Mock-A-Meme 19: Undercuts

One of the most endearing qualities of the meme, especially ones about women’s empowerment, is that their pictures distract from, or sometimes completely undercut, their own message.

They almost always involve women in various states of undress.

I am, therefore, compelled to mock them.

Devil Says

But… she’s not up. It’s an epic takedown by origami paper cranes. “The birds of the air shall peck out your eyes… but, you know, budget cuts. We can afford only paper cranes to chew on your toenails.”

Bitterness

You could even find yourself mostly naked and caught in what looks like a tarp made of spider webs. Count your blessings!

Like Me

Because now I’m looking for my pants. Honey, where’s my pants?

Mama Glue

Heck, if I had been able to lie in a comfy bed with a happy baby and no other kids demanding my attention, I’d have totally rocked that “glue” thing too.

No pants

Nobody said you were weak. We just suggested you might want to sleep on one bed at the time. And nobody said you were giving up! We’re sure you’ll find your pants if you just keep looking.

**

>> Mock-A-Meme #20

For previous Mock-A-Memes, go here.

Dear Cindy

Today I contacted the local newspaper about a press release announcing my novel. The email exchange progressed like this:

Dear Ms. Ames,
I’m a local author. Included is a press release announcing the publication of my new novel. Thank you!
— Sara R. Jones

*
Dear Sara,
Do you have any book signings scheduled for the near future that we could include in the article?
— Cynthia G. Ames, editor

*
Dear Cynthia,
I have one scheduled:

Book Signing
Friday, December 4
Patrick Henry College, Barbara Hodel Center
Purcellville, Virginia
5:30-7:00 pm

There will be others, but they aren’t yet confirmed.
— Sara.

*
Dear Sara,
That’s fine! I’ll put you on the list to call you and set up a time to talk to you and get some pictures.
— Cindy

*
Dear Cindy,
Sounds great! Your new BFF,
— Sara.

*
Okay, no, I didn’t actually say that last part. But we did go from formal titles to casual nicknames within five emails. If we’d kept going, I might have been invited to the family Christmas dinner and possibly asked to be in her daughter’s wedding.

As mentioned, I am signing books tomorrow. Follow me on Facebook (Sara Roberts Jones Author) to keep up to date.

(Note: actual names and actual emails altered. Consider this a fictionalized version. It’s what I do.)

Mock-A-Meme 18

Turns out there are a lot of memes needing to be mocked, and I guess it’s up to me to do it.

But what is Mock-A-Meme, why is it on this page, and what happened to #’s 1-17?

Here’s the deal. About a year ago, I ran a regular series on another blog in which I would collect memes and make fun of them. It was like a big party every Monday. Or, you know, like a mildly amusing text from a friend.

Then The Fellowship took up most of my online energy, and I wrapped up the series.

Still, friends have continued to send me mockable memes. I went through my files today and found a significant backlog. It’s the holidays, I thought.  A time for frivolity, joy, and mocking stuff. (I made up that last part.)

I started a new post, only to discover that I’d uploaded all the pictures onto this blog instead of my other one. Faced with the prospect of moving all those files again via my slow netbook, I made a decision: Mock-A-Meme would work just fine on my author blog.

So here you go. Some good old-school Mock-A-Memes until I use up my current supply. Enjoy!

Falling Off Shirt

And honey, that even includes the person who stole your shirt and your bra and left you with only a resuable grocery bag to wear to the beach.

Dragon Scale Ring

You can tell she’s strong-minded because she’s wearing a dragon-scale ring, which is the universal symbol for “strong-minded woman.” Either that or “I have no need to bend my third finger.”

WomanWalkingAway

But walking away is hard to do, people. First you’ve got to get a dynamite figure, then you’ve got to buy a filmy white dress, and then you have to go to a beach and practice mincing. (And… is that an elf ear she’s got?)

Also, in meme-world, social conventions dictate that you have to bare one shoulder at the beach. It’s really embarrassing to show up fully dressed.

Brunette Friends

God will, of course, provide you with friends who are all your same age, height, and hair color.

Terrible decisions

She’s got enough terrible decisions going here to make an alphabetized set of books. But okay, I admit it. This one made me laugh.

**

Click here for Mock-A-Meme #19.

To read the previous 17 posts, I’ve collected them here.

Q&A

Cover - FlowersWith the official launch of my novel this Friday, I was glad to (pretend) to sit down to an (imaginary) interview with the good folks at SuperExcellent Book Interviews. SEBI is, of course, a totally fake entity; the link takes you to my Amazon page.

I wrote the interview and answered my own questions.

Seriously? Who even does that?

*glances over both shoulders* Um, me, apparently.

*****

We at SuperExcellent Book Interviews were super excited to have Sara Roberts Jones join us for a little chat about her novel, The Fellowship.

Q: Sara, your book will be released on Kindle this Friday, November 13. I understand it’s already available in print?
A: Yes. Thanks to the Amazon gods whose ways are very mysterious.

Q: Are you planning anything special for this week, in honor of the officially “all the way released” day?
A: Yes! I’ll be drawing names for a free book on Friday. Anyone who won my giveaways or commented on my swimsuit picture is eligible for the drawing. Meaning there’s still time to get your name in, if you click on the link and comment. Go on, it opens in another window so you can go ahead and do it and not even lose your place here.

Q: And is that the end of your fun posts-with-prizes?
A: Funny you should ask that! No, in fact, I’m lining up at least two more giveaways of pretty spectacular items, in time for Christmas shopping. For a glimpse of what they’ll involve, check out Red Pen Travel Notebooks and J.A.’s letter art.

Q: You’ve gotten some feedback from your first readers, with comments like,

“I identified with the main character in ways I can’t express.”

“The protagonists aren’t all good, and the villains aren’t all bad… There’s a surprising amount of humor throughout, subtle and otherwise.”

“I seriously took the morning off work to finish this book.”

“This book changed my life. I don’t even need a Bible anymore. My only regret is that I didn’t meet a brown-eyed country boy earlier in life.”

Q: Wait, are you sure these are all authentic reviews?
A: Well, most of them are.

Q: Although initial reactions to your novel have been favorable, some readers say that the work is triggering and difficult to read. Would you say that’s accurate?
A: Well, sure, it’s story of a young woman who lets herself be manipulated by her “authorities.” She submits to a system that says she’s flawed just because of who she is. It’s also the story of a young woman whose passion to help others and find God ends up inspiring a huge, shattering reaction in her church.

There’s no way to tell that story in a chick-lit pink kind of way. So yes, it’s frustrating and has a few disturbing moments. But a community like the Fellowship isn’t all bad. If you hesitate to get into the story, worried that it’s going to engulf you in despair and ugliness… it won’t. There’s laughter and warmth threaded throughout the story, and vindication in the end.

Q: Why is this novel timely for the Christian community?
A: There have always been, and always will be, authoritarian leaders who use and abuse their followers. But they always look so good on the outside. Many Christians admire these leaders, thinking that what they say is very solid and Biblical. But they just don’t know what really lurks behind that crisp, clean exterior.

The dark underbelly came painfully to light just this year on a national scale with the Duggar family scandals. This family (involved in the same cult I was in) believe in a heavily authoritarian, restrictive lifestyle. Their actions indicate that they believe it’s more important to protect the family name (and fortune) than to speak up for victims. We all know now that Josh Duggar cheated on his wife with random women, but Anna Duggar apparently has no plans to divorce him or leave the family. She can’t — women in systems like these have no real choice. No matter how much they smile.

My novel explores a world like that, sympathetically portraying the people who are trapped in that mindset. I really don’t think it could launch at a more fitting time.

Q: Would you say any scenes are inappropriate?
A: Sure, like entire passages of really sordid theology and injustice. Otherwise, nothing a reasonable adult would find uncomfortable.

Q: Who is your favorite Avenger?
A: Captain America. Hang on, what does that have to do with anything?
Q: Nothing. I just figured you’d enjoy thinking about Captain America.
A: I do, thanks.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about your novel before we close?
A: Go buy my book.
Q: Besides that.
A: It launches November 13.
Q: We’ve already said that, too.
A: There’s a shirtless guy on page 319.
Q: Yes, that’s definitely worth mentioning. Well, it’s time to wrap this up. Thank you for joining us and discussing your novel!
A: You’re so welcome. It’s like this whole interview was tailored for me.

*****

Click here to order (print version) or pre-order (Kindle version) of The Fellowship

The Writing Process: A Visual Guide

One of the most baffling responses I can get from a test reader is, “I didn’t really get this part.”

How could she not pick up on what I very clearly spelled out in that scene or story? I read it a thousand times myself. It’s all there! Right… there…? No?

The problem is that authors tend to fill in missing pieces without realizing it. Which great insight I pondered a lot over the past two days as I put together a surprisingly challenging puzzle.

The job of a writer is to write your ideas so that your readers see them the same way you do.

Allow me to illustrate.

Your Story Concept:

What you see:

20151107_190247

What they see:

20151105_154212
I put the puzzle together on an old plotboard, hence the “Act 2” part. And my 6-year-old was an enthusiastic helper (for about ten minutes).

You start piecing ideas together. The writing is bad, but you know not to let that stop you. Soon, a shape begins to emerge.

Initial draft

What you see:

20151108_004625

What they see:

20151105_224952

“I think it needs a little more,” they say.

You pour in hours of more thought and revision.

Second through fourth drafts

What you see:

20151108_125128

What they see:

20151108_004625

“I like it!” they say. “I didn’t quite get the middle part, though. I think you need to work on that.”

“Darn, does it show that much?”

(It does.)

You take back your story and get to work again. Eventually you heave a tired, satisfied sigh. It’s pretty much done.

You give it to your faithful readers again.

Final Draft:

What you see:

20151108_131227

What they see:

20151108_125128

“What do you mean it’s not finished?” you exclaim. “What more can I do?

“It’s way smoother. I love the details you added!” they assure you.

“But all those details were already in there!”

If they’re good friends, they insist that part of it still isn’t working, so you take it back and look more closely. Oh, now you see where you didn’t really spell out the setting or a character’s reaction. OH! There’s a BIG hole there! How did you not see that?

More hours. More thought. More writing. And eventually you give it back. You admit that this is what it is:

The Story:

20151108_130753

But no story is perfect. You’ve done such a beautiful job on the rest of it that your readers are willing to see it as:

20151108_131227

And you think, “Hey, that was totally worth it!”

Because writers are inspired, passionate, and slightly insane.

The Ministry of Shania Twain

shania_twain_up

Up until I was 14, I listened to secular pop music. But I spent my teen years under a Venerated Teacher who assured me that ungodly music would give Satan ground in my soul. He even used a diagram that showed my soul as a grid. Every time I listened to a “rock song,” I surrendered a square of that grid to Satan. (Apparently Satan advanced his kingdom by square inches, who knew?)

We all learned to draw this diagram, including little black fortresses on the “ground” we’d surrendered. The only way to reclaim it was to pray, specifically, that God would take back that ground. Oh, and to stop listening to rock music.

So for almost ten years, I carefully avoided anything with a certain beat, a certain sound, or from certain eras. I wasn’t sure how much square footage my soul contained, after all.

I got married at 23, and that was about the time I started realizing that my Venerated Teacher taught more nonsense than wisdom. Within a couple of years, I dared to venture back into the world of ungodly music.

Throwing concern for my soul to the wind, I bought three CDs: Sara Evans’ Born to Fly, Jo Dee Messina’s Greatest Hits, and Shania Twain’s Up.

The interesting thing about these choices is that they all have a major kick of girl power. And of all of them, Shania kicked the hardest.

Recently, I pulled out that music again. It took me back to those early years when I still lived on the fringes of a culture of womanly submission and sexual repression.

I remember now that it gave me a zing to listen to a song that said, “You’re a fine piece of real estate, and I’m gonna get me some land.” And coming from a world where a broken courtship was deeply embarrassing and morally questionable, it was therapeutic to hear a woman say, “It was never gonna work/You were too much of a jerk… I miss you now and then but would I do it all again? Nah.”

I needed that sass and confidence. I needed permission to disagree with accepted opinions… or just say, “Nah.”

All these years later, I’ll still listen to the Messina album. Evans’ “Born to Fly” is still one of my favorite songs. (Obviously I was channeling Bekah Richards years before I put her into words.) As for Up, I wouldn’t say that the music has aged extremely well. In fact, most of the songs are downright cheesy. But they’re also fun, flippant, and assertive. For better or for worse, they played a big part in my recovery.

I still had a long walk ahead of me as I remembered who I was, not who I was supposed to be. But I have to confess… Shania gave me a running start.

*****

Order your copy of The Fellowship!

The Inner Dialogue of an Indie Author

Me: There are errors in the novel.

InnerMe: Errors? Like what? You accidentally killed off somebody in Chapter 16? “Everything came to a screeching halt when, the next morning, Bekah woke up dead…”

Me: Aren’t you funny. No, the story’s solid. I mean formatting errors. And some typos.

InnerMe: You knew that would happen.

Me: But that doesn’t mean I wanted it to.

InnerMe: And you’re going to get them corrected.

Me: But there will still be copies floating around with errors!

InnerMe: But your whole story is about how you don’t have to be perfect!

Me: Well, yeah, but I’m not selling these copies to God. People are notoriously lax when it comes to extending grace toward novels.

InnerMe: Ahem. Like… you?

Me: What?

InnerMe: Let’s discuss the books you’ve verbally shredded over the years because they didn’t meet your exalted standards…

Me: Let’s don’t.

InnerMe: Twiiiiliiiight….

Me: Shut up! I said my story is solid! Twilight has some serious plot problems, like…

InnerMe: Forget I mentioned it. Please. All I’m saying is that you might be dreading a taste of your own medicine.

Me: That’s a cliche.

InnerMe: If the shoe fits…

Me: I can’t believe my inner voice speaks in cliches!

InnerMe: Seriously, are you just going to sit around stewing about some errors that you’re going to fix but can’t right at this moment?

Me: Well… I could stew about the fact that the house is a wreck too.

InnerMe: The house is always messy.

Me: I know, and I’m fine with that in general. But it’s reached a unacceptable level of messy.

InnerMe: We can fix that! Right now!

Me: Yes! You are totally right! CONQUER THE MESS!

InnerMe: And… sorry about the cliches.

Me: It’s okay. It’s the thought that counts. Oh my gosh, did I just…

InnerMe: Grab a scrubby. We really need to get to work.