The Slandering of Fairy Tales

A few days ago I was watching a news’ report about how several female celebrities are raging a war against Disney movies, claiming they’re sexist and promote rape culture (I’m paraphrasing). I get very upset when people bad-mouth Disney movies. I’ve been a groupie my whole life and before Disney, I was a fairy tale nut (still am) and I really don’t like the insinuation that I am supporting sexism by watching those magical creations of human imagination.

Fairy tales were written a long time ago when things were very different from today, but they are also works of fiction that ooze symbolism while trying to teach important lessons. No, I don’t think the lesson is “girls can only succeed if a man comes to rescue them”. Instead I’ve always thought that the message is that nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams, and that kindness and honesty are always rewarded. The men in the stories are the mere personification of the girls’ goals and not necessarily meant to be taken literally.

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I’ve been on a solid diet of fairy tales and Disney movies since I was a little girl and never once hoped or expected a man to come and make all my dreams come true. Yes, I dreamed of being loved (who doesn’t?) but I wanted to succeed on my own, have a career I loved, achieve my dreams. Never did I make plans for a big wedding and wished to stay home and take care of babies while my husband went to work and reached out for the stars.

Fairy tales don’t teach girls that they are helpless without a man. Cinderella dreamed of “moving up” and she did. The Little Mermaid wanted adventures, to learn new things, and see a new world. And she did.  Snow White (not my favorite character) managed to control seven guys on her own (Reverse Harem anyone?) and got rescued by a kiss. She was an unloved child who, like everyone else, needed to be loved and have someone to love. Love does not equal subjugation or dependency. It’s a vital emotion that all humans need for a happy life. Does it have to be the love of a man? No, but fairy tales are simplistic stories trying to convey a message in a way that will grab the attention of readers. The man in fairy tales represent dreams to be achieved. And yes, back when these stories first were imagined, the world was a very different place and marriage was indeed a female goal because there weren’t many other options for women. But what those men symbolized then hasn’t changed: they still represent dreams come-true, wishes realized–even if those dreams have changed substantially.

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Don’t underestimate your daughters. If you teach them right, they won’t think that the message behind a fairy tale is that the only way for a woman to succeed in life is getting married. I’ve been a feminist my whole life and I love fairy tales for what they are: magical stories about finding what we always dreamed of. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do you think? Do you think fairy tales and Disney movies are sexist and they give the wrong message to little girls everywhere? Or do you think they are simply stories that entertain and feed the imagination of children around the globe?

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Whole Lotta Frogs-Blog Tour

WHOLE LOTTA FROGS
BLOG TOUR
AUTHOR: SAMATHA HARRIS
RELEASE DATE: JUNE 19, 2018
COVER DESIGNER: T.E. BLACK DESIGNS

My name is Lennox Brooks and I’ll admit, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I don’t take the big risks, I cover my insecurities with snark, I’ve shown my crazy a few more times then I would’ve liked, and I’ve been trying, and failing at love pretty much since I first grew tits. 

Weirdos, Mama’s boys, the over-coiffed, and underwhelming, I’ve been out with them all, just read my blog. I’ve got horror stories that would curl your toes and singe your nose hairs, but none of them compare to the toad who started it all, Ellis Walker.

He was the boy next door, the charming, infuriatingly gorgeous one who broke my heart and disappeared without a trace. Now he’s back and determined to throw my life into chaos, dredging up painful memories just when things were getting good.

But the thing is there are always two sides to every story.

I’ve spent the better part of my life hating him for everything he put me through, but without that resentment clouding my judgment how will I ever resist him?

Love is complicated, appearances are deceiving, and sometimes you have to kiss a whole lotta frogs before finding your prince.

I got ready in a fury and reread Ellis’s invasive text three times while I fixed my hair and makeup, shaking my head each time and fighting back a smile.

I still hadn’t answered when I started walking the six blocks to Sawyer’s apartment. I’d barely stepped off the stoop of my building when my phone rang.

“You never answered my question,” Ellis said.

My lips curled up at the corners. “Of course, I didn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s none of your business.”

“Len, your nudity is absolutely my business. In fact, I’m the CEO of that luscious body and I’m a hands-on kind of leader.”

I shook my head, unable to hold back my smile any longer. “Wow, you managed to turn a creepy text into an even creepier metaphor. Kudos to you.”

Ellis laughed. “Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Naked,” he said. “I’m about the hop in the shower and I need a visual to, you know, help me finish the job.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“Unbelievably sexy you mean.” I could hear the grin in his voice.

“Whatever.”

“Seriously, though,” he said. “What are you up to?”

“Well.” I took a deep breath, the ice-cold air burning my nose. “If you must know, Sawyer offered to make me dinner. I’m on my way to his place.”

“Really?” he asked. “Great!”

I stopped short on the sidewalk my feet frozen to the pavement. People around me grunted their disapproval and moved around me as I stood glued to the concrete.

“Great?” What happened to throwing his hat in the ring?

“Yeah. I’m starved; I’ll meet you there in ten.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I love his food—man, that guy can cook. Best decision I ever made, going into business with him. Even if he’s trying to steal my woman.”

“Ellis!” I shouted into the phone. An elderly woman pulling a grocery cart behind her glared at me for my outburst. I mouthed my apologies to her then returned to my phone. “So help me God if you show up at Sawyer’s…”

“What’s the big deal? I’m friends with him. He’s friends with you. We can all have dinner together, it’ll be fun.”

“You aren’t invited.”

“Oh, Len, I’m hurt. I thought we were moving forward. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

I sighed. “Yes, we’re friends.”

“And friends sometimes eat together?” I groaned, not liking the route this conversation was taking. “Sawyer and I are friends, which I expect might change when I tell him how I feel about you. Oh, what the hell—we’ll just leave him out of this and you and I will just go ourselves.”

“Smooth, Ellis,” I said. “Real smooth.”

“I am pretty smooth if I do say so myself. Not to mention devastatingly handsome, and moderately charming.”

“Only moderately?” I asked.

“Yes, but don’t worry; I grow on you.”

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and closed my eyes. “Please tell me you are not going to show up this evening.”

Ellis laughed. “Relax. I won’t be interrupting your little dinner.”

“Thanks.” I checked the address and looked up at Sawyer’s building. The door to which was sandwiched between a dry cleaner and a greasy pizza place. “I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay,” he said. “Lennox?”

“Yeah.”

He didn’t say anything right away. I just stood there, the cold wind biting at my fingertips.

“Don’t—,” he started, his voice sounding almost pained.

“Don’t, what?”

I stood there listening to him breathe on the other end.

“Nothing.” He sighed.

I groaned and rolled my eyes. “Bye, Ellis.”

Samatha “Sam” Harris lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband David and daughter Ava. Born in Florida, she migrated north which most people agree was a little backwards. She has been an artist all of her life, a Tattoo Artist for more than ten years, and a storyteller since she was a kid. 
 
Sam has a slightly unhealthy love for Frank Sinatra, classic movies, and Jazz and Blues music, but her first love will always be reading. From Romance, to Thrillers, to Historical Fiction and everything in between, she loves to become a part of the story. As a writer she tells the stories that she would want to read.
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@LipServicesPR

 

The Vocabulary of Sex

Caution- This post contains words that may be considered offensive.

As readers and writers we know how powerful words can be. Words can make you happy or extremely miserable. Words can melt your heart or freeze it. As a linguist I may have an even more acute awareness of how powerful words can be and how we all should be more careful about how we use them.

I’m a romance writer, but I must confess I am not exactly in love with most of the romance novels being published today. I have a few favorites and I hope to find a few more as I read through the thousands of romances out there–both indie or traditionally published. For some time I thought the reason why I didn’t like many of the romances–including some written by very popular authors–was because a lot of them center their plot around sex scenes. But recently I came to realize that I was wrong. It is not the often overwhelming quantity of sex the characters in many novels are having, but the words used to express it.

Portrait of shocked pin-up girl

My current read is a dystopian romance written in collaboration between two pretty successful and popular romance writers. I came across it accidentally when I was desperately seeking other adult dystopian romances like my latest, Heart’s Prey (most of them are targeted at young adults). After I read the blurb, I was truly intrigued by the premises for the plot and decided to read it.

But let me back up a little bit. I am from an older generation (and no, I’m not geriatric quite yet) and a different culture. I was brought up to believe that words hold meaning and connotations, and that there are certain words you should never use unless totally necessary. Enter words like fuck, dick, pussy and others that are commonly used in today’s romance novels when describing a sex scene. These are all words I have–as many others of my generation and background–associated with a non-romantic sexual act. Maybe a one-night stand, or having sex just because well, it feels good. Or worse, associated with sexual assault. Being a feminist–no, it’s not a dirty word and I have never burned my bras or hated men because of their gender–I also connect those words with men talking about women as purely sexual objects, a word totally devoid of sentiment.

Let me make it clear that I do not endorse the ridiculous language used in romances twenty years ago or more when describing sex or the parts of the body involved in it. But if you are going to describe a woman’s or man’s genitals I much prefer–as clinical as they may sound–to read the words penis or vagina than pussy or dick. To me those words have nothing to do with love-making and everything to do with reducing the other person to a sex object.

Beautiful pair lays in a bed

I have given up on many romances because I just couldn’t stand the way the author used those words. It made me not respect or like the characters, and if I don’t like the characters I lose my interest in the story. In my current read, which is riddled with all of the above words and more, and has sex on almost every chapter, the words are not stopping me from reading and enjoying it. Why? Because so far (I’m about 70% through the book and I hope it doesn’t disappoint me because it’s a great speculative story) the use of such language is totally appropriate; it is part of the world building. In a world where people have sex just to have babies and where love is a thing of the past, it makes perfect sense that words like love-making get replaced with emotionless words.

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I agonize over sex scenes in my own books. Not because I’m a prude, but because I want to describe those moments in a way that shows how the couple feels about each other on a higher level than just the physical. In other words, I want them to make love, not fuck each other.

Have I ever used the above mentioned words? Yes, I have when it was appropriate, when I wanted to emphasize the way a character felt at that moment or when showing disrespect for another. I have used them when I was “building” a character’s personality or wanted to infuse the moment or situation in anger or hate.

I predict, as a linguist, that those words will lose most of their pernicious connotations in a few years. In fact it’s already happening. The twenty-or thirty somethings of today pepper their everyday conversations with them and obviously see nothing wrong with that. I’m not criticizing, just pointing out a fact. Language changes and evolves, with words taking on or losing meanings over time. That’s just the way it goes. However at this moment we are in a sort of overlapping of generations that view these words in very different ways, making it difficult for me to read and enjoy a romance that reeks of unhealthy relationships as I’m sure a younger one will read books like mine and think of them as not romantic, maybe even insipid.

Obviously there isn’t an easy answer for this, but tell me: where do you stand on this subject (no judgement) and do you think this is a generational thing or a passing trend?

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For a good laugh check out this Buzzfeed list of sexual words you probably didn’t know existed.

 

Coming Soon- Dean Mayes’s The Artisan Heart

 THE ARTISAN HEART

by DEAN MAYES

Featuring a strong female lead, THE ARTISAN HEART captures the essence of small town romance by bypassing the norms of gender roles, and beautifully portrays a second chance at love, all snuggled in the valley of a picturesque Australian mountain village.

Artisan

BLURB

 Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant pediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending his wife’s lavish parties.
When a betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains. With his city life in ruins, he stays, and picks up the pieces of his life by fixing up the home his parents left behind.
A chance encounter with a deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something that awakens dormant feelings of his own.
As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.

dean-mayes

BIO

 The author of three novels and an Intensive Care Nurse, Dean Mayes returns to his romantic roots with a heart warming story about starting over and rediscovering love, set in the former gold mining town of Walhalla, Australia where he spent much of his own childhood.

PUB DATE SEPTEMBER 1, 2018

PRAISE FOR DEAN MAYES

“Mayes’s characters inspire sympathy, and I kept reading to learn more about them.” ~ San Francisco Book Review (Gifts of the Peramangk)

“Dean Mayes clearly cares deeply about his characters, and his dedication to them shines through. I highly recommend this tale.” ~ Long and Short Reviews (Gifts of the Peramangk)

“…a great read that was fascinating medically and had great character development…” ~ Manhattan Book Review (The Recipient)

Central Avenue Publishing 

Other books by the author

GOTP Blogger

Books and Heartgasms

This weekend I learned a new word. One that totally describes what I feel when I read good romance: a heartgasm. It’s a perfect term for that feeling I get when reading about a loving relationship between the pages of a book. A relationship between equals, between two people who respect and love each other despite their differences.

Those of you who follow this blog or my Facebook page know that I have strong feelings about certain things that have became a part of the romance novel scene (some that have been around from the beginning, other things that came later but are just as insidious). In the heels of E L James’ success, a lot of other romance writers and readers were sold on the idea that disrespect can be sexy.  I have quit reading many a romance book because of that idea. Including romances that have been international best sellers and critically acclaimed.

Old vintage books and cup with heart shape on wooden table

Outlander is such a book. After hearing my friends and acquaintances praising the series as the most romantic book in years, I bought and began reading it. At first I absolutely loved it. What’s there not to love? A strong woman travels back in time to Bonnie Scotland to find the love of her life in the shape of this amazing, hunky Scot. The best part about Jamie Fraser is that he is strong but sweet, respectful, willing to lay his life down for the woman he loves, and in total awe of her beauty and strength. Even though there is way too much unnecessary sex in the story (my opinion) it didn’t bother me–it was loving and mutually satisfying.

Until a scene about half way through the book when Jamie sort of forces himself on his wife to “show” her who the boss was. I couldn’t read anymore after that. Before that scene there was the whole issue of a beating to put her in “her place”. However historically correct that may have been, the Jamie that I fell in love with in the beginning of the story ceased to exist and was replaced by someone very willing to do the unthinkable to prove to himself and the other men in the clan that he was man enough. Disrespectful and power-driven. I was very disappointed because the book was well written and the premise for the story was just up my alley. After all the first full length novel I ever wrote, way back before the new millenium (yes, I’m that old) was a time-travelling romance set in beautiful Scotland. My hero was from the same era as Jamie’s but he would never, ever disrespect his girl.

Heart icon. Vector illustration.

So back to the heartgasm. Throughout the years there have been many novels in different genres who have given me one. There have been YA novels, science fiction books, fantasy, women’s fiction, classics, and of course romance. It so happens it is the feeling I want to give my readers with my heroes and heroines, with their relationships and the way they overcome difficulties and obstacles together. The way they love and support each other while tackling their day to day life with all its troubles. That kind of thing–not the tough sex, the hot billionaire or the sexy biker–never fails to give me multiple satisfying heartgasms. What about you?

Her Real Man-Release Day

Her Real Man

Available Now

Title: Her Real Man
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Cover Designer: Soxsational Cover Art
 Add to TBR
 ON SALE FOR 99c 
All other links: books2read.com/RealMan
An imperfect firefighter defined by his past.
A determined author on a mission for the truth.
When Ana Mathews searches for book-boyfriend inspiration, she gets more than she expected from Gavin McLeod. Her quest to find imperfection could be the spark that brings to life their chance at happiness, or the burn that could destroy it all.

The Barbie Factor

I read something online about Barbie dolls the other day, which I believe was meant as a joke but made me think, “Hey, that’s exactly how it was for me.”

The post was about how Barbie dolls had been so much more than dress-up toys for this woman writer–the dolls were a tool for her to practice how to take over the world.

In my country we didn’t have Barbie dolls, but we had something very similar. Mine was a Susi (which I still have today) and yes, I dressed her, combed her hair, and admired her perfect made-up eyes and lips. But Susi was so much more than that.

Susi Dolls

Susi dolls

She was my prop to recreate all the stories I had in my mind. I’d plan and put together elaborate stories and play them over and over again, adding details, perfecting it. I remember one particular setting I seemed to favor–not sure why: a baby bathtub which I had filled with every supply my doll and her family would need. The plot was simple; they were escaping some kind of calamity and they were stuck on that ship until they found a safe harbor somewhere.

Even though Susi had a husband, she was always the one in charge. She took care of the whole family and was the one who found solutions to every problem. She might have been tiny–hubby was a full size doll–but she was fierce.

Barbie

Because of that I always roll my eyes at the whole controversy about said doll. I never looked at Susi and thought, “I want to look just like her and be perfect, thin, and helpless.” Instead, I thought, “Girl, let’s go do something awesome and worthy of the kick-ass heroine you are.”

I projected my inner goddess into the lifeless doll and practiced my writer’s imagination and my female super-powers 🙂

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My original Susi with the medieval dress I made for her. (sorry it’s so blurry)

What did you do with your Barbie dolls?

Becoming Visible

I recently bought a children’s book called The Invisible Boy. After skimming through it a few times, I had to buy it. I knew exactly how the boy in the story felt like because I’ve been invisible for most of my life.

As a child and the oldest of three girls (my sister and my cousin), I craved for attention much like most kids do. Not because I was neglected or ignored (I was lucky enough to have a very loving family) but I was always the “cold one” or the “sulky one”. I had a tendency to sulk or be contrary. And I was very quiet. What people didn’t understand was that I was uncomfortable showing affection or letting people know how I felt or voicing my wants and needs. I just didn’t know how, pure and simple. So I sulked, for lack of a better way to express my feelings.

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I was also constantly mad at myself for being scared of everything, of not taking risks, of not eliciting the same type of comments my sister got for being sweet or my cousin for being a dare-devil. I was moody, small, and introverted. Nothing people really paid attention to.

In school I went mostly unnoticed by the teachers (not brilliant or dumb enough) and the other students (too shy, too inside-my-head).

Imagine my pleasure when I found the written word, the power to express my feelings without actually having to speak. It was magic. It didn’t take me long to realize I had finally found my voice.

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I wrote many stories, some shorts, some long, some never finished. I wrote a million letters to poor unsuspecting friends who probably thought I had lost my mind. The girl that never shared opinions or feelings could not stop talking now in her newly found language.

My love for the written word was so strong I mastered it in several different languages by the time I was out of high school and I eventually became a published author in a language other than my native one.

Writing is who I am. When I write I’m not so invisible anymore.

A Girl, A Key, And A CD

It’s been a real rough couple of weeks for me. Those who follow my blog may be wondering why I haven’t been regular with my posts. I apologize for the dearth of written material, but I was simply pulled into the dark vortex of a few hellish weeks. Nothing much has changed other than I seem to have found the time and inspiration to write again (translation: I’m totally ignoring the mess and chaos around my house to focus on writing).

Last Thursday, and to crown an emotionally and physically draining week, I experienced a weird and (later) hilarious event involving my car. That day, I had a car-full of things I needed to bring into my school for the evening multicultural event as I drove my way to work. I parked the car in my usual spot and turned off the engine. Except I couldn’t.

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The engine went off, but the electric part of the car wouldn’t turn off, and I couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. I moved the steering wheel thinking that maybe it had locked. Nothing. I turned the car on and circled around the parking lot before parking again. Nothing. I jiggled the key, changed gears several times. Couldn’t take the key off.

Needless to say I ended up hugging the wheel and crying my eyes out. I love my pumpkin (my car) but I may have called it a few ugly names. I called the insurance people who told me they were going to send a tow truck. I also called a friend in the building and asked her to come and help me take the stuff out of the car.

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My school is not in the nicest neighborhood. I didn’t want to leave all that stuff inside an opened car. So me and my friend moved all my crap into her car and then she tried her hand at the key. Nothing. Another coworker came to help, but he couldn’t figure it out either. The consensus was, “This is really weird.”

When the tow truck showed up, the driver also tried his hand at the damn key with the same results. Giving up, he backed out of the parking lot and drove the car into the tow truck. I’m watching from the side and I see the driver’s window suddenly open and a hand stick out of it with the car key.

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“How did you manage to take the key off?” That was the question of the day.

“I moved your CDs.” Strange answer, I thought. But he explained, “The CDs were sticking out just far out enough that they were pressing the button on the gear shift and making the system think the car was not in park.” Whaaa…?

We had a good laugh, he moved my car back to its parking spot, and left. I stood in the parking lot in the freezing temperature feeling stupid but amused at the same time. Who would have thought you could lock a car’s system and make a grownup woman cry with a simple CD?

Oh, Oliver!-A Character Talk

Yesterday, Blind Magic was released into the world of readers. I’m seriously pumped about it since Marcy, the main character, is one of my favorite characters ever. She was a favorite sidekick in Loved You Always and it still is now that she has her own romance.

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I’ve written a couple blogs about this quirky witch and her winsome personality, but I’ve kept pretty much quiet about her male counterpart and love interest. There is a reason for that. I don’t know how to talk about Oliver without revealing some things about him that I would prefer to keep a secret, so I can surprise my readers.

But I decided to risk it and write this blog about wonderful, swoon-worthy Oliver. After you meet him you will totally understand why Marcy, an independent, free-thinking woman, falls in love hard for this guy.

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Oliver is one of the cops who was shot in Loved You Always while on protection detail for Marcy’s friends, Emily Rose and Jem. Oliver seeks Marcy’s help with a vexing problem at her witchcraft store and the relationship hits the ground running.

Oliver was both a hard and easy character to write. He’s complex and charming, broken and brave, sexy and vulnerable…. I was terrified of writing him, of not doing him justice, of writing him in a way I would totally betray who he is. I think I may have done a good job since I’ve had great comments from readers so far. I’d love to hear from you if and when you read it.

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His life has been far from easy and the ghosts of his past are still out to get him as he develops his relationship with Marcy. The little witch–like he likes to call her–is the light in his rather dark life and he is the missing piece in Marcy’s. He’s the classic type–organized, well-dressed, and reserved. She’s a free-spirit–open, quirky, and unconventional. On the outside they couldn’t be more different, but inside they are two peas-in-a-pod. Made for each other, true halves of one whole.

I love Oliver and I’m so excited to share him with all my readers. I can only hope they love him as much as I do.