Saturday, January 31, 2015

Radiance by Grace Draven

I checked waaaay back, since I've been delinquent regarding labels/tags, and can't find that I've ever written anything here about Radiance, so ... now I am.   :-)  Have a blurb:


Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.


Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.  

And have a cover:

Btw, it was fascinating watching this cover come together. Ms Draven tantalized us on Facebook with updates, from the time she found her model for Ildiko to the finished produce. I like it because it's not a photograph or people hugging in the snow.

It was fun watching these two go from wary strangers to loving couple. There's not an ounce of instalove in this book. Both characters have loving hearts and want to make a success of their political marriage  This is, in its own way, a quiet romance in an arranged marriage where the couple did not automatically hate each other 'just because'. 

I especially liked the way they teased each other, using this as a way to try to become comfortable with the differences between them. Ildiko got a shock every time Brishen smiled because he had fangs; she called him Wolf and he called her Horse, which is the only thing he could compare her square teeth to. Their eyes were different too, and Brishen (and all Kai) felt nauseous when Ildiko rolled her eyes (something romance heroines tend to do). She began to roll them deliberately, just to watch the reactions.

And so, as they lived and traveled together, they advanced from respect to affection, to trust and to love. 

The second half has much more action; fighting, kidnapping and the ending! The ending left me with my mouth agape and I hope Ms Draven is writing quickly because I want the next book in the Wraith King saga, like NOW!

The setting is fantastical; the world isn't ours nor are the people. But this is a very realistic romance, with characters I can relate to and root for. There's not one of Grace Draven's books I haven't enjoyed.

Highly recommended. Hope you'll give it a try.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Is that dark thing running down the middle of his body really supposed to be a shadow? He looks like he got up off an operating table just after they opened him up. I swear I see rough edges; he should be covered in blood!

I do NOT find this cover sexy!

Rise by Karina Bliss

Some years ago I read What the Librarian Did and loved it. Actually, it was the beginning of my love affair with Karina Bliss as well as my love affair with rock star romances. Zander (the hero of this book) was the villain in that book. But, a villain with charisma and readers wanted to hear his story. The challenge was to get him to a point where he'd be considered hero material and Ms Bliss succeeded very well.

What the Librarian Did was a Harlequin SuperRomance but this was was self published by Ms. Bliss.

And OMG, look at that cover! Does that not remind you of Queen??

Here's the blurb:

Rise - The redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman.

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes.
So bad-boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir.
Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions–manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous.
In short, everything she seeks in a biography subject.
When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.
Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed devil is only too willing to stoke.
She thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter.
She thought wrong.

Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life.
But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to his reputation.
His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph–if his golden voice holds out.
Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz. Elizabeth’s integrity is the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.
All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not force him to think.
Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out.
And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life.
Turns out he is scared of something: being known. 

I loved this book, everything from the cover to ... everything. It has everything I want; slow burn romance; great sex at the appropriate time; viable reasons for current hangups; and no over-the-top angst, although Zander is an over-the-top character.

The band, Rage, has been his life, his Snoopy blanket. When the band breaks up after brother Devon's collapse (see What the Librarian Did), he's desperate to save it and brings in new band members and uses his own assets to fund the Resurrection World Tour. One secret. His voice may not make it until the end of the tour. Two secrets. But hey, Zander's used to manipulation. He can handle this. Sure he can.

Zander lies a lot, even to himself. He lies about his past, he lies in the present. No one, absolutely no one can find out his true self, his true history, because then he would lose the love he's come to need from his audience. They couldn't love him - no one could love him - Elizabeth wouldn't love him - if they knew his truths. Zander has to realize he deserves love no matter what, that he is lovable no matter his past and Elizabeth is just the lady to teach him.

Elizabeth is one strong lady and didn't fall for any of Zander's crap. Only Zander would hire a biographer and then try to hide important parts of himself from her. Elizabeth takes no shit from him and it's a pure delight reading their dialogue.

I loved this book. I loved it so much I can't even nit pick and lay anything less than perfect before you. A definite reread for me and I believe there's more to come, which makes this a series and I am in heaven!

I strongly recommend this. Strongly!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trouble in Texas by Katie Lane

I can't remember how I stumbled onto Katie Lane and her books. I do know I'm reading out of order, because Trouble in Texas is not the first book in the series. But that's okay. It stands up fine all by itself and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

That there is one fine looking cowboy. 

So. Here's the blurb:

Inheriting the most notorious house of ill repute in Texas can spell trouble for a girl’s reputation especially when she’s Elizabeth Murphy, Bramble’s prim and proper librarian. Yet when she discovers a buck-naked cowboy handcuffed to a four-poster bed, she forgets all about the town gossips.  Elizabeth has sworn off men, but the stranger’s kisses melt her resolve faster than ice cream on a hot summer day. 

Waking up in Miss Hattie’s Henhouse isn’t how Brant Cates reckoned on getting to the bottom of his great-granddaddy’s murder. The plan was to solve the centuries-old crime, then get the heck out of Dodge. But after meeting Elizabeth and discovering that the buttoned-up beauty is a sexy siren in disguise, he just can’t pull himself away. Now Brant needs Elizabeth to finally put his past to rest, but is she willing to risk her future on Bramble’s newest bad boy?

The henhouse was quite the place in its day. Unfortunately, only three ladies are left; I think the youngest is 85 years old. They are old hens but they aren't ready for the stew pot just yet. Back in the day (like a century ago), Miss Hattie had quite the successful business. She also had rules for her business and these rules have become chapter headings, some of them lip twitching good, such as"

Rule #14: When unexpected things arise ... rejoice.


Rule #44: Don't give away the cart unless you've sold the horse.


Rule #31: A laid hen is a happy hen.

The book is full of Texas eccentrics and I do love me some eccentrics. It's a happy book for the most part, although some heavy things are covered. Brant's younger brother, Beau, is a cancer survivor which is worrisome and Brant lost his wife and son some years ago, so he's working through some issues. And of course, as many heroines do, Elizabeth has mama issues.

Still, I wouldn't call this a deep book per se. For me, it was a feel good book. I never was quite sure what the hens were up to, but that Minnie is a Class A manipulator and it was a pleasure to watch her work. So much so, that I had to get the next book in the series, Beau's story, Flirting with Texas. So I'm still reading out of order, lol.

I recommend these books if you're looking for a light, humorous read. I plan on trying more of Ms Lane's stories because, really, what's not to like about cowboys?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's A Writing Life For Me!

So there was a DA link to a cool blog (which I'm too lazy to find right now) with an author I never heard of sharing her sales numbers. She's making a living at writing (yay her!) and it was cool to hear her experiences.

Ann Aquirre chimed in with her numbers and I want to say that although I've had limited success reading Ms. Aquirre's titles (can't always like the writing even when one loves the writer) I really appreciated her adding her experiences.

Then came the comments from the readers that said basically I haven't written a novel yet but I intend to and now I'm so excited because I know I can make a living at it.

Ladies: this is for you.

My last payment from Amazon was $9.82. I also got a 36 cent payment for my British sales.

I have something like 19 titles available and if I'm lucky I can buy a Big Mac.

I'm not a failure. Far from it. Because writing sales aren't the only indicator of success. Having a publisher want to publish you is a success. Having strangers buy your books is a success. Having strangers leave reviews is a success. New views on your Facebook author page is a success.

If money is what matters then I'm a raging failure. But I don't think I am.What I am is a writer who doesn't have any titles that hit. It happens. And with all those non-writers who plan to write a book one day... I hope your numbers are as good as mine.

Oh, and to add more info: My best sales check was self publishing Yesterday's Headline which made about $120.00 in royalties the first week and hardly anything since then. My DA review of Surviving America's Sweetheart led to maybe 50 book sales but at 99cents and my cut of 34 cents per copy, I think maybe I got a cup of coffee out of it.

Writing isn't for making a living. It's for writing. Or as a wise man once said: don't quit your day job.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My New Purse/Tote!

I love Grace Draven's books and most especially the cover of Master of Crows.  

Slam Me

So in 2 weeks our local theater is having a poetry slam. My daughter was invited by her teacher to perform (which I hope she will) and I think I'm going to do it also.

It's been a long, long time since I've read poetry aloud and I hate reading in front of people but I really like the idea of trying to do a performance piece. I'm thinking about what I' like to write/what I'd like to say.

In other news, an old friend has written a book and is asking me how to get published and all the ins and outs of the business. *sigh*  How do you explain to someone that their chances of getting a New York publisher interested in a shot in the dark when blindfolded and deaf? There are so many people out there who deserve to be signed by NY houses and aren't.

I feel like an old curmudgeon with this. I want to say your chances of getting an agent are a million to one. Your chances of getting a publisher even smaller. And your chances of getting an audience...well... only apparently if it's Twilight fan fic.

But I get it. I had that same dream for most of my life and I'm still heartbroken that it'll never be realized.It's not that a person writes for fame. But you write and just wish it's good enough to stand with the writers you love.

It's heartbreaking when it isn't.

Other news: Carolyn's birthday is approaching. Feb 1. She's finally going to admit the red hair is Miss Clairol. I'm trying to arrange a male stripper for her birthday surprise but somehow all the exotic man dancers I've contacted hear Carolyn's name and slam down the phone on me. So what's that all about Carol? Huh?

And I just realized when writing that we can't slam down phones anymore with cell phones. So what does a writer do? She snapped her phone shut forcibly. She punched the end call button. She huffed and disconnected the call. Misses something, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Got a TBR Pile... How Exciting

This weekend I read Where'd You Go, Bernadette which was a popular book a few years ago. It's a really funny take on Seattle and Seattle culture but ultimately wasn't a very good book. After the Seattle insider jokes it went flat. Badly flat.

I started reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, an autobiography about her life with Robert Mapplethorpe. Really well written. Very enjoyable. I'm enjoying the image of a bohemian New York and how these two artists really became the artists they are. Very much a book that one absorbs and really experiences.

So about this TBR pile... I have a Kindle with more than 100 titles I haven't read. But none of them were really important to me. But right now I have To Paris With Love by Eloisa James. the new Rose Lerner book, the new Sarah Addison Allen book and a few more. And I'm excited.

With an ereader one can easily store titles and pay no attention to what's there to read. But having books that I want to read, that's such another story. I feel like I just emerged from a really long illness and now I have books to read.

But first I need to read more about Patti Smith's life before she discovered rock n roll.

It's really good.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Porn + 3

So last night at dinner during a discussion of my daughter's poetry writing, my brother accused me (jokingly) of writing porn plus three. I immediately pointed out that a. I don't write porn, I write romance and b. I don't write orgies.

Not orgies, bro said. It's porn with three extra chapters.

Chapter One (Plus): boy and girl cute meet. Porn ensues. Porn ensues for many chapters. Chapter Two (Plus): Boy and girl separate for some reason. Girl angsts. Chapter Three (Plus): Boy and Girl resolve issue and are back together. Porn continues and ends the book.

He was being funny but his comment wasn't. Not really. Because his porn plus three analogy really embraces a lot of books I've read. Although there is generally more story mixed with the porn, sometimes it seems as though the plot is being used to have a reason for the next tiresome sex scene.

Carolyn and I have both stopped reading most erotica and in a book like the Kylie Scott series where nobody is having sex beyond the first half of the book, well, cause for celebration.

Really bugs me that bro nailed that one.

Little notes: Watch the Jack Ryan movie last night with Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branaugh. Costner has aged well (though balding on top) and Branaugh was impossible to take eyes off of. Not usually my kind of movie but I really enjoyed it.

Also watched She's The One. Horrible. Someone please stop Ed Burns from ever making another movie.

And over on Amazon, someone left a really comprehensive 4 star review on Losing Hope. I was delighted reading it. Complete stranger really loved my writing (but hated something I did...) but still. 4 stars and a lot of thought went into it. I'm a happy writer person.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Yanno ...

... if you're looking at our blog name in a link, it reads as "Two Old Farts Stalking Romance". Somehow, in a mysterious biological twist, my brain adds another 's'.

Weird, huh? And probably true.

I'm off to find a book I can review. I find I've already reviewed Play and just because you've read a book three times doesn't mean you should review it three times.

Have I reviewed Lord of Scoundrels? I'm rereading it now. Because it was time. And then, even though I've bought beaucoups of sale books, I'm gonna reread Anne Bishop. Specifically the duology The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady, because they are a great "underdog comes of age and wins the day" stories. Have I written about them? I love them. Lori will know, I'll ask Lori.

I must start using labels so I'll know what I've done. It might be a case of too little too late, though, lol.

Oh. Bookcovers. One must always provide bookcovers and maybe a link. (Forget the link. Damn Blogger won't let me arrange the bookcovers the way I want to, so I'm pissed. You have all the info though, title and author and they're all over the internet. Happy Hunting!  ;-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Crowdsource Me! Crowdsource Carolyn!

Okay, so Carolyn and I have talked it over and decided to start a Kickstarter ourselves. I mean seriously, we like to do all the happening things that other authors are doing and hate to get left behind. That's why later we'll be introducing our new MC/Rock Star/Xtreme Fighting series: Songs for A Fast Heart.

But back to the important stuff... We Want Your Money! 

So we're going to kickstart a new project in the hopes of fleecing unsuspecting dupes interesting discerning readers with our new genre: Viagra Porn!!  Tah-dah!

Drawing on personal experience (and the stuff we make up) we'll be writing about seniors who pop the little blue pill and then satisfy anyone willing to see hairy, droopy balls with a raging five incher. Oh yeah baby. What can be hotter than bald spots, liver spots and old dicks? Hell, I just got moist writing that.

So seriously...

Reading about that YA author and her Kickstarter campaign was interesting. I'd never give money to an author to help support her unless it was Jennifer Crusie and she wanted to pay for therapy to get over her Goddamned writer's block. But anyone else can suck my wizened balls.

Plus I'm cheap.

And poor.

Beyond that though... it seems that if a midlist writer loses a contract or doesn't do as well as s/he wants and is looking for other options, I'd have to ask if that person has looked seriously at their own career or writing. I mean, really looked at it.

Author writes book. Publisher sells book. Book tanks. Publisher releases author from contract. Author seeks other funding even though she uh... failed. Instead of asking other people for money to live on to continue a series that didn't do well enough, how about asking for money for writing classes? Improve your craft. Figure out why you lacked sales and work on that.

Am I being mean? Probably. But if you made burgers and people stopped buying your burgers because the buns are stale and the burgers down the street are better, then improve your business model, improve your product and try again.

Try Viagra Porn. It's new. It's hot. And for a $20. donation, we'll send pictures. For $25. we won't.

Monday, January 12, 2015

50 Shades of...

My 13 year old daughter is reading the 50 Shades trilogy. Both Carolyn and I have asked her to review the books for the blog but so far she's refused. We'll keep asking but I know her well enough to know she'll never do it.

But here's the thing: my girl isn't much of a reader. If she likes a book she'll read it, if it's part of a series then she'll read the series. But usually she reads below her level and she doesn't show a lot of interest in reading to where her competence is. So if she asks for a book, I'm going to say yes because I want to see more reading from her, not less.

I don't have much issue with her reading explicit sex because she reads 5SOS fan fic on Wattpad and that has explicit (and badly written) sex. So I know she's already been exposed to it. and with our relationship, we've talked about it and I know she'll come to me with questions or comments.

So my kid started reading the book and the first thing she said was "This is like written by a 15 year old girl writing fan fiction. It's not good." My heart applauded.

But she kept reading and we talked about it as she made her way through the book. Some of it she mocked but she read it daily and loved it. She texted me when I was at work to tell me that a part she was reading made her feel breathless. When she talks about the book she smiles like we're talking about a cute boy and she gets excited. Obviously the book has her aroused in part and it's written in a way that's addicting to a young reader.

I've been mocking 50 Shades since it became a phenom but watching my kid read it, seeing her so hopelessly in love with the story... it changes my opinion. I'm still not going to read it, I like to read books that have grace in writing and I know this one lacks that but I won't mock it again. Not now. Not seeing what it does.

I don't believe there's such a thing as bad reading. Even reading comics is reading and using one's imagination. It's all story telling and that's good. That's more than good, it's necessary. And this book, no matter what, is telling a story that a lot of women, my daughter included, want to hear.

So yay to 50 Shades for exciting a young reader. (And she's started Book 2 and has Book 3 ordered from Amazon.) Long may your cat of nine tails wave.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Long Drive Home

Since moving to Hawaii, I've written about how hard it is to live with family and how hard it is to be unemployed and living with family and how hard it is to...

Did I mention how much fun it can be to live with family? How amazing it is to be around someone that you have a long, shared history with? The shits and giggles of knowing someone so well that you have an innate understanding of who they are and why they're that way?

As well as someone who knows you the same way also?

This is a hard choice, siblings living together as adults. And we've had some really rough moments. But since I got employed and my stress levels decreased and they've started getting used to us being here and their stress decreased... it's been a much better situation. And there's been moments of pure emotional pleasure.

Coming home after work and finding my daughter giggling in the kitchen with her aunt was an unexpected joy. Remembering people and moments with my brother.

Did I mention how nice it is to have someone ask about your day?

I've always been rather solitary and even way back when I lived with my mother we spent a lot of time not interacting. Then when she was gone there was only me and a small child and I was Mom, 24/7. Nobody asked about my day, nobody cared if I was tired or not feeling 100%. (Except Carolyn, my lifeline on the phone line.)

I'm not a coupley kind of gal and don't intend to change. But I really understand now how good it feels to come home and have someone care to hear your stories and share in your good and bad days. And we still have our own spaces and relationships.

I haven't had a connection like this in a long time. And I didn't know that I missed it but now that I have it I realize what it meant.and what I was lacking.

I do wonder if it's going to change my writing. Not that I'm writing much these days. But it's there under the surface, words starting to percolate and a story wanting to come out.

Looking forward to it.

You Can't Make It Up

There's an ad for Ellora's Cave on Dear Author.