Saturday, February 27, 2010

Romance In All It's Innocence: A Contest

What better way to celebrate a blog that celebrates romance than with well... romance.

Romance in all it's innocence.

Doris Day and Rock Hudson in a collection of their 50s innocence. Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, Send Me No Flowers. Before Rock was gay, before Doris was doing porn and before Tony Randall was impregnating 20 year olds while he was in his 70s.

Dirty Dancing. Patrick Swayze. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." I lost my heart and never recovered it.

Il Divo: Live in Barcelona. Understand why they inspire us. A live concert CD and DVD. If you don't fall in love with Spanish baritones, then you aren't us.

To enter: Please enter a comment about your first foray into romance. Was it a romantic movie like the sweet Pillow Talk with Doris and Rock? Was it voices singing about love? Or perhaps seeing Patrick :sigh: Swayze for the first time.

Contest ends March 7. Please include an email address. We will send to other countries but the DVDs are NTSC and not PAL.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Personal Origins of Romance


This is gonna be a tough piece to write, because you see, I'm not allowed to mention Divos here. I'm not allowed to swoon over, lust after, or just generally dream about the crossover band Il Divo. Please don't tell Lori I mentioned them even this much.

So, the difficulty is, 'they' - the unnamed ones - are the origins of romance for me. I can almost pinpoint the exact day. Oprah 2006. Used to watch her a lot back then til they changed her showtime in my area and she came on while I was at work.

The unnamed - and unknown - ones were singing. Good lord, I've never heard the like. And I wanted to find out more. I wanted a CD, full of their songs and their voices.

Until then, I'd lived a mostly routine married life. Having kids, working, attending every kind of sports game there is to support the offspring. But I never wrote and what I read was SF and fantasy with hardly nary a kiss.

Those boys - the unnamed - woke something in me. A sort of yearning and a need to express it. And so I did. Started writing, expanded my reading and found some of the best stories! And they were Romance, the red headed stepchild of literature.

We all come to things in different ways. At different times. Sometimes finding it can be a life saver. Sometimes it gives you a new life, with new people. It can expand your horizons as well as your heart.

So - how did you come to Romance? And did it 'take'? Was it worth it all?


Il Divo started a lot of women writing the romance that the music inspired. However, I wasn't one of them.

I started reading romance way back when dinosaurs were roaming the earth. I also read fantasy, literary fiction, humor and anything I could glom onto. Literary fiction is, and will always be, my real love. But well written romance can slide into the literary fiction toe-hold.

I didn't try writing romance until I read Miss Jayne Ann Krentz. JAK lives in Seattle (as do I). The books she wrote had the elements I loved: humor, sex, intelligence and local landmarks. I devoured her books. And I wanted to write just like her.

JAK also tends to write to a formula. So I thought I could steal her formula and write a novel. Well, I couldn't. But it did teach me a lot and I appreciate much more what she does and her skill in doing it.

It was Il Divo that was behind my first full length romance novel/fan-fic. And I will forever be grateful and be in love with Carlos Marin for providing the sex appeal and baritono voice that made me want to write a romance around him.

The greatest pleasure is that even if Il Divo was the catalyst, the writing continues even without them. Whether it will ever be read by more than just our friends remains to be seen. As long as it's out there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

How PC Must One Be to Read Romance?


I am NOT a reviewer, as you can probably tell. Because, you see, I never stop to question why a story works for me, or why I stop reading before the first chapter is over. So I'm retiring before I get myself in trouble.

Look, I read for enjoyment, to lose myself in worlds that could never possibly exist in RL (real life). Mostly. I don't care if the author got an historical fact wrong. Not unless it's something egregious like putting the Crimean War in Africa or something. I do not get all worked up over descriptive terminology; I might blink a couple of times over some purple prose, but it just never occurred to me food was a no no to describe people. Any people.

It also never occurred to me I'd need a degree to read Romance. But so it seems sometimes. Deep, deep digging for character motivations, pointing out when actions don't match personality. Discussion of phobias, kinks, and all the psychological stuff (how's that for a medical word!) Well, I do have a lowly Associate degree in nursing, but somehow it leaves me feeling rather inept as an expert in Romance.

Ah well, live and learn.

Oh, I was languishing in an erotic wasteland before I saw the light and became a romance reader. I was a veritable virgin of sexual practices and alternative lifestyles. Lori got used to all my questions and once she stopped laughing her ass off, she graciously furthered my education. Some of it - I sort of wish she hadn't, lol. (Trying not to get too specific here).

But now! Ah now, I may not know all, but I'm no longer dumb as dirt. I've always believed 'to each their own' and that old standby 'it's not wrong if it's between two (or more, it seems) consenting adults and no one gets hurt'. I just never expected it all to be so ... let's call it imaginative.

So, I think I'm perfectly PC. I read the blogs with open mouth and wide eyes. And I don't buy what isn't in my comfort zone.

My ass is mine, hear???

But I'd much rather discuss with Lori and anyone else who cares to chime in, than write a 'formal' review. It makes my head hurt to even contemplate writing a formal review. I have nasty flashbacks to high school and English Lit.

So, no, nonono! Speak Lori! Compare and contrast! Let it all hang out. Tell me I'm an idiot (don't you dare!)


Carolyn, my darling,

you may be an idiot but you're my idiot. Although not wanting to 'put it in the pooper' or 'felch' or any of those other lovely things might make you simply more sane than the rest of the ladies out there.

And even though we weren't discussing erotic fiction, may I just say that when I read a description of a blow job and he's shoved so deeply that his pubic hair is tickling her lips: I gag. She might swallow but I'm the one gagging.

However, reading is an experience that works on so many levels. You don't read a book and simply take in words: you lose yourself in the world described and when the writing is good then you can see, smell and taste what they see, smell and taste. Or gag when his pubic hair is tickling your lip. :gag:

What I dislike about so many authors out there is that they don't care about the story as much as they care only about making a sale. So if licking toe-jam from unicorns while dressed in a tutu is the next boundary, you know those brave writers are going to write it!

I call them hacks.

A hack writes for a market with no attempt to create art. A hack knows that erotica will sell so s/he writes erotica without heart or soul but lots of thrusting, uncomfortable bodies.

If someone's claim to fame is being published writing only what they think might sell, then they can have it. We don't want it.


Well, you're right, I suppose. I made a little side trip into erotica. But you have to admit there's many a romance that has more than a tad of erotica in it.

Plus, I've noticed a push to include menages and kinks under the romance umbrella. I can't comment intelligently because it's not my life experience and I haven't read many of those types of books. Make that none.

Okay - there was the one you sent me with the three brothers who wanted one wife between them. Let me tell you she was fast running out of orifices and I was feeling the pain she evidently wasn't. And somehow the romance eluded me. It ended up a DNF.

Was it a romance? Or was it erotica? It impressed me so, I can't remember the author or title.

To be honest, it makes me a little uncomfortable to see some of these books reviewed as mainstream romance. But I try not to judge - who am I to judge? You'd be hard put to find anyone more vanilla or missionary than me, lol.

Frankly, at my age, I'm just thankful my mind is still relatively elastic. Even if my body isn't. OMG! I squatted down tonight to get something out of a low cabinet and I couldn't get back up! Had to get David to haul me to my feet.

The body's limited, but hopefully the mind never will be. *grin*

Do you remember my horror the first time I checked the Harlequin submission guidelines? They were so detailed. They didn't seem to leave any room for individuality. No Becomings. No Quatrains. Oh geeze, no dinosaurs!!!! You'd have to be an awfully good writer to produce a unique story when you're squeezed into a box like that.

It can be done, it has been done. But it'll never be done by me. I wouldn't even try, I know myself too well. I like the non-traditional ideas we come up with, separately and together.

And I have to have my dinosaurs, lol.


I would like to know how many group marriages have been successful. We know any number of one to one relationships have.

If there's more than one person in the bed, then to me it will always be erotica.


You know, this is what I was hoping for in the Writer's section of UG. Discussion - conversation & opinions - about authors, writing and - oh, just everything about the process and about what's out there.

I hope some of the folks who found us will join in. And if they don't, we'll just continue on because it's fun.

And we don't take ourselves too seriously. ;-)


Can you imagine us being taken seriously?

Carolyn: It's 3,246.

Lori: No, it's 3,794.

Lea: What are you two arguing about?

Carolyn: How many chest hairs Carlos has.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ye Gods! a review by Carolyn

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

Okay, right away I have a problem. I have no idea what genre this book is.

Genre seems to be a very big thing. People won't read a certain genre, no matter how good the writer, characters or story.

That's just wrong to me. And yes, that's an imperfect sentence, but it says exactly what I want it to say.

So anyway, this book. It's by Joshilyn Jackson, her very first published book. And these are the opening lines:

There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. I left one back there myself, back in Possett. I kicked it under the kudzu and left it to the roaches ...

The book is a combination of mystery, a love story and a collection of the most eccentric southern characters I've ever read.

Arlene is drawn back to her hometown of Posset ten years after she left. She'd made a deal with God: she'll stop fucking every male body that crosses her path, she'll never tell another lie and she'll never return to Posset. All God has to do is ensure the body is never found. Arlene killed one of the gods, a golden haired quarterback.

Circumstances force her back to Posset and her boyfriend insists he'll come with her. He loves her, he sees she's upset and he wants to give her his support. He doesn't know the truth at first, but he's there for her.

But did Arlene really kill the quarterback? Burr, when he finally hears her story, thinks not.

The convolutions of the story, the spot on characterizations held me captive throughout the book. It's a way out there plot and yet the writing is true to life. At the end of the book, Arlene's family doesn't automatically fall in love with Burr, all for a HEA. Oh, Arlene is perfectly happy with him, her family still not so much so. You see, Burr is black.

Hell, this is a piss poor review. I never actually claimed to be able to do a good review. I only know if I like or dislike a book. And if I like it, it's because of good writing, good characters and a good storyline. I have no idea about the finer points of reviewing, so don't ask me, hear?

So, I liked this book. Might be a mystery, might be chick lit, for all I know.

But one thing I'm sure of; it's damn good.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Partnership 101


Just like sex, sometimes writing is more fun with two.

Way back when Carolyn and I were able to touch our toes without our boobs hitting us in the face, we knew a couple of women who were writing a story together.

"I could never do that!" I exclaimed.

"I gotta go pee," Carolyn answered.

But the stage was set. Because anyone foolish enough to say never is almost always guaranteed they will. That explains tattoo's, strange piercings and that weird picture making the rounds of Carolyn in bed with a marching band and color-blind zebra.

We began writing together in epostilary form. A story told by emails flying across the continents detailing a love affair. Or two.

We've written stories together that had no flying emails. We've written it all and we always come back for more.

I think one of the reasons that our partnership works so well is that Carolyn lets me pretend to be in charge. I'm a bossy, little bitch and she knows to let me boss her around and pretend I have control.

What I imagine happens after we hang up the phone:

"John honey, Lori just told me what to do again. Where'd I put that voodoo doll?"


Lori has such a great sense of humor (how'd she find out about my doll??)

Okay - here's the REAL truth.

We're vampires!!

Yes indeedy, we feed off each other. We egg each other on. And too, we compliment each other.

One strange thing though: Lori always has to start our stories. She sets the tone, whether it be humor or angst or anything in between. It takes me a bit to get into a groove and then - hoo boy, the words, they fly!

The only thing I worry about now is that we'll both forget what having sex is like. I mean we're two old farts. I mean that if we were men, we'd have trouble getting it up.

What do we do then? Huh?


Considering how our bodies are falling apart, we're zombies, not vampires.

But to get serious for a minute, I think Carolyn and I share a few beliefs about writing that makes it easier to do together. We're both invested in the poetry of writing. It just needs to sound purty.

We can wax poetic at each other for ages, enjoying a cleverly crafted line or a well thought out phrase. I know there's a lot of people who would demand we take out the poetry but they can just go tell someone else how to do it.

We like our poetry.

We also like our humor. When you want to see us shine, let us joke. And since we make each other laugh ... it's heaven.


And that is why Lori leads. :-)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Makes a Man Sexy by Lea

What makes a man sexy? Well, isn’t that just a question for the ages!

I suppose we can go for the obvious and say things like ‘he has a cute ass’ or ‘wow, that six pack is just begging for chocolate to be licked from it’. Then of course we can go for the less shallow options like ‘he makes me laugh’ or ‘the way he dotes on is mother is adorable’. But which one is right? Do we even have to choose? Why can’t we have both in the one package?

As they say in the classics, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s never been truer than when it comes to the two lovely hosts of this blog and me. They’re all enraptured and titillated by a Spanish gentleman named Carlos and whilst I can see some of his finer points, he does nothing for me. I on the other hand have a thing for his sexy French friend Sébastien, who is just so... scrummy, for lack of a better word. Hmm, scrummy... yep, ‘bout sums it up really J

So what makes a man sexy? Is it the chiselled chin, the big strong arms to protect you, the cheeky grin, the laugh and the way he holds your hand in public or gives you flowers for no reason? Just like all men are different women are too which is why we probably can’t get a definitive answer to this question.

I’m going to go out on a limb and be perhaps a little ‘superficial’ here for a minute and tell you what I think is sexy. Well, one of the things - a man’s hand. But not just any hand, a hand with a wedding band on it. Of course in a million years I would never cross that line and do anything with a married man (that’s a whole different topic) but there is just something about it.

Regardless of what the guy looks like, a ring on his finger is sexy. I couldn’t give you an exact reason but I believe it has less to do with the fact he is married and more with the fact that he’s not afraid to show it. I know many men who are married and happily so but don’t like the idea of a ring. That’s their right. Then of course you get the losers who don’t want it to interfere with their social life. But like I say, that’s just a personal thing for me.

I’m going to generalize for a minute and say that looks mean a lot to people. That’s all well and good but isn’t that just short changing yourself? Bear with me for a minute and I’ll run two options by you.

Option A – Tall, dark (blond if that’s your thing), rugged and built like an Adonis. Has a six pack that’s hard to miss under his skin tight shirt, an ass you can bounce ten cent pieces off, achingly kissable lips and eyes that tell you exactly what he plans to do to you and that whipped cream.

Option B – Average height and weight, maybe a little shorter/rounder than what is considered ‘normal’. Kinda cute, or perhaps not – just ‘Joe Average’. Has kind eyes and a smile that makes you want to smile in return.
Who do you choose?

I’d lie and say Joe Average but deep down I know that’s not true. If I had no time to choose and it had to be on looks alone it would be A. So what happens when “A” turns out to be a bunny boiling psycho/married man/gay-bi/does drugs/treats you like crap or is abusive physically and mentally? I’m not saying on the flip side that “B” is perfect but how do we ever find out if we never go deeper than looks to find out?

For me I’d like a happy mix of all the above – just a guy that will treat me like an equal but still want to spoil me on occasion, loves me for me and wants the same things in life. Of course I also wanted to add that he needs to be a soldier but I gave up that dream a long time ago lol.

Seriously, it all boils down to choices. We go after what we like because that’s what we want. Every body has their own opinion of what they find sexy and if that differs from other people, does that make it wrong? Is it even fair to say that one option is more right than the other? Only you can decide that.

Besides, isn’t half the fun ‘sampling from Life’s buffet’? Start with the entrees and work your way up to the dessert that is going to make you full and happy.

*the views voiced here belong to me. The Blog owners may or may not share them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blogs We Love


Over there --> is a list of blogs we follow. Carolyn and I have different blogs we follow and some similar blogs and some that are self-explanatory and some that aren’t …

And some like walking in the rain and drinking banana daiquiris on the beach. This one likes blue and that one likes pink and they all smell so good…

So we decided to give a little explanation to some of them.

The Cupcake Addict: This is my friend Melisa who happens to love cupcakes the way I love Spaniards. That means that she wants to be sexxoring some cupcakes. It might not be hygienic but I try not to judge.

Truth be told, Melisa loves cupcakes in a real way. She likes to eat them, bake them and judge them. If you have any interests in cupcakes, check out my friend the addict. And tell her that Lori sent you. She might bring me a cupcake that way.

Scott Positive: Scott is another friend of mine who recently discovered that he’s HIV+. To say the balance of his life changed would be true, but well… Scott’s outlook is positive and his personality is sunny delightful.

Scott does tackle some uncomfortable issues regarding same sex relationships and the world of HIV. He’s worth checking out.

One Crazy Aussie Smidgette: Our Lea. Lea is my protégé. She’s a sweet, little Australian girl who writes, dreams, needs to get laid and uses incomprehensible language.

When I become a true evil mastermind, Lea will be my mini-me.

Texting Between the Sheets: This is a group blog run by the Text-Novel Divas. I’m not going to try to name them all but here’s a few things about them worth knowing: They all write. Many/most are published. They’re nicer than chocolate chip cookies but not quite as nice as Belgian chocolates.

One of them slept with Brad Pitt.

Dear Author: Dear Author is a mixed bag. Its stated purpose is that it’s a review site for romance novels. It’s also a place that discusses electronics, the publishing business and issues that a handful of people care very passionately about.

The reviews are pretty good. Jane reads everything from category romance to sci-fi romance and her reviews are usually thought provoking and intelligent. The best reviews, of course, are the ones where she hated the book. She can make my snark look like rose petals instead of vomit-crusted nastiness. Jane can have my baby.

The electronics: Not too interesting to me. But I did get an ereader so maybe she had some influence. If I get an i-pad then come disconnect me from the internet, okay?

Publishing biz and writing issues: Ah… this is where the real fun comes in. Because when those authors on DA get worked up about something it’s akin to a mob scene at a kindergarten. Oh they throw punches that rarely land anywhere, a few stand on the swings and pontificate (oh the joys of showing off an education) and well … it’s just a crazy-ass wonk fest and how can you not love it?


Dear Author gets me all frazzled sometimes, especially the First Page. I religiously read the critiques and go "Oh lord" and rush off to rewrite the WIP. And then someone else posts and I go "Oh Lord" and I'm off again.

But I've bought books I would never have considered, thanks to the reviews there, so I do thank them for that. FLOWERS FROM THE STORM - I'm looking at you!! We'll be having a shared review of that one down the line.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is another site I check religiously. I love the humor. Run by Sarah and Candy. Candy is conspicious by her absence these days, she's gearing up to become a damn lawyer! But Sarah's coping just fine. You'll find reviews, contests, videos and opinion pieces, along with interviews of authors and such folk.

Speaking of contests - did I tell you I won one? You should know this thing, I've posted it every damn where! Yes indeedy, I won a book. First time I've ever won anything, I think. And Sarah sent me the nicest email, so now I'm her slave forever. *grin* Wish this place had emoticons, I LOVE emoticons!

Oh - and Sarah and Candy are PUBLISHED AUTHORS! Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels. Yup. Funny and on target.

And lord, I love her reviews! She should put together a book of them. Funny and just a joy to read.

Another site I like is Ramblings on Romance with Kristy J. She's Canadian and lives close to my old stomping grounds. She has spreadsheets for her books!!! Her blog is a combination of reviews and Kristy stuff and fun to read. She even pulled me into commmenting! Now that's pretty good.

Just discovered Helen and Margaret's blog. Frankly, it gave us the idea for this one. It's a political blog, but these ladies are funny as hell and don't take any nonsense. I'd advise Republicans to stay away though, lol.

There are a few others I check out now and then, but these are the biggies, and for me the most enjoyable. There's always lots of links to further my education and I've often been sucked (suckered) into spending a whole morning just link hopping.

Good lord - who needs books when you've got these wonderful, talented bloggers?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Desperately Seeking Satori by Lori

I'm a bliss bunny.

I realize it's a little early in our relationship to tell you this but I thought I should get it out of the way. I am the kind of woman who seeks pleasure, enlightenment and connection.

eat pray love by Elizabeth Gilbert was written with me in mind. So understanding that, I wonder, why did this book fail?

Elizabeth starts the book with the end of her marriage. She walked out because she decided she couldn't face a future of being an average American woman living in New Jersey raising kids. So she bailed.

And in case you're wondering, she bailed right into someone else's bed. Because for all of Elizabeth's enlightenment, she's one of those women who can't stand to be without a man.

So when that relationship naturally went bad, she went to Italy and ate pasta. Oh, she went to Italy to learn Italian and wish that young, hot Italian men would kiss her: basically she went to indulge in a passionate moment of herself and pasta.

I do that too, by the way. It's why I am :ahem: round.

From Italy she went to India to study yoga and meditation at an ashram. While there she is nicknamed Groceries by a Texan who is the best part of the book. He sees through her shit and nails her to the wall all the time. She thinks he's helping her spiritual growth, I think he's collecting anecdotes about the dumb-ass New Yorker he met in India.

I might be wrong. But I don't think so.

After India, Elizabeth went to Bali because she once met someone who said "you should come by sometime". In real life that means, "I doubt I'll ever see you again so I'll offer this bogus invitation." In Elizabeth's world it means pack your baggage and let's go to Bali!

In Bali Elizabeth finally gets laid by an old guy (she's 35 and he's 52 and even her mother is like "Honey, you're no spring chicken") but he's from South America so somehow that makes him closer to 40. It's tantric math.

Anyway, at the end of the book we're left with Elizabeth finally able to meditate properly, eat well and have multiple orgasms. In real life she married the old guy and moved with him to New Jersey.

For real.

Grade: two limp penises and a wet spot

Saturday, February 6, 2010



Welcome to our new blog. We're Lori and Carolyn, two best friends who love romance: reading and writing. We also love our friends, each other, good food and all sorts of things.

We met about fifteen years ago when I was between marriages and Carolyn had just gotten her sex change. We recognized that very first time we saw each other that we were wearing the same outfit. (It looked better on me, I must say.)

After the prerequisite girl fight, we became BFFs. Since then we've written together, share a man and occasionally forget whose dentures those are on the bathroom counter.


I've always loved Lori's imagination - so fresh, so original, so libelous!

You know, it's strange. Our tastes are different in a great many respects. She doesn't like brussels sprouts, for heavens sake! She does likes tattoos and piercings and contemporary romances and - she likes to cook!

You would think we should do like the song says and 'let's call the whole thing off'. But somehow we mesh and we muddle along and we have a shitload of fun (you should pardon my French).

So, despite her continued maligning of my person, I believe I'll keep her.

And we both hope you'll join our craziness and have a riproaring good time.

It's our intention to create a blog that talks about books and writing. We have our resident Aussie, Lea, who will be talking about romance Aussie style. We might be the best of friends but we don't always agree on things and we have no cares or concerns about being PC.