Friday, May 30, 2008

Curl up in your favorite spot...and read!

Current Read: Almost finished with Going Topless by Renee Knowles...I should have saved it for June because it is smokin' hot!!

Aaahhh, summer is almost here. The patio furniture is out, the fountain is running and the garden is in bloom. Do you know what that means? I have my favorite reading spot back!

It is conveniently situated beneath an awning out of sight of prying eyes and next to the calming sound of gurgling water in the form of our backyard "stream". I can curl up, tuck my legs underneath, a cold glass of green tea or lemonade in hand, and lose myself in a great summer read. It is even better when an afternoon rain storm moves in. Everything cools off, the air is pungent with the scent of fresh, clean rain and moist plants. Mmmm, nothing better! I have many memories of summer days spent like this…

Of course, my peace is periodically (and somewhat obnoxiously) interrupted by fighting children or, more often, bored and whining progeny. So I reluctantly get up from my favorite spot and lovingly tuck a scrounged piece of scratch paper into the book, a promise to return again soon…as soon as absolutely possible! :0)

So, where is your favorite place to read?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Smokin' Hot June

Current Read: Going Topless by Renee the spirit of smokin' hot June, keep a close eye on Armchair Heroines to win your very own, signed copy!

I did some review and excerpt reading today and found a couple of smokin' hot June releases:

A Rake's Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden is set for a June 3rd release. You can read the first chapter here. I was pulled in immediately. I love the conversation between Anthony Hamilton and Celia Reece and the hint of their past together. Lots of good reviews for this one, too. I haven't read Caroline before but you can bet I will be first in line for ARGTS!

Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen is a paranormal that introduces a new and refreshing world: Mayan myth and mystery. Read an excerpt here. This one promises to be a scorcher as well. Strike is all ready filling my head with...happy thoughts. Great reviews from RomanceJunkies, Suzanne Brockman via WritersAreReaders, J.R. Ward in Romantic Times and Book Binge. June 3rd is release date for this one as well.

If you pick these up, let me know what you think!

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Writer's Life

Current Read: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
Wow! I am not a huge paranormal reader, but this is good...grabbed me from page one and I have had difficulty stopping... even when the mac and cheese is boiling over (mucking up my all ready filthy stove), the phone is ringing, the kids are trading insults at the top of their lungs and I blogging!

Those of you readers who are also writers will understand my absence (besides reading, see above)...I received my first rejection letter from an agent. I took a couple of days to wallow and fight the "what-the-hell-do-I-think-I-am-doing-trying-to-be-a-writer" demon and now here I am, refreshed and ready to try anew! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Samuel Beckett:

Try again.
Fail better.

So, here I am ready to fail better...

For those of you in the Loveland/Northern Colorado area, my thoughts to all of you affected in any shape or form by the tornadoes and crazy weather.

If you need some distraction and a helping of fun, be sure to stop at the Barnes and Noble at Centerra to visit with local authors Melissa Mayhue, Lynda Hilburn, and Robin D. Owens. They will be signing from 2 - 5 pm. If you can't make it, don't despair. I am hoping to cajole them into signing a plethora of books that I can give away on this blog! Stay tuned...

On a different note, Newsweek published a web article last week on Generation R (R is for Reader) about the boom young adult fiction is currently experiencing. They are calling kids age 12-18 Generation R. These teens are saying that they enjoy reading because it takes them away from the stress in their lives. They enjoy how books allow them to create worlds in their heads with their own imaginations.

I was encouraged by this article. There is still a roiling controversy over the YA (young adult) genre because the themes of books are becoming more mature…but so are our kids, right? Anyway, I am hopeful, because in our media and digital centered world, I am glad to see kids still turning to books. Don’t get me wrong, movies and video games can be great, but books still serve a very unique, specific role and have a value that simply cannot be expressed in a space as small as this blog.

My hope as an aspiring author and parent is that this love of reading continues into adulthood for these kids.

What do you think? Were you a reader as a kid or was it a hobby you picked up as an adult?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sarah Addison Allen's New Release!

For those of you who love Sarah Addison Allen, she has just released her new book Sugar Queen. Although Ms. Allen is not technically a romance novelist, my romance reading friends still loved her first book Garden Spells. I haven’t read it yet, but a beautiful hardback copy is calling my name from the very top of my "to be read" pile.

Mountain Express, an independent newspaper out of North Carolina has an interesting article about Ms. Allen . And for those of you in the Asheville area, she will be signing on today at 7 pm at the Barnes and Noble.

Did you read Garden Spells? What did you think? What about Sugar Queen?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why do we love romance?

Current Read: Bachellorette #1 by Jennifer O'Connell

Supposedly, a large percentage of women who read romance are happily married or in otherwise committed, monogamous relationships. Is that true? I happen to be, but I would be interested to know where that theory came from and if there is any truth to it…

If you fit into that group, why do you love romance novels? Is it because it gives you an escape from your own life for a time? Or do you read romance to become re-energized? Grateful (as in “Thank the stars my life isn’t as complicated as …. – insert name of current heroine here)? Or is it something else? Author Alicia Blade has this to say in her blog, Ali’s Blog, last week:

“…I wonder now if women who are in happy, satisfying relationships don't read the novels not because they're missing something, but rather as a means of reliving those first few weeks or months of passionate excitement that almost inevitably fades. Women often say that they feel more intimate with their mates after reading a romance, and I think that this is possibly because the romance reminds them of those feelings once-experienced—not necessarily lost, but harder to recapture now that the relationship has settled into comfort and security.”

Falling into the category of happily married-romance novel lover, I have to agree with Ali’s musings. I find a stengthened connection physically and emotionally to my husband after reading a good romance. I am reminded of what it was like when I first fell (hard and fast, I might add) for him. We were completely absorbed in each other, constantly thinking about the other and putting the majority of our energy into our blooming romance. Now, ten years, three kids, several houses and numerous jobs later, we can’t do that. But the blossoming relationship between a hero and heroine takes me back to those crazy, giddy times. It seems obvious, maybe I just never thought about it before, but I think it is more than memories…it is recapturing the feelings that were so strong when our love was new. I felt a graciousness and gratitude toward the whole world as a giddy, love-sick twenty-five year old. My faith in goodness and love was renewed. I get those same feelings from reading a great romance.

Sappy? Yeah… Cheesy? Maybe…Do I keep going back for more…and more…and more? You bet your "gag me with a spoon, I hate sappy simperings" I do!

That leaves me with a whole handful of questions…Let me know if you have a significant other or not and whether that affects your romance novel reading. Why do you read? Stay tuned and keep reading!

Friday, May 16, 2008

How are characters born?

My good friend and fellow romance novel lover asked me the other day how writers create their characters. I thought other romance readers out there might be pondering the same question…

Approaches to character development are as varied as the personalities of character themselves. Each author’s approach is unique and I expect it evolves over time as authors grow and learn.

My characters are revealed to me as I write furiously on my first draft. As they become more fully formed in my brain, I like to imagine them in different situations. How would my heroine feel and react if she had stayed up most of the night writing, forgotten to pay the credit card bill and the mortgage and had three kids asking in unison, at various decibel levels, “What’s for dinner?”…hypothetically, of course.

Some authors create in-depth character sketches of the people populating their books. These sketches cover emotional characteristics such as strengths and weaknesses, how the character handles emotions like anger, sadness, joy, even what he or she would change about herself or himself. The sketch also addresses physical traits, involving not only looks but also habits, hobbies, health, favorite sayings, and speech patterns. There are often intellectual and spiritual elements in a character sketch as well.

An incredibly important consideration is the character’s name. For example, if my hero is of the buff, kick-ass variety I probably don’t want to name him “Cecil”. On the flip side, my suave, debonair hero isn’t going to be called “Butch”.

Some authors like to give their character’s a birthdate and then consider the astrological sign or numerology associated with it. I have often heard authors say they base a character on a real person or a photo that speaks to them, adding their own interpretations, biases and flair.

But, whatever approach an author uses, what matters most is that you, the reader, find the characters likeable, believable and worth investing the time it takes to read several hundred pages!

Who are some of your all-time favorite characters? What really made them come alive?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Permission to Indulge

I encourage all of you romance readers out there to join Harlequin for their 2008 – 100,000 Book Challenge. Read, read, read (individually or on a team) and Harlequin will donate an equivalent number of books to the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL).

The “NCFL fuels life improvement for the nation’s most disadvantaged children and parents. More than 1 million families throughout the country have made positive educational and economic gains as a result of NCFL’s work, which includes training more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of volunteers.”

“Family literacy is proven to break down other barriers to success—poverty, unemployment, poor health and inadequate housing. When parents struggle with literacy and life skills, their children have fewer chances for success. Family literacy reverses that cycle by teaching the families of today in order to impact the generations of tomorrow.”

Harlequin asks that fifty percent of your books come from their publishing house. That shouldn’t be difficult as they have over fifteen different lines – from historicals to westerns to intrigue to medical romance, there is a line for every romance novel lover. You have until December 31st to read to your heart’s content. Join Harlequin and make your reading count!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Favorites and Old Stand-bys

There are just some books that I refuse to part trusty friends and comfort food, I can always turn to them in times of trouble. I know which one I need based on the mood I am experiencing at that particular moment. I am going to date myself a bit here, but what the heck!

Perfect by Judith McNaught is one of my earliest romance novel reading memories. I caress the worn cover tenderly and seek out my favorite scenes when I yearn for simpler times.

Outlander by Diana Galbadon is the book I grab when I need some adventure and the resulting appreciation of my "less-complicated-than-Claire's-life" sigh of relief.

I reach for Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series when I need a snappy, smart-ass, take no prisoners jolt out of my suburban wife and mother doldrums.

Charm School by Susan Wiggs always reminds me that it is never to late to change and embrace the person you want to be.

Kelly Arden at Romance Roundtable has another great list organized by storylines. Check it out for inspiration!

Post some comments and let me know your favorite go-to romance guys and girls.

Monday, May 12, 2008

McDreamy, Tidy Whities and Laugh Lines

Quote of the day: No one is perfect... that's why pencils have erasers. ~Author Unknown

Playing on the boom box (hey, it runs and I know how to work it…I’d like an IPod someday, but the kids have first dibs): Nothing, all is quiet on the writing front

I went to see Made of Honor this weekend…it was cute and I saw it on Mother’s Day with some of the most important women in my life: my mom, my sister and my daughter. I was pleasantly surprised to see Patrick Dempsey and the plethora of laugh lines gracing his face. Now, there are many who would argue (vehemently, I might add...just talk to my sister) that he is one of the hottest men around. The staunch supporters would have a point, and I'm not just talking looks. The man seems to be quite comfortable in his own skin (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT)…he wore a super-short kilt and tidy whities in the movie with a nothing-left-to-the-imagination crotch shot! But I wonder, are we more accepting of, even attracted to, physical "flaws" in men versus women? Are certain flaws more accepted than others? And do we ever accept our own less-than-perfect attributes? I like my heroines with a little baggage and a few bags (saddle, under-eye, etc). I find I can relate more easily. What do you think: perfect heroine or slightly flawed?