Which fairy tale heroine would you love to be?

On Sunday I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman with a couple of my girlfriends.

In case you’re not familiar with it, here’s the trailer. (Warning: it’s a bit scary.)

I have to say, I didn’t really like it much. The special effects and costumes are amazing, but I felt like far more attention went toward those than toward developing the characters or the story. The middle of the movie lagged while Snow White and the huntsman wander through the magical land meeting characters who do nothing to advance the plot.

In fact, throughout the film I found myself thinking about my favorite fairy-tale movie adaptation: Ever After, which stars Drew Barrymore as Cinderella.

I love it because it’s a clever twist on the classic tale. The heroine is smart, funny and resourceful. She not only solves many of her own problems but manages to rescue the hero at least once.

Did I mention it also stars Dougray Scott? Mmm…

Anyway, I love Ever After for the same reason I love good romance novels. The movie is light and fun, the story outshines the special effects, and I can relate to the characters – so much that if I could live in a fairy tale I would choose the Cinderella story as told in Ever After.

Do you have a favorite fairy tale, or a favorite film adaptation of one? Which fairy tale heroine would you love to be?

 

Where have you been all my life, Elizabeth Hoyt?

For the last few months, I’ve been doing research for a story idea I that began germinating in my imagination about five years ago – long before I actually decided to start writing romance.

Last week I happened to be cruising around the interwebs and discovered that another author had a similar idea – only she was a lot faster than me.

Wicked IntentionsThis is always a terrifying thing for a writer, as I’ve said before. So I bought the first book in the series – Elizabeth Hoyt’s Wicked Intentions – and settled back to reassure myself that my story was different.

Ho-ly cow! Within pages I’d completely forgotten why I started reading it. All I knew was that I had been swept away into eighteenth century London – a time and place that has fascinated me for years – and that Elizabeth Hoyt was going to be a new auto-buy author for me.

Elizabeth Hoyt has been published for six years. I’ve seen loads of reviews for her books and have heard readers gush about her. But for some reason I’d never read any of her books…until last week.

I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning on a work night because I couldn’t put Wicked Intentions down. I kept reading over breakfast and then devoured the rest on my train home from work. When I finished, I was crushed. I still had two hours left on my journey, and I felt bereft. Elizabeth Hoyt became my smack.

Thief of ShadowsAnd then I remembered that the fourth book in her Maiden Lane series – Thief of Shadows – was sitting on my Kindle – an advance review copy that I’d downloaded from NetGalley. I immediately launched into it. And for once, I was distraught that my commute is only four hours long.

The best thing about “discovering” an author years after they’re first published is that you can explore an entire backlist.

Have you discovered a favorite author after they’d been writing for years? Do you have a favorite Elizabeth Hoyt book you recommend I read next?

My favorite quality in a romance novel

I went to an extremely small high school. There were only 46 students in my graduating class (36 girls and 13 boys – yep, pretty crappy odds for a chubby girl with a feathered mullet).

I babysat for my vice principal and our English teacher acted as a chaperone at one of my friend’s sleepovers.

I tell you this so it won’t seem strange that I remember my class getting into a personal conversation with one of my teachers in which we asked him about the women he’d dated before meeting his wife. And I remember how flabbergasted we all were when he shrugged and admitted, “I probably could’ve been happily married to any one of them.”

Shock horror!

We were incensed that he could believe such a thing. Surely marriage was about finding that one person you couldn’t live without, the one who made your life immeasurably better.

Fifteen years later, I still believe wholeheartedly that romantic love is about finding that one person who fulfills you, understands you, and (to borrow a cliche) completes you like no one else.

No. One. Else.

Strangely, it’s taken me twenty years of reading romance to realize that that’s my favorite quality in a romance novel. I want characters who are incomplete without each other.

And even more strangely, I’ve read a lot of romance novels where I just don’t feel this between the characters. These are the books that leave me feeling ‘meh’. But when an author creates characters who fit together like no one else…

that is a book that I’ll read over and over.

What’s your favorite quality in a romance novel? Do you believe it’s possible in real life to find the one person who fulfills you better than anyone else, or is there more than one possible “love of your life” out there?

Why do all the romance heroes have six packs? – Guest post by Roni Loren

First, I’d like to thank Kat for inviting me over here to her blog. You gotta love someone who says–I’d like you to guest post and can you make it about sex? LOL

Why, yes, yes I can actually. : )

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this article via Twitter (where all interesting things come from) on Slate called P0rn Women Want: Why Does it Make Men So Uncomfortable?  The post was basically about this guy:

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James Deen. (Pauses to snicker about the ridiculous stage names.) But anyway, apparently this guy is causing a stir because he is appealing to women-which is obviously not the market p0rn targets. Here’s what they say of Deen:

Deen has carved out a niche in the industry by looking like the one guy who doesn’t belong there. Scroll through L.A.’s top p0rn agency sites and you’ll find… just a few dozen men available…. These guys all have a familiar look—neck chains, frosted tips, unreasonable biceps, tribal tattoos. Deen looks like he was plucked from a particularly intellectual frat house.

Which of course made me think–yes, this is why most women roll their eyes at p0rn. Beyond the complete lack of story line and emotional connection, the dudes are ugly and the girls are fake-looking. If the male actors looked like Alexander Skarsgard or Bradley Cooper, I’m thinking we ladies might change our mind and take a peek.

Come on, you know you’d look.
But the reason, the article hypothesizes, that guys who are “prettier” don’t get hired in p0rn is because it makes the guys watching it uncomfortable. Because *gasp* they don’t want to have any sexytime feelings about the guys. The post says:

The straight male performer must be attractive enough to serve as a prop, but not so attractive that he becomes the object of desire.

Hmm. Okay, maybe I could see that if a guy is particularly homophobic or un-evolved. But it seemed a little far-fetched. So, of course, I asked my husband (who is mostly evolved and finds p0rn more comedic than sexy) his opinion. After a derisive snort, he said, “It’s not about guys worrying about gay feelings. The reason is the same reason your romance novels have Mr. Perfect as the hero and Ms. Average Every Day Girl as the heroine.”

And you know what? He had a good point.

In fantasy, whether it be via books or something visual, we naturally put ourselves in the heroine’s (or hero’s if you’re a guy) shoes. If the heroine is written as some gorgeous model type who never gains a pound, never has an insecurity, and who wakes up with perfect hair–none of us are going to be able to relate. So most often, romance writers create heroines we “get”. And though she may actually BE beautiful, she doesn’t know it. We only see her beauty through the hero’s eyes when we’re in his POV. (Because isn’t that really our fantasy? That the guy we love sees us as the most beautiful girl even if we aren’t to the rest of the world.)

But on the flipside, in our fantasy, in addition to having the guy be smart and kind-hearted and loving, we do want him to look like Bradley Cooper or Alexander Skarsgard. Men haven’t cornered the market on being visual, you know. It’s not to say we hold up our mates to those six-pack ab, slay the dragon, alpha standards, but everything is exaggerated in fantasy.

Which is the same reason why the guys look like they do in p0rn and the girls are the exaggerated female “ideal” (giant boobs, skinny, long hair, always ready and willing, etc.) The guys don’t want to think–damn, in order to land that kind of girl I’d have to look like Brad Pitt. They want to think, hey, I’m better looking than that frosted-tipped, tribal tattooed guy. I could totally bed this girl.

*snort*

So even though men and women are built very differently, it seems we have some things in common when it comes to this. We’re all a little insecure and we all can go a little overboard in fantasy land. It does kind of make me want to write a less than perfect-looking hero though, just to make a point.

But in the meantime, you can admire the perfect abs of my hero Reid on the cover of CRASH INTO YOU. 😉  *pets*

Any thoughts on all of this? Anyone think it really is guys being afraid the pretty boys will make them think impure thoughts? And how do you like your heroes in your books? Does your mate ever give you flack for reading romance novels with half-naked men on the front?


Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has.
Her debut romance CRASH INTO YOU releases January 3, 2012 from Berkley Heat/Penguin. If you want to read more posts like this one or follow her journey to debut authorhood, you can visit her writing blog FictionGroupie or her author blog. She also tweets way too much for her own good.

Giveaway!

One lucky commenter will win a copy of Roni’s debut, Crash Into You. I’ll randomly select the winner on Tuesday December 27th. Good luck!

How a small community can smother your characters

As a contemporary romance writer, I know that series set in small towns and tight-knit communities are insanely popular.

But there’s also a danger that, as a series grows, those communities can begin to smother the vibrancy of later novels and their characters.

This isn’t just a danger with small-town contemporary romance. It can happen in any series that focuses on a particular community, whether that’s the ton in Regency romance or a fantastical world completely of the author’s creation.

Here are the ways communities can alienate me, the reader, and my thoughts on how to avoid it.

Continue reading “How a small community can smother your characters”