Monthly Archives: March 2013

I am Woman, You are Man

I’ve been lucky over the past couple of years that I’ve been living close enough with my family to see my niece and nephew as regularly as once a week, or more sometimes. I’m sure most people would agree that the early years of a child’s life are the most impressive. You never realize how much an individual can grow and change and learn until you see it happening in those first few years. Of course, over time, our growth process slows.

I’m sure I’ve written about my niece and nephew enough for you to know how much I love and adore them. Living so close allows me to see all the changes in their personalities and learning, as I said, and to see how different they are, as a boy and a girl. Make no mistake about it, girls and boys are different and they develop differently. I’m not saying that that means they’ll always have different interests or limited in their life’s options. It’s just an evolutionary fact, that the two sexes are different.

There are many reasons for it, and I don’t care about the reasons really. I find it fascinating to watch though. Who wouldn’t? Kids are awesome!

The very first book we ever read and discussed in my old book club was “The Female Brain”, by Louann Brizendine, M.D. She’s a neuropsychiatrist and the subject of the book is the basic differences between men and women, from birth to old age. I’m not saying I’m an expert or that I can confirm or deny any of what she’s written, but I found it a very interesting book and study. Brizendine discusses her findings with regards to the patients she’s had over the years – their identities protected of course. As a writer, I found this a useful book in some ways, as well as a good read, period. And you know me, I’m not a fan of non-fiction, so that’s saying something.

It’s not just children I find interesting when thinking of the difference between men and women. As we grow too, the differences remain obvious. I don’t just mean physically. Men and women have different thought processes and reactions to the same events and memories. No, don’t argue with me. It’s true. 😉 I’m not saying all women have the same thoughts or reactions, or all men, but you can’t deny it. I have enough men in my life and enough discussions with them that I can see and hear the differences. I’ve had enough arguments and long talks with all the women in my life to get the same from them.

I know what you might be thinking. Some of that is due to individual personalities, and you’d be right. I never form opinions about men or women simply based on their sex. Actually, I try not to form opinions about anyone, at any time until something settles it for me, in some way. 🙂

As a writer, I love to observe the differences around me, in personalities and the sexes. Speech patterns and turns of phrases are different. The way a man relates a story is different from the way a woman will. Think about the men and women in your life. When you talk to them next time, and I don’t just mean a ‘hi, how are ya’ in passing, just keep it in the back of your mind.

When I write, I try not to rely solely on the stereotypical differences between men and women. I think women can be just as inclined to be commitment-phobics as men, and men can be just as emotional as women. I remember having discussions – or debates, if you like – with a friendly reader at one time about the conversations I wrote between some of my male characters, the hockey players, to be specific. Not only were they all men in this case, but they were athletes, or ‘men’s men’ if you’ll forgive the generalization. I had written them having a certain kind of discussion, about a woman, and the reader – a man – said that conversation would never happen between two men. I had a hard time buying that. He argued endlessly with me over it and I did end up altering the conversation somewhat, to make it more believable that two men were talking about relationships. But I still had a hard time believing men would never discuss relationships with each other. Wrong or not, I disliked pigeon-holing my male characters as the kind that never discussed their relationships with friends. Who else would they talk to about it? Their mothers??? 🙂 I also don’t like to write my female characters in the same manner. I don’t want to make them only emotional basketcases or the ones constantly talking about their feelings. I hope I strike enough balance between my male and female leads to keep them interesting… and believable. What do you think?

As we’re getting ready to sit down to Easter dinner together, and with my 4 year old nephew and 18 month old niece, I wonder how they’re going to turn out in a few years. They’re constantly surprising me, every time I see them. I can’t wait to see how they continue to grow. Then again, I love them and just can’t wait to see them all the time. 😀

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. Take care and happy reading.

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A Good Start

I came across an article a little while ago while browsing headlines on-line. It was a brief rundown of a survey that had been conducted of some 11000 couples in committed, monogamous relationships. The focus of the survey was whether or not the couples had had sex before or within the first three weeks of their relationship, and how satisfied they were overall with their relationship now. The result was that apparently, the longer a couple waited to have sex, the more content they were now with their relationship, in terms of communication, stability and current sexual satisfaction. The results were the same for several different age groups, race and religious affiliations.

I found this very interesting, not just because I write about relationships and romance, but because I think everyone has at some point or another faced the decision of doing it now, or waiting. As always, every couple is different and who’s to say someone who starts with a one-night stand isn’t going to last fifty years? I did actually work with a man once who – in the time I knew him – dated a woman he’d had what he thought was only a one-night stand with, got engaged and married her, and proceeded to have a family. As far as I know, they’re still happy together but I’m no longer in touch with them, so who knows?

The article went on to suggest that because of this evidence, there’s something to be said for waiting. Now, they don’t say specifically whether a couple who’s happy now waited 3 and a half weeks or 12 before having sex, so saying that only couple who wait at least 3 weeks are going to be that much happier is a very broad generalization. They also theorize that it’s the women making this decision to abstain longer or not. I don’t know if that was the case in every couple surveyed. Though, they do make a good point at the end of the article: “Healthy relationships lead to good sex. Good sex doesn’t create healthy relationships.”

True. And yet, incomplete. I dislike broad generalizations, in case you couldn’t tell by now. 😉

I think placing all the blame on an early physical or intimate connection is a bit of a mistake. It’s up to the people making these decisions to decide if they’re going to give the relationship a fair try with or without the early sex. All the same relationship rules apply whether or not you’re naked within one day, or thirty. You can’t spend all your time sexing each other up. I don’t care how early you do it, sex alone is not a relationship – be honest with yourself before disagreeing with me on that! You need open and honest communication, unabashed affection, respect and support. Sex is important, I’m not saying it isn’t, but it’s only one part of a relationship.

Maybe the article is right in that the earlier you have sex, the more you tend to focus only on that aspect of your relationship. Things like discussing finances, future goals and dreams, or being able to spend the quiet moments together, become less important. To me, that is a mistake.

I won’t lie, this article did remind me a bit of a movie that came out a couple years back, He’s Just Not That Into You. I don’t know if any of you have seen that movie but it’s all about different relationships and relationship dynamics, and whether or not women should believe all those things they tell themselves, and each other, about men. It’s an ensemble movie with numerous different intersecting storylines. There’s a couple who have been married for some years, they’re renovating their dream home and talking about having kids. But they don’t have sex. There’s a woman who thinks the married man she befriended would leave his wife for her, because they have awesome chemistry and sex. There’s also a couple who have been together for seven or eight years, with no sign of a marriage proposal in sight. I’m sure, even if you haven’t seen the movie, you can imagine any number of ways those storylines would turn out. You’d probably be right. 😉 There are a couple of surprise endings to these romantic threads, but for the most part, they end the way you think they might. The theme of the movie is that you can tell yourself all the stories you want about relationships starting one way or another, but the stories of ‘it working out’ are few and far between, while the reality of is something else.

In my writing, as you may know, I’ve tried to hook my heros and heroines up in a few different ways. I did have a couple starting with a night of sex after just meeting each other, and that did lead to some complications early on in their relationship. I also had a couple becoming friends over a period of time before dating, and then even longer before sleeping together. Of course, in my writing universe, I’m able to write a happy ending, no matter how they get to the first kiss and the first time they have sex. 🙂

I often find I’m writing these scenarios because I’ve asked myself, can it work? Again, I’m dealing in fiction, so I can guide the characters somewhat towards a satisfying conclusion. In real life, things aren’t always so cut and dry, and it’s not always easy to find the solutions.

I’ve always said that every couple is different, and they are, from the way they meet, to how they handle each other, to how long they’re going to last. I’m definitely no expert but having been through a few endings and even more false starts, I have some idea of what works or doesn’t. For me. And in the end, that’s what’s important. If you know yourself, and know what you want, that’s a good start. I would just make one suggestion: if you meet someone and want to get naked with them now, ask yourself why? Is it because they’re hot? Or because you’re scratching an itch? Or because you think that’s the way you want to start a relationship with them? Just food for thought… 😉

Take care and happy reading.

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No Power

Just a quick post today… from my phone! The power is out here at home – I’m assuming because of the weather – so there’s no internet. Ah, the joys of rural living.
Hope you’re all well this weekend.
Take care and happy reading!

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Book Club Recap – “Shattered”

This past week, my book club gathered to discuss “Shattered”, by Karen Robards. It’s a contemporary romance, filled with murder and intrigue. Lisa Grant is a lawyer returned to her childhood home to care for her ailing mother when she stumbles across a decades old mystery that may involve her family. Along the way, she’s helped – distracted? – by her boss, and former acquaintance, Scott Buchanan.

I’d mentioned before that I’ve read a few of Karen Robards’ contemporary romances – she also writes historical romance. This one was new for me though, and apparently new to those who were able to make it to this month’s gathering. I believe it was enjoyed for the most part, and I was not alone in being the only one who doesn’t generally read the romantic suspense/crime drama genre. 🙂

Here are a few thoughts and observations from our discussion this past Sunday. I’ll try to keep it spoiler free for those of you who may not have read the story yet, and still intend to.

I liked the flow of the story…and it always amazes me when authors can create all these loose ends and then tie them all together…the clues that are left all along the journey.”

This comment was made after I’d remarked that I’m a bit slow when it comes to figuring out the whodunnits in a story such as this. I may write it, but if a mystery isn’t spelled out for me by the end, I’d likely never figure it out. And I wasn’t alone in that!

I am so dim too follow clues with thriller/suspense books and films too. I drive my poor hubby crazy asking what is happening in the film.”

As mentioned above, this wasn’t the usually selected genre for the readers involved this go ’round. However, this story was easy enough to get into, even if it’s not something one is used to reading.

It wasn’t my genre but I like how it led you in and was very winding.”

It does start off slow, not jumping right into a twisty, complex murder plot right away. It sort of crept up on you and before you know it, you’re right in the thick of it.

While it was technically a good story, with an engaging plot, there was some difficulty in relating to the main characters at first. It seemed a bit forced or contrived at first, that Lisa returned home and all but had to beg for a job from Scott, who apparently held a grudge against her from their youth. Scott’s anger and bitterness over the past was also tough to understand. Sure, we’ve all been hurt by someone in the past but to continue nursing such a grudge seems extreme.

“I didn’t get [Scott’s] character. I think she was trying to do alpha male crossed with chip in shoulder. Instead he came across as a dink.”

Definitely. As mentioned above, it was hard to get behind the character at first. On the other hand, it did set the two leads up for some nice romantic – lusty? – tension in the near future. And that is half the fun, isn’t it? It’s a romance first, mystery second, after all.

“All her male characters were quite flawed actually. It was a good read though, the story was very strong.”

Also true. You find out more about each character as you get further into the story and it makes it that much more enjoyable, to realize how human each individual is. Makes them more relatable in the end. In Scott’s case, his father is another of those flawed males and once you read about that history, it makes you understand a bit more of his motivation now.

“As to Scott and the sexual frustration thing… His dad did a number on him and his mom not being around did as well. Kids of alcoholics are like military kids in that they grow up very fast and loose their innocence almost before they can walk.”

Very good insight on Scott’s character there.

“Don’t mind flawed male characters, he was sexy after all.”

And now we get to the heart of it. 😉 He was sexy, once you got past the first few chapters. All that pent-up and latent frustration needs an outlet at one point or another and reading some of the ensuing interactions between Lisa and Scott was very entertaining. Particularly one scene in an elevator. Oh yes. Something about those enclosed spaces, huh?

“Confined spaces make sexual tension sizzzzzle!”

“I like being pushed against a wall…LOL…very hot….leads to some really steamy kisses.”

Interesting input. 😉 I promised to consider enclosed spaces when writing my next Ice romance.

Of course, like any good book club, discussion of the actual book morphed into discussions of other books and authors we might have an interest in. One reader mentioned Elizabeth Lowell as a preferred writer of the romantic suspense genre. I seconded that, though I’d only read a couple of hers. I’m not a crime/mystery reader after all. 🙂 For romance and action, there was Christine Feehan and her Carpathian series, or Stephanie Laurens and her Cynster series. I’ve not read any of those two writers but when looking for something new, I’ll definitely be considering them.

From there, the discussion changed to preferred writers of the supernatural, and numerous young adult authors – one of the book cub readers has a ten year-old voracious reader who enjoys vampires, and werewolves and magic, oh my! 🙂 (Off topic, there were a lot of good writers and series in those genres mentioned, but as they have little to do with today’s topic, I’ve left them off today’s post. However, if you’re looking for something new in the supernatural romance genre, or interested in any number of young adult or age appropriate options, please send me a message through the ‘Contact Tamara’ tab at the top. I can send you the list. Some really good ones, let me tell you. ;))

In conclusion, while not ground-breaking or earth-shattering, was a very enjoyable read. It had some interesting characters that were human and believable, and a mystery that was wrapped up nicely in the end, with a fun twist on the ending that made me smile. Also, who doesn’t love all that sexual tension? There was some nice closure to that, believe me. 😉 And I’m not just talking about the elevator scene, though that was some heart-pounding fun before the real, er… climax. 😉

I haven’t sorted out when the next book club gathering will be, or what the next book selection will be. I’ll keep everyone informed here, and via email. If you’re interested in joining, there’s always room for more. Please send me a message via the ‘Book Club’ tab at the top of my page here, and I can add you to the email distribution list.

In other news, I’ve been making some progress on my next TAITS novel for release, though I’m stumped a bit on creating a cover page. I’m also hoping to release another old favorite on Kindle and Smashwords in the near future, once I’ve revised it to something closer to my original Lit offering. 🙂 And I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on brand new works. Some to be released on Lit, and others for publication only. I have no timelines to share at the moment but, as always, I will keep you informed.

Thank you again to those who were able to make it last week to book club. I had a great time, naturally. To everyone else, I hope you’ve been having a lovely weekend.

Take care and happy reading.

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Snow Day

It’s been snowing part of the night and all morning now. The temperature isn’t all that low or anything but it is blowing and quite windy. On days like today I love to do nothing more than put on my fleecy pants and sweater, curl up under a blanket and read a book. Or write. I have been getting a bunch of writing done already this weekend, which is awesome. No new publication news to report but something soon, I hope.

For now, I’m going to take a snow day. 🙂 I’m going to end my weekly post here and say I hope you’re having a lovely weekend.

Take care and happy reading.

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