Tag: Paranormal Romance

Is It Wrong To Want A Happily Ever After?

Many thanks to Elizabeth Daniels for guest blogging! Today she is taking on the subject of society’s recent instance that the characters in fairy tales make for poor role models. For those of us who love romance, it takes a shot at the very heart of that whole Happily Ever After thing we love so much. Is it still okay to enjoy a good Cinderella story? Read on…

Like most lovers of paranormal romance, I grew up loving fairy tales, both in books and on the big screen.  Fairy tales were my first exposure to fantasy.  The thought of magic and the otherworldly, of mystical kingdoms and strange worlds fired my imagination as a child, and it’s a fire that never dimmed.  It’s why I write.  More importantly, it’s why I write what I write.

So imagine how I felt when I read that fairy tale princesses – and fairy tale heroines in general – are getting some bad press these days.

At the heart of the controversy, past the objections to crowns and pink and girly spangles, is a claim that strikes my heart as a livelong lover of fantasy:  that fairy tale heroines, Disney or otherwise, are poor role models for girls.  According to these people, we should not only discourage our daughters from reading any but the most PC and revised fairy tales, but also shun the classic fairy tales altogether.

As a paranormal writer and as a mother, I was hit with both barrels of this argument, as it were.  I’ve learned to shrug off criticisms of romance and erotica, but this disturbed me.  As a writer, I wondered if I was feeding a problem if I chose to use a fairy tale as inspiration for a story.  As a reader (and a mother), these claims made me worry I was inadvertently harming my daughter by sharing these much-loved tales and movies with her.

I decided I’d take an objective look at some of these claims and see if they really did have merit.

The good news was that my researches set my mind at ease.  The bad news was that a lot of the claims were based upon people who apparently believed that all fairy tales stopped and ended with Disney.  Very few seem to have also read the tales upon which the movies were based, or at least, if they did, they failed to mention it.

But hey.  I’ll give them a pass; not everyone cherished their copy of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales (blood, guts, murdered mothers, cut off horse heads and all) as I did.  The language can be archaic.  And some fairy tales (Hans Christian Andersen’s in particular) are just downright depressing.

Yet even in the most mass-marketed Disney-ized fairy tales, the situation isn’t as dire as the naysayers would have us believe.  Just to prove the point, let’s analyze two of the most reviled Disney princesses and see what positive lessons we can draw from the stories.

1.  Cinderella.  Cindy is tops on the hit parade for the anti-fairy tale crowd – hit parade, as in, they’d like to put a hit out on her.  The chief objection is that Cinderella really does nothing more than sing sugary songs while she passively waits for her prince to come and give her the glass Manolo Blahnik slipper she lost.  Of course, he does and la-la, things are solved.

That’s their view.  Here’s mine.

Cinderella’s stuck in a bad family situation with stepsibs and a stepmother she doesn’t like who hate her in return.  She really hasn’t the resources to get out of that situation, either.

There’s few of us who can’t sympathize with some aspect of her predicament.  Even if we haven’t been cursed with the Stepfamily From Hell, we’ve probably been stuck in a job we couldn’t afford to quit with a boss and/or co-workers we hated.  So Cinderella’s situation is realistic and relevant.  Given the age of the original fairy tale, that’s pretty impressive.

How does Cinderella handle her situation?  She sticks it out.  She never quits, she never stops hoping, and she never stops believing in love.  The lesson?  That sometimes in life, you’re going to be stuck in a place you don’t want to be, a place you can’t change to suit yourself, no matter how much you might like to do so.  The trick is to stay true to yourself, keep going, and believe that good things still exist in the world – even if at the moment, you’re sure not getting any of them.

I’d call that a good lesson.

2.  Ariel.    The Little Mermaid star comes under fire because she has everything, yet she’s willing to throw away all she has and even change what she is for the chance to win the love of a prince she barely knows.  Her detractors claim it sends little girls the message that only the love of a man is worth having, and that winning one is more important than maintaining who they are.

At least nobody can claim Ariel’s passive!

My counterpoint:

As with Cinderella, most of us can relate to some aspect of Ariel’s situation.  How many of us have had to move to a strange place to take a job offer?  How about spouses of military personnel who choose to follow their spouses to obscure corners of the world?  How many of us have been attracted to someone with a completely different lifestyle than our own and wondered how to find common ground with them?

Ariel wants the prince, but what’s conveniently forgotten is that her curiosity about worlds outside her own existed before she met him.  He was just the impetus to get her to take action.  She has to take a giant leap of faith and do some things which are painful and even frightening in order to get what she wants.  In the end, however, her belief in her ability to accomplish her goal pays off.

The lessons learned?  That we should not be afraid to try something different.  We may have to leave behind those we love.  We may have to change in unexpected or even painful ways.  Yet with no risk, there is no reward.

While I disagree with the fairy tale detractors, I am glad their claims caused me to go back and re-examine the roots of my love for the paranormal.  Our fairy tale heroines give us life lessons, entertainment and a happily ever after.  And there’s nothing at all wrong about that.

— Elizabeth Daniels

Find out more at ElizabethDaniels.com

Holy #%*t! My Zipper is Down.


Been feeling overwhelmed, so I decided to post something lighter today, that I wrote awhile ago and saved for just such an I’m-too-busy-to-blog kind of occasion:

So. I am one of those annoying people who FREAKS when they meet someone famous. They don’t have to be mega famous like the President or Madonna, just someone I respect and admire and do not know personally.

My friend Katie has a saying: “Donald Trump poops too”. Apparently reminding herself that all beings great and small go to the bathroom helps her keep things in perspective when she’s about to encounter somebody famous.

I think it’s a great philosophy.

I have been fortunate enough to meet a reasonably sized handful of well known individuals whom I admire, and with a couple of exceptions I handled them okay. A couple, not so much. When I managed to make my mouth open I walked away going “What the fuck was that, I sounded so stupid!” The times that I didn’t, I think were because I was too drunk to know better. So instead I hugged them, because I am very outgoing when I’m drunk.

Perhaps I should be drunk more often.

Anyhoo, I have mentioned before in previous posts about how much I love JR Ward. I mean, I love many authors (not in the creepy way, mind you), but reading JR Ward’s dark, sexy, and humorous style of storytelling was what opened my eyes and made me want to write my own novel. In my ignorance, I had previously thought that romance novels all involved flowery language and horseback-riding women in very large dresses. It never occurred to me, for example, that a bisexual Dom vampire could be the hero of a love story.

But he can, and that is AWESOME.

So, I decided a few months ago to take a trip to meet JR Ward (she doesn’t fly so we adoring masses come to her). The trip, sadly, was a total clusterfuck. I had to bring my youngest and flying with a 10 month old is no picnic. The airline rescheduled me several times, ultimately putting me on a flight that didn’t leave until AFTER her Lover Mine book signing. Then we bitched and complained until they agree to put me on a flight leaving, oh, RIGHT NOW which resulted in a mad dash to the airport with a migraine in my head and a screaming child in the backseat, only to be told they wouldn’t let me check in because it was too close to departure time. We wound up having to buy another ticket on another airline and pay for an extra hotel night, thus turning a reasonably priced trip into a ridiculously expensive trip.


So, the dust finally settles, and I’m in line at the signing, AND MY ZIPPER IS DOWN. I had chosen to wear a pair of pants that a friend had given to me because “They don’t fit anymore.” Mmmhmm…or maybe she didn’t want them because of the faulty zipper?

So I check and recheck, and I tug at my shirt because I do NOT want to be the sicko fan who approached JR Ward with a gaping hole in their pants. Of course by the time it is my turn to meet her, the freakazoid deer in headlights is back, so when she very graciously smiles at me and says “Hi”, which is generally the thing to say when you meet somebody, I’m stuck in place, too damn worried about that stupid zipper to move, and everyone is staring at me expectantly. Probably thinking “Move, you idiot!”.

I wind up propelling myself forward, and I think I managed to mumble a hello or maybe a thank you. I don’t remember. I spent the whole rest of her Q&A time checking and rechecking my zipper, to the point where I’m reasonably certain her security guard was keeping an eye out to make sure I didn’t do anything freaky. “Better watch that one, she keeps messing with her pants.”

Luckily my mom lived nearby, and had come with to hang onto the baby for me, or someone might have called child services.

So the whole thing was fun, Ms. Ward was gorgeous, charismatic and SO entertaining with her creative use of salty verbiage. Totally worth the trip, and if I can I will do it again in a heartbeat, presuming her security folks don’t have me on a watch list.

And next time, maybe I’ll just wear sweat pants. Or a skirt. Definitely something zipper-less. Which one, do you suppose, would be safer?

(Author note, updated July 4, 2012. I wrote this post before selling King of Darkness. I think perhaps even before I finished writing it. I have since become better at acting normal when I meet authors who are well-known, and I have also since met…JR Ward’s assistant. LOL. She appeared at RT 2012 and as both a good and bad thing, I was too busy promoting a book of my own to be able to wait in line to meet her.  A lot has changed! But it’s kinda cool to read back and remember.)

You Can Cut a Can With It, and STILL Slice a Tomato!

What was it John Lennon wrote? “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans,” or something? Feels especially true this week.

So I had a lot of grandiose plans, like getting caught up on my writing workshops and submitting some query letters (you know, the whole journey toward getting published?), writing about romance, and vampires, and manlove (even all three at the same time!) until my inspired little fingers cramped, and writing some articles, and doing the hokey pokey and turning myself around. Counting and organizing the many bags of marshmallows in my pantry, etc.

I got…well, almost none of it done. Which really pisses me off. Especially given my recent bouts of insomnia, wherein I am JUST awake enough not to be able to sleep, but still tired and lacking in lucidity enough that productivity is elusive. I try to work, but I wind up either just staring at the page and drooling, or…well, usually its the drooling thing. Plus I wrecked the car on Wednesday, at which point I just kind of threw up my hands and gave up on trying to do anything at all, and instead immersed myself in the latest from KA Mitchell.

In fact, I was so the opposite of productive, I wound up slicing apples with this massive Miracle Blade knife of my husband’s – the one where they cut like a piece of lead pipe on the infomercial and THEN they throw a pineapple up in the air and cut it in half with the same knife – because I was SO behind on doing dishes I didn’t even know where any of the other knives were. It was a little like trying to tweeze my eyebrows with a sledgehammer.

The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of the Romance Writers of America is currently having a “60 days to success” sprint. Kind of a light-the-fire-under-your-ass-and-get-some-stuff-accomplished-for-a-change thing. You know, you set some goals that you’d like to achieve, give ’em a deadline, yaddah, yaddah. So my big one was to get hopping on sending out query letters. I got as far as having someone critique my query letter, I made a couple of changes, then fizzled out. Bah.

Well at least I did SOMETHING, I guess. I made a plan, to have a plan. Or something.

Oh, one teeny bit of good news. I just put on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn since before I was pregnant with my oldest kid. Now, they once upon a time were my baggy jeans and they are NOT baggy now, but it’s progress! W00t!

I can’t be the only freak…can I?

So I made my first agent pitch, and though knew to expect it I am still majorly bummed about the response i received. In a nutshell, she felt that the vampire thing is old and tired, and no agent or editor wants to hear it anymore.

So I get it, vampires are hot these days and everyone is writing them and as an agent she sees all of it. That must get old. But here is the thing: as an avid reader myself, I came to writing my own series by way of wanting more reading material. Not to mention, i belong to plenty of email lists (devoted to lovers of vampire romance I might add) where readers constantly ask what series they can read now that they have finished series x, y, and z and what can they read next? There are a lot of voracious readers out there who LOVE to plow through series after series of hot, vampire love. I don’t know that there is such a thing as too many. And I’m sorry but I am just not into writing steampunk. I love vampire novels, and I can’t get enough of them. I know I’m not the only one…am I?

My favorite bit so far…

When he closed the door behind both of them, he noticed the humor hadn’t left Lee’s face. “OK, what?”
“Nothing, ” Lee replied as he dropped into a chair. His conversational tone feigned innocence. “It’s just that usually when I smell blood and sex wafting towards me, the individual on the other end is in a much better mood than you are right now.”
Thad pointed an irate finger at him. “Don’t start with me.”

From King of Darkness by Elisabeth Staab