May flowers may make me sneeze

This Month in Writing

I received my developmental edits back for Earthsinger book 2. I hope my editor will forgive me for making her slog through that draft! Now I’m deep in revision mode. I’m a firm believer in production schedules, but I also believe in trying to write the best book I can, and the two are not always compatible. I haven’t completely given up on my schedule yet, however, in Project Manager language, it’s “at risk.” But we’ll see…

I also have a more-finished-than-not draft of another novella in the Angelborn world. If you read Angelborn and were curious about Caleb’s friend Wren, never fear, his story is coming.

This Month in Watching

The movie San Andreas didn’t suck. I’ll go see almost anything The Rock is in, and this movie is on the better end of those mass disaster films that make you want to go take a wilderness survival class or something. Going to see it after coming back from the gym left with me a day-long adrenaline rush.

This Month in Listening

I discovered the song “Here” by Alessia Cara on Spotify and ruled my world for several weeks. It’s like the wallflower anthem. Though I think she cheated because any song that samples Portishead* is going to own me at least for a little while. (*I know, I know, it’s Isaac Hayes, but it’ll always be Portishead to me.)

(The lyrics video is also worth watching.)

This Month in Reading

I practically swallowed whole the first two books in Robin LaFevers’s His Fair Assassin series. They’re YA historical fiction with fantasy elements and are amazing! I’m also casually re-reading one of my favorite series of all time, The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta which starts with Finnikin of the Rock. I say casually because I tend not to read in my genre when I’m working on a manuscript, so I’ll be popping in and out until this draft is done.

This Month in Fur

It’s shedding season in our house. Clumps of hair in every corner. To battle against it is futile, but my vaccuum cleaner persists it the fight.

Sabyl and Sterlyng
A rare image of the two furry ones together.

Hope your May was swell and you’re ready for summer! Hit me up in the comments with your end-of-spring laments.

Photo by Tonglé Dakum

Guest Post: Girl on Her Own Horse by Ines Johnson

Have you been paying attention to the evolution of the Cinderella story? If you’ve watched the Disney blockbuster, Frozen, then you have. Young girls and women are no longer waiting around for a man to come by on his horse, sweep them off their feet, and give them shoes.

Okay, I doubt any of us would turn down the shoes!

My point is that women are now taking the reins of their own stories and rejecting the Cinderella trope of changing themselves into someone new. In many, dare I say most, of these stories the prince doesn’t pay attention to the Cinderella character in her ordinary world of working 9-5pm with grime under her nails and threadbare clothes. He doesn’t look her way until she gets magicked into expertly applied makeup, a binding, shape-shifting corset, and brand new shoes.

My first notice of this was in the film Working Girl. This 80’s retelling of the Cinderella story featured a bright secretary who had dreams of entering the boardroom with a briefcase instead of coffee. When her wicked boss steals her idea, the secretary seizes an opportunity to steal into a high profile business meeting by pretending that she’s her boss, while also wearing her boss’s dress and shoes. Melanie Griffith, as the secretary, uses Harrison Ford’s charming character to get her into the board room’s door. When the business deal goes south, Griffith doesn’t wait for the knight in a business suite to rescue her. Instead, she shows off her ‘head for business and bod for sin’ in order to win a business deal, thwart her boss, and get her man.

A decade later Drew Barrymore retold the Cinderella story in Ever After. In a pivotal scene when Barrymore’s character, Danielle, has been taken prisoner by the evil Pierre Le Pieu, the audience holds their breath as the prince leaps onto his horse and heads off to rescue her. But Danielle picks up not one, but two swords, and swashbuckles her way to an escape. As she’s walking out of the castle a free woman, the prince arrives moments too late with her shoe in hand.

Nearly another decade later came another retelling with Penelope. Penelope is an heiress born under a curse that can only be broken in the face of true love. The problem? Penelope’s face doesn’t inspire sonnets and poems as much as it does a hankering for breakfast meats. Penelope’s snout nose has caused her to be rejected her whole life, including rejection from her own mother. When she finally finds a man willing to tolerate her looks and break the curse, she comes to the realization that she likes herself just the way she is. And just like that, the curse is broken and Penelope’s outside matches her glowing inside.

In today’s stories, women don’t wait around for men on horses. They take the reins, defend themselves, and declare love to their own reflections. They’re now even qualified to deliver true love’s kiss to their own sisters as we saw in the blockbuster Frozen.

In my fairytale retelling, Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, my heroine has given up on fairytale love. Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne has been searching for his soulmate all his life, whom he’ll recognize at first sight by a golden aura, that only he can see, surrounding her person. Manny doesn’t see gold when he meets Pumpkin, but the more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Now she believes she’s not cut from the storybook, heroine cloth and searches for Mr. Good Enough amongst the sidekicks and supporting men of the town.

Love at first sight isn’t a cliche for town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne. For generations the Charmaynes have spotted their soulmates by seeing a golden aura the first time they laid eyes on The One.

When Manny meets Pumpkin he sees…nothing, but sparks fly off the richter scale. The more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

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Ines JohnsonInes writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

https://inesjohnson.wordpress.com/

A Little Magic with Your Technology

Transcendence2014PosterIn the very forgettable movie Transcendence, which we saw this weekend and will probably not still be in theaters next weekend, Johnny Depp is a brilliant scientist working on Artificial Intelligence research. If you’ve seen the trailer you know the basic plot — he’s shot and fatally wounded by a group of anti-technology terrorists (who, ironically, use quite a bit of technology when it meets their needs). Before Depp dies, his equally brilliant wife “uploads his consciousness” onto some hard drives, thus saving a version of “him.” Science: 1 point, death: 0. Only, wait, is that really him in that computer and why does he suddenly want to go online, get more power, take over the world? Mwahahaha. Continue reading “A Little Magic with Your Technology”

In Defense of Kissing Strangers

This is a video of people kissing. Not just people. Strangers. You’ve probably seen it, the thing exploded all over the internet last week. I’m told it’s a very good video, but I can’t be certain because I’ve only seen the first minute or so.

Now, I should tell you that I have a problem. (Well, obviously, but let’s tackle one at a time, shall we?) I never grew out of that stage where kids find it uncomfortable to watch people kiss. When I’m alone (or with people who won’t make fun of me) I still cover my eyes and peek through my fingers at couples kissing on television.  Not all the time, but often enough for it to be considered an actual problem.

Why? I’m not really sure. I think kissing is great, it’s fun, it burns calories, not to mention the emotional uplift it provides. I think people, in general, should kiss as much as possible. I just don’t want to see it.

For a long time I thought it was because it’s such a personal activity. I’ve never been a fan of PDA. The world doesn’t need to know or see or hear about everything. And I still feel that way, but it’s probably something a bit deeper than that. I feel the need to look away when that kind of emotional intensity is on display. Even kissing between two strangers who have no emotional connection is extremely intimate.

Even kissing between two strangers who have no emotional connection is extremely intimate.

This is supposed to be a post on why I write romance when I can’t even bear to watch people kissing on a TV screen. Frankly, I’d much rather read about kissing than watch it. I consider myself a visual person, I have a degree in film production and have dabbled in design for a living, I understand the power of the image. Is it that watching intimacy is more or less impactful than reading about it? Which is more immersive?

“The medium is the message,” Marshall McLuhan famously stated. Watching moments of real intimacy feels intrusive, voyeuristic, like I’m crashing a party when I should be safe at home. Reading about them, however, pulls me in, makes me feel included in the exchange, like my emotional intelligence is necessary for me to understand what’s happening on the page. I don’t feel like an outsider.

I love movies, don’t get me wrong. We probably see 60 movies, in the theater, each year. But I read more than twice that many books last year, the vast, vast majority of them with strong love stories. And when it comes down to what I want to spend my spare time writing, love always wins.