Comfort Reads

bookwormI read a lot.  And by a lot, I mean I read at least a book a night.  Yes, I read fast, always have.  And I read fast with comprehension — just ask my Developmental Reading teacher back in seventh grade.  I was a reading machine.

I read for relaxation — for comfort.

Something about sitting down with a new book by a favorite author, or a much-loved and previously read book, turns my “work-day” brain off and allows me to slow down and get ready for sleep.

Since I am extremely picky about what I read, and my favorite authors don’t write as fast as I would like–and where have I heard that before? :)–I tend to have “go-to” comfort reads; certain authors and their books I have read many, many times but can always re-read and still enjoy them as much as I did the first time.

Here are some of my favorite comfort reads; please share some of yours, who knows? — I might find something “new” to read one of these nights.

  • Jayne Ann Krentz books (and all her various pen names). — I own and have read every JAK book (that includes all her pen names), but for five books I could not find at a reasonable price anywhere.  The books take up four shelves in my house, and that is with me stacking them in piles three deep, back to front.  My “go-to” re-reads (the books are falling apart!) are Wildest Hearts, Gift of Fire, and Gift of Gold.
  • Linda Howard’s Mackenzie books.–All of them.
  • Elizabeth Lowell. The Wrong Hostage, Innocent as Sin, Blue Smoke and Murder, Death Echo, the Donovan books (Pearl Cove, Amber Beach, Jade Island, and Midnight in Ruby Bayou).
  • J.D. Robb in Death series. — All of them.  I re-read them once a year from Book One through the most recent release.  Better than her Nora Roberts’ books (and I have read many of those in my time) hands down.
  • Tina Whittle Tai Randolph mystery series — There are only two books out now; a new one is due out in 2013, I’ve pre-ordered it! I can’t describe why I like this series, well, yes I can — a damaged sexy as hell hero, a quirky heroine, and a perfect setting in and around Atlanta.  I read them in e-books and then went and bought the trade paperbacks, that’s how much I liked them. They are published by small mystery press, Poisoned Pen Press.
  • Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound. — I have two copies, so when I wear out the first I have a back up.  I am not kidding you! When I bought the book, I read it ten times in ten days – she floored me.  I also like her Oracle’s Moon and Lord’s Fall.
  • Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series.–Raphael is to die for. Love the story lines.
  • Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels. — Hands down one of the best romance novels I have ever read.
  • Lisa Kleypas’s Then Came You and Dreaming of You. — Rank right up there with Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels.
  • Linnea Sinclair’s Games of Command. — I like her other books also, but this is my favorite.
  • Lisa Marie Rice’s Midnight Angel. — Again, I have read all Lisa Marie’s books, including her Elizabeth Jennings’ books, but this is my favorite.
  • Cherise Sinclair’s Breaking Free and The Dom’s Dungeon. — Again I love and adore all her books, but these are my two go-tos.
  • And dozens of other books, but the above are the ones I reach for time and time again.

Please share some of yours.  I always have time for more books.

That moment when you wake up…

and think it’s Saturday and then realise it’s only Wednesday….yeah that was me this morning……. *sulk*

Then I remembered it was my turn to post today and I had a small heart attack.

As usual my every day life was getting in the way of my writing life. Something I am still trying to find a balance for.

Writing stories, creating worlds, introducing characters, that is my passion. Being a paid IT geek, well that’s what pays the bills and allows me to, you know, eat. Sometimes one takes over the other.

I am trying to find a way to do give them equal attention, but am failing embarrassingly right now…… *hangs head in shame*

Is there something you are passionate about? Does your every day life get in the way? If so, have you managed to find a balance? Because I really would like to know.

On a brighter note, I will be travelling from a windy, rainy GB, and flying by me self to the RT Convention in Kansas being held in May, so if you are going come up and say hi….but I have to warn you, we Brits, we don’t do the hugging….it’s a  law and everything  😀

And before I go…..I’m going to let you in to a secret, don’t let the others know I told you this but….we are doing a little something starting on March 11th……I am saying nothing more! You could torture me and I wouldn’t tell…..nope….nothing….not a word….oh well maybe one little work….LUCKY’S…that’s it I have said too much already…..the others will kill me shhh don’t tell them I said anything…..

Until next time…remember a Dom/me doesn’t have to big and scary and shouty…..a simple quirk of the eyebrow can say so much, and still send that delicious shiver down a subs spine…..Just thought I would share……

 

 

How much sex is too much?

Hello sexy friends,

I was recently part of an online Goodreads discussion about sex in romance novels, specifically of the paranormal genre. I was chatting with a variety of women, all who adore romance in one form or another. We had a rollicking time trying to assess whether the paranormal genre has become sexier and why that would be the case.

It was pretty clear that, as paranormal readers, we’ve all been somewhat programmed over the past while to expect a certain level of sex in those novels. Now, as an erotic author, I have no problem with this. I like a bit of hoochy-coochy in my books, both the ones I read and the ones I write. And with the advent of characters like Anita Blake and Sookie Stackhouse, we’ve certainly all encountered sex at one time or another, whether in book form or TV. There seems to be something about a vamp or shifter that just cries “Take me now!”

However, the question was posed: how much sex is too much? Several readers piped up and said they were absolutely not fans of wham-bang-thank you ma’am type books. They want a plot with their paranormal sex. They made it clear they do not want sex to drive the plots in a book about supernaturals. Werewolves and vampires and aliens dealing with emotional issues, yes. Supernatural sex, not always.

Tell me how you feel?  Have you ever read a book that’s felt like one long titillating liaison? Did you get bored? Did you find yourself saying, “Enough with the boobs and ass already. Where’s the plot?”

Or, conversely, are you just fine with paranormal plots that are a little on the slim side? Does it depend on your mood? Do you skim the parts that aren’t sexual or anticipating that sex?

We’d love to hear from you!

I still call Australia Home – Or I’m fair dinkum!

Today is a public holiday.  A day away from the drudge of the day job. The reason for this extra day to sleep in and wallow in endless nothingness, no deadlines, no clients, Australia Day.

I was reflecting on my life as an Aussie. In 1986 I arrived from the UK with a lovely new husband, 18 month old baby, $2000, nowhere to live, no job and no idea how things would turn out.  Madness? Undoubtedly. A mistake? Never.

Within two weeks we had jobs, and had put a down payment on a beaten up old three bedroom house and we felt like we owned the world. At last we were home owners. Our boy had a garden to run and play in and our work colleagues became fast friends, taking pity on two dumb 20 somethings fresh off the plane, giving us old stuff to furnish our new home.

As soon as we were able we became citizens. In the time we’ve been here we’ve moved all over and had another little Aussie to add to the population. Even when we were dirt poor and had to walk everywhere because we had no car, nearly lost it all and had to move into a half built house during the 90’s recession, I never regretted emigrating.

I loved having the headlights of my car sweep over our front garden in the bush and watching dozens of kangaroos leap for cover. Seeing a koala walk up the front drive of our rented unit as my little boy screamed teddy bear. Waking up early and walking down to Echo Point in the Blue Mountains to see the early morning fog in the valley below. Sitting cross legged on a concrete floor in a half built house we’d spent every spare minute for the last twelve months working on watching the IOC chairman announce the winner of the bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games was Sydney. Spending a week camping at the ocean and having miles and miles of empty beach to ourselves. Snorkeling on the Barrier Reef with tropical fish and sea turtles. Waking up in the morning to the laughing of Kookaburras in the trees at the end of the street. Inhaling the fresh scent of eucalyptus after a storm has cleaned the air.

I’ve traveled the world over and seen a lot of things but when push comes to shove, I’m glad the first plane flight I ever took was to bring me to the country I now call home.  Even if it does mean I now have a funny nasal accent.

Happy Australia Day

Guest Blogger – Jennifer Hassani

When I asked Jennifer Hassani, the Acquisitions Editor at Liquid Silver Books, for an interview I thought it would be fun to take her somewhere a little more exciting than the usual purple couch. The weather in Australia has been stifling, so what could be nicer than a cool bar and an even cooler drink.

I invited Jennifer to join me for an afternoon at Male Review, the male strip club part owned by Michael Monaghan, the hero of my book Hot Male, Reigning Men Volume 3. He has promised not to interfere, but he’s not a man to be trusted. There isn’t a woman alive he won’t flirt with, and he has a soft spot for Jennifer, even though they have never actually met. Without her intervention, his story would be stuck in a drawer somewhere. As a hero he drove me to distraction, and only copious amounts of hand holding by Jennifer got me through to the end of the book.

 Now, as I glance at my watch, I begin to wonder if it was such a good idea. Music plays softly in the background and the place looks almost classy in daylight. Other than a few scantily clad male strippers practicing their moves, the bar is empty this time of the day.

Chad, who has agreed to play barman for me, smiles and nods toward the door. “I think your guest is here.”

 I cross the room and break my very English no touching rule to give Jennifer a hug.

Hey lady! You better give me a hug, Lillian. You know us Southern gals need our hugs. *big grin* It is so good to be here.

Once we’re perched on stools at the bar sipping some exotic pink girly cocktail Chad has mixed for us, I begin to relax. Maybe Michael will stay away and things will go smoothly.

Lillian: Hi Jennifer. Thank you for agreeing to meet me here. I’ll try to keep this as painless as possible.

Jennifer: Are you kidding me? Seriously, thank you for inviting me not only to talk with you today, but to do it here in eye candy heaven.

Lillian: They are pretty aren’t they? Anyway down to work. How did you get into the publishing industry? And did you start as a writer or work more on the editing side?

Jennifer: It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I love to read, always have, and will do it whenever I have at least five minutes free to do so. While recovering from an illness, I was able to read a lot more than usual – a book a day. I saw a reading challenge on a book review blog one day while looking for more books to read by a new author. As part of the challenge, to be eligible to win monthly prizes, the entrants had to provide short book reviews for each book read. The blog owner liked my reviews and asked me to be a reviewer for her site. I was provided with a lot of ARCs (advance review copies) to review. I would often find continuity issues, story line issues, major grammar problems, etc., and I would email the author to let them know about the problems in hopes they could fix the issues before the story was published. This led to beta reading for several authors, editing for several more authors, and then three of the authors recommended me to their publishers for editing jobs. And the rest is history.

Lillian: What exactly does an Acquisitions Editor do?

Jennifer: Hmmm…ahhhh…I’m sorry what was the question? Did you see what he just did? Oh my. That young man is certainly limber. Sorry. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Acquisitions Editors. LOL! We read stories submitted by new and experienced authors to see if they fit within the genres we publish, determine what, if any, issues or problems exit, and if the story is solid, suggest ways it can be fixed, if necessary, so we can offer a contract for it. A story is more than the sum of its parts, and we take this into consideration when making the decision to contract the story, ask for revisions, or gently reject it. At Liquid Silver Books, we try to do most major revisions during the acquisitions process, so by the time the manuscript gets contracted and handed off to the editorial department, there are usually only small things to take care of during regular edits.

Lillian: Writing for Liquid Silver Books, I know that your job doesn’t stop when you say yes to a manuscript. It doesn’t even stop when you say maybe. What are some of the ways you support and help writers as they go through the rewriting and editing process?

Jennifer: I like to tell our current and potential authors I will hold their hands as much or as little as they need me to. When we ask for revisions, I try to provide enough detailed information for authors to not only make the changes but to understand why the change is needed. When possible, I try to give specific suggestions as well. I am here for the authors to bounce ideas off of, to brainstorm with, to read over sections of changes to see if the author is on the right track, or to point the author to resources and tools to help them learn and improve their writing craft. Once the manuscript is contracted, the authors are provided with a list of remaining issues their content editor and/or final line editor will ask them to fix. And I am always here for questions; no matter where the story is in the production process.

Lillian:  What sells a story to you?  I know a book needs a good plot and good writing but which is the one that matters most when you are reading a submission?

Jennifer: The most important thing is how the story makes me feel when I’m reading it. Does it make me laugh or cry? Am I so immersed in the world the author has created, the real world disappears, and I am unaware of the passage of time? Do the characters feel real to me? If I have to put the book down for some reason, am I thinking about the story and hurrying to get back to the book as soon as I can? Do the phone sex scenes have me squirming? Do the shower sex scenes have me reaching for B.O.B.? Am I blown away by the ending? Am I speechless or softly exclaim, “Wow,” when I reach the end? Am I disappointed at the end because I want to spend more time with the characters? Am I still thinking about the story two days later? Even if the writing is not great, but the story makes me feel these things, that is a story I am going to work with the author on to get into contracting shape. I can teach someone writing craft, but I can’t teach talent. And speaking of talent… Would you just look at the yummy body up on stage? *sigh* I’m not sure I can concentrate.

I offer up a silent prayer that Michael stays away. If she is distracted by the support act, I would lose her completely to the flirty Irish git.

Lillian: Can you tell us some of the things that you can do to polish your manuscript to avoid that dreaded rejection letter.

Jennifer: Read your story out loud, preferably to someone else, slowly so you can actually see what is written, and not what you meant to write. You’ll find those pesky missing words, extra words, wrong words…ya know…‘there’ instead of ‘their’, ‘too’ instead of ‘two’, ‘her’ instead of ‘he’, ‘she’ instead of ‘he’. Spell check, spell check, spell check, and then spell check again. While these alone will not earn a rejection, it can tip the scales from a ‘revise and resubmit’ to a rejection. Ask someone you trust to read your story, but not someone who loves you and will tell you it is wonderful just because they love you. You need someone who will be almost brutally honest with you. Also be on the lookout for lazy writing habits such as overusing adverbs ending in ‘ly’ and beginning too many sentences with present participles – verbs ending with ‘ing’. Use your find feature to search for how many of these you have. You might be surprised at how many there are. Make sure your character names, ages, and descriptions are consistent throughout the story. Resist the urge to give the reader a lot of information about the characters or your world all at one time – sprinkle it throughout the beginning quarter of the story. Avoid telling the reader the story – show the story as it happens instead. Most importantly, before you submit a story to any publisher, read their submission guidelines and make sure you are submitting a genre they accept, your manuscript is in the correct format, and you provide all the information they request. Don’t earn a rejection because you don’t appear to be able to follow instructions.

Lillian: What is it about Liquid Silver Books that makes it special?

Jennifer: We have added a lot of new personnel this past year, and we have been changing the way we do things with the ultimate goal of helping to make the authors’ books the best they can be – from the editing to the cover art to adding distribution to many national and international retailers to providing a vehicle for the house authors to help each other with ideas and promo – and to sell more copies of their books. We in acquisitions are not just interested in the authors’ stories but in their careers as well.

Lillian: What is Liquid Silver Books looking for right now?

Jennifer: We are always looking for good romance stories in all of the subgenres. Some of my favorites are paranormal romance, M/M romance, romantic comedy, Western romance, and romantic suspense. However, we have some specific sub calls out for stories featuring heroes we refer to as ‘I need a hero’, and one called Summer Sparklers–relationships that burn hot and bright. Authors can find our current subs calls at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/67294-lsb-submission-calls

Lillian: What plans do you have for the future? Where is Jennifer Hassani headed?

Jennifer: Oh wow! That man can move. *fanning myself* Is it getting hot in here? It’s a good thing he’s way over there. We Southern belles are very touchy feely, and if he was closer, I’m afraid my hands might get away from me. *wicked grin* Sorry, got distracted again. My plans for the future? Professionally? I love my job. I get paid to read books and help people start, jump-start, restart, and/or continue their career as a writer. I get to peruse stock art photos to see which ones will make great romance cover models. I get to sit in male strip clubs while the guys practice, drinking fruity umbrella drinks, and hang out with an author talking shop while enjoying the view. I think I like it where I am professionally right now. *chuckling* Personally? I really need to move somewhere it is cold, and there are cowboys. I want to find me my own Michael…and maybe a Sam too. *winking*

Chad removes our empty glasses and replaces them with fresh cocktails. I can’t take the goofy grin off my face, compliments of the generous slug of rum in the heady mix of booze and fruit juice I have consumed. The interview is almost over and I might just make it through unscathed.

The music drifting across the room changes. The volume rises until you can hear nothing else. I let out a groan as the first notes of Parisienne Walkways fills the air and Michael steps on stage. The scheming bastard must have been planning to sabotage my interview from the start. One glance at Jennifer, and I know I’ve lost her.

No one can resist watching Michael. I grudgingly have to admit he has a certain presence and knows how to strut his stuff. No matter how many times I’ve seen the act nothing ever prepares you for the full Monty. As the last notes of the song end, he lifts his head and winks at Jennifer before sauntering off stage butt naked.

Jennifer: *whispering to myself* Oh my heavens! Reading about his act is really something, but seeing him dance in person is simply beyond words. Maggie is a lucky, lucky gal.

I take a deep breath and grab a handful of ice-cubes from just behind the bar, shoving them down my cleavage in an attempt to cool off. Just when I think I have my blood pressure under control two hands come to rest on my shoulder, soft hair tickles my face, and warm lips kiss my cheek.

I don’t need to turn around to see who’s behind me. I just hope to God he stopped in the dressing room long enough to put some clothes on. He moves to stand next to me, and I note he has at least tugged on a pair of jeans, but they’re hung to low on his hips; he must be going commando. His purple silk shirt hangs open.

Lillian: Sam said you’d be tied up all afternoon.

Michael: Once we were done, Maggie untied me. Aren’t you going to introduce me to your lovely guest? Or maybe I should do it myself?

He steps between our bar stools and kisses Jennifer on the cheek. “Hello darlin’ lovely to meet you at last.”

Jennifer: Oh no… *opening my arms wide* You don’t get away with just a kiss on the cheek, Michael. C’mere and give me a big hug.  I deserve one after the show you just put on.

Now that I’ve actually heard your accent, I don’t know how Maggie can keep from melting every time you open your mouth. I could watch you dance and listen to you talk all day. *turns back to Lillian* Okay, I’m done stroking his…ego…for now.

Michael: Never mind Lillian. You can stroke me anytime you like, beautiful.

Jennifer: Mercy me. *struggling to keep from rubbing myself up against him and purring* Chad, may I have another one of these? *holding my empty drink in the air*

He leans a hip against the bar and snags my drink. “If you’ve finished, I’ve some questions of my own.” His smile is slow and seductive. “So Jennifer, sex or chocolate?”

Jennifer: Why deny myself? Sex and milk chocolate fondue. You can have so much fun with fondue and foreplay.

 Michael: A woman after my own heart. I love to play with my food. Fire or Ice?

Jennifer: I’m greedy… For those hot sultry summer nights, ice to cool me off.  In the dark frozen winter nights, fire to keep me warm.

Michael: Hard or soft?

Jennifer: Anything that starts off soft and ends up hard can be a wonderful thing. Ya know, like chocolate chip cookie dough turns into sinfully delicious cookies. Or, come to think of it, chocolate fondue when it cools off.  Or…well never mind. *wicked grin*

Michael takes Jennifer’s hand and drops a kiss on her knuckles. “Why don’t you come with me, and I’ll take you for a ride on my Hard on.”

The drink Jennifer has just been sipping comes flying out of her mouth to land all over the bar in front of her as she sputters.

I shake my head. “Breathe Jennifer, breathe. He’s talking about his new Harley.”

Jennifer: Well…ahem…I was going to talk with Lillian a bit about the story she’s just started, but if you’re sure Maggie won’t mind?  Let’s save a horse and ride a…hard…uh…Harley. *turning to Lillian* Thanks again for inviting me today.  Any time you want to get together again…here…please let me know. Sorry to run, but I can’t pass up the chance to be pressed up against Michael and hug him tight, even if it is from behind. Email me…

Robin’s Top 5 – Part 2

A couple weeks ago, I let ya’ll know my top five favorite romance heroines. Today I’m back to share with you the goods on who tops the list for the guys. Even as I type this, I’m wracking my brain wondering how I’ll ever single five out of all the dashing heroes I’ve read about. Well…here goes nothing!

#5 – Ambrose St. James from Johanna Lindsey’s Man of My Dreams. Even as I write the book’s title, I’m kicking myself for not including Megan Penworthy on my list of heroines! She’s definitely an honorable mention, for sure! But it’s the guys’ turn, so back to Ambrose aka Devlin Jeffreys. Masquerading as a horse breeder, the uber-sexy Ambrose is the perfect mix of mystery and sex appeal. Do I even need to bring up the stable scene? Ohh la la!

#4 – Michael Monaghan from Lillian Grant’s Male Order, Male Review, and Hot Male. It’s no secret I’m a HUGE fan of Lillian’s Male series, with Michael easily stealing the scene from Meg and Sam from the very first book. But by the time the third book opens and readers get a glimpse of Michael’s past, what was merely lust for me turned into awww, shucks! He’s such a sweetie! As you can tell, I’m a sucker for “nice” boys. So despite his bad boy persona, Michael definitely earns his spot because of his surprisingly sweet personality. I’m not saying I wouldn’t rip the pants off him, cause I would, but there is definitely more to Michael than just being eye candy!

#3 Hugh d’Arcy from my very own Princes series. Okay, so it may be wrong for me to include one of my own creations, but I can’t leave out Hugh! From the very first book, Nadia’s nephew caught my eye. As I created more and more of a role for him, I was left with a character who seemed to have blossomed before my very eyes. So yes, I’m going to include him! Hopefully one day he’ll top my readers’ lists as their favorite!

#2 – Rhett Butler. I’m not even going to do my readers the injustice of mentioning which book this hero is from. Surely everyone out there in cyberland is aware. The oh-so-dashing Clark Gable aside, Margaret Mitchell hit it out of the literary ballpark when she created the passionate, irreverant Rhett. I once had a caricature of myself made as Scarlett O’hara. When the artist asked which I preferred, Ashley or Rhett, I merely gave him a haughty look, turned up my nose, and said in my best Southern belle impression “Why, Rhett, of course!” And who can blame me? What gal hasn’t dreamed of being hauled up that staircase?

#1 – Collin Bridgerton from Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Okay, so I admit. Picking my top favorite hero was ridiculously simple. It’s no surprise Collin is my number one pick as his lady love also tops my list of heroines. The fun-loving, easygoing member of the Bridgerton clan is the type of hero I’m always writing about… a sweet dude who is fond of food and making jokes. (Perhaps he reminds me of myself?)

So I’ve shown you mine. Come on, peeps, and show me your favorites!

Happy (almost) Birthday, Amanda Martin!

Happy trembling Thursday! No? Tawdry Thursday? Dammit. I’m telling you…there is NO good, sexy word that goes with Thursday. But it’s my day, so I’ll keep trying…

On to the business at hand. I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled blog post because it’s Amanda Martin’s birthday. Well, actually, Monday is her birthday, but since my post is today, we’re celebrating early. Right, Amanda?

AMANDA: *fist bump* Damn right, Parker! Today and every day ’til Monday.

PARKER: So, what are the big plans for the weekend? Joe taking you somewhere sexy?

AMANDA: Hmm. Only our bedroom, which works for me! Actually, the guys are coming to the ranch to stay tonight and tomorrow. We’re grilling steaks and relaxing tonight and tomorrow we’re having a bonfire. You’re coming, right?

PARKER: For the bonfire?

AMANDA: For the weekend.

PARKER: Uhhh…hadn’t planned on it.

AMANDA: Well, change your plans. Come on, Parker. You can’t leave me alone in a house full of testosterone. We girls have to stick together.

PARKER: Won’t Samantha be there?

AMANDA: *scowls* No. So, it’s all on you to save me. It’s just gonna be me, Joe, Caleb, Brandon, Alec and you. Jake will be around for the bonfire. That boy has never met a s’more he didn’t like. Oh, and Cooper is coming too. It’ll be fun!

PARKER: You just want me to cook my famous pancakes in the morning. *crosses arms* I’m not sleeping in the barn.

AMANDA: Of course not! You can take Alec’s room and he can stay on the couch.

PARKER: Remembering Alec’s room is positioned between Caleb’s and Brandon’s rooms…Mmm, I’m in!

God, I love my life…