Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Sacred Feminine Or The Boss

You get to take your pick today. I had two different ideas for posts so I decided to do them both.

Heaven help me that the "Da Vinci Code" actually made me think about something. I still didn't care for the book and a couple of times I just wanted to scream. Robert and Sophie weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. But anyway, Brown did explore an interesting concept with his ideas about the expunging of the feminine from the world view. While I don't think the ancients had a utopian paradise of equal rights for men and women, it was far from it, the importance of the feminine was at least recognized through goddess worship.

Giving birth and caring for children became a weakness. Women were relegated to the home because they were too weak to deal with the fierceness of the world. The power of the female was seen as weakness.

I do have a point with relation to modern times and modern fiction.

The sphere or romance novels has been slammed since its inception. In the 18th century when writers tapped into the female market, the books were vilified as fluffy, silly books which catered to the weakness of women. Books that put feminine softness at the forefront were and are considered less than their male counterparts.

Romance writers have tired of the basement treatment so they've created female stories which the heroines have take advantage of their masculine traits. The heroines are tough and willing to do what needs to be done. She can shoot a gun, throw a punch and get along fine without a man. She suppresses her feminine side and gains the power of the masculine. We call them kick ass heroines and they are a lot of fun. I enjoy reading them. They are fun to write as well. She has wide appeal.

Writers have done something interesting with this character. She fears the feminine, fears the weakness she perceives it gives her. In the end, most of the time she is able to embrace the feminine, finding she can be in a relationship without giving up her power. But it says something about the value of female traits in society. We still don't see the softer feminine characteristics as powerful.

I do wonder if we as a society will ever recognize the power of the feminine. Can we not appreciate the true power of nurturing? The ability to raise a human from infant to adult is powerful indeed. It goes against our nurturing nature (both mothers and fathers) to see our progeny destroyed by violence. Our feminine half of our nature wishes to mold the world in softer ways.

I look out at the mountains, appreciating the fact that they have been molded over the millions of years not by violent explosions but by the erosion of countless streams of water. Certainly it took longer to create the landscape through such means as opposed to an immediate cataclysm like a volcano. But it was done none the less.

I suppose the whole point of this meandering post is the lack of appreciation of the feminine, the downplay of its power in society. There is an imbalance in the world and until the power of the female is recognized, the world will remain out of whack.

Now onto the Boss. Or the Sacred Springsteen as he is thought of in our house. My hubby loves Bruce. Do you know how many times I've heard "Rosalita" cranked up to full volume? *shudder* It isn't anything I really want to think about. But I have to tip my hat to the man. He writes some of the most depressing songs in all of music. So depressing, I have to laugh. We were listening to "The River" the other night. A quick rundown about the song is that the man gets his girlfriend pregnant, marries her, gets a crappy job and gives up his dreams. He goes to the river although he knows the river is dry, symbolizing the death of his youthful dreams and ambitions. I suspect there is another stanza where the dog dies too but Bruce cut it because the song was so damned depressing as it was. And he has more. "Nebraska" is an album dedicated to misery. Same could be said for "Tunnel of Love."

What is the most depressing song you've ever heard? Do you like depressing songs?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Happy Father's Day

...and anniversary, and Christmas, and birthday!

Hubby bought himself a new scooter. And not just any old scooter, he felt the need to get a Vespa. You know, with gas prices and all, it just made sense for him to get a scooter. You can't see this but I am rolling my eyes. He has wanted a Vespa since the day I met him. He'd really like a vintage one but they aren't the most reliable for what he needs. It is cool, I have to admit not that I trust myself to ride it.

He's had a pretty good weekend so far. Yesterday we had our team party for little league. For the first time in many seasons I'm sorry to see the season end. We had a great team with wonderful parents. I even found a great babysitter in one of the older sisters. After the party dh went down to the scooter store and bought himself this little number. Today he went off to an Angel game with his brother-in-law, leaving me home with the 3 kids.

I wasn't thrilled. I haven't talked about it too much but the kids have been extremely difficult over the last week, enough that I've had a few breakdowns. So he almost said no. I told him it was okay. I'm keeping score. I figure at this rate he'll owe me enough that I can go to the RWA conference next year in Dallas.

I got crabby over at Ainsley Park today. I'm tired of historical romance authors getting complacent about the details. I'm getting persnickety in my old age.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dance Lessons

First, about summer: No, I will not be going to Atlanta for RWA. I don't think my family is ready to do without me for that long. Next year will work better, I hope....

I am supposed to go to Utah for a family reunion at the end of June. I'm thrilled. There is nothing more fun in my mind then riding in a motorhome with my 3 kids and my folks for 600 miles. All so we can visit relatives I've never met. Supposedly the reunion is being held on the property of one of my relatives. It's probably one of those polygamist compounds. I've been watching Big Love so I know what to look for. If these cousins of mine are dressed like extras for "Little House in the prairie," I'm outta there.

I signed up for ballroom dance lessons. I've been hassling the hubby for years that we should learn to dance. He's always paid me lipservice about it but I finally put things into action. My town's human services is offering a dance class. DH will be a good sport about it, its only one hour a week. He likes to dance, he's just not very good at it. I'm no Ginger Rogers myself so this should be an experience. I wanted to take a swing class but hubby ixnaed that immediately.

Do you dance? Is it something you and your significant other enjoy doing?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Apocalypse

The end of my world is nigh. It happens every year around this time, the ending of my peace and quiet for the next three months.

Yes, the school year is drawing to a close. I've spent the last few days curled in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, muttering incomprehensibly to myself.

I have no idea what this summer is going to bring. I'm sure it will include a lot of battles over video games, dirty rooms, the petty annoyances children seem to excel at. I've looked at the summer camps, but they are so expensive. Half the time my kids don't enjoy them and it is a battle to get them to go.

So I need to be more proactive. I'm going to try and have theme weeks where I work on something with the kids and include a field trip. Perhaps if they have something to look forward to, they will behave. We will probably do a lot of swimming at my folks house, so there is something else I can do.

Vacation plans are fizzling to zero. Hubby's summer at work has gone crazy plus the airline fares are so outrageous, it isn't something we can really afford. We could if we went in September, but hubby just got hit with a trial, so we can't go. That is the real problem with being self-employed. There is no one else to pick up the slack and no vacation pay.

What are your plans for the summer? Do you have a gameplan for the kids? Is this a season you dread or anticipate?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bring it On

Today is my birthday, my 39th to be exact. My last year of being in my 30's.

I've mixed feelings about leaving this period of my life. For the bulk of it, I have been raising babies. My first child arrived when I was 28, the next one when I was 32 and bringing up the caboose is my last who was born when I was 35. While other mothers are celebrating their child's graduation from high school, I'm celebrating the fact that my youngest is finally potty-trained. For the first time in nearly 10 years, I don't have to keep a diaper bag in my car. People keep telling me I'm going to miss these baby years. Ummm....I don't think so.

The 30's for many women is a decade of personal growth. Their children are in school, independent human beings doing their own thing while a mother gets to spend some time exploring her own persona. For me, well, I've spent these years at the beck and call of my little darlings. Not that I'm complaining (yeah, I am) but it doesn't leave a lot of time for self-discovery. But to be honest, I couldn't have raised kids in my 20's. At least I wouldn't have done as good a job.

This decade also brought out my writing. I completed my first ms when I was 34, something I'd never been able to do before. My writing developed in leaps and bounds and I wrote four complete mss in this decade. Okay, so only two of them are readable. But I went from horrible to pretty darn good in a matter of only four years. As a writer, the 30's were phenomenal.

So the big 4-0 looms in the distance. It doesn't bother me. When I turn 40, I will see my last child go to school. I will be able to spend some time on my own. I'm excited to see where my writing goes. Every year I've logged on this earth adds to my voice, giving it a richness that only aging can give it.

Bring it on, I'm more than ready!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Da Vinci Code- Because I Have To

Hubby is dying to see "The Da Vinci Code." He loved the book and is dragging me to the movies. Personally, I'm more of a "Poseidon" gal and I'm making my own plans (they are showing it on the local IMAX). Anyway, I tried reading the book and it didn't do much for me. It isn't the best written piece of fiction and the story line isn't one I find all that interesting. Hubby can't believe I'm not captivated.

So why do I bother? Because I hate going to a movie without reading the book first. It is my compulsion. I'm not one of those who generally slams a movie because it didn't follow the book. But I like to have the background. Sometimes its a great benefit and I read a good book I didn't think I'd like ("Silence of the Lambs") or sometimes the reading is pure torture and I just stick with the movie (the LOTR trilogy. Yeah, you Tolkeinites can start throwing the rotten cabbages, I'm ready).

I'm not sure why I am like this. How about you? Do you like to read the book before seeing the movie? Or do you purposely not read the book? Or do you wait and read the book after the movie?

BTW, "The Da Vinci Code" doesn't seem to be as bad this time around, maybe because my expectations are lower this time around. And least it isn't very long.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Good, Evil & Nothing in Between

I love romance novels, have for a long time. But I do have a pet peeve that seems to pervade the genre. Characters tend to be either good or bad. Rarely do you find a gray character.

Maybe that's why I've really started reading mostly paranormals. The characters are inherently good and bad, struggling to balance the two sides. Too often in romance, the good guys are so supremely good and the bad guys so evil, it makes them predictable and uninteresting.

Even if the heroine is doing something bad, she generally has a higher reason for doing so, something so noble it totally counteracts whatever naughty she is forced to do. Same goes for the hero. The villain has no redeeming qualities about them, they are purely rotten, even if they do appear to be friends of the hero or heroine.

I'm not asking that bad guys get the girl or good guys die in the end. But it is difficult for me to see these characters as anything but two dimensional cut-outs. They lack a soul. Because humans are a combo of right and wrong. We sometimes do things for our own selfish pleasure. We try to take the easy course.

Perhaps I'm missing the point. Perhaps this is what romance readers want. Maybe they want the fantasy of a world where the good and bad are obvious and its easy to root for the hero and boo the villain.

What do you think? Am I too harsh? Should I be banned from the romance aisle at the Borders?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Another Mother's Day Post

This picture was a gift from my daughter. Her class went on a field trip to the Santa Monica Pier for a museum tour and they ate lunch on the beach. The teacher snapped photos of them while they weren't aware. I love this picture. The Diva made a frame for it, covered it with sand and a seashell she found.

My kids fixed me breakfast in bed. Then they decided to clean the house. I tried to convince them it wasn't necessary, but they insisted. I really just wanted them to clean their rooms. But they started sweeping and mopping. My house smelled like a Swiffer factory. They went through a whole can of window cleaner. Ah well, it was the thought. I was restless myself. I ended up cleaning the kitchen. Then I thought I would write but I ended up playing Rise of Nations for hours.

But now it is back to the grind. I'm kind of glad. As much as I like the thought of pampering, it goes against my grain. Perhaps it is the salt-of -the-earth farmer folk ancestors of mine (some of them were Amish) or my need to control my environment, but I can't sit still and watch others do MY jobs.

Is there any task that you prefer doing yourself? Do your loved ones try to do something you do and it drives you crazy? My particular one is coffee-making. I don't want anyone else in the house to make the coffee. Weird, I know, and I should be grateful, but still.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Do you know how hard it is to write about Mother's Day when your kids are running around the house, yelling, screaming and fighting? Do you think they will can it for one day? And why is Mother's Day just one day? Shouldn't it be a week?

When asked what I wanted, I said I wanted everyone to get the hell out of the house and leave me alone for the day. No one seems to believe me. Anyway, I got my present early, a digital camcorder that records to a hard drive. Then you hook it to the pc and save it to the computer hard drive. Hubby picked up an external DVD recorder for me today. I'm not smart enough to figure out how to use it. Of course it doesn't help that I am surrounding with screaming kids.

Hope everyone has a nice holiday. What did you get for Mother's Day? What did you give for Mother's Day?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Back to the World of the Living

I've been out of it for the last couple of days. Besides cleaning up flour (she got into it again two days later, I didn't find it nearly as amusing the second time) I've been reading.

I love getting lost in a book. It doesn't happen often. Too often the writer in me kicks in and whispers in my mind how I could have done it better or how I should just quit writing because I'll never be able to match this. When I can leave the writer behind and simply enjoy a book, I'm thrilled. I was reading Charlaine Harris' latest Sookie Stackhouse book. I had a hard time putting it down and finished it in a couple of days. It was just one of those books for me. All of her Sookie books are like that for me and it makes me happy. The one downside to being a writer is that buzzing in your head you have when you read for pleasure.

Another reason for my phantom presence is a far more bitter pill to swallow. I like video games. I bought myself a James Bond game (Everything or Nothing) and told my son he couldn't play it since it was rated "Teen." The truth was I knew if he played it, he'd do better than me. Well, the "Teen" argument doesn't hold much water because he has some Star Wars games that have that rating. So I let him play it. As I suspected, he immediately has gone further than me. And he used something to finish a level I could never get halfway with. Darn ten year olds.

On the writing front....sigh. I want to write to sell. Who doesn't? But I can feel it pressing on me when I am writing. And I end up writing stuff I don't enjoy. This has been preying on my mind a lot lately. It brings up the question how much I am willing to concede in my writing in order to get published? If I write strictly from the heart and it doesn't sell, it is painful in that I have poured time and effort into it for naught. Particularly if it is a historical. It means I've not only spent time writing but I've spent hours upon hours upon hours for research.

Another feeling I have is that I'm not mentally pushing myself as far as I can go. I'm allowing my creativity to get lazy and not demand more from it. I'm not sure if it is true, but I feel like I can do better. No, its not a perfection issue. It is more like there is a book in my head and it is trying to get out. Unfortunately, the route out from my brain to my computer is cloudy and blocked, probably from all the flour I've cleaned up.

I'm still working on a couple of things and I like them. But that haunting feeling is still there.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What the Heck is a Gamma?

What do you get when you cross an Alpha with a Beta? Yep, a Gamma.

A Gamma is probably more of what we right these days. Sometimes they are more Alpha than Beta, like Indy here. While he seems fearless and physical, his true profession is a teacher. Plus, he is willing to admit his fears (remember the snakes?).

There's Aragorn, a physical hero with a very Beta nature. He understands that violence and death is part of his life, but he it makes him sad. And who can resist those tender moments with Arwen?

The Gamma hero is all over the place, not just in romance. Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy's hero is such a good example.

This poor CIA analyst who is much more comfortable behind a computer screen or classroom is pushed into violent situations. Rather than shrinking from them, he meets the challenges.

Gammas seem to be the perfect hero. But it is essential he be given some kind of flaw or wound to make him interesting. I think for a Gamma, there is no way to make him strictly 50/50. Even better would be to make these two sides of him conflict. If you read Laurell K. Hamilton, you'll recognize Richard right away as heavy on the Beta side while suffering as a literal Alpha.

The Gamma is taking over as the hero of choice of romance authors. He reflects the changing mood of romance and he fits today's heroines. If you are interested in this topic, I suggest taking it further and looking at The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroinesby Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, Sue Viders

And one last thing....

What does Hugh Jackman have to do with this discussion? Absolutely nothing but I'm on a roll with good looking guys today, so I thought he should be here.


I posted today on
Villa in Tuscany about Women, Resilience and Romance

Sunday, May 07, 2006

He Loves You for Your Mind

He dominates the current romantic comedy movie these days. He's funny, cute, a good dresser and the last man the heroine has any idea she is attracted to.

Hugh Grant has made a living playing this same character over and over again. The Beta hero is the guy your mom wanted you to date while you were busy lusting after the Alpha.

He doesn't need to solve a problem with a gun or sword. His weapons tend to be his intellect and his savvy. But like his Alpha brother, he has his deep wounds which require a heroine's touch to heal. He just deals with them differently.

While on the surface he seems more the perfect man in many ways, he usually has a flaw which forces a wedge between him and the heroine or between him and his goals.

I like writing Betas myself. I wrote a good Beta who happened to be a vampire. Even though he should have a violent nature, he found he had no real stomach for it. When he seeks revenge, he has a breakdown afterwards because he had no taste for it. It wasn't the exciting moment he thought it would be. It didn't make him a wimp, but showed him how he was different from others and eventually how the heroine was the perfect mate for him.

I admire people who use their brains for problems. That isn't to say I don't enjoy the brute who comes in blasting. But for writing purposes, I tend to enjoy the challenge of wrting a man who pursues his goals strictly from a mental stand point.

Do you like Betas? What would you say about them?

And if you really want a chuckle, check out Brawny's Innocent Escapes. This guy is beyond Beta. It is so funny.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Go Ahead, Make My Day

I'm still talking Alpha males today but I keep getting distracted by the picture. Wasn't Clint a hunk back in 1971?

Anyway, Dirty Harry always epitomized the ultimate Alpha hero to me. Cold, handsome, smart, willing to break the rules to achieve a goal. And yet he still knew the difference between right and wrong. While he embodied much of a sociopathic personality, he always knew what evil was and dedicated his life to fighting it.

He was also very two dimensional. And that was okay. In real life, I'd run far from a guy like this. He has the emotional range of orange juice. But for a two hour movie, he's just fine. The same goes for novels.

I remember back in the '80's when I started reading romance novels. I went in for (and don't get offended) the "bodice rippers." The men in these books were hardcore jerks who walked all over the heroine until she stood up to him. Yeah, they were a little cheesy, but they were a helluva lot of fun. I remember in those days we'd been bombarded by the "sensitive man" thing. Remember Alan Alda? Remember "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche?" Anyway, these rough men fulfilled a fantasy. Women's rights were a real hot button issue back then. Believe me, I was one of those women. Those were great times. I was also reading Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee, Jennifer Wilde and Johanna Lindsay. All of those authors at the time wrote Alpha heroes.

The pure Alpha hero is a rare thing these days. Even if he is a macho guy in a studly profession, he does tend to have a sensitive side. It seems the Alpha is hiding out in the erotica genre and he is growing in popularity. One of the few authors I can think of who really writes the Alpha in mainstream romance is Angela Knight and her paranormals. I am sure there are others, I'm just not that familiar with them.

Has the Alpha outlived his usefulness in today's romantic fiction? What makes an Alpha hero today?

Tomorrow let's talk Betas and Monday we'll examine the Gamma.

Other Stuff......

Thinking about doing a website? Wondering about your web presence or lack thereof? My friend Becky is doing a workshop on websites and web presence over at the Romance Central Forums. She's a sharp cookie and knows her web stuff, so it might be worth a look-see. Besides, its free. Oh yeah, and yours truly is going to do a segment about blogs.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Men in my Life

No, not the ones who think sweatpants with holes in the knees are the height of fashion. Nor the ones who open the fridge and ask where the milk is (that would be the big, white right in front). I'm not talking about the ones who clutch the television remote as if it was the Holy Grail.

I'm talking about my heroes, the fellows I create. In romance, they pretty much fall into two categories: Alphas & Betas. We love Alphas, those caveman/sword-wielding/SEAL/delta Force/cowboy/renegade FBI agent who shoot first, ask questions later and have thighs as hard as granite. They know what a woman wants, using their overwhelming masculinity to woo her into bed. But they don't fall in love because sometime in there past, some gal has done'em wrong. But the heroine is able to tame him while he maintains his brooding maleness. He's cool, he's fun and we ladies love'em.

Then we have the Betas. They think before they act. They are much more cautious when falling in love. They've been burned in the past. They too have trust issues like their Alpha compadres, but they tend to dress better. In some ways, they are harder to get to for the heroine. They talk too damn much. But they are interesting, usually have some tragedy in their past which makes it difficult for them to love and forces the heroine to use more than her hot body to get them into bed. He's a challenge, good-looking and we ladies love'em.

I tend to write Betas. Even my vampires are Betas. They may try and act like Alphas, but they generally can't maintain the illusion. I have to admit to admiring intellectuals so I go that way in my books. Physically, they are handsome, but without bulging muscles. While they are sexual creatures, they are not promiscuous but still they manage to please the heroine while enraging her at the same time.

I'm comfortable about writing these guys, I can see where they are going, see how they develop. But that isn't what being a writer is all about. Writing is about taking risks and not only facing but finding challenges. The two WIPs I'm focused on right now need Alpha males to make them work. Why these stories have cropped up in my Beta-loving mind, I don't know, but I like them and I want to write them. So I got to suck it up and write Alpha men.

It isn't easy for me, but I'm enjoying it. Definitely presents totally different issues with regards to my conflicts. Oh, I haven't given up my Betas. My straight historical features a Beta hero. But I'm having fun with my tough guys and I'm going to bet they creep into my writing even more now that I've experienced them.


I love a holiday that encourages Tecate drinking.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Writing Post

Going through the titles of my past posts, I figure y'all probably think I'm losing it. I'm not, I'm just whining (hence the name of this blog). Truly, things are going well. Amazing how much easier life is with a potty-trained child at home.

Anyway, I've been writing. Not as much this week as last, but I'm definitely making progress. I like my WIPs. They are varied and I find when I switch back and forth to different ones, my creativity juices up for the others. Typical Gemini, I can't just settle with one. I don't know what I'd do if I had to choose between Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman. My head would blow off.

My one WIP is a paranormal historical where the heroine reads Tarot cards for a living. I don't know how to read Tarot cards so I'm learning. I got the prettiest cards, they are the Harmonious Tarot. I just love looking at them. So I'm taking a course through Barnes & Noble University and I got a book. I have several friends who read the cards, but I wanted to know how to do it myself. I'm like that with my writing. I had a story with a sword fight scene. I couldn't mentally get the feel so I went ahead and took a fencing class. It really helped. Anyway, I figure if I learn how to read the cards, I could add some panache to family gatherings.

This week I'm back to my contemporary vampire story. I'm writing it for the new Nocturne line over at Silhouette and so this is a different experience for me. I have to constantly remind myself the book is about the hero and the heroine, the other stuff is used to enhance the relationship. Even if I can't sell the book, it is awesome experience in working with conflict for the characters.

In other writing stuff, I'm in a small group trying to start a new RWA chapter. We are trying to start one which will serve the eastern L.A. county area of Southern California. The L.A. chapter is pretty far for most of us to attend as is the OCC/RWA. I belong to that one and won't give up my membership, but my distance from the chapter interferes with my participation. So if you live anywhere from Pasadena all the way to the western section of San Bernadino county, let me know if you are interested.

After Lady M's comments about water, I decided to do a little research and I talk about what I've found over at Search for the Good Life. Melissa talks about her concerns about being "branded" with regards to her historical writing over atAinsley Park. While she enjoys writing about the Regency-era, she'd like to be able to branch out to other time periods. She worries that if she does publish in one time period, she will be stuck for all time in that era.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Do you remember that old Jimmy Buffett song? To me, its one of those songs which herald summer to me. Beach reads, days at the pool, a carefree season with an increase in foo foo martini drinking.

Only it isn't carefree. Sometimes being a grown up sucks. Having the responsibilities of adulthood can be so exhausting. And kids don't appreciate it, I know I didn't. Ah well.

Anyway, I'd love to have a "Margaritaville Week" where the only thing I was worried about was my lost shaker of salt. About a week is all I could take, but still. I watch those stupid Corona ads where the people sit on a pristine beach and drink beer. I'm envious except I would rather skip the Corona and go straight for a mai tai.

Unfortunately, I'm not a laid back person. Even on vacation I have planned activities. I think I take pleasure just in the fantasy. I have my mental place I go to and sip drinks with umbrellas and visualize a crystal ocean and sandy beach. Do you have a mental Margaritaville you keep in your mind? Do you ever retreat to some place else in your mind and take a break from reality?

No, I'm not overwhelmed or anything, I get summer fever as opposed to spring fever. I long for the heat. Then I break out the Beach Boys and the reggae discs.