Monday, July 26, 2010

In Defense of a Wimpy Heroine

I like comments, so I'm going out on a limb today in hopes of stirring up some healthy debate.

I loved Twilight. There, I said it. Let the flaying commence!

I've read several blog posts vilifying Bella Swan for being such a weak female (and I'm talking about the book here, not the movie, 'cuz I don't really care for the movies). It's true, she is. And at times, I wanted to throttle her, but to be honest, I was pretty wimpy and emotional as a teenager (even without vampires and werewolves fighting for my affection). Why should she be any different? And if she were, wouldn't that actually detract from the story?

It seems that many agents are looking for books with a 'strong female character'. No namby pamby, wimpy dames need apply! We want the women of urban fantasy novels that are kickin' butt and taking names. And why is that? Is it because we want to be women like that? Is that the female ideal? Can we relate to these strong female characters in a way that we can't relate to whiny teenage girls like Bella? Or is it that we want our female characters to be 'role models'?

I can't say (hence the need for your comments!). I can tell you that I enjoy books more when I connect with the main character, when I can understand what made her do or say what she did (however heroic or stupid). And I like when the characters don't have it all together, since I certainly don't.

My favorite characters make mistakes, have doubts and fears, and are stronger for having come through the trial (as is Bella). They don't have to be rock stars, and in fact, I prefer them flawed. If they are "too strong" and "too perfect", it bores me. That being said, if a character doesn't grow over the course of a novel, I feel let down. So I'm all right with a wimpy heroine who eventually finds her strength and goes after what she wants. I'm even okay with being angry with her for the foolish decisions she makes along the way. Just as long as she pulls it together at the end ('cuz I do love a happy ending).

What about you? Are you looking for a strong female character, and why (or why not)?

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Treadmill-Worthy Book!

I hate exercise. Passionately. Still, there is a commonly-held belief that it has some health benefits and therefore is a worthy pursuit. But I still hate it.

So when I'm exercising, I need a fantastic book to distract myself from the torture I'm inflicting on my poor body. A Treadmill-Worthy Book is worth its weight in gold and when I find one, I like to tell all my friends (that would be you!).

Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell
The quote on the cover of this book says you won't want to do anything else until you're done reading it, and I concur! I chewed through this novel and loved every minute of it. Mansell's writing style reminds me of Sophie Kinsella, but not quite so over-the-top. As the main character, Millie was believable and fun, though I honestly enjoyed the subplots just as much as the love interest for Millie!

I know that most reviews tell you what happens in a book. I also know you can look that up for yourself. I'd rather tell you that I loved this book because it was engaging, kept me guessing, had characters I could relate to and cared about, and it made me laugh. No, not just that. It made me smirk, giggle, gasp, clap and forego other enjoyable activities. It was truly a 5 star book, and I rarely give those out.

Millie's Fling was just what I needed to keep my mind off the self-inflicted punishment of the treadmill (even though I'm jealous of Jill Mansell's ability to make it look so easy to write)! Thanks, Jill. You rock!

Go out and get a copy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

So I'm A Little Crazy For Scotland

The Highland Games start in two weeks and I'm way excited. I adore all things Scottish (even tried haggis, that's how deep my crazy goes). Last year was my first trip to the games and I wandered about, mouth agape like a kid at Disneyland. I even bought a dirk (a small dagger) with a leather scabbard and a glass hilt. It's no sharper than a letter opener, but I love it. It makes me feel dangerous. Ha!

It's Diana Gabaldon's fault that I love Scotland, and Aiden MacRae is the manifestation of my adoration of Caledonia (and men in kilts). Read Between and maybe you'll fall in love with it, too!

What are you crazy about? C'mon, don't be shy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't Be a Writer

Someone I follow on Twitter posted this the other day:

"Don’t be a writer. Be writing.”

This simple admonition stuck with me (as words of wisdom should). I’ve read several forum threads about what makes you a “writer”. It seems there are two distinct camps: those who believe you’re officially a writer once you’re paid for your work, and those who think you’re a writer regardless.

While I’d love to get paid for my *fabulous writing*, I’ve been firmly in the latter camp until now. Because of my tweeting friend, I’ve started a new camp: Writers are people who write.

Crazy, huh? I wrote a book, but that doesn’t make me a writer. If I don’t ever put down another word, I can’t say I’m “a writer” just because I’ve done it once. I’ve run before (and barely lived to tell about it), so does that make me “a runner”? Of course not. Heck, even if I’d enjoyed it (yeah, right), I wouldn’t be able to label myself that way.

So, truth be told, I’m not a writer because I wrote a book. I’m a writer because I write this blog, and I write itty bitty action scenes and I’ll continue to be a writer as I flesh out the latest characters dancing in my head. I think you get the idea.

Don’t talk about it. Just do it! There is no try. There is no spoon. Ok, having too much fun with the tag lines here! Hee-hee!

Monday, July 12, 2010

So You Think You Can- Articulate?

I set the DVR to record So You Think You Can Dance each week so that I can buzz through the commercials and most of the recap show. Last night, I was watching the episode where Alex Wong takes on a Broadway number that is supposed to be reminiscent of Bob Fosse (I know, I know... I'm behind!). I can't say I've ever watched Bob Fosse dance, but I thought he did a smokin' job.

Mia Michaels didn't agree with me. She was looking for something more "eeee", more "sssss", more "internal" and "sinewy". I don't know about you, but I have no idea what the heck she's talking about, and I'm pretty sure no one else did, either. She was hunching her shoulders, squinching up her face and making claws of her hands, as if that would give us a better idea of the emotion she was trying to convey.

It didn't.

The trouble is, when you're trying to get a point across, when you're trying to communicate your ideas, you have to be articulate. And it's not easy! Good writers make it look easy. When I read a good book, the words don't get in the way. I float along on a sea of black and white, oblivious to the author's precision and care in painting the ocean. I see what I'm meant to see when a writer is articulate.

I'm sure it can be taught (to some degree at least), and I highly recommend Mia take some classes on the art of providing feedback so she can bring her A game as a judge. 'Cuz right now, I find her critiques... well... a little 'ffff' and 'gggg', and not nearly 'mmmm' enough for me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My First Interview!

Special thanks to Melanie Ray, who decided to take the plunge and read Between for her 7-day challenge on her blog: She enjoyed the book and asked to do an interview with me, which is now posted on her site. My first interview for Between- so cool!

Melanie's new book The Great Destruction is now available, and we're a stop on her blog tour. Yay! She's had a review as well, so check it out!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Center of the Cinnamon Roll

I've been reading Stephen King's On Writing, which is a non-fiction memoir/how-to guide about writing. It is a phenomenal book and I am sure I'll be blogging more about the many nuggets of insight scattered throughout the book.

However, the first thing that jumped out at me as I was reading was the section where he recalls meeting his wife. He includes a brief retelling of how they met, followed by "a year and half later, we were married."

It says a lot about me that I feel a gaping hole when I read that, like the center of my cinnamon roll is missing, the best part of the story. To me, it's all about how you met and fell in love. The rest is good, but it's the outer layer, not the best part. It would be the equivalent of saying, "I think we should have a baby" and then having the next chapter skip ahead to the kid's college graduation. What happened in between there? That's where the yummy stuff is.

To be fair, he does flesh out their relationship throughout the book, paying due homage to his loving wife, but I couldn't help but feel cheated out of the gooey center. I guess that's why I have entitled this blog "Love Stories"- because those are the types of stories that really resonate with me.

What about you? What's the center of your cinnamon roll?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Where Have All the Words Gone?

At the advice of someone on Twitter, I headed to my local Barnes & Noble to check out a romance novel I was assured was fantastic. I found it and couldn't believe how thin it was. This was a regular single-title contemporary romance novel, not a Harlequin book. It was 330 pages and cost $7.99.

Call me cheap, but I don't want to spend $8 for a book I'll be done reading after a lunch break. I don't mind forking out the dough for a good book. In fact, I prefer to buy my books so that the author gets a little something out of the deal (since I know what hard work it is!), but 330 pages? Really?

I know that long books are hard to sell (particularly for debut novelists), but it seems like novels are getting shorter and shorter while the prices keep going up. Why is that? What happened to sinking your teeth into a good book? I, for one, prefer my books to be about 500-700 pages or I don't feel like I got my money's worth.

But enough about me. What do you think?