Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thoughts from a Hopeful Romantic: What's In a Name?

When coming up with a name for my blog series, it was an easy choice.  In order to relate it back to romance, I knew that there was only one place to turn: the 1984 film Romancing the Stone.

For those familiar with the movie, Romancing the Stone tells the story of Joan Wilder, played by the beautiful Kathleen Turner, a romance writer who pens stories about the kind of man she hopes will come to sweep her off her feet.  It turns out that she finds him in the most unlikely of places: while in South American trying to find her missing sister.  Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) is a drifter trying to achieve his dram of getting a sailboat but is not getting too far when he meets Joan.  What begins as Jack getting Joan to Cartegena quickly becomes a rollicking romantic adventure, with the two falling in love as they discover a priceless gem that her sister's captor desires.  It is the perfect mirroring of what a romance writer wishes would happen to them.

One of my favorite scenes in the film takes place toward the end, when Joan turns in a new manuscript based on her adventures.  Upon finishing it, her editor tells her that she is a hopeless romantic.  Joan shakes her head and replies, almost to herself, "No, hopeful.  A hopeful romantic."  Something about those words struck me from the first time I heard them.  Especially since I began writing romance, they have become even more prevalent.  After all, those who write romance and have yet to find their real-life hero (or heroine) are not hopeless.  They have hope that they will eventually meet the person who will ignite passion and love within them like no one else can.  While they may not be ruggedly handsome or strikingly beautiful, the person we long to fall for exudes the same type of qualities we admire in those protagonists on a page.

So, that's the story of the name.  There's nothing very complex about it, just a connection I couldn't help but make.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Vegas: Cover and Release Details


Here is the rundown.  First of all, here is the cover for Vegas.  I hope all of you like it.  Big thanks to Covers by Robin for the amazing design work.

The release date for Vegas will be Tuesday, March 3rd.  I am currently working on some possible promotion for that, so be sure to stay in tune to my social media for that.

Also, Vegas is available for preorder on Amazon, so be sure to check that out.  I am working on other outlets at the moment.  I will keep everyone posted.

Thoughts from a Hopeful Romantic: Fifty Shades of Ignorance


The last few days, the internet has been abuzz with everything relating to Fifty Shades of Grey.  From the astounding numbers scored at the box office to the morality of the film, my news feed on every social media outlet was permeated.  To me, it was kind of exciting to actually see a romance novel turned film gaining some serious attention.  However, it was also frustrating to see the criticism, which is often irrational and ignorant.

First of all, I read Fifty Shades of Grey and saw the film.  I loved the adaptation.  While there were certainly things left out or added in, I still thought it remained true to the heart of the novel.  Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson could not have been better, and while there is still a heated debate about casting, I do not think anyone else could have done justice to the characters the way they did.  The sex was there, of course, but I did not find it gratuitous.  I actually thought the scenes were quite tastefully done and made the movie more sensual rather than sexual.

In one of my college classes, the film has come up in every class for the last couple of weeks.  The teacher, who does not support the film and considers it to be pornographic, has not read the book.  Neither did the three-quarters of my classmates who agreed with her.  There was only a small group of us who would admit to seeing the film.  The main topic of discussion was not the sex, though.  It was the characters.  Those who opposed the film consider Christian to be a stalker and unhealthy, and that this film is only going to make young women believe that they need a man like him.  They say that it sets women back instead of pushing them forward.

This angered me deeply, as I am quite passionate about what I considered to be an attack on the romance genre.  After all, Gideon Cross from Sylvia Day's Crossfire series could also be considered a stalker if we are judging him by their standards.  The men in romance novels often do whatever it takes for the woman they love, and while it crosses boundaries sometimes, these novels are fiction.  My characters are often that way as well.  Are they also control freaks?  Are romance novels a social evil that needs to be exterminated?  I mean, it feels like the argument goes so much deeper than Fifty Shades.

I spoke up, saying that if you read the novels, you will understand that Christian has endured traumas that might make any sane person crack.  It would sicken any reader to read about what he went through.  Still, the moment I brought up the book, I was told that we were only talking about the film.  Well, if that is the case, then people are missing the big picture.  No film is going to be a perfect adaptation and convey every aspect of the book.  The example I came up with was if there was ever a film made of The Catcher in the Rye, and without reading the book (though I have), I said that Holden Caulfield was an obnoxious little jerk, I can guarantee you I would be told something that started with the line, "Well, if you've read the book, you would understand why he's that way."  Am I not making the same argument?  I know I am, but because The Catcher in the Rye is a classic novel, it is assumed that everyone should read it and understand.  Am I out of line to say the same thing about Fifty Shades?  I'll be the first to admit it's not the most well-written piece of literature, but reading it would certainly clarify a lot about Christian.  However, romance novels do not receive that consideration and unless writers who encounter similar situations to mine stand up and say that there is something wrong with judging books without reading them, we won't make a difference.

I was never going to win the argument in that class because there were too many people against me with narrow-minded opinions who weren't about to listen to what our small group had to say.  Still, I won't be backing down on this subject.  Romance novels do not deserve the backseat.  No one should make you feel guilty for what you read or see and try to persuade you, especially if they have no knowledge about the book or film, or at least none that goes deeper than the surface.

The Fifty Shades argument goes so much deeper than shaming women for going to see a movie about BDSM where the dominant is fucked up.  It's about shaming an entire genre, for if any other erotic novel was made into a film, I can guarantee these people would say the same thing.  I will again bring up Gideon Cross, since he's already been my example.  Gideon is one of my favorite romance heroes.  However, I also recognize that he shares some of the same characteristics as Christian Grey.  He likes to control everything, sometimes verging a little on obsessive.  However, upon finding out the trauma he's endured, his reasons become much clearer.  His reactions are quite normal, actually.  These critics who do not like the way Christian acts would not like any of the alpha heroes who have reemerged in the romance genres since the release of Fifty Shades.  What they ignore is the strong women that these men are paired with and how Anastasia Steele frequently stands up to Christian Grey or Eva Trammell tells Gideon to fuck off.  How can you say women are being set back if they are standing up to men as strong as these heroes are?  It makes very little sense to me.

Regardless of what its critics rant about, Fifty Shades is breaking records.  It's a big old middle finger to the people who claim all of these ridiculous things about the book and the film.  People are seeing past all of the BDSM and salacious stuff and recognizing what the crux of the film really is: a woman teaching a man how to love.  That's a far more important lesson than any of these other crusades, in my opinion.  After all, romance novels are the journey of a couple finding their way to each other, right?  Fifty Shades does that, simply in a more brazen way, and much of this hate is generated by the cynicism of the public in general who are too skeptical to believe in something like second chances or love changing a person.  It's a sad but true fact, and I can only hope that more people who share my opinion speak out without the fear of being ostracized.  Loving romance novels shouldn't be a crime, after all, and it seems like this huge debate about one film is really finding its roots there.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Year: Announcements, Promises, and the Return of the Hopeful Romantic

Hello, 2015!  It's crazy to think that's the actual year we're in.  It means that it's been  two and a half years since I began writing Hell in Heels and almost two years since I self-published it.  To me, it's incredible to even think I've been doing it for that long.  Either way, it's been a great journey that I hope will result in a lot this year.

As most of you know if you follow me on any of my social media accounts, Vegas was submitted to multiple publishers a few months ago.  Since then, there has been one rejection.  I'm still waiting to here back from a couple of the others, so I guess we will see how that goes.  If nothing happens, I can always self-publish again and simply try the traditional publishing circuit with my next book.  Just be prepared for heavy promotion if that does happen.

Speaking of new projects, I am hard at work on Unbound still and hope to have it finished in the near future.  It is an incredible novel completely unlike anything I've done before, and that makes me very happy.  Dash and Celia are two of my favorite characters that I've ever created, and I really hope you love them as much as I have writing them.

As you may remember, I put off writing Ideal Hero to focus on Unbound.  However, I have recently decided that the story of Jennifer Alexander will be the next story I work on.  I am not sure if the title will remain, but for now, it is.  One thing that has changed about it is the hero.  Alex Slade, I've decided, is not the hero that works best for the novel.  I have recently created a new one, Rafe McDonough, who is, at this point, an Irish actor that Jennifer shared a fling with on spring break many years ago.  I have started a rough prologue, but I am waiting until I finish Unbound to throw myself into it.  At that point, I will have more plot info for you.

Remember, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at maryfgualandriauthor@gmail.com.

Also, follow all of my social media accounts

Facebook: www.facebook.com/maryfrancesgualandriauthor?ref=hl#
Twitter: @MaryFGualandri
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Sunday, November 2, 2014

New Project, NaNoWriMo, and More!

Wow, I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted on here.  Sorry about that.

So, here's the latest updates.  As most of you know, I am in throes of writing my newest work in progress, Unbound.  A huge chunk of it has been written, almost 75,000 words.  I am anticipating to have it done this month, and I cannot wait to get it into your hands.  My pride in it cannot even be explained.  It is much different than anything I've written before, and I think that's a good thing.  So, keep checking all of my social media for exclusive updates on that info.

Also, I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the second year in a row.  I will be updating my progress via my social media accounts, so keep a watch on that.  Unbound is my novel for this, as I anticipate it being much longer than any of my previous novels, but if I finish it and still need to fill the void for 50,000 words, I will start on the next novel I have planned.

As for Vegas, my NaNoWriMo novel from last year, I have sent it out to several publishers at the beginning of October and am just waiting to hear back.  Keep your fingers crossed, and you will be the first to know if something exciting happens there.

Just a reminder.  These are my social media accounts.  Follow them for frequent updates on my progress on writing as well as the musings of this pop culture junkie.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryfrancesgualandriauthor
Twitter: @MaryFGualandri
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Tumblr: maryfrancesgualandri.tumblr.com
Instagram: mfg1994

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Update on Ideal Hero

Today, I would like to make an announcement. Over the last few weeks, I've been working through Ideal Hero to the best of my ability but to no avail. It seems as though I'm just not in the zone to write it, and to complete the novel half-heartedly would be unfair not only to you as readers but also to the characters. Ideal Hero is going on a shelf for now, but I plan to return to it once I have developed the story appropriately as to close the Love, Windy City Style trilogy to the satisfaction of readers. As a reader myself, I understand the frustration that waiting for a new book in a series causes, but as an author, you simply want to do what's best for your readers and characters, and this is the only solution to this snag in the writing process.  I do, however, have a very exciting new story that I'm working on that is coming along quite nicely.  Although it will be much different and must remain secret for now, I'm positive all of you will enjoy it.  I apologize deeply for this and wish it could be different, but for now, I can only hope that you will look forward to the other projects I have coming up like Vegas and the secret project.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Character Interview: Special Agent Alex Slade

As promised, I am posting my interview with my upcoming hero, Special Agent Alex Slade.  If you have not read Hell in Heels or Private Dancer, stop reading because the interview contains some minor spoilers.  By the way, ladies, he is indeed more handsome in public.  Now, without further a due, here is my interview with the dark, brooding Special Agent Alex Slade.

MFG: Agent Slade, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me.  I know my readers are quite eager to find out a little bit more about you.

SLADE: Mary Fran, thank you.  It's a pleasure to do an interview with you.

MFG: Alright, first things first.  How does it feel to be getting your own book finally?

SLADE: It's quite exciting, actually.  I've been there for some rather interesting turns of events in Nathan and Jake's lives, and I'm intrigued to see what is going to happen to me.  The pattern seems to be falling in love, but I don't know about me doing that.  It's not really on my current agenda.

MFG: Why do you say that?

SLADE: Relationships take time, and while I'll admit Nathan and Jake are busy men, I spend a majority of my time going undercover for weeks and often months at a time.  During those periods, I can only contact those I work with and those I am trying to bust.  That's not healthy for a relationship because communication is vital, and my job requires communication to be cut off for long stretches.  It's not fair to either person.

MFG: That's quite understandable.  However, if you were looking for a woman, what qualities would you be seeking?

SLADE: I like a woman who's confident in who she is.  I also want someone who isn't trying to be someone else.  A woman who is awkward and funny is better than someone who is fake and knows exactly what to say.  Perfection comes out in the most imperfect of people.

MFG: That's really sweet to say.  I don't think many guys would actually have the guts to say what you just did.

SLADE: I like to be honest.  Most guys would probably agree with me that they want a woman like that, but for some reason, they just don't want to say it.  Maybe it's because they won't be thought of as masculine if they admit that they're more interested in intellect than sex, although that is also a very important component as well.

MFG: Now you're really going to have all the female readers swooning as if you didn't already.  You've been a stand-out supporting character since your first appearance in Hell in Heels, and you saved the day in both that book and Private Dancer.  Basically, you were a hero of sorts, which is what led to your book being titled Ideal Hero.  What do you think makes the hero archetype such an appealing one to readers and writers alike?

SLADE: Me a hero?  I don't know about that.  I'm just doing my job in those situations.  However, as to the reason why the hero is such a long-standing go-to in reading, I think it's because you can root for them.  They are often going through things that we can relate to, and that's probably the most interesting part of them.  A hero is a person who steps up to the plate and does what they believe in no matter what the cost.  You can admire them even if they have flaws.

MFG: And you really don't consider yourself a hero?

SLADE: No way.  A hero is someone who does something because they feel it's right and want to take a stand.  I'm just doing my job, nothing special.  I mean, I do it because I like helping people, and that is important, but it's certainly not heroic.

MFG: Even when lives are being saved?

SLADE: It's just doing the right thing.

MFG: You seem to have a lot of interesting philosophies.  What do you think readers should expect to learn about you when they are reading your story?

SLADE: Well, it really depends how you write me (laughs), but I think they will realize that I'm not necessarily this unreachable, icy guy.  I do have feelings, although I often try to separate myself from them.  I also think they will realize that I do have reasons for everything I do and that I always do what I think is best for those I care about.

MFG: Thank you so much, Agent Slade.  I know readers are getting anxious to read more about you, and they will be soon.

SLADE: Thank you, Mary Fran, and thank you to all of you who are reading this.  I'm quite flattered by the attention, admittedly.

You can read more about Special Agent Alex Slade in Ideal Hero,  set for a fall release.