Jilly: Can Lightning Strike Twice?

lightning-strikeMost romantic fiction is based on the premise that a hero or heroine meets their other half—the one person in the world who completes them.

Do you believe that a person could find great, lasting love more than once in a lifetime?

I spent all day yesterday thinking about this, ever since I read You May Want To Marry My Husband, an astonishing piece by novelist Amy Krouse Rosenthal, published last Friday in the New York Times. Rosenthal is terminally ill with ovarian cancer and the post recommends the many excellent qualities of her beloved husband of more than 26 years to an unknown woman in the hope that there will be a second great love story in his future.

I strongly recommend you click here to read. Have tissues to hand.

Continue reading

Michaeline: New Penric! and Thoughts on Life-Long Love

A still life with two masks.

The fourth Penric novella by Lois McMaster Bujold is a delightful episode! (Image via Goodreads; cover design by Ron Miller)

So, first the most exciting news I had all week: Lois McMaster Bujold’s new Penric novella, Mira’s Last Dance came out this week (February 27th and 28th) on all the usual e-outlets! And it was fantastic! If you were left hanging a little bit by Penric’s Mission, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the story picks up from that point, and we get one lovely episode of courtship via political intrigue, escape and a brothel. That Penric is a delightful travelling companion, and I recommend the journey.

I’m not going to spoil you, though – Bujold reports that the novella is 28,000 words, which is perfect for a large pot of tea and an afternoon on the sofa. Spoil yourself.

What I am going to talk about is something that Mira said in the book. She’s the . . . well, the ghost/image of an Adrian courtesan who is part and parcel of the past lives that make up Desdemona. (Desdemona is the demon in Penric’s head.) She has a very clear and pragmatic view of sex and love, and mentions at one point,:

“The darling men used to imagine they’d fallen in love with me all the time. Most of them were actually in love with their own cocks.”

Ah, yes. And thus, genitalia doth betray us all. Continue reading

Jilly: A Very Important Kiss

A Very Important KissDo you agree that in the right circumstances a single kiss could be an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending to the first book of a fantasy paranormal romance series?

No prizes for guessing which particular fantasy paranormal romance series I’m talking about 😉 .

This week, in between birthday and Christmas partying, I’ve been tweaking the first 50 pages of my WIP for entry into the RWA’s Golden Heart contest.

This story is very different from anything I’ve written before, and I want to make sure I don’t trip myself up on the GH deal-breakers.

In addition to assigning an overall score, first-round GH judges are asked to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions:

  • Does the entry contain a central love story?
  • Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?

If three judges answer ‘no’ to either question, the entry is disqualified. Which would be hugely disappointing, to say the least. Continue reading

Jilly: Embarrassing

embarrassingWhen’s the last time you did something really stupid? Something so obviously dumb that when it’s pointed out to you, you can’t believe you did it?

That would be me this week.

I said in last week’s post that one of my main writing goals this year is to enter Alexis’s story in the RWA Golden Heart contest. I also wrote: I’ve entered Alexis in a few contests already, well-established ones with a track record of training their first round judges. I’ll use the feedback from those to consider what changes (if any) I’ll make to my opening pages. I don’t think major revisions will be needed…

Yeah, no. Thank goodness I did enter Alexis in those contests, because I got some feedback from one of them this week, and it was a *facepalm* experience.

One of the questions on the judges’ score sheet for this particular contest was: If I was judging this entry in the Golden Heart, I would give it a… The judge gave me 1 from a possible 10 points. In the comments she wrote: Continue reading

Jilly: Is It Better To Be Brave Than Kind?

Is It Better To Be Brave Than Kind?Women prefer bravery, courage and a willingness to take risks rather than kindness and altruism in their partners.

Do you agree?

The above statement is a direct quote from an academic paper about online dating, written by Professor Khalid Khan of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Sameer Chaudhry of the University of North Texas, published in the Journal of Evidence Based Medicine. I read about the paper in an article online this week and thought it sounded like story gold, so I took a closer look.

The paper’s stated objective is: to determine, for people seeking a date online, what activities and behaviours have an effect on the chances of converting electronic communication into a face-to-face meeting.

Or to paraphrase, how to win at online dating.

And since success at the preliminary stages of online dating is all about establishing a character Continue reading

Michaeline: A Meeting of Minds and Hearts

a couple embrace passionately on the streets

A meeting of mind and hearts is more than first attraction and admiration of one’s beloved. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

So, tomorrow is the big day! St. Valentine’s Day, when we can indulge in all sorts of sentiment about love and loving: soppy poetry, vinegary commentary, a wistful look at what was or could have been, and a belly-laugh about what silly old things we humans can be when under the domination of love.

I met up with a friend this week for tea, and she pointed me to “The Ideal Marriage According to Novels” by Adelle Waldman in The New Yorker which talks about the different ways men and women write about romance. Basically, Waldman says that women like Jane Austen or Elena Ferrante have an ideal partner in mind who is the woman’s match in intellect and feeling towards the world. And men tend to describe romance as a mysterious thing, and the ideal partner provokes feelings in the male breast. She’s pretty, and her intelligence is a crowning glory (but what she says isn’t really the point; it’s her fitness to be his partner that is the important thing). Continue reading

Michille: Ancient Love Stories

Odysseus_Penelope_Louvre

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

Last May, I completed my Master of Liberal Arts program, and many of you know that my final project was a contemporary romance based on Sophocles’ Antigone (which is also a hero’s journey). My interest in ancient love stories was piqued and I’ve been looking at more to see if I can use them as fodder for other stories. I think a writer friend of Justine also uses ancient couples as fodder for her stories. In Harry Brown’s updated version of the story of Achilles and Hector, The Stars in Their Courses, he took the story out of ancient Greece and set it in the Old West. Achilles becomes Arch Eastmere, a gunslinger, hired to help Mark Lacy (Menelaos) get his wife (Ellen/Helen) back from Pax (Paris) after Pax abducted her. Brown brings other characters along on the ride, including Hallock (Hector), Alan (Agamemnon), and Oliver Swindon (Odysseus). There are a lot of parallels between The Iliad and The Stars in Their Courses, but Brown switched some of it up: Achilles fights from great glory in battle, but Arch Eastmore does it for a paycheck; there are no gods, but the weather and the land are described using terms that give them power over man; and he adds a hooker for Arch and the sheriff to fight over. Continue reading