Thursday, April 26, 2007

A link, a lil' bidness, and much chair-dancing.

PBW has a list of reasons why those of us "Left Behinds" should be rejoicing. It's both giggle-worthy and...sadly...on-the-nose accurate.

So. A couple things.

In the next week or so, my website at will disappear briefly and then reappear with an "Under Construction" banner as it is re-designed by the lovely and brilliant Frauke at CrocoDesigns. This means my regular email (selah @ will be inactive for a while. I'll be reachable at selahmarch @ (minus the spaces) for the duration.

Also, today author/reviewer Annie Dean posted a review of DIRTY SHAME at It's Not Chick Porn.

*coughs modestly*

*grins like an idiot*

*does geeky Chair Dance of Joy* - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wow. Really?

Okay, how the @&$# can I be this...

You Are 36% Girly

You are a pretty hardcore tomboy, and a very free spirit.
Gender roles be damned, you like to do things your way.
How Girly Are You?

...and this...

You Are Miss Piggy

A total princess and diva, you're totally in charge - even if people don't know it.
You want to be loved, adored, and worshiped. And you won't settle for anything less.
You're going to be a total star, and you won't let any of the "little people" get in your way.
Just remember, piggy, never eat more than you can lift! the same #*%@!^&% time? I'm askin'. - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Let Me Count The Ways

Eva's husband loooooooves her. Seriously. Read this post and find out how much.

In comparison, MY husband thinks I'm mighty cute, and might consider taking me to a movie sometime if something better doesn't come along soon. (I threw up the length and breadth of two entire pregnancies, and never ONCE did he offer to clean the toilet for me. Mostly, he rolled his eyes and said, "Again? Seriously?")

However, he buys my feminine hygiene products without complaint, and actually SAYS "I love you," frequently and without flinching.

Eva's post sent me over to Romance By The Blog, looking for Bob Mayer (of the Bob&JennyShow) to discover what he has to offer about heroes who don't come right out and say "I love you" by the end of the book...only to discover that Bob surrendered his balls (and those of his heroes) to a a carnivorous crowd at an RWA meeting some time back. And that's just as it should be, of course. :p

But it doesn't change the fact that MY heroes don't tend to be the "I love you" type. Is this a problem?

My mama always said "actions speak louder than words." Of course what she meant was, "don't TELL me you're going to clean your room/unload the dishwasher/do better at not being the school tramp, DO it." So that may not actually apply here.

Let's see, how many of my heroes actually step up and profess undying adoration by the end of my stories and novellas? (These are listed in order of publication, btw.)

MOONDANCE - Nope. But by the end of this short story the couple in question has only known each other a few hours. I'm going to give Johnny a pass on this one.
HER BLACK LITTLE HEART - By the end of the book, the hero and heroine are planning to blow that pop-stand and run away together to Italy. But since they've only known each other a day, no "I love you."
LIE TO ME - Nada. Drew's just not the "I love you" type, and I think MaryJane would smack him silly if she thought he was anything less than sincere. So this still works for me.
TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT - Nyet. At one point, the vampire hero WANTS to tell the human heroine he loves her, but she won't even look at him. The silly bint. But the THOUGHT is there.
DARK OF THE DAY - This one's tricky. Nobody says "I love you," but they talk about love a lot. And that's all I can say without giving away key twists in the story. (It's short, it's free, go read it already.)
DIRTY SHAME - Well...Dare says "I think I love you" near the end, right after he saves the heroine's life. Does that count?
SKIN DEEP - Yahtzee! Noah says "I love you, too" after Erin says it first. This counts. Yes, yes it DOES, dammit.
FLESH AND BONE - (soon to be released, Watch This Space!) No. Attractive, appealing couple? Check. Hair-raising external conflict? Check. Painful, angst-inducing internal conflict? Check. Happy ending, with aforementioned couple planning long-term relationship? Double-check. But no "I love yous." They haven't known each other long enough.
HARDCORE - (work in progress) I don't know yet. I suspect one of my two heroes is an "I love you" kinda guy (this is my first M/M romance) but I can't be sure 'til I get to the end of the story.

Wow. Apparently, I SUCK at romantic heroes. Who knew? I thought doggedly pursuing the heroine over, under and around all manner of obstacles, plus abandoning one's plans of vengeance (SKIN DEEP)/plans for a new life (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT)/carefully built career (LIE TO ME and HER BLACK LITTLE HEART) and putting one's life at risk to save hers (MOONDANCE, LIE TO ME, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT and DIRTY SHAME) would be enough of a declaration, actions speaking louder than words and all.

Do I need to work on this? Do I need to force my heroes to say things I know are out of character or wrong for the circumstances of the story? Some guys just don't do "I love you." Others do, but not after they've known the heroine a day or a week or a month.

I suspect that my heroes' "I love yous" will fly fast and furious once I make the leap from novellas to full-length novels, but I can't make any promises.

My heart tells me to write my characters as they develop, and not force this issue. I will think on it some more. In the meantime, I need to call my husband and remind him to stop at the pharmacy on the way home. - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This is why SHE's Jenny Crusie and the rest of us...aren't.

I am sadly susceptible to hero-worship. I admit it. I have personal heroes and heroines for every aspect of my life. In the specific instance of Romance (note capital 'R'), I have several. Three of them happen to be mega-selling authors, but that's not why I idolize them.

Lynn Viehl, otherwise known as She Who Takes Crap From No One and Refuses To Play the Game.

Nora Roberts, known to everyone as The Queen.
Jenny Crusie, aka She Who Sees Through the Bullshit and Tells It Like It Is.

The above trio have one thing in common aside from their bestseller status: the courage of their convictions. I don't love everything they've ever written, and I don't necessarily agree with everything they say, but I BELIEVE them when they say it. I know they have no ulterior motives in stating their opinions. And even when I don't agree, I see the sense in their arguments.

Jenny Crusie has something to say about rape in romance in the wake of the CLAIMING THE COURTESAN (Anna Campbell) debate. You can read it here. In this particular instance I agree with every syllable, and hope some day to be half as articulate in stating my views. Jenny's post is somewhat lengthy, but in a nutshell, this is what she has to say about rape in romance:

"I don’t like that stuff, but that doesn’t mean that my personal squick meter gets to define romance."

Wow. Concept.

She goes on to make points about the condescending stance that rape doesn't belong in romance because it could influence readers into believing that rape is romantic, and how this attitude assumes readers are stupid, can't make choices for themselves, and don't know the difference between what they read in a book and what happens in their own lives.

"How dumb do these people think romance readers are? This is a cousin to that old paternalistic argument that romances are bad for women because they can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. What disturbs me is that so many romance writers are making it in the name of feminism. It’s not; it’s anti-feminist in that it assumes a childlike reader who absorbs whatever we put in front of her."

She then goes on to point out the "rape" and "attempted rape" romances that have sold and sold WELL throughout the years, including...hold onto your hat, Aunt Hilda...Georgette Heyer's THE DEVIL'S CUB. (Who knew? I didn't, but you can bet I'll be swinging by Amazon to order a copy. While I'm there, I do believe I'll pick up CLAIMING THE COURTESAN and see how they compare.)

Jenny closes by saying the market always wins. If you write it well enough, if you sell it to the reader with excellent prose, amazing characterization and a fascinating plot, your book will sell. Which...hello? Free enterprise. The cornerstone of the American economy.

Almost every reviewer -- even those who hate the premise -- say CTC is very well written. Which would be at least part of why Avon bought it, and part of why people are talking about it. If it was dreck, it would've died a quick death and be already gone from our blogs, boards and minds.

To sum up Jenny's point, writers should write what they want. Publishers should buy and sell what they think will make them money. And the readers get to decide. Not the "rules" crowd. Not the "but that's just doesn't seem romantic to me" crowd. But ALL the readers.

In a previous discussion, someone asked me if I didn't think the reason the genre is shrinking is because too many authors are breaking the "rules" and disappointing readers. No, I don't believe that. I've heard too many readers say "I'm bored with romance, it's all the same-old same-old, and if I have to read one more book with the uber-Alpha male and the Big Misunderstanding, I swear, I'll puke."

In my opinion, the genre is shrinking because we're not taking ENOUGH chances. Because no matter how unusual you make your alien hero, or how feisty and kick-ass you make your heroine, or how hot you write their sex scenes, if your story is stifled by someone telling you "you can't do that different/controversial/ old-fashioned/new-fashioned thing, it's not ROMANTIC," then it's going to end up pretty much within the same template as every other book out there. What a good way to kill the genre, folks. Let's bore the readership to death.

Said it before, have to say it again: the only rule of romance is a love story with a happy ending. Everything else is fashion and trend. It's all been done -- well and poorly -- and it's all sold -- well and poorly. The playing field is wide open. If you write it WELL, they will come.

As I understand Anna Campbell is discovering even as we speak. ;) - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Friday, April 13, 2007

Just a song before I go...

No, I'm not really going anywhere, unless you count taking my daughter to gymnastics practice. Sorry to get your hopes up. :p

So Eva's posted about what music she listens to while she writes. Specific songs for specific stories, that kind of thing. My other crit partner, Barb, is also big into the whole soundtrack thing, and she's the one who got me making play-lists for everything I write. I don't so much listen WHILE I'm writing, just because my muse is a "low talker" and I have to listen closely, with no distractions, to hear what she's saying. But while I wash dishes? Fold laundry? Shower? Drive? Oh yeah.

Anyway. A list, beginning with my most recent release and working backward:

SKIN DEEP: Lot’s o’ conflict in this mix, but with a “shmoopy” finish. Just like the novella, pretty much.
You're Beautiful - James Blunt
Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover - Sophie B. Hawkins
Skin Deep - Melissa Etheridge
Cryin' - Aerosmith
You're Not Drinkin' Enough - Don Henley
Angel Eyes - Jeff Healey Band

DIRTY SHAME: This mix is VERY heavy on the sweet and shmoop. Seriously. Diabetics, beware.
Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Can’t Find My Way Home - Blind Faith
When I’m Gone - 3 Doors Down
Strange Way To Tell Me You Love Me - Firefall
From Me To You - Janis Ian
In the Arms of the Angel - Sarah McLachlan
Taking You Home - Don Henley

DARK OF THE DAY (offered on my website as a free story, part of the 2006 PBW Ebook Challenge) This mix never fails to make me cry.
Scarborough Fair - Simon and Garfunkel
Tea and Sympathy - Janis Ian
Songbird - Fleetwood Mac
Sand and Water - Beth Neilson Chapman
Crystal - Fleetwood Mac

LIE TO ME: Very “working class” mix, heavy on the Meatloaf for obvious reasons if you’ve read the novella.
Bat Out of Hell - Meatloaf
Brilliant Disguise - Bruce Springsteen
Dirty Man - Joss Stone
Lie To Me - Bon Jovi
Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing - Chris Isaak
Paradise By The Dashboard Light - Meatloaf
Last Dance With MaryJane - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Heaven Can Wait - Meatloaf

Everybody Knows - Concrete Blonde
Is This Real? - Lisa Hall
Knight Moves - Suzanne Vega
One Headlight - The Wallflowers
I Need You - Joan Armatrading
Midnight - Yaz
Don’t Fear The Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

The soundtrack to the A&E version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

This story is almost as much about the music as it is about anything else, and anyone who's interested can find a complete list of the music referenced in the story here.

Coming soon and works-in-progress:

FLESH AND BONE: (part of Phaze’s upcoming FORTUNE’S FOOL anthology, due out later in the spring) This mix is dark, spooky, and heavy on The Eagles, oddly enough.
Hotel California - The Eagles
Mea Culpa - Enigma
Intuition - Jewel
Witchy Woman - The Eagles
Imaginary Lover - Atlanta Rhythm Section
Rooms on Fire - Stevie Nicks
Year of the Cat - Al Stewart

HARDCORE: (part of Phaze Fantasies III, and my first M/M romance) This one’s an odd mix, and a work-in-progress itself. It’s change several times, and may change again as I work the rough spots out of the story.
Dream On - Aerosmith
Just Like Jesse James - Cher (Yes, I know, DON’T JUDGE ME. It works for the story, all right??)
Victim of Love - The Eagles
Figured You Out - Nickelback
My Lover - Melissa Etheridge
Save Tonight - Eagle-Eye Cherry
This Night - Black Lab
You Can Sleep While I Drive - Melissa Etheridge

Wow, that was a lot of work to type up, and now I have very little time leftover for writing today. Blame Eva. :p - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Second Verse, Same as the First, plus an excerpt.

First, the excerpt. Warning: mildly controversial content, bordering on edgy, with a healthy side of "you filthy rule-breaker, you."

* * *

From Chapter 3 of SKIN DEEP:

"What the hell, Noah? Are you drunk?" But she already knew the answer to that. He didn't smell of beer or wine or whiskey. The scent rising from him was muted, but she couldn't mistake it from this proximity. She'd experienced it before, rising from the bodies of men thrown down over the hoods of police cruisers, their hands cuffed behind their backs. He smelled like desperation.

He tangled his hands in her hair, pulled her head back and went for her throat, fastening his lips and teeth on her collarbone. The same spot on which he'd left a mark just a month before. There were traces of it still, purple and brown, but she'd quit covering it with makeup, thinking it was faded enough to escape notice. Now it would be dark again. Part of her...the stubborn part that wouldn't listen to reason...the part that had nearly got her killed by a seventh grader...was nothing but glad.

She struggled at first. Because that's what a woman's supposed to do in a situation like this. Fight off her attacker, or at least make a good show of it. Except he was coiling like a snake around her, his endless leg hooking behind both of hers to pull her tight against him, and his arms wrapping around her like he meant to crack her ribs. No space to breathe or move. No space for anything but giving in. Why did that feel so good when it shouldn't? When she should hate him for overpowering her?

The first kiss felt like a bare-knuckled brawl in her mouth. She let him have her anger then, and all her frustration. Bit his lip, hard. Tasted copper and liked it. So did he, if the way he snarled was any indication.

Then they were on the cold tile floor. The only sign he wasn't completely out of his mind was the way he lowered her. Not gently, but carefully. Mindfully, politely. Like the bank robber who wishes the teller a nice day.

He humped her good leg as he tore off her T-shirt, ripping it at the neck. Her sweats were gone next, leaving her in nothing but a pair of wool socks. Jesus, those tiles were like ice against her bare ass. Then his tongue was back in her mouth, tasting sour with whatever emotion fired him. Distracting her from whatever he was doing...which was opening and pushing down his jeans because there he was, hot and heavy against her thigh. His fingers fumbled at her nipple, too rough for pleasure, though he was clearly trying to make her want this. And God help her, she did.

* * *

In other news, the debate rages on over what should and shouldn't be included in a romance. Check here for Jenny Crusie's opinion, here for Lynn Viehl's, and here for further discussion.

I grow weary. There will always be those in the world who will want to control how people express themselves, through labels and veiled insults and assumptions not based on evidence and threats of abysmal failure for those who refuse to adhere to the "rules." I think that's how an artist or a crafts-person knows he or she is breaking boundaries and challenging preconceptions and actually doing something of value. When all the right people are pissed off? SCORE!

But I maintain that the story is what counts. I've never broken rules for the joy of hearing them shatter. I only do it -- when I do it -- if it serves the story. And, as I've said elsewhere ad infinitum, the marketplace will decide. - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Monday, April 09, 2007

Look! Shiny!

Erin Mulally needs more drama in her life like she needs another gunshot wound. An ex-cop with a painful past, Erin has returned to her hometown to recuperate from the loss of her career. When she meets Noah Hollis, she knows she’s in trouble, because Noah? Is way too young, way too attractive, and way...way too dating her sister.

Add to that the secrets Noah’s been keeping that involve a dead ex-girlfriend and a gun in the closet, and Erin knows she should stay far away. But sometimes what a girl knows and what a girl does are two very different things...

SKIN DEEP by Selah March, available NOW as part of the "Taboo" AmberPax collection from the AmberHeat imprint of Amber Quill Press. - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Channeling Mel

It isn't much that would make me channel Mr. Mel "Notorious Anti-Semitic, Sexist and Homophobe" Gibson. But one of my crit partners is having fits over a particular plot point in her soon-to-be-released novella. It seems some folks -- additional beta readers, and this is what she gets for showing her work to OTHER people instead of relying SOLELY on my ever-so-sage and insightful advice (that's a joke, by the can tell by the heavy use of sarcasm) --

ANYWAY, it seems that some folks are having difficulty with her hero's behavior. He sleeps with another woman during the course of the story, you see. A woman who is NOT the heroine. The shame...the scandal...the INFAMY...

Of course, he's only just MET the heroine. Doesn't yet know she's meant to be the love of his life. We're not talking love at first sight here, by any stretch of the imagination. I dunno, maybe it's me, but it does seem a tad unreasonable to suggest a man refrain from sex with his long-time mistress on the grounds that he's met some random woman he finds vaguely attractive, if slightly annoying.

And as far as I'm concerned, the only thing a romance HAS to have is the happily-ever-after, just like the only thing a mystery HAS to have is the "whodunnit" and the solution at the end, the only thing science fiction HAS to have is fictional science, and the only thing fantasy HAS to have is some non-reality-based element that can be described as "fantastical." Genre conventions are important, but not to the point where it limits our creativity. Where's the unpredictablity? Where's the opportunity for the reader to say, "Wow! I didn't see THAT coming! I wonder how the author's going to save this relationship/character/plotline?"

I've heard people say, "But this is a HUGE no-no, and the editors won't buy it."

Really? Back in the days of the bodice-rippers -- say, fifteen to thirty years ago -- heroes slept with women who weren't the heroine all the time. These things are cyclical. To mix my metaphors in a shocking manner, the pendulum will swing again to more freedom in characterization and plot. Even the RWA -- one of the more conservative voices in the current romance landscape -- is only calling for a story about a romantic relationship with a "satisfying" ending.

And with Avon, a romance publisher with yet another decidedly conservative outlook, having recently released CLAIMING THE COURTESAN (Anna Campbell) which includes a scene that's been described everywhere as out-and-out rape of the heroine by the hero, I'm thinking that these rules we've written for ourselves as readers and writers are more flexible than we think. If people are buying CLAIMING THE COURTESAN -- and they are, and mostly having a "love it" or "hate it" reaction -- then certainly readers will buy the idea of a man having sex with his longtime mistress after having only just met the heroine. (Note: this is not an endorsement of returning to the bad old days of "rape in romance," wherein the only way a nice girl could enjoy a good poke was if the hero took her by force. It's merely an example of how things shift with the times within the genre.)

Please, I beg you. Be not afraid to take risks. What do we constantly hear editors asking for? Something new. Something different. Something challenging. Something they haven't seen before.

And here's where I channel ol' Mel, in what is perhaps his most iconic role, as William Wallace in BRAVEHEART....


(blue face-paint optional, other offers do not apply, your mileage may vary) - Romance of Dubious Virtue