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Wednesday, October 4th, 2017
Unfortunate update

I hate to have to say it, but circumstances are preventing me from attending Fan Nexus. I’m very sorry to miss and apologize deeply to those who planned to see me.

Thursday, August 10th, 2017
Romance of Violence revisted

I posted a blog on the Book View Cafe website a couple weeks ago about the romance of violence. I wanted to expand that discussion and possibly make more posts on it, so the following is a revised/expanded post.

Over the last I’m not sure how many years, I’ve noticed a shift in violence in books. I tend to read romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and all fantasy, plus some other stuff. What I’ve noticed is a growing connection between violence and romance. I’m not talking about abuse/rape/or other typical women fridging tropes, but violence that has specific signification in the romance novel, relating to both male and female leads.

In many romance novels of all stripes, violence is depicted and often graphically (I tend to write gritty/graphic sorts of scenes in a number of my books). It seems to me that in former times, violence was perceived as a weakness. Virile men overcame their violent tendencies and only unhinged or evil women turned violent. Now it’s quite different. There’s an understanding that in reality, violence happens and not only that, you may be required to do violence to someone else. The difference between the good and the bad guys tends to revolve around whether the person being attacked is deserving of violence.

I’m not sure when the shift began, but I suspect it had something to do with Desert Shield when a great deal of military action ran across our TV and computer screens, and we saw the bravery exhibited by military men and women, as well as civilians. Many committed violent acts in the name of their countries, in the name of their families, and in the name of survival. Personally I admired the people who could and would lay themselves on the line for others. This is the same way I admire emergency responders. They take risks to save other people’s lives.

Socially, we’ve seen a growth of the need to physically stand up for yourself against bullying, against abuse, and so on. We’ve seen heroes step out of the shadows to fight evil-doers on planes, trains, and other public areas. So it’s not surprising that we want to write about those kinds of heroes–male and female–who behave with courage in the face of fear. And very often, that depiction is accompanied with violence. It’s not turn the other cheek sort of stuff, because turning the other cheek doesn’t work against stalkers, or gangs, or bullies.

I’ve noticed that violence in male heroes is often used to demonstrate the depth of their emotional engagement and the level of passion they feel. It might be a protective instinct; it might be revenge. These men are driven to an emotional level that pushes them to act, revealing how strongly they feel. This is important in all romances–that the hero acts not just out of duty, but because he’s emotionally invested in the character(s) he’s protecting, whether they are family, lovers, pets, or even strangers.

The key thing is that instead of overcoming the violence, giving in to it seems to now be a positive hallmark of a male character, so long as he’s also kind, loving, generous, and so on to the love interest. (Keeping in mind that there are male heroes who aren’t initially portrayed as kind or loving or generous, but that means they are either super alpha and have other sympathetic qualities, or they are broken/damaged and will grow and develop positively as the story moves toward the end).
Violence, in a nutshell, has become a signifier for depth of feeling in a romantic hero. So even if he’s stoic, his violence (emotional and physical) reveals his inner passions and makes readers care about him.

Readers care about characters who care.

With women heroes, violence has also become acceptable and even celebrated. Similar to shifts in depictions of male heroes, female heroes who are violent are perceived as strong, passionate, determined, and self-sacrificing–they put their lives on the line for others, they take risks for others, they damage their souls for others. Now obviously strong female/violent characters have been around: Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley for instance. They, however, are not really romantic characters, even though Sarah has a romance with Kyle Reese, but it’s not central to the plot. I would argue, however, that such powerful female heroes who commit violence have become more prevalent and have become central to romance novels. (Bella notwithstanding, who is quite passive).

In many ways, the difference in depicting women as violent v. men as violent, is a difference in purpose. Violence is still used to signify passion, strength, determination, and self-sacrifice, but more importantly, it serves to demonstrate competence in women. Competence not only to get certain jobs done that have been traditionally identified as male-centric, but also competence to protect themselves and protect others. That they are not damsels in distress, but they are the saviors for themselves and others. That doesn’t mean they don’t get into trouble or need help, anymore than powerful men can’t get into trouble and need help. What that means is that they are always actively looking for ways to rescue themselves, and they have the capability should the chance arise.

For both men and women, the violence must be directed against deserving parties, and there must be a positive emotional center that prompts the violence–again this might be the urge to protect, to get revenge, or something else along those lines. Otherwise, the characters are just psychopathic assholes, making them enemies.


I’ve been trying to postulate just exactly why violence has become such a key ingredient to a great deal of characterization and plot. I think on some level it’s because reality has more violence–from terror attacks, to wars, to  road rage, and so on. I also think that we see a lot of terrible things happening in the world that a single person or several could change or stop if only they stepped in. The guys on the train in France. The guys in Portland stepping up against a racist killer to protect two teenage girls. There’s a sense of what if I was in this situation–would I/could I kill someone to save innocent lives? Or would I fold and let it keep happening?

Regarding violent female heroes, portraying women as potentially violent equates also with the desire to demonstrate strength and personal power. To break out of the mindset that women need to be rescued. I’m reminded of the line from Adele’s song Turning Tables: “next time I’ll be braver, I’ll be my own savior.” This sentiment reflects a strong current of desire in the culture for women to escape the traditional expectations and limitations society tries to trap us inside.

We have a great deal of respect and a certain romance going on with the idea of the lone wolf hero–or lone wolves– who are few but determined and capable and willing to do whatever’s necessary to defeat evil. Part of the romance is that a single person in the right place at the right time and willing to commit violence can make a difference in saving lives. Lone wolves can also be particularly interesting romantic targets, because they are often broken or damaged in some way and the developing relationship offers fertile opportunities for powerful romance. Frankly I find powerful women incredibly beautiful.

I see a strong element of aggression/determination inherent in the heroic violence. That this person will not be deterred, will not be distracted. This person will get the job done no matter what. This is part of the sense of strength and passion in the character that the violence helps to establish.

I know the subject is a lot more complex than I’ve said it. I’m curious what your thoughts are and whether you see things differently. I’m also curious if you see it as a romance type of trope also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017
Unexpected events

My parents’ house burned. Well, part of it. The fire started in the attic and spread throughout that space before the smoke started pouring into the house. The fire alarms went off about a minute before that smoke poured in. My dad is 88 and on a walker, and my mom is 83. She got dad going out and went to get the phone and the dog and got out and called 911. The firefighters were terrific and in the end, they covered the furniture to protect it, and got the fire out. We now have to find temporary housing with handicap access that takes pets. We’re already working toward getting the house fixed, but it will take months.

I’m trying to take point as much as possible on dealing with insurance and everything else so that my folks can focus on taking care of themselves.

I’m also on hella powerful antibiotics and they are kind of killing me. Those should end by Weds. Yay.

Revising frantically inbetween keeping up with all the other stuff. At least I’m still getting exercise.

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
What I’m Up To

Whisper of Shadows is only $1.99.

I’m also working on a client’s manuscript. I also went over the copy edits of the new Horngate story that will be coming out in Urban Enemies sometime this summer (also in the book Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin Hearne, Faith Hunter and many more). I haven’t had a chance to read everybody else’s story, but I’m sure looking forward to it.

I’ve been getting out walking when I can, with the weather. I’ve been not feeling all that well, and so I’ve decided to start on probiotics again and see how it goes. I’ve also given up diet soda again. See, I gave it up for a long time, then started back sometime recently because I like Diet Sprite when my stomach gets upset. So I got sick at some point, had some Diet sprite, and then kept drinking Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper for the caffeine. I tried to go off the other day and got terribly sick with a headache, terrible nausea, and my temperature dropped to weirdly low. It might be the aspartame. Anyhow, I’m hoping the probiotics help.

I’ve been doing some reading, some of it I like. Some less so. I need to write up a couple reviews.

I’m finding Trial and Error really amusing. 

I’m also getting mugged by several book ideas. That’s a good thing, but finding time to write! I’ve got so much work to do!

 

 

Sunday, March 12th, 2017
In the middle of the revising

Here’s the news. The title for the fourth Diamond City Magic book is *drumroll* Shades of Memory. It’s really a perfect title and I’m so pleased to have actually worked out a title. It’s been hard to figure out.

In this book, Riley is back with her family–including her dad–Price and Touray and Arnow and a whole lot of trouble. A Tyet war explodes in Diamond City and there’s a lot of intrigue, double-crossing, and surprises. You’re going to love it. I’ll be posting snippets soon.

In the meantime, I’m in tax-hell. Plus it’s been warm enough to work in the yard, but still too soggy. So I can’t get anything done that I want to. Sigh. I did get some peas in a couple weeks ago and they are coming up. At least some of them are. So that’s a good thing. I started seeds in the house but need to get them transplanted into larger containers.

Been doing a little bit of reading, but having a hard time getting to the end of anything. Also doing some knitting. Trying to make the girlie a cool poncho and make some socks. Wanted to go to the Grimm warehouse sale (of all the props and stuff) but won’t make it til next weekend maybe. Did get out in the sunshine a little bit. More rain coming in the next oh, ten days at least. For all those ten days. It’s a super wet winter.

 

Sunday, February 5th, 2017
Food that was made

Tonight we made chow mein and fried rice. Didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, but was still really good. I figure I’ll change some things up next time. For one, I forgot to put oil in the water for the noodles so they stuck together before I could put them in the stirfry. The order on the fried rice was off so next time I”ll change that up. Plus I’ll try to cook the rice the day before instead of the day of to get it better dehydrated and really cold. The sauce I found was really good and I made a bunch extra and put it in the fridge for future use.

Tomorrow is leftovers. Yum.

 

 

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016
In which I pass along words of–

I’ve been asked to put together a promotional blog post for my publisher. I can’t think of what to write because of brain fry. Husband and son decide that this is what I should write:

Don’t be a Twit, Read my shit.

I don’t think this is as helpful as they seem to think. What about you?

Saturday, December 24th, 2016
Merry Christmas!

For those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah for my Jewish friends and readers. For everybody else–actually, for all of us–I wish you a day of peace and joy with laughter and no room for anger and depression.

Today we went to see the  Cirque Dreams Holidaze show. It was stunning and so fun. It was so wonderful to be there with my family and just get to enjoy. It was so fun and the performers–so very very good.

Tomorrow we have an unconventional meal planned, with fun and laughter and hopefully a dog walk, because the boys would love it.

From my family to yours, have a lovely day!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016
My holiday newsletter is out

Here’s a link to my newsletter with a short story for you to read.

Thursday, November 24th, 2016
Thanksgiving

It’s been a tough year all around. I’m deeply worried about the next four, and that’s a reason to look hard at what I have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my family. For laughter. For the dog-boys. For a house and a comfortable life. For good friends. Good books. The ability to do what I love to do. For joy. For the sunrises and sunsets, for growing things, for kindness. For fans who buy and read my books. For tasty food. For everyone who stands up to prejudice, bigotry, and racism. May we all reach out to each other in kindness, generosity, and hope.