The Good -vs- The Bad Kind of VD: Who Will Be Champion of the World?

During my lovely Valentine's Day Breakfast with Shrinky, we got into a discussion titled: What Valentine's Day Means to Me.

We agreed. VD has a double meaning for me & Shrinky. It has nothing to do with the PSA from the 70s, the one I post here every year. You know, the one with the catchy tune you'll find yourself humming long after you hear it.  I mean this one here:
Anyhow, Bitey-ites, Shrinky and I got engaged on Valentine's Day and not because it was Valentine's Day. It had more to do with a more practical reason, like time and a soon-to-expire Visitor Visa. As a result, because of the emotional connection to the date, we treat Valentine's day more like our anniversary than our actual wedding anniversary. We make a bigger deal out of the day, give gifts, and get all mushy. Our interpretation of Valentine's Day has no real connection to the modern, commercial aspects of VALENTINE'S DAY.

A little while after breakfast, I came across someone else's two cents on Valentine's Day with a blog post by Paula Roe titled What's Wrong With Valentine's Day. There, Paula discusses her interpretation of Valentine's Day.  She gives history, offers facts, and does a nifty little job on the commercialisation of a day that is an amalgam of a few Christan martyrs named Valentine. Thank you, Paula! I wave to you from my "little bubble of happy joy-bliss" and hope a  loved one showers you with an abundance of soy decaf caramelattes from Gloria Jean's.

Yes, it's very interesting that martyrdom gave way to a romantic interpretation of love. Since we're dealing with interpretation,  I always thought Valentine's Day ought to be the day of WORLD LOVE, another sort of Christmas-ish holiday espousing good will towards all man and womankind.  So how about it folks? How about we turn the commercial VD aimed at couples into a commercial VD aimed at everyone? Tell those you care for that you love them. Show kindness to the goofy-looking kid in your class by giving her/him a Valentine–like kids used to do when they were 6 & 7.  Share the box of chocolates (yes, I know that's hard for some people) or jar of peanut butter, or cup of coffee with your neighbour. In essence, Let's show the universe a commercial day about the many faces of love, just like Love Actually did.

Preempting Our Bite Lecture for a Re-Run of a Previous Post

You have twitter, Katydidinoz, the lovelies at Fangbooks (, and VaVeros from the Shallow Reader ( ) to thank for this 2007 re-run on Romantic Comedies. Since then we’ve had a few rom coms–Thanks Hollywood for It’s Complicated and Easy A, however, my rant to Tinseltown remains much the same as I stated below, in green.

Do you think so too?

There’s a trend to have the hero in be a loser in film romantic comedies. For example, in Failure to Launch the guy lives with his parents. In Knocked Up the dude is an unemployed pothead. Sure, that’s funny, but it’s a gag that wears out quickly, and it makes me wonder why there are so few good romantic comedy feature films. Emphasis has been on the comedy, not the romance.

Have production companies forgotten how to make a romantic comedy?

If so, here’s a suggestion: Look back through the film vaults for examples. Remember Sabrina? How about Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night or The Princess Bride? Use those as blueprints. And remember, a rom com is about two people and their road to finding love. It should be witty, clever, sexy, and the circumstances of the humour should not revolve around how stupid the hero (or heroine) is. They can make stupid choices, or get into strife due to someone else’s stupidity, but for God’s sake give the man a brain. Make him appeal to the heroine and filmgoers. While slap-stick funny, a pothead is not an appealing romantic hero–is it? 

Well, is it?

How many of you girls out there really want a doobie smoker to sweep you off your feet? Do you actually dream of hooking up with a guy who lives in mom and dad’s basement or attic and think, hmm, here’s a great potential life partner. 

Are any of you are bouncing up and down shouting, meee mee?

Not getting any good screenplays, Hollywood? IS that the problem? Well here’s another heads up: There are many romantic comedy novels out there that aren’t being optioned as films.  My top picks for books with a wide audience appeal? Well, for a start,

Jenny Crusie’s Fast Women
Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ It Had To Be You and Natural Born Charmer
Rachel Gibson’s Sex Lies & Online Dating

Why those? Simple. The heroes are normal. They have jobs that will appeal to men (Private investigator, Football player, cop) while appealing to women on the hero front. These heroes aren’t stupid, they’re vicitms of circumstance and they’re grown ups. They come from various socio-economic backgrounds, just like Linus Laribee, David Huxley, Peter Warne, and Westley.

Am I projecting? Is this what I hope for my own Rom Com writing? 

Well, duuuh.

Know your Stereotypes: The Romance Hero Part 24 ½. A Hero Would Never Drive a Toyota Yaris

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Since there always seem to be discussions about Alpha-Heroes (and y’all know how much—insert sarcasm here—I love them) on a number of other blogs related to romance fiction, I thought it only fair I visit the manly-man-osity again and offer an observation beyond heroes and facial hair.

            There are several so-called ‘sexy’ things in this world I simply do not understand: Pole dancing, male strippers, and hatchbacks. Shrinky and I see eye-to-eye on two items, but then we part ways. “Well, my sweet little Oldbiteywifey,” Shrinky might say, “since you’re not a dude, I totally understand how you don’t you get the appeal of a chick dancing around a fixed metal pole that is clearly a phallic representation and/or compensation for a male member (like those 80s ‘Member’s Only’ jackets were too), and yeah, strippers like The Thunder From Down Under are completely desperate in the same way chick strippers are, but come ON! A hatchback is friggin’ HAWTT!"

 Yeah, honey, that Gremlin is sex on wheels. No, I can’t lie.  Darling, You are wrong. This is HAWTT:
It’s an Aston Martin Vanquish V-12 and IT is sex on wheels.
Maybe North dives a hatch in Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe This Time, but let’s get this straight. While there is such a thing as a hot hero, Alpha or Beta, there is no such thing as a “Hot Hatch.”

Just look at that Pacer to your left. A hatchback is one step below the supreme sexiness of…a Station Wagon—but at least you can have good boink in the back of one of those. Forget car sex if you own a hatchback—and I mean real sex, not handiwork. A hatchback is for groceries, not nookie. Sorry, y’all. No matter what Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear buds say, no matter what sort of engine you shove inside, no matter how aerodynamic you try to make it with the hideous spoiler, no matter if you bolt on a big-assed noisy exhaust system with a big fat hole of a pipe (which makes it even less sexy), a hatchback is nothing more than an ugly shopping buggy on big fat rubber tyres (or tires if you other English speakers prefer) instead of clattering wheels that never let you steer straight. And you out there with filthy minds, stop reading dick imagery into the words shove, hideous spoiler, hole, and rubber. A hatchback is not even vaguely phallic.

And maybe that’s the problem.

The hatchback is NOT a chick magnet. A Peugeot 206 or a Fiat 500 are not made of HAWTT—I should know because I drive a 500 and dudes always tell me how cute it is. I think one guy even said it was ‘darling’ @font-face {
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A romance hero CAN drive a hatchback, but he does not own it by choice, and if he does have a hatchback it has to be one that he’s kept because:

a)    It’s a sentimental memento of his dead best friend/twin brother/father whose murder he is trying to solve;

b)    it’s stolen to execute a Jason Bourne-esque escape from hit men;

c)    it’s cover for police/FBI/spy/bounty hunter work;

d)    he’s been wrongly accused, imprisoned, and released and it’s the car his sister lent him until he’s cleared his name, is back on his feet, and can afford an Audi A5;

e)    it’s a loaner from the dealer while his Bondian Aston-Martin DB4 is in for routine maintenance;

f)     It’s the only rental car left in the lot.


Of course, if you care to argue about this, feel free. I’m stickin’ to my six-guns-a-blazin’ on this one.

We’re Talking Romance!

If you’re not doing anything this Friday night, and you’re down Sydney way, (that’s Sydney, Australia) why not drop by the Ultimo Library for a night of:

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Kick off your Friday night talking about Sex, Passion and Love with our romance panel discussion. Join Mills & Boon author Annie West, book blogger, Kat Mayo (from BookThingo) and me, along with Ultimo’s romance reading librarians, such as the extraordinary VaVeros (from the Shallow Reader), in discussing romance fiction in the 21st century.

Love, passion and romance have inspired authors throughout the ages from Homer to Shakespeare, Jane Austen to Nora Roberts. Whether you go for Mr Darcy, Vampire Love, or cougars on the prowl, join our readers for a night of Happily Ever After. A free romance book will be provided on the night!

It’s a FREE event, but bookings are essential

Friday 11 February from 18.15PM to 19.00PM

Arrive at 6.00pm for a 6.15pm start.

Ultimo Community Centre, 40 William Henry Street, Corner Harris Street, Ultimo 2007

For further details check out the link:

Biting Hands Across The Water Charity Debate: Join Us

Fairy tale princess Oldbitey is all about romance. She believes in the redemptive power of love while cherishing the chains of her soft-as-a kitten feminine bondage. You also know, as a romance reader, scholar, and writer of so-called sensationalist romance porn-fluff, she busts myths and misconceptions of the romance genre with PhD research titled Cougars, Grannies & Menopausal Knitters: Roles, Representations of Age, and the Non-Traditional Romance Heroine.

This Thursday night, her academic and modest bosom will heave beneath a pale pink, un-ripped bodice, as she spars with the “male members” of a delightful Q&A debate panel set to take place at the Hands Across the Water Fund-raising dinner.


An evening of fun, laughter and strong debate is assured when a panel of celebrities (Ooh! Oldbitey is a ‘celebrity!’) debate the "best and worst of the opposite sex". Hosted by one of our Brisbane based 2011 Thailand Bike Riders, the evening will seek to raise funds in between the laughs and entertainment. A three course seated meal along with drinks is included and ticket sales will commence shortly.

Yes, that’s this Thursday, 14 October. It’s not too late. For more information on how YOU can come and watch Oldbitey look like a complete idjit, or how you can make a donation, visit:

Suck on that, Other Charity Events!

Offending Crap and Acceptable Cock

About a week ago, my seventy-something MIL (Mother-in-law) leaned across the table to point out the middle-aged man standing in the bank across from Starbucks. "Look at him. He’s a nice dressed man, but he can’t stop scratching his cock."  It was hard not to laugh. I had expected her to say ‘doodle‘ or ‘penis‘ or even ‘dick.’  However, I recalled several family dinner table conversations with MIL, Shrinky, and his brothers. Those dinners have made it plain that my adorable MIL finds the word dick to be rather coarse. MIL has asked her sons to refrain from using the D-word  in front of her. Weirdly, she never seems to notice when one of the boys says fuck–and let me tell you they say say fuck a lot. Yes, I find it amusing that my darling mother-in-law prefers cock to dick (Hey now! Before you start making jokes or decide to get the wrong idea, remember I’m talking words not boy bits), but I know language is a big thing for some people.

As a result of my MIL’s most recent utterance of cock, I got to thinking about George Carlin, dirty words, what’s offensive language, and what’s offensive to me. I once had a judge for a romance novel contest entry tell me she was so offended by my novel’s hero using the words crap and crappy, that she was unable to read my entry and marked me down with a low score because of obscene language. That experience, combined with MIL’s pointing out Mr Bankballscratcher, dragged me back to the the romance convention centre. The world of romance fiction is one filled with unwritten rules and conventions for all sorts of things and I’ve ranted about a few of them. There have been previous Oldbitey bites about the conventions of ‘nice.’ I’ve snarled about ageism, growled over things a heroine (read that as woman) can and can’t be, things she can and can’t say. This stuff isn’t new for me. I’ve gone on a barkfest about bad, naughty, obscene words before. Subjectivity is an amazing thing. A perfectly tame word like crap can, for some individuals, have the same offending property as (look away if you can’t deal with R and X-rated words) fuck or cunt. I’m the opposite of my MIL. I find cock a more coarse-sounding word than dick, but mostly I just find cock…hilarous and not at all sexy. Don’t know about you, but it makes me think of roosters and feather dusters and Chicken Run.

So I took my curious thoughts to a twitter discussion with katydidinoz and BookThingo. They both agreed that cock is not offensive when it is used in the context of a sex scene. Context is everything. I would have liked to have investigated the context of other words a little further, but we stopped at that point because, well, it’s twitter, discussions beyond 140 are a little difficult, and things move on to other topics in a flash. I have to admit that while we were discussing crap, cock, and suffixes ending with sucker, for a few moments anyway, I thought I might change the focus of my PhD research from Cougars, Evil Stepmothers, and Menopausal Hot Flashers: Roles Representations of Age and the Non-traditional Romance Heroine to Dirty Dicks and Contextual Cocks; Sexy-vs- Offensive Language in Romance Fiction. Then I decided I need to refocus my attention on the matter of the impending peanut butter shortage at home.

Peanut Butter, Fiction, and ReaI Life?

Is this your classic chicken or egg moment? Did a plot device occur because of my obsessive love of peanut butter or did an obsessive love of peanut butter occur because of a plot device?

The one thing for certain is that I’m down to one 1lb 12 oz jar of Jif Creamy. This house has eaten, and it shocks me to realise this, 3 and 1/2 lbs of peanut butter since June.

You’d think I’d be the size of a shed by now. Or at least jar-shaped. Jif jar-shaped, that is, minus the red cap and label. Fortunately, I have a good trainer (I heart you,Tracey) and Shrinky’s responsible for some of the eating, which you know chaps my hide because it was supposed to be my present, and since the peanut butter was bestowed upon me, by him nonetheless, I shouldn’t have to share it.

But I digress.

Writing is a curious thing. Like other writers, I make music soundtracks to fit the novel I’m writing. The soundtrack goes with the mood of scenes, characters, and the overall tone of the novel itself. I’ve got a cracking Powerpop soundtrack to And She Was (the current WIP for you newbiteys), but this is the first time one major food group (and peanut butter is a MAJOR FOOD GROUP) has gone with the mood, characters, and overall tone of the novel. It’s like product placement in movies. Peanut butter appears everywhere in And She Was. Peanut butter is the thread that weaves through relationships. Peanut butter makes a mess. Peanut butter is eaten for dinner. Peanut butter is a vital clue to a mystery. Peanut butter appears in a love scene. And while all that peanut butter madness goes on in fiction, I slather some on a cracker, my banana is smeared with a coating, the dog’s Kong gets stuffed full of it.

Is one thing feeding off the other? When I finish writing And She Was, will I also finish with peanut butter? Or will I simply run out? My supplier is sold out and I just opened that last jar from the pantry…

Revisitin’ the Past AKA Robbin’ the Grave of a Previous Post.

Perhaps some of y’all will remember my theory of why Vampire Paranormals sell so well?  If you don’t, or if you haven’t ever been a faithful Bitey-ite, allow me to revisit that theory. But first, I have to admit I don’t "get" the fascination with weres or supes for that matter (save Sam Merlott–come on, a collie? Loveable). I can embrace vampires. Sort of. There was a time I was big into tortured, brooding Louis In Interview With The Vampire and I love me some Bill Compton, but my theory about why vampires sell revolves around the very nature of vampires. They never age. The lure of the vampire is all about the youth-fixated, youth-aimed, youth-embracing media. Vampires perpetuate a big ol’ myth. Gee, if you’re a vampire, you get to live forever. You get to be ageless and beautiful forever. As I said back in 2008 "Hell, no wonder paranormals are hot. At $20 a book, reading about a gorgeous, thin person with a fabulous night life is a cheaper fantasy than $300 a pop for Botox or even bigger spondoolies for a nose job."

I still think that. I still believe that is why we, as romance readers and YA  readers, are innundated with Twilight clones. Allow me to issue an apology before I go on. Sorry if I offend the supe-lovin’-were-cuddlers out there, but I am ready for this shape-shifting paranormal trend to fade like a vampire in the sun. I want someone to curb those dogs. Look, I’m not talking Stake ’ems, or Steak ‘ums (Oldbitey is vegetarian, after all). I don’t want all Vampires to die off, or all weres on a leash. I simply want more variety in my book store, more room on the shelves for other kinds of romance. Oh, all right I want MORE contemporary romance.

What trend is going to come next? There’s speculation it’s already here with the Amish Romance. I think that’s a passing fancy. Living forever is a big dream for some, but Living Amish? Well, with iPods, Twitter, and disposable diapers I don’t think so. So here’s my suggestion for a HOT NEW TREND!
Know how once you’re over 50 you’re life is basically over and you’re pretty much dead, which means have no sex life? Who’s interested in romance and sex when your heart’s stopped, you only look good in the dark, and you’ve sprouted hair all over your body? Gee, that sounds like the beginning of a paranormal, dunnit?  Well, think again. Seventy-eight million romance-reading Baby Boomers (and the entering their 40s Gen-Xers) with money to burn are gearing up to make noise.

Hell, they’re already making noise, they’ve  put a few ripples in the pool when it comes to TV shows like Saving Grace, The Closer, and Cougar Town (ill wind to the person who gave the show that title). Hollywood is starting to catch on with movies, like Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated. Eventually, I believe Publishers, who are always looking for the NEXT BIG THING will get this. Somebody (like me and the ladies at Facebook’s OnPAR) will knock it into their head. They will pick up stories with heroines over 40. Yes, that’s right people. In this next trend, you’re going to be able to read ROMANCE Fiction (not Women’s Fiction) about beautiful 40 and 50 somethings falling in love.

And there will be sex scenes in those books.

Oh, please! Who’s being prudish now? Don’t you DARE groan or cringe or think that your parents only ever did it once on a cloud and begat the miracle of you. If you can take the blood-soaked sex scene, the transforming supe sex scenes, surely you can accept the fact people over 40 fall in love and boink like crazed weasels.

Mind you, this is pure speculation. But I’d be willing to make a bet something’s gonna change. Ageing is gonna be HAWTT. Or Maybe it will all be about sexy Amish beards and barn raisings.

Five Names That Should Never be Used in a Romance

There’s no guideline for choosing names for your characters, but there are a few things one might want to steer clear of when picking a name for your hero. Bypass names that are primo for dick jokes, or names that are verbs, like Chip and Chuck. See below for others to avoid.

1. B.J. Do I really have to explain why?

2. Rock/Stone/Brick or anything having to do with ingenuous or sedimentary.

3. Sheldon. You have Billy Crystal to thank for this one. He pegs it when he says "Ride me Big Sheldon!"  in When Harry Met Sally.

4. Lance. The heroine is not a boil. Repeat, The heroine is not a boil.

5. Vishous (Wrath, Phury, Rhage, etc.) Oh, I’m sorry. Did I piss off you Brotherhood of the Black Dagger fans?

This is a participation blog, an ALL PLAY like in Pictionary, so feel free to join in with your fifty cents. Or hit me with your vitriol.

Conventions Without A Real Convention Centre.



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This past Tuesday, Smart Bitches Trashy Books posted an entry about romance heroines who don’t want  For some readers, the love has to lead to marriage and an ending, or epilogue, with a baby carriage. For others, like me, the kid is an unnecessary convention often found in romance fiction.

Conventions are the hallmark of popular fiction. We all know romance fiction abounds with conventions and clichés; the secret baby, the marriage of convenience, the bad boy who’s tamed by the love of a good woman, the happy ending. Westerns have their cowboy loners and hired gunmen, Spy novels abound with evil dudes or organisations hell-bent on world domination, and Thrillers are stocked by serial killers and stalkers who are always after the hero and his family. As far as conventions go, I abhor the baby ending or epilogue in romance. It lacks imagination. It’s as if the writer is saying to me, you’re too dumb to know that this couple builds a life together so I’ll spell it out for you. I can take some conventions, I like the Happily Ever After, but the convention that really chaps my tender hide, is the tenet that insists the heroine has to be…nice.

Men get to be unpleasant, surly or ill mannered, but sorry, ladies. You’ve got a vagina and you’ve gotta keep yourself nice, nice, nice.  Those are the rules. This is how it is unless you’re going to live in Paranormalopolis or Spyville. Then you get some realistic qualities, you get to have cramps and a bad day, you’re allowed to use the eff word and sleep with multiple partners and werewolves and the scruffy English MI6 agent.

You can be June Cleaver (and you know I’m all for June Cleaver, cooking and cleaning techniques), however, please allow for a little bit more realism with our personalities in romance. We can talk about blended families, drug abuse, domestic violence in a romance novel, but come on, how about we lighten up on the nice thing?

Nice. I’ve had it up to here with the nice convention in romance and I bet I’m not the only one. Like me, I’m sure you wonder WHY there aren’t more bitchy, unlikable, Kate-like heroines who are redeemed by the love of a Petruchio or Shrinky.