Michaeline: Olivia, Jack and the Stupid Cupid

A male skater, a woman on a swan-shaped sled, and a small cupid playing the flute beside them.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It was one of those beautiful February days – the sky was blue and the ice on the rink was rock hard. Olivia took another leisurely turn around the pond, idly wondering if Jack was ready to go inside yet. Jack zoomed past her, a vision of gracefulness in black leggings and a black turtleneck, his black hair in winter spikes and roses in his pale cheeks. At the far end of the pond, just where she could best appreciate his athleticism, he jumped and spun, drew a heart in the ice, then zoomed around again in long, lazy strokes. He was like a Mercedes on ice – he didn’t seem to be putting in any effort, but in two heartbeats, he was behind her, slowing down in a spray of ice crystals, then gently taking her hand.

“Cold, darling?” he said.

“Not yet,” Olivia said. “But maybe we can go in about 15 minutes?”

“All right. Skater’s waltz?” He kissed her nose, and pushed off, pulling her behind him while humming a ridiculously resonant version of “The Blue Danube”. It had been almost an entire year since they met, and Olivia was as crazy about him as she was when he first showed up on her doorstep. Always the showoff, he turned and skated backwards, now holding both her hands, dazzling her with his smile. And that was the reason neither of them saw the snowfairy in her tiny sled drawn by a floppy Shih Tzu, barrelling across the pond and right into their skating path.

Everyone went down in a tumble of arms and legs, with the snowfairy winding up on top, her sled underneath, and her doggy spinning around on the ice like a furry Roomba, barking furiously at the outrage. Continue reading

Michille: Stages of Intimacy

Desmond_Morris_(1969)With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I was reminded of an RWA session I attended a couple of years ago with Linda Howard in which she presented Desmond Morris’s 12 Stages of Intimacy as a means to build sexual tension in a story. I believe it comes from his Intimate Behaviour: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy, but I can’t confirm that because it is out of print. I would love to get a copy of it.

Of course, with the recent deluge of sexual harassment/assault accusations and subsequent consequences, the can apply to that conversation also – as in – how far down this list can you go before it is considered harassment/assault.

The list is below: Continue reading

Nancy: Love for the Long Haul

kiss-on-windowBecause most of us here on the blog write (and read!) a lot of romance, the week of Valentine’s Day presents an opportunity to talk about that core component of a romance story: love. More specifically, believable, happily ever after (HEA) love.

I thought about HEA love this past week when Maria V. Snyder posted on her FB page about the need for Valentine’s Day cards for 25+-year relationships, cards along the lines of “you annoy me and drive me crazy but I’m still willing to put up with it” or “we worked hard to mesh and I don’t want to train anyone else”. Yeah, those aren’t quite the messages we tend to read or write in our romance novels, but they are tongue-in-cheek reminders that there are real-life HEAs.

Back in the fiction world, though, that ‘believable HEA’ part isn’t always easy to write, and doesn’t always resonate with readers. For example, Continue reading

Jilly: Romantic Gestures

Romantic GesturesHappy Valentine’s Day!

What’s the most romantic gesture, real or fictional, you can think of?

Credible, lasting, loving relationships are the sine qua non of the romance genre, and we romance writers spend a lot of mental energy trying to find moving ways to show what Michaeline described so perfectly yesterday: two people who find each other beautiful, and suitable, and who listen to each other and get each other. A meeting of both minds and hearts.

The three magic words are important, but they’re an empty promise unless they’re backed by concrete, specific actions.

In real life, the evidence suggests that many people believe throwing money at their beloved is the way to go – last year the estimated retail spending on Valentine’s day in the US alone was almost $19 billion – but in fiction, at least, the reader expects more.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Favorite Love Poems

When_I_Saw_YouThis Saturday marked the arrival of a traditional day on the calendar, that’s right, “Clean out the Garage Day.” Well, you may have spent the day in slightly different fashion, but here in beautiful California, where the skies were blue, the weather was warm, and there was a strong, testosterone-based helper nearby, it was the perfect day to reclaim the garage from the mass of belongings that were attempting to crowd out the car. Continue reading

Nancy: My Favorite Love Vows

eight ladies writing, justine covington

(c) Justine Covington

In keeping with the Valentine’s Day spirit, I thought I’d share the wedding vows from my favorite real-life love story: my husband’s and mine. I met my now-husband many, many years ago, when we were very, very young – 17 years old. And decades later, we’re still together, we’re still valentines, and he’s still ‘the one’.

Because we started dating each other at such a tender age, we were together for years before we actually got married (or as my mother-in-law would say, stopped living in sin). By that time, we were mature enough as a couple that our wedding wasn’t so much the marking of a new union as it was a celebration of a long-existing one. We wanted to create our own ceremony that felt spiritual, loving, and commitment-centric. And we wanted to keep it short, because the actual ceremony was outside in June – read: a hot, sticky mess – because love can be practical, too. So with all that in mind, we came up with a ceremony that included our personally written vows (sorry, won’t share those with the great, wide world of the interwebs), as well as some thoughts on love and marriage from multiple cultures/traditions, which I share with you now .

Buddhist Marriage Homily – In the future, happy occasions will come as surely as the Continue reading

Jilly: Say It With Zombies

Warm Bodies (copyright 2013 Summit Entertainment LLC)

Warm Bodies (copyright 2013 Summit Entertainment LLC)

How was your Valentine’s Day? Are you still in a haze of happy, suffering a love hangover, or glad it’s over for another year?

Michaeline was in the spotlight here yesterday, and she celebrated with a smorgasbord of love letters and an exhortation to share the love in a broader sense. I like that idea, and since the Ladies have been all about love at the movies lately, I’m going to share my passion for the brilliant 2013 zombie rom-com Warm Bodies.

Stay with me, please, even if zombies aren’t your cup of tea. I’m choosing this movie as my Valentine’s weekend recommendation because the entire story is about the importance of love. It’s a zombie Romeo and Juliet – a darkly humorous romance in which a cute guy (loosely speaking) falls for a cute girl from a community (species?) that’s at war with his – but it successfully gives the legendary story the happy ending I long for every time I see the play, or ballet, or musical. The hero and heroine find true love together, reconcile their warring communities, and act as a catalyst for a lasting change that saves the world. That’s one mighty hit of happy. Continue reading