language : Oh Fair New Mexico

Subscribe to Oh Fair New Mexico RSS FeedSubscribe to Oh Fair New Mexico Comments

by Karen Fayeth

That’s What’s Up

Hey, hey, excited to announce that my mildly creepy little story called “Bugging Out” was published this week in a wonderful literary journal called The Penmen Review.

Affiliated with Southern New Hampshire University, Penmen is a home for some incredible creative writing. Take a look at my story and then stick around and read the other stories too. It’s top notch!

Here’s the direct link: Bugging Out

There is also a link in the right column of this page.

And stay tuned, I have another story due to be published soon. 2017 has been a nice year for my work, and I’m very humble and super excited.




Image that accompanies my story in The Penmen Review



Tints My World View

Lately I am all about my Kindle. I had an actual Kindle eReader for a while and then I migrated to using the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone.

Love, love, love it.

As a writer, I am interested in the people who manage to self-publish and get a little traction on Kindle. As in, who are these people who are making it into the Kindle 100?

As a commuter, I like quick, lightweight and fun reading to pass the time on long BART treks.

With all of this in mind, I went and scoured the Kindle 100 list for downloadable fun. On the top seller list, I found mostly genre books, and most of the genre stuff falls squarely under romance.

Hey, look, cheap romance novels and I go way back. I was reading Harlequin paperbacks when I was in mid-school. My Grandma loved those inexpensive books so much. She’d read one and then my mom, sister and I would pass it around when she was done.

Not much has changed in the romantic genre since moving to Kindle. I looked at all the cheap and tarty romance eBooks and paid anywhere from $1.99 to $7.99 for three different titles.

I have made my way through two of them and am working on the third. I find that immersing myself into this world of genre fiction has sort of tinged my world view. The real world and actual human romantic relationships look a little weird after living in genre world.

In no particular order, what I’ve learned from $13 worth of literary cotton candy:


Everything old is new again.


The basic formula for a good Harlequin romance goes something like this:

There is a dark and brooding man. There is a troubled and innocent woman. Their worlds collide in some fashion. Usually the man is some brash worldly guy like a sea captain or an army general (most Harlequin’s are set in a historical era).

She hates him or he hates her or they hate each other and they fight. He curses the headstrong woman, she alternately loves and hates how manly and forceful he is.

One or both of these characters has a secret. This secret means they can never truly love. That said, a little roll in the hay and it turns out that the love of a good person can cure all their problems.

Cue riding off into the sunset.

Yeah. Not much has changed. Instead of sea captain insert Chief Operating Officer of a big marketing firm, CEO of his family’s insurance company, and famous rock star.

I’m not making any of these up.

Apparently the new brash sea captain wears a tie and worries about his stock portfolio.

Also, apparently male victims of sexual abuse seem to be the new theme. In one it was his step mom, in another it was his foster mom, in the third there was physical but not sexual abuse because his mom was a junkie who died thus preventing him from ever truly loving a woman…blah blah blah.

*sigh*


One really cringe worthy success spawns many, many more. Like evil bunnies.


I am learning about this phenomenon called Fan Fiction, which has been around for ages, dating back to early Sci Fi books, and perhaps older than that, even.

In a nutshell, people love a book and then take the same characters or the same setting or both and write a new work. Rarely is the fanfic sanctioned by the original author. It’s written largely for other fans of the original work.

Just so you know, the author of the weirdly successful “Fifty Shades of Gray” series admits that she took her inspiration and characters from Twilight.

Hackdom begats hackdom begats hackdom.

I realized post-purchase that the authors of one of my three eBooks also took their inspiration from Twilight. Edward is now named Jake and wears a suit and is a surly corporate executive. Bella is now named Chloe and is an MBA intern.

Yeah. I might note here that I got through one and a half of the Twilight books and hated them immensely. So fanfic based on a series I can’t stand isn’t really working for me, but oh damn is it working for a whole lot of other people.


Careless disregard for the English language, grammar, readability, and formatting does not prevent the sale of books or degrade the author’s credibility.


So that book I just referenced, the Jake and Chloe one? Reached number nine on the New York Times bestseller list for fiction (and higher than that on the ebook list).

This, despite the fact that it was riddled with formatting issues, typos and grammar errors.

Just cuz ya popular don’t mean yer quality.

Whooo doggies. The language abuses I’ve seen.


Character development? Pfft! Who needs it?


Apparently writing about lots and lots of sex, in rather graphic detail, trumps the need to actually develop the characters.

Usually when reading a book I can “see” the characters. They take on fully formed beings in my head and in a book I like, they become like friends I get to visit with for a while.

Not from this book. I know very little about the characters other than he is tall and has tousled hair. She is short and skinny with dark hair. And has big boobs.

There you go. Characters for the ages.


Euphemisms! I got your euphemisms right here!


This is the most awkward part about reading these books. Look, even Harlequin used euphemisms for body parts and particular actions. You’d think some thirty to forty years later we’d be better at providing color commentary.

Nope. We’ve graduated past “towering manhood” and “her most delicate flower” but not by much. Now the in-favor euphemisms seem to be “his sex” and “her opening”.

I cringe just typing those words. Ew.

Can we just agree that “thingy” and “hoo-ha” are the generally accepted nomenclature and be done with it?


Everything ends up “happily every after” unless, of course, the author is working on grinding out a series of books.


And then it makes sense to leave your character lying in a pile of leaves in the woods, distraught over a break up (ahem, *coff*Twilight*coff*) and the fans begging for the next book.

Nice work if you can get it.

I had a rather in depth conversation with The Good Man last night over whether I have it in me to crank out some of this genre stuff. I *can* do it, meaning I have the skills and capability, but somehow it feels, to me anyway, a little soul deadening.

So this was a good sashay into the current state of publishing. Not sure what it means for my writing. Though my commutes have never been hotter, all that thingy on hoo-ha action!

Or, you know, not.

I guess at this point in my life, you gotta make it GOOD to get this old girl rolling. And by rolling, I mean something other than my eyes.





“Coffee Flavored Kisses” — java, my true romance!




Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone 5 and the Camera+ app, and sweetened by a little iPhoto touchup and an Instagram filter.




Not Fit For Soundbyte Culture

He was inordinately fond of jokes, anecdotes, and stories. He loved to hear them, and still more to tell them himself out of the inexhaustible supply provided by his good memory…the coarser the joke, the lower the anecdote, and the more risky the story, the more he enjoyed them…

He possessed, moreover, a singular ingenuity in bringing about occasions in conversation for indulgences of this kind.

–Henry Villard

Reporter Henry Villard is discussing the tendency of his interview subject to tell bawdy jokes and stories, and to invent many occasions in conversation to insert his inexhaustible supply of coarse humor.

Sounds like a fun guy. The kind of guy I’d like to have a beer with. I do love coarse humor.

This guy certainly does not, however, sound like a good political candidate. In this internet era of “always on,” deep political gasping happens when a candidate so much as tap dances on a very wide line of humor. A candidate who inserts risky stories into conversation with a journalist from a widely read publication would not last long in this modern political atmosphere. We’ve seen a couple try and they have ended up becoming a footnote, a forgotten punchline and a big political loser.

In this instance, the year was 1858, the publication was The Atlantic, and the candidate for Senate being interviewed was none other than Abraham Lincoln.

In ways I can’t fully explain, it kind of cheers me up to know that Lincoln loved a good dirty joke. I knew he was a bit of an awkward man and was prone to being a “high talker” when he’s get worked up. But until today I didn’t know he had a penchant for bawdy humor.

I’ll never look at a penny the same way.

Happy Presidents Day!




“Tell me another fart joke, father.”
Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad.


Quote from “Recollections of Lincoln” by Henry Villard published in February 1904 in The Atlantic magazine.

Photo from HistoryPlace.com.




So Let’s Dance The Last Dance

Hello to the last day of 2012. Yes, today is the last dance. It should be a waltz, I think. A symphony of memories in three quarter time.

The past 365 days have been one hell of a ride. As the old saw goes, you tend to remember the bad things and forget the good. Uncharacteristically for me, when I look back on 2012 all I can remember is the good.

I worked my tail off this year, but I also got to make my first, second and third international journeys. I have emerged from those experiences a changed person. Changed for the better, to be sure.

I suffered the worst bout of writer’s block I have ever known. I’m still not quite over it, but through this block I learned to appreciate the art and craft of writing so much more. Suddenly I have to work a lot harder for every word I put on the page which makes me love every word that much more.

And after year’s worth of rejection letters for my stories and essays (well over 100 emails or paper letters saying “no”) I was finally rewarded by having an essay published. I didn’t think my essay full of hard words would find a home, but it turns out the editor of literary magazine Wild Violet saw something in it that worked for her and her editorial schedule. Boom, I was in.

I have much gratitude to editor Alyce Wilson for publishing my words. It is a beautiful feeling of satisfaction and it makes me want to work that much harder so I can have this feeling again. My next round of submissions went out just last week. May my words take flight in 2013.

The Good Man and I celebrated four years together and I love him more today than I ever have. In these four years I have learned a lot from him and have laughed a lot with him and have felt very safe and loved. That, my friends, is magic.

Standing on the precipice of 2013 there are some big changes coming up right away. Good changes. Happy changes. I’m scared spitless but isn’t that the best way to head into the New Year? Scared and happy and full of enough courage to dive in and not fade away.

I stand tall even if my knees are shaking, just a little.

And so are you by me? Beside me, to guide me, to hold me, to scold me, ’cause when I’m bad I’m so, so bad.

Let’s dance this last dance. The last dance, tonight.





It’s Please Recycle day! I think that should be a government holiday. Oh wait…..



Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons License in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




Met A Childhood Friend

Was sorting through all of the photos from my recent trip to New York when I found a set that I wanted to share. In fact I’d meant to share this a couple weeks back but I just got lost in the back-to-the-real-world on top of the hectic pace of the hellidays.

One of the days that The Good Man and I were in New York, I requested the chance to spend a few hours in the New York Public Library as I was still rap-tap-tapping away at my NaNoWriMo.

The Good Man indulged me and I had some time to sit in the Great Room and write, which was both fun and inspiring and is something I will never forget. The Good Man went exploring as I worked because there is much to see in that amazing library.

That was when The Good Man stumbled across something interesting. It turns out that in the basement of the NYPL, there is a children’s books section, and in that area there is a display case containing several stuffed animals, but not just any stuffed animals.

In the case are the original stuffed friends that were the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh. These toys belonged to Christopher Robin Milne, the author’s son.

The toys were brought to the United States in 1947 and remained with the publisher of A.A. Milne’s books, which then donated the stuffed animals to the New York Public Library in 1987.

In this photo, from left to right, is Lottie the Otter who shows up in a more modern Winnie the Pooh book sanctioned by the Milne estate. Then we have Tigger, Kanga in the back, the small Piglet, then Eeyore and finally on the far right, the man himself Winnie-the-Pooh.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


Turns out the stuffed bear was bought at Harrods in London as a present for Christopher Robin’s first birthday.

It also seems that this stuffed bear is named Edward. Who knew that ol’ Winnie-the-Pooh was really a very posh Brit bear? I did not.




This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


This Winnie-the-Pooh looks much different from the Disney-i-fied version that we all are used to. This Mr. Pooh has very kind eyes and a pettable nose.

But still no pants.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


I was pretty excited after seeing the original Pooh gang. It was like meeting a group of celebrities.

As a writer it was pretty cool to see how inspiration can turn into a rich and beloved story.

Combined with a marathon writing session and then seeing Charles Dickens’ pen and inkwell, it was quite a happy literary day for this little ol’ writer.




All photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




Next Page »