’t make any sense to share in the story.
April 14, 1912 — the date the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg, just before midnight. The ship sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912.
April 14, 1865 — the date John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln. Who died on the morning of April 15, 1865.
April 14 is a symbolic date. Mark of the Pterren is a story about civil war, and what happens when things fall apart. (Namely, that people die. Especially poor people. Whether they are infantrymen used as cannon fodder, or passengers riding in steerage. No matter the crisis, the poor always die in the highest numbers.)
(It’s a good thing Fredo is not reading this blog post. Not a nursing fact in sight, anywhere in this post. For shame.)
I haven’t just been working on Mark of the Pterren this week — I also spent some time on my sixth novel, which is a ghost story/murder mystery. My YA fantasy, Kinned to the Sea is scheduled to be turned in on Friday, February 17 to start the process of formatting the ebook.
And Bloodshade of the Goddess is still available as a free ebook on Smashwords! On Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the ebook costs $2.99. A HUGE thank you to everyone who shares a review for this book on Amazon or on Goodreads! And if you download the ebook from Smashwords, please leave a review there — you can post the same review for a book on multiple sites. Reviews are vital to all authors, whether they are traditionally-published or self-published — but for writers who have zero marketing dollars (or zero dollars in general, like moi) reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are the water canteens in the Sahara of life. All water canteens are most appreciated!! Stainless steel canteens decorated with Sailor Moon stickers are preferred.