About Writing

Romance Genre

I’m not entirely sure which genre Alice and the Warden properly belongs to. I call it Romance because the primary focus is on the relationship between the two main characters, but it’s very different from your stereotypical romance novel — it’s not based on any self-serving fantasies (*cough*50 Shades*cough*) that the ‘romance’ label usually connotes.

I also joke that if AatW were Women’s Fiction, Alice would immediately put her baby in daycare, go to college in pursuit of friendship and career, and desperately seek to regain her “lost” years — while Hackett was relegated to the background as a supportive cardboard cutout. Bonus: She’d call herself a good mother after constantly complaining how much time and energy babies take up.

Then there’s the Damon chapters…

(Yes, I am fully aware that I could never be a Hallmark movie writer.)

It’s always a bit awkward saying, “I write romance,” because people automatically think of books like Twilight — the whole, “Oh, you’re just writing shallow fantasies about rich men off the top of your head,” reaction. Personally, I see it as a very serious topic; one that I’ve applied years of research and real life experience into, because frankly, successfully writing marriage and love actually requires a deep understanding of psychology and relationships, and doing it wrong alienates readers.

And yes, writing romance even requires a philosophical stance, too. I portray “complementary” relationships, instead of the more popular “egalitarian” model.

So maybe it’s time to revamp the “romance” genre to include actual research, to reflect how real relationships work, instead of being purely the realm of self-serving sexual fantasies.

Goal number two: Write romance that appeals to men, lol.

About Writing

Realistic Fiction

I don’t normally write realistic fiction.

I was put off the genre back in my Creative Writing classes, when everyone assumed that my realistic stories were biographical, to the point where it caused some unwelcome drama. No, I did not base any characters off of you as some sort of passive-aggressive attack. Chill out.

Currently, Alice and the Warden is my only story that doesn’t contain fantastical elements, since my main reason for writing it is to indulge in over-the-top adorableness and romance. Throwing in things like magic, dragons, or aliens would detract from that. Aside from being set in a castle-prison in an ancient forest, everything could sort of actually happen maybe? Since it’s more realistic than, say, The Scion Suit, I have anxiety that others will think that it’s biographical.

Especially because a lot of authors really do base characters off of real people.

No, I have never met any women who ran off with degenerate boyfriends in their teens, then turned their lives around when they had a baby (and that never happened to me either). I could say that Alice is based off of attributes from a wide variety of people that I’ve met in my lifetime, but in my opinion, the most accurate way of describing it is that she sought me out on the spiritual level to tell her story.

Things writers don’t talk about because it makes them sound crazy, lol.

Truthfully though, I could never write anything too realistic. I like to take too many creative liberties. After all, castle-prisons are far more romantic than regular prisons.


Stranger Things 3

I adore the first season of Stranger Things.

I wasn’t looking forward to season 3. WAY too much time had passed since season 2, and I had stopped watching Netflix entirely ever since they killed member reviews (I like to have an idea of what I’m getting myself into, especially when the kids are around (which is almost always)). But, as my husband and I were browsing through the new releases on our Nintendo Switch, we saw that a game had been based on season 3, and we asked ourselves, ‘When was that supposed to come out anyway?’

Apparently, July 4th, so we slogged our way through it. ‘Slogged’ is really the best word, since season 3 was terrible.

The general overview is that the characters were turned into bland props, all of the quirky nerdiness that made the show so appealing in the first season was gone entirely, and there was a heck of a lot more cussing all around in lieu of intelligent dialogue. Instead of existential Lovecraftian horror, the main focus was on everyone breaking up with each other for the sake of relationship drama. Gag me.


My review, full of spoilers:

Continue reading “Stranger Things 3”

About Writing

The Chosen One

A trope that I see every now and then that drives me absolutely batty goes something like this:

Congratulations hero! You are the CHOSEN ONE! You have special powers that no one else does!

The intro is all about letting the audience know how super awesome this character is, being the Chosen One and all, and you think that you’re in for some impressive ass-kicking all around, literally and/or figuratively.

Then, as the story progresses, it turns out that the character isn’t that awesome after all, because:

  • They don’t want to be the Chosen One.
  • A dozen other characters are introduced who also have special abilities.
  • Their power turns out to not be anywhere near as cool as it sounds.

Any one of those three would put my teeth on edge, but for whatever reason I usually see all three of these together. I used to try to finish stories that pulled this trope, but experience has taught me that the ending never gets better.

So, let’s break down my bullet points:

  • They don’t want to be the Chosen One

I suspect that the writer is trying to be subversive with this one, but societal context has changed to the point that aspiring to be a mediocre nobody is par for the course — you can even decorate your home with quotes about how you will never do, say, or think anything unique or special. Personally, I have been heavily criticized every time I’ve taken on a new responsibility, often because others treat it as some sort of enslavement.

You have four kids? How on Earth are you ever supposed to do anything?

Oh, I don’t know. Occasionally the kids take off the shackles and I’m allowed a bit of sunshine; just enough to keep me going. So tell me, what do you do with your freedom? Work all day, then veg out on the internet?

Anyway, it would be far more refreshing to see a character who actually wants to be the Chosen One and takes the responsibility seriously.

  • A dozen other characters are introduced who also have special abilities.

I wish I could say that this is due to a lack of imagination, but I can’t shake the suspicion that it’s wish fulfillment on the part of the writer. Usually, the main character is no longer set apart, instead belonging to a tight-knit group where everyone knows everyone else’s pain, and never has to face the possibility of loneliness.

After the cadre has been formed, the enemies start popping up with even stronger powers to justify it all, and the hero is looking less and less unique and interesting. But at least the writer vicariously has imaginary friends!

  • Their power turns out to not be anywhere near as cool as it sounds.

This is the natural consequence of the previous bullet points. Even if someone is uncertain at first, they’ll naturally be drawn into enjoying ULTIMATE POWER when they realize what they can do with it, so in order to keep up with the mediocre aspiration, the ULTIMATE POWER can’t actually be all that seductive or useful. You also can’t make your friends feel bad by being obviously better than them, and the battles need more suspense by dangling the question of whether or not the entire group has what it takes to defeat the single bad guy. Working alone. Against all of you.

Wait, who was supposed to be the Chosen One again?

It’s a terrible trope, which unfortunately plagues the fantasy genre, so I keep coming across it. Le sigh.

Maybe we could try something new?

About Writing

Sex Scenes

Because I write romance, they’re inevitable.

As a reader, I tend to skip over sex scenes in books. Truth be told, I find them boring. Society has been so over-saturated with sex, that whenever another scene pops up, I can’t help but think of the quote from Yugioh Abridged, “Sex isn’t sexy anymore.” Most of the time, I’m not sure how those scenes contribute to the plot, and skipping them has no negative effects on my experience of the novel.

As a writer, my current WIP has a fair amount of sex in it, because marriage and babies are a huge part of the story.

I prefer to take an abstract view, and focus on the emotional aspect of it. Strangers meet on Tinder all the time, but deeply in love soulmates melding into one; now that’s something different. I don’t want to make my readers horny, but to fill them with butterflies and giggles; there are already more than enough resources for the latter.

Society has done a lot to divorce love from sex, to the point where a lot of people believe that the two not only have nothing to do with each other, but can be detrimental to each other as well.  I hope to illustrate that the two can be beautifully intertwined.