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Archive for November, 2011

Snap, and now he’s dead

Being an author has it’s perks, though I’m afraid money isn’t really one of them.  So, like any job, you have to have fun whenever you can.  You can play with people’s minds and watch their eyes fill with tears or widen in terror.  Watch them race away or stop all conversation.  Or, watch them all start whispering about the strange women in the corner talking about the whips and chains.  And that’s even before they read your book!  

Last year I was working Dark Succession and another manuscript that is, as of yet, not published. My critique partner and I met at a mexican place in town to go over pages and fix errors, etc on Dark Succession, plus pages of one of her manuscripts.  The pages I’d given her covered the murder of one of the characters.  Murder is fun when it’s in a book, and the character’s neck had been broken.  Coincidentally, in the other MS I was working on at home,  I was at the point where someone had also just died, and also had their neck snapped. (hmm, better make sure that doesn’t become a habit).  So yes, I was thinking alot about how to kill people.  

A young couple sat caty-corner to us, just ahead of me.  My CP couldn’t see their faces, though she knew they were there.   I had noticed the couple was listening closely, as though trying to figure our conversation.  For more than 20 minutes they spent more time trying to listen to what we were saying than eating their own meal, and let me tell you, at this place that’s just a crime.  I kept trying to talk quieter and quieter, and I could see them leaning more in our direction, trying really hard to listen.

So when we got the “snapped neck” part, I just couldn’t help myself.  I raised my voice so I knew they could hear me.  “Yes, I’ve been killing people left and right this week.” I mimed the act with my hands and said,  “Snap!  And now he’s dead.”

You could have heard a pin drop at the other table.  The looks on their faces were so precious.  Horror filled their expressions, forks dropped by the side of their plates and for long moments, they just stared at one another.  Eventually the wife took out her cell phone as though to call the police, though the husband touched her hand and shook his head.  Who knows what was going through their minds.

I started chuckling, and my critique partner asked me why, so I leaned over the table and whispered the couple’s reaction, and then she started laughing.  The couple hurridly finished their meal and left, terrified to even look back as they rushed toward the cashier then out the door, never to be seen again.  I sometimes wonder if they even remembered to leave a tip.

The instant the front door closed, my CP and I burst out laughing so hard I had tears running down my cheeks.   I couldn’t stop – every time I did, I kept picturing their horrified looks and the rush out the door.  I’d never had so much fun playing with eavesdroppers in my life.  It served them right to so openly eavesdrop on another table.  (Not that my manuscript wasn’t interesting enough to hold them)

So if you’re ever sitting at a diner, or some place where there’s people talking about death, destruction, and murder, there’s something my mom used to always say that you might want to remember:  If you’re going to eavesdrop, eavesdrop on the entire conversation, not just part. 

Otherwise, you just might get the shock of your life!

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Even my Sweat is Sweating.

Oh I love that sentence:  “Even my sweat is sweating”.  I wish I could take credit for it, but I heard it over on “Ghost whisperer” the other day.  I swear to goodness, it’s exactly how I feel these days.

Now, I’m from down south, where ladies don’t sweat, the perspire.  And true to the south, my body had always only perspired.  When I was a kid, I’d go outside in the middle of the Alabama summers and work in the garden, and would stop when I felt that tiny trickle down my back – sweat.  It only happened after I’d been out there a while, because my body was convinced:  Ladies perspire, so do not sweat.  Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the words that made me sweat so little, but when I was a kid I was the only one who didn’t have to change clothes in the middle of those hot Alabama summers.

So I joined the military and moved on, only to discover I’d begun getting heat rashes.  Why?  “You don’t sweat enough”, said the doctors.  Really?  How weird.

I was in a car accident a few years later, and when spring came, a friend coaxed me into laying outside in the sun with her.  So I headed out, very self conscious of the purple, protruding scar on my knee.  I laid back and closed my eyes, when I felt this odd sensation.  Something was on my knee!  And it moved!  I sat up, and was shocked to see beads of sweat trailing off my knee cap where I’d had surgery to repair damage from the accident.  No other part of my body was sweating.  Just my knee.  At last, one part of my body was normal!  At least for a while.  It too went back to no sweating a year or so later.  I was back to the “Ladies only perspire”.  LOL.  My great grandmother would be proud, don’t you think?

Of course when you don’t sweat you instead do things like overheat.  Yes, there were times I suffered heat stroke and heat exhaustion through the years.  I found a cool bath always helped out when I got to that point, so that’s good.

But then something changed.  Yes, that terrible moment everyone woman experiences.  Hot flashes.  At first, they were mild.  They seemed less “Flashes” and more a “casual” feeling of being a bit hot.  I noticed my clothing was a tad damp around the waist, etc.  Not a big deal, but slightly irritating.  Nothing that every woman doesn’t have to go through at some point in their lives.

But then I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a fun condition, to say the least.  I’ve probably had it many years, but it was finally getting the best of me, so I went in and was put on a medication which did wonders.  No, I wasn’t completely cured, but I was able to do things I hadn’t for the last few years.  Things like go to a zoo and not have to fight off the pain of exhaustion as I looked at animals.  The ability to walk more than 5 minutes without wanting to curl up on the sidewalk and wait for a cab that never comes.  So things were great!

Only one problem.  There were those nasty side affects.  And what is the side affect to my med? You guessed it.  Hot flashes.  When combined with the ones of that magical “mature woman” sensation, I suddenly went from mild hot flashes to set me on fire and get it over with flashes.  One day, two weeks ago, I had a hot flash so hot I thought I was going to find blisters on my skin. It exploded from within, rushing thru the veins and to my brain (or is it the other way around? Never could figure that out).  Where’s the marshmallow’s people?  Just hold them over my body and watch them toast!  You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.  Ok, maybe the marshmallows wouldn’t have turned brown, but they definitely would have melted. My hand, which was laying in my lap at that time, felt as if I’d just considered picking up a hot pan on the stove and caught myself “Just in time”, the heat already searing through the skin.

So when I heard the phrase “Even my sweat is sweating” I cracked up, and immediately took to using it.  It was the best way to explain how I felt.  I no longer was a lady of the south.  I no longer perspire.  I sweat.  My clothes aren’t just damp anymore, they are soaked.  The other day I washed my hair and let it dry naturally.  Wait, it never did dry – it stayed wet even after I went to bed.  Due to sweat, of course.  (That makes it sound like I never wash my hair, but I promise, I’m just making an example. LOL)

One simple warm breeze would send me into a frenzy of heat.  My favorite way to sleep, wrapped around a pillow, no longer worked, because the pillow would rest against my chest, holding in the heat, and you guessed it, I’d wake up drenched and ready to go stick my head in the freezer.  Luckily the hot flashes are tapering off because I’ve changed meds. Either that or the fact I don’t have the heat on in a cold house is doing the trick.

Two nights ago my teeth were chattering it was so cold in my house, but I refused to turn on the heat, knowing it would only make matters worse.  I was just considering bed, when sure enough, there it was.  Heat swept through my body at a speed ten times the speed of light (Only a slight exaggeration).  Definitely faster than my heroines when they get a real good look at their hot hero.  But the weird thing?  My hand, sitting on my computer mouse, was still ice cold.  How do I know?  Cuz the first thing you automatically do is touch your forehead, as though you have a fever.  Now that was a shocker.  An ice cold hand touching a burning hot head.  Wowsa!  LOL.

The good thing is I’ve now changed meds, and over the last few days I’ve noticed the hot flashes seem less intense.  I’ve actually slept two nites in a row without waking up 15 times to throw off the covers, and then 15 more times to put them back on.  Maybe, just maybe, I’m about to get back down to the normal, everyday, “That change” hot flashes. 

So if you’ve wondered why I was a bit quiet the last six months – it was because even my sweat was sweating, especially when around the computer! The heat coming off our systems was all it took to throw me into one of those sweet, adorable flashes of heat so strong I could probably toast bread.  Like the boy on Ghost Whisperer said: Even my Sweat has been Sweating!

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Because of You – By Jessica Scott

Because of You – by Jessica Scott

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels – for the first time in a long time – like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected – her deepest desire.

For the last few years I have harped on how realism seems very important when writing a book.  Even in paranormal.  Research makes or breaks a book because it gives the reader something to grasp hold of that’s real.  In contemporary, it’s even more important, because it’s hard to believe a book if the world created is filled with flaws.  The same can be said for television shows.  It’s why they always have someone who’s a technical adviser on the set.  But I hate watching a show where said adviser hasn’t done his or her job well.  Sometimes the plot of the story takes over the story line, and the adviser would have to rewrite the entire thing to get it right.  Take for example, the tv show – Army Wives.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the show, but it definitely wasn’t accurate.   At no time will the Post Commander’s wife spend time regularly with an enlisted man’s wife.  Especially when the enlisted soldier is new to the army.  It just doesn’t happen.  The structure of friendship  relationships is as strong as their husband’s rank.

As a military retiree, it bugs me to no end to see a colonel’s wife hanging out with an NCO’s wife in either books or tv, and when the husbands are there, they are best of friends, too.  It can’t happen.  And when it does, it can cause “issues”.

Recently I read Because of You by Jessica Scott.  Congratulations to Ms. Scott for a perfectly portrayed world of the military.  If you like contemporary romance, or you like the true alpha male, and watching the pieces fall apart only to be put back together, then this is the book for you.  I admired not only the detailed military scenes, but the accuracy which flowed with every word in this book.

Let me first say that yes, I know Jessica Scott.  We are both members of RomVets and we met at the last conference, though we didn’t have alot of time to chat.  I follow her on twitter, and I read her blog from time to time.  It’s no secret that Ms. Scott is an Officer in the US Army.  One who deploys to the gulf, and one who leads alot of soldiers.  She sees more in a seven day period than most see in a lifetime when it comes to the ravages of our current war.

And let me tell you, if you want to know what these people are going through, read Ms. Scott’s book.  She has successfully given a true rendition of what COULD and probably DOES happen in her life.  But be prepared – this book is a total tearjerker!  If I had a complaint about this book, was it didn’t wrap up quite as comfortably as I’d hoped. I won’t say it felt rushed, but at the same time, I felt like something was missing.  But I will definitely be reading Ms. Scott’s next book which comes out in May 2012.  Don’t let the title fool you – this book is not filled with soppy sweetness.  Because of You is filled with hardcore military events, and the tragic aftermath.  Don’t forget to grab that box of kleenex to keep by your side!

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Is it good, hard sex? Or is it something else?

I’m not sure why, but it seems that a lot of the paranormal romances I’ve read have the same type of scene inside that really gets me upset. Sometimes I skip said scenes, and sometimes I’m reading it, with tears in my eyes. Always at the end, I feel as though something has gone wrong in this book. I no longer respect the hero. The point behind the scene is to show the hero’s strength, whether it be magical or physical. The scene? Angry Sex. Ok, we all get off on angry sex now and then. Don’t get me wrong – it’s in all kinds of books and we all like to read it. It’s hot, and it’s sexy, and we all wonder “should we piss off our husband’s just for fun?”

But in reality, what some of these books are portraying is rape. The heroine has said no, and the hero continues to push. The hero wishes to teach the heroine a “lesson” in how powerful he is. A true alpha male doesn’t prove how powerful he is using sex. Instead, he does it against villains or other males, hoping she’ll see how truly strong he is. If she can’t, then obviously they weren’t meant to be.

It’s funny, because when I first joined groups of readers, I heard how awful it was that another author had bullies for heroes. She was drawn and quartered in the public. Cries of rape and violence swept through blogs like wildfire. Interestingly, this author only had one book where the hero went a bit far, and the heroine pretty much went at him, accusing him of rape, and he realized he’d gone too far. He paid for his “crime”. Yet in these new books, there is no outcry, there is no hero realizing he went too far. And worse, there is no heroine accusing him of rape.

So where is the line? Where does “angry sex” turn into “rape”? For me, it’s when the heroine says “NO” frequently during the event. For me it’s when the hero thinks he is teaching the heroine a lesson. A lesson he can only instill with forcible big O’s, or forcible sex, whether it’s by the hero’s own hand or his magic.

I think what has surprised me is not that this makes it into books now and then, but that it seems to be coming a trend. Heroes overstep the bounds of good alpha male behavior, becoming bullies, and they force the heroine to accept them using either physical or magical strength. Oddly enough, a true alpha male never bullies, he never forces his females. A true alpha male coaxes his female to accept him, showing his strength in other ways – never against her. Ok, maybe he does, but not “Teaching her a lesson” using sex.   What ultimately happens in the bedroom is always the female’s choice. So if that’s the case, why are these books so popular?

Examples:

True alpha behavior: A hero might tie up his female, and while she may be uncomfortable, she trusts him enough to allow this activity, though she may struggle just a little.

Borderline behavior:  A hero and heroine may fight, using their magic, and it turns into a sexual pleasure.  Both are in on the “game” and enjoy themselves.

Bully behavior: A long drawn out struggle between the hero and heroine in which he “teaches her a lesson” in who’s in charge. She is actively fighting him and is scared as much as she is turned out. While the big O may be mind blowing, the fight to get there was not.

One of my favorite authors tends toward the bully behavior, or did when she first started out, and I think that’s where the trend began. Interestingly, I always skipped the scenes related to such bully behavior, as they always felt out of place in her books. Now, she has drawn back from such behavior and is as popular as ever.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t think these heroes, or even human males, are sexy when they want to “teach a lesson”. It comes too close to what is true rape. If I needed a lesson taught to me, I sure wouldn’t want it done while I fought against it in the bedroom. This is not a fantasy of mine I want to live vicariously through books. Yet I don’t have a problem with the H/h showing their strength in an argument. Just not during sex. At least, not forcibly.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not prudish enough to believe that fight sex isn’t hot. Sure it is. But teaching a lesson is not.

So what do you think? Which is it?  A bully or Strong alpha hero who teaches his heroine a “lesson” using sex?

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Good Choice Reading

Come join me when visiting Maria, Damaris, And Wanda at Good Choice Reading!  Prizes are there so don’t be late!

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Running Round and Round that Mulberry Bush!

Come check out Lovin’ Me Some Romance to talk about choosing the perfect song for that book trailer, and how important it is for the music to match the feel of the book.

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It’s a spotlight! It’s bright, it’s white, and it’s shining down on me!

Come check it out at the Author Rescue Spotlight come read and let’s have some fun!

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