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Friends in Low Places

It’s the age old argument. Is romance real literature?

To some, no.romance

According to Washington Post writer Justin Wm. Moyer, romance is”formulaic with fill-in-the-blank qualities.” His recent comments expressed in the article about the plagiarizing case against Laura Harner sparked a firestorm of controversy in the romance community over his generalization of the genre.

Author Jenny Trout recently wrote a scathing rebuttal to the Washington Post article. Both the WP article and Jenny’s rebuttal are worth the read, as are the comments in both articles.

The truth is, romance is a billion dollar business catering mostly to women. Romance is no more formulaic than the mystery, suspense. or science fiction genres, but you rarely hear diatribes on the worthlessness of those stories. I write romance. I read romance. And I can appreciate the work behind a well-written love story. I wish everyone could.

Love makes the world go round. When people lie on their death bed, they don’t want co-workers or acquaintances around–they want their loved ones–husbands, wives, lovers, children, family, and friends. These relationships are what matters in life–all that matters in life, so I become confused when books that delve into the making of said relationships are bashed as worthless.

I suppose Justin Wm. Moyer, upon his deathbed, will feel gratified while surrounded by stacks of newsprint. May that same pile of print keep him warm at night.

What are your views of romance?

photo credit: Romance via photopin (license)

He Said, She Said: The Temperature Wars

Have you ever had a disagreement with your significant other over the temperature in the house? Whether you’re female or male, the answer is probably yes.

For years, my husband has been after me to install air-conditioning in the house. For years, I’ve resisted because I love to open the windows in the summer and let the natural breeze cool the house.

But last month, I finally gave in, and we now have a monstrosity of a unit outside our back door. And that’s when the temperature wars began…

He Said, She Said

He Said: (comes home from work, sweaty and hot) “It’s roasting in here. Why isn’t the air-conditioning on?”

She Said: (wearing t-shirt and sweats, and after a day inside, non-sweaty and cool) “It is. Give it a little while and you’ll adjust.”

He Said: (checking the temperature on the thermostat) “What’s the point of having air-conditioning if you’re going to keep it this hot? What a waste of money.”

She Said: (trying to be understanding) “If it’s set any lower, it’s too cold downstairs.”

He Said: “The temperature down there is only 20C (68F). How can that be too cold?”

She Said: (just the tiniest annoyed) “Trust me, it is.”

Ten minutes later, there’s a significant temperature change in the house. Upon checking the thermostat, she discovers the temperature has been lowered.

She Said: (pulling on a sweatshirt) “22 (71F) is too cold.”

He Said: “How can it be too cold? In the winter 22 is warm.”

air-conditioner

One hour later, she’s sitting in the downstairs family room reading, covered with a blanket. It’s so cold, she has to get a tissue because her nose is running. She heads upstairs to the dining room where he’s playing Solitaire on his PC…

She Said: (grumpy as all get out) “It’s freezing down there. It’s freezing up here, too. The air-conditioner has been running for a solid hour without stopping.”

He Said: (bundled up in a warm sweater) “How do you know? You can’t hear it inside the house.”

She Said: (seething) “The furnace room is right across from me. I can hear it run and it’s not clicking off.”

He Said: “Not possible.”

She Said: (stomping away, heading back downstairs to the good book she’s reading) “I’m not stupid, you know. Go sit in the family room for a while and you’ll see what I mean. It’s so cold, I’m ready to haul out my winter jacket.”

He Said: (actually, he just ignores her, which pisses her off to no end, and makes her regret installing the stupid air-conditioner)

Finally, she goes outside to warm up, but because it’s still hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement, she’s soon all sweaty. She gives up and heads inside, grabs a second blanket and hauls it downstairs…

Two hours later, he comes down to the family room…

He Said: (hands in pockets, looking smug and righteously right) “It’s nice down here.”

Then he goes back upstairs.

At bedtime, the air-conditioner gets turned off. The windows upstairs stay closed because, you know, you’re not supposed to open the windows when you have air-conditioning.

The residual heat from the day is trapped inside the house and the temperature in the bedroom climbs. Despite the fan above the bed, it keeps getting hotter, until she finally heads outside to cool off…or maybe just cool down.

She Said: “Stupid air-conditioner. Stupid men. One of them has to go.”

Do you have He Said, She Said moments in your household, too? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Love/Hate Relationships

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I’m a pretty private person. I’m not apt to share the minutia of my life with others. I bore myself half the time and figure I shouldn’t spend time boring others. I’ve even written entire blog posts on my hatred for Facebook.

But… Screen Shot 2012-11-15 at 1.59.16 PM

There are times when I discover things on FB that I never would have known. For instance, there is a page dedicated to the recovery of a young woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car accident. I’m not sure how this page ended up on my feed, but a friend must have liked it and now I read the posts and updates whenever I see them.

I don’t know the girl. I don’t know her family. The posts are remarkable and uplifting and so full of hope. The mom and dad take turns writing posts that convey their courage and faith as the family takes baby step after baby step toward recovery.

There are thousands of pages like theirs on Facebook. Thousands. I’m not sure what it was about this one that caught my eye and made me read. And keep on reading. And praying for them. I believe in the power of prayer.

I found this girl’s story through a social media site I sometimes love and sometimes hate. Love or hate it, social media has power. Sometimes that power is a wonderful thing.

What about you? Have you found something through social media that has impacted your life? If so, would you please share?

How Do You Connect?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on reaching out to my readers.  But outside Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, blogs and book signings, I’m wondering where to go next.  Where do authors and readers connect?  Online?  At book club meetings? 

Where do readers want to connect?  How do they want to connect?  Do they want bookmarks, recipe cards, swag of all sorts?  Do they want signed books, personal meetings, interesting tidbits of information gained via newsletters?  Maybe connecting isn’t as key as enjoying a good book.  Authors write, readers read.

But readers are my lifeblood as an author.  I write for myself, but I write for my readers, too, and I want to know what they want, what they care about…  I don’t want to waste their time.  So I’m asking, as writers, has there been an exceptionally wonderful way you’ve connected with your readers?

And readers, how about you?  What would you love to see from your favorite authors?  Inquiring minds want to know!  At least this inquiring mind, anyway.

Specimen Selection

Friend of mine’s daughter is getting married.  Yep, she’s excited, fearful, concerned, panicked—the gamut.  While she likes the fellow very much, a mother always reserves the right to judge.  After all, it is HER baby we’re talking here and she wants what’s best.

But what is best?  And for whom? Now, this all depends on our tastes, doesn’t it?  Some like it fruity, some like it tart.  Some like it sweet and some like it hot.  What it is, doesn’t matter so long as you know what it is that you like.  (Otherwise, you’ll be growing all kinds of things only to give them away, because they don’t suit your tastes!) 

Now why am I talking produce all of a sudden?  Because it’s that time of year in my garden.  And mind you, the premise works for both husbands and vegetables.  First, when it comes to specimen selection, the fellow (or veggie) must fulfill your needs.  Whether you’re seeking the proper balance for your daily diet, or the simple pleasure of beauty to fill your senses, you must decide what’s right for you. 

And while it would be nice to combine ALL of our wants into one big, robust plant that served all of our needs, it’s not normal.   No.  It would be like messing with Mother Nature’s natural order, whereby you could end up with a hybrid of sorts!  Remember:  those don’t reproduce well

A specimen with your must-haves is best.  Like I must-have meaty, fleshy tomatoes, because my end game is to make sauce.  Big, round juicy ones simply won’t do.  They just won’t serve me well (despite their delightful description!).  So I’ll choose Roma-type tomatoes versus Beefsteak.

Pumpkins sound harmless enough, but they can be a downright nuisance.  They spread their vines in every direction and can literally take over the landscape.  Try as you may to stop them–even remove them– they continue to return.  It’s a plant that doesn’t allow for much else to thrive and should be well-controlled for best results.  Think:  oppressive mother-in-law.

Yes, well, some of you know exactly what I mean.  While marriage is a beautiful thing, it is supposed to last a lifetime.  A tough proposition to say the least, because as my husband so aptly put it:  the one thing in life you cannot control is your spouse.  Was this a hint?

Sure was—and a good one at that!  As mothers we can advise, counsel, take under our wing and nurture, but we cannot control our spouse.  Or our adult children, for that matter.  And like the mother bird who watches her child take that first leap from the nest, we worry whether or not they’ll land on their feet.  If they get hurt? We flock to their side.  We want nothing to harm our babies!

But sometimes, hurt is part of the process. Not every marriage makes it the first time.  Mine didn’t.  And while it was sad, it has served to make my second (and current marriage) stronger.

So what’s a poor mother to do?  I imagine she’s too busy pondering that question.  She has a wedding to plan!

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