Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wow, That Was Fast...

Internet was fixed by the end of the night yesterday. It had serious issues up until about eight o'clock last night, but when I went to check it one last time before bed it worked just fine. This morning, no problems.

So, I'm back!

Now I have no excuses not to work!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Experiencing Technical Difficulties..

Our internet connection has decided to be... difficult. We have Verizon FiOS, and we love it. When it works, that is.

I started experiencing problems about a week ago, but thought it was our router. I would restart it, and everything would be fine for a while. But now our On Demand isn't working right, either.

One thing I'll say for Verizon. When we had problems with Comcast, we got told over and over that the problem was on our end, not theirs. Well, when Dusty spoke with Verizon, they said something along the lines of they had a problem. They were aware of it and attempting to fix it, and thanked us for the call.

Wow. Quite a difference from the not-so-customer-service we used to get with Comcast. Kudos for listening to us, Verizon!

Anyway, I'm not sure how long I'll be in e-mail purgatory. If you're trying to reach me, odds are I can't reach you back just yet. Once the problem appears fixed I'll let you know.

P.S.: This stinks on one level, however. How am I supposed to finish my Frostfell quests without a steady Internet connection?!?

Monday, December 24, 2007

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Tonight, I go to my grandmother's house to enjoy The Feast of the Seven Fish. (Well, more like six and a half; we've introduced vegetarian pizza for the little ones who won't eat otherwise.) Tomorrow we'll be opening our presents from Santa and having ravioli's, my oldest son's favorite meal. We'll fry our brains on video games, put puzzles together until our fingers twitch, and try to wring as many giggles as possible from two seriously hyped up little boys.

My wish for all of you this season? Lots of giggles, happy sighs and a whole lot of love.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Is A Romance?

A friend of mine and I have been discussing the nature of the romance story. Just like any other genre, there are certain things that a romance reader expects when they pick up a romance.



For instance, my friend writes science fiction. Admittedly, there is a touch of romance there, but he's writing what I would call a "serial" romance; the romance takes place over the course of three or four books, but does eventually have an HEA after much fighting (mostly of bad guys) and the occasional misunderstanding. In no way would I term his novel(s) romances; they are science fiction with a subgenre of romance. The heat level in the love scenes is very low, mostly because that isn't the focus of his story, and there is a high probability that the HEA will not be what anyone expects.



In order for a novel to qualify as a romance (with a subgenre, like science fiction, or without one), there needs to be an untouchable HEA. These two (or three), after trials and tribulations, are mated for life; what the writer has put together, let not the writer pull asunder. Even if it's twenty-five years later, or three hundred years later; messing with the reader's characters can turn a romance reader off faster than a naked Lyle Lovett.





The readers of romances don't mind the occasional serial romance, as long as they know in the end they'll get their HEA. But if they know that all of that emotional investment they put into this couple turns into something else, whether the romance ends with a bang or a fizzle, they're gonna be ticked.

According to Wikipedia (God, I love Wikipedia), "A romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."[1] Through the late 20th and early 21st centuries, these novels are commercially published in two main varieties: category romances, which are shorter books with a one-month shelf-life, and single-title romances, which are generally longer with a longer shelf-life. Separate from their type, a romance novel can exist within one of many subgenres, including contemporary, historical, and paranormal."

A few things need to happen for a romance to be a romance, in my opinion:

1) They need to be attracted to each other. Yeah, I know, but you'd be surprised at the number of books I've read where they start out with no attraction, and gradually build it. If it's done correctly, it can be fun, but for the most part if the chemistry isn't there from the start then it won't work for me. It pulls me out of the story, makes me question the book's "reality" too much to have them grow into each other. The only time it's worked for me is if the heroine (or hero!) has loved for a while, but the significant other was in another relationship and didn't realize how said heroine (or hero) felt. Lori Foster's Too Much Temptation is a good example; Noah has no clue how he feels about Grace until after he breaks up with his fiancee.

2) There need to be a few bumps on the Yellow Brick Road. Getting together, saying "I love you" and cutting to the cute end scene doesn't really work. There need to be a few bumps in the road, a few lumps in the mashed potatoes, a small lump of coal in the candy in your stocking. In other words, don't make it so easy that the reader is bored. Now, I have a hard time writing a story where the heroine is full of angst, and I admit that. I tend to throw in outside forces to keep my heroes and heroines apart. That works just fine for me. I just have to be careful and make sure there's an outside influence keeping them apart, or threatening them in some way. But if you want good internal forces keeping people apart, then I recommend Linda Winfree. Her What Mattered Most is a prime example of what internal forces can keep a couple from finding a happily ever after until the very end of the novel. Lauren Dane's TriMates is a good example of outside forces working against a couple (or in this case, a triple).

3) Love is about more than sex. You need proof of this? Look at what's been happening to Anita Blake. I love a hot and heavy sex scene, but I love it more when the two (or three!) people involved are romantically entwined. Again, Lauren Dane's TriMates is a prime example of this. Three people forming a bond together and making it work can be truly hot. Tracy, Nick and Gabe's bond is very strong, and very loving.

Sex without the beginnings of love is not my cup of tea. Now, I've seen "sharing" romances where the hero gets off on sharing his woman. But even there, the love is paramount to the story. The hero loves the heroine, and they will, together or with company, ride off into the sunset for their happily ever after.It can work for me... or it can turn me off completely (as in the case of Anita), depending on how it's done.

4) Parted lovers should reunite. Okay, if there was cheating involved, a) it should be handled early on, preferrably as a past act, and b) you can't make it easy to return to the lost love. If the government has wisked your lover away to be in the witness protection program towards the end of the book, either the trial needs a speedy end or the feds need to snag you up and take you to your lover just so he/she will stop whining and driving them insane.

One of the most poignant "parted lovers" stories I've ever read was where an angel of death needed a lesson in opening her heart back up again. She's turned human and sent to deal with a man who she thinks is going to die in a crash. She saves his life, only to find out later he's dying anyway. She holds him in her arms as he passes away. Because she's an angel of death, she's able to prove to the powers that be that she's reopened her heart, and is reunited with her lover. Very few things make me cry, but this story was so well written that this one did. I'd give you the name of the story and the author but damn it, I can't find it. I'll post it as soon as I do.

You'll thank me for it.

5) If you kill off the hero/heroine, expect to reap the "rewards", even if it's six books later. Romance readers are extremely loyal to "their" couples. Killing off their couples makes them mad. Don't do it, man! Just don't do it! It won't be pretty. Trust me. There isn't enough chocolate in the world to make it better. Romance lovers are fanatic about this kind of thing. If you're going to have the doomed love, then have it be the secondary story. Tell it from the point of view of a different couple, who in turn are grateful that their romance didn't turn out that way. (And, if you must write it, make sure that the "doom" can be reversed, or at least show them happily reunited in the afterlife. Or reincarnated into a different life where things work out for them, as long as things ultimately work out for them.)

I'm sure there are things that I'm forgetting here. It's nine a.m. and I'm only working off of one cup of caffeine, so my brain is only working at half speed. But for me, these are the basic elements of the romance story. Let me know if you can think of anything else, and I'll add it to the list if I agree, or at least chat about it if I don't.

Now for my second cup of tea...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Okay, Mom, I Get It Now...

I remember before I had kids I would ask my mom what she wanted for Christmas.

"Peace and quiet," she'd always say.

Of course, we'd laugh and say, "No, really. What do you want for Christmas?"

And she'd sigh, and say, "Peace and quiet."

So of course she got bottles of cheap perfume, costume jewelry, some hand-painted ceramics... you know, the kinds of things only a Mom could love getting from her kids. (Heck, Dusty has a painted dinosaur our older boy made him when he was four sitting on his desk, and the first little plaster animal our little one ever slapped paint on.)

What she did not get was peace and quiet. We're Italian, and while loving, we're hardly a peaceful or quiet bunch.

Nowadays, when Dusty asks me what I want for Christmas, I reply:

"Peace and quiet."

And, of course, the kids laugh, and say, "No, Mom, really... what do you want for Christmas?"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Terry Pratchett

I love just about everything DiscWorld. One of the first books my husband and I bonded over was The Color of Magic, and we've been following the adventures of Rincewind, Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax et al of Ankh Morpork and the surrounding kingdoms ever since. So when my husband told me this morning that Terry Pratchett had been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, I was absolutely shocked. The man has always been a comic genius as far as I'm concerned, and if you've never read a book by him then you've missed out on quite an adventure.

Here's the post Mr. Pratchett put up on his artist's website, http://www.paulkidby.com/news/index.html :

11th December 2007

AN EMBUGGERANCE

Folks,I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of earlyonset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, Iexpect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)


PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this shouldbe interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, aswill everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell.I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

Now I know that this is going to be all over the web; in fact, I've found it in quite a number of spots. But I'm such a huge fan that I couldn't go without sending him my best wishes, even if he doesn't know me from Adam.

Good luck, Mr. Pratchett. I look forward to your next book.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sniffle, Cough, Achoo!

I haven't been by in a while, because both my boys have been sick with whatever plague happens to be assaulting the Delaware Valley at this time. Three boxes of tissues, a ton of Robitussin Pediatric Cough, Cold and Flu and a lot of "Mbombby!"'s later, and the oldest is back in school. The little one is once again causing mischief. He's no longer sitting in Mommy's lap, whining about his poor little throat.

Of course, now that he feels better, he's decided to torture me with repeated renditions of the SpongeBob Christmas episode while denuding the tree... but hey, you can't have everything, right? Better naughty than miserable.

Of course, the oldest was hoping for a few more days out of school:

"You know, Mommy (fake cough) my throat still doesn't feel quite right."

My hands hit my hips as I looked at him skeptically. "Uh-huh. Five minutes ago you were screaming like a banshee while chasing your brother because he'd stolen the remote."

Big, blank brown eyes stared up at me. "Yeah, but it still hurt." (sniffle)

"If you can chase your brother and threaten him with bodily harm you can go to school."

"Aw, man," he muttered as he schlepped off to the sofa and another round of Spongebob.

Needless to say, he went back to school yesterday. Now I just have to protect the tree (and my sanity) from the three year old.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Yummy...

Today was a day I truly enjoyed updating my blog. Can I have him for Christmas? I've been a very good girl this year...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Not Playing Hoookey! (Really!)

Gotta love this time of year. Head colds just reach out and slap you upside the head.

Both my babies are sick. Dusty's sick. I think I just heard the cat sneeze.

In fact, I'm the only one in the house who isn't sick.

Yay me.

So I decided to do my Christmas cards today, since work just ain't happenin'. (It's hard to write a love scene when a three year old is holding up a booger-laden finger and saying, "Thissue Mbombmby, thissue!")

I went looking through some old e-mails trying to find an address for a cousin who moved recently, and found an old quote Dusty had sent me:

"Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver."

I had to laugh. I gotta a) use this somewhere in a story and b) find out who said it!

And find that darn address... sigh.

P.S.: It's SNOWING! YAY!

P.P.S.: The oldest is sulking because I told him he can't go out and play in it with a head cold. So he's forcing me to sit through Bobobo Bo Bobobo. It's... horrendous. I'd rather watch Booh-bah, which is basically Teletubbies on LSD. *shudder*

Favorite Quotes

"I had the right to remain silent, but I didn't have the ability." Ron White

"So let me get this straight. You want me to kill the little guys, kill the big guys, crowd control those I can't, buff the team, debuff the boss, keep myself alive, AND keep you alive, all while waving a stick and dressed in a towel?" - Anonymous Role Playing Gamer

"I think that statue over there is a statement on modern life. The statement is, "Well, shit." - Varric, Dragon Age II

"Why is it all claws and guns? Can't we piss off a fuzzy planet? Still dangerous, but hey. Bunnies." - Joker, Mass Effect

"Last night, I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and thought to myself, "Where the heck is the ceiling?" - Dilbert


"Aim at the high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you'll hit the bull's-eye of success." - Annie Oakley

"It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly." - Flemeth, aka The Witch of the Wilds, Dragon Age 2

"The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, 'You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.'” - George Carlin

"I hear there's a wild bridge tournament down the street. And you know Bridge. It's a lot like sex. If you don't have a great partner, you'd better have a good hand." Barry Weiss, Storage Wars

"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe." - Marcus Cole, Babylon 5, "A Late Delivery From Avalon"

"I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - Albert Einstein

“If you think you can or think you cannot, you are correct.” - Henry Ford