Come inside my world where all I do is read and read lots and lots of romance..............................

Saturday, 31 March 2007

The Dead Horse Who is Actually Alive

WARNING: If you are sick and tired of reading blog posts covering the topic of the argument surrounding the level of snark present in some reviews, DO NOT READ ON. You will only succeed in pissing yourself off even more.

If you've been around blogland these past couple of days you'd know there has been a lively debate taking place about the level of snarkiness in some reviews. I posted my feelings on the issue at Alison Kent's blog on Wednesday. The basic point of the post (to save you from trawling through it) was that I have a difficult time understanding why reviewers are sometimes so bitchy about a book. I was so amazed how many people weighed in with their opinions. It was great! And so many of them made points which actually made me think again.
For example, Robin said this:

'But is that even the point — assuming you can *accurately* ascribe a motive to be mean to these bloggers? I mean, if you want to go the intent route, then if I think an author intended to write a book that offended me as a reader, can I then call it “disgusting”? I just think it’s an issue of perspective, as you said. Because your perspective is that certain reviews are over the line, you don’t see your wording of “immoral and disgusting” as aggressive or over the line itself. Because you feel passionately that you are in the right. Just like a reader-reviewer feels passionately disappointed in a book she paid for and spent time reading and feels right in sharing her opinion on that book in language that reflects the passionate righteousness of her own response. '


'Which is probably when a lot of those reviews are written, too. I know that when I just finish a book that pisses me off, it’s pretty red hot for a while. It takes a good while to get to a point where I can even articulate my responses without a lot of sputtering and cursing and elaborate hand gestures.'

You see this never happened to me. I have never been so let own by a book that I got angry. But when it does happen (it has to with the amount of books in my TBR pile) I'll probably feel like that, angry for wasting my time. I'll probably even want to rant about it here. I don't think I will though, because like I said, I don't want to kill an author's spirit.

But then I thought, 'Actually Maria, a really bad review, no matter how bitchy, might not ruin an author's spirit.' This was backed up by something Nora Roberts said(Nora Roberts commented on my post, MY POST!)

'Maria, I appreciate your take on all this, and I’m sure many others do, too. Authors and readers. For myself, harsh reviews may make me wince, then I move on. But I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve had plenty of harsh reviews for a wide variety of sources.'

Wow, Nora Roberts gets bad reviews. And she's still alive (at least I think she is).
So maybe I'm just going to have to grow up a bit, and recognize that some people have thicker skin than I do (seriously, it's like tissue paper)

It was a great, learning experience, and I feel so much better for it.

But.....(there's always a but)....some people weren't quite so willing to listen to my point of view. Instead, they completely misunderstood the point of the post (I'd go as far to say that some of them intended to misunderstand the point of the post just to cause drama).
Because I gave an opinion conflicting theirs, they got pretty antsy about it. Most of what was said had nothing to do with the point of the post. It became Operation Maria, put the girl in a box and don't let her come out. No way did they listen to anything I had to say, that was apparent when I read back over the comments, just to check I hadn't made an ass of myself. Instead, it all got quite personal. I was called quite a few things, accused of hypocrisy, preaching, adocating censorship, thinking my fellow readers are stupid.
I guarantee you none of that is true. Most of it was people twisting my words to suit themselves and actually putting words in my mouth. And they tried to make it all seem funny, that they were amused by my childish ways, but you could sense the agitation in what they wrote. They were bleeding stones in an effort to shut me up. It was bizarre. What I found most bizarre was that these people are the very ones who shout their opinions to the world, no matter how outlandish or politically incorrect. They preach about free speech but if you dare disagree with them, you're in trouble.
I guess they're insecure in some way, maybe their parents ignored them while they were growing up, maybe they were bullied at school, I don't know.

1.I wasn't preaching, I was giving my opinion.
2.I wasn't trying to change anyone's views, I was looking to understand other people's views.
3.I think readers are incredibly clever (hell, I am a reader.) It takes a lot of cleverness to write some of the bitchy reviews, well most of them anyway:)
4.Not an any point did I want to silence anyone, I only wanted to understand why people were so extreme when slating a book (and Robin gave me a great insight into that)

I do not believe this is kicking a dead horse. How can the horse be dead when everyone gets so riled up over it, and everyone has an opinion. And I do think the debate over at Alison's gave us who participated, a deeper insight into the issue, for me anyway.

But as interesting as all this was, it was sad too. My respect for some people lowered dramatically, I saw them in a light my rose-tinted glasses didn't want to see.
But there you go, c'est la vie.

Sorry for being a pest, but I had to get this straight. I'm weird like that, it's all to do with suppressed anger.

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Friday, 30 March 2007

Last Day to Win 'The Perfect Stranger'

Jesus Christ, I'm exhausted! I was up til 4.30 this morning arguing. Not that I would have slept anyway with the insomnia crap.

I have nothing to tell you, except that you have one more day to enter the Alison Kent contest here. All you have to do is tell me a joke, it doesn't even have to be funny!

This is a joke my little cousin told me yesterday:

Knock Knock.

Who's there?


Doctor who?

Doctor Banana.
Yes, banana is a very funny word to seven year olds.
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Thursday, 29 March 2007

Thursday Thirteen #8

Thirteen Things about Maria

Thirteen Things I Should do But.....

1. Train my dog to stop pulling his leash.

2. Go on a diet.

3. Start that new novella.

4. Read my new Bravas.

5 Review, review, review.

6. Learn how to sew.

7. Get my hair cut.

8. Visit that grave and accept that person is dead.

9. Clean this house, no-one else is gonna do it!

10. Start saving for next years US of A trip.

11.Go back to college, or at least get a job.

12. Finish painting my room.

13. Learn how to fight like a man!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I'm at Alison's Today

Okay, after a day at a spa with my sister I feel much better. And I'm so lucky to have the BEST critique partner in the world.

Some people are evil...

Anyway, bitterness aside, I have a post up at Alison Kent's blog about The Political World of Romance
And speaking of Ms. Alison, the contest to win a copy of 'The Perfect Stranger' ends in a couple of days. Find a joke, no matter how bad, and enter it here.

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Monday, 26 March 2007

Tears on My Pillow

I am so sad. So very very sad.......

I need chocolate

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Sunday, 25 March 2007

Jazz It Up For Me

Hi everyone, well it is 5.24 a.m. here on Sunday morning, the clocks all went forward tonight. So it's officially spring for us then.

I actually need your help with something. I'm looking for some good jazz music. Does anyone have any suggestions??? I'm pretty desperate!

Don't forget to enter my Alison Kent giveaway here, you have about 6 days left to enter,

Slainte, have a great Sunday:)

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Thursday, 22 March 2007

Thursday Thirteen #7

Thirteen Things about Maria

Thirteen Things I Do When I Can't Sleep

1. Take photos of my dog who sleeps in really bizarre positions

2. Write random angry emails to people who piss me off and then delete them.

3. Check my email at regular intervals.

4. Rewatch favorite movies and write up notes on characters, themes etc.

5. Plan the following day.

6. Write, write, write chapters for my novel.

7. Read romance novels.

8. Download music from different music sites.

9. Order dvds and books from Amazon.

10. Make up really bad jokes.

11. Turn on the tv and watch late-night porn, then quickly turn it off when I remember how much I hate those movies.

12. Daydream about Brad Pitt, David Boreanaz, Clive Owen and me in a hot tub together :)

13. Bake muffins for my housemates' breakfast.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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I'm Happy, oh so happy..I'm happy and happy and gay! (in the happy sense)

Hey everyone, Whew has this been a busy week for me! I'm decorating, I'm writing, I'm making sure my dog doesn't eat my other dog (don't ask!)

So what about the rest of you. Was St. Paddy's Day good to you? Did you drink a lot of beer?

I did.:)

I'm still not able to kick this insomnia thing. It's driving me demented. Does anyone have any tips? Pleeeeeease help me!

I checked out 'Fight Club' the other night. Has Brad Pitt ever been hotter?

And 'Bones' this side of the pond is starting to heat up. I love that couple. I wish they'd just get it together already!

I've also submitted a novella to EC and queried an agent. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. But I gotta say I love my manuscript. ANd I have the best critique partner ever! (Yes, I know everyone says that, but in my case it's true!)

So life is good.

Except for high cholesterol.

Doc says I have to cut back on fatty foods. It's tough work. I love my Ben & Jerry's!

I have so many books I have to review, they're all stacked high beside my bed. I suppose I'll get to them sometime this week. I really want to read 'Blood Bound' by Vivi Anna.

Which reminds me, I have Brava! Yes, Borders has started stocking Kensington Brava and Aphrodisia. That's right. Ireland has Kensington! I am so over the moon. Now I don't have to buy these books through Amazon.

And don't you just hate ignorant people? Recently on some blogs I've seen the rudest crap in the comments sections. I think people are getting a bit too big in their boots. I can't wait until they're taken down a peg or two. They're such drama queens!

In other news Alison Kent is renting out her blog. I am seriously considering sending her a post. Just have to think of something to say.

Okay, I'm done rambling. Don't forget to enter the contest below. All I need is a joke.

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Saturday, 17 March 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Paddy's Day!!!!!!

I just spent the day at a parade, in a pub with family watching 'The Quiet Man' (ain't John Wayne divine?) and dancing to some Irish jig music. It was great!
So I hope you all enjoyed your Sunday too.

Don't forget to enter the contest here to win a copy of Alison Kent's 'The Perfect Stranger'. You have until the last day of March to enter.


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Thursday, 15 March 2007

Thursday Thirteen #6

Thirteen Things about Maria

Thirteen Reasons I read Romance

1. It rocks!

2. Happy endings make me happy

3. There is a severe lack of fanciable males where I live, and the heroes in these books make up for it

4. I don't lose track of the plot every five pages

5. The heroines are either admirable or too stupid too live. Either way I get a kick out of it

6. Romances are my dreams put down in words

7. Love makes the world go round (or is that money?)

8. Only the nicest people read romance novels :)

9. There are dozens of subgenres like paranormal and suspense and erotic and futuristic and historical, you can never get bored.

10. Great new authors are never in short supply in romance.

11. They can work as a great aphrodisiac if you read them aloud to your partner (not that I have or anything, lol)

12. Good always overcomes evil.

13. ? Damn, can't think of a thirteenth!

Well, don't forget to enter 'The Perfect Stranger' contest below, happy Thursday!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Tuesday, 13 March 2007

'The Perfect Stranger' by Alison Kent

This is a republished review designed to entice you to enter the contest to win a copy. Scroll down to do so!
I am a big Alison Kent fan. So you can imagine my sheer delight when I opened a package yesterday to find an ARC of ‘The Perfect Stranger’ inside (I was jumping up and down like an insane kangaroo and screeching like a banshee). Now I have only been acquainted with the Brava line over the internet for about a year now as it is not available in most bookstores here (we Irish are so deprived). So seeing as the first few books in Kent’s SG-5 series are currently en route from Amazon, I decide to wait until I had those read before I opened ‘The Perfect Stranger’. That didn’t work. At about midnight last night, I switched on my light and began to read, not stopping until I had the last page read.

The hero of ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is Jack Briggs, a pilot working for the Smithson Engineering crew on their project on the South American island of San Torisco. They are building a road through the mountains of this dictatorship, whose ruler, Carlos Sabastiano, is not as peaceful as he would like people to think. Jack is kidnapped by a World Relief Team leader, Jillian Endicott, who is on a recon mission which requires a pilot. Together they embark on a trek through the jungle of San Torisco, facing various dangerous obstacles along the way to the point where Jack can fly Jillian and her cargo to safety.

‘The Perfect Stranger’ was littered with good points for me but I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum.

First off, the plot. Fantastic! ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is a romantic suspense, and there are so many twists and turns that make it the best romantic suspense I’ve read in a while. I was kept on the edge of my seat (well, bed) throughout this book. And every surprise Kent through at me while I was reading contributed to what a great book this is. There was great flow in ‘The Perfect Stranger’. It never occurred to me to stop reading because the pace was fast, and the author kept me entranced. None of the twists seemed out of place or contrived or ridiculous. I was swept along for the ride.

Besides the suspense there was humour. Humour in the way Jillian would get ones over on Jack, humour in their banter, the witty replies. Humour in the situations Jack got himself into (especially with his clothes off). And it did provide some much-needed light relief in what is prominently a serious novel

It is clear that Kent did her research for this book. San Torisco is fictional, of course, but the issues raised in the book like political corruption and the ancient traditions like Voodoo ceremonies are the same as those of so many South American dictatorships. I was transported to San Torisco while reading. I could taste the heat, feel my arms brushing aside the foliage, I felt as if I myself was present at the captivating Voodoo ceremony. The author’s description of the San Torisco jungle was so vivid that now all I really want to do is take a trip out to South America and get lost in one of the magnificent jungles.

When you pick up any Alison Kent novel you are always guaranteed three things, one of which is real characters. Something which I found even in her Harlequin novels is real characters. They’re not perfect. They have pasts. They sweat, they urinate, they make mistakes. And I always think this all makes for a stronger book. This is certainly the case is ‘The Perfect Stranger’. Jack has a past. He lost his wife and son in a terrible accident. And when they were alive he wasn’t the perfect husband and father. He can be insensitive towards Jillian, and he can be stubborn too. And I found him irresistible for it.

I seem to be on a roll with great heroines at the moment because I loved Jillian too. She’s a strong, independent woman, which is the description given for heroines in many other authors’ books, but in this case Jillian proves it. She gets herself and Jack out of some pretty sticky situations in the book including escaping from a Voodoo cult. She deals with some of her demons head on, one in particular which many women would rather die than face. It gave me a great respect for Jillian. She has responsibilities as a mother and as a World Relief Team worker. She has to keep her child safe and she does this to the best of her abilities. Of course she makes bad decisions and she’s just as stubborn and insensitive as Jack. But I was still on her side, praying that everything would work out right for her.

Besides great characters, Alison Kent always provides great sexual chemistry and steaming hot sex. The chemistry between Jack and Jillian is there from the very beginning, even before Jack has laid eyes on Jillian’s form. The two have an immediate connection. The quick-witted banter they engage in is full of underlying sexual tension. And try as they might to avoid it, Jack and Jillian finally give in, and I felt the relief that they felt.

Even in Kent’s Harlequin romance novels, she has always pushed the boundaries when it comes to sex. The love scenes are always that bit spicier that those in her fellow authors’ books, the passion that bit more raw. I’m guessing that Brava gives a little more room for sexual exploration as the sex in ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is hotter than I can say, much more basic than other romance novels. You wouldn’t want to read this book in a public place, you could be arrested. What I really loved was that the author doesn’t try to pretty it up. The sex is what it is. She uses coarse language to describe the acts making it all seem more, yes I’m using that word again, real. None of the sex scenes seem to be gratuitous, which shows the skill of Alison Kent as making sex scenes in erotic romance not seem gratuitous is tough. The sex is fundamental in the developing relationship between Jack and Jillian. The scenes show how much Jillian trusts Jack, and how much Jack wants to give her.

And the sex is vital in showing that these two really are falling in love. Their desperation to be together, to be as close as possible is so evident. My heart broke for them as they knew how impractical it was for them to be together, what with their work and Jillian’s son. I became so involved in their relationship, and prayed that Kent would find some way for them to be.

In terms of bad points I would have to say none. None. None. None.

I loved this book. And I can’t wait until I read the rest of the series and then reread this again. ‘The Perfect Stranger’ had everything I look for in a book and I became so involved with the characters that I think they’ll be on my mind for some time to come.

Please do yourself a favour and pre-order this book here now here. Come April, you will be very happy.

Rating: 44/50 (highest so far!)

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'The Perfect Stranger' Giveaway

Some like it hot. The men and women of Alison Kent’s sizzling SG-5 series like it hotter. In this all-new novel of steamy suspense, the jungle is the only place wild enough for a hotshot helicopter pilot and a renegade rich girl with one hell of an agenda…
Bachelor parties are fun, as long as you’re not the poor sap getting hitched…or slipped a Mickey and waking to discover you just became the poor sap. Not to mention that your “wife” is pregnant, and if you don’t go along to her village to meet the in-laws, the nice police comandante will be muy unhappy. Just another day in the life of helicopter pilot J. Jackson Briggs? Not so much. His Smithson Group gig wasn’t supposed to be dangerous, but the the woman who drugs him, then knocks him out, then drugs him again certainly is. She also may or may not be a nun. She’s definitely a lying, scheming, lethally gorgeous…American. Jack’s light years from believing the story Jillian Endicott gives him about her noble cause in the sweltering wilds of San Torisco, but he knows one thing: he’ll get the truth—and plenty more—from her, one way or another…
Being an Endicott of the Boston Endicotts taught Jillian plenty about the haves vs. the have-nots—and made it easy to choose sides. But there’s nothing easy about her mission in San Torisco, and things only get harder when Jack Briggs is thrown into the mix. Six-foot-three of big Texas mouth and big…other things…Jack’s pegged her as a bored little rich girl. Hey, he can think what he wants, as long as he does what she wants. Do unto others what needs to be done—that’s Jillian’s motto. Problem is, Jack knows how to push her buttons from minute one—and the closer he gets to pushing her over the edge, the more she wants him to…
Now under dark velvet cover of jungle nights, two rebels with a cause are going deep—and falling hard—for the perfect stranger…

Okay everybody. This is a contest you sure as hell don't want to miss. The lovely Alison Kent has offered me a copy of her forthcoming Brava release 'The Perfect Stranger' to give away here on She Who Loves Romance Novels.

Before I tell you how to win, here's a little teaser to wet your tastebuds.

Golden had been too optimistic a word. It was a damn sweltering pig sty out here.

The bandana he’d tied around his head was drenched, sweat dripping off the fabric and into his eyes.

He wasn’t about to complain, what with Jillian ahead of him silently soldiering on, and him not relishing looking like a puss.

She was a hella strong woman, both physically and mentally, doing what needed to be done and staying smart every step of the way. She had yet to make a move or decision he’d felt might be the wrong one.

Of course, she knew where they were going, and he had absolutely no clue, but there was more to her confidence than her sense of direction. She’d been doing this guerilla thing awhile, and it showed.

He could tell by the way she pressed forward, always alert, never hesitating over a change in direction, never ending up with a low-hanging branch in her eye, never sinking up to her ankles in fetid jungle muck.

And it wasn’t like he was some kind of sissy metro boy who hated the thought of getting dirt under his nails, or breaking a sweat outside of the gym.

Hell, look at what he did for a living, the places he had to fly into, the scrapes he had to dig himself and the SG-5 operatives out of.

In fact, the last time he’d sat behind a desk had been during his aeromedical training.

But damn if Sister Jillian didn’t know her way around the great outdoors.

And if she wasn’t the sexiest thing ever to wear army boots, then he’d been downloading the wrong photos.

To be entered to win a copy of 'The Perfect Stranger' tell me a joke. Any joke, simple or complex. I really need to laugh. And if you need even more enticement to tell me your joke scroll up to read my review of 'The Perfect Stranger' where I will tell you why I think this book ROCKS!

Post your jokes on this thread. And keep it clean people! Or at least rated R, :)

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Friday, 9 March 2007

'Atlantis Rising' and Contest Reminder

Okay, I'm going to leave the contest to win 'The Rest Falls Away' by Colleen Gleason open until Sunday morning, probably 2-3 a.m. America time. All you have to do is post a comment on the interview thread, so scroll down and do that.

Now here's some info about Alyssa Day's upcoming release 'Atlantis Rising'. I can't wait :)

Eleven thousand years ago, before the seas swallowed the Atlantaens, Poseidon assigned a few chosen warriors to act as sentinels for humans in the new world. There was only one rule-desiring them was forbidden. But rules were made to be broken…

When she calls…
Riley Dawson is more than a dedicated Virginia Beach social worker. She's blessed with a mind link that only Atlantaens have been able to access for thousands of years. Being an "empath" may explain her wistful connection to the roiling waves of the ocean, the sanctuary it provides, and the sexual urges that seem to emanate from fathoms below…

He will come.
Conlan, the High Prince of Atlantis, has surfaced on a mission to retrieve Poseidon's stolen Trident. Yet something else has possessed Conlan: the intimate emotions-and desires-of a human. Irresistibly drawn to the uncanny beauty, Conlan soon shares more than his mind. But in the midst of a battle to reclaim Poseidon's power, how long can a forbidden love last between two different souls from two different worlds?

Doesn't it sound fabulous? Go find out more and enter a contest at Dee and Dee Dish...About Books
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Thursday, 8 March 2007

Colleen Cleason Has Entered The Building

Yay, Colleen is here! Colleen Gleason is the author of 'The Gardella Vampire Chronicles'. She was kind enough to answer my burning questions about authorhood and you can ask her your own questions in the comments. I'll be choosing one lucky commenter to win a copy of 'The Rest Falls Away'.

1. How did you get started? Were you an avid reader as a child? How
long did it take you to get published? What was the story behind you
getting published?

I’ve been writing since I was very young, and always had stories going on in my head. I wrote a version of Gilligan’s Island starring me and my 6th grade classmates, and a story about my high school girlfriends and me meeting our favorite rock band, and so on. But I got serious about the time I got out of college and finished my first novel—about three years after I graduated.

I have always been an avid reader; and still am today, although I don’t have as much time to read for pleasure—but I still do, or I’d go insane, since I don’t watch much TV. Plus as a full-time writer, I can consider any books I read as research—at least on some level.

Anyway, to answer your question—it took about fifteen years of writing before I got published. But there were times during those fifteen years that I tabled the writing in order to have babies, raise them, get my graduate degree, and also try to have a career in sales and marketing. I wrote eight books, and none of them sold; then I wrote The Gardella Legacy, which became The Rest Falls Away, and it sold immediately to the first editor my agent sent it to.

2. Why did you choose to write paranormals? Were you a Buffy fan? What
is it about vampires that appeals to you?

About three years ago, I became aware that paranormals were an emerging “hot market” in romance and genre fiction, but I don’t really like vampires and haven’t read very many vampire books (including Anne Rice or Dracula!). So I knew I couldn’t ever really write about them.

However, a friend of mine loaned me his Season One of Buffy on DVD and I got completely hooked…and since the vampires were pretty much the bad guys (with few exception), I felt able to relate so much more easily to Buffy and her world.

Then as I realized that Buffy was only one in a long line of vampire slayers, I got to thinking what it would have been like for her predecessors…ones who lived in much more restrictive time periods. And thus the idea of a Buffy-type character living in the time of Jane Austen’s manners and propriety was born.

3. When you are writing a novel, where do you look to for inspiration?
Is it movies, other books, magazines, people on the street, your own

I’d say it’s pretty much my own imagination that drives my books…once I have the characters in place, things sort of evolve because of who they are and what kind of situations I can put them in that would really challenge them and rock their world…in a not-so-good way.

I do pay attention to the Hero’s Journey elements when I write and structure my books, however. These are common events/stages that are common in movies, books, legends, and other stories—and have been in many cultures all over the world for centuries.

Since these elements are found everywhere from Star Wars to Harry Potter to The Wizard of Oz and elsewhere, they really become part of a reader’s expectation and it makes sense to pay attention to them.

For example, most “heroes” (ie, protagonists) have a Call to Action, which is the moment their lives change. And then they also meet a “Mentor” (eg, Obi-Wan), and they have tests and meet up with Allies (eg, the Scarecrow)…and so on. (There’s an article on my Web site about this very thing for people who are interested in more detailed information.)

These elements help to drive my imagination and plot when I’m working on a book.

4. When you're thinking of your hero do you have a picture of a male
model or movie star to inspire you, or maybe a randomer from the

Sometimes I do, although, alas! I haven’t found anyone who looks enough like Sebastian Vioget to do the trick. To me, he sort of looks like Matthew McConaughey, but taller and not as scruffy as Matthew is looking now.

Max Pesaro looks like a young Christopher Plummer, or possibly Clive Own (sigh).

Philip de Lacey, the Marquess of Rockley, reminds me of Colin Firth in Pride & Prejudice, although he has dark hair and eyes like Steve Coogan.

So I guess the answer is, yes, I usually have a person in mind who looks sort of like the male characters—but often that’s after I’ve already started to write about him. That is, I don’t find a picture and then turn him into a character; I create the character and then think about who he might look like.

I do make collages for my books, so it does help if I have a photo to include that looks like the characters!

5. How much of you is present in your heroines?

Well, some of her internal thought and the way she approaches things is probably right from me—my logic and my perspective.

However, I certainly wouldn’t be brave enough, strong enough, or capable enough to stake vampires! (Well, if I had a vis bulla I might, I guess.) I don’t look like her at all, and of course some of the things she does aren’t me…but I’d say there is a fair amount of my perspective built into her character. It’s hard to write convincingly about her if I don’t at least share some of her opinions and thoughts.

6. What is your daily routine as a writer? Are you a full-time writer?
Do you write a little bit each day? Or do you go into crazy mode, not
leaving the computer for days on end to get a book finished?

I am fortunate enough to be a full-time writer. It’s a life-long dream come true, and I continue to pinch myself every day that I have the best job in the world.

I try to write a bit each day, usually in the afternoon and/or evening. I’ve always written at night—that was how I got books finished when I was working a day job and raising kids: I’d do it after they went to bed, from 9-11 each night, sometimes longer if the mood struck.

When I get near the end of the book, things move along more quickly, and that’s when I sort of get attached to the keyboard and hate to leave it for, say, the last twenty to thirty pages. During that time, the husband and kids are left to fend for themselves as far as dinner, laundry, housework, etc. They’re glad I only have to write three books a year, or they’d probably get tired of it!

7. Your books are historical paranormals. Do you do a lot of research
into the time period you're writing in before you start?

I’m fairly familiar with the time period because I’ve read so many books set in that time period over the years—both fiction and non-fiction, so I don’t have to do a lot of research as far as the historical aspects, in general.

However, I do research particular things for each book. For example, in the book I just finished writing, which is the third in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, and will be released in February 2008, I had to do a lot of research on Rome in 1821: what it was like, what was going on with the historical monuments, and what it was like during Carnival, etc.

In the next Gardella book, I’ll be researching a particular aspect of London, and also some information about Jack the Ripper.

8. What can we expect from you in the future? Will you continue
writing vampire historicals?

The second Gardella book comes out in June, and is titled Rises the Night, and the third, The Bleeding Dusk, will be released in February 2008. The fourth will come out in late 2008, and I’d like to write a fifth book about Victoria Gardella Grantworth.

After the last Victoria book, I’d like to write more stories about different characters in the world of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles.

9. And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Especially those writing in this genre. How should they go about
getting a novel published?

The best way to get a novel published is to first, well, write it! Write the whole thing, because it’s well nigh impossible to sell a novel that hasn’t been written if you’ve never been published before.

So, write the book. Then, research which editors and/or agents are interested in the kind of book you’ve written, find out what they like to see from a prospective author, and send it to them.

While you’re waiting to hear from them—and it will be months, possibly a year—write another book. Don’t just sit there and wait, because it’s nearly as unlikely that you’ll sell a first book as it is that you’ll sell a book that’s unwritten.

After you finish the second book, send that one out.

And then write another one.

And then send it out. And so on. Keep doing this until: you give up, or you get published.

That’s it! That’s the way to do it. Research your market, join writers groups, go to conferences—but above all, write the book and send it out.

Good luck!

And thanks for having me, Maria! I’m so delighted to be on your blog!

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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Contest Winner and Interview Reminder

Just a reminder that I'll be interviewing Colleen Gleason tomorrow. She'll also be popping by to answer your questions so come prepared. I'll be giving away her paranormal 'The Rest Falls Away' to one lucky commenter.

And the winner of the Susan Lewis novel is Susan. Congratulations. Send me your snail mail at orangesponge (AT) gmail (DOT) com, without the spaces.

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Chick-Lit versus The World

After watching a fascinating documentary about women’s fiction on the television I had to write this post. This documentary focused on the snobbery in Ireland and all over the world towards the genre of chick-lit. I think it really tied in well with a few blog posts I’ve read in recent days. The main one which was at Access Romance’s Reader’s Gab where the writer basically (I’m paraphrasing here) told us that books written by women are stupid. I couldn’t post a reply to this post because I was so outraged. The bloody cheek. It made me wonder what books this woman had been reading, that she would come out so strongly against women’s fiction/romance. As the lovely May put it, you cannot make such a generalisation across the board.. It was bullshit. Crap. Rubbish.

Okay, the vent is out of the way, now about that documentary.

I was really impressed with this programme, the way it dealt by this issue of prejudice against women’s fiction. I was actually quite taken aback by it. It was a lesson to me how arrogant people, especially men can be. And how insecure women can be.

Do you know that most women won’t display their chick lit novels in a bookshelf for people to see? I didn’t, but that’s what this documentary told me. And did you know that most women will not tell a man that she reads chick lit novels on a first date? I didn’t know that either. Apparently women will only admit to reading thrillers and ‘literary’ fiction on a date. This is to impress the man and show that they are strong, sexy women. If they admitted to being chick lit lovers, they’d be portrayed as Bridget Jones-esque, needy, desperate and stupid.

Isn’t that terrible?

Something else that was addressed in this documentary was how so many authors are being branded as chick lit because it is so marketable. Basically, any novel, written by a woman that is related to domestic life is chick-lit. No literary fiction, just chick-lit. And I was so surprised to learn that men who write in the chick-lit/romance genre like Nicholas Sparks and Nick Hornby are considered literary authors who have been compared to really famous esteemed writers. You can read those books, even though they are the same genre as those written by women, but you don’t have to feel ashamed. Because they are written by men.

I really feel like a feminist here.

And going back to that AR blog post for a second. What was insinuated was that women do not write intelligent fiction. Bollocks. I can list off so many female authors who write ‘intelligent’ thrillers. Susan Lewis, Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, Patricia Cornwall, the list is endless. And then let’s move away from the thrillers. Just because a novel isn’t full of twists and turns does not mean that it is not intelligent. Any book that is true to life, deals with universal themes, brings a new angle to an ongoing debate is intelligent. Authors who can do this include Nora Roberts, Alison Kent, Maeve Binchy, Helen Fielding, this list is endless too and I am sure lots of names are popping into your head. And what about those authors who are intelligent enough to create these amazing paranormal worlds that suck you in like JR Ward, and the new kid on the block Lara Adrian? It must take a great deal of intelligence to do that, I sure as hell couldn’t.

And something that cropped up quite a lot in the interviews with the Irish authors in the documentary was that people are always telling them ‘I could have written that’. And the fabulous Maeve Binchy put her response perfectly when she said ‘Yes, you could have………..but you didn’t.’

I’m not saying by any means that every book written by a female is fantastic. Of course not. And there are many authors out there writing chick lit by numbers, just for the money. I can name so many females who do it, but I won’t. And I can tell when I read a book if that is the case. That is not intelligent fiction.

In the documentary one of Ireland’s radio DJs took on to write a chick-lit novel, purely for the sake of the documentary. He insisted he could do it by just following the basic rules of chick-lit, and he said he’d do it better than any female writer. When the producers of the documentary took the outline to a publishing house it was rejected. And when they took it to another publishing house it was rejected again. I laughed my ass off, the pompous git.

I love chick-lit, the good chick-lit. The books with real characters who are flawed and you can say, that’s me, or hey I know that person, or wow, what a great story. And after watching the documentary and reading that god-awful AR post I feel even prouder of this genre and I will stand by it to the bitter end. Because chick-lit and romance rock my world. They are ‘an amusing companion in a hostile world.’

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Monday, 5 March 2007

What Makes Me Happy

As promised, paranormal romance author Colleen Gleason will be joining me on Thursday. So pop by and ask her your burning questions.

Now, just a little musical treat for you today.

This is genius, pure bloody genius.

And this is beautiful, pure bloody beautiful.

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Sunday, 4 March 2007

'Kiss of Midnight' by Lara Adrian

I was ever so lucky to receive an ARC of ‘Kiss of Midnight’ a week ago. Since then I’d been struggling to find the time to read it. Finally, I was able to open it early this morning, four a.m. or thereabouts when I was having another of my sleepless nights. I had been wary about reading ‘Kiss of Midnight‘ because I had only recently finished JR Ward‘s ‘Dark Lover’ which had been a breathtaking read. ‘Kiss of Midnight’ is a vampire novel and I was certain that I would end up comparing the two books in my head while I was reading. I needn’t have worried. I read the final page of ’Kiss of Midnight’ at eight a.m.

One night while out dancing with friends, the twenty-seven year old Gabrielle Maxwell witnesses a terrible crime. It is her first true encounter with the violence carried out by a breed she is unaware exists, vampires. The pictures Gabrielle captures of the crime on her cell phone put her in a danger she doesn’t understand. In steps Lucan Thorne, a vampire himself, he is a Breed Warrior, sworn to protect his kind and the unknowing humans living alongside them, from the growing threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman but in an effort to protect Gabrielle, he has to draw her into his dark world. And in doing so, he finds himself falling for her.

I really liked this book. Most of all for the strong, memorable characters Lara Adrian has created. Gabrielle is a woman lost. After a youth of being thrown from one foster home to an other she doesn’t understand herself, the reasons why she is drawn to blood, and where she has come from. Gabrielle is a very likeable heroine, a woman any one of us can relate to. She pulled me into this novel when I first met her and I was ready and willing to join her on her journey through the novel. When she finds herself attracted to Lucan Thorne I felt the attraction too. And for good reason. Lucan is the type of hero that I love to sink my teeth into. A brooding, strong, flawed alpha male. A yummy treat for us ladies. He is reluctant to get involved with Gabrielle but he can’t help himself. Through the course of the novel, Adrian takes us deeper into his past, allowing us to discover his character. And I was grateful to her for that because I was fascinated with his persona.

Besides great characters, Adrian sure knows how to make sparks fly. The sexual tension between these two is smokin’ hot. The love scenes are deliciously raw and sexual. And unlike many books, the tension does not decrease after the first sex scene. Instead it grows even stronger, which I thought was highly unusual and a testament to Adrian’s writing skills. But most importantly, the love scenes are emotion-fuelled. Fear, anger, longing and love are undercurrents in these scenes, and throughout the book I really felt the emotional connection between the two characters. I was desperate to see them together, that’s probably why I didn’t stop reading until the book was finished.

This book is mainly character driven but Adrian has intricately woven themes of war and death between the pages. Though this is a paranormal, ‘Kiss of Midnight’ resonates strongly with the war and conflict in our own world. There is a long running war taking place between the Breed Warriors and the Rogues who recklessly kill as they want to. We get a front seat to the violence as men and vampires alike are killed. I enjoyed learning about Lucan and the other Breed Warriors‘ battle against their lawless brethren. I was interested in hearing the backstory which I thought was clever and not at all contrived.

‘Kiss of Midnight’ is set in Boston and Adrian gave me a feel for the city, especially the city after dark in its grittiest and most unnerving moments. Something I also found to my delight in this novel is Lara Adrian’s beautiful narrative voice. It carried me along through the novel. There were no jarring moments for me, everything flowed. And whether it’s to describe murder or sex, Adrian is on the money with her use of language. She manipulates adjectives and nouns to evoke the most sensuous images which give a feeling of luxury when reading the book (does that make sense?) But Adrian is clever with her words, not going too OTT with the elaborate language which would distract the reader from the story. She goes just far enough to entice the reader into her imaginary world as if sinking into a hot, scented bubble bath (insert sigh of pleasure here.)

I had very few problems with ‘Kiss of Midnight.’ One would be that the unusual names of the vampires and some of the plot lines made it easy for me to confuse this book with one of ‘The Black Dagger Brotherhood’ series. But as I was reading at such an early hour of the morning I was bound to get muddled up at some point.

And also towards the end of the book I was so caught up in Lucan and Gabrielle’s relationship that I found myself skimming over some of the parts about the enemy Rogues. But I don’t know if I’d necessarily call that a flaw because I was so involved in the relationship, and this is primarily a romance novel, I’m guessing anyway.

I loved this book. It surprised me because I expected it to be a rip-off of the many other vampire books on the market at the moment. But it’s not. It is completely its own novel, a good novel that I would recommend to anyone who is on the hunt for a really great paranormal with sizzling sex, a hotter than hot hero, and a wonderful heroine. Go pre-order it now here; you’ll thank me when you have it read.

And Lara, if you happen to have any ARCs of ‘Kiss of Crimson’ lying around, feel free to send one to me. You know, just if you were to feel so inclined. (please, please, PLEASE……with a cherry on top)

Rating: 41/50
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Friday, 2 March 2007

'Past Secrets' by Cathy Kelly

I am a big Cathy Kelly fan. I don’t know what it is about her. She has a storytelling voice that I much prefer to Maeve Binchy, which is a big statement to make if you live in Ireland. Her characters are always likeable and well-written. There are always elements of suspense in her books that keep you reading. And she deals with so many universal themes. So instead of waiting for ‘Past Secrets’ to come out in paperback, I bought the hardback and it was well worth the price.

‘Past Secrets’ is a novel encompassing a few intertwining stories about the different people living on Summer Street. There is the widow Faye who is trying to raise a teenage daughter Amber. Amber ends up running away to the US with her wannabe rock star boyfriend causing a huge furore. There is Christie, the art teacher at St. Ursula’s secondary school, who everyone comes to for advice. Maggie ends up back home from Galway after her partner Grey cheats on her to look after her sick mother. All the characters have secrets that are to be revealed through the course of the novel.

As always, I loved these characters, each and every one of them. They aren’t particularly multi-dimensional, but they come across as the people you pass everyday on the way to work. Ordinary people living ordinary lives. My favourite character would be Christie. She is probably the most developed in this book. She is a long time married to James her loving husband. What James doesn’t know is that Christie had an affair years ago when they were going through a rough patch. Christie’s dilemma in this book is that Carey, the artist she slept with, is back in town and is making advances towards her. Finally her secret might have to come out. I loved Christie because she was a lovely woman who made a mistake. She’s only human after all, and that was a theme that I think Cathy Kelly put across very well in ‘Past Secrets.’

Then there is Faye. She has been alone for years. One of the main things stopping her from going on the dating scene again is that her daughter Amber idolises the father she can’t remember. Amber still believes that her dad died in a tragic accident. The truth is that Faye got pregnant in her teens to a druggie who never wanted anything to do with Amber. Faye has to decide now whether to tell her daughter the truth as Amber seems to be taking the same path as her mother had when she was younger.

I really warmed to Maggie too. She, at thirty is still haunted by demons from her bullied past. Those demons have now led her into a destructive relationship with Grey who has no respect for her. Maggie has to figure out how to get out of this pattern and become strong again.

The various plotlines in this novel intersect very well together. And something I notice in all of Kelly‘s books where there are a few interlinking stories is that I enjoy them all equally. You know when there are lots of different stories and characters in a novel, you often prefer one to another and you’re skipping over half of the book just to read the story you like best? Well, this does not apply to a Cathy Kelly novel. Kelly knows exactly the pace at which to unravel the secrets, she knows her characters well enough to know what they would and wouldn’t do. This novel flows without any hitches or wtf’s. The language is easy to read, Summer Street is idyllic, maybe not entirely true to Irish weather, but wonderful all the same.

I was emotionally involved in this book and was sorry to see it end. So as you can probably guess ‘Past Secrets’ gets a thumbs up from me. It’s the perfect summer read so buy it here and save it for a hot June day when you can read it in your back yard with a crisp glass of wine.

Rating: 40/50
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Thursday, 1 March 2007

Thursday Thirteen #5

Thirteen Things about Maria

Thirteen TV Shows I have developed an obsession with during my not-so-long lifetime

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

2. Bones

3. Angel

4. Felicity

5. Friends

6. The Oprah Winfrey Show

7. The Power Rangers (original)

8. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

9. Skins (a new show on UK television)

10. Dawson's Creek (I don't understand it now, James Van Der Beek was gratingly annoying)

11. Sex and the City

12. Fawlty Towers (John Cleese is a comedic genius)

13. Lost
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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