Monday, July 30, 2007
The party runs all day Thursday and Friday, so everyone has a chance to pop in. ;)
For the drawing, Pat's giving away a t-shirt, pen, and floatie. I think Junior's throwing together a surfing competition.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
This week's oldie but Goodie is....
Released April 2005
In 1925, aboard the SS Majestic, a tragedy occurred. Randolph St. Croix, head of St. Croix Cruise Lines, was murdered below decks, and a young woman by the name of Daisy Alton was believed to have killed him in a fit of passionate rage before taking her own life.
Daisy's spirit has remained trapped on the Majestic ever since.
Fast-forward to the present day, and Randolph's great-great nephew, Sexton St. Croix ("call me Sex") had invited a group of over 100 psychics on board for a 5-day cruise to try and rid the Majestic of the ghost. The psychic who succeeds will win $100,000 .
Enter Bree Emery.
She is clairsentient - she sees things and senses emotion when she touches objects. She also has the occasional vision, and she is determined to uncover the truth about the so-called 'murder-suicide' of Randolph and Daisy.
From the first moment Sexton meets Bree, he can't stop thinking about her. He had invited her personally to his ship based on her reputation, but he had no idea Bree would be so real. Bree was excited to join the cruise, and she needed the break after catching her recent ex snacking on some edible underwear. Unfortunately, they weren't in the package at the time. Luckily, Sexton was proving to be an interesting shipboard companion.
As the story progresses, we get to met Sex's sister, Cecilia, and Jackson Kyle, Sex's right-hand man, bodyguard, confidant, best friend, and man who is desperately in love with Cecilia. Their story makes for a nice side-plot, and is woven in nicely without being distracting. Add into the mix a ship full of psychics, and a secret that is about to blow and reveal the truth of Randolph and Daisy's death, and you have an urban fantasy that makes for one humorous and poignantly bittersweet story.
Ms. Angell's writing is the perfect companion to a lazy Sunday curled up in a lounge chair by the pool, or cured up on your couch, iced tea at hand. You will have a lot of fun with this book. The heat level is sensual, and is integrated well into the storyline without being over-the-top.
You can find Ms. Angell's book list on her website http://www.kateangell.com/
Thursday, July 26, 2007
For me, the beauty of CONTACT is that it showcases all of Susan Grant’s strengths as a writer and it plays to what I like in a story too. It starts out behind the eyes of Jordan, a First Officer on a red-eyed flight from Honolulu to San Francisco. I know a little about this because I’m married to an airline pilot myself. Of course, my husband never tells me the scary stuff. He only tells me the funny stuff like having to chase bald eagles off the runway with the jet. Don’t worry – no eagles were hurt. We love our eagles. That’s why they’re as plentiful as pigeons here in Alaska. Oh, sorry, I’m digressing.
Susan expertly weaves Jordan’s thoughts of her daughter in and out of what she’s actually doing in the cockpit. This is very real. I used to be a nanny. I was trained to know this. Let me tell ya, there’s nothing sweeter than a high-powered attorney going all gushy over the phone with her baby! “Oh, my baby! Oh, baby!” Jordan is blessed with an excellent caregiver for her daughter - her own mother - and that enables her to stay focused on the job. This leads to another real-feeling aspect. The daughter senses things about her mother. Babies and young children are so in tune with their mothers that they do pick up on things. Experts say it’s a leftover biological function from the womb when Baby heard Mother’s every heartbeat, but I’ve seen it go beyond that. Human beings are spiritual beings, regardless of religious affiliation. Leave that dimension out of a story and you’re only meeting part of your reader’s needs.
So, the story kicks off with the Intimate Adventure of Jordan, airline pilot and single mom. What happens next would have really freaked me out a year ago, but I think I’m finally toughening up a bit. (Shh! Don’t tell my husband I said that or he’ll laugh his head off!) The plane gets hijacked, in a manner of speaking, and of course that’s what Jordan and everybody else on board thinks. The captain has a heart attack and croaks. Now, this part I love too – Jordan has to take over. I looove heroes or heroines who are a bit unsure of themselves, going along minding their own business, and BOOM! They get shot out of a cannon and have to deal or die.
The airplane actually gets picked up by a spaceship and taken right in whole. The command crew thinks they’re rescuing the humans. The humans think they’ve been abducted by Darth Vader. Jordan extends an inflatable escape slide from the aircraft and knocks the hero right on his butt. Oh, I loved that part! Shoom! Wham! I throw my head back and laugh haughtily into the rafters.
Of course, Jordan and company can’t stay on the aircraft long. Things are getting pretty stinky. Kao (the hero) tries diplomacy, but when that takes longer than expected his trigger-happy subordinate sedates all the humans. Jordan wakes up first and she’s not at all happy. A couple men die and all the pregnant moms miscarry because of the sedation. And she gets the news about Earth being destroyed.
No survivors. That includes her daughter.
Not exactly the best way for a guy to impress a girl he likes. But, Kao knows the pain of loss and he knows what it means to sacrifice self for a loved one. He’s real and worthy.
You’ll have to read the book if you want to know more. ;) Before you do, you must swear the Enduring Romance oath first because this is an older release. Raise your right hand and repeat after me- "I (insert name here) do solemnly swear to always buy my favorite authors' books new." Congratulations! You're now a member of the tribe.
Monday, July 23, 2007
One of them is Susan Grant. She holds down three full-time jobs – Mom, airline pilot, and novelist. Getting that first novel published does not mean that a second novel will be published. Even if you land a two book deal (rare for a first-timer,) things can happen to nix your career before it hardly gets off the ground. Considering this, I think Susan’s release of her 10th novel on Thursday, July 26th, is a monumental achievement.
To celebrate Susan’s achievement, I’ve decided to provide ya’ll with a commentary of her ten published novels. Considering that there are ten, there’s a wide range for preferences. I’ll note my own with * and encourage her readers to talk about theirs in the comments.
1) ONCE A PIRATE – I’ve never been into the Pirate Fantasy thing. Well, okay, there’s that thing about Johnny Depp and Han Solo, but forget that for now. What I love about PIRATE is the living, breathing heroine who’s flying along, minding her own business as a fighter pilot, and gets sucked back in time and right (well, eventually) into the arms of a hunky pirate. What’s not to love? Oh, that and it’s Susan’s first published novel. I’ve found it highly educational to read an author’s book list in order of publication to observe how she grew as a writer.
2) THE STAR KING* - I’ve already yammered about this one quite a bit. I love spaceship stories anyway, but this one has a hero who adores the heroine’s stretch marks. Hey, after four pregnancies, that ranks high on my list of necessary qualities in a man!
3) THE STAR PRINCE* - I love series. I love reading them and I love writing them. I get emotionally attached and have a hard time letting go. The hero of this one is the son of the Star King’s heroine from her previous marriage. He’s believable, honorable, and irresistible to alien royalty. Must be genetic.
4) CONTACT* - I said this one is my third favorite, but I’m in the middle of reading it for the second time. I’ll be reviewing it this Thursday right here. This bumps it up a notch. First Officer Jordan ends up the captain when her 747 airliner is abducted by an alien spacecraft. I loved the part when she extended the inflatable escape slide from the aircraft to knock the hero on his butt. Well, hey, she didn’t know he was going to be the hero at that point.
5) THE STAR PRINCESS – Egads, I missed this one! Please don’t pummel me with Tribbles. I’ll get to it, I swear!
6) THE LEGEND OF BANZAI MAGUIRE – First, you’re on a routine patrol of the air space over Korea, next you’re a pilot-popsicle, and then you’re thawed out only to be taken in as the treasured pet of an Asian prince. This one is the first in the 2176 series, which several authors contributed to, and the action will give you whiplash if you’re not careful.
7) THE SCARLET EMPRESS – This is Susan’s second contribution to the 2176 series. This was the first one of her novels I was ever aware of. I found it on a mad dash into the grocery store for milk. Of course, I always take the scenic route through the book aisle. At that time, Scarlet Empress was shelved in Science Fiction or I never would have found it. Like many readers, I’d been burned by too much silliness in the Romance genre many moons before and had sworn never to set foot in that aisle again.
8) YOUR PLANET OR MINE? – I loved how this one started out in the heroine’s point of view as a nine year old when she meets her future hero and thinks he’s Peter Pan. Of course, he’s actually an alien. She grows up to be a senator, meets up with her love again, and saves the world. This was my favorite of this trilogy.
9) MY FAVORITE EARTHLING – Queen Keira is wicked with the daggers. If her Earthling husband survives the honeymoon, we might all live to see tomorrow. Keira is definitely over-the-top. Since I love over-the-top characters, we were a good match.
10) HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS – I’m not sure if the actual release starts in the Hero’s point-of-view, but the Advanced Reader’s Copy does. This made it difficult for me to get into at first because I like to start out in the Heroine’s skin. So, I skipped ahead to Evie’s starting page and then I got into it. The first part made sense when I went back to it. Like several of Susan’s previous heroines, Evie’s going along, minding her own business when the universe throws her a curve ball. This one’s in the form of a cybernetically enhanced alien assassin. Can the healing power of love save this man’s soul? Considering Susan’s track record, I think we all know the answer to that one. ;)
Personally, the thing I like most about Susan’s books is that her heroines are mothers or end up in the motherly way by the end of the story. Maybe my memory is foggy, but I can’t remember one who didn’t. I’m a retired Certified Professional Nanny. I worked for several powerful women who are mommies. It annoys me to no end when its assumed mothers can’t also be powerful in fiction. Heck, they are in Real Life and right now! And sexy? Let me tell you, whether you come to motherhood by adoption or pregnancy, it’s an act of unconditional and unselfish love. The man who supports his woman and remains faithful to her through all that is a true hero. From my point of view, there’s nothing sexier than that.
Way to go, Susan.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
This week's Oldie but Goodie is...
Released January 2001
I love the first line on the back of the book. "Robin Wise wanted to meet the man of her dreams, not the man in her dreams."
And that's exactly the dilemma facing Robin. She has been dreaming about a cowboy/gambler, a man who has all the right moves, and says all the right things. Problem is, the guy looks an awful lot like her new next-door neighbor, Alex Simon, college professor and klutz extraordinaire.
There are a few things in Robin's life that hamper her search for Mister Right - she has agoraphobia (she is afraid to leave her house and her backyard, and hasn't done so for more than a year), and all the women in her family die between their 29th and 30th birthday. Alex has his own issues. He broke up with his ex-fiance because she kept trying to change him and mold him into something he was not, and now he doesn't trust the female species.
Robin and Alex can't stand each other from the moment they meet, but something keeps making sure the two of them have plenty of reasons to interact. And then there's the dreams. Alex has bee dreaming he is a cowboy/gambler who is hired by a kooky woman with purple toenails to help keep her great great grandmother safe. A kooky woman who looks an awful lot like Robin. Both recognize the other in their dreams, but neither says anything to each other, for fear of looking like a weirdo.
Oh, and there is a secondary set of characters in Robin's uncle Ethan and Millie, the woman she looks upon as her honorary aunt. The two of them will have you grinning. This story is nicely woven around superstition and old wives tales - the basis for Ethan believing he can break the curse, as he sees it of the women dying in his family. Time is running out, though, because Robin will be turning 30 very soon.
Ms. Archer writes a very fun story in 'Once Upon a Dream.' You will be smiling and the interaction between Robin and Alex and their pets, as well as the bickering between Ethan and Millie. I was hard-pressed to try and classify the heat leave in this novel, because it is neither Sweet nor Sensual. I decided to call it Sweet with a Kick. There is a bit more detail that a Sweet description would warrant, but not enough to call it Sensual, and there is no actual 'action' described. So, Sweet with a Kick it is.
You can find a complete listing of all of Ms. Archer's novels on her website - http://www.jenniferarcher.net/
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Pat's blog: http://pkwood.blogspot.com/
See Pat run to the laundromat for her radio interview because there's no landline telephone on the sailboat she lives on in Hawaii.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
On July 19th, this coming Thursday, I will be posting my review of LOTTERY, the debut novel of Patricia Wood. This is an astounding tale by a beautiful, generous human being. Don't miss it!
On August 2nd, LOTTERY will be officially released and we will celebrate that all day and all the next day in a Cyber-Launch Book Party right here! Word has it the pig is already on the spit.
The luminous Susan Grant releases her 10th novel on July 26th.
On July 24th, a Tuesday, I will list and talk about all ten novels right nere.
Since Lady Bronco already reviewed the new release, HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS, I will be reviewing my third favorite Susan Grant novel, CONTACT, on July 26th. I've already talked about my first and second favorite novels, STAR KING and STAR PRINCE, a lot. Actually, those two jostle for position on any given day.
That's it for now. Happy Tuesday!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
This morning's Oldie but Goodie is...
Released February, 2002
Historical romance novels often come with their own set of issues. When reading them, the ones done well manage to inject a certain level of independence into the heroine without making it unbelievable. The bad ones either have a simpering female that causes the hackles of the reader to raise at her timidity, or the heroine is so independent, so outspoken, you know darn good and well it would never have been tolerated way back then.
This novel falls under the first example.
Kassandra "Kitt" Wentworth is a 21 year-old headstrong woman in 1805 London. She is haunted by something that happened to her when she was younger, and for this reason she has not gotten married yet. Clayton Harcourt is the illegitimate son of a duke who is no stranger to having his own set of issues in his life.
After meeting Kitt at a party, Clay is doomed. He falls instantly for this woman, and finally overcomes her objections to getting married with a little help from her father. One problem, though. Kitt's past comes to haunt her in the form of a really nasty guy by the name of Stephen Marlow. As the story progresses, a showdown of sorts brews between Clay and Marlow.
Ms. Martin does a very good job of revealing Marlow's nastiness without having it overtake everything else in the story. He is elemental to Kitt's backstory and her reasons for how she behaves in the present, so I expected him to overshadow the other characters. Luckily, he doesn't. There are other smaller storylines woven in throughout this novel, my favorite being the one of Anna Falacci and Ford Constantine.
If you like a well-written historical, with a sensual heat level, you will like this novel. You can find a complete list of all of Ms. Martin's books on her wonderful website - http://www.katbooks.com/
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 9, 2007
A Great and Terrible Beauty is a Sweet level novel I intend to read soon. I found it at the Clean Reads blog.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
This week's Oldie but Goodie is...
The more I read Dinah McCall, the more I appreciate her voice and her storytelling ability. Ms. McCall tells the story of Morgan Tallchief and Kathleen Ryder with such an air of wistfulness and love it breaks your heart.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Now, read the interview. When you're finished, click on 'comments' at the bottom and you will be taken to my party room where the natural laws of time and space do not apply. Watch your step though. The mummies don't get out much, so they're a little rowdy.
I emailed some questions to Michelle and she was kind enough to send these answers back:
The inspiration to write Nefertiti inadvertently happened while I was on an archaeological dig in Israel. During my sophomore year in college, I found myself sitting in Anthropology 101, and when the professor mentioned that she was looking for volunteers who would like to join a dig in Israel, I was one of the first students to sign up. When I got to Israel, however, all of my archaeological dreams were dashed (probably because they centered around Indiana Jones). There were no fedora wearing men, no cities carved into rock, and certainly no Ark of the Covenant. I was very disappointed. Not only would a fedora have seemed out of place, but I couldn’t even use the tiny brushes I had packed. Apparently, archaeology is more about digging big ditches with pickaxes rather than dusting off artifacts. And it had never occurred to me until then that in order to get to those artifacts, one had to dig deep into the earth. Volunteering on an archaeological dig was hot, it was sweaty, it was incredibly dirty, and when I look back on the experience through the rose-tinged glasses of time, I think, Wow, was it fantastic! Especially when our team discovered an Egyptian scarab that proved the ancient Israelites had once traded with the Egyptians. Looking at that scarab in the dirt, I began to wonder who had owned it, and what had possessed them to undertake the long journey from their homeland to the fledgling country of Israel.
On my flight back to America I stopped in Berlin, and with a newfound appreciation for Egyptology, I visited the museum where Nefertiti’s limestone bust was being housed. The graceful curve of Nefertiti’s neck, her arched brows, and the faintest hint of a smile were captivating to me. Who was this woman with her self-possessed gaze and stunning features? I wanted to know more about Nefertiti’s story, but when I began the research into her life, it proved incredibly difficult. She’d been a woman who’d inspired powerful emotions when she lived over three thousand years ago, and those who had despised her had attempted to erase her name from history. Yet even in the face of such ancient vengeance, some clues remained.
As a young girl Nefertiti had married a Pharaoh who was determined to erase the gods of Egypt and replace them with a sun-god he called Aten. It seemed that Nefertiti’s family allowed her to marry this impetuous king in the hopes that she would tame his wild ambitions. What happened instead, however, was that Nefertiti joined him in building his own capital of Amarna where they ruled together as god and goddess. But the alluring Nefertiti had a sister who seemed to keep her grounded, and in an image of her found in Amarna, the sister is standing off to one side, her arms down while everyone else is enthusiastically praising the royal couple. From this image, and a wealth of other evidence, I tried to recreate the epic life of an Egyptian queen whose husband was to become known as the Heretic King.
Writing the novel took years of research. I wanted to be sure that when I wrote Nefertiti I was extremely accurate, down to the color of the palace tiles and shape of the women’s beads. At the same time, however, I wanted to be careful not to weigh the story down in too much detail. There needed to be the same sense of urgency, danger, and passion as filled Nefertiti’s world.
2) Some of our guests are writers. Can you share your process for
taking a story from rough draft to submission-ready manuscript? What's your
best advice on how they can improve the craft of writing to meet publication
Nefertiti isn’t my first novel. In fact, it’s not even my second. The process of submitting a manuscript, finding an agent, then reaching publication didn’t happen overnight for me. Actually, it took fifteen years. My first attempt at getting published was in seventh grade, when I was twelve. I had written a full length book that was certainly pathetic but everyone praised it and my father hailed it as the next Great American Novel. My father was very good at ego-boosting. But no one knew how to go about getting published, so I went to my local Barnes and Nobles and asked them how. And instead of laughing, the bookseller took me to the writing section and I purchased the current edition of Writer's Market. From then on, no agent or publishing house was safe. I learned how to write query letters and regaled them all. And some of them sent personal letters back too, probably because I had included my age in the query letter and they either thought a) this kid has potential or b) this is sad and deserves at least a kind note.
Then, after going on an archaeological dig in my second year of college, I changed my genre from literary to historical fiction and found my calling. That summer I wrote a novel called Jezebel, and signed on with a prominent agent. His foreign rights department sold it successfully to Bertelsmann in Germany, and I had my first publishing credit with the company that owns Random House. But my agent in NY had a difficult time selling the novel, and when it was clear that he had done what he could for Jezebel and that there would be no sale in the US, I saw the writing on the wall. I would have to write another book.
So I began my research, and over the next few years I came to a slow and eye-opening realization. No mater how many times or how nicely I wrote, my agent never answered my emails. Even after I had finished the book on the subject that he’d suggested, he never took my phone calls. Did this mean I didn’t have an agent? Had I been dumped because Jezebel hadn’t sold? Did agents do that without telling their clients? Apparently, he did, and apparently, some do. So I took the high road and wrote a letter thanking him for what he had done for me (he did get my foot in the door), and I asked to be released from our contract. I sent the letter by certified mail and promptly never heard from him again.
But publishing isn’t personal, and neither is rejection, so I began sending query letters out the next month, mentioning that my agent and I had recently parted ways and that I was searching for new representation. It was a matter of weeks before I had a new agent, the wonderful Anna Ghosh at Scovil Chichak Galen, and she took on the task of submitting the novel that my precious agent had suggested I write. But my heart hadn’t been in the book. It was set in the 20th century, and my specialty – what I studied in college and what I’ve since become an amateur historian on – is ancient Egypt and the Middle Ages. We had quite a few near misses with the novel, where editors wanted to purchase the book but were told no by the acquisitions committee, since all sales have to be approved by a committee. After Anna sent the novel to all the major houses, I began to panic that I’d be dropped as a client for a second time, and that is when I started Nefertiti, a project I was extremely passionate about. Anna waited for two years while I wrote the book, and eventually she sold the book and its stand-alone sequel for six-figures to Crown. After that, her foreign rights agent Danny Baror (who happened to be the same foreign rights agent who sold Jezebel) sold Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen to more than fifteen countries.
I do believe there is a moral to this story, which is to be persistent and not to be afraid of starting a new project. I have thirteen books that I’ve written, and just because they’re not published doesn’t mean I didn’t learn from them, or that I can’t publish them in the future (although I probably won’t). I think what aspiring writers need to understand is that if something isn’t right for the current market, that doesn’t mean they should simply give up. With each book you’ll get better as a writer, and eventually you will strike gold!
3) What experience do you hope readers will take away from reading
I hope that readers will come away having felt as if they’d spent time in the ancient Egypt of 1350 BC. Nefertiti was the step-mother of Tut, the wife of the Heretic King Akhenaten, and a precursor to Ramesses the Great. She lived during a time of great wealth and power for Egyptian Pharaohs, and I believe that her story is one of the most fascinating ever to have come out of Egypt.
4) Can you tell us a little bit about your next novel? What's the
title? When is it due out?
Currently, I’m finishing the stand-alone sequel to Nefertiti. It will be in bookstores July 2008 and will probably be titled The Heretic Queen. It follows the destiny of Mutny’s daughter, Nefertari, and traces her transformation from a wild palace child to the strikingly beautiful and intelligent queen of Ramesses II.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Released March 2000
Jordy Decker is a sculptor, and a pretty dang good one. Only problem is her partner has lied, cheated and stolen Jordy right out of her business. Feeling the extreme need to hid for a while and concentrate solely on her art, she winds up in Florida, where she meets Malacai L'Baan, bestselling author, and a man with his own issues right now. Namely, a crazy fan who's been sending him bizarre and disturbing letters.
After meeting Cai's grandfather, she agrees to stay on their little island hideaway, figuring it to be the perfect, secluded spot to get the muse jump-started again. What Jordy doesn't figure on is the pull she feels towards Cai, and the crazy letter writer taking grave offense to her staying anywhere near Cai.
There are secrets in Cai's family ~ secrets that have a way of revealing themselves when necessary. The books Cai has written ~ all about the mysterious Dark Pearl ~ have sprung from Cai's subconscious, but his grandfather insists the Dark Pearl is very real, and the only hope Cai has to stop the crazed fan from acting out some of the very disturbing things he/she has written about.
I like how Ms. Kauffman weaves the two story threads into one seamless tale. The main plot of the book, the story of Malachai and his history regarding the Dark Pearl is well-played against the story of Jordy and Cai, and their deepening feelings towards one another. Cai's grandfather is quit the character, and the interaction between them characters is always interesting. The heat level is sensual, but not just thrown in for the heck of it.
If you have never read a novel by Donna Kauffman, you are missing out one good storyteller. You can check out her entire booklist on her website www.donnakauffman.com