Sunday, May 30, 2010

This Meeting Will Come To Order Please

Hi, my name is Carolyn and I'm a collectoholic.

Who knew it it could come to this?

Well, actually, I should have; I've displayed these tendencies for years.

Started with recipes. Yes, terrible cook that I am, I once collected recipes. Came from working with a bunch of women who loved to cook and did it well. I copied recipes from magazines (still do sometimes) that never got used; I bought those cookbooks that Church Ladies put out to raise money. I bought ingredients that were used once and later (much later) thrown out because they were way past any kind of date you'd like to name and I didn't want to take the chance of killing a family member.

I think this phase lasted until my boys got into sports and then who had time for cooking? It was time for Mickey D!

Then I learned to crochet. Oh dear. And oh my. And good lord! I bought BIG loose leaf notebooks to keep my patterns organized. I joined clubs that provided their own loose leaf books; one afghan club had to give me two extras. I had three notebooks full of doll patterns and heaps of 'extras' to trim vintage clothing.

Then I happened to notice cross stitch. Counted cross stitch. And I was off again. Lots and lots of patterns, but very little finished product.

Now I have a Kindle PC.

I am doomed.

If you looked at my bank account you'd see lots of $.99 and two and three dollar purchases, interspersed with larger purchases of - oh, $5.99 maybe. Lots and lots. And lots.

I said in another post that perhaps the agency model saved me from nickel and dime-ing myself to death. I'm here to tell you I'm accomplishing it just fine all by myself. Even finding many free books doesn't ease the sting. I bet if I added up all the books, recipes and patterns over the years, I could buy a nice, cheap car or something.

There is one redeeming quality to my obsessions. They have given me hours of enjoyment and yes, even pride. But my obsessions are one reason I don't drink or go to casinos. Ha!

Those of you who buy epub - do you find yourself buying more? Do you get high with the instant gratification? Do you go hunting for more? Something - anything - to download?

I shall have to haul myself up by the bootstraps, because it's getting ridiculous.

But before I do, there's that newest Julia Quinn book that looks and sounds sooo good ....



Hi Carolyn, my name is Lori and I collect things too.

I blame blogs for some of it. How often do you go to one of the romance blogs you enjoy and they're praising one book that 100 people love and you want to read it too so you go and buy it only to go back and there's another book they're talking about that sounds so good!

Add onto that Amazon has a Buy Now button and paperback swap beckons and I can't even mention real books on real shelves in most stores you go into.

And I suffer with Carolyn too who is always going on and on about books she's reading, books shes bought, books she's downloaded (everything but books she's written but we'll discuss that later...)

What bothers me about the book collecting is that I can see books on my shelves that I bought because of high praise but I don't have a lot of interest to read.

I refuse to discuss all my obsessions here because that's what God made psychiatry for. However, because you are all my best and most trusted friends I will admit that my home improvement obsession is currently emptying my bank account and I do have about 4 notebooks filled with recipes currently...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Woo Hoo!!

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews came in the mail today. *big, big grin!*

I sneaked a peek at the acknowledgments whilst still at work - she said, and I quote, "This book does have sex in it. Please don't hit me anymore." LOL!

Y'all pardon me; I'll be back later.

Carolyn

Monday, May 24, 2010

Old Farts Are Age Appropriate Old Farts

After our little John the reviewer kerfluffle, we saw a few blogs elsewhere continued the conversation about age and reading and reviews.

A lot of people misinterpreted our concerns with a wish to censor what a teenager read, which was never anybody's intention. If it isn't my child, I have no concerns what's on any child's bookshelves.

What was a surprise to us was the number of posters who claimed to be reading romance at ages as young as 8 and erotic romance a few years later. "Really?" Carolyn said to me. "Age 8 they were reading Nora?"

"Don't ask me," I said, "it was in the early '60s and I was still playing with Barbies. Why don't you write a blog post about it?"

"Well I just think I will..."



Carolyn:

I was shocked to discover recently how many women had started reading romance - explicit romance - at a very young age, some as young as eight.

Now, here's where I show my Old Fartness.

When I was eight I was reading Little Women and all the sequels, the Bobbsy Twins, and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (those shiny hardback books, I had quite the collection and besides I was in love with Trigger). Also Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

I graduated to biographies (loved anything re Elizabeth I) and autobiographies and segued into histories and generational tomes and then discovered SF&F.

The first romances I can remember reading were Georgette Heyer and she's hardly explicit. I think I was about 13 when I discovered her, but I won't swear to it. (It was VERY long ago, lol). At some point I remember trying some romance a la 'The Wolf and the Dove', went euwwww and never thought of romance again until I found Nora late in my life. Oh - but the backlist!!

So now I'm feeling REALLY old. Is it because it's a different era? With the discovery of online Romanceland, I've also realized just how naive and ignorant I was and am. Every day is an education for me. :-)

I don't regret my late start with the more explicit romances. Little Women was just right for me at the time and my eight year old heart beat wildly, hoping against hope that Mr. Bauer and Jo would get together; sighed with happiness at Laurie and Amy's first kiss.

I didn't need anything more back then. Sometimes I don't even now.



Lori:


I agree and if that makes me an old fart then I'm happy to be one.

I read Nancy Drew I think while these others were claiming to read sex. I read Little Women and anything by Louisa May Alcott and Frances Hodgson Burnett.

When I was 13, The Exorcist (the book) came out and my parents bought it for me. I don't know if they would have had they known how graphic it was (fucking herself with the crucifix, the language and the imagery).

I was not a mature child. I was an age appropriate child.

However, I handled the book fine. I also still remember it clearly.

Romance came later although I do remember reading teen romances back when I was a teen. That would have been the early 70s. Our books weren't riddled with cussing, violence or sex. In fact, my favorite sweet 16 romance didn't even share a kiss, if I remember correctly.

My daughter is nine and she's reading The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. She's playing at reading Harry Potter. I have the whole Nancy Drew library for her, if she's interested.

I think I'll keep my Maya Banks books out of her hands right now. Geez, I really must be an old fart....

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Question

What would you write if you could write about anything? Would you write stories that were poems, using words as characters? Would you bloody the page with mayhem or cloud it with confusion?

Are your untold stories romances? Are your whispered tales the fantastical from your childhood?

What would you write if your heart did the writing for you?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Publishing Poop

Just wanted to provide an update on the piece of crap Carolyn and I have been trying to get published.

One editor was hospitalized with severe vomiting. One gouged her eyes out.

Two need psychiatric help and have sent revise and resubmit letters.

Two have not yet responded although rumors have been heard that they've ordered eyeball bleach.

We'll keep you updated.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I Read Romance

Carolyn:


I'm not exactly sure why I read romance

Yes, yes, yes - once there was the obvious; the in depth descriptions of bed play and the accompanying sechs. At that time if I were grading books, I would have used 'twitches' instead of numbers or letters, lol.

Unfortunately, I moved out of the erotica stage before I discovered the epub sites. Shame, really.

Now? Well, now I look for depth. Depth in character and relationships. And a storyline that allows the sechs to appear naturally as the plot develops and the characters evolve. Emotions and sexual tension do more for me these days than Tab A into Slot B.

Now, I have the problem of sifting these deeper stories out of the chaff. That's where review blogs come in real handy.

I read Georgette Heyer in my teens and early twenties; forsook romance for SF&F for most of my life and only returned to romance after falling in love with the music called popera. Oh lord - how I wanted romance then - it was so singularly lacking in my life. Now, I've segued back to GH, and others who are true storytellers.

My list?

Georgette Heyer (of course)- anything she wrote
Laura Kinsale - Flowers From the Storm
Jennifer Ashley - The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie.
Loretta Chase - Lord of Scoundrels, Mr. Impossible.
J. D. Robb - the In Death series.
Jennifer Crusie - Agnes and the Hitman, Bet Me.

And because of my fantasy past:

Iona Andrews - the Magic series
Patricia Briggs - anything she writes.
Elizabeth Vaughan - Warprize and anything else she writes.
Nalini Singh - the Archangel series.

I enjoy some of Balogh and Quinn, but never know if I'll find myself bored.

And, of course, I read romance for the HEA. It's a guarantee or else it isn't a romance. I need the escape from real life. :-)


Lori:


I first read romance by mistake. I was living in San Francisco and somehow ended signed up for a Harlequin monthly book club. This was back in the *cough* 1980s and most of the books had virginal British blondes and rough handsome bosses and they bordered on ick. I was hooked because I always wanted to kick the heroes ass and tell the heroine to get a spine. Feisty thing, even back then.

I stopped reading for a long time until I stumbled on Jayne Ann Krentz. Loved her writing, loved that her stories were local and loved that the heroines were smart and feisty and not British.

I never followed the genre, romance has always been just among the books I read. It wasn't until I started writing that I discovered the genre and started to really read. Jennifer Cruisie and Welcome to Temptation reeled me right in.

The romance blogland has had a lot to do with my continued reading. Reading reviews and comments where people just grow incandescent with descriptions of favorite books and writers makes me want to read those books and writers. Going onto blogs or Twitter and enjoying the online presence of certain writers has caused more than one book purchase.

Now I'm discovering that I read romance because I like reading. And it's one of the genres I read and becoming less the primary one.

I read and write because I love a well crafted story with words that flow and bite and dare you to lose yourself in them. I read because a well turned phrase is more delicious than the taste of chocolate and a clever retort on a page can make me smile for hours.

I love that moment when the characters become real and their feelings settle under your heart.

Why do you like to read romance? Or are you fonder of a different genre?

(I really hate weak heroines and so love the paranormals still as well as chick lit and my #1 favorite which is literary fiction. Also love poetry.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Talking Sex With Teens

Over at Dear Author, a new reviewer who is fifteen years old has been reviewing romance and YA. Now he's reviewed an erotic romance.

To say I'm uncomfortable with this is an understatement. The reviewer is obviously intelligent, well spoken, thoughtful and appears more mature than I am on a good day. I'm old enough to be his grandmother by the way. And I'm much too old and much too polite to talk erotic romance with a fifteen year old boy.

When my daughter starts stealing books out of my library and reading them for the hot parts, I'll look the other way and let her read as she likes. If she chooses to read what I write (and there are some hot parts in those too), I'll blush and look the other way.

If my daughter wants to talk to me about what she reads then as her mother I'll be right there and listening. That's part of my job as her mother. However, if her best friend wants to join the conversation then that's where I have to draw the line. It's inappropriate for an adult to have a conversation with a child that isn't theirs about sex and all the squishy stuff that entails.

If I found that someone was discussing sex with my underage child I would be contacting the authorities. I'm just that kind of Mom. It's my job to keep my child safe and even if my child was mature and the person they were talking to was hands-off and just sharing conversation: it would still be wrong and I would be all over that with mace and handcuffs.

Having a fifteen year old boy discussing erotic romance on a popular website seems like a bad idea in every way I can think of. Is there anyone else out there who finds this as wrong as I do? Or am I just a reactionary old bitch who doesn't understand that fifteen is the new forty?

What say you out there?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Ereader and Me

Carolyn:

Actually, it's not a real Kindle, because money is still tight. It's the Kindle for PC program, a free download. So, I downloaded it. And boy, was I in business!!

I'm sort of on an ebook overdose. I haunt Amazon these days. So many FREE BOOKS! Most of which I'll never read. *blush* But - I mean - FREE!!!

Also, I downloaded this program just before the Big 5 price change and got some real deals on books that I DID want to read. I suppose I should be thankful the prices went up; it saved myself from myself, from nickle and dime-ing myself to death.

But I love my Kindle PC. Yes, I'm stuck at the computer, but I'm there most of the time anyway.

Long story, but there's no room in the livingroom, so I mostly stay in with my computer. My computer and I have bonded. Yes, indeed.


Lori:

I have my Sony and my Sony has me.
We're as happy as the 2 of us can be.
I read my books, both paper and e
But unlike Carol, I hate to read on my PC.


Okay, anyway.... I have the little Sony ereader and I loves my Sony. I like that it's lightweight. I like that it's pink. I like it's sleeve. I like my bookshelf on my computer with the pretty covers and my ereads with occasionally strange formatting.

I'm still getting used to reading on the Sony. I love being able to lay it flat on the table in the lunchroom and not try to eat my lunch while balancing a book open. I like not losing my place. I like the ease in buying.

I love the number of free books out there and I hate that Fictionwise became such a piss poor company overnight. eHarlequin rocks however and I have to give it BIG ASS kudos for being so forward thinking.

I especially love knowing that I can read the ebooks of the people I meet online and be a part of their community too.

I love my Sony indeed. If only I could share books with Carolyn's Kindle.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Question About One Night Stands

I'm reading Louisa Edward's On the Steamy Side and it begins with 2 people in a bar who decide to hook up. They don't bother to learn each other's names but she can tell he's a decent guy (plus the bartender said he was and that's good enough for our heroine!)

I'm more than a little squicked out by this. I know that these characters will become the H/h and fall in love and have their HEA but well ... anonymous sex with a stranger doesn't put me in mind of HEA.

What say you? Knowing the H/h start their story that way would you keep reading? Would you not care because it's a romance? Would you throw the book against the wall because it's a little too squicky for a romance?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Carolyn's Love Via Southern Cooking (Kinda)

I've been thinking about the past lately. Actually, it started with the Great Mullet Smackdown between Canadian Kristy J and American SB Sarah. Although it was all in fun, it got me to wondering - are we really so very different?

When I moved to Alabama from Toronto Canada 40+ years ago, I think my answer would have been a resounding YES! Not only was I going from a large city to what I guess what would be termed a town (pop. 20,000), but I was entering what seemed to me to be the Twilight Zone. Southerners have their own ways of doing things.

For one thing - they cook food to death. Not that I cooked, you understand. Mom may have thought she was teaching me, but I somehow managed to dodge even the simplest basics. But a lot of our food - vegetables and fruit - in Canada were steamed, baked or just plain raw. Now I had entered the land of "if you can eat it, fry it" and if you can't fry it, boil it to death.

My first experience with cooking Southern was blackeyed peas. These were fresh from the garden, compliments of a first cousin belonging to John. So, you know, I cooked them as I thought they should be cooked. Like English peas. I can remember eating English peas straight from the pod, so you know they don't need much cooking. I proudly dished up my first attempt at cooking southern food and those blackeyes peas bounced around the plate like BB shot!

See, you're supposed to cook blackeyed peas at least 2 hours, after seasoning them with fatback or bacon strips. That's so you get a liqor (yes I spelled that right) to dunk your cornbread in.

John laughed his ass off (not that he has much of a one in the first place!). I was not amused.

Then I compounded my error due to differences in language. That same cousin dropped off some turnips, also fresh from the garden.

Well now. After the fact, I discovered that what we called turnips in Canada were called rutabagas down here. And lots of other places, for all I know. But I knew turnips as those big waxy things that are so hard to peel. Sort of all purpley and white. I do remember thinking Southern turnips were rather puny, but shrugged my shoulders and got on with preparing them. Cut off the tops (good lord, there were a lot of tops!), peeled the puny turnips and cooked them as I remembered Mom doing it with a pinch of sugar and salt and a slab of butter on top when they got to the serving bowl.

John couldn't eat them, they were so bitter. That's when I learned I cut off and threw away the wrong part. It's the green, leafy tops I was supposed to cook. Called turnip greens down here. You cook 'em with fatback and/or bacon and if you wish you can add a few cubes of the turnip, but not too many. They are bitter, you know. It is certainly a sign of true love when a man puts his stomach second to a woman. Romance, southern style.

I tried to make Brunswick stew; it scorched. We ate it anyway, with little flecks of black throughout it. Very decorative. My chicken and dumplings? I may be the only person in the south whose dumplings collapsed. I buy Sweet Sue now.

About the only thing I got good at was cornbread dressing. That's because I couldn't cook the wild duck without it drying out, so I boiled the hell out of it, stripped it off the bones and put it in a 13x9 baking dish of cornbread dressing. Not too bad. My guys did eat it, anyway. But that was when I was older and wiser and had become fairly familiar with my stove. I also discovered if you wrap dove breasts in bacon they won't dry out. Took me awhile though. And John kept eating questionable food. True love, I tell ya!

I've settled in down here and have found that people are people, no matter if they're north of the border or south. Southerners certainly don't talk like Canadians, but their values are the same.

And didn't someone wise once say 'variety is the spice of life'? If they didn't mean the South, they should have! The South, where a southern gentleman - in all senses of the word - will dutifully eat questionable food cooked by someone who could have been a damn Yankee, except she lived too far North.

It's true love and in it's own way, entirely romantic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Celebrity Crushes by Lea, Part 2

Ok, I’m back :D Now where was I..?


The Footscray Football Team (aka Western Bulldogs). I love my guys, seriously. I’m not at the stalker stage but when in Melbourne I did go every week to see them play. But that’s allowed – without people like me, the grounds would be empty lol. Football is a religious thing for us Aussies, regardless of the code and the huge crowds that go each week attest to that. Once was a time a girl would only go to perv on the guys in their short shorts. We’re over that now (only because some wear baggier shorts with bike pants underneath lol) and actually go to support our team. Yep, this is a celebrity crush 30 years in the making. The fact that they’re cute too doesn’t hurt lol


No list (of mine, at least) would be complete without the addition of S├ębastien Izambard. Le hottie from France is just too good to be true. I’m most certainly positive that he isn’t perfect but he exudes the image really well. Handsome, talented, lovable, funny, family orientated – what’s not to love! The fact he wooed and won the heart of an Aussie chick doesn’t hurt either. Like Hugh, he is very much for his family and doesn’t mind bringing them up in conversation even when it’s not relevant (hmm, maybe that’s a fault... lol). Yes, indeed, the sexiest member of IL Divo (sorry ladies – just know that I would take Carlos before the Urs lol) is just the whole shebang. And what I wouldn’t give to shebang... Sorry ;P


Picture this, if you will. Tall, blond, kissable lips, hard body wrapped in rubber... Now, it’s not what you think. Well, it is maybe, just not for this post. I am of course referring to the best Batman – Val Kilmer. When he had that mask on his lips were just so much more enticing, doncha think? Still, I had a thing for Val before he made that terrible movie (I loved him, the movie was shit). I first noticed him in a little movie called Top Secret. Even to this day it has to be my fave all time comedy. Val was great in it although the movie was hardly Oscar worthy. In a tux, singing, doing slapstick. Yep, the minute he sang ‘Spend the night’ I knew.


Ben Affleck’s besty Matty Damon is next. What’s not to love about the boy from next door? He’s cute, can be funny or serious, isn’t afraid to take the piss (have you seen Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back? Hilarious!) and is damn sexy when he’s fighting the bad dudes as Jason Bourne. He would have to be one of the people I’d invite to dinner and it would be more for his conversation than his looks, although, just between you and me, that would be my dessert lol


I first came across Damon Wayans when I watched a show called “In Living Color”, which also starred a young Jim Carrey. Almost immediately I thought Damon was gorgeous. I really enjoy all the Wayans’ boys but he’s my fave. Sexy... yum... hot... funny... sexy... oh, sorry I said that already. Well, it’s true and just sums it up really lol


Before I heard the rumours and saw articles (which broke my heart, let me tell you) I was in love with Derek Longmuir. Mind you, I was about 9-10 at the time and the Bay City Rollers were big here in Aus but still. All the other girls were in love with Woody, Lesley or Eric (who I personally always thought was a little creepy) but not me. I had a thing for Alan’s little brother. Even now some *cough cough* ... years later and I can’t help but smile and feel all girly when I see a clip for ‘All of me loves all of you’ on some countdown of songs from the 70’s. I didn’t even mind he had long hair (a pet hate for me). I wonder if tartan will ever make a come-back.


While we’re talking musicians I’ll briefly just add the following ‘passing phases’ over the years... Andy Gibb, Mike Nolan (Bucks Fizz), Ace Frehley, Michael Crawford, Ronan Keating... Each with their own little reasons but worthy of a mention.


Before I give you my current ‘crush’, here are some other honourable mentions from years gone by. Robert Redford, James Stewart, Mark Harmon, Billy Wirth, Ewan McGregor, Rob Lowe, Matt McConaughey, Michael Weatherly, Michael Pare. I could go on but I won’t. I don’t need to have you laugh at my choices even further lol


I started with a Tom and I’ll end with one. My current choice is Tom Welling. He plays Clark Kent on “Smallville”. I think that’s part of the appeal – I’ve always been a Superman girl (Batman sux) and have almost always had a crush on each of his ‘incarnations’ (the guy who played Superboy for tele dips out). I didn’t start out thinking Tom was anything special but then the more I watched the show the more I liked. Maybe it is the whole knowing he will one day be Superman thing, or that I imagine he is a lot like the character he plays, I don’t know. Still, with several seasons yet to catch up on, I’m gonna have fun pervi... umm, watching and trying to find out.


So, there you have it. A somewhat convoluted list of my crushes over the years. I’m sure I repeated myself quite a bit in the reasoning but sometimes it’s just too hard to be eloquent and to wax lyrical when you’re sitting at your desk drooling all over your keyboard. Or maybe that’s just me. Ciao for now.
:D

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Sound of My Heart Beating

We talk about romance in books and in the fine figures of fine men.

Carolyn and Lori have one romantic element they agree on 100% that isn't discussed enough and that's the voice.

Introducing: romance.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Companion by Susan Squires

Carolyn:

Vampire alert!! Vampire alert!!

All ye who care not for these fascinating creatures should stop reading now.

I was really wowed by this book. It has a fascinating explanation for vampirism. It's a disease that you catch rather like HIV from body fluids. But it is much more than just a virus; it is more like a symbiote and it gives as well as receives.

Ian Rufford has been contaminated. He was held captive and tortured (and boy is THAT an understatement) while traveling in Egypt. Captured by Ashari, a beautiful, evil woman who believes herself the Queen of all Vampires.

After his escape, Ian travels to England to consult with a doctor specializing in blood diseases to see if he can find a cure for his condition. (Thereby dispelling one vampire myth because he's traveling by sea and NOT in a coffin!)

On board the ship he meets Elizabeth Rochewell who has been traveling Egypt with her father. At his untimely death, she is forced to return to England, because she cannot live in Egypt unmarried. There is an immediate attaction between them although both try to deny it. It takes all Ian's willpower to resist his blood urge, but the ship's inhabitants are off limits and he's forced to wait until the ship makes port. He falls ill and Elizabeth nurses him.

They meet again in London. Ian has been unsuccessful in his quest for a cure and only succeeds in exciting the doctor he has consulted.

Ian wants to rid the world of Ashari.

Beth is a fish out of water in England and wants to return to Egypt.

They strike a bargain. He will marry her and take her back to Egypt; in return she will use her extensive knowledge of the country and its archeological sites to find the lost city of Kivala. And there he will find Ashari and destroy her.

Everything about this book pleased me, from the early nineteenth century setting to the unique vampires. The characters were believable and I was pulling for them all the way. Ian's history is told in flashbacks and I almost cringed when one came up, because Ashari is not a nice lady. I longed for her destruction.

It's sort of like those old adventure books - King Solomon's Mine or She - only better written and with sechs. Mind blowing sechs even if it doesn't take place til the end of the book.

I think Lori read it too, and if I remember right, she's not even into vampires ...



Lori:


I am not into vampires but I loved this book. I heart Susan Squires.

These are not the vampires who are dressed in leather and have silly names like Pheriod and Phassion. These are people who are cursed.

Beth is brilliant and she's an equal to the men she meets. She's a heroine in the best sense and for all the TSTL heroines out there, they need to read this book.

I agree with Carolyn about the shock of Ian's story. You really bleed for him (pun intended). When Ms. Squires writes a villian, she does it really well.

This is one for the keeper shelves.