Monday, May 27, 2013

REVIEW: A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

$3.79 on Amazon.com!
 
Earlier this year, the CP and I headed down south to Lafayette, where historical romance authors Eloisa James and Julia Quinn set up q&a day camp at the gorgeous, local library. The comforting scent of fresh coffee filled the air; bowls heaped with Hershey's Kisses dotted the back table, along with copies of the authors' latest releases. Inquiries flew left and right, all perfectly answered, some accompanied by funny tales and valuable life experiences.
 
But one I remember above all, and it wasn't even my own.
 
Why historical romance?
 
Interestingly enough, this stumped Eloisa and Julia for at least five long seconds, until finally Julia's eyebrows arched and she said, quite simply, "Because it's what I like to read."
 
For a while I've put off historical romance. Why? Not that complicated, really; I don't want other historical stories to influence my own. For that exact reason, some believe you shouldn't read too much of your own genre, if at all. Some authors--one of whom is one of my all time faves--do not read fiction AT ALL whilst writing their own novels. They stick with nonfiction. Historical accounts, biographies, you get the idea.
 
So, when Tessa Dare's A WEEK TO BE WICKED flitted across my email for $1.99 on Kindle, I thought, "Mmm. Historical? Should I?" And of course I did, because I can't resist a good deal. My CP's much, much worse than me in this arena, I promise. She had more on her Kindle than I have on mine within a week of its purchase, and I had had mine for at least a year longer.
 
Anyway. I began reading Ms. Dare's saucy historical romance, simply because I needed something to read and none of my recently downloaded samples interested me enough.
 
Folks, let me just say this: A WEEK TO BE WICKED is one of those stories that makes you want to write. Authors, you know what I'm talking about. The plotting is so well done, the characters so real, the dialogue so clever and funny and downright witty, I swear, once I finished, I seriously contemplated starting all over again. Yes, it is sexy. Very. In fact, notwithstanding the erotica genre, this is the sexiest standard historical romance I've read in some time. That said, the love and sex scenes were pertinent to the story and joyfully moved the plot along, enhancing the relationship between hero and heroine the way they ought to.
 
Speaking of hero and heroine. Lord Payne's a hottie rake (think... Jaime in Game of Thrones without the whole a-hole, Kingslayer vibe) and Minerva's a bona fide nerd. Glasses, petrology/geology guru, unmarriageable (or so she believes) because her older sister's much prettier and far more mindful of propriety. The two of them (Payne/Colin & Minerva) embark upon this grand adventure to Edinburgh, where Minerva plans on presenting a major geological discovery to the Royal Something-Or-Other.
 
Chaos ensues, and I mean... chaos. As writers, we're groomed to understand that we need to throw our characters into situations, then see how they're able to claw their way out of them. Ms. Dare does this with such style and flare, I own, she must've been Indiana Jones in a former life. Or at least idolized him as a child. (Who didn't??)
 
If you're looking for a refreshing, romantic read with heaps of adventure and face-fanning dashes of sexy, then this book is definitely for you.
 
From the back cover:
 
When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin . . . time is not on their side.
 
Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove's confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.
 
Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be . . . anywhere but Spindle Cove.
 
These unlikely partners have one week:
to fake an elopement
to convince family and friends they're "in love"
to outrun armed robbers
to survive their worst nightmares
to travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.
 
What they don't have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.
 
Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe . . . just maybe . . . everlasting love.
 
 
Happy reading, everyone!
 
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,
 
 
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hard & Clear

 
When you become a parent, things change more than I think most of us are willing to own up to. At least, that's how it's gone for me over the past 15 months. Type-A personality, Control Freak, Insanely Impatient you name it--that's me. I'm a crammer. Have been ever since I can remember, but it's only gotten worse as I've grown older. Work the Day Job, keep a tidy house, ensure the family has clean clothes, spend time with Little Man, see to the health and well-being of the aforementioned.
 
Oh, yeah. And in the midst of all that, I'm a writer. Writing is something I need, must do, cannot live without, will go crazy and wind up committed if I don't find some inkling of time to jot down a paragraph, a sentence, something! But even if you're not a writer, surely there's something you love, love, LOVE; something that's all yours and yours alone, and you want so badly to do it, if you don't, you're biting your nails, grinding your teeth, or eating double your weight in chocolate or carbs or both.
 
If you're a parent, hopefully you know where I'm coming from here.
 
It's not easy, is it? Am I alone? I don't think so. Problem is, life in general has changed--is changing daily, and there's nothing whatsoever I can do about it. Control Freak tendencies owned, thank you very much, which is something a Control Freak does not want to admit to anyone, let alone herself/himself.
 
Lately life's taken a firm hold on me like nobody's business. This is really hard to share with you guys, so please bear with me. I've been up, down, high, low, happy, sad; angry beyond comprehension one moment, crying the next. When my son was born, my doctor mentioned something to the tune of, "If you ever feel sad, come see me." And of course I thought, "Sad? What? I just had a beautiful, healthy baby boy and am married to the most amazing man on the planet. How could you possibly imagine me being anything but ridiculously happy?"
 
Then, as most of you know, my stepson Matthew died last September in a catastrophic car accident.
 
To say we were devastated... well. Really, there are no words.
 
Insert Type-A, Control Freak, Insanely Impatient right here, just before my name. I've worn those badges like a title all my life, and before you raise that eyebrow too high, be assured that I'm not proud of any of 'em. Not one iota. And within the past couple of weeks, I've noticed a severe change in my personality and physical qualities I'm really beginning not to like.
 
So changes have to happen. Of this, I am fully aware. Balance must come in and stay for a long, long visit. Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical well-being desperately need to arrive at a happy medium. Pacing is difficult for me, because I want everything not soon, but right now, and that's not reasonable. Not if I want to maintain sanity, which is saying a lot anyway when you're a writer.
 
But I digress.
 
Why am I telling you all this? Beats me. Maybe I just needed to get it down on paper/webpage/what do you call this thing? Vocalizing the problem makes it real, right? I downloaded an exercise app this morning, plugged in what I've ingested so far. Pulled up the current chapter of my WIP. Maybe I'll tackle cobwebs later on, maybe not.
 
All in all, it's time to reassess what I call "Real Life," and for everyone it's different.
 
What's it to you?
 
Thank you for reading my little blog/website.
 
All of you have been more of a blessing than you realize.
 
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints (wait... are Junior Mints on this diet plan thingie??),
 
"Write hard and clear about what hurts." -- Ernest Hemingway
 
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two 4 Tuesday

 
There's a lot to love right now. Amazingly pleasant weather, gorgeous flowers, crawfish finally being in season, the fact that I can't choose a story, but am actually very, very eager to write. Lots o' good stuff going on.
 
But if I must narrow it down to two...
 
 
 
Sunday night's soap opera featuring an innocent-little-girl-turned-ninja-tactician-kick-arse-beeotch has the best of both worlds: fantastic script writing and exceptionally memorable characters. Nouveau riche pretty girl Emily Thorne (played by Emily VanCamp) arrives in the Hamptons and quickly rents the posh beach house next to one of the wealthiest families on the planet: the Graysons (Madeleine Stowe & Henry Czerny). Thing is, this isn't her first time around the Richie Rich block: she was practically raised in the very home in which she now lives. Way back in the day (gosh, I don't think I've said that since the 90's), her father was framed for an act of terrorism, sent to prison for life, and eventually murdered on the playground (or whatever they call the enclosed places outside where everyone chills and trades smokes). Emily's sole purpose? Getting revenge on the family who framed her father. Wonder of wonders--uh huh,  you guessed it--this so happens to be the Graysons.
 
This show is, as Rachael Ray loves to say, deeeee-lish. Admittedly, I got a little worried when this second year came about, because at first it wasn't (to me) living up to the standards of the unforgettable, nail-biting thrills of the previous season. But here lately? The writers are kicking butt and taking names. No, wait. That's Emily. If you haven't watched, the first season's available on Netflix. Queue it up!
 
2. PAGES
 
 
When I decided way back when to start writing during my lunch break, I dutifully brought my laptop to work with me everyday. No big deal. Heavy and a little bulky, especially when I carry a purse and lunch, but if I expected to be professional and get stuff done... You get my drift. Then, The Hubby came up with this idea to get me an iPad. I protested adamantly for at least a good half hour, testifying to the ridiculousness of the expense, since I already had a Kindle (that barely worked half the time, but still!) as well as a trusty laptop, et cetera, et cetera.
 
"Well, what if an iPad app exists that enables you to work on your manuscript?"
 
"OK. You have my attention."
 
Pages is great, folks. Easy to use. Pretty much fool proof, other than the fact that it doesn't like the fancy fonts I use to mark chapters, but it changes them to something else, and we're good to go. All you do is drop your chaps in iCloud, and boom! They show up on the app in wee little word documents. Manipulation and editing is easy, and it works great with a wireless keyboard. Not to mention it's a great deal more portable, and when you're a mom, portability is everything (Can I fit two full size bottles, five diapers, wipes, a burp cloth, toys, a thermometer, travel Tylenol, snacks, plus all my girl-stuff into this one purse? What do you mean, no??!)
 
Writers, what do you use for writing on the go? Laptop? iPad? Is there an app out there I don't know about? Has anyone seen Ironman 3 yet?
 
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,
 

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekend Update


This morning I woke up thinking about a story I began last year (at least, I think it was last year... who am I again?), which led to the pulling up of said story and the reading of Chapter 1. Ever peel open a forgotten folder of your own stuff, red a few lines. Gain a smile. Maybe even a hearty laugh, and think, "Wow. That's pretty good," followed by the inability to get the characters off your mind for the rest of the day? Or, in the very least, a fair bit of the morning?
Well, that's what happened to me.
 

For fear of switching novels yet again, I'm choosing to leave it at that.
 
Moving on. Two cups of coffee, couple of slices of pb&j toast, and a kiss to my baby's head and I headed to our monthly RWA meeting. Cranked up Demi Lovato's new single Heart Attack, because it totally kicks Le Muse's gears into motion here lately, though I have no idea why. Think it's the small ascending and descending scale crawl at the beginning of the chorus that tweaks my ears. Good stuff. Scarce crowd this morning at the meeting, but lots of enthusiasm. Always feel extremely uplifted and motivated after a writer's powwow; makes me wish we had 'em weekly.


Afterwards? I started thinking about the story again.


Oh. My. Goodness. Why? Why? Why?

Characters.

Scenery.

Theme.
 
Everything!
 
Why does this happen, writers? Why do we lose focus so easily? Is it just me? Please say it's not. Does this happen to the rest of you?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,



 
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

WIP Wednesday: FanFiction Peeps, This One's For You!


Current Project: Albion
Genre: Adventure, Romance, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Current Word Count: 12,263
This Week's Goal: 2,000 words

Yes, that is my goal for the current project.

However! (Yes, there's a however. Please don't wag a finger at me; I get that enough from the CP.)

I've been doin' the naughty, and converting my most recent Harry Potter fanfiction--the one I took down, because I thought it wasn't fair to keep up an indefinitely unfinished story--into a real, bona fide, potentially sellable novel. That's right. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Ha!

OK, that wasn't that funny.

The hard part about all this is the back story. With Potter fanfic, if you make it futuristic (beyond their graduation, I mean, sans epilogue), you've got 7 books worth of back story beneath your belt. That's A LOT! Not to mention most people who read fanfiction have either read the books or, in the very least, watched the movies and liked them enough to actually read fanfic.

What that means for me is that I must create an entirely new, believable back story.

Wait. Why did I choose to do this again?

To my fanfic fans--I love you!!--this is the conversion of A Scandalous Proposition, and it's because of you and your amazing feedback I decided to have a go at it. The story hooked me from the get-go, I love the characters, the setting (although I have regrettably made the decision to move everyone to New Orleans, as I'm much more familiar with our American legal system--particularly Louisiana), and most of all I love the feeling fanfiction gives that, as an author, I don't have to worry about publication for profit. It's like I'm writing for me again, and THAT, dear readers, is the mindset to which I must return.

So, prayers, please, and lots of happy thoughts!

What are YOU guys up to this week? Enjoying beautiful weather? Anyone been out boating yet or anything? Not that I can, mind; I've the skin of a vampire. Sigh.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

 
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Two 4 Tuesday

 
It's been a crazy past few days. Little Man's cutting teeth like nobody's business, I'm sporting my zillionth sinus infection of the year, and the Day Job's producing more and more work by the minute. Getting to where I wake up in the morning and think, "Wonder what's gonna happen today?"

You just never know.

Craziness aside, choosing two things I'm lovin' for this Two 4 Tuesday came rather easy:


1. The Elite by Kiera Cass. No, I'm not finished with it just yet. Reading kinda slow, actually. Hey! I've been busy! But this is a great story thus far, which is no surprise, because the first in the series--The Selection--proved hard, hard, hard to put down. The gist of the story is that America, who is, like, low in the totem pole as far as class goes, gets picked--selected--along with 34 other girls to go to this huge, gorgeous palace and hang out with the royal family whilst waiting for the prince to pick one of them to be his bride. No, it's not historical. Futuristic, dystopia-ish, YA. Problem is America's stuck between two guys (yes, one of 'em is the prince...duh), plus she develops close friendships, and loves the food, etc. etc. Hey, I'd stay for the food alone. And of course the dresses and fab shoes. Posh living! If you're looking for a good, easy-breezy summer read, add this to your list. But read the first book... well... first, ok? Awesome.


2. YouTube. Namely old scenes from 90's soaps. I know, right? Don't judge me. But when the cousin and I were kids and hangin' out in the summer, we watched One Life to Live, Beavis and Butthead, and Duran, Duran Unplugged constantly. If you haven't seen Duran, Duran Unplugged (MTV, 1993), find it and watch it right. now. No, really. Now. Anyways. My YouTube addiction stems from seeking inspiration for Le Muse (See! I really am working!), and lately she's been loving the old kissy-kissy romantic scenes between the hot couples from the 90's. Sax music, cheesy lines, high-waist pants, and chicks who have nothing else to do but gossip and cause problems for every other chick on the show. You know what I'm talking about. Good stuff. And since I was in my best writing mind as a teenager, when I wrote for myself, not worrying about being published or if anyone would ever read my work but me and not caring one iota... well, what can it hurt, right?

Anything in particular sparking your interest at the moment? I'm watching Tristan McManus on Dancing With The Stars and I gotta tell ya... he might just make next week's Two 4 Tuesday.

Until then...

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,




              
              Duran, Duran--MTV Unplugged--1993



 
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Monday, May 6, 2013

Manic Music Monday

Today I'm diggin' I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons. Why? What's not to love about this band? Got their own sound? Check. Writes their own music & lyrics? Check, check. Displays versatility on instruments and vocals? Uh... ya!  But this song in particular speaks to me, admittedly, because of the banjo. Reminds me of all the weekends the band and I traveled from bluegrass festival to bluegrass festival, taking the stage two to three times, then jammin' out beside the camper trailer until the wee hours of morning.

Good times.

Here's the official vid to I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons. (Crank it up, if you can. You'll thank me later.)

 
 
Love it when Marcus starts head banging over his guitar. Sometimes I head bang along with him, though he does it much better, I'm certain, as he doesn't fall over afterwards.
 
Maybe I need to practice more.
 
I Will Wait is also available on iTunes, Amazon, and as track #3 on their sophomore album Babel.
 
What's on your iPod/Stereo right now?
 
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

 
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Happy Weekend

Just wanted to wish all of you a fab weekend. We're cutting grass, shaving dogs, and enjoying the gorgeous weather. It's 72 in May!  Gotta be a record or something.  Probably be 105 by next week, so we're soakin' it up while we can.

Other than that? Nothin' but Game of Thrones on Sunday night. Will Tyrion really marry Sansa?! What about Shae?? And Ygritte better not break Jon Snow's heart, or I swear I'll... I'll... well I can't think of anything right off the top of my head, but it'll be somethin' fierce, aight? Can you tell I'm totally wrapped up in the romanticism of this fantasy blood 'n guts show? Ridiculous.

Oh, and my little one might be buckin' for a position on the 2032 Irish Rugby Team.

 


Anyone else watch GoT? If so, what do you think of the season thus far?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,
 
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Current Project: Albion
Genre: Adventure, Romance, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Current Word Count: 9,182
This Week's Goal: 2,000 words

Setting the opening scenes for this novel has proved harder than any other project I've encountered. That's largely why I first wrote one scene that happens WAY later in the story, for the simple act of getting to know my characters. Even though I had just started writing, they were already familiar with one another, felt at ease interacting, conversing, and even reading one another's thoughts. The challenge now is to go back to the beginning and make those first encounters impactful enough to keep the reader reading.

Easier said than done, right authors?

So, what have I been doing for inspiration? Music's a given. But I've also been YouTubing the people I have pictured for Amanda & Aidan, even going so far as to download the videos, bring them up in two different programs, then watch them side by side. With background music, of course. It's really helped a lot in getting these two people imbedded in my thoughts.

Hoping I can make my goal this week, if exceed it. Fingers crossed, please!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

 
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