Monday, August 28, 2006

A Tender and Touching Story

Title: Idol Dreams
Author: Charlotte Lamb
Artist: Yoko Hanabusa
Publisher: Dark Horse Manga, a Division of Dark Horse Comics, Inc.
(by arrangement with Harlequin Books, SA and Ohzora Publishing Company)
Price: $9.95
Length: Approximately 160 pages

Quincy Jordan gets quite a surprise when international pop star Joe Ardness walks in her door, takes her in his arms and kisses her passionately in front of flashing cameras. Apparently she's won first prize in a magazine contest.

The only problem is that she never entered the contest, nor was she much of a Joe Ardness fan. Turns out her brother was the culprit. He entered the girls-only contest under his sister's name, so he could meet his hero. As a favor to Joe, Quincy agrees to play along, so his managers can avoid all the trouble a botched contest may present. And all she has to do is go on a date with a star.

As things progress, though, Quincy finds that she's falling in love with Joe. But what would a wealthy and famous pop star want with her? He's surrounded by women who would give anything to be with him. Sometimes Joe seems to really like her, but a guy like him is used to getting what he wants. Surely his affections are just part of the big act that is his image.

The story has a very poignant plot and plausible characters. The artwork vividly generates the drama that surrounds the characters as they struggle against misunderstandings and desires.

sexual warmth
overall satisfaction
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What J-Lo Said to Paris About Britney

Not long ago I read an outline where the writer was trying to come across as an insider. The story took place in L.A. on Rodeo Drive. The writer dropped this name and that name. She mentioned brands that you'd have to be a true fashionista to recognize-or a devoted fan of Sex and the City. The story was also a who's who of reality television. I still don't know how I feel about this...

The late James Michener was a master at writing cameos for historical figures into his novels. These historical characters would interact with his fictional ones and fit seamlessly into the story. Even if the reader had never heard of Sam Houston before reading Michener's Texas, they would be able to relate to him. Can we say the same about possible guest appears by J-Lo, Paris and Britney in our stories? Are these tabloid darlings going to still be household words in a couple of years? Maybe.

The real problem I had with this particular story was that there were too many names dropped. Several even came from obscure reality shows I didn't know. I'm no reality television expert. If forced I could name a couple of the winners from American Idol. That's only because it was an extremely popular program with a lot of media coverage. I can't tell you anything about Project Runway or similar programs, so this writer's name-dropping was lost on me. I was concerned it might be lost on our readers, too. My advice was to drop some of the celebrity names completely.

You also need to do your research if you want to come across as a knowledgeable insider. If your character wears, buys or talks about Manolo Blahnik shoes be sure to spell it correctly. Don't go to some other faux insider's website for the spelling. Go to a shoe store or to the company's official website so you can get it right.

Sometimes less is more. And make sure what you do include is correct. And if there are any more stories about J-Lo, Paris, Britney and their Manolo Blahniks, please drop at least two of the names before you send it to me.
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

The Incredible Shrinking Solar System

Well, it's official. Pluto is no longer a planet.

The good news is that this will not affect astrology at all.

Scorpios can rest easy.
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Don't Read Romance Novels

Sigh…so tired of hearing the gentle put down from she-males who swear they never read romance stories…”Not the type of novels I read…” So who, pray tell, are your favorite authors? I query gently, discretely withdrawing my business card from view. “Well, I like Nora Roberts…” is a response I’ve gotten on more than one occasion. Has anyone told Ms Roberts she doesn’t write romance novels? Or how about, “I only read hard cover books…?” So now romance novels don’t come in hard cover? Someone should issue a press release on the subject. Lots of publishers obviously don’t know this.

Then there are the rants on how dreadful and predictable romance books are.

Joyce Tarpley pines for the average looking heroine; she obviously hasn’t read a lot of romance novels (I think she stopped at six—poor chil’).

In Linda Howard’s Mackenzie’s Mountain, the first book in the passionate series about the Mackenzies (how I long for those days), Mary Elizabeth Potter is described as an old maid who owned a cat and wore old maid shoes. “She was pale, slight and nondescript.” Wolf Mackenzie had served time in prison for a crime he had not committed but was continually under suspicion by the town folk. When love hit them, it hit them hard, sweaty and not at all conventionally.

Tarpley also wonders why all the lovemaking is so blissfully wonderful for the protagonists. Doesn’t it ever disappoint in romance books? In The Prince’s Virgin Wife, by Lucy Monroe, Maggie Thomson has wet dreams of making love to a guy who turned her on six long years before—sans coitus. But now, after a passionate seduction from said guy, her only thoughts are, “It was horrible. As if a huge crystal promise of pleasure had shattered—“

Then Tarpley wonders why all romantic heroes are breathtakingly handsome and fit of body? I can’t begin to catalogue the number of books I have read where this was just not so. Jayne Ann Krentz’s novel (for the life of me I can’t recall the title—help me out here, readers) centering around a mysterious, wheelchair-bound author playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with an unhappily married publishing executive managed to take eroticism to new heights.

So Tarpley, maybe you should have read a few more romance novels before tarring all books in the genre with the same brush.
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Happily Ever After - Or Not

One Saturday last winter, with a foot or two of snow on the ground and the power out for a while, I did something that I’d never done before. I read romance novels – six of them. The titles and the names of the authors don’t matter since with a few minor variations the stories were all the same.

Woman – between 25 and 35
Tall, perfect breasts, legs, waist, hips, thighs, arms, etc.,
Long lustrous hair
Large eyes – “limpid”
Sensuous mouth.
Personality – “spunky”
Professionally successful
Financially secure
BUT. . . . (May I have a drum roll please?)
No husband.
Crisis. Woman must turn life around. Goes in search of mate. Two pages later, finds him.
Man – between 25 and 35
Tall, lustrous hair (just a tad too long)
Perfect pecs, rock hard abs, butt to match
Dark eyes – “smoldering”
Sensuous mouth.
Personality – Rugged and Independent
Professionally successful.
BUT (Another drum roll, please?)

First contact. Sparks fly. Yada yada yada Explosive sex – shuddering, arching, groaning, clutching, writhing, quivering, grinding, throbbing, trembling, surging, etc.

Next morning, all is well at first. Then the doubts set in. Man and woman are privately thinking roughly the same thing.

“We’re moving too fast. He/She isn’t my type. I can’t let myself fall in love with him/her. I’ve got to stop now before it’s too late!”

Which of course it already is. Then comes. . . The Revelation!

She (it’s always her first) accepts the fact that she loves him. More to the point, he loves her, too, but it’s up to her to make him realize that he needs her as his wife – for life. Problem. How to get him to the altar?

First, cut off supply of sex. This is not easy since she can’t get within a mile of him without a near overpowering urge to rip off her underwear – and his. But she must reign in her passion. After all, she’s doing this for both of them.

Second, ramp up tease factor. She cuts out the sex but still manages to find herself in his house (car, boat, office, etc.) clad only in bikini underwear and a tee-shirt or better still one of his old shirts under which she is, of course, braless.

Sexual pressure building like a volcano, watching her heaving breasts and tight rear end (now from a distance because she has forbidden him to touch same), the poor besotted fool soon caves. Finally he grabs her, pushes her against a wall (or down on to a bed or down in the back seat of a car, etc.), pleading, “PUH-LEEZE marry me! I can’t live without you! You’re the only woman I ever want in my life!!”

Heaving a triumphant sigh, she melts into his arms and they promise to life happily ever after, which basically will involve having two dozen children in between regular and rampant sweaty rounds of sex the likes of which would kill a normal human being and is probably illegal in most of the contiguous 48 states.

Now as I said, I only read six of these things. Had it not been for meals and occasional bouts of strenuous laughter, I probably could have gotten in two or three more, though to what purpose I don’t know.

I do know this much. Over the years I’ve read hundreds, probably thousands of novels – some good, some bad, some that I will remember as long as I live. The few that belonged to the latter group had this in common: The author was able to make me care about what happened to the characters. The more I got into the story, the more I was able to empathize with them. I wanted to know how their lives turned out. I wanted to know about their dreams and fantasies and desires. The author made me feel what the characters were feeling.

Of the six romance novels I read, the most interesting character was an aging, slow moving overweight Rotweiller who appeared to have a foot fetish.

Okay. So a romance novel is not supposed to reflect reality. I accept that. But even “happily ever after” doesn’t always have to be the same. I was positively dumbfounded when one of the books ended with the couple deciding NOT to have children, opting instead for 40 years of uninterrupted and, of course, explosive sex.

All I’m asking for here is some semblance of creativity. I’m speaking as a lover of good fiction, and good fiction should be creative. Good fiction doesn’t tell the same old, tired, inane story over and over again with only a dozen or so minor variations so that, in the end, although I could probably care less whether this endlessly perfect couple gets together it would be difficult. By the time I got to the end of the sixth novel, I was actually hoping the guy would refuse to give up his bachelorhood regardless of how good the sex was.

Here’s a thought. How about a story about a perfect man and a perfect woman who are attracted to each other but the sex isn’t explosive right off the bat? In fact, it leaves them both dissatisfied. But they still like each other and enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh and don’t want to lose each other even if the sex doesn’t work.

Okay. So make the sex work – but not until the end of the story. Let me wonder whether they’re going to work it out and how. That way, when they do, I can savor that moment right along with them. Make them wait for it. And me, too.

Here’s another wild thought. Why do the hero and heroine have to be physically perfect in every detail? Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing at all against good looks. I keep a suitcase packed just in case Pierce Brosnan calls to tell me that he’s finally realized that I’m the only woman he ever wanted. We all have our fantasies.

Still, how about a story about a tall perfect specimen of a man who, for reasons he himself does not understand at first, is attracted to a short, flat-chested woman with a gelatinous butt? Or to a woman confined to a wheel chair? Or a story about a tall perfect specimen of a woman who is drawn to a man who looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy? Or a man who has a speech impediment? Or a club foot? Or facial scars from an old war wound?
The possibilities are limitless.

Unfortunately, for me anyway, romance novels are just too limited in scope. I’m going back to mysteries.
“Suddenly a shot rang out. The door slammed and the maid screamed.” And on the floor of the library is a body with multiple stab wounds.
The possibilities are limitless.
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Male Drivers

I want to know what it is with men that makes them hit the car horn for every little transgression, or perceived agression, made by another driver. I suspect it's the same thing (testosterone?) that makes men go to war, but then, I have a husband who's definitely a pacifist, not to mention a kind and gentle human being, but whenever he drives, he's Attila the Hun. Something will always occur that makes him lean on the horn. I beg him not to do that, since I believe all that's achieved is scaring the hapless other driver. I tell him that when someone blasts his horn at me, it startles/unnerves me so much I nearly drive into the nearest telephone pole. Yet he insists that drivers have to be alerted when they do something wrong so that it won't happen again. I continue to argue that when I'm the recipient of a horn blast, I usually haven't a clue what I've done wrong. My arguments are to no avail, however, and I'm left with just demanding, "OK, just don't it when I'm in the car." That doesn't seem to work either.

I'm not alone here. My sisters say the same thing about their partners, and most of my friends say it also.

Does anybody have an explanation for this bizarre male behavior?
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Linda Howard Does Paranormal Suspense

Title: Killing Time
Madeline Hunter

Ballantine Books


330 pages

Linda Howard takes another foray into paranormal romance with this story of time travel, suspense, mystery and passion. Chief county investigator Knox Davis has a rather difficult case on his hands. It begins with the bizarre theft of a time capsule buried twenty years before. A security tape shows that in a split second with a flash of light, the capsule was gone. The situation gets worse in the sleepy town of Pekesville, Kentucky, when one of the people who contributed items to the capsule turns up murdered with a spear. And once again, the crime took place without a trace of evidence. Then, if all that wasn't enough, FBI Agent Nakita Stover arrives on the scene. While Knox finds her irresistibly attractive, she has a lot of secrets, ones that plunge him into a case with a lot more at stake than he anticipated.

Howard's story is a beautiful blend of sexual tension and sci-fi intrigue. The romance is woven neatly into the mystery and danger that surround the protagonists, adding exponentially to the passion the reader feels.

The story does have its slow parts, where sections of dialogue are used to explain the story's scientific background. As a result, this dialogue appears a bit contrived and tends to smother the romance. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often.

sexual warmth
overall satisfaction
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Why This Astrologer Hates Horoscopes

I write astrology columns under the pen name, Constantine Lucas. Astrology has been a hobby of mine since high school. And I can’t tell you how much I hate horoscopes, which, I believe, turn astrology into a joke.

When most people think of astrology, they think of those awful horoscopes you read in the paper. Those are all based on what people call their “sign.” In astrology, we call this your “sun sign.”

If you could determine a person’s entire personality by their sun sign, there would only be twelve types of people in the world. But, as we all know, people are much more complicated than that. So, sun sign astrology is very superficial and often inaccurate.

The sun is one “planet” in a chart. Each planet was in a sign at the time of your birth, as seen from the Earth. Each of these planets has a way of influencing a person’s personality, and the sign the planet is in determines the nature of its influence. The area of life influenced by that planet is called a “house.” There are 10 planets and 12 houses. All these things and more come together in what is called a “natal chart.” Unlike sun signs, a natal chart is 100 percent unique to the person, and much more accurate.

The sun is almost always a very powerful influence in a chart. It is your most surface aspect of your personality, so, if you’re a Leo—especially if you’re a Leo—your sun sign will be prominent in your personality. But another planet may mitigate, enhance, or compliment its influence.

Your moon sign, for example, is your emotional side. If a guy is a Leo and has a moon in Aquarius, he is going to have this other side to him that is very un-Leo like. Aquarius, you see, is the opposite sign of Leo. So, this person will think and act like a Leo, but deep down he is an Aquarius.

Not only that, if these two planets are directly opposing each other in a chart, these sides will “fight” each other. The opposition will act as a difficulty or flaw in the person’s personality. These are called “aspects,” which can be good and bad depending on the placement in the chart. Where these arise in the person’s life will depend on the houses those planets are in. Let’s say the Leo above has his sun in the Second House, which is the house of personal possessions. This would put the moon in the Eighth House, which is the house of shared possessions. The conflict, then, would arise over finances. Quite possibly, this person would suffer huge conflicts with loved ones over money, which would probably be related to an inheritance from the mother.

Pretty serious stuff! Of course, sometimes aspects are positive. And one can pinpoint strengths that will help him or her overcome the negative aspects of their chart. For example, here is Rosanna Arquette's natal chart.

Like people, natal charts are very complicated and it takes years of study to be able to accurately interpret one. But unlike sun sign astrology, natal astrology is very accurate. You won’t hear a lot of superficial flattery, but you can learn a lot about yourself. So the next time you read a horoscope that doesn’t pan out or read a description of your sign that doesn’t quite sound like you, keep in mind that there’s so much more going on in the heavens than a single planet.
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rants from the Queen: Constructive Criticism

This month’s topic…the art of constructive criticism or more important, how to take it.

One of the my biggest complaints with some of the artists that cross my threshold on a daily basis is their lack of talent…in taking criticism. Perfectly normal, down- to-earth men and women—at least as normal as artists come—can be reduced to whiny little brats and bumbling idiots when their artwork is questioned in any way shape or form.

Now I can be the first to admit that I might sometimes rule with an iron email. Sometimes I really don’t have the energy to stroke every ego and essentially build them up before I give them bad news. It’s alarming to send comments on artwork back to a professional, only to receive emails back whining about the harshness of my comments and exhibiting just a general unwillingness to bend when it comes to creating an acceptable piece of art.

As an artist, I can sympathize when feedback seems to get personal. But in a business like this, with legions of people involved in the process, you need to remember you are an artist for hire, not a co-collaborator (that is unless you were asked to be), and just draw what you are hired to draw!

Of course when an artist is too unprofessional, we won’t work with him or her ever again. Fortunately, most of the artists we have used have been very easy to work with. So, none of this applies to any of our current artists and only a few long-gone troublemakers.

Constructive's not only a concept, it's a lifestyle.
Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

How Losers Are Causing Spam

Our webmaster is away on vacation, so the spam bots have been having free reign over on the MyRomanceStory discusion board.

The interesting thing about all this spam is that it is 90 percent porn, most of it excessively lurid by today's standards. Another 9 percent is herbal remedies for priapic inadequacies or sexual enhancers. And the last 1 percent is loans and other scams.

So, the question is, who the hell would actually click on any of these ads and utilize their services that make spamming profitable?

Losers. That's who. This would be the guy who has a serious case of the fuglies, and he has the charm of an IRS audit. His romantic life revolves entirely around, and he's dumb enough to believe a pill will increase the length of his member. And because these people are out there, crawling through the internet and consuming these services, spammers have an interest in blasting the web with their links.

In turn, we here at MyRomanceStory have to spend our time removing spam from our board. And when our webmaster is away, the board becomes unusable. It's gotten so bad, we're most likely going to have to remove the message board.

Thanks, losers, for spoiling the discussion.

Copyright © 2010 Arrow Publications, LLC™. All Rights Reserved.