the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bodice Rippers

So. . .  I dove into that stack of books pictured in the previous post, and OMG, what a shock!  I rediscovered why I used to absolutely DETEST romance novels. 

USED TO, I said.  I love them now, and am proud to say I write them.  The heroines are strong and smart, and the heroes admire them for it. 

Not so twenty-five years ago.  Heroines were naive and weak, apparently even the ones who ran successful businesses.  Small businesses, of course - let's not get carried away here.  They might know their customer base and marketing strategies, but still can't see the glaringly suspicious behavior in bad guys that even my dog wouldn't miss.  No wonder the hero is so patronizing.  Little Fluffy-head needs someone to look out for her.

But here's the really bad part, the part that I would never want a daughter of mine to read for fear she might think it was an accurate portrayal of romance - sexually, the stories were just like this picture.  (With the exception that Fluffy would not put her face there without a full page of horrified blushing.)
Women were submissive.  They might even need to be physically dominated first, because they're going to like it, they just don't know it yet.  They'll  thank him later.  As I said, OMG!  If a man in one of my stories treated the heroine like that, he'd be reaching down his throat to retrieve his nuts after she kneed him in the groin.  Then shot him.  It's called rape, sweetheart.  Honestly, I had to keep setting the book down until I stopped seeing red.
These pictures were actual book covers from romances.  I won't name the titles or authors, because it doesn't matter.  Authors don't choose their cover art.  But they do write the content, and that's where you have to remember that WRITING IS A BUSINESS.  Authors write what sells.  The particular book I read is not pictured here because I happen to know the author is quite good, and her current books do not reflect those attitudes.  She wrote what I'm sure her publisher wanted at the time.  I'm just angry that it helped perpetuate an abusive myth. 

Those old romance novels are the reason I used to snub my nose at the genre.  Thankfully, some authors refused to let their heroines take crap from men, and refused to let their heroes confuse force with affection.  Readers agreed, and publishers got smart about selling to those readers, and we now have heroines smart enough to track down terrorists or kick vampire butt - whatever's needed.  And to be their partner's equal in the bedroom.  Or the crypt; one never knows when the mood will strike.  But wherever, she'll be his equal in every way. 

Unless of course, she likes force, but I don't write those kinds of books.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Like Having Dessert

I spent the past week finishing up my e-novella, proofing, and sending it off to my editor.  Who, it turns out, is on vacation.  Hurry up and wait!

And now I'm on vacation.  With no deadline looming, I get to indulge myself with a pile of books.  And it just happens that the past two days was the big book sale at my library.  I opted for the $5 bag of books and picked these up today - mostly romance with a little mystery thrown in.  YUM! Can't wait to dig in!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Story Ideas

There's one question writers get asked above all others:  How do you get your ideas?  I got that one again just a couple days ago.  I usually shrug and say I dont know.  But honestly, I have to ask: How do you not get ideas?

This tree is up the road from my house.  Doesn't it make you think of one of those Disney cartoon trees, where limbs suddenly become arms and knot holes become faces?  Because I'm certain that late at night this old guy pulls his roots out of the ground and stalks the neighborhood, blood dripping from his shattered stump of a neck as he looks for his head.  What, too gory?  Okay, maybe in your story he's planting acorns and returning baby birds to their nests.  (And just so you know, that makes you a wimp.)  But he's more than a tree, right?  That makes him a story.

Or this:  This car is in our barn.  A guy my husband worked with years ago needed a place to store it.  He said it was his dad's car, and he wanted to restore it, and he would pay us for temporary storage.  Okay.  He brought it over and put the cover on it.  The car has now been here for 13 or 14 years.  He's never done a thing with it.  Never comes out to check on it.  Never asks about it.  Sends a check once a year. 

I call it the murder car.  You can't tell me there's not blood in the back seat and a body in the trunk.  Whatever happened involves corrupt politicians and mob money and bribery, and all it costs them to hush it up is a paltry storage fee.  Forget you ever heard about it, and no one gets hurt.

If your mind didn't go there, well, why not?  Because I don't understand how you can not see the untold stories that are all around you, every day.  And if you do, maybe you should be writing them down.  I do!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

That Chicken Attitude

You lookin' at me?



Friday, October 7, 2011

Your Federal Tax Dollars At Work

Say hello to the Emerald Ash Borer.  Pretty color, huh?  Some time during the 1990's this little guy hitched a ride from Asia to the U.S., saw all the lovely ash trees, and said, "Yum!"  Then he and his larvae went to work - one more illegal immigrant making good in America.  And boy, did they ever.

Twenty years later, the result is hundreds of millions of dead and dying ash trees.  On our five and half acres alone, that amounts to a dozen or so mature trees, and several dozen half-grown trees.  They're our problem to deal with.  But along our tree-lined road where dead trees stand close to power lines, it's the county's problem: take down the trees before they take down the power lines.  That's a pretty damn expensive problem.

Here's where the Federal government comes in, with a grant to cut down the dead ash trees that are near power lines.  Only ash trees - don't mess with that government money and try to get your dead oak taken down, because these guys know the difference.  Two of these trucks were working in front of my house today, chain saws and wood chippers roaring.  They left me a pile of ash logs that, I have to admit, will make nice firewood once we cut them into shorter sections and split them.

As a result, there is now a much smaller chance that my cable, phone, and electricity will be taken out by the next big wind storm.  Plus, I get some free firewood.  So thanks for that, American taxpayers. 

And f-you, emerald ash borer.  I'd rather have my trees back.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Autumn Nudity in the Hen House

This is what I saw when I opened the door to the chicken coop this morning.  Looks like a massacre!

Nope, just the stupid fall molting season.  Stupid, because they wait until the first cold weather hits, then go, Oh yeah, I need a new coat for winter.  Then they ditch the old one.  Most of that's from just one chicken, one of the leghorn girls.

This one:

She doesn't look too happy about it, either.  I heard her grumbling, "Damn it, do you have to take my picture when I look like this?"  Then she came over and pecked my camera.  And the buttons on my shirt.  And my knee.  Because you never know when something might be edible.  So I turned over some dirt and let her eat her fill of a chicken delicacy - worms.  Ugh. 

After they pass that cute fluffy chick stage, there is nothing nice about chickens.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Regular Food

My horse, Fritz, is Quaker's Oats' best customer.  Ever since the dental nightmare when he lost most of his teeth, I have mixed his Equine Senior with oatmeal to make a more easily chewed, palatable mash.  He loves the stuff.  He goes through a 42-ounce carton of oatmeal ever 6 or 7 days, and is thriving.  Each carton costs $4.99 at my grocery store.  He's well worth it to me, but that doesn't mean I won't jump at a chance to save money.  This week the large Quaker Oats cartons were on sale for $2.79, a savings of nearly half!  I bought four.  (I'd gladly get 40, but my cupboard space is limited.)  It happens that I also bought prunes that day because I like them and we were out.  So this is what went through the check-out lane:

See where this is . . . ahem . . . going?

I live in a small town.  Peole who don't know me by name likely know me as "that romance author."  So I can only imagine the whispers going around now about poor Starr's staggering problem with irregularity.  Or rather, former problem, because obviously this would have been enough to fix a horse.