Creative Writing

10 Male Authors who Bring Sexy to the Paperback

Authors are known for a lot of things–being eccentric, loving cats, even, well, being dicks–but being sexy isn’t usually one of them. For that reason, we at The Poetics Project have decided to shed a little light on all of the sexy male writers out there.

 

1. Rupert Brooke

(Credit: Public Domain)
(Credit: Public Domain)

 
Rupert Brooke was born in 1887. Brooke wrote for most his life; he was known for being quite dashing and befriended people like Winston Churchill and Virginia Woolf, which helped him get his work published and read. When World War I reached England, Brooke enlisted, and in 1915, on an expedition with the Navy, Brooke died of blood poisoning brought on by a mosquito bite. Brooke, the charming, beautiful, young poet became a symbol of the tragic loss of youth brought on by the war.
 

From Amora to Zatanna: Convention Round-Up #1

From-Amora-To-Zatanna

Guess what comic junkies? I was fortunate enough to attend the San Diego Comicon for a couple of days (thanks Neo!) and, man, was that an experience!
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I was in the same vicinity as some of my favorite entertainers and creators… and spent entirely too much money. But hey! My bad money-spending habit is your reward; here are some titles I picked up while walking the ever seductive floor of vendors:

Invictus by Antonio Ramirez with art by Neil Dmonte & Jason Walton:

This is a comic from a smaller publishing house and I was fortunate enough to meet the writer at this booth. This 3 part series follows the adventures of Alex Archer, otherwise known as the shadow-bender Invictus. Shadow-benders have the ability to blend in with and manipulate the darkness of the shadows, which leads Alex to wonder “should my powers be used for good… or bad?” With the impending apocalypse, he better make his decision. And quick!

Templar by Jon Simon & Paul Mendoza with art by Neil Dmonte & Paul Mendoza:

“Evil Thrives When Good Men Do Nothing.” This comic, which I believe is independently published, comes from another writer I was fortunate enough to meet at the same booth as Antonio. A historical fiction, Jon was motivated to write this comic as a result of his love for history. This love developed from the close bond he shares with his father, who was a history teacher. Taking the most interesting factoids from history and fusing them with magical and mythical elements, Jon manages to create an entertaining story of knightly obstacles and triumphs.

Clan of the Vein by Neo Edmund & Neil Dmonte with art also by Neil Dmonte & Jason Walton:

Neil was the last person I met at this booth of talented people and was the artist for all the previous comics I listed. While Neo was not at the booth during this time, he is a close friend of mine and the reason I was able to check out Comicon this year (again, thank you!). Together they tackle the vampiric folklore through Ian MacBane, which they describe on their Facebook as “– a legendary vampire killer. MacBane finds himself in a remote mountain resort under siege by a clan of vicious vampires who have taken the guests hostages. He learns that the vamps are seeking the hidden location of the blood of the last vampire queen, but he has no idea that the secret is locked away in his own lost memories — and his enemies will stop at nothing to force him to remember.” You might also recognize some of this artwork on the walls of Stile’s bedroom in MTV’s Teen Wolf.

Womanthology by an assortment of women writers and artists at IDW:

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This is a truly unique comic of separate, yet thematic, vignettes completely written and illustrated by women in the comic business. Believe it or not, the comic community still has its reservations (and trolly rants) about women writers and artists, which makes the market for someone like myself a difficult place to enter into. But things are getting better, as the existence of this comic illustrates. Slowly but surely, more and more people want to read stories and see art by women!

Bringing Readers Inside the Bedroom

Writing about sex is hard (no pun intended). While there are plenty of writers who have found their niche writing romance novels filled to the brim with sensual scenes, the majority of us do anything to avoid a sex scene. As my book editing professor has mentioned on more than one occasion, readers don’t need to be taken into the bedroom. In other words, describe your lovers ripping each other’s clothes off and passionately kissing, but let the reader’s imaginations fill in the rest.

But what if you don’t want to stop at the bedroom door? How do you write about sex without causing your reader to roll their eyes, skip ahead, or feel completely awkward (mostly for you). For one, understand that metaphors and sex work–up until a certain point, at which you lose readers. In Slate.com’s recent article “The Worst Sex Writing of the Year Features Statisticians, Superheroes, and Brie Cheese,” Amanda Hess gives readers one example of what she deems a “delusional” metaphor from Manil Suri’s The City of Devi:

We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.

I have absolutely no idea what’s going on here, but Hess’ astute observation, “Congratulations–you fucked,” pretty much sums it up. When metaphors are too complex, they seem unrealistic. For most of us, sex doesn’t equate to feeling like a superhero diving through atomic nuclei and causing statisticians to rejoice. Hess also offers other examples of “bad” sex writing.

Story Shots: Equality

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Thanks to the Supreme Court, we now have one form of equality on the books: marriage equality. But the battle for equality doesn’t stop there. While marriage is a great start, there are many battles left to fight such as racial equality, income equality, and, of course, gender equality. With that in mind, we present our creative nonfiction stories around the theme of equality.


“Amanda! You aren’t going to be happy about this.” Lorraine cried as she stood in front of my car.

“What?” I quickly opened my door to join her.

“You got a super flat tire.”

“Oh, crap. There’s like no air in that at all. How the hell did that happen?”

We were in Costa Mesa, California, 30 miles from my friend’s house, and about 50 miles from my house. We were heading to a wine tasting. After we got off of the 55 freeway, my car drove fine. We stopped at the light on 19th street and as soon as the light changed, my car started to make an awkward thumping sound.

My tire went from fine to flat in the span of a red light.

“I have AAA.” I quickly dug through my bag to find my AAA card as I sat on the curb where my friend had located herself.

While we waited, I pulled out my spare tire. I lacked a jack and a jack stand, so I couldn’t actually change my tire myself, but I could make the job easier for the roadside assistance person. I took auto shop in high school; I at least knew the basics of how to change a tire, a headlight, a taillight, windshield wipers, and, last but not least, my own oil.

In a half-hour, a guy, no older than 20, came to change my tire.

He pulled out his massive jack and a lug wrench and started to change my tire. He stopped after testing my lug nuts.

“I can’t change your tire.” He said, nervously.

“Oh, okay. Why?” I asked.

“I can call the tow truck in and have it taken to a shop for you. You need new lug nuts.” That’s all the explanation I got. “Don’t worry ladies; I’ll take care of this for you.”

The tow truck came and the first auto shop the AAA roadside assistant sent us to said they couldn’t do the work that day. I asked what work, and they simply replied that they didn’t have the parts.

The tow truck driver then took us to a tire shop, which was the first place to explain what was wrong with my car.

“It’s not your lug nuts dude; it’s the lug nut studs. The lug nuts are stripped, and that means,” he paused and I picked up his line of thought.

“That means they’ll break and I’ll have to get new ones.” I finished.

“Yeah. And we’re not an auto shop,” the tire guy continued, “so I can’t replace those parts. I don’t have the tools. I just do tires.”

It started to rain as my car was pushed towards the new tow truck. I ran out to help.

“No ma’am,” the new tow truck driver commanded, “you don’t push. I don’t want you to get wet in the rain; not in your dress.”

I didn’t listen and I continued to push my car. The rain was mild and it was, after all, my car. I wanted to get things done as soon as possible.

I was tired of polite sexism. I don’t like being told I couldn’t do something because I was a woman, or when people assumed I didn’t know something because I have tits and a vagina. I was tired of these men not telling me what was going on because I was wearing a dress. I was just tired, period.

I know the excuse is that these men were just being polite and doing their jobs, but no one should spend five hours and three tow truck rides trying to fix a flat tire, especially when no one will actually say what’s wrong with the tire, other than being flat.

I could push my car in the rain. I could push my car in the rain in a dress. If I had high heels on, I’d push my car in the rain in high heels. What I wore was not limiting; what was limiting was the way I was treated, talked down to, and ignored by men who felt I was in need of rescue.

– Amanda Riggle


So we have all heard of this fake geek girl thing, right? A girl enters a comic shop or attends a Star Wars convention or plays D&D, and immediately gets challenged by those “gatekeepers of geekdom.” The question always starts, “do you even?” I’ve been lucky enough (or perhaps intimidating enough) that I haven’t been challenged often about my geek cred. But I have run into other problems.

Three Tips to Beat Writer’s Block

It happens to us all – we’re in the middle of a piece of work and it is just inspired. Everything flows. The words fit perfectly. The idea is seamless and flows like the Nile forming an oasis in a desert of blank pages.

And then the phone rights. Or you get an email alert that snaps you out of the zone. Maybe someone knocks on the door. Whatever happens and then the zone is gone.

Writing all of a sudden becomes like pulling teeth – painful and extraordinarily uninspired. Things on the page that were once beautiful now turn to pure dung and nothing you do seems to redeem the words on the page or match the perfection of what came before.

Pictured: What it feels like to write after you’ve lost the flow.

I do advocate having a set time to write and minimizing interruptions during these writing periods, but that doesn’t mean that an inspired state of mind doesn’t help with the workflow, and when that streak is gone, it can seem impossible to begin to write again.

These three tips help me get back into the flow of writing once I’ve lost it, and hopefully they’ll help you too.

From Amora to Zatanna: Ant-Man Defense

Age_of_Ultron_Vol_1_10A.I._Rivera_Variant_TextlessNow here is where I might lose some of you comic junkies, but hear me out! With the release of Ant-Man in theaters earlier this month, I felt it appropriate to talk about this controversial character and shed some light on why some comic fans, particularly female comic readers, have a bone to pick with him. Namely, I want to talk about the original Ant-Man: Hank Pym.

Warning: This post contains content that may possibly trigger people who have experienced domestic abuse.

Then, in this defense of Ant-Man, I am going to discuss why we shouldn’t write him off just yet. But first, for those of you who know nothing about him.

Ant-Man History:

IMG_1354 First appearing in Tales to Astonish #27, Hank Pym is presented as a genius bio-scientist who unlocks shape altering abilities through his discovery of Pym Particles. As such, he gains the ability to shrink his size and eventually communicate with ants he meets through a specialized helmet. It was then that he adopted the superhero name Ant-Man. During his heroic adventures, he encounters his soon-to-be-wife, Janet Van Dyne, and helps her get revenge for her father’s death by manipulating her size and giving her insect like wings and “stinger” abilities, thus creating The Wasp!

Now, sure, his abilities do not seem too impressive. Eventually, Hank discovers a way to grow in size, becoming Giant-Man and Goliath through his super-career, but even this does not make him that impressive of a Marvel character. What does set him apart, and why some fans love him so, is because of his genius intellect and the trouble it gets Hank into. To shed some light on this, comic circles have often stated that Hank Pym’s intellect reviles that of Mr. Fantastic, who many recognize as Marvel’s smartest superhero. Furthermore, Hank Pym, along with Janet, were the original founders of The Avengers, which Janet aptly named. So with a guy as smart as Hank, how does he manage to get into trouble?

Well, Hank is the original creator of Ultron.

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Harper Lee and Introductions

Harper Lee (Credit: PBS.org)
Harper Lee (Credit: PBS.org)

This summer I decidedly drove to Northern California to spend some time with my family and simultaneously tutor my younger sister. Surprisingly, my sister has been excited about studying at home and continues to show eagerness in most of her subjects. When I arrived, my mother handed me an impressive copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is a Barnes and Noble hardcover classic edition with olive and violet images pressed into the leather-like texture with silhouettes of Atticus, Scout and Jem. It’s been quite some time since I last read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and it has been a reanimating experience while I annotate and rediscover all the details that make this novel an all-time classic. While I spend my time rejoicing in my revisit of the novel, there is something in this edition that I have never noticed in my prior experience. Before the first chapter begins, there is a Foreword which states:

Please spare Mockingbird an Introduction. As a reader I loathe Introductions. To novels, I associate Introductions with long-gone authors and works that are being brought back into prints after decades of interment. Although Mockingbird will be 35 this year, it has never been out of print and I am still alive, although very quiet. Introductions inhibit pleasure, they kill the joy of anticipation, they frustrate curiosity. They only good thing about introductions is that in some cases they delay the dose to come. Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble.

Harper Lee

12 February 1993

To Read or Not To Read: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman

Back when Harper Lee announced her new book, Go Set a Watchman, this blog talked about the controversies around the release of the book and the common fears (and failures) that came with sequels released so long from the original work.

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What we mainly focused on was how this shouldn’t be the case for Go Set a Watchman because, according to Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman was actually the original book she tried to get published, only to have her publisher say something like “Hey, I dig these characters, and I’d like to hear about the girl’s life growing up.” This statement is what drove Harper Lee to write the prequel to Go Set a Watchman, To Kill a Mockingbird.

The book has been out for a total of six days, and the controversy around the timing of the release has not died down yet, but another controversy has popped up.

It seems that everyone’s favorite lawyer and father, Atticus Finch, comes off as a racist.

For some, this is a big surprise.

For others, this revelation actually wasn’t all that surprising.

And, honestly, all of these controversies don’t seem to be hurting book sales.

But, here’s the question: Is the book worth the read? As in, is it any good?

MFA Programs: Are They Worth It?

So you want to be a writer. You have graduated from high school and college with a few creative writing workshops under your belt and produced a few short pieces you’re proud of. You think, if I could just find the time or had people to read my work, I think I could do this. I could be the voice of my generation.

(Credit: Huffington Post)
(Credit: Huffington Post)

You still need to learn a few tricks. And you just know that if you jump straight into a full-time job that you’ll never get around to writing that novel. Life will happen. You’ll head straight for the fridge and then your bed after a long shift instead of opening up a blank page and writing.

This is a valid concern. If I wasn’t in grad school right now (albeit for publishing and not creative writing), I don’t know where I’d find the time to write. Or rather I do know where I’d find the time, but that notion is scary because it requires dedication and commitment. It requires long nights and early mornings typing away on your computer rather than going out for drinks with friends or binging on Netflix.

You have to find your own motivation rather than being motivated by your fellow students or professors. Being able to find your own motivation isn’t bad. It’s good. And certainly after finishing an MFA program, it’s a skill you will need to develop, but it can be hard to motivate yourself when you’re still figuring things out. When your own writing style isn’t fully-formed. Or when you haven’t found that story inside of you yet that is just dying to get out.

But it’s important to be realistic about MFA programs and to consider your options before jumping straight in.

From Amora to Zatanna: Blog Update

Where did the time go, comic junkies?! My sincerest apologies for disappearing off the inter-webs for so long! As I wrote in a blog long ago, I was finishing up my Master’s project and graduating. Having finished all school stuffs for the time being and finally kicking this weird funk I was in since graduation (see story shorts for June), I figured now was the time to restructure the way I publish posts here and keep you guys informed on the content I hope to provide every month. While things will not change too drastically, I am attempting to make postings a bit more uniform and, perhaps, more frequent! So without further ado, here is what I plan on writing:

NicciBusinessCardFront1. Comic Criticisms and Defenses: These posts will focus on critically analyzing a popular topic in comics. I will not write blog responses to specific incidents about comics anymore (such as the blog I wrote about Goyer and his sexist comments about She-Hulk) because every comic blogger tends to jump into the fray and, as a result, their voices are lost. Instead, I will discuss important themes present in the comic community and do my best to actually add something original to the conversation.

2. Teaching with Comics: Now that I have graduated and received my Master’s, I am transitioning from a student to an adjunct English instructor. As such, I want to share some of my teaching materials and discussions (sans student comments) with you all. Maybe there is a new teacher out there who wants to use comics too, or even a veteran who wants to shake things up a bit.

NicciBusinessCardBack 3. Writer Advice/Updates: Okay, so as you may know from previous blog posts, I’m hoping to become a comic writer. As such, I plan on posting a few blogs here and there with advice I have gained from others, or to update you on the progress of my own work. Here is my business card (which my wonderful animator friend, Hannah, made up for me). So excuse the shameless plug, but feel free to follow me on twitter for more updates as they come!

4. Comic Pulls/Convention Round-ups: These blogs will be listicles of comics and goodies I have on pull at my local comic shop, or that I found attending a local comic convention. I will try to take many pictures of these conventions as well!