Tag Archives: romance novels

My Take on PassionFlix

I know my blogfans can’t wait to hear what I haz to say about PassionFlix: “a premium streaming entertainment service that will provide your fix of classic romantic movies and launch original film adaptations of romance novels.” [quote via Bustle]

Honestly I was pretty freaking excited about the concept, one which I thought of myself ages ago. I mean, of course I thought of it ~ why wouldn’t I? There are so many mediocre romcoms (and lots of great ones too!) and so many good romance novels; it’s only natural to wonder why “they” don’t make the better ones into movies, beyond P&P. It puzzles me, forex, why no Jennifer Crusie romances have been made into movies. Faking It could be a super fun movie, among others. Bet Me, Welcome to Temptation, etc. Then there are the old-timey romances with dukes and pirates. Peeps luv pirates. So much potential!

Anyway, after reading the Bustle article, I ran right over to the PassionFlix site, thinking hey maybe I will subscribe right away! But um… none of the books they have on their list to be made into movies are ones I’ve heard of. Some of the authors ring a bell, like Sylvia Day and Jill Shalvis, but not in a happy bell ringy way. Oh well.

They also stream other romantic movies, so I might sign up for a couple months just to be supportive of the concept. We’ll see. It’s a great concept. Maybe eventually there will be a Crusie book movie. A girl can dream…

And I know some of you are suspicious (or hopeful) that this is simply a pr0n site. Well, it does have a “barometer of naughtiness” (lol), but from the streaming movie list, it doesn’t look that way, unless you consider these movies pr0n:

“We have everything from Moonstruck to Thomas Crown AffairClueless to Last HolidayOverboard, BabyBoom, Roman Holiday, Strictly Ballroom, Love Story, Like Water for Chocolate, Bride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Kate & Leopold, She’s AllThat, Sabrina and Wuthering Heights. [from the Bustle article]

Unfortunately, I’ve seen almost all these movies, or can easily get them from Prime or wherever, so the only thing that would really tempt me to join would be fab original content. As I said… maybe later on.

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Romance Awareness Month

August is RAM. I bet you didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. But luckily I have romance novels set as a key term in my Google News feed and ~ voilà ~ an article materialized to inform me of such.

I enjoyed reading what the various authors in the linked article had to say about the genre, about the joy of the happy ending, and especially how predictability is not a bug but a feature. Sarah MacLean noted that the genre is evolving to highlight not only the empowerment of women in general but also has given prominence to the “non-standard” heroine. Yes, we can have overweight women finding their soul mates now, along with older women, disabled women, women of color, on and on. Gone are the days when only “perfect” 19 year old white girls were allowed to find true love.

But romance novels are still scorned by many in a way that other genre novels are not. Sure, there are a lot of crappy romances out there. There are also a lot of crappy science fiction stories, crappy murder mysteries, etc. It does take some effort to find a good romance, since the market is flooded with them, but the same holds true for the other genres as well. This is where the library comes in handy, so you don’t waste $8 on impulse, and/or exchanging paperbacks with friends.

SSC: I have been on a break from romance novels for most of this year, but I’m sure I’ll go back eventually. I always do.

SSC2: I may do NaNoWriMo in October (would end my count on 10/30 to be fair)!

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Wordy-Go-Round

The prompt the otter day was carousel, a lovely word, but I had nothing. Twice before I poasted pomes with carousel and I was tapped out. Years ago I took relevant pics, but I had no time to hunt them down. For whatever reason, the word bounced around in my brainpain throughout the day. Maybe it was the associated music, plus the colorful horsies. Idk. I couldn’t stop thinking about carousels… then I remembered an old Mad Men episode where Don Draper was demonstrating a photo carousel. That was a very moving ep, as I recall. I loved that show until it JTS’d, which for me was around the time he left his wife and she married that creepy politician. Things just got too crazy after that. Plus didn’t it take them over a year to come up with a new season at some point? I lost interest.

Anyway. Thinking about Don Draper naturally led me to the word carouse, which I decided must be related to carousel. Well, isn’t it obvious? But that isn’t the case at all! In fact, I had totally the wrong idea about carouse, which is shocking after all my years of romance novel reading. I assumed it meant a wild night of partying and causing trouble in the streets, being loud, probably making obscene suggestions to women, etc. But no. It basically means a drinking spree. You can be doing the partying, but that’s secondary to the drinking.

v.
1550s, from Middle French carousser “drink, quaff, swill,” from German gar aus “quite out,” from gar austrinken ; trink garaus “to drink up entirely.” Frequently also as an adverb in early English usage ( to drink carouse).

Huh. Well, anyway. I looked up carousel too, which was as expected. I didn’t know the origin though, which is interesting.

n.
“merry-go-round,” 1670s, earlier “playful tournament of knights in chariots or on horseback” (1640s), from French carrousel “a tilting match,” from Italian carusiello, possibly from carro “chariot,” from Latin carrus (see car ).

These quotes are from dictionary-dot-com.

Carousel cake

November Is Coming

Some of you are probably going huh, wut, November? It’s the middle of the summer!

Confused

But a few of you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

November is coming.

And I’ve spent couple years faffing about writing poetry, NTTAWWT. Poetry is nice and all. Sometimes you just need to write poetry for a while… well, I do anyway. But then you get tired of creating adorable appetizers and delectable desserts and you want to make the main course again… you need to tell a story.

At some point in the near future, I’ll be organizing the poetry I wrote over the past few years, together with some relevant material from the distant past, into a new themed e-book available for purchase. I may also have one or more of my works narrated into an audio book and see how that goes. Dunno if I’ll do that with a poetry book or one of the romance novels; need to look into the whole dealio first, but it seems like a neat idea.

Aside from all that, however, the story drum is beginning to beat, faintly now, but slowly and steadily growing louder. Tell a story, beginning to end. So, savor my whimsical poasts and musings on social media for the moment. Soon it’ll be time to get serious again.

November is coming.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Savor

Two for Tuesday ~ Cold Hearts

1. Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag. I read 8 chapters (117 pages) of this suspense novel before giving up. I think that’s a fair shot. And the thing is, I don’t really have anything bad to say about the book. It’s well-written, very suspenseful, gory, and exciting. I could have easily continued on to watch poor messed up Dana emerge from her confused mental state following her horrific ordeal at the hands of a madman. I could have hung on for the ride as Dana figured out exactly what the hell went on 7 years ago with her best friend Casey and that handsome tormented soldier turned pizza guy who of course will turn out to be some kinda hero there in the small town in Indiana. Dana has to return to said ‘burb as she recovers from the madman attack in order to be cared for by her sweet mom and her creepy rich politician stepdad, who just has to be some kind of nogoodnik, right?

But I just don’t care. That’s the thing, I guess. In those 117 pages Hoag has not made me care about Dana enough to plow on through her physical therapy and nightmares and stuff. That’s all a lot of work for me, the reader, and I suppose I’m a bit lazy these days. You gotta make me care about the protag if I’m gonna slog to her doctor’s appointments and deal with her anxiety attacks. Hoag has Dana freaking out at every shadow and that gets tiring really fast. See, Dana was this super pretty blonde high school girl who hung around with this super pretty brunette Casey yada yada and then … something happened to Casey, we don’t know what yet, maybe she’s dead, we’re not sure, but Dana went on to college and began her perky journalism career in Minnesota until the madman attack. But so? Why should I care? What about Dana is compelling here? Why should I hold her hand as she struggles for words and freaks out at every little trigger? Some of it is so gory that it’s triggering for me and I am not invested emotionally enough in the protagonist to bear with the story.

That’s what a writer needs to do. Make us care. If this were a movie, I might stick with it because it would be filmed dramatically with voices, expressions, music, etc., and it would engage me in a more visceral way. But reading is a different experience. Scenes play in my mind, with some input from me to fill out the descriptions, and the writer needs to engage me emotionally by making me identify with the protag, in order for me to want to turn those pages. I probably would have cared more about Dana if she’d been an ordinary high school girl instead of a popular perfect girl who never struggled. I’m supposed to relate to a cheerleader? Meh. And Dana does nothing remarkable during her career to make me root for her during her recovery. There was a hint she may have done a heartwarming story about an animal shelter… now that could have grabbed me. Make Dana an animal rescuer, yeah! But… nothin’. Just a pretty pretty princess. Feh.

(Obviously I’m in the minority here because this book has racked up loads of fab reviews.)

2. Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas. Ah, now this one I loved! This was a traditional hot old-fashioned romance novel, set in London in… idk, whenever they were messing up the tenant farmers’ way of life by ripping up the land with railroads (1850s?). Our hero Devon inherits an earl’s title and some lands plus a decrepit castle, and before he sees any of it has already decided to sell off the lot because he doesn’t want to be bothered with any earlish nonsense. His younger drunken brother agrees with this plan and both gents are totes hilarious, as one would expect from well-educated snotty Brits. Lisa doesn’t make me care about these two at the start ~ they’re obnoxious after all ~ but I’m drawn in regardless because they’re so funny and I want to see what happens.

Next we meet Kathleen, the late earl’s widow, who’s a total icy bitch. Now, CHR gets a lot of bad reviews because readers dislike how Devon treats Kathleen at the start, but hello he is a COLD-HEARTED RAKE, remember? And he’s not treating some sweet little miss to his cold-hearted rakishness and causing her to have an anxiety attack ~ he’s being rakish to someone who can take it, freeze it over, and fling it right back in his snarky face. A match made in heaven! I enjoyed their witty banter so much. I loved the supporting cast too: brother Weston, as mentioned, the late earl’s sisters, the servants, the tenants, etc. Lisa took great care to give all her characters distinct and interesting traits. I know there will be more novels coming with some of the other characters in starring roles and I hope to read those as well.

Lisa drew me in by first creating interesting characters, though they certainly didn’t seem like nice people. That’s not necessarily important (many of us were riveted to Tony Soprano’s antics week after week and he was an asshole). Devon and Kathleen were complex. I wanted to figure out what made them tick; I wanted to see what they’d do next. And the story itself was interesting ~ it seemed impossible that the castle and lands could be saved. How would they get the money? As D&K worked on the estate, their personal relationship deepened, and they changed. They began to care more about each other, and then about things beyond themselves. I know, I know, some of you think romance novels are soooo shallow. But the good ones are not.

This was one of the good ones.

Romance, Realistic and Otterwise

So, I went to B&N the other day and checked out the romance novel section. As usual, the emphasis was on cowboys, dukes, and vampires. Just look at these guys ~ aren’t they to die for?

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I think I’ve made it clear how I feel about vampire romances (puke) and I have similar sentiments toward the cowboy subgenre.

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I remember a time when it was a thing to feature a Native American hero, but I don’t see much of that anymore. Often he’d be half-white, so he could float back into society and pass as an English gentleman or wotever. Probably that’s all way too racist now, so writers stay away from it.

However the duke will always be with us! Not a fat, gouty, nasty old man, but a young handsome studmuffin. Often, he’ll pose as a pirate or highwayman for some convoluted reason and end up kidnapping our heroine by mistake. But it’ll get sorted out after loads of misunderstandings, no worries. I confess that I am partial to the ducal romances.

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Hey, how’d that viscount sneak in there?

Here’s a new thing ~ the Realistic Romance section. What could that possibly mean? Well, let’s check it out…

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Ah, these would be the firemen, bikers, and billionaires. Much more realistic. I mean, vampires don’t even exist, ffs, but firemen sure do. And also 30 year old billionaires, natch. Who wouldn’t want to nab one of those ruthless dudes and his Lamborghini too? And motorcycle gang members, yummy. Just like on Sons of Anarchy, except with a happy ending.

For whatever reason, I’ve been gravitating more to mysteries lately. And poetry. But it was fun to cruise the romance aisle for old time’s sake.

Coinkydinks in Fiction

Jackpot

Not a fan of ’em. Which is why I’ve had a love/hate relationship with romance novels all along, I guess. The “plots” normally hinge on a series of ridiculous coinkydinks. In my view, the fact that the protags meet at all for the first time (cute or otterwise) is ENOUGH. Just the one. One per story. But that’s not what we get, of course, or there’d be no story. And I’ve done the same in mine too. Really you have to have a meet and meet-again (at the least). Or else what? And that doesn’t even begin to address the myriad other against-the-odds stuffs embedded throughout.

I was up early today (like crazy early) and watched a movie. I have found that if I wake in the middle of the night with a headache and go back to sleep, I will be guaranteed a migraine at 6AM, but if I get up, take aspirin, drink water or cola, I can sometimes get rid of it. Naturally I’ll be exhausted mid-afternoon, oh well. The movie I watched was In Lieu of Flowers, sort of a rom-com, but mostly about the grief process after a romantic partner has died or whatever.

The protags, Eric and Rachel, meet at a grief-support group. OK. But then it turns out Eric’s doctor is Rachel’s father. This is totally unnecessary. But even worse is when E&R encounter each other in the waiting room. Think about that. How many doctors there are and how many patients each doctor has. The odds, IN NEW YORK CITY, of you and your romantic interest having the same doc. Then the odds of you both having appts on the same day about the same time. Boggle.

Of course there’s the usual stupid thing of having people with ordinary jobs in NYC somehow managing to live in fabulous places. I suppose Rachel, a second grade teacher, has doctor-dad subsidizing her BEACH HOUSE, but we never get the scoop on Eric’s financial sitch. Whatever. It was just a fluff movie. For a supposedly broken person, Rachel always manages to look continually gorgeous and smile at every strange man, even a drunk on the subway.

I understand that everything can’t be a masterpiece. It’s fine. I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately. Or should I say starting them. I don’t finish most. I did get to the end of In Lieu because I had nothing else to do.

Writing fiction? Seems unfathomable to me these days, like chasing a blow-up raft that’s floated out to sea. I sort of still see it bobbing out there, but it’s so far away, and I’m tired. I write some poetry though because that’s all language and emotion. I don’t have to grind out sentences and dialog and worry about where it’s going and the point of it all.

No point.

On Sex and Poetry

Here’s a weird thing that I may have discussed before, but I don’t recall because Alzheimers, so we will go through it again.

Me and my two commenters, that is. (Rude.)

When I began writing a suspense novel, no one asked me if I’d ever committed a murder or had one attempted on me. No one asked if there had been any murder incidences among close friends or family members. People assumed the story was fictional, which of course it was. (BWAHAHAHA fools.)

But when I write a romance/erotica story I invariably get someone going uh duh is that YOU? Are you writing from experience heh heh heh? Gah, so annoying. At least when I wrote the crazy dragon thing no one asked that. But why not? I don’t understand why no one asked if I’d had sex with a dragon or at least an alligator. Weirddd.

But I write a threesome and it’s all BAM… did you do that??? Like I have enough imagination to write about a freaking dragon but not two chicks getting it on with some dude. Nope nope. I must have been one of them.

And poetry… geez, give me a break. Poems can be totally fictional, hello! Mine mostly are, though I do sometimes eat avocados.

Mmm avocado…

It’s all lies and guacamole around here, my peeps. Trust me, I’m a liar.

SL&G

Not So Purrfect

OK, so in my continuing mission to read various sub-genres of romance novels, and blab about them to y’all, I recently finished an adult shape-shifter story. If you recall (and why wouldn’t you?), I previously reviewed a young adult dragon shifter story and to my surprise enjoyed it quite a bit.

Not so the case with Her Purrfect Match by Milly Taiden. Gawd, what a pile of dreckage. Where to begin?

1. Loads of errors. I realize that we can’t all afford an editing service, but geez it’s awfully distracting to have screw-ups throughout. (Plus Taiden is a very popular Amazon author, with 363 reviews on HPM alone, so you would think… )

2. No attempt at explaining how the tiger-peeps came to exist or how they shape-shift, what it feels like to the shifter, how an observer experiences it, etc. In the dragon story, I felt the wings stretching under the skin and the emotional conflict associated with shifting. Here? Nothing. Just bam, he’s a tiger now.

3. There was nothing “tigery” or even weird about the guy when human. He was simply an Alpha male who liked a lot of hot sex in the usual ways. So, why bother with tigerness at all?

4. Author uses tigerness as a lame excuse for the usual noncommittal sex men like to engage in, with the only twist that Tigerman needs to reproduce because enemies, or whatever thing. Again, there is no reason for him to be part tiger. He is just an ordinary jerk, until of course he is REFORMED BY LURVE.

5. The heroine is annoyingly insecure about her “curves” and also super-dumb in much of the book. Forex, she doesn’t catch on that she actually stumbled onto the man she’d been shifter-matched up with even after he keeps giving tiger cues. I wanted to smack her. Duh! It’s him! The guy! TIGER DUDE.Ugh.

So, while I am a tiny bit curious about the heroine’s friend who gets matched with two wolf-shifters, I think I’ll pass.

(TWO WOLVES! Polywolfism. Is that a thing?)

Tiger snadwich

Novelist Fail

This is an interesting piece about someone who tried really hard to market a romance novel and totally failed. We hear so much about the successes (such as the one mentioned in the article), which I am not always sure are 100% true. Like did someone really make a fortune writing about dino sex? Super hard to believe. Regardless, the pieces on supposedly astronomical sales of some crazy thing are published regularly because people like to read them. Some of us get inspired by them.

But it’s also true that misery loves company, so when I read Jowita’s account of how she had a completed RN, maybe not perfectly following the formula but close enough, designed a cover, promoted herself on Twitter, etc., and sold only $8 worth of books… I felt better. After all, I don’t nearly promote my writing as much as Jowita did and I’ve made a lot more than that.

Still, $30/month is hardly worth spending a gazillion more hours writing my RN’s in progress. I kinda like the idea that I could just stop now and do something else. OTOH, I may finish anything I’ve started because OCD.

In the eternal battle between the impetus to inertia and the compulsion to line up All The Things, the smart money is on… ?