24 February, 2015

Bachelor's Vegetable Store

Title: 총각네 야채가게 / Chonggakne Yachaegage
Genre: Melodrama, comedy, romance
Episodes: 24
Broadcast network: Channel A
Broadcast period: Dec-2011 to Mar-2012

Disappointing, really.

Still adore Ji Chang wook, though :D He did a terrific job holding this one up despite its numerous flaws and fails.

It is supposed to be based (even loosely) on a real-life scenario about a man who ended up owning a chain of vegetable stores -- but that never turns out to be the case.

What it IS about is a young guy, his younger sister, and an orphan girl who befriend one another, and then the orphan girl befriends some snobby girl with a crazy omanee.

The crazy omanee is biding her time in a lesser-valued neighborhood until her Chaebol lover ditches his arranged-marriage wife and returns to her and their daughter.

The orphan girl is so desperate for 'family' that she allows herself to be degraded and cheapens herself by dissing her two good friends in order to be able to hang out with the rich girl.

And then one day something really awful happens to that wealthier girl with the crazy omanee, so for all of the episodes thereafter, it gets really Korean stupid.

The woman ends up passing off the orphan as her real daughter to the Chaebol dude who does, in fact, leave his arranged-marriage wife for her and his daughter.

This was far, too many episodes of we've seen this one before for my liking or taste.

The boy who is supposed to be the main character (the man who ends up owning a lot of vegetable stores) grows up with this sole purpose in life and runs into some guys who seem misplaced in society but who faithfully follow the leader throughout this 24-episode *sigh.

Insurmountable odds, unbelievable twists, inevitable turns, and too much Korean-style angst tossed in the mix to make this an enjoyable or believable story about a real-life situation. There was zero reality to this and zero reference to the man who seemingly made it all possible.

If you liked King of Baking, then you'll probably like Bachelor's Vegetable Store.

18 February, 2015

Show n Tell Time

Since it came up a few times in critique of my work, I did some studying / reading up on show vs. tell.

Until now, I've mistakenly assumed it meant tell: author speaks, show: character speaks.

What I discovered, along with some pretty hilarious examples, is that show is actually metaphor/simile, and the reason why it is an issue in my own writing is because I don't like it.

Just think LIKE and AS and you get the idea.

Her memories were lost forever like the treasures buried with the Titanic.

As she kissed her way down his manly chest, he felt his Amalgamated Crane Company stock increasing in value.

I'm borrowing some interesting show from The Daily Blowhole since I suck at coming up with my own or remembering any from every body of work I've ever read.

Metaphors can be good, however, and should be used once in awhile to convey a deeper, more tangible meaning to whatever is occurring or being seen/discovered in a key scene. A thought that bears comparison in order to show the reader the hero or heroine's deeper reflection on the moment.

This I get, and I do use them. I know I do.

Just not every freaking sentence to describe every freaking occurrence, eyelash bat, way of walking, or the emotion involved upon seeing Mr. or Miss Right.

When I read them during or prior to a sex scene, it takes me right out of the action and into a laugh-fest of epic proportions -- like watching two clowns go at one another at a smelly chili cook-off on a hot as hell summer day in Dallas. (See, I can come up with some doozies now and again, too).

The examples shown are deliberately, brilliantly awful, but to me it isn't much different from the (cough) better ones.

Her embrace made his manhood swell like week-old roadkill on hot asphalt in the Georgia sun.

And, let's not overlook the cliche aspect of simile (show) in a romance novel:

Beatrice was on him like a piranha on a corn dog.
With each breath, her chest heaved like a bulimic after Thanksgiving dinner.

I get that these are an abuse of show and not quite as common as one might hope (LOL) to read in all romance novels, but I maintain that they are the reason our genre is made fun of, put down, and believed to be trite bits of trash with some raunch tossed in for effect.

I also get that it doesn't happen quite as often as the nay-sayers and anti-bodice-ripper set would like us to believe, but to me it is all still contrived nonsense that detracts from the story.

…then he kissed her, like a butterfly kisses the windshield of a Porsche on the Autobahn.
Her breasts heaved like a stormy ocean, and her pointed nipples were like hypodermics washed up on the shore.

I once tried to read a novel with too much metaphor, and after about 12 pages, I no-lie chucked my old Kindle across the room. How can the reader not be taken out of the story or its atmosphere each time they come across such lines?

There are too many reasons NOT to like or want to use metaphor/simile/show in my writing unless it is so flawlessly written and inserted at the right times (not throughout) to make me want to adhere to the show v. tell rule of writing.

Some of this actually hurts to read, and even if it isn't meant to sound deliberately awful.

Sleekly malevolent, driven by a violent hunger, Donovan glided through the chum-filled waters of the singles bar, oblivious to the remora of Annabelle’s adoring gaze.

Name-dropping is another bad idea and something that won't be incorporate regardless of the need for show. It is a thoughtless attempt at comparison -- with the author being oblivious to the reader's personal taste. They auto-assume the reader agrees with the assessment.

He Beatty-ed her shamelessly, making her squeal like Ned and hallucinate like Warren.
He awoke my slumbering womanhood with his double tall loin latte. “Starbucks!” I cried. 
Her sun-glazed back formed a golden arch as he moved his face toward her happy meal.

Some might think that Justin Bieber is all that and a bottle of Coke, or that by comparing the leading man with any Hollywood actor that it is helping to stress his good aspects when the reality is, the reader who disagrees is then removed from the story.

So, when it comes to show versus tell, I'll stick with what I know and try a bit harder to use more flowery prose to describe things . . .

. . . even after having had it drummed out of me just last year by another group of critique partners who said describing anything is a no-no.

17 February, 2015

Romance Weekly Blog Hop - Travel Time

Thank you for hopping over after visiting with Dani JaceWhile you were there, I hope you checked out her Books tab. Besides an upcoming release this summer, Hot as Blazes is still available on Amazon.

When the Heat Gets Started . . .
JoAnn Mercer was on the verge of surfer stardom when her career took a nosedive thanks to a backstabbing ex. Now she’s back home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, staying clear of men, desperately in need of a job. Joining the local firefighting squad seems like the perfect solution, until she realizes one of her coworkers is an old crush.
It Will Never Stop . . . 
Ray Andrews never runs away from a fight. He served his country in Iraq, and he’s battled more fires than he can count. But what he can’t fight is the desire burning between him and JoAnn Mercer. He’s wanted Jo for as long as he can remember, but a promise made years ago has kept them apart. Finally free of obligations, Ray is ready to prove he’s the only man for Jo. But after the trauma of her past, can he convince her to love again?

Dani writes steamy romance, and Hot as Blazes is a testament to that fact. :D

This week's question is from A.S. Fenichel, and Ascension is available through Kensington.

The Demon Hunters, #1
When demons threaten London, Lady Belinda answers the call.

Thriller romance!

The question this week involves travel, and Andrea asks:

It's cold in most places. What's you're favorite vacation spot? This can be someplace you've been or someplace you dream of going. If you have a book with a terrific vacation spot, work it in, too.

I dream of being on a lone, tropical island somewhere in the Pacific: grass hut, umbrella drink, bending palms, ukulele or kettle drums heard in the distance, and gently lapping ocean waves near my feet . . . the whole, cliche nine yards of it.

Although last year turned out to be worse, being this cold and this snowed-under in February is asking a lot of a native Michigander like me.

Regardless, though. My favorite vacation spot remains Michigan.

I'll take you on a brief tour of the Upper Peninsula (God's Country for those of you not in the know)

Whitefish Point - home of the infamous Edmund Fitzgerald incident. It's lighthouse museum filled with all things nautical, and one of the many places in Michigan where you can actually climb up to the top of the lighthouse and look out over Lake Superior.

Why? Its breathtaking beauty, the serenity of the place, and like most areas along the shores of that largest body of water: the stones. My daughter and I spend hours slowly combing the shoreline searching for all kinds of pretty, unusual, and flat stones for her art and my personal delight.

Relaxation at its best, calmest, and prettiest.

Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Moving further west, I introduce you to the Keewenau Peninsula, or Copper Harbor.

Scandinavian heritage abounds here, but aside from wanting to get back to my humble roots, the place is simply gorgeous. It is also the highest point in the entire state. The last stop before entering Lake Superior and heading on up into Canada.

The inland streams, the dense forest that erupts with brilliant violence every fall, the waterfalls, and that coppery-red water are all why I love this place so much.

Keewenau Peninsula

Then there is the nightlife, complete with interesting animal noises, bonfires, and the best fire of them all: the northern lights.

The ultimate reason for traveling this far, though, is to take the trip up Porcupine Mountain, where the most incredible sight awaits you once you reach the top.

Lake of the Clouds

Finally, the place I tend to book a cottage at most often is Manistique. The large, inland lake of the same name is a great place to relax, unwind, fish, trail hike, and just get lost inside your own mind without any of the modern trappings to destroy that mood.

Taquamenon Falls is close by, as is Kichitikipi (Big) Spring. A cable raft that is propelled by human hands slowly glides you across the deep, greenish-blue waters of the icy spring, and while you're leaning over the wooden sides to gaze at all of the huge trout and bubbling water, the tour guide tells the legend of Kichitikipi.

Kitch-iti-kipi was a young chieftain of the area. He told his girlfriend that he loved her far more than the other maidens dancing near his birchbark wigwam.
She claimed she wanted to put him through a test of love and demanded, "Prove it!"
The test of his devotion was that he must set sail in his canoe on this spring lake deep in the conifer swamp. She would then leap from an overhanging branch in an act of faith. He was to catch her from his canoe proving his love.
He then took his fragile canoe onto the icy waters of the lake looking for her. Eventually his canoe tipped over in the endeavor. He drowned in the attempt to satisfy the vanity of his love for this Indian maid.
It turned out she was back at her village with other Indian maidens laughing her head off about his silly quest. The spring was then named in his memory.

Taquamenon Falls (lower)

I hope you enjoyed my brief tour of Michigan's Upper Peninsula as much as I enjoy traveling up there every summer and fall.

As always, thank you for visiting with me and taking the time to read my response. 

Let's hop on over and visit with Jeana E. Mann and read about her favorite vacation spot.

Be sure and click on the Books tab while you're there and learn more about book 1 of her felony romance series, Intoxicated.

12 February, 2015

Around the Way Girl

Last week was one of those shitty, everything that could possibly go wrong did, kind of weeks -- with a disgusting, agonizing flourish.

Found out I can't afford car insurance, so I'm without wheels.

My boss/friend accused me of lying AND cheating him with my monthly pay.

Then, and on three separate but eerily close occasions, I got thrown under the bus online for innocent oops's on my part and which could have been avoided had the upset parties PM'd me instead of ranting in public.

It's also two days away from the dreaded love-fest otherwise referred to as Valentine's Day.

When my mind is troubled, it's too hard to concentrate on anything else even if doing just that is part of the cure.

I know better, in other words, and yet a few days nights are still spent wasted, and with me munching on potato chips while watching Asian dramas instead of doing what needs to be done -- like writing the next novel.

Instead of escaping to dramaland, I should be escaping to my fantasy realm and working on the next scene, but I don't because I can't.

When I'm pushed and can't shove back, my next option is to retreat. I avoid people and online social anything, I read, and I watch television.

When I get over myself and start to feel normal again, then I go back to doing what needs to be done; kicking and complaining about the wasted time all the while, too.

So, I let go of everything that occurred to make me anxious and got back into the thick of things with this current WIP.

I'm happy with it so far.

And then I received feedback on my published novel from a few people who finished reading it.

LOL . . . cringe.

If anyone is dying to find out what is wrong with their writing, it's me. I already know my strengths weaknesses and have spent decades trying to fix them all. I need to hear the good and the bad if I hope to become better.

Trouble is, after receiving that feedback, it made me question this latest WIP I'm so proud of and that seems (to me) like a thousand times better story and even written in a better style than the first one.

And, sure enough, as I went back through the WIP and started to see where the feedback came into play, the urge to want to scrap the whole thing became increasingly desirable.

So, I did what every grown woman in a mental crisis would do: I ran to my son for help.


Yeah, I'm embarrassed to admit it as much as I was to do it, but that's water under the bridge now.

Look, he's a literary genius, alright? It's like having my own personal Neil Gaiman around to offer up words of wisdom, sage advice, and all things miraculously simple about how to write the perfect novel in the perfect style and with the perfect audience in mind.

Seriously, the kid knows his stuff when it comes to all things literature. He's read far more than I ever have or probably even will - with a concentration on the classics as well as the thought-provoking, hipsters-love-it-so-it-must-be-good kind of writing.

He's fluent in Spanish and has read several works in that language by their acclaimed authors, too. He's a Latin/Greek scholar who graduated at the very top of his class before going on to Magna from a teaching college with a degree in literature and certification.

And, what the HECK would a guy like him know about romance novels?

He gets it, and he wants to see me succeed.

Besides, I make it a point to skim over the va-va-voom parts in order to assure myself it won't be the last time we ever get together for just such an occasion ;-)

So, I read my work to him and he gave me his critique.

#1. He hates the leading lady. She's stuck-up, selfish, insecure, and vain.

#2. He thinks my plot is phenomenal and can't wait to find out where it all leads.

#3. He agrees with the other critiques about my writing being too point-of-fact with not enough show, imagery, and pause.

#4. He'd like more back story instead of having her explain what happened at times in her life.

#5. He wants me to stop listening to what other people think and just keep writing the way I know how. He says there's nothing wrong with my style or POV. "The mechanics will follow after you get the details in writing."

Now, I've always been accused of telling versus showing, which makes it my strongest weakness in my writing.

  • I started out this way by telling friends the things that popped into my head waay back in middle school.

Conflicting reports about style and POV confused me to the point of becoming a stunted author. One person says one thing, another says another, and they both contradict the same aspect. 

Who is right and who is wrong? 

  • I'm still working on that one and will eventually get back to the real me who doesn't mind describing things without sounding invasive or matter-of-fact.

I hear no one likes back story, flashbacks, memory sequences in a novel.

  • So, how is the main character supposed to let the reader in on her quest to discover whether her family is really cursed or not if I don't have her go back in time and piece things together until the truth is finally revealed?

If the reader doesn't like third-person omniscient or never heard of Deep POV, then they aren't going to like any of my work.

Okay . . . so, I get where my leading lady isn't such a wonderful person after all. My son made me see where she's being a dufus when she should be lamenting the deaths that occurred as a result of the plane she was on that crashed.

However . . . she's supposed to be in a state of shock at the time she meets the leading man. She's not fully aware of her surroundings and has subconsciously blocked the accident from her already troubled and years-worth of conditioning mind.

Instead, she's checking him out and questioning his sense of style, his job choice, and his apparent lack of a decent income.

We didn't get to read as far as the next chapter, where she comes to in her hotel room and falls apart in despair, consumed by memories of the crash, thinking she is to blame because of the curse, and how awful she had behaved inside the emergency room.

I guess leaving things for another chapter isn't a good idea even if Stephen King would tell you otherwise.

AND THEN I went to bed with a new novella by an author I met online. I've already read another of her works and like her style. This second novella opened in a way that made me want to question the leading lady's choice of attitude.

I didn't like her very much, and by the end of the 2nd chapter, I was really not rooting for her at all.

But, then half-way through three I was like . . . ah! I totally get her now.

I had to laugh at the irony.

11 February, 2015

KDrama Review of Healer

Title: 힐러 / Hilleo
Genre: Romance, comedy, thriller, action
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: KBS2
Broadcast period: Dec, 2014 to Feb, 2015

Finished watching this afternoon, and like a terrific book you can't wait to finish in order to find out how it all works out, I felt the same way about Healer.

Bad thing about that is, like a good book, when you do get to the end, you're sad to know it's over even if you were looking forward to the end!

Man, was this good.

The plot . . . I'll quote the KBS source first . . .

A mysterious messenger of the 22nd century, an online newspaper reporter who only concerns her own interests, a popular reporter who agonizes over the truth and reality.
When these three people meet, a passionate romance starts and the truths from the past and present reveal themselves to the world. This drama features young people and how they grow into real reporters.

and then say (like per usual) it doesn't make much sense and didn't help me to understand the story's premise.

I don't know if Healer was a mysterious messenger from the 22nd century -- in fact, I don't recall anyone slipping through time to deliver anything throughout the 20 episodes.

What it did do was to keep going back in time, 1992 to be precise, and show us glimpses of why that story is relevant to the plot in the present.

Healer did deal with three separate types of news reporter, and they did uncover an awful secret from the PAST (not the future) that still needed explaining and exposure.

That much is true.

The girl, however, was hardly self-absorbed. More clueless and suffering an identity crisis at the start of this show. She had big dreams of a promising career in reporting, but there was something holding her back. We discover what that something is later in the show.

Healer (Ji Chang Wook as Seo Jung Hoo / Bong seo) is a mystery right out of the gate and someone who remained elusive, sexy, and self-assured throughout . . . even when he eventually transformed into bookish Bong seo, the mild-mannered office gopher at the newly created Some Day News.

Both depictions of Healer and Bong seo made me love Chang wook. Funny thing is, I couldn't get past the first episode of Bachelor's Vegetable Stand, in which he stars.

You can bet I'll be watching it next, though!

Long story short: these three reporters are connected by a thin thread from the past. The eldest (Yoo Ji Tae as Kim Moon Ho) knows enough about what's going on to want to put an end to the madness, but there is something that prevents him from revealing everything all at once.

He hires Seo Jung Hoo to obtain a DNA sample of the female wanna-be reporter, Park Min Young as Chae Young Shin.

Jung hoo traps Young shin inside a public bathroom, clips her fingernail, and disappears, leaving Young shin to hyperventilate in his startling wake.

Once Moon ho knows she is who he always assumed she was, the real fun begins. He hires Jung hoo to guard Young shin, protect her from harm, and be her friend.

So, naturally, a romance begins to bloom for the two of them.

Jung hoo is reluctant for obvious reasons and she is eager to find out more about the mysterious Healer while becoming good friends with his alter ego, Bong seo.

They had great onscreen chemistry. GREAT onscreen chemistry.

I liked her start to finish, her acting is superb, and the two combined made for an enticing bit of sexual tension, comedic silliness, and then that heart palpitating moment when the truth is revealed (more times than just one, too).

Loved, loved, LOVED the OST!

I know the main tune (Eternal Love) by heart now :D Although I kept thinking it was Peter Gabriel who was doing the singing.

Jung hoo is a bad-ass with some serious fight skills courtesy of one of the hippest, older Korean men (Oh Kwang Rok as Ki Young Jae) I've seen onscreen thus far. Dude was pretty awesome, and he giggled his way through every one of his scenes while teaching Jung hoo those impressive skills.

Another bonus came courtesy of my all-time favorite female actress, Kim Mi Kyung as Jo Min Ja. She plays a retired detective and works anonymously with Jung hoo to help undo injustices Min ja is capable of detecting through the use of some extremely advanced hacking devices and her own know-how.

Actually, everyone involved in this thriller of sorts did a great job. The goofy guy in the Some Day office always at his laptop, and his timid boss.

The young girl who lives in the streets, break-dances, and uses her gang mentality to help Min ja aid Jong hoo -- she was a scene-stealer.

I also kept wanting to believe that she is Kim Mi kyung's real-life daughter, too. Might just be me, but they look alike and even act/sound alike.

Healer was a wonderful 20-episodes that I was thrilled to bits to be able to watch as it rolled, and for which I'm sad now that it's over.


10 February, 2015

Nobody's Angel by Sarah Hegger

Kensington, March 2015
Imprint: Zebra

Recently finished reading the second book from Sarah Hegger (Sweet Bea was the first).

The synopsis was written so beautifully that I was immediately captivated by the story line about a girl-gone-wild who runs away after burning both sides of the same bridge and then returns to her fictitious hometown in an attempt to try and make amends.

Nobody's Angel was a well-written Contemporary Romance with believable characters and even more believable instances in both of their lives.

Lucy Flint left Willow Park after having hurt quite a few people, including Richard, now a prominent doctor in the midst of a marriage break-up upon Lucy's unexpected return.

She comes from a dysfunctional home that is meant to imply her reasons for behaving as she had, but the truth and sometimes even the lies can run much deeper than the well-guarded surface she knows needs to crack and be exposed if she hopes to succeed at this monumental task of making amends.

Sarah did a great job of making me feel awkward, selfish, anxious, and even guilty at times. It was apparent she knew what Lucy, Richard, his mother and brothers, and the town folk went through and how each of them felt about being a victim expected to forgive & forget.

A painful rendition of coming to terms with reality, the past, and all the awful shit that comes with being young, rebellious, and thoughtless.

I cannot forgive Lucy's father, I will never quite understand her mother -- though I did sympathize with and pity her, and I liked the way Richard acted start to finish about being one of the biggest victims of Lucy's past transgressions.

Lucy surprised me sometimes and made me think she might be too good to be true, but then Sarah had a charming way of making me see that it wasn't my struggle and that I'm not entirely aware of the issues Lucy continues to suffer through on account of her pain and affliction.

The entire story occurs within a matter of weeks, and while I did feel that the middle tended to drag in places, the beginning and ending were quite powerful as a bonus, and the middle slow pace wasn't enough to make me put down the book.

I read this one clean through.

Another extremely minor issue I had was with Richard. Not the man, but the name.

See, I have a cousin named Richard, and we're quite close. As a child, I used to watch Richie Rich and read the comic books. I also used to tease my cousin by referring to him as Richie Rich. That and the reference inside the story kept cropping up to make me cringe . . . especially during the intimate segments.

My favorite character is unexpectedly Donna, Richard's mother. She was great and the kind of mother I'm sure we'd all like to have had or at least known when we were going through our awkward phase in life.

I wanted to be her when I grew up, although I'm probably more like Lucy's mother, Lynne.

Actually, if I know myself well enough, I'd say I'm more like Lucy except that I never grew up, accepted fate, and moved on.

This was an ARC I received from the author in exchange for an honest review, which I already submitted to my Goodreads account and now here, on my blog.

Below are a few of the official links for pre-order, or to bookmark for when the March release date arrives.

What you should really do, though, is visit the author's website to find out more about Nobody's Angel and her other novels.

Sarah Hegger's blog.

09 February, 2015

Discovery of Romance

연애의 발견 / Yeonaeui Balgyeon

Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 16
Broadcast network: KBS2
Broadcast period: Aug to Oct, 2014

My Rating:

This was good. Surprisingly good.

I didn't like the leading lady much, but she did an excellent job of portraying the character's messed up personality.

I just wasn't all that convinced that she was deserving or attractive enough to have not one but two hot, successful men after her.

The chemistry wasn't there in either relationship, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you haven't seen it yet, this is a rom-com with more rom than com, but with enough com to make me laugh through at least the first half.

It's about a woman who experiences love at first sight and sticks with this guy (Eric) for over five years when things go south and they break up.

Three years later, she meets another hot guy (Seong jun) and the same thing happens again -- instant attraction, hook-up, and romance.

A little more than a year later, she finds out that Seong jun's Nam Ha jin is on a blind date and storms the hotel lobby to make an ass of herself.

She plunks down at a small seating arrangement directly in front of Han jin's cozy nook, hides behind a newspaper, and passes the guy already seated there a quick note to let him know why she's barged in on his privacy, and to please excuse her rude behavior just this once.

The guy turns out to be Eric's Kang Tae ha.

They're both stunned to see one another again, and she shouts at him about things from their past, but that Ha jin presumes have to do with his being there on a blind date.

The first half of this 16-episode melodrama with comedy tossed in for relief is about the first relationship and why they broke up and why she's clinging to Ha jin (the plastic surgeon with his own mixed up past).

It was a little disconcerting to have her mother, some guy, and her assistant showing up every now & then since it didn't seem (to me) like it had anything to do with the plot.

And then to be just as confused with Han Yeo reum (Jung Yoo mi as the female love interest) living with a guy and a girl (friends) whom I was first led to believe were brother/sister, but then it turns out they're not, she's Yeo reum's sister and then no, she's not. He is Yeo reum's brother.

No, wait. None of them are actually related. They just all live together.

(scratches head)

The second plot was about Ha jin's past, his being an orphan who did something he felt was pretty mean to a little girl he once cared deeply for at the orphanage. Those two end up meeting, and for the rest of the episodes, the secret remains just that -- because of his guilt.

Around episode 13-14, I got bummed thinking she would end up with the wrong guy. By the start of episode 15, I was like, I hope neither guy is stupid enough to continue to want to stick it out with her.

It had a happy ending, and I was pleased with the final choice between the two leading men, but I'm still not sure how I feel about the relationship in general or its chances for survival.

Unless she makes some major personality changes.

The show flowed well, the music wasn't invasive, and there wasn't too much repetitious rehash of previous scenes & you-just-said-that dialogue, no 10-minute long dwelling instances of someone walking aimlessly while thinking, or a lot of weepy angst & brutality in the form of verbal & physical abuse like you get with most KDo's, which annoy and distract from the story.

If I recall correctly, there was only one instance of someone doing something that the camera needed to show in triple-effect, too.

I got the slightest hint of old 90's and 00's dramas -- like What Happened in Bali -- but nowhere near those dark and dismal melodramas from back in the day.

I said hint

03 February, 2015

Romance Weekly Blog Hop - Setting the Scene

I hope you hopped over here after visiting with J.J. Devine. This time I'd like to plug an anthology she's involved with through her publisher, SoulMate. 

The title is A Soulmate for Christmas, and by clicking on the title, you'll be taken to the author support page.

J.J.'s story, A VAMPIRE FOR YULE, is about " . . . Two lonely hearts come together during the holidays and discover their destiny." Sounds sweet!

Brenda Margriet is back just in time to set the task of asking: How do you choose the setting for your book? Does where you live inspire you? This can apply even to books set in paranormal worlds - what do you use from "real life"?

You can find one of her novels, Mountain Fire, up for review on Goodreads, with links to buy.

"A mountaintop mystery leads two conservationists to dangerous obsessions and violent passions"

Both featured novels are in my TBR pile :D

Now to answer Brenda's questions.

How do you choose the setting for your book

Hmm. Do I choose them, or do they choose me? I'd like to believe I'm the one doing the choosing, and with familiar places that remove any sense of doubt about scene-setting, description, and things like weather patterns & flora/fauna stuff.

We're able to look up these vital pieces of information like weather, terrain, cultural norms, dress-code, parts-of-speech, etc. just by typing it into a search box. Still, relying on the internet as being gospel is pushing the risk boundary.

I've never been to Alaska but have watched with great fascination and interest every episode of Alaska State Troopers, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, and Flying Wild Alaska to feel somewhat safe about using it for a setting in my novels.

Does where you live inspire you

Yes, most definitely. 

There are so many wonderful places, quaint, old towns, wealthy/not places, farmland/metropolis, some breathtaking scenic routes, a peninsula that more resembles the Alaskan wilderness than Alaska, the Great Lakes, and also the Auroras (Northern Lights) that can be viewed as far south as the northern lower half of the state.

There is even a spot near the tip of your left-hand ring finger designated the most light-pollution free spot to stargaze in the entire country!

There are very few places I haven't been to yet to make me feel unqualified to set a scene in any area of Michigan and not sound like a lifer.

This can apply even to books set in paranormal worlds - what do you use from "real life"?

All of the above-mentioned things. Spending time in one of many State Parks, being adrift on a massive body of water, and even spending a long weekend away from reality in a tiny cottage surrounded by scented pine & cedar, peeling birch, a lake or stream, and with amazing night sky views as a backdrop. 

It all works to spark my imagination -- especially toward fantasy realms. I've envisioned castles forming in the center of these inland lakes, the fish I've tried and failed to catch having magic powers or the ability to speak/grant wishes just as they did in fairytales.

Heck, you wouldn't believe the number of times I'd lean over the side of a boat and dream about sunken treasure, mermaids, and even a silly triton slowly making its way to the surface of some of the most eerily still waters around.

If you've ever heard wolves baying at the moon the way you can in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, then it isn't hard to imagine them becoming human or at least working with humans in some way. 

Then there is the Viking/Norse/Finn heritage, the French fur trappers of the past and their stories. Also, the native nations that remain well-hid (like the wolves) and yet still leave their mark on tourist traps -- all of these things are enough to spark anyone's imagination and make them want to write at least one book.

When I work to create mystical, fantasy romance, it isn't difficult to imagine these make-believe places and people blending in seamlessly with some of the places I've been to, the interesting people I've met, and even a few of their quirky customs, beliefs, and habits.

Lastly, and after having had to go outside five times in a blizzard to keep ahead of nearly 2-feet of snowfall -- with a few young, healthy male neighbors helping out with their plows (even with the SuperBowl underway), along with some hilarious and wonderful online commentary for levity during that storm, how can my mind NOT conjure up all sorts of magical, unrealistic instances that lead to romance?

THIS timeline post had the FB ladies and I (even a few males) going for hours on Sunday -- stormy football Sunday, that is.

I'm not a big fan of cold weather or snow, and yet there are several aspects that make it a wonderful, magical event and help to inspire a vivid imagination, real or fantasy.

Just stand outside any forest-y area after a heavy snow when the sun is shining and wait for a breeze to blow -- you'll know what I mean.

As always, I thank you kindly for hopping over and reading my responses to such fun questions.

Our next stop takes us over to visit with Andrea Mansue (A.S. Fenichel) to find out how she responds.

You can find out more about her novel, Wishing Game, by clicking on the title. Such a lovely cover!

01 February, 2015

A Novel Competition for Romance Writers

Kensington & Wattpad Partner for Romance Competition. Details here.
The competition is open to any previously unpublished author of romance fiction who joins Wattpad. The grand prize winner of contest will receive a publishing contract from Kensington and their novel will be published in both print and digital formats under Kensington’s new imprint, Zebra Shout.
From what I've heard recently, using Wattpad to submit unpublished work and have it read for free by their claimed 40 Million users isn't as risky as it used to be. They offer users the ability to add All Rights Reserved to their work so as to avoid plagiarism and theft.

Still, in that 40m, there has to be at least one fool willing to take a risk, eh?

On the other hand, I can't think of a better, more fun way to get recognized for our work, hard effort, and talent, can you?

We have until the 23rd of February to submit the 5,000 words and a synopsis, and this is only open to new Wattpad users, btw. I think I may have opened an account under another alias and email a year or two ago, so I'm safe.

And, by WE I may mean YOU since it is unclear what they mean by unpublished. Is that through a publisher, or does it include ePub as well? In the latter's case, I would be excluded.

As well, for me, it's coming up with the right story and a killer synopsis that always stop me from ever going ahead with any such contest or submission.

Honestly, summing up anything, even a book report back in elementary school, always proved to be a monumental task fraught with procrastination, frustration, and tears. Just as it is for me today with every novel synopsis I've ever tried to write and which came up just short of awful. :-(

Hotel King Review

As the snow continues to fall here in Michigan, with more than a foot of it expected through the overnight hours and nearly a foot of it on the ground as I type, now is probably as good a time as any to write a review.

So, I finally finished the 32-episode Korean drama Hotel King today.

That's right, I typed 32-episodes. It was another of their drawn-out-deliberately dramas based entirely on ratings and not because the story needed that much time to be told.

Still, it wasn't so bad, or at least not so bad or tiring that I even once felt compelled to skip episodes just to get the thing over & done with, which says something, I think.

It was about a guy who started out in a rough situation after being adopted by Americans and then left on the 'mean streets' to fend for himself (LOL).

By age 11, he is picked up by a Korean man who claims to know the boy's background, and that it is the boy's duty to get revenge against the father who abandoned him.

The father in question is heir to a hotel with world-class accommodations and a higher than usual 7-star rating.

The man who found the boy is cruel, vindictive, and heartless -- especially to the boy who later becomes General Manager of this hotel. 

The handsome GM believes he is the son of the hotelier and sets out to destroy him when he meets his supposed 'sister', the real heiress to this 7-star, world-class hotel.

Lee Da hae as Ah Mo ne falls instantly for our charmer with a troubled past while he continues to ignore, resist, and finally self-abuse the budding feelings he's having for what he believes to be his own sister.

Lee Da hae is beautiful. Stuning, even. Great face, hair, eyes, and body. Amazing, really, and a good actress as well.

Long story short, a third of this story had bits of purpose, but it was still a drawn-out Korean affair filled with too much unnecessary angst, pregnant pauses, and recap to truly satisfy my need to know or want of more.

All of the cast gave stellar performances, and while I appreciate the need for levity in a 32-episode nail-biter, sometimes it came at the cost of that tension build-up while at other times it was just inappropriate or misplaced within a scene.

The main reason I chose to watch this drama was because I came from having watched the first season of Roommate in which our handsome hero, Lee Dong wook as Cha Jae wan, stars as well.

During the first Roommate season, Dong wook was filming Hotel King, which worked to intrigue me about him and the drama.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars at aznv.tv, where the use of Crunchyroll subs made it nearly impossible to understand what was going on due to an illegible font.

I'm unable to duplicate the issue here, but it went something like this . . . 

"I&*%ll have to see if it*(^s okay to go into detail*&%s about the problem%$#s we*%@re having with the font."

Dramafever has yet to upload any episodes, which makes me think they are reworking the Crunchyroll subs so that they are perfect and legible prior to being uploaded to their superior yet expensive website.