Death of Civil Discourse

I should write a disclaimer beforehand since this is about a controversial subject. My post has nothing to do with race or religion and I feel that racism is indeed an evil that still prevails and, unfortunately, probably always will to some extent. I also want to point out that I am Lilly white (more of a pasty beige), an immigrant (who has been a US citizen now for a long time) for whom English is a second language (as attested by my misuse of prepositions) and also what people love to call a bleeding heart (I believe in being charitable even with those who probably don’t deserve it and that people can and do change as they get older). Now that is out of the way, let’s talk about the death of tolerance, civil discourse, and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Oh yeah, and also the lack of understanding that words can and do hurt a lot and can indeed destroy lives and relationships.

These past years, besides the mess brought on by politics, has seen a surge of intolerance that bothers me to no end. I am old. I still remember when I was trying to figure out what career to follow and had very few options open to me as a woman. I was sexually harassed and even assaulted many times (not raped thankfully) from the age of thirteen until I left my country as an adult. I was in South Africa during the apartheid. I lived in what was then Zaire and witnessed all kinds of injustices committed by humans against fellow humans of every color, shape or form. When I first moved to the US I was shocked by the almost palpable racial bigotry in the area where I lived back then. But things have changed, they have evolved and, for the most part, gotten a lot better. Are we where we should be yet? Not really, but there has been a lot of progress in the right direction.

Suddenly though we seem to have taken a few steps backwards. Under the guise of being inclusive we, as a society, have began excluding people for all kinds of reasons. I don’t like your ideas so I’m going to call you a few names and unfriend you. Oh wait, I’ll go further and will tweet about how horrible you are because you have different ideas from me. But, hold on, I’ll do even better; I will damage your career and life because I think you are a despicable person who supports a politician I hate and/or because you said or did something twenty years ago that could be construed as racist or biased nowadays.

 

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Come on, people, we are better than this. We are all humans and, as such, imperfect. We all make mistakes and even those of us who think have no prejudices, I have news for you; you do. We all do. You can’t escape it, we learn it unconsciously from those around us or from events in our lives that shaped the way we think. The old proverb, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, is good advice for all of us because let’s face it, we all live in glass houses. Jesus had the same idea when he said, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

I have witnessed friends and family members cutting themselves off each other’s lives because of different opinions about some issues. I’m not going to lie; I disagree with many things friends and relatives think or do, sometimes enough to make me angry. However, I can’t forget that these are good people, imperfect but basically good. I’ll give you an example that made me very angry at the time. Not angry enough to cut myself off completely from my friend, but enough to put a bit of space between us for a while. My son is gay and this friend of mine, who is a wonderful, loving woman, posted somethings inspired by the teachings in her church that labeled my son and all other queers as sinners who needed to repent and change their ways. I was angry, I was disappointed in her because I respect her and I know she has a heart of gold and is always willing to do whatever it takes to help those in need. So I gave ourselves a little space. No words of anger, no unfriending. After some time, anger faded to a manageable level and I’m so glad I can still call her my friend. I know we will never agree on some things, but that doesn’t make her or me a bad person.

Obviously there are extreme cases. I’m not talking about people who post nothing but hate and indiscriminate bigotry or who incite violence. I decided to write this post because of the upheaval going on right now in the romance world. I don’t have all the facts and I am probably too ignorant of certain legalities to be able to judge things clearly but I can’t help but notice that most parties involved in this mess have let their anger (justified or not) tint their words and actions. In today’s world, words stick around forever thanks to social media (which I love and hate in equal parts) where people seem to think they can say whatever they want with impunity, forgetting all along that they are often hurting others.

I will end my ramblings here. Take this for what it is, a vent from someone who is so tired of the fights and strife brought on by differences of opinions, different perspectives, looking at things so closely and through tinted lenses that you are almost certain to find fault in everything.

Can we hit the pause button for a while and spend some time admiring the world around us, this magical planet we live in and the amazing and diverse creatures that populate it? Can we just agree to disagree on a few things? I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t stand up for your beliefs, I’m just saying let’s do it in a civil, empathetic, courteous way. Anger and meanness does nothing but create more anger.

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Pure Dumb Luck-Review

Pure Dumb LuckPure Dumb Luck by Dahlia Donovan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As usual Donovan created two lovable (however clueless) main characters that you can’t help but love to pieces. The writing is flawless and the whole story is imbued in the kind of humor I came to expect from this writer. I did cringe a little about these guys’ nutritional (or lack thereof) choices and worried about the future state of their health, lol.
I loved their relationship, how they helped each other face the world, and their suspiciously growing and one-track-minded to-do checklist. An easy, sexy, and funny read.

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It Ends With Us- Review

It Ends with UsIt Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***possible spoiler ahead***
Excellent story, great writing, lots of heart. I’m not sure when I will read another one of Colleen’s books because it took so much of me emotionally to read this one. I loved that it’s written from a side of abuse no one seems to see. The victim is always thought of as weak when in fact it’s really not that simple. And the abuser is not always a monster. I hated that I fell in love with Ryle, and just like Lily I couldn’t get myself to hate him. Not completely. This ambivalent side of domestic abuse was masterfully dealt with by Colleen Hoover by placing the reader in a similar emotional position when it came to Ryle’s and Lily’s relationship. And thank you Ms. Hoover for giving me a happy ending. I would have been destroyed if that wasn’t the case.

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Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic-Review

Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic (The Dowser #3)Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series is so much fun. I already have the next one on cue. Love the cast of characters with their less than perfect and often hilarious relationships and the emotional turmoil that Jade carries inside of her over her evil sister who she still loves. I loved pretty much everything about this book but I must say that the addition of the teenage dragon just cracked me up. Great book.

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A Court of Wings and Ruin- Review

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How come there aren’t more than five stars to rate a book???? I don’t have words to express how much I loved this book. Anyone who makes me cry and cuss out the author in my car while parked before going to work is an extraordinary writer. And Sarah Maas did just that. I was so brokenhearted that morning after reading one of the last and most emotional chapters, that I was in a bad mood all day. Love, love, love. Enough said.

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Being True To Yourself as a Romance Writer

I just recently read a blog that made me reevaluate my writing or at least the way I look at it. Writing from a place of fear versus from a place of love by Chuck Wendig really hit a nerve with me. Like most writers I thrive on self-doubt and am never sure whether I’m writing the right thing; the thing that readers want, what the readers will devour and beg for more, ultimately the one thing that will sell my books.

I have been tempted to write what seems to sell. As a romance writer I am plenty aware of what romance readers in general are reading, the things that make them tick. But as much as I have wanted to write those books, I couldn’t. They were not me. So cue in another wave of self-loathing; why can’t I be more like others, why am I so weird and different from everybody else? Enter days and days of agonizing over a manuscript; is my publisher going to want it? Will it sell? Will reviewers even be interested in reviewing it?writing

I was recently at a book signing event and decided to attend one of the panels they were offering. As quickly as I went in, I turned around and left, not so much horrified and depressed by what was being discussed but by the fact that if that was what the readers wanted, I would never be able to give it to them. No judgement on the authors of such books but they are not me. I can’t write kinky stuff, just can’t. I love writing about everyday Joes who take great pleasure in making love to their mates in simple ways, men and women who don’t need the aid of tools or pain (or the suggestion of such) to reach an orgasm, couples who won’t allow a third wheel in their sexual life and don’t need to be dominated, women who are not sex goddesses who may in fact even be a little shy about it… in short, people who are so in love with each other that they don’t need anything else to turn them on, keep them on, and reach that apex of pleasure most of us look for.

The reverse of the medal is what it’s usually called clean or sweet romance where sex is either only implied or not mentioned at all. I can’t write these either because I enjoy reading about the characters being intimate and loving, their physical reaction to the love they have for each other. So I like to write spicy scenes. My kind of spice, the kind I keep thinking is not what today’s romance reader want.

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And so the cycle of self-doubt goes on, possibly to never stop. But for now I will stick to what feels right to me at the risk of never selling enough books to keep me fed. I will keep writing from a place of love.

Have you ever been tempted or have in fact written from a place of fear? How did it make you feel?

White Hot Kiss – Review

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1)White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read one of Armentrout’s books for a long time and I finally got to it. I’m so glad I did. What a great story. It has everything I love in fiction: drama, humor, fantasy, and romance. I am truly sorry for Layla and I have no idea how she is going to decide between the two swoon-worthy men in her life (because it’s not hard enough being a half-demon, right?), bad-boy Roth or wholesomely hot Zayne. But I already ordered the second book. With books this good is it any wonder that there are so many of us, mature women, reading and loving YA? Thank you, Ms. Armentrout for a great read.

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A Court Of Mist And Fury-Review

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maas ripped my heart apart before she put it back together only to tear it to pieces again. This book is a wild, heart-wrenching ride that often left me breathless. There are no words to describe it. It is pure intense heartbreaking and soul satisfying magic. Don’t miss it.

Note: Not for young adults. I wouldn’t let a teenager younger than 18 read this.

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Twenty Things the Craft of Writing Has Taught Me

 

My pub sister, Amy K Mcclung recently posted this in her Facebook page and, since I agree with pretty much everything she says, I asked her if I could post it here. What do you think? Is there anything else you’d add to the list?

Twenty Things the Craft of Writing Has Taught Me

by Amy K Mcclung

  1. A good editor is worth everything
  2. Don’t read reviews!
  3. If you do read reviews, learn from them…don’t cry
  4. Write what you love, not what’s the big seller at the moment 
  5. Other Authors can be a great support system, 
  6. There are some authors who will only look out for themselves (true in all aspects of life)
  7. Write what you know or do your research heavily on what you don’t. 
  8. Show, don’t tell. 
  9. When I tell people “I write romance” and they respond with a judgmental, “Oh”, remember there are so many people who love the genre, and who love my books 
  10. Blurbs are hard 
  11. Rejection is part of writing sometimes. Take it and move forward. 
  12. I’m not crazy, the voices in my head are characters 😋
  13. Don’t force a story. It will all fall together when the time is right 
  14. Avoid drama – especially on Goodreads 
  15. Be proud of my books, I wrote an entire novel…that’s not something everyone can do. 
  16. If one person reads/loves my book(s) I’m a success.
  17.  I don’t need a Best Seller tag to prove my worth as a writer 
  18.  Blurbs are hard (yep I said it twice)
  19.  People will judge a book by its cover 
  20.  Family will support you even if they don’t read your books. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. 

Idea Girl

Manhattan Cinderella-Review

Manhattan Cinderella: A romantic comedy (Fairy Tales in New York Book 1)Manhattan Cinderella: A romantic comedy by Kate O’Keeffe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun read, just what I needed. I love fairy tale retellings and this one was no exception. I started reading it right after coming back from a trip to NYC so the author’s descriptions of the area rang true and took me right back there. Gabby and Cole are great and their romance is sweet and sexy as much as believable. Loved it.

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