Friday, September 29, 2006

Can men write romance novels?

Interesting blog on Romantic Times. Stupid question. Of course, men can write romance novels. Good ones, too. If you have a chance, check out the blog and article it was inspired by.

Yes says Ray Connolly (and I agree). No says Liz Hunt. But she says more than that, and I’m still shaking my head over some of her notions.

“ …there is a brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion that every woman – if she is being honest – aspires to be the object of at some time in her life.”

Huh?

I’m being completely honest, I swear: no, thank you. When I think brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion, I think stalker and restraining order. I think control freak. I think man who cannot handle a strong, independent woman with friends/interests of her own. Trust me, even as a doe-eyed, innocent (don’t laugh) teenage girl I wasn’t swooning at the prospect of brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion.

Oh, and why can’t men write romances? “…it is only another woman who really knows how to deliver [brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion]because she has been there – or would like to have been there – too.”

Yeah. Uh huh. I’m sure no man has ever longed for a love and lived to write about it. This is as insulting to women as it is to men. I’m beginning to feel sorry for Liz Hunt (I admit I don’t know who she is). She must not have any caring males in her circle of family members, friends and associates.

Then she goes on to say this:

“Women writers are better at detail, too – and details are essential in creating a romantic build-up: what he wore, what she wore, how they were standing, how they moved, how they touched.”

What?!

I see. That’s probably why I don’t care to read traditional romance novels. I always skip the parts where the clothes are discussed. I couldn’t care less what brand shoe the heroine wears. Dropping men’s wear designer names doesn’t do a thing for me either.

Seriously, what is this woman thinking? Male (romance) writers can’t be detailed? I think it’s safe to assume that she hasn’t read any gay romance novels, the kind written by men. We all know the characters populating those romances don’t move or touch. They don’t dress and undress. We never learn what their apartments look like. Oh, and they never ever yearn for someone to shelter them or love them.

Rubbish!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Revision update

I celebrated the passing of the sub teacher exam (with a 97, no less) by cleaning my desk off all things non-Protector and cleaning out my inbox. Then I tacked up some inspirational pictures on my corkboard :-)

Like these:





The Rock. I can’t say that I was a fan of his when he wrestled, but I saw his movie The Rundown right around the time I started writing The Protector and I couldn’t help but think that Dwayne would make a great Mason. And so his picture is tacked up on my board next to the picture I have of "Soren" (I originally shared his pic here, but the young man in the photo contacted me and asked to have it removed, since he'd stopped modeling) and, my, they look good together.

With those two staring down at me from my wall, it's easy to work on revisions. I did finish chapters 1 and 2, and I have to say I like them a lot. The first paragraph of chapter 1 is still off (yes, Resh, I’m working on that), but the rest came along very nicely and is fun to read.

I started working on chapter 3 and my brain, happy to have something to do that’s not sub teaching related, is mulling over chapter 4.

All in all, revisions are going well, and I am not pulling hairs out by the roots just yet. I have a feeling I might not ever do that. I’ve never minded revisions. In fact, I like the rewrite/edit phase much better than the initial writing phase.

Must have something to do with me working better when I have a clear understanding of the finished product. In the writing phase there is so much out of place and up in the air and unresolved, I can get flustered. Luckily, that’s what they invented outlines for :-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The rewrite has begun!

THE PROTECTOR is now officially in revision mode.

I’m excited and terrified. Where is that quote I had about writers and courage? I want to pin it on my message board.

But I am so looking forward to holding the finished product in my hands, which are sweaty right now, by the way. I’ll keep you guys informed. If you think you might want to have a copy,
preorder to get the 25% discount, because once April 2007 comes around and the book is in print, the discount won’t be no more.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Protector

Tonight I’m going to go see The Protector with Tony Jaa. Of course, I have to go see this movie. I love watching the trailer—not only because I’m a martial arts fan, but because I love hearing the announcer guy say “The Protector.”

I was a bit shocked the very first time I saw/heard it. Even my husband turned to me and said “hey, isn’t that your book?”

Sure is :-)

When I started writing THE PROTECTOR, there was only one other book available on amazon.com with the same title, the David Morrell thriller I do want to read at some point.

Morrell’s action hero is an ex-Delta Force operator, now in the protection business. He works for Global Protection Services.

To understand how bothered I was by the similarities you need to know that the original Mason was an ex-Army Ranger in the protection business, working for an outfit very much like Global Protection Services. Not only had I set my sights on the same title (which is perfectly okay), but I had a similar set-up and that I didn’t like at all.

I made some changes. For one thing, I didn’t think I could carry a thriller-series. I like reading them; I’m not confident enough to write them (yet). For another, I totally fell in love with Guam as a location (don’t ask me why; Guam is a pain in the ass to research). But Guam isn’t really a hotbed for people important enough to ask for bodyguards and protection from evil villains. Tumon Bay might be Guam’s flashy, over-commercialized equivalent to Miami Beach, but it’s nowhere near as metropolitan.

So today’s Mason is still an ex-Army Ranger, but his personal protection days are mostly behind him. There are plenty of other ways for him to attract trouble.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Beautiful

Mihrab, 1354-55/ A.H. 755

I love the Met.

Going to be busy

As if I wasn’t busy enough, I signed up for a new workshop with Kiss of Death, the RWA chapter devoted to the romantic suspense writer: Getting it Right: Real-life Detail for your Law Enforcement Hero by former FBI Agent Rae Monet.

I don’t exactly have a law enforcement hero. Kaoru probably isn’t even a secondary character. He’s third tier. But he’s important. I was a bit concerned about the realism of his role, so I contacted Rae Monet a while back. She has her own yahoo group and gladly answers law enforcement questions. According to her, Kaoru’s reactions and decisions were a bit off his mark, but plausible. Man, was I glad to hear that.

I put a lot of thought and work into my characters. I would have changed THE PROTECTOR had Rae told me that even creative license wasn’t going to make Kaoru’s situation work.

I had to change Mason’s military background several times, because I found out that what I had in mind and what works in real life were mutually exclusive. Dang it. And if you’ve read THE PROTECTOR, you know that Mason’s military days are nothing more than a footnote. Did I mention I put a lot of thought and work into my characters?

So I’m going to take this workshop, because I’m sure my guys will encounter law enforcement again. Hell, it’s virtually ensured, with Stoney being a cop and all.

Oh, and if you are a procrastinator like I am, these workshops are a fun way to avoid real work. My real work at the moment consists of studying for the HI substitute teacher exam next week.

PS. Yay! THE PROTECTOR revisions are about to start. Look for updates soon.

PPS. I’m going to take a handgun safety class next.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Everything you always wanted to know about me

On her MySpace blog, MJ Pearson recently featured one of those fun surveys that occasionally pop up in mailboxes everywhere. She suggested appropriating it and so I did:

1.You and the president go out to dinner - who pays?

The taxpayers do.

2. You suddenly have to flee the country and adopt an alias.
How suddenly? Just kidding. I would have no clue. I love my name. I don’t want an alias. Hmm … I’ll have to think about that.


3. Pick one state in the U.S. to get rid of permanently.
Beats me.

4. You wake up as the opposite gender: what's the one thing you wanna do?
Right after I wake up? Pee and brush my teeth.

5. Luke Skywalker or Han Solo?
I’m drawn to Luke’s character, but I really like Harrison Ford.

6. Toy you always wanted but never got as a child?
Could a pony be considered a toy?

7. Top three celebrities you wanna do.
Hmm … jeez, I’m still busy thinking about the alias I’m going to adopt.

8. What's an automatic deal breaker in a potential significant other?
Smoking.

9. What is the last movie you saw that actually scared you?
The Grudge. Oh, oh, Jason Behr. SWEET. I’d do him.

10. Stupidest thing you've ever said out loud?
I’ve said plenty of stupid things, I’m sure, but I’m having trouble with recall …

11. You're sentenced to death and it's the morning of your execution, what do you want to eat?Believe it or not, but I have thought about this before and decided there was probably no way I’d be able to eat and/or taste anything, so why bother? Having said that, I’d ask for ice cream or some other treat.

12. What's something that most people do that you've never done?
Pray in church?

13. Before you die you want to go to...?
Oh, I had a list. I wrote it in High School and one of my old classmates found it and sent it to me. It said: USA, Japan, Hawaii, Virgin Islands. Haven’t been to the Virgin Islands yet.

14. Something you'd really like to do but probably won't ever be able to do?
Act in a movie, receive Oscar nomination. Adapt or write screenplay, receive Oscar nomination. Btw, I think I’d be able to, as in I could manage to pull it off. I just won’t get the chance to test that theory.

15. A wild animal you'd like to have as a pet?
Amur Leopard

16. A drug you'll never try?
Chances are, I won’t try any of the illegal drugs out there. Am curious, though, I admit.

17. If you were an animal what would you be?
An otter.

18. If you had to marry someone you knew at the age of 12 who would it be?
Good lord. I was such a tomboy at 12, I had no interest in marrying anyone. That lasted for some time. I think I might have had one date before the age of 18.

19. What's something most people don't know about you?
I was molested once.

20. First celebrity crush?
George Michael, then of Wham!

21. What's a weapon to suit your personality, habits and abilities?
Verbal abuse. (I’m keeping this one, MJ. It’s just such a great answer.)

22. Favorite cereal growing up as a kid?
I think all we had was oatmeal. I can’t remember anything else. Oh, and I ate it cold and uncooked.

23. Favorite breakfast bread style (pancakes, waffles, toast etc...)?
Bagel.

24. Favorite parody movie?
n/a

25. Worst way to die?
Fire.

26. Grossest injury you've ever seen?
Can’t say that I’ve ever seen a gross injury.

27. The worst injury you've ever had?
Hmm … broken wrist, broken ankle, horse bite (which caused the most creative lie to be told to my parents) … none of them are that bad really.

28. Favorite thing about Thanksgiving?
I don’t care for Thanksgiving.

29. Sport you hate the most?
I don’t care to watch many sports, but I don’t hate them. I find golf and tennis the most boring to watch, does that count?

30. What city in the U.S. do you want to visit?
JA Konrath just finished a 500-bookstore book tour. He visited cities all over the US. I’m aspiring to do the same some day. I don’t care what cities they are as long as they have a bookstore :-)

31. What's something you think would be sweet to know everything about?
Parenting. Grammar. Punctuation.

32. Favorite Actor/Actress?
oh, I’m still trying to figure out what three actors I’d do

33. What's one phrase you absolutely detest?
That’s the way it’s always been.

34. What makes an awesome party?
the guests

35. What's your material obsession?
Books. Not sure if they could be considered an obsession, but I sure do have a ton of them.

36. What's something most would consider an insult but you enjoy having said about you?
You're evil. Sneaky bitch.

37. Favorite kind of dog?
Beagle.

38. Favorite carnival food (everyone has one)?
Cotton candy

39. Morning or night person?
Night owl. Unfortunately, though, I have kids in school and that requires me to get up in the mornings

40. Worst drunken/drugged up habit?
I think I might have been drunk once or twice (okay, three times) and that’s not enough to create a habit.

41. Weirdest ebay purchase?
One of these days I’m going to buy a dildo. Just kidding. Or maybe not!?

42. Favorite food to eat when you're wasted?
Okay, so the three times I’ve been drunk, I can’t recall there being food involved.

43. It's Saturday at 3am, where are you?
Is this Saturday, 3 am, that’s really Sunday already? Occasionally I can be found on the computer, furiously typing.

44. Who's your favorite friend to go out with?
If she lived closer and we actually socialized in person, Laurie.

45. Worst job you've ever had?
Selling knifes for Cutco.

46. What's something your friends make fun of you for?
Shouldn’t my friends answer that?

47. What's the oddest thing you've ever done in a car?
Change my clothes. So much for odd.

48. Book you could read repeatedly?
Most of the ones I own/buy.

49. What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
Die Sendung mit der Maus (remember, I grew up in Germany).

50. What was your best Halloween costume ever?
I think I might have been a cowgirl a few times.


Thanks, MJ. That was fun.

PS. Still no alias, but I figured out some celebrities I’d do if I wasn’t married and we’d be stuck in the same elevator: The Rock. Hugh Jackman. Jake Gyllenhaall. I probably wouldn’t push Orlando Bloom out the elevator either. Bradley Cooper would be welcome to stop by.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sex or no sex in gay fiction

This is in response to Nigel and Janet, writer friends, who wondered about the marketability of their books and the inclusion of sex.

I think the question is, among others, whether or not you are aiming to write a mainstream fantasy/science fiction/whatever genre gay novel or a “true” gay/lesbian novel meant to be read by the people actively interested in that style.

When I say mainstream gay novel I mean limited sex, sex off stage and behind closed doors. Those novels you can find on the gay/lesbian shelves AND mingling with the other books on the other shelves. I think their placement depends a lot on the bookseller, because I’ve seen the same book shelved in different stores in either area.

Now if you’re including descriptive sex, I’d expect to find your book in the gay/lesbian section. I’d like to think that is so that people like us who are interested in reading that sort of thing will find what they are looking for. God knows, trying to find a good book with good gay sex among the hundreds of other books would be like searching for a needle in the haystack.

I don’t think writing the mainstream stuff and then hoping to switch to the sexier, steamier stories will work as well as we envision. The audience we’ve cultivated might or might not follow. I think switching would mean starting from scratch again, looking to get your foot in the steamier genre, and finding a new audience/fan following there.

Those of us, like Janet, with a young adult background, might even publish under a pen name what’s not appropriate for that young adult audience, i.e. anything that has descriptive sex in it.

So saying “I’ll switch later when they know me” might not be as feasible as it sounds, might in fact be far more difficult than we anticipate.

Having said that, I am struggling with my own sex issue. Boy, that sounds weird. LOL. If you’ve read THE PROTECTOR, you know that it includes two sex scenes. One of the changes the manuscript will undergo in the very near future is the removal of one of those scenes. I was very surprised, I have to admit, when I first saw my publisher’s suggestion of less sex. Less sex? In a gay book?

We discussed it, and I trust his judgment that I can make one scene work far better, be far more powerful, than two scenes.

My issue is not with THE PROTECTOR. I harbor the secret fear that “less sex” wasn’t book-specific, that “less sex” was a genre guideline. You see THE GHOST CRAB includes (or will include) three sex scenes, and at this point in that manuscript I’d hate to loose either of the three. I’m not writing sex for sex’s sake. I’m including it because sex is an important part of any relationship. It shows us how two people relate to each other. Enter gay sex and suddenly there is the “top” and “bottom” question. Who’s in charge?

Honestly, I think too much is done of that. I suspect that the sexual position is far less of an indication of interpersonal position as some stories make us believe. Not being gay, though, what do I know?

But as a writer I find it’s a great tool to show (not tell) how relationships work and positions can and do change. I use sex the way I use clues and red herrings and all those other tools at my disposal. Thus, I’d hate to loose the sex in my stories, because they are an important part of the tale, not merely fluff for hungry readers.

So I can’t just take it out later and still have the same story. For me, it doesn’t work that way. [Now, let’s hope my publisher agrees with me ;-) ]

I’ll be fine with having my book in the gay/lesbian section (where it competes with fifty others, not five hundred others).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Things that need saying

There are several things I would like to get off my chest today:

First and foremost: kudos to Ken Harrison over at Seventh Window. He’s my publisher. He’s also the guy behind Seventh Window who does ALL the work. Yet he still finds time to shoot me quick e-mails to keep my up-to-date and in the loop. Short messages that come down to “soon” or “I haven’t forgotten about you.”

That might not mean much to you, but to writers, who are perpetually kept waiting, small, short messages like that are priceless. I know, because I used to be a writer like that: always waiting, always anticipating.

Thanks, Ken.

Second: I’m free! Okay, okay, I’m being dramatic. But my youngest started preschool yesterday, which means from now on I have the morning hours all to myself. In a manner of speaking. The husband will be home, because he works the afternoon shift right now, so I won’t be prancing around the house singing up the top of my lungs, but it’s not like that was my plan anyway :-)

It simply means I can meet with my girlfriends for our weekly coffee break without the youngest in tow. It means I could run over to the mall and browse for a new pair of glasses without the youngest in tow. It also means I can go to the gym and contort myself into a pretzel while doing yoga … whoohoo, that’s actually what I’m most looking forward to.

Third: I can’t get enough of THE PROTECTOR movie trailers on TV. I just love hearing them say “The Protector coming to a movie theater near you soon.” I wish.

Fourth: Remember the coffee break with my girlfriends I mentioned? I’m late for one …

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I’m back.

Just spent three days on the green green island of Kauai, HI. What a lovely place. Really a small slice of paradise: Sandy beaches. Clear blue-green ocean. Good, locally grown coffee. Dolphins visible from the back porch of the cottage. Two monk seal sightings (rare pleasure!). One honu (green sea turtle) sighting. And, much to the delight of the kids, plenty of horses along side roads, paved and unpaved.

The only notable disappointment was the helicopter miscommunication: passengers must weigh at least 35 lbs. Our youngest family member only weighed 32 lbs, so he couldn’t go on the 60-minute ride, and since someone had to watch him, neither could I.

The MWR agent who booked the trip wasn’t clear enough on this. That’s where the miscommunication comes in. As I sit here and type this I am waiting for a call from the MWR manager to talk about refunds.

If you receive a postcard from me, consider yourself lucky.

Overheard on the beach, two young mothers discussing child rearing and language skills:

“I, like, want my kids to use proper terms for, like, things and stuff, whatever.”

Oh, boy …