Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Turf War: It Ain't Pretty, Kitty

Not since the Sharks met the Jets on that fateful NY night years ago has so much trash been talked in the name of passion and territorial dispute.

OK, well, the Squawk Radio/Running with Quills blog takeovers aren't exactly akin to gang wars, but things are getting pretty bloody on both fronts as the Squawkers and the Quills struggle for romance group blog superiority.

It's no surprise stiletto-wearin', tiparillo-smokin' Squawk Radio romance reporter Kitty Kuttlestone started the whole thing with her trademark finesse (read: a few too many cocktails).

Check out Squawk Radio and Running with Quills, then come back here and tell me:

What do you miss about old school romance?
Have our heroes been emasculated by political correctness?
Are our heroines better off/worse off for being written
for the Feminist sensibility?
Encore! Great examples of Old School and neo-Old School. Hey, did I just coin a term? Somebody call brainysexycool Eric Sellinger at Romance Scholar!


Julie in Ohio said...

I love this question because I HATE political correctness. There is a time and place for everything but it doesn't belong in my romances. They are fantasies for a reason.
If my heroine is (as Miss Eloisa James put it) TSTL (too stupid to live) I say "yeah". I want my daughters to have the best of all. They are better than the boys at most things. But that is real life. I want my damsel in distress to be just that.

Now having said that, I want to be entertained so my heroine needs to be able to hold her own in a conversation. There is stupid and then there is stupid.

I miss the Rakes. I mean the real Rakes. The ones you hate so much you don't think they are redeemable, but then the heroine comes in and they fall HARD.

Anonymous said...

I like the rakes, too (the name-brand rakes, as lisa Kleypas put it, *g*) but I also want to like the guy. My problem is that too often, when the guy is a real RAKE, he's just not likeable early enough in the story for me. I start thinking things like, she could do better... Give me a guy who's baaaad, but also funny. Or really smart. Or something that will give him, not so much a softer side (heh, don't want our hero to be too soft) but something to like, or at least enjoy reading about, while we hate the rest of him and wait gleefully for him to fall on his knees once LUV takes hold of him. That, I like.

Also, on TSTL... A heroine can be smart and do "dumb" things. I like 'em smart enough to know when they're doing something that's stupid, not so stupid they just keep blundering into disaster after disaster, and as for causing the disasters...well, it has to be a VERY well-written book.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Excellent points, all well made, Caroline.

And, JulieO, I feel similarly. Thirty years post-Steinem, I get to reap the rewards of her hard work. I get to be assertive, aggressive, try to break the glass ceiling, etc. I am competent. Hear me roar, etc, etc. But when I read a romance, I like the "damsel in distress," too. If the book's well-written, as Caroline points out, the annoying or cliche can be made enjoyable, sensual, satisfying.

I embrace and promote all, I mean all sub-genres and stories in romance. I want readers of all romance to feel welcome here. In turn, I, too, get to say what I really dig. And, man,do I dig a big old Medieval warlord and a blushing virgin romance. But, please, write it well, or at least consistently.

Julie in Ohio said...

I like it all, too. There are times when I'm in a kick butt mood and will pull out a book with a kick butt heroine and watch her bring her hero to his knees. Which is often entertaining.

But most of the time I want to just kick back and go to a place where the tall, dark, and handsome Alpha goes after the blushing virgin with a sharp tongue and they live happily ever after.

Does that make me a cavewoman? *g*

But with any type you go for, I agree with you and Caroline, it has to be done well and consistantly. Nothing drives me crazier than a H/H that can't make up their mind whether they are Alpha or Beta.
I read a book once where the hero was an Alpha in disguise because he thought he would get more girls. It was like watching a tennis match. I didn't care for it at all.

Manda Collins said...

Hmmm. I think what's awesome about the market right now is that when I want a dose of feminist empowerment I can get it from a romance novel, but if I want some old school damsel in distress I can get some of that too.

What do I miss? The disabled heroine...As a disabled person (lost left leg to cancer, yada, yada, all better now) I found some very real catharsis in Victoria Holt's MISTRESS OF MELLYN and Mary Balogh's SILENT MELODY and DANCING WITH CLARA. I'm not sure if it's because of the PC culture or because of the new trend toward superpowerful heroines but I can't remember the last time I read a romance with a disabled heroine.

I wonder if it has something to do with a fear on the part of authors to make the heroine seem "weak" or "imperfect" while the hero is strong. Not saying that I want ALL heroines to be disabled, just that every once in a while it would be nice to read about someone who isn't physical perfection.

Right now I'm reading MUSIC OF THE NIGHT by Lydia Joice, which has a heroine with small pox scars and it's refreshing.

Julie in Ohio said...

Interesting point, Manda. I can't think of the last book I read where the heroine was physically disabled.
I just reread Teresa Mederios 'Yours Til Dawn' where the hero is blind.
But other than a heroine who isn't a twig or has a large nose, nothing is coming to mind. I will have to check out the ones you listed.

Manda Collins said...

I forgot Eloisa James' FOOL FOR LOVE and Edith Layton's TO WED A STRANGER. And those are fairly recent so I guess the disabled heroine hasn't totally disappeared...

amy kennedy said...

Caroline I like to think I am a smart heroine (of my own story) who constantly does stupid things.

Everyone brought up such good points--Manda, I think there are more disabled Heroes than Heroines, right? And I don't know why.

JulieO and Michelle--I really really want an Alpha Hero--big ol alpha. But don't you think that there will always be cycles in romance--an infusion of something new, and lots of times what's old (school) becomes new again.

We are so lucky to have the choices we do today--I'm talkin' romance here.

I thought it was interresting that Connie didn't want to know what the Hero was thinking--I guess I still do like that, but I also get what she's talking about.

Lunch is over--back to work. Thank goodness, I could have gone on and on and on...

Manda Collins said...

Re: stupid heroines--if the heroine never does anything stupid there wouldn't be a story! But I agree with Caroline that it takes a skillfull writer to blend the right combination of smarts with stupidity.

Amy, like you I'm glad we have a lot of choices. Cause sometimes I feel like an Alpha and sometimes I don't;)

Not sure why more heroes seem to be disabled. Maybe because it shifts physical strong/weak balance so that heroine can have upper hand (at least for a while).

What really bugs me is when either h/h starts out disabled but is miraculously cured at end of book. I don't mean when lives are saved to achieve HEA (lives must be saved to acheive HEA, without question), but when lame heroine is walking at end of book. I know it's fantasy we're reading here, but I'd rather fantasize that it's possible for h/h to achieve HEA in spite of disability rather than because it miraculously disappeared.

Julie in Ohio said...

My take on the disabled hero instead of heroine story is because a woman has a stronger will and more natural ability to nurture than a man. We are the mothers which means we have the ability to not only take care them but also support them in a way that naturally they don't have the know how to do.

They are physical beings so when a tragedy happens and they are no longer able to do what they once did, men have a tendacy to get mad then give up. Enter woman.

If something happens to a woman, we would get mad, throw some things around, perhaps smash something (preferable not expensive but at the same time big and loud) and then get over it and figure out how to move on.

That's my lengthy take on it.

ver: Ever Taste Green Waffles,Red Ketchup,Just for Fun?

Rach said...

Julie, I think you hit the nail on the head. We're the mommies, and have you noticed mommies aren't allowed to be sick? That if a mommy is sick she is expected to keep going as if nothing is wrong, but if the daddy is sick the world is supposed to stop in order to care for him? I think guys don't deal with adversity well initially.

I have to say I love me a bad a$$ rake! Love the overbearing alphas at times as well. However, I like the hero pov, and get irritated if I can't see the guy is falling madly in love with the heroine.

My first experiences with romances were my granny's Harlequin Presents from the 1970's. The settings were such exotic locales and the men, boy were they alpha boys!! I must have read every one published from 1970-1982 during the summer I was 14!

I will admit that I too find pc-ness to be a bit of a pain while reading a romance, and I enjoy the TSTL heriones. Sure, pc-ness has its place, but not in my novels!

One thing I do like about today's novels, though is the "good stuff" UATW scenes. They just didn't have those "back in the day". Mostly it was "...they went to bed. In the morning when she awoke..." Come on, give me the details!! As a 14 year old I was desperate for info =).

Sorry the post got away from me. Lots to say and haven't blogged in a while...

ver: Nannies never help eat the pasta. (yup, still need practice =) )

Julie in Ohio said...

Rach, that is so true. Mommies aren't allowed to be sick. I had outpatient surgery a few years back and was laid up for...about 2 hours.
I thought the house was going to fall apart. When's dinner? Where's my socks? Cassie hit me. Looking back it's pretty funny, but at the time I was hurting and mad as hell.
Some might ask where the DH was. Answer, on the couch watching TV, oblivious to it all.
How do they do that?

Oh, boy. That is one discussion you don't want to get me going on.

BTW, I like your verification sentence. LOL.
And if you really have a nanny, I am going to be SO jealous. I asked for one for Christmas but got bathroom shelves instead. *g*

Keep On Moving With Quite Noisy Walk.

Michelle, I think that you could do better than that horrible sentence. I think to call that nonsensical would be being nice.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Kristin Hannah's "The Enchantment." Hero with disability from childhood and heroine who is anything but nurturing. Works well, though, and his alpha attempts are sweet and funny.

Welcome back Rach. Didn't realize the UATW was a relatively new romance device. Never thought I'd say it, but Hooray for the contemporary! But really, what act better depicts the ultimate alpha takeover? sigh.

You are so right on the nurturing thing, JulieO. although most of the women I know hang on to things for a good long time...

Buona sera, Bellas.
mpjujxxo? I don't think so.

Stacy~ said...

Brenda Joyce's book Masquerade sounds really yummy - I'll have to look for that one.

Great topic Michelle. I have to admit I swoon at the alpha male who takes charge and gets down to business *g* And yes, please bring back the romance! Sometimes I feel like there is such a drive to be politically correct yet sexually explicit at the same time and there's something missing - the genuine romance between the h/h. Though Rach has a valid point about those UATW scenes - can't get enough of those LOL.

It's the wishy-washy characters that really irritate me. The ones that can't stick by their convictions. At least with an alpha character, pretty much what you see is what you get, and that's very refreshing.

Man, it's storming pretty hard right now. I love storms....perfect gothic weather.

ver: geekdom keeps you well-balanced

Janice Maynard said...

Michelle - Lovely to meet you "face-to-face" at RT!! I can't believe I came home without a photo of you! What was I thinking??? RWA for sure... have your "pose" ready!!

Kudos for wading into the middle of the Quills/Squawkers fracas. Too funny... I hope they all live to tell the tale.

Now for the burning question... it may not be PC, but I love an alpha male who can "rescue" a woman when necessary. In real life, I multi-task and care for the many people in my life. In fiction, I want a guy who sweeps me off my feet, anticipates my every need, and is my bulwark against the bad guys. It's not that I "can't" do it, but hey... it's nice to sit back and relax once in awhile.

Oh, and back to RT... Michelle, I blogged the whole crazy experience on Monday. It's in four brief sections with pictures, so scroll down 'til you see Part 1.

Now I'm off to create pages of matchless prose... or at least something that doesn't stink too badly. :)

Good day to one and all,
Janice Maynard

Anonymous said...

Mandacoll, if you're interested in disabled heroines, check out Catherine Anderson's books--especially her contemporary Colter series. In one of her books, the heroine is in a wheelchair, in another she's blind. Her most recent release, "Summer Breeze," is an historical where the heroine is agoraphobic (?) and afraid to go outside. They're really good books.


Manda Collins said...

Thanks for the recommendations everbody. I'll check out the Kristin Hannah and the Susan Anderson. Speaking of agorophobia, the heroine in Liz Bevarly's YOU'VE GOT MALE has it too.

JulieO, Rach, I think you're right about the mothering thing. I suppose what I want is something akin to what Janice Maynard said about wanting an alpha to sweep in and be a bulwark against the storm...And some of it is just wanting to read stories about people like me. Not all the time, just sometimes.

ver: Vicki kicked Will; Josie Hill didn't care.

Christina Dodd said...

Manda said, "What really bugs me is when either h/h starts out disabled but is miraculously cured at end of book."

Yes! Yes! It used to drive me nuts in the old books where whatever was "wrong" with the person was cured at the end of the book. It seemed as if the statement was, "Handicapped people aren't worthy of love," and I HATED that.

You mentioned Catherine Anderson, and that was who I was going to recommend, but you ought to try Christina Dodd's CANDLE IN THE WINDOW. It's a classic! :)

Julie in Ohio said...

Christina Dodd? HMMM

I heard her writing is good, but you have to watch out for her covers. Some of the models have extra appendages. *g*

Which if you think about it is another kind of handicap. *g*

Julie in Ohio said...

I've changed my mind. Having 3 arms would be an asset not a handicap.

Where do I sign up for that surgery?

Rach said...

Christina Dodd you say?? Maybe I ought to try her stuff...=)

Julie, three arms would be divine(!!), and no, unfortunately, no Nanny for me. Wouldn't a housewife be better? I mean think about all they do. And, I'm with Janice, give me an alpha that will sweep me off my feet, a al "Calgon, take me away!". I like my marriage the way it is, my dh is divine.

But, I fantasize about rugged alphas--cowboys, pirates, *real* rakes. I think the fantasy has something to do with being so in charge and in control at all times (being a mommy *and* an elem. teacher) and giving up that control to someone else.

ver: I said, "I'll buy the umbrella."

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, Stace: I love a beautiful storm, too, and they do em up good here with these big ol Midwestern skies. One of the great things about moving here from back East. Makes up for having to say pop and tennis shoes instead of soda and sneakers. :)

Janice, you're so right. The big alpha who just takes it all off our hands and onto his big, strappin, capable shoulders. I liked your hero in Suite Fantasy who was afraid to let his alpha out til he took his fiancee to the resort and she pretty much begged him (in the English schoolroom, no less) to go alpha all over her pretty pre-school teacher self. Whoo. Think I'm having a hot flash.

Cathrine A is great, Erin. And, I've so got to read You've Got Male, Manda. Why haven't I read that?

Xtina Dodd? Xtina Dodd? Hmmm...I seem to recognize the name...yes, I remember now...Candle in Window...hunky medieval warlord type...very hot tub scene...hands everywhere. No, sorry, you're right, JulieO, make that arms.

I do think it's tricky to do disabled w/out it being maudlin. And I think we did, and maybe still do, think that "afflicted" people would be so much happier cured.

Yes, Rach. I, too, want em big and brave, kinda mean, definitely out of touch with his emotions and, yes, dammit, please God, make him a BiMBAW! And a rich BiMBAW with amazing upper leg strength. The better to perform UATW. Shoot. 'nother hot flash.

Manda Collins said...

Hmm..I think I've heard of this Christina Dodd you speak of:)

You know, I haven't read CANDLE IN THE WINDOW because it's from back in the day when I only read short Regencies. Now I read everything and I've caught up on quite a few historicals from that period, but this one slipped through the cracks...

Think of how quickly we could type the word verifications with three arms!!!

ver: You boys go out? Ever kick up?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I kneel, humbled before the goddesses of word verification. I am not worthy.

Manda Collins said...

Too right, Michelle about writing disability without being maudlin. Another of those fine line issues that make for tricky navigation for authors. Glad they're out there creating these worlds for us to debate about:)

Julie in Ohio said...

Rach,dear, what would this housewife's duties be? I'm not sure I'd be OK with that.

As for the Alphas, bring'm on!

Patty zipped Kevin near Gorky's Xerox.

Rach said...

No no no, Julie, you've got it all wrong. Once again the internet thwarts me...

Think of the 1950's housewife. She cooked, cleaned, kept the children fed and groomed, and anticipated her hubby's every need. Wouldn't it be GRAND to have someone like that in the house? Someone who kept things beautiful and spotless. I somehow doubt a man could manage this. I think of my honey and he *certainly* couldn't manage it. Heck, he doesn't see crumbs on the counter for Pete's sake. So, I need a housewife, and keep the man around for the UATW action ;-).

ver: Emily made really loud cat wails.

Julie in Ohio said...

If she cooked cleaned and followed hubby around to clean up after him, I could get on board.

Thanks for clarifying. I was getting worried for a moment. *g*

Rose Entered Diner To Meet Yvonne.

Anonymous said...

PC doesn't belong in fantasies and that's exactly what a romance is. If I want reality I'll turn on the news. When I want a good old-fashioned Alpha-Male to sweep me off my feet, I pick up a romance (or write one!) and get lost in him.

As for heroines, give me one who talks tough and who keeps up with the boys -- yet who never forgets she's a woman.

In my books, my heroines are smat enough to hold their own, even if they might do one or two things throughout the course of a book that might seem dumd. But isn't that normal? Ever push instead of pull a door open? lol No one is perfect, and romances should reflect that or else the reader can never connect with the characters. And I ask you, how can readers love who you wrote if the characters never seem 'real'? Even those big old-fashioned Alpha-Males better have a flaw or two or else they run the risk of being 'cartoony'.

Well, that's mt cents! ;)