Reading for Gems

When I take a break from writing, I do an awful lot of reading. I read a lot of romances because it’s market research. God, I love that excuse. And I read some science fiction that my husband recommends because I am a Trekker, for many decades now. I read funny books because I love laughing, and I read whatever they have at the used book store on CD. I hate being on the road, even if it’s just a few blocks to the store, without the comfort and joy of imagination going on.

I find so many Gems while listening or reading, so I thought I would share a few of them with you. I don’t know if you will get the same impact as I did, but hopefully you will.

From The Villa by Nora Roberts, I picked up the older couple (out of three, and the most touching to me) knowing each other so well. Still the woman told her husband, “I don’t need you in my life, but I want you here.” That’s the key to a great relationship. I feel the same way about my husband, and I want my heroines to be strong women who can stand on their own two feet. They have room in their lives for a love interest because they want that person there. It’s so freeing to not be stuck somewhere without a choice to leave or stay. Financially, religiously, or whatever reason. Stay because you love them and you want to be there.

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From Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Jacob can’t remember exactly how old he is. It’s not a matter of a lack of documentation, it’s just that he’s 90. Or 93. The character explains that when you are a kid, you know exactly how old you are, and how long until your next birthday. Then eventually you start to dread the arrival of another birthday. Finally, you can’t really remember. The years pass by without our awareness. I’m at an age where I feel so much younger than I am, and I am motivated to stay at least as healthy as I am now, and improve as much as possible. But the years are certainly rolling by at a fast pace. I want this realism in my characters, and it’s so very important for Regency Romances where the women became “on the shelf,” unwanted goods, at an age when modern women are just starting to live independently. It’s chilling to think time could move any faster due to circumstances like that.

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Sir Terry Pratchett, much beloved and missed author of the Discworld books, had a character, and I apologize for not remembering the book or her name, who had not been a pretty child, had looked awkward as a young woman, but now in her golden years, she attained a measure of beauty beyond other women her age. I think I am like that, in many ways. I am happier at this age than I have been at any other time. That must be reflected in my face or my smile, in my walk and my social skills. I never hesitate to talk to anyone, especially if I can think of a funny like. Usually, my efforts are appreciated.

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I highly recommend Christopher Moore and any of his series or stand alone books. He’s taken a stab at Shakespeare that is so worth the read. The book is titled Fool, after the main character. And it has a beautiful Happily Ever After. But can Mr. Moore leave well enough alone? Of course not. He wrote another Shakespeare adaptaion, The Serpent of Venice, and while very humorous and fun, there’s a unhappy in it that makes me want to write him a letter. But the gem that has me laughing enough to include in this post makes up for it. You see, Pocket is a Fool, in motley with bells on. He has a monkey. The monkey does occasionally do something for which monkeys are well known. It involves body waste products. And just when you are least expecting it, Pocket tells his star-crossed friend to go start flinging woo. I wish I could steal that, but without the monkey, it loses a lot in the translation.

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Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

Trashy Novels

According to the on-line dictionary that came up randomly, trashy means of poor quality, especially items of popular culture. Novels and Movies. Sometimes, the phrase a trashy novel refers the sexual content, not the quality of the writing. I actually knew someone who (yeah, this was 40 years ago) would buy up all the romance novels at the local thrift stores, and read them. If she found any sex beyond kissing and holding hands, she threw the book in the trash. Continue reading “Trashy Novels”

What was Her Name?

Authors these days are writing series that can have a dozen books or more involved. Readers love to follow the adventures of the characters from the first books through the on-going stories. We see the wedding if it didn’t happen in the first one, we see the kids, we see it all. We know their dogs, cats, and gold fish. If it’s a historical, we know the horses and the servants. Continue reading “What was Her Name?”

Conventional Wisdom

Yes, I had such a blast at the California Dreamin’ Writers Convention put on this last weekend by four local chapters of Romance Writers of America (RWA). I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to stay at the Embassy Suites for two nights, so that I didn’t miss anything. I made lots of rookie mistakes, but I will be so ready for next time. Continue reading “Conventional Wisdom”

Now, I Are One

Back around the dawn of creation, a certain institute of learning ran a commercial about getting certified in a field that you couldn’t spell until you signed up with them. The joke version went, “Two years ago I could not spell college student. Now, I are one.”

I know the feeling. I am scratching this out long hand, pen and paper, while waiting for the beginning of a workshop I’m running at a local convention. No big deal as I have run this workshop before at past conventions. I have another workshop scheduled for Sunday, as well, and also one I have done before.

What astonishes me is that I am speaking on two panels. As a published author. Like a real writer and stuff. The first one is “You got Monsters in My Romance.” Okay, I can talk to that subject. I am dabbling in a shape-shifter romance, as I have discussed on here before. And if we define “monster” as supernatural, my Greek god in the Bowman’s Inn anthologies qualifies.

The second panel is “Self-Publishing: What Really Happens.” I guess I can tell everyone not to do what I did. Don’t wait almost a year to get the second book out. Don’t skimp on self-promotion. And don’t trust a loved one who isn’t quite as in to the process with a critical job. Maybe I will just sit at the end and not say much. Smile and wave.

Now I have transcribed this onto my computer and I have survived one workshop and one panel. The workshop was not advertised, so no one really knew what it was and one person showed up. She was a fun geeky young woman, and we had fun.

The panel was fun, not only did I get a few laughs, I got names of books to look into. I shared favorite movies and we talked about the problems with immortals falling in love with mortals. Why would a vampire want to keep as a mate one of its herd, its food source? I love fans, they think of these things as if the answers are very important. And the other panelist, Doug Welch, is a pleasure to work with. I can’t wait to find his books, and anticipate his Monster Romance one coming soon, Watcher’s Demon.

The best part of this weekend is the feeling of being a successful writer, a good teacher, and an entertaining speaker. Don’t know if those were my life goals, but I won’t complain. Achievement Unlocked. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday, maybe with an update on the last day of the convention.

Relationship Age

On Valentine’s Day, my beloved husband and I took a long drive because we enjoy staying off the freeways and just taking in the scenery. Even though the route wasn’t new, there always is something new to see and observe.

We stopped for breakfast, and I observed the couples around us. Regardless of the ages of the participants, I thought I could tell the age of their relationship. Of course, there’s no way to prove what I surmised, but I also will never need to provide evidence of what’s true.

Couple #1: Male and female, young looking, nicely dressed. They sat facing each other, talked in normal conversational tones, and seemed to apologize to each other frequently. The young woman was very pretty, and the young man, also fairly attractive, couldn’t take his eyes off of her. I guessed this to be their first date or an early date. Perhaps even their first face to face meeting. She touched her hair a couple times, and he just stared at her. Sadly I didn’t get to watch much more interaction as we were seated somewhere else. But the signs observed tells me this is a new relationship, and it could go either way.

Couple #2: Male and female, middle age, well dressed, sat facing each other. Their conversation was quiet, except when the noise in the restaurant increased and they had to talk a little louder. They made eye contact and laughed a few times together. I would be surprised to find they had been together less than 10 years. They appeared comfortable together, anticipated each other in subtle ways like passing the salt and asking for more coffee. A nice and mellow couple, and happy together.

Couple #3: Male and female, young, he had very short hair and the build I associate with the military. She wore a very skimpy top and short skirt. They touched each other constantly, talked quietly face to face. I observed them while waiting for a table, and from the way he walked off at one point, and she waited only a few minutes before going to find him, I think they have a new relationship that maybe moved too fast for one or both of them. They need reassurance of a physical kind, not just an affectionate touch but an anchoring one. They might have issues they will work out, but then again.

Couple #4: Male and male, not too young, professional looking for breakfast, but very involved with each other. Seemed shy about showing their attraction to each other in public. And I have no way of confirming that they were a couple. They could have been really good friends, but there just seemed to be something more going on.

Couple #5: Well, Mike and me. Somewhat large people, obviously in love, kissing, touching, laughing, being coy, tasting each other’s food, and just having a great time. This is a lasting relationship, not new, not in any trouble. It’s just like heaven.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

Contract Negotiations

My husband and I know we are two of the luckiest people on this planet, and maybe several others. Against all odds and oddities, we found each other. Two nerds. One married and a smoker, the other single, fat, and forty, we started talking online (before the internet, on a local bulletin board system ) and fell in love. Just like Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett.

The way Mike proposed to me was to ask if I could put up with him for the next 60 years, with an option to renew. This kind of silliness is exactly why I loved him then and love him more now. I’m not saying our life has been an easy, no bumps, no slippery slopes journey by any means. We’ve been a blended family, we weathered unemployment twice, and until the right drugs were prescribed for me, I shouldered depression all too often. We raised his two youngest children together, with mixed results. I love them both and accept their willingness to have me in their lives at the level that makes them comfortable.

We lost pets, and if that doesn’t bring a couple closer together, nothing will. We learned that some things are important to me (holidays and birthdays) but not so much to Mike. And something that is important to him (beer) is not that high on my list of interests. And we learned to be flexible.

I had just been writing romances for a couple years when I met my soul mate, and interestingly enough, I stopped writing during the early years together. Writing for me was a way to replace the missing romance in my life. But once Mike brought that alive for me, writing took a back seat.

Sometimes I regret that I stopped, because the chances are good I might have been published by now. However, now that self publishing is available and no longer carries a stigma, I am published, so it’s all good. And because writing is such a deep part of my makeup, I never really stopped. Ideas went down on slips of paper, I used humor when I wrote out minutes for various groups, and I offered my writing services for my peers at my job.

Now don’t think that my relationship has simmered down or gone cold. That’s not the reason I am writing romantic erotica. In fact, this is what my life with Mike is like, in my mind: Yes, in fact, Mike does look just like David Gandy to me.

In March of this year, we will celebrate 20 years of being together and in love. We happened to talk about it, and I told him I am glad we have 40 more years left in our 60 year contract. “After that,” I said, “We should renew year by year.” Mike: “I expect we will just renew ad infinitum, until the world or either of us ends.” Me: “That works for me.” “Mike: “So, do you want to renegotiate now and leave it that way?” I did.

And so we are set, and it’s written on our hearts. Thanks for reading, and I will be back on Thursday.