Wednesday, March 21, 2018

You are Unique

I know you’ve heard that a lot. And some of you say, “Baloney” because you don’t feel special or unique. But when I tell you that you are unique, I mean something (this time) that you may not have heard before.

You are unique because no one, NO ONE, is experiencing life right now in the same way you are. Even if you are sharing a ride at Disneyland in the Haunted Mansion. Even if you are sledding in the snow with friends. Even if you have just been in a car crash with your best friend.

You may have shared the experience with another person, sharing the space and the event, but each of you “experienced” the event in your own ways. Your partner had a different startle in the Haunted Mansion ride. Your friends responded differently to, or didn’t even notice, the cold and stinging snowflakes hitting your face. Your best friend had shis own thoughts and felt the pain of the collision differently.

You are unique. You are you and no one else can be you, feel as you, respond as you to situations.

Look around you. Smell the air. Listen to the sounds. You are unique. No one else in the whole world is having this exact same experience as you right this minute.

So revel in that uniqueness. Celebrate your uniqueness. Explore it and exploit it. Make you even more you. Be mindful. Waken to yourself and be self-aware. Glory in the you that is you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

First interracial Marriage, Then Gay Marriage, and Then . . . ?

With the legal acceptance of gay marriage, I am wondering what other sexual no-no’s will be toppled next. But first let me say, that I thought it stupid that interracial marriage, kinky sex, and gay marriage were ever forbidden. Really?

I’ve always said that maybe, when and if there is too much love in the world, maybe I’ll object to someone in a non-traditional relationship. Non-traditional meaning, that’s not what mine is. Right now, we are in no danger of that. So, love away, everyone. Love whomever you wish. Love however you wish.


What about polygamy?

Now, I know polygamy was a commonly accepted marital pattern long before modern times. There were reasons for it, I suppose. Women died at an alarmingly high rate from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. A hardscrabble, subsistence lifestyle meant more hands available could help ensure survival. Men can spread sperm faster than women can pop babies so more women means more potential children.

But that’s not the modern story in first world countries. In the United States polygamy has been condemned and outlawed since a Supreme Court ruling in 1878. Why? The holy book roots that the colonists followed certainly supported in a positive way, plural, simultaneous marriages. How did monogamy win out?

First some background. Polygamy (many spouses) is the broad umbrella term for plural, simultaneous marriages. Within polygamy, one can have polygyny (many wives, the most common form of polygamy) or polyandry (many husbands).

Polygamy is legal in 58 of 200 sovereign states. According to Wikipedia, a study in 1988 identified the marriage patterns of 1,231 societies. Of these 1041 had frequent or occasional polygyny, 4 had polyandry, and 186 practiced monogamy. Hmm! A bit outnumbered.

In 2000, a United Nations committee said polygamy violates a covenant on civil and political rights and that countries should abide by the treaty and eliminate polygamy. But there are so many countries, primarily Muslim ones, that didn’t agree to the treaty that there has been little effect from the recommendation.

In general, the objection seems to be that polygamy hurts women and children as abuses in the FLDS (fundamentalist Mormon) cases have demonstrated. However, some argue that by legalizing polygamy, it will be easier to fight the abuses that are already covered by other laws, such as child abuse, underage marriage, and rape of young girls forced into marriage. Bringing the marriages into the open sheds light on what is really happening. Some say. I’m not so convinced.

One way around the polygamy laws is to have a legal marriage and then have legal adulterous relationships simultaneously. Polygamy results without the legal sanction. You hear stories of this in the news periodically. And there are popular TV shows like the reality show, “Sister Wives”, and fictional shows like “Big Love”, that promote the polygamous lifestyle choice.

Another big objection to polygamy is economic. One needs a substantial family income to support the such large numbers living together. A complaint about FLDS plural marriages is that the families often go on welfare to ensure that families have enough to eat and a large enough home to live in. Some say, fine. Make that lifestyle choice. But no government help will be provided if you do so. Who suffers? Children and women who are denied adequate nutrition and healthcare. How can that be right?

People are curious how families like this manage. Manage financially, socially, emotionally, and physically. Most of us have trouble juggling one spouse and kids! We wonder how our own insecurities and jealousies would play out in a polygamous setting. So we watch these shows to see how they do it. And tickle our brains with could we/should we live a polygamous lifestyle?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Book Review: The Taste of Air

One quote I loved and read several times serves as the theme of The Taste of Air, I believe. “The chain of connections and separations is how our lives pass.” So beautiful and so true not just in the context of this novel.

Gail Cleare’s USA Today Bestseller is a novel of three women, a mom and her two daughters who discover that they may not be as familiar with one another as they had thought. It is a novel that will move your spirit through recognition of your own life and your relationships with those close to you. How well do we really know anyone, even those we think we know best?

We learn that each woman’s secrets, yearnings, struggles, and choices have an effect on their own lives and the lives of those closest to them. When Nell learns that her gravely ill mother led a secret life for decades, she is hurt, baffled, and determined to unravel the mysteries created by her mother’s choices. She enlists the aid of her sister, Bridget, and her mother’s closest secret friends, breaking down their barriers meant to protect their mother.

Through their discoveries about their mother’s secrets and the reasons for them, Nell and Bridget come to realizations about their own lives that, in the end, profoundly affect both of them. Each woman struggles with what self-actualization, modeled by their mother’s actions, must mean in their own lives.

Ms. Cleare’s descriptive language is poetic, evoking literary fiction without the pretentiousness of some books in that genre. She creates scenes with words that put you in the middle with the action, sights, smells, and tastes happening all around. It is a beautifully written book.

I loved The Taste of Air, and I predict you will, too. It touches us on so many levels.

You can read your own copy of this beautiful novel. The Taste of Air, published by Red Adept Publishing, is available on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Sex Conversations We Must Have

An apology. I have been remiss in posting here. My daily Month-of-Recipes on another blog interfered with keeping up with the other three blogs. But, I’m back and will post weekly again.

Recent allegations of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment have rocked the entertainment and political fields as well as the corporate one. Frankly, the avalanche surprises me.

The national consciousness should have been raised when Anita Hill made credible claims against Clarence Thomas in 1991. Why didn’t that happen?

It should have been raised with all the smoke (and likely fire) around the Clinton allegations. Why didn’t that happen?

Anthony Weiner, anyone? Why didn’t that happen?

A candidate for the presidency admitting that he could grab women’s genitals with impunity. What took us so long to get on board the train to restraint and decorum?

Why was Weinstein the straw that broke the camel’s back? Since that story broke—and broke, and broke, and broke—we’ve seen a veritable avalanche of men—and a few women—fall down the mountain. Some from waaaay up high!

I am really puzzled as to why this took so long to happen. Why didn’t we earlier understand that harassment, assault, and sexualization was damaging and demeaning and damnable? Why now with #MeToo?

But the floodgates have broken, and the amount of reported abuse in various forms is staggering. However . . .

If only humans always acted in ethical ways, there would be no reason for those 10 Commandment thingies. But we don’t. And as a result we have a number of people coming forth with abuse claims that may be lies. Lies told, perhaps, to retaliate for a perceived wrong. And how do we know what is true?

I was heart sick when some names were put on the accused list. True? Not true? How can one tell in a he-said, she-said situation? Without witnesses, without corroborating evidence, it comes down to who does one believe, especially in a single instance.

When there are multiple accusations, it’s sort of like the old “does smoking  cause cancer?” debate. We couldn’t do controlled studies to make some people smoke and see if they developed cancer, so while there could be no causative evidence gathered (in a scientific sense), the preponderance of correlative evidence swayed scientific (and public) opinion.

Is that the same here? With multitudes coming forward, Harvey Weinstein certainly appears guilty to us. Why not Bill Clinton? There are still deniers, just as there are for our current president.

But my concern here, beyond the fact that these scumbags, all of them, ought to suffer for their misdeeds, is the spreading web that might encompass the innocent wrongly accused. Or those who didn’t know touching a woman’s shoulder could be offensive to her.

The conversation that is long overdue is a national airing of the continuum of behaviors and their perceived intent. It’s time to figure out the continuum from flirting to crossing the line.

We need to figure out criteria that spell it out. Reasoned talk recognizing that one woman’s harmless flirtation is another woman’s assault. How can that be reconciled?

Everyone knows rape is morally and legally wrong. But is touching a woman’s back and rubbing it over the line? At the line? Okay? What is flirting? When does flirting become stalking?

Paul Ryan’s call for mandated training—like any mandated training—will have little effect, I suspect. Without dialogues and clear guidelines and people understanding there is a range of toleration among women, nothing will really change. This is about power, ultimately, not sex. And people who perceive themselves as having power will continue to abuse it.

As we are seeing, however, holding people publicly and financially accountable, the modern version of stocks in the town square, will have more effect. But will the range of abuses just become more subtle, go to ground? Is that a solution?

Jane Seymour sees it from a different perspective, based on her own #MeToo experience. She believes that in many cases, women have to know what their own line is that cannot be crossed, and then make that clear. Too many of us are concerned with not making waves, with being agreeable. We may be uncomfortable but don’t know how to stop it. That is the case with a couple of my #MeToo experiences. We must help girls grow into women with a strong sense of self so that we nip offensive behaviors early on. And each of us will have a different tolerance along that continuum.

92-year-old Angela Lansbury took it in the back when she raised the question of modesty in dress. She asked if women bear any responsibility when clothing today is meant to attract attention. Lansbury was attacked as if she meant that women were to blame. Read her whole statement. That’s not what she said or meant.

Music personalities dress more than provocatively encouraging that kind of dress enter the mainstream. Moms of pre-teen girls express concern about clothing options available. Billboards, music videos, movies all sell sex through dress.

“No” always did and always will mean “no.” Just because someone dresses provocatively doesn’t mean he or she is asking for an invasion of personal space. But can you see how that might not be clear to a guy who doesn’t know the woman? Who doesn’t really get “the rules”? Who wonders why she would dress to attract if she doesn’t want the whole enchilada? Men are from Mars, you know.

We live in an age of, if not free-love of the 60s and 70s, then relatively cheap love. Having sex is not fraught with the same societal dictums of the past nor even the same judgment. No one gets a Scarlet Letter A anymore.

But what is your line? How do you make the line clear? Is Seymour right, that we need to control the situation more than we have been?

I am NOT one of those who says she asks for it if she dresses like that, yet, why are they dressing provocatively? I’m puzzled. I don’t want to go back to pioneer days with every body part covered, but, seriously?

Facebook: Angelica French challenges us to figure out what the next steps are beyond #MeToo. Are there ways to stop the abuse?

Twitter: @RomanceRighter challenges us to figure out what the next steps are beyond #MeToo. Are there ways to stop the abuse?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

It's None of Your Business, Except When It Is

***Political Viewpoint Blog Post***

I was never a huge Bill Clinton fan. His country-preacher oratory style turned me off. Did I think he could do the job? Yes. Did I think he did do the job? Yes. But personally, I couldn’t stand him to watch or listen to him.

When “The Scandal” hit during his presidency, and coming on the tails of previous allegations of sexual liaisons/assault accusations, I wasn’t shocked. I also wasn’t interested. That was for Hillary and Bill to sort out, and I didn’t need to know about it.

Until he lied. Lying from my president is unacceptable behavior. Under oath or not. It's the
9th commandment in our current president’s favorite book.

Now I no longer cared about the privacy and marital aspects of it. I wanted to know why he thought he could lie to us, to the world. Like Caesar’s wife, presidents have to be above the rules that govern the rest of us. Like it or not, they are role models.

How simple it would have been, in retrospect, for Bill to have admitted his infidelities and put it down to being, literally, a dick head. Man up. Do the right thing. It would not have had nearly the life it took on had he only done the right thing in the beginning.

In Yogi Berra’s words, “It’s like déjà-vu, all over again.”

The latest on 45’s peccadilloes is the hush money paid to a porn star, the news of which broke on the Trump’s recent wedding anniversary. This was an affair during the early years of their marriage. In 2006, his son Barron was born. A few months later he was having an affair with a porn star.

It happened. She gave an interview years ago about the affair, before he was a political figure. The lawyer doesn’t deny paying her through a shell company right before the election. The lawyer denies there was an affair even though he won’t say why he gave her $130K. Smoke, fire. You know the saying. Connect the dots, people.

Melania doesn’t get vocal about the avalanche of infidelity/sexual assault accusations. Oh, she made a half-hearted stab at defense during the election cycle, but it was lame. He acted like a bad boy? That makes it okay? Do we want a 70+-year-old boy president?

This news article laid out the series of observed actions, expressions, and behaviors that seem to say the Trump marriage is in trouble. I’m sorry if that’s true. I believe in marriage and what it represents. I want their marriage to succeed. It’s her first. And since it’s his third, I would hope he would have learned from his previous failures.

I’m sad that this president seems not to and that his behaviors hurt others. Melania seems to be a bright woman who loves her child completely. Imagine not only her personal pain, but that of her son hearing these truths about his father. How can a child reconcile that kind of hurt inflicted on his mother?

So, we care about all this dirt. We care because of what it reveals about our president. Disgusting as his behaviors might be, the real concern we need to have is about the character of the man representing our beautiful county to the world. Liars don’t have credibility. His marriage is still none of our business and whatever problems they have they will work it out. Or not.

I am only concerned about character and the face of the presidency.

Facebook: When are Presidents’ peccadilloes our business, if they ever are? Angelica French says “Sometimes.”

Twitter: Can the #President and his wife maintain privacy when dealing with #marital issues? Maybe. Maybe no. @RomanceRighter expresses a political viewpoint.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Writing "Bad Boys" in Romance

Here they are again!
I posted last Wednesday about characteristics of bad boys in books and how to write believable ones. In doing research for that post, I gathered so much information, that I thought I’d share the leftovers here.

Well, not really leftovers, actually, since this is new content, but the content is complementary to what I posted last week.

My erotic romance, Streetwalker, features hero Harlan, a bad boy for heroine Carrie. I LOVE Harlan. He is brilliant, powerful, confident, rich, gorgeous, great in bed, and more than a little bit flawed.

Harlan’s rebellion against society’s rules led to losing his medical license. So of course, he started a high end bordello on New York’s Upper East Side, enrolling as clients the rich and powerful of the city as insurance against prosecution. A bad boy.

Not all bad boys wear leather jackets, sport multiple tattoos and piercings, or have a scruffy look about them. Harlan is a great example of an elegant, successful, and living-life-on-his-own-terms, bad boy. And did I mention his sexual prowess?

In a nutshell (for the whole enchilada, to mix a metaphor, read the post at Write on Sisters), a bad boy exhibits certain qualities. I identified these as: exuding confidence, allowing his own interests to take precedence over others’ interests, moody, paradoxical, edgy, displaying an attitude, rebelling with or without a cause, engaging in dangerous hobbies, and being mysterious, complex, and complicated. Women respond to their perception that his strength will bring them protection, a universal need.

In writing your bad boy, be sure to avoid the stereotypes as the only traits. Make him more complex and he’ll interest your readers more. To clarify, we aren’t talking villains here. Villains in our books primarily exist to foil the protagonist, not to act as a potential love interest. Though it does happen.

We’re talking bad boys as guys who appeal to women in books (and real life?), guys you see around every day.

Think about "The Good Wife" Diane Lockhart’s fascination with Kurt McVeigh, a man different from her in nearly every aspect. Can you see the appeal for her, a buttoned-up corporate type? He’s so wrong for her from her friends’ perspective, and when she meets his friends, she finds nothing in common with them. Women who fall for bad boys risk being isolated from other friendships. Kurt is on the softer side of the bad boy continuum.

Another classic bad boy is Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. He flaunted convention and contrasted well with the ultimate nice guy, Ashley Wilkes. Scarlett, who schemed shamelessly to entrap Ashley, never could shake her attraction for the dangerous and rule-breaking Rhett.

On the harder side of the bad boy continuum, think to Morelli, Stephanie Plum’s nemesis, virginity-taker, and man she simply cannot get out of her life. Adding in another bad boy, but a more complex and softer bad boy, Ranger, just adds to her man dilemma. There is no way Stephanie Plum is going for the nice guy. No way.

An interesting piece I came across, and then lost the link to when I had a computer glitch causing me to lose all my research, was on women and how birth control had changed to put them more in charge of their relationships. The gist of one section was that ovulating women are attracted to bad boys, and women who are on birth control seek men who are perceived more as nice guys. I interpreted this to mean, women want strong, healthy babies (from the rugged men), but they want a nurturing male who will be faithful to them to raise the babe. An interesting notion.

Research into what constitutes a bad boy always leads one to a book by Carole Lieberman and Lisa Collier Cool, Bad Boys: How We Love Them, How to Live with Them, When to Leave Them.

Dr. Leiberman’s research led her to identify 12 archetypes for bad boys. She used movies and folk and fairytales to name them. These destructive men to avoid are: Fixer-Upper Lover, Wanton Wolf, Commitment Phobe, Self-Absorbed Seducer, Wounded Poet, Prince of Darkness, Lethal Lover, Power-Mad Prince, Misunderstood & Married, Grandiose Dreamer, Man of Mystery, and Dramatic Daredevil. A more recent book by Dr. Lieberman is Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them and How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets. Analagous to the bad boys book, there are 12 bad girl archetypes. Maybe that will be a later post.

Involved with a bad boy or want to be? Know this. The chances of changing him are slim. And why would you want to? The parts of him that attracted you would disappear, and then what? You leave him because he is no longer edgy, dangerous, challenging? Who wins in that?

If you want more, here are some links so you can do reading on your own.

Interesting? Worth sharing? Here are some copy/paste posts for you. You’re welcome!

Facebook: Angelica French continues her exploration of what “bad boys” are and how to write them convincingly.

Twitter: @RomanceRighter shares what she learned about how to write “bad boys” in romances.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tips for Writing Good "Bad Boys"

Bad Boys. You see the fall coming as she tries to make Mr. Wrong into Mr. Right. You’d like to warn her, but you know she has to come to the conclusion herself. Odds are he won’t change. But you know, if she changed her bad boy into a more conventional one, she wouldn’t want him anymore.

Bad boys. We know ‘em when we see ‘em, but defining just who they are is a slippery proposition. Not all are tattooed, pierced, leather-jacketed, motorcycle riders. But they might be. That is such a clichéd trope, however, that the best writers avoid. Rather, the best written bad boys leave you guessing as to how far they will go. And clothes and earrings might not signal that.

To be clear, I’m not talking about villains in books. That’s a particular kind of bad boy, for sure. I am talking about the men women are attracted to but shouldn’t be. The kind of guy you wouldn’t take home to meet Daddy. Him.

I’ve done a good bit of reading on the topic to try to figure out just who “bad boys” are, why women are attracted to them, and how writers can use that information to write more interesting characters. I interviewed an expert on men for his views. (Okay, so it was my husband, still …) And I drew on experience. Okay, limited experience.

Now, not all women are attracted to bad boys, or at least not enough to pursue a relationship with one. But some women fantasize about bad boys. Or they flirt with the possibility and even engage in short term flings. You’ve seen it in books. “Oh, no,” you cringe when she sends a come-hither message to a guy who is so totally wrong! “What are you thinking?” It doesn’t help that he ignores the message. He’s in control of who he wants to be with. If she’s too available, a bad boy is likely not interested.

Well, as the old joke goes with guys (“You’re thinking with the wrong head.”), so it goes with some women. The animal attraction, the lust factor, the forbidden aspect can be intoxicating when confronted with a bad boy.

I would contend that book women, however, are not truly attracted to bad boys who are reallllly bad. They don’t want to get involved with rapists, sadists, abusers, and others of that ilk. No, they like their bad boys to straddle good and bad with the heavier foot down on the bad side. They look redeemable, and therefore present a challenge to women.

Why are women drawn to bad boys? The best thinking is that:
1) Women are curious about men so different from themselves.
2) Women want the vicarious thrill of being a bad girl by hanging out with a bad boy.
3) Women take the bad boy as a challenge to be redeemed or a prize to be won.
4) Women seek men who will dominate them, within boundaries.
5) Women want the prestige of being the pick of a perceived leader.
6) Women want the power that comes with being the pick of a perceived leader.
7) Women are bored with “nice guys”.

Bad boys make great foils in books, no matter the genre. If you want to write in a great bad boy for your next book, keep these tips in mind:

A bad boy exudes confidence. An authentic bad boy can be described as assertive, strong-minded, and decisive. Women are attracted to that confidence and strength. He is not likely to admit he is wrong. He

A bad boy allows his interests to take precedence. He can take or leave a relationship with a woman. A bad boy is unattached. Women are not of prime concern to him emotionally. Some women are drawn to these men who are emotionally unavailable.

A bad boy is a moody charmer. A woman with him won’t know what he’s thinking or what might trigger good and bad moods. But when he turns his attention to her, she thinks she has won the prize. His full attention, so hard to get, convinces her she is the one for him.

A bad boy is riddled with paradoxes making him hard to understand. He kicks over a begger’s money can, but then he visits his sick aunt in the hospital. He swerves his bike to kill a bunny for dinner, but then he rescues a puppy abandoned alongside the road. He won’t remember your birthday, but he volunteers to work with PTSD veterans.

A bad boy has an edge to him. Will he become violent while drinking? Will he pull a knife on someone? Will he move into someone’s personal space to menace him. Will he intimidate someone just to get his way? She should wonder about his stability.

A bad boy displays an attitude. His attitude is revealed sometimes with clothing, piercings, tats and the like. But even without the accouterments, he oozes Attitude. That attitude results in treating others poorly. He’s so into his own wants and interests that he overlooks those of others. He’s rude, he cheats, he brawls, he lies all because his needs are paramount.

A bad boy is a rebel with or without a cause. He challenges authority just because. He takes short cuts, thinks rules are for other people.

A bad boy likely engages in dangerous hobbies. He might even engage in activities that skirt the law if not outright breaking a law.

A bad boy is mysterious, complex, and complicated. He has a back story and you may never find out what it is. He carries psychic wounds that are deep and covered up. He won’t bare his soul to a woman or anyone else. He tends not to be self-reflective.

Does every bad boy in books display the panoply of personality described here? No, of course not. But if you create your own mix of traits, you could have a near infinite number of bad boys for your books.

Please share if you found this interesting. Thanks so much.

Facebook: Bad boys are fun to read and fun to write. Angelica French gives some tips on writing good “bad boys.”

Twitter: Bad boys are fun to read and fun to write. @RomanceRighter gives some tips on writing good “bad boys.”