Elizabeth: What Should I Watch Next?

Spring is just a few days away, though you wouldn’t know it from the recent snowfall blanketing our east coast.  Writing contest season is also in full swing, which means I’ve been spending more time judging other peoples’ writing than focusing on my own these past few weeks.

It’s an interesting experience.

For this year’s Golden Hart, I’m just finishing up a set of “inspirational” entries.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they’ve mostly been “sweet” contemporary stories (no sex and occasional God references).  Definitely different from the paranormal entries that I judged previously, but it has, as always, been a learning experience.  It seems far easier to recognize what is not working in someone else’s story than it is in mine.  Using the information in Nancy’s recent post on conflict-locks last week, I tried to create a conflict box for each of the stories I read.  No surprise that the stories I enjoyed the most / rated the highest were those that had a clear conflict lock.  It’s a good reminder to me to take a close look at my own stories and make sure I have the conflict locked down.

As soon as I finish the last few contest entries, it is back to writing for me.  Naturally that means I need to watch some television first.

Wait, what? 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

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

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

Michaeline: Valentines and Love Letters

scroll with Friendship, Love and Truth weaving between symbols of love.

The many aspects of Valentine’s Day. Love is a lot more complicated than “Roses are Red . . .” and a lot more diverse than Boy-Meets-Girl. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Valentine’s Day can be fraught with expectations, and it seems that these days we almost need to put a trigger warning on the topic because so many vocal people have been so badly traumatized by the holiday.

But I’d like to start this Valentine Week from the perspective of plenty. You may not have the perfect love partner, or indeed any love partner. But if you think of love in a broader sense, it’s a good day to be thankful for the love in your life. That might be family, or friends, or a pet. One thing is for sure, though. If you are reading this blog, you have a love for romantic stories. Let’s share the love. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Discovering Movies

moviepopcornOther than a foray out to see Frozen last year, I can’t remember the last time I was in a movie theatre. I don’t generally watch a lot of movies, possibly due to a short attention span and/or a long to-do list, even when they’re right there on the television screen.

This past weekend, with its inclement weather, seemed a good time to remedy that. A scan through the hundreds of cable TV channels that too often have nothing to catch my interest resulted in a trio of movies to keep me entertained while I worked my way through household cleaning, laundry, and random goofing off. Continue reading