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Last week I mentioned I might cover the Harlequin Kerfluffle in this blog. And I thought about it, but at this point, everything has been covered. So, I’ll give you some links in case you haven’t seen them in order to bring you up to speed, and maybe when there are new developments, I’ll dive into the topic then. And trust me when I say, this Kerfluffle is FAR from over. Now, go here and here and here and get all the details you need to know.
This change of topic meant finding a new topic. Hmmmm….what shall we discuss. I know, how about romance? I sort of eavesdropped on a twitter conversation last week about what is romance and what is just romantic. I think it centered around Nicholas Sparks books not being considered romances. He is Mr. I-CANNOT-LET-MY-CHARACTERS-LIVE after all. That doesn’t make for a lot of Happily Ever Afters.
As writers of romance novels, it’s our job to create romantic situations and make sure our characters say the most romantic things. That means we should be experts, right? Uh…sure.
I’ll include my disclaimer right now, I am no expert on what is romantic. But as a writer, I’ve put some thought into this question. What I’ve come up with is the following list.
1) Sweetness – I’m not sure how to explain this but I think everyone recognizes a sweet moment when they read one. It might be the hero teasing a blush from the heroine or the heroine brushing a lock of hair off the hero’s forehead. The best sweet moments are those that take one of the characters by surprise. A great way to show a change in perception and we all know showing is always better than telling.
2) Honesty – This isn’t just any kind of honesty, this is the big kind, emotional honesty. For me, there is nothing better than that big emotional confession when one character admits a fear or longing. Often expressed through frustration or anger, it’s pretty obvious the confession was neither planned or thought out, making it all the more honest of a reaction. Which moves us to the next item on the list.
3) Vulnerability – All of my favorite romantic moments include a character showing vulnerability. But what makes the scene romantic is the reaction of the other character. It’s the moment when the other person understands, consoles, pushes, or reassures the vulnerable one. If that reaction is wrong, it can ruin the entire story.
I’m sure there are many other elements that make something romantic, but Hellie is always professing things are good in threes. So I’m stopping here and turning it over to you.
What do you consider romantic? Do you try to create romantic moments when you’re writing? And what scenes have stuck with you over the years as the most romantic scenes ever? (And if you promise not to get all mushy, feel free to share your own real-life romantic moments. But I can’t promise not to get grumpy if it gets out of hand.)
In later years, I developed a crush on Fred Savage and then another on Zach Morris before finally devoting myself to the boys in my school. Honestly, my schoolmates weren't quite as hunky as these fellows or as adorable as Fred Savage or Zach Morris. They didn't turn out that bad, though, so maybe there was some potential I missed.
So who made your adolescent (or pre-adolescent) heart flutter?
I am mad, but not insane. Insanity is crawlin’ offa the couch while still feelin’ the effects a too much turkey/stuffin’/yams/greenbeans/pumpkin pie and whatever else yesterday’s orgy a’ food brought me way and goin’ shoppin’. (Wrote this before me MIL's table left me...hungry. Sigh. That said...)
There ain’t a sale out there fine ‘nuff ta entice me inta a mall taday.
Though I admit, if’n I lived near Jane-o and the Mall of America… I might be tempted ta join her. But it wouldn’t be fer the shoppin’. It would be fer the sake a friendship and having fun.
What would lure you out into the wild jungle of the modern megamall, today? Or all days?
From all of the pirates to you... Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We're thankful you've hung with us for another year. Enjoy your feasting and have a safe and happy day!
I love, love, love Thanksgiving!
When I was a little girl, there is a specific Thanksgiving that I can remember very vividly. Not that all of my Thanksgivings are the greatest- after all Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday only to be rivaled with the ever awesome Independence day- but this one was odd, weird, strange, and funny enough, great.
Just like in any family, you have your traditions. Where you go. Who cooks what food. Who gets the rifle out first and suggests target shooting. *shrugs* How loud the TV gets turned up when the football game is on. Who gets the last beer. I mean, those things are just rooted deep in tradition. In my family, when I was a child, we went to my grandpa's house and he made all the food except for the stuff my Aunt made grandpa nicknamed the green shit, which pistachio pudding is mixed with whipped cream and crushed pineapple.
My mother's parent's house was in the middle of our small town, down a road aptly named Short street which was paved later on and made for an excellent scooter and skateboard hill. At the top of the hill, the Rowlands lived in their little white house and down around the corner at the bottom of the hill was my grandparent's little original house built sometime in the early turn of the century. It was surrounded by trees and out buildings and lots of grassland. We spent all afternoons there after school. We spent countless hours there in the summer. Going to my grandparents wasn't the exciting thing it should've been, but when you're young you take stuff for granted.
I'm dressed for cold weather and outside playing. My two cousins were older, and just about as mean as me. There was always trouble brewing when the three of us put our heads together. But what was this... There was a BOY sitting on my grandpa's porch.
Things of that nature had to be investigated. First with the cousins.
I rolled my pre-teen eyes. "Who got to bring their BOYFRIEND to Thanksgiving?"
"No one," My cousin Jennifer, the eldest, told me. "Uncle said he is our cousin and we're SUPPOSED to be NICE."
I looked to Shelly and crinkled my nose. "No way. Boys aren't allowed into the family."
Shelly shrugged her shoulders, "I'm going to talk him into doing something bad so he will know not to mess with me."
"Like what? You can't talk him into jumping into the pond. Uncle is not going to let him out of his sight for that long."
Shelly grinned and I knew then it was going to be ugly. "Watch me."
She took off running and Jennifer took off after her. I lagged behind. How did we end up with another cousin? He was older than me and looked bored and way out of place.
"Hi." He said when I walked up and Shelly was wearing her this-means-war look.
"Hey." How does one properly address a newcomer into our devious fold? I had thoughts of running him over with the three-wheeler.
Jennifer gave me a sly look. "We were just telling him about our Thanksgiving fireworks tradition. You know, the bottle rockets?"
My cousins once convinced me that if you held a bottle rocket by the stick and light it that it would fly from your hands. No one told me you had to let go when it started to go off.
"How we tie them together and throw them at one another." Shelly piped in. The kid's eyes grew big and I smiled.
"Yeah, I love that tradition. It's better than the target shooting practice at one another. It's hard to run in the woods and not fall into hunter traps. You remember how last year I hung upside downs for six hours and missed Thanksgiving dinner."
The doom and gloom cousins snickered.
The kid was petrified.
We all three looked at each other with the same thought, good. This was our territory. He was going to have to fight for his right to hang with us.
Jen pushed away from the porch and my mama stuck her head out of the front door. "Y'all don't go far because dinner is gonna be served in just a few minutes and I'm not yelling all over hell's creation for you guys."
All three of us rolled our eyes but the kid mumbled a weak, "we'll stay close".
I tossed her a look over my shoulder, "Yes, mama."
I looked back in front of me and thought to myself again, "yeah right".
My cousins went running for their house. They always had a stash of something useful for troublemaking. I lagged behind with the kid.
"So, what is your name?"
I kept my eyes in front of me, watching my cousins tear up their house in search of the bottle rockets. The kid trailed behind me some as we made our way down the hill to the road.
"Do you go by Mathew or should I call you something else?"
He gave me a curious look, "What do you mean?"
I gave him a look, "I have to know what to call you when I dial 911." And I walked away from him, leaving him in the road.
Jen bounced outside with Shelly hot on her heels. "We've got them!"
I reached forward for my bunch and Shelly tied off a handful for Mathew. Jen produced her handy dandy lighter as she tied six bottle rockets together. "Now, you have to do it like this. I wouldn't want you to get hurt or anything. I am the oldest, therefore all younger cousins are my responsibility."
Shelly and I snickered and Jen shot us a look.
Jen lit her bunch, waited until the wick was low and tossed them all. They shot in different directions and when they started to fly back towards us, Mathew was the only one who hit the ground.
Mathew pushed himself off the ground and started to hand back his bottle rockets. "I think I'll just watch."
Shelly shoved them back, "No way. Are you chicken of a couple of harmless bottle rockets?"
"No!" Mathew shook his head. "No. I just don't feel like shooting them off that's all."
I shrugged my shoulder and took the lighter away from Jen. I'd learned a long time ago that if you wanted to deal with my cousins you had to play dirty. The kid was going to have to learn that too. I lit off my bunch and tossed them almost a second too late. One bottle rocket was on a short fuse and blew almost too quick for my own good.
"GIRLS!! Mathew! What are y'all out there doing?" You could hear my mama over four counties plain as day. She'd had enough practice yelling for me when I was out running around in the woods after dark. "You better not have the fireworks out! I'm going to beat you guys black and blue!"
Mathew dropped his bottle rockets on the ground like he'd been caught stealing and started to walk away. "You three are crazy."
Shelly started making clucking noises as she lit her bunch. "Chicken. Brock-Brock-Brock...Chicken."
She tossed her bunch high into the air and they took off in every direction. Her laughter echoed off the trees surrounding the place.
Mathew started back up the hill and Shelly chased after him. "You're not going to live this down, Chicken Boy."
So the tradition was born that every family gathering we picked on and tortured my newly found boy cousin, Mathew. We had no mercy for him.
So Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I want to lay out exactly what I'm thankful this year. I have a lot of blessings in my life and I don't give thanks enough for all that I have. I'm the most ungrateful brat in the world.
I am thankful for:
- The ship, my online friends and all the support my shipmates give me when I ask for it and when they think I need it. And for Hells for putting up with me.
- Small favors.
- My support system to which if I didn't have them, there wouldn't be me as I exist now.
- Friendships lost and found. Which truly make you believe in something greater and fate and all that jazz.
- The undead monkey, Mattycakes, who is trying sometimes and not box trained (but he pees in Hells hammock so it's okay).
- And a whole slew of other things that I will reserve to talk about at another time.
Now, what are your traditions and do you have any funny stories about Thanksgiving form when you were a child? Or what's one thing you're grateful for this year that you didn't have last year?
Because it’s Thanksgiving and because the new Twilight movie is raking money hand-over-fist, it only seems appropriate there was a song that summed up the deliciousness of both of these favorites. I wasn’t a fan of the first movie, though you’d never know it by how often it is played in my DVD player, but this one: I’m definitely a fan. I think Taylor is a complete fetus, but I am a huge champion of Jacob Black. And on the big screen, Taylor’s chest looks at least 22 years old. Anyhow, this is for Taylor. (I hope his girlfriend, Taylor, isn’t jealous of my songwriting abilities. I know how such a thing could possibly happen, but Taylor, I have no designs on your man!)
Disclaimer issued by Sandler’s lawyer: Miss Hellion’s inferior lyrics are by no means affiliated with Mr. Sandler. Mr. Sandler wants no part in Miss Hellion’s bogus and nearly illiterate attempts to ape his highly creative and copyrighted works. Also the fact she is writing about Twilight of all things makes him want to vomit.
"The Thanksgiving Song"
Love to watch Jacob
Love to watch Jacob
[Shout from Crowd:] "I love you Hellion!"
[Hellion:] "Ohhh, I love you, too, Taylor! Or well, your character, not you so much…."
Love to watch Jacob
'Cause he’s so fine
Love to watch Jacob
I wish he were mine
'Cause Jacob is awesome to drool over
[Hellion:] "Taylor, that shirt removal thing is very distracting. Please, I’m trying to finish the song. I appreciate it. I’ll check out your hot naked bod later, okay, when I see the movie for the tenth time. But I was trying to think of the next line and all I see are those ripping, gorgeous muscles. Here we go... Thanks anyways"
Jacob for me
Jacob for you
Let's watch Jacob
And bid Edward adieu
Love to watch Jacob
In my bed
I once saw the movie
Better Off Dead
Watch that Jacob
All night long
Twenty million Twilighters
Can't be wrong
Jacob-acobb loo and
I love to watch Jacob
Then eat some Godiva
Jacob is my favorite Twilight man;
If I were Bella, I’d be his biggest fan
Jacob all cuddly, Jacob with Bella
I wish she preferred him to that other sullen fella.
Jacob for you and
Jacob for me
My gay ex-boyfriend Mike
Sunshiney Jacob, Moody Old Edward
You just can't lose
The eyecandy in this tweeny movie
Is so hard to choose.
(God, everyone’s hot in this movie! Did anyone see Dr. Cullen? Hotflash!)
Jacob on my nightstand
And strudel in the toaster
I'll never take down
My Harry Potter poster
Wrap Jacob up
In Christmas paper
You know your Twilight friends
Want to know the latest caper!
Jacob, Edward and Happily Ever After
Hellion’s crazy parodies
Jacob for the crabbies and
Edward for the crazies
Did you know my favorite flower
Is a handful of daisies?
(Yeah, my boyfriend doesn’t either. Cheap ba…)
Yummy yummy wolfies and
Yummy yummy suckers
I wish Jacob
Would just tackle Bella and [BLEEP]
Oh I love Jacob on Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Okay, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Have any of you seen the new Twilight? Team Edward or Team Jacob?
*Sin perches on a railing and watches as Marn tries unsuccessfully to calm her.* "She's being thankful."
*Hellie* "Is her life really that bad?"
*Sin* "Nah. She's just out on submission. It's hard to stay thankful."
*Marn whips around* "Shh! Don't remind her!"
*Hellie* "Ohh. Well. Nothing like a nice rejection letter to remind a pirate to stay thankful."
As we all know, we're approximately T-minus-76-hours from Thanksgiving Dinner. I love Thanksgiving Dinner. I love smashing as many family members as you can around a table, all the yelling and "Hey, that was the last roll!" and insults being flung around. Last year, there was even a fork almost stabbed into someone's hand (my husband's family takes the roll situation seriously. God forbid we ever run out).
And then comes the question. "What are you thankful for this year?"
Now, I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a healthy family, job security, and a comfortable home. At the moment, there's not much more I can ask for. And I am thankful for all that.
But at the same time, there's this every-growing cloud of fear and rejection. My agent sent out my manuscript in October. And we heard nothing for a full month. It's good news, he told me. A full month without a pass is spectacular!
But even spectacular things come to an end, and the rejections started rolling in. It wasn't a big shock. We all face it. I've faced rejection before and I'll face it again. But man, it sucks. Every time I look at the emails again, I focus on these lines. These are the rejection lies. Some masochistic instinct makes me re-read them on a daily basis.
But this week, pirates, it's Thanksgiving. Screw masochistic impulses to rub salt in wounds. Forget wallowing in the descending cloud of realizing that this may not be the book. This one may have to go under the bed, and then it's going to be time to start over.
Back away from the knife block, ladies.
Oh, was I the only one? *stealthily sliding paring knife back into its slot*
So what do you do? When all you want to do is throw down the pen, lower your forehead to the table, and let out low, guttural moaning noises. When the thought of revising one more time makes your toes shrivel up in your special Thanksgiving socks.
No, really. I'm asking. What the hell do I do next?
I've been working on another project I was excited about, targeted for Harlequin Blaze. But Harlequin's craptasitc debacle killed that enthusiasm.
I signed up for my Spring classes, including "Conflict in Romance" and "Putting the Thrill in your Thriller," and that's exciting.
But the only thing that really works is to look at how far I've come, take a few deep breaths from my paper bag, and tell myself that if I've improved this far, I'll keep improving, and someday....somehow....I'll be getting different letters. In the mean time, I've blacked out all the bad words in those rejection letter, and am now only reading the pretty words that are left:
They make me feel warm and fuzzy. Yes, I know, there's a giant BUT coming (see the rejection nasty words above), but it's Thanksgiving. I can just stare at the pretty, fuzzy words, and pretend the bad ones don't exist.
So let's hear it wenches! What are you thankful for this year? What milestones have you passed, goals have you met or benchmarks have you flown over? What are your accomplisments? This is your chance to brag! Forget the rejections. Black out those words. What pretty words are you left with?
While I love me the usual hotties-*cough cough* RPattz *cough cough*-I kinda wanted to mix it up.
I watched Stardust recently and let me introduce you all to this fellow...
This is Charlie Cox, the lead in Stardust. This picture doesn't do him justice. When he smiles, it's all kinds of boyish charm, the kind that makes you want to forgive any tiny transgression.
In the same sort of fantasy movie vein, I really liked the guy who played Prince Caspian in the latest Narnia movie. This...
is Ben Barnes.
Personally, I think both of these guys should be getting some additional hottie air time.
So, who are your unexposed Hotties? Anyone we should give some air time, someone we've neglected?
Come hang with us this week. You can be sure we'll talk about Turkey Day, the Twilight Saga, and Tryptophan. I mean, it's Thanksgiving week after all.
So it was like any other Tuesday morning. I lolled in bed until almost 7 before hurrying into the shower, brushing my teeth, and dressing. I had breakfast nuked and set on the coffee table when I remembered I left my glass of Mountain Dew on my nightstand. I padded barefoot through the muted morning darkness and as I turned to walk back into the hallway, I saw it.
The black slithery line squiggled like lightning on my carpet and headed into the distinctive location of my bathroom.
I had a motherfucking snake in my motherfucking apartment.
I imagine to the average person, a snake the size of a bloated earthworm is no big deal, and to my herpetological-loving boyfriend, he’d probably argue whether it was actually a snake, being it was a whole 10-inches long and more anorexic than my pinkie finger; however, I would not be swayed. I was freaked the fuck out.
I hate snakes, and by that, I don’t mean I hate them and then go to the zoo to look at them in the Reptile room. I mean I hate snakes. I don’t discuss them; I don’t look at pictures of them; I don’t draw them for Pictionary. I don't google snakes. I don't play with plush ones at the stores. If you thrust a rubber one in my face, I will strangle you with it. The basilisk in Harry Potter flips me out, and it’s computer generated. I’m not joking; I hate snakes.
But don’t worry. Like all things that can scare me, I had a strategy planned, should the need ever arise of me having to deal with a snake in my domicile. I was going to call for someone to take the snake out of my house. It was going to be completely Samuel L. Jackson, jumping up and down on my couch, screaming into my phone, “Get this motherfucking snake out of my motherfucking apartment!” Then I was going to continue jumping up and down, screaming, until someone got it the hell out of my apartment. Simple, easy to remember.
Except I realized immediately—adrenaline rushing a pragmatic train of thought through my brain—I was going to have to deal with this problem. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be able to just call someone to come get it. Waiting would cause me more problems. Like it disappearing again and not being found. A snake continuing to be in my house, unfound, would be an infinitely BIGGER problem.
I’d have to trap it. Then call and freak out at my landlord. He could take the snake away once it was contained in a place smaller than my apartment.
I brought out the biggest, tallest Tupperware container I had and shakily brought it back to the bathroom. I screeched at the snake, who cowered behind the door as if it thought I might not see it. Right. My hawk-like gaze zeroed on the little bastard. I screamed and tried to scoop. He kept wiggling. I kept screaming and shaking so hard you would have thought I was a whippet caught in a blizzard.
Finally I relocated the damned thing into its new plastic home and lidded it tightly, prancing back into the living room and setting it on the card table. Then I curled up on my couch and allowed myself the Dobby-esque nervous breakdown I so richly deserved. I called the landlord and freaked out on the answering machine. “There is a SNAKE in my apartment! I have trapped it, but I don’t know if there are more SNAKES!”
Then I called my boyfriend. When my knight-in-shining-armor returned my call, he asked what’s wrong. This was an auspicious beginning; he’d sensed the terror in my voice and immediately called me back. “There is a fucking snake in my house.” “A snake?”—I can actually hear him sucking in his cheeks to keep from laughing outright. “Are you laughing?” I ask in my deadly woman voice. “Noooo. Where is the snake now?” “I trapped it in a Tupperware bowl. With a lid.” The lid was very important. I was still doing my best whippet shiver, but now I was able to redirect my fear into anger that somebody did not understand how dangerous this 10-inch non-venomous snake was.
Okay, time for the Charles Dickens’ HEA: the snake rode with me to work so I could release it as far from my house as feasibly possible (landlord did not return immediate call and I wasn't leaving it in the apartment--what if the snake was Houdini?); he was released into a nearby park around noon, the container thrown like I was trying out for shot put; and I haven’t seen the damned thing since. Best HEA of all.
I took a picture as proof in case my landlord thinks I’m just making up shit at this point. I feel like I call him every other week about something. Please note that the camera adds ten pounds. However, to me, ten inches is as good as a mile.
Now I only share this story and picture—other than I figure a lot of you would love to be marooned with Bo’sun and cut out of my will—because in creating characters, it’s important to give your character three things (three is always the magic number in fairy tales, I guess) they would never do. Then make them do them. If you had asked me a month ago what my plan was regarding snakes, it would be “call someone to get it out of my house.” Nowhere—and I mean nowhere—would the following procedures be on the list: “catch the snake” and “ride with it to work, passenger’s seat” and “release the live snake back into the wild.” What a joke.
It was when I was emailing with my friend Pam, who understands my phobia of snakes (she’s seen me walk on water to exit a swimming area where a snake had been spotted) gaped at me through email: “You trapped the snake? Really? OMG.” Same sort of email voice that would display the sort of awe for You cured cancer? Really? OMG. You know, as if I had wrangled a six-foot python rather an itty-bitty garter snake. (Same difference to me, you understand.) I also got brownie points for not bashing its head in. And I realized, Wow, I really had done something I would never, ever would have done in any other circumstances.
So if I, chicken shit extraordinaire, could corral a garter snake, then my own characters in novels could definitely do the shit they’d never dream of doing in real life. And I’m going to have to think hard because it really does need to be something that scares them to death.
I think it’s conquering the thing that scares you the most (not that I’m going to become a snake charmer by any means, nor bring home a pet python) that gives you the most satisfaction. Like you really earned your HEA or reward. One of the most satisfying moments in Stranger Than Fiction is when Will Ferrell starts living his life. He does things he never thought he could do—but wanted to do, like play the guitar. So he went and bought a kick ass guitar and learned to play a song. Then he plays the song for the girl he’s in love with—again, something he never would do in ordinary circumstances (but because he was going to die soon, he did it)—the dorkiest version of “Whole Wide World”, eyes closed, totally vulnerable, and for his efforts, his love interest totally jumps him. (Huzzah for that kind of HEA.)
I didn’t get magnificent sex for my efforts; however, I did feel—once the shivers wore off—like Lara Croft. I felt like a Heroine. That’s why writers have to make their heroines do the things they’d never want to do, or they’ll never be true heroines.
So what do you do to make your heroines earn their heroine status? Or your heroes for that matter? Do you notice in novels when characters do the things they said they’d never do? What are your favorite examples from novels or authors who do this well?
I love words, crew. I adore the play of words. My father was a punster and I grew up reading the masters of words and puns. Like Isaac Asimov. And the magician of the impossible, Ray Bradbury. Aye, I grew up reading the classics of science fiction. But these men were more than writers, they loved words. Especially Asimov.
I love words. They are the basis of magic. Of the spells that created worlds like Middle Earth, Hogworts, Narnia, The Foundation… I love words! I grew up reading Edgar Allen Poe, who played with words and the sounds of words. I fell in love with poetry, with songs…
And I despise seeing words corrupted, or misused. I rant and rail at words being used to debase or belittle. Like real as you all know.
You’re not a real writer.
Oh, you write romance? That isn’t real literature.
When are you going to get a real job?
That isn’t a real religion.
OK. How about the word enough’ Another one of my pet peeves. I dislike words that are born with a nebulous limit. But they are used to dictate value…with a nebulous limit! Define exactly how much enough is, if you can!
Some words are simple poison. Enough is one of those. So is better. Better than what, exactly? And there is the perennial favorite, should. Always used by those telling us what we ‘should’ be doing with our life. I find the ‘shoulders’ often use ‘real’ a great deal. Or misuse real. And they nearly always believe we could be ‘better’ or do ‘better’.
Considering the bloodbath I instigated some months ago, tossing inner critics to the Kraken…ever notice how many of these words are favorites of the critical types?
I know there be ‘sweet’ words that drive others insane. Like the word ‘sweet’. I’m not one of those, I find the word works for me. But I know there are those overused words. I believe they fall in the ‘purple prose’ category. (Why did they choose purple to demonize these words? I like purple…)
There always be the simple malapropisms. Those can be fun, but they ain’t in my hate category. Nah, it be the misuse of words. Not to mention the hijacking of words. Why is bitch a bad word? Or witch? And all the ‘nasty’words, of course. All those words used to discuss genitalia, either gender. I do not understand why words are assigned values that are purely part of denigration. Why is it an insult to call a man a dick? Or a woman a cunt? I do not understand this, really.
Now, words change meanings as generations use them differently. (I can’t tell you all how many discussions I’ve had with my mother over the word ‘gay.’) I understand how words change according to the society…but I don’t like it. No, let me put that differently, it isn’t that I don’t like it…I don’t like seeing good words turned bad. Or simple plain words turned evil.
I do understand the difference between definition and connotation, but I don’t always like that there is a difference. I’m a dreamer, sue me. I’d like to see words returned to their origins, to their purity. Allow the usage to be ascertained by the surroundings. And strive to restore honor to much maligned words, condemn those that limit to their limits!
We are writers. We owe it to the world to use words correctly. To encourage the reader to open their mind and embrace the correct usage of words. Tracing words to their origin often opens minds to how far meanings wander. I have a friend who went to school to study pedagogy which means, basically, the science and art of teaching But I bet that isn’t what most of you thought when you read it!
We all have pet peeves regarding how words are used. What are the ones that drive you crazy? And why? You have any words you are determined to redeem as a writer? Any stereotypes to see slain? Any you see misused that cause you to toss a book into a wall? Or any clever uses that make your heart sing? (I don’t want to be totally negative today!)
Musical influence this week: "There For You" Flyleaf
Swirling shades of blue
Slow dancing in your eyes
The sun kisses the earth
And I hush my urge to cry
'Cause I hear the whispered words
In your masterpiece beautiful
You speak the unspeakable through
I love you too
I wanna be there for you
And be someone you can come to
The love runs deeper than my bones
I wanna be there for you
I heart this song. I know at the moment you are finding it hard to believe (Chance is really going find it hard to believe when she gets a taste of what I listen to while writing) but there is nothing more inspiring than thinking about friendship and love and how those two weave together to make the perfect partnership.
When you think about writing a romance, you think about the relationship between your hero and heroine. How they meet. How they hook up. How they fall for each other and spend the rest of their lives together. The ultimate fairy tale ending. We all want that in the end. (If we're romance writers, and it's essentially the same formula if you write another genre other than romance- just without the lovey-dovey stuff). I'm actually going to talk about the lovey-dovey stuff for once instead of throwing up a little in my mouth and skipping around it.
I read all the fairy tales when I was a child. Thoughts of Snow White and Cinderella filled my head while I was daydreaming in the field. I wanted to be a princess every year for Halloween. Make believe time would consist of me putting on my finest leotard and tutu and dancing around like a princess. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would flat out tell you when I grew up I was going to be a princess. Fairy tales told me to not doubt that. There was a prince on a white horse waiting in the wings for me to wake up, look into his eyes and instantly fall in love.
Then, like Sleeping Beauty, one day I woke up and realized it doesn't happen like that in real life. It's easy to get disillusioned real quick when you start looking for reasons for the fairy tale to not work. There is no Prince Charming on a white horse waiting outside while you're under the Evil Queen's spell. (If you're lucky you might find a bad boy in a leather jacket with a fastback pony with glass backs and enough horses to keep your heart skipping a beat while you figure out a way to sneak out). You can't tell children it doesn't happen like that in real life. Fairy tales are a way of life for little girls destined to be princesses. Little girls need the thought of fairy tales and princes and white stallions to make the journey worthwhile in the end. Makes you appreciate what you find at the end of the road- your own type of prince with his own type of white horses. He slays demons and dragons and fire-breathing lizards and while you're no princess with no fairy godmothers to make dinner on a regular basis, that doesn't mean its not your very own brand of fairy tale. It's in the eye of the beholder.
Your hero and heroine need to make the journey. He doesn't need to be the prince and she doesn't need to be the princess in need of rescue. The journey is about paving a new fairy tale. Whether she throws up on him the first time they meet because he just happens to be sitting beside her in the doctor's office. Or he rear ends her brand new pricey vehicle at a stoplight because he's too busy breaking up with his flaky girlfriend via text message. The fairy tale journey has to start somewhere and no matter how it twists and turns, the ending is what counts. The Happily Ever After. The part when we read past the darkest black moment, we sigh, smile, slightly get misty eyed and remember that everything is supposed to work out in the end. Everyone wants to believe in the end there will be the happily ever after with doves being released in the background and fairy godmothers sighing and heaven's angels singing. Writers write to right wrongs and pretend for 300 pages that the fairytale exists. In those 300 pages, we make the readers believe it could happen too no matter how jaded we become in our own lives, the fairy tale is alive and well in someone's mind.
For me, I fell in love with romance novels because the relationship between the hero and heroine is always friendship, trust, respect. In the end, that's what brings them together. That's what keeps them together all those years. No matter the fights. No matter the issue. When you are friends with someone, it's so much harder to break their heart and disappoint. Fairy tales always have bumps in the road. If you can't make the jump over them together, the fairy tale ends. If you always hop them together, the fairy tale remains intact. You have to have obstacles to keep the fairy tale strong. And the hero and heroine's journey is no different.
Heroine is contacted to investigate crime.
Hero is Privately Investigating same crime for a different contact.
The hero meets his heroine. Shared history. Reunion of sorts.
The heroine punches him in the nose when he "accidentally" brushes his hand somewhere indecent in a crowded space.
The hero kidnaps the heroine.
The heroine sneaks away from the hero.
The hero admires the heroine's audacity.
Therefore, they are forced to work in close quarters to solve crime.
Hot things happen.
More hot things.
Heroine finds out that the Hero is working against her.
Heroine struggles and hero struggles and they part ways.
Heroine finds out she's an idiot.
Hero figures out he's an idiot.
Crime is solved.
Hero and Heroine HEA.
The. End. For. Now.
What is your rule of thumb when you're writing your own brand of fairy tale? How do you start each journey? How about your own journey? If you're not a writer, how would you want your personal fairy tale written?
Earlier this year, I went and saw the movie, UP, which is a brilliant movie designed within the first ten minutes to question your ability to tell stories at all. It’s got love and adventure, tragedy and laughter, danger and a happily ever after. It also has magic that can’t be divined; it’s clearly the magic of creating characters that seem to walk off the screen and into real life.
But you’ll need to watch the movie for yourself to appreciate it. No, I’m going to talk about the little cartoon short that was featured before the movie: Partly Cloudy. It was five minutes long, with no dialogue, but there was no info dumping or backstory—just a brilliant little tale about clouds who made babies (i.e. humans, puppies, kittens) and the one little gray cloud who made other babies (i.e. alligators, sharks, porcupines). Just another nearly crippling blow to my writer’s ego that dialogue wasn’t remotely needed to tell a story that could make you laugh and cry within five minutes, and leave you thinking about it long after.
I bought my DVD copy of the just-released movie and watched it again, still sniffling and crying at the right parts, then laughing hysterically at the baby animals the grumpy cloud creates. Talk about a character I could identify with. I look all around me at other clouds (writers) who are creating characters and stories that are much more mainstream (i.e. humans, puppies, kittens), while I am endlessly fascinated in creating characters and stories slightly off the beaten path (i.e. alligators, sharks, porcupines). And I have thrown more than my fair share of water-logged crying tantrums when my stork (i.e. CPs or potential agents) have flown off to more mainstream writers to work with. How could I blame them? Like the grumpy cloud, I don’t see what’s so special about babies, puppies, or kittens.
However, as I was staring at that baby alligator that the grumpy cloud had created, all I could think, “Awww, look how cute it is! There’s a market for baby alligators. Someone, somewhere, loves baby alligators.” And then the alligator bites the stork and I laughed. After all, that is the sensitive and caring person I am.
The black moment comes after the stork, ever faithful, ever returning for more “off the beaten path” characters, is presented with a shark. He flies off in pure self-preservation; and every writer knows, as the grumpy cloud realized, not every brilliant idea you have is going to be publishable. Or least maybe there might not be a market for it right away. It might have to be something you save for a cloudy day.
The grumpy cloud allows himself some crying and foot stomping and “it’s not fair” tantrum-throwing before he settles back down and seems to wonder, “Should I try something more mainstream?” And it’s at this crisis of faith, the stork returns, armed with hardware, ready to be the grumpy cloud’s go-to man. The agent that says: Yes, there is a market for your kind of crazy.
The grumpy cloud is so happy, he hugs the stork and presents him with an electric eel. We writers can’t change our true shades of gray. We are who we are. We just need to realize there is a market for baby alligators…and out there is a stork who is willing to go the distance to find the right home for our babies.
Having a bad writing day? Go watch Partly Cloudy. You’ll feel better.
What do you do to cheer yourself out of the writing doldrums of Doubt, Fear, and Loathing? What book or movie have you read or watched lately that has destroyed all your confidence in your ability to tell a story? Come do your grumpy clouding here. The stork is ready to listen.
The idea for this blog came from one of Chance’s comments on Friday. She said, “Me voice instructor used ta say that everyone can sing, it jus’ takes instruction ta sing well!” Since I know I can’t sing and have a hard time believing any amount of instruction would change that, it got me thinking. Can a person learn to do something well without being born with some kind of talent for it?
This is the classic nature vs. nurture argument. If a child is hateful, is it because he’s born that way or because of the way he’s been raised? Simply put, if nurtured differently from birth, would we be different people? I’m pretty sure no definite answers have been decided, but the experts do love to keep the debate going.
So, I’m bringing the debate onto the ship. Nature or nurture?
To form my argument, I’ll use personal experiences. For those who don’t know, I spent eight years as a disc jockey on the radio. I did have a minor amount of instruction in this area during my first stint in college, but once thrown on-air, it was sink or swim. Thankfully, I took to it like a fish to water.
However, I worked with a young woman who had been practicing her on-air skills for years. From talking to her, I knew she wanted to have a career in radio, but after many years, she never seemed to improve. Today, she sounds as unnatural and amateurish as the first day I heard her.
This is where I bring in writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing and if my grades throughout the years are any indication, I do have a talent for it. But, as we all know, writing a paper or even a letter or an email or a blog, is very different from writing a novel. I’m hoping that with years of practice and study, I can cultivate whatever talent I have into what it takes to write a really good novel. But will that happen? The jury is still out.
There is a part in my current WIP where the heroine points out to the hero, a high school baseball coach, that most of his kids will never be good enough to play ball either in college or the professional leagues. To which he responds, “Which one?” Which student do you discourage? As is to be expected, she doesn’t have an answer.
Now the question goes to you. Nature or nurture? Is hard work, instruction, and practice enough? Or are some things just not going to happen without some kind of innate talent? And how do you decide when it’s time to say, “This just isn’t going to happen?” Be it to yourself, or to someone else.
PS: My killer cold returned yesterday so if I’m slow to get here, I’m either buried under work due to losing two days to weather, or knocked out on cold meds. Either way, I’ll get here when I can.
Okay, the THREE winners of Lori Brighton's WILD HEART debut book are:
Congratulations, winners! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail mail address and I will forward it to Lori!
How about you? Are you dying to see this movie or not? Think these two youngins are swoon-worthy or not? And of course, the age old question: Team Edward or Team Jacob?
And once, well, I was just a singer in a coffee shop. Over ten years ago I regularly sang with my voice instructor at a coffee shop in the Sacramento Valley. She played guitar and sang a set; some Joni Mitchell, Dylan, even Rolling Stones. Take a small break, and then invite me to join her.
And I’d get up there and sing my heart out. She’d strum her guitar, sing harmonies as I’d ride the wave of singing in public. Folk, folk rock, traditional ballads…
There is really nothing like it. One of my favorite things to do was acapella pieces. All by myself, carrying the song, no accompaniment. And there would be all sorts of things that would happen. I’d take this lovely pause, just after a thrilling rise…and the barista would fire up the steamer.
And I’d smile. Didn’t matter, I had them in the palm of my hands. I’d see a few grimaces, or the barista would shrug, embarrassed. Hey, this was her job, I wasn’t going to hold it against her. If I didn’t get pissed, the audience didn’t get pissed.
Holding an audience that way, be it a handful of family and friends, or an unexpected group from a dinner out, is immensely rewarding. And scarier than hell.
I’d mess up. It happens. This was where I learned to slide through with a confidence that I didn’t always feel. If I didn’t let on that I’d blown something, nine times out of ten, they didn’t notice. As long as I finished sweet.
Now I’m writing. I don’t sing much anymore, save in my car. I don’t have the voice I used to have. Thyroid surgery and lack of practice saw to that. I’d like to think I could get it back. Well, maybe not what I had, but something nearly as good, or maybe better. Certainly different. It would just take a lot of practice and some commitment.
But instead, I write. And I want to hold an audience as I did when I sang. Know that there are mistakes I will make, but if I move through with confidence, if I believe in the innate talent with conviction… I can do this. It worked when singing!
I told stories with my singing voice. Love stories, funny stories, sad stories… They had a beginning, a middle, an end. And my singing voice carried it all.
Singing was easier. Sure, I know… “YOU SANG? IN PUBLIC? WITH A MICROPHONE? I’D DIE!!!!”
Yup, I did. And loved it.
Writing the stories down, getting the beginning down just right, the middle has to carry through to the end, the end has to satisfy… Yes, it was easier when singing. Because of my voice. If the words were a bit stilted, didn’t matter. I pushed the meaning into it, convinced the audience that these words… well…they sang!
Can’t do that with the written word. I can sell my writing voice. Hold true to that voice, believe in that voice, that it will sing through the words I use. But learning how to do that is tough. Finding that voice, honing it as something unique and wonderful, it takes practice. And commitment.
I’m facing some rough weeks ahead. Finally finding words to close The Changed World with, getting closer every day. Not sure I have the right words and my confidence in the earlier words is pretty low. But all songs start with some rough drafts. And this is really a rough draft. I have a lot of rehearsals to go through, a lot of looking for better words, putting together the right verses, the chorus, binding it all together. Learning how to sing this song best. Is this a ballad? A hard rock power opening? A tragic opera? I have so much to do here, it’s frightening. What is the theme music for this book? (I’m hearing that Evanescent song every time I write, so that’s a pretty big clue. You know, My Immortal?)
And then? Figuring out how to sell this song. Er, book.
Meanwhile, it’s time to do some work on reminding a few editors that, months ago, they asked to see a partial of A Caribbean Spell. And here, well…it’s about singing again. This is a song I know. I may be feeling uncertain about the new work, but I adore my first child. I can sing it in any key…give me that microphone and I’ll crawl up onto the piano and scorch the room. I just need the right audience.
Now and then, someone on the blog compares writing to…football, a movie, NASCAR. Today, I’m talking about songs, theme music, soundtracks!
A Caribbean Spell is easy. She’s a Jimmy Buffet rolling-with-the-sea ballad. (Let’s dump the glitter dress and piano. I need a pair of guitars and maybe an accordion. Steel drums, yes! This one sums it up well… Sing it, Jimmy.)
I’m still not sure about The Changed World, but I’m leaning toward an alternate bit of hard rock. Evanescent or even Lacuna Coil. Sin, when this book gets published, it’s dedicated to you, BTW.
The Alien Library? You know that song the diva sang in The Fifth Element? Yeah, that one! Spacey, flying, strange… (If you haven’t heard that song, rent the movie and wait for it. The blue alien…with a voice that is out of this world! Diva Dance.) (Actually, The Alien Library could be represented by nearly the entire soundtrack from The Fifth Element.)
So, you writers out there…what is your book singing? What style? Who is the lead? Not what you listen to as you write, but what your book is singing! Readers? What do you hear when you open your favorite book? Celtic harps? Scottish bagpipes? Opera? Twanging guitars?
As I’m plotting out my new project (stop cringing, pantsers), I’ve been reading through a couple craft books. I’ve read these already, but some material is worth reading again. I’ve brushed up on POV and show-don’t-tell. I would imagine that stuff has been drilled in to my head enough, but always good for a refresher.
While I was reading, though, I had a bit of an epiphany. Not that I didn’t “know” this already, but I was reminded again that some of the best conflicts are directly opposing conflicts. Maybe they’re external opposing conflicts. A builder and an environmental consultant. Lawyers on opposing sides of a criminal trial. An adrenaline junkie and a timid mouse.
But equally important are internal opposing conflicts. The woman who fears being left and the rolling stone. The man who doesn’t want children and the single mom.
I particularly love when an author flips a commonly used conflict on its ear. For example, in JR Ward’s Lover Awakened, the hero has been sexually abused and the heroine has to help him work through his feelings of inadequacy and anger instead of the other way around. I think Ward does it brilliantly but I love Ward’s voice so that probably doesn’t hurt.
I’m not sure why this really hit me while plotting this book. Maybe because I always hit the 2/3 point in my stories and question motivation. I think I wanted to make sure I had these motivations and conflicts decided before I started writing this time, instead of just letting my characters tell me later on what their baggage is.
I am still figuring out what my characters conflicts are in this story, but I’m going to make sure I know before I start writing. No matter how much my characters nag to get going without it.
What are some of your favorite opposing conflicts? Anyone who’s flipped a common conflict that you want to give a shout out? What opposing conflict do you use in your current work?
*note* I just wanted to say before the blog gets started to remind everyone of Veterans Day today. In remembrance of our fallen soldiers and those who have put their lives on the line to keep our freedoms and defend us, I want to thank you for everything you do and continue to do. There is no amount of thanks in the world that could express my appreciation of you. *end of note*
*popping head out over the top of the basket in the Crow's Nest* Ahoy there! I have a special guest today. Regulars of the blog know her after her expose of Nika Riley is Booty magazine but today she is back and ready to try her hand at something new. Raise your cups of rum to the Grand Pixy Sita and welcome her aboard.
*giving the look to Hells* That does not mean flicking her overboard. Or you Chance. Just a few words of advice while I'm gone today- Don't shake the pixy! *shudder* The thought of Sita dust everywhere is enough to keep me away from the deck for days.
Now, without further ado, I give you the GPS.
::inserts tape into magical recording device for notes for upcoming story for booty magazine, Writers in the Rough: Before They Were Big::
It takes great strength of spirit, cunning, an exuberant sense of adventure and persistence to be the lead reporter for Booty Magazine. Aw, who am I kidding? I just takes a great appreciation of the female body to be the lead reporter for Booty. So what, you may ask, is this reporter doing, lurking around in the woods near dusk? I'll tell you what. I'm stalking the up and coming new writer, Alessandra Lexi. And just who is this new writer? Well... I'm not really sure to be honest. I received some interesting pictures and a few pages of writing from a source and decided, I just had to investigate. So prepare yourselves for another Grand Pixy Sita exposé.
After my last adventure with Sin, I needed something new and invigorating to write about. And after interviewing Nika Riley I found I liked working with authors. Their minds are sometimes dark and twisty and they are all interesting. Especially that Hellion. Man, was she a bit scary. I thought she was going to clip my wings. And that would have been bad. Speaking of which, back to normal pixy size for spying.
So I'm here at a secluded lake, where my source assures me, I'll find this new author in her element. The lake is cold and covered in snow, no one around for miles. Small cabin in the woods, right on the lake. Prime spot for a nobody if you ask me. I wonder how she could afford such a place. I can't seem to find a good vantage point for my spying. Oh. Wait. There. There is a small window looking into the main room. Wow. Nice digs. Large open room, floor to ceiling windows out looking the lake. Leather couch. Fire place. Nice kitchen.
I wonder if there is any meat and chocolate in there. Maybe I can pry open the window and sneak in. Ouch. Damn windows. It's really nice in here. Oh shit. Here she comes. I hate having to duck into house plants. They are always so dusty! OH.... MY.... GOD... what is she wearing? You're never going to believe this! This woman, out in the middle of no where, is wearing a humungous, frumpy, poop brown, grumpy old man sweater. And if that wasn't bad enough, she has on a pair of old flannel boxers and Ugg boots. Is she freaking insane? With a set up like this she should have flocks of hot young men feeding her s'mores or something.
No wonder she hasn't made it big. She is not living the life style at all. Where is Sin when I need her? This woman is clearly in need of a life intervention. I bet she hasn't gotten laid in years! I need some rum. Where is my damn flask? This is just too much people, too much I tell you.
Wait, she's leaving the living room and heading into the back. And oh joy! She left her laptop out in plain view. Let's get a peak at what the author is writing.
::sounds of pixy wing flutter, soft landing, small squishy, squeaky steps on the leather sofa. Soft chuckle. Chortle. Laughter, the sound of something rolling around on the couch. Hysterical laughter. Loud thump. No sound::
::insert new tape in back up magical recording device, soft whispers::
Readers, beware. While Ms. Lexi does indeed look to be a promising writer if she can finish her novel, you're never going to believe the dirt I've found on her. Perhaps I should consider switching and writing for the Mid Atlantic Inquirer. Ms. Lexi is writing a soft core fan fic. But not just any fan fic, she is writing a fan fic for Stargate! Stargate! Thank god she isn't on the RWR. I think they would skin her alive and make her walk the plank. No honest to Goddess pirate would write this kind of crap.
"Oh Daniel, you're sharp mind titillates me in ways you can't imagine. I want you to talk ancient to me. I need you..."
I won't bore you with the lame sex details. They aren't even worth mentioning.
::loud thump, soft moaning::
Well well, what do we have? If I can sneak down the hall way, maybe I can get a peek at the writer in something else scandalous. Dark hall. Small rooms, oh wait. There. There's a soft light coming from that room. If I can peak in the door...
What the hell is she doing in there?
::soft door creak. Louder moaning, sounds of sheets rustling, slight flitter of pixy wings. Louder moans. Soft snicker and very fluttered wings. Door creak. Sniggering. Fast fluttering. Rush of wind and leaves. Hysterical laughing::
Ok readers, this is the biggest scandal since we found out about the breaking Stargate fan fic. It really is a wonder this woman is still alive. If I had to live her life I'd walk off the plank myself. This woman, I'm even sure I can call her that. This woman was .... Are you ready for it..... she was humping her blanket. I could just see the images of Michael Shanks in her head as she was riding those blankets like nothing else mattered. And what makes it worse, she was still in the damn old man sweater. How can a self respecting woman do that to herself in an OLD MAN SWEATER? I can't wait to get the opportunity to actually interview this woman. What a mess. I tell you, writers are funny people. No wonder Nika stays in seclusion. I hope she doesn't hump blankets in old man sweaters.
::stops tape and magically transports to small lantern home on the RWR in Sin's quarters::
"Sin!! Sin!! Open up! Wench, get in here and open up!"
"What the hell are you yammering about in there Sita?"
"Let me out. I have to tell you about what happened."
"What kind of trouble did you get into now? I'm not bailing you out or buying your soul back. No amount of rum is worth the trouble you get me into."
"No trouble. I swear! Just the best scoop I've ever gotten in my life."
"Scoop for what? You're not still trying to submit stories to Booty magazine are you? You know they only let you write because they wanted the exclusive with Nika and she would only let you do it. They don't want your stories. You're too wild for them."
"They will want this scoop. I've got a whole new series of stories. It's going to be all Steve Irwin up close and personals and about writers in their elements. My first study was Alessandra Lexi. I don't know if you've heard of her, but you won't forget her when I'm done playing you this tape..."
::rewinds, pushes play...::
So what have you today, pirates and wenches! What kind of wild expose could you see written about you? Ever wonder what people would think about your alter ego as a writer? (Though, that's a question for us who stay in seclusion of our writing.) How do you envision your first interview to happen?
Words of Wisdom from Galley 'Ho, Santa...
I don’t know if you know this about me or not but I adore men. Just about all men. Tall ones. Short ones. Barrel-chested and stocky ones. Ones with abs cut like the cobblestones of some of the side streets in Greenwich Village. Chiseled features or dimpled cheeks.
Old or young…no, wait a minute. Not young. No boy toys for me. I think a well seasoned man is a treasure and a treat. For me, that man knows his own mind.
Done finding yourself? Great, step up to the mic.
Done negotiating your self-worth? Sign on the dotted line.
I just heard of a new series on television called Men of a Certain Age. My ears perked up. I looked up (I write with the TV on much like some folks write with music) and there was Scott Bakula, Andre Braugher and Ray Romano. Talking at a diner. Looking very handsome – to me. I want to know what these guys of a certain age have to say for themselves. I am, in a word, intrigued.
Where are they in their lives? I hope they explore this. How have they gotten to where they are and are they happy there? What’s next on their hit parade? In a clip from the show, Ray Romano quibs that he recently went to a mega store and bought a mondo-pack of 400 razors. Clearly, he says, at 48 these are the last razors he’ll ever buy in his life. I had to laugh out loud because he’s right. 400 razors at 48 years of life – these will be his last ones. Unless, his wife and daughters steal them from under his nose.
I think one of the best examples of a man aging gracefully would be George Clooney. His face has just enough lines on his to call him distinguished and not crinkly like a smoothed out piece of paper. He is also set to star in a movie about a man who’s traveled just long enough to find his dream woman and hit the 10,000 frequent flyer miles.
I see George Clooney as a man who clearly has enjoyed the journey that has been his life to date. He has been wildly successful but that success is not that old. He’s worked to get where he is though blessed with great genes and opportunities.
Connie Brockway has written two of the most delicious older men in her the two contemporaries she has written Hot Dish and Skinny Dipping. Here are men not of a mystery but of a history. They are not perfect by any means but I don’t think they would have worked in these books if they were. No one wants a perfect hero no matter what their age.
So what about you? What manner of hero – in real life or in fiction – appeals to you? Come on now, I know I’m not the only one here who appreciates a man as fine as a bottle of vintage wine.