Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Question!

Okay, first, you all still have to congratulate me on finishing my book, still, and go read my FAR interview linked in the below post. Because I'm afraid I sound like an idiot. So stroke, stroke, stroke my little ego please. (You don't really have to, of course.)

I ripped out one scene and rewrote it last night, and I think it works much better--it advances the plot now, yay! And I'm about 1k words into the big 6k section replacement, so that's good too. I don't know if it will end up being as many words, but the book is long enough, I know I'll add in editing, and less is sometimes more.


I was wondering, how has erotica as a genre treated you, DQ? Do authors find it difficult to get out, once they're in? Or are you happy enough that you never want to break out into the "respectable" (society's opinion, not mine) genres?

It's actually so funny this question came up now, because my just-finished book is NOT an erotic romance. Oh, there's some sexy bits, of course. There's a sex scene I'm immensely proud of and a hero who I think is pretty damn hot. But the book isn't exactly a romance--there's a sort of "happy for now" ending which, if the book goes somewhere (pleasepleasepleaseplease) will continue on in the sequels--I have the whole arc of the relationship planned, and it'll get pretty interesting, believe me.

Anyway, the book is an urban fantasy. It's the first book I've ever written with a Happy Enough ending. It's the first book I've ever written entirely from the heroine's POV (with a couple of exceptions, but no major character in the book gets a POV except Heroine.) (It's still 3rd person, though, not first. I don't think I could write a sex scene in first.)

And now, I'm dreaming of writing an erotic romance again. My CP and I have been working on ideas--we're eager to collaborate again, just like the French (oh come on, it's a joke I couldn't resist)--and I can't wait to get going on it. I love writing romance, especially erotic romance. I love the total emotional satisfaction of writing two different people who find love and happiness together. I also love writing them doing wonderfully nasty things to each other. It's fun.

It isn't all I ever want to write, though. As much as I love erotic romance, and I do, I admit I get a little bored after writing three or four in a row. I want to branch out. I want to write more action, less sex. It's really the sex. I find after writing a few books in a row my sex scenes get very flowery or very stark. Either I shy away from the physical description, or it sounds like something old men in porno theatres whisper while the movie plays.

Ideally, I'd love to do both. I don't think it's difficult, necessarily, for a writer to "break out" of erotic romance--if they want to. Most of the ones I know don't seem to. They love what they do, and want to stay there. Me, I like to move around a little. My medieval (releasing tomorrow) isn't an erotic romance, although there's definitely some hot scenes in there--I never close the bedroom door on my readers. My January book is erotic, and intensely so. I love writing paranormals, but I can't wait to do another historical too.

My ideal career, in my wildest dreams, is to produce one or two mass-markets a year in the series whose first book I just finished (pleasepleasepleaseplease). Then one or two erotic romances per year as well, possibly staying with ebooks and small press for those. There's no advances, but the idea of decent monthly paychecks for those is very appealing (although most of them pay quarterly as well, EC doesn't.)

Because the new series (pleasepleaseplease) is sexy, and contains sex, but I don't want it to go down the road a certain author went down when she turned her books into nothing but sex, I want to keep writing erotic romance to get it out of my system. Because I get burned out writing nothing but sex, I want to have something else I do. The readership will hopefully cross over, but if they don't, they don't--I figure probably 60% or so will. Because I can write an erotic faster than the book I just wrote--it took me 4 months, basically, but my eroroms average about 2--and because I get antsy if I'm not working on anything for more than a couple of weeks at the most, I think I can build up a good list in a few years. (I hope, anyway. keep in mind this is all my fantasy career.)

It's not, emphatically not, a matter of "respectability". I've never bought that "romance is crap" stuff and I've never felt the need to justify what I write to anyone. If they don't like it, or want to look down on me for it, I don't give a shit. Romance is just as good as any other genre, or anything non-genre. I love it, and I love writing it. My desire to do something else is just because I like other stuff just as much as I like romance, and nothing more. If people don't think I'm any good because my work is "just" romance, that's their small-minded problem, not mine, and they can, as we said in childhood, go jump in a lake.

I think the trick to breaking out of a genre is pen names. Seriously. If the series sells, it won't come out under DQ (unless the publisher [pleasepleaseplease] wants it too, of course). I'd come up with a new name for it, but not hide it either. So people know my DQ books are erotic romance, but my Other Name books are urban fantasy.

Did that answer your question, or did I just blather on?

Basically, I think the only thing holding writers back from "breaking out" of a genre is themselves--either because they don't want to, or because they aren't willing to do the work it would take in order to. Which isn't to say any one genre is worse than any other, it just means they don't take the time to explore their writing and the conventions of where they are and where they want to go. And I hope that doesn't sound shitty, because I don't mean it to at all. I just mean it's hard to unlearn things. I had to struggle on a few occasions with this book to keep some emotional things ambiguous. I had to struggle to make sure my characters didn't suddenly start behaving the way they would in a romance--big "I love you"s etc., because they really weren't ready. It was me who wanted that, automatically, because that's what my endings usually are.

Will it work? let's cross our fingers. But I think we can do whatever we want, if we work hard enough.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quickie Update!

The book is DONE!! 94,509 words. Wheeeeeee!

Also, my FAR interview is up, here.

Is it Ethical?


My WIP crossed 91k this morning. I've just finished writing the climax and am starting on the whole aftermath wrap-up.

But. There's a section in the middle--about 5500 words--that needs to go and be replaced. I actually left a chapter unfinished because it was so not working.

So, when I write "The End"...I know it isn't really the end. Not just because there's editing to do, there always is. But because there is actually an unfinished section in the book. The end of the book might be done, but the book won't be done. Not even in a "Read my first draft" kind of a way.

So can I still say it's done?

Also. I'm thinking of sending my query to Mr. Evil. Partly for fun, partly to see what kind of response it gets, and partly as payback for all the queries I've had so much fun with.

But I'd love to sub to the COM as well. So what do I do? Is it ethical to sub to both? Doesn't that feel a little like overkill?

But then, I probably won't get picked for the COM either.

I thought I had another ethical question to ask everyone, but I don't remember now what it was.

The Black Dragon releases in a couple of days. I'm pretty excited. I'll be chatting at Fallen Angel Reviews all day Saturday, on the Yahoo loop.

And I guess that's it. I thought I had some interesting things to say. I guess I was wrong. Sigh. I'm so wrapped up in writing this last chapter or so, everything else is just gone from my wee head.

Tell me about something you consider unethical. Not in a stealing kind of way, but something you've seen that felt a little...wrong.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

I've been seeing sentiments of this sort a lot lately, in various writers' groups and blogs. The idea that it's somehow shameful and wrong to be jealous of another's success in any area, that we should all feel nothing but joy when someone else does well, seems a permanent fixture these days.


While I agree that we should be happy for our friends when they do well--and I have no trouble being so--the fact is, if you're a writer, and you think people shouldn't feel envy, despair, anger, or sadness when other people make it in the world, I wonder about your actual writing.

The fact is, people are, well, basically shitty. We try to be good people. Most of us succeed. But how many people have you ever met whom you honestly and truly believe have never felt envy or anger? Who've never watched a TV show about the homes of rich people and felt that little pang of jealousy or dissatisfaction with their own lives? Or seen a friend of their get promoted and, even under the true happiness they undoubtedly hold for that friend, still think, "Why couldn't it be me?"

That's human nature. It is human nature to envy, to covet. It wouldn't be in the ten commandments as something we all shouldn't do if it was something people didn't do to begin with. You don't feel the need to warn people, for example, to eat food if they want to live. Because they do it anyway. They feel hungry and they want to eat. Hunger isn't something most people can control (they can ignore it, sure, but not control it). Neither are our more negative emotions.

And if you want to be a writer, if you want to create realistic characters, you need to accept and acknowledge that people can be nasty little creatures. Even the best of us can't be good all the time. And even if we behave well, we still feel it. Those negative emotions seethe and writhe beneath the surface of our cheerful smiles. "Congratulations" comes out of our mouths through gritted teeth. Not all the time, no. But a character who, like Melanie Wilkes, only ever truly feels joy and pride in the accomplishments of others either has no ambitions in life at all, or is a Mary Sue. A spineless, dull, loathesome sort of cypher swirling through the pages of our books.

People don't identify with such characters. Okay, some people might, but I worry about their mental health. It's the flaws of our characters, as much as their strengths, that make them interesting to us and our readers. Their false pride, their arrogance, their jealousy, their lust and anger. These are universal emotions just as much as happiness and love.

If you only show the good side of humanity, and ignore the bad, you're not creating humans. You're creating bland space-fillers.

People feel badly about things sometimes. Let them feel it--whether it's people on a message board or people in your books.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Whose characters are they, anyway?

Seems I've heard a bit about this topic again, lately. Which led me to re-read Thomas Harris's Hannibal Which works because he's got a new Lecter book coming out soon, although I don't know that I'll bother to get it in hardback.

Everyone familiar with Silence of the Lambs? The book, or the movie?

See, here's the thing. When Hannibal came out, ten years or so ago now, there was this big uproar from a lot of people because of the ending. I don't know how to do that nifty invisible writing thing in case there's someone out there who hasn't read it, but honestly? It's been ten years. If you were going to read it, you would have, right?

So in the ending of Hannibal, Hannibal Lecter and Clairce Starling end up together. As in, together, like a romantic, sexual relationship.

Personally, I thought it was a great ending. I thought it was perfect. I thought the signs were all there in Silence and in Hannibal. It was a perfect progression of character.

But it seemd a lot of people thought it was terrible. Jodie Foster, for example. She refused to do the movie of Hannibal because of the ending. Then the producers of the film changed the ending, anyway. Why? Because Jodie didn't think Clarice would "do that".

Ummm...Jodie? Clarice isn't yours. You didn't invent her. You interpreted someone else's words. You interpreted what Thomas Harris chose to reveal about his character.

The only person in the world, the only existing person, who truly knows what Clarice Starling would and would not do is Thomas Harris. Clarice belongs to him.

No, we can't make our characters do things they don't want to do. We can try, but it feels forced. It reads wrong. We don't invent people and take them through their little imaginary paces, hitting points A and B as the story dictates. They grow and change on their own.

But the fact is, they're ours. We know those little characters better than anyone else in the world. Sometimes we hold things back from the reader, because they don't need to know it, but we know it. I know the heroine in my current WIP once had a guy in high school pretend he really liked her, and she knew it was a lie, but she went along with it for a while simply because she wanted to see what it was like to actually have people talk to her like she was a person and not a freak. Maybe I'll decide to let the readers know. Maybe it won't come up. But I know it. She told me, and now I keep her secret, and if later she sees one of those kids and decides to have her bodyguards beat the hell out of him--well, some might say it's out of character for her.

But I know some cuts don't ever stop bleeding.

What secrets have your characters told you? And what do you think about people who claim some characters "wouldn't do that"?

Thursday, November 16, 2006


So, first, thanks to everyone. I didn't reply to any comments personally, mainly because I would have sounded like a flight attendant ("Thank you...thanks...thank kind of you, thanks...")

I am feeling much better now. Back to my old bitchy little self, thanks in large part to you guys, in part to a good laugh on EE yesterday, in part to having one of the Smart Bitches laugh at one of my dumb jokes, and in part to a particularly irritating hour or so spent with one of, in my opinion, the world's worst magazines...

Rolling Stone.

It isn't just the criminally biased opinion pieces masquerading as journalism, or the complete and utter lack of imagination in its coverage. Although all of those things bother me. (Hey, Rolling Stone--I read your magazine on occasion in the 80's. Don't try to pretend to me you guys were all into Minor Threat and Bad Brains. I know you weren't.) Now they'll act like punk was all their idea, but at the time they were doing cover stories on Glass Tiger. (I'm not knocking Glass Tiger--does anyone but me and maybe one or two of my Canadian friends still remember them? But they weren't exactly on the cutting edge. Which is fine. Nothing is wrong with being a catchy, enjoyable pop band.)

No, what bother me the most about Rolling Stone is how fucking juvenile it is. What a little boy's club of thirteen-year-olds the staff writers are.

Take, for example, one of the most pointless and stupid things I have ever seen anyone speculate about: the meaning of the euphemism "London Bridge" in some song by that woman from the Black-Eyed Peas (who, sorry, don't get them at all.) I've never heard the song, but I know the line: How come every time you come around/My London, London Bridge wanna go down.

Why, it's as mysterious and fascinating as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam! What could she mean? Does she mean something--giggle, snicker--dirty? Like sex? Tee-hee! When she says it, I feel like I do when Mrs. Science Teacher says "ovaries"!

I am not joking here. I have now read two consecutive issues of Rolling Stone where speculation on the meaning of a somewhat clever piece of doggerel is given as much weight and page space as stories on...well, okay. Stories on other useless wastes of time and energy. It's Rolling Stone, after all, not US News and World Report. But even then! Even then, the obsession with the meaning of this stupid lyric--which, even if most of us can't look at the line, get an idea of what it means, and move on with our lives, is fairly unimportant. (Gee, what did Duran Duran mean by "night is a wire"? But, what does it meeean, man?)

Last month (my husband, for some reason, buys this last bastion of shit monthly), not only did they also wonder just how dirty the lyric actually is, and giggle about it with the same enthusiasm with which Regency fops would snicker about seeing a girl's ankles, but they wrote a review of some movie directed by the guy who directed Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Which was not really a bad film, but the underlying premise was so stupid it ruined it for me. (Nutshell-Hedwig is a transsexual--he was forced to be to escape East Germany. Anyway, Hedwig has always wanted to be a rock star. In the film, she is chasing after this guy who now is a rock star, who stole her songs to get to the top. Okay...but as the movie unfolds, we see that lots and lots of people knew she wrote the songs, and saw her perform them with this guy. So why on earth has she not been able to mount a successful lawsuit, with that many witnesses? Come on!)

So the movie is a sex movie. Literally. Apparently it's a large, filmed orgy. Rolling Stone says it's an amazing film, because it lets us see what sex really is, how it encompasses the human experience, and so teaches us something about ourselves. I've noticed this sort of thing a lot lately, with people doing extremely graphic films and claiming it's because they have something profound to say about sex. Like there's something profound to be said about sex that any grown-up doesn;t already know.

Okay, dude? If you need a movie to show you how sex can show us as we truly are, or how we can run a gamut of emotions before, during, and after haven't really been having good sex, have you?

Or you're simply an emotionally stunted third-grader. So, yeah, a Rolling Stone writer.

(Yes, I write very graphic stuff. But you know what? I'm not pretending it's supposed to show you anything about yourself. It's supposed to turn you on. It's supposed to give you a good reading experience, by letting you get two know two people who fall in love and have adventures, and it's supposed to turn you on while doing so! Point blank. The day I start talking about sex as the "universal human experience" as though I've come up with some profound new idea, shoot me.)

Okay, I've ranted enough now. But I'm happy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bleh and Grrr

You know, I'm in a bad mood.

Actually, I've been in a bad mood, off and on, for a few weeks now.

Ever have those times where it just feels like you can't do anything right? Like everyone hates you? I hate that.

No, this isn't a whiny whine. I'm just venting and being grumpy.

The other night we had dinner with some lovely new friends. Great food, great company, Too much wine. I spent all day Sunday barely able to move, and I really hate it when that happens. It isn't just feeling physically bad that bothers me, it's the mental bad. The "I am soooo irresponsible and a horrible person, what is the matter with me, how could I do that to myself" mental bad. And worse, even, is the suspicion that most normal proper adults don't ever drink too much and get hung over, or if they do, they just feel bad and maybe beat themsleves up for drinking too much, but don't spend the next week cursing themselves for being assholes and wondering why they can't be like everyone else. I suspect they just say, "Yeah, oops!" and sort of giggle and get on with it.

It seems, also, that I am constantly offending people these days without meaning to. I made a jokey comment on another blog a couple of days ago which apparently some people took personally, and I feel horrible about it, really really awful. It (the comment) wasn't really that bad, I guess, but I feel like a complete ass and like everyone is talking about me. I tried to clarify but have no idea if anyone read it.

Hubby's back at work. The days are long and dark and cold.

Is this just a fall malaise/Mercury retrograde thing?

Of course, all the spam I've been getting lately might be the answer. Apparently if I am "tired with weak penis" there's a pill out there just for me! Generally, if I'm tired, weak is the way I want the penis to be. Maybe that's just me, though.

Then there's the amazing, mile-long spam message I got on the blog yesterday, or the day before. I wasn't online much Sunday or yesterday so I don't know for sure which day it came in. But it was seriously the longest bit of nonsense I've ever seen. Why do I keep getting this anonymous spam? There's no freaky, fun links to check out. I get anonymous Bible verses, or that idiot who told me my back hurting was punishment for exposing myself to children or whatever the hell semi-literate shit they'd gotten in their pea-sized brains, or yesterday. Which was this enormous, nonsensical diatribe about vengeful gods and the US being a blight and Artificial Intelligence or some shit like that, written in a literary style so turgid it almost gave me cyctitis.

So there you go. I'm sure I'll be back to my happy little self tomorrow. The good news is, hubs and I have gotten back into watching The Dead Zone--we're only on Season 2--which is awesome. Such a good show, and we're having a really good time. We love the movie, too. "The gonna break!"

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's Recommend-a-book day!

Okay, technically, any day could be recommend-a-book day, and usually is, since I never shut up about books. But I decided to have one again here, and I decided to do it today.

So. I have two recommendations today. First is specially for Bernita, because of her post the other day about sppoky stories set in the woods. I'm just over halfway done with The Farm, by Scott Nicholson, and it's pretty good and definitely rural. There's some ghostly stuff happening, some old-time religion (read: blood sacrifice), man-eating goats, and all sorts of other things. It's a little slow--I've heard it picks up in the second half, and we'll see, of course, since lots of horror novels let me down in the home stretch, but so far I'm enjoying it.

My other recommendation today is Night Woman by Nancy Price. Ms. Price wrote Sleeping with the Enemy, which I never read, but that unfortunately seems to have relegated her to the "chick book" section of the store, with people buying her work because Julia Roberts was in that movie, wasn't she, and gee, she's so sweet, so sure this will be good (the Amazon reviews will give you some indication of what I mean). This totally ignores the beautiful writing, the drama of the story, the clean calm of Price's words.

Honestly, of the two books, I can't say which is more the real horror story--Nicholson's bloodthirsty livestock or Price's woman trapped into hiding her own talents. Her protagonist, Mary Quinn Elliot, is the wife of a famous novelist, Randall Elliot. Randall, a literary genius, "writes in a trance". Unfortunately, what Randall writes in his trance is a bunch of scribbles. Mary writes the novels sold with his name on the covers, but to save her husband's sanity (what little there is left of it) and her children's opinion of their father, she's been lying for years--telling Randall he dictated the books to her.
When Randall dies, Mary tries to come forward, only to be told by her husband's agent that she should stay quiet. She meets a new man, a devoted Randall Elliot fan, and falls in love with him--not just because of who he is, but because he loves the books--her books--so much.
I won't reveal the ending (and ignore the dumb lines in the Amazon description), but suffice it to say that if you are a writer, or dream of being one, this book speaks on a whole different level. I think it's a must-read for writers, I really do.

So go read it.

Now...recommend a book to me! I've recommended two books that are scary in different ways, so recommend a scary book! Tell me what you read when you want a little horror or suspense.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

One Year


One year ago today, our plane had just landed at Heathrow. We were on our big adventure--moving to England!

We had an enormous amount of luggage (4 people, 2 suitcases [large suitcases] and a carryon per person). We had to get it all out of the airport, onto the train to Paddington station, then onto the train to Devon, then off the train and into 2 minivan cabs to our friends' house. It's still a blur.

But we did it! Within two weeks we'd finalized the sale of our house in Florida, found a place to live, bought some furniture and new mattresses for the beds...oh, man, I never want to do anything like that again.

More importantly, this time last year I'd written two novels and sold three short stories. As of today, I've written almost eight novels (finished four on my own, cowrote one, halfway through one, over 2/3 of the way through another), and have sold three (including the cowritten one). One is waiting on submission still. One comes out next month, the other the following month. No date on the cowritten yet. I anticipate finishing my UF by the end of the month. I've also got some scraps--a few thousand words of this project or that, including another historical, and a very loose outline (but with scenes already taking shape) for a sequel to the vampire book on submission now, because if it sells (please!) I'd like to be able to get in with the proposal for the sequel right away, and I miss that world.

So not a bad progress report. My older daughter can read and write now (she's one of the best readers in her class!) My little one walks and talks and is as demanding and grumpy as Napoleon.

I wouldn't say life is perfect--England is outrageously expensive. Nothing is ever open when you need it to be, and even if they are they probably don't have what you need. If someone offered me a Wendy's hamburger or some of those frozen appetizers from Target I used to love I'd probably give them a pint of my blood in exchange, and I really miss Mountain Dew. And, of course, my family.

Also, my best friend had a baby last night and I'm not there, which hurts. A lot.

But's been a good year.

What have you accomplished this year? What changes have you made? Yes, I know this is just like a New Year's Eve post, but I'm getting it in early. :-)

Also, what do you think you've learned?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Urban Fantasy Thoughts

First, does anyone know any urban fantasy novels not written in first person? I really enjoy UF, (of course, since I'm working on one now), but man, I am sick of first person. I don't like first person sex scenes. I'm tired of the automatic sense of selfishness first person narrative brings to the story.

I don't mean selfishness in terms of the heroines being selfish--although, let's be honest. As I have yet to read an urban fantasy without a "kick-ass" heroine, most of them are monstrously self-centered, to the point that they miss valuable information because they're so busy pulling out their weapons (remember when that was the hero's job? Heh heh) or casting spells or telling everyone else they're wrong, wrong, and Our Heroine is the right one because...well, because she is.

What I find interesting is the contrast between today's Urban Fantasy and yesterday's Gothics. In both, the heroine was in jeopardy from a Bad Guy whose identity was unclear. In both she couldn't be sure who she could trust and who she couldn't. But while the Gothic heroine used her wits, and maybe didn't discover the truth until it was almost too late, the UF heroine just hurts people physically. And if she learns the truth a little late, we get mad, because she's been presented to us as this all-powerful ass-kicker, so we expect her to know what's happening at all times.

I enjoy violence as much as the next girl. (Actually, I probably enjoy violence a lot more than the next girl, as evinced by my love of John Woo films.) But I also like characters who use their brains as well as their weapons.

And something else bothers me about UF, too. We never seem to see the world being created. We're always stepping into an already-done world, and we have to play catch-up. There's always a line in there somewhere like, "After the Tremor (or the Turn, or the change in laws, or whatever), hunters/psionics/supernaturals came out of the closet" or whatever. I want to read about what happened during that Turn! I want to read about the people who first realized there was a whole 'nother world they didn't know about!

It's one reason why I so enjoy Kelley Armstrong's books. Yes, they are in first person, but they're set in a separate world within our world. I don't have to memorize a whole bunch of new terms or picture myself on the set of Blade Runner in order to get into them. (And what a bleak view of the future it always is, eh? We never see a world where the presence of supernatural beings has aided humanity instead of feeding off them and turning cities into cesspits.)

Like I said, I really do enjoy the genre. But they're starting to feel same-y to me. The heroines are all terrifically powerful and tough. The heroes...well, they're not as tough as the heroines, which you all know is an issue for me.

And this is why I wonder about the first person. So many of these voices sound just the same. When most of what the MC thinks about are weapons and maybe the Friend Who Died And The MC Feels Responsible, it's hard to make me feel like I'm not in a book by a different author I just read, you know? Or the one before that, or the one before that.

What do you think? Of UF, or first person, or futuristics, or whatever?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happily Ever After?

So my hubby has this great new job, and we're thrilled about it. Me especially, since the compnay throws a big fancy Xmas party every year at a beachfront hotel for employees and their "partners". They've reserved us a room for the night, and I get to buy a new dress, and it's all very exciting (It would be even more exciting if I wasn't dieting like a fiend now to try and look good in said dress. I've got 15-20 pounds to lose. I won't get there, but if I can get close I'd be happy. Anyway.)

So of course, hub's new boss asked if his "partner" would be going. And I think hubby just said yes, instead of what he would have liked to say which is, "No, but my wife will be."

See, I find this immensely irritating, this British habit of calling everyone "partners". The reasoning being, they don't want to assume people dd something so declasse as get married, so rather than insult the unmarried, we'll just say "partner". Won't everyone be happy then?

No. Everyone will not be happy then. We didn't spend $10,000 on a wedding so we could be treated like an unmarried couple, thank you very much. He is not my "partner". We didn't sit down one day and decide to form a corporation. We got married and started a family, and I really resent the implication that I don't deserve any respect for that but instead should be demoted from my legal and social status as a wife to some loose, we-can-get-out-anytime relationship.

It occured to me last night, though, as I was stewing over this, that very few romances have a "Happily Ever After" where the H/h decide to just move in together. They get married. (Unless they are married, in which case they're very happy to be married.) Or at least they get engaged. Or, even, sometimes in paranormals someone has a psychic vision of them later in life, married with kiddies.

I find this a really interesting dichotomy. If romance novels can be said to be the true, secret fantasies of women, and the overwhelming majority of Happily Ever After endings include, marriage...then how many women out there really, truly don't ever want to get married? In other words, while "partner" is all well and good, it seems to me I'm not the only woman who would rather be called "wife".

This may be a bit of a stretch, saying romance novels are fantasies. But really, honestly, how would you feel is you read a romance and the ending was, "Baby, we don't need a piece of paper, let's just live together, okay?" Bit of an anticlimax, wouldn't it be? (Besides, if it's "just a piece of paper", what's the big deal about getting it? I never understood that.)

Marriage is commitment, and we want our H/hs to commit. We don't want them to live together for a while and hope it works, we want them to commit. We want to know they've looked at each other and said, "You're really the one, and I want everyone to know it", not "Hey, I really like you but I'm not entirely certain this if forever so let's try it and see" or "I love you but I need my space" or even "I love you, but I love my alimony too".

So if we won't accept less in romance novels, why are so many women accepting less in real life? Has something really changed, and women no longer want to get married, or are they being told their fantasies and desires are silly or foolish, and they should grow up and accept that just living together is as good as marriage? After all, aren't romance novels foolish and silly? Isn't it a good thing to make fun of them and their readers, as women stupid enough to believe that there really is someone for everyone, and that they can get that happy ending? That they deserve that happy ending, with someone who'll do whatever he has to do to make that happy ending happen for her? (Now I'm repeating "happy ending" so many times it sounds like I work at a cheap massage parlor.)

Maybe this is on my mind a lot too because for the first time, my WIP does not have a HEA. It has a "we'll see", because it's planned as the first in a series. So it's a little wierd to think of wrapping up a book and not having that final kiss and fadeout.

But I really believe women today are being encouraged, are being forced, to settle for less than they want. And I think that's horrible. And that's why, although my current book may not end with a wedding, you can bet if the series pickes up there will be one at some point--even if it isn't with this book's hero. (I know what will happen, of course, but I'm so not telling.)

What do you think? Are romance HEAs weddings because it's what women want, or is it to cater to more conservative elements of the readership? Can it be a truly satisfying and believable HEA without marriage? And how do you feel about "partner"s?