My stupid neck.

The title of this post should really be “Stupid me” because it wasn’t my neck’s fault that I watched TV while lying down on the couch, facing sideways and got it all kinked up.  But my neck sure didn’t like that very much.  It got so cramped up, I think maybe I pinched a nerve because my fingers got all tingly for 48 hours and it hurt so much I could barely think of anything else.  Advil didn’t touch the pain.  After wondering aloud if I was having a heart attack and Don telling me I was being silly, finally, I went to get a Thai massage down at Pho-Siam.  That chubby little Thai lady worked my neck and back so good that I literally had bruises on my back the next day.  She was grinding into my back with her elbows something fierce, I was almost crying.  If it hadn’t been such a relief, I probably would have bawled all over the tatami mat.  I tell you, Thai massage is not for the faint of heart – it’s for people who are willing to suffer in order to feel better.  And it worked!  My neck finally feels better.  I can feel my hands and everything!  I’m finally able to type and think like a sane person again.  Well, sane enough!  Thank heavens for Thai massage.  Without it, I would still be a shattered bundle of pinched nerves.

And that’s why I haven’t been posting.  😦

Stinky Old Romances

A few months ago I got on a romance reading kick.  Being a cheapskate, I decided to buy romances in bulk off of Ebay.  Thus began my foray into cigarette-scented romances from the nineties. 

I went to high school in the nineties, and I was reading romances back then too, so I was very surprised to discover how dated they were.  It’s made me much more aware of how important it is that the writer of a romance novel captures the current socio-political situation between men and women perfectly, or else it feels out of step with the times.  I’m finding it very interesting how many mixed messages these romances from the nineties are, and it kind of helps me understand a little bit more of how we got where we are today.  Men and women, I mean.  These books pretty much all have strong, feminist women, often telling the men what they’re doing wrong, and insisting on their rights.  However, for the most part, it doesn’t seem like the men have done anything wrong to deserve all this ranting and raving.  At least, not the ones I’ve read so far.  Of course, that is the hard part about writing romance novels in the first place – your characters need to have fights, but neither of them can be very wrong or the readers won’t like them!  It seems a lot of writers can’t figure it out and end up writing nice guys, and women who treat them like they’re jerks.  It makes for a very schizophrenic reading experience.

Retro Review: A Kiss in the Dark

Brittany Astor wanted three things: to be beautiful, to marry Ethan Moss and to own a cat.  The rare, expensive Bengal kitten was a possibility. 

Yeah, it’s that bad.

A Kiss in the Dark, by Tiffany White*, circa 1994, is a charmingly sweet romance about a crazed, psychotic stalker lovelorn heroine who seizes upon the opportunity to make her victim Prince Charming fall in love with her when he is temporarily blinded by a polo accident.  Brittany Astor had been in love with Ethan Moss since she was a teenager, always just a few steps outside of his circle of friends.  In other words, despite the fact she had been obsessively showing up at every event that she knew he would be attending, for ten years, Ethan doesn’t know Brittany exists.  When she heard he was to be married several years ago, she tricked his bride into not showing up for the wedding.  Because Brittany loves him.  And that’s what you do when you love somebody, right?  You save him from marrying the person he wants want to marry, because he should be marrying you instead.  Right? Of course you do.  It’s Chapter 3 in the Stalker Playbook.

Ms. Psycho, who is a successful book editor, responds to an ad requesting someone with a good reading voice.  She responds to the ad because she wants some extra spending money to buy a ‘designer cat.’  I did not make that up.  An excerpt from page 10: “If she got the reading job, she could afford the twelve hundred dollars to buy the designer cat.  Then she’d have some company.”  It turns out that despite the fact that the population of Manhattan in 1994 included well over one million people, the person she ends up reading for is none other than the man she’s been obsessing about for her whole ridiculous life!  OMG!  What luck!

But it seems they were made for each other after all.  An excerpt from page 28, their first meeting:  Ethan: “Damn!  I would rather be dead than such a useless wretch.  I can’t bear the dark prison I’ve been thrust in.  I can’t!” 

I can almost feel my hand moving up to my brow to re-enact the pain.  In any case, Brittany’s heart is torn in two with pity compassion for her victim beloved, and she nurses him back into health, teaching him how to live as a blind man and still have pride.  Of course, his blindness eventually goes away, because, like, blindness is gross, right?  Heaven forbid a hero should be blind permanently!  Apparently the author never read Jane Eyre. 

Anywho, Ethan finds out Brittany is that girl who used to follow him around, and isn’t bothered by it.  He then finds out she is the reason he was left standing at the altar on what was supposed to be the happiest day of his life.  He gets mad for roughly five minutes.  In book time, not real time.  Real time it was about 15-30 seconds, depending on how fast you read.  Then Ethan admits that she probably did him a favor by destroying his marriage, and then they live happily ever after.  And she gets a cat.

Retro Score: 4/10
Feminist Shame Score: 8/10

*While looking for A Kiss in the Dark to link to on Amazon, I ran into about eight million novels under the same title, one of which is by the fabulous Lauren Henderson!  Whoop!  I am a huge fan of the Sam Jones series that starts with Black Rubber Dress (in the genre of “tart noir” – a spunky little mystery genre spinoff of chick lit), so I will probably take a chance on this Scarlett Wakefield series, even though it’s apparently a YA series.  I’m willing to chance on it – I’m so excited to see one of my favorite authors has a series I didn’t know about!

I Am Cheating on the Post A Day 2011 Challenge

I just wanted to put that out there.  I’ve been doing the challenge for what, four days?  Not even including weekends.  And I’m already cheating.  No chocolate cake for me.

The problem is there’s no way I can do a post every day; I’m simply too erratic.  There are days when I can barely write a sentence.  And days when I’m mentally exhausted from world-building and character development.  There’s just not enough in me on those days to write novels and post something clever, witty or even mildly entertaining.  I can, however, write three posts one day, and then dole them out for the next couple of days as if they were daily posts.  For the book reviews, that seems completely reasonable, doesn’t it?  (She says, trying to justify her blatantly dishonest attempt to bend the rules to fit her needs.) 

I have now confessed my sins.  I reserve the right to delete this post in the future so I can get back to eating that chocolate cake.  Mmm, cake.

Book Review: Seized by the Sheik

After one too many death threats, Sheik Efraim Aziz was ready to end his business in Wyoming and head home. But one last horse ride had kept him in town a little longer. Callie McGuire had followed him on his private journey, leaving him mesmerized by her beauty and just enough time to save her from the gunshots they both barely escaped. Now, figuring out who was targeting them would keep him glued to her side no matter how much she claimed she didn’t need his protection. With their list of suspects growing—along with their attraction—Efraim found working with Callie an unexpected pleasure. Suddenly, despite the danger surrounding them, Wyoming seemed so much more appealing….

Harlequin Intrigue brings us another from the Cowboys Royale series, where a group of Middle Eastern royals from different countries are all gathered together in Wyoming to negotiate some sort of treaty.  The other novel in this series is Brandishing a Crown, by Rita Herron, which I have yet to read. 

The book starts out a little fast-paced.  In fact, because its part of a series and it appears another book came first, it seemed as if the book started halfway through the story.  I could have used a little more of the overarching story to be able to figure out what was going on.  The novel spent a lot of time dealing with the anti-Arab bigotry of friends and relatives, which was a relevent topic that I appreciated, although the relentless xenophobia of the locals was a little upsetting to consider – I like to think that people are more open-minded than that, although I know that regionally, a lot of that anti-Arab suspicion does exist.  However upsetting, Ann Voss Peterson’s depictions of the suspicions of the locals did ring true.  Also, Efraim and Callie didn’t really didn’t grow on me, so I had a hard time connecting with their story.  Maybe it was because they seemed to spend so much of their time running or doing amateur sleuthing, but I just never really saw them as a couple.  For an example, it’s only been four days since I read this book, and yet I had a hard time remembering if Efraim and Callie had ever had sex.  It’s a Harlequin, so of course they did, but I actually had to pick up the book and page through it to find out when!  When I did read back over the sex scene, it was appropriately steamy, so it’s really just a matter of me not connecting with the characters. 

All in all, I think I’m going to stop reading these series romances, at least for a bit.  I think my reviews are focusing too much on the inherent problems with the series concept, instead of on the way the author deals with that problem, and I don’t want to be too hard on authors, especially when they’re just doing what their publisher told them.  I actually think the series novel is a pretty tough assignment and underneath my complaints, I’m impressed at Ann Voss Peterson’s ability to pull it off.  So, I’m going to take a break and cover some standalone romances for a while instead.  Happy reading!

Corrupted Romance Covers

I know this site has been around for a while, but on the offchance that you haven’t seen it, you must check out Longmire Does Romance Novels – it’s an incredibly hilarious spoof of romance covers that has me grinning each time it hits me in the email circuit.

Post a Day 2011 Challenge

I was going to say that I just found out about this challenge, but that would be a big fat lie.  I heard about the challenge, was intimidated by it, and moved directly on to pretending it didn’t exist.  Which is a good thing to do with anything that bothers you or upsets you.  Problem: You find a black widow spider in your shower drain.  Solution: Be very afraid, then pretend it doesn’t exist.  I find this coping mechanism works quite well.  Until the reality comes back and bites you in the a$$.  With poisoned fangs.

As a writer, I am worried that posting every day will dull my desire to write the novel I’m working on.  Is it possible for my compulsion to write to be diluted by blogging?  That’s probably the main thing keeping me from posting regularly, the fear that I’m wasting thoughts that should be flowing onto the pages of my books.  I would love to hear from other fiction writers on this topic – does daily blogging diminish your daily page count?  If I can figure out how to create a poll on that topic, I will…

I did it!

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