Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday Trio

Since I spend so much time talking about the books that have given me such mental enjoyment, I thought I should further expand my mind through the Art of Photography. So every Tuesday I will present a trio of studies of the human anatomy.

What? Why, yes! You're absolutely right. How astutely observant you are. They DO all happen to be the study of the MALE human anatomy. And your point would be...?

The subject of this week's study was inspired by The Vampire Queen's Servant by Joey W. Hill...

Yeah, yeah... I know I said I'd try not to post dangly bits until I figured out how to create a jump, but this isn't TRULY mere Eye Candy... It's ART!!

Heaven Sent by Jet Mykles

Jet Mykles - Heaven Sent series (Loose-Id)

Series Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 9" out of 9"

First off, I have to thank Lady Sair, Nymph of Nightly Naughtiness, for making sure I got started on this series.

In Jet Mykles' bio at the end of the books, it's noted that "Jet’s been writing sex stories back as far as junior high. Back then, the stories involved her favorite pop icons of the time but she soon extended beyond that realm into making up characters of her own." Well, Jet's still at it because this series is the grown-up version of every teenaged girl's fantasy... except now the teenage girls are young men.

The central characters of the series are members of a rock group called Heaven Sent-- Johnnie Heaven is the lead singer and, along with guitarist Luc, sets the tone for the public's perceptions of the band. The two are flamboyant forces of nature who carefully cultivate the band's sexually ambiguous image. The other guitarist, Brent, is a serious musician and guides the group's musical development, but wants no part of the publicity. The remaining original member, Darien, is the drummer who pretty much just enjoys the whole rock scene and goes along with whatever plans his best friends make.

1. Heaven Sent 1: Heaven - Johnnie and Tyler
1.5 Heaven Sent: Pretty Red Ribbon - Johnnie and Tyler's short story sequel

Tyler's family owns a luxury hotel and convinced them to invest in a new upscale club. He was thrilled that Heaven Sent accepted his invitation to be the club's inaugural musical act. But when Heaven Sent shows up for the club's opening, Tyler, who is straight, is gobsmacked by his attraction to the charismatic Johnnie.

Johnnie, however, believes sex is good. Period. With men, with women. Doesn't matter because it's ALL good. So when he sees the pretty Tyler, he decides to go for it. And after the two of them spend a couple of nights playing video games in Johnnie's room, he makes his move on the understandably skittish Tyler. Eventually Johnnie shows Tyler just what he's been missing all his life!

I liked that Tyler was first shocked and confused that he was so drawn to Johnnie, and then reluctant to act on that attraction. And they didn't fall in love overnight. After Heaven Sent left to continue their tour, Johnnie and Tyler REALLY got to know each other through months of emails and phone calls without their physical attraction overwhelming the budding relationship.

2. Heaven Sent 2: Purgatory - Luc and Reese
2.5 Heaven Sent: Sexy Spring Surprise - Luc and Reese's short story sequel

This story opens back before Heaven Sent achieved international success. They lived above a club, Purgatory, where they performed and had a loyal fan following. Reese, who is a blue-haired gay artist, had a secret crush on Luc who had just been dumped by Reese's twin sister. After an afternoon of beers and commiseration, Reese decides to go for the glory and kisses the straight Luc, who freaks and orders Reese to leave.

Cut to a few years down the road. Heaven Sent is due back in town to perform a benefit and attend Reese's sister's wedding. But a few things have changed in Reese and Luc's lives. Johnnie has introduced Luc to his "ALL sex is good" attitude and Luc has never been able to get Reese out of his mind. Reese, however, has abandoned his art and blue hair in favor of teaching math at a conservative private school. He's also decided he's no longer gay. Luc comes back to town and is determined to prove otherwise.

I kind of felt sorry for Reese in this story. Not only has he been stifling his true self, but then Luc comes along and decides to totally screw his new life up with complete disregard for Reese's feelings or financial situation. In the end, Reese is better off, but I have to admit I was a little pissed off at Luc's steamroller behavior.

3. Heaven Sent 3: Hell - Brent and Heller
3.5 Heaven Sent: Feisty Little Firecracker - Brent and Heller's short story sequel

After deciding that they would like to introduce a new sound to their upcoming album, the guys in Heaven Sent visit a nightclub to hear a talented keyboardist, Heller (Hell). Brent and Hell feel an immediate attraction for each other, but after Hell is invited to become a permanent band member, Brent decides that a relationship between members would not be good for the group and he refuses to admit his attraction to Hell.

Though still enjoyable, this is the weakest of the Heaven Sent stories. At first I had a lot of sympathy for the angst filled Brent, but his whining and woe-is-me got old pretty quick. And Hell is more a caricature rather than a character- not unlike the Yaoi covers. My biggest problem with this story (and it probably colored my perceptions) isn't even Jet's fault. When reading the description of Hell, I unfortunately had a mental vision of that odd little man, Lukas, who won last summer's Rockstar: Supernova... only with lavender hair. And I just couldn't scrub that picture out of my head! ACK!!

4. Heaven Sent 4: Faith - Darien and Chris

Darien is the most easy going member of Heaven Sent. He's also the only completely straight member. Granted, seeing his best friends with other men has occasionally made him curious, but he's never really been tempted by any man. What IS tempting to him though, is having a deep relationship. He sees the other guys paired off and in love and realizes that he's missing that closeness in his life. So he lands a quickie Vegas wedding with an actress he's been seeing off and on for a couple of months.

After seven months of work separations and getting to know each other, Darien and his new wife realize that they just weren't meant to be and amicably decide to divorce. Hell urges Darien to get his own lawyer and introduces him to his long time friend, Attorney Christopher Faith.

Chris is openly gay and Darien is delighted to realize there's a mutual attraction between them. After his divorce is final, he decides to flat out tell Chris that he's curious and wants to know if Chris is interested. Oh yeah... he sure is! But that's ALL Chris wants. He'll satisfy Darien's manlove curiosity but they'll just remain casual friends with benefits because he's had his heart torn out in a similar relationship.

For me, this was the most interesting relationship in the series. Darien is straight but it's understandable that he'd be bi-curious after seeing his friends so happy. And I enjoyed his internal dialogue with each new experience he had with Chris-- how different it was to kiss a man, the difference between holding a taller man compared to a shorter woman, how odd it was to touch a penis that wasn't his own, etc.

When all is said and done, this isn't a heavy-duty or complex series. It's fun, light, and sweet with whimper-worthy sex scenes. But sometimes that's all the entertainment I need or want. Thanks Sair!
Piquant Opines: JERR,JERR, RRTE, SRR,

The same weekend that I read the first three books in the Heaven Sent series, I came across a little story about Enrique Iglesias that just seemed to fit in perfectly with the books. Evidently, whenever Enrique sings the song Hero, he invites a girl up on stage to serenade her. On June 2, however, he was playing a GAY nightclub in London so things were a bit different. But he didn't think that was any reason to change his show and the crowd went wild when Enrique pulled a young man up on stage and proceeded to show him some luv. This video is so damn heartwarming and sweet! And I now have a new respect for Enrique Iglesias.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Familiar Stranger by Michele Hauf

From the Dark Enchantments blog site (which is really fun- the CHARACTERS post blog entries): "Four hundred years ago a secret, hermetic order was created to keep the world safe from evil paranormal beings. Ever since, the Cadre has been dedicated to maintaining the delicate balance between the mortal and dark realms through research and observation of otherworldly entities. Seldom does the Cadre interfere. In recent decades, an opposing force has been created by the British Intelligence Service. This covert group, called P-Cell, has but one directive: destroy paranormal creatures of all kinds. As the two organizations fight faithfully for their separate causes, unbeknownst to either of them, the dark forces of evil gather, preparing to overtake the mortal realm.... "

Michele Hauf - Familiar Stranger (Silhouette Nocturne) - Jack and Mersey
also available as an ebook from eHarlequin

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 5" out of 9"

From the back cover: "Recruited by a secret paranormal organization to hunt demons, Jack Harris never guessed the revenge he sought for his partner's death would be this complicated. Jack's worldview is black-and-white—until he is ordered to follow Mersey Bane, a beautiful woman who is also a familiar with shape-shifting abilities. Mersey belongs to the Cadre—a peaceful hermetic order that captures and studies Otherworldly Entities—which is at odds with Jack's organization.
As Jack delves deeper into the inner workings of the Cadre, he finds himself drawn to Mersey like a moth to a flame. She may challenge all his beliefs, but she brings color and passion to his world. Jack doesn't know whether what he feels for Mersey is love or lust. But if he doesn't figure it out soon, they may become the hunted instead of the hunters.

Ya gotta love Jack. He's such a manly hero- stubborn to the bone. His first encounter with an OE (Otherworldly Entity) was as a child when a cat changed into a naked pregnant woman and he distracted the demon who was about to attack her by throwing a crystal ball at it. A few nights later the cat reappears and... oops! Nope, you need to find that out for yourself. Let's just say that, in Jack's world, everything is black or white. He refuses to believe what he saw, so therefore it didn't happen.

As an adult, his MI5 partner (and object of his unrequited love) is killed by a demon (it's an eeewwww!) and Jack is also attacked. Afterwards, he's recruited by the super secret P-Cell branch of MI5 and their motto can be summed up as "If it ain't human, kill it." A perfect fit for Jack- no grey areas.

Then along comes a clue-by-four named Mersey Bane. She's an adept that can capture demons. She's also a familiar (in the DE world, familiars can bring demons into our world) who can change into a cat. I try to form mental pictures of characters in my head as I read, but seldom do I picture celebrities. In Mersey's case, however, one picture kept popping up for her looks AND personality- Liv Tyler. And throw in a little Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie, too. She's quirky, impulsive, ethereal, seductive, vulnerable, irrepressible, fearless, sad, lonely and EXACTLY what our oh-so-pigheaded Jack needs in his life! I'm telling you, this character was just so damn likable!

So one night Mersey and Jack find themselves hunting demons in the same warehouse. Only their objectives are in direct opposition- Jack kills demons. Period. Mersey, however, is aware that not all demons are evil and, in fact, some are quite necessary to humans (like lust demons). She captures the evil ones in crystals she carries around with her and takes them back to the Cadre for questioning then release back to their own realm. Jack and Mersey each get a demon in their own way that night, and in the process become intrigued and fascinated with each other.

There is some enjoyable world building going on in this book. We go inside the Cadre and learn quite a bit about that organization's history and the rather interesting characters who reside there. Oh, and wait till you meet the denizens of Faery! These sure aren't sweet little winged cherubs- Michele bases them on the original myths and legends!

And through it all, poor Jack with his rigid manly delusions, learns that there really is far more to this world than just his black or white view of it all. He goes from "If I don't believe, then it does NOT exist" to "If I believe, it WILL exist".

I would like to have learned more about the history of Mersey's parents and the demon lord's involvement with them, particularly since it was the prime motivation for many of his actions. I got the gist of it, but I think there's an interesting story there and I'm hoping Michele has plans to revisit and expand on it.

Overall, this is a light, but highly enjoyable read. It contained just enough darkness to keep me engrossed and the main characters are just plain perfect for each other- their personalities play off each other beautifully. I'm looking forward to the rest of the Dark Enchantments series. But I have to admit (and this is no reflection on the other authors) that I wish Michele was writing all the books in the series so we could catch-up with Jack and Mersey in a future book. Nonetheless, she has set the bar for this series pretty damn high- are you up for it Cynthia, Nina, and Pat?!
Piquant Opines: RT (4.5 stars!): "...contains a novel idea that's brilliantly executed. Her characters are fresh, as is her story, and readers won't want to put this one down.", Devon

Familiar Stranger shows a release date of 08/01/07 but I saw it in my local Borders last week. I've linked to Amazon for all the print books, but remember that they will all be available as eBooks from eHarlequin.com also:
09/01/2007 - Cynthia Cooke - Rising Darkness (I linked to Cynthia's DE page- VERY creative!)
10/01/2007 - Nina Bruhns - Night Mischief
11/01/2007 - Pat White - Saving Destiny

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Home Safe and Sound

We're back, beat, and broke.

Tuesday was a complete bust. We couldn't win shit even though we played all our favorite slot games, so we called it an early night.

Wednesday morning, same thing. We decided to take a break and walked over to the American side of Niagara Falls. Wandered around in the park a bit, walked back to the casino, then went back to our room, watched TV and slugged out for awhile.

Wednesday evening we went back downstairs to the casino fully expecting to blow the rest of our cash. We even hit the ATM for another $500 just so we could continue playing. But wonders of wonders- we actually ended the night with money left over! And we found some new favorite slot games. I found a Magic Bonus Penguin slot and totally bonded with the little waddler! Tim discovered that he now likes TV games shows. Wheel of Fortune crapped out on us this time, but he did VERY well with the Jeopardy and Price is Right slots.

We got up this morning and, after checking out and leaving our bags with the bellhops, we decided to play some more. We didn't do bad, not great, but we DID have money left over. Which we blew by stopping at the new casino in Erie, PA on the way home. Well, we've not been to that one yet and were curious. That's a legit reason, right?

As soon as we walked in the door at home, what little we had was spoken for immediately. "Mom, I need money for..."


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

After While, Crocodile!

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My hubby and I are leaving tomorrow morning for another couple of days at the casino. So enjoy this week's Tuesday Trio while I'm gone. Do you have ANY idea how hard it was for me to widdle my ginormous kilt pic folder down to just a few? Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday Trio

Since I spend so much time talking about the books that have given me such mental enjoyment, I thought I should further expand my mind through the Art of Photography. So every Tuesday I will present a trio of studies of the human anatomy.

What? Why, yes! You're absolutely right. How astutely observant you are. They DO all happen to be the study of the MALE human anatomy. And your point would be...?

The subject of this week's study will be a Salute to the Braw in honor of the audio release of Karen Marie Moning's Highlander Book 1- Beyond the Highland Mist...

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This Week's Independent Study: OCH! Do ya ken why the wee laddies ha' na' to cover their arses? Research and Learn!
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Bonus Study: Why? Because...
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

1- What would a SALUTE be without... well... a SALUTE!

2- Sure, it's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out!

3- Is that a caber under your kilt or are you just happy to see me?

4. Because the lad obviously deserves a blue ribbon. (Per International Wenches Guild Kilt Check Rules)

5- Why DO Scotsmen wear kilts anyway? Because sheep can hear zippers.

6- What's worn under the kilt? Absolutely NOTHING! It's all in perfect working order.

7- What's worn under the kilt? A wee set of Bagpipes, wanna give 'em a blow?

8. What's worn under the kilt? On a good day, your lipstick.

9. What's worn under the kilt? String- I had to tie it up so it didn’t hang below the kilt.

Think that's just a Scotsman's gift o' brag? Careful Lass, ha' you no' met Angus Hungwell yet?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Skin on Skin Erotic Romance Anthology

Sunny, Jami Alden, Valerie Martinez - Skin on Skin anthology

Category: Coconut Truffles - SO not for me! (D,D-,F)
Flame Height: 6" out of 9"

The first story, Jami Alden's Tempted, is the most enjoyable of the three. It's a sweet but hot, predictable "best friends" story. Kudos to Jami for creating Lauren's mother. What a cringe worthy hoot she was! My sympathies to Jami too, for having her story stuck in this particular anthology. Maybe TPTB will reprint it somewhere more appropriate.

Valerie Martinez's Hot Wired is nasty, gritty, dirty, colorful and yet haunting. It would fit right in with any erotica anthology. But an Erotic ROMANCE anthology? Uh-uh. Not by any definition of Romance that I've ever used.

Sunny's China Doll is the main reason I bought this book. I wanted to see if, once Sunny climbed out of LKH and Anne Bishop's sandbox, she could play well on her own. Apparently not.

Oh, it started off fairly intriguing, and the male lead, Rand, remained fairly sympathetic, but the female lead, Anna, became downright laughable- and this isn't a comedy. She's one of the most poorly portrayed characters I've ever read. And the out-of-character ending, after all the ridiculous Anna angst we endure, made me want to throw the book in the toilet. But I didn't because, 1- it would clog the plumbing and I already wasted enough money just buying this book, and 2- because I wanted it beside me so that I could create an accurate hazardous material warning.

Anna: "I'm a 41 year old doctor. When I was 19, I was engaged to a pretty man who turned out to be a greedy, untrustworthy dawg . I've never been with anyone since and just want a one night stand tonight, so be patient and gentle with me because I intend to act as skittish as a brutal rape survivor. *boink boink* Good morn... ACK! You shaved your beard off and underneath you're a *gasp* PRETTY MAN!!! AAAAHHHHH! RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! WHY, OH, WHY did he have to be a PRETTY MAN! Oh the cruelty, whatever shall I do! Never again will I want a pretty man and he's younger than me, too! Oh, hello again! *boink boink* After 22 years of being afraid of men and one night with you, I love you and, since you are also rich like me, let's get married tomorrow."

I'd say this character sucked donkey balls, but frankly, I don't think even the donkey would be interested. I need a new commentary category below Coconut Truffles. Maybe Black Licorice 'cause that stuff's just plain nasty. Plus it's available as whips.
Piquant Opines: RT, JERR- Jami Alden lists a 4 star JERR review on her website but I can not find a review for this book at JERR's site.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Award Winners from 2006

Here they are, a bit more prettied up, and all in one place: the lists of virtually guaranteed "good reads" released in 2006. The next time I'm at a bookseller like Amazon or Fictionwise, or one of the epublishers such as Ellora's Cave or Samhain, I'll make sure to head over to the right side of my blog and click on "+Award Winners+" so I can browse through these lists and melt my credit card.


Passionate Ink is a Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America for Erotic Romance writers. Of particular note is that the following awards are one of the very few places (outside of epubs) where erotic romances are categorized by sub-genre (I sure wish that happened more often).

The 2006 PASSIONATE PLUME Finalists
Awarded at the 2007 RWA National Conference


1st - Saskia Walker - Double Dare (Berkley Trade)
2nd- MacKenzie McKade - A Tall Dark Cowboy (Ellora's Cave)
3rd- Denise A. Agnew -Dangerous Intentions (Ellora's Cave)
HM- Denise A. Agnew - Treacherous Wishes (Ellora's Cave)
HM- Shelley Bradley - Strip Search (Berkley Sensations- mass market)

Futuristic / Fantasy / Sci-Fi:

1st - Cat Marsters - Almost Human (Ellora's Cave)
2nd- Vivi Anna - Inferno (Kensington Aphrodisia- print and ebook)
3rd- Melany Logen - Torc’s Salvation (Ellora's Cave)
HM- Lara Santiago - The Lawman’s Wife (Siren Publishing)
HM- Jory Strong - Fallon Mates: Roping Savannah (Ellora's Cave)


1st - Jade Lee - Burning Tigress (Leisure- mass market)
2nd- Sharon Page - Sin (Kensington Aphrodisia- print and ebook)
3rd- Jessica Trapp - Master of Desire (Zebra- mass market)
HM- Sylvia Day - ASK FOR IT (Kensington Brava, Trade)
HM- Samantha Kane - The Courage To Love (Ellora's Cave)
[Crème Brûlée!! See my previous commentary]


1st - Anna Leigh Keaton - Five Alarm Neightbor (Cobblestone Press)
2nd- Nikki Alton - Rodeo Man- The Cowboy anthology (Kensington Aphrodisia, trade)
3rd- Loribelle Hunt - Defending Serenity (Cobblestone Press)
HM- Summer Devon - Invisible Touch (Ellora's Cave)
HM- Anna Leigh Keaton and Madison Layle - Return To Me (Cobblestone Press)

Paranormal / Time Travel:

1st - MacKenzie McKade - Fallon’s Revenge (Samhain)
[Hypothetically speaking, IF I had the honor of judging this one, and IF I had given it a really high score, I'd be proud as a mama-hen that it made it this far, would place it in my Peanut M&Ms category, and would want to totally pimp it. But since judging is anonymous, I would NEVER do so. Just sayin'.]
2nd- Mechele Armstrong - Blood Lines: Conduit (Loose-Id)
3rd- Cheyenne McCray - Seduced By Magic (St. Martin's Press- mass market)
[I read this when it was first released, this is book 2 of the Magic series and I recommend that book 1, Forbidden Magic, be read first. I'd place this series at the top of my M&Ms category.]
HM- Laura Baumbach - Enthralled (Changeling Press)
HM- Ann Jacobs - d’Argent Honor 2: Eternally (Ellora's Cave)

STROKE OF MIDNIGHT (Unpublished Manuscripts) Finalists
Awarded at the 2007 RWA National Conference
(I'll be happy to update this list with any news/links provided in the comments)


1st - Anne Rigoulot (aka Marissa Scott)- When Petals Fall
2nd- Robin L. Rotham - BIG Trouble
3rd- Jennifer Brassel - Secret Reflection
HM- Julie Hurwitz - The Amazing Sex Race
HM- Julie MenschWellons - Liar, Liar


1st - Elaine M. Powell - A Lord’s Obligations
2nd- Evie Byrne - Dante’s Inferno
3rd- Lori Schaefer - The Voyage
HM- Seeley deBorn (aka Jennifer Begley)- Where The Wolf Lies
HM- Sandy Storm - Fossa’s Dare

Paranormal/Time Travel:

1st - Evie Byrne - Burn For You
2nd- Susan Meier - Not That Innocent
3rd- Holly Youngquist - Crime of Passion
HM- Stephanie Mowery (aka Stephanie Julian) - Spell Bound
HM- Nancy Liedel(aka Nancy Lindquist) - To Find A Queen


1st - Shelli Stevens - The Captured Rose
2nd- Sher LeScott - Something More Than Sex
3rd- Adele Dubois - Dream Traveler (Ellora's Cave)
HM- Lee Swift - Eternally Three: Touching Perfection


Romance Writers of America (RWA) is the national association for published and aspiring romance writers.

The 2006 RITA and Golden Heart Award Finalists

The 2006 RITA Award Winners
Awarded at the 2007 RWA National Conference

The 2006 Golden Heart Award Winners (Unpublished Manuscripts)
Awarded at the 2007 RWA National Conference


Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine - The Magazine for Fiction Lovers

Romantic Times 2006 Reviewers' Choice Award Nominees

Romantic Times 2006 Reviewers' Choice Award Winners
Awarded at the 2007 RT Booklovers Convention

Romantic Times 2006 Career Achievement Award Nominees

Romantic Times 2006 Career Achievement Award Winners
Awarded at the 2007 RT Booklovers Convention


ParanormalRomance.org (PNR) is the official homepage for the ParaNormalRomance Groups designed for lovers of the Paranormal Romance sub-genre. Members meet online via YahooGroups and share an interest in science fiction, fantasy, and romantic fiction with paranormal elements, including time travel, futuristic, magical, ghost, vampire and shapeshifter themes.

Paranormal Excellence Award for Romantic Literature- P.E.A.R.L. Awards
Chosen by the members of the PNR groups

2006 P.E.A.R.L. Nominees

2006 P.E.A.R.L. Award Winners
Winners were announced February 19, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Little Whine, A Little Karma

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI have a wonderful husband. I love him with every cell in my body. And I KNOW he loves me just as deeply. Even after 26 years together, we STILL would rather hang out with each other than anyone else, and we still can't keep our hands off each other. I have healthy, beautiful babies. Okay, technically they haven't been babies for a long time, but they will always be MY babies. My husband is a cancer survivor (non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Type B), and other than that, we've all been pretty damn healthy. Although if I don't get my shit together and stop smoking and drop some of this weight I've put on, that could (and probably will) change. I have a life that, while certainly not stress-free, does not bury me under the stress and burdens that most people live with every day. I am truly Blessed and thank God for it every day, while at the same time I live in constant fear of tragedy because I haven't done a damn thing to deserve ANY of these Blessings.

So there is absolutely no good reason for me to be feeling sorry for my pathetic self all day today! I'm talking a real woe-is-me wallow in self pity.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I'm pretty sure I just woke up in a plain ol' pissy mood. And it went downhill from there. Trivial shit that I shouldn't have even noticed had me gritting my teeth. Then, by the time I popped on line earlier today, I was pretty much feeling thoroughly anti-social. So much so that it didn't take much for me to spiral into a disgraceful tail spin...

WARNING: The following paragraphs are basically the equivalent of listening to me sing the "Nobody likes me, Everybody hates me, Guess I'll eat some worms..." song. Feel free to skip down to the Blog Karma section of this post.

I still lurk from time to time on a certain successful author's board and I really miss joining in on all the fun over there. It was like I had found a nest of kindred spirits. But, as some of you may remember, my commentary here on my blog (I did not mention it on that board) about a certain fledgling author's book did not express "This is the best book EVAH!" sentiments and, after fledgling author complained about it on successful author's board, many of the regular posters joined her in vilifying the reviewer. At the time, I don't THINK the other posters realized I was the villain. But since then, I know some DO now know and not one has contacted me to say "OOPS". I can't really fault them- they were just being honest in their opinions about someone who didn't love fledgling author's book, just as I was being honest in my commentary. So, since I have to assume that that is how they REALLY feel about someone who didn't love the book, I also have to assume that I, as the author of that review, am no longer welcomed by most of the regular board posters. Although, there are a couple that have kept in touch with me outside the board- which means a LOT. But I really miss the other women too and all the fun and sisterhood on the board.

And to add to my pity party, I'm all paid up for the get together weekend successful author is hosting for authors and fans in September. I don't do well in large groups of strangers. I know that online, I'm dropping my two cents in all over the place, but in real life, unless I'm invited into a conversation, I usually assume I would be intruding. So, when I signed up to go to this shindig, I assumed that all the authors were staying at the small lodge where the shindig was to be held, and all the fans were staying at the hotels 12 miles away. It turned out that, of the regular board posters that are attending, nearly all are also staying at the lodge. Which meant that most of the people I'm familiar with would be part of the "inner circle" and I would be facing the dreaded room full of unknown strangers. I TRULY realize that, from their POV, it's a thrill and a privilege gained from their long term board status and friendship with successful author and I don't begrudge them that joy. Really, I'd be giddy too. But for someone on the outside of the "inner circle" it's very alienating and isolating. I know it's unintentional on their part and I doubt they even realize it. After I found all this out, I started to rethink my decision to attend. Then I realized that there would be other people there who hopefully would invite me into their groups and I WOULD be meeting up with the people I was familiar with from the board at least a few times.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketNow I've returned to that dilemma. Do I go to this get together or not? There will be several authors there that I would REALLY love to meet. So the book signings will take up maybe 3 hours of the weekend (and it's a 5.5 - 6 hour drive alone each way for me). Oh, I'm fairly sure the board posters will still be civil to me if they happen to realize I'm there, but other than that I'm faced with about 150 strangers. Someone I'm still friendly with is going to one night of the get together, but it would hardly be fair to her to expect her to hang out with me when it means she couldn't also hang out with the rest of the board posters. Do I go to the dinners and parties and just plop myself down at a table where a group of strangers is sitting and hope they don't wonder why I'm bothering them by forcing myself into their group? Or do I just make sure to bring a bunch of books I haven't read yet so I can hang out back in my hotel room and read if I'm not feelin' the luv?Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

GAK! I really hate being so socially awkward. It sucks big time. And I really feel like a fucking moron for feeling sorry for myself over something that, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty much insignificant

And to just add to my unjustified feeling that my life sucks, I needed comfort food for dinner and thawed out a huge chuck roast. Well when I went to put it in the oven , I discovered we were out of aluminum foil. You can't slow roast a chuck roast without covering it, dammit!

To make matters worse, I WAS OUT OF PEANUT M&MS!!! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket As I said in another post, I'm menopausal, I NEED my Peanut M&Ms!! Geesh, I was feeling so low I had to look up to see down! I didn't even want to read a book!!! Dear God, could this day get any worse?Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Well, it turns out it DIDN'T get worse, in fact it got much better. About 4:30, my husband came home bearing aluminum foil. That meant we didn't eat until nearly 8 PM, but the wait was worth it. Shortly after I got the roast in the oven, I remembered that I still had some Peanut M&Ms left in the kids excess Easter stash. Life was beginning to look up.

Thanks to Blog Karma, though, it wasn't a completely shitty day...

♥ The other day, my Google Analytics showed a visit from vampirewire.blogspot.com so I popped over to see what it was. Well, it turns out that it's the blog of author Marta Acosta and she had quoted a little piece of my review of Shiloh Walker's Hunter's Salvation. First of all, her blog is really different. It's like a news sheet and, in addition to Marta's exclusive interviews, she also links to other items of (mostly vampire) interest in books, music, movies, etc. It's a fun place to hang out.

After some blog comments, we exchanged some emails and Marta generously offered to send me a couple of her books- HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA and MIDNIGHT BRUNCH. Since she mentioned that they are suitable for teens on up, I first made certain they weren't YA. I don't read YA. Ever. No matter how many people insist I will love a book. I have a house full of teens. I read to escape. To read YA would be a form of self flagellation.

But no, what she meant was that they don't have graphic erotic elements in them. Here's how she described them to me: "My books are romantic comedies, and the vampires are much more likely to make a biting comment than to bite. They're not undead, but people with a genetic anomaly that makes them sensitive to light and craving...uhm, blood. They're snobs, I'm afraid, and think my heroine is a tacky little social-climber. " Now, how could I resist THAT?! So, with full knowledge that I will give an honest commentary on them, Marta's publicist will be shipping me the books. Thank you Marta!

♥ And you know how much I luvs me some Annie Dean/Ann Aguirre, well she has started a newsletter and is channeling her inner Ron Popeil. Here's what she's up to now. Take a minute and read that, I'll wait. So, if you haven't already signed up, please do so now. I can personally attest to the fact that you never know what Annie will be up to next. Earlier today, I checked my email and there was an email from the newsletter saying the first person to reply wins a copy of her latest book Her Alibi. Well, it's on my Decadent Desires list and I'm looking forward to reading it. But wait, that email had been sitting out there awhile so I was probably too late. Oh, there's a second, more recent one! She's doing another round! WOO-HOO! I snagged a copy! Thanks Annie!

♥ While I'm slingin' some pimp around, have you run into anyone that participates in the Monday Poetry Train? I have to admit that I usually don't "get" poetry- I'm pretty sure that's somehow connected to that whole "born without a creative writing gene" thing. But every Monday Rhian and her Tribe post one of their original poems. Some of them I even understand! Like the poem about poop (I kid you not!) that one of the Tribe wrote (but I'm embarassed to say I don't remember who it was).

Let me just say that Rhian is one of those women that makes me feel completely inadequate in comparison. I almost feel like I should bow down before her while proclaiming "I'm not worthy!". She has immersed herself in a myriad of the creative arts through her own works as well as encouraging and mentoring other creative souls. She's also a successful businesswoman (and mother) and was recently honored as a Woman of the Year in Augusta. So why don't I hate her? Because she's warm, intelligent, caring, funny, and is the first to laugh at her own foibles! Gotta luv the Rhi!

Anyway, her poem this week is fan-freakin-tastic and blew me away. I forgot to ask her permission to copy it over here, so I'm linking to it and STRONGLY urge you to read it: Arrogant Ass. Does that not evoke an instant mental picture of an arrogant alpha asshole? Thank God I'm not married to one (but my DH is) although I've known a few and have seen more than a few in books. Damn that's good, Rhi!

♥ I just realized it's after midnight and thus the date has changed to July 19th. Kid#3/DD#2 is now 15. Happy Birthday MonkeyButt! I love you whether you like it or not (she IS 15, after all!)
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

You know, I wonder how much her approaching birthday contributed to my pity fest today? Their birthdays DO tend to make me emotional. Hopefully I'll have snapped out of it when I wake up in the morning. Hell, maybe I'll be feeling so well that I'll delete the whole woe-is-me section of this post, huh?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday Trio

Since I spend so much time talking about the books that have given me such mental enjoyment, I thought I should further expand my mind through the Art of Photography. So every Tuesday I will present a trio of studies of the human anatomy.

What? Why, yes! You're absolutely right. How astutely observant you are. They DO all happen to be the study of the MALE human anatomy. And your point would be...?

The subject of this week's study will be buns your mouth just waters to take a bite of as your hands smooth over the length of his back the posterior musculature...

Bonus Study: because, once again, my blog, my Josh...

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm Mobile Again!

I couldn't take it anymore. I really missed throwing ebooks in my purse and carrying them around with me. I decided I just couldn't wait around any longer for someone to release a decent UMPC that didn't cost a ridiculous amount of money.

So yesterday I decided that, since I had to go to Circuit City today anyway, I'd check out the HP iPAQ rx5915 GPS/PDA. I don't really want the GPS, but I like the design and function of the PDA. Circuit City has them on sale, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to look. Well, lo and behold, I get up this morning and there is an email from Circuit City giving me a five hour coupon code for an additional 10% off any GPS handhelds! So, it was meant to be, wasn't it? And if someone DOES release a UMPC later on that I just have to have, well, my DH doesn't have GPS in his car so I'll do him a favor and pass my iPAQ on to him! See, a totally justified purchase, wouldn't you say?

Now, WOO to the friggin' HOO! My ebooks are mobile again- man did I miss them!!! The biggest hassle, though, was that the installation CD wouldn't work in my laptop because it isn't compatible with Vista. So I head to HP's website to get the Vista drivers and... uh-oh... there isn't any. An hour long live chat with HP later, and it turns out there are some things I can try that MIGHT make SOME of the iPAQ apps work with Vista, but they won't guarantee them because they haven't been able to get ANY of their PDAs to work with Vista consistently. I decided not to screw around with all these MAYBE helpful solutions, and just synced the iPAQ with my old XP Pro desktop, which, btw, suddenly started working again- I went from January to June with a screwed up PC, then all of a sudden, it updated itself and started working again! I couldn't decide whether to kiss it or kick it!

BTW, I won't be around tomorrow. My DH and the kids are dragging me to Geauga Lake. An hour and a half of queueing up in the 86 degree hot sun for a 90 second roller coaster ride... get off... move to the next coaster... repeat. Oh Joy! Now, they DO have a water park there, too. But I assure you that my humungo self will NOT be modeling my bathing suit in public! *shudder*

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Passionate Plumes, SoM Winners (Updated)

FINAL UPDATE: Just ignore this whole post and consider it my scratch pad! If you want to see the awards all prettied up with links included, either click here, or go to the right hand column of this blog and click on +Award_Winners+

As of right now, NO ONE has posted the results of the Passionate Plume/Stroke of Midnight Awards luncheon yesterday. I even haunted all the nominated author's blogs.

I DO know one result, though. Mackenzie McKade won 2nd place in Contemporary for A Tall Dark Cowboy and she won 1st place in Paranormal for Fallon's Revenge!!! WOO to the HOO!! Congrats MacKenzie! I'm proud as a mama hen- I just get all kinds of happy when a book/author I like is liked so well by others too!

As soon as I know any more results, I'll update this post and my previous post containing publisher and author links. Let's face it, it's not too often we get a list of books that are virtually guaranteed good reads!

BTW, if you happened to have dropped by a little while ago and saw that I had posted the winners... never mind... that was LAST year's results. *headslap* Note to self: READ before you copy/paste, asswipe!

UPDATE: Okay, FINALLY, the REAL 2006 Passionate Plume and Stroke of Midnight Awards! Congratulations to all of you. No matter where you ended up in the final round, please remember that, out of all the books released last year, YOUR work was in the top five and you deserve to do some knuckle polishing!

The 2006 Passionate Plume Final Round Results

First – Double Dare, Saskia Walker
Second – A Tall Dark Cowboy, Mackenzie McKade
Third – Treacherous Wishes, Denise A Agnew
Honorable Mention – Dangerous Intentions, Denise A Agnew
Honorable Mention – Strip Search, Shelley Bradley

Futuristic / Fantasy / Sci-Fi:
First - Almost Human, Cat Marsters
Second - Inferno, Vivi Anna
Third - Torc’s Salvation, Melany Logen
Honorable Mention - The Lawman’s Wife, Lara Santiago
Honorable Mention - Roping Savannah, Jory Strong

First - Burning Tigress by Jade Lee
Second - Sin by Sharon Page
Third - Master of Desire by Jessica Trapp
Honorable Mention - Ask for It by Sylvia Day
Honorable Mention - The Courage to Love by Samantha Kane

First - Anna Leigh Keaton, Five Alarm Neighbor
Second - Nikki Alton, Rodeo Man
Third - Loribelle Hunt, Defending Serenity
Honorable Mention — Summer Devon, Invisible Touch
Honorable Mention — Anna Leigh Keaton and Madison Layle, Return To Me

Paranormal / TT:
First - Fallon’s Revenge - Mackenzie McKade
Second - Bloodlines: Conduit - Mechele Armstrong
Third - Seduced by Magic - Cheyenne McCray
Honorable mention: Enthralled - Laura Baumbach
Honorable mention : d’Argent Honor 2: Eternally - Ann Jacobs


1st - Burn for You, Evie Byrne
2nd - Not that Innocent, Susan Meier
3rd - Crime of Passion, Holly Youngquist
Honorable Mention - Spell Bound, Stephanie Mowery
Honorable Mention - To Find A Queen, Nancy Liedel

1st - The Captured Rose, Shelli Stevens
2nd - Something More Than Sex, Sher LeScott
3rd - Dream Traveler, Adele Dubois
Honorable Mention - Eternally Three: Touching Perfection, Lee Swift

1st - When Petals Fall, Anne Rigoulot
2nd - BIG Trouble, Robin L. Rotham
3rd - Secret Reflection, Jennifer Brassel
Honorable Mention - The Amazing Sex Race, Julie Hurwitz
Honorable Mention - Liar, Liar, Julie MenschWellons

1st - A LORD’S OBLIGATIONS, Elaine M. Powell
2nd - DANTE’S INFERNO, Evie Byrne
3rd - THE VOYAGE, Lori Schaefer
Honorable Mention - WHERE THE WOLF LIES, Jennifer Begley
Honorable Mention - FOSSA’S DARE, Sandy Storm

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Fountain of Fondue

♥ A follow up to this post about Romance Diva's "Not Going to Nationals" Cyber Conference... Portia Da Costa and Madelynne Ellis' Q&A has been rescheduled for tomorrow, Friday the 13th. Thanks for the update, Portia!

♥ An update on this post about Madelynne Ellis' A Gentleman's Wager and it's sequel Phantasmagoria...

•Amazon is showing 04/01/2008 as the date for the re-release of A Gentleman's Wager and 03/06/08 for the release of Phantasmagoria. I'm hoping that those dates were inadvertently reversed because I would really like all of you to read the first book before the second comes out. But, in case those ARE the correct dates, remember that A Gentleman's Wager is now available as an audio download from Audible.com.

•And, in case you've not read the comments for that same post, let me repeat what I said in them about the amazing Portia Da Costa...

For those of you that don't already know, Portia's book, Continuum, is a Black Lace classic. A woman's contemporary Alice in Wonderland-like erotic journey. I don't read much BDSM because I don't like how many authors dehumanize the subs, but that's seldom true with the Black Lace authors. And I can tell you that Continuum will stay in your head (and other parts) LONG after you finish reading. I'm talking a serious danger from dehydration here, okay? In fact, it's been quite awhile since I read it, but it STILL pops up in my head from time to time. It's a solid Lava Cake with a full 9" Flame Height- I STRONGLY recommend you consider it a MUST-READ! Continuum was just re-released in February and is available right now from Amazon. It's not available in audio format yet, but her Entertaining Mr. Stone is. She's also started releasing books with Phaze.

♥ Man, it's either feast or famine with audio books- some months I can't find ANYTHING to buy. But right now, I've got a nice long TBLT (to be listened to) list between Audible.com and AudioBookStandDL.com. I'm lovin' it! And for $9.95 per YEAR, I get member pricing at Audible plus they send discount emails out from time to time (they also have monthly plans that allow you to earn credits toward free books). AudioBookStandDL (Brilliance Audio), however, has ridiculously high prices.

I don't understand why the downloads from AudioBookStandDL/Brilliance Audio have to cost MORE than printed hardcover books- their cost for downloads must be negligible, so it's almost all pure profit for them. But, what can I do? If they have an audio book I want bad enough, I'll buy it no matter the cost. Case in point: Karen Marie Moning's Beyond the Highland Mist. Starting with that one on July 20th, her entire Highlander series is being re-released in audio format. If I pre-order the audio CD from Amazon, it's $16.47 but the audio download is still showing $24.95. As I said, download costs are negligible, so why is it so much MORE?! That's just WRONG!

♥ Speaking of Karen Marie Moning, her site has been redesigned and is looking GOOD! The best part is that her message boards have switched over from that confusing tree format to a standard vBulletin board (I wish Yahoo Groups would follow suit- GAK!). Now, maybe I can follow along with the kick-butt theories some of her Readers have come up with in the Fever series discussions.

♥ A few more sites of note this week...

Lynn Veihl (Paper Back Writer) is doing a series of "Left Behind" writer's workshops on her blog this week and blackmailed invited Shiloh Walker to do the same.

• Dear Author's Jane has joined up with Sybil, Kriste J, and Wendy as volunteers at RWA National and they are reporting on the conference from the perspective of Readers (Jane's posts are in a separate section of the main site). My favorite so far? Jane blogged "Sherrilyn Kenyon has a big ass swan on her head and her fans dress up like her." but Wordpress shortened the title on the sidebar to read "Sherrilyn Kenyon has a big ass" Needless to say, catty bitches that we are, that post was read a LOT. *snort*

• Candy and Sarah, the Smart Bitches, are also in Dallas this week- be afraid... be very afraid.

• The mother of all blogs is Blogging National. It provides links to the official RWA blog AND the authors who are also blogging about the conference.

♥ Last Friday, Sybil asked "What is the last historical you read that BLEW YOU AWAY?" I, of course, threw some pimpage in there, and there are a buttload of other books pimped that I want to check out. With any luck, at least a few of them will be available as ebooks like Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels (Fictionwise) that Chantal recommended the other day. Either way, this woman can't live by Paranormals and Urban fantasies alone- I luvs me some really good and spicy Historicals, too!

♥ The subject of epubs and ebooks came up a couple of weeks ago on Devon's blog and it occurred to me that maybe other people are not familiar with Fictionwise and their Buywise Club. First of all, Fictionwise is NOT an epublisher. They would best be described as the Amazon.com of ebooks (they've recently started carrying some audio books, too).

The advantages of Fictionwise are that I can be reasonably sure the transaction is secure (SOOO not true with a lot of epubs), the price is often lower than buying direct from the epub, and, since I'm a member of their Buywise Club, I get a buttload of free books! AND, they keep your library available for download indefinitely! Plus, their reader rating system is a very useful tool.

Seriously, grasshoppers, the $29.95 yearly menbership fee has paid for itself many times over between the discounts and rebates. You don't have to be a member of their buying club to make purchases, and you will still save money if you aren't, but if you buy more than a few ebooks a year, the Buywise Club is the way to go.

♥ On a related subject, I noticed that some epubs are again offering PayPal as a purchase option. For a while, PayPal had decided to be some kind of moral watchdog and wouldn't allow their services to be used by non-PG13 sites. PPFFFT! The problem is that, at least at some epubs, transaction security is questionable and I don't feel confident giving them my credit card info. I've received letters from two different smaller epubs informing me that their computer security had been compromised. Yet another reason to use Fictionwise, particularly for ebooks from epubs that don't offer the PayPal option.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hunter's Salvation by Shiloh Walker

Shiloh Walker - The Hunters series - listed in suggested reading order:

Ellora’s Cave (although most are now available in print. Check Shiloh's website for what forms and sources all the books are available in):
1. The Hunters: Declan & Tori
2. The Hunters: Eli & Sarel
3. The Hunters: Byron & Kit
4. The Hunters: Jonathan & Lori
5. The Hunters: Ben & Shadoe
6. The Hunters: Rafe & Sheila
7. The Hunters: I’ll Be Hunting You - Declan & Tori's sequel

Amazon, etc. (Berkley):
Hunting the Hunter - Kane & Kendall
The Blood Kiss - Hot Spell anthology with Holly, Leigh, and Brook - Roman & Julianna

Samhain and Amazon:
Legends: Hunters and Heroes - Matthew & Rachel (Hunter’s prequel part 1); Duncan & Kennedy; Malachi (Part I, prequel part 2)
Hunters: Heart and Soul - Mike and Leandra; Malachi (Part II) and Kelsey

Amazon, etc. (Berkley):
Hunter's Salvation - Vax & Jess

Series Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 7” out of 9”

Book Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 6” out of 9”

Hunter’s Salvation can probably be read as a standalone, just understand that there are a couple of scenes that involve Hunters from previous books that you will get the gist of, but you won’t know those characters' full back story. But, as I said in my previous commentary, since I KNOW you won’t be able to stop at just one, you might as well read them all anyway. And I’m not even going to try and comment further on this book as a standalone, I’ll leave that to the “real” reviewers. I’m a fangirl of the series and that’s the only way I can discuss it.

Right about now, Karen Scott would use the phrase “I love them like a fat kid loves cake” but that phrase just doesn‘t REALLY convey the scope of their appeal. Nope, I love this series like a menopausal woman loves Peanut M&Ms. Trust me, most days, they are all that stands between me and complete hormonal meltdown. A handful of those little life savers and all is right in my world again. Really, they should throw out all those medical studies and just prescribe Peanut M&Ms. *headslap* Oops...Okay, back to the Hunters- did I mention that Hunter‘s Salvation is VAX‘s story?! *swoon*.

I’m fairly certain that Shiloh Walker brought home kindergarten report cards with comments on them like “colors outside the lines” and “runs with scissors”. Now she has apparently decided to toss out entire sections of the Paranormal Romance Rulebook. Through most of the Hunters series, she only broke the “Heroines must be LESS kick-butt than the heroes” Rule and merely BENT a few of the other rules. And we, her Readers, let her get away with it. This only seemed to encourage her though and, with the last few books, she has now flatly refused to do what is expected of a Paranormal Romance Author! Oh, she stills follows a few of the most important rules- heroines must have strong voices, heroes must be swoon worthy, sex must be sizzling’, and you absolutely MUST give the story an HEA. But those are apparently the ONLY Rules that Shiloh seems to think she needs to follow. Here’s just a few of her infractions…

In The Hunter’s: I’ll Be Hunting You, she killed off one of my favorite heroes, Declan (from book 1), right at the beginning of the book. That’s not in the Rules, Shiloh! Then, she refused to let me know where she was going with the rest of the story until the final ending and HEA! What’s up with that? No way has she read the Rulebook!

Oh, and let’s discuss the way she’s tossed out the entire Genre Standards section of the Rules! Paranormal Romances have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Urban Fantasies have continuing story arcs that span multiple books. You can’t do both, Shiloh- it says so right in the Rules, if you’d ever bother to read them! But, Nooooo, not Shiloh. She gives us the first part of Malachi’s story in Legends: Hunter’s and Heroes and makes sure that, instead of merely waiting for Mal to find a heroine who will bring him to his knees, we yearn for Mal to find peace, happiness and healing, too.

Then she doesn’t give us the rest of Malachi's story until the second novella in Hunters: Heart and Soul! And, in THAT book, her flagrant disregard of the Rules is just shocking! First of all, novellas should each contain only one story- the hero and heroine’s. The Rules clearly state that you should NOT start a secondary story in one novella and continue it into the next. And they CERTAINLY do not allow this secondary story to start off completely innocuous and gradually develop into a brilliant, series changing climax by the end of the second novella! RULES, Shiloh, they exist for a reason! How are we supposed to concentrate on the hero and heroine’s story when you insist on involving them in secondary stories that keep us just as engrossed as the main story?!

Which brings us to Vax (*swoon*). The Rules state that the hero must be the most swoon worthy male in a story. And they most emphatically state that, when your hero is an uber powerful, mysterious alpha like Malachi, the heroine must be the ONLY character not intimidated by him. Yet, in Hunters: Heart and Soul, Shiloh involves Vax in Mal and Kelsey’s story and ignores BOTH those Rules! Therefore, the Reader develops conflicting hero lust and is even more unsettled when the “Only the hero can save the heroine’’ Rule gets tossed out, too! Shouldn't someone try to stop Shiloh's insurrection?!

In Hunter’s Salvation, we learn why Vax, a powerful witch and one of the best Hunters, left the Hunters decades ago. As I recall, the Rulebook states that heroes walk away from their previous life ONLY for angst filled, drama queen reasons. There is no mention in the Rules that the hero walks away because his honor and duty force him to commit a horrifying and heart shattering act!

And now, he doesn’t even WANT to rush in and save the day, he‘d rather someone else did it. He’s a hero, dammit, he’s not supposed to be reluctant! Then, Shiloh has the audacity to pair Vax with Jess, a heroine whose will to live is sustained only by her need for revenge and who WANTS to die once she has that revenge. The Rules clearly state that only ONE of the main characters’ souls must need saving, Shiloh, not BOTH of them!

But there’s one thing that Jess is absolutely right about- the psychopathic villains in Hunter’s Salvation just plain need killing. And Shiloh doesn’t spare the Reader the horrors of their heinous acts. In fact, Jess’s younger sister is one of their victims and we learn all the gut wrenching details of what they did to her and the other women. It even becomes UNDERSTANDABLE that Jess would not want to live because she’s so haunted by that knowledge. No, Shiloh doesn’t spare us. We are horrified by the villains’ sanguinary attitudes toward torture, rape and death.

Shiloh is not done with her Rule breaking, though. We ALL know what the Rules say about HEAs between a human and non-human. There is an entire section of the Rulebook devoted to the accepted scenarios for an HEA in these relationships. Shiloh, of course, can’t let a little thing like Rules dictate the ending to Vax and Jess’s story. Listen, I’ve read the Rules, and I knew the whole way through the book how it would end. In fact, as the story unfolded, I was sure EXACTLY HOW she would bring about that ending. But Ms. Shiloh “I don’t need no stinking rules” Walker just couldn’t be bothered to do what I expected. And to top it all off, she broke that “Only the hero can save the heroine” Rule AGAIN! Heroine’s are NOT supposed to rescue the heroes, dammit!

By the way, Shiloh, the Paranormal Romance Rulebook has very clear guidelines about world building. Authors must either stick with their original world rules, or else change them on a whim to fit their current storyline. NOWHERE in those guidelines does it say anything about creating believable, logical secondary storylines that expand the world you created. So, what did you do? Well, first you came up with both legitimate and clandestine scientific studies that may eventually lead to an explanation for non-human magic. THEN you give us a heroine who is part of a human family that possesses non-magical mental powers similar to your magic-based non-humans’ powers! And, if that’s not enough, the human family knows about the Hunters, but you don’t tell us how or why!! Authors have been slapped upside the head with mackerels for doing less!

But I think I’m onto you now, Shiloh. You have a guileful plan to bring that storyline into play in the future, don’t you? In fact, since Vax and Jess’ HEA gives them little reason to be involved in future books, the mystery of her family will bring them back to us again, won’t it? I can't even GUESS where that cunning muse of yours will take us with THAT story arc! And knowing you, you’ll just use that as a blatant excuse to break MORE Rules and expand the boundaries of the Hunters’ world even further!

Geesh! The Paranormal Romance Rulebook exists for a reason, Shiloh. What will the industry come to if authors start making willy-nilly decisions to create sizzling, genre-crossing, complex, multi-dimensional paranormal storylines with non-conventional heroes and kick-butt heroines that refuse to do what is expected of them?! Do you honestly think Readers are going to want unique, unpredictable stories like THAT?!

Oh, hell yeah! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Piquant Opines: RJ, RT, Gwen,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday Trio

Since I spend so much time talking about the books that have given me such mental enjoyment, I thought I should further expand my mind through the Art of Photography. So every Tuesday I will present a trio of studies of the human anatomy.

What? Why, yes! You're absolutely right. How astutely observant you are. They DO all happen to be the study of the MALE human anatomy. And your point would be...?

The subject of this week's study will be shit that cracks me the hell up the musculature in motion...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

and since they've been whining that I haven't used their services in quite a while, let me re-introduce you to The QB Dancers...
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Bonus Study... And you thought I was a pervy old broad?! Shit, the EC party at RT Con is High Tea for Virgin Librarians compared to these horned out babes!

(no wonder everyone's so excited about going to National this week. Just sayin'.)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Not Going to Nationals Cyber Conference

"Not going to Nationals? Don't worry...Romance Divas is doing the next best thing!

Romance Divas announces the first annual "Not Going to Nationals Cyber Conference" from July 11-15, righton the forum. Best of all, it's FREE!

Just register for Romance Divas--membership is free, you just need to sign up! http://www.romancedivas.com/ [QB: here's the direct link to the diva forums] if you have trouble with registration email night.diva.maria (at) gmail (dot) com

There will be workshops, Q&As, and giveaways each day. All you have to do is participate!!!!


July 11:
Workshop: PC Cast and Kristin Cast (topic TBA)PCCast.net
Q&A: Erotic romance with Portia da Costa and Madelynne Ellis PortiaDaCosta.com

July 12:
Workshop: Book Signing 101: Tips to Help Make your Signing a Success by Jackie Kessler JackieKessler.com
Q&A: Legal Issues for Writers by Amanda Brice AmandaBrice.com

July 13:
Workshop: What to Expect After You Sign the Contract by Marley Gibson MarleyGibson.com
Q&A: TBA (either with an agent from the Larsen-Pomada Agency or a panel on multi-cultural romance)

July 14:
Workshop: Sasha White (topic TBA) SashaWhite.net
Q&A: How To Write Both YA and Adult Romance by Berta Platas BertaPlatas.com

July 15:
Workshop: Trim That Fatty Writing! by Rhonda Stapleton RhondaStapleton.net
Q&A: TBA (either with an agent from the Larsen-Pomada Agency or a panel on multi-cultural romance)

We also have loads of great giveaways, including books, critiques, coaching, and more!"

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This sounds pretty interesting. If you are not already a member, be sure to NOT wait until the last minute to sign up. If I remember correctly, you'll get an email verifying your membership, but then you have to wait for a second email giving you the okay before you can post or personalize. I've never actually posted over there though, only because it's very much a forum for writers, but I've mentioned before that I find the writing process and business fascinating.

BTW, click on the comments section for this post I made a couple of days ago. Now check out the names of the authors hosting the erotic writing workshop on Wednesday, the 11th. Look familiar? And these two gifted writers can also be found on the group author blog, Lust Bites. My jaw has dropped on more than one occasion after I've popped in to see what that bevy of Bawdy Brits are up to over there! And if MY jaw dropped, you KNOW it was good! So I'm guessing you can expect a no-holds barred workshop Wednesday. If there's questions you've always wanted to ask about writing certain aspects of erotic scenes, these two will give you the straight (or maybe not so straight, if you write M/M) answers.

(and now I'd better quit dipping into the Chocolate Fondue and get back to work)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Passionate Plumes Revisited

FINAL UPDATE: Just ignore this whole post and consider it my scratch pad! If you want to see the awards all prettied up with links included, either click here, or go to the right hand column of this blog and click on +Award_Winners+

The following is a modified version of my May 11, 2007 blog post. I've been meaning to make it easier to find the Passionate Plume award winners, but was recently reminded of it because I'm feeling abandoned and left behind by so happy for everyone that is going to attend the RWA Conference in Dallas next week.

BTW, if you are one of the lucky bitches fortunate ones that will be attending, and the opportunity arises, would you PLEASE mention to the powers that be that they need to make it a bit easier to find the award winners. Even if they don't want to go to the trouble of providing links, they should at least include the publisher's name, which is so critical when trying to locate an ebook. After all, the Passionate Plume award is nothing more than bragging rights if it doesn't increase your sales, right?

So, I busted my ass wasting a buttload of time doing this instead of working and have linked to the author (most authors have direct links to buy the books) and added the publisher name next to each book. I've also added Passionate Plumes as a tag label. That way, the next time I'm ordering from an epub or Amazon, I can just go over to the right side of my blog and click Passionate Plumes to buy any books from there that interest me without trying to remember them all. See? There IS a method to my over-the-top madness! I'll come back and update this post with my commentary links as I read them.

BTW, what's up with the STROKE OF MIDNIGHT Finalists? I thought the list below showed the winners (Stroke of Midnight Finalists) preceded by the runners-up (Passionate Plume 1st Round Finalists) but I think there must be something more to it, like maybe it's a whole different contest? I couldn't find any info about the Stroke of Midnight finalists. Either I couldn't find a site for the author, or I'd find a site with that author's name but they they didn't list that title as one of theirs. I finally gave up. Is there something about that category I'm missing? Like, you know, they're books that would threaten national security if released to the public? Is there some reason that an explanation wasn't included on the Passionate Plume site (other than the fact that they seem to be information Scrooges)?

UPDATE: Thanks to author Adele Dubois (see comments for this post), I'm a whole lot less confoozled. The Stroke of Midnight finalists are for UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS ONLY! The final results will be announced next week in Dallas. Thanks, Adele! BTW, check out the cover for Adele's current release, Motorcycle Heat, over at Loose-Id. Damn fine artwork!

UPDATE: Post has been updated with final results

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Reposted from May 11, 2007 (MODIFIED and UPDATED)

I just realized that, after discussing the books I was judging for the Passionate Plume Awards, I never posted the results!

If you recall, I talked about the books in my posts Who Needs a Horse? and Dilemmas and Frustrations. BTW, I decided I just couldn't spend another moment of my life reading that one honkin' bad book. I ended up just giving it a 1.2. Bad judge, no cookie. Now that Vampire Cowboys story I rated so highly? Yee-Haw! It made it to the first round (Paranormal/TT). Unfortunately, it didn't make it to the finals. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to name it yet, but really, it wouldn't be hard to figure it out

Anyway, here's the results...

The 2006 Passionate Plume First Round FINAL Results


First- Saskia Walker Double Dare (Berkley Trade)
Second- MacKenzie McKade A Tall Dark Cowboy (Ellora's Cave)
Third- Denise A. Agnew Dangerous Intentions (Ellora's Cave)
Hon. Men.- Denise A. Agnew Treacherous Wishes (Ellora's Cave)
Hon. Men.- Shelley Bradley Strip Search (Berkley Sensations- mass market)

Futuristic / Fantasy / Sci-Fi:

First- Cat Marsters Almost Human (Ellora's Cave)
Second- Vivi Anna Inferno (Kensington Aphrodisia- print and ebook)
Third- Melany Logen Torc’s Salvation (Ellora's Cave)
Hon. Men.- Lara Santiago The Lawman’s Wife (Siren Publishing)
Hon. Men.- Jory Strong Fallon Mates: Roping Savannah (Ellora's Cave)


First- Jade Lee Burning Tigress (Leisure- mass market)
Second- Sharon Page Sin (Kensington Aphrodisia- print and ebook)
Third- Jessica Trapp Master of Desire (Zebra- mass market)
Hon. Men.- Sylvia Day ASK FOR IT (Kensington Brava, Trade)
Hon. Men.- Samantha Kane The Courage To Love (Ellora's Cave) [Crème Brûlée!! See my previous commentary]


First- Anna Leigh Keaton Five Alarm Neightbor (Cobblestone Press)
Second- Nikki Alton Rodeo Man- The Cowboy anthology (Kensington Aphrodisia, trade)
Third- Loribelle Hunt Defending Serenity (Cobblestone Press)
Hon. Men.- Summer Devon Invisible Touch (Ellora's Cave)
Hon. Men.- Anna Leigh Keaton and Madison Layle Return To Me (Cobblestone Press)

Paranormal / Time Travel:

First- MacKenzie McKade Fallon’s Revenge (Samhain) [Hypothetically speaking, IF I had the honor of judging this one, and IF I had given it a really high score, I'd be proud as a mama-hen that it made it this far, would place it in my Peanut M&Ms category, and would want to totally pimp it. But since judging is anonymous, I would NEVER do so. Just sayin'.]
Second- Mechele Armstrong Blood Lines: Conduit (Loose-Id)
Third- Cheyenne McCray Seduced By Magic (St. Martin's Press- mass market) [I read this when it was first released, this is book 2 of the Magic series and I recommend that book 1, Forbidden Magic, be read first. I'd place this series at the top of my M&Ms category.]
Hon. Men.- Laura Baumbach Enthralled [note corrected spelling] (Changeling Press)
Hon. Men.- Ann Jacobs d’Argent Honor 2: Eternally (Ellora's Cave)


First- Anne Rigoulot - When Petals Fall
Second- Robin L. Rotham - BIG Trouble
Third- Jennifer Brassel - Secret Reflection
Hon. Men.- Julie Hurwitz - The Amazing Sex Race
Hon. Men.- Julie MenschWellons - Liar, Liar


First- Elaine M. Powell - A Lord’s Obligations
Second- Evie Byrne - Dante’s Inferno
Third- Lori Schaefer - The Voyage
Hon. Men.- Seeley deBorn - Where The Wolf Lies
Hon. Men.- Sandy Storm - Fossa’s Dare

Paranormal/Time Travel:
First- Evie Byrne - Burn For You
Second- Susan Meier - Not That Innocent
Third- Holly Youngquist - Crime of Passion
Hon. Men.- Stephanie Mowery - Spell Bound
Hon. Men.- Nancy Liedel - To Find A Queen


First- Shelli Stevens - The Captured Rose
Second- Sher LeScott - Something More Than Sex
Third- Adele Dubois - Dream Traveler
Hon. Men.- Lee Swift - Eternally Three: Touching Perfection

I just wish Passionate Ink had provided links or at least publisher names for each of these. Tracking them down could be a real pain-in-the-ass! And I absolutely would like to sample some of these.