Announcements, and some links

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am so, so grateful for all of you, you don’t even know.

I have a small announcement to make that I know some of you will find disappointing. The release date for my e-book, A Lily Among Thorns, has been moved to March 2011. I don’t know yet when it will be released as a trade paperback–the schedule is still in flux, I think–but my best guess is sometime next fall.

All of this reshuffling is so that Dorchester can do the absolute best job possible with all the releases they have coming up, so please be patient!

I have put the first chapter of Lily up on my site for those of you who are curious, but if four months is too long for you to be in suspense, don’t read it yet!

And now for a few fun links:

A hilarious series of Kate Beaton comics on Dracula and vampirism as Bram Stoker’s metaphor for sexually empowered women.
Kate Beaton onJavert from Les Mis.
Via Susanna Fraser’s blog, a great blog post on learning about critique from Tim Gunn. As Susanna points out, the tips apply to writing as well as fashion design.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

New contest!

I just put up a new contest on the website! I’m giving away a signed copy of Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin.

This is a hot item, you guys! The story won the 2009 Golden Heart, and when I was sitting next to Jeannie at the Emerald City Writers’ Conference Book Fair last month, she sold out of books in the first couple of hours. (Luckily, I had already been hooked by the first chapter, which she was giving out, and I grabbed myself a couple of books during set-up.)

I really loved this book. Ai Li, the sword-wielding heroine, is fantastic and brave, and her commitment to her family and country seemed in such strong conflict with her love for “barbarian” Ryam that I just couldn’t see how the Happily Ever After would come about, right up until the last minute. All the minor characters were fabulous, especially Ai Li’s youngest brother and her evil betrothed–I hope they get their own books.

Plus, it’s always nice to see a historical with a non-European/US setting, and Jeannie Lin did a wonderful job of creating a richly detailed and culturally distinct world that came across very clearly even to a reader (such as myself) who’s pretty unfamiliar with Tang Dynasty China.

You can enter the contest here.

Unrealistic expectations

Today I was chatting with a woman I know, and she pulled out that old chestnut about romance novels giving women unrealistic expectations in their relationships. It kind of came out of left field, and I was too taken aback to be very convincing in the ensuing discussion. But of course NOW the responses are flying fast and thick in my mind.

The core of the argument, of course, is that I believe most women can be trusted to tell fantasy from reality, and if a few can’t, that’s not the fault of romance novels. But that’s not quite snappy enough! Right now, my favorite comeback is, “If a woman starts to expect that she can have a great relationship with someone she has wonderful chemistry with, who respects her and treats her well, I don’t see what’s so bad about that.”

Prince Charming kissing Cinderella's hand
For $1,000,000,000: Is this (a) reality, (b) fantasy, (c) back when Disney animation was still really awesome, or (d) a weird use of panniers on that gown? Anyone need to use a lifeline?

What’s your response to the “unrealistic expectations” comment?

You know I can tie anything back to Star Trek

Hi all! So…that wrist injury turned out to be a bit worse than I thought, and I’ve been working on a new book proposal, and what with one thing and another I’ve been AWOL from this here blog for a while, haven’t I? Pretty soon I’ll do an update post with links and book news and all that, but right now there’s something I want to talk to you about, and that’s beta heroes.

I love beta heroes. I love alpha heroes too, of course, but beta heroes have a special place in my heart. And two things today really brought home to me why (or part of why, anyway–there are so many reasons!).

1. I am reading Meredith Duran’s Wicked Becomes You. I am about halfway through and I love it, as I have loved all her previous books. I got to the part where the hero tells the heroine, “In this world, there is nothing more wicked than a woman who is unafraid to acknowledge what she wants.” And unexpectedly I found myself tearing up at the power of that statement, of that whole scene.

2. I read this blog post by a woman whose five-year-old son dressed up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween and got shamed by other mothers at school. She writes, “I hate[…]that my baby has to be so brave if he wants to be Daphne for Halloween.”

It’s that word, “brave.” Because men are supposed to be strong, right? Men are supposed to be confident. Men are supposed to acknowledge what they want all over the place. But the thing is, they are only supposed to want certain things. And a guy saying that he wants to let a woman take charge, or stay in middle management for the rest of his life, or avoid a fight–that guy immediately gets hit with a whole lot of shame. Girls have a hard time if they’re too alpha (it’s usually called “bossy” for them, of course), and guys have a hard time if they’re too beta.

But “alpha” doesn’t mean “strong.” It means “dominant.” Those are different things. Sure, being good at being dominant is a form of strength (and it’s hot!) but being good at anything is a form of strength. “Beta” doesn’t mean “weak,” either. It just means not needing or wanting to be in charge. It’s a different personality type, that’s all.

"I have no wish for your command, Captain."

But a lot of people forget that. So for a hero to openly be beta is actually really, really brave. For a guy to to defy expectations, to be willing to be seen as weak or vulnerable, to be himself and to be unafraid to say what he wants from life, takes a heck of a lot of courage and strength. And yeah, that’s hot.