Monday, May 30, 2011

Romantic heroines

I have been going through my notes from the Barnes and Noble "Writing Romance Novels" course by Leigh Michaels, and part of my notes are about the characters; 8 female archetypes. I was going to write about that and how the Waif created some waves... but I read on and I just have to react on Leigh Michaels "creating a sympathethic and heroic heroine"...

Now, I don't have her books so I haven't read the excerpt she is using to "prove" how her heroine is sympatethic and heroic... but her description... er...

In what ways is Morganna likeable?
Though she'd like to scream at the butler, she doesn't.
wait a minute, she'd like to scream at the butler? Why? If the butler behaves in ways that are not correct and polite, he's not worth his job, and he doesn't like or respect this girl he's being rude to. I hope he isn't HER butler. She takes care of her mother and sends her to rest.
She has a sense of humor, even in the midst of the troubles, she can joke a bit.
She sees things as they are and doesn't hide from the facts.
She not only feels responsibility for her mother's financial condition but she bristles at the suggestion that it isn't her problem.
Bristles? Someone suggests that she doesn't need to take upon herself such responsibilities - in which this someone is 100% correct - and she bristles?
When she unintentionally makes a rude statement, she immediately retracts it.
So she makes unintentionally rude statements. Oh so likable.

How is she real?
She hasn't told her mother all about this man she's met.
She's just a little tart-tongued at first ("did my father owe you money too?") and positively cutting at the end when she says she'd live in a cardboard box and eat cat food rather than be a trophy wife.
Someone offers her help and an easy way out from her problems without her asking for it, and she's not only sarcastic, she tells to a presumably attractive and okay person that she'd rather live - and let her precious mother live - on streets and eat catfood rather than marry him? That might be "real ", but it's not likable, sympathetic, heroic or attractive.


She's suddenly lost her father, and worse, her respect for him because of the situation he's left her mother in.
She loses her respect for her father because he's a dunce when it comes to money? Or because he allowed her mother to stay a trophy wife and do absolutely nothing, not even create a network of friends who could take care of her, if ever need be? Or because he didn't discuss with her mother about the finances, just like she doesn't discuss with her mother about the finances? Or what? How is this sympathetic?  
She's threatened with losing home, lifestyle, and social standing, though these are less important to her than her mother's losses are.
She was born into a social standing. You don't lose that just because you lose your money, because Money knows it's irrelevant. You can be a millionaire today, penniless tomorrow, and millionaire again day after. As far as I understood the hero wants to marry her because of her birth, not her money.  
Now she's faced with a difficult choice. She can save her mother, but at great cost to herself
Shouldn't be a difficult choice, if her mother's wellfare, status and lifestyle is that important to her. Besides, she can get divorce at any point, for example if she falls in love with someone else, and wishes to marry that guy What's the sacrifice here? He's bound to be attractive, and if she respects money, she should respect him.

She deliberately doesn't point out hurtful facts to her mother - like the people who should have come to call, but didn't.
So her mother is an idiot. So her mother is an unlikable idiot with no real friends. Go ahead and tell her anything, she won't get it anyway. I'm sorry, but being codependent is not heroic. It's stupid, harmful to everyone involved, places herself as a guardian of her mother, and as far as I know, her mother is not mentally handicapped or in other ways in need of guardian, but a grown-up woman... In fact, in the next sentence Leigh says she has no other reason to why she couldn't work except age and lack of experience. Where is HER chance to grow and be part of the decisions involving HER life? How does her daughter DARE to assume the guardianship, especially after her father failed so badly she lost her respect of him?
She knows that because of her age and lack of work experience, her mother is helpless to change her ciucumstances, and she doesn't hold it against her.
Why not? I'm sorry, but even trophy wives are capable of doing something so that they are not totally helpless if something like this happens, and frankly, even they are responsible for their own lives.
She's taken a job; though it can't repair the damage, it's something and it seems the only thing she can do.
It should be enough to give her an apartment and feed her. What else is needed? I mean, really, they have no friends in the whole world? Neither of them? How damn likable and sympathetic and wonderful are these people, actually? If I was left homeless and in debt because my husband can't keep his money, I have friends and family who would take care of me, at least until I get to my feet, and I AM disabled to some extend.
And when she's offered an option that can secure Abigail's future, she listens.
Oh? She's just a little tart-tongued at first and positively cutting at the end when she tells the guy she'd live in a cardboard box and eat cat food rather than marry him. I'm sorry but if I was the guy, I would say "So be it. Live on the street and eat cat food. "

I'm sorry, Leigh, but your description of your perfect heroine doesn't sound the least likable, sympathetic or heroic, on the contrary, she seems to have real attitude problems while at the same time being your typical codependent waif. *sigh*

I'm pretty sure I have read her books. I used to read a lot of Harlequins back in 80's.
Also, she is a published romance novel author, I am not. "More than 85 contemporary romances", and "more than 27 million copies of her books have been printed, worldwide, in 650 editions. Her work has been translated and published in 120 countries in more than 20 languages"... so, obviously she is right and I am wrong.

It's things like this that make me wonder if I'd ever manage to write a romance novel any publisher would be interested of.

Then back to the types... let's forget arche and stereo for a while.

Now, I don't think these two systems can be fitted on top of each other like this.
I also don't quite agree with these descriptions.

The best friend should be paired with the spunky kid, who is the quintessential "best friend". Why name her "spunky kid"? Why not "best friend"?

Men can be nurturing too. Where is the father figure? Are you saying it's okay for a woman to mother her lover, but not a man to father his lover? In spite of generations of women suffering from father complex, yearning for the acceptation of an older man, we are not to even mention this, because it's "ugly" in the eyes of feminist? Or what?

The free spirit? Loner-lover. And they exist in males too.

The waif? I'm sorry, Beverly, but some women are waifs. Some women are the silent mice watching the situation to develop as they decorate the room as wall flowers. Some girls do stay girls until they die. Innocent, pure, even as Sweet Charity, she will endure.
Now, if she has "tremendous strength of will", that I don't know. If you see Bella of Twilight as a typical waif, then so, because that girl will always get her will through... in spite of what ever who ever thinks.
They usually just follow the flow, and let themselves be taken. They are the classic romance heroines, young virgins, powerless victims of circumstances and in desperate need of the hero's protection, care,
I'm sorry, all feminists of the world, some women are like that, and they are not worse for that, and shouldn't be not talked about, or not portrayed as heroines, just because they aren't alpha females.
Interestingly enough, most waifs end up being just that - alpha females of an alpha male... mothers of more alphas, and you can be sure that mother keeps all her kids tightly tied with her apron strings...

And... doesn't that sound quite a lot like "ruler-thinker"...?

My father used to say "to minimize by praising" (ylentämällä alentaa, in Finnish - works better) - but make you to submit by telling how good you are, how much stronger, better and all you are, so you should be the one who sacrifices yourself, you should be the one who does all the work, you should be the one everyone gets to kick and walk over... after all, you can afford that, as you are soooo good! Ha.
I waited for 30 years for my turn, until I realized it will never come. There are always people who "need more", who should be compensated... Always.

Some waifs are not smart enough to use this to their benefit, but some are. Southern Belles, you know. Kitten factor.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

750 words

I like the site, also, because it has these interesting statistics...
As you write what's from the top of your head, your attitudes, interests and writing style comes VERY visible.

What? I write like five times more "sexual content" than your average writer? And about half the violence, and only 1/4 of swearing. Oh.

 I know I'm bound to use less articles than your average English user, because I'm Finnish and we don't have those nasty little things in our language!
I'm also happy to see I use less adverbs than your average writer :-D Together with qualifiers, I actually use MORE than your average writer... the avg is 19.6 and my score is 19.8.
I thought I used more "ahs and ums", because of the idea of the 750 words.
I am also really negative :-D

Oops... that means that I spend a lot of time ranting about "them"...

Use a lot of past tense...

and - to my surprise - talk a lot about things I see.

So - if you are going to write BuNoWriMo, you might want to write it at 750 words... just a suggestion ;-)
Join the site now, if you aren't already in, join the monthly challenge, and kill two flies with one strike.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What do I want to write?

the Writer magazine offers an article from 2006 for registered users to be read for free. "What do you want to write", is it called.

I want to write EVERYTHING. Or almost everything. I don't want to write manuals or school books.
But I want to write novels, children's books, YA, romance, horror, scifi, fantasy, adventure, magical realism, contemporary novels; I want to write poems and lyrics; I want to write screenplays and plays; I want to write non-fiction about witchcraft, divination, arts and crafts, human rights, spirituality, food and frugal, sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle; I want to write articles, fillers, columns, crossword puzzles and such for magazines - I want to write a magazine from cover to cover :-D; I want to translate books and illustrate books.
Reminds me of

Yes, I want it all, and I want it NOW! Instant gratification isn't fast enough!

I got my hands on The Power, and I was amused and somewhat p'd off, because it starts with what I have been saying for over 10 years. If you want it, you are meant to have it. Your dreams are your own, given to you, because you have also been given the best possible qualities to reach those dreams. Not everyone want the same things, unless they have been programmed to want it.

What if I had a weeklong stay at a writer's retreat where I don't need to care about anything but writing... all my needs and obligation are taken care of... all I need to do is get up and write. What would I write?
Not much it seems :-D
Frankly, I am a childless, middle-aged woman living on benefits with a caring and loving husband who is a great cook. All my needs and obligations are practically being taken care of, and still I don't write. I just keep yapping about WANTING to write.

What do you feel strongly about?
What excites you? Motivates you?
How do you spend most of your time?
What events have impacted your life?
What types of reading do you enjoy?
How much time can you devote to your writing?
How steep is your learning curve?
What obstacles do you face? 
What are your writing goals?
Why do you want to write?

Why do I want to write?
Because I envy writers, because I wish I was one of them, because that is what I would be very proud to say I do... and I believe our dreams, wishes, desires are given to us because they belong to us, because we can reach them...
Of course I dream of getting the Nobel literature prize and other prizes, and all that. Which writer doesn't?
Of course I dream about writing The Next Big Thing. Which writer doesn't?
Of course I dream of getting rich, economically independent, having enough money to afford anything I've ever wanted, by writing. Which writer doesn't?
Perhaps I am too material, and that is one of my obstacles. Some writers don't dream about money and fame. They just write, because they have to write. Because they have stories inside them that have to get out. Because some divine intervention has chosen them to be the medium of the words... or something.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's that time of the year again...

Yes, not even a week to the beginning of BuNoWriMo - or JuNoWriMo ;-)
Burrows' version of 30 days of madness in writing :-)
I had forgotten.

Well... perhaps because I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, my BIL has probably MDS - his little brother fought leukemia and won - at least the first battle and I hope that was the last one - so let's hope the big brother can tackle this too. My father is feeling better now, (he has prostate cancer spread to bones) so we are very happy for him, but my brother-in-law... I am very worried about him, my sister and their kids. Very worried indeed... and there isn't much to do. *sigh*
BTW what with these Myelodysplastic syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Myalgic encephalomyelitis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder... why doesn't the sicknesses have simple names, like lupus, shingles and pox? My mother has difficulties in remembering that I have Asperger's syndrome (AS) and Fibromyalgia (FM), my husband and a handful of other relatives have ADHD/ADD and now my brother-in-law has MDS... (I think it means  misformation in bone marrow or something... oddly shaped blood cells). Poor mommy.

BTW, here's some blogs I find interesting at the first sight and would like to look into deeper - perhaps you might like them too :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I received an invitation...

Annie's Attic Mysteries.
I like the concept, but after FINALLY having finished Mary Kruger's painful knitting mystery I'm very wary about crafting related "mysteries".

BTW, let me tell you about Mary Kruger's Died In The Wool... OMG! It so very well pointed out that you really need to know your subject before you start writing... Now, I have to say that there might be some differences in the American way of doing things and the way I have learned, but I really find it hard to believe the differences would be that... big and obvious. Nevertheless, those details were easier to overlook, but the main point that made the book unenjoyable to me was the main character's behavior. She forces herself into the investigation, holds back information from the investigator, and then gets angry with him, because he arrests one of her friends. Mind you that she lives in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone and are practically "friends" with everyone - had he arrested ANYONE it would have been "her friend", and she would probably have pouted about it. Then this friend's wife, who is also the main character's best friend, gets angry with her, because... I really don't understand. Because her husband was arrested for a murder that happened in the friend's yarn shop? Or?
The main character is also supposed to be a knitting designer, and doesn't know anything about internet, selling patterns online, free patterns online - and this book was published 2005.

"Are you going to have any patterns available?"
"Of course I am. That's the whole point."
"I didn't mean that. I meant, sample patterns."
Ari stared at her. "Give them away, you mean? The whole point of this is to make money."
"A lot of people have put free patterns online", Barbara said.
"Really? Why would they do that?"
"Sometimes it's the only way for people to publish their ideas", Kaitlyn said quietly.
Ari turned to her. "Have you done that?"
"What, and lose my copyright? If I tried to publish it in print later, I wouldn't be able to because of that." She paused. "When I was first learning to make web pages, I did put a design on my own site, though, a simple one. A scarf in garter stitch."
"Well, anyone can make one of those, so that's okay."
"It was for beginners", Kaitlyn said defensively.
"And it was nice", Susan said firmly. "Of course, though, she's right. Why give something away for free?"
Barbara was leaning over Ari's shoulden. "Ari, haven't you ever looked at anything to do with knitting online?"
"No. I told you, I think the Internet is a waste of time..." 
blah blah blah
"Maybe." Ari was frowning at the screen. "people really put their patterns online without expecting payment?"
"I hate to say it, but I've gotten some good ones that way."
"Hmm. maybe that's an idea. What do you think?" She turned to ask Kaitlyn.
"Why?" Kaitlyn said.
"As samples. You know I do that every now and then in here. It gets people to see what I do, and I usually get customers from them."
Kaitlyn was frowning. "Well, if you want to."
"I'll think about it. I think I'll check out some other sites here tonight", she added.
blah blah blah

Free knitting patterns. Now who would put those on the web? 
blah blah blah
Typing some more, she st back, waiting for results. "Free knitting patterns", she read aloud, scanning one group of type. It had a web address highlighted at the bottom. Below, there was another grouping and then yet another. Shew glanced up to see the number of results for her search, and blinked. It numbered in the thousands. "That many?" she muttered, and clicked on the address for the first site.
Now, this is the results I get today... it wouldn't have been much different 2004. Knitty has been around since 2002, Knitting Pattern Central since 2004, I started my blog 2006 and Ravelry was launched 2007. In 2004 Magknits was around and Fibertrends' felted slipper clogs was a free pattern online... oh, that I didn't know that then... *sigh* Today the pattern has sold over 8000 copies. Think about that a little, miss Kruger. Who indeed puts their pattern online for free and loses the copyright? What?

Anyway, the knitwear designer in the book clicks the first link that appears, and gets someone's personal page where the owner provides free patterns, and among these she spots her own design. It seems that the owner of the site has been lifting patterns from books, leaflets and prints, and publishing in her site. Now, remember, this was the first result of the list, according to miss Kruger. The knit designer returns to the "main screen" and finds out that ALL the sites giving knitting patterns away are of the same quality.
"Some of the sites were for businesses that sold patterns, like hers. Others gave credit to the original publishers. A lot of them offered original designs, free of charge. Too many, though, had been pirated.
Ari was more than disturbed now. She was angry and appalled, as she leaned back in her chair. Kaitlyn had mentioned designers losing their copyrights if they published online, but this was far worse. This was direct infirngement, direct theft. She wondered if the publishers knew. She wondered if her own designs had been stolen."
It - naturally - turns out that that indeed had happened, and that plays a big part in the whole murder investigation.
But - the author of the book knows so painfully little about yarn, spinning, knitting, keeping shops, keeping sheep, designing... uh. Murder investigation, even how people behave, act, react... The main character uses a lot of time thinking about how everyone is going to be SO upset, but totally ignores her own 7-years-old daughter. She whines "running your own business is 24/7. So is being a mother. I have to find some time to work on new designs. And somewhere in there I have to get housework done", but she isn't doing any of this much in this book. I think she has 2-3 SHORT discussions with her daughter, PLANS sitting down to design, but, ah, cannot, because she is interrupted, and then she goes off to Internet to google her name again. Yap yap yap yip yap. Whine whine, yada yada, blah blah blah.
No. No more Mary Kruger for me.

If you want to read kntiting related murder mysteries, read Maggie Sefton. It's not the best mystery book I've ever read, but if I'd give Mary Kruger 1-2 on the scale 0-10 (Yes, I have had worse.) I'd give Maggie 7-8.

If you'd like a copy of Mary Kruger, pocket, bought from bookstore, but read by the dinner table, so it's full of stains, thrown discusted away several times, picked up again, after lots of sighing, being waved in the air during upset exclamations and explanations on how one actually spins, or that you can hardly garrot anyone with wool, because it's almost as elastic as rubber, and tends to break before it gets tight enough to actually stop anyone from breathing, and that you don't keep your sheep free on your front lawn. You just don't. If you know ANYTHING about sheep, that is. Anyway, if you want a copy which is in no way mint condition, but you get the second book, that IS in mint condition - I think I have opened it once - with it, just tell me and I'll send it to you. :-)

Anyway, back to attics. I love Elizabeth Enright's "Return to Gone-Away" and Villa Caprice! I DROOL over the piles of Edwardian clothes... I have dreams about places like that... table after table covered with interesting, beautiful, amazing things, shelves, cupboards, closets, cabinets, chairs, even floors, everything covered with colors, patterns, lovely things... *sigh*
One could wish Annie's Attic Mysteries are similar, though I'm not quite happy about the idea I get from looking at the homepage of the series.

So - there we are again. If I want to read something, I need to write it myself ;-)
I just hope I had the same selfconfidence I had 10 years ago :-D Now I'm not so sure I can anymore :-)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A couple of interesting articles I found

How creativity is an act of devotion

there are only seven stories in the world

The secret of creating a good story

I'm not saying much about that, I'm still tired and slightly confused, and pondering about how to market my Zazzle shop better. Yes, I have such a thing. I have had it a whole week right now, and I was being very sad, because no-one visited it... then my husband told me that it might be because no-one knows about it, and I went "but I have said it several times in my blog and facebook and tweeted too!", and then I remembered the guy who had tried "everything" - and meant writing one letter or something. I haven't tried everything. So, I'll go and try a bit more ;-)