Monday, February 27, 2006

Are Reviewers Becoming Too Much Like Simon Cowell? An RTB Columnist Thinks So...

A few days ago, Shirley Jump, (Maili, does her name apply?) wrote an interesting column at RTB, entitled Too Much Simon.

Her column started like this:

As you can imagine, I totally disagree.

She continues:

She says that being nice can go a long way, I’m sure it can and does, but isn’t the world so PC’d out that sometimes it’s a relief to find somebody who wont sugarcoat shit for you?

We don’t trust politicians because of the very fact that you can never get a straight answer out of any of them, so why would we ask ordinary people to behave like they do?

Shirley continues:

Basically, her beef is that she thinks that too many reviewers play to the gallery by making their reviews extra snarky, rather than finding a nice way of saying that an author’s work is shit.

I’ve never subscribed to the “if you can’t say something nice” thought process. Balls to that, I want honesty, so that I at least know where I stand.

This was my response:

OK, the JW McKenna line was a bit harsh, but fuck it, I hate his books, and I don’t give a shit who knows it.

The thing is, as somebody wisely pointed out, reviews are for readers, and although they are wholly subjective, I appreciate an honest review any day, more than a book that’s been Harriet Klausnered.

I’m a huge advocate of letting readers rip the crap out of a book if they thought it was wank, after all, they went to the trouble of (probably) buying it and reading it. Besides, it’s just one persons opinion, after all.

If an author wants a nice gentle critique, they should go to their editors, or their author pals. Readers and reviewers aren’t there to pander to writer’s egos, as far as I’m concerned.

Without the Simons of this world to keep balance, every book would probably read like a Thea Devine soap opera.. Thanks but no thanks, give me a Sarky Simon over a Perky Paula anyday!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Bitch Wore The Same Dress... And Wasn't Paris from AI Amazing?

So me and the Tall Guy went to a wedding down south yesterday. We stayed over at a Hilton Hotel, where the reception was being held. I’m not overly fond of Hilton hotels, but this one was particularly bad.

The décor in our room was pastel pink and bottle green. Who the fuck thought that was a good colour combination in a bedroom?

Anyway, the Tall Guy discovered that he’d forgotten the belt for his suit, with about fifteen minutes until the church service was due to start. Oh joy.

I told him he’d have to live with it because there was no way I was going to a wedding service late. I knew that we’d pretty much be the only black people there, so I didn’t want to call attention to ourselves by coming in half-way through the service. *g*

Anyway, we got to the church with a couple of minutes to spare. Luckily, my friend (the bride) was late.

I was looking round the church, trying to see if there was anybody else that I knew, when my gaze fell upon a woman wearing exactly the same dress as me. Not only was she wearing my dress, but she’d also managed to somehow accessorize with brown suede boots. What. The. Fuck? The dress was blue and cream, so brown suede boots were just not appropriate. Why couldn’t she see how bad the combination looked?

The TG assured me that I looked waaaay classier than she did. That sooo didn’t help. Luckily, I’d brought a black velvet pashmina with me, so I wrapped that round the upper part of my dress to hide it from view.

The service was ok actually. Not overly long, like some I’ve attended in the past. I once went to a wedding where the service alone lasted 1.5hrs. Talk about losing the will to live. That was a black wedding though, so it pretty much went as expected. I recall that the reception was just as laborious.

As soon as the service was over, I made Paul drive me back to the hotel, where I changed. Luckily for me, I’d brought two outfits with me just in case I changed my mind about what I was going to wear.

The second dress and jacket looked a lot better anyway, but I did notice that the combination of cream and black was very popular with a lot of the wedding guests. Oh well. At least none of them were wearing the exact same clothes.

The reception was tedious and never-ending. The groom’s speech was crap, the best man’s speech was even worse, (Probably stolen from some dodgy website housing the corniest best-man speeches in the world) and the music was woeful. All the children were ridiculously tired by 6pm, and were acting out in the worse way. All in all, your average wedding.

The Tall Guy and I snuck off at around 10pm and proceeded to have our own party. Apparently nobody else left until about 2am, but there was no way I was going to be able to stay awake that long.

Anyway, I’m glad it’s over, but I can say that the bride looked wonderful!

By the way, I watched American Idol on Friday, and Paris did the Gladys Knight number. How freaking fantastic is that girl? Everybody else paled into insignificance after her performance.

I really hope she goes all the way.

Well, me and The Tall Guy are going to watch The Wedding Crashers on DVD, so I’m gonna sign off now!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Going To The Chapel And We're Gonna Get Mahaharried...

The Happy Couple.... Just kidding

The Tall Guy and I are going to our first wedding of the year this weekend. Oh Joy. Not.

I hope you have a better weekend than mine. Geez I hate weddings.

Doesn't this guy make you glad that you're you, and not him? Also, a bra would have been a good idea for her methinks...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tuesday Special Author Interview: Shelby Reed

Author Name: Shelby Reed
Genre: Contemporary and Paranormal Romantica
Latest book in shops now:
Seraphim, Midnight Rose, The Fifth Favour

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Target, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs? (grin)

Ah, how I love Target. The last thing I bought there was a pair of really cute brown and pink sneakers at Christmas. A loaf of bread? Hmm, that’s a hard one, because I live off frozen dinners and don’t usually eat bread or anything even remotely fresh and healthy. But a frozen Lean Cuisine pizza costs about three bucks and equals six Weight Watchers points. LOL

Why did you choose to write erotic romance books, rather than traditional romance?

It has something to do with feeling slighted when you read the story of how two people fall in love, and as the reader, you go through all the ups and downs with them, all the agony and glory, and when they finally, FINALLY reach the magnificent consummation…the author slams the bedroom door in your—the reader’s—face! I hate that!

I want to be right there for the beautiful, passionate details. Plus, I’ve come to a recent realization about erotic romance: it’s so honest. It carries no pretence. It can be raw and explicit and truthful, and that’s mostly how real sex is. But it’s the emotion of love that softens the edges, in books and in life.

Do you have a certain audience in mind when you write, and if so, what kind of people do you imagine, read your books?

I write for people who see the poetry in life’s smallest details. I write for everyone who loves love. That sounds hokey, but I really mean it.

When you develop your characters, do you model them on people you know in your life, or do they all come from inside your head?

I have no idea where they come from. These characters just sail right through me with their own personalities, faults and talents. I’m just a conduit. I think it’s a little suspicious, though, that all my heroes are cut from the same cloth. I must like gorgeous, sexy, mysterious men subconsciously. LOL

Don’t we all? *g*

Do you ever get compared to other romance writers? If so, how does that make you feel?

Comparisons are an interesting peek into how people interpret your style, so I’m always fine with it, and sometimes it’s flattering. :)

The Fifth Favour was the first book of yours that I read. I instantly fell in love with the tortured soul that was Adrian. Where did you get the inspiration for Adrian’s character, and how did you manage to make him the kind of man every woman would want, regardless of the fact that he was a professional gigolo?

At that point in my writing career I was compelled to write a vampire novel, but I wasn’t confident enough to tackle what I felt was a hugely multi-faceted subject, so I wrote about a similar type of character.

Adrian has a moral scourge on his soul in much the same fashion as a vampire, and he came out of my fingertips as sort of a haunted, shadowy figure craving redemption and love.

Originally the book was written as a novella and told only from Billie’s (the heroine) point of view, so I didn’t truly know the man behind the Adrian mask until I added his point of view to the story, and then gave him a true name toward the end of the book, allowing him to shirk his facade.

Part of his transformation is when he divulges his true name to Billie (and to the reader). He just jumped off the page for me from moment one. I still love him deeply. LOL

Oh me too Shelby, me too…

After I read
A Fine Work Of Art, I was totally blown away by the level of emotion you managed to infuse into your books. As a reader, I genuinely feel as if all your books are a labour of love for you, is this the case, or have some of your books been easier to write than others?

The first five books of my career poured from my heart and hands so hard and fast, it was like they had been simmering inside me all my life. Then I hit a wall, and I’m still recovering, and I’m learning that writing isn’t all about magical muse moments.

It takes a lot of work and sometimes—heck, A LOT of the time—you may not feel like writing, but if the story is hopping around in your head, it’s a gift from the gods and don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. LOL

In other words, I feel like I’ve been given a unique blessing, the ability to entertain people and allow them a pleasurable escape, and it’s my obligation and joy to feed that blessing, nurture it and never stop. I feel really lucky to be able to make readers happy. I want to write stories that linger.

I’ve noticed that your books aren’t as sexually graphic as a lot of those by your peers at
Elloras Cave, was this a deliberate decision on your part?

My route to Romantica wasn’t exactly direct. I wrote a standard contemporary single title (which is currently with my agent) and loved it, but it came to me as fairly “hot” and I continually had to check myself to keep it toned down. I learned it’s my nature to write passionate characters, and eventually I became comfortable with that.

I wrote a couple more mainstream romances. Then I wrote
The Fifth Favour, which is a story about a man whose whole world is sex, so of course it had to be more explicit. I thought I was pulling out all the stops, when in actuality I had only touched on what Romantica really is. I went back and forth a bit with my editor once I sold it to Ellora’s Cave, because she wanted me to be braver, even more explicit, and it was really awkward for me to use such overt phrasing. It still is.

My characters can express their passion in all sorts of ways, no hold barred, but I won’t use certain words because of my own penchant for “softened edges.” I guess I’ve fallen into a chasm between erotic romance and standard romance. I have no idea where I fit. :) But Ellora’s Cave has been wonderfully accepting and tolerant of me and I feel very fortunate to be one of their authors.

In my humble opinion, your writing puts a lot of the current NY published authors to shame, do you aspire to write for a major New York publishing house one day, or are you happy where you are?

Thank you for such a compliment! Of course I want to take my career as far and make it as diverse as I can, so I aspire to publication with different publishing houses, large and small. But Ellora’s Cave stays with me. As long as they’ll have me, I’ll most likely come back, and back, and back. They are true pioneers in the romance field.

Do any members of your family read your books, and if so, what kind of feedback do you get from them?

Heeheehee. I stick my fingers in my ears, run and hide. No—truthfully, any family member or friend is welcome to read my books as long as I know they are a lover of romance novels. But if they don’t read romance and don’t like it, why would I throw myself on that fire?

I used to think I was just embarrassed to be writing such hot stuff, but in truth, my writing is so sacred to me, I have a hard time offering it to someone who could potentially judge it, and me, based on its sexual content. My sister is my best friend, yet she’s never read a single book of mine. She helps me plot sometimes, but she doesn’t read or like romance novels, so why should she have to wade through a genre for which she cares so little? I know she’s proud of me.

She’s told all her romance-reading friends about me. I have lots of familial support, and many of my friends are the same as my sister—they don’t read romance, but they support me one-hundred-percent.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Anything about tragic history. The Salem Witchcraft Trials, the Titanic, the American Civil War, the end of Czar Nicholas II and his family…anything dark, emotional, gothic…anything that peels away Man’s true nature and exposes him as the fallible, vulnerable creature he is. Of course at eight years of age I didn’t understand that that was the common thread among my choices (my teachers used to raise their eyebrows, though), but in hindsight it was always the same theme that drew me.

I was a very “Goth” kid. LOL I was also fascinated by horror stories (loved H.P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, John Saul), and spirituality. A mix of the two has tinged my last two books,
Midnight Rose (about vampires) and Seraphim (about angels).

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

I write by the seat of my pants, so it usually consists of lots of daydreaming about the story, followed by long, sleepless nights of writing. I get my best work done when the house is dark and quiet. I recently went back to work teaching second graders at a small private school, because I really disliked being home all day without a job and trying to write.

I became listless and lonely, and three years into it, I couldn’t take the isolation anymore. I need mental stimulation, social interaction, to get my cogs turning. I haven’t struck the right balance yet between writing and a day job, but I’ll figure it out.

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

Greenwood, by Sue Wilson (this book is out of print but still available at, and if you love history, hot romance and redemption, pick this up. It’s about the Sheriff of Nottingham. Who could have believed he’d be such a magnificent hero, and sexy as hell, too?).

Pride and Prejudice. Mortal Sin by Laurie Breton, a novel about the unravelling of a priest’s perceptions of God, the Church, and love. White Oleander for the sheer beauty of the writing. And most of all, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. I never would have read it on my own—I was assigned it in college, and I literally fell into that book, I kid you not. I pored over every word forward and backward. That was when I really began to understand my deep passion for words, and that I was meant to be a writer.

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

Joey Hill, who writes the most magnificent and truthful emotion I’ve ever come across. If she writes it, I will read it. She’s a genius. Laurie Breton, one of the finest suspense romance writers I know, who is also a master of dialogue and crystal clean writing. I’ve been reading quite a bit of Linda Howard lately, as well. She writes in that netherworld between Romantica and regular romance. I relate to her.

Linda Howard rocks doesn’t she?

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

I have wonderful romance writer friends, namely members of Romance Writers Unlimited, an online critique group. Many of them are published. This is where I met such writers as Laurie Breton, Katherine Allred, Cricket Starr.

Time and again I would have fallen by the writer’s wayside if it weren’t for the ladies of RWU. We have authors who are getting ready to leap into stardom, I feel certain of that.

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

At ten years old I was turning novels into scripts for summer plays the kids used to perform in my neighborhood. Peter Pan was the first. And later, when romance snagged my attention, Dracula.

All through my teenage years in the 1980’s I wrote an on-going saga about a group of teens (ala “Beverly Hills 90210”) that finally died a natural death when I was eighteen. I burned 700+ handwritten pages after I went to college. It was time to let them go. After that I didn’t write again until I was almost thirty, and the resulting book is now in my agent’s hands.

How many times did you get rejected (if indeed you did) before you got published?

I only got rejected by one editor (namely because I was too chicken to query much!), and that was Kate Duffy at Kensington, who considered my manuscript when I won a writing contest. She had sound reasons for turning me down. Her letter was the nicest rejection ever. :)

I was rejected by a few agents, too. The first time nearly killed me. It wasn’t just a rejection, but a generic, badly photocopied one that listed a million possible reasons why they didn’t want to sign me (“It might be any of these, or perhaps none.” AGH!) So I learned nothing from it.

After that it was easy going. You have to build a suit of armor and keep forging ahead. Writer egos are notoriously fragile, and I hate that in myself so I fight it the best I can.

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

Ooh, that’s a hard one. Kate Chopin, Mary Cassatt, Jane Austen. I’d like to chat with them about the repression of women as artists during their times, and how did they work around that? I want to know how they made adversity feed their fire.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

To help people lose touch with the real world for a few hours and to have them sigh with longing and satisfaction when they’re done with my books. :) And to craft words into art that lasts forever. I’m not sure how it’s done, but I’ll keep at it. It’s a joyous journey.

How has the romance industry changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?

I’d say the birth of Romantica has been the biggest change. The industry seems more relaxed and open to new ideas. I can find nothing to complain about—I think we’re heading in the right direction. I just wish literary snobbery would disappear. Love makes the world go ‘round. It drives me crazy when people look down their noses at it.

Aahh those guys are just jealous is all *g*

Which of your books is dearest to your heart, and why?

My as-yet-unpublished, unnamed novel. It’s the first book I ever wrote, it took me six full years, and it’s the book of my heart. The hero, Rory Sterling, is probably the most honest and raw of all my heroes. His path is fraught with pain, but also humor and joy and triumph. He’s so real and beautiful to me.

Oh yum, no doubt I’ll be buying it once it’s published!

Which of your books do you feel you’re best known for?

A Fine Work Of Art, my first Ellora’s Cave novel, which will be released in print this month (in a duet with Madison Hayes called Love A Younger Man).

I can’t believe it’s taken this long to get to print!

I’ve always wondered about this, but as an author, once your books are published, do you actually go back and read them yourself, and if so, are you able to enjoy them, or do you perhaps see things that make you want to chew your own arm off in frustration? (grin).

Once I turn in the final galley, I try to let it go emotionally. Of course when I revisit the story or the characters for fun, I find nit-picky things that bug me, but what can you do? It’s already left your hands. I do like rereading my stuff once in a while and try not to chew my arm off while I’m doing it. :)

Just recently, it was suggested that reader reviews aren’t as credible as reviews by your peers, and that only writers/authors should be able to review books in the first place, what are your thoughts on this?

I completely disagree with this idea. I place more importance on a reader’s review than anyone else’s. For one, I rarely know the person who’s writing the feedback. I live for comments from readers I’ve never met who sign my guestbook or jot me an email. And isn’t it the readers for whom we’re writing?

I do take professional reviews to heart, but reader opinion counts higher for me personally. It’s not always milk and honey either, trust me. I’ve been told to change a few things in my time by well-meaning readers. LOL

Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?

Harsh feedback usually addresses things I inately knew were problematic in the story, so I always want to kick myself for not heeding my inner voice while I was in the writing process. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and the reviews usually validate those feelings. I use every positive bit of feedback as impetus to keep going.

Oh I’m so glad you’re not one of those authors who view a bad review as a reason to commit hari kari!

Last year, RWA attempted to try to define romance, and it caused a bit of a furore round the blogosphere, due to the limitations of the definitions. What were your thoughts on this at the time, and do you think it’s possible/necessary to define romance in a way that doesn’t exclude other sub-genres?

It made me wonder if the people who get all entangled with that stuff are just blocked writers looking to vent their frustrations. LOL You can’t define the parameters of romance. To each his own, damn it. Let me decide for myself what romance is.

But to be fair to both parties, when it comes to contests and the like, let them (meaning the RWA people) have it however they want. I don’t enter the competitions where my stories don’t fit their stricture. It’s their ideal, their contest, and I’m not going to fuss about it even if I don’t agree.

Many other RWA contests exist where my stories fit just fine. I try to enjoy being a writer, and certain elements will suck the joy right out of it for me. Conflict is one of them. So I avoid it. All that aside, I love the people in the romance field I’ve met. I haven’t bumped into any real clashes.

When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?

I went to Germany in 1992 to finish college—I lived in Freiburg for the summer. Fell madly in love with a handsome university student while I was there (being a romance writer, I probably remember the affair as being much more fabulous than it really was. LOL). Because I was in school while I was there, I only took brief trips to France and Switzerland.

I loved the people, the languages, the beauty of the countries. I half-dread ever realizing my dream of visiting the British Isles, lest I set down roots there and never come home again. :)

Hey that wouldn’t be such a bad thing!

Who are your favourite romance hero and heroine of all time?

Without question, Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

I’ve loved all your female leads so far, but more often than not, it’s the male characters who romance readers love, why do you think this is, and why do you think heroines are judged more harshly than heroes?

I think as women we’re more critical of the heroine because we put ourselves in her shoes. So we don’t love her as a separate person any more than we’re exceedingly fond of ourselves. Let me see if I can better explain this. I know I’m harder on myself than anyone.

Critical of the way I look, the way I act. I shudder to imagine talking to another human being the way I talk to myself sometimes. So as a typical reader, I fall in love with the hero, but not the heroine. I RELATE to her…and in a sense I become her, and so I’m far less forgiving of her frailties. That’s my theory, anyway.

Hmmm… you could be right…

Even as a published author, are there days when you feel like giving up writing? If so, how do manage to shake yourself out of that mind-set?

Oh, my God. LOL The last two years have been sheer agony. But I haven’t given up, and when I was afraid I might, I called upon my closest and most brutal writing buddies to read me the riot act and rattle me from my self-pitying state of writer’s block. I have heard “Don’t make me come over there and shake you” more times than I can count. But hey, what are friends for if not to beat some sense into you? :)

What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?

Complex, troubled, dark figures that harbor secrets and weave tangled webs. I wish I could write light-hearted comedies, chick lit…I greatly enjoy reading such, but it’s not in me to write it.

It’s not that my characters are totally devoid of humor, but they tend to be wry or inadvertently funny, and it doesn’t happen on every page. When I sit down to write a story, I can count on the hero coming to me as some distant relative of Bronte’s Heathcliff. I don’t know why it works that way.

If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)

That’s a tough question. Probably my best girlfriend, Margaret, who’s known me since high school. She’s never read my work and I want to show it to her, but I’m not ready. I will, though. One of these days. LOL

If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?

No doubt Nora Roberts has paved the way for us. Anne Rice, too, in regards to resurrecting the vampire as a romantic and heroic figure.

What was the last movie you saw?

Big surprise—Pride and Prejudice. LOL

Name your top five favourite romantic films.

Love Actually. Somewhere in Time. Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version). Jane Eyre (with Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester). The Lover.

Wasn’t Love Actually a fabulous film… *Happy sigh*

What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?

It was a reread of Sue Wilson’s Greenwood, and yes, yes, yes. I can’t get enough of that beautiful story.

Have you ever written a book that you didn’t particularly care for, and do you cringe if you see people picking it up to read it?

I hope this doesn’t sound egotistical, but I’m proud of everything I produce, so the answer to that question is no. I have a subconscious censor that stops the stories that aren’t working before I finish them. (At least that’s what I’d like to believe.) As a result I have a few unfinished manuscripts, and when I look at them now, I’m glad I didn’t put them out there.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Knowing how much enjoyment I receive from reading a good book, I love the thought of giving others that same experience.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

Writers’ block. And the business end of things.

As you’ve been there, done it, and have the badge to prove it, what is the number one advice that would you give to aspiring writers out there?

The more you write, the better you get. That goes for even the most prolific best-selling author. You never quit learning, you never reach perfection. There is always more. Also, be active in critiquing others—you will learn even more from that process than from receiving critiques yourself.

When’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?

Well, it’s up in the air as of now. My agent has my unnamed novel in hand and is looking over some revisions I made. I’m working on the sequel to
Midnight Rose, and I’m very excited about the hero, Jude, who was a child in the first book and now stands to be one of the most intense characters I’ve ever written.

But the good news is,
Seraphim is coming out in print soon and A fine Work of Art, too. :)

Finally, for readers who aren’t familiar with your work, where do you suggest they go to find some excerpts of your books?

My website has excerpts of all my Ellora’s Cave stories. Please stop by. It’s a new website and I’m so happy with the new look. :)

I agree, I much prefer it to your old one!

Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these very nosy questions!

Are you kidding??It feels GREAT to shoot the breeze about writing. I’m smiling ear to ear! Thanks for this fabulous opportunity!

Aaaah, aint she great? I insist you all go and buy at least one of her books right now! Anyway, that’s all for this week, next week, I’ll be interviewing erotic romance writer,
Cheryl Holt!

Random Ramblings And Muchos Gracias To Anne And Rocio…

How the hell did the scum bag papparazzi people who chased Diana, Princess of Wales to her death nine years ago, only get fined one euro? I mean one single effing Euro, what was the fucking point? Justice? I think not.

Also, I heard a very disturbing bit of news on the radio this morning. A fuckwit who’d ploughed into a 3 year old girl, killing her, was today, sentenced to just 12 weeks in prison. What. The. Fuck?
To make matters worse, the arsehole had actually driven off, and left the child to die. And the bloody car was stolen. Scum sucker.

He kills a baby, and he gets three months in prison? If I was the mother I’d be waiting with a machete for him to come out of prison, and mete out my own form of justice. Bastard.

In other news, I see The Donald is in a snit over Martha-I’m-A-Freaking-Liar Stewart’s claim that her show only failed because it was aired so close to his. Trumped up Donald (hehe, see what I did there?) responded by writing her a letter, basically calling her a twat. (OK, so I heavily paraphrased) Hmmm. Get a grip for Oprah’s sakes.

There’s been an interesting celebrity-based debate going on in one of the author groups that I’m part of.
Eve asked the question: Should Jessica Simpson pay Nick Lachey alimony since she was a little nobody when they first met? Apparently, Jessica is worth more than Nick these days.

Personally, I don’t think he should get a red cent, purely because they both had the same opportunities to make money when their reality series “Newly Weds” became a hit. The difference was, Jessica capitalised on her chances, better than Nick did. Tough titties, I say. You may disagree.

I have to say thanks buckets to
Anne, for sending me four books in the post, all the way from Wisconsin. They arrived yesterday, and I squealed like an excited donkey, when I got my grubby hands on Sharon Sala’s Finder’s Keepers, and Lori Foster’s, Jude’s Law. I rarely get freebies (I probably could, but I can never be arsed entering book contests) so anytime anybody sends anything over to me, I’m extremely grateful. Thanks Anne, you’re an effing babe!!

Also, thanks to Rocio for sending me the little gift that came in the post a couple of days ago, I was chuffed to bits, but I’m still not giving you any euros or pounds puta! Thanks hun!

Monday, February 20, 2006

She Doesn't Smell of 'Truth and Beauty', She's Just Wearing Dolce And Gabanna Light Blue....

How come heroes in romance books either smell like citrus, or they have a woodsy or alpinic (is that even a word?) smell?

Why can’t they smell of Calvin Klein’s Eternity or Hugo Boss For Men?

Same goes for the heroines. The other day I read Emma Holly’s Beyond Innocence and the heroine supposedly smelt like ‘innocence and perfection’ (or some such nonsense). WTF?

Other authors have their heroines smelling of ‘sin and seduction’. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what sin or seduction smells like.

I can just about handle the heroines smelling like ‘summer’ or ‘spring rain’, because quite frankly, a good fabric softener can actually help achieve the same results, but why the hell do they have to smell of peace on earth and joy to the frickin world?


If an author writes that the heroine was wearing Estee Lauder’s Pleasures, instead of purple-prosing (yeah I know, another made up word *g*) her smell all over the place, does that make him/her an unimaginative writer?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Can You Recognise Certain Authors By Their Sex Scenes?

As my regular readers know, I’ve been glomming JD Robb’s In Death books like a demon. At the moment I’m reading Witness In Death, and as I got to a scene where Roarke and Eve were doing the dirty, I had an epiphany.

It occurred to me, that I can probably recognise my favourite authors by their sex scenes alone.

For those of you who read the In Death books, you’ll know that Eve and Roarke’s sex scenes usually begin the same way. Roarke has a thing about her ta-ta’s, and they’re usually what he goes for first, then they eventually end up in his mouth. Tell me I’m wrong.

Erotic romance author, Lora Leigh, has a thing about back and crack sex. I haven’t read a single one of her books that didn’t include anal action. It has to be said though that she does them well, but it sure makes you wonder if she likes a lot of backdoor action herself. What? You know you’ve always wondered the same thing yourself secretly. Don’t deny it.

Shannon McKenna’s heroes have a habit of referring to the heroine’s breasticles, as ‘soft tits’. I don’t mind that she does this in the least, but it does get quite repetitive.

Catherine Anderson and Linda Howard also have trade mark sex scenes. You usually know exactly how their love scene will begin and end. I must admit, I tend to skip Linda Howard’s sex scenes just because they are actually quite predictable. Now that’s not me dissing her, cuz as you know, I think she’s the Vicar’s Knickers, but if you read her books, then I think you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Jaid Black’s male leads have a habit of referring to their man parts as if they were an actual person. It sometimes pulls me out of the story when the hero tells the heroine to touch ‘him’, but shit it’s Jaid, and I love her books, so she can do what the hell she likes.

There’s another EC author who has a habit of including at least one shaving scene during sex, in each of her books. I often wonder if this is because it’s something she’s into herself, or if she’s just using her imagination. Personally, I think she’s into it. It kinda screams fetish to me, but hey, to each her own. What? If you’ve read her, you know what I’m saying is true. End of.

This does however beg the question, do authors who write sexy books, write sex the way they like it personally, or do they rely purely on their imagination?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Year Of The Cock, (And I Don't Mean Rooster)... WTF?

Seriously, whose idea was this title?

*Note to self: write to author to let her know that grass is for walking on, not smoking.*


Cover, courtesy of Oceans Mist Press.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tuesday Special Author: Julia Quinn Interview

Author Name: Julia Quinn

Genre: historical romance
Latest book in shops now:
It’s in His Kiss

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Walmart, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs? (grin)

I actually don’t live near a Walmart. In fact, I’ve never lived near a Walmart (which may in itself be a minor miracle, here in the USA.)

I think the bread we buy is around $2.50.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Way more than I could possibly mention. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, definitely. And by the same author—Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth. I read all the Bobbsey Twins, all the B is for Betsy books, all of the Wizard of Oz books, the Chronicles of Narnia, everything by S.E. Hinton (did you know she has a new book coming out?)

Oh, Judy Blume, of course. I remember reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing in second grade and thinking I must be pretty amazing for being two grades ahead.

When I was eleven or twelve I devoured everything by Victoria Holt, in all of her incarnations.

I guess you read lots huh? *g*

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

I wish I had a typical day. I think I’d get a lot more done.

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

For romance, off the top of my head:

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas (Is this the one you wanted me to read Kristie?)
Sweet Liar by Jude Deveraux
Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught
Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Wildest Hearts by Jayne Ann Krentz

Non romance:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Lost in Place: Growing up Absurd in Suburbia by Mark Salzman
The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
But I’m sure if I listed them tomorrow, I’d think of something else. (Especially the romance).

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

Eloisa James, absolutely. I adore her writing. I’m also really enjoying Suzanne Enoch’s contemporary novels but unfortunately, there are only two right now. It’s hard for me to glom anything—I can’t remember the last time I “discovered” an author after she already had a lot of books out.

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

I have many close romance writer friends, but I prefer not to list them as I might inadvertently leave someone off and hurt her feelings.

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

I honestly don’t know. I just had some extra time one summer and thought I’d give it a try.

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

This one is too hard on only a single cup of coffee. The big question would be—would you choose someone good or evil?

Well somebody evil would probably be a lot more interesting I guess. *g*

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

To keep writing novels that are interesting to me and entertaining to my readers. And to not repeat myself. When you’re working within the parameters of genre fiction (any genre), you have to work hard to keep things fresh.

How has the romance industry changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?

The biggest change by far has been the internet. I didn’t even have an email address when I sold my first book. The internet has revolutionized author-reader interaction. This is probably the change I’m most happiest with. I’m not a writer who likes to toil away in a vacuum. I want my work to be read and enjoy hearing reader response and opinion.

On the flip side of the coin, sometimes reader response can be overwhelming. Not in numbers, more in its nature.

As for the changes I’m least happiest with—probably the narrowing of the historical romance market. I may write regency historicals, but I like to read lots of different time periods.

In this day and age, do you think it’s possible for new romance writers to make it without having some kind of presence on the internet?

I would recommend that any writer today have a website, but I don’t think it’s critical for authors to have an interactive presence, ie bulletin boards, blogs, etc. It’s nice, and it can be very enjoyable, but it’s not necessary.

In your vast experience, what would you say was the most effective method of marketing a romance novel?

A good website. And in all honesty, a good book.

With the alleged decline in historical romance, do you think there’s an element of risk in continuing with books set prior to the 20th Century?

No. Historical romance doesn’t do as well as contemporary in the hardcover market, but I’m okay with that. I suppose I could add to my readership by writing romantic suspense, but I wouldn’t enjoy it, and frankly, I’d be terrible at it.

Which of your books is dearest to your heart, and why?

The Duke and I, because it’s the first of the Bridgerton novels, and also I think it is the book in which I made the most growth as a writer.

I’ve always wondered about this, but as an author, once your books are published, do you actually go back and read them yourself, and if so, are you able to enjoy them, or do you perhaps see things that make you want to chew your own arm off in frustration? (grin).

I don’t go back and read them. Sometimes I go back and read some favorite scenes, but that’s it. By the time I’m done, I’ve read the dang thing so many times I don’t want to see it anymore.

Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?

No. I do pay attention to what reviewers and readers say, and sometimes I might keep something in the back of my head, like—Hmmm, I should try to write a scene with a bunch of Bridgertons in it--but I wouldn’t say I’ve ever changed the way I write because of outside influence.

Earlier this year, RWA attempted to try to define romance, and it caused a bit of a furore round the blogosphere, due to the limitations of the definitions. What were your thoughts on this at the time, and do you think it’s possible/necessary to define romance in a way that doesn’t exclude other sub-genres?

To be honest, I didn’t pay very much attention to this discussion. I probably should have done, but I was busy with some other stuff at the time.

I’ve always defined a romance novel as a book in which the “A” story is the romance, and it has a happy ending. Period. I’ve never quite understood why there is so much confusion.

I tend to agree actually.

When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?

Mexico last spring. Scandinavia the spring before that.

Who are your favourite romance hero and heroine of all time?

Way too hard to answer!

What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?

Nice ones. People you’d want as friends.

If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)

I have no idea. Does this mean one person in addition to my current readers, or just one person, period? The latter is too depressing to contemplate.

If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?

Tough one, but I’ll go with Jayne Ann Krentz.

Aha! You’re the first person to mention her for this question!

What was the last movie you saw?

Pride and Prejudice! (You had to ask?)

Name your top five favourite romantic films.

Oh gosh, I don’t know.

What was the last book you read?

One of the books I’m judging in the Ritas, but I can’t say which. The one before that was an advance copy of The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James. Loved it!

Have you ever written a book that you didn’t particularly care for, and do you cringe if you see people picking it up to read it?

No, I still like all of my books. I do think my early ones aren’t as good as my later ones, though.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

The flexibility and the creative process.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

My own lack of discipline.

As you’ve been there, done it, and have the badge to prove it, what is the number one advice that would you give to aspiring writers out there?

Read lots! And write lots. The world is full of first chapters. The trick is to get to “The End.”

Hear that Anne? *g*

Finally, when’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?

My next novel is called
On The Way To The Wedding, and it is the final book in the Bridgerton series. I’ve got the back cover blurb up on the coming soon page on my website.

Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these very nosy questions!

That’s all for now folks, next week, I’ll have
Shelby Reed in the hot seat! Can’t wait!

Ciao for now!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Karen Votes In The All About Romance Reader Poll...

OK, so my life's kinda got back to something like normal, so I can blog properly again.

I voted in the AAR Readers poll the other day, I initially wasn’t going to, until I got a reminder e-mail from an author who shall remain nameless.

I found it quite difficult to vote because I couldn’t remember half the books that I’d read which were published in 2005, so I decided that if I couldn’t remember the book, then it wasn’t gonna get a mention.

Here are some of the books that I mentioned in one category or other: (only the positive categories mind)

My best female went to Eve Dallas, My best male went to Roarke. In fact, if I could have answered Eve and Roarke in every category, I surely would have. I’m still lovin’ those In Death books!

When it came to the question of best 'alternate reality', I couldn’t remember any 2005 paranormals set in a different world, that I’d read this year. I know I’ve read some, but I couldn’t think of any, and I couldn’t be arsed to go through my book collection to find them.

I think Linda Howard got my vote for new-to-me author who I glommed endlessly, but the same could be said for Catherine Anderson.

I had a hard time thinking of a single series/category romance that I’d enjoyed this year, I know there must have been some, but I can’t sodding-well remember any.

As for Best Regency…. Erm what? I get all confused when people throw that word at me. As far as I’m concerned, if it was set in any other century other than the 21st, it’s a goddamned historical. End of.

As for short stories in anthologies, is it just me, or does anybody else find it hard to remember short stories, that are mixed in with other stories? I think I went with one of Jaid Black’s stories that I’d particularly liked.

When I checked out the final
interim results, I saw that a lot of my choices had been very popular with other readers, proving of course, that I have great taste in books. *g*
I did happen to notice that some of these books were also the ones chosen in the “worst category”.

I think this is mostly because they were strong books that you either loved fan-girlishly, or loathed to the nth degree.

I think Passion was amongst the list of worst romance, as well as best romance. I’ll assume that the people who didn’t like Passion were bible bashing religious freakish virgins, who aren’t getting any. What? I’m kidding for Oprah’s sake. Geez, you really need to learn to take a joke. I’m sure they weren’t virgins.

I wont mention the author that I gave up in 2005 because that would just end up in a big ‘ol dirty fight on my blog, possibly like the one that JaynieR’s been having with that church-going heathen, Brenda Coulter. (If you haven’t heard about it, where the hell have you been?)

I will say though, that Thea Devine’s Sensation got an honorary mention as one of the worst books I read in 2005. Aahh, I get nice warm fuzzies just thinking about it…

So, have you voted yet? If not, what the sodding-hell are you waiting for? The poll wont close til Feb 19th, so

Speaking of Lisa Valdez, she’s started a new Yahoo Group up, for anybody who wants to join. Hopefully I wont get banned from this one.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Erotic Romance Bias When It Comes To Awards...

So I got an interesting e-mail from an ER author, that got me thinking...

Her beef was that awards were totally biased when it came to ballots that included erotic romance as a category, e.g. "the best erotic romance of 2005" for instance. Her general point was, why couldn't they include other categories such as best erotic paranormal romance, best, best erotic romance novella, etc.

Well, I pretty much agreed with her, this was my response:

"Erotic romance is the poor relation to traditional romance, much as romance is the poor relation to every other genre there is.

I truly believe that this status quo will change, but in order for it to do so, readers and authors alike need to make more noise instead of just accepting it.

When I filled out the AAR readers poll, it occurred to me that erotic romance wasn't even mentioned, never mind broken down into categories, so of course I littered the whole damn form with ER writers and books.

As for your assertion that there are hotter books from some NY publishers than the ones marked 'Sensuous' at EC, I totally agree, a good example being Shelby Reed's books. I'd say Lori Foster's books are hotter than hers, yet she's not likely to suffer the same kind of prejudices, as Shelby would, just because she happens to write for a house that publishes erotic romance.

I also think that you're correct when you talk about people seeing the label 'erotic romance', and automatically assuming that the graphic sexual content means that it will inevitably be lacking in both characterisation and plot. Unfortunately, unless the naysayers (who are usually the ones who decide on the categories for awards) take the time to objectively read erotic romance books, then unfortunately, the issue of widening the categories (awards-wise) within ER will remain as is.

I 'm in just the mood to write to Emerald at The Golden Rose to let her know my thoughts on this."

Anyway, I did write to Emerald, as it happens:

"Can I ask why, in the Golden Rose nomination ballot, erotic romance hasn’t been broken down into categories, such as “Best Erotic Romance Novella” or even “Best Erotic Romance Full length novel?

You do realise that there are different genres within ER, much as there is within traditional romance, right?

By only asking readers to vote for the best erotic romance period, you’re inevitably restricting them to choosing just one book, from all of the categories, such as, paranormal erotic romance, erotic romantic suspense, erotic historical romance, etc. etc.

Just thought I’d highlight this point.

Your thoughts on this would be appreciated."

Who says I can't do diplomacy?

I don't know if she'll reply, but it would be nice if she did *g*

I think that until the RWA (bless their cotton socks) leads by example when it comes to choosing RITA categories, progress on this somewhat controversial issue, will be as quick as taking a slowboat to China.

OK, back into hiding I go...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Extraordinary Breast-Feeding. What. The. F*ck?

OK, I had to come out of exile for this.

Me and The Tall Guy watched a programme the other night about women who breastfeed.

I’m 100% behind women who breastfeed. If God ever sees fit to let me have my own rugrats, I fully intend to let my babies cop a load of my breast milk. So you see, I really don't have a problem with it.

What I do have a problem with on the other hand, is fucking breastfeeding a child who is nine years old. What the *&%$£*£$ is that about?

I could perhaps understand if the mothers expressed the milk, and put it into a glass for the kids to drink, but why the effing hell do they have to hang off their nipples?

Both hubby and I felt sick as parrots watching this documentary. It was just icky.

My stance is this: Don’t bother telling me that it’s for the child’s benefit, fuck that, it’s for your fucking benefit, you goddamn perv!!

Here are some views on the subject from “experts”.

Here’s another article from the Times that also discusses the issue of extended breast-feeding.

OK, that's my rant for the week, I'm going back into hiding, until something else pisses me off.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sorry Folks.....

I'm gonna be on hiatus til further notice. I'm just too busy to blog effectively. Don't worry, I'll be back soon!

Ciao for now!

Erm.. before I go, just look what I found in my in-box!

Dear Karen Scott,

I saw your blogspot while doing an internet search, and I thought I would get in touch. I do apologise for emailing you out of the blue like this.

I am currently working on a big BBC TV project about the history of romantic fiction, and I was wondering whether I could ask you a few questions about your take on it all?

Our series will look at the surprising effects that romantic literature has had on readers and writers over the past 200 years; and we are looking to speak to people who might be able to talk about how particular books changed their lives in significant ways.

To give you some background about the series:

Part One will look at Jane Austen, the Brontes and the gothic novel

Part Two will be looking at the rise of the bodice ripper and the historical romance: Elinor Glyn, Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy, Margaret Mitchell;

Part Three will look at the modern day bonkbusters (Jilly Cooper), Catherine Cookson, sex and shopping novels (Barbara Taylor Bradford, Shirley Conran), chick lit (Sophie Kinsella) and the legacy of Bridget Jones etc. Besides interviewing writers and authors (from A.S Byatt and Helen Fielding to Richard Curtis, Joanna Trolloppe and even Barbara Taylor Bradford), we are really keen to get readers on screen talking about how their favourite authors influenced their lives and their ideas of love, romance, feminism and even men, if they did at all (most readers do know it’s fiction!) Many thanks for your time in reading this!

Any response you care to give would be more than appreciated.

Best regards

Name omitted

All I can say is.... wow...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Nora Roberts VS AAR Review Message Board...

Jesus Effing Christ, no wonder I never post at the bloody All About Romance message boards, those ladies are mean. Much meaner than me at any rate.

As you know, I’m a Nora Roberts fan again due to her In Death books, and that generally means that even though I may have dissed her in the past, I love her now, (aren't we readers fickle?) so I’m interested in any NR related scandals (what? You know you are too!)

Anyway, I heard from
ReneeW, who posted on Kristie’s blog that there’d been a kerfuffle over at the AAR Reviews message board, so I duly went over to look at the car wreck.

Apparently, Nora’s newest In Death book, has a controversial photo of her on the back of the book. The conversation somehow managed to veer off the actual book, and a discussion of how she was portrayed in the photo ensued.

Here are some conversation excerpts:

Somebody initially posted (Erm… Robin was it you?)

Nora Responds:

Robin Responds:

Nora again:

Nice one Nora! The argument went on, and on, and effing on. Sheesh, I just couldn’t be arsed posting, and by the way, the KarenS who regularly posts over there is so not me!

I predict that the sales of Memory In Death will shoot up due to people being curious about what the photo looks like. I already Amazoned it!

If you want to have a look at the train wreck, the link is at the beginning of this entry…