28 September, 2015

November of the Heart by LaVyrle Spencer

Pages: 432
Publisher: Jove (March 1, 1994)
Language: English
Amazon: Buy Link
Genre: Historical/America
Sexual Content: 3/5


When a high society "good girl" falls for a servant, she must find a way to make a stand for the man she loves, and defy the society in which she lives.


Lorna is a well-bred lady whose family summers on a lake somewhere in Minnesota, and Jens is a hired kitchen helper with big dreams of building boats and owning his own boatworks.

Her parents are uppity and hell-bent on running Lorna's life start to finish. They've huge plans for her to marry a dashing fella also in money, and the two are starting to make headway when Lorna starts to fancy Jens -- the kitchen helper who spirits into a dinner party with ice cream that he's tucked a note into for her father to read about how to win the regatta.

Eventually, Lorna's father caves and sets Jens up in an abandoned barn, gives him carte blanche at the lumber mill and hardware stores, and so Jens spends that summer building the boat of his dreams.

Lorna spends her days sneaking into that barn to watch, to talk, and to flirt with the handsome, Norse blond with glowing blue eyes, a nice body, and fascinating dreams of his own.

The two fall in love, and knowing it isn't wise, fall headlong into a compromising situation anyway, and to say it ends in disaster is putting it mildly.

The relationship is destroyed along with Lorna's hopes and dreams while Jens figures out a way to survive on his own again and ends up building another better, faster model of the original Lorna D.

When Lorna returns to the lake the following summer, she's a woman now and beyond repair while Jens works harder than ever to get over his loss and prove her father wrong in more ways than one.

My Take

This is my introduction to LaVyrle Spencer, and I'm glad I chose this novel first, even if it did start out rather slow and then became a bit bogged down with excessive detail.

I also get, now, why some readers complain about this aspect of a romance novel when it never made much sense before and I never saw it as being excessive -- until now.

It must be a sign of the times, and I could be wrong, but this could have been an easier read had it not entailed so much thought, pause, happenstance, and turmoil to ALMOST take me out of the story and into college-style essay reading.

Yes, I care, and no, I can do without . . . which is strange, I'm sure.

It took me a long time to read, and despite my consternation at the author's inability to just give me the goods and skip the pretty and sometimes interesting details, I still wasn't able to skim through a single chapter.

I was truly interested in Lorna and Jens romance, and I wanted to walk beside them on their journey to happiness, but there were also times when I heard myself saying, "Can we please just get to the good stuff already?"

There was sex involved, and it was the romantic and beautiful kind that didn't make me blush or have to read any excessive, graphic words or gesture phrases to make it come across as anything other than what it was -- beautiful in its simplicity and honesty.

It does have a happy ending!

I would also recommend this to anyone wanting a good, old-style romance filled with expectations, dreams, passion, and hope.

25 September, 2015

Comic Book Day

Today is National Comic Book day, and in most parts of the United States, if you visit a bookstore or outlet that sells them, you're liable to take home some freebies!

It's been awhile since I last read a comic book, but that doesn't mean I don't want to anymore.

Like most kids of my generation, we grew up on comics -- whether they be in the form of Sunday Funnies that we eagerly slipped out of our father's newspaper after church, or the store-bought kind we always had spare allowance change to buy.

For me, it wasn't about superheros or the standard favorites and all about love.

I'd be hard-pressed to give you the exact date and time of my first glimpse into one of these charming, old relics, so let's just say I was still in elementary school and leave it at that.

What I can say with definite certainty is that, for me, it became the equivalent of an old Lay's potato chips slogan: you can't read just one.

I poured over these things with about as much gusto and interest as I did and still do romance novels.

When I was little, it was okay and safe to wander the neighborhood alone and even knock at doors of houses that had people in them we'd never met . . . yet.

My younger brother did that and ended up with three much older 'foster brothers' as it were. They were from another decade and another era, with the oldest son being in Viet Nam, but their father did things that interested my younger brother and so the strange kind of friendship grew.

One day, I accompanied him to that house on the corner curve of our horseshoe shaped block and that was when I first laid eyes (and hands) on comic books.

I remember sitting in their basement for hours reading everything from Archie (PEP) to MAD to Katy Keene and Josie and the Pussycats (JOSIE at the time).

It was also my introduction to Grand Funk Railroad and Jimi Hendrix, but that is another story for another blog post.

I didn't know it at the time, but later discovered how visually involved I am, which would explain my fascination with and total absorption in these types of reading materials.

Which probably explains my preference for PEP and Josie and so-forth over the darker, more sinister-type comics involving guys like Superman, Dick Tracy, Batman, and the like.

When I enter a clothing store, my eye does not zero in on the perfect dress, shoe, or accessory but always the shiniest, brightest colored, glowing garment or bauble on display.

And, speaking of fashion, Katy Keene was probably MY first superheroine.

She was pretty, a fashion model, and had lots of guys drooling over and wanting a piece of her action.

My kind of gal ;-)

And, yes, Veronica Lodge fit that bill as well, but Katy wasn't a stuck-up snob who dragged the boys through the mud and left them in her non-committal wake, though.

I thought that Josie was a little weird and not as likely to be so popular and the leader of a rock band as I admired Melody for all her curves, hair like mine, and that silly ditz quality so stereotyped back in the day.

Yes, she was a bona fide idiot who loved to mix her metaphors, but it just seemed to me like she was more real than Josie -- and maybe that's because I knew a lot of girls who resembled both characters and had them backwards in my head, which didn't compute when reading any of the Josie comics.

It also upset me when the writers of this particular comic changed things up and got rid of Pepper, Sock, and Albert.

Not cool.

Pepper was great, and I liked her best.

The stories themselves were hardly compelling, and in the early days, they were very stereotypical but not entirely as predictable as you might think.

Take Betty and Veronica, for example.

Just what was it that Betty needed to do in order to turn Archie's head anyway?

How many stories had I read over the years where I figured this was it; this is when that redheaded lunkhead of a freckle-faced dork is finally going to see the light and switch gears, falling for Betty instead of that annoying Veronica??

It never got old, though.

I still like watching Jughead (my favorite of all the characters in this series) eat and eat and eat without gaining an ounce.

I still think it's funny that Reggie never ends up on top despite his cunning and effortless attempts to bring Archie down.

I liked that Betty shed tears and showed frustration instead of always smiling, shrugging it off, and adopting the Japanese Ganbatte spirit when things go from bad to worse.

If anything, it taught me to recognize, admit to having feelings at all, and acknowledge them by expressing myself as the mood strikes.

There is nothing wrong with this despite today's 'pull up your big girl panties' mentality.

Crying, venting, moping, wallowing, and pitying NEED to be expressed at one time or another if you have any hope of letting go.

Heck, it is becoming even more apparent that expressing emotion is somehow seen as being weak in our eyes when friend after friend posts a death on their Facebook timeline, and if it is a human and not an animal, they will always add the words "She is in a better place" or "He lived a full life" and "It was her time to go"

This indicates their inability to admit to sadness. They are being stoic and brave in the face of permanent loss, and I, for one, am baffled by it.

Which leads me right back to bright colors, happy outcomes, and cool clothing.

Life does suck, and it does work effortlessly to get you down.

Reading is probably the best medicine to help cure the blues, too.

Reading a comic book every now and again is probably the Mary Poppins ideal!

Comic books are colorful, there is no doubt about that, and the comics I preferred were excessive at times but still rather detailed and not at all like cartoon characters seen on TV -- two dimensional like The Flintstones and The Jetsons -- but more life-like and with better personality.

Superhero comics, on the other hand, seemed dark and dreary to my young mind.

I did read them, though, but only because I loved to read and found myself more often than not reading just about anything I could get my hands on.

Especially the Spiderman series.

As for dark and dismal, even in the movies, Batman is and was a little depressing.

I have to wonder why everything has to be so dark when Gotham is probably one of the coolest cities known to man. Just not in black with the occasional yellow window signaling life occurring elsewhere in a scene.

Spiderman was cool.

There was much more to the story of Peter Parker than his ability to transform and flop his way toward danger. It was a love story that played out and never really amounted to anything . . . for decades.

MAD was probably my first and only introduction to truly irreverent social commentary.

I have yet to come across anything (well, perhaps there is The Onion) that spoke to me on a higher, more intellectual level than MAD.

And, even if I didn't quite get it at the time of my being completely absorbed in them, there were still things like Spy vs Spy, and those hilarious asides that were drawn on the lip of a few pages to make me giggle.

And, who can forget the stickers?

Yes, I kick myself severely for having never saved any of these things for the sake of posterity AND big bucks!

After getting married and settling down to raise my family, I picked up my first Archie Digest at the checkout of a supermarket and got re-hooked on comics for another decade.

When I held my first garage sale one summer, there were enough of them to fill an entire table, which I sold for .10c each, and believe it or not, they went like hotcakes.

I remember getting nostalgic, too, and ended up on E-Bay looking for those old, vintage comics books from my childhood, which I found with little difficulty and purchased for reasonable sums.

My son had permission to re-sell them on E-Bay twenty years later to help pay for college :D

The comic book superheros are much more relate-able (to me) in their live-action movie series than they are in comic book form, and I prefer comic book form Archie and Company to the cartoons and live action attempts from just a decade or more ago.

However, if I find a comic book of any variety at my fingertips, I am going to read it cover to cover and become just as absorbed in the plot as I would reading a romance novel.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

15 September, 2015

Authors and Opinion

We've discussed this in the past, and tonight I decided to rehash this touchy topic.

Because a Facebook 'friend' set me off with her opinion.

As trite and childish as it might sound, give me a chance to explain first, and then decide if I am wrong or right -- childish or not.

She is an author, with the title Author before her name, and I met her through a game we both play on Facebook.

Today, she posted something I could have overlooked, ignored, or just rolled my eyes at and moved on, but I didn't.

I didn't because it was too insulting for me to do any of those things, and so I chose to respond.

This author posted an article and added her personal opinion about the topic.

No, big deal, right?

It was what she wrote as opinion above the posted article that got to me, and it read something along these lines: that ANYONE who doesn't believe in these issues is an idiot and needs their head examined.

Harsh words coming from a person you would THINK should know better, right?

And, naturally, as opinion online goes, her friends put in their two-cents worth as well, calling me more names -- unbelievable, backwards, stupid, sticking my head in the sand, being a religious zealot, and not getting with the program -- to name a few.

I don't know these people and they certainly don't know me, so for them to accuse me of being any of those things simply because I disagree with a harsh opinion seems more childish than my having said anything at all in defense of myself and those who might not agree with her assessment of my brain.

Before this gets too convoluted and right-wing/left-wing for anyone's sensibilities, let me just say that everyone is entitled to an opinion about any topic known to man. I would never deny anyone the right to voice their opinion, and I certainly don't argue with those whose opinions don't align with my own.

I do, however, take offense at being labeled, name-called, and put down for sharing an opposing view.

That is what is wrong with opinion.

I had a job once via a friend who told me that he never cared when people would disagree with him. He told me how laid-back and easy-going he was and that nothing ever really bugged him; especially online BS.

And then I posted something by Michael Moore, and while I was away at a funeral, my former friend/boss commented on the post, to which my cousins jumped on him, called him a few foul names, and even accused him of being gay . . . because of his opinion; which didn't coincide with theirs.

When I got back online the next day and saw what happened, I PM'd my cousins and told them how upset it made me to see what they'd done to not just a friend but my boss. One apologized and the other told me to stuff it; that it was his opinion and he was sticking to it.

That same week, my friend/boss phoned and was snippy, rude, and short with me before accusing me of being a liar and a thief.

At the end of that same week, I was let go of that online job and have been unemployed ever since.

And, all because of people's opinions.

Or, people feeling the need and right to slam anyone who has an opposing viewpoint.

So, to say I felt like I'd been tossed under the bus and run over a few times -- especially by the guy who said he was a laid-back kind of fella who didn't let anything get to him -- is an understatement and makes me doubly wary of expressing an opinion online.

But especially in my novels.

And yet this author felt it was her right to say that anyone who doesn't agree with her opinion needs their head examined.

Authors are welcome to express their personal views through their writing. I don't care one way or the other, but it isn't something I'd ever do.

On the other hand, when I read novels that spout what I might consider to be nonsense or that do not jive with my belief system or morals or outlook, I tend NOT to want to read the rest of the story and won't likely purchase any more of their work, either.

It is one thing to write a story about an atheist protagonist who conflicts with his or her religious lead, and it is another thing entirely to write a novel depicting the atheist as a hero who vanquishes any and all religious folk.

Or, the other way around and the religious lead succeeds in 'saving' all those around him/her with a lot of religious thought, dialogue, and message.

"I don't believe in global warming and my romance novel will prove my point," is not my idea of a good read.

But, that is just my opinion.

However, if you intend to write a non-fiction novel that sets out to prove your hypothesis, I'm probably going to want to read it just to find out how much the author actually knows or is able to persuade me to rethink my own ideals on the topic.

The same thing goes for a critique or review of ones work.

Helpful, constructive criticism of my writing is wanted, needed, encouraged, and enlightening, to say the least. I think that a majority of authors would agree with this assessment, too.

On the other hand, your opinion about my work is not.

There is a difference.

Attitude does not help an author improve their game whereas constructive criticism of the work itself based on knowledge of things like sentence structure, flow, plot, mood, and conflict do.

Anyway, my point in all of this is kind of simple, I think: she (that judgmental author) just lost a paying customer because of her hard-headed, narrow-minded, one-size-fits-all 'attitude'.

Which is why I cannot condone the inflicting of opinion inside my novels and won't likely ever make the attempt regardless of how passionate I might feel about a subject.

It is fine to use a specific character to voice an opinion, but only if I also surround that character with other characters who form and voice opposing views. That way no one is being singled out, made to feel unworthy to join in on the fun, or is insulted.

I haven't UN-friend-ed her, but I am no longer interested in her work or want to buy anything she is selling.

Kind of sad, right?

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

14 September, 2015

Summer's End by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

Paperback: 432 pages
Original Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (1999)
Reprint edition: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 3, 2011)
Language: English
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Gilles-Seidel/e/B001HCX6S8/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Sexual Content: none


To their respective families, Jack Wells and Amy Legend are outsiders. A free-spirited man-of-all-trades, Jack takes life as it comes—not at all like his supremely organized mother, the admiral’s widow, and his methodical lawyer sister. Amy, a professional athlete with exquisite taste and golden beauty, has a glamorous career a world apart from her bookish older siblings and college professor father.

When Jack’s mother marries Amy’s widowed father, they invite all the children to spend the summer at the Legends’ retreat in northern Minnesota. They never imagine just how well Jack and Amy are going to get along—as affection unexpectedly flares into a burning attraction that threatens to damage already fragile familial bonds.
Agreeing to deny their desire until the vacation is over—caught between long-simmering conflicts and clashing personalities—Jack and Amy find, nonetheless, that they are falling deeply in love.

And passion this strong couldn’t possibly wait until summer’s end . . . no matter what the consequences.

My Take

Glowing reviews at Amazon for this one, but it is listed under ROMANCE, and I found it in the ROMANCE section at the local library, but this is untrue.

The inside back cover has a picture of the author and her brief bio, which includes the fact that she has a Ph.D in English Literature from Johns Hopkins.

This is pretty cool, except that even with this knowledge, and despite its having been originally written back in 1999, I had some trouble keeping up with this one due to the strange and unusual sentence structure and/or wording.

There were even type-o's spattered throughout, which seems odd for both the time, the original publishing house, and the celebrated author's resume.

Still, I took this one at face value for all of the above-mentioned hopes and forced my way through the entire thing - which took close to a week - which is unheard of for me and means it was a tough read.

First, it isn't a romance.

It is the story of two families blending via second marriage, and they all converge on the man's summer retreat up in Minnesota.

He and his brood are from Iowa and are of the college professor ilk while she is from . . . East coast/West coast? I got a bit confused because her husband was in the Navy, and the daughter ended up working as a lawyer in New York, and Jack lives in Kentucky. They moved around a lot, but somewhere in the middle of this tale, someone mentioned that it would be convenient to hold Christmas in California since HER side of the family is up the way in Seattle.

Where Seattle came from, I don't know.

Anyway, SHE has the daughter and a son, Jack. And, as cornball as it sounds, he is a Jack-of-all-trades, believe it or not.

HE has a son, a daughter, and a little princess, and it is the princess who becomes an Olympic Medalist figure skater because 'she's different' and doesn't like to 'read books'.

Her mother was gentry but had these weird, redneck ideals about life - I didn't get that, either. But, when the new mom arrives, she's lots and lots better at everything, so it's okay.

Again, I get that it was the time and I'm not supposed to notice (or care about) any of the rhetoric, prejudice, and mentality of the previous century's way of being but . . .

she actually wrote that it was no surprise that Amy's best friends were gay considering their line of work as figure skaters.

But, what the author consistently did was make Jack's ma sound like an angel while Amy's ma was this stuck-up bitch who had weird notions about life, love, and family that worked to screw up the whole clan - oh, and she didn't want Amy, which was why no one paid her any mind after she was sent away to study ice skating.

Amy was a mistake, and while she never knew that, she continued to feel like an outsider and was never surprised when none of her family cared that she won a gold medal or even bothered to watch her on TV, much less attend one of her competitions.

"Because she never liked to read."

As I plodded my way through this story, I started to wonder how much of Jack's mom is actually the author, and how much of this story might coincide with her own experience.

Jack was too perfect even if he kept denying it; his sister, Holly, was too understanding and ideal even if she hated everything outside of work, and the mom? Well, she just always knew what to say, how to behave, what to do, and how to save the day so that everyone was happy.

It was her new husband's family that was screwed up, and it was her job to fix it all.

And, her new husband, Hal . . . I kept seeing Walter Pidgeon at his 1938-1942 best, wearing oxfords, smoking a pipe in some overstuffed arm chair with his long legs crossed at the knees, a thick book in his lap, and just observing everyone and everything around him.

The only MODERN things about this story included unprotected sex, teen sex, and a bit of cussing care of Nick, Jack and Holly's cousin.

Yeah, Nick is also from a screwed-up home; Jack's mom's younger sister's daughter's son. She's another piece of work who screwed up her daughter and now both women are intent on screwing up Nick.

But, don't worry because he's with them on this Minnesota Lake outing for the summer, and with Gwen there, he's sure to get un-screwed up real quick.

Because Gwen is just so, damn perfect!

I will say that the author knows family.

Well, I will admit that the author knows uppity, upscale, professional college-town family life and wrote it quite well in this novel.

However, after the amount of decades that had passed between Amy and her older sister, Phoebe, it was a little hard to believe and stomach the way they transitioned from hating/loathing/despising one over the other to best buds.

The tension mounted and mounted, and it kept mounting until I got a stomach ache, and with Amy in complete denial and making excuses for everything simply by saying "Amy the Afterthought" and it was okay.

When the shit hit the fan and her older brother's caustic, co-dependent wife finally took off with her spoiled, rotten little bitch daughter from another marriage, suddenly everything got better.

I mean, it was suddenly okay, and they started speaking civilly to one another, understood each other, recognized feeling and emotion, and now the family unit was coming together . . . like magic.

Gwen magic, that is.

Now, as for there being a romance category in all of this family angst, trite shit, and we all know how effed up the family unit can be . . . Amy and Jack still manage to hit it off right away and she - again - faked her reasoning into having sex with him inside a tiny tent on a stormy night in the middle of nowhere.

But, it was only mechanically initiated, zero feelings or foreplay: wait, he did take off her sweater, set her back against his clothed chest, and fonder her boobies. Jack did that.

He stared at her naked body, too, and asked about her pubic hair as well.

Then it was the next morning . . .

and Amy was dazzled.

She knew it would be bad if the family found out, so she and Jack decide to keep it a secret until everyone leaves Minnesota and goes back to their uncaring, unaffected, Amy the Afterthought mentality lives and she is free to do as she pleases because no one will know or care.

Jack cares, though. He walks away and gets his sister, Holly, to do everything for him.

But, then he drives from Kentucky to Denver, enters Amy's condo, tells her he loves her, and then he leaves.

Amy cares but doesn't care, because she just 'knows' it is going to work out somehow.

Even when Jack uses Holly to relay his messages, she still knows.

He avoids Amy like the plague, but Amy isn't skeptical or daunted.

Amy just knows and that is what keeps her going.

*** So, if you are interested in reading about the family dynamic from the point of view of a college-town housewife with a twentieth century feel to it, this is the novel for you. ***

09 September, 2015

Good News!

Mass Market 
Pages: 416
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062371819
ISBN-13: 978-0062371812
Pre-Order Link:


A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London's most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises.

His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl's three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon's own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her.

As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she's ever known?

My Take


Bad Writer

It probably isn't a good idea to write a poor review about another author's work when I'm trying to make a living as one myself.


Yes, and no. Maybe?

I've struggled with this for awhile now, and then came to the conclusion that yes, I should keep my opinion to myself if that opinion isn't going to be helpful.

And no, there are times when I am more of a reader than a writer and my opinion needs to be heard, too.

Maybe it is fine to voice an opinion when I am so moved to do it that it can't be helped, like honest, positive, or glowing reviews that will help generate sales for that author . . .

or like today, when I stopped struggling through a Kindle novel and simply had to say what was on my mind in the form of a review -- because AS a writer, I'd like to know these opinions (good and bad) about my own work so that I can improve my craft.

I won't give the author's name or the book title here because that would be mean, and I didn't write that review with a mean spirit.

Why I chose to do what I did had more to do with the fact that it was a NYT Best Seller, and I still can't figure out how that is possible based on what I read (or, tried to read).

And, no, it isn't a jealousy thing.

In the sixth grade, we were supposed to spend a 'class trip' at a wilderness camp.

We spent all of the fifth grade looking forward to that trip, and then a majority of the sixth grade raising funds for that trip.

There was even a contest to see which of the 3 sixth grade classes could raise the most money.

We had to get shots, have our parents fill out all these forms, and then even go out and buy certain items of clothing and camping gear, too.

Sure, it was a group effort, but as individuals we all had our own ideas about what fun it would be and how best we could raise those funds.

Now, I don't remember the exact details, but ONE kid in another of the sixth grade classes pulled a very stupid stunt that had the adverse effect of causing the principal to CANCEL the trip.

Not only that, but the money we had raised went to the fifth graders, who had a fun time at Cedar Point.

So, along those lines, I feel it is okay to voice an opinion about other writer's work when and if it has an impact on my attempts and those of others out there trying to get ahead in the game, build a following, and generate sales.

When I buy a NYT Best Seller, I don't think it is wrong of me to expect greatness, and when that doesn't occur, I don't believe it is wrong for me to get angry.

If the story is simply boring or doesn't speak to me, I'm not inclined to write a review.

There have been other novels I've read that were meh that I still gave 4 of 5 stars to because I saw potential and felt that the author would only improve with her next story.

But, if I've been fleeced, hoodwinked, and tricked into thinking fun is just up the road only to have that notion yanked out from under me by elementary-level writing, or atrocious grammar, or both, then I get a little pissed and need to vent.

This woman must have thousands of friends to have made the Best Seller list with that book!

I browsed the other reviews and was astonished by the favorable remarks about the story, the author, and even the writing style -- as if we were reviewing two separate novels or something.

They weren't all favorable, though.

As I scrolled down, I started to find reviews that coincided with my own opinion and realized I was on the right page.

Anymore, I have zero respect for or even faith in seeing New York Times Best Seller or Award-Winning Author on the cover of any novel.

I even go so far as to wonder if it isn't a fib sometimes.

BECAUSE the titles of Best Seller and Award Winning speak of greatness, when I end up reading Dick & Jane sentences, confusing POV, and three style types in one chapter as well as bad grammar/spelling/punctuation, this is far from great.

It is frustrating, annoying, and unfair.

Unfair to those of us who put real time, effort, and skill into our work and DON'T have the good fortune of being able to show off the NYT boost on our covers.

This novel read like a rough first draft, and for all I know, it could have been just that. She whipped the thing up in a few days (or hours), sent it off to her publisher, and somewhere inside that office, it was sent to publish now instead of the editing department.

And, the author just shrugged and said, okay!

I will not be 'buying' anymore online novels for awhile now.

I'm through wasting my money on mediocre and high school level 'needs tons of work' stories that are mysteriously hitting the best seller lists.

For a reason that still escapes me.

I will stick with the library and check out the older, well-established authors.

Writers who know how to enchant, cast spells, weave magic, and transport me into another world with both style and grace while also helping me to improve my own writing.

No more class clown stunts that spoil it for everyone else and put all of our hard work, time, effort, and excitement to shame, thank you very much.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

08 September, 2015

10 Things That Defy Logic in Romance Novels

It probably defies logic for a romance writer such as myself to compile such a list, but I'm going to do it anyway because I read more than I write and can't help but notice a few of the less than logical aspects of our genre that tend to show up regardless of the sub-genre in this particular category.

I even do a few of them in my own work, so this is just for fun, okay?

From least to most illogical, they are:

10. No one (not even grandma) Watches TV, Listens to Music, or Remains Glued to their IPhone/Laptop.

Not to say I want it to read out for as long and as irritatingly obnoxious as it occurs in real life, but it does occur far more frequently in real life and hardly at all in a romance novel.

In every house a character enters and whomever they meet inside, the woman is either asleep or cooking - never lounging on a sofa with a bag of Lays and the television tuned in to her favorite reality series or soap opera or even the news.

Music is played in a nightclub, a bar, or inside ones vehicle but never at home.

Is love the key to getting people off the couch or away from their phones long enough to see what real life is like?

9. Carrot Tops and/or Freckles are Considered Sexy.


8. Tattoos/Motorcycles are Not Considered Stereotype when They are Used to Stereotype Both Male/Female Leads.

This is just frustrating.

I know both sexes who belong to gangs or simply prefer a bike to a car, and others who have tattoos for any reason other than I'm so F*cking Cool status.

So, it isn't that the mode of transport or wearable art can be strictly classified, and yet any romance novel that involves either aspect is written in a very stereotypical fashion. Tattoos mean bad-ass and motorcycles mean danger.

And, if the lead(s) ride a bike, they'll definitely be sporting at least one tattoo.

7. Space/Time Travel that Conveniently Disregards the Obvious.

It is as if we earthlings are so above all else that we can accomplish anything with the flick of a finger or press of a button with zero residual health, mind, or spirit effects.

Which translates to super-human and not at all realistic in the time/space continuum of things (which, I know, is an oxymoron statement, but).

If one is transported back to the past -- especially prior to the Industrial Revolution -- you better believe things are going to be astoundingly different.

Air quality for one - so pure as to be unimaginable. Sound quality for another - which translates to no sounds at all aside from the occasional bird on a limb, bugs in summer, and maybe a boisterous tavern brawl if it is late or in a small town.

It is even more ridiculous to transport an alien down to earth and have him/her start wandering with zero adverse affect on their health when it isn't likely they had left a planet as polluted as ours. Unless you want it that way and then we can just flip the scenario to the one I mentioned above.

But, in novels, the transported just go about their business as if they had always been there and needed zero amount of time to adjust their body and mind to such overwhelming circumstances.

MAC campaign

6. Being Told as a Writer to Give your Protagonist Flaws and then Never Really Finding Any in the Leads.

It isn't just the antagonist's job to be rotten.

We all have good and bad habits, but they are not character-based.

Character equates to how you behave when you think no one is looking. In other words, your true self and not a fake persona played out in public.

Bad character means hatred, loathing, spite, envy, ... think of the 7 deadly sins. Also, the 7 virtues: Temperance, Charity, Prudence, Fortitude, etc.

Not this: He smokes (gasp), he drops F-bombs every other word (cussing not in anger but because it supposedly sounds cool), the mixed signal lead who is a tad muddleheaded but knows damn well what she wants in a man, or she's calm under pressure yet freaks out over every, little, blessed thing.

Worse still, the protagonists are too perfect while everyone around them consist of a few flaws.

These are annoying instances in most any romance novel in most all sub-genres, but they aren't actual character flaws so much as they are quirks or habit - which implies that the protagonists don't possess any real character at all - which is really strange.

5. Morning Breath

I know it isn't sexy to be so realistic in a romance novel! I get it. But . . . who DOESN'T brush their teeth first thing in the morning in order to get rid of it? And, who likes to have it blown in their face upon waking?

ESPECIALLY after a night of drinking. Go and open a jar of minced garlic right now and take a deep whiff -- I'll wait. (shudder)

4. Oral Sex Prior to Tongue Swabbing.


Finger sex and then smoothing that hand along her quivering skin. Eew! Or worse! Running said fingers through her hair that he so admired in the previous chapter.

Watch it, boy.

3. Modern Mindset and Attitude in Historical Settings.

The PC patrol will get me for this one, no doubt about it.

I do believe that for as long as there have been women in the world who are subjected to the wiles of man, that women have felt a sense of inferiority, outrage, and frustration. Not a single doubt in my mind. However, when I read about a female lead in Victorian England or as far back as Medieval times who is belligerent, tough as nails, or entirely too independent, I start to wonder about the author's sense of duty to the reader and their basic lack of historical knowledge.

2. The British Isles are Where All of the Hot, Titled Eligible Bachelors Reside.

With the exception of their being HOT, this is probably true.

As I read yet another historical recently, I began to wonder if there were ever any historical romance novels set in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, or even Sweden or Norway.

Oscar II of Sweden, 1905
No? I guess not.

1. Guy is Built Like a Brick House in Historicals but is also Gentry.

Do gentry get their hands dirty by chopping wood, plowing fields, running marathons, and hoisting heavy cargo onto ships?

(Poldark aside, ladies).

So, where does all of the muscle, sinew, and body-building male goodness come from, I wonder?

From start to finish, the male leads in Historicals do pretty much nothing for a living aside from the occasional hunt or trip via carriage to the theater, White's, or the home of a mistress.

I suppose it is possible to gain body contour in all the right places from the tons of sex they have (before and after falling in love with the leading lady).

Most of them are in the habit of drinking themselves silly as well, which can't help in the maintaining of such an impressive figure, I don't think, but the male protagonist never possesses a beer gut, either, so . . .

I certainly hope you enjoyed this bit of musing on my part and take it for what it is worth -- lighthearted humor and not college-level critique.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

07 September, 2015

Review: The Holiday Present by Johanna Lindsey

Imprint: Avon
Date of Release: 07/15/2014
Pages: 480
List Price: 5.50 USD
BISAC1: FICTION / Romance / Historical / General
BISAC2: FICTION / Romance / General
Sexual Content: 2 / 5


The Present: The love story that began the Mallory dynasty. Miracles have been known to happen in this season of peace and giving and love, as this dramatic story of a mysterious exotic gypsy that became the bride of a duke shows.

Home for the Holidays: A treasured gift of love, tenderness, and ecstasy unbound. An enchanting story of a young impoverished gentlewoman and the mysterious gentleman whose heart is melted by her beauty.


Two stories for the price of one.

The First Story

. . . refers to the Mallory series players and explains the head of the clan and how it was that Anastasia and Christopher Mallory came together.

The beginning was a bit tedious because I had difficulty trying to remember the details of any of the Mallory stories I'd read so long ago. James was the only one who stuck out in my mind, but I had him married to another woman entirely and so got more confused as the chapters went on.

The kids discover an unmarked grave in the forest on the property and inquire about it as they all gather together for another Christmas. Then they find a mysterious 'present' set atop a pedestal near the tree and start to wonder about it until curiosity overcomes Amy and she decides to just open the thing before Christmas morning even arrives.

We then are taken back two generations and learn the story of Christopher Mallory and how he meets gypsy Anastasia on his property; how they fall in love and how they rectify his status over hers.

The love story was simple but very romantic, and I adored Christopher descriptively, to say the least.

I also, now, need to go back and re-read a majority of these Mallory Clan novels just to refresh my memory so this story makes better sense :D

The Second Story

. . . is fabulous.

A short, sweet, and concise accounting of two people tossed together on a dastardly whim who can't help but fall for one another in the brief time they are together, and even if it isn't what either of them want or had intended to have happen in their bitter and distrustful moods.

Larissa Ascot is Baron Vincent Everette's latest target of revenge. He's received word that his younger brother committed suicide over bad dealings with Larissa's ship captain/merchant father and so Vincent sets out to destroy the Ascots.

Once he lays his liquid gold eyes on the beauty and her aquamarine orbs, things take a strange yet understandable turn for our handsome, reclusive, and thought-he-was-immune-to-emotions Baron.

Vincent was easily charming and just as easy to like even if he did start out on the wrong foot. And, the more we learn about him, the easier it becomes to fall in love with him -- as easily as it was for our innocent Larissa to do the same.

She is evicted from her home on a cold, snowy night a week before Christmas, and with a sickly ten-year old brother upstairs and no money left in the coffers, and with her father still not returned from his latest voyage long after he is due, Larissa is beside herself with grief and worry when Baron Vincent Everette arrives to seemingly save the day.

He offers her shelter at his town house in another part of London and from there the story takes shape, unfolds seamlessly, and then crescendo's with the return of her believed-to-be-dead father.

Cold-hearted Vincent has fallen hard and fast, but now that the truth is out, it isn't likely he will ever get the chance to tell Larissa how he really feels. He's hurt her in the most despicable of ways and made a huge mess of things.

She never wants to see him again, and he can't blame her.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves Lindsey and has read all of the Mallory tales, but for the second story alone, it is worth the price and the time it takes to read both.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

06 September, 2015

Project Runway and Human Nature

Project Runway Season 14, Ep. 5 | Aired Sep 03

I'll be the first to admit that, at my age, even watching this show and being a dedicated fan STILL makes me ill-equipped to form an opinion -- since Fashion has always been relegated to the select few, ages 16-25, who are dead gorgeous and can afford a majority of the haute couture being created from Paris to Tokyo.

As a dedicated fan of the show, however, it sometimes behooves me to form an opinion anyhow.

As artists go, I am a writer and not a fashion designer, much less a fashionista, nor the creator of anything that can be hung on a wall, set on a pedestal for all to admire, or worn with flair in any major city around the world.

I watch Project Runway not simply for the entertainment value surprise outcomes, but more for its constant, if not sometimes subtle, hints into the human psyche.

This show is a terrific way for a writer to shamelessly voyeur the anticipated nuances of human nature with all of its gilded foibles, faux fur attitudes, and cringe-worthy Wal-Mart-style melt-downs.

Let me begin by saying that this season's designers turned out to be worth watching and even rooting for, which is surprising since at the very start I was not of that opinion AT ALL. I initially had this ugh feeling about every one of them and expected to see mediocre, lackluster product marching down the runway each week.

There are actually FIVE designers who show real promise --

Photos: Lifetime Network

And of those five, two are likely to knock my socks off, if I may be so bold as to borrow from Mr. Gunn in the Idioms department.

This week's episode was another team challenge where it ended up being boys against girls, with the noted exception of Merline ending up next-to-last picked on the boy's team and Ashley being relegated to the girl's team by not being chosen at all.

I'm sure we all knew that the tears would flow and the creative juices would end up being stunted as a result, but as for its being a shocking maneuver on the part of the women? No, not surprising at all.

Ashley is a force to be reckoned with and the girls all know it, which was why they chose to be girls and make every halfhearted mean-spirited attempt to cause her elimination.

Jealousy is a strange thing and all the more strange when it is seized upon by a small group of otherwise put-together females on the road to their particular form of nirvana.

As of the release of episode five, cut-throat attitudes have yet to be revealed.

Okay, so with the exception of Joseph Charles Poli, we have yet to see (or hear) any truly vindictive, out-for-blood hints or musings from the contestants.

"This is a competition, bitch, and I'm in it to win it." type mentality where tossing anyone and everyone under the bus, offering up bad advice or none at all, and always bitching about someone in the interview segments is their forte.

Okay, so with Amanda Perna out of the running now, I can honestly say this is the case.

Kudos to Laurie Underwood for coming to Ashley's defense!

From the start of this season, it was clear she possesses a mature outlook on life in general, and yet since this IS a competition, things are bound to change -- including attitude and mindset.

However, since season one of this reality-based series, I have always felt that it would be a refreshing change to meet SOMEONE who truly understands the nature and spirit of competition, and who is that well-adjusted in their own talent to WANT to be pushed, prodded, and even goaded into improving themselves via someone slightly better, more gifted, or who does one thing a bit better than them.

Not to put down, sneer at, and devise evil plots to have them knocked down so as to be taken out of the running. This shows lack of character and lack of confidence in their own talent. If you are that threatened by another, it is you who need to step back and re-examine your craft; not the other way around.

It is also easy to spot the designers who come into the competition thinking it is a cakewalk and then soon discovering just how much they actually still need to learn, develop, and grow not only as a designer but as a human being.

Thankfully, they are usually the first three designers to go.

Not always; just sometimes.

Last week, I couldn't believe it when Jake Wall's basketball jersey dress made it past the elimination round. Prior to that, I still had to wonder what it would take to have him eliminated. This week, he again did very little in the creation aspect of the show but ended up on the winning team.

While all else cry for the removal of Blake, I continue to wonder when it will be Jake's turn to hear Auf Wiedersehen from Heidi.

At seventeen, Blake is sure to be a bit immature and admittedly blunt. He's a bonafide blurt-er, but at least he is aware of that fact and continues to say he will work on it.

I like him and his work.

But, back to the real issue here, and that is women behaving badly.

Candice Cuoco is a backstabber extraordinaire and I'm sure she knows that now. She won a dual first place thanks to Ashley and then -- what? She grew increasingly wary of Ashley's skills so felt obliged to sabotage her two-weeks-ago best bud?

Second: Candice may LOOK intimidating, and maybe because she was picked first in this challenge, she felt a certain obligation to run the show, but there were six women on this team and it was like watching a hen house at egg-laying time.

Embarrassing fail for our gender.

Which makes me shake my head not only in dismay but utter confusion in the 21st century scheme of things.

There has to be SOME point in human nature where a red flag is signaled or a bad feeling starts to creep in that would make at least one of them want to shout STOP! And then make every attempt to right the derailment before it is too late.

Not so in this last episode, where the train wreck occurred without much fanfare, the casualty count started to climb, and these women simply stood there and watched. Okay, so they hemmed, hawed, mumbled, grumbled, and muttered to themselves but still did nothing to rectify the situation.

What was it about Candace that kept the others from telling her to back the F up and actually listen to their complaints?

And, as always, after the dust settles on such instances, I'm left to wonder about the state-of-mind of at least one of the contestants who walked away from that crossfire.

In this case, I worry that Ashley will end up losing self and fail to produce what she is entirely capable of producing because she's let this instance get her down.

I worry, too, that Lindsey Creel is going to do a 180 on Candace and make every attempt to get on Ashley's good side now -- which is just dumb.

To hope that Candace makes a sincere apology for her childish behavior is expecting far, too much, I know, but, it is still a possibility. To hope that Ashley rises like the literary Phoenix and becomes much stronger as a result is a possibility as well, and one I do hope she accomplishes.

Ashley needs to know that it wasn't anything personal and sheer jealousy on the part of the others that led to that debacle.

She is, as I said, a force to be reckoned with and therefore deemed as a threat to the others, but that just brings me right back to what I said earlier about human nature and grasping at straws in a crunch instead of taking a nice, deep breath, calming down, and seriously thinking about why you're there, what is expected of you, and how best to accomplish that goal.

WITHOUT all of the unnecessary and, frankly, pathetic drama that the PC will say isn't right or fair of you to label the female gender with possessing --- and, yet . . .

the proof is in the pudding (as Tim Gunn may or may not have said already).

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.