Archive for April, 2007


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’


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.


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.



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’


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.


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.


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.”. 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!


Megan Hart: Passion Model

When Recreational Intercourse Operative GMMA 03271971 drags a PSSN-M model Pleasurebot to an inspection station to check for a faulty ignition, she doesn’t expect his lovemaking to send her over the edge into the most explosive climax she’s ever had. But what she really doesn’t expect is to find the handsome bot is really a man. Declan has a secret, one that could get Gemma fired from R.I.O, or worse…maybe even killed.

FYI, Passion Model is nothing like Dirty, beyond also being told in first person from the heroine’s point of view. (Jane, you might even like this one, but enough on me harping about Megan Hart already, right? :D)

Gemma’s pretty tough. She got kicked in the teeth, and she got back up.

I had the same problem about the hero. Declan just doesn’t pop off the page, unlike heroine Gemma.

Otherwise, it’s a short, fun read. Oh and I really want to read more about the Keanicans!

This rates 4 out of 5.


Justine Larbalestier: Magic or Madness

“My Mother Named Me Reason.”

Reason Cansino has lived fifteen years in the Australian outback with her mother: Sarafina. They’re on the run from Reason’s grandmother Esmeralda, who believes in magic and practices horrifying dark rituals. But when Sarafina suffers a mental breakdown, Reason is sent to the one place she fears most–Esmeralda’s home in Sydney.

Nothing about the house or Esmeralda is what Reason expected. Then, when she walks through Esmeralda’s back door in Sydney and finds herself on a New York City street, Reason is forced to face the shocking truth. Magic is real. And Reason is magic.

Magic or Madness doesn’t live up to the visceral impact of the blurb’s first line, unfortunately, but it is a pretty good debut novel.

I felt that Reason comes off a little younger than her given age of fifteen, though this might be deliberate on the author‘s part. Growing up glued to your mother’s side can’t be too good for your maturity.

I don’t usually like it when authors switch between third and first POVs, but the author carries it off quite well.

I like the worldbuilding–I’ll give you a clue: see title. In this, however, I’m admittedly biased because it fits the way I think so well.

I will be picking up the next book.

This rates 3 out of 5.


7 Questions with Elizabeth Guest

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.

All writers are a little insane. 🙂 Sometimes I’m a one and sometimes I’m a ten on the insanity scale depending on how close I am to the next book deadline. I can sum up my feelings with the following thought: “I don’t suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.”

2. Elizabeth Guest isn’t only your pen name, it’s also the name of a character in one of your earlier novels, Desert Rogue. Did you choose it because of the Egypt connection?

I’ve always loved the name Elizabeth Guest, which I found on my family tree. (Two great-great-grandmothers.) I gave the name to the heroine of my first historical romance, but I always knew that I’d use it someday for my own pen name. It has special meaning for me because DESERT ROGUE was set in Egypt 1875 and my new series (PHARAOHS RISING) is all about an ancient Egyptian royal family who awaken in current time as vampires.

3. Now that you’ve been blogging for a year, what are your thoughts?

Blogging is fun, but it’s also hard work! I don’t think I could keep it up without the help of the other Quills: Susan Andersen, Stella Cameron, Lori Foster, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Elizabeth Lowell. Several of the Quills are new friends, but the others have been close friends for a long time — that makes it special, too.

4. Have you been on a dig in Egypt? Would you go if you have not?

I haven’t been on a dig. I have seen the magnificent ancient Egyptian artifacts in many of the museums in the USA, as well as the British Museum and the Louvre. I would love to go to Egypt one day and at least see a dig in person. I probably like my creature comforts too much to spend weeks at a dig.

5. Do you think that readers might be upset about your move into paranormals?

Whenever an author makes a major change in what she’s writing there will be some readers who will love it and some who don’t. That’s why I chose a new name. Writing about Adrian/Seti and his extended royal family is a dream come true for me. I’m so excited about the new series. I only hope most of my readers will be, too.

6. What do you think you are bringing to the vampire genre?

My story is based on ancient Egyptian mythology and beliefs, especially as described in the Book of the Dead. My new series is very different from anything other paranormal writers are currently doing. I wouldn’t have even attempted to write a vampire paranormal unless I had something fresh and original to bring to the genre.

7. So what’s up next for Elizabeth Guest?

I’m just finishing up the second book in the series. The hero, John Hunter/Rekhmire is a prince of Egypt and half-brother to Adrian/Seti from NIGHT LIFE. The setting is current day Los Angeles. I’ve already plotted out the first four books of the series I’m now calling Pharaohs Rising and I can’t wait to start work on Book 3.

Suzanne Simmons writes the Pharaohs Rising series under the name of Elizabeth Guest, and she blogs at Running With Quills. The first book, Night Life, has just been released.


Message? This is Romance, damn it!

Some romances have “communicated the message that women have power, that women deserve to be loved, to be respected, and to have their needs and wishes fulfilled in a healthy relationship,” as Eileen Dreyer puts it. That cannot be denied.

But it is not the responsibility of any genre to communicate any message at all. Not romance, not mystery, not fantasy, not science fiction.

Fiction is about story. In romance, it’s a story about two people getting together. Therefore writers of romance have a responsibility to provide a story that is about two people getting together. Full stop.

Frankly, I think it’s a moot point, because nowadays, 99.99999% romances don’t have a scene like the one in Claiming The Courtesan. Therefore any romance reader who does read Claiming The Courtesan probably has read or will read dozens more romances that do, to some extent, communicate that message.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I must say this RTB post is pretty timely: Kimber Chin’s A Romance Novel Fable.

I think it’s a wonderful post.


The Historical Thang Again

First, I came home yesterday and went straight to bed.

That’s why I didn’t do my usual blog-rounds etc. The insomnia got to me, finally, I think.

Anyway, here are my responses to the lovely people who came by yesterday. 🙂

There’s a cut, because it’s reaaaaally long.

Continue reading ‘The Historical Thang Again’


Jeff Lindsay: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He’s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened–of himself or some other fiend.

I think Dearly Devoted Dexter was better.

For some reason, the book was just flat for me, and I’m not sure whether I just wasn’t in the mood to read it or that I’m tired of Dexter’s voice. Then again, I read Dearly Devoted months ago–sometime last year.

This rates 3 out of 5.


7 Questions with Sasha White

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’d say around a 6. I’m pretty mellow right now. I’m working out again, and hanging out with friends, not constantly holed up in the writing cave. If you’d asked me two months ago, I’d be a 9 LOL

2. I think your release schedule for this year is second only to Saskia Walker‘s. How do you keep up the pace?

I stop having a life. LOL For the last year and a half I’ve done nothing but write. Like I said, my schedule is slowing now, and I’m trying to find a balance. It’s hard to find a balance when I have some much I want to do. So much I enjoy doing.

3. Speaking of Saskia, how did the Kink anthology come to be? Through your agent, Roberta Brown?

Actually, it was my idea. 🙂 Saskia and I have been in so many short story anthologies together over the years, where we’re one(or two) or ten or twenty authors that when we both sold to Berkley – and both hired the same agent – I figured it was about time we saw our names on a cover together. I love Saskia’s stories, and I figured our styles would work off each other very well. I emailed Saskia, and she was into it. Roberta pitched it for us, and Berkley liked the idea.

4. On the cover of Secret Thoughts: Erotique, it says “collection compiled by Sasha White”. Does that mean you edited it as well, or only that you selected the stories? I’ve not read it, but the content seems pretty varied. Was there a theme to the collection?

The theme is Secret Thoughts. 🙂 The stories are everything from first person POV naughty thoughts to fantasies lived out. There really is something for everyone in it, and I think it’s a great collection for people to try as an erotica sampler. They can see varies styles, levels of heat, and maybe find a new author to love.

As for editing…Well, Yes, I chose the stories to go in. I also chose the order they’d be in, and I did a small amount of editing. Jessica, from Samhain edited them after me, for safety thought cuz I’m not really an editor. LOL.

5. Having worked FOH (front of house) as a bartender, do you think it’s a good experience to have? And confirm for me that you’re one heckuva smart woman: a guy who treats servers badly is a guy to be dumped immediately, right?

YES!! To both. Dump anyone who treats servers badly. It’s a very telling trait about who they really are. 🙂

And yes, I think serving is fantastic experience. I’ve worked many different jobs, but in the hospitality industry not only will you see people in a different – and clearer – light after a few months. But you learn a lot about how to work under pressure, how to multi-task, how to deal with money, and how to talk to people. You a lot learn a lot about yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses.

I think everyone should try waitressing for a month, if for no other reason than I bet those who’ve never done it, truly have no idea how much work it actually is.

6. You have been taking part in Half Naked Thursday. Is that a reflection of you, as a person, growing more comfortable with your body?

Definitely. Not just with my body though, but I’m becoming more open about how strongly I feel sexuality is a part of who we are. Body image really effects how much pleasure we can get from our bodies. Simply because when a woman feels to self conscious of her not perfect body, it becomes lot harder to relax and enjoy what’s happening to that body. I’m at my heaviest right now, yet I’m so much more in tune with my sexuality because I’m learning to love my body for what it does for me – even if it doesn’t look as good as I’d like it too. HNT is a way to show that how you think can effect how you feel, and that often effects how you look, and act.

Plus, I’ve always had an interest in photography. I’ve done quite a bit with travel photo’s and now I’m thinking I’d like to explore people more. Everyday people. Real people. We’re all beautiful, and we need to remember that.

7. Recently, you did a poll on your blog, asking readers what genre should your next fiction work be in. Do you think it’s just the human need to explore and push the boundaries? Or is expressing or fulfilling creativity through reinvention?

Oh Lord. I blame a short attention span. Which I guess is the human need to explore and push boundaries. My need anyway. I’ve always had a hard time sticking with any one thing for too long. That’s not to say I won’t always do erotica, or erotic romance, but yes, I think to keep the creative muscles functioning they need to be stretched and worked out every now and then.

Sometimes it’s just dreaming or contemplating. Sometimes it’s the urge to expand my own little world, not just my writing, as I said above, I’m that way with photography, and pretty much everything. It keeps life interesting!

Sasha White blogs with Allure Authors and the Berkley Babes.

She has already released stories in the Secret Thoughts: Erotique, Kink, Dreams and Desires and Alluring Tales anthologies this year.

Her current release is Lush, and the one after that will be Trouble, out in August.