The Savvy Author


Friday
Sep152017

Sometimes It Pays to Be a Bitch

In the soon-to-be-released UNREPENTANT: Pray for Us Sinners, book 3 in A Cate Harlwo Private Investigations, I had a male character call Cate Harlow a bitch. If she is, that only means that she's a strong woman.

I was a nice girl, a people-pleaser — and I looked the part. California blonde, a ready smile, and soft-spoken: a nice girl. I got good grades, played on the girls’ tennis team where I would never, ever argue an umpire’s call, and was always pleasant to everyone. The problem was that I never spoke up or voiced my own opinion, no matter how much I may have disagreed with others’ politics, beliefs, or ego-driven opinions. I just nodded my head, smiled, and let them think I agreed with them even if I knew they were wrong. Of course, I wanted to be a nice girl and not, heaven forbid, a bitch!

The word “bitch” gets overused quite a lot for women. It seems that whenever a woman asserts any type of authority, there is bound to be someone who doesn’t like it, and the title “bitch” gets bandied about. Granted, women as well as men are apt to use the word when referring to a female who has been especially nasty, or one whom they feel has used her position of power in a negative way.

I once worked at a newspaper where people completely avoided, if at all possible, one woman who worked in Human Resources. As a newbie I never had any dealings with her, until one day there was a mistake in the deductions on my pay stub. I asked to see her and went in breeze-y and pleasant, expecting that we would resolve the problem without incident. I came out frazzled, teeth clenched and shocked. I was also mad as hell. She had made the 20 minute session as unpleasant as hell.

“What is her problem?” I asked a colleague who saw me coming back to my desk in a snit.
His response was a simple summation: “Her? She’s a bitch” — and he was right on target.
Alright, it was what it was, and I did kind of accept the use of the word. Certainly I thought that particular woman in HR was a definite bitch. I was the nice girl, remember?

But “bitch” is also a word that is too often used to describe a powerful woman, a competent woman, or a woman of strength. The greatest women of all time have had the title used to describe them, albeit not always to their faces. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, etc.

Actually, the word bitch can be traced way back to Elizabeth I of England. Incensed by her rejection of his marriage proposal, King Philip II of Spain called her “a power-sated bitch.” He was further humiliated when his Spanish Armada was soundly trounced by the petite queen’s navy. Her own brilliant military and naval acumen were salt in the wound to his ego.
Very few women are true bitches when the word is used to denote a vicious mean-spirited person.

The vast majority of women who have been called bitches have been women of strength and courage who used their minds to create positions of power in the world and made sane, competent contributions in business, medicine and government. A CEO of anything is still a CEO regardless of gender. They have to make tough decisions that may not be agreeable to all who work for them. Men are not seen as bitches of course; they are seen as tough, strong, leaders. Why can’t that appellation be applied to women as well? Is being called a bitch a new type of modern compliment?

Maybe, just maybe, being seen as a bitch can a good thing to be. If being a bitch means that you are a woman who expects respect, who is a force to be reckoned with in business, politics and in life in general; if it means that you can be forceful when needed, make serious decisions and be a leader, then it is a positive affirmation.

I asserted my own authority last week. Having made dinner reservations for four at a swank restaurant, I was annoyed to see that another party of four people, without reservations, had pushed their way to the hostess and was being led to a table. I excused myself through the crowd, walked up to the maitre d’ and said, firmly but pleasantly:

“I’m sorry, but that table is for my party. We have reservations for eight o’clock, we’ve been waiting for thirty minutes. These people just arrived, and I heard them say that they do not have a reservation. I would like you to do the right thing and seat us first.”

The maitre d’ then told the hostess that those without reservations would have to wait until all parties with reservations were seated. As we were being escorted to our table, I distinctly heard one of the men in the other party say, “What a bitch!”

I took it as a compliment.

Sunday
Sep102017

Celebrities and Friends - Look Who's Here!

 onstage WYNN in Las Vegas with John O'Hurley

 

 with Vincent Pastore  

with Mark Ballas

 

 

 

 

 

 

with Christian Hoff

 

with Jasmine Guy, Alan William Hopper, and Charlotte D'Amboise

Tuesday
Jan102017

Author's Notes for UNREPENTANT: Pray for Us Sinners

AUTHOR’S NOTES

The horror of sex trafficking mentioned in this book is, unfortunately, all too true and is a thriving underworld business. Internet websites, many of which have been successfully shut down by law, have made it all the easier for sex traffickers to advertise. Young girls and boys are kidnapped and sold into slavery where they are raped and forced into prostitution. ECPAT USA (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), an Anti-Trafficking agency, states that the average age of these innocent children is between 12 and 14 years of age. There have been cases of girls as young as 9 years old who are forced into this lifestyle with their virginity sold to the highest bidder.

Many never escape from their captors and fall victim to brutal living conditions, physical abuse, forced drug addiction, and disease. Too many others become “the lost ones” as noted in the book and are either murdered, OD on drugs, or commit suicide.

Missouri Senator, Claire McCaskill, addressed this issue in the United States Senate. “This past year, (2016), a 15-year-old girl was rescued from sex traffickers in St. Louis after being sold at truck stops in Missouri, Florida, Texas and New Mexico for nearly two months. This young woman was courageous enough to share her story, which I told in the Senate hearing I co-chaired about trafficking and the notorious website Backpage. Now we owe it to her, and the thousands of other child victims across the country, to do everything in our power to stop this horrific crime.”

 

                                        Kristen Houghton

Saturday
Aug062016

Sometimes It Pays to be a Bitch, Cate Harlow!

In the soon-to-be-released UNREPENTANT: Pray for Us Sinners, book 3 in A Cate Harlwo Private Investigations, I had a male character call Cate Harlow a bitch. If she is, that only means that she's a strong woman.

I was a nice girl, a people-pleaser — and I looked the part. California blonde, a ready smile, and soft-spoken: a nice girl. I got good grades, played on the girls’ tennis team where I would never, ever argue an umpire’s call, and was always pleasant to everyone. The problem was that I never spoke up or voiced my own opinion, no matter how much I may have disagreed with others’ politics, beliefs, or ego-driven opinions. I just nodded my head, smiled, and let them think I agreed with them even if I knew they were wrong. Of course, I wanted to be a nice girl and not, heaven forbid, a bitch!

The word “bitch” gets overused quite a lot for women. It seems that whenever a woman asserts any type of authority, there is bound to be someone who doesn’t like it, and the title “bitch” gets bandied about. Granted, women as well as men are apt to use the word when referring to a female who has been especially nasty, or one whom they feel has used her position of power in a negative way.

I once worked at a newspaper where people completely avoided, if at all possible, one woman who worked in Human Resources. As a newbie I never had any dealings with her, until one day there was a mistake in the deductions on my pay stub. I asked to see her and went in breeze-y and pleasant, expecting that we would resolve the problem without incident. I came out frazzled, teeth clenched and shocked. I was also mad as hell. She had made the 20 minute session as unpleasant as hell.

“What is her problem?” I asked a colleague who saw me coming back to my desk in a snit.
His response was a simple summation: “Her? She’s a bitch” — and he was right on target.
Alright, it was what it was, and I did kind of accept the use of the word. Certainly I thought that particular woman in HR was a definite bitch. I was the nice girl, remember?

But “bitch” is also a word that is too often used to describe a powerful woman, a competent woman, or a woman of strength. The greatest women of all time have had the title used to describe them, albeit not always to their faces. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, etc.

Actually, the word bitch can be traced way back to Elizabeth I of England. Incensed by her rejection of his marriage proposal, King Philip II of Spain called her “a power-sated bitch.” He was further humiliated when his Spanish Armada was soundly trounced by the petite queen’s navy. Her own brilliant military and naval acumen were salt in the wound to his ego.
Very few women are true bitches when the word is used to denote a vicious mean-spirited person.

The vast majority of women who have been called bitches have been women of strength and courage who used their minds to create positions of power in the world and made sane, competent contributions in business, medicine and government. A CEO of anything is still a CEO regardless of gender. They have to make tough decisions that may not be agreeable to all who work for them. Men are not seen as bitches of course; they are seen as tough, strong, leaders. Why can’t that appellation be applied to women as well? Is being called a bitch a new type of modern compliment?

Maybe, just maybe, being seen as a bitch can a good thing to be. If being a bitch means that you are a woman who expects respect, who is a force to be reckoned with in business, politics and in life in general; if it means that you can be forceful when needed, make serious decisions and be a leader, then it is a positive affirmation.

I asserted my own authority last week. Having made dinner reservations for four at a swank restaurant, I was annoyed to see that another party of four people, without reservations, had pushed their way to the hostess and was being led to a table. I excused myself through the crowd, walked up to the maitre d’ and said, firmly but pleasantly:

“I’m sorry, but that table is for my party. We have reservations for eight o’clock, we’ve been waiting for thirty minutes. These people just arrived, and I heard them say that they do not have a reservation. I would like you to do the right thing and seat us first.”

The maitre d’ then told the hostess that those without reservations would have to wait until all parties with reservations were seated. As we were being escorted to our table, I distinctly heard one of the men in the other party say, “What a bitch!”

I took it as a compliment.

Saturday
Jul302016

Authors Need to Get a Life (outside of writing, that is!)

If you’re in the field of writing the changes are good that you tend to face more rejection and less acceptance than those in any other profession. No other group of people face criticism and rejection as often as we do. Truthfully, though we may rant and rave, we have no choice but to accept it; it is after all part of the “game of publishing.”

Quitting this artistic profession we have chosen is not an option. Writers write because there is something inside us that drives us to create stories, write articles, and put ourselves out there for others to see, possibly reject, and comment negatively on our work. It is almost masochistic! How many rejections can you take before you quit? The answer is we’ll take them all and we will never quit.

A writer’s life is not without its occupational hazards. Writing can become all-consuming even though no author is the same when it comes to their own schedule of writing. Some write four to five hours a day straight through, some as much as eight. Some break up the hours; Dan Brown once said in an interview that after two hours of intense writing he would get up and use the vertical machine in his office to clear his head and get his body moving.

Then there are the writers who closet themselves in their writing areas almost 18 hours a day and rarely emerge outside of a quick bathroom run! Truthfully I did this with my first book, And Then I’ll Be Happy! I basically had no social life and my husband told me at one point that he saw me so little that my face was becoming just a blurred memory. But I didn’t care; I was on a creative roll and I had to get that book written! Now I write for two to three hours a day, more if I have a major deadline, but it is never an all-day marathon, not any more.

While it is fairly accurate that writers are misunderstood in general, (we’re artists!); not many people can, or want, to do what we do. The process of writing changes the way we look at the world, we see what others don’t and that often sets us apart. But the truth is that, being consumed by the writing muse can be detrimental to your writing.

Does that sound crazy? How can doing nothing but write hurt our writing? It can and it does.
Mental fatigue is one way that ruins an author’s creativity. Anyone who has had the exhausting experience of all-night cramming sessions for college exams knows all too well about mental fatigue. It has been shown to reduce the creative spark rather than enhance it. Then too there is the very real danger of depression; being alone all the time with very little outside contact can lead to this potentially dangerous evil in a writer’s life.

You need to have an outside life away from the writing one and surprisingly the two “lives” can not only co-exist very nicely but your “outside life” can be beneficial to your creative life by refreshing your thought processes. Too much alone time can lead to the dreaded writer’s block.

Getting off your computer, up from your chair, and out into the world is a bit scary because you’re “leaving work undone,” I agree but it is necessary for your metal and physical health. Just going for a walk, calling, not texting or emailing, a friend or family member to make a human connection is a productive time away from your computer.

And, if you’re like most writers, your author’s subconscious is creating and storing new ideas that will benefit your writing. Socializing by going out to dinner, a movie, or a museum are great places to observe people and settings for character development and story lines.Taking an exercise class, or seeing a film, is not wasted time. Besides refreshing you it will lead to some heretofore untried writing experiences.

As writers we will always be thinking about our characters, the current and next stories, the articles begging to be written, and the deadlines we face. Taking some time to live your “outside life” will make you a refreshed, relaxed person who faces the profession of writing with new eyes and a healthy perspective. Combining our creative and outside lives make us winners.

Happy writing!