Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Like a Virgin...

WARNING: Sweeping generalizations abound here. Just roll with it.

The obligatory cherry pic.

I’ve been throwing around ideas for a while now about doing a series wherein the males in the piece are virgins. The notion just appealed to me on some level. Now the modern day Romancelandia hero is frequently in his thirties, at least six-feet tall, quite often features dark hair and eyes, and is, for the most part, an alpha male. He is rough and rugged. He is burly, brawny and many other things to boot. Occasionally he is even a billionaire. Typically though, he’s neither a young man nor a virgin. The reasons for this are quite simple. A twenty year old is for the larger part a personality still in flux. They’ve yet to rub up against the best and worst of what the world can throw at them. Life experience, in a romance hero, tends to be a desired trait. By the early-twenties, most people have got it on in one form or another. Losing it is often perceived as being a ‘rite of passage’. Besides, having swoonworthy bedroom skills tends to be up there with the burly, brawny stuff. A virgin, therefore, lacks the appropriate training. The thirty-second issue can also hinder a hot sex scene. We don’t want the story quite *that* short.

Oh yeah, he looks like the shy type to me.
Society teaches us to value and desire in accordance with what others have previously valued and desired. We can be a bit of a flock of sheep like that. Is our wannabe stud a virgin because men or women have not been flinging their undies in his general direction? Why no past coy glances and steamy scenes? If he hasn’t been wanted and desired previously then what’s wrong with him, exactly? Is he a mummy’s boy? Secret fetishes involving scotch tape holding him back? Please explain. Judgmental lot, aren’t we? Part of the Romanceland fantasy is wanting to be that special one in a million to break all the rules and snaffle the prize everyone else wants. The first true love, despite the playboy background. We’re in love with love. Love is hope of a better, brighter future. Onwards and upwards with our soul mate by our side. Who wouldn’t want that? And that he happens to have spent the last fifteen years perfecting the art of oral worship *just* for you is the icing on the cake. Right?

On the female side of things however, a female virgin does tend to pop up far more often. The hymen has been well treasured down through history.  Does she think of sex as something special and sacred? If not just anyone can get with her than isn’t she the top shelf prize? The experienced guy having sex with the virgin girl isn’t just a women’s fantasy. It can also be a men’s fantasy. Look at him bravely go where no man has gone down before! Ooh! Aah! She’s a woman now!
That's just disgusting.

There’s a very real power dynamic at work with being someone’s first. Of being the knowledgeable one, the one in charge. Couldn’t a heroine be the dominant, leading the way in this matter? Doesn’t that make for a delicious scenario? Whilst the twenty year old pool-boy and Mrs. Robinson scenario doesn’t particularly work for me, it is however a classic example of the powerplay. And cougars need love too, damn it!

I think a virgin hero that has lifetime experience – though not bedtime experience – is an interesting notion. Your first shag always goes down in history. Everyone remembers their first time as horrific or de-lovely as it might be. It makes for a hell of an impression. (I for one could never listen to REM ever again. Not totally a bad thing.) And the virgin hero has been done before, check out Linnea Sinclair’s ‘Games of Command’ for one. Thoughts? More virgin hero books to recommend? Have at it…

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Six Sentence Sunday...

Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday. I was off at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the Gold Coast last week but we’re back on track now. We’ll pick up on the arranged marriage in outer space with some sexy suspense thrown in for good measure right where we left off. Which was… Louise had just stepped off the shuttle to be met by a man who was apparently not the husband she was expecting. This man looks far less than pretty and smells like he’s recently been hosed off a barroom floor. Not the best of first impressions. (Don't you just love a hate at first sight??)

Thanks for stopping by and as always constructive comments are highly appreciated! Have a great week.

Something was very wrong here.
Something was very wrong and also, she was going to puke.
Bile burned the back of her throat and she sucked in long, slow breaths, trying not to gag. The landing had really riled her stomach and it wasn’t an easy win.
“You alright?” he asked in a voice as rough as the ground.
She nodded fervently, studied the top most tip of his right ear.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The shameless and not so fine art of putting yourself out there…

Exhibit A: She trembled as I took the photo because obvs end of the world. Again.
At the Romance Writers of Australia conference last weekend there was an interesting seminar from editor and book reviewer, Kate Cuthbert. Her point, in my opinion, could be simmered on down to this one pearl of wisdom—if you are a writer then stay the hell away from reviews. They’re not written for you, they’re there for readers. You’ve finished pounding out your baby upon the keyboard of life and now it is time to move on to the next project. Hearing this was a ‘huh’ moment for me and I think it is great advice. Like any new author about to be published, reviews scare the sh*t out of me. Will people love or loathe my book? Shall they spam me with sonnets or shame me with hate mail? Either reaction, once my baby book has been dispatched back to my publisher to be uploaded, is beyond my control. It’s a totally done deal. Knotting my knickers over something someone writes on their own blog is largely a waste of time and energy.

The second thing that happened to get me thinking about people’s behavior including my own, be it unsavoury or otherwise, was some minute amount of bollocks on twitter. Someone trying to pick a fight with me over not very much at all regarding something I was barely involved in. It surprised me. I suppose I’ve lived a sheltered social media existence up until now or something. Now, I don’t know this person. I don’t follow this person. And I likewise don’t care much for the person’s opinion of me or anything I should choose to retweet. And yet, the ‘what the f*ck was that?’ feeling lingered with me. Perhaps when it comes to putting myself out there writerly-wise I am yet a delicate little blossom amongst the flowering spring time field of life. (BTW, don’t quote me on that b*llshit I just spouted regarding flora and seasons. I’ll categorically deny it along with making rude gestures behind your back.)

Exhibit B: Puffin could barely be bothered to show up for the photo.
So yeah—behaviour and putting yourself out there. That’s what I thought we’d talk about today. Exhibit A is my dog, Astrid the Schnauzer. Astrid is an idiot and afraid of everything. But isn’t she pretty? Exhibit B is my cat, Puffin. (P.S. wording of Puffin's note inspired by writer Dan Dalton) Puffin gives not a whit about a single thing. If I won’t deliver pats on  demand then he’ll go rub up against a piece of furniture to get the scratching he needs before prowling off to make sweet-sweet love to one of the kid’s stuffed toys. Somewhere between these two care factors lies common sense. This is my theory.

Trolls and douchebags exist. This is a universal truth. Knowing when to walk away quietly muttering or to turn off to the silliness entirely is the balance we must seek in our ongoing search for inner happiness. Developing the emotional resources and fortitude to rise above the slag and slur is a required skill if you’re going to embrace the twitter, facebook, google+ barrage of being-ness necessary for a little self promotion. And let’s not kid ourselves, a little self promotion is necessary at times. Of course, spamming people every five minutes about our latest erotic wonderland of bad puns and body parts is sh*t behavior. Don’t doubt it and don’t do it.

And so I have resolved to compromise and read some reviews (because you never know, you might just learn something of use with regards to the way you’re wrangling words) whilst not engaging with the nut jobs to the best of my ability. And I'm going to do my utmost to take ALL OF IT with a grain of salt. For some people witty demolition of others is a favoured past time. Whatever. Good on them. Let them preen while we get on with our work. Thoughts?

Oh, and here's the actual Dog Shaming Tumblr link...

Monday, 20 August 2012

A look at Bitter Harvest by Kim Knox…

In the year 2050 civilization has taken a turn for the worse. Humans are an endangered species, on the verge of being wiped out by a nano-virus. Those left alive are either mutated or destined for an early grave. Sooner or later the ‘hives’ of mutated folk are going to reach them and spread the contagion through sex. Making their last stand in the Tower of London (how much do you love that??), a group of uninfected humans are running out of time. Robert Sutton, a burly, brawny soldier is committed to trying to save those few remaining but his options are dwindling. Nicholas Rider is brought in as a prisoner and has the markings of an infected—and yet, somehow, he’s not. Rider has apparently survived the virus but his sexy time needs remain on overdrive. Lieutenant Sutton is inexplicably drawn to the man despite his best efforts with all sorts of fiery desire surrounding the two from the get go. 

Will Rider infect Sutton or are the mutants drawing ever closer going wipe them all out first? 
Is Rider destined to betray Sutton or save him?
Will the Tower fall?
Gasp! Sigh!

Now we all know how I feel about infections and the end of the world. They're basically my favourite thing after white chocolate and I really do love white chocolate. And my kids and stuff. Bitter Harvest is a well-paced race against time novella that I really enjoyed. I don’t read a whole lot of male/male but this story was awesome escapism on the part of Ms Knox. I guess I usually like a woman to be in the middle to spice things up but Sutton and Rider are mighty hot to trot and the sexual tension between the two smolders. Rider’s smarty-pants mouth ways are a lot of fun and both of our heroes had my undivided attention. Plus the Tower of London! Coolness! I loved the idea of having humanity’s last stand happening there on the bank of the Thames smack bang in the middle of blighty. It was a brilliant setting on Ms Knox’s part. The blending of old and crazy-town, gritty, futuristic was a wonderful thing. So if you enjoy an end of the world, infected, zombie, mutant, hive-mind sort of story with a stunning setting and great characters, I guess this book is for you.

For more about Kim Knox and her books head here...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Six Sentence Sunday...

Welcome back for another Six Sentence Sunday. We’re still at a mining base on the moon of Esther in the year 2088. Louise has just stepped off the shuttle all ready to meet her new husband for the first time but he’s not the man she expected.

Thanks to all those that take the time to comment each week! Much appreciated. I’ll be off at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the Gold Coast next weekend so I’ll catch you the week after. 

The man in the pictures the Marriage Coordinator sent her had dimples and a lopsided grin. But this guy… he was tall and lean with bloodshot eyes a demon would envy. He had a three day growth and a head of short dark hair beyond disarray. On one side of his head it stuck out in clumps as if he’d fallen asleep in something liquid and evil. He looked like someone had recently hosed him off a barroom floor. 
     And Gods, the smell of him.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A look at Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe...

Matilda Geoffrey left Australia for small town Wisconsin looking for the adventure of a lifetime and Barry, her internet love interest. Decked out in her Nanna’s bridal gown and towing a liquor laced wedding cake, things aren’t quite going to plan. First up, Barry doesn’t seem to exist. Nor does the business he encouraged her to invest in for their future together. Penniless and stranded on the other side of the world in a vintage wedding dress, Matilda has well and truly landed in it.

Marc Olsen is an uptight, well to do type making his fleeting yearly visit back home to hicksville. When he spies Matilda resplendent in her gown on a mostly empty Main Street he knows he shouldn’t get involved. But curiosity being what it is and this being a romance, well, our heroine needs a hero and he’s it.

They’re an unlikely couple with the sassy, upbeat and very Australian Matilda telling it like it is. Don’t you love a strong outspoken heroine who deals with whatever life throws at her? Marc is a handsome sports car driving designer dud wearing dude in need of more in his life than a platinum credit card and a flashy flat back in New York. And while we’ve seen his type many a time before Ms Lowe gives us real substance in our hero. He’s a man who had to make sacrifices early on and this gives him layers. There’s nothing 2D about this character. His fears of being once more irreparably tied to his family and the poky small town are more than legitimate. Plus, he has a sense of humour. God love a man with a sense of humour and a woman who knows what to do with him when the time comes. Our hero’s intensity and RAWR’ness (yes, it is a word, the dictionary is wrong) are a real treat, along with the more lighthearted moments.

But you know what’s awesome about this book apart from the fact that it’s wonderfully well written by an Australian Woman Writer? Even beside the fact that it just won the 2012 RITA for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance? The secondary characters and their own stories, in particularly Mark’s sister Lori. I’m not going to go into it more than that except to say, bravo, Ms Lowe. Actually, I’ll throw in fantastic and exceptionally well handled as well. And also, it really gave me pause and made me think. I hope every woman reads Boomerang Bride for this very reason. The reason I’m not going into Lori’s story is because I’m a teasy thing. But do read it and let me know you think.

Boomerang Bride can be bought here…

This has been another Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge Review. Please bang on the button to your right to learn more about this most excellent endeavour.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Six Sentence Sunday...

Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday! It’s the year 2088 and the setting is a mining colony on the Moon of Esther. Today we carry straight on from last week where our mysterious heroine is bravely going forth to meet her assigned husband for the first time. She's just stepped off the shuttle and slipped on some gravel (as you do) and….

A strong hand grasped her elbow and a steady grip hauled her upright.
“Careful,” a man muttered and released her.
Louise reined in the palpitations and took her first good look at her savior. “Thank you, I'm...”
Shit, no.
They said Gideon would meet her but this was not the man she’d married, couldn’t be. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Cock Rocking Goodness that is 'Magic Mike'

WARNING: I don’t think there are spoilers in this review because the movie, as fun as it is, is pretty much by the numbers plot wise. I don’t reveal how the HEA happens but I do discuss and pass judgment generally upon it. You have been vaguely warned.

Proving I’m not a complete shut in I went to the movies today to see Magic Mike. The film is about male strippers, a subject sufficient to get the bulk of females and a big number of male bums on cinema seats because you know you need to see it on a BIG screen. Right? Right. Now I had low expectations regarding anything but the quality of the ab’s I’d be seeing. I knew they’d be stellar, I’d seen them on Google Images (don’t judge me). And Facebook. And twitter. And a few other places around town (still don’t judge me, I’m warning you). Channing Tatum plays Mike. He generally doesn’t do much for me (thought The Vow wasn’t so bad) but this film turned that around. He was awesome. The story is based partly on his own experiences as a 19 year old stripper in Tampa so I dare say he had a wealth of personal experience to draw from.

Backing him up is Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello (spelt his surname right for once…) and Matthew McConaughey. All of these men are very pretty and spend a good part of the movie topless of which we must approve. MUST. Basically 30 year old Mike introduces a fresh faced 19 year old guy into the pack of strippers and said kid gets exposed to the party time lifestyle and the sort of shit you’d expect to happen happens. Girls throw money at him and things steadily spiral out of control. The film looked fantastic care of more than the muscles much as you’d expect with Stephen Soderbergh in charge. At times early on there was an almost documentary feel to it that was cool. There were some good laughs to be had. The dance routines performed by the cock rocking all male dance troop were eye popping spectacular. Costumes were suitably crazy and the music was thumping good. I heartily endorse this movie as a fun time to be had.

But what did it get wrong that prevents me from naming it as perfection, you ask? Go on. Ask. Well, this movie is rightly centered around the boys but the one big juicy feminine role to be had, that of the newbies big sister and Magic Mike’s possible love interest, fell flat. The chick spent the movie being judgey and sour a good deal of the time (and granted, a good deal of the time she has reason). But by the end, when exactly what you’re expecting to happen happens, I was not on her side. In mine eyes she had not earned her happy ending. The guy could probably do better. Whatever needed to take place for me to believe she was the right girl for the guy and vice versa had not happened. 

So there you go. That’s my take on Magic Mike. See it. Revel in it. And don't forget to let your ovaries explode at it's pervy magnificence.