Archive for April, 2012

Behind Stone Walls

Here we go! 🙂

Behind Stone Walls” is a collection of short stories by four authors, including myself, who have published via Yellow Silk Dreams. It is now available exclusively at Amazon for a time as a Kindle book.

Jacqueline George, an author based in Australia who founded Yellow Silk Dreams, suggested that we write stories around a “castle” theme. I think you’ll find that we all took that and ran in different directions, providing a wide array of stories based on castles real and more metaphorical. Other contributors include Gemma Parkes and Jocelyn Modo.

My story is called “Leaving the Castle,” and here’s an excerpt:

“That works.” Sasha’s voice was breathy. “So, what does a rogue do, exactly?”

He lowered his lips to within an inch of hers. “First thing, he steals a kiss as a reward for helping the beautiful princess escape from the evil queen.”

Sasha started to smile but his lips were on hers before she could. For just a moment, she froze; she hadn’t believed it would happen, that Ty would kiss her. It was like a dream. When Ty slid one arm around her waist and cupped her head so that he could deepen the kiss, the dream slid away. This was real and Sasha intended to enjoy every second. She reached up to wrap her arms around his neck and parted her lips.

Ty wondered if anyone was watching them, but when Sasha opened under him he didn’t care. He pulled her to him, trying not to crush her. His tongue dove into her mouth, dancing with hers as he tasted her.

Her body was soft against his, and warm under the clothes she wore. He pressed against her, hoping he wouldn’t scare her but unable to stop himself. After another minute, they broke the kiss.

“Wow.” Sasha cleared her throat and laughed. “You certainly live up to your roguish reputation.”

Ty pressed his forehead to hers. “If we weren’t out in public, I’d live up to it a lot more.”

Sasha took a deep breath. “I think I’d like that.”

Ty stilled. “Are you sure? Because I know I’d love that.”

“Yes.”

Please check it out, and I hope you enjoy!

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Kids and TV

My husband and I have been watching M*A*S*H, which has been a lot of fun. I’ve seen many episodes before — I imagine M*A*S*H was the syndication king before Seinfeld came along.

We’re on the last third of season two, and it’s funny what you notice. For example: did you realize that of the major male characters, most are cheating on their wives? That’s Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), Trapper John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), Maj. Frank Burns (Larry Linville), and Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda). The first three characters are married, and cheat on their wives with merry abandon, while Hawkeye is single but let’s face it, promiscuous. Then there’s Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit), who is sleeping with Burns, and knows he’s married.

Yet we sympathize with and like these people. If we don’t like them, like Burns, it’s not because of the infidelity, it’s because he’s a jerk. He’d be a jerk whether he was cheating on his wife or not. We sympathize with Margaret, too. For one thing, it’s hard to figure out why she’s with Burns. He’s an idiot, a mediocre surgeon, and the only thing they really have in common is their patriotism. Yet Margaret is a woman in a man’s army, and working up to the rank of Major and being head nurse at a mobile surgical unit is an accomplishment. She’s a strong woman, and I guess that makes up for the affair (which we just can’t take seriously and it is played for laughs).

So we’ve watched nearly forty-eight episodes, all of them amusing, some more so than others. The show is quite tame compared what’s on today, even on network, and certainly compared to what’s on cable. M*A*S*H ain’t got nothing on Game of Thrones, let me tell you. We tend to watch the shows after the kids are in bed, not so much for content so much as other things are going on and the kids want to do other things.

Tonight we were watching, figuring we could close out season two. Our son was still up, but busy doing something on the computer and we figured, what the heck, even if he comes out, it’s not like we’re watching Boardwalk Empire.

Indeed, he joins us and (perhaps prompted by the laugh track) laughs at the show, declares it “hilarious” and wants to watch a full episode. We say okay, one episode and then off to bed. The episode is #22 from season 2, and is called “George.” Every episode to date has been a little silly, and what happens in this one? Turns out one of the injured soldiers, a Private Weston, is gay. In the parlance of the show, “homosexual.”

Figures.

Now, of course, the boy is laughing, not understanding. Weston, a white guy, tells Hawkeye that two guys in his outfit were beaten up, a Negro and a homosexual. Hawkeye’s joke is, Who’d have guessed you’re a Negro. Son wonders if homosexuals are Negroes (hey, he’s eight). I pause the show at the next break and ask if he knows what a Negro is – he says yes, colored. Close enough. Now it is left to define homosexual.

I’m a big believer in answering a kid’s question as simply as possible. So I tell him it’s when a man falls in love with another man, or a woman with another woman, instead of a man/woman pairing. Son says, well, no, that can’t work because they can’t get married. We say, no, that’s not true, they can in some places. Luckily we have a real-life example of this. Friends of ours, a gay male couple, live not too far away. They are married, active in their church and have adopted two boys. It’s on the tip of our tongues to add more, but we hold back and await reaction.

Big grin from Son, and then happy days! He exclaims that he and his best friend can get married!

Screeeeeeech!!Reverse thrusters, Captain!

No, actually, we tell him not to worry about marriage to anyone for at least another ten (or twenty or thirty) years. We also point out that friendships change and he and Best Friend may not always be so. This results in a defense of said friendship and we are happy to concede the point. Then – bed time. Ahhhh. No more awkward questions.

Except that he went up to his room, turned on the AM radio he made from an electronics kit and came back to tell us about a report her heard about a girl getting caught in some kind of cross-fire. Gah! Makes you think the Amish may be on to something.

It’s funny, you never know where that stuff will come from but you can’t always be waiting for them. A couple of years ago, my son asked my husband how babies are made (he’d just had a testing assessment and the teacher administering it was pregnant). Husband’s wonderful response: they’ll tell you that in fifth grade. 😀 I thought that was a great answer, and probably appropriate for a 6yo who didn’t really want the details.

But it’s all great story fodder.

How Does It All End?

I recently read this blog entry at The Washington Post. My favorite bit is this, from Caps’ defenseman John Carlson.

* John Carlson finished the Hunger Games trilogy and did not like how it ended. “It was a terrible ending, and I was really not happy to see how it ended. In fact, I’m kinda mad right now.”

Warning: Probable THG spoilers ahead. I myself recently finished reading The Hunger Games and have to say, Carlson has a point. I’m not mad about it, though. (I hope he channels that energy into the playoffs!) Still, I did have to wonder at how traditional the ending is. Katniss has been through the Games, been through dangerous battles in the rebellion, and at the end of it all — she marries, falls in love, and has kids (pretty much in that order).

This made me think of my favorite ending to a book — the end scene in the sixth book of Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. I will give you a basic spoiler warning, but these books are over forty years old, so I think any statute of limitations on spoilers has long since expired.

Elric is the last Emperor of Melnibone. His people are decadent and declining as humans are ascending. He has gone to explore the world, accompanied by the semi-sentient sword Stormbringer, forged by the Lords of Chaos. (Note: anything made by chaos is going to be inherently unstable.) At the end of the original six books (Moorcock wrote others that filled in “gaps” in the original story), Elric and his friend and ally, Moonglum of Elwher, stand at the end of the world. Really, the world is ending. Stormbringer, never one to be too concerned about friend or foe, kills Moonglum and then, in a surprising turn, kills Elric. Stormbringer, the Stealer of Souls, takes that of its … well, let’s say partner. Elric was never the sword’s master; even he’d admit that.

You don’t often see your hero get offed like that. Not after all he’d been through — almost dying, losing his empire, losing both of the women he loved to Stormbringer, suffering the caprices of his patron, Arioch, Duke of Chaos. Usually the hero gets a respite at the end of it all. You could certainly argue that death is a respite, but one gets the impression that dying at the point of Stormbringer is not exactly going gently into that good night. And Stormbringer’s final words are excellent: “Farewell, my friend. I was ever a thousand times more evil than thou.”

Awesome.

Anyone who’s read my stories knows I like happy endings. And I do. It’s a nice break from the mudslinging politics and police blotter stuff we read in the paper. Yes a happy ending isn’t always the right ending. Take Elric, for example. He was a misfit among his own people to start with, both in appearance and thought; he breaks with many traditions; he must fight off his cousin’s attempt at usurping the throne; he loses the two women he loves to his erstwhile ally, Stormbringer; he loses friends along the way and almost himself, and by the time the world is ending, his people are scattered to the winds. His reputation precedes him, and not in a good way. Just where is he supposed to go, even the world hadn’t ended? No, I think Elric met the only proper end.

What’s a proper end in romance/erotica? It depends on the story, of course, and I’m going to stick with romances here. Common ending: engagement or marriage, with an epilogue describing the ensuing happy life, likely with kids. This is fine. I’m married with kids myself, and happy about it, and so if someone else can be happy that way, well, great. However, I noticed as I went along that I didn’t do this in my romances.

In Nothing Gets Through, for example, the two leads, Dom and Lani, never even say “I love you.” No one seemed to mind, though. The point wasn’t whether they did or would fall in love. The point was that Lani felt betrayed by Dom’s life being exposed in the newspaper when he wouldn’t tell her any of those details himself. Dom realized this and tried to make it up to her. In Numbers Game, the two leads did get to “I love you,” but only that far. The point there was two people taking a chance and trying to make up for a previous mistake.

I could go on, but you get the idea. In my were stories, I pretty much side-step the whole marriage issue with the mating theme/convention that’s in so much of that genre. I like that, really. It’s a convenient way to have people commit to each other without having to have a marriage, even an elopement. I find there are more interesting things to write about. The getting there is what I like. The chase, essentially.

So what’s important to me is the right ending, even more than the happy ending.

Best movie ending? I suppose I have to go with Some Like it Hot. 🙂

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