The Phantom of the Opera: The Romance That Never Was

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Way back in April, I said that I wanted to focus on a few topics that I wanted to dwell on and share with everyone. One of those topics came from watching a few Youtube videos about various movies, where they succeeded and where they failed.

Then I came across one Youtuber that I could be easy friends with. Her name is Lindsay Ellis.

Lindsay has various videos on a number of different topics. Each one added another angle to the scope of creator I wanted to be. I found myself agreeing with a few of her points. I don’t think I could ever fully apologize to Stephaine Meyers for what I said about Twilight, but at the same time, I do respect the woman for her timing and knowing her market.

Then I came across a few videos that while they hurt, I can understand why they are important. This one is the most important one.

Now, I will start out and say this: I love the Phantom of the Opera. I really do. But sometimes we need to tell those that we love that they are not really the portrait they’re painting.

I won’t really get into the breakdown of the above video. Lindsay did a great job in making some great points. But after watching a special with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and learning what he says is his inspiration for writing this wonderful tale of mystery and intrigue, I feel the need to say something.

Sir Andrew said that he read Gaston Leroux’s novel when he was at a low point in his career. His wife just turned down a role that she couldn’t believe in, and the last thing he had written was just plain silly. He was inspired by the romantic elements of the novel and BAM! The Phantom as we know it was born. (I may be paraphrasing, but this was my takeaway from his little speech.)

Now, that sounds perfectly fine. It’s something a lot of writers can get behind. Except for 1 itty, bitty, teeny, tiny detail.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA WAS NEVER A ROMANCE!!!!!

Not A Romance

Sure, wanting Gerard Butler to lust after me is a life goal, but what Erik does… who the Phantom really is… if any man for copies him, well… I don’t know about you, but I’m calling the cops.

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Let’s take it from the top.

  1. Erik is a LOT older than Christine. I’m talking about at least 20 years older. He was in his 40s. Christine was only like 16. I don’t really care if it was of an age where grown men could marry children. He was twice her age.
  2. Erik was crazy. His disfigurement aside, Erik was a genius that went mad. He studied all of these arts, music, architecture, swordplay, you name it, he was supposed to have studied it. But when it came to interacting with people, he has the mentality of a 10-year old that only wants to play with his toy, Christine.
  3. Notice, I said that Christine was his toy. He didn’t love her in a romantic way. She was something for him to play with. How can I say this? Because when the chips are down and she’s given the ultimatum of stay with me, or I will kill the Viscount and this other poor slob that I can’t remember his name, Christine kisses his forehead, and Erik decides that she’s so sweet that he let her go.
  4. Can we also talk about how Erik is a murderer? I’m not talking about Vampire or Werewolf kind of killer. He doesn’t kill to survive. No. He kills because he doesn’t want you to interrupt his game! Does that sound familiar???
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I could be wrong. Don’t kill me if I am. 

 

Also, we need to talk about Christine.

She’s a child. Point blank. She’s only 16, and here is this creature KILLING people, starting fires, and STALKING her! Of course, when Raoul proposes to her, she wants to hide it. And she has to play it off as if it were another game. Why? Because she knows that Raoul would want to fight Erik, and 40-year-old Erik would kill the 18-year-old nobleman.

I’m not cool with thinking of this as romantic. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love the Phantom of the Opera’s musical. But I never thought it was supposed to be romantic. And with the current climate, while I’m proud that my daughter knows what is loving vs what is toxic vs what are two spoiled teens that can’t control their hormones, I also know that she’s not the norm.

Girls see things like this and want to wax poetic about how romantic the Phantom is. These are the same girls that would think there’s nothing wrong with a billionaire selling their car, and replacing it with something he chose. These are the same girls that think a 90-year-old vampire watching a 16-year-old girl sleep in the privacy of her own bedroom is romantic. We need to call it for what it is.

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So, I’m sorry. If you feel like the Phantom of the Opera is this sweeping romance where the true hero sacrificed his love so she could live on, good for you. I really want you to think about the heroes you let into your heart. Because if you would let Assailant: B go because he was handsome, or you can see his potential, BUT you would press charges on Assailant: A because he’s just creepy looking (yes, I know it’s a dummy. Work with me), I think you may want to have a long and hard conversation with yourself.

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I’m going to wrap this up. Hopefully, I still have a few friends LOL. I’ll say that I don’t want anyone to get it twisted. I am a fan of this musical. I enjoy the movie. I play the soundtrack all of the time and even sing along (when no one is around to hear). I just felt the need to let this beloved piece of work know that it’s not a romance. In my eyes, it never has been, and it probably never will be.

See you next time!
Dawn

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Masks.

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Memorial Day will never be the same for me.

On May 26, 2018, I got a frantic call from one of my cousins telling me that my older brother was involved in a motorcycle crash. When he said that he heard that my brother was dead, I yelled and screamed. I cursed him out and called him sick for playing such a cruel joke.

It wasn’t a joke.

Within minutes, I was on the phone with a police officer who told me everything I needed to know and nothing that I wanted to hear. It fell upon me, the youngest of 4 children to tell my family, our friends, and worst, my parents, that my brother was dead.

Things became a whirlwind then. I had to get him home (he was on vacation when this all happened). I had to contact everyone to make sure everything was in place. My sister was awesome. She was able to think of things that I never would have. We split things neatly down the middle. She handled the behind the scenes work, I became the face of the family.

I had an interview with a reporter, wrote his obituary, as well as a speech for the funeral. That’s all of the writing I’ve been able to do since that phone call. And everything was still moving forward, and I felt lost.

My brother and I were close. Two sides of the same coin if you will. And thinking about him in the past tense hurts SO MUCH. But I have to keep his words close to my heart.

“There is no mother fucker out here worth destroying yourself over. Not even me.”

We have a foul-mouthed family, what can I say.

But in a way, he’s right. I can’t let myself fall to pieces. I have to stay together for my daughter and my mother. I need to be there for my father whenever he needs me. I need to stand up because now he can’t. I know he wouldn’t want me to feel that way, but if the roles were reversed, he would be doing the same.

I met some of his closest friends the weeks leading up to the funeral. Men and women that knew my brother as well as I did. That hurt as much as I am. Some looked at me as if I were some sort of strange being because I was smiling, laughing and making others feel at ease.

I’m going to tell you a little secret about me. When it comes to all of the laughter, all the jokes and smiles, I have to tell you…

It was all a mask.

My brother wouldn’t want everyone he cared about to be upset. So, I acted like everything was fine. He looked good, so it was easy. I pretended that he was really asleep. At any given moment he could open his eyes and we could carry on like we always did.

My mask slipped when they closed his casket.

People wax poetic about the pain in their hearts when their loved ones pass. I was never one to want to do so. But watching those strangers seal my brother in that box killed me. I had to fight every urge to scream and cause a scene. I needed to be stronger than that.

I was able to put my mask back on once we left the church. By then, it was just a box. I didn’t think about him, or the fact that we were burying him. I needed to be the strong one again. And I was. I even hummed Pop goes the weasel as they were lowering the casket.

Now we’re nearly 4 weeks from the day I received that phone call. I remember everyone telling me that I was doing so much. It didn’t feel that way. But I think back on it now and have to take a breath. My brother wasn’t a celebrity by any means, but he touched so many people… Never mind the fact that we have a huge family to begin with, but between a memorial held for him by his friends and the actual funeral, I think I hugged nearly 400 people.

To have my mask in place for that long is exhausting.

I’m trying to level out. At least to a place where my mask doesn’t slip when I talk about him for too long. While writing this, I stopped and cried at least three times already. But I’ll be fine. He’s off on another adventure and when he and I meet again, I’ll beat the shit out of him (again, that’s how we roll).

Two for Joy is still coming along. I have to finish my first read-through before I can send it out to be edited. I’m aiming for a September release date. I’ll keep you all posted and see you soon. I think I’m going to work on one of those blog topics I kicked around a while back.

Love you
Dawn.

Strong Women vs Kick-@$$ Women

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In 2017 one of the biggest summer blockbusters of the year was Wonder Woman. A first in this new wave of Superhero movies.

Previously, women have been depicted as strong and capable… until a man comes on the screen. Then she becomes the typical Damsel. And even before that, we, the audience, were TOLD that this woman was strong of character. But there were very few instances of actually being shown.

In romance, most women (heroines especially) are known to be perky, and quippy. They are stubborn to the point of being a bratty child, but everything works out in the end because she gets her hero.

Where does this come from? Who thinks that this is okay?

TV and movie producers. Game designers. Various other powers that be (PTB) that are more often than not Old (white) and Male.

I’m not going to get into the race portion of this discussion. It has had me upset enough over the past month. And I won’t be man-bashing. Please, don’t think I am. Just hear me out. Especially on this next part.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I was of an age of weekday morning cartoons, weekday afternoon cartoons, as well as Saturday morning cartoons. Let’s look at this for a moment. 3 channels in the mornings and afternoons, 2 hours each during the week and then another 3-hour block on Saturday again, 3 different channels. Do you remember what cartoons there were targeted for girls?

  1. Strawberry Shortcake
  2. Rainbow Brite
  3. My Little Pony
  4. She-Ra
  5. Jem
  6. Hello Kitty
  7. Care Bears (but does this really count?)

That’s from what I remember. ALL of that TV time and I only remember 6 (possibly 7) shows for girls. There may be more, but this is what I’m going to run with.

Strawberry Shortcake, Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and Rainbow Brite browbeat us with how girls are supposed to like pink, care and share everything they have. Even when they have to share with boys… which is why I’m not sure if Care Bears was geared to girls. They had to share them with Boys. Hell, even now, they are changing the genders of some of the bears so that now they’re girls instead of boys and boys instead of girls (Here’s looking at you Wish and Funshine). Oh! And glittery magic saves the day.

Always.

Now I turn to She-Ra and Jem. Two of the most iconic characters that every girl wanted to be like.

But if we look back at who they are, I wouldn’t want to be either one. Not really.

She-Ra was a He-Man knock off. She could have been powerful and cunning. Hell, she started out as a villain. Oh just thinking about the ways the stories could have gone… I’m having a Padme moment. 

Because what we got was a woman that fought by the honor (a cop-out when you realize her TWIN fights by the power) of Greyskull. And she’s just a dumb set piece that’s there to look like Kathleen Turner pre-Jessica Rabbit. Okay, in her defense, EVERYONE in that show was dumb as a brick. Really. This chick was a CAPTAIN in the army you were just fighting, and because some muscle-bound foreigner says that we can trust her, now SHE is the one you’re hanging your entire rebellion on??? Crap. The more I think about it, the more I hate it.

So let’s move over to Jem. I used to sing all of the songs. I had the dolls. But after a while, Jem lost her appeal. I was starting to see more romantic entanglements because my older sister was starting to date. And I realized one thing about Jem that turned me off to the point I was done with her.

Jem teaches you that it’s okay for your boyfriend to cheat on you, as long as it’s with you.

Rio didn’t know that Jem was Jerica for a LOT of the series. I am honestly ashamed of how stupid he was. But he was making a play for BOTH Jem and Jerica. And both women acted like it was perfectly okay.

That’s not okay.

Now, there are other female icons that come to mind. Cheetara from Thunder Cats… but again, she was a set piece. A girl so that when brothers had to play with their sisters, the sister has someone to play as (I have an older brother… ask me how I know). Wonder Woman in Super Friends was the same thing. Tom and Jerry always fought over the girl. Transformers had Arcee. GI Joe had Lady J and Scarlet (To be honest, I LOVED Scarlet and Lady J), and while they were commanding women, they were tied to Flint and Duke respectively. The Baroness as well… even though I liked her way better than Destro.

So I think it’s pretty safe to say that there weren’t THAT many kick-ass women to admire growing up.

Don’t get me wrong. It was the same with movies. Women were over-sexualized in action movies if they were there. Or they were the ones that needed to be saved, even after being told don’t do the thing. Over time people seemed to confuse being a sexual creature with being a strong bad ass woman. They are not mutually exclusive.

And then two women came to become the benchmark for strong AND kick-ass women in the 90s.

Now, I will say this. I have my problems with Xena. I won’t get into them here. But I will say that for just about every season (except for the last one). I was DOWN for the Warrior Princess. She took on GODS and WON! She didn’t need a man to dictate anything to her. She didn’t need a man to define her. She knew what she needed to do, she sank her teeth in and did it. She used every weapon she had and she still had enough heart to know when she went too far. Xena was the type of character arc She-Ra deserved.

Buffy, on the other hand, had a hand full of strong women in one place. And here is where I will show you what I believe is the difference between kick-ass and strong.

First, we have Buffy. If she had her perfect world, she would be out at the mall with friends or cheerleading. But she’s been given the mantle of Slayer. That means no more mall crawls. No dating the captain of the football team. She has to spend her nights killing vampires and other creatures of the night. Again, she buckles down and gets her hands dirty.

Faith is another kick-ass character. Her arc goes from one of an antagonist to that of a hero to stand side by side with Buffy.

There is one character that walks the line between strong and kick-ass. Willow.

Willow started as the nerdy friend. The one that wanted to help out even though she knew she wasn’t strong enough to handle vampires they way Buffy did. So, they gave her a girlfriend, got her addicted to magic (Dark Willow was one of the BEST arcs… just saying) and she became a teacher to the other slayers. They learned to turn to her when Buffy was down.

Now, to the woman I feel is the strongest in the whole Buffy universe…

You can’t change my mind on this. Buffy’s mother Joyce is the strongest female in this show. Her daughter’s escapades forced her to change her entire life. She had to pick up her roots and move because of her daughter getting kicked out of school. She had to deal with an emotional teenager going through hell alone. The world was falling down around them on a weekly basis. And all Joyce did was take sigh, shake her head, and carry on. She raged maybe two times before she found out that Buffy was the Slayer? She wasn’t okay with it, but she knew that her daughter was the only one that could do it. So Joyce smiled, left a light on, and dealt with what came.

You don’t have to be a fighter to be strong. Just standing in the storm can give you strength.

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After Xena and Buffy went off the air, they left behind a void and they ignored filling it. The PTB decided to focus more on dramas where the women were all these love-lorn damsels that needed to be saved from themselves. Or on dramas where no one was likable.

We also saw the rise of the reality show.

Yeah. Whole. Different. Monster. We’re talking about women in fiction. Reality shows are quasi-fiction at best.

There were movies that tried to have that kick-ass female lead. But no one seemed to be able to hit the mark. TV was obsessed with the Jersey Shore, American Idol and the like more than they were with the next new Buffy.

To be fair shows staring a bunch of men weren’t really hitting the mark either. So, without a lot of TV or movies to watch, I fell into anime.

Hard.

Like, brick to the face hard.

But most anime of the 90s and early 2000s can be summed up in one sentence: Boobs don’t work that way.

No, really, the jiggle bounce on some of those anime were really distracting. And I may do another analysis on Anime as it’s own medium in the future. I know there are a few that I already know I want to cover. But that’s not here. We’re talking about what happened with female characters.

Enter the Epic. The Wonderful. The Beautiful…

Kill Bill.

Tarantino was in his prime (at least in my eyes). And this had a nearly perfect mix of action and story.

Yes, with all of the wonderful movies about women embracing their freedoms with their sexuality. How it was okay to date around and NOT be called a whore, I gravitated to…

The Bride.

I didn’t know her name. I didn’t CARE. Here was a revenge flick that turned Revenge with Kevin Costner and the Wraith with Charlie Sheen into comedies. She was focused and determined. I loved all of the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad because of 1 key fact.

There was only 1 man on the squad (Bill doesn’t count. He ran it.)

(and Bill’s brother was actually kinda useless as we see in Vol 2… but we’re talking about Vol 1.)

So, let’s get back to Bride and the Vipers.

These are strong kick-ass women. These women set the bar for Kick-Ass in my world. To this day, I can only hope that my characters come across this way.

On the book front, I was still writing fan fiction. I think it was around 2004-2005 when I decided to try writing on my own. I started reading actual books again and stumbled on Paranormal Romance (my genre of choice). There were a couple of series that I started reading, and devoured. I would come in on book 9 and go back and find every book previous and read them all.

No lie. This was me. I knew the people that worked there and they knew both me and my daughter.

But by the time I reached book 12 in this one series, I realized that all of the “strong” women fell into a cookie cutter. Out of 12 books, all of these women were “strong” because we were told they were strong. They were “desirable” because we were told that they were. They were smart because, again, we were told. In 12 books, there was 1 woman that fought alongside her man.

If I’m being 100% candid with you… those other 11 women weren’t all that. As a matter of fact, a few of them dipped into Too Stupid to Live territory. How could a guy that’s lived for 100s of years find that fun? I’m going to ignore the ENTIRE cradle robbing feel that most Paranormal romance has. I want to stay on topic and this is already long.

But in the majority of Paranormal Romance, the heroine was The Damsel. If you want, I can go over character types. But this one is a no-brainer. She goes out, gets into trouble and has the hero rescue her. Louise Laine is a perfect Damsel (I have Superman issues. So I’m only going to brush on this.) She goes into danger because it’s her job. She often does so weapon-less. She also has no sort of self-defense training (that may have changed in later issues of the comics, but I don’t think so). It’s like she’s just going to do whatever she wants because her BF will save her within seconds of her scream.

There were a LOT of heroines like that in Paranormal Romance. It’s what drove me to want to write my own stories to have my own Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. I will admit, the closest things to strong women I have don’t get much page time at the moment. It’s something I’m working on changing. But again, to be candid with you, I’m having fun with writing kick-ass women.

Strong and Kick-Ass are 2 separate things that need to go hand and hand. But just remember, can have one without the other. You just have to give your characters reasons, flaws, and motivations.

And please, for the LOVE OF ARES:

SHOW US WHY YOUR FEMALE IS SMART, STRONG, KICK-ASS ANY OF THIS!!!!!

Remember, he’s watching.

gone too soon :(

He sees everything

(sorry, I was talking about Xena… couldn’t help it)

And this concludes my thoughts on Strong vs Kick-Ass females. Let me know your thoughts. We can agree or disagree… Just remember Rule #1.

See you next week!!
Dawn

New Directions

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No, I’m not starting a Glee Club.

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I know that I haven’t been up here the way I should be. But that’s usually because I don’t know what I should write. I write my novels (or try to) and keep it moving because that’s what I do. I have discussions with other authors and there are times when I feel like a fraud because most book references people use go over my head, but I nail movie references and even some video game ones.

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I also know storytelling. I’ve been doing it for years. I’ve also been told by a close friend that I have a “teacher aspect” to my personality. Because of that, I got to thinking (yes, LeFou, it’s a dangerous past time. Been there, sang that). And thought about talking about the crafting and storytelling that I’ve always been so invested in.

As a result, I’ve decided to do something a little different for a while.

  1. I’m going to stop beating myself up if I don’t have any content. Really, it wastes time and is very tiring. If I don’t have anything to write about or a writing prompt or even news to share it will be okay. I’ve had this blog since 2011 and it’s not going anywhere. Neither am I.
  2. I’m going to have actual writing and storytelling topics. Some will involve Anime, Games, and movies.

Okay, so that’s 2 things different.

Since I enjoy so much different media, I hope that you’ll enjoy the new content. If not, I totally understand.

I just also want to remind you that Rule #1 will be in effect for all comments and topics.dont-be-a-dick-floral-inspiration-quote-prints

The first analysis post should be going up this weekend.

See you all then!
Dawn

Rule #1: The True Golden Rule

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*****WARNING: This isn’t going to be my usual happy blog post. There will be more colorful language and pure raw feelings.*****

 

Hello.

My name is Dawn Aiesha Ibanez. I am the daughter of a Puerto Rican Vietnam Vet and a Black Southern Belle. So, if you do the math, I’m biracial.

I write paranormal romance. Sometimes the couples are interracial, sometimes they aren’t. I always have end of the world stakes, action, comedy, and (hopefully) a sense of family.

My characters, my family and I all try to live by Rule #1: the golden rule.

 

It’s not hard, really. I keep my head low, I do my thing and work hard for what I want. Whatever I can’t afford, I bide my time and then get it on my own.

Currently, I hold a position in the RWA’s Maryland chapter. I love my position. I love having a place to belong. But lately, I haven’t been feeling like I belong. Not in MRW, NEVER get that twisted. I will continue my work with this group until someone comes up to me and pulls my responsibilities out of my cold dead hands. But I haven’t felt like I belong in this new world that I’m realizing has become so toxic because people are forgetting the golden rule.

Diversity in books, in Romancelandia specifically, has become something of a hot button over the past few months. From what I hear, Agents want more diverse voices. Readers and bloggers want more diverse voices. But when it’s time to put up or shut up, publishers only want non-POC authors, voices or whatever you want to call it. If there is a character of color, that person is a caricature of a stereotype, or something else entirely (but still just as insulting).

Now, this isn’t me hopping on a bandwagon. RWA has come out and acknowledged that there is a problem with the RITAs in that they need to find a way to have more diverse books enter. I applaud them. It takes a lot for anyone, an organization publisher or person, to admit that they screwed the pooch and ask how can they make things better.

Does that instantly fix the problem? Hell no.

I don’t have an answer for this problem. I know that last year, I entered One for Sorrow in the RITAs for Paranormal Romance and didn’t make the finals. I was totally okay with that. Better books got in. I am an unknown to the vast majority of people that were judging. I never looked at it as “It’s because I’m black.”

To be 1000% honest with you, I was never comfortable with identifying as a Black woman. I was never comfortable identifying as a Hispanic woman. I’ve always looked at it as I am a woman. Take me or leave me. I could sit here and lament on how I have cousins that have a level of privilege that I will never achieve because their fathers (my uncles) married white women and they can pass as white. But that would be a dick move. We’re family.

I have been the subject of ridicule. That’s also another reason why I don’t identify with a race. I grew up on Staten Island in the 80s and 90s. By high school, the majority of my friends were white. I listened to rock music. I was told that I “acted” white. I was told I was “trying to be” white. I was called “the white sheep” of my black family.

I brushed all of it off because my friends never treated me like I was the token black friend. I was just their friend that loved to write. I listened to what they did. We all got along and while things weren’t cookie cutter perfect, I wasn’t subjected to the same lifestyle as most of my other counterparts in the writing world.

Let’s get back to the here and now. Now, I am a 40-year-old woman with a 15-year-old daughter. The world is going to hell in a handbasket and I can’t sit back and hide behind I can’t identify with blank because of how I grew up. The cut and dry of it is simple. I am a biracial woman that has interracial romance in some of her stories.

See Rule #1 and keep that in mind when I say this:

We are ALL a part of this fucking problem and it is up to ALL of us to fix this.

Yes, Authors of Color need to step up and make sure their voices are heard. But know, if you step up, your shit better be in point. People of color, in general, need to stop perpetuating these god awful stereotypes so that if… IF a white author or another person of color decides to write a black person, we aren’t flying off the handle because they got the character completely wrong. (Don’t believe me? Go watch some old school anime and REALLY look at how they view Black people as well as Americans as a whole.)

White authors (for lack of a better title. I won’t call you clear or N-AoC that sounds dick-ish) need to realize that yes, they have privilege. And with privilege comes great responsibility. I’m not saying you have to fall into the white savior trope. Don’t go up to the lesser known black author and give them a handout. I’m saying if someone says “Hey, I’m looking for a new read, any suggestions?” don’t just name your close friends. If you see a book in your genre and there is a PoC on the cover, give that one as many accolades as you would if you saw a white dude on the cover. It’s not that hard. If you want us as PoC to support you, you need to support us as well.

Sitting back isn’t the answer. Saying that if RWA wants Black authors to win the RITAs they should have a separate category for “Diverse Romance” even in sarcasm is NOT helping the problem. Actually, even hinting that Separate but Equal is an answer shows how much you DO NOT know the problem.

Another problem that RWA is facing is the elitism some authors tend to have. And again, this is a slippery slope. If publishers aren’t putting out books about or by PoC, that means that most of these books are self-published. It is 2018 times have changed since 2008. Putting out your own work is hard, but it’s not AS hard as it used to be. Authors don’t have to sell their books out of the trunk of their car. But for WHATEVER reason, self-publishing is still looked at as “Less Than” add that on to the pile of bullshit from those that like to cry “I just can’t identify with a black heroine” and we end up with a clusterfuck that had me realizing that a world that I enjoyed being a part of thought of me like the neighborhood kids that thought I was odd person out because I didn’t listen to Naughty by Nature, but Bon Jovi instead.

Everyone needs to step up. Everyone needs to get in this shit and dig our way out. Every fucking one. Black, White, Hispanic, Asain, Indian, Eskimo, Gay, Straight, Asexual, Every LAST FUCKING ONE of us needs to come to the table. Bring your A game. Open your minds to things that may not be your exact cup of tea and face all of the music. Realize that EVERYONE has fucked up and that the only way to clean this up would be TOGETHER.

*Okay. I think I’ve said everything I wanted to say. Sorry about the long post. But the more I see this topic, the more my head is going in circles.*

And before I leave, I’m going to just remind you. When life gets hard, follow The Golden Rule:

 

Dawn.

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Loveless and Life

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Okay, everyone! True confession here…

I am a Final Fantasy Fangirl. I love the series. And while I haven’t had the time to beat Final Fantasy XV, I have had the time to watch the cutscene movies posted on YouTube.

Now, as much as I will praise the beauty of the game, some of the story… a LOT of the story has been left out. So, when I came across two characters like Ignis and Aranea, and a ten year time jump where we have no idea what’s going on with 3 of your 4 party members… yeah. It’s fanfiction time!!! I may post this. I may not. I’m thinking I will, if and ONLY if I end up doing 2 more prompts for Prompto and Gladiolus. If you have any thoughts, let me know. Now, on with the show!!!

This week’s sentence: If I could, I would give you the world.

*****(c) Dawn Ibanez 2017 All right reserved***

“If I could, I would give you the world.”

She wanted to smile as they continued to trek on through the wasteland to their campsite. His accented tenor always struck her as musical during quiet moments. But she wasn’t sure of his reason for picking that quote. “The world is quite a gift, but someone with true power would give me the stars,” she recited.

He turned his head in her direction. “You know Loveless?”

“Try not to be so surprised, Specs.” She gently nudged his shoulder, careful not to throw him off balance. “My sister was obsessed with that play. She thought it was so tragic and romantic.”

“What about you?” he asked. “Did secretly love it as much as your sister?”

“I thought it was a piece of shit.” She glanced at his face noting how the muscles in his jaw loosened, but he never opened his mouth. “The hero did nothing but whine because he thought he wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love when in reality the woman that truly loved him got herself killed trying to protect him. Then, he goes off to war in her honor, only to die a stupid death.”

Ignis chuckled. “Yes, when told that way, I can see where the story may have some holes.” He paused and tilted his head to the side. “Aranea, do you hear?” he asked in a whisper.

She straightened as she looked around the area. Even blind, Ignis was more capable than most of the men in her army. Her eyes narrowed at the bushes moving in the distance. She frowned as she saw the furred hide of one of the beasts that prowled the wasteland. “I see one,” she said softly. Their conversation about that annoying play would have to wait until they were in a safe place. Her eyes continued to scan the terrain. The darkness was a hindrance, but it couldn’t be helped.

And she would never be so crass as to say mention the darkness to Ignis. He was adjusting to his blindness. His adventures and talks with her in the months since the Prince’s disappearance taught her that while he bounced back from his injuries. But that never meant he didn’t have his own self-deprecating moments. Aranea hated when he fell into those moments. Most of the time, it was almost impossible to break him out of them.

Before she could turn, Ignis pushed her back and attacked with his lance. Her eyes were round as she heard the high-pitched whine of the daemon dying on the end of the weapon. She pressed her lips together as she summoned her javelin and realized they had a larger problem than she thought.

They were surrounded by daemons, and the campsite was still too far to run.

She took up her place at his back. “I count six,” she told him. “Including the one in the bushes.”

“I hear the same,” he replied.

Aranea reached her free arm around his waist. “Things are going to get a little cold,” she said before banishing her weapon and summoning a spell orb. Before Ignis could say anything, she threw the orb down at their feet. “Move!” she bellowed. She turned and locked her arms around his waist as they ran. The area they stood quickly frosted over and lightning crashed around them. Aranea made sure he kept his pace with her. Once they were out of immediate danger she loosened her grip on his waist and transferred it to his hand.

“Aranea,” he warned.

She slowed her run. If they needed, she could always throw him over her shoulder and take off. But she needed him to realize he was more than some tragic hero in a shit play. He had a disability, but that didn’t mean he was worthless and unlovable. “I hate that fucking play,” she hissed as she continued to lead him to their campsite.

He was silent as they went on. Aranea silently fumed, even as she acknowledged she had no clue why she was upset. But as she saw the glowing lamps of the campsite haven, she realized they never dropped each other’s hand. “Ignis,” she whispered as she moved to release him.

He tightened his grip. “I’m curious,” he started. “What would you say to someone who offered you the world?”

“I wouldn’t want it,” she admitted. She then turned to the campsite and lead him through the magical barriers that kept the daemons at bay. “I barely like controlling an army. Having a world to govern isn’t my thing.”

He nodded as he removed his pack. “As one of the King’s circle, I could be tasked with helping rebuild parts of Insomnia or other sections of the world.”

She knew what he wasn’t saying. “And I could be offered a job and be away for months on end,” she said easily.

He grinned in that self-deprecating way again. “Off seeing the world, or whatever is left of it.”

Aranea dropped her pack and turned to him. “Do you regret going to Altissia?” She waited for him to turn towards her and folded her arms over her chest. “Do you regret saving all of those people? Do you regret your service to Noctis?”

He stood and faced her fully. “Never,” he snapped.

“Then stop acting like it!” she shouted at him. When he stopped, she continued. “You think we all help you because we pity you? Like you’re some sort of tragic victim because you can’t see? We help you because we respect you!”

He turned his face away from her. “You grabbed me because I couldn’t see.”

“I let you run under your own power because I didn’t want you to think I thought you were weak.”

“With the others….”

“I would have thrown Prompto over my shoulder in a heartbeat. I’m faster and stronger than you boys. That doesn’t mean I respect any of you any less than what you deserve.” She ran her hands through her hair and started to pace across the campsite. The anger she felt since the beginning of their conversation started to boil in her. “I probably would have left Gladiolus to his fate simply because he’s trained to take magic hits like that. So yes, I helped you get out of a dangerous situation. Just like I would have for any of my comrades.” She stood in front of him and lowered her hands. “You’re acting like a child, and it’s breaking my heart. Stop it.”

Ignis swallowed as he reached forward for her. “I cannot offer you the world,” he said softly.

She stood still as he brought his hands up to her face and gently traced her features. “Never wanted the world,” she said again. When he frowned at her, she smiled. “I know you’re trying to be all poetic and trying to tell me how you feel without saying how you feel. But I don’t care. I understand the meaning of your duty to the crown, and I would never expect you to choose me over Noctis. I don’t want riches or the world. I don’t even want the stars in the sky. I just want you, Specs.”

His hands dropped from her face. “You don’t mean that,” he said before turning to the tent at his feet.

Aranea nodded as she moved away from him and went to her own pack. She wouldn’t chase him around like a lovesick teen. She had more self-respect than that. As she quickly moved to build the fire, she thought about everything she knew about the royal retainer.

It wasn’t much. He would only let her know tidbits of his life before Noctis disappeared. He was the one that took care of everyone. He was the chief medic and master strategist. He was also the group’s chef. Aranea could remember a few times when she would hear him mumbling about spices or a recipe he mentally put together.

Nearly an hour passed as they unpacked supplies. Aranea sat in a chair as he started to cook dinner for them both. “I could help with that,” she offered.

“I have it,” he replied. He held up one of the glass bottles with seasoning in it. “Prompto had these made a month ago.”

She made a noise of approval when she saw that the glass bottle was engraved. “He’s a good friend.” She reached into her bag and pulled out her canteen.

“He was the first person to befriend the king when he was in school.” Ignis went back to preparing the meal. “When the offer was given to him to train to be a part of the Kingsguard, he was honestly surprised. Then he went into it with guns blazing.” He chuckled at his own pun before carrying the stewpot to the fire.

Aranea smiled as she watched him with his defenses down. She leaned back in her chair and waited for him to continue his tales.

The smirk on his face faded as he faced the fire. “There was a young woman that asked what you are. She knew I was dedicated to my duties at the palace. She said she was fine with it. I loved her in every way I knew. But it wasn’t enough. She wanted the stars in the sky, and I couldn’t even give her the world.”

“So you give up on living because a child didn’t know what she could and couldn’t handle.” She shook her head. “And I thought you were the smart one.” She stood and started to pace again.

He frowned as he also stood straight. “I did not give up on life,” he argued.

“You gave up on living. There’s a difference.” She crossed the campsite and stood in front of him. “Everything you do is for Noctis. Everything.”

“That is my duty.”

“Noctis is gone. And he may not come back.”

“I can’t think that way.” Ignis shook his head and stepped away from Aranea and the fire. “I won’t think that way.”

“How long are you going to live in stasis waiting for something that may not happen for years? You could grow old and die off before he comes back. And you would never have known how to live.”

“What about you?” he asked in turn. He marched over to her and curled his hands into fists. “All of this talk about living, you could be killed at any moment.”

“But I will never regret the way I lived.” She looked reached forward and ignored his flinch when she took off his glasses. Aranea took his face in both of her hands and pressed their foreheads together. “The things that I have done, yes. Reasons behind those things, yes. But I will never say I didn’t live a full life.”

His hands mirrored her actions and his shoulders fell. “I will demand every ounce of you in return,” he said softly.

“Nothing between us,” she said in the same tone. “Not when we’re together.”

Ignis turned his head slightly and covered her mouth with his. Aranea’s hands went into his hair he kissed her. Her world felt righted as he pulled her closer to his body. His lean form was hidden well by his clothes, but she could feel the corded muscles underneath his suit. She moaned when he took down her ponytail. With the way he held her and tangled his hands in her hair, she knew he would make demands of her.

And she was more than willing to give in to them.

He softened the pressure of his lips slightly before letting her go. “I should really get back to dinner,” he told her.

She smiled and nodded at him. “You do that. I’ll keep watch.”

As they parted, Aranea noticed that he had taken one of her hands as was holding on to her. “All you want is me?” he asked, once again unsure.

“All of me, for all of you,” she told him.

“And when Noctis returns? If I have to leave you? Or if you need to leave me?”

She smiled and placed his hand against her heart. “I’ll come back to you. Even if you don’t promise to wait. I’ll return knowing you’ll be here.”

He pulled her back into his embrace. “I could grow to hate that blasted play,” he mumbled before sealing their pact with a kiss.

********

The other two fics I have in mind are for PromptoxIris and GladioxCindy. Don’t be too surprised if they turn up here!

Later!!!
Dawn 🙂

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Best Laid Plans

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It’s Writing Prompt Wednesday! I know it’s a little late getting out, but I wasn’t finished with it until after midnight, and honestly, I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. So better late than never!

Anyways, this week is going to take a look at something that happened between Precarious Possessions and Dangerous Dalliances. I hope you all enjoy!!!

This week’s prompt: Well, that didn’t go as planned.

Hope you enjoy!

*****(c) Dawn Ibanez 2017 All right reserved*****

“Well, that didn’t go as planned,” Troy said lowly.

Madison mused as she lifted a bottle of water to her lips. “Says you,” she snorted. She looked across the room and smiled at the man that raised her. “I’ve been waiting four years for this moment.”

Her husband laughed and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “You’re not scared that he’ll retaliate?”

“How?” Madison looked at him. “I’m not sixteen, so it’s not like he can take my car. And the kids making his birthday cake is nothing more than a sweet gesture that comes from the hearts of babes.”

Troy looked at her. His golden eyes sparkled in amusement. “You are just cruel,” he mused as he pressed a kiss into her hair.

Madison smiled as she looked at her twin sons and niece as they spoke quietly with Victor. The former king of vampires stoically ate the cake they proudly made with Lacey’s magic, and ingredients they saw Troy use in countless recipes. As she looked around the room, Troy’s words seemed to ring true. Her life hadn’t gone as planned. Troy came back to her. They had been married for months and she was heavily pregnant with their daughter. The boys were thrilled with the idea of having a little sister. Kayin even promised that she could be a princess like Lacey.

There were still touchy times. Alex would come by on weekends, but he would never stay longer than a day. She knew he missed Claudia, but he made her swear not to interfere. Otherwise, they all knew she would have dragged the girl back from Germany kicking and screaming.

“Should I worry about that grin?” Troy asked.

Madison sighed as she leaned her head on his shoulder. “No, I promised to be a good little Necromancer.” She looked at the half-eaten meal on her plate and frowned. “This wasn’t as good as yours,” she said moving the steak away.

He laughed and moved her from her chair to his lap. Troy pressed a kiss to the mating mark on her neck. “You don’t have to flatter me, Mrs. Davenport. I’m a sure thing when we get home.”

She blushed as he rubbed circles on her lower back. Troy always seemed to know when her back was bothering her. The way he took care of her made her cherish him all the more. “You may have to take a raincheck,” she said as she leaned her head against his. “Planning this party took more out of me than I thought it would.”

He nodded. “You should have let Dylan and Jessica do it,” he agreed. “Neither of them is pregnant and they would have let me cook.”

She frowned as she pulled away far enough to look at him. His expression matched hers, and it stung. Madison hated having him upset with her. Even over the smallest things. Her displeasure melted away as she ran her fingers through his hair and hugged him. “If you catered the party, then I wouldn’t have my plus one, Mr. Maxwell,” she grumbled.

“You may not have had me as your plus one, but you would have eaten.” He pressed another kiss to her neck and continued to rub her back. “You also wouldn’t have been on your feet all evening.” A sigh escaped him as she went liquid against his body. “You have to learn when to let other people handle things, Maleficent.”

Madison tightened her arms at the nickname. “I’m trying Troy. I really am,” she confessed.

He smiled against her skin. “The kids are coming over,” he told her.

Madison straightened and turned to see Kayin and Aiden with Lacey. The boys each held a piece of cake and all three wore smiles so bright they put the sun to shame. She returned the smile and glanced at where her foster father sat. “What’s going on?” she asked carefully.

Aiden stepped forward. “Grandfather said that as the chefs, we should present our creation to you.”

“And he said that you’ve always liked cake, so he wanted you and Uncle Troy to have some,” Lacey added.

Madison looked at Troy and swallowed. They knew the cake the kids made wasn’t the best. While their hearts were in the right place, there was no saving the poor desert that was too much salt, baking powder and butter, and not enough sugar, flour, and butter.

Kayin frowned as he looked at his parents. “Told you they wouldn’t eat it,” he mumbled.

Madison frowned at his tone. She remembered too many years of a chip on her shoulder where her biological parents were concerned. There was no way she would allow one of her children to feel an ounce of doubt when her love came into question. She looked at where Victor sat and smiled. “You’re evil,” she thought at him. When he smiled and raised his glass, her smile fell.

“Where do you think you get it from, my dear?” he countered.

Troy leaned forward and looked at the three chefs. “What is the creation before us?” he asked as he took the plates from Aiden and Kayin. When the twins looked at each other, he winked at Madison. “As chefs, when you present your dish, you have to tell the consumer what they’re about to eat. I mean, it’s bad form to serve a person what they think are frog legs and you’re really giving them snail.”

Three sets of eyes widened. “People eat snails?” Aiden asked in a whisper.

“People eat frog legs?” Lacey asked. “Don’t they know how gross that is?”

Troy smirked. “It actually tastes like chicken,” he commented.

Kayin stepped forward. “We made a cake Alex found online for us. He said that if we do good for Grandfather’s birthday, then we could make it for his. It’s a vanilla cake with a homemade cherry frosting, since that’s what Grandfather likes. Miss Becca was busy, so we decided to help.”

Madison smiled as she reached out and touched Kayin’s hair. “I’m sure this will be delicious,” she said softly. She glanced at Troy and swallowed as she picked up her fork.

“After getting all of the ingredients together, I used my magic to make the cake,” Lacey said with a smile. “It’s not as fun as sewing, but cooking is fun too.”

Madison cut off a bite of cake with her fork and sent a silent prayer to whoever was listening. She had a feeling her face would betray her if she didn’t like the taste. As she brought the fluffy yellow desert to her mouth, she tried to think of various excuses for whatever reaction she would have.

She ate the piece of cake and frowned. She expected a mouth full of baking soda and salt, but what she got wasn’t half bad. Madison leaned forward and ate another piece, this time making sure to get some of the icing as well. She looked at the three in front of her and swallowed the cake in her mouth. It was a little salty and kind of off, but she couldn’t help but what another bite. “You three have really outdone yourselves,” she said with a smile. When the boys started to beam at her, she felt her daughter move. She smirked as she placed Troy’s free hand on her belly. “But I think next time, we get Daddy to help out and do all the cooking and baking.”

Lacey frowned as she looked at Troy. “I don’t want to eat frogs or snails,” she pouted.

Troy nodded as he painted a smile on his face. “I would never serve you one. He may be a prince for the princess.”

Madison laughed as Lacey’s expression turned horrified and Kayin’s smile turned to a deep frown. “What’s the matter Puppy?” she asked.

“Our baby’s a wolf princess,” he said stubbornly. “Wolves eat frogs,” he said before walking away.

Madison waited until all three children left to go play before daring to look at Troy. After a moment, they both started laughing. “Frogs?” she asked before eating another bite of cake. “And snails?”

He shrugged as he watched her demolish the cake in front of her. “It couldn’t be worse than that cake,” he mumbled against her neck.

She shook her head. “It’s not that bad,” she said before taking another bite.

Troy laughed as he rubbed her lower back again. “I think we’ve reached the pickles and ice cream portion of your pregnancy,” he commented.

Madison frowned as she looked at her empty plate. “I think so too,” she said lowly. She then looked at Troy. “But right now, this is really good,” she said before taking his cake.

He laughed as she leaned back in his arms and continued to eat. Madison looked out on the dance floor and saw that various members of vampire nobility were talking amongst themselves. Her sister and brother in law were trapped in a corner with a handful of stuffy old men. The kids were out on the dancefloor dancing with Leigh, Jessica, and the ever-present Antonio. Madison put the cake down and turned to Troy again. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him gently. When she pulled away from his mouth, she smiled at him. “I didn’t plan on you,” she said softly. His golden eyes danced with amusement as she kissed him again.

He chuckled as she leaned against him. “That’s because I’m the wolf that ate your prince,” he commented. “He just rubbed off on me.”

She loved his humor. “You ate my prince? Really?”

Troy took her hand in his and entwined their fingers. “Yup. Since you were the evil queen, I had to become the big bad wolf.” His eyes danced with amusement as he kissed her knuckles. “Besides,” he comforted. “He was a frog.”

Madison couldn’t stop the laugh that escaped her. She leaned forward and kissed him. “I do love you, Troy,” she whispered against his mouth.