I Hate Romance

Uh oh. You've made Donnie Yen angry. Prepare for asskicking.

Even before the love of my life died, I hated romance as this post from 2010 attests. This is nothing new.

Immediately after Male died, I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t concentrate or do anything productive, which left the boob tube as my only option besides silence. I hate silence unless I’m reading. I didn’t so much watch television as have it on in the background while I blankly stared at walls (like my cat) or cried a lot.

I couldn’t watch anything that had even a hint of romance in it. If there was so much as a conversation between a man and a woman that didn’t involve work, I’d turn it off.

This left me with few options since almost every form of entertainment today has a superfluous love story. I absolutely hate the superfluous love story. If you’re going to have romance in something, put it right there on the cover or in the description, because if there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s getting sucker-punched with a romantic subplot that doesn’t need to be there in the first place. This applies generally, but particularly in the weeks following the death of the love of my life.

This penchant for throwing love stories about willy-nilly is the exact reason I don’t watch a lot of Hollywood movies even though I live in Hollywood. In the same way that restaurants don’t feel the need to mention on their menus that fucking onions are in everything they make (I hate onions), Hollywood throws the unnecessary love story into practically every movie produced.

There’s a movie about aliens coming down and taking over the human race? Add a love story. Action flick? Love story. War movie? Love story. Horror movie? Love story. A movie about genocide? Throw in a goddamn love story, because love and genocide go perfectly together I guess. I find it rather sexist, as if the only way they can get women to watch their schlock about stolen cars is to add romance in there.

I hate the superfluous love story. If I want to see a love story, I’ll watch a goddamned love story, but why must you ruin a perfectly good action movie with a love story that adds nothing to the plot? Not only does it not add, but it actually slows everything down. I don’t want to see that. If I watch an action movie, I want to see action not bloody love.

So, this left my viewing options very limited. I watched a ton of war movies, kung fu and wuxia (I’m all caught up on Donnie Yen now), and Korean revenge flicks.

Uh oh. You've made Donnie Yen angry. Prepare for asskicking. (craveonline.com)
Uh oh. You have angered the Donnie Yen. Prepare for asskicking.

Did you know that Korean revenge is a genre? It is in my world anyway, and it’s one of my favorite sub-genres. South Korea has been making some mighty fine cinema for the last decade or so. If you haven’t seen Oldboy (not that godawful American abomination that has no right to exist, but the real one), go watch it now. I’ll wait.

Fucking amazing, right? Is that not the best movie you’ve seen in the last fifteen years or more? Damn straight it is. Park Chan-wook is a cinema god. Granted, nothing he’s done since has touched the cinematic brilliance of Oldboy, but I cut him some slack. It’s hard to rival that movie, because it is so unbelievably tits. Just like Ridley Scott can never touch Blade Runner, they should keep making movies anyway, just on the off-chance that they manage something nearly as good.

Anyway, Korean revenge movies. It’s a thing that I adore. They rarely throw love stories in there, and if they do, they’re integral to the plot, as in Oldboy, so it doesn’t bother me overmuch.

I’m the same way with books. The only romantic type stories I can deal with in literature are the kind that end badly like Wuthering Heights or Romeo & Juliet. I don’t mind romance in there as long as it’s the star-crossed variety. If one or more of them dies in the end, I’m in.

So, after all this preamble about disliking love stories, why is it that when I wrote the latest part of The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton, a detective series I’ve been writing that has nothing to do with love, I added some sexual tension between Walker and Betsy? I haven’t published the latest installment of The Dwarf yet, because this fact chagrins me. I’ve even written the book’s ending where, well, I don’t want to add spoilers.

The romance in my writing is a lot like the horror in old horror movies; implied, but never  shown. Have you seen the The Haunting (1963)? It’s scary precisely because they don’t show anything scary. It’s all implied. It could be because of a tiny special effects budget or it could be that the director knew that the phantasms created in the imaginations of the viewers are way scarier than any animatronic creature Hollywood could invent. They remade The Haunting in 1999 and it’s boring, because they thought special effects could top our imaginations. They were wrong. They were wrong to remake it in the first place.


Soap box over.

Why is it that when watching or reading something to entertain myself, I look for something without romance, but when I wrote it, I added it in there? Why am I such a huge hypocrite? It doesn’t really add to the plot. It doesn’t really move the plot along. It doesn’t have to be there, but it’s there anyway. Perhaps later today or tomorrow, I’ll pull the trigger and post it, and you can let me know if you think it’s superfluous or not, because obviously, I haven’t a clue.

Do you write romance in your stories that have nothing to do with romance? Does the superfluous love story bother you? Do you love Donnie Yen? Do you wish I had gotten to the point much sooner? Do you even know what the point is?

Dwarves & Grief


You may have noticed that pretty much the only posts on this blog these days are either part of a fictional story no one really cares about or my thoughts on grief and how much it sucks.

I suppose there’s a good psychological reason for this. The grief post are there, because, well, I have a lot of it since Male died. The Dwarf–as I’ve come to call it because its real title is ridiculously long and àpropos of nothingposts are there, because the only people I seem to want to spend any time with lately are the ones in my head.

I like visiting their world. I like my characters, I like making them do things, and I like seeing how it all fits together.

Even when I’m not writing The Dwarf, I’m thinking about it. Yesterday, I updated the cover for the book to this:


Why? Well, I don’t know. I just did. I wanted it to look even more reminiscent of an old film noir, even though the story isn’t really noir at all. I suppose the gumshoe aspect of it makes me automatically think film noir.

I also went through the whole thing and edited it yesterday. I added another character, Shamus the dog. He belongs to Betsy. I added this to the end of part 4:

Bets and I drive back to the sweet, sweet city in her ludicrous compact car. I show off how bravely injured I am. She almost slams the car door on my legs. Always the nurturer. Her car suits her about as well as her name. On the other hand, her gigantic slobbery dog who insists on putting his gigantic slobbery head on my shoulder the whole trip home because he loves me so much, fits her perfectly. She says it’s a coincidence, but of course, she named Shamus after me.

How many of you get the joke about her dog’s name? Is it a little too obtuse?

I know Walker really well at this point, but I haven’t worked on Betsy all that much. Probably because I’m writing the story from Walker’s point of view and because she’s a lot more similar to me than Walker. Reading through what I’ve already written, I found her to be a little harsh for no real reason, so I softened up her dialog a bit and gave her a dog since you can’t be an entirely bad person if you love a dog. This is reminiscent of myself since I tend to be rather unapproachable to people, but turn to mush around puppies. I like most dogs better than I like most people.

Both of my main characters are based on aspects of myself and aspects of Male. They both have qualities of each of us. If you put Male and me in a blender, and poured us out into two other people, those people might be Walker and Betsy. Writing this story, is allowing me to work through the grief of losing Male, because I can keep parts of him alive through my characters. So much of him is in here. I miss his sense of humor.

I fleshed out the rest of my characters as much as I could and even gave them stand-in visual representations. Not that they really look like this, but I’ve found that it helps writing if I can picture roughly who they are. I suppose if they made a movie of my book, this is who I’d cast in the parts (never mind the fact that some of them are dead or make-believe).

And so on. Strange that most of the visual representations I chose were from classic Hollywood. I guess that also fits with the film noir style title. Walker is more of a cross between Errol Flynn, Toshiro Mifune and Cary Grant. Take Cary’s suaveness, charm and humor; add in Toshiro’s swagger and toughness tinged with sensitivity; and Errol’s affability, smile, and refusal to grow up or take anything too seriously, and you have Walker.

As a result of the way Storymill, the creative writing software I’m using, allows you to not necessarily write in an entirely linear fashion, I wrote a scene that I wanted to happen in the middle of the story, a few thousand words from where we are now. That scene led to another, and today, I wrote the book’s ending. I know exactly how the book will end, but I still have no idea how it’s going to get there. This is what my book looks like now:

Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 2.06.41 PM

Between Competing Goons and The Love Duck, and Fuzzy and Squishy and The End (what’s with these scene names?), I have a whole lot more book to write. I’ve got the beginning, a bit of the middle, a very tenuous end, and an idea for the next book in the series, which is going to be a prequel. I’m getting way ahead of myself here, but I’m very happy with the way this story is progressing. I seem to have little difficulty writing it and it helps with the grief. Now, if only I knew what I was writing…

For now, I’m just going with it. It seems to be working for me, since for the first time ever, I’ve written over 10,000 words on the same story. Not even during NaNoWriMo have I written this much on a fictional story without running out of steam and without hating it, so yay me.

Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 4.49.50 PM

Maybe someday, I’ll write something with a broader appeal again, but for now, I’m afraid you’re stuck with The Dwarf and grief posts.

Have you ever written in a non-linear way before? Do you know how your stories end as you’re writing it or do you wing it? Have you ever written or read the end of a story before the rest?

A Story That Must Not Die


I’m tired of my story. I’m weary of carrying it around with me. I’ve been steeping in it forever and it’s tiresome. I would like someone else’s story for a while, preferably with lots of free time and a happy ending.

The chapters of my story are varied, but they share the same root. They’re woven together into a tapestry… a crappy tapestry… a crapestry.

If you really want to get technical about it, these are the chapters of my story:
Picture 3

There are nineteen of them, including the introduction. Even though I’ve only lived half a life so far, I’ve written a whole story. I did so hoping that the remaining years will be very boring. I’m totally looking forward to boring. I want to yawn and nap my way through my 50s. Playing bingo sounds great.

My life makes for a fascinating book in need of some serious editing. It will be published posthumously or when my parents die, whichever comes first. I’ve already written the highlights in the post called Dented Bucket List, but some of them include:

Child sexual abuse.
Alcohol abuse.
Drug addiction.
Sexual assault.
Traumatic brain injury.
Skin cancer.
Domestic violence.
Identity theft.
Attempted murder.

It’s a long laundry list of shitty, shitty things. Most people are horrified when I tell them one of those tidbits, let alone all. They all happened to me. They are my story.

I can’t help but roll my eyes on the inside a little at the reactions I get when I tell people my story. People are horrified. They always are. They don’t know how to react. I don’t blame them; I wouldn’t know how to react either. I’ve had decades to digest (or ignore) all that has happened to me. The people I tell only have a few seconds of reaction time.

People look at you differently when you tell them that you were tied up, blindfolded, gagged and sexually tortured starting at the age of seven, which was just the first tile in a domino effect of abuse. They can’t help it.

Nobody has the same life experience as me. Some people can relate to certain experiences, but other things leave them dumbfounded. No one I’ve ever met has experienced all of the things on that list. People can relate to one, three, maybe even five of those things, but all of those ingredients together are unique to just me. I’m so lucky.

No matter how bad your life story is, there are always people who have it worse than you. I’ve never experienced war first hand. I didn’t survive a Holocaust. I’ve never been unjustly imprisoned. I wasn’t born into slavery or sold as a commodity. Well, when I was a prostitute, I very much was sold as a commodity, but I was the one doing the selling, so I don’t think that counts.

It is not a competition to have the shittiest life. If it is, I’m not even in the running. I’m bush league compared to Malala Yousafzai or Squanto.

There are always people worse off than you. I am lucky. I’m relatively healthy. I have most of my original factory equipment. I have freedom of speech, politics and religion. I can walk, see, feel, taste and partly hear. I am still alive. I survived, at least, physically. Mentally, well, that’s a different story. There are wounds on top of scar tissue in my psyche that are still fresh and they probably always will be, but I am alive to experience them.

I don’t want people to think of me differently when they hear my story. I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me. I roll my eyes on the inside, because horror is exactly what I don’t want. I’ve had enough horror. I experience horror at night when I try to sleep. I will always be visited by demons in the night when I’m most vulnerable and my conscious mind cannot protect me. I will always sleep with a baseball bat next to my bed.

As much as I shun my story, as tired as I am of carrying it around and letting people read it, I wouldn’t change it. I sure as hell don’t want to relive it, but I don’t regret it. It is all of those things that make me who I am. It is mine.

I haven’t opened any of those chapters in a dog’s age. When I wrote my story, I wrote it straight through, like a woman possessed, every day, as much as I could until it was done. When I finished, I closed it, saved it, backed it up and never looked at it again. It was outside of me. That was enough.

My story is a story of loss, hardship, heartbreak, very few lucky breaks and many awful, awful things, but I won’t get rid of it. I keep it in a file folder, because when I’m ready to put it out there, it just might help someone. If my words can help another soul not feel so alone, if they can relate to a little piece of me, then it was all worth it. Selfishly (because I want to help) and conceitedly (because I think I can), it is a story that must not die.

So, what’s your story? Share it at Stories That Must Not Die.

There’s A New Kid In Town

Picture 3

And it’s looking to kick ass and take names. I’m not sure what we’ll do with the names once we take them, but there will be ass-kicking. And possibly cookies and punch.

I have been asked to contribute to a new blog called Stories That Must Not Die. It’s a sort of replacement for the extinct Black Box Warnings. “A safe space for our hardest stories.”

STMND (Not quite as catchy of an abbreviation as BBW or TOC) was started by our lovely Rarasaur. She might not be with us for a while, so we’ll carry on as best we can without her.

Speaking of Rarasaur, show some RAWRlove over at Queen Creative, please. It doesn’t even have to be cold hard cash; they’re even accepting love in the form of nuts and meat. Send nuts! I dare you!

I was a contributing author at both Black Box Warnings and The Outlier Collective and it honestly pissed my Wheaties that both of those sites disappeared over some interpersonal drama. They were both safe places where people could tell their deepest darkest secrets and they are both gone.

In my post for Black Box Warnings, I wrote about domestic violence. At The Outlier Collective, I talked about body image issues. On my TOC post, there was a girl who read it and decided to get help for her anorexia. I was able to directly impact someone by sharing my words and that has never happened to me before or since. It’s all gone now and that’s just wrong.

Anyway, we have a lot of cooks in the kitchen over at STMND and I’m only one of them. Some of the cooks I know well and there are others with whom I have only passing familiarity, but they were all chosen by Rarasaur, so they’re all good people (except for me).

I haven’t written anything over there yet because I’m a fan of structure and deadlines, and we haven’t had a meeting to discuss how this will work. Or maybe they did and I wasn’t invited. Without structure, I just sit here twiddling my thumbs. Do-dee-do.

When I post over there, I’ll let you know. For now, check it out and follow, please. And don’t forget to send nuts.