Sunday, March 30, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Night Man

I love M. Night Shyamalan's movies. Well, most of them. The Sixth Sense honestly didn't do that much for me; though the constant flogging of "I see dead people" may have had something to do with that.

I was glued to the screen during Signs, and I thought The Village was brilliant. I hate how the studio always advertises his films as horror flicks- they're not. But they are slow and suspenseful and there's a lot of whispering. You have to listen carefully.

We just rented Lady in the Water, and now there's another movie I have to buy. I adored this thing. I am an absolute sucker for the 'outcast' society; any group of people thrown together, usually by geography as well as circumstance, that make up a kind of family resonates with me. In this case, a bunch of widely different people living in an apartment complex that has seen better days.

I won't go into the details of the movie (see it if you haven't- it's well worth it) but I was struck again by the thing Shyamalan does best: No Insignificant Detail. Any little thing that happens, any seemingly throwaway dialogue, any secondary characters can take on huge importance at the end of the story. And we get just enough hints to discover them right along with the protags. My daughter and I were yelling at the screen. "The smokers are the Guild! She's the Healer! No, wait!! She's not the Healer, he is!!" You'll have to watch the movie to catch those examples, but you get the general idea.

It made me think about my writing. When I'm stuck on where to go in a story, could I go back through the introduction, looking at the scenic descriptions and 'flavor' characters and wonder What if He Turned Out to Be This, or What If That Place Hides This? I can only hope that I'll show the same skill in telling the tale.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hurts So Good?

I tried to post yesterday, but Blogger kept snarling something about Java and cookies. All I know is that if my computer has coffee and cookies, it had better hand them over.

Tell me something...

What is it about vamps that everybody likes so much? I have read a few vamp books I've enjoyed, but they all had one thing in common: the heroine never gets chomped.

I'm not into pain, and while a few well-placed nibbles might liven up tea and crumpets of a Sunday afternoon a downright bite does NOT spell sexy to me.

Actually, the only vampire story I've gushed over wasn't a romance- Barbara Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night. From the official blurb:

"Someone - or something - is killing the vampires of London while they sleep during the day. Don Simon Ysidro, the oldest of the London vampires, hires Dr. James Asher, a retired member of the British Secret Service, to find this killer. Asher, who accepts this job for the price of his wife (Lydia)'s life, delves into the shadowy world of the vampires to find a killer that increasingly seems to be one of their number."

The things that make Don Simon fascinating also make him useless as a romance hero. He is creepily described as being cold until he feeds, which is the only time he's warm. He says that while sex is possible for vamps, it's boring compared to bloodsucking. Leads to one freaking great mystery read, but romance? Not so much.

I think the appeal of vamps is the same as Beauty's Beast or Jane Eyre's Rochester- The Lost Soul. We all fall for it. I have no problem with the Lost Soul finding love.

I just don't want to get gnawed.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

By Any Other Name

I want to wish a Happy Easter to everyone.

And I have no problem with calling it Easter. There are those in the Christian community who don't want to call it that- they call it Resurrection Sunday. The name Easter is of a pagan origin, they'll tell you. And they're correct.

Many ancient celebrations were 'converted' by the church. Those leaders knew that the people wouldn't want to give up their traditional ceremonies, so they were changed to fit the bill. So what was once a celebration of spring, of life, of fertility and renewal (to a goddess named Easter although I think it is spelled differently) was made to coincide with another celebration of life.

Fertility. Hence eggs and bunnies. But it also came to mean the days we mark Christ's betrayal, beating, death, and resurrection. And like many ceremonial days of faith, it has also come to mean one more occasion where we have to spend obscene amounts of money on clothing and food and candy; although I thank God daily for Cadbury Creme Eggs.

But even though you certainly won't find the word "Easter" in the Bible, I have no problem using it. It may indeed have once meant something decidedly non-Christian, and has gotten commercialized in the recent past, but to me it still means the reason that my name has a different connotation than it used to.

You see, Robyn used to mean Party Girl. Not quite a Drunk, but most definitely a Trollop. In my college years, I didn't sow wild oats. I assaulted life itself with them. When it came to relationships I wanted to be loved, wanted to be with someone I loved. But the only way I knew how to get that was to sleep with whichever man was in my sights at the moment- and y'all, I was a mattress with bleach-blond hair. But in all that sexual freedom, I lost any sense of self. I started to think of myself as a hole; and I mean that in the crudest sense of the word. That seemed like the only part of me that mattered, the only part anyone cared about, whether they were enjoying the benefits or not. I was celebrated for being a strumpet, and I carried that badge proudly until I realized that no one asked about my hopes, my dreams, my thoughts, my worries, my fears. As long as I was Party Girl, they were good. But I started to hate sex, and that ended everyone's fun.

I grew up in church. And when faced with the ubiquitous existential meltdown I did what I was taught to do. I prayed. And a curious thing happened over the next few months. Things just started to happen to steer me in particular directions. And whenever I prayed, I felt interesting. Interested. Alive. Loved. So, so loved. Just like all these romance heroes I read about, Jesus pursued me. He wooed me, and won me. And I found a number of things I was searching for.

My life now is admittedly not perfect. There are still frustrations large and small, crises and monotony, but in the past 20 years Robyn has come to mean so much more. Wife, mother, writer, reader, friend, dreamer, minister. Who has hopes, dreams, thoughts, worries, and fears. Who absolutely LOVES sex. And who has a Friend that sticks closer than a brother.

So whether you're going to be celebrating a different faith than mine, joining me in a special Sunday service, or just having fun with eggs and chocolate, I wish you a very Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Romance Endures and Cute Guy Wednesday

Kimber An has honored me with an invitation to join her review site, Enduring Romance. I'll be posting every third Sunday, beginning April 20 with GLORY GIRLS by Linda Bleser. This is going to be so fun, though I'll have to behave myself and tone down the snark a little.

And to thank her for her thoughtfulness, I present Kimber An's Cute Guy Wednesday: Liam Neeson.

Monday, March 17, 2008

He's Not That Into You


Desert Hearts

Do you think she snuck up there with a fake ankle injury or something? Because he's more interested in the horse than he is in her. She's managed to look all waifish, and have her legs going one way and her head twisted around the other, and he doesn't even want to touch her. It's like he's saying, "Lady, I'll give you a ride back to town. It doesn't mean I'm taking you to lunch."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tell Me Who Invented Spring Cleaning So I Can Smack Him Upside The Head

My family has been getting sick, giving it to each other, and re-infecting me since January. Since the weather has been nice this week, I decided to do Spring Cleaning. I do it every year, but this time I have a mission: No Germ Shall Survive. I have gone forth, armed with anti-bacterial weapons of mass destruction. Lemony-fresh victory is mine!

Or will be, when I finish with the dining room and the living room today. I'm procrastinating here, because the past two days have been GROSS. I am apparently a pig. I've never been June Cleaver, but I can generally fold the laundry and keep the dishes done. But a nook-and-cranny cleaning of my bathrooms and kitchen reveal that I am a Grade-A slob. And my knees are killing me.

I've cleaned out closets, touched icky things, re-organized everything, and gone after the little eight-legged families in the corners who waved hello. I also went on a small trip to Nostalgia- hey, I remember this! I thought I lost this! The kids disavowed all knowledge of this broken cup!

But all the Mission: Clean going on this week has had one positive effect I hadn't expected. I want to write again. I've kind of had a dry spell for a while, and now I've got new ideas, new scenes, new dialogue wandering around my head. Either that, or the oven cleaner fumes really got to me.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Random Pre-Spring Break Musings

The kiddos will be on Spring Break next week, which means I won't see the computer or the tv except for the morning, when they'll be snoring. I'm not really sure when sleeping until ten-thirty became the norm in our house, but it ticks me off. When I wanted to sleep late, they were little and bounced on the bed. They complained and whined about things like breakfast. Little wimps. Now that they are dedicated narcoleptics and I can conceivably sleep as long as I want to, my eyes are conditioned to pop open at 6:30.

I could still just lie there, warm and snug and lazy, right? Burrowed into the covers, savoring the quiet moments of the morning, birds at the sill? Wrong. The second my dog knows I'm awake, she bounces on the bed and whines, which progresses into growling, which develops into full-blown barks. OUTSIDE OUTSIDE OUTSIDE AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT ALPO ALPO ALPO LIKE NOW, WOMAN.

My dog is way more spoiled than my children could have ever hoped to be. I tell people that's because beating actually worked on the kids, *kidding! kidding! joke!* but hubby thinks it's because that nurturing mommy thing has to go somewhere now that my progeny have gone pubescent. All I know is that to my dog, I have SUCKER written on my forehead.

I have seen a couple of the new tv shows, and I go from delighted to disgusted. A serial killer that catches other serial killers, and a respectable family man who suddenly decides to cook drugs in a meth lab? I'm going to just say it. I don't care how wonderfully these kind of shows are produced, how beautifully acted, or how powerfully written. I'm sick of them. Can we not develop shows of this caliber without wallowing in the worst of the human condition? It's sick, it's sad, and it's shameful. There, I said it. I'm sure the producers are properly repentant.

Thank goodness for Discovery Channel. Have you seen Human Body: Pushing the Limits? Coolest. Thing. Ever. You can go here and see how much you know about what we really can do in dire circumstances. Things like:
A young man is sucked up into a tornado, only to be spat out a quarter of a mile away, unharmed.
Pinned by a massive boulder, a climber finds the strength to lift it off in a seemingly impossible muscular feat.
A college football player sustains what would normally be unbearable injury and pain, yet has the mental stamina to continue playing at full output.

The information is amazing, but I must admit I just like seeing a lifeguard strip off not just his shirt, but his skin! Seeing skeletons driving, fighting fires, even just simply eating and kissing is better than any zombie movie out there.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Star-crossed or Star-crushed?

Wendy Crutcher wrote an interesting post yesterday, and it got me thinking of what bugs me. In paranormals, specifically.

I'm not a fan of vamps (shag a zombie tick, ewwww, gross) and don't get me started on rhyming witches, but what really bothers me is the "fated-to-be-mated" plot device.

It can be vamps, Carpathians, shapeshifters, you name it; our heroine meets the hero and he knows. He knows she is his through telepathy. Empathy. Because he can see the world in color and has her scent in his nostrils. Tattoos magically burned into their hands. Sudden inexplicable lust.

Some deux ex machina has decided that our couple is fated to be together; nevermind that she hates him, his country, his family, the fact that he's always in danger and, you know, has to suck on people to live. Give in, baby. You're trapped. Besides, he mates for life, and can only mate once. And as time goes on, if you don't sleep with him and go through the Elaborate Mating Ceremony he'll DIE without you! DIE!! Do you really want that on your conscience, you heartless tramp?

It just seems like such a contrived situation; I'd be much more impressed with a heroine who falls in love because he's a great man in spite of his alternative lifestyle. And a lot of these heroines seem to be assaulted with almighty fate, and are somehow unable to consent, but also unable to protest. She'll sure enjoy her One With The Cosmos with him, though. Reminds me a great deal of the old Rosemary Rogers-type romances of the 70's in that way.

A woman who decides on her own, with no help from the stars, that she'll take a very big chance on the love of her life is waaaay more interesting than a victim who is pulled in against her will.

What say you? Does star-crossed do it for you or tick you off?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yes, I Miss the 80's

It seems that heroines and villainesses alike are pushed into pigeon holes. A heroine can either fight like Xena, Warrior Princess or she's a delicate flower who can barely defend herself verbally from the onslaught of her rival. And the villainess is always gorgeous, sexy, powerful, and brought from mere pissed off obsession to crippling insanity by her jealousy. If a fight occurs, the KA heroine will, indeed, kick some A. The delicate flower will be shoved around like a rag doll until the hero saves her, claiming that he didn't know She Had Gotten That Bad.

Just once, can the girls in my stories have a good old fashioned cat fight; where their hair gets mussed but not their clothes, make-up and nails stay pristine, and useless fluffy animals watch with concern? To wit: