I'm a wife to my dear husband of 35 years, a mother of two exceptionally wonderful children--no, I am SO not prejudiced--and a writer. Jaymi and Justin have left the nest and are married to people who are just as wonderful. And even better? They live close by. We get to enjoy lunch dates, movies, and time together whenever we can. No grandchildren yet, but I have hope.
I became a writer because I've always had a habit of changing plots, character traits, and endings of the books I read. My mom and I used to always share books and talk about them afterwards. She would always leave a little post-it note on the front with messages like, 'Good one!,' 'Don't pass this one up,' 'Wow!!!!,' Gotta read!,' and I would do the same. Even after I moved to North Carolina from Texas, we continued to haul sacks of books back and forth when they drove out here for visits. Was a little harder when I flew out there. During their first visit to North Carolina, Mom and I were discussing one of those books. I began my lengthy oratory on how the book should be this and that and what I would do to change it. Mom said, Diane, you need to write your own book. And so began my writing career. I'm just sorry my mom, God rest, won't be with me when I sell my first book.
My favorite joys (other than my family) have been reading and going to the movies for as long as I can remember. My reading and movie interests are very eclectic. Romance, of course, is at the top, but I also love mysteries, thrillers, espionage, and paranormal. When I get all of them in one book or movie, I'm a happy puppy. However--and this is key for me--all books and movies must conform to the following criteria:
Criteria #1 and most important: HEA (the happy-ever-after promise)
And here's why. After watching Million Dollar Baby a few years ago, I wanted to shoot myself, it was so depressing. But after watching Robin Hood with Russell Crow this weekend, oh man. Let's just say, my criteria list was fulfilled--big time. I definitely plan to see this one again. I felt the same about 3D Avatar, and yes, I went back and watched it a second time, too. If I know or even suspect that I'm not going to experience that HEA buzz, the movie is out. I refuse to waste my time and money. The same is true for the books I read. HEA is why I love the romance genre. And just so you know, for all you non-readers of romance, you're missing out on what makes the world tick. Romance books are no longer the silly bodice-rippers of the 70's, an image for which the genre sadly continues to pay the price. But that image no longer computes, folks. Romance books of today are about heroic men and women who face difficult challenges and impossible odds to find each other and fight for each other amid the chaos. Come on, take a chance. Try one on for size. I promise I won't tell.
Criteria #2: Good MUST win over evil.
The bad guy has to go, people. And by whose hand? Why, the hero's, of course, whether that hero is the hero or the heroine. This criteria is one reason I tend to avoid horror flicks. It's also the reason I gravitate toward action movies, even in my reading choices. If I have to choose between a romantic comedy or an action flick, I'll go for Bruce Willis every time. I mean, come on--there's nothing more satisfying than a hunky-hot Matt Damon as Jason Bourne taking it to the bad guy (or in Jason Bourne's case lots of bad guys) and beating them. Now, if I get romance in the bargain, again, I'm a happy puppy.
Criteria #3: A feel-good ending.
Now, this one is a little subjective, even for me. No matter what, the hero and the heroine MUST be happy and fulfilled at the end. In romance, the ending is always HEA, meaning the two main characters are together and plan to stay together through eternity, no matter what--you know what I mean. If I read the book to the last page or sit through an entire movie expecting my HEA but don't get it. Look out. UNhappy puppy doesn't even come close. I'm either looking for a match or a brick. Although I require action-filled books and movies to fulfill the same criteria, man and woman don't have to end up together, but that possibility must linger in the looks between them. Or if there are no romance involved, I get my feel-good ending when the good guy whips the bad guy's butt and saves the world or rescues the innocent. A couple of my examples are Gladiator with Russell Crow--he was eternally in love with his wife (I won't say more in case you want to watch the movie), and Tears of the Sun with Bruce Willis. This one was a total Navy SEAL action flick, but he and woman he rescued shared That Look at the end, plus, even though some of his men died as heroes, they fulfilled their mission, rescued the girl, and kicked the enemies butt. The idea for my WIP (work-in-progress, or the current manuscript I'm working on, for all you non-writers) was born when I saw Tears of the Sun.
Criteria #4: Heroes have to be heroic. I'll talk more about this one on my next post. Hope you join me.