Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Have You Ever...

I am a (somewhat) mature woman, and I have never had a martini, dirty or clean. Hard to believe. This is not to say I’ve never indulged in other liquid libation, but no martinis, appletinis, whatevertinis. I’ve never played a drinking game, either.

College kids today (and probably middle-schoolers for all I know) play “Have you ever…?”

Here are the rules, from

A group of people sit around in circle with a shot glass in front of them. The bottle of drink sits in the middle of the group. The players elect someone to go first. They must think of a question for the other players to answer. They question could be, "Have you ever gotten arrested?" All the players that have been must take a shot of the drink.
Each player takes a turn in asking questions. It's played until someone is rather drunk. Each question must start with "have you ever". If the person doesn't start the question with that then they must drink.

I thought we’d play a virtual round of this, in the wild, week-long celebration of Maggie Robinson Means Romance’s first anniversary. Yes, on December 31, 2006, I ventured very tepidly into the Blogosphere. In my first of 88 posts, I pledged to finish my WIP, which I did (and several other projects besides) and said something or other about Oscar Wilde.

It turned out to be a pretty good writing year. The Vanettes (an offshoot of the Romance Vagabonds) have provided terrific online support and friendship. I joined RWA and got my PRO pin. Third-Rate Romance was requested in full and is languishing on an editor’s desk in New York. I finaled in the Southern Heat contest with Waking Beauty. I got this fabulous rejection letter from Samhain’s Angela James: “I wanted to tell you that I think you have a wonderful author voice and that I see great potential for it… I think your voice is strong enough that you will have no trouble eventually finding publication, even if not with this book, and I hope you will consider Samhain for future submissions.” From her fingertips to God’s ear. So Happy Anniversary to me and Happy New Year to you! More of the same!

On to the fun and games. The first poster can answer the question below, then post their own. Second poster answers that, then asks, etc. You don’t have to answer truthfully---we’ll never know if you’re lying. *g* Ask as many questions as you like. We’ll do this until New Year’s Day, when a randomly selected player wins a new copy of one of my favorite books of 2007, The Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany and other good stuff!

What does a drinking game have to do with romance, you ask? Well, I have my heroes swilling brandy by the barrel, a very acceptable way to show male torment in romance novels. But drunk guys are so not hot. Drinking should probably be poured into the romance glass with a light hand, and now I’m off to think of another way to torture my men. Any suggestions?

Off the soapbox and into the Boxster. Have you ever made love in a car? (I’m drinking my virtual martini now.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Ring Out, Wild Bells
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be. ~Tennyson
What’s your Christmas wish? Whatever it is, my wish for you is that it comes true this holiday season. Go bake and eat some cookies, trim the tree, kiss the kids. Come back on December 26th for MRMR’s week-long anniversary party celebration and contest!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sticky Fingers

The advertising agency JWT recently released the results of a poll taken by 1,011 adults. The results may not surprise you. 15 % said they would feel uncomfortable going without Internet access for a day; 21% said they might make it a couple of days; 19% said “a few days” was okay. Just a fifth said they could hang on for a week. I myself have been forced offline for long stretches. I lived to tell the tale, but it was not pretty. I need my daily fix of favorite blogs and bulletin boards just like my vitamin pill. What would I do without YOU, gentle readers?

The survey also found that 20 percent of the respondents said they spend less time having sex because they are online. I’m not going to touch that finding.

Generally, people are communicating electronically more often than face-to-face. E-mail has replaced paper notices and eliminated endless meetings in school systems and offices. Sociologists are probably rubbing their hands in woe, but the fact is your known world can be boring and inefficient. An e-pal may seem like more fun than an old friend. In Third-Rate Romance, the heroine Kelly’s husband Bob runs off with a blackjack dealer he “meets” on the Internet. Poor Kelly can’t even shuffle cards, and Bob knows all her tricks anyway.

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Novels, movies and TV were once criticized for dooming relationships; now it’s online entertainment. Who knows what other addiction we’ll come up with to avoid reality in the future?

Do you, like me, spend too much time online? Are you totally wired? Blackberried? I-phoned? Do you think you could go back to the Stone Age of drop-in visits, phone calls, newspapers and letter-writing? Text all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Older Man

If you’re like me, you have read a ton of books with the vivacious virginal heroine and the world-weary rake. I’m very pleased to see a trend of aging that vivacious virginal heroine from seventeen to mid-twenties now, but the world-weary rake is usually still in his thirties. I figure he’s had close to two decades to get into mischief and debauchery. Instead of finding innocence boring beyond belief, he’s going to be swept away by a clueless dewy-eyed ingénue before The End. Yeah, right. I cannot forget Charles and Diana, separated by a dozen years and the Relentless Rottweiler, and we all know how that turned out.

In Third-Rate Romance, I have my three metafictional heroes discussing their sexual experience as they drink themselves silly in a New Orleans bar. One of them, Lincoln, the sheriff in the Historical-Western-Inspirational, confesses to Liam and Lionel that until his marriage, he was a virgin too.

Lionel had never been so shocked in his life. He was fairly sure he’d lost his innocence with a tavern girl much like the barmaid here, barring all the body adornment, when he was a mere stripling, and a jolly time he’d had of it too once he deloused. “Good Lord, man! How old are you?

“Same as you. Thirty’s the age, ain’t it? We’re all thirty, every one of us heroes. It must be the law or somethin’.”

I read somewhere that the average age for a woman to marry today is 25; for a man, it’s 26. In romance novels, I believe most of us would find 26 to be a bit young for the hero. I mean, Justin Timberlake is 26. Who wants to marry him? (Besides a zillion young girls.) Other than being a sexy singer with a d*ck in a box, how is our fictional billionaire-CEO-Duke going to make all the money necessary to ensure the heroine fulfills our Cinderella fantasy? Maturity means success, or at least coming into your inheritance.

My husband could be my older brother. He was born in January, I in October of the same year. Technically he’s the older man, but we don’t have that Romanceland Age Range. We have a common history, though, and get each other’s cultural references. If I had married a much older man, I’d probably be rinsing his teeth off and counting the days until I planted him.

When does the age gap get icky for you? I loved Heyer’s These Old Shades, but Avon is way older that Leonie. I wrote a historical novella where the heroine is eighteen and the hero thirty-eight, and I suspect I’ve gone into icky territory. How much older is too much older? How old are your favorite fictional couples? What are the ages of your own protagonists? TRR’s writer-heroine is in her late forties, her guy in his fifties. They do say to write what you know, and I can still remember my forties. *g* Have you read any older woman/younger man stuff, and does that work for you? I smiled through Crusie’s Anyone But You.

The painting above is Edmund Blair Leighton’s Till Death Us Do Part. Originally titled L.S.D., a British abbreviation for money and not drugs, it depicts an unhappy young bride on the arm of her elderly, presumably rich groom exiting the church.

Lindsey! You’ve won the copy of Forbidden Shores. E-me at with your snailmail address.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Three's Kind of Crowded

Okay, confession time. I’m branching out in my reading adventures. Thanks to buzz on the Internet, I’ve read Louisa Burton’s House of Dark Desires and Jane Lockwood’s Forbidden Shores. Both books feature ménage a trois situations, something my middle-aged mind doesn’t quite comprehend. I just remember a modern dance class I took in college. We were several young women and two male football players, who were encouraged by our avant garde teacher to crawl all over each other to music (“Pretend you are ants on a discarded piece of fruit.” “Pretend you are litter of puppies.” “Pretend this class has meaning for your future and I’m not a complete nutjob.”). I think the boys liked it but I felt kind of suffocated. Way too many arms and legs and other stuff. And I was fully dressed, wearing a black leotard and tights, genuine Danskin if memory serves.

Threesomes---hot or not? And does it matter whether it’s MMF or FFM to you? Are you reading naughty stuff like I am? Please comment anonymously if the subject freaks you out like it does me. A random commenter (who may privately reveal him/herself) will receive a very gently-read Forbidden Shores ($14.00 U.S./$16.50 Canada value!), which besides sex has slavery, scandal, sea travel, sand and lots of other stuff. There is an actual plot. Mrs. Giggles gave it a keeper rating at

(Ms. Lockwood also writes as Janet Mullany, the author of the hilariously witty The Rules of Gentility. It's on my Books I've Loved Lately list.)

Come and knock on our door..... We've been waiting for you...... Where the kisses are hers and hers and his, Three's company too. Come and dance on our floor...... Take a step that is new..... We've a loveable space that needs your face, Three's company too. You'll see that life is a frolic and laughter is calling for you...... Down at our rendez-vous, Three's company, too!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dressed for Success

You have a naked man in your bed. Handsome. Tall. Dark-haired if we go by tradition. This is not a bad thing. But at some point, he’s got to get up and get out to fetch you jewels and cheeseburgers. Maybe a diet soda. It’s cold outside. After all, it is December. What is this dream guy wearing? Is he a braw Scot, flicking his kilt naughtily to tempt you with his own version of the Highland Games? See how big his sporran is. Or is he a dashing pirate, miraculously clean, all his limbs intact and parrot-less, ready to set sail for a tropical isle with you as his first mate? Pick your preferred hero and give him a name. We’ll take an informal poll. Claymore vs. cutlass. Let the best man win.

The finest clothing made is a person's skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this. ~Mark Twain

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Odyssey

I watched the sun rise over the foothills this morning from the window above my kitchen sink. There wasn’t much rosy-fingered dawn, but it was still a vibrant sight. Most of the year I have to imagine it, but now that the leaves are down and snow is on the ground, I can hum Here Comes the Sun (Abby’s favorite Beatles’ song) and really mean it. I’ve been lucky enough to see the sun drop behind the Camden Hills overlooking Penobscot Bay and into the waters of the Florida Keys, too. I never take a sunrise or a sunset for granted, for it means I’ve earned another day, probably to waste, but there’s always a chance for glory.

I’ve seen some neat things in my travels. I rode down the Grand Canyon on a mule once. I was so scared that I had my eyes closed some of the time, but the mule was well-trained and knew where he was going. The fact that I had to throw my clothes away---the combination of stark-terror-sweat and eau de mule was overpowering---was a small price to pay for mostly seeing a Natural Wonder. I’ve stood in an abandoned ring of standing stones in Great Britain, mist creeping in, visited a “thin place” in Scotland where any moment it seemed Rob Roy MacGregor (or at least Liam Neeson) might appear, driven along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, the rugged cliffs and ocean one of the most beautiful sights on earth. Lights of Vegas. Central Park in the summer in love. I’ve been lucky, even though travel with all its associated headaches is not the lure it once was.

Where have you been that’s left a lasting sense of place? How do you incorporate that in your writing?

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it's all right~ George Harrison