Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Unfatally Flawed

I recently read an article online called Real Woman, Real Beauty. In it six women embraced their ‘flaws’ of excessive curves (kind of guilty), flat chests (nope), scars (yup), booty (yeah, I guess, but I’m no J-Lo), wrinkles (some), and a gap-toothed grin (no, but I was born without permanent teeth in two spots which makes me look slightly hillbilly). I applaud Barbra Streisand who kept her nose and her unique beauty. I’ll always remember a girl in high school, who had a lovely, long Modigliani face and ruined herself with a pugnose nose job.

Writers are encouraged not to create perfect, unrealistic protagonists, that imperfection itself can be a mark of character. Whether physically or psychologically flawed---or sometimes both---we root for romance to transform our heroes and heroines. Loretta Chase’s Dain springs immediately to mind. Can you think of others whose defects are delicious? If you write, what’s real about your characters? Do you have a flaw that awes? Would you ever consider plastic surgery?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One Forbidden Night

No, I’m not talking about sex. Or a romance novel title. I’m talking about Trick or Treating. I’m going to make you feel sooo sorry for me.

As a child, my parents didn’t let me go trick or treating, and it wasn’t because of rabid religious reasons or the fact I might swallow a stray straight pin in my Snickers bar. My mother thought T or T was begging. They didn’t do it in Vienna, Austria, ergo, it would not be done in Hempstead, New York. This didn’t stop her from making me costumes for the classroom Halloween parties (when you could still have such things), nor did it stop her from having mounds of Mounds and Almond Joys to pass out to the neighborhood kids. But I was not allowed to venture out in the dark with devils and witches to score free candy.

It wasn’t until I was a freshman in high school that I finally went T or T with my friend Barbara. The night was sadly flat and fizz-less. Even though I was wearing all of my mother’s and grandmother’s costume jewelry and scarves, my lips hideously crimson with lipstick, this gypsy felt gypped. I was past my prime and I knew it.

I have since forgiven my parents for their quirks. When I think of the restrictions placed on Regency heroines, my youth was positively Bacchanalian. My parents let me drink wine at dinner and kaffee mit schlag und schnapps when I was just a kid. That was okay in Vienna, Austria. They gave me a TV and a phone for my room. Looking back, I can say I was pretty much spoiled rotten. And sometimes drunk.

But, ah, how I once chafed to partake in that All-American Halloween ritual. This year, I’ll settle for wearing my glow-in-the-dark ghost pin and muttering the occasional ‘boo.’.

Any plans to trick or treat/party? What’s your favorite costume? I once dressed as a Viagra Victim, with a pillow stuffed under my dress and a baby doll pinned to my shoulder.

What was your forbidden fruit? How did it taste once you took a bite?

Forbidden fruit causes many jams. ~Anon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Retro Fit

The other day I was dressing the shelves in the library. Doesn’t that sound odd? You’re picturing crinolines and cravats, aren’t you. It means I was straightening all the books, pulling them right toward the edge of the shelf, checking that Melvil Dewey would be satisfied that everything was in numerical and alphabetical order. This is a supremely boring job, but must be done or the library police will come after me for dereliction of duty.

But I was rewarded when I discovered Retro Housewife, A Salute to the Suburban Superwoman by Kristin Tillotson. Loaded with authentic illustrations and photographs from the forties and fifties, it features housewives in a near-orgasmic state as they inspect the contents of their gleaming refrigerators and suds-filled sinks. Every single woman is smiling maniacally as she greets her husband or ruffles the hair of little Johnny or Susie. Wearing high heels and an apron, of course. In one ad, a housewife is on her knees at the side of the bed, having served her husband his breakfast on a tray. Hubby is incongruously wearing a white shirt, a tie and a rather smug smile. Maybe it’s my 21st century sensibility, but I think he’s gotten more than his eggs sunny-side up.

There is a picture of a thrilled woman who has just gotten a new vacuum cleaner from her husband for Christmas. Long ago I told my husband if he ever gave me an electrical appliance as a “gift,” he’d be in for a shock. Once he gave me a laundry-folding table for Valentine’s Day. I was not amused.

The book made me never want to clean or cook ever again, and very grateful I don’t have to aspire to be June Cleaver, although I do have those strands of pearls.

Do you do your housework with a smile? What is your least favorite domestic chore? What’s the worst present you’ve ever gotten from a loved one?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dwarf Tossing

With apologies to Little People everywhere…

We recently discussed fairy tales. I posit to you that we aspiring writers are Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And it is ‘dwarfs,’ not ‘dwarves.’ I looked it up. Apparently, Disney can do what it damn well pleases when it comes to spelling and just about everything else.

We are not bipolar; we are octopolar.

We are sweet, na├»ve, innocent, virtuous as the pure Snow White page. We believe someday our princes and publishers will come. We whistle while we work. So maybe we’re not that careful of what we eat. Woman cannot live by poisoned apples alone. Chocolate and diet soda only kill mice in excessive quantities anyway.

At first we are Happy and carefree. Struck by the Muse and manic obsession to write the greatest story ever told.

Then along comes Grumpy, who is never satisfied with the prose/plot/position chosen. And even if Doc comes along to revise, equipped with a thesaurus and help from his critique group, Grumpy is not satisfied. That’s if Bashful has even allowed the critique group to look things over, because Bashful feels pretty Dopey most of the time. Pitch 400 pages in a paragraph? Like that’s ever going to happen. And he’s allergic to true criticism; nothing makes him Sneezy faster than point of view problems being pointed out. It’s enough to depress him so entirely he becomes Sleepy, naps for twenty years to avoid failure and turns into another tale altogether, Rip van Winkle.

Which dwarf do you want to toss the farthest?

There's no use in grumbling
When the raindrops come tumbling
Remember, you're the one
Who can fill the world with sunshine~ With a Smile and a Song

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Robot and Eve

Who can resist clicking onto the headline “Is Sex with Robots Possible?” Certainly not I. MSNBC directed me to an article about the future of human interaction with robots, even discussing the possibility of marriage of man to machine. I immediately thought of the movies “Lars and the Real Girl (not a robot, but not real either),” “Blade Runner,” "The Stepford Wives," “Star Wars”---although C3PO would drive me crazy with his prissiness and R2D2 is just too short.

The upshot of the story was that “Love and sex with robots are inevitable.” So says a guy named David Levy, who successfully defended his PhD thesis at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. He says eventually robots will be developed to have more human characteristics (just like they’ve already been portrayed in sci fi books and film), and soon you’ll be doing the rumba with your Roomba.

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. How would you program your artificially intelligent significant other? Just think of a flatulence-free bedroom.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fete Day!

The flags are flying for Tessa Dare, also known as Eve Ortega, soon to be known as best-selling author at Ballantine Books! Tessa's trilogy will be published in 2009! Dreams do come true! Tossing virtual bouquets Tessa's way! Not enough exclamation marks in the world!
A Fete Day at Brighton~Tissot

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Watch It

The other day as I was waiting for something to heat in the microwave, I decided to see if I could put my make-up on in the 2 minutes and 36 seconds I had before the ding. Now, my beauty routine, such as it is, is pretty simple: I curl my eyelashes, draw a smudgy brown line under my eyes, apply mascara, blush (when the tan fades) and lipstick. I was done with time to spare. It makes me laugh when I remember walking the mile to high school with my hair in rollers so my hair wouldn’t “fall,” and slapping more make-up on once I got there. We’re talking foundation, under-eye concealer, blush, powder, two-toned eye shadow, liquid eye-liner, frosted lipstick, etc. Holy Hooker, Batman.

Now I wake up early every day and putter around on the computer, but when it’s time to get my derriere in gear, I shower/dress and am out the door in about half an hour. I need the “wake-up” time, though, the luxury of those hours before I have to actually speak coherent sentences and perform proficiently at work. Sometimes I get quite a lot of writing done, sometimes I’m just blog-hopping. Maybe I should be sleeping later, but I treasure the alone time I have between when my husband leaves for work (around 6:30 AM) and when I do (10:00 AM). As an only child, I don’t get lonely. After raising four kids and trying to tame a husband, the house is blessedly, blissfully quiet every morning. And I’m not going to break the spell by vacuuming.

When is “your” time? Do you fritter it away like I do, or fill each hour with purpose?

Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. ~Ambrose Bierce

Janga is the winner of October’s contest, and can misspend time reading her prize! E-mail your address to maggierobinson8@yahoo.com Thanks so much to all of you for your thoughtful comments on fairy tales and their appeal. I always learn something new!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fractured Fairy Tales

People study fairy tales in college, write erudite books on their psychological implications, compare cultural similarities among fables and folktales, etc. I don’t know enough about any of that stuff, because I never gave the whole fairy tale situation much thought. I mean, as a kid I read them, saw the movies. But when Ely sent me the above cartoon a while back, I thought it might make for an interesting discussion and October’s contest!

Lots of fiction is based on classic fairy tale themes. I like the Cinderella idea so much I actually named one of my heroines Cynthia Elling, gave her two nasty stepsisters and a vile stepmother and hooked her up with Sir Harry Chalmers in the first book I ever finished, Bride by Midnight. Midnight, get it? Subtlety is apparently not my middle name. I guess the whole idea of rescue and transformation appeals to me, although Cynthia and Harry actually rescue and transform each other.

What’s your favorite fairy tale? Why do you think they’re so enduring? Do you approve of the Disneyfication of them? Which contemporary author writes the best new twist on an old tale? One commenter wins a happily-ever-after romance and other fun stuff! Winner picked and a new post on Thursday, October 11.

Fairy tales can come true,
it can happen to you
if you’re young at heart.
For its hard, you will find,
to be narrow of mind
if you’re young at heart
(in the words of Leigh/Richards…sung by Frank…almost believed by me)