Monday, June 18, 2018


Sorry I've been missing in action. I just had a break through as well as a break down.

See, for years, I've been grumbling and complaining about the romance genre. I'm disgusted with the sexism, the racism, and other bigotry. I'm tired of romance writers writing of sexism as not a thing to conquer, not a thing to overcome, but something to submit to. Sorry, not sorry for being so blunt about that, but there it is. I was sick of the genre.

So then I started wondering if I really wanted to write in it. Honestly, I hardly read it. It's very hard to find truly feminist romance novels. There are romance novels written by authors who claim to be feminists. And I like a few of those books. But far too often, the novels themselves do not portray a feminist agenda. Too often, the novels don't write of equality.

I was getting rather discouraged, to tell the truth. I mean, rather discouraged, verging into depressed, wondering if I was one of the few feminist romance authors who actually spotlight equality in our books. Yes, I was feeling rather sorry for myself when I realized I just might not want to write in the romance genre any longer.

So...I'm back in school, getting my MFA. I'm so excited. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to be told I can write whatever I want and not have to worry about the backlash just because I want to write a female character and a male character have equal power in a relationship. Yay!

So this blog will still be up, and I'll still be writing things--hopefully less grumbling and complaining. And we can investigate more into feminism and romance novels. Yay!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

One feminist step forward, ten million steps backward...

So this just happened

Yes, a former Yale student was found not guilty of rape by slut-shaming the victim. It still works, this defense, "She was asking for it." In this age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, men are found not guilty of sexual assault because a woman was wearing a sexy kitten outfit and used provocative emojis when texting.

She was unconscious during much of the attack. But she consented to sex. Sure.

Again, for understanding consent in a more jovial way, check out this video.

I'm just so flipping mad I can hardly stand it. 

I'm just so mad. And I'm so tired of being angry, as I'm sure many women are too.

What can we do?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What is an alphahole?

For many years, I never read a romance book. When I did, I had a few years of never encountering what many call an alphahole. Then I met many of these so-called alpha heroes. To me, these alphaholes aren't truly alphas. They're toxic, as in toxic masculine.

Here's a definition of toxic masculinity from an article written by Alia E. Dastagir. "[T]oxic masculinity, the stereotypical sense of masculinity that embodies behaviors, such as denying help or emotions, which psychologists and sociologists say are harmful to men and to society. It's the things in our culture — from toys given to movies watched to messages parents consciously and unconsciously send — that tells boys and men 'being a real man' means repressing feelings and consistently demonstrating strength and dominance." 

So for purposes of this blog, I'd like to call heroes who are toxic with their masculinity simply toxic or toxic masculine. I feel calling these kinds of heroes alpha gives the word alpha a bad meaning. 

But what do you think?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Hero and Heroine’s Journey: More Plotting for the Feminist Romance Author

The year was 19-something or another—I’m not tempted to date myself too much here—and that was the first I head of Joseph Campbell and his books regarding myths. Ever since I was a little girl, I’d been fascinated by fairy tales and other myths. I will date myself quite a bit here, but when I was little, Disney hadn’t remade many of the tales in their image, except for three. So I’d been reading the “real” myths that were full of dark forests, conniving and mischievous tricksters, violence, neglect, abandonment, and death. So much death.  

I was in college when I’d heard Campbell’s name and then devoured Bill Moyer’s video series featuring Campbell. I bought book after book. Sadly, I always came away a little empty after reading Campbell. Then I found Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs. Finally, my heart felt full. And free. (I’ll get to the Wolves book later. :)) 

Don’t get me wrong. I love Campbell and his work. Further, I know he studied goddesses and myths regarding females later in his life. But I still feel a little flat when I read his work. And I feel the need to argue, though I’m not sure why I even feel that way. That’s probably why, when reading through Christopher Vogler’s work, I also feel a little flat and want to pick a fight with him. (By the way, picking a fight for me is often a silly and humorous debate, not actual fighting-fighting. No yelling. But lots of squinting, thinking, and laughing.)

I’ve heard that Campbell, when asked if women had a version of the hero’s journey, said they were the reward for the journey. I’m not sure if this is true, and it doesn’t exactly sound like his style. And thanks to recent movies, it’s obvious that Vogler’s touch has helped many a female character have her own hero’s journey—The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman, etc. So it’s not because I didn’t think them feminist enough that led me to feel like they were missing something within their texts.  

It wasn’t until I heard an audio taping with Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler that I finally got it. Hauge argues with Vogler about the inner journey, which Vogler does talk about in his book and many of his seminars, to be fair. But it’s Hauge that ties up the hero’s inner journey succinctly: essence versus identity. The hero’s journey is always about figuring out one’s essence versus one’s identity. The identity is the safety blanket all of us have—our jobs, what we think we are versus who we are underneath our ego. Essence is all about the very ineffable parts of you that make you you. (Lots of yous in that sentence. I apologize.)  

When I first started writing romance, I had a hard time with the terms hero and heroine. It sounded so differential, dividing, and, well, not deserving of love, which unites people. I’ve since started calling the main female character the heroine and the main male character the hero, though I prefer protagonists. Do I think there needs to be a hero’s journey versus a heroine’s journey? 

No. I don’t. I think both the hero and heroine are fighting themselves, the plot, and sometimes each other with the internal quest to find their respective essence versus identity. I think Campbell and Vogler and Maureen Murdock when composing the heroine’s journey are thoughtful, and we can learn a lot about plot and story structure from all of them. But story structure doesn’t amount to much when the “real” story isn’t told—essence versus identity, which in a romance equates to truly loving and being truly loved in return. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What can I do?

Nearly half of ALL murdered women are killed by romantic partners.

Nearly three women in the US are killed every day by intimate partners.

If you survive domestic abuse (and besides physical abuse, included should be emotional, verbal, and/or sexual abuse), it could take years to manage the residual effects, which can include anxiety, depression, suicide ideation, PTSD, eating disorders, etc. That's not because a woman is weak that it takes years to deal with the abuse. It's because she's strong that she's trying to deal in the first place.

Domestic abuse, all kinds, has a long history. But in the US it's a crime. Yet it's still underreported, and we well know it's still very much not taken seriously. Police procedures are changing, but there are many police and sheriff squads all over the country that practice non-intervention. Yep, in 2018, there are law enforcers who look the other way when a woman is hurt (or when a child is hurt). The military not reporting many dishonorably discharged soldiers who have domestic abuse records may be a sign of just how not seriously domestic abuse is still taken.

I'm confused about why this is. In 2018, will things change enough that domestic abuse is taken seriously? And what can I do to make it so?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Enthusiastic Consensual Sex and Romancelandia

 It's really is as simple as this.

Consensual sex is a strange conversation with fellow romance authors. Individually, they have much to say. In a group...they're a tad quiet. No one wants to stomp on someone else's toes.

See, romance novels have a history of heroes who are rapey. And stalkery. So it's a touchy subject to talk about consent.

Or is it? This Tea Consent video makes consent very easy to understand and recognize. You can't force tea on an unconscious person. They could drown. It's not nice to coerce a person into tea--to guilt them into it by saying, "Yeah, but earlier you said we could have tea, and I really got excited to have tea with you. So now you're making me feel bad by not having tea with me. It would be great if you made me feel better by having tea with me. Now."

So consent itself might be easy to recognize and understand. But talking about it is another thing.

That's why I made the conscious decision to write enthusiastic consensual sex scenes. For me, romance is so much more than romance. It's about power--the power we give, the power we take, the power we share as romantic partners.

What say you about consensual sex in regards to romance books?
I loved this article from Buzzfeed Who Gets A Happily Ever After In 2018?

That said--and I'm going to sound so angsty and whiny probably--some of us have been hating the alpha hero for decades. Some of us have boycotted him for years, refusing to spend a dime even if the writing is phenomenal. And some of us, long before 2016, have been writing a different kind of alpha hero.

One of my critique partners calls my heroes a "true alpha" hero. He doesn't have to prove himself by being hyper-masculine. He's not insecure that way.

So I welcome all the other romance writers who want to write about a true alpha hero! Glad you made it!