Saturday, December 26, 2009

Goals for 2010 or the meanderings of a stir-crazy author.

I live alone. Up front I'll say I like it that way. In the past I've lived with people, I've lived alone and I've lived with my pets. In my perfect world I would live with my dogs and my books and be perfectly happy. Don't get me wrong, I love my family, but I don't want to live with them. And I hate to say it, but if I had a chance tomorrow to move to another place, I would jump at it. Three times now I've picked up everything I owned and moved to another country. The first time, at 22, to Los Angeles, a totally foreign place to a naive small town Canadian girl, where I didn't know a soul. Eight years later I moved to Hawaii, pregnant, where the only person I knew was the guy I moved over there with. While not as alien as L.A. Hawaii had its own unique culture and took getting used to.

Then in 2005, one month after my mother died, I moved again, alone, to Bermuda, where I also didn't know anyone. Each time I made those moves I did so with a great deal of excitement. I hate the physical process of moving, but I love going to new places and experiencing new things.

Now a new year is coming. Like most people I spend a certain amount of time thinking about what that new year will bring. Fame? Fortune? yeah, right. I don't write the kind of books that make people famous. I sure don't write the kind that make anyone rich. But is that really what I want? Nah, I don't think so. I want to write the kind of book that I want to read. I want to be read by people who want the same, and who look forward to my future books.

Would I like to move again? Give that one a resounding YES. I would love to move to another place, even if it was only another city in Canada. Is it likely to happen in the near future? I'd like to think it's possible, but I'm not counting on it. So instead of moving, I may have to be content to travel. Around a year ago I paid to attend the 2010 Left Coast Crime. This would be the first time I've been back to L.A. since I moved away in 1988 and I miss it. Right now those plans are up in the air, and depend upon finding a place to stay. I'll know by Januray 14th whether it's going to happen or not. If it doesn't, I have plans to attend Lee Lofland's Writers Police Academy in North Carolina in September. While no substitute for L.A. it would be an invaluable weekend for my writing, giving me hands on experience I can translate directly into my writing.

I'd love to make it to Toronto for Bloody Words, since this is the 10th anniversary of the conference which I used to go to regularly. I've always had fun there, but though it's close to me, the timing may not be good.

So my goal for 2010 is to keep writing, keep trying to please the people who have loved my books so far, try out new things and get out of Canada at least once. Is that too much to ask for? God, I hope not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why I hate wimps in fiction

I have a confession to make. I detest spineless, weak women in books. They are wimps. At first it was just an annoyance that I attributed to the times. But come on people, this is the twenty-first century, haven't we gone beyond having female protagonists in our books acting like the don't have two thinking brain cells and put themselves in danger or don't know what to do once they're under threat?

I was reminded of this dislike recently when I picked up a book by an author whose series books about a strong female cop I really liked. This one was a standalone and it was a big disappointment.

The heroine is a widow, recently remarried to a widower who has two children. She has some secret that she has shared with no one, not even the man she loves to death. Nor do we, the readers know what it is, apparently this is to make sure we keep reading.

She has issues with her parents, her in-laws, her husband's sister, her husband's sister's boyfriend and the woman who was once a live in maid and got the boot when she married hubby. None of this is shared with her husband, though she keeps thinking she should mention that she doesn't like it that they monopolize his time. She doesn't speak up. She's a wimp.

Her sister's boyfriend makes two passes at her, even though he knows she is pregnant and she is furious, but not enough to do anything about it. The first time around she doesn't even say anything to the boyfriend, the second time she tells him off, but not very assertively and he laughs it off, clearly not taking anything she says seriously. Does she tell her husband? Does she stop this man from hanging around them? Of course not. She's a wimp.

An abusive man threatens her. Does she call the police? No. You know why.

Only when the abusive man actually destroys her property does she call the police and only then does her husband find out anything about what's going on. He pats her on the head and tells her it's nothing. A 'now, now, dear, don't bother your silly little head about that' moment.

When the abusive man shows up again, does she call the police this time? No, she doesn't want people to get upset if the cops show up.

I find I will read very short bits of this book -- maybe a page or two at a time -- before putting it down in disgust. So why do I keep on reading even though it annoys me so much? Because despite the book's flaws the writer is very good. And I want to find out what this big secret is and who's out to get her. Not because I like the protagonist.

But I ask you, why do we persist in women always being weak, helpless victims who apparently have a million reasons why they can't call the police when a crime is being committed? Is it supposed to make me believe they are strong? That they don't need no cops help? All it does for me is make them TSTL. They're never proactive, despite refusing to bring the cops in. They never do anything but react to whatever the bad guy delivers, and usually in a way that ensures they will get in to more trouble.

Why is it authors can't have heroines with strong backbones? Is it because it means they have to work twice as hard to get the heroine into trouble logically, despite her being proactive and calling the cops when there's trouble? But if the did, think how much stronger and more appealing their books would be. Having stupid, weak protagonists is insulting to real women and, in the end, the mark of a lazy writer.

Will I read this author again? I will get more of her cop books, but I would be very leery of her standalones. And that's something no author ever wants to hear.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Status update

It's been a long time since I posted anything. A lot has happened. But some things never change. I'm moving yet again, this time in with my daughter. We both want to save money so this is the easiest way.

I've had 2 books come out since last year. L.A. Heat was reissued by MLR Press and I wrote a sequel, L.A. Mischief which goes into greater detail the missing months in L.A. Heat. I have 2 new L.A. books under contract to MLR which will be out later this year and next.

Another book, Geography of Murder will be out in the next couple of months, followed by Between the Darkness and the Light.

Later this fall an anthology called To Die For a novella Angel Light will be in it along with a Victor J. Banis story. I'm excited to be in a book with Victor, a veritable icon of gay rights and fiction.

This is going to be a good year for me I think.