Friday, October 9, 2009

The Good, The Bad & The Kittens in Need of Hard Hats.

I thought about trying to keep up with a weekly meme thing just to make myself keep this thing up (or attempt to) decided to do my own Friday End of the Week Round Up rather one of the memes.

The Good
~Word count accomplished this week, believe it or not even with all the general chaos.
~THREE, count them THREE nights I got more than four hours sleep.
~Theoretically good. Family pictures taken tomorrow. Mom has had her heart set on getting them done, hell or high water. So it seems we are. Mom & Dad, Sis & her fam & my fam. We'll see how this goes. BabyBoy doesn't do so well at this kind of thing.

The Bad
~BabyBoy acting up enough ended up called into school for an hour to help w/ him.
~Keeping BabyBoy away from kittens in laundry room.
~Radio saying there's 70% chance of rain-snow mix or just snow tomorrow. It's too dang early for snow.

The Silly
~Mental image of Kittens in Hard Hats.

There was a feral cat that had her kittens in our garage about 6 years ago. The 1 cat of that litter hung around here, midget cat that was feral as all get out. Girl slowly tamed little midget feral over *four* years. Cat never really left but no way you were going to pet her either. 2 years ago freezing miserable, littleFeralMidgetCat was crying at back door. Let her in cause she likely would have froze to death. She hid in the laundry room for a few weeks, but she actually used litter box and was good kitty, just antisocial.  She slowly got a little more social got got along with the Queen-of-the-House Cat. She stayed in the house over the winter, the spring ad summer, last fall took off out the door and disappeared.

This spring she showed up and had 3 kittens in garage. 1 kitten got ran over, 2 took off despite girls efforts to tame them. It took the summer to retaime midget cat (no, she wasn't fixed while she was in, we simply couldn't afford too, 5 kids, 1 paycheck, 1 thing after another it was on the "damn it want to but this that just popped up is priority" list because it is ya know, the kids. People trump pets.) The three in the spring were first litter she had (considering she spent most of her life in our garage and only unaccounted for last winter, fairly safe to say that) Summer spent re-taming her. We were attempting to tame the 2 remaining kittens enough to take them to a farm they were too feral for house cats but good little hunters in the making and would be excellent mousers Barn Cats. (TheGirl tries to tame stray cats, I'm sucker enough to feed em if they're right up at the door. If she manages to semi-tame one, to the point it could be put in carrier and transported, usually try to find farm they can go to with nice barn of mice to hunt.) ~sighs~ The two survivors ran off before they were at that point.

~sighs~ FeralMidgetCat is once again in the house, and had 5 kittens just last week. The runt is kind of sickly and that is worriesome. But these kittens are all Teensy. 5 of them and MamaCat is abt the size of a 10wk-3month old kitten herself even if she *is* 6 yrs old.

BabyBoy has discovered the kittens. He decided they were hungry cause they were meowing. Went and got a handful of the German Shepherds' food. Rained about 8-10 pieces of Old Roy down on their itty bitty heads. Considering the Old Roy pieces are about half the size of their itty bitty heads. Random silly chatting w/ friend tried to figure out how to get itty bitty hard hats for kittens.

This litter at least will be tame. FeralMidgetCat is back to as tame as she's ever been, rub your leg, sit by you let you pet her. She's friendly enough, just doesn't like held or confined & they're indoors so unable to escape love & attention from kids. Find them homes and hopefully nothing pops up that needs money more when time to fix FeralMidgetCat.

Kittens weren't hurt by the mini asteroid shower of Old Roy that landed on their heads, he just dropped it from a few inches not threw it at them. But yeah, they could prolly use hard hats.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I won a couple books in a give away at Dear Author --ARC's of Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier and Magic In The Shadows by Devon Monk.  (according to the backs they're both due out Nov 3)

I'm still working on Magic In The Shadows. It's been my grab to watch for the bus that brings BabyBoy home book lately. It's the third in a series so while the overall story's major plot points are carried through some of the worldbuilding details are making me squint. Like why the heroine, Allie, ends up losing chunks of memory right and left from using her magic when no one else seems to. Maybe that is slipped in somewhere. I'm about 85-90 pages in.

It's written in first person which I don't like in general, the last thing I'll pick up to read is first person. And well, hero's name and me on two hours sleep a night for several days running didn't mix all that well. Hero's name is Zayvion Jones. Image that popped to mind when I saw the name Zayvion was SG1's Teal'c with birds and water bottles flying around...yeah.  (yes, my brain is a strange and scary place especially on very little sleep) It's well written, intricate world building which is interesting and well done, the pacing's good, filling in the backstory from the other books is weaved in enough that you have enough to get the gist without it being info dump.  I'm just having a hard time getting into this one. Reading it because it's there, and something new to read rather than it's grabbing and holding my attention. I think it would be better if I read the first two first but not quite grabbed enough to go hunting down the first two books in the series. It's a decent interesting enough book,  it's just not catching me right now.

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier.  I picked it up yesterday morning and read it straight through (well, as straight through as happens around here).  I loved it.  Again written first person, but this one sucked me in completely by page 2.  Medieval fantasy set in Connacht.  Has several of your basic Cinderella/Beauty & the Beast story elements. Orphaned Heroine with Evil Relatives, disfigured hero living in isolation in the castle on the hill, toss in a little Snow White w/ magic mirrors, a sweet romance woven in the mix but it works.   It works so well.  Caitrin's a scribe. Which is how she ends up gaining refuge at Whistling Tor--translating and copying a stack of family papers, which sucks her completely into a century old family curse, ghosts, generations of suspicious deaths, and a stand off with Normans attempting to claim the area.

Caitrin's fantastic. She's fighting not to jump at shadows a bit running from a distant cousin and her son. She's a bit sheltered, grown up at her father's elbow as his apprentice and spent more of her time in the workshop than out in the world but she's not stupid, not whining, not oh so tragic pity party even when she's rattled and fighting not to go hide in the corners. And she doesn't back down from Anluan, even when he sends her running away from him spooked at first. Panic reaction over with she goes right back and tries again.

Anluan is seen pretty realistically through Caitrin's eyes, and further brought to life with bits and pieces of the story of the Lords of Whistling Tor told to Caitrin by the motley mix of "household retainers"-- Magnus, Rioghan, Eirchi and Olcan.  Couple spots where Anluan could stand a good kick in the pants but he's lived pretty much in isolation at the keep on the Tor, raised by Magnus, Rioghan, Eirchi, Olcan and Muirne (the final member of the household) his mother having died when he was 7 and his father by the time he was 9. Between the aspects of the family curse and just not dealing with the outside world Anluan's behavior is perfectly understandable. He has no idea what to make of Caitrin or how to deal with her, or much of anyone outside the bizarre little household that raised him.

There's nothing forced or rushed. The romance bit is really the least of it, and you want Caitrin & Anluan to get their happy ending by the end of it. Caitrin's journey from running away from her cousins to the end of the book is wonderful. The little details grounding it in time and place with the mysteries and other being of Whistling Tor are woven in so perfectly into the plot and scenery you don't notice them.  The chaos of Anluan's library, loose scrolls and papers in several different hands, even with the bound books, sets of papers gathered together and held together by pieces of board tied together with leather to make a folder of sorts.  Caitrin's notice of Rioghan's cloak, curious about the dye that produced the red of it, the Heart's Blood plant in Irial's garden which the flowers produce a prized, expensive purple ink. That other than Anluan, Caitrin's the only one that reads in the household and she far better than he--as his education was mostly self-taught after his father's death when he was 9.  Right through to the bits of Brehon law.

The magic mirrors and the ghosts were woven in so seamlessly that I couldn't even get annoyed at the bespelled mirrors.  The story that starts with Nechtan, Anluan's great-grandfather, and carries down through Conan, Irial and finally Anluan isn't forced or info-dumped. It uncurls in  bits and pieces in no real particular order, explanations grudgingly given or refused when Caitrin tries to find out more.  The fantasy aspects woven in so seamlessly, fit so perfectly with the superstitions and lore of the historical period that its simply alive.

The writing is gorgeous. Caitrin doesn't tangent into wtf-she-wouldn't-think-that-in-character mental monologues to info-dump historical facts.  None of the aspects that from a distance make you squint and go uh huh yeah right (like the spelled/cursed mirrors) are jarring as you read because they *belong* at Whistling Tor with the curse over it and the nightmares unleashed a century before. The romance of Caitrin and Anluan is woven through and beautifully done, not overt, almost secondary to the plot of Whistling Tor's history.   Medieval fantasy/mystery that happens to have a thread of romance through it.  And very much worth giving a chance to read.

Friday, September 4, 2009

sleep and writing

Sleep is for the weak. Or at least the sane. Or something like that.

My chance to sleep a few days ago was, of all things, thwarted by BabyBoy's latest skill mastery--the remote for the satellite box.

The XM music channels are really quiet. I had on one of those on the bedroom tv to filter out the noise of five kids and hub. We have a very small house, everyone's always on top of each other and there's always noise. Music is far easier to sleep to than children bickering and whining at Daddy.

Noggin is a *Loud* Channel.

BabyBoy has figured out how to autotune shows. (this kid reads very very well, doesn't talk so much but letters/symbols are an obsession of his so yes, he knows exactly what he's doing and what he's setting the TV for when he's autotuning, not just random happenstance)

Noggin is a Very LOUD channel. XM channels are anything but. Volume on TV was so the XM channel could filter out hub and kids...yeah. You know where this is going.

Just drifting off, and I nearly flew up into the ceiling as full blast "WUH WUH WUBZY!"

So much for sleep. If I get woken up or just have to stay awake past the "OMG gonna drop now" zone I can't sleep til it comes back around. Quirk of my own insomnia that I have a very narrow window of actually falling asleep.

I didn't know whether to cuss or cry but had to laugh at that. I just can't win when it comes to sleeping these days. He just might send me to an early grave with lack of sleep but the kiddo is precious. And yes, he loves Wubzy. He also tends to use our room as his hideout from all the noise and chaos of the other kids when it's too much.

Hub goes back to his regular hours (*knock on wood*) next week so hopefully all the crazy will, be less crazy, or at least I manage a full four hours sleep in a row.

I am about 10k in on a novella/not quite full novel length (probably about 40-65k done, no word-limits and I don't get along during initial writing nope nope I know better than to set anything less than that for an estimate range) See, this is what happens when I plot. I had skeleton of something plotted--this fell sideways out of it..looks at pile of notes for what is now possibly two projects.

The 10k is m/m D/s kinda quiet and angsty except for you know the hoarde of relatives kinda slipping in bids for their own stories in the background. I'm too sleep deprived to have any perspective at all and probably everything that's so far written is needing scrapped or torn apart but it's a start.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's the little things that make me grit my teeth...

Book #1. Okay, yeah. Ellora's Cave romantica. So. Not expecting anything but cheezy fun heavy on the sex. No major thinking involved, just a fun romp which is exactly what I wanted.

Granted I'm running on very little sleep thanks to child and have no patience but...*sighs*

Heroine's last name made me go "huh wha?" I'm assuming it was meant to be French since she had a 'grandmere' but it looked like badly misspelled Hispanic. But that's just me. Never heard the name before, could very well be just my own perception on what is more common/familiar. Change one letter and the name would be Hispanic, WAY more familiar. Too common/often heard/familiar Hispanic for the heroine's surname not to be "Huh wha? did Editing miss a typo in the first sentence?" for a second. So I stumbled on literally the very first line  of the story. The second *word* of the story I stumbled.

Convoluted to start w/ kinda jealous sister and dark magic books being studied by white magic heroine... left me kinda going huh what? cluttered tangled up feel to that. but whatever I'm tired. Maybe just clumsy forshadowing at plot attempt on something that shows up later in book? Maybe that was sensible and I was too tired. I got halfway through chap 2 and gave up. So if it tied in later I don't know. Maybe just clumsy info dump to get it out of the way intro the magic books to get Mr.Hero in all this. Maybe I was too tired to catch what I was supposed to and it just came off cluttered info dump only to me.

Then...we get to the paranormal part of this.

Tuatha De Danaan hero. Okay cool. I love Irish mythology even if my knowledge has been reduced to sketchy, and using the Tuatha De Danaan by name rather than Sidhe, Seelie & Unseelie Courts or just Fae, awesome.

Hero's buddy. Danaan who lives in Tir na nog. At first intro presumably exclusively, since hero crossing the veil to mortal world's a big deal... Buddy's name is Jayce. Millenia old Danaan lives exclusively (presumably) in Tir na nog, named Jayce.

I gape. Total WTF moment. Thrown *completely* out of everything not that I was able to get that far in, not with the heroine and then hero starts off as cocky sleezeball by action in initial appearance but supposedly of scholarly bent (told so after he's made the impression of arrogant pig, but still set on cheezy romp so arrogant pig that gets knocked on ass and has hawt sex that makes him tolerable arrogant pig due to magic pussy, I can live with that, like I said expecting cheezy romp).


Even if he is presumably secondary character just background filler tossed in to give chance at hero to talk some more and appear more heroic because Hero's chosen to be the one to do the job going to mortal world, offer up some of his history job requirements in infodump/ background tell-ing. Jayce... okay yeah you don't want something that's not readily pronouncible like Caoilte (Kweelta) or Oisin (Usheen) but c'mon...Rauri? Ioin?(not too bizarre) Cullen? Colin. Finn. Sean. Seanan, Aiden, even Aodhan...there's things that could have worked. *JAYCE*

(Though Caoilte was part Fir Bolg not Danaan and Oisin is a "true" mythological resident of Tir Na Nog born in the mortal world and 3/4 human, both part of the Fenian myth cycle.)

Then chapter two started. And I gave up. Mardi Gras, which very much seemed to be Shrove Tuesday, being the busiest day of the year at a bookstore that's presumably occult/wiccan/magical leaning. (by the earlier magic books researching)...MardiGras/Shrove Tuesday in April. It could only be Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras because it wasn't the Australian Gay Pride fest that hijacked a religious feast day for it's name.

If it hadn't been an ebook? If there was something physical to have held onto that didn't cost a fortune to replace, that puppy would have been bouncing off the wall and stomped on a few times for good measure.

Seriously...that just...

I have a high school diploma, little bit of college toward nursing but life, kids, health got in the way. I have mild literal brain damage.

My intelligence was so insulted with that. As well as having a hard time believing that this was written by an adult, whose blog and website are pretty good, professional, intelligent. Certainly by someone who could have managed a five minute google search to ya know maybe make it comprehensible. I *like* this author's blog&website, that was deciding factor in picking the book.

Mardi Gras is a religious feast day. The day before Ash Wednesday which is the start of Lent and fasting. Ash Wednesday is forty days before Easter. Easter is in April almost always. Mardi Gras is late Feb to Mid March depending on when Easter lands. Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday in April? Would put Easter at something like Mother's Day Early to mid May.

Feast of Ishtar? You could say is in early April. I'm not exactly sure when it is honestly but I do believe LateMarch/Early April ballpark is right, not sure without googling but it 'feels' right. For all Easter is connected to Jewish Passover, due to Passover week being when the crucifiction took place and calendar wise they're close as a rule, Easter's name was borrowed from Ishtar. And also somewhere close on calendar so, yeah, early april certainly feels right for Ishtar.

Feast of Ishtar would make sense as a busy-ish time for an occult/magic/wiccan seeming bookstore. Far more sense than a Catholic feast day, even with more secularized, non-Catholic impression of New Orleans Mardi Gras which evolved through the blends of cultures down there and heavy native African/Voodoo religions slaves incorporated into the pre-Lenten feast/celebration (at least started as historically despite tourist factor of it today) & story was *not* in New Orleans where *maybe* it might make vaguest sense with Mardi Gras tourism. (Side rant, other cities trying to cash in on NewOrleans style Mardi Gras is v. tacky, crass and irritating. Losing all sight of cultural/religious aspects both Catholic, heavily French Catholic, and African/Vodoun and hey, spectacle for tourism factor only.)

There's the Vernal Equinox in March. That would make sense for a busier week. Beltane in May sure as *hell* would make *lots* of sense for busy day. But Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday...

Mardi Gras in April being the busiest day of the year at a presumably magic/occult/wicca leaning bookstore...yeah that's exactly where I quit.

I wasn't expecting anything but just fun, cheezy romp, maybe it was, but I couldn't get to the romp part because there was simply too much making me want to scream. It could very well be a really fun romp, I just couldn't get past any of that.

I tried a second book. I will probably go back to this one and try again when I'm not so tired and crabby. I didn't get very far in it either.

This one was by an author who is both epub and NY published.

Heroine is waitress in a DINER. Okay so she's making presumable sustenance wages. It's a diner. It's not a five star swank restraunt. It's a neighborhood diner, w/ short order cook and two waitresses working breakfast rush by description. Maybe it is a bit more upscale neighborhood but small & the owner is at the grill whipping up omlettes, greeting customers by name. I'm thinking neighborhood diner though what kind of *diner* has waffles as a regular thing on the menu?

Espec with a breakfast & lunch rush...*WAFFLES* w/ one cook being the owner at the grill in back, but okay whatever, paranormal romance romp you want waffles as a regular part of menu fine. Even if they *are a bitch in a half* in a short order kitchen and would likely only be a special once a month, maybe twice if they were big deal if a diner would ever dream of *bothering* with them. I fully realize at this point I'm cranky tired and nitpicky, but *waffles*

She's a painter. Werewolf hero smells turpentine on her.

That's about where I went *HEAD DESK* and again, if it had been paperback, it woulda bounced off a wall.

A waitress in a diner would have a helluva hard time affording acrylic paints & canvasses. (google an art store for acrylics prices. Then look for the oils. If you're not familiar with the prices of art supplies and take heart medication, brace yourself, and my familiarity w/ prices is off top of my head twenty years outdated.) Acrylics don't require turpentine. Oils do.

Tried a bit more...dang it I wanted fun kick back relax no brain read. Fun romp with some good smut. My expectations weren't unreasonable.

Acrylics dry relatively fast. Oils do not. At. All. So a taking a picture for a portfolio of an oil painting 'just finished a couple days ago' tripped me. That painting isn't likely to be completely dry for another week. I'm not sure how the wet portions of it would translate to a photo. It could make no difference. But I made a face and headtilted and wondered because the implied oil paints had already tripped me up...and gave up.

I was too tired, the first book still making me mad, then the waitressing paid the bills*AND* kept her in paints & canvasses, paints which caused the werewolf to smell turpentine..waitressing. Any ability to maintain some suspension of disbelief and just try to have fun with the story was long gone by then.

Also had me too irked to get past the "Packish" of the wolf pack. Which had werewolf hero retired from his spot and was all but naming the babies once Werewolf Hero scented his mate--when he ordered waffles, before he'd even called for a date.

I was so very disappointed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What I do know, lots of bad habits...

I've been working my way through the NGTCC on Romance Divas, still need to go through and reread and reread some more, as well as Lynn Viehl's LB&LI workshop as I've had the chance. Tabs open for hours upon hours with me not near the comp but that's the way life goes.

I'm at a point I truly want to get serious about my writing.

Oh. Lord. do I have a long way to go.

Thing is I know this. I've picked up a lot of bad habits born of laziness and no care but having fun.

I learned how to read at the age of three. Been obsessed with that since. Started making up my own stories about the same time. My little sister was subjected to a lot of those. She wasn't quite two. She didn't object. I can't begin to tell you how many times my mother had a fit on the lines of "you wasted all that paper I just bought already!"

I've always written. I have more than one "universe" in my head that is, in years of existence, well past old enough to drink, the oldest universe is at least twenty-six, that one I have a hard time remembering it not being somewhere in my head. My head can be a scary scary place.

I know these universes inside out and backwards, the races, the politics, the tech, the magic, the monsters. They are far from the only ones. My head's a pretty cluttered convoluted mass of voices some days.

Things I know:
1. I suck at self-editing. Last several years (many, over a decade) I haven't bothered attempting it much at all. Writing has been my relaxation, my grip on sanity and ability to catch my breath and just breathe with everything that's been thrown at me by life.

2. If I don't write at least a little every day--oh god. Writing's also my therapy, my way to make my brain actually attempt to work. I've always been prone to mind racing. Add in damage done by sustained 104 fever from staph infection after surgery, convulsions and oh all that fun stuff. Add in an insomniac child who can set off my own (used to be mild and rare) insomnia because by the time he sleeps I can't. I can't not write, I'd lose my mind. I wouldn't be able to function.

3. See 2. Yeah. Oh my yes. Bad days on the thinking front, bad days on the sleeping front add in #1. Yes. I've got a very long way to go.

Things I think I'm not bad at:

1. World building. Conversely I can get lost in all the minute details and never get anything pieced together that actually has start, middle, end and is a story. Tend to get lost in episodic bits and pieces rather than a whole self-contained story.

2. Characters. I'm not too bad. I definitely can improve, but I can capture them fairly decently. A gruff warrior or a blue collar mechanic with scarred up knuckles are easier to right than a society miss for me. I own one pair of flats. Have a couple nice skirts for weddings or funerals. I live in blue jeans, tshirts, I loathe shoes and have had to go back to the house to grab my tennies after getting blocks away on more than one occasion. my hair is down to my waist but is in a perpetual pony tail or knot out of my way. I don't so much as own a tube of mascara. Needless to say, a female character who is into shoes and fashion and makeup girly-girl type is a terribly hard voice for me to grab. A reason I've drifted toward writing m/m a lot more than m/f in the last few years.

Things I have managed to accomplish while acquiring tons of bad habits I need to break myself of:

1. Writing a sex scene that doesn't make me cringe when I go back and reread it more often than not.

2. Writing an action fight scene that only makes me cringe a little.

3. Spotting the meandering. (Not that I've bothered to go back and edit out or try to rewrite for years) but I've learned to spot it and to stop it if I catch myself while writing.

Despite all the bad habits I've picked up, I *have* learned one thing. How to say the hell with it and try to write out what is running around my head. If it sucks, well it sucks. I've at least learned how to spot the screw ups making it suck even if I have yet to learn how to avoid them.

The writing how-to manuals I've avoided because budget limitations, I went for histories and biographies when I bought non-fiction. Things I would use and enjoy then, and still useful. I've browsed through and poked at the writing how-to's. Wasn't at a place to justify cost versus use. Time to start sifting through reviews and reccomendations of those of where to start.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Less than cohesive thinking on reading, characters & power balances

There was a comment on a blog I halfway lurk on. (Time? Time seriously? I can't even lurk properly. Read half a post, get hauled away by traumas of video games and baseballs and lost ty beanie babies--BabyBoy is a bit obsessive about his beanies. ~sighs~ BabyBoy gets more than a bit OCD about a lot of things actually and the meltdowns can be v. loud. Curly&Blondie could bicker over the color of the sky some days.They're brothers & 14.5 mo apart in age. In other words--typical.)

The gist of the comment was m/m (romance) older/younger being nothing but m/f because of power imbalance. That made me headtilt a bit. And definitely writing thinky already with Lynn Viehl's left behind and loving it workshops and the not going to conference conference at Romance Divas this week which I'm trying to read as much of the workshops and linked articles as I can. So kind of pointless babbling ahead.

I grew up reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. Getting my hands on books really wasn't easy at times. I'd reread things I'd just as soon throw at the wall or run over with the lawnmower simply because well dang, it was a book. Still times that mentality hits and I find myself snarking and crabbing at something I should just put down and forget even exists.(Anita Blake, I've tried repeatedly, I just can't finish one. The premise, the background characters the world are rich and interesting. Anita comes on the page and I just cringe and want something to eat her and be done with it so the interesting stuff can be focused on)

My hometown has a population of roughly 600. The library there didn't exist until 1986. I can say that for fact because it was summer before I started 8th grade and I ended up helping with the little kids story time. The library then was 2 boxes of 1950s-1970s harlequins and six boxes of equally ancient little golden books & the like stashed along the side wall of the meeting room attached to the volunteer fire department's garage, where all one 1960s fire truck and marginally newer ambulance were kept.

Easiest things to get my hands on to read--Stephen King, old Harlequins, and Bodice Rippers. My one aunt was a good source of box full of old paperbacks picked up from garage sales she'd finished reading & sent my way once I was about twelve, thirteen. Otherwise newer books were limited to what was on the half-row of mostly magazines rack at Pamida or Kmart half hour away. (Walmart didn't even come to my neck of the woods til oh, my junior year of school? Not that Walmart's half aisle of books were any different than Kmart & Pamida's--both stores were teenytiny and could have fit within Walmart twice over combined when it came to the nearest 'city') These days, I'm in a slightly bigger town, ball park of a 1000, there's a fairish for kid books & ancient harlequins & bodice rippers library that's housed in one 12x20 room in this town. The nearest physically purchasable books (able to pick up, flip through & look at) are a little over half hour away--at Walmart and the nearest brick and mortar *real* bookstore a craptastic one that's 3/4 movies & video games over an hour's drive away. God I love the Internet)

Definitely can't deny the power imbalance of the majority of bodice rippers and old harlequins I grew up reading. Oh god some of those were bad. Clueless innocent sixteen to twenty year old girl kept in ivory tower so divorced from reality that it was almost enough to make you want to pitch the book. Especially the particularly mentally challenged heroines who grew up on farms or around horses/horsebreeding, "fiesty" and helped hold things together--yet utterly *clueless* about the facts of life both sexual and just plain reality. Never could comprehend that one even when I was fourteen or fifteen. The hero was minimum 10 usually more like 15 or twenty years older in late twenties to late thirties, had the money, had the power, tended to treat the heroine like a very pretty little trophy deocration piece, and honestly they didn't act like much more. Read one, read them all. Variants of setting, very rarely in descriptions because 90percent of the heroes--tall dark and handsome, 90 percent of the heroines--busty blonde blue eyed. occasionally a green eyed redhead prone to temper tantrums described as fiesty.

I think that's why Johanna Lindsey's Defy Not the Heart was one of my keepers and reread til it fell apart. Reina might have been just seventeen, but she was no clueless child some 20something heroines could be. She starts out in armor and trying to defend her keep from attack and keep herself from getting forced into marriage to the attacker. She's been running her recently deceased father's holdings for the last three years and tricked her leigelord into thinking the marriage contract for her was a done deal to get the wiggle room of her preference of the short list her father approved of. Ranulf--has his looks, his sword, his horse and a cat named after his half-brother's mother. There was some semblance of equality, even with the inequal structure of the timeframe (Crusades). Conversely Regina Eden from the Mallory clan is one that has driven me nuts through several books. The manipulative twit-behavior she's too smart for gets wearing rather than cute. Reggie/Regan's pushy manipulations delivered with non-stop chatter talking in circles around everyone just gets plain tiresome.

I usually liked Jude Devereaux's heroines some of the heroes I kinda wanted to clunk over the head for being asses. Conversely there were a few heroes I wanted to clunk over the head because good grief you can't tell me that's the best you can do, and a few fell in the category of well, it was a book to read. The Twins set? Twin of Ice was a book to read, not bad but Kane & Houston I mostly wanted to thump over the head with a baseball bat, they were both unreasonable too used to getting thier own way, the fun in that was how much they really deserved each other, one was as stubbornly brattish as the other. Twin of Fire I enjoyed, I liked Blair and once Leander got the cob removed he was interesting (and not a Montgomery or Taggert which, kind of blended into one another after a while) Even the fact that Leander was engaged to Houston to start out didn't completely ruin the book--that was bad habit/everyone's expectations/Houston's stubborn rather self-centered singlemindedness. Devereaux's heroines made or broke the book for me, because well, the hero was a Montgomery or a Taggert. I'm not sure, of the books of hers I remember reading Twin of Fire might be the only one where the hero (or more rarely heroine) wasn't a Montgomery or Taggert. The Black Lyon & The Maiden (though there were Montgomery's wandering around, the Lyon's belt ended up in one of the Velvets & the Lanconian royal house eventually ended up part of the Montgomery family.

WHile Julie Garwood's historicals are a lot of fun, a couple of the heroines really made me wonder how the ding-a-ling didn't get killed by their own dizziness long before they met the hero even while you were amused by the antics, if you were yanked from the story by something then you were kind of wanting to beat your head on the wall with the omg twit heroine factor. Though ditzy or not, they were fun, and they were actually fiesty if clueless, and the occasional somewhat slapstick ridiculousness kept the plot moving enough (Jade is the heroine that stands clearest in my mind as the dizzy klutz, but she was a rather adorable klutz and it was a fun book though I for the life of me can't come up with the title atm with my swiss cheese middle of summer mommy brain. If it wasn't Castles it was in the series/connected set Castles was in.)

I got my mitts on Wild Swan by Celeste DeBlasis when I was...fourteen? fifteen? I read that book literally to pieces over the years, as well as Swan's Chance. Season of Swans not so much. Gincie/Travis and Lexy/(argh mommy brain blank on his name, though the man raising Lexy'sguy's son as his own was Sylvanus, my memory, let me tell ya) didn't grab me as much as Alex did but I still liked them, liked the continuation. (I'm a succer for sequels/series & how things went after the happily ever after if it can be done well and not lose in the telling of more stories, which the Swans didn't for me, Gincie and Lexy simply didn't quite grab me as much as Alex) Alex, St.John & Rane's triangle was well done, and Alex held her own with St.John and Rane both, even when she was barely more than a child herself. St.John really was unlikable for a chunk of it but was tolerably sympathetic even when wanting to bash him, enough with the damned pity party already. Alex for all she was so much younger, was the one who had the strength, and fortitude to see things through St.John's stupidity and ultimately had an equal in Rane. It's been...well at least four kids ago since I've read the Swan series (my copies died, and then well, kids ~laughs~ There is a nice long list of someday I shall replace these books. Damaged in moves, read to tatters or child destroyed.)

So yeah the accepted trope, can even standard, power imbalance of m/f romance is beyond established, it's the norm that tries to creep in even with newer contemporary novels that really have no excuse in some ways. (That Harlequin can put out a book with the title The Playboy Shiekh's Virgin Stable Girl in 2009, is enough to make me want to beat my head on the desk. Sounds like it should have been released about 1955. Though I supposed the word Virgin would have been censored out and Untouched or Innocent put in its place. Those were the days Lucy & Ricky couldn't even sleep in the same bed on tv). I grew up with fairly macho men, my father was a truck driver, my grandfathers were both farmers as were/are several uncles and cousins. But I grew up with strong women, irreverant, smart assed women too. (my mother, my aunts, older cousins, oh my my maternal grandmother started banging things around in the kitchen and cursing in German and Spanish? My grandfather hid. My grandmother was 5ft nothing and 90lbs dripping wet. Grandpa was right about six foot and a solid, strong man who was born in 1900 and had from cradle on worked on the farm, took over his parents farm bit by bit when his father started getting ill about 1914-1915 and completely when his father died in 1916. You'd never seen anything so comical as Grandpa trying to avoid the wrath of grandma)

I've read one m/m that made me cringe, a late 20s/just 30 yo starting to take off up the ladder business man and a barely 20 year old skaterboy slacker-leech that was totally unsympathetic and needed a swift kick in the butt and to grow up more than anything. Didn't finish that one. The characters and their stereotypes had me going argh by chapter two. Didn't get past that. Maybe they improved as the story went on, but they lost me before they even started.

Another m/m I read had a greater age gap--15 years instead of 10. While the age dif was a bit of angst worry for the older partner, and a bit of snipping for the younger partner's family. The pair worked so perfectly together balanced each other well, and while one might "have the upperhand" in some aspects, the other did in other areas. The years were just numbers with the two of them. Granted the younger was also mid-20s and the older just about 40. The younger was old enough to have done a bit of living, and know what he wanted, not a little brat twerp of a boytoy. I've actually reread that one a couple times. (and plus rodeo cowboys at that. I like cowboys.) The age difference was there, nominally addressed, dealt with, and put aside. Doesn't make a whit of difference with that pairing.

It's not so much a surface appearance of a power imbalance that will turn me off, or even a power balance that goes to any depth initially. (Go back to Wild Swan, for crying out loud Alex was 15 when she ended up in St.John's bed and raising her sister's twins as her own with a kid on the way. Took St.John another couple years to finally pull his head out of his rear and grow up and he was years older. Yeah, StJohn really was unlikeable through several parts. Rane waited for Alex to be sixteen to go after her, goes to finally see her after a year, she's 'married' to StJohn and has a baby girl, her sisters twins and trying to pay the rent while StJohn's off being a drunk idiot. Kinda wanted to slap Alex cause dang girl why didn't you just grab the kids and Mavis the nanny and go with Rane. That she didn't made senes for characters mentality/time period/circumstances but still) How the power imbalance is dealt with and over come is what does it for me if that's part of the plot conflict. Playboy 30something Millionaire seducing and marrying his virginal secretary, handing her his gold card and letting her shop and arrange dinner parties on the allowance he gives her happily ever after and basically patting her on the head like a good little lap dog when out of bed...nope. not. no thanks.

Younger ages of heroines in historicals doesn't bother me, the extended childhood of the modern age didn't exist. A sheltered little twit, okay fine, if the circumstances she's in let her grow up, grow a backbone, become an equal partner (or at least behind the scenes/considered equal by husband depending on time period) rather than simply discover she likes orgasms and pout when she doesn't get her way, he thinks it's cute so gives into her a lot and buys her a new dress or goes to the ball he really doesn't want to. bah.

I like a bit of power-wrangling in character development in a romance, whether it internal/character's private doubts or part of the plot itself, the conflict between the couple at the center of the story. I don't mind imbalances--surface or deep--between the main pairing be it m/f or m/m or f/f (I'll read any, tend to write m/m or m/f) as long as the character development resolves them, characters grow and it evens out. (or it's the desired situation in a D/s relationship yep, I'll go there too. rarely tho, too much on toys and dominance and too little character headspace/emotional intricacy if it's purportedly romance not flat out erotica. "ooo kinky hot." gets monotonous to read real quick, nice once in a while, and I've read some excellent erotica authors that can blow you away with the sex scenes, but I prefer the whole package with the intricacies)

I spent too many years reading the exhausted cliches that give romance a bad name. The most gorgeously detailed settings, the best historical research, the most twisty suspense filled plot, breath taking edge-of-seat action sequences, the hottest sex scenes, well, they might get me to read through just to get the background details or the other details of the story done so well, but if the characters make me want to slap them every time they open their mouths, I'm not going to enjoy it. If the characters grab me, I don't care how imbalanced the opening situation is, as long as they find their way to even footing within the relationship.

I grew up with too many strong women to buy the inherent continuous imbalance of m/f that was implied in the comment that got me thinky. Societal restrictions in historicals or fantasy/paranormal verses outward trappings are unavoidable at times, but balance can be had within the relationship itself. I'm not going to be turned off by an age difference in any couple, m/f or m/m, as long as the characters breathe and grow up/find a balance.

Enough rambly thinky that probably makes a lot more sense picked apart in my head than babbled out my fingers, Baby Boy is up and in full-tilt monkey mode.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

fireworks & sleep

The Fourth was good. The kids had a blast, bickered their way through doing fireworks out front. This year BabyBoy absolutely loved them. I think next year he'll be able to handle going down to the park and watching the big display. As it was he and I went for a walk and saw some of it over the tree tops.

BabyBoy has managed to actually sleep 2 nights in a row. This latest insomnia/catnap streak finally caught up with him and hopefully broke. okay, well, he went to sleep between 12 & 1, but that is much better than oh 5-6 am? Seriously it is.