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April 2011
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The other day I was looking through the blogs of a few of my favorite authors, and I came across a review of a newly released novel on a well-known fantasy publishing site. The reviewer was quite complimentary of the new book, but her review culminated with special praise of the fact that the protagonists (who are lesbian, by the way) go their separate ways at the end of the novel rather than choosing to stay together. She went on to say how much she dislikes books that try to claim that “love conquers all.” Now, this may have been because of the particular age group this book was written for, and from that perspective I don’t entirely disagree; but this got me thinking, a lot, last night.

I’m going to be perfectly frank here. I love, love, LOVE the theme of “love conquers all.” I love it because I believe in it wholeheartedly. And I believe in it not because I have some naïve giddy romantic idea that true love, once discovered, will transform one’s life into a fairytale forest of chirping birdies and squirrels that sit on your shoulder and unicorns that prance through the meadows and streaming rainbows and sunshine and sparkles everywhere… No, I believe in it because I believe that love is about 30% emotion, and 70% determination. I believe that love is a choice you make, consciously, to prioritize someone else in your heart through both the happy-fluffy-sparkly times and the dull-frustrating-angry-sad-painful times. You make that choice every day, sometimes even multiple times during the day, if needed. ^~ The tricky part is, it has to be chosen by both partners actively and daily in order for it to work. Either one gives up, moves on, decides they’re bored or it’s not worth it or their own interests are more important or there are greener pastures somewhere else – then nope, it’s not going to conquer a darned thing.

And true love is rare, I’ll give you that. It is not always easy to find someone who you fit with well enough that choosing them is a delight more often than it’s a struggle. And even when you do find such a person, there’s always the risk that they won’t feel the same about you. Most human beings, I think, desire this connection on at least some level, and spend a good portion of their lives looking for it. A few are lucky enough to find it. You know the ones – the little old couple in their eighties who, after fifty years of marriage, still hold each other’s hands as they rock back and forth on the porch of their nursing home. Does it happen for everyone? Sadly, no. But it’s very much what I want for myself, in my own life. And I would venture to say, based on the popularity of romance novels and sappy-ending movies and prince-gets-the-girl fairy tales and pretty much every song written by Taylor Swift, that I’m not the only person who dreams of having a love like that in my life.

(Ask that little old couple about their relationship, though, and you’re sure to get an earful of the trials and tribulations they had to navigate in order to be on that porch together fifty years later. True love is powerful and wonderful, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a hell of a lot of hard work, even terribly painful sometimes.)

But that is why I like my happy endings, goshdarnit. I’m not into “realism;” I’ve got plenty of that to deal with in my daily life. I read romance and fantasy because I want an escape from realism. I read because I want to be reminded that love does exist, and it is possible to find it, that it’s so worth fighting for, and that—if you make it important enough to you—it WILL conquer all. I read because it gives me hope and courage and faith, and I return to my own life and relationships with a refreshed determination to nurture the love I’ve been blessed with because it’s worth the extra effort. And this is especially important to me when it comes to lesbian stories, because the popular trend in so many lesbian movies, etc. is to give the characters a “realistic” ending, wherein they realize their relationship won’t work out and move on, forever trying to recapture what they had with that first love and looking back on it with a wistful c’est la vie smile. (Kissing Jessica Stein had me shucking objects around my living room in absolute fury.) Realistic? Maybe. But is that really the message we want to send—that lesbians don’t believe in happily-ever-after? That we don’t want it just as much as our straight friends? As far as I’m concerned, the last message we should be sending is that lesbian women should have no expectation that their relationships will last. It rather implies that their love isn’t as “real” as heterosexual love, that it is perhaps just a phase or whim (and following that line of logic, may even imply that queer people really are just confused, maybe even a little mentally unstable…?)

Now, I’m not going to stand here and declare that every story I ever write will have a happy ending. I don’t know what kind of a writer I’ll be in ten years, or twenty. And I’m definitely not going to promise that, once I’ve given a particular couple a happy ending in one book, they’re going to get to hang onto it with ease if I write sequels. I absolutely believe in realism when it comes to showing the complexity and difficulty that one faces when navigating life in partnership with someone else. I just – still – believe that ultimately, Love Conquers All… if you want it badly enough.

I’ll still read, watch and enjoy the more “realistic” stories because I can appreciate good storytelling even when the endings leave me disgruntled and unsatisfied. I will grant the writers license to tell me the story they want to tell, with the themes and statements they want to make, because it's their story and far be it from me to dictate to them how to tell it. If I have to, I’ll rewrite the ending in my own imagination so that it doesn’t sour the beauty of the rest of the story for me. But I will write the stories that I want to read – and you can rest assured that in my books, no matter how tragic or angst-driven or dark, somehow and in some way love will conquer all, every single time.

'Fraid my readers will just have to deal with it. :P

[crossposted from my website blog]

Current Location: work
Current Mood: busybusy

In an attempt to better deliniate between my personal social networking and my writing/book stuff social networking, I've created an actual Facebook page for my projects.


Feel free to "like" the page if you want to keep up with my updates via FB! :)

Crossposting this everywhere because I'm so excited...

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

I’m getting better (slowly!) at the whole DAZ3D thing. I’m even learning the animation features, which are really cool — and I’m hoping to use it to make some book trailers for SotG and Branded Ann once I’ve really got the hang of it.

In the meantime, I made some changes to my Branded Ann model that I like MUCH better than the original. New hair, better facial expression, and I’m learning how to light/angle the camera to get better images.

Oh, yeah, and I’m also figuring out backgrounds. *grins*

So here’s a sneak peek (and you’ve just got to click on it for the full size version, it’s worth it):

Absolutely amazed at what this program can do.

Oh, I’ve been getting some writing done, too. ^~

Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: work

I spent the weekend playing with Daz 3D on our shiny new computer, and came up with a bunch of portraits & cheesy romance-novel poses of Branded Ann and Violet. Thought you guys might like to see them!!

In other writing news, I'm *this* close to finishing the third chapter of Prayer of the Handmaiden, but even more importantly, I've got the first several chapters much more solidly outlined, and several very important pieces of the plot developed, AND have made some really good progress in fleshing out details of the series overall. This book is soooooo slow to write because I have to do so much development in order to even make a few scenes' worth of progress. *sigh* But it's coming along... I still don't have a final estimate of how many chapters it will take to complete the second book, but I'm hoping to get there at least after the next couple chapters are written so I can start tracking the percentage of completion that I'm at. :)

Enjoy the pictures... I'm hoping to try Shasta and Talon next. >D

Current Location: work
Current Mood: busybusy

MerryShannon.com has got a whole new look. Well, actually, it's very much the same look, but very different layout and organization because the entire thing is now powered by Wordpress, yay!!! This should make it easier for me to update my site when I'm not at my home computer... and since I'm not at my home computer very much anymore this is a very, very good thing.

I will likely be crossposting blog posts both here and on the site from now on...

Also, Ithyria has been eating my BRAIN for the last two weeks. *sigh* Why are there not more hours in the day?

Current Location: work
Current Mood: busybusy

It seems I'm always finding things to do besides write. First it was the excitement of a new relationship, then the responsibilities of a new job (complete with very long commute and long, long work hours), then a huge pile of immediately-vital home improvement projects when we bought our big fixer-upper two summers ago. Then all last year it was the wedding -- all the sewing and other preparations took up every smidgen of "free" time and creative juice I could muster.

And coming up soon, with any luck, it's going to be the craziness of becoming moms for the first time. ♥

With all this going on, it's been feeling a little like I've lost my muse. There's just been so much other "real-life" stuff to focus on, and my brain hasn't been telling me stories for a very long time. Oh, I've pulled out my writing projects here and there, feeling guilty for having ignored them for such long stretches at a time, and done my very best to force myself to get some words down. Thus far, in the past three years (since the submission of Branded Ann's final manuscript) I have managed to write a whopping TWO CHAPTERS of my next book. Two chapters in three years has got to be some kind of record... at that rate it will be thirty years before the second Ithyria book is complete!

I just received a royalty check in the mail this week, and decided to treat myself to a little inspiration -- a Barnes & Noble nook. Since the age of three when I literally taught myself to recognize the letters on the pages in order to be able to enjoy my favorite books without parental help, I have been the quintessential bookworm. I honestly have no idea how many books I've read in my lifetime -- as a child I read every day, usually more than one book per day. In high school I would head off to my school library before the first bell, check out three books, and by the end of the day I'd return them all, having read every last page. Reading has always been my greatest pleasure. And ever since I became a "grown-up" -- graduated from college, suddenly had bills to pay and a job that didn't allow me to spend all day with my nose in a book -- my reading habits have taken a serious nosedive. Not that I don't still read from time to time, of course, it's just that real life, and things like bills and limited storage space and no time to visit libraries like I used to have put a big cramp in my addiction. :P

The nook, however, is rapidly curing all of that. E-books are far less expensive than paperbacks and much, much less cumbersome to store after being read. The nook is easier to carry around than books (and I find it's more private as well, as no one can peek at the cover to see WHAT you're reading.) There are many books that are free, and I don't have to make a single trip to a bookstore or library to have plenty of reading material right at my fingertips at any hour of the day or night, wherever I might be at any given moment. I've cranked through four novels in the past week, ranging from Henry DeVere Stackpoole's 1908 romance The Blue Lagoon, Volume I (in high school I spent countless hours searching for a copy of this book with no luck. Now someone's digitized it into an e-book!) to Karen Marie Moning's Darkfever, which was very cleverly offered as a free download and is so addicting that of course I'm going to have to purchase the subsequent books in the series.

Reading has always served as my greatest muse... sort of like when you love playing a sport, watching some other team play makes you itch to get out there on the field yourself. When I find myself a great book, not only do I love getting transported off into the world of somebody else's imagination, but it reminds me how many worlds of my own I want to share.

Yesterday I finally felt a burst of writing inspiration like I haven't been able to summon in YEARS -- and the story that's been dragging its feet through my head all this time suddenly started flowing. I was up until almost midnight last night, clicking feverishly away at my laptop in the hopes of riding that flow as long as possible. Here's hoping that it keeps coming -- with any luck perhaps I'll have another chapter to share in another day or so. Just as soon as I finish this next book on my reading list. :)

Current Location: work
Current Mood: accomplishedinspired

For everyone who wasn't able to be there (and those who are just curious...)

If the player above doesn't work for you, you can also click here.

Current Mood: pleasedpleased

Epic wedding photo

We're married! (Illegally, perhaps, but nonetheless...)

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