All posts by Shana Figueroa

Love in a Time of War

Greetings fans! (I know you’re out there, you coy little minxes!)

I apologize for being delinquent in posting on my author website. Per universal yet ambiguous marketing advice, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing to generate a fan base. I’m also supposed to be doing something with Twitter, and Instagram, and especially Facebook, and then people will start magically reading my books. And I need to write a newsletter! That one will be fun, though I’m told I shouldn’t fill it with sharp, exquisitely crafted snark. Boo.

Anyway, one reason I haven’t posted too much on my author website is because I’ve been posting regularly on a different website, plus doing a 12-hrs-a-day/7 days-a-week job (I’m not exaggerating), plus finishing up The Red Election (my time-traveling teenagers novel). I’m all out of bandwidth.

Why can’t I be one of those reclusive authors who somehow sells a billion books even though no one knows who I am? That would be awesome.

Anyway, again, I’m thinking of starting a series of posts about romantic advice. I will dole it out! If Cosmo can do it, I can, too! I mean, have you read my books? Think I just made up all those positions? I’m an expert, obvs.

In case you’re wondering what this other website is I’ve been blogging on, it’s here: www.pinkfatigues.com. I have to warn you, though – it’s not very romantic. Come here for romance; go there for cold hard reality.

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My Core Theme: Love is Power

Yup, it's right in there!
Yup, it’s right in there!

RWA’s monthly publication has been running a series of articles on core themes lately. A core theme is an idea that connects an artist’s entire body of work, like a tagline. For instance, Shonda Rimes’s core theme is “You are not alone.” A core theme should arise organically from whatever a (in this case) writer likes to write about. Picking a core theme ahead of time is probably not a good idea – nobody wants to experience someone’s painful shoe-horning of a Deep Meaning into their story, i.e. “Every scene has pink flowers, because they represent innocent love! Get it???”

After writing about a dozen short stories and four novels (two published so far), I’ve realized what my core theme is: Love is Power. So, contextually, what does this mean?

"OMG WE ARE STILL YOUR BIGGEST FANS. IF ONLY YOU'D LET US INCREASE YOU SEO RANKINGS..."
“OMG WE ARE STILL YOUR BIGGEST FANS. IF ONLY YOU’D LET US INCREASE YOU SEO RANKINGS…”

Well, here’s the thing – if you’ve been keeping track of my stuff (the spambots sure have!) you probably think I’m a cynical, snarky negative Nancy. And it’s true that whenever I get my creative juices flowing, I almost always go dark; it’s just more interesting. Dark is fun.

However, big picture-wise, I’m a big ol’ optimist. I believe in the innate goodness of humanity, I believe the world is getting better (and there’s actual evidence to support this), and I believe love is more powerful that hate. In fact, I believe love is one of the most powerful forces in the world. People do a lot of good – and bad – things for love. It doesn’t actually conquer all, but, on the whole, it pushes in the direction of good.

I’ve always been fascinated by the way human emotions profoundly and irrationally affect the decisions we make, even causing us to act in ways that aren’t in our best interests. All of my stories include this element in some way; specifically, how love empowers people to embrace the greater good and make the right decisions, even if they suffer for it. This is also why I’m drawn to the romance genre, which is all about the power of love!

Here’s the Valentine Shepherd series, broken down into specific themes or taglines:

love-is-power-theme-breakdown-v2

Bottom line: If complicated love is your jam, then I’m your woman!

Hit it, Celine!

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The Themes Behind VENGEANCE

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was supposed to be ashamed of the act that creates life and consummates love. I'm just gonna cock my gun here while you explain to me the depth of the shame I should be feeling."
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be ashamed of the act that creates life and consummates love. I’m just gonna cock my gun here while you explain to me the depth of the shame I should be feeling.”

If you’ve read my latest novel, VENGEANCE, then you know it’s chock-full of what we in Romancelandia call the “sexy-times.” Specifically, there are romantic relations between M/F, M/M, F/F, and M/M/F. If you haven’t read the book yet, well now you know! If that kind of thing is really not your jam, read SPICE OF LOVE instead! There are only two relatively tame sex scenes in that one, I swear.

“Why so many sexy-times?” you might ask. “Are you kind of a pervert?” ………Maybe, a little. BUT really, there are lots of sex scenes because the book is about sex.

What is sex, and why do people have it? Is it good or bad? It can be both, really, depending on the situation and the people involved. There can also be huge strings attached, like pregnancy, STDs, social consequences, etc. In a nutshell, sex is kind of a big deal, even though most people shy away from talking about it.

Sex is a critical element of romance, even the conservative Inspirationals. Love can be lots of things, but romance is love plus a sexual element, either implicit or explicit; otherwise, it’s not romance.

Many of the characters in VENGEANCE are sexually fluid, existing along a spectrum of sexuality. A good number of them are having trouble accepting their sexual identities. The main characters, Max and Val, have a complicated relationship with sex—because of their shared condition, often it’s merely a means to an end. When they begin to accept their sexual identities and view sex as an act of affection, that’s when love blooms. On the other end of the spectrum, the antagonist’s shame over his sexuality enables other, more clever people to manipulate him. He loses power.

The theme: being honest with yourself and accepting who you are gives you strength. The characters who accept their sexual identities are the ones who have power. And those who pair their sexual identities with love have the most power.

SO, that’s what’s up with all the sexy-times in VENGEANCE. Tell your friends next time they give you the side-eye for reading a “smutty” book!

You: “Hey, I’m reading about the power of honesty and love! What’s the life-affirming theme of that last Tom Clancy thriller you read, huh???”

"The theme is sometimes men gotta do man things. It's the theme of all my books, duh. Hey, your grandpa thinks I'm the SHIT, so you can take your empowered vaginas or whatever and beat it, sister!"
“The theme is sometimes men gotta do man things. It’s the theme of all my books, duh. Hey, your grandpa thinks I’m the SHIT, so you can take your empowered vaginas or whatever and beat it, sister!”
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