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Welcome to Chrissy Munder, author, wit, blogger and damned good friend :). Chrissy will be blogging again later this month when I'll be pimping her great titles. But this week of Jan is just warming up, so let's have fun...

Thank God for Charlie Sheen.

Not in the hard drinking, allegedly almost strangling and threatening his wife with a switchblade and violence kind of way. But at least I knew who he was when the “breaking news” was reported, even if I didn’t know who he is married to.

Do you feel staying up on all things current impacts your writing? How about the Readers out there? Do you like a book to have nods and winks to current events and slang?

This jumble of thoughts came about not because it’s Clare’s birthday month, but while visiting over the holidays. Trapped in someone else’s living room I watched one of the “entertainment news” shows the other night and I felt, yes, I’ll admit it, old. An entire half an hour of excited reporting spent on the comings and goings of the currently famous and I didn’t know who any of these people were or what their claim to fame actually was.

But will this ignorance have an effect on my writing? How important is it to stay aware of fads and fashion, music, slang and the latest reality programming on the television? Is it naïve to hope that despite the blatant insertion of old movie tidbits into my work the fiction we produce now will stand the test of time and still be interesting and enthralling to readers in our future (assuming of course, that it is to our current readers)?

Obviously someone reading a historical novel or anything set in prior decades wouldn’t expect to be reading anything that smacks of the modern age. Not only would it jar them out of the moment, but it would also defeat the purpose of reading something other than contemporary fiction. But how many times will readers reread a story filled with current slang before it becomes annoying, and the story becomes that fate worse than death – a Do Not Finish?

We always hear that age is a state of mind. So when we sit at our keyboards or eagerly read a new novel, what state of mind do we open ourselves up to?

~~Chrissy Munder~~

Chrissy's website.
Chrissy's blog.



Today's Quote:
"Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past." Henry Ward Beecher

Today's Daft Google Searches for 'Clare London':
"Who was your least favourite MP of 2009?" (that's me, Ms Topical! LOL)


Follow this month with Clare (look at the goodies so far...):

Jan 01 : The New Year is ushered in with the release of the Immortal Fire anthology IN PRINT.

Want to grab a day to pimp, pose or pontificate? Email me at clarelondon11 @ hotmail.com and I'll happily find you a space ♥



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Never apologize for a long rant! The response is much appreciated especially from the Reader's point of view (yes, Readers get a capital letter in my world). I also read with a dictionary beside me and will confess to having a notepad as well so I can write down the slang I can't find in the dictionary and have to look up online. Netspeak is the hardest for me because it keeps evolving!
Jan. 2nd, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
Really! The grocery-store checkout lanes look like 'Attack of the Clones'--dozens of identical bony botoxed babes who look like they were mass-produced in a barbie factory.

Considering how many so-called 'celebrities' have done nothing for which they deserve celebration--sorry, I don't count having rich parents and a good publicity agent as accomplishments--it's no wonder that so many of these 'names' are essentially ciphers. They haven't done anything worthwhile. Do I care what Paris Hilton has done, besides keep a name that makes her sound like a building in France? No, I do not.

Same with 'cutting-edge' language in books. It dates, and it often dates badly, even in a really good story. In Robert Parker's earlier books, he uses clothing description pretty frequently--which worked, at the time--but awhile back, when I re-read the Spenser series (one of my favorites, a good combination of hardboiled and intelligent, with one of the few long-lasting, adult, man-woman relationships I've run across in fiction)... well, the 80's duds don't hold up well. I think Parker figured that out, because he's dropped the fashion statements for less specific descriptions.

Generally, I think books written to reflect the latest thing won't hold up well over time, which is not to say that a well-written contemporary wouldn't; the best of them will, and will pass into literature. Writing historical is easier in some respects--you don't have to worry about something being 'so last week' when it's already set 200 years in the past.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
And it's not just slang either! Attitudes and opinions on not only events but cultures and subcultures change as acceptance (or rejection) of a societal norm happen.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
That's true. It's less jarring if, for instance, a story set in the 60's has characters that assume most of the 'girls' in the secretarial pool are really at work until they find a husband. On the other hand, I used to enjoy Del Shannon's mysteries, but the casual homophobia--an accurate reflection of the times, I'm sure--has soured me on the series. (Or Ngaio Marsh's homicidal lesbians, though that makes the whodunnit pretty easy to spot.)
Jan. 2nd, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
and can I say -- We've come a LONG way baby!!

I was thinking of that same thing, of a book I read when I was about 15-16, and loved it then. I tried to read it again last year, but hated it so much I couldn't finish reading. Here at that time, I was thinking I was far from the racist my mother and father were.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
I expect you were. Humans generally don't like change, and do like certainty... I'm appalled at the amount of racism still hanging on into the 21st century, but at least it is changing, and in our lifetimes. I didn't really expect to live to see a President of any race but Wonder Bread.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
Ooh, Robert Parker is an unexpected example! I also think that care has to be taken for a good historical as well. It's easy for someone to fall into the trap of looking up a historical expletive or two and then over use them.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC)
Hi Chrissy, what a fun post! I've been thinking about these issues a lot lately because I recently finished 1000-page Under the Dome by Stephen King and noticed a lot of references, mainly to President Obama, that will definitely date the story.

One thing that happens a lot in the story is fist-bumping. (Which seems like an Obama reference, too. Since you're over there in England, I'll mention that when Obama was elected and he fist-bumped someone, a conservative news station reported on it but called it fisting, which the parody-news then had a field day with.)

I was wondering how likely it was that more than one or two characters would be into that display of...solidarity? Affirmation? Since some of the characters are early-teen kids, I figured it was all right, although probably kids have moved on to something else at this point. I also thought it would be a lot like "gimme five" in ten years.

As a writer, I insert slang and pop culture in my writing assuming that my audience is a reader from my own culture. My hope is that a reader from another culture would either "get it" from context, Google it if they cared enough to fully understand the reference, or skim it and simply enjoy the novel as a whole without needing to absorb every detail. But I feel like it's okay to be obscure. People read at many different levels.

That said, there's a joke at the end of Sweet Oblivion: Snare that I will probably always wonder if anyone else enjoyed but me. I always tell my partner: the person who gets that joke is gonna fall out of her chair and pee her pants :P
Jan. 2nd, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
Jumping into what you've said about King and 'Under the Dome'. King is, well, maybe not notorious but definitely one writer who includes a LOT of current event/slang in his work. Especially his early stuff. My daughter has a reading disability and listens to audiobooks all the time (or I read them to her). In recent months, she's had a thing for King and has gone through most everything out there available. Hearing these references to time of a different era has had me pondering the reference more than the storyline.

I don't think King worries about dating his work so much; in fact, I think he likes having this or that story known by its era or year due to references made or attitudes given.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jordan. Wow, I may have to sneak a peek at the latest King simply to see a fist bump in print.

I'll mention that when Obama was elected and he fist-bumped someone, a conservative news station reported on it but called it fisting, which the parody-news then had a field day with.) - Okay, that spilt my coffee!

This post is a great example of the through process that may occur when coming across this in print.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
Oh do I so get the 'who the HELL are these people? and WHY should I care??' feeling either reading the tabloid headlines or catching a five min recap of ETV. I run into a lot of 'WTH'? when I work the daily Yahoo crossword-- they usually have a lot of current entertainers (or celebs) referenced.

As far as using slang or current events inside a story, unless the story centers around a particular person who is more transitory (say, a US President), rather than someone who will invoke a reaction by mentioning his/her name (like Bin Laden or al Qaida). Sure these names will not have the same reaction in 30-40 years, but they will invoke a collective mindset history has instilled upon society. Like how most will shudder with the mention of Joseph Mengele or Auschwitz. In 20-30 years, Bush or Clinton will just be another president. (Obama will be more than 'just' because he was the first African-American president, and a Nobel Prize winner).

Current slang is hard to gauge. It can be too transitory (like phat or 'the bomb'). It's here and gone within a year or two. Maybe if a story was about a 'loser' wannabe, in-the-now slang might work. Or simply a story about a 30-40 something who is a little lost in this slang ridden world wondering what the heck these young things are talking about... when back in my day, 'far out, man' was on the edge and 'hip chick' was hot.

And that's just the American version! I can't imagine how mixed up it can be with English (British), New Zealand AND Aussie slang thrown in. (BTW, I tend to google slang I don't know (and it's not derived in context) and hope it's been posted out there somewhere on the net.)
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
LOL - the funny thing is I usually end up feeling momentarily guilty that I am so clueless.

I think I would laugh if I actually read "phat" or "the bomb" in a story. Great examples.

I will say that reading non-US authors has broadened my slang repertoire!
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
Ah, but IMO,we Brits have a far superior repertoire of swear words LOL.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, with common words for other uses. Silly git.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC)
To that, I say "f*k my old boots"...
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
My SO and I were just wagging our graying heads over this very thing as we watched "The 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock History" or whatever the eff that program was called. We only recognized a fraction of the names. I was insanely grateful when James Brown showed up. (Of course I've always been, but I'm even more grateful now, since James isn't doing too much showing-up anymore.)

Actually, it drives me a little batty when books are larded with contemporary cultural references, especially of the "hip" variety. I feel as if I'm being excluded from a private club. The older I get, the more I prefer fiction to have a kind of timeless quality.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
That's right! Where has James Brown been lately? I swear I just saw something about him being arrested a while back. Of course, that could have been two years or more worth of while back.

My SO told me to be grateful that we were no longer the "hip" crowd being marketed to, despite the way commercials and the like now drive me nuts. And don't even get me started as to just what age the current crop of television shows are geared toward.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
Chrissy, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but James has been six feet under (or else in a fancy crypt, which seems more his style).

At least he'll stay out of trouble...I think.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
*face palm* Even more proof of how clueless I really am.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
I'm like you, Chrissy. I never read the gossip mags or keep up with the latest scandals. When I go to the hairdressers I read the magazines like Hello or Heat and I spend all my time thinking 'who are they?'.

I terms of cultural references, then unless you are going to refrain from describing anything in the environment of the characters then there is no way you will avoid dating it. Even references to clothing will date a book eventually. I remember reading a load of old 70's Mills and Boon books that I discovered at my Gran's house not too long ago and having a great time reading about the flared catsuits that the heroine was wearing and the descriptions of the hero's lush moustache!

If you think about it, even the onset of modern technology such as the mobile phone may date a book eventually as the speed of progress continues.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Very good point, Jen. I can remember sighing lustfully over the description of a lush crop of chest hair that would send me into giggles now. Well, I might still sigh lustfully over it, depends on the description.

You make me think of the new crop of eReaders slowly changing our lives. I actually saw one in real life. One of the gals at work had a Sony that I must admit looked very appealing. Soon we will all be writing about our characters downloading their favorite novels rather than walking over to the bookshelf. I guess that's similar to when we stopped writing about albums and cd Walkmans and started writing about Ipods and MP3s.

Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
I do want to thank you, Clare for letting me have fun today. I am now left with a serious case of icon lust - it's no secret I covet Jen's dino icon, but now Yachay's little pink tongue fella has caught my eye as well.

A parting gift - Anyone like bubble wrap? How about virtual, always ready to be popped bubble wrap? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Virtual Bubblewrap

Edited at 2010-01-02 08:50 pm (UTC)
Jan. 3rd, 2010 09:04 am (UTC)
I like when popular culture and cultural references are incorporated into the stories. Even if I don't recognize them they make the narration or dialogue so much more authentic.

Unless the character doesn't follow "pop culture", but even then, for me personally, everywhere I go there is some references to Angelina Jolie or Lady Gaga or some other star so I like to see some of that translated into a contemporary story, and it's cool to see a version of that in historical stories (Parhelion does that very well I think).

Still, it has to be *references*, something mentioned in passing... I read a story a while ago that was laden with pop culture trivia and it just seemed like the author was trying too hard to try and sound "hip". It's an art, really! :D
Jan. 3rd, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
Yay! Another Reader point of view. Thanks for commenting.

It's an art, really!.

I think that sums it up very nicely.
Jan. 4th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
I think I'm late to the party
I used to be a total gossip hound, before I found something better to suck up my time and money, m/m romance. Thanks for liberating me authors. :-) I do keep half an eye out to what's happening in the celebrity world, having a teenage daughter helps because she tosses stuff out there that forces me to pay attention. I remember once working with someone who had no clue what a v-jay was on MTV. I guess a 55 year old single guy who'd never been married nor had kids had no need to know. *shrug*

Do I like the references in my books. Yes. Not chock full but a little tossed in trivia works for me. A reference to a popular movie or song is okay. I don't want paragraphs of the couple discussing the pros and cons of Gwen Stefani's new baby name. (Con by the way.) Will it date the books? Maybe. I think about kids movies like Shrek that have all sorts of cultural references that really only adults will get and wonder if it has a shelf-life or if it will simply be nostalgic at some point. I'm not sure but as a reader personally I do like it

Great post and Happy Birthday Month Clare!!!
Jan. 4th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
Re: I think I'm late to the party
Chrissy will be pleased to get your comment, and I'm (greedily) hugging all the birthday wishes to me, to compensate for sagging skin LMAO.

Seriously, you raise something I was discussing this Xmas, when I compared the activity and conversation in my house to my sister's (she doesn't have children). It's definitely true that having kids around keeps you in touch with popular culture, even if their hobbies and interests aren't yours personally. I've been known to say they keep me in touch with my inner child, which is fun. That's when they're not turning my hair grey :).
Jan. 4th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
Re: I think I'm late to the party
Hey, I saw that picture with the blue wig. Your skin was eerily smooth imho. I'm beginning to doubt that's you - perhaps just a young and sexy standin? Or perhaps that's part of the osmosis effect of kids?
Jan. 4th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Re: I think I'm late to the party
Pleeeeeease.....*frowns at you and giggles girlishly*

BTW, I have a portrait in the attic, you know, *mwahaha*. If the Sons haven't put their clumsy foot through it yet...
Jan. 4th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Re: I think I'm late to the party
It's never too late, not when there's a month of party!

I used to be a total gossip hound, before I found something better to suck up my time and money, m/m romance. Thanks for liberating me authors. *cackle* All part of our evil plan!

Thanks for adding another Reader point of view. I'm getting the sense my doubts are unnecessary and (as always) writers should just go for what they like within reason.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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