Archive for August, 2006


Sarah Monette: Melusine

I had been looking forward to this book.

I suppose I was expecting something different after seeing the Jacqueline Carey blurb, but I was disappointed.

I enjoyed the book. Sarah writes beautifully, and the worldbuilding is to be envied.

Curiously enough, I liked Mildmay the thief better than I did Felix Harrowgate the wizard. But Mildmay was also shown in a more heroic light than Felix, so I suppose it balances out.

I don’t know whether I will be getting the sequel, The Virtu, but I’d certainly suggest that you give Melusine a try.

This rates a 8 out of 10.


Nalini Singh: Awaken To Pleasure

Believe it or not, I have read a Desire! 😀

(2 to be exact, since it’s 2-in-1 but I got this one for Nalini‘s book)

I admit, I groaned when I found out that Taylor has a younger brother, but that was the only plot niggle I had with the book.

It has a very ‘classic plotline’ (stole that from SD guidelines). Rich alpha and flawed heroine (also stolen from the guidelines).

That said, it’s also in the execution.

I wasn’t disappointed, as I thought might happen.

Compared to Slave To Sensation, Awaken To Pleasure has a smaller story, and the writing could have been a wee bit tighter.

But ATP is also her second book, whereas STS is her sixth.

I can honestly say that if I had read ATP first, it’d have scored better.

This gets 8 out of 10 from me.


Great Minds Think Alike?

Diana Peterfreund pokes a few holes at the Viral Blogging thang.

(Shut up. I know I said one post a day, but couldn’t resist adding to what she said.)

See, I feel the same way.

I took part in Dear Author’s Viral Blogging experiment because of the prizes.

I loved Nalini‘s book, don’t get me wrong, but if I had not read it, I’d have taken part anyway just for the prizes. Same goes for the ones I’ve taken part in before–Gena Showalter’s and MJ Rose’s.

This is the first time I’ve taken part in a blogging contest because I loved the book/author.

The point of viral blogging is to get the author/book title out to people who might not have heard of the author/book title otherwise.

Except that I read a fair number of the bloggers on the Dear Author listing. Most of the others, I’m passing familiar with–if only because one of my fellow romance bloggers links to them. They are all the usual suspects–I don’t mean this in a bad way.
I imagine if a blog reader reads one of those blogs, they probably read a couple more of the rest. I assure you, and most other people are going to be the same, that making read that same post twenty times is not going to make me buy a book. And I do feel like I’ve read it twenty times!

One last thing: At some point, this is going to become spam, peeps. Take my word for it.


Sela Carsen: Not Quite Dead

Sela was sweet enough to send me an ARC of her debut novella from Samhain.

She has it spot on when she says that it’s a para-rom-zom-com-nov, or paranormal romance zombie comedy novella.

I like her voice, and I liked her characters. What niggles I do have are plot niggles, and I’ll post them in the comments if you want to read them–I can’t do the white-out thing here for some reason.

So it gets a 7.5 out 10–which is high for a novella given that I usually fail them.


Sheila Clover’s Round Up

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

And it’s all up!

Sheila‘s taking questions for two weeks, so you have until midnight, 3rd of September. Never fear, I will post reminders. I’ll figure out how to make a link to this page that will remain at the top of the links sidebar.
If you’d prefer to email her, the address is sclover (at) cosproductions  (dot) com.

PS If you’d like to link to the interview, might I suggest you link to this post, as it has links to all the rest?


Welcome Sheila!

Sheila Clover, President/CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is here!
Circle of Seven might be familiar to the Christine Feehan fans, because they make her book trailers.

The interview will be posted in five parts during the day, so please come back! I’ll do a final round-up with links to all 5 posts.

It’ll be fun and thought-provoking. And Sheila’s taking questions for two weeks, so feel free!

If you’d rather email her, the address is sclover (at) cosproductions (dot) com.


7 Questions with Julie Leto

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. (Pretty high, right? Six back-to-back releases!)

A week ago, I would have said 11. This week, I’m back to about a 9 because I’ve started working on a new project, which always succeeds in taking me out of the insanity for a little bit. The trick will be to keep concentrating on the new project and not letting the promotional side of the business distract me. I love making sure that my readers know about my books, but on the other hand, it’s all about the writing and that’s what I need to concentrate on. Of course, the closer it gets to September, the crazier I’ll get again. A lot is riding on the success of DIRTY LITTLE LIES.

2. Marisela is the epitome of a kick-ass heroine. Do you see any part of yourself in her?

I’d like to think so. I grew up with three brothers, all their friends and a large cache of male cousins. You had to at least have a smart mouth in order to survive. I was always very petite growing up, so I had to have a big attitude to make up for it. I grew up in a very Hispanic neighborhood, just like Marisela did, though I have to be honest and say I wasn’t conscious of that fact–I thought everyone was Hispanic or Italian because that’s what I saw everyday in the neighborhood and at school and at the ball park. Even my dance school. I’m not nearly as beautiful, tall or physically fit as Marisela and I’m much better educated, but she’s the kind
of woman I’d like as a friend. I’m actually a great deal like her friend, Lia, although I’m not as neat.

3. The Book of your Voice article on your website is an article every writer should read. It was the first writing article I read that made me go, “Ding! This makes perfect sense!” And I’m not the only one who thinks that way–I’ve seen it recommended on lots of places. What inspired you to write it?

An editor at a NINC (Novelists, Inc) conference coined the phrase almost as a throwaway comment and I picked up on it because it was a real “ding, ding, ding” moment for me, too. It’s hard when you write sexy, fun fiction to be taken seriously and the whole “book of your heart” thing just seemed another layer of stress. In other words, I knew I wasn’t writing from my heart, I was writing from my need to sell. And I wasn’t ashamed of that, but other people seemed to be. The article was my way of saying that writers shouldn’t be ashamed to write commercial fiction and to enjoy what they write if they just listen to their own voice. I’m really glad the article has made such a difference to other writers because if I can free a sister writer from some of the angst that comes with this business, I’ve won brownie points to Heaven, in my estimation!

4. Tell us, are you one of those rare writer-creatures who is manages to come up with wonderful titles? Dirty Little Secrets and What’s Your Pleasure!

Actually, I am pretty good at it. Both those titles were mine, though WYP was a collaboration with my editor, Brenda Chin. Out of the 20 books that have been released, more than half of the titles were mine. Others were collaborative. The only titles that weren’t mine were Brazen & Burning (a title I still despise…it was supposed to be Slow Burn, but Heather Graham
thought of it first, apparently) and Looking for Trouble and Up To No Good, which were entirely Brenda’s, but I loved them, so they stuck. Oh, and Seducing Sullivan was hers, too. Private Lessons was a compromise. I wanted Private Dancer. Temptation wasn’t ready for something so risque, but they did use it years later for someone else’s book! Some were tweaked by Brenda…for instance, I wanted Watch Me for my second Blaze and Brenda
changed it to Just Watch Me. I wanted Game of Chance for my Chance Brothers book, but we compromised on Pure Chance. I’m usually at least close. So far, Pocket has let me keep all my “Dirty” titles for Marisela.

5. Assuming the winds of publishing blow in our favor (Please!), will the Marisela books be open-ended? Or do you have a story arc planned out already?

I don’t have a detailed story arc, per se, but I don’t think the series should go on forever…at least, I don’t think that now. However, I have little to say in the matter. The only vote that counts is readers who plunk down their hard-earned dollars to buy the books. If DIRTY LITTLE LIES sells well, then there will be a TALK DIRTY TO ME. I will say that there is an uber-villain driving the actions of the books and that will come out more in the third book. In fact, all references to this manipulator in the second book were edited out for space. So it completely stands alone. But in the third book, I can reference action in the second book that will make sense. I hope!

6. You’ve said that writing about Marisela has given you an opportunity to explore one side of your culture you had ignored. What was it like? Do you think it has filled a hole in your life you didn’t notice before?

It’s been interesting. It has really encouraged me to make new friends and to learn a little more of the Spanish language, which I missed out on. It’s hard sometimes because my family is so much more aligned with our Italian culture and I regret not paying more attention to the Hispanic-ness of my life growing up. But my exploration has brought me closer to my Cuban-American aunt, who edits all the Spanish in my books. She’s the most generous, giving woman on the planet, so that really makes me happy that we share this. And I’ve also made amazing friends through my connection to Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, the Latina writer who spawned a whole new trend in Latina Lit. That’s the best part…the new connections.

7. It was just last year that you broke out into single title. Do you think releasing Dirty Little Lies in mass-market paperback rather than trade will help you cement your place in the market?

Oh, I hope so! I have to be honest and say that this instant switch from trade to mass market is terrifying, but I think it’s the right move. My books have a chick-lit feel in Marisela’s attitude, but I can’t honestly call it chick-lit or even a chick-lit hybrid because frankly, Marisela isn’t that self-aware. She doesn’t agonize over the state of her life or pick her emotions apart. She’s a woman who acts. She’s much more a mass market character. The trouble is, readers expecting a traditional romantic suspense from DIRTY LITTLE LIES could be disappointed. That’s just not what this story is about in terms of romance. But, romantic suspense readersseems to eat up J.D. Robb, so there is hope for me. Not that I’m comparing myself or my books to Nora, but the ratio of romance to action is similar. And both series do have really hot sex. Of course, with Marisela, she’s not married or even commited to Frankie and Ian is always standing in the wings. The relationship between Marisela and Ian undergoes a marked change in this book, which only heats up the triangle further.

Julie Leto is a Plotmonkey. The latest book in the Marisela Morales series, Dirty Little Lies, will be released at the end of this month, so keep an eye for it at your nearby bookstore!

And clicky here to join her current contest–ends on Friday!


Laurie Halse Anderson: Speak


I cannot recommend this book enough.

Laurie Halse Anderson is a genius!

Melinda Sordino is an outcast from her first moment as Merryweather High.

Some of you are thinking, “Oh boy, another one of those books.”

You’ll be wrong.

For some of us, it’s not going to be an easy book to read. The ending made me cry–in a good way, because Melinda comes through her experiences stronger and better for it.

It’s a book that gives hope to those of us who have had to live through terrifying times, because if Melinda can do it, then you can do it too.

I had planned to use review another book for Angie’s TBR Challenge. But this book deserves it more. Much Much Much Much Much Much Much More.


Sela Carsen Talks To Us

Hi there, to those of you who don’t know me already. My name is Sela Carsen and on Tuesday, my first novella is coming out from Samhain Publishing. NOT QUITE DEAD will be available on August 15 and I’m pretty darned excited. When I’m not feeling nauseous.
The story is, as my friends dubbed it, a “para-rom-zom-com-nov.” A paranormal romantic zombie comedy novella. Set in present day small-town Louisiana, it’s the story of a man who rises from his grave and the high school guidance counselor who loves him. Ok, it’s a little more complex than that, but that’s what I call my soap-opera tagline.
You’ll find that the one thing romantic comedy writers will all agree on is that no one can agree on what’s funny.  I’m not even certain what makes something a comedy. Is it slapstick physical humor? Is it constant zingers? Is it just something in the way someone tells the story?
When you set out to write a humorous story, you have to make a decision. Is this about an ordinary character in extraordinary circumstances? Or is the character herself an extraordinary person who stands out in an ordinary setting?  There can be a mix of the two, of course.  Sometimes the crazy character is the only one who makes sense. And sometimes the crazy setting takes a back seat to the straight man’s gig.
Personally, I think my comedy is just part of my voice. No pratfalls, no zany antics, just a skewed way of looking at the world.
If I didn’t look at the world funny, I’d have ended up in the loony bin long ago. My friends tell me I’m a funny person. Now, I can’t tell a joke to save my life. I really can’t. Jokes are rehearsed, jokes are lines, jokes don’t have feeling. But I can tell stories all day long. Stories about me, about my family, about my experiences. Because that’s what funny really is. It’s the heart of us, it touches our hearts and our lives. Life is funny, jokes are not.
So when you write comedy, it’s not just one joke after another. It’s about life. Don’t push too hard, but never let a one-liner pass you by.

The lovely, and boobilicious Sela has agreed to take questions today. So feel free!

And never fear, I’ll post a reminder about her release when it’s out!


Lilith, Lilith Everywhere

Have you read a book featuring a Lilith lately? Or looking forward to a book featuring a Lilith?

And yes, I know about Colleen Gleason and Meljean Brook. More on this whenever I manage to
And this Lilith, as much as I adore her, is out of the running. Please change your bookmarks as she has a new URL.

And I also know about Nora Roberts. Her Circle trilogy will be the first books of hers in years that I will read, as it has vampires. The idea is tempting, Colleen, but the process is daunting. ROFL. It’s all your fault. If I hadn’t seen this post, I’d not be trying this.

A couple of things:

1. I’m looking for fiction.
2. Must be by an author I can contact online–IOW, alive and have a website.

3. e-Books are fine.

4. I know no genre boundaries. Any genre will do.

I will spill all once I find my third Lilith. Please help me. You wouldn’t want to make me cry, would you? *sniffles* I’m a nice, sweet little thing, and I cry very pitifully.


Lili has a new Forum!

Please join us.

I’m a moderator, under the User ID miladyinsanity. 😉 Cool beans, no?

It’s shaping up to be a really fun community, so do join us.

That’s part of the news I have–this news came after my last non-HKD post. Speaking of HKD, please go look at her interview and the Viva Las Bad Boys review. Remember, comment and you could win a signed copy of Viva! It’s that simple, and closing date’s Friday, midnight EST.

The other part is the Book Trailer stuff. As in, your friendly interviewer–moi–is interviewing Sheila Clover of Circle of Seven Productions. I’ve comments from a couple of authors to use, and I’m trying to get it up before the end of the month. The first couple of questions will be sent to Sheila today.

If you’d like to add anything, author or reader, please email me at miladyinsanity (at) gmail (dot) com.

Also, if you guys are only here for the interviews and guestblogs, you should subscribe to my MySpace blog, because I post there only on days when this blog has other stuff. I may use my LJ for the same thing eventually.


7 Questions with HelenKay Dimon

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.

I’m at about a level nine right now. My “normal” state is somewhere between a six and a seven, so the heightened state is not intolerable. The higher-than-normal rank can be attributed to just coming off a deadline, getting an idea for a single title series that I’m dying to pitch to my agent and editor, and recuperating from the annual RWA conference. I’m hoping to drop back to an eight by the end of the week.

2. In your website bio, you mention the romance novel an ex-colleague gave to you. Do you still remember which one that was?

Absolutely. My former law colleague (now music industry professional) handed me a stack of romance novels. Right on top sat The Bride by Julie Garwood. The other two books were Daniel’s Bride by Linda Lael Miller and Perfect Partners by Jayne Ann Krentz. I devoured all three and then ran through the authors’ respective backlists. Since Jayne Ann Krentz writes under various names, that turned out to be a significant undertaking. To this day, I’m a huge fan of all three and read whatever they put on the shelves.

3. Have you discovered the “Bad Boys” secret to topping the charts yet?

Lori Foster…actually, Lori or Erin McCarthy or Joann Ross or MaryJanice Davidson or a handful of other amazing authors. Brava editor Kate Duffy’s teams bestsellers with newer or lesser known authors to keep the bestsellers out there with new releases and give the rest of us the opportunity to benefit from the existing fan base. Add to that the Bad Boy label – one that brings in some readers no matter who the authors may be – and you have a winning combination. Or, at least I hope that’s true…
4. As one of the contributors to Paperback Reader, do you think that response to the site has been positive? Is there anything you’d change about it?

Except for the occasional angry reviewed author, response has been very positive. For a short time I wondered if I should have reviewed under a pseudonym. I toyed with that change but eventually decided that not being honest about who we are took something away from Paperback Reader. We review and put our name right there. If authors are angry, they know where to direct that anger…and they do.

Wendy Duren and I started Paperback Reader believing that romance novels were worthy of attention and could be reviewed critically and without personal attacks. We wanted to start a discussion. In the great should-authors-be-reviewers debate, we often take some shots, but for the most part I think people know we do this out of a love for the genre and not as a means of trying to hurt fellow writers.

The great news is that we’re growing. Over the last year, we’ve seen huge increases in readership and added a third partner in crime – Kassia Kroszer (aka Booksquare) – to the mix, as well as two new reviewers, Lorna and L.J. We’re trying to post reviews three times a week and run contests so that we can share some of our review books with readers. All of these steps, and the cool new website, have us excited to see what happens in this year.

5. Me and another person living outside the US won books from you that were sent out, returned, sent out again and went missing. What do you plan to do to the person behind your..uh…interesting international mail karma?

I’d fire her, but she’s me. See, I blamed – and continue to blame – the U.S. Postal Service for the mishaps. In return, the USPS insisted – and continues to insist – that I messed up the international declarations form. We’ve agreed to disagree. Either way, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve stocked up on the proper forms and am hopeful the mailing delays are behind us.

6. You debuted in Brava anthology When Good Things Happen To Bad Boys. Hardhats And Silk Stockings is a novella. As a writer, I think they are harder to write. As a reader, I think it’s much harder to find a good novella than it is to find a good full-length novel. Do you think you might have been better off starting with a full-length novel as opposed to a novella?

The novella versus novel decision was out of my hands. My editor likes to start new authors in novellas. The goal is to let the newbie feed off the fan base of the other authors in the anthology. It’s a good plan and seems to work, so I can’t complain. But, I do agree with you about novellas being harder to write. For me, shorter doesn’t mean easier. Shorter means I need to fit conflict, character arcs and a satisfying ending into a limited number of pages. I tend to make my life even harder and have my characters not know each at the beginning of the novella. That kind of thing gives me an extra challenge.

As a reader I love anthologies. My only frustration comes when reading a novella that’s less a full story than a “Day In The Life Of XXX” chapter. No matter the number of pages, I want a complete and fleshed out plot. Delivering that as an author is the challenge.

7. Viva Las Bad Boys, your sophomore title, is also an anthology. Is there something about the shorter form that appeals to you? Will your next title be a full-length novel?

The ideas for the Viva Las Bad Boys! novellas came to me as short connected stories, not as full-length novels. The plot ideas seemed perfect for the single author anthology format, and my editor agreed. My next Brava is a single title set in Kauai. The tone is humorous with a touch of suspense, but the story stays focused on the romance. We’re debating the title right now. I called it something ingenuous like, The Kauai Book. My editor jokingly referred to it as Two Wacky Macadamia Nuts. Thankfully, neither is the final title. Readers can check my website for further information on that one. The release date is July 2007.

HelenKay’s site is here, and she reviews books at Paperback Reader. Viva Las Bad Boys should be available at a bookstore near you.

And now…for a contest!

Comment here or on my review of Viva Las Bad Boys and win a signed copy from HelenKay! You have until Friday, midnight, EST to enter. 🙂


HelenKay Dimon: Viva Las Bad Boys

Jackpot is a heroine goes undercover in order to prove hero is a villain story.

The issue here is that the heroine, Laine, is an accountant and I can’t for the life of me see an accountant doing that.

This is where the Accountants of the World drop by to flame me, I suppose.

Player’s Club

Oooh. I loved this novella.

I’ve a thing for men who can cook. Sigh.

And I love heroines who are the opposite of pushovers.
Two Of A Kind

Caroline leads a double life. Unfortunately, her double life clashes with Alex’s job.

But he doesn’t find out until he stumbles over her things from her Other Life in her room. And boy is he pissed!

Of course, he gets over it, even if Caroline had to smack him over the head.

Me, I suggest you go buy the book and enjoy it at the beach. I do think that really sexy books like this one aren’t right for the beach, but I’m not you.

Comment here anytime until Friday, midnight, EST and you’ll go into a drawing for a signed copy.