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Brave – Really for Kids?

My kids and I had been waiting for like six months to see this movie. My girls were so excited that we decided to go on opening weekend, which is something we rarely do (I really hate crowds). My post is going to have some spoilers, so if you don’t want to know, stop reading.

First, let me say that I really liked the movie. My problem is that the trailers for the movie, both the ones in theaters and on TV don’t really let you know what the movie’s about. In the commercials we’re presented with a young girl who doesn’t want to be forced into marriage, who wants to fight her own battles, who wants to change her destiny.

All great things and worth seeing the movie for.

What the trailers leave out is that in order to change her destiny, she goes to a witch and asks her to change her mother. Generic wish — we see where that’s going, right?

Well, the mother changes into a bear. Which just so happens to be the one creature that her father wants to kill since a bear took his leg. Plenty of drama and conflict here.

Merida has 2 days to fix everything, or her mother will remain a bear forever. This is pretty typical stuff, but Trouble, my 7 year old, cried through most of the last third of the movie. Although I had reassured her there would be a happy ending, she was really bothered by the hints of the bear taking over the mom. Eleanor, the mom, managed to push back those instincts to keep herself, but as time wore on, there was more bear than Eleanor.

Like I said, I really liked the movie. It’s an awesome representation of the struggle between daughters and their mothers. I just think that Pixar capitalized on funny moments — Merida disobeying her mother and shooting arrows after being told not to, watching the triplets cause trouble — that viewers didn’t realize the darker side to the story.

If I had known that, I don’t know that I would’ve taken Trouble to see it. Shorty and Eeyore were fine, but they’re older; they know they’re guaranteed a happy ending. Trouble couldn’t stand the thought of something so awful happening to Mom.

Which is a good thing for me, I guess.

Have you seen Brave? What did you think?

Stop by tomorrow for my 100th post and a special announcement.

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Summer Romance

In my book, More Than This, my heroine, Quinn has a list of small adventures to complete over the summer. She wants to get pregnant in the fall, and this is like her bucket list before having a baby.

The one item that gives her the most grief is Have a Summer Romance. I found this video, which is a How to…

Quinn has so many problems with a summer romance because she’s not good at following these rules, especially when it comes to the hero Ryan, who informs her that relationships aren’t supposed to have an expiration date.

Have you ever had a summer romance? Did you follow the rules?

Dallas – Redux


When I first heard that TNT was bringing Dallas back, I was a bit leery. Dallas was a show from my childhood. I remember watching it, especially with my Grandma (how she loved her soaps). The drama and backstabbing kept us tuning in each week. I wasn’t sure how TNT would manage to bring it back and still capture may attention.

Now that I’ve watched the first 3 episodes (2 aired for the premier last week), I can say that it looks like TNT got it right. Obviously, we’re only 3 episodes in and there’s plenty of room to screw it up, but I like it.

First, the thing I just might like best in this show, is that for a change, the older female actresses look way better than the men. I think it’s unfair that men seem to look better with age (Sean Connery, George Clooney). But I remember Sue Ellen from the original Dallas, and she looks a billion times better than JR.

Beyond that very superficial observation, the plot right out the gate is typical Dallas. Different branches of the family tree are all out to get their hands on money, this time in the form of South Fork, the family ranch. The backstabbing and betrayal is full force from the first episode.

John Ross, JR’s son, wants to drill for oil on South Fork land. Bobby, JR’s brother and land owner, won’t hear of it. John Ross gets his father involved in a scheme to take the land, and John Ross plans to double cross his father so the land will be his alone.

Bobby’s son, Christopher, is back in town and trying to develop alternate fuel possibilities. His ex-fiancee is now dating John Ross. On his wedding day, Christopher finds out that Elena, his ex, didn’t leave him. She fled to Mexico because she received an email from him telling her that their relationship had been a mistake. But he didn’t send the email.

Love the Dallas betrayal.

This sets us up for a love triangle because we can see that Christopher and Elena still have feelings for each other, but he does marry Rebecca. Coincidentally, Elena has the knowledge and skills to help Christopher with his alternate energy project that has run into problems.

At the end of episode 2, we also find out that Rebecca and her brother are not simply new members to the family, but that they have strategically inserted themselves into the Ewing clan for some sort of revenge. We still don’t have the details, but we do know that Rebecca has real feelings for Christopher.

Overall, the new Dallas is a nice mix of old and new. Bobby, JR, Sue Ellen, and Cliff Barnes are all characters from the original and they seem to hold true to those characters. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. I mean, after 30 years, people should change, right? But there’s a certain amount of comfort in knowing that JR is still the self-absorbed asshole he’s always been.

The new characters, the younger generation, are all sexy and fun to look at, which is part of the draw of watching soaps.

If you’re looking for high quality TV, this isn’t it. But if you like some good old-fashioned guilty pleasure nighttime soap opera, this is a good bet.

Have you watched Dallas? What do you think?

How Do You Know When It’s Love?


As both a romance writer and reader, the thing I enjoy most about the genre is watching two people fall in love. Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it makes you cry, and we always know that the couple will make it through to be happy (at least for now, if not forever). Knowing that happiness is coming doesn’t ruin the story, because it’s the journey that keeps us coming back for more.

As readers, most of the time, we recognize the signs of someone falling in love before they do. Maybe it’s because we’re on the outside looking in and we can be objective. The lust is easy and characters usually accept lust and physical attraction. For whatever reason, they have a much harder time recognizing love. Sometimes, they can admit having feelings, caring for, or loving someone, but not being in love.

My question is, how do we know? How do we distinguish between caring and liking and loving and being “in love”?

My immediate response might be “I know it when I see/feel it,” but that’s a cop out.

Remember the Love is… comics? Like this —->    

I could get a daily dose of explanation of how to recognize love. Often it is in the little things, and I get that, but if you’re in a new relationship, how do you know if it’s real? How do you look past the shiny new excitement and know?

I’ve been married for a long time, and I’ve said before that even when my husband and I were just friends, we both knew that there was something more there that we chose to ignore because we weren’t ready. I can’t remember how I processed those feelings or if I really even paid attention to them.

So I’m turning it over to you. How do you know when you’ve fallen in love?

Friday Favorites 6/15

Sorry for the lack of a good title for today’s post. My brain just isn’t into titles right now. Here are your links for great reading this week:

Book stuff:

Over at The Naked Hero, Amy Andrews touches on a hot button issue. Is it ever okay for a hero to cheat? Is it a redeemable action? For a long time, I would’ve said no, it’s completely unacceptable. And really for a romance hero, I think it should be unacceptable. BUT… this is something that happens in real life and real life couples sometimes do get past it. That makes me think that depending on the circumstances and how it’s handled in the book, it might be possible. My gut still says, though, that books are escapism and I don’t want too much reality there.

Dana Kaye, publicist, has a great flow chart of how a book is born. You can probably spent 10 minutes just following different paths. 🙂

Kat Latham posted a test to see how fast you read. I came in at 376 words a minute, which means I could read War and Peace in about 26 hours (not that I’d want to). I’m faster than 50% of people. I guess being an English major finally paid off.

Although not directly related to books, since I write romance and think about relationships for my characters, I’m adding a post by Emma Burcart here. Emma talks about choosing safe guys. You know the ones — you know exactly what to expect from them. They exist for a good time, no commitment, no permanence. Emma writes from her own experience in relationships, but for me, this is great fodder for character development. In fact, in the book I’m revising right now, the heroine always chooses guys who aren’t serious because serious scares her.

Fun Stuff:

Myndi Shafer has a fabulous list of things she is pretty sure she knows. I personally love #4. It’s a common belief in my house.

(4)  If momma ain’t happy, ain’t no-one happy.

One thing that I’m pretty sure I know is that a good book can often erase a bad day.

Over on Pink Chocolate Break this week, we have some quotes about love.

And finally, Tiffany White has a post about great summer TV. She manages to cover more shows than I did in my post because she talks about shows I haven’t watched.

What is one thing that you’re pretty sure you know?

Longmire vs. Justified

(Let me start with an apology if the formatting of this post is wonky. I’ve been fighting it all day and finally gave up)

When I first talked about new shows starting for the summer, I mentioned that I hoped that Longmire would fill the gap left by one of my favorite shows, Justified. I mean, troubled lawman in a cowboy hat — sounds pretty good. Now that I’ve watched the first two episodes of Longmire, I’m ready to report.

Walt Longmire

First, Walt Longmire is a good looking man, but he’s definitely of the old West cowboy flavor. I’d much rather look at Raylan. Longmire does offer up a deputy, Branch, who I remember from Saving Grace, and while he’s yummy, I don’t like the character much, which takes away some of the pleasure from the eye candy.

Branch Connelly

Next, in looking at the characters, I think Walt could be almost as fascinating as Raylan. I remember way back in the first season of Justified, Raylan’s ex-wife Winona (ugh) said that he was the angriest man she’d ever known. And deep down it’s true; Raylan is an angry man. Walt, on the other hand, is a sad man. His wife died a year ago and he checked out. Although he kept his position as sheriff, he hasn’t much participated in life, and his deputies covered for him. Now, though, he’s coming back in. He’s decided that he wants to run for sheriff again, which puts him running against his deputy, Branch. One little quirk about Walt that I like is that litter drives him nuts. He’ll chase down a paper wrapper just so he can pick it up and get it off the street.

The last thing, and this is a big one, is dialogue. I wrote months ago about the superb dialogue in Justified. The dialogue in Justified reads they way we would all love to sound if we planned out everything we wanted to say, but it suits the characters, particularly Raylan, perfectly. After watching the first episode of Longmire, I thought maybe I hit another great example.

In that first episode, Walt stops and watches birds flying overhead. His deputy, Vic, says, “Hey, Walt. Wacha doin’?” His response?

“Thinking. I do that sometimes before I talk.”

No, it’s not the rambling God-I-love-this-dialogue speech, but this kind of line sums up who Walt is, much like Raylan’s commentary on his lack of “interest in shitkicker-on-shitkicker crime.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t get that same feeling about the dialogue in episode 2. While I still enjoyed the show and Walt is one of those intelligent, well-seasoned sheriffs that is often underestimated because he’s old school (doesn’t have a cell phone, doesn’t use a computer). I’m going to keep watching because my hope is that we’ll get more of that character-revealing dialogue.

I also think that the secondary characters, if they get a chance to be fully developed, will be interesting to watch. The one female deputy, Vic, is a transplant from Philadelphia where she was a homicide detective. We haven’t gotten her story about why she moved, but really, it has to be good, right? What could get you to move to Wyoming if you were a city girl? I think Branch running against Walt will make for good drama. They’re both good cops, but they antagonize each other. Lou Diamond Phillips plays Walt’s best friend, Henry Standing Bear. I wonder how they became friends.

The last thing that makes this show watchable is the setting itself. The big open expanse of land is beautiful. From what I understand, the show is filmed in New Mexico, which disappointed me. I watched the first episode believing that I was seeing Wyoming. Either way, still beautiful.

Have you watched Longmire? What do you think?

Who Do You Love? Alpha or Beta Heroes?

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to write about today and then I read an interview with Ruthie Knox. Ruthie’s new book About Last Night comes out next week. I thought the release date was today, so I was quite disappointed to find out I’m a week early. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I love Ruthie’s first book and I’ve been waiting forever for this one.

For those of you who like free books, I plan to do a giveaway of Ruthie’s book next week since you lost out on an extra raffle chance here during the Diamond Jubilee celebration.

Anyway, in the interview, Ruthie talks about Beta heroes. I totally agree with her when she says that most readers equate beta with weenie.

In fact, I was probably one of those readers.

Then I started writing.

I love an alpha hero. There’s something about a strong man who takes charge. Alphas tend to be possessive and controlling. Maybe even a little caveman-ish. And it’s very satisfying to watch him come undone over a woman.

I’ve spoken before about the adage “write what you know.” My first manuscripts were romantic suspense because that’s what I read. Both of those heroes had a military background. (I’m married to a Marine.)

Both of those manuscripts, while a great learning experience, didn’t fit me. Then I started to write contemporary romance. My debut, More Than This, has been through a ton of revisions because I was still finding my voice, and because I needed to learn to let the characters be themselves.

Part of me is always drawn to writing an alpha, mostly because in my mind, an alpha is a take-charge kind of guy and a beta kind of just lets things happen. I’ve tried to make my heroes be alpha when they didn’t want to be.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that a beta hero is not a weenie, and he also takes charge when he needs to.

But I think I like Ruthie’s definition best. A beta hero is a “fundamentally nurturing person.”

Reading that single line rang so true to me, I had to stop. It was a total revelation.

Holy shit. I write beta heroes.

Ruthie goes on to say that while beta heroes are strong, they’re less likely to impose their will on others. Even looking back to my first manuscripts, one of those two heroes is clearly beta. I just didn’t realize it back then.

As I started writing this blog post and thinking about the other heroes I’ve written, it’s become more obvious. Using Ruthie’s definition, all of my heroes are beta (except for maybe one). I have a manuscript of a finished book that I need to revise and part of why I’ve continued to write other things instead of revising is because I know the hero is a mess in that book. Now I realize that once again, I tried to make a guy an alpha who is really a beta. I’m still not sure how to fix him, but that’s a problem for a different day.

Even my hero in book 2, who is a self-made millionaire, is a beta. In my current WIP, the hero is a laid back party guy, also a beta.

How did this happen? It’s not like I spend a lot of time trying to define my heroes, or that I try to write a certain type. For me, my characters are people that develop in my head and I haven’t thought much about labeling them until now. Some days, I love being a writer. Today is one of those days. I love it when something just clicks. 🙂

Do you think about hero type when you choose a book? Do you prefer one (alpha/beta) over another? Finally, are there certain occupations that you think you need to be an alpha for? (Can a cop be a beta?)