Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Have Money, Nothing To Buy

I had a bizarre experience in a book store.

I couldn't find anything to buy. It used to be, I couldn't figure out what not to buy. But nowadays, I'm just too picky and too poor to throw away money on something that doesn't blow me away. (In this case, money meant a gift certificate.)

The library is partially to blame. All those free books, no commitment necessary. If it sucks, it's back to the library. No suffering through 300-plus pages "because I paid for it."

I wandered the fantasy/sci-fi aisles, totally uninspired, only picking up Neil Gaiman's NeverWhere (for the "keeper" shelf.) In keeping with my ongoing attempt to find a romance that totally works for me, I snuck over to the Romance section.

And I mean, "snuck." Honestly, I found approaching that section worse than going into the "adult" section in a video rental place. I started by feigning interest in the nearby Mystery section. My buddy Sharon [waves] recently sent me some Hiaasens and a Block so I'm all stocked up on mystery, but I stalled before finally creeping over to the "lurve."

The covers were enough to put me off romance forever.

There are the Harlequin romances with their Aryan nation covers. Which is to say, covers with squeaky clean white couples, perfect white teeth bared at one another, dressed to preppy perfection and posed in psuedo-Rockwellian bliss in a tidy house. The really scary ones include a baby who always looks more like a changeling than a human child.

Next are the covers with the Fabio look-a-likes, usually shirtless and showroom shiny, leering into the "camera," and doing something ridiculous like blacksmith work. Ah, so that's why there's no chest hair. He's singed it all off. Experience has taught me that the stories within, while sometimes entertaining (hot sex!), aren't worth 13 dollars.

Then there are the historicals with the heroine cloaked in pounds of fabric, except for the tops of her breasts, the hero peering down her cleavage as though looking for lost change. "Pardon me, my love. Could you spare a shilling or two?" The heroine, leans backward, lily white throat exposed to the hero like she wishes this were a paranormal or is praying for the invention of breath mints. Emphasis on "lily white." I guess anyone with any melanin was too busy emptying chamber pots to have a romance.

I was surprised to see a few Indian covers, you know, the ones with the well-oiled white man in a long, black wig, looking for lost wampum in the heroine's cleavage? I thought the political correctness police had made those obsolete.

In desperation, I flipped through a couple of novels with cute, cartoony covers, which because of my artistic inclinations, attract me. A few seemed amusing, but not enough to waste gift certificate monies on.

I gave up and went over to the Manga/Graphic Novel section where I picked up Gaiman's Sandman: Endless Nights and Amy Kim Ganter's Sorcerors & Secretaries. I also picked up Chloe Does Yale by Natalie Krinsky, which may or may not be worth the money, but I liked the author's voice, and chick lit usually entertains more than romance. Women in chick lit are usually insane--as in Girl's Poker Night, my current read--but insane in a funny, ha-ha, sort of way.

But that was an odd experience. Maybe I'm just getting old and demanding too much of my fiction. Very odd.
I finished the last scene in the novel, got the characters their happy ending, and then went back and worked on other scenes, still avoiding the "crunchy" scene. Even Monday, its seems, isn't enough to make me want to torture poor Benjamin. That's a function of another of my many quirks--I identify more with the hero than the heroine. I like writing men.

Hope ya'll's Monday is terrif.



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