Top Five Ways to Predict a Love Triangle’s End

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Romance writers like to pretend love triangles create this big mystery. Who will the protagonist choose? THE ANGST!!! But I’ve noticed some pretty good foreshadowing factors that are (almost) universally present.

1. Survival of the Hottest

Consider who is hotter. Who does the author most describe with words like “sultry,” “muscled,” “slender,” “lean,” shapely,” etc.? It is nigh impossible that they will be used equally between the love interests and you can always tell who has the hotness advantage.

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2. Tragic past

Next, look at who is most damaged, most unstable, and/or most in need of serious psychological treatment. Unhealthy coping mechanisms are a favorite of writers and generally include smashing things, taking out emotions on innocent bystanders, and/or murdering random people. (A horrible life gives you a free pass, apparently).

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3. NEVER the Best Friend

You know that sweet character who’s been secretly in love with the protagonist forever? Knows their birthday, favorite candy, and waits around for them even after he/she gets a boy/girlfriend? Yeah, they’ve got a snow ball’s chance in hell.

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4. Unrequited feelings

In a mutilation of the previous point, if the protagonist has feelings for a person with a boy/girlfriend, it tends to go the other way. That boy/girlfriend is automatically an obstacle and must therefore die.

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Okay, maybe not die, but the author usually makes them into a cheesy terrible or cheesy perfect person, both of whom we hate on principle (and not just for the love triangle itself).

5. Good to be Bad

Pretty much every romance series has a bad boy/girl. Even Jane Austen had bad boys. Writers love bad boys/girls. You can see the author’s teen bad boy/girl fantasies just bleeding off the pages 9 times out of 10. Typically, the jerk or shamed slut is redeemed by love (and usually life changing sex) , then subsequently made a “decent man”/“honest woman.” I might vomit just thinking about it.

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With one exception, I have always been able to predict the outcome of love triangles. Always. Because they are predictable and pointless and should be burned at the stake and bleh.

Can you usually tell how a love triangle will end? Was there a time when you were surprised and how did you feel about it?

The Romance Paradox

I like romance, but I don’t like romance. Do you see the problem? Well, I have also found the perfect solution.

For a while there, I was really into Young Adult Paranormal Romance. The evidence is all over this blog and Goodreads, but I got tired of it pretty quick for the same reason I tired of chick flicks: there is one story. After a few (dozen) books, I recognized a definitive formula to all romance novels (they literally teach it at RWA conferences) and it just wasn’t for me.

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Thing is, I still like love stories. I have a certain level of romantic in me that refuses to be denied. Despite an affinity for military history, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz, I am still a girl. It’s just bloody hard to find a love story I like.

Have long adored hardcore action stories, but I never wanted to be the hero’s girlfriend, I wanted to be his lieutenant. The one who survives to the end, saves his sorry hide when he gets in a fix, then ends up taking his place to outwit the Lannisters, defend Troy, or drive the Narens from Lucel-Lor,  or lead the Rohirriam.

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The solution to wanting a surprising, action-filled storyline that examines a wide array of relationships besides romantic (but still includes romance!)? For me it was—what else?—Epic Fantasy. The Tyrants and Kings series by John Marco had the perfect level of romance. Same with the Shadowmarch books by Tad Williams, Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms and the Mistborn trilogy.

I highly recommend "The Jackal of Nar" by John Marco to anyone seeking the emotional equivalent of a wood chipper.

I especially appreciate how people in Epic Fantasy are a lot quicker to figure out when their romance isn’t worth causing the apocalypse—unlike people in some genres. *coughcough*

So if, like me, you crave complicated storylines, complex characters, and some swooning on top, allow me to suggest your local bookstore’s Epic Fantasy section. (In a wholly objective and unbiased manner, of course.)

Sex in YA books is ruining my generation: Part III

I’ve been called narrow minded for this series, but that’s what happens when you suggest *gasp* sex isn’t always a good idea. In truth, my saying we need less sex in YA has about as much to do with slut shaming as Starbucks’ treeless holiday cups have to do with persecuting Christians.

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So here we go…

I wasn’t going to write this third installment, but I feel like some things need clarification before we move on. For starters, I’m not big on telling people what to do with their lives. I’m really not. However, there is a big difference between saying the world doesn’t end if a young person decides to cross that line and blatantly enforcing the idea that teens need to undergo sexual discovery.

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For about 200-300 years, Western culture has embraced the idea of sexually repressing people, particularly women. This led to a lot of “you’re going to hell” and “good girls don’t want sex” crap. It resulted in a lot of puritanical ideals, especially in religious circles, because people really suck at this whole moderation thing.

Over the past century, we’ve started along the sexual/women’s liberation road, but it is just that—a road—and you can veer off either side. (Remember what I said about people sucking at moderation?) When I’m reading a NYT bestseller in the lower Young Adult genre with two 14-year-olds getting it on, I start to get worried.

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The dose makes the poison.

There’s a time and a place for everything. We’ve all heard that too much of anything is bad, but the thought bears repeating. As someone who read YA through high school, I can tell you that those books (with scant exception) definitely show that only weirdos and basement dwellers aren’t going all the way by the end of the book/series. YA is full of protagonists getting mocked for their sexual ignorance and the solution to this is inevitably sexual activity. Sex is no longer something people are just shown to want, it is something they had better want.

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In (hopefully) tidy conclusion:

I have known too many wonderful people who felt inferior for not being in relationships or stayed in bad ones and due to the idea of the quintessential significant other and sex life that our Western culture encourages. Yes, books make up a small part (unfortunately) of the media we young people are exposed to, but they remain a part of it nonetheless.

(Also, this is a book blog and it would be kind of dumb for me to start wailing at the music industry.)

Whatever the case, your sex life does not determine your self worth either way. But going back to the points I brought up in Part II, I have never met an adult who told me they wished they’d dated more in high school/college. Not one.

Part I

Part II

Objectification is not the answer. Who knew?

The media has objectified women since there has been media. Whether it’s Greek statuary, books, movies, video games, music, or just about anything else, you can find examples of women portrayed as idealized embodiments of erotic fantasy, treated like commodities to be valued on their physical appeal.

emancipation-156066_960_720Thanks to feminism, there has been a shift away from this. Audiences have started to demand more for female characters and publishers and production companies have responded (thank you, capitalism). It still happens and I could rattle off a list of modern franchises I gave up on mainly for this reason, but there has been some improvement. If nothing else, people are at least conscious of it now. There is enough awareness that when objectifying material comes along, it gets called what it is. There’s room for improvement, but I definitely believe we’re on the upward curve.

We’re starting to have complex female characters who aren’t “drop-dead gorgeous,” female characters who don’t have that lingering close up of their bikini thong, actually have a storyline, serve a purpose beyond a love interest, lean toward more realistic body standards, and sexual objectification of men instead—wait, what?

(Disclaimer: If you read Romance/Erotica, you will hate me by the time you get to the end of this post.)

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(Was going to put the Magic Mike poster here, but, I just can’t pollute this blog like that. Google it if you must know.)

This is one of the worst methods of attempted feminism I have seen. We can all (at least I certainly hope we can) agree that women shouldn’t be objectified, but…men should??? Consider films such as the Magic Mike franchise *tries not to vomit* or just take a look at the covers in the romance aisle at your local bookstore *vomits*, both of which are tailored to a female audience. It’s basically an exposition of abs and biceps. It is also a direct defiance of feminism. *bashes head against desk*

Feminism is the radical ideology that men and women are equally valuable human beings who should be regarded as human beings. (Crazy, I know.) How are we supposed to treat a human being? The short answer—with respect. That’s a person, not a sex toy or living fantasy. Whether that person—male or female—is willingly being objectified or not (some of them get paid very well to look like that), they still deserve to be treated and viewed like a person. 

(And if you want to talk about the whole sexual empowerment thing…that’s a whole other blog post.)

For some reason, a lot of women get upset (and rightfully so) at blatantly sexualized female characters (do I need to list examples?), but then drool over Chris Hemsworth’s latest photoshoot. That’s pretty much a textbook example of hypocrisy. This is one of the main reasons I generally disregard the entire Romance genre with very few exceptions—it’s hollow wish fulfillment and basically porn marketed to women.

tumblr_mbfgjxIRG01qg8gy8o7_r1_250Saying it’s alright to have certain expectations/treatment of one gender, but not the other is discrimination, period. The solution to female objectification is not male objectification, that is just redistributed sexism. Sadly, many people seem to take the slew of female-oriented erotic content as progress, but it’s just presenting misandry as the solution to misogyny. Basically, we’re trading smallpox for anthrax.

Objectification is wrong no matter who it is being objectified and it solves nothing.

{Interview} Jennifer Anne Davis, author of THE KEY @AuthorJennifer

Today I have the awesome, amazing author of the True Reign series as well as The Power to See and The Voice. The Key, the first in her young adult light fantasy series, is currently free on all channels, so grab it while you can!
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You are the author of the light Young Adult fantasy True Reign series as well as paranormal suspense and contemporary. Do you think there is a consistent theme or element in all your stories? What has led you to write such diverse genres?

There most definitely is a consistent element in all my stories, regardless of genre. I always write about a strong female character that is up against seemingly impossible odds. However, she is able to overcome adversity by believing in herself, never giving up, and learning to trust her family and/or friends. However, I will say that after writing such varying genres, I’ve discovered that my strength is in fantasy, and I plan to stick with these types of books in the future.

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What has been the biggest highlight of your career as an author?

Having my first book, The Voice, win some awards! I’m honored that it received an award from The Romance Writers of America a few years back, it’s a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (YA category), and the winner of the San Diego Book Awards: Best YA Novel. When I first started querying this book, I didn’t have much success. Many agents told me that no one would read a book about a broken girl who learns to overcome her past to be a role model for others. I finally found a publisher who believed in the story and I’m thrilled by the reception the book has received. It’s immensely gratifying.

Has there ever been a time when a reader drew a conclusion from one of your books that was completely different from what you intended? What was it?

Yes. For The Power to See, I’ve had some readers upset that it’s an actual book with a plot and not about sex. Since the main character is in her early twenties, the book falls into the illustrious New Adult category. Many people automatically assume the books is a romance novel, and that’s far from the case. The Power to See is a crime drama. While there is a romantic element in the novel, it is not the driving force of the book.

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Complete this sentence: Before I start writing a new novel, I must…

Think about the story and characters for a solid month before I can even think of writing. I have to get to know my characters, understand who they are, what their personality traits are, what they look like, etc. I think about them in different situation and settings until I get a good feel for the book and the plot starts to unfold in my mind.

Oddest thing to have inspired you:

That’s a tough one. I’m not sure. I know watching my kids at MMA makes me want to write a lot of kick-butt fight scenes.

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Will Scarlett or Robin Hood?

Will Scarlett

What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview? What’s your answer?

Honestly, I don’t know. I am a very private, quiet, boring person. Interviews typically frighten me because they take me out of my comfort zone.

Bonus question: Can you tell us anything about what to expect in the True Reign spinoff series?

I’ve just started to write the synopsis for that one! I don’t want to give too much away, but the story will be told from Allyssa’s point of view (first person). Allyssa is Rema and Darmik’s daughter. She will be the strongest female character I’ve ever written and I can’t wait for you to meet her! She is going to be loads of fun to write.

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Also, Nathenek will play a major role in the book as well. He acquires a unique apprentice who causes all sorts of mischief in the book. The evil villain will be someone you don’t expect! The spinoff will be filled with action, adventure, and some sweet romance.

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Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she finally married her high school sweetheart. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three highly energetic children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.
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Friday Freebie #35 Ordained (The Immortal Archives #1) by Devon Ashley

I loved this author’s other series, Dust and Darkness, but haven’t gotten around to this one yet. I love the cover, though.

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Normally, the school creates the hunters – not the monsters.

Abby Sorrensten likes to play rough. Ripping the horns off the foreheads of demons, manipulating lightning and setting things on fire with the flick of your wrist can give you a serious rush. So she probably wasn’t the best choice for the Order’s experimental training program. Thirteen years of isolation, lack of affection and a bruised and broken body from horrendous training sessions creates more than just an exceptional fighter. It creates an evil within – an evil responsible for several deaths the night she left.

Two hundred years later Abby resurfaces as the very thing the Order trained her to kill: a vampire. A mythical demon has set his sights on the school and only the ordained hunter has the powers to face it. Unbeknownst to the Order, Abby’s their precious ordained one and their only chance for survival. As much as she would love to leave them hanging, she’s not willing to risk the life of Emily, a fellow friend and hunter also fed up with the organization.

But for Abby, locking herself away in a fortress with angry descendents of those she killed causes suspicions and tensions to run high. Abby must learn the demon’s weaknesses for battle before the Order learns hers.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

Download Ordained for free! (perma-free)

Friday Freebie #34 Prophet (Books of the Infinite #1) by R.J. Larson

I’m sorry I don’t have a review for this one. I started it awhile ago, but it’s a really far book and I just felt bad about not having the time to devote to it. But I will read this and in the mean time, you lot can try it out for yourselves.

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Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she’s much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne’s elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Yet she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to hear the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

Download Prophet for free! (perma-free)