The Romance Reviews

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why Can't I Write Like That?

I’m a member of a group on Facebook that is composed of some phenomenal romance writers. Some of these romances writers write contemporary romances, other write historical, and a few write both. Some of them are USA best-selling authors. It seems that every other month, one or more of these lovely ladies are announcing a new book release. One of them announced three releases in less than a month.

I don’t write as fast as some of these ladies can. I am nowhere near as prolific as they are. Part of me wishes I could be. But for me, putting the words onto the page (or the computer monitor) is a battle. A battle to find the right words. A battle to keep from using the same phrase over and over (my current “favorite,” according to my editor at The Wild Rose Press, seems to be “a moment” for revealing a brief passage of time). A battle to keep from writing the same characters over and over, just changing the window dressing (hair and eye color and sometimes height). Part of me wishes I could have a backlist of ten, fifteen, twenty books in a year from now.

But, when I chose to sign with The Wild Rose Press, I knew that a backlist like that would be impossible for a few years. I knew there would be a lengthy editorial process, a give and take between me and my wonderful editor, Anne Duguid, at TWRP. There would be galleys to read through (at least two rounds of galley reviews), and then when we both signed off on the final galley, the wait in the production que. And, even with this editorial process and review, mistakes still manage to make their way into the final manuscript. There is a typo in The Devil’s Own Desperado and a HUGE glaring mistake in Smolder on a Slow Burn that even the research editor missed. However, only one person has noticed this mistake—or at least commented on it to me in a private message. I still don’t know how I missed that mistake in every single read through of the manuscript. But, all this give and take, this reading and re-reading of the manuscript, of the galleys, means that when that book finally comes out with my name on the cover and the tag “Published by The Wild Rose Press” it’s the very best we could have made it.

Just the other day, one of the authors I follow and am friends with on Facebook put out a call to her followers for a quick read through of her latest novel—find the mistakes, the plot holes, the inconsistency with the characters. But it had to be done in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours, because the book was slated to go live in seventy-hours. She had already sent the manuscript to her hired editor and gotten it back.

Wait. What????

How can anyone read a book with an eye for that kind of close reading, much less how can an author make the necessary changes in that time frame?

Maybe, I’m a perfectionist and the thought of pushing a manuscript out the door in that kind of a time frame makes me break out in hives. I know what I go through just to get the rough draft of a manuscript written and the time I need to put that manuscript away so I can look at it later with a critical eye. I know when I type “The End” on the last page of a manuscript, I’m still very much in love with the characters and the words I’ve used to describe them and their journey to “happily ever after.” A few months later, I still love the characters—but the words I’ve used and the manner I’ve put those words together into a cohesive (or not) manner to reveal their journey into the sunset, not so much.

Maybe, I’m too afraid to fail at this writing gig to go out on a limb and push out two and three novels in a year (or a month). One bad book with a few bad reviews and my writing career is over.
Or, maybe, I just love my characters too much to ever push out a romance novel that won’t show the world in the best possible manner how wonderful they really are.

Something to think about. And, then, I’m going to look into self-publishing. Under an assumed name. In a different genre. So if I fall flat on my face, I won’t bring shame to the characters I’ve already shared with the world.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cut to the Soul

Sometimes, a soul enters into our lives and profoundly touches us. Sometimes, that soul which touches ours walks the planes of this life for many steps. Other times, the luminosity of that soul is so intense that mere hours within its white-hot radius is such that we know our lives have been profoundly changed.

I was blessed and honored and granted a few hours with such a soul this past week in Tennessee. While on our way to purchase a few more building materials for the homestead, I saw an injured young hawk on the roadside. I told my friend Jacque to stop and because she’s as much of an animal lover as I am, she did. We went back to where I had seen this young hawk and he was still sitting on the shoulder of the Natchez Trace. I grabbed a blanket off the back seat of the quad cab and Jacque and I very carefully corralled this hawk into a position where I could toss the blanket over him to safely (for both the bird and myself) pick him up.

It was more than apparent he had a broken wing. Not sure what to do with him, we decided to take him with us to the building supply store and along the way we picked up a wooden crate at a fabric store as well as thin sheet of fine veneer to put over the crate so he could sit up without being confined in a heavy blanket in the 90 plus temperatures. We also stopped at a small drug store to get an eye dropper, bottled water and a jar of baby food (all chicken). He was very thirsty and he ate some of the offered baby food. All good signs but also indicative that this was still a very young bird, perhaps just very recently fledged. Some research later in the Audubon bird book and a little more by Jacque on the Internet determined this young hawk to be an immature Coopers. 
juvenile Coopers hawk

On the way home, because he was taking food and water, we stopped at a pet store to buy a feeder mouse. By this time, we had named him. He became Merlin. And, I was losing a part of my heart to him. When I turned around to talk to him, he would cock his head from side to side—as if he was attempting to understand what I was saying. Knowing that these birds of prey have not only incredible eyesight but acute hearing, I talked in a low, soft voice to him. He continually made eye contact and there were a few times I think he was trying to figure out how the landscape could be speeding past him while he was not flying.

If you have never looked into the eyes of a bird of prey, add it to your bucket list. Be aware, though, that gaze will cut clean to your soul. There is an intensity there, a piercing quality, combined with an amazing intelligence. And, in the case of this young bird, there was trust. Merlin never once offered to bite either my friend or me. He willingly sat on my lap. When I petted his head, he half closed his eyes and leaned in closer to my fingers. If I stroked his mottled breast, I could feel his heart rate slow. This wild animal took comfort from a gentle touch and a soft voice.

When we returned to Jacque’s home, it was too late in the evening to contact anyone at the DNR regarding this beautiful bird. We placed Merlin in the large parrot cage Jacque had, fed him the feeder mouse and even though it was a little disturbing to know we were sacrificing one life to attempt to save another, Merlin quickly pounced on the feeder mouse and ate it. Within a few moments, I had taught him to drink from the water cup in the cage by offering him water from the dropper and letting him follow the tip of the dropper into the cup.  

When Merlin had drunk his fill from the cup, he hopped of his own accord into the parrot cage and up onto the lowest perch and began to preen. Jacque has raised birds for more than fifty years and everything in her experience said this was a bird that would live, in spite of his injuries. Sick or stressed birds don’t drink, eat, or preen. I placed the water cup in its holder in the cage and because it was dusk, wished Merlin a good night.

During the night, Merlin died. An examination of his fragile body revealed his wing was broken from a gunshot. The bullet had entered from below, went through the muscling in his leg and went through his wing in two places, breaking the wing near his shoulder. Jacque and I buried him in a safe place in the woods, where he won’t be discovered by scavengers and where his delicate bones can rest without ever being disturbed.

For twelve hours, I had the trust of this little, young, Coopers hawk. For twelve hours, his sharp gaze looked into my heart and my soul. For twelve hours, his last contact with the same species who had stolen his ability to fly and ultimately his life, was marked with respect, with care, with love, and with honor. If only he had been granted those things prior to being shot.


Fly free, little Merlin, fly free.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


            When I was a whole lot younger than I am now, I became fascinated with the American Civil War. I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I couldn’t understand how a nation could be so divided, so angry that the only possible solution both sides of the argument saw was to take up arms against fellow country-men, against lifelong friends, against extended family, and in many, many cases, brother against brother. There is a good reason why this war was also called The Brothers War.
            The more I studied the conflict, the more I read, the more I realized that the simple answer of what so divided this great nation is no answer at all. Slavery played a part in why the Southern States chose to secede from the Union, but it was not the only reason, contrary to what those who wish to rewrite history claim. Lincoln’s election to the highest office in the land played a role, but again it was not the only reason. The reasons the South seceded are myriad and complex— the very human desire for self-determination, oppressive taxation, Lincoln’s election, slavery, State’s Rights…
No one argues that the United States of America became a country when we declared our independence from king and crown in 1776 and our early patriots preferred to die in the struggle for independence than to live in the shackles of bondage to a tyrannical monarchy. However, most historians will agree that our modern nation was forged in the crucible of the Civil War and drenched in the blood of men and boys who wore Federal blue, Richmond grey, and butternut. The Civil War became indelibly etched into our national psyche, and is embedded in our national DNA. We are a nation because more seven hundred thousand men and boys gave the “last, full measure” in a battle to either gain independence from what they saw as a tyrannical government or to preserve a “more perfect Union.”
         We fought for the right of self-determination in the Revolutionary War, and paid for that right with blood and treasure. Every single man who signed the Declaration of Independence committed treason because they had sworn fealty and allegiance to King George and the crown. Every single man who signed that document knew he faced the very real prospect of death, but if death be their lot, it would be in a battle for something greater, something higher. They also knew when signing that declaration they were signing an admission of treason. We revere these men and honor them as our Founding Fathers—these self-admitted, self-professed traitors. 
          I’ve heard people say that those who fought for the Confederacy were traitors. The Southern States wished to secede from the Union, which each State in the Confederacy voted to do in all good conscience, because they believed that right was guaranteed to them under the terms of the Tenth Amendment. The Bill of Rights was a compromise so that there could be a consensus to ratify the Constitution. The document we know as our Constitution was not the first document governing our nation. Before that there was a document called “The Articles of Confederation.” The State’s Rights Amendment, also known as the Tenth Amendment, was the lynchpin of that compromise to get the states to vote for ratification. Treason also involves taking up arms and waging war against one’s country. Because the Southern States voted to secede, they were no longer part of a less than voluntary Union. They were members of the Confederate States of America. And, they took up arms to defend themselves against an invading army determined to force them remain in this union by force, at bayonet point. If the men who fought to be free of what they saw as unfair taxation, an over-arching, intrusive and tyrannical government, and for self-determination are traitors, then yes, I guess both the Founding Fathers and the Sons of Dixie are traitors.
          And now, because of a very deranged young man, this country is facing our troubled past again. There are many who see the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of racism, a symbol of horror, and of slavery. South Carolina is arguing whether or not the Battle Flag will continue to fly on the grounds of the State House. Just for the record, because the Battle Flag NEVER represented the whole of the Confederacy in any official capacity, it should never fly over any capitol building. However, that flag does have a place at memorials and monuments, and on the graves of the men and boys who fought under that banner, because just as there are people who see only racism in the Confederate Battle Flag, there are many who see that flag as a symbol of bravery, of unshakeable resolve, and unfailing honor. The United States House of Representatives has passed a resolution that will not allow even private citizens to place the Confederate Battle Flag on the graves of the Confederate fallen at the national cemeteries in Vicksburg and Andersonville.  (I will add a personal note to my representative in that body—Congressional votes are a matter of public record. I have a very, very, very long memory and I will vote.) The city council in Memphis, Tennessee has voted to disinter Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife and move them to another place as well as the large monument which marks their grave. Apparently, the city council hasn’t been told or is choosing to ignore that the Historic Preservation Act in Tennessee mandates that the monument cannot be renamed, moved, removed, taken down, or hidden. No one on the Memphis City Council seems to care that by an Act of Congress, all Civil War veterans are American veterans. Not Federal veterans. Not Confederate veterans. AMERICAN VETERANS.
          But, in this rush to erase a part of national history, it is perfectly fine to desecrate the grave of an American veteran.
         And, that’s just what this is—it’s a rush to erase a part of our history. This part of history makes people uncomfortable. History should make us uncomfortable. It should make us think. It should make us look inside of ourselves and question who we are, who we were, and how we reached such a point in our history. Good, bad, or ugly, we must own our national history, admit that while we have had an amazing record of success and the “blessings of heaven,” we have also had moments when our actions and decisions have been darker and more vile than the deepest pits of hell itself.
         I had a hard time when I was younger understanding how a nation could go to war with itself. Unfortunately, I can understand it now. And, deep in my heart, I fear we are staring into that abyss again. I know which flag I will proudly fly, in the belief that the Constitution still means something, and in complete and utter defiance of this attempt to cleanse our history of that which makes us uncomfortable.
        DEO VINDICE!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Assigning Blame Where It Belongs

I have a new book coming soon from The Wild Rose Press but I can’t find the fortitude to gush on and on about how wonderful this book is, how awesome the cover is (and it really is, though I can’t share it just yet because it hasn’t been approved by the art department at TWRP), or even how great I think the characters are. Right now, my heart is heavy and aching.

The other night, a very deranged and mentally ill person sat in on a Bible study/prayer meeting in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina and when the meeting was over, this person opened fire and killed nine people. He did this for no other reason than he is very ill. He is an admitted white supremist and he is a racist. He is a thug. He became what he claimed to fear—something less than human, something with no redeeming attributes. He did this with an illegally obtained handgun. And, he committed these murders because he wanted to start a race war.

Needless to say, both sides on the handgun debate immediately lined up and began pointing fingers and making wild accusations. I won’t go into all the arguments here. I will say this about the debate—the right to own a weapon is a Constitutionally guaranteed right and stricter handgun laws will not solve our problem with gun violence. The problem isn’t the handgun—it’s the hearts and souls of those who pick up a gun with the sole intent to destroy the lives of others. Chicago has the strictest and most restrictive gun laws on the books. Has anyone looked at the handgun murder rate in the city of Chicago recently? Those laws haven’t even dented the murder rate there. But, when threatened—citizens want the ability to protect themselves with lethal force, if necessary. Just ask the majority of the citizens around the prison in upstate New York where those two escaped murderers were believed to be.

This racist, hate-filled, fearful person was using a gun he could not legally own—due to a previous felony conviction and alleged to be on anti-psychotic/anti-depression drugs. Instead, his father bought him the gun for his birthday. That’s parenting done right—NOT!

We blame the gun when those such as this racist use that instrument to kill others. We don’t blame the car when an inebriated person gets behind the wheel and makes the choice to drive in that condition and takes the lives of others through his impaired driving. We rightly blame the driver. We didn’t blame the manufacturers of pressure cookers, nails, screws, and bottles when two men chose to use those items to create a bomb which they detonated at the Boston Marathon a couple of years ago. We rightly blamed those two hate filled young men. We didn’t blame the jet craft when twelve hate filled men hijacked them and flew them into the Twin Towers, into the Pentagon, and almost into the Capitol Building in D.C. We rightly blamed those hate-filled men.

We are asked when acts of terrorism touch us to not paint an entire religion with the black brush of hatred that the terrorists paint themselves, but when a horrific crime such as the murders of nine people within a church is perpetrated by a thug and racist and terrorist (which using the definition of the word, he is and with his stated goal of trying to start a race war, he became), many in our society are swift to paint every law-abiding gun owner with the blackest of brushes. Why do we insist on blaming the gun?

My heart is heavy and aching, but it is also filled with hope. At this man’s arraignment and bail hearing, the judge did something which was within his right to do. He allowed members of the families of those victims to speak. One after another, those family members spoke of their heart-ache, of their grief, of even their anger. And one after another said they forgave him and asked for God’s mercy on him. They are much stronger, much better people than I could be. May God grant these families peace and solace in their time of sorrow, and may God have mercy on that young man’s soul—because I don’t think I could be merciful to him.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Readers of my blog know that I am a fan of Thoroughbred racing. I am keenly aware that there is a very dark, incredibly ugly underbelly to this “Sport of Kings.” I’m aware of the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs—very often to deadly effect—on these magnificent animals. I’m painfully aware of a horrible practice resulting in the death of hundreds of newborn foals annually so their mothers can be used to raise the baby of a much more valuable Thoroughbred mare. (The issue of nurse mare foals is one of the ugliest aspects of this sport.) But, these things aren’t what this blog post is about.

Rather, it’s about something that is driving me to scream in frustration at my computer monitor. On Saturday, June 6, 2015, a thirty seven year long drought ended. Oh, lightning tried to strike a few times in those long, disappointing, frustrating years, but never quite connected. This time, lightning did strike—in the form of a muscular bay colt with a ridiculously short tail—and American Pharoah became only the twelfth horse to claim Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. He now stands in incredibly elite company. For some perspective, since 1919 when Sir  Barton became the first Triple Crown winner we’ve had more United States Presidents than Triple Crown winners.

I wasn’t duly impressed with American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby, because it seemed AP was struggling to find both his stride and his speed. It wasn’t until he got clear—on the far outside, I might add—that he found his stride. He still didn’t find a lot of speed, but as a good friend of mine just recently said it’s not about breaking track records, it’s about coming across the finish line first. In the driving downpour that came with the running of the Preakness, he led wire to wire and really only showed any speed with a sixteenth of a mile to go when his jockey gave him a tap. At times, he seemed to be loafing, as if he was waiting for someone to join him in the front. One sports writer noted that it appeared AP was checking his messages on his iPhone for most of the Preakness. But it was that deceptive loafing and the sudden, amazing burst of speed and his ability to continue to accelerate that made me look at AP again. I climbed on the AP wagon after the Preakness. I called him the winner of the Triple Crown the morning after the Preakness and he is the first horse of the last six or seven possible winners I have thought had even a snow ball's chance. (

Usually when I watch a horse race, I’m shouting and cheering and screaming for my favorite the whole race. For the Belmont, I sat on the edge of the sofa, with my heart in my throat, begging whatever Higher Power to please let this horse be the one and murmuring instructions to AP’s jockey to keep him under wraps. The Belmont usually destroys the speed horses. Just ask Sham. AP didn’t have a great break from the gate but within a few strides, Victor Espinoza had him moved to the rail and into the lead. And, he never relinquished that lead. Halfway through the race, I said, “Not yet. Hold him a little longer. Not yet, Victor.”

When he made that sweeping turn into the homestretch, I jumped up and shouted, “DROP THE HAMMER NOW!” As if he heard me, Espinoza let the reins out a notch and AP shifted gears and began pulling away from the field. Every stride, every bunching and uncoiling of muscles, every second, AP drew further and further away from the field. I watched with tears in my eyes as the long drought without a Triple Crown winner came to a decisive end.

Finally, those nay-sayers were silenced. The Triple Crown isn’t impossible to achieve, it’s just damned hard. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s the test of champions.

Within hours of AP’s win of the Triple Crown, the inevitable comparisons began. Even before the Belmont Stakes, Penny Chenery (owner of the great Secretariat) said the colt doesn’t measure up to the greats, such as Affirmed, War Admiral, or Secretariat. ( With all due respect, ma’am, Secretariat lost three races before he started his bid for the Triple Crown, and the last time he was started in a race, his retirement race, Secretariat was handed his gorgeous, muscular hind-end. As a Triple Crown contender very few people took Secretariat seriously, even after he won the Derby. I’m old enough to remember the debate about Secretariat and Man O’War and how heated both camps were in proclaiming each animal to be the greatest of all time. It’s a debate that still rages to this day, long after both animals have gone to Heaven’s greener pastures.

I can’t recall if there was such a debate about Secretariat and Seattle Slew or Secretariat and Affirmed because those were years I refused to pay much attention to Thoroughbred racing. My heart was shattered into a million pieces on July 6, 1975 and other than watching the Triple Crown races in ’77 and ’78, I wasn’t following the racing world. (Why I stopped following for many years is detailed in this blog post here:

At the time though I thought the comparisons between Secretariat and Man O’War were ridiculous. There was and is no manner of comparing the two horses, both known to their fans as “Big Red.” Track conditions, training techniques, manners of conditioning these superb athletes had changed dramatically between Man O’War and his descendent, Secretariat. I think it’s still ridiculous, more so with this comparison. There is simply no manner to compare Secretariat to American Pharoah, short of someone creating a time machine and transporting one animal to another time. Yes, AP’s fractions were slow in all three of the Triple Crown races, until he turned on the juice in the last sixteenth of a mile in the Belmont—when he also beat Secretariat’s time for that particular stretch of race track.

A friend of mine suggested that perhaps AP’s fractions were so much slower because he didn’t have a Sham to push him, to challenge him, as Secretariat did. Most people involved with Thoroughbred racing will state that these animals are amazingly competitive. Let another horse challenge them and they respond with a greater effort. Perhaps the reason AP’s fractions were so much slower was because there wasn’t enough depth in the field to actually challenge him to exert himself.

This comparison is also belittling. It cheapens a spectacular win, a masterful ride by a skilled jockey astride a magnificently trained and conditioned animal. I understand the human emotions involved. As I said, I’m old enough to remember watching that “tremendous machine” rolling along the massive, wide turn and pointing his nose toward the finish line in that killing field of so many dreams also known as the home-stretch at Belmont Park. I know people who to this day still tear up when they speak of watching Secretariat open his lead by lengths and then furlongs and then in distance that can only be measured in large fractions of a mile. Even though many of them never actually laid eyes on the horse other than through the medium of television or in print, Secretariat is the horse of their heart.

So along comes this new-comer, this descendant of Secretariat, and this newly crowned king cannot be allowed to usurp that place in their hearts. American Pharoah has earned the right to stand alongside the racing greats, like Affirmed and Seattle  Slew and Man O’War and yes, even alongside Secretariat. He won that right on a hot day in June, on a mile and a half oval in  Elmont, NY by defeating more rested horses, and even a horse that hadn’t even ran in either the Derby or the Preakness.

No one—not sports writers, not casual fans, not rabid ones either, and certainly not the acknowledged old blood royalty of Thoroughbred racing—has the right to try to take that from American Pharoah or his connections.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Where Did All This Stuff Come From?

After twenty five years in a home, it’s safe to say that there is twenty five years of accumulated stuff in said home. As I sift through this “stuff”, the memories come washing over me, complete with warm smiles and sometimes with a pang of sorrow.

I’m sifting through all of this because the DH and I are at the stages of our lives where he’s ready to slow down with his veterinary practice and I’m ready to down-size. To accomplish that, we’ve purchased property in the back woods of Tennessee. (I do mean back-woods, too, as I’ve been there more than a dozen times in the last year and I seriously doubt I could find my way to our property in the dark.) We’ve put up two small cabins—one as the “public” space and one to serve as the “private” space, namely as our bedroom. Even with the combined footage of the two cabins, it is still only a third of what we have here. My office for the past decade has been a free standing building, completely separate from the house.

I’ve been packing up my office because the DH can’t just up and leave his practice, while I can spend a week at a time in Tennessee working on the homestead. As I pack up the books I’ve accumulated over the decades, flip through files, carefully box up pictures, I’m struck by two things. The first is how much “stuff” I have. The other is how painful this really is. What goes. What gets put into boxes for a donation to Goodwill or the local library for their annual book sale. What I know I can live without and what won’t be donated. It’s painful.

The DH and I have made a good life in this home. We raised two kids here. Raised our grand-daughter until her mother could care for her. Raised puppies in this home. Brought home ribbons with those puppies and finished champions who graced our home and our lives. Our days of raising children are over. Our days of raising and showing collies to their championships will continue. But, as I find stashes of ribbons in envelopes with the dog’s call name on the front of the envelope, those memories flood me again. Whiskey—known to the AKC as C-N-D’s Southern Comfort—the memories of a dog always happy, always getting into some sort of trouble bring a smile to my face. Rose—Ch. Wych’s Safe in My Heart—the first of my blue smooth prima donas and a girl who insisted that things be done her way or they weren’t done at all. Heaven help the handler who tightened her collar in the ring because she made that handler pay for it and it didn’t matter if it was an accident. She extracted payment by refusing to use her ears and she knew EXACTLY what she was doing because she would look the handler dead in the eye and drop her ears and glare daggers. Rambo—A-N-L’s Paper Tiger—and he only has one ribbon: a first place from the 1986 Centennial Collie Club of America National Specialty Show. He died ten days after the national specialty. My heart still aches with that loss. Boots—Ch. Franchel’s Prince of Belmar—doesn’t have an envelope. He has a large manila folder with his show pictures in it, but there are no ribbons there. His ribbons have been crafted into a one of a kind wall hanging that will most definitely have a prominent space in the new home.

While sifting through the “stuff” in my office, I realized I have enough paperclips to make a chain long enough to stretch from here to the front of the DH’s office, five miles away. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I’ve got a heck of a lot of paperclips. Do I really need that many? I’ve also found three staplers, a baker’s dozen boxes of staples, more binder clips than any sane person should possess, and I can’t make enough voodoo dolls to use up all the thumbtacks I have. Seriously…what am I doing with all that stuff? I could start my own office supply store. My teacher friends—you need binder clips? Or paper clips? Or thumbtacks? Give me a call. (We won’t discuss the five pencil boxes full of pens, colored pencils, markers, Sharpies, and mechanical pencils I have.)

Lighters…HOLY MOLY! I’ve found lighters in drawers, in boxes, on shelves…I’m not worried about any impending societal collapse and needing to make fire because honestly, I have enough lighters to start fires until the next century.

I posted a status on Facebook before I started writing this blog post that I was starting the long, drawn-out process of whittling down the possessions. And, it is a long process, because we’re not in any rush to get moved, the cabins aren’t even finished yet…but I also feel a goading, a prodding, to get this done. This evening, when I looked at the stacked totes full of the books I can’t/won’t part with, saw the bare spaces on shelves and on my desk, I felt a pang again of loss. And, even though I can see those empty spaces, there is still so much to be packed up in my office and I rather feel as if I’m re-arranging chairs on the Titanic. I know once I move the boxes out to the trailer for the trip to Tennessee in a few days, the empty spaces will hit me harder.

I just have to keep reminding myself that there is a quiet place in the woods in Tennessee waiting for me and the DH to make it our home. And, the “stuff” that used to fill the empty spaces in my office will go into making that space our home.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Am I Missing?

What am I missing? I’m on a lot of writer groups on FB (okay, more like share your buy links groups) and I’ve been keeping track for the last week or so of what’s posted in these groups. The preponderance of these books are self-published, self-proclaimed erotica.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there’s some really great erotica out there. I’ve found a few good ones…but those are truly in the minority. I can’t begin to tell you the books I’ve downloaded and returned via Kindle, and they were free to start with! The ones I’ve returned were so full of grammatical errors I felt as if my eye balls were bleeding and that I was reading more freshman comp papers in the developmental college comp classes I taught. (Yes, these “published” books were that bad.) And, please, don’t get me started on the plot—because there wasn’t one in any of the books I returned. No character development. No plot. Most definitely not even an attempt at proof reading the manuscript at least once before the “publish” button was hit. I could overlook the horrible covers, for the most part, because at least on my Kindle, when I open a book, the book opens to the first line of the “story.” I don’t have to deal with the front matter if I don’t want to. There’s zero romance in these horrible things, either, but I guess that goes along with cardboard characters and a lack of plot. It’s just a lot of sex. And, in a lot of them, a whole lot of dialogue. In several of them, I felt as if I was reading a screen play, rather than a novel. Except in a screen play or script, there is some stage direction. Two I returned didn’t even have that. And, honey, if you’re busy telling the guy what he’s doing to you—something ain’t right!

So, what am I missing? Is this the 50 Shades of Gray effect? Is this the natural progression of romance novels back to the days of the “bodice ripper” covers and the “hero” who forces the heroine to have sex with him and she still ends up falling in love him? I HOPE NOT! I’d like to think I’m not a prude. I write historical western romances, for heaven’s sake, and I’m not shy about leaving the bedroom door open for “THE” scene.

Or, is this the result of the instant gratification produced by Create Space, Smash Words, and several other self-publishing platforms? Don’t have to know the rules because in this electronic universe where everyone is a published author rules don’t apply. Most certainly the rules of grammar, character development, plotting, creating tension (and that includes SEXUAL tension, ladies and gentlemen, and hopping into bed by page two does not count!), and every other rule applying to writing apparently don’t apply.

Or is this phenomena stemming from a backlash against those guarded, protected ivory towers of traditional publishers? Suddenly, with the ability to self-publish, those last bastions of the old guard, “those people” who prevented all these self-published erotica authors from landing a contract can be circumvented. Just upload a document into Create Space and hit publish.

And, once it’s published, apparently these people have a lot of friends who are willing to write (again with little regard to grammar) 5 star reviews, just singing the praises of how “hot” the book was, how wonderful the story line was and how much they cared for the characters. On several of them, before I returned the book, I just wanted to put up a review asking if I had read the same book the other reviewers had. I refrained, though. If I can’t leave at least a 4 star review, I won’t leave a review at all.

So, I’m back to my original question. What am I missing?
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