Friday, August 24, 2007

Caveman Appeal

This is new from Yahoo News: Chick Magnets Look Like Cavemen -- which actually explains the popularity of time-travel romance.

To be fair, TT romance is one of my biggest guilty pleasures. I really like the clash that happens when you combine a fiesty modern woman and a lunkheaded, knuckle-dragging alpha male from some backward society.

And, apparently, that's hardwired into my brain.

Oooooh, look! Pretty!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Pumpkin That Ate St. Paul

This is a picture out of my second story window (facing our backyard). That's a pumpkin vine. This pumpkin has been slowly devouring our neighborhood. I found one tendril making its way into the yard of the neighbors to the south and another headed to the north. I curled both of those around back on themselves and now its headed for the roof. The cool thing is that this vine is sporting a pumpkin half way up the wall. That ought to be fun to harvest.

Too Much of A Good Thing

Here's a funny: My editor's comment after reading the revised manuscript of Romancing the Dead was that now there was too much sex.

Uh, is that even possible?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Writing Colorblind

As many of you know, I've had lots of rants here on this blog about this very thing: Why Writing Colorblind is Writing White (a rant) by Brutal Woman.

Her reaction is to something that John Scalzi said here.

Unlike Scazli, I intentionally identify my characters by race. In the AngeLINK books by my alternate personality I describe Jibril as a black African Muslim. Mouse is Arabic and Muslim, and he's brown enough that Rebeckah (an Israeli born American) misidentifies him as an Indian from India. Michael is an olive-skinned Mediterranean (his surname identifies him as Italian) and Ariel is Asian, though I never identify which specific country. I did this in my science fiction particularly because the future is so very often shown to be the purview of white people (specifically white males).

But more than that it seems unrealistic. Sure Americans and Europeans seem to dominate the political and economic landscape currently (at least from where I'm sitting), but that certainly wasn't always the case. And it only makes sense to me, particularly given the tendency, shall we say, for the U.S. to mismanage its economy, that some other ethnic/political/economic group could rise to a similar kind of dominance given the passage of time.

But those are the kinds of things you think about when you write SF. When it came time to write the Garnetverse books, I could have not bothered with race. The stories are all set in the pastoral (though not entirely rural) Mid-West, and a person could make the case that there just aren't a lot of people of color living in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that's a lie -- or at the very least a gross misrepresentation. Thus, I consciously identify Izzy as black.

I think that Brutal Woman is absolutely right when she says that when you don't overtly point out that someone is a person of color, the default in the majority of readers' minds = white. It's even a problem when you *do* it subtly, as I argue with Elizabeth Bear in the interview I did with her for the Internet Review of Science Fiction.*

Subtly doesn't get us anywhere. People like to say that race doesn't matter, but I think it does. I've admitted to "the default" when talking to Bear, and my partner and I have had long conversations how sometimes our "racial programming" will work pretty hard to ignore clues if they're too subtle. (She never imagined Poohka from Emma Bull's WAR FOR THE OAKS as black despite Bull's fairly overt, "He looked like Prince.")

I don't know what else to make of that except to say that this is just a really long-winded way of saying, "right on, sister" to Brutal Woman.

* You need to subscribe to Internet Review of Science Fiction to read this, but its free.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wedding? I'd Rather Be With Rogers.

Wedding bells are in the air for Goddess-toting, now-immortal witch Garnet Lacey and her day-walking vampire lover Sebastian Von Traum. The caterers have been hired, flowers ordered, invitations sent, and Garnet is finally introducing Sebastian to her hippie, organic egg-ranching parents at Portabello’s, one of Madison, Wisconsin’s finer dining establishments. Of course, that’s when Téresa, the mother of Sebastian’s dhampyr son Mátyás, appears and ruins everything with her whole night-of-living-dead/raving-lunatic/he-was-mine-first shtick.

Sounds fun, right? Well, that's the beginning of the proposal for DEAD IF I DO (Book 4 in the Garnetverse), and I should be writing it RIGHT NOW. Instead, I've been diddling around reading comic books and dreaming about Captain America. (Makes you wonder though, doesn't it? Has someone done a superhero romance novel?)

I tell myself I'm allowed a little vacation. The revisions for ROMANCING THE DEAD kicked my butt into next week, so it's reasonable to want a little vegging time, right? Right? Thing is, I'm violating my own superstition, which is that I start writing the next book as soon as I get word from my agent that a deal has been struck. (Oh, if I haven't reported it, Berkley wants two more: DEAD IF I DO and HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD). I might just have to open up a Word Document tonight and do my initial formatting just to say I've started.

I dunno. I guess I'd rather be thinking about that dreamboat Steve Rogers....

When I Grow Up...

...I've decided I want to be Captain America.

Thing is, Steve Rogers? He's hot. When Mason starts school in September I plan to start hitting the gym in earnest. My plan is to have a body like Cap's by the time I'm forty-five. (Okay, yeah, minus the whole gender thing and the probably foot difference in our hieght.)

If you can't tell I've started reading comicbooks again. I blame Target, actually. When Mason and I were hanging out in the book section looking for new dot-to-dot books, I noticed that Marvel had what they were billing as "All-Ages" comicbooks. Mason instantly was attracted to the FANTASTIC FOUR. I was a big FF fan when I was a kid (and in those days, had you asked me, I would have said I wanted to grow up to be the Human Torch.) So, of course, I bought him all of the issues he wanted. While I was there, MY eye was drawn to Bendis' NEW AVENGERS.

It's been all downhill since then. I had to try to find the next collection of graphic novels after "Breakout" and have started branching out into other titles. I even picked up J. Michael Straczynski (of Babylon 5 fame) and Mike Deodato, Jr's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: New Avengers (Vol 10) and CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER and CAPTAIN AMERICA: RED MENACE by Ed Brubaker. Goddess only knows where this will end.

It's strange, actually, but this is the sort of thing my mind craves right now: High action, high romance (there's a lot more sex in adult comicbooks these days, I've noticed. Hello, Kitty Pryde and Peter Rasputin in Joss Whedon's X-MEN! Phasing during the big "o"? We didn't do that back in my day.) But, what I'm particularly enjoying as a returning fan is how the current batch of writers seem to be deeply familiar with the storylines I followed feverishly in my youth (okay, and young adulthood. I didn't give up on comics until sometime in college). I was really happy when in SPIDER-MAN Peter Parker makes a reference to the time he grew six extra arms. I remember that issue! As an adult I probably should think it was lame, but instead I find a kind of nostalgic guilty pleasure in reading that its acknowledged as having happened, you know? It's like the new writers are willing to accept Marvel history warts and all. As a long time fan, this makes me very, very happy. And it's eased my transition back. I don't feel out of it. I know this stuff.

Also, can I say? My tastes have changed. Now that I'm an adult, burdened, apparently by more responsibility, etc., I find myself attracted to characters I used to think were hopelessly square: Captain America, Spider-Man, (god help me) Iron Man. Though I still love Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, the comicbook version doesn't do it for me the same way any more (although Whedon's "I had a beer" cure made me quite happy).

It surprises me that romance readers haven't embraced comicbooks. There are some seriously studly guys parading around in skin-tight spandex, a**-kicking women, and romantic sub-plots -- no, let's be honest, soap operas -- that have spanned decades. It's kind of too bad that comicbooks have been branded "boy's" lit because the best storylines, IMHO, have always had the elements that readers of either gender can appreciate: heart and soul.