Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A blog by any other name...

Would not be Damned Scribbling Women, unfortunately. But if I haven't been blogging here much of late about romance and romance writing, I have been blogging elsewhere about love.

I'd love all of DSW's dedicated readers (however many that may be) to check out my new writing venture at the New York Observer's Bridal Blog, where I'm one of several brides and a few grooms blogging about our wedding plans. All names and identities are real names and identities, so here's a hint to identify my posts: I didn't recently discover I'm pregnant, I don't run a profitable wedding stationery business, and I'm having a full-on, girly-as-all-hell wedding in July '07.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Anyone for Travel Lit?

I ask this question for several reasons.

(1) I recently read Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, which is an excellent book. Seriously. Highly recommended for anyone who likes American history, historical plaques, and road trips to obscure landmarks and/or graveyards. (Yes,
Theresa, this means you...)

(2) I'm currently writing a course prospectus for my Pacific Northwest independent study. The students in this theoretical class I'm creating are writing a regional travel guide for their final Geography assessment...

(3) ...which makes me want to go on a real road trip to some of these places I'm looking at, but instead I'm stuck here, slogging away at all this stuff that's due June 5th. (Pause. Panic.)

(4) Writing a course for Pacific Northwest History makes me think about how much I'd love to teach an interdisciplinary humanities course entitled "Travel Literature," in which students read such edifying works as Assassination Vacation and Confederates in the Attic. Perhaps a bit of
Bill Bryson, as well? And then they go on their own road trip to inspire a final project travel memoir... a bit farfetched, I know, but a teacher can dream...

(5) And then I think, why aren't there more romance novels about road trips? Does anyone know any good ones? 'Twould be a great summer read.

(5) And finally, being stuck inside writing curriculum on a gorgeous Memorial Day makes me want to rip my hair out and/or take a mini-break away from it all. Alas, I haven't the time. Instead, I shall have to content myself with taking a mental mini-break, back to a more carefree time when The Boyfriend took me on a day-trip to the
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and I was free to take pretty photos of my beloved... Ah, memories...

So, to get back to the point: anyone have any good travel literature recommendations for the theoretical class I wish to teach someday? Or, better yet, can you add some road trip romance novel titles to my summer reading list?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Now what is love? I pray thee, tell

Yet what is love? I pray thee sain.
It is a sunshine mixed with rain;
It is a tooth-ache, or like pain;

It is a game where none hath gain;

The lass saith no, and would full fain:
And this is love, as I hear sain.

Yet what is love? I pray thee say.

It is a yea, it is a nay,

A pretty kind of sporting fray;

It is a thing will soon away;

Then take the vantage while you may:

And this is love, as I hear say.
— Sir Walter Raleigh

The spirited debate on love--functional, dysfunctional, ethical, selfish and otherwise--that the Grey's Anatomy finale inspired in our comments section got me pondering the subject that dramatists, poets, etc. have pondered for centuries. Does true love require pain? Madness? The rejection of all else? Or is it something far more rational and practical and orderly?

Seeing that I'm an aspiring romance novelist, my take on the subject may surprise. But I don't believe in perfect love. I don't believe "true" love is willing to flout all laws, conventions and morals to be with the loved object. I believe what a lot of people celebrate as true love is really just redirected narcissismism.

I do believe in soul mates. I do believe there is a right person out there for everyone. But I also know that keeping a marriage together takes work and effort and sacrifice, and that a person who behaves wrongly toward others in the name of "love" will eventually behave wrongly in spite of love.

So how does a girl write romance without all the angst? Very carefully. Romance novels require confusion and obstacles and arguments and missed cues and mixed messages. But I hope that my characters have a kindness toward each other and an understanding of each other that transcends the drama. I hope they behave better because of their relationship, not worse. I hope to never write a book in which readers can't picture my characters having a happy, contented, fulfilling life together after the action is finished. I'd like my eventual readers to be able to close the book and picture my characters as an old man and woman sitting alone in a room, not saying anything but happy to be near one another. That to me is true love.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Final Word on Grey's Finale


Kate D: Is it wrong that in this whole storyline, the thing I liked most was Alex? I mean which would you rather see: Psychotic Barbie having a meltdown, or Evil Seed Ken riding to her unwarranted (but totally hot) rescue? You're right, Flit. There's something wonderful about Alex Karev.

Flitgirl: If you're wrong, I never ever want to be right. That was an uncomfortable moment for me, solely because I was watching the show with a passel of rabid Denny fans (who knew?) who were sobbing their eyes out and I wanted to cheer. At least this story line is over. And the possibility of Izzy and Alex's much more fun type of banter is...?

But really, Izzy didn't deserve her friends to stand up for her like that, and she doesn't deserve to be a doctor. She fell in love with a patient. I know, blah blah can't help who you fall in love with. Bullshit. She didn't have to let herself go down that path. She knew it was wrong. And this is the perfect illustration of why. Her emotional involvement caused her to make stupid illegal decisions that endangered her patient, threatened the hospital and deprived a guy with two kids of a heart.

I'm torn. I want the character on the show, but I'll be really, really mad if they let her get away with this.
Kate D: Yeah, I loved the show of intern solidarity... but her behavior was totally unethical and she didn't deserve it. (The others were a little unethical, too, but I can be forgiving of them.) Still, the sight of George and Alex walking out with her like bodyguards at the end was pleasing. Though I must say, the pink dress only solidified everything that annoyed me about Emotionally Unstable Izzie. Buy your CoDependent Barbie today! Now dressed for the prom! Ick.

Flitgirl: Or a new special series from Harlequin, “I Have No Life Of My Own.” Please get this character back on track. Confused and emotional I can handle. Morbidly self-destructive and feminist nightmare I can not. (BTW I just peeked into the
Writer's Blog on the official site. Holy Crap do people love Denny. Like, want-to-kill-their-husbands-and-children-for-a-chance-to-have-a-real-life-Denny love. What are we missing, Kate?)


Flitgirl: I think Sara Ramirez is gorgeous (and much smaller in person) but it may have been a mistake to pair her with such a little man. They're so well matched I kept thinking they were going to get into a physical altercation in that hallway.

Kate D: Okay, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I was waiting for a little domestic violence in the OR... and any hits George got in would definitely be in self-defense. Hm. Can I just say for the record that I'm still in love with George? I realize this puts me in the minority, but I don't care. In fact, I kind of like it. He's mine. All mine.I loved what he had to say to Callie about making it mean something when he said "I love you" back, though I have my doubts that this particular couple will ever actually get there.

And one of my favorite moments of the show had to be when George and Meredith were left in time-out together and he apologized to her for his actions on The Night That Shall Not Be Named. How marvelous. Coupled with his explanation to Callie that Meredith is family, and he can be pissed at her but he'll always defend her? So pleasant. Also, nice that Callie tied Meredith's dress for her after McSkeazy dirty-mistress-ied her up.

Flitgirl: I forgot that dress-tying moment, and I really liked it. But I wonder if it will have repercussions. Callie's not an intern so she doesn't have that loyalty. And she doesn't like Meredith.

George finally admitting his own culpability in The Night of Crying Sex was much needed. Even the rabid Denny-fans/George-haters I watched with agreed.

Kate D: Who are these George-haters? Why are you friends with them? Just kidding. I think. (I feel a need to soften up that last comment with a little punctuation smiley face, but then I would be That Girl Who Crossed Into Emoticon Land and it might be over for me.)


Flitgirl: I feel for Addison so much, but this was inevitable, wasn't it? And...kinda hot? I think this storyline will go in one of two ways. Either: Meredith and Derek get back together and Addison is hurt and has lots of sympathy and finds herself a great new man who appreciates her and loves her and has sex in ORs with her. Or: Meredith won't get back together with Derek because of all the "You did the right thing" talk to the Chief. I think the latter's more likely, but I hope Addie still gets the OR-sex-having new man.

Kate D: Wow. This sex scene revealed that I am actually quite a prude. Here I am, big bad romance novelist-in-embryo... and yet the sight of McDreamy rolling down Meredith's nylons made me blush. It might have been hot, except I kept thinking "You adulterous bastard!" Sorry, Flit. I just can't get behind McDreamy on this one. Now all he needs to do is have sex with Izzie and it can be Lack of Ethics Fest 2006. I think
Nicole B. over on the writer's web said it best when she posted, "So McDreamy and McTramp'n'whiny got it on." (Implication: so what?)

I've got to say that I would love for Addison to meet a man. A nice man. One who is not a surgeon, but is brilliant in his own way. Maybe she could knock boots with McVet. Or maybe they could introduce a professor from UW and they could have hot tweed jacket sex surrounded by books? (Pause. Kate D retreats to her own private fantasy world.)


Flitgirl: Hey it's Tessa Thompson (aka Jackie) from Veronica Mars playing the Chief's niece (You don't want to know how many VM actors I've spotted on this show. I think someone in the casting department has a thing for Kristen Bell). That was a sweet story...but why the hell were all the doctors in the hospital at the prom? Shortsighted much?

Kate D: I think it's so we could see them all in formal wear. And on that subject... awh, Addison was a band geek. How cute is that? And yet how horrible. Poor Addy. You had a horrible prom the first time, and the second time is actually worse because your date/husband is leaving you to screw the intern. Again. And he's not really making a secret of what he's done with the guilty McPuppy Eyes. Bastard.

Flitgirl: Patrick Dempsey, Chris O'Donnell and Justin Chambers in tuxes. I think I see the rationale now.


Kate D: I spent two whole hours screaming at the screen, "What the hell is Christina's problem? Character violation! Violation!" I know the woman has commitment issues, but she was there when Burke needed her after Musical Heart Guy died. I refuse to believe that she couldn't handle this. Thank God for hand-squeezing at the end... I almost had to threaten to stop watching the show.

Flitgirl: That didn't seem like character assassination to me. It was frustrating and painful to watch, but felt in character. Christina's a runner. But more than that, what was in jeopardy here was Burke's future as a surgeon. I don't think there was anyway Christina could process that rationally and put aside her own preoccupations. She's a rather selfish person, still. But I'm glad they pulled them back together. They're still my favorite couple.

Kate D: I guess you're right. She needed time to process. But I'm glad they got them back together... because on the one hand it seemed like she was being selfish, and I couldn’t take it. But then she talked to the chief and I was like "Aha!" And finally she showed up with Burke and I got all warm and fuzzy.

Flitgirl: Oh, that conversation with the chief. Send Sandra Oh her Emmy already. She was heartbreaking.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Grey's Season 2, First Finale Analysis

Kate D: Okay, watching her freak out in Denny's room I actually felt uncomfortable. I squirmed and covered my eyes because I couldn't stand watching a previously rational woman whine, "What about me? Don't go towards the light!" I was aching for her to get caught.

Flitgirl: DIE DENNY, DIE!!!!
Ahem, now that that's over with. What are the writers doing to one of my favorite characters? She worked her ass off to get out of the trailer park and into med school. She gave up her daughter for adoption to build a better, different life for herself. And now she's declaring "I don't care about my medical career!" for the sake of some unshaven lug who talks through his chin? Did they forget who she is and where she's come from? Is there some in-character justification for this I just don't see? Or did the writers' yank this out of their collective ass because they thought it would be dramatic? Why? WHY??????

Kate D: I agree. It felt like character violation… maybe one of the reasons I was so uncomfortable. And then at the end, when she pulls George into her mess, all I could think was that I hope he doesn’t get in trouble for her stupidity.

I’ve got to say, I’m really not happy with this storyline. One of the things I originally loved about this show was the prevalence of strong female characters—yes, they may have been flawed. But they were brilliant and capable and ultimately admirable. Now, Izzie is a nightmare romance novel heroine—she works really hard for a career and then gives it all up for some toss-pot she barely knows. Ugh. Enough soap opera drama already—we liked it back when the characters had some intelligence!


Flitgirl: I love Sara Ramirez, the actress. She was fantastic in Spamalot. But I'm confused about why Callie has turned from this ballsy here's-my-number chick into whimpering, cowering why-don't-you-like-me-enough girl. I'm not sure if this is realistic character development, but even if it is, I don't find it all that interesting to watch. At least George got some and can move on to a more appropriate (i.e. more sane) love interest. Which, I agree at last with Kate, he deserves.

Kate D: Word on the ballsy-to-cowering transformation. Though, have you noticed that, in addition to the lack of strength, she's started being mean? When we first met Callie, you got this sense that she was Hot Edgy Goth Chick. Now, she’s making fun of Meredith because her puppy has bone cancer. Who the hell does that? Not Nice.
Flitgirl: Okay, I have a confession...I like McDreamy. He's hot. (I just watched the fab ABC Family movie Lucky Number Seven again over the weekend so I'm kind of in a Patrick Dempsey can do no wrong stage). And...I like elevator scenes with Meredith and Derek.

But more than either of them, I love Addison. She's a fantastic surgeon, she's strong and beautiful, she's willing to fight for her marriage, own up to her mistakes, and finally, FINALLY, call Derek on his passive-aggressive victim act. She deserves soooo much better. Hers is the romantic journey I want to follow. Don't ever change, Addie! Mwah.
Kate D: Three cheers for Addie. 'Nough said.

Flitgirl: Holy crap! Keep Burke alive!

Kate D: I’m going to be severely pissed if they do some sort of organ-donor “hardest choice I ever had to make” thing. Who gets the heart—Burke or Denny? Millions of lame women all over America will be squealing in the hopes that Denny lives, while I hurl popcorn at the screen and cheer him towards the light.

Or is it going to be one of these lame-ass things where Denny gets Burke’s heart and we lose Hot Turtleneck Surgeon for Sunken Neck “Virile” Man-Child? Oh, please. I hope not. There's only so much parallel storyline I can take. Besides, Isaiah Washington has created a fascinating, complex, and capable character. Unless the man had contract negotiation issues, I don’t see any way they could ethically replace him with Lame Guest Star Who Needs to Shave.

Live Free Or... Shop At Barnes & Nobles?

Interesting article in Slate today about the importance or lack thereof of the "death" of the independent bookstore. I have to ruefully confess that I do most of my bookshopping, such as it is, at the Barnes and Noble 4 blocks from my apartment. But when I'm at my parents' home in the suburbs, I split my time between the chain store and the local book and record exchange, where I buy (and unload) most of my romance reading.

I haven't found a similarly great, romance-based used book store here in the city. Is there one? If any of our phantom readers knows of a great NYC store, holla, okay? As it is, I'm forced to unload the non-keepers on my unsuspecting – err, grateful friends.

For all Tyler Cowen's pooh-poohing of the importance of the indies, I think the fill an important function in genre fiction. While independent general bookstores have faded away, those focused on romance or mystery or children's writing still manage to persist. Perhaps it's because, with the tremendous volume of books published in each of those areas each month, let alone each year, readers value the guidance ofknowledgeablee owners who can steer them toward great newcomers and away from the duds.

Or maybe I'm crazy and those stores are all fading just as fast.

How about you? Where do you buy your books? What's your take on Indies vs. Chainies (Cheneys!)?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Employed in Oly

It's official: I'm no longer a starving not-quite-artist with zero job prospects and stupid PowerPoint presentations to distract me from my novel. I still have the looming PowerPoint reports... and the creeping fear that all this sociology work is causing atrophy in my historian's brain. But I am no longer an unemployed waif.

That's right. I came, I saw, I conquered: after sending out one job application, I am now the proud recipient of one job offer. Huzzah! Looks like I'll be relocating to Olympia, Washington at some point this summer. I'll be teaching 9th grade Language Arts at my old high school, which means I'll get to build curriculum for Romeo & Juliet and To Kill A Mockingbird. I'll also have front row seats to The Boyfriend's awkward interactions with former teachers--that's right, we went to the same high school--whenever I force him to attend office Christmas parties. Oh, yes. The stories I shall be telling on this blog!

In addition to my new role of "adult with 401(k)," I'm also going to inherit a cat. Oh, and did I mention that I'm going to be an aunt? Yes, my sister-in-law is pregant. With triplets. Hence part of my desire to move back to Olympia... my brother's going to be outnumbered by babies from the get-go, and I figure they're going to need lots of help.

A house with a yard. A job teaching great literature. A cat. No more stupid PowerPoint reflections on What I've Learned About Performance Assessment. No more roommates to distract me from Chapter Twelve of The Neverending Novel. And babies. Blood-relative babies that I can love and spoil and introduce to The Paper Bag Princess, all without a single mandatory diaper-changing...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Toes on the Cliff's Edge

It's official. I'm afraid to finish my book. I have a quarter of one chapter left to revise and I just...can't...do it. There's nothing more terrifying than staring into the void of queries, slush piles and rejections.

I have made two baby-steps in the right direction. First, after years of talking, thinking and planning about it, I finally joined RWA (Romance Writers of America, for the uninitiated). I'm going to go to my NY local chapter meeting on June 3rd. I have a huge packet of Editors and Agents in the industry (they're in caps because that's how I think of them) with everything they seek to acquire and their addresses. And it's recent as of May '06.

Second, I've been e-mailing my writer acquaintances and asking if they'll look over my ms. You never know, one of them could love it so much they refer me to their Agent. A girl can dream. Even if they don't, feedback from a professional is always worthwhile.

Finally, I'm going to rework my prologue and first chapter for submission in my first contest on June 1st. With Kate D's copious assistance, of course.

And then I free fall?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Beacon from the Past

Fun fact: long before the advent of blogs, I was keeping old-fashioned paper journals. I have diaries dating back to seventh grade, when each entry was basically an excuse to use purple ink and dot my i's with hearts.

In a fit of trying-to-avoid-my-second-sex-scene, I told myself that I needed to get out my old journals and look through them for writing inspiration. The high school years were too dramatic to face (I regret to say I used excessive capital letters like a Victorian novelist) but the college years have been hilarious to revisit. I'm not sure I'll ever use any of this for writing inspiration, but it certainly is fun to explore old angst. For instance, this entry is from the summer right after college, when I was living on the Jersey shore and working at a bed-and-breakfast:

I must admit, the day did not begin auspiciously. There are always one or two obnoxious guests at the Beacon House and this morning was no exception. It's always the bottle blondes, I swear. This one chastized me for the dust on the sideboard, admonished Theresa for not clearing the table quickly enough, and complained that her tea water tasted faintly of coffee. We had a great time in the service kitchen bitching about her. She was not as bad as the hungover aerobics instructor, however. She and her friends, I think, merely existed as a warning to me and Theresa. They were the early 30-somethings from Hell. Watching them, Theresa and I decided to perform mercy killings upon one another if we ever show signs of 1) living our lives to be hung over every weekend 2) yelling at service staff for such inconsequential things as not topping off coffee to the imaged appropriate centimeter 3) contemplating affairs with married men and finally 4) ever making a living off of Jazzercise.

This, dear people, is why we need friends. Gal pals keep us sane, whole, and in touch with that little thing I like to call reality. This is also why I feel that the friend characters in romance novels have to be absolutely excellent. Your heroine's best friend must be able to steer her away from crushes on men who a) are married and b) do Jazzercise.

In honor of best friends everywhere, I ask you: of the novels you've read, what novels contain the best "friend" characters ?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Support Our Show!

At the risk of turning this into a tv-recap site rather than a romance reading/writing blog, I have to interrupt our irregularly scheduled posting to alert all readers to the fact that tonight is the season, possibly the series, finale of my, nay our, beloved Veronica Mars.

Please watch. For me? Okay, not for me, watch for you. If this show gets the dreaded c-word (no, not see you next Tuesday) I'm throwing away my tv and reveling in old episodes of Lois & Clark and my season 1 Veronica DVDs. My show needs you. SUPPORT MY SHOW!

Ahem. 9 pm. UPN (Channel 9 in New York). I swear you'll love it, even if you have no idea what's going on. They're solving a bus crash! Epic (teenage) love! She's smart and feisty!

Don't make me come after you. I'm wily.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Grey's Anatomy: Damage Case

I must comment on last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy. Indulge me. I'm a dork. Without further ado, here are ten things that stuck out about "Damage Case."

(1) Damaged Hillbillies: Ha, ha, ha. A Hillbilly family got into a car crash. The mother powders her face in traction. She refers to her vagina as her "good girl." And the way they're all yelling at each other from various gurneys is like a frantic Walton family hollering goodnight to John-boy... but then it gets sad. And then it gets really sad. And then I start crying and feeling guilty because this poor guy might lose the 22-year-old big haired, hillbilly love of his life and how could I have laughed like that?

(2) Alex-hole: Just when I think I'll never forgive Karev for being an egocentric slime-wad, he does something semi-nice... because let's be honest, the man could never be purely nice, and therein lies the appeal. He might be evil, and he might betray his colleagues and his friends, but he'll never be a saccharine or self-righteous bore like Izzy. What other intern could manage to be morose after saving a baby's life? Who else would belittle an attending with such a complete lack of self-preservation? The man coined the term "She-Shepherd." For that alone, I love him... and I think it would be so, so great if he ended up joining the loathed Vagina Squad.

(3) She-Shepherd: Do you remember those fargone days when Addison was a Harpie Bitch Queen who was not worthy of McDreamy? What a difference a season makes! I have so much sympathy for this woman, and I'm so tired of seeing her make all this effort in her marriage while McFuck-Up (MFU) does his best to string two women along. Yeah, she slept with his best friend and this was a terrible, terrible thing. But she's trying to make amends. She doesn't play the victim every episode. And she doesn't sigh and cast come-hither-not-really gazes on defenseless interns. So I like her better than MFU.

(4) MFU: To all of the fans who persist in viewing Derek Shepherd as Meredith's Tragically Heroic Soulmate, I have this to say to you: stop smoking crack and get over it. This isn't the first time I've expressed my opinion regarding Derek's unfair I-can't-have-you-but-I-fully-intend-to-string-you-along behavior. But he reached new lows in this eppy. This man lied to Meredith about being married. He strung her along as he "made his choice." He keeps stringing her along with warm gazes and regretful one-liners, not the least of which was when he showed up in the wee smas after the bomb threat to say asinine things in Meredith's living room. Now he yelled at her in front of others, called her a whore in the stairwell, and mumbled bitterly that it was over before sweeping off like an over dramatic thirteen-year-old girl. People, it should be over. Really. But I don't think it is. And like me, you should be queasy over that prospect.

(5) Finn-tastic: In striking counterpoint to McTantrum-McAngry-McDouble Standard-McFuck Up, Chris O'Donnell's granola crunching vet is absolutely delightful. The man cooks. He treats Meredith to witty banter. He's not pulling her easy access slut-slut lever and getting her into bed. Instead he gives her wine and teases her that she's scary and damaged. He takes her to look at horse birth. And he's a vet... which makes him a rare breed, indeed. (Check the numbers, people. It's much harder to get into vet school than med school.) His speech at the end made me want to run my fingers through his hair and help him shave. Ah, McVet. Unlike some people you have cause to act like a whiny prima donna... and yet you don't. Marry me.

(6) Don't Mess this Mojo: I've got to say, I am not happy with this week's tension (and season finale's implied tension/breakup) between Christina and Burke. I love them together, and I think the dramatic possibilities within the relationship are much more interesting than creating yet another angsty we-broke-up-and-we've-got-awkward-colleague-stuff-happening dynamic. Was it just last week that we saw Christina comforting Burke after the death of Musical Heart Guy? Come on. More dancing around the kitchen together as Christina brushess her teeth. More competitive board game double dates. Less with the anger. Please? Thank you!

(7) Izzy's Tizzy: We have here a curvaceous, driven trailer park alumna who put herself through college despite the fact that her mother squandered her tuition money on a psychic. Getting to college involved no small sacrifice: in addition to her painfully public career as Bethany Whisper, Izzy also had a painfully secret teen pregnancy that ended with her daughter's adoption. Given all of this, why is she flirting with disaster in the form of DeadMeat Denny? Come on! I like the guy, too, but that's no reason to blow off an entire career. Besides, he's clearly toast. So stop smearing yourself all over the hospital bed already.

(8) Creepy Callie: Was anyone else delicously skeazed by Callie's morning bathroom appearance? It was hilarious, but I've got to say that when The Boyfriend was living with people I always put a shirt on before heading to the bathroom. Never assume that the roommates are gone and you can prance around naked. After all, they pay rent. You don't. But maybe I'm just being critical because I have yet to warm up to George-Callie. Maybe I just can't forgive her for the tragic haircut she inflicted on George. Or maybe I just think she's creepy and a little crazy and living in a boiler room.

(9) You Go, John Cho: Who'd have thought that guy from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle could convey such pathos? I like the fact that the person who caused the Hillbilly Car Crash didn't have a medically valid excuse for his behavior. He didn't get to say to himself, "Oh, I have a tumor so I don't have to feel guilty." Instead, the fact that he was a sleep-deprived intern made it so much more poignant. When he escaped from Meredith to go observe the surgery, my heart broke a little. I'd also like to say the fact that they had an Asian intern makes me so happy... I feel like the multicultural casting on this show breaks a lot of prime time boundaries. It's also an accurate representation of Seattle.

(10) O'Malley Moment: I heart George. Really. Give me O'Malley over McDreamy any day. His interactions with Meredith in this show didn't get much buzz on the writer's blog, but they were the highlight of my Sunday night. He shows compassion. He extends the olive branch. And he still clearly has feelings for her, yet doesn't call her a whore in a stairwell. I can't say more than this. All I know is that I want to watch that scene in the locker room over again, where they're sitting there in awkward silence and he just says, "I'll see you at home." Melt, people. Melt.

Feel free to comment on the episode, my obsession, or the fact that I wrote this when I should be constructing a Personal Impact Plan for the purposes of No Child Left Behind.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

"Romance," circa 1983

Hint, dear publishers: “no” means “no.”

Be forewarned: this is not the pleasant, light reading you usually find on this blog. No, this is a rant inspired by my recent perusal of How to Write Romance Novels That Sell, a writing guide from 1983. If you've ever read any romance in your life, please do the scribbling women a favor... read this post, read the comments, and join this important discussion.

I was glowing with excitement when the vintage writing book fell into my possession—after all, I love gendered advice books from bygone eras. Sadly, though, some of the writing advice was so distasteful that I couldn’t even label it as “quaint.” Instead, it angered me. For instance:

The most innocent of romances implies that the hero, if he so desires, can rape the heroine. The reader must be aware that the hero is free to do with the heroine as he likes. His size in comparison to hers helps to remind us that he is in control. That he doesn’t take advantage of her characterizes him and shows how truly he loves her.

Um… excuse me?! So, the hero should somehow score nice guy points because he doesn’t commit a degrading and illegal assault on the heroine? I don’t think so! Picture me vomiting. Then picture me reading onward with increasing horror as I was advised:

The reader must not feel disgusted by the actual rape scene. Early in the “bodice-ripper” romance plot, the heroine is usually raped by the hero; and we must remain sympathetic with both characters…These rapes are more acts of passion than of violence, and we mustn’t feel as we would while reading about an actual rape.

Newsflash, people: rape is rape. It’s never okay, and I can pretty much guarantee that if your novel contains a forced sex scene, I’m going to spend the rest of the book waiting for the heroine to press charges and slap the "hero’s" ass in jail.

How’s that for disgust?

To be fair, I think the genre has come a long way in the twenty-plus years since this writing book was published. But reading this dated, appalling “advice” only serves to remind me that we still have work to do. I’m still reading too many stories about sissy heroines who find their hero’s domineering ways appropriate, attractive, and manly. I’m still reading about supposedly hot “anger sex” that treads a fine line between consensual and… well, something quite icky.

Alpha males are one thing, folks, but reinforcing dangerous stereotypes and behavior—that’s something else, entirely.

* * * * *

[1] Marilyn M. Lowery, How to Write Romance Novels that Sell (Macmillan Publishing Company, New York) 1983, p.75.

* My definition of supposedly hot anger sex: Usually occurs in a historical when the hero comes home from some sort of physical altercation. His blood lust is up, he basically ravages his wife, then goes into a total shame spiral only to discover that the little woman “likes it rough.” She, of course, would never think to ask for a tempestuous quickie… she merely participate when her husband initiates. Is it just me, or is there a squick factor here?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wanted: One Teaching Job

Kate: I’m afraid I can’t get you a job. But I can get you a sheik, which must be worth something. Hang in there, hot stuff.

Job-hunting, how I loathe thee.

Yet how I love the support I've received from various friends and fellow sufferers as I attempt to find gainful employment. Witness Jaime, several time zones away, who sent me The Sheik and the Virgin Secretary in order to brighten my job-hunting saga. Witness the haiku written by a classmate despairing over ever getting her placement file finished:

Job hunting trauma
Forms, letters, references
Please, God—employment!

It looks like I may have an interview this week down in Olympia. Now, assuming that I actually get the interview, and then assuming that I get the job... do I want to take the position? It would mean moving an hour south of Seattle. Olympia is not nearly so urban, but it is the capital. So my Language Arts teaching would suffer from a lack of theatrical variety, but what a great place to teach Civics!

So, aside from the appalling lack of good Indian food, a Trader Joe's, and all my friends (who will be living in Seattle) it's ideal. After all, in Olympia I can afford to rent (and then eventually buy) a house. The Boyfriend and I grew up in Oly, so perhaps if we moved back our parents would stop nagging us to bear grandchildren. But should I ever reproduce, I would be happy to send my children to any school in the area. I will be closer to the ocean, and Mt. Rainier. And if I move to Olympia, my gardening/pet ownership fantasies are totally within the realm of possibility.

Finally, as nerdy as this is, there's the farmer's market. I know, I know. Seattle has Pike's Place. But let's face it, people. Fighting your way through the crowds at Pike's Place makes even the most good-natured tourist want to poke her eyes out with a Space Needle figurine. Imagine how it feels for the natives, who just want to avoid the flying fish and get some cheap veggies for dinner.

Basically I'm leaning towards Olympia. That is, of course, if they offer me a job (that's right, in addition to all the benefits I just listed, I would be done with my job search).

I guess I just need everyone else to tell me it's okay to leave the metropolis and head towards a smaller, greener town. Be honest, though: does making a fiscally responsible choice at the age of 25 mean that I've turned into a hideous bore?