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February 13th, 2015

It’s Valentine’s Weekend, and I am a romance writer who loves to go to the movies. So of course, I am going to the release everyone’s been anticipating for months.

KINGSMAN!!!! With Colin Firth, aka, Mr Darcy, aka the hottest man in the universe, forever, Amen.

I have been panting like a dog for this movie since I saw the preview last October. And yesterday, I say a trailer for THE MAN FROM UNCLE, and am way excited for that, too.

Wait. You say there’s another movie out this weekend? Oh. Yeah. I went to that first. Because I had to. It’s part of my job. That’s right. I saw 50 SHADES, for work. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. And I wasn’t going to say anything about it, because, E L James is a friend of a friend, and I actually met her in Minneapolis a couple of years ago. While posing for a picture with her, I said, “Hi. I write books about England, and I’ve never been there.”

She said, “I write books about Seattle, and I’ve never been there.” (She was on her way West for her first visit).

I geeked on her about her husband, who wrote for the BBC Hornblower series. I had a nice conversation with her agent about the correct way to cook a goose, whether there were turduckens in England (yes). And whether banana skins could be used as a masturbation aid in the Regency. (Probably not).

This is the kind of things romance writers talk about when we get together. E L, aka Ericka, picked up a hefty bar tab for the bunch of us. Actually, her publisher did. But I did not have to pay for drinks in a hotel bar, which is the important thing.

And about that time, I skimmed a couple of the books. They had sex in them.

Flash forward to this week. The movie was coming out and the local theater was having a 21+ all female showing and letting us bring our own wine. Tickets at the local theater are only $4. This was a combination set to make 50 Shades the best movie going experience of the decade.

I messaged my friend Elaine and we began trying to find a wine that paired with popcorn and snowcaps.

Then, the city pointed out that this brilliant plan was illegal.

Stupid laws.

But there is a Mexican restaurant right next door to the theater. Plan saved! We had dinner and some margaritas. Then, we went to the movie.

The theater was almost full. And the fun began almost immediately when a woman behind us said “Mom, just stop talking!” Elaine declared this the best line of the night and turned to high five her. And then she wondered, in a loud voice, how many women were drunk tonight.

No one answered. But since we all reacted to the Magic Mike XXL trailer like it was feeding time at the zoo, I think it would be lying to claim that many of us were sober.

And now, the featured presentation.

Public opinion on this movie break into pretty solid camps. There are the fans who love the story and have been waiting for the film. There are the people who disapprove for moral reasons. There are the people who disapprove for feminist/abuse reasons. There are the people who disapprove because of horrible writing.

And then, there’s me. I approve because of the free drinks in Minneapolis. I will admit to a fair amount of professional jealousy (Why is this not MY MOVIE? Why am I not RICH?) But I am not so jealous that I will not spend $4 on the franchise. I am a feminist and a Christian as well. But I am not so hypocritical as to come down against a story for having sex (which I write) or dubious relationship choices on the part of the heroine (which I have also written).

There is also the camp that says it is bad BDSM. Oh boy, am I the wrong person to ask. For any worried husbands out there, there is nothing about this story that has me thinking a trip to the hardware store would liven up year 32 of our marriage. Mostly, I was thinking ‘Is that the right kind of rope? Because it would leave rope burns. And I just learned how to get out of duct tape bondage on the internet. So that would be kind of pointless…’

Anyway, I read the reviews and part of the books, and went with a doubtful but open mind.
It was…not bad.

The plot: A stumbling, whispery virgin with bad bangs, meets a hot billionaire. He is immediately obsessed. He stalks her a little. He gives her the ‘I’m no good for you, little girl’ speech, which is a romance trope that I HATE LIKE DEATH. But I think, in 25 books, I have probably used it at least once, so I can’t point fingers.

He gives her first editions of her favorite author, Thomas Hardy (known for his rapey book Tess of the D’Urbervilles). He gives her a computer. He gives her clothes (because she got drunk and threw up on hers) He sells her car and gives her a new one.

Wait a minute…

Then he gives her a non disclosure agreement, a little light bondage, and a full contract for a position as his submissive (which is on her knees, by the door). Then he gives her a spanking. And a flogging. And six of the nest across the ass with a leather strap. And then, she leaves him.

The end.

The sex is like the movie itself. A lot of writhing around naked but no orgasms. We get to the end, and there is no closure. Because it is the first book in a trilogy. Duh. But you can tell that a good portion of the audience wasn’t expecting this, because there was a cross between a moan and a roar, when the credits rolled.

However…

I the chemistry between the characters, which was better than a lot of rom coms I have seen.

The relationship was abusive. But the heroine was not a doormat. She knows the gifts have strings attached, even though she takes them.

The scene where she demands a business meeting to discuss the sex contract is excellent. She shows up in what is essentially a fuck-me dress, with a back zipper from neck to hem. They get to the negotiations and ‘our hero’ loosens his tie and prepares to bend her over the glass topped table and take her hard. And she refuses to sign the contract and walks out. And she never signs the contract. Probably because that would be a stupid thing to do.

The dark moment is when he has a bad day at work and tells her to go to the play room for punishment. And she asks why he wants to punish her, when she hasn’t done anything wrong. He says it’s because he’s screwed up (again. Duh).

She says give me your worst. He gives her a strapping (And I think, pussy! Because really, with all those freakin’ toys, I expected the limit of his sadism to be much further away).

But she hates it. And when ‘our hero’ thinks that a beating is going to result in hot sex for him, she informs him that he’ll never touch her again, gives him his gifts back, and walks.

Yes, this is an abusive relationship. But it is also the story of a woman who has agency and leaves an abusive relationship. That’s actually a good thing.

Is it hot? Yeah. But I’ve probably seen hotter. And it does not have nearly as much sex as the books.

Is it the downfall of Western civilization? No. That would be Jupiter Ascending. I will try to blog about that later this week.

And to other romance writers I see on Facebook, posting the “I would never support this trash”?

Especially the ones posting badly written quotes supposedly from the books to prove how horrible the writing is, without bothering to find out that what you are posting are actually made up quotes by people making fun of 50 Shades and romance in general?

I say, get over yourselves. If you ‘would never’ and do not bother to get a copy of the book to search for those quotes to see if the writing is actually as bad as you so desperately want it to be, then you are not capable of giving an informed opinion and should probably just shut up.

As we were leaving the theater, I turned to Elaine was a 50 Shades virgin and said, “You’ve seen it. What do you think?”

Her answer: “Well, I can cross that off my bucket list. Seen 50 Shades. Now I just have to go to Morocco…”

This is why everyone should go to movies with Elaine.

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December 24th, 2014

mayhem on the mangerOn the first day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
Broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the second day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
A nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the third day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
One kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the fourth day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
A dead mouse,
one kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the fifth day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
A dead mouse,
one kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the sixth day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
One molested manger,
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
A dead mouse,
one kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the seventh day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
Another dead mouse,
one molested manger,
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
A dead mouse,
One kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the eighth day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
Missing tree ornaments,
another dead mouse,
one molested manger,
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
a dead mouse,
one kneecapped pixie,
nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the ninth day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
Cat pee on my anti-depressants?
Missing tree ornaments,
another dead mouse,
one molested manger,
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
A dead mouse,
one kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the tenth day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
JIM! THERE’S A DEAD BAT IN THE KITCHEN. AND MAYHEM’S PLAYING WITH IT.
cat pee on my anti-depressants,
missing tree ornaments,
another dead mouse,
one molested manger,
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
A dead mouse,
One kneecapped pixie,
A nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
I MEAN SERIOUSLY. THAT BODY IS THE SIZE OF A PIGEON.
Cat pee on my anti-depressants.
missing tree ornaments,
Another dead mouse,
One molested manger,
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
A dead mouse,
one kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

On the last day of Christmas my new cat gave to me
TELL ME THAT DID NOT COME IN ON THE TREE OR I’M CANCELING CHRISTMAS,
missing tree ornaments,
cat pee on my anti-depressants,
another dead mouse,
one molested manger,
DAMN IT, get away from that tree.
A dead mouse,
one kneecapped pixie,
a nibbled Christmas cactus, and
broken glass upon the kitchen floor.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

And, as a special gift, the 25th and 26th, WILL WORK FOR CHEESE, will be available for free on Kindle. Knock yourselves out.

[Will work for cheese]

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December 12th, 2014

In the last two years, there has been employee turnover at Casa de dos Quesos. Fierce mouser Mohawk and bad tempered heap of fur, Fluffer, lived out all of their nine lives and moved on to the next plain. Or heaven, according to Pope Francis. I hope heaven was ready for them.

Nature abhors a vacuum. And despite the intent to cut down, our vacuum was filled with two more cats.

Two Winters ago, Chaos appeared on our porch. She was a pathetic, and yet strangely elegant lump of black and white fur dragging a dislocated tail.

The DH took one look and said, quite sensibly, “No.”

I said, “This is an excellent cat. Look at that face. People pay money for cats that look like this. But I’m not going to chase her down and bring her in, or anything. But maybe she’s a mouser. We could use one of those.” Of course, if the cat decided to keep us, what was I going to do?

Over the next week, she disappeared several times, only to reappear looking even more desperate. One day, I saw her clinging to the top branch of a sapling next to the neighbor’s driveway. I went over looked up and said, “Come on. Jump. If you want me, you have to make the effort. Come down, and you can come home with me.”

Chaos looked at me with eyes like yellow dinner plates. “Are you kidding? NO!”

The neighbor’s German shepherd appeared, pretty damn proud of herself.. “See what I treed? Got it all the way up there on the first try.”

“The neighbor appeared, looking at me with an expression that said I was almost 20 years in the country, but obviously still a city girl. “They come down by themselves, you know.”

Well, yeah. But…

She did. The next time I saw her, she was in our garage. “Back at the tree, that was a standing invitation, right?” She rolled over and showed me her belly. She pranced. She rubbed. She slept on a piece of carpet, on a cooler just outside of the door, waiting the day or two it took for us to be officially overcome by cuteness.

Once inside, she proved to be not a cat at all, but a very beautiful but badly animated stuffed toy. She is a lap cat, good for cuddling n shoulders and sleeping on keyboards. Though the tail came back to life an inch at a time, it has done nothing to help her balance. When she rolls (which is often) she tends to fall off things and does not land on her feet. We’ve had to make several diving saves as she slides off the edge of six foot tall bookcases.

And after a month and a half, she came into heat and spent every night for a month screaming OH GOD. TAKE ME to a very confused labradoodle.

Though fixed, she continues to sing at nights, generally to wake us so we can admire what she’s caught and brought into the bedroom. Since she has no idea what mice are, she tends to hunt and catch skeins of yarn from the sewing room. She also drags my slippers up from the living room, and has been known to steal one of my hand-knitted sweaters, drag it down the back steps through the kitchen and back up the front steps, tripping over it and her own exceptionally short legs.

Eventually, I gave it to her and made myself a new sweater. Now, she wants that one. Fickle bitch.

That was cat one, out of the intended zero cats. But the next summer, the DH came in and announced that there was a little gray kitten in the yard, and it was frightening the dog.

The dog weighs 70 pounds, and should know better.

One kitten probably meant there was a litter somewhere. Eventually, it would wander back to Mom and stop trying to cause trouble.

That’s what should have happened. Instead, the kitten sat under the office window and cried. When approached, it hissed, swore and hid under the porch. And there was no sign of a mother, or litter mates. Clearly, this kitten had been abandoned in the country and was weeping for its lost family.

This went on for days. Eventually, the crying grew weaker and stopped. I was faintly relieved.

And then, it started again. Damn.

So I live trapped an adorable, seething ball of hatred, intending to take it to a shelter. Turns out, there aren’t any in our area. We live in the country. Here, cats are in the hands of God and nature. And when I pulled him out of the trap he purred like a buzz saw.

And that was how I ended up with a second cat. Mayhem is a sleek, gray male, and clearly psychotic. A few months after we adopted him, I saw the neighbor up the hill, shooing three identical, and spectacularly stupid Mayhem clones out of the road so that I did not hit them with my car. Our cat was not abandoned at all. He was kicked out of the litter, probably for being a douche bag.

He shreds curtains, breaks knickknacks, won’t stay off the kitchen counter, and knocks the dog biscuits on the floor so he can eat them. He also pees in corners, while staring at me as if daring me to stop him.

But he is a mouser. It is the one thing keeping him alive.

In an effort to stop the peeing, he is on special food, and was given a pheromone collar that is supposed to remind him of his lactating mother. It is definitely having an effect. The other night, he climbed up into my lap, purring and kneading. Then he tried to turn the shoulder of my sweater into a nipple and began nursing on it.

Freak.

Today, I caught him trying to get milk out of an ornamental spindle on the bottom of our antique dining room table.

All dogs may go to heaven. But when Mayhem dies, I don’t think they’re going to let him in.

Want more Double Cheese? Thanks to my editor Rachel, The best of the blog is now collected and available on Kindle.

[Will work for cheese]

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November 24th, 2014

One of the advantages of train travel, (or disadvantages, if you are as antisocial as I am) is the chance to meet new people.

It is not so much a chance, as an obligation. In the dining car they seat you wherever you fit. If you are traveling alone, you are guaranteed to be with three strangers. To give you an idea of the average age on the outbound trip, table conversation at m first supper was about how much better it was when Johnson was president.

I was in grade school then and didn’t have much to contribute.

But on the way back, I’d gotten more comfortable with the table talk. And that was how I ended up talking writing with a self described hillbilly trucker. He was a big guy, younger than the Johnson fans, and had a shaggy beard and overalls. But he was friendly enough. And of course, he was writing a book.

Everyone is.

But his was a 900 page young adult Western with three separate love stories. One of them had an Englishman in it. He was also worried that his Hillbilly grammar might cause a problem. What did I think? And how hard was it to get an agent, anyway?

What do I think?

900 pages is three books, not one. Grammar is important. Westerns don’t sell. YA westerns sell even less. Do not write about English people, it is too much work. And grammar is important. Stop right now, and learn it. How hard is it to get an agent? Damn near impossible, especially for a 900 page YA Western.

But he is hardly unique. My gut instinct, in almost all of cases, is to say that whatever the idea is, it is probably horrible. Frankly, so is the book I’m working on. All ideas are horrible. The idea of writing a book is just the first horrible idea. Nothing will sell. Ever.

We are all doomed. We should probably just get real jobs. Except there aren’t any of those, either.

But it’s not too late for you, H B Trucker. You have a job. Keep on truckin’. Save yourself. Burn the book, before it’s too late.

This is the first reason to keep my mouth shut. Writers are not the most optimistic people, especially not about their profession.

The second reason to shut up is that I have no idea what will sell. I know what I like. I know what I think will sell. I know what has sold in the past. But I can think of multiple times when I have heard ideas from people, and smiled and nodded encouragingly, all the while thinking, “Poor thing. So hopeful. That will never sell.”

And I was wrong.

I can’t even tell you which of my books will sell, since the ones I like the best invariably end up with the lowest sales, and the ones that I couldn’t quite get into do just fine. If I dislike a title or cover, or scratch my head in confusion at the back cover copy, it is almost a guarantee of good sales.

Some of us are put on this planet to tell the Wright Brothers to stick to bicycles, and then plunk down cash for a ticket on the Hindenburg. For all I know, 900 page Westerns are the next big thing, and I’ve missed a chance to get in on the ground floor.

So I told H B Trucker what I was pretty sure was true. That writing is hard, but possible. That a desire to improve and a good editor can overcome grammar problems. And that the important thing is to get the story down on paper, then work on making it the best story you can using beta readers, writing groups, etc.

I did my best to swallow my doubts, since nothing good will come of squashing other people’s dreams.

Actually, nothing good comes from swallowing your doubts, either. Why H B was talking, I took a big bite of Amtrak steak. (Have the steak. Trust me. It’s good.) But I was having trouble chewing, and didn’t want to choke or spit it into my hand. So I took a big swig of my drink, and gulped and smiled and was supportive.

And that’s how I managed to swallow a twelve hundred dollar dental crown.

So, I guess my main advice to young writers would be, go ahead and spit that steak into a napkin. Fake teeth are expensive, and you aren’t going to make that much as a writer.

Or maybe you will. I don’t know.

But I’m pretty sure about the spitting in the napkin thing.

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November 14th, 2014

Since I got back from Seattle, things at the casa have gotten interesting.

While I was gone, I got a message from #2 son, asking about the ingredients to some energy bars we got at Costco. #2 is now 21 years old, in college, while working a third shift job, and has an adorable girlfriend. The three of us took a trip to Costco, back in early October, and split up some of the packages, Like chicken broth and protein bars.

Because, apparently, we have become the most boring people in the world. This is probably why I don’t blog as much as I used to.

Except, suddenly, things were slightly less boring. What was in the protein bars? He stopped eating them because they were making him achy and bloated.

Like the deeply caring woman I am, I asked him if he was getting his first period, and went back to doing my nails.

A few days later, while I was on the train back from Seattle, my husband messaged me that Sean was going to the emergency room “for tests.”

Tests? TESTS? TESTS ON WHAT???? (Looking for bigger, darker fonts to express the utter panic.)

WHY WAS NOT INFORMED??!!!!!!!?????

Apparently, I was. When delivered by the most-low key 21 year old in the world, bloated means, retaining so much water that he looked like he had his 87 year old Grandmother’s ankles. The school nurse informed him that there was blood and protein in his urine, and he needed to get more tests immediately.

A difficult week followed. I continued to travel East at Amtrak speed (leisurely). I messaged #2 to make sure he was all right, and asked him what tests he’d gotten.

Blood. Urine. Shrug. Follow up appointment in a week. Double shrug. And yes, it is possible to shrug in FB messages. It’s all about the words you leave out to make your panicked mother guess what is going on.

Did the swelling go down?

No. But he had water pills.

A week passed, while the DH and I ran through every disease possible that could cause water retention, and got minimal reports from #2, who did not seem nearly as worried as we were. He thought he saw a tendon in his foot once. Hooray!

I made it home to Wisconsin, and drove him to his follow up appointment, which was to a kidney specialist.

Me (relieved that there is some kind of diagnosis): So they’re sure it’s kidneys?

#2: They did an ultrasound last week.

Me (seeing little black dots in front of my eyes as my blood pressure races up and down the scale): And when were you going to tell anyone about this?

#2: I told James (#1 son).

Me: And he said nothing to us. (Eventually, we have a family “conversation” and I discover what he told James was “I had an ultrasound. It’s a boy.” And once again, we learn the problem with raising a pair of smart asses.)

#2 (Pointing to the GPS): The clinic is coming up on the right. And should I be worried that it says dialysis center?

I assured him that kidney dialysis was probably not something they sprung on you as a surprise, while looking t the way the feet of my whippet-thin son were bulging out of his shoes and his pants were pulled tight across the calves.

After a visit to the doctor, we learned that, no, they do not surprise you with dialysis. This wasn’t a case of kidney failure. It was primary kidney disease, which is probably autoimmune and would be treated with drugs once the full diagnosis was made. The swelling was caused by the protein that was going into urine and not the blood stream, where it was supposed to be handling fluid. The normal amount in urine was 30 mg. Sean had 12 Grams.

Diagnosis would be made with a biopsy.
In the hospital.
In a week.
Then, treatment could begin.

Days ticked by. Water continued to be retained. 40 to 50 pounds of it. Was he pissing steak? And why was his face swelling? Because when he raised his legs, water ran uphill.

Finally, a biopsy (which, if anyone hasn’t noticed, is a scary word). Tests on the samples they took of his kidneys.

#2 son has cellular FSGS. For no particular reason, other than what I suspect is shitty genetics from my side of the family, #2’s white cells have decided to eat his kidney cells.

#1 looked up famous people who’ve had this disease. Gary Coleman.

FSGS is why Gary Coleman was so short. #2 son claims to be 6’ 2”. I think, including hair, he is closer to 6’ 3”. Thank God for FSGS. Can you imagine how tall he would have been, if he had fully functioning kidneys?

Apparently, cellular FSGS is the best kind to have. Personally, I’d vote for NO FSGS AT ALL. But this is not a voting matter. And really the other types are more difficult, and involve chemotherapy. This one means six months of steroids. Also blood pressure meds, anti-pneumonia meds, and more water pills. Four months before we can be sure it’s working. But a probable end with total remission and no more problems.

And increased doses of water pills seem to be working. He’s lost 20 pounds in two weeks. And now, there is nothing left to do but wait.

And while we do that, we can enjoy the stack of medical bills from trips to emergency rooms, specialists and an overnight in the hospital. If anyone wants to buy a book, I recommend the self published ones. So far, I need to sell about 10,000 of them, and we’re just getting started.

Really, I liked my life better when it was too boring to write about.

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October 23rd, 2014

I have an increasingly long list of things I’ve been up to lately, that have kept me away from blogging.

I had a book out last month:

[lady felkirk]

I have a book out this month as well. An anthology of Christmas novellas called Wish upon a snowflake that contains my story THE CHRISTMAS DUCHESS

[snowflake]

I finished a book (or almost) called A RING FROM A MARQUESS. It will be out in April of 2015. I am currently rearranging the swear words at the end to be less objectionable. Long story on that. Later, when I have time.

I am also fiddling with a top secret project, which I will fill you in on, once I’ve made a little more progress on it.

I am also between a couple of spectacular personal crises, which I will probably talk about eventually, when I have time.

But beyond that? I recently did one REALLY FUN THING. Because, for God’s sake, the universe owed me a fun thing (see aforementioned, unexplained crises).

I went to GeekGirlCon in Seattle. Cory Lawson talked me into it. Sheena Henderson was there as well. We did a panel called Sex Scenes and the Female Gaze. Which means we read the dirty bits of stories to a packed house. It was a blast.

I also got to share a room with Rocket and Groot

rocket and groot

It has been, approximately forever, since I’ve been able to go to a SF convention and just hang out. And I had plenty of time to do that. I sat at the Geekmom table for Cory. I wandered around and people watched. I bought way too many souvenirs. Games for my husband. Stuff I will not mention since they are Christmas gifts. Nail polish and earrings for myself.

Aside from shopping, I was really digging the fact that it was a fun, feminist, very inclusive con. There were men in dresses. There were women in male drag. There was lots of cosplay (And I went to cons before they called that cosplay, young ‘uns. Because I am old) There were people from all point of any spectrum you could name. And lots of little girls being geeks, meeting geeks, meeting scientists, and doing actual science in the experiment area.

There was also a very nice game area. I could have brought my husband to this con, and left him in gamer daycare, while I was upstairs being feminist. He’d have been a happy camper.

But I did not bring my husband. I traveled alone, by train. Partly because I wanted an adventure and thought I had all the time in the world to get from Wisconsin to Seattle and back (I didn’t. But that is another story).

And partly because I am tired of being patted down in airports. Even going through the full body scanner while wearing nothing more metallic than stud earrings, and being one of the most harmless looking people on the planet, I get a pat down, every damn time.

Because, apparently, fat looks like C-4.

Anyway. I planned an empowering, feminist adventure. And then, things got weird.

When I got to the convention, I had the nerve to tweet that I was there. Seriously. That was all I said. Almost immediately, I got a personal message on twitter from some guy I’d never heard of, sending me a link to a blog in Brazil to mansplain to me that Anita Sarkeesian was ignoring the target audience for gaming, which was men. And also, she was Christian, or something, blah blah feminist conspiracy, blah blah blah.

To the majority of you, this is probably Greek. Since I have gaming sons, it is not so much Greek as German: a language I know enough of to find a train station, a bathroom, and a beer.

Let me translate.

There is a thing going on called GamerGate, which purports to be about journalistic integrity in game reviews but is mostly about the fact that scary women are ruining games for men. Therefore, they need to be doxxed (have their personal info released online) and threatened with rape and murder.

Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist who has spoken out about sexism in video games.

She was at GeekGirlCon.
So was I.
We did not meet or speak. But since we happened to be in the same place at the same time, and possibly since my twitter handle is a gender neutral double_cheese and not Girly_McRomancewriter, someone felt that I would give a tinker’s piss about this issue.

Tinker’s piss is actually the phrase I have to remove from my next book.

Perhaps I was supposed to rise up in outrage and hiss at her like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It was proof that some people really need to get a life. And if the effort was to make me see the poor, persecuted man’s side of this issue, it was what the young people nowadays call, an epic fail.

The second weird thing, was actually the first weird thing, since it happened on the train to Seattle. I had a roomette on an Amtrak train. In size, this is roughly the equivalent of a coffin. The bathroom and shower are down the hall. But it has a door that locks and is better than sleeping sitting up. And if there was a chance that I could meet Cary Grant in the dining car, or get embroiled in a murder or mysterious disappearance, ala Agatha Christie, I was willing to give it a try.

What I got, instead, was hit on.

Somewhere in Montana, a guy got on and took the compartment opposite mine. He Willie Nelson wannabe with stringy grey hair held back with a bandana. In a loud voice, he announced to the attendant that he was a drug pusher. By that, he meant anesthesiologist. He repeated the story to anyone who would listen, until I was pretty sure he was sampling his own merchandise.

Note to self: don’t get surgery in Montana.

But later, when the attendant came to make up our beds, he looked in my direction and announced in the same loud voice, that since I has so much shit in my compartment, I should come sleep with him. We’d have fun.

I stood in the hallway, screaming silently and making faces at the porter. Then I announced that my husband didn’t allow me to sleep with strange men when I traveled and went back to my roomette and locked the door.

Yeah. I know. I proclaimed myself the property of another man to avoid a creep. Not very feminist of me.

But I’ve been assured multiple times that by the time you pass 50, you are no longer a woman in the eyes of society, and become invisible. This is the second time I’ve gotten hit on this summer, after years of nothing. At RWA in San Antonio, a guy on the street announced that he loved me from the bottom of his heart.

And then, he threatened to kill himself. But let’s gloss over that.

Before that, there was a guy while I was taking #1 son to college orientation. Because mom’s are hot, I guess.

And before that?
We have to go back 20 years to Las Vegas and a guy with a fake Australian accent, trying to convince me that he worked for a real life version of the X Files while I played video poker, and my husband sat on the other side of me, laughing and pretending he didn’t know me.

What is it about my 53 year old milkshake that is suddenly bringing the boys to the yard? Is it the new lipstick?

Cover Girl, Eternal Flame. Put this in your ads.

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October 12th, 2014

So.

In Seattle, right now, at Geek Girl Con. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a con. Also ages since I’ve seen my buddy, Corrina Lawson.

She talked me into this. Specifically to do a panel called Sex Scenes and the Female Gaze.

Yeah, I did it. I read sex in public. Don’t tell my mom.

But it was a blast. We packed the room. A good time was had by all. But, of course, people want a list of the things we talked about, so here goes.

The Penthouse Letter:
Oh fer God’s sake people. You can find something better than this.
For people not there: a pool boy has sex with an older women (in her mid 40’s) who is ALL ALONE.
And immediately wants to have sex with the pool boy. When I was in my mid 40’s, the kids were still young, and I kept asking WHY AM I NEVER ALONE? LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!!

Also, why did I have no pool boy? Probably because I had no pool.

WHERE’S MY POOL?????

I digress. It was a bad sex scene, from the male gaze.

Diana Gabaldon Outlander.

I resisted this series for years. I was wrong.

The first 8 part series just ended on Starz, find it, or read the books. A WWII nurse goes back in time and meets a 24 year old virgin, hot Scot. But she has a husband back home willing to go down on command.
Also, she begins the wedding night with hot Scot by talking, for hours. With that accent? Yes, that’s erotic.

#1 son’s question of first ep:
“I thought this was a story about a woman boning a Scot. Why is she boning an English guy?”
This led to a discussion on whether men bone, women bone, or everyone bones. (I am still not sure. But personally, I think it is gender specific).

Jennifer Crusie Faking It
The bad sex scene. And so much more. I freakin’ love this book, since it is funny, and has a con man, and a line about how all hit men love Grosse Point Blank (it’s their Casablanca).
Anything by Crusie, actually. But this one is my favorite.

From Cory’s List:
Linnea Sinclair Hope’s Folly
Good romance. Good SF. Erotic handling of weapons. And her paperback fell open, automatically, to the dirty parts.

And, from Sheena McNeil of Sequential Tart
“Stuck on You” by Nekoni is a fanfic based on Alice in the Country of Hearts manga series based on a Japanese otome game of the same name by QuinRose.

Alice and Boris the Cheshire Cat. Because, cats! And apparently, they are better at sex then the pool boy in the Penthouse letter.

More soon.

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August 7th, 2014

Last night, I just discovered why I am not an international success making millions of dollars a week.

I dreamed my own version of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The whole dream was dramatically lit and colored, rather like the previews to the new Sin City movie, which is actually proof that I am watching too much TV. But anyway.

In my version of 50 Shades, Anastasia Steele’s parents come to visit.

It is awkward.

Her father spends the whole dream looking stern and disapproving, while her mother tends to ask questions about their relationship that no one wants to answer.

There is not enough room in the mansion for these four people. Sleeping arrangements are cramped. No one can get into the bathroom because Christian is always in there, washing bloodstains out of his white shirts.

The whole thing begins to implode when he admits to having a subscription to Reader’s Digest, and Anna whispers in horror, “I am Joe’s Pancreas?”

Also, he has a collection of fuzzy puppet ventriloquist dummies under one of the beds, and announces “Well, I think they’re cute.”

When I woke up , it was pretty clear that he was never going to be dominant again, and Anna was seriously rethinking the whole relationship.

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July 27th, 2014

So. The Sunday after RWA and I am still in San Antonio, packing slowly and generally feeling like I have been beaten half to death with a romance stick. I am also writing (slowly) what will be the sequel to THE TRUTH ABOUT LADY FELKIRK.

And procrastinating. Of course. Watched the 50 Shades trailer. I don’t know if I’ll see the movie, but I enjoyed the composition of the trailer. Slow reveal on the hero, slow reveal on the sex, very glossy. Although my current heroine, Margot de Bryun, who is rather feminist for 1820, was wondering what was wrong with that girl’s posture. She will never get men to take her seriously if she doesn’t stand up straight and stop looking at the floor.

Oh, Margot, you so silly.

And then, I found this article.

To the women of America: 4 Reasons to hate 50 Shades.

Of course, I looked. And then checked, and double checked, to see whose maiden aunt got a blog at Entertainment Weekly.

Matt Walsh starts out by saying he hasn’t read it. As someone who just wrote a blog about not having seen GoT, I can’t point a finger there. But I think it should start out with “I’ve never been a woman, (or met one, appairently) BUT….”

But please, sir, enlighten us. Why should we hate this book? Which was out years ago, BTW. So you are a little late to this subject.

1 Because we aren’t stupid.

Thanks for throwing us a bone. I skimmed the first two books (for the dirty parts, because I am shallow) and was not a big fan of the medula oblongata, or the Inner Goddess. But there are parts I’d change in almost every book I read. Because I am an author. There were parts I’d change. There were parts I liked. Critical reading, because, as you point out, I am not stupid.

But waving the stupid flag is an equally good reason not to read Matt Walsh or EW or pretty much anything. There are better uses of my time than hanging out on the internet, looking at pictures of cats. But I’m not going to stop, so go on.

2 Because we don’t fall for cynical marketing.

Don’t be an idiot. Of course we do. I went to A Million Ways to Die in the West. Talk about falling for marketing. I fell hard on that one. But I also went to all the Marvel movies, and am near to wetting my pants waiting for Guardians of the Galaxy. Matt Walsh recommends the Next Ninja Turtles as an alternative to 50 Shades.

What did we say about stupidity again? I forgot. But that was point one and ages ago.

Also, I am probably going to the Turtles movie. Because… marketing.

3 Because you’re a Christian

Why yes, I am, sir. A Christian who write romance novels (which you diss in this point). Sex and Christianity are not mutually exclusive. Nor are Christianity and romance novels. In fact, all romance novels are about relationships, not just empty sex. Even the 50 Shades trilogy is about the relationship between two characters who are headed towards monogamy and marriage.

If you, Matt Walsh, were a virgin when you married, never go to strip clubs, masturbate, look at porn, or any woman other than your wife (assuming you have one) then you may play the Christian card. If you are not maried, you better still be a virgin, and you better get your ass over to Christian Mingle and find a nice girl who hasn’t read 50 Shades. There are still a couple left, I think. Although that book sold a lot of copies, so maybe not.

4 Because feminism.

So, feminism doesn’t actually mean I get to read whatever I feel like? Because I was kind of hoping it was about my getting paid equally, so I could have money to spend on whatever books and movies I want to go to. I’m pretty sure feminism isn’t about some guy telling me what to read and mansplaining feminism to me.

Revisiting the beginning of what would happen, if Matt Walsh were on a desert island with 50 Shades and a screwdriver. If I were there with him? Well, I know one thing that wouldn’t happen. Not if he was the last man on earth. And I could probably help with the stabbing…

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July 21st, 2014

This week ( tomorrow, actually) I will be headed to the RWA national conference in San Antonio, TX. If any of you are in the area, stop by and say hello. I will be at the big book signing on Wednesday night, and probably live tweeting my locations for most of the rest of the weekend while carrying a big bag full of free books that I am eager to give away.

If not, I am holed up in a hotel room, writing. Time to actually show some signs of trying to finish another book.

Of course, being in San Antonio kind of requires me to Remember the Alamo. I am not in the conference hotel. If I read the map right, I will be walking past it several times a day. Remember that sight of the siege with Santa Anna?

It’s right next to the mall.

I also remember, thanks to Pee Wee Herman, that it has no basement.

Except, according to this site,

that’s wrong.

This will teach me to trust Pee Wee Herman for accurate historical research.

But now, I also know that Ozzy Osbourne once peed on it.

And I know that Davy Crockett (King of the wild frontier) died there. Of course, I always have to stop and remember it was him and not Daniel Boone ( A man. A big man). This leads to the conversation with my husband where he reminds me that both were played by Fess Parker. Both also wore hats made of rodents.

Now, with extra raccoons!

We have this conversation, on average, once a year.

They’re not actually rodents, BTW. They are called wash bears in Germany, for their habit of washing their food before eating it. They do not exist in the UK, and therefore should never appear in my books. But they do exist in Wisconsin, and are probably responsible for the pile of crap sitting on the roof just outside of my still unfinished bathroom.

When they talk, they sound just like Bradley Cooper.

Anyway. Remember the Alamo,. Remember the large mall next to the Alamo. Remember the two hotels in the other side. And remember the

RWA “Readers For Life” Literacy Autographing
Wednesday
at 5:30pm – 7:30pm
San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel in the 3rd Floor ballroom.

I’ll be in the M’s.

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