Sunday, December 25, 2005

I was going to say that Walk the Line is the most romantic movie I've seen this season, but King Kong could give it a run for the money in the romance department. And I don't mean Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts. No, it's the girl and the big monkey. What chemistry! What pathos!

OK, all kidding aside, Walk the Line is clearly the most romantic movie with two humans in it, but King Kong is also well worth seeing for the way it deals with difficult relationships.

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's been a while since I posted 'cause life has interfered with writing, as it so often does. My younger son is home from college and got his wisdom teeth extracted, which has put me back into "mommy mode". To be honest, I hadn't missed preparing meals for large young men who consume massive amounts of food and still manage to look like they ought to be on the cover of one of my novels. There most definitely is a jealousy factor at work here. When you're scrambling eight eggs with heavy cream and a side of mashed potatoes while listening to an 18-year-old whine about how he's losing weight, it takes a lot of effort not to lose it and bash him upside the head with the frying pan.

But I'm sympathetic over the teeth. I don't have wisdom teeth, nor does my older son. My husband, who still remembers getting his out, and the kid sitting with hot compresses on his face don't appreciate my reminding them that it's a good example of evolution in action, not developing teeth you don't need.

And speaking of teeth, that may be one of the last "taboos" in historical romance writing. We've got heroes who are amputees, eyeless, scarred, deaf and suffering from amnesia, but we don't have any historical heroes missing significant teeth. And with one or two exceptions--Barbara Metzger springs to mind--we don't have heroes losing their hair either.

Don't look at me. I'm not planning on penning the first bald, toothless historical romance hero! I'll let braver souls pick up that challenge.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Book Reviews--Dearly Devoted Dexter
Dearly Devoted Dexter
Jeff Lindsay
2005, Doubleday

Dexter Morgan, the serial killer who only takes out the trash, is back in a novel that picks up where Darkly Dreaming Dexter ended. In that first novel we learned how Dexter’s foster father saw early what the boy was and channeled his social quirks into a more acceptable outlet. Oh, Dexter still likes to torture people to death–that will never change–but thanks to his cop dad Dexter has a mission–to only use his talents on really, really bad people. Specifically, other serial killers.

Dexter works for the Miami PD as a blood spatter specialist and he cheerfully goes through his life, as he puts it, pretending to be human and letting his dark friend come out to play every now and then. Dexter’s sister is a Miami cop and while she has a pretty good idea what he’s up to, she leaves him alone to do his thing.

The problem is, Dexter’s doing a little too good a job of passing for human. So much so that the woman who provides him with some protective coloration while they’re dating begins to think there’s more to Dexter than he lets on–like a conscience, feelings and social skills–and somehow he finds himself getting more and more involved with people, which cramps his style when dealing with the monsters.

But he persists, and in Dearly Devoted, Dexter has a new challenge, a South American death squad specialist hunting down his former compadres, the ones who turned him over to the enemy. Not surprisingly, many of these former colleagues are US government operatives, and some have even joined the Miami PD. So Dexter becomes involved with the hunt for “The Doctor”, whom Dexter admires for his splendid work, while at the same time Dexter tries to throw off a suspicious cop who’s following him everywhere, severely cramping Dexter’s style and keeping his dark friend from coming out to play. And if Dexter’s dark longings aren’t let out every now and then, bad things can happen.

Dearly Devoted Dexter is a quirky novel about a charming serial killer, and clearly isn’t for everyone. I’d read a novel with a similar premise recently, and I realized part of what I liked better about the Dexter novels was how hard Dexter works to live up to the twisted mission passed on to him by his dad. In the other “funny serial killer” book the killings were much more random. Dexter has style. He wears cool Hawaiian shirts. He knows what he is and tries to work with the material he’s given. After all, if he’s born to greatness, he’s going to make the most of it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Why do I love this job? Partly because the job description includes being able to sit and read books I enjoy, like C.S. Forester's Age of Fighting Sail, a classic history of the war of 1812. There are all these little moments when your eye scans something that at first glance appears perfectly pedestrian, then you have this "Whoa! I can really use that!" moment and suddenly you're rushing back to the computer to tweak your text.

Which leads into my real rant for the day, "Why Books Are Better Than The Internet". I hang out in a writers' group where we're often asked to recommend this website or that for information. Primary information. I'm old fashioned enough to wave my cane in the direction of the person posting the query and say "You young whippersnappers! The best information still comes from books! You should make books your primary source and the 'net your secondary source!"

Why? Because if you're reading a book you can pick up all kinds of ancillary information you didn't know you needed until you read it. Sure, a website can help you nail down a date when something happened, or show you a picture of Revenue Marine uniforms, but if you're reading a book about the history of the Revenue Marine you're likely to pick up little anecdotes and snippets you might not get off a website. Plus, there's always the danger of lack of editorial control at websites. At least you can presume with books from respected publishers like the Naval Institute Press that there's been some editorial oversight of the material being published.

So there's a place for research on the web, no doubt about it. But for serious research for writing, I still have to recommend books, or interviews with real people and visits to real places.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tonight was the last class of the first part of tai chi. We've learned the first third of the simple form, and my instructor says it takes about 30 years to be proficient at it.

I always wanted a goal for when I'm 80--beyond surviving--now I have one.

Anyway, I am going to continue. As difficult as it is, and it is difficult, I can see improvement in myself. Some of us talked about repeating the first session again, but our instructor recommended we move on. Now my hard task will be continuing to practice each day, even though I know half the time I'm still not doing it correctly. Our instructor, who's 57, showed us the full tai chi form, which takes about 8 minutes to run through. That's all. 30 years of study for an 8 minute exercise. But to see it done correctly, that was a treat. His movements were fluid, his form supple, his posture perfect.

Man, when I'm 80, people are going to be stunned by my agility!

Bound By Destiny by Rayka Mennen

Rayka Mennen -
When Katherine Ricetti brushes against civil engineer, Jacob Taggert, and sees a vision of the accident about to befall him, she saves him from certain death. But the Ricetti women are witches and have their first vision about the men they are destined to marry. Try explaining that to a die-hard skeptic like Jake. When he isn’t running scared, he’s looking for the loop hole in this witch theory. Too bad, because her pretty face and long legs had captured his attention before the accident. Besides, he can’t allow a witch to raise his son! But the signs are clear and he is unable to deny Kat has powerful talents that can’t be explained in earthly scientific terms. Kat, a reluctant witch to begin with, may have to renounce her heritage to be with the man she loves. Which will she chose, when both seem to be her destiny? ISBN: 1-897261-00-4
5 Cups from Coffee Time Romance; 5 Hearts from The Romance Studio