Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dark Romance #1 ~ Dracula

Given the premise of this bloggy-blog (that I'm a goth mom who digs the dark and creepy, even in romance), I thought I'd do a series based on some dark romances I have luuuuurved. (Be warned - thar be SPOILERS below, so if you've not yet read the book/seen the film under discussion, but intend to, you may wish to give this post a pass. Just sayin'.)

Still here? Kewl.

I decided to start with Dracula, but not the book, oh no. I recently re-read the Bram Stoker tome and must assert that there just ain't nothin' sexy or romantic about it. Yeah, sure, Jonathan Harker experiences a bit of lusty-lust for Dracula's wives and whatnot, but all that amounts to is his intense desire that they kiss him. Lame. There's no back-story connecting Mina Harker with Drac's supposedly long-dead bride, as the Coppola film tells it (though I must give props to the flick, as it's one of the more faithful adaptations of the novel; moreover, it doesn't drop the one American character Stoker featured, Texan Quincey Morris, who, along with J. Harker, dealt the killing blow to the dastardly Count).

The Dracula I want to focus on today is Frank Langella in the 1979 film of the same name, which was adapted from a play, which was adapted from the book (whew!) and merrily screws around with not only the characters but also their names. Here, it's Mina who first succumbs to Dracula's unholy allure and Lucy upon whom Dracula sets his fangs at for his...uh...Unlife Mate. Another departure from the book is that the end may not really be the end for the Count, 'cause this Dracula's a BAMF.

*Ahem* Anyway.

Langella plays the Count tall, dark, and spookily swoony (woof) and, with his debonair Old World mastery, steals every scene he's in. But what really interests me about this film is the feminist edge of Lucy, who deplores the very idea of woman's subjugation to man. By the time Drac's worked his monstrous mojo on her, however, she can't wait to be under his...thumb. (Frankly, neither could I. Did I mention woof?)

The dark romance of it all: Dracula determinedly preys on Lucy, it's true, but she isn't his victim; she's a ready, willing, and eager participant in his deadly dance. He seduces her but never has to bend her to his will. He charms her with his conversation, his savoir faire, his sex appeal (woof!), and he exerts himself to win her because of her strength, her intelligence, and her beauty - she is his equal, excepting one teeeny, tiny detail. Lucy doesn't so much fall as she leaps into the fire, and not due to deception or coercion, but from her own desire to burn. She never embodies her own ideals as much as when she willingly chooses to join the ranks of the moldy undead. It's the joining of his dark power to her independent spirit which rocks the Casbah for me. And they might have enjoyed a happier end but for the interference of her father, her fiancé, and Van Helsing who, essentially, restored their masculine authority over Lucy when they "saved her" from the Count, her own wishes notwithstanding (and girlfriend wanted to hook up with the bloodsucker, for realz!). To which I say Booo, patriarchal bossiness! and Yay, Girl Pow-ah!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Winding up for the pitch…

I spent my Thanksgiving-food-coma-recovery-period tweaking my query letter for the mythological romance novel I’ve completed and am ready to shop around. I figure I’ll e-mail it to my targets—uh…I mean—carefully selected literary agents next Wednesday. (I’m guessing the many aspiring writers hunting agents will have inundated their Inboxes over the holiday weekend, maybe they’ll be caught up by next Thursday?) (OK, they probably won't be, but I've gotta get them query letters out some time!)

Why try to land an agent? Well, with so many as-yet-unproved writers hawking their wares, publishing companies generally don’t look at unagented work. According to Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (and many others) proper literary agents make money only when they sell their clients’ work, so they’re not about to waste their (or publishers’) time with books that aren’t le awesome/commercially viable. Knowing this, it behooves me to seek representation. Plus, agents are experts in the wheeling and dealing and legalese involved in contract negotiations—the very idea of attempting to tackle this on my own makes my stomach wobble unpleasantly (and not in the, “Whoa, who’s *that* god-like specimen of masculine comeliness?” sort of way). Rock on, literary agents!

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of trying the thrilling frontier (as Cheryl Shireman describes it) of independent publishing. I’ve got a short story (creepy romance—it's just so me), an idea for another, and a shorter weird tale that I may compile into a mini-anthology and put up for sale on as an e-book. I can test the waters with it and, if my novel gets no nibbles, may go the e-book route with it as well. On the pro side, authors receive a significantly bigger cut of the profits when they e-publish themselves, rather than go with traditional publishing. On the con side, authors may have to put money up to make any (if they do), they receive no advance in royalties, and they’re completely responsible for all promotional endeavors for their work, as well as all the bureaucratic stuff. (Eeeeek!) I should note that mine is a down and dirty summary of the business; Kristine Kathryn Rusch (and her friend, Lee Allred) go into more detail discussing traditional publishing -vs- indie publishing, and Tracy Marchini gives even more to chew over. But, you know, if what you're doing ain't workin' for ya, ya gotta try something else, dontcha?

A friend suggested I put samples of my writing up on the blog, by way of providing teasers/appetizers for any interested parties, so I may do some scribbling towards that end. Please do check back—and wish me luck!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Kid

Given that I'm still in a sort of introductory phase with this blog I thought I'd take a few moments to tell you about my kid. Let's call him Balthazar. Why? Well, he chose Balthazar for his Confirmation name ("Because it's *sick*, Mom!") and he used it only the one day, so it's still got that new-car-smell, as it were.

Plus, there are a number of interesting connotations to the name, both good and bad. Traditionally (though not Biblically), one of the three wise men/kings who trekked way out west to give props to the Baby Jesus was a Balthazar (which rendered the name acceptable for The Kid's Confirmation). On the dark side (my favorite side, of course), the name Balthazar has been applied to several miscreants, among them an angel with conflicted loyalties in the TV series Supernatural, and a half-demon seeking to overthrow Satan for a bigger share in bad-guy glory in the film Constantine.

So that's The Kid in a nutshell, really: he's a wiseguy and an unholy terror. OK, that last bit may be a slight exaggeration, but here's an example of the smart-assery he throws my way on a daily basis:

One year, when The Kid played football, he posted as his Facebook status some encouragement to his JV team, as they had a game the next day. That night, he pored over photocopies of plays he was supposed to memorize and finally threw them on the coffee table in frustration.

Me: What's the matter?

The Kid: I'll NEVER memorize all of these.

Me: Well, you won't if you don't go over them. (I watched him not go over his plays for a couple of minutes.) Hey, explain that play to me.

The Kid (rolling his eyes): You'll never understand it, Mom.

Me (gritting my teeth and reminding myself that love is patient and kind and, almost certainly, not murderous): Try me. (I pretended to pay attention as he pointed at Xs and Os and lines and so forth. I interrupted him as he pointed to a prominently featured "O.") What's that, there?

The Kid (in that teenage sage-smug tone): That's the quarterback, Mom.

Me: What's his name?

The Kid (dopey grin lighting his face): "Circle."

True story, folks.

There are other truths I can share about The Kid: he pursues his goals full-throttle, regardless of any obstacles he may encounter along the way. He's smart, creative, witty, fearless, compassionate, discerning, principled, and charismatic. He's a story-teller, a comedian, a guitarist, a lover of art, heavy-metal, and teh kittehs. He's my pride and joy, my inspiration (and exasperation!), my hero and my hope.

And forever, he's my baby.

Monday, November 14, 2011

OMG, Now what???*, I created this bloggy-blog in an effort to build an author's platform because I've got: one complete romance novel, one novel I need to romancify a bit more (really, I need to completely revise it to show the romance between the protagonist and her main squeeze), a coupla short stories, and a coupla projects on the back-burner - all of which, I fervently hope, will achieve a respectable measure of commercial success. (Or a disreputable measure of commercial success - I got a kid to put through college next year, I can't be choosy.) (It hurts my brain that I'm old enough to have a kid to put through college.) (Luckily, there's wine.)

Starting this blog freaked me out a bit, and knowing I have to maintain it ravages any remaining peace of mind because:

...OMG, what to write about?...
...OMG, when do I have time to write this thing??
...OMG, who the hell's gonna read this???

As to content, I reckon I'll write about quirky life stuff, my quirky kid (aka, The Kid), and my quirky experiences as a single mom who works full time and writes...well, who sometimes writes (I suppose I wouldn't have stuff burning on the back of the stove if I wrote more regular-like). I believe I'll figure it all out as I go along, but I've learned one definite rule of thumb: I can't wait to find time for important things, I have to make it.

With regard to the "who" aspect - I thank you, Dear Readers, for popping by to check my stuff out. Your interest and support mean a lot to me. Please keep checking back and, if you have any suggestions for content, I'd love to know about 'em!

*I realize this isn't a very exciting blog, so I peppered the text with links to random sexiness. See if you can find all 8. NB: My idea of sexy's a bit twisted, so be warned.  ;-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blog, the First



I first became aware of mortality, generally, and of my own in particular, when I was about five. I was in kindergarten at a Catholic school and, as my classmates speculated about that spring's Easter Bunny haul, I was haunted by the "Davey and Goliath" Easter special, in which Davey's grandmother dies, which I seem to recall thinking was pretty messed up. (GAH, just watching this clip tied my stomach in knots.)

Anyway, my mind's traveled a gloomy trajectory ever since, though I prefer my doom with a liberal dose of L.O.L. (I adore "Shaun of the Dead"). Also, I prefer supernatural monsters to psycho-killers (though the Talking Heads tune is groovalicious), 'cause they're, like, totally not real. Probably. Anyway, as time goes by and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune perforate my poor, tortured psyche, I find I gravitate even more closely toward that which is...well, dark.


I gravitated toward books at an early age too - possibly, my first literary obsession was the Nancy Drew series. Sure, I enjoyed a good, neatly resolved mystery, and how could I fail to love that it was the chicks who figured everything out??? But, being completely honest, the thing that absolutely drove me to read more, more, MORE was the hope that something...special would happen between Nancy and her boyfriend Ned. I wanted their love to blossom. At the tender age of 9 or 10, my sweet, school-uniformed, unquestioning-obedience-to-authority, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth self wanted Nancy and Ned to...put on some Marvin Gaye. (I had no idea what this meant back then, and yet somehow, I kinda did.) And beneath what I sensed was a physical event I believed should lie a grand, passionate, everlasting love...and since Nancy had it all, I wanted it for myself, with one whose heart could match the nobility of my own.

So, as dark and somewhat twisted as I am, the romantic in me allows hope to dance her dangerous way through my heart...which brings me here to pollute the world with my nonsense, 'cause, you know, all the other kids are doing it.