Masculinity in Movies

I usually get my newsletters posted and sent out by noon on Tuesdays, but this day got away from me. And while I usually have my post written or at least started long before Tuesday rolls around, that wasn’t the case this week.

And I’m kind of glad. I ran across a series of video essays today, and I’ve been thinking about how I really want to share them with people, because they’re brilliant and well done and vital to the genre of romance.

Continue reading

Finally! A scene from James’ point of view

Now that Saving Marilee has been out for more than a year, I finally got around to writing a scene from James’ point of view. It’s the scene of their first meeting, and if you’d like to see it, please go sign up for my newsletter. That will give you access to all of my extra content. Those of you who have already signed up should have an email in your inbox with the link.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 3.09.42 PM

Us vs. Them

In books there is almost always an Us and a Them. Us is the perspective the book is told from. It’s the right side, the side that you are supposed to be rooting for. Us is the protagonist, the hero, the heroine. Them is the person or group of people that Us is fighting against. Them is the antagonist, the wrong side, the villain.

Us vs Them creates conflict, which is what stories are built on.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.38.13 PM Continue reading

When Did We Lower the Standard?

I heard a song the other day that started with the lyrics, “Guess it’s true I’m not good at a one-night stand.” The sadness of those lyrics struck me. The assumption that the majority of people are/should be good at having meaningless physical relationships speaks to just how much society has devalued genuine feelings and emotions like love, affection and caring. It’s become the norm to “use it and lose it.” The fact that the word “it” is used in that term should tip us off to just how much we’ve dehumanized each other.

The song is sung by a man and it got me thinking on the condescending remarks people tend to make that “boys will be boys” and “men can’t help themselves.” I’m guessing many of you agree that the latter is bull and that men can and should control themselves. But what of the first one? There is no denying that little girls and little boys tend to have different interests depending on their gender; but what does that have to do with the crippling idea that men have no self-control? Continue reading

How Romance Novels are contributing to Rape Culture

Before I was lucky enough to find blogs and other resources that I could rely on for book recommendations, I would troll Amazon. If a description caught my eye, I would look at the sample pages. In doing so I discovered a disturbing trend in romance novel plots. Two books still stick out in my mind. One started with a drunken man stumbling into what he thinks is his room at an Inn. He then assumes that the girl sleeping in the bed must be a prostitute and he treats her as such. The second book started with a ‘gentleman’ (it was a regency, I believe) coming upon a lady in a garden. He only sees her from behind and mistakes her for someone he was supposed to be meeting for a romantic rendezvous. He ends up assaulting the poor girl before realizing she’s not who he thought she was. When he does realize, there is no apology. He just turns on the charm, brushes it off as no big deal, and they part ways. Later, during the social gathering they are attending, he winks at her from across the room.

I went back and read the descriptions of these books and realized that, yes, in both cases I had just met the hero and heroine of the book. These were the two people that were going to fall in love and live happily ever after.

What the crap??!! Are you kidding me? Continue reading

Gavin’s POV

I’ve had several people ask me if I’ve ever considered writing my story from more than one point of view (POV). The short answer is ‘no’. I understand the appeal of getting into the heads of both the hero and heroine, but I will probably always write from just one POV. I think it’s easier to understand a characters frustrations and insecurities if you only see what they see. But I’ll admit to having a lot of fun writing just a scene or two from the hero’s perspective. So without further ado…

Gavin POV

From the Outside Looking In

I walked to the servants’ entrance of the kitchen and stepped inside. I had been here only a few times before, preferring to walk home for a good meal rather than eat in the clamoring kitchens of the palace.

I caught the eye of one of the cooks and raised the flowers I was holding. “I’m supposed to give these to the house mistress.”

The cook pointed with the knife she was holding, indicating a door across the room. “Through there.”

I crossed the room, dodging servants carrying steaming pots and silver trays laden with dishes before pushing the door open with my shoulder.

The house mistress looked up from where she seemed to be scolding a lad. “Mr. Gavin. Very good. Bring them here.”

I handed over the bundle when she reached for them. She set them in a vase, already filled with water, and fussed with their position.

“Will that be all, Missus?”

She made another adjustment before answering. “Now you can just take them up,” she said, thrusting the vase into my hands.

“You wish me to go above stairs?”

“Of course. Joseph always does, you know. Likes to deliver them himself.”

But I wasn’t Joseph. “I’ve never been above stairs, Madame.”

“Oh. Well, follow me.” She brushed past and I had to rush after her. She led me up the steps and through the palace as I cast my eyes about, trying to keep track of where I was going, while at the same time trying to keep my eyes down out of respect.

She stopped at the bottom of another staircase. “Her room is just up there, third door on the right.” She turned around and I realized she meant to leave me to my own devices.

“Should I really be interrupting—”

“The princesses are busy with their studies, young man. You needn’t worry about that. Now, off you go. I trust you can find a suitable place for them, and be quick about it.”

“Yes, Madame,” I mumbled as she headed back to the kitchen. I forced my feet to move up the stairs, baffled that she had left me alone to find the bedchamber of one of the princesses.

I found the door and breathed a breath of courage as I pushed it open, hoping she had been right in assuming all the royal misses were busy with their studies. No one was inside and breathed a sigh of relief. Looking around, I noted the mantle over the fireplace, as well as a writing table, both good spots for the vase I carried. Though perhaps a less obvious spot would be better, maybe the little table beside the bed or the low one in front of the fireplace. How many tables did one princess need? I was turning slowly, taking in the entire room when the door burst open. Ella’s hair flew out around her as she spun to close the door, then leaned against it, as if she were relieved to have arrived.

I was not relieved. She wasn’t supposed to be here. The house mistress had said she wouldn’t be here. This was bad, very bad. I couldn’t be here with her. It was inappropriate and wrong, and her hair was down. Why was her hair down?

She pushed away from the door and walked toward her dressing table without seeing me. The clink of hair pins scattering across the table’s surface reached my ears as she thrust both hands into her hair and shook it. I swallowed, unable to speak as the image of her wheat-colored hair held me transfixed. After she was finished brandishing her hair at me, she tossed it over her shoulder and then looked up into the mirror before her. That’s when she saw me.

She gave a startled yelp and spun around, one hand pressed to her heart while the other clung to the table. I was stuck in the same position I had been in when she entered the room, my body stiff as I tried to contain the feeling of panic caused by the realization that this creature whom I had spent day after day with out in the wilds of the garden had never looked more like a nymph than she did now, her eyes bright, her hair tumbling around her. I pulled my focus back to her eyes and realized she was waiting for me to speak, to offer some sort of reasonable explanation for my standing in her room.

“I—” was all I managed before my nerves choked me and I had to start over, the words spilling out, tumbling over one another in my rush to explain. “I was told that one of the princesses wanted an arrangement of flowers, so I took the liberty of arranging one and when I brought it to the house mistress, she showed me to this room and told me that all the highnesses were doing their studies and I should just place them where I thought best, so I….”

Her hair fell into her eyes and my thoughts scattered. If she would just put it up where it belonged, I was sure I would be able to maintain my train of thought. She pushed the curls out of her eyes, a mystified “Oh,” being her only response.

I needed to give a better explanation. “I would have been gone before now, but I couldn’t decide where they looked best and I had no idea of anyone returning any time soon.” Otherwise I never would have entered in the first place. “I certainly didn’t know it had been you who requested them, though I suppose I should have guessed.” Why hadn’t I guessed? The girl was obsessed with every plant she encountered.

She didn’t respond, just looked at me, her eyes still wide, tempting me to kiss her surprised mouth.

It was time to leave. I was a servant, she was royalty, and I had no right thinking about kissing her just because she had befriended me. What had she been thinking? “I should go,” I tried to say it in an offhand way, and headed toward the door. I needed to get out, back into the real world, the world where I belonged.

“Gavin.”

Did she have to say my name like that? I stopped, turning to face her. I tried to look at her eyes, but her blasted hair kept distracting me. I looked away.

“The vase,” she said and I looked down to realize I still held her flowers. “On the table would be fine.”

I hurried to the table, my toe catching on the rug as I went. I set the vase down, not paying attention to where on the table would have been best, and fled toward the door once more, avoiding looking at her and barely remembering to give a bungled bow as I yanked the door open and made my escape. A delicate “Thank you” followed me from the room.

I walked, practically ran, down the corridor and was grateful to find my way back to the kitchens and out into the fresh air. I scrubbed my hand over my face, inhaling. The wind and the smell of dirt were right and normal. Not like the barely perfumed scent of the room I had just escaped, the room where Ella slept, no doubt with her curls splayed out on her pillow.

So much for friendship. It felt like I was falling off a cliff.

I was terrified.