Archive for April, 2007

27
Apr
07

MG Braden: Love’s Blessings

Janelle Trent has been desperately trying to have a baby. Can she surrender to God when the treatments don’t work?

Kevin Trent loves his wife, baby or not. Can he show his wife that they already are a family? Or, will he walk away, taking with him all their hopes and dreams?

Can two people in love move past heartache to find each other, and possibly a miracle, again? Sometimes we search so hard but are unable to see that we already have Love’s Blessings.

In case you don’t know, MG and me and Joely Sue Burkhart are the Sisters of the Severed Hand. IOW, I can’t really be partial, can I?

So I’m not giving Love’s Blessings a grade. I’m just going to tell you what I liked about it.

It’s an contemporary, inspirational short. That is three strikes against it already, frankly, because I don’t read contemps unless they have para/suspense elements, I’ve never read an inspy before this and I don’t like shorts.

I enjoyed it anyway, for what it is: A short, sweet story about a couple who loved each other but lost sight of it.

It’s not perfect. I think that there’s a little too much of telling rather than showing towards the end. And it’s a little rushed too.

But hey, it’s less than USD1.50. Why not give it a try?

We have an exclusive excerpt below the cut.

Continue reading ‘MG Braden: Love’s Blessings’

27
Apr
07

Introducing MG Braden

MG and I, it seems, met on AngieW’s blog.

That’s the way she remembers it anyway. Me, I don’t remember.

See, MG, she’s a pseudonymous superheroine with the superpower to traumatize people into forgetting stuff. Don’t tell anybody I told you, but MG actually stands for Mistress Gore.

She’s not really that squeamish, even though she pretends to be when the other two Sisters of the Severed Hand throw severed hands at her. In fact, I think she relishes in it. Not quite sure what she does with severed hands, but hey, if it doesn’t harm anybody (and she is a superheroine, you know), all’s good, right?

She used to do the superheroine thang full-time, then she got preggers and had kids and her brains leaked out her ears. Thankfully for her, and us, she still has some brains left.

So she writes romances and she does the superheroine thang part-time. Mostly, she stops romance heroes and heroines from doing stupid things ( like deciding against having a HEA) and cleans up baby poop. Yes people, she’s gotten her SuperMom badge, and survived all sorts of bodily fluids and teenagers. Now you see why she managed to traumatize me, miladyinsanity?

She’s not all bad though. After all, she has a respectable insanity quotient.

I would say my current insanity level is probably at a nine but not sure that has anything to do with my writing. I have three young children, aged 1-7, am a volunteer for probably one too many things, my dh is away for ten days and I have a story due by the end of next week, as well as another one to do a revision and resubmit on. Plus my head is filled with voices! mwahahahaha! The thing is I pretty much thrive on this kind of stuff for the most part. I whine a little and would like some me time but really, I’m good. If I could just drop it down to a level 7 I think it would be a bit better.

24
Apr
07

They Don’t Have to End Happy Happy Happy Happy, Damn it!

This is not an anti-HEA rant, even though it is about HEAs. Happy Ever Afters, for peeps new to Romancelandia.

What irritates me so greatly at the moment is this tendency in paranormal romance series to end every single book Happy Happy Happy.

Take Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s Dark-Hunters, for instance. I used to loooooooove them–she was one of the authors who started me on paranormals.

For some reason, I picked them up to reread again today. And it bugs the hell out of me that she’s made every one immortal.

The short version is that a couple who got their HEA in a shorter book, the hero losing his immortality in the process, became immortal again.

Why does this bug me?

Because I think it diminishes the love they have for each other.

Because I think it diminishes the HEA they originally had.

Because I think that the hero willingly giving up his immortality made him worthy of getting a HEA.

Part of it is simply that I’m puzzled. I don’t understand why an author would do this. I’m not Sherrilyn Kenyon. I am me, and that her vision is not mine is My Problem, not hers. I see that.

The other parts, I’m not so sure.

Thoughts?

23
Apr
07

Jaci Burton: Wild, Wicked & Wanton

Three friends…three secret desires…three chances to make it all come true.

They’re inseparable best friends who delight in sharing their wildest secrets and dares. But their latest bet is the boldest one of all: each must sleep with whomever the other two have chosen for her. And come back with every juicy detail...

Whooooo hot!

All three stories are heroine-centric, and I personally think that it is quite the feat Jaci‘s managed to write three novellas featuring three different kinks without it feeling like she went “I’m going to write one menage, one BDSM and one voyeur/exhibitionist story and put them into one anthology.” Props to her for that.

Also, now that she’s written about the ABC girls, when is she going to write about the XYZ boys? Gotta have something to bookend our Jaci Burton collections. ;)

Individual reviews behind the cut, but first…

This rates 3 out of 5.

Continue reading ‘Jaci Burton: Wild, Wicked & Wanton’

20
Apr
07

7 Questions with Megan Hart

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

Eight. It’s more than five, because I’d say five is probably “normal” but it’s less than ten because I can still make a determination, and if I was a level ten I’d probably be saying I’m at “one.” ;)

2. You have an extensive backlist of shorter length fiction. Do you just like writing novellas better?

I wrote a lot of short fiction for various reasons, one being that it takes way less time to write a short story than it does to write a novel. Particularly when I got started in erotic fiction, Amber Quill was one of the few, if not the only publisher at the time, to offer short stories. I was writing novels and novellas, too, but the shorts came out so much faster and therefore could be published faster, that I built up a backlist of the short stories. I can’t say I prefer shorts to novel length pieces. It depends on the story.

3. Are you still writing for your e-publishers?

I have two stories scheduled for Amber Quill in 2007, a piece for their upcoming Space Trucking AmberPax and a fairy-tale story for another collection due out later in the year. I love writing for Amber Quill and don’t intend to stop.

4. All three of your Spice novels, Dirty, Broken and Perfect, are written in first person. Was there a reason why you wrote them in first person? From a reader’s point of view, third person tends to be easier to read.

I really enjoy writing in first person and always have. Quite a few of my stories are written in first person. Particularly for erotic work, I find the deep point of view of first person can lend so much intimacy to a story and a character that I really like using it. As I reader, some of my favorite novels have been in first person, and I’ve never found that reading in third is better or worse than first. Because I usually write books I want to read (I’m just selfish like that) they come out in first as often as they do third. To be honest, I don’t understand why people don’t like first — I really enjoy it.

5. Spice is an erotica line, yet your earlier are romances. Are your Spice novels erotica, or do they have a traditional romance Happy ever After?

I would not call DIRTY or BROKEN traditional romances or even traditional erotic romance, but I wouldn’t say they’re not romance at all. As for the HEA…I would say they end the best way they could. The way they had to. In my mind, they end positively, but to say they have a traditional Happy Ever After might disappoint someone whose idea of that is different than mine. DIRTY is romantic. It’s about love. But ultimately, I think I would allow the reader to decide for herself if DIRTY and BROKEN are “romances.” I would not consider them straight erotica, though. And there we have the problem — there are so many subtle differences between erotica, erotic romance, romance, erotic literature…my books are erotic fiction about the relationships of the characters within them. Dirty is more “romantic” than Broken, but Broken has a definite love story woven within it. That’s the best answer I can give.

6. You’ve written quite a few SFF novellas. Do you see yourself making the transition to pure SFF (as in, where the SFF part is more important than the romance part) in the future?

I would love to publish my drawer babies — I have an entire trilogy that is straight SF without a true romance in it (though there is a love story, can’t get away without having some love!) But will I completely transition? That’s hard to say. I love writing about love and relationships so much I doubt I’ll ever move away from writing stories with those elements, and who best appreciates stories about love and romance but romance readers?

7. Me, I’m a firm believer in the power of purple ink. Since you wear purple slippers every day at home, you understand the power of purple too…Right?

Purple rocks. lol!

Megan blogs and is a MySpacer. Broken releases this month.

19
Apr
07

First Book Issues

JM Carr says that she is “intrigued by the fact that nearly all of the reviews and discussion threads I’ve read make a big point of the fact that the flaws of the book are typical first book flaws.” (she is talking about Anna Campbell’s Claiming The Courtesan)

For me, first book issues are issues that I believe the author will grow out of quickly, even though they detract from my enjoyment of a debut novel.

I bolded ‘grow out of quickly‘ because I think this is key. After all, if they don’t grow out of it quickly, then it’s not going to be only a first book issue.

So when I say that a book has first book issues, I am implying that I think the author will get better pretty quickly. Some might consider it a backhanded compliment or criticism, or both even, I suppose.

There are a couple of common first book issues. Weak pacing is a common one, at least for me. The first half of the book is often stronger than the second half.

The reverse can also be true. Books that feel rushed, for instance, and books whose authors I’ll read again simply because of a great ending, if I manage to get past a slow start.

Are they problems that ‘break’ the book? No. But they are problems that, if they continue to exist in an author’s later books, will break me of habitually picking up that author’s next book.

Shanna Swendson guestblogs on Alison Kent’s blog today. *beams* I do adore her books.

And Megan Hart‘s interview is up tomorrow! She can’t remember what she told me, and I can’t either. But you can bribe me into not posting it if you are afraid that you’ve said stuff that you don’t want me to post.

I also have a post up on RTB tomorrow, aka the post I’ve been whining on and on and on and on about lately.

Note to self: Email Janine. And Megan. Mad plans AFOOT! Mad Megan will fit right in.

18
Apr
07

7 Questions with Natasha Mostert

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

My current level of insanity is pretty high — not quite in the “lunatic asylum red zone” but a fairly toxic orange — let’s say an eight. The reason? Two projects conflicting: a) a novel in progress, which I’ve only just started and b) the promotion of Season of the Witch. It is like having to choose between two demanding lovers! Starting a novel from scratch is always tough: you’re not comfortable with your characters yet and you’re struggling with plot lines that are still wobbly. Promotion is hard work too. Blogging, writing articles, networking, online interviews: all of this can be tremendously time consuming…if fun!

2. You’ve lived in London, South Africa and elsewhere. It’s clearly something that has flavored your work, in terms of setting especially. Is there any place that you’ve not been where you’d like to set a story?

Easter Island! Although I’m a little hesitant about the gazillion hour plane trip that would take me there…

3. Your aia started your interest in mysticism. You’ve mentioned that you insisted on following some of her superstitions as a child in your bio page. Are there any that have stuck with you through the years?

Fortunately for my husband I do not insist any more on raising my bed on bricks the way my aia did (to be out of reach of the tokkelosh — a malevolent little man with a big head and short legs) but she has sharpened my awareness of things that can’t always be easily explained: synchronisities, coincidences, those small ripples that hint at something hiding behind the dusty curtain. She believed that magic lurked in the shadow of the mundane. This is a very African way of looking at the world. In Africa magic permeates every aspect of every day life — it is not a thing apart. This belief is reflected in my books. Even though I write about topics, which can seem fey and far-fetched, I make sure to embed them firmly within a modern day, realistic framework. One moment my characters will be plodding along unsuspectingly and the next they will find themselves caught up in a world that is luminous and imaginative.

4. Surely that interest must be deeply entrenched by now; all your books thus far are paranormals. Do you think it’s the thrill of the unknown, perhaps even the impossible, that attracts us to explore the paranormal?

I think we all need a little bit of fantasy on our bread. Our lives are rushed and filled with routine and we long for something that will inspire us with awe and wonder. Paranormal stories are usually sensual, resonant stories, filled with dark images tinged with apocalyptic fire. For some reason these stories touch something deep within us.

5. One of your future goals is coming face to face with a ghost. Do you think you’ll scream like a girl when it happens?

Wouldn’t it be nice if I found myself able to communicate intelligibly and intelligently with my ghostly visitor? But probably not! Although I tend to lose my voice when I’m in shock so I’ll most likely end up gasping like a fish out of water.

6. Windwalker had a…rather controversial ending, especially for one that had ‘romance’ on the spine. The RWA definition of romance includes a happy ever after, and not every reader considers Windwalker’s ending a true happy ever after. Do you think that a romance needs to have a happy ever after?

Controversial is putting it mildly. Many readers loved the book but yes, I picked up a lot of flak from a sizeable group of romance readers who felt betrayed by Windwalker‘s ending. I suppose it depends on your definition of romance. For me, “romance” equals “love story” and some of the most enduring love stories do not have happy endings. Look at Gone with the Wind, Wuthering Heights, even Memoirs of a Geisha. Maybe it is true that the romance imprimatur on the spine confused readers who were expecting a more traditional read. I admit that my books are not conventional. I try to keep the story lines unexpected. After all, what’s the fun in doing what every other writer does? And even the setting I used in Windwalker, Namibia, drew criticism — although I think after Brad and Angelina’s adventure, Namibia may not seem quite as odd a backdrop for a love story any more.

As for Season of the Witch: I have a new publisher and the book will not be marketed as pure romance, although it does have a strong romance angle: my hero falls in love with a voice in a diary – how romantic is that? On the other hand, the voice might belong to a killer… I suppose my books are hybrids, which make them difficult to peg: a dash of romance, a scoop of mystery, a seasoning of mysticism and a dollop of the paranormal make for an unpredictable brew. My characters tend not to walk hand-in-hand into the sunset, but I like to think they do other things that are pretty interesting…

7. “Enter the World of a Witch. Play the memory game. http://www.seasonofthewitch.com”. What gave you the idea for the game? And did you have fun designing it?

In Season of the Witch my two witches are building a memory palace filled with fantastical objects that are both bizarre and beautiful. When I wrote the descriptions of the palace, the idea came to me that if these scenes could be translated into visual imagery, that they would make a great backdrop for a game.

I have to admit that I underestimated how tough it is to write a game — I’ve never done it before — but yes, it was great fun. Fortunately, I have a very talented brother who is a highly imaginative website designer and he was able to take care of all the technical wizardry for me. I hope readers will enjoy playing the game: I’ve made it quite challenging. If they manage to get to the end, they could even win a prize!

Natasha Mostert MySpaces. Season of the Witch should be available in a bookstore near you tomorrow, and if you’d like to win signed copies, play the Memory Game!





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