Monday, August 28, 2006

The Bitter End

Oh, it's so very frustrating! I've dreamed of writing romance novels since I was too young to even read romance novels. I love to write. I write all the time. So why the hell can't I just finish something?

I'm within ten thousand words of the end of my novel. I'm one of those obsessive polish-as-you-go writers – the kind the NaNoWriMo people warn you about – so the manuscript will need minimal revisions once finished. I already know how it's supposed to end. I can knock out 10K quality words in a weekend – maybe two if I'm feeling nit-picky.

Why the hell can't I just finish?

I think I'm bored. I already know what's going to happen. I've already worked all of the kinks out of the story so far. It should be smooth sailing from here on out. If only I weren't the kind of girl who likes stormy seas.

I like the problems, the difficulties, the pressure, and the continuity issues. I like fixing grammar, straightening out plot holes, and waking up in the middle of the night with a perfect ending for that scene I've been mulling over burning bright and steady as a torch in my imagination.

But I'm past that stage. Now I just need to hit the marks, write the final scenes, edit and send it off. And instead, I've written beginnings to three different stories. I've started mulling over the continuity issues of my manuscript that's only half-finished. I've gone back to old stories that I put aside and started working on their endings.

Fuck this procrastination! I mean to write. I don't care if I have to inch toward that ending two hundred and fifty words at a time, I'll make it. I have to. My inner child – that ornery, curly-haired brat with a love for all things lurid and forbidden – is counting on me!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

By the Powers of Numbskull: On He-Man heroes

Does it seem like Romance heroes are becoming ever more Alpha? Back in the day, when I was stealing my mother's old Harlequin Presents titles, the hero was usually "a doctor" or "a businessman". In historicals, the hero was usually Sir SuitablyEnglishSurname or Lord SuitablyEnglishName.

By the time I was old enough to check Romances out of the library, it seemed like the heroes in contemporaries were all millionaires and brain surgeons, and the heroes of historicals were all dukes and earls with "dark" sounding names.

Now, it seems like the heroes of contemporaries are all billionaire former Navy SEAL businessmen named "Connor" while the heroes of historicals are rakish aristocrat spies with titles like "Devlin, Duke of Darkdeeds" or "Laird Angus MacAngsty". And don't even get me started on the paranormals, where the heroes are billionaire-brain surgeon-CIA operatives tormented by their bad childhoods and the fact that they turn into a were (choose one) wolf/tiger/cod every full moon.

Is this plague of uber-alphas just authorial one-upsmanship, where each writer tries to create a hero who's richer, stronger, smarter, more emotionally tortured by his past, y más macho than the last? And if it is, shouldn't it stop before some hapless author crosses the line from enjoyably campy to just plain campy? Well, I guess it's too late for that.

I'm not saying I haven't savored a few books with tall dark and tormented heroes in my day, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. Some of these black-leather wearing, Harley-riding, long-haired, emotional cripples sound just like the guys I see milling around outside the local leather bar at 2 a.m. Whatever those hardbodied, leather-clad wanderers are looking for, I can guarantee it ain't a petite, feisty blonde heroine with aquamarine eyes. See what I mean about camp?


Thursday, August 3, 2006


When she's not comparing gays to child molesters, and insisting on a definition of Romance Fiction that reads like she pasted it together from torn up shreds of the senate's failed Defense of Marriage Amendment, Jan Butler seems like a pretty nice person.

She likes baseball, and Mary Higgens Clark. I can respect that. Well, I can respect baseball...except for the steroids.

I felt kind of sad that I was so mad at her. I get the feeling that if I met her in line at the supermarket, we'd probably have a lively conversation about Life&Style's latest ridiculous expose of superskinny celebs while we waited for the old lady in front of us to pay for twenty-three cans of Ensure with Susan B. Anthony dollars, Canadian nickels and expired air freshener coupons. We'd never discuss homosexuality, or religion, and I'd probably walk away thinking, "What a nice lady."

But this isn't the supermarket, this is the net. The only thing I know about her besides the Mary Higgens Clark/Baseball thing is that she believes in slippery slopes, and doesn't want to be in the same association as people who think gay is OK. And she's been stinking up the web accusing people who don't agree with her of "persecuting" her and infringing on her First Amendment Rights. Apparently, anyone who uses their First Amendment rights to disagree with the stupid things she has used her First amendment rights to say, is robbing her of said rights. Huh?

Her foam-flecked rant reminded me of this Pulitzer Prize winning photo. Sometimes people are so rabid to defend their own irrational opinions that they are willing to sully and shame the very ideals and institutions they claim to be protecting.

Some may argue that Butler was just shooting off her mouth, but on the web, those who click "Publish" in haste will not have the opportunity to repent at their leisure - as I'm sure Ms. Butler has since discovered.

I left a comment on her blog comments, but despite her ranting about freedom of speech, I doubt she'll print anything by folks from the "left side of the creek" like me. So I've reprinted here:

Ms. Butler,

You accuse your detractors of persecuting you, yet you feel free to lump homosexuals in with child molesters - to accuse them of criminal sexual deviancy when they have broken no laws and hurt no one.

Your detractors have not accused you of breaking the law. They have not lumped you in with extremist fundamentalist terrorists or other illegal groups who espouse conservative beliefs - though, were they to follow the lead you have set, such inferences would surely be fair.

What your detractors have done is call you stupid and bigoted. Both actions are well within their first amendment rights. Your continued insistence that, in airing their opinions, they have somehow robbed you of the right to express yours only proves their assertions that you are as ignorant of the law you claim to respect as you are intolerant of the freedom you claim to protect.

Our society will always need people who are willing to shout, "The Emperor has no clothes!" Unfortunately, Ms. Butler, the person standing bare-arsed in this crowd is you.

Please note how I remained calm, polite, and 99% obscenity-free. On occasion, I am capable of such feats.


Ladies First

Remember back in the day? Back when Romance novels featured nurses, doctors, and the lavender-shaded post-marital fade to black?

No, wait, not that far back.

I meant, back in the late eighties - think Fabio covers - when Romance Novels featured sex, but the heroine was always a virgin, and the couple always had simultaneous orgasms from nothin' but good, old-fashioned penis-in-vagina sex. What bullshit.

Has anyone ever had a simultaneous orgasm? I mean, really? And if you say you did, and it was spiritually beautiful, and it brought you closer together as a couple, just shut up now because we know you're lying.

What got me thinking about the subject was that I read a textbyte by one of those "Wait Until Marriage" types. She said that waiting until marriage makes couples more likely to have simultaneous orgasms.

I wondered if she'd ever had an orgasm, to even say such a thing. The Mister and I came at the same time once, and my exact thoughts were, "Whew, I got that one in just in time." Because if you're talking no-toys-allowed, P-I-V sex, once he comes, it's over for a while, you know? And some of us girls do like our seconds and thirds.

That's why I'm rather glad most men, and most romance novels, are catching up to the "She Comes First" way of thinking. Some women lament the death of chivalry, but not me. I can open doors for myself, and pick up the check, too. A man whos' a cunning linguist, a man who'll bow like a gentleman and say, "After you," is way better than some fifties-era throwback with a hymen hang-up and the mistaken idea that there is a "right" kind of orgasm.

And forget about me spending $7+ of my hard-earned dinero to read about some martyr woman/alpha jackass couple who gain spiritual insight about twue wuv through getting their rocks off at the same instant. Bull Shit.

But, if there is no "right" kind of orgasm, I guess that means I ought to lay off the Simultaneous Orgasm Booster Club. So, if you did, and it was spiritually beautiful, and it brought you closer together as a couple, I owe you an apology. More power to you...suckers.


Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Inspiration: What is This Thing?

Sometimes, I wonder why I want to write publish novels. Writing I will always do, because I like a good story and no other author ever tells quite the story I want to hear.

Sometimes, I wonder why I work and polish and rewrite 'til so late at night that I go into work yawning the next day. I don't tell anyone I write, so I can only shake my head when folks ask why I'm yawning.

"It's my neighbor's dogs," I say, while making a little shooty motion with my hand. It's mostly sincere. I really would like to do violence to those ill-mannered, unneutered rottweilers.

My Mister says I should just tell people I write. Um, No. I mean, does Spider Man or Wonder Woman ever tell people they save the world? It's not just that the fun of having a secret identity would be ruined. No. What keeps me mum is the fear of my own personal kryptonite - advice.

People are always so well meaning.

"Romance? Don't you want to write something that, well, that matters?"

"Science fiction? Does anybody read that? What you ought to do is write one of those legal thrillers like John Grisham."

"Do you know how slim your chances of ever getting published are? And you hope to make a living this way?"

Jeebus, Krishna, Moroni! Save me from this plague of idiots. Nobody ever told Superman that his chances of reversing time by making the globe spin backwards were slim to nil. And while a well-placed word might have saved us from the travesty that is Superman III, my point still stands. Telling someone they can't do something is not helpful, it's mean. It encourages them to stop before they have a chance to ever find out if they really could be a contender.

My book may not be something the well-meaning advice givers would ever want to read, but I'm not writing for them. Whenever I get depressed or discouraged, I fire up the old computer and listen to Act one of "What is this Thing" (This American Life episode 247). It reminds me that there are millions of readers out there who might want to read what I write.

And that, unlike so much of the well-meaning "advice" I've received over the years, is very encouraging.