Friday, May 17, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Please stand by! Penelope will not be doing anymore posts until she gets better.
I feel like I've been run over by a truck, flung off a bridge, my head smacked with a hammer, and tossed around by a couple of dinosaurs playing catch.
But other than that, I'm OK.
Hopefully I will be better and back soon. I have some reviews to write for a couple of great books!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
About five years ago, I attended a workshop about "voice." It was maybe 3 or 4 hours long. We did a whole bunch of exercises. What was our favorite color? Music? Setting? Ice-cream? Movie? At the end of the workshop, I realized the author was trying to get us to figure out our own personalities. Her point was that our personality is our voice.
I asked a question. I've read authors who wrote romantic comedy, which was light-hearted and funny, and romantic suspense, which was dark. Same voice? She said yes, no matter what an author writes her voice is always the same.
I totally disagree.
I think an author can "adopt" a voice for a book. A funny, light voice for comedy is perfect. And something denser, darker for suspense makes sense.
I think that we have many voices. Because we have lightness inside of us, as well as darkness. And a truly talented writer can tap into many different things to create a novel.
Can you teach a writer to have a "voice"? That is a very good question. You can teach someone the craft of writing, but voice is more difficult to navigate. I think that a lot of newbie writers are concerned with craft, and don't think about voice. Which is fine. Hopefully, your voice shines through your writing. Hopefully, it's instinctive. But over time, I think it can develop and become more distinct.
The books with the most "pop" are ones where the author's voice really sings. The same exact story, written by two different authors, will be totally different because of voice.
This past week I've read a bunch of books, manuscripts, and even a Facebook post that was so exploding with voice it inspired a new book. Bobbi Ruggiero has a phenomenal WIP she is working on, with a tried and true storyline. Why does it work? Because her voice is fresh, new, charming and filled with energy. Her voice is quite literally, her own voice. I can hear her saying the lines. Her humor shines through, her passion shines through. This is what every writer aspires to with her own "voice."
I read Penny Reid's quirky debut novel NEANDERTHAL SEEKS HUMAN and adored it. Voice is a mix of humor, stylistic components, character, pacing. Everything together. Reid has a unique voice, quirky, fun, and funky. It works like a charm for this lovely story. I'll be writing a full review soon.
Finally, the Facebook post. My friend Stephanie Estes Saccoccio wrote a Facebook status that was 87 words long. It was exploding with voice. In eighty seven words, she wrote a story, with perfect pacing, comedic timing, and the promise for more. I bugged her about using those 87 words as the opening paragraph for a contemporary romance, and finally she said...Um, I think I might try that! She has a natural modern, funny voice that is perfect for con rom. And her storytelling ability is off the charts. I think she could take any story idea and make it sing, because of her strong, comedic voice.
Do any of you have a favorite author with a distinctive voice? Have you read any books recently that fell flat because of a lack of voice? What do you think?
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I just spent the last 48+ hours beta-reading and editing WIPs for two different critique partners. My critiques are not for the faint-of-heart. I am brutal. Luckily, my friends are used to my comments and suggestions...
* Your heroine sure does a lot of deep breathing. I think maybe she has asthma.
* The word "anus" isn't sexy. Just sayin.
* This makes no sense. At all. What the hell are you talking about?
* Who gives a rat's ass what color the pilot's eyes are?
* Did they just boink? I can't tell.
* Why are they fishing? Who cares about fishing. I don't care about fishing.
* How long is this frickin' sex scene anyway?
* I don't think any human being can eat that much food. They would be vomiting by now.
* Omit this whole paragraph. Redundant.
* Omit this whole page. Redundant.
* Omit this whole chapter. Redundant.
* Um, you need to rewrite the whole book.
The amazing part is....we're still friends! Haaaaaaaa!!!!! I also say nice things, too.
* OMG! I am swooning! SWOONING!
* I'm crying. OMG!
* That scene is PURE F*CKIN' GOLD, BABY!
* Your agent is going to poop her pants when she reads that. POOP!
* BEST KISS EVER! *Penny faints*
* Smooth like buttah.
* Haaaaaaa! That is freaking hilarious!
* Now I'm starved. I NEED GELATO!
* Does he have a beard?
* That is soooooooo romantic. OMG. OMG. OMG.
What's the secret to finding a good critique partner? She needs to let you know A) what you're doing well, and B) what you need to work on. That's it. Everyone has strong points and weak points. Some folks are too sensitive to take criticism, and some folks have hides like a rhinoceros. Luckily, my critique partners are used to me, and they trust my judgment. They also ignore me whenever they want to.
The hummingbird is for Bobbi Baby who was an extremely good sport following her first major critique. She's a champ! With a super adorable book.
My goal for today is writing my own book, Sweet Adventure (aka Yeti Will Make You Deady).
Friday, May 3, 2013
Sometimes I think when I tell folks "I love romance" they don't really understand what I'm talking about. Romance is not sex. Romance is not marriage. For me, romance is love. True, everlasting, heroic love. It's also a moment in time, the touch of a hand, the scent of lilacs, a tiny bouquet of violets fit for a fairy queen...
Romance is about hope and courage and strength and loyalty. It's about simple acts of friendship. It's about forgiveness. It's about sacrifice.
Can a book have a heart and soul? Not just the characters, but a story? Yes, of course it can. Anyone who has clutched Harry Potter to her chest knows that truth. There are not many storytellers who can truly tap into that gift. You have to have the soul of a poet. You have to believe in the power of love.
And if you're a romance author, you need to believe in the HEA. Happy Ever After. It's not just a trite abbreviation. It's huge. It's the difference bewteen being cynical and bitter and hopeless and believing in happiness.
Let me just start this review by saying I don't read YA. In fact, I like much more mature characters, 40s and even 50s and beyond. But there are some things that defy age. Like friendship and courage and love. Goldfinch's story AIRE weaves fantasy and characters and setting and suspense into an extraordinary tale. Her writing is beautiful, the story is engaging, the suspense builds perfectly. But it's the romance woven into the story that brings it to sparkling life. And I realized, as I read this, that sometimes the most satisfying love stories don't need graphic sex. They just need longing and trust...and finally happy endings.
There is one thing I remember about The Language Of Souls --Goldfinch's first book that I read a long time ago. It's the kiss. The whole story leads up to one, perfect kiss. And it was filled with so much romance and love I was just amazed. This book has that same quality. I have never seen an author make a kiss so touching, and tender, and lovely, and perfectly satisfying. Like that little bouquet of violets. Sometimes our romantic moments don't need to be big or over-the-top or graphic. Small and simple and perfect are better.
After I finished this book I cried. For a long time. Goldfinch treats us to many happy endings in this story...for primary and secondary characters. I was charmed. I've never read a book that ensured ALL the characters were so well taken care of. It's my dream-come-true! Charming and adorable.
I am always on the look-out for something different and unique and special. This book surpassed all of my expectations. It is a gem that is so far my favorite read for 2013.
Blissfully, blissfully happy,
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I have quite a bit of book news, in light of conference and requests. Here are my updates...
1. I read Sunset at Keyhole Canyon by Jesse Hayworth (formerly known as
2. More books on the TBR pile....
* Aire by Lena Goldfinch...love this author's voice! Such lush, beautiful prose...just started it.
* Skies of Steel by Zoe Archer...looks like an amazing steampunk novel! Woo hoo!
* Bonjour, Happiness! by Jamie Cat Callan...this is a non-fiction book about how French women have figured out the secret to happiness. This author looked so cute and adorable at conference that I just had to buy her book. I read this paragraph during book fair and got tears in my eyes...
"There is happiness, and we just need to look. Perhaps happiness is sitting there in our garden and is nestled between the green leaves and the fragrant tomatoes. Then again, perhaps we just need to open a few cupboards and take out some nice spices and melt a bit of butter in a pan on the stove. Then again, perhaps happiness is in the eyes of our loved ones and we only need to look, to put on some music, take their hand, and dance."
Penny and Jamie
* And a few more!...Spotted Overcoat by Denise Janikowski-Krewal (poetry), Geoducks Are For Lovers by Daisy Prescott (there's a hot lumberjack in this book!), Against The Dark by Carolyn Crane, Walking With Sausage Dogs by Matt Whyman, and Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance by Penny Reid. Phew! I'm gonna be busy!
3. I am beta reading a rock star book by Bobbi Ruggiero (also known as Bobbi Baby) and Victoria Morgan's next historical.
4. Finally, I am about to get back to work on my own WIP, SWEET ADVENTURE (Klaus Brothers Series #3) which includes a tabloid reporter, super hunky blond-bearded toy designer Sven Klaus, a trip to the Arctic Circle, and some Yetis.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Whew! Happy Monday! Conference is over. It was exhausting, fun, inspiring, and filled with yummy cocktails. Before I begin my awards ceremony, I would like to add one extra award...Bestest Hubby Ever. Which goes to my sweet husband of 23 years, Dr. B. When I got home, he had these gorgeous flowers waiting for me, to celebrate my successful workshop. I lub that guy!
And now it's time for Penelope's awards....
✯Penelope's 2013 NECRWA Conference Awards✯
✯ Best Gandy On A Stick Award....Gandy
Bobbi Baby With Gandy
✯ Most Likely To Burst Into Spontaneous Flames...Stephanie Estes Saccoccio
✯ Coolest Newb With Bad-Ass Book Idea...Jennifer Hallock (Go friend her at Facebook!)
✯ Best Friend Covered With 10,000 Melted Lindt Chocolate Truffle Balls Who Never Complained....Sam Wayland
Penny and Sam With Christmas Tree and Melted Chocolate
✯ Nicest Person Award (I think she also won this last year. And I'm going to predict she wins it next year, too)....Lena Goldfinch
✯ Best Real Tattoos...Traci Olsen
✯ Best Fake Tattoos...Penny Watson (#UNICORNSFORTHEWIN)
✯ Best Alcoholic Beverage....Moscow Mule and Pink Cosmo (tie for first place)
✯ Best Conversation About Diabolical Plan To Take Over The World...Marie Force
✯ Most Elegant-Looking Harlequin Author With Adorable Haircut...Barbara Wallace
✯ Best Beard...(excellent scruffiness and salt and pepper coloration...I'm giving it an A-)...CJ Lemire
✯ Best Story About A German Exchange Student And Dirty Dancing Lessons...Victoria Morgan
✯ Moderator Most Likely To Make A Hilarious Freudian Slip During Introductions...Liberty Blake
✯ Best Bump And Grind Partner...Michelle Libby
✯ Funniest Story About A Fried Chicken Smoke Ball And The Fire Department....Frances Stockton
✯ Raunchiest Erotica Author Who Looks Like A Cute Pixie In Vintage-Inspired Outfits....Cara McKenna
✯ Best Abdominal Work-Out....Laughing So Hard My Tummy Still Hurts
✯ Most Touching Speech...Caroline Linden
I will wrap this up with a quick story about my workshop presentation DEAR PENELOPE. I had a moment of panic when I realized that A) the bar opened at 5:45, and B) my talk started at 5:45. Would I have enough time to get my cocktail before my workshop? Would they have enough girly drinks? Would the bartender be a cute guy named Chuck like last year? Well, the bar opened early, and disaster was narrowly avoided.
So, I go into the workshop room and it's filling up with people. I notice there are folks lined up out the door, but I can't really see into the hallway. The next thing I know our conference co-chair tells me she is opening up the partition between my room and the next ballroom to accommodate the extra people. I'm thinking...Well, it will be pretty empty, but at least everyone will have a seat. The wall slides open and the entire next room is packed with attendees--every seat filled, and more folks standing at the back of the room.
My jaw dropped open and my friend Sam laughed.
And I thought...Well hell, I guess I should have planned a real talk. Oops!
Needless to say, the talk was a roaring good time. We discussed social media, beards, Hugh Jackman, Lousy Book Covers, Paris Hilton and negative publicity, and even bigfoot orgy erotica. I'm sure it wasn't that different from Julia Quinn's talk. (*smirk*)
Thanks to everyone who made the weekend a wonderful time!
Victoria Morgan at book fair...She also wins Attendee Most Likely To Hand Out Pens
Friday, April 26, 2013
Off to conference! Hope all of you have a great weekend. I'll be schmoozing with some of the finest romance writers in New England, giving a workshop on social media and promotion, attending some cool classes, signing at book fair, and showing off my unicorn tattoo.
If any of you are in the Burlington, MA area on Saturday, please stop by for the book fair!
Happy Reading and Writing!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Things I Learned About Bigfoot
...and the women they love
(aka, What Happens When Sasquatch Kidnaps Nubile Young Women To Be Personal Breeding Love Slaves)
1. Bigfoot is very possessive of "his woman"..."He tossed me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and hauled me into the forest."
2. He can talk. "Good. Soooooooo good." (I didn't say he could talk like a Harvard professor. I just said he could talk).
3. Sasquatch dudes have regular names like Leonard, Dale, and of course their leader, Bubba.
4. Girls who are abducted by Bigfoot to be their breeding love slaves are concerned about cleanliness and personal hygiene. "I wore the same underwear and shorts I had on for days. They needed to be washed." Um, seriously, I think that's the least of your worries, girlfriend.
5. Bigfoot's diet consists mainly of beef jerky. And carrots.
6. Girls abducted by Bigfoot are generally not that bright. "Maybe being kidnapped by horny apes had messed with my head." Maybe. Maybe it did.
7. Bigfoot's language also includes grunts and this word..."Grrrrrrrrroooooooaaaaaaaarrrrrrr." According to my English-Bigfoot Dictionary, that means "Party Time, Ladies!"
8. Being abducted by Bigfoot tends to elicit sarcastic responses from horny young women. "We're fucked seven ways to Sunday."
9. Also, Bigfoot likes to smoke pot. (Probably to relax at the end of the day. It's probably pretty stressful being Bigfoot, I would imagine).
10. When the young sex slaves are not servicing the hairy beasts, they are forced to weave cloth on a loom. In a cave. (I swear. I'm not making this shizz up). This is best summed up by this quote: "Weavers by day, cocksuckers by night."
11. When Bigfoot gets mad at his girl, she might get a spanking.
12. Bigfoot clans travel around the forest in carts, and have goats. I'm not sure if the goats are pets or a food source.
13. The captives waver between wanting to escape--"I'm only 18! I'm too young to get knocked up with some Planet of the Apes baby!"--to wanting Bigfoot as a boyfriend--"I'd done the unspeakable. I'd fallen in love with my ape." I guess this is sort of a Stockholm syndrome situation going on.
14. Bigfoot has a 12 inch penis.
15. Bigfoot likes to serve his captive hot tea. It's so civilized!
16. The captives figure out why Sasquatch is so horny. "I guess this is what happens when there's no TV."
17. Bigfoot is no different than human men. He likes watching a rousing lesbian sex scene.
18. Bigfoot is a family guy. He dreams of a cave, a woman, and some furry offspring.
19. Never say Bigfoot doesn't know how to romance his captive. Bigfoot enjoys hot tub parties. (Improvisation with a hot spring).
20. The girls are concerned about the hot tub party. "Maybe this was some sort of Bigfoot brainwashing technique?" They were right. It was.
In conclusion, Bigfoot appears to be a big, hairy, horny, family-oriented beast who dines mostly on beef jerky, enjoys hot tub parties, and has a rudimentary grasp of English.
CUM 4 BIGFOOT 2 by Virginia Wade
CUM 4 BIGFOOT 3 by Virginia Wade
Have a hairy day,
Monday, April 22, 2013
Trying to start off the week in a light-hearted manner. Although my heart still feels heavy and conflicted. But I'm working through it!
First up. I decided to read a kooky erotica to help lighten my mood this weekend...The Sweet Shoppe: Cowboy Up. The heroine spends most of the book shoving chocolate fudge in her mouth. I was surprised she didn't weigh 392 pounds by the end of the book and need gastric bypass. Or at the very least a visit to the dentist. Every time she ate the fudge she had sex hallucinations.
That's right. I said fudge brought on sex hallucinations.
Well, by the end of the book she was addicted to fudge, the hero started eating the fudge, and eventually their sex hallucinations turned into real sex. I think.
The moral of the story? It's an erotica. There isn't a moral. But there sure was a lot of melted chocolate.
1. Search for sequins.
2. Put together fun give-away basket.
3. Purchase sparkly unicorn tattoos and test them with my 10-year old daughter.
4. Assemble martini-making kit.
After I wrote this list, I had the feeling something was missing.
5. Prep talk for Friday night: Dear Penelope. I'm giving a workshop. Hee hee! The subtitle for this workshop is...What Would Stephen King Do? It should be fabulous and I hope to see some of you there.
1. Inspirational YA
2. Sweet contemporary cowboy story
3. Bigfoot orgy erotica
I know. I know. One of these things just doesn't belong. I blame Kitty Thomas for this. Somehow I got into a conversation on Twitter with her about nutty books, and the next thing I know she convinced me to read CUM FOR BIGFOOT. I ordered Cum For Bigfoot 2 because the blurb appealed to me, although Kitty is very concerned that I'm not reading them in order and that could affect my appreciation for this fine collection of bigfoot orgy erotica.
I was actually more concerned this poor girl was going to get a horrible case of poison ivy than about her interaction with the "horny, ape-like creatures" in the woods. But we shall see! I will let you all know how it goes.
I wonder if Bigfoot likes chocolate fudge?
*As a footnote, my good friend Bobbi Baby (Baby is not actually her surname, but I use it anyway) absolutely adores Kitty Thomas and her books. In fact, Bobbi often tortures me by relating the entire synopsis for her novels, knowing full well I can't handle anything dark and disturbing. In fact, after reading just the book blurb for Comfort Food, I signed up for a year's worth of psychotherapy appointments.
*unicorns* *rainbows* *unicorns* *rainbows*
However, if you like dark and edgy, I have heard great things about Comfort Food.
All right, folks! It's Monday! Here we go!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
I have too many conflicting thoughts and emotions right now to adequately address the horror, the shock, the heroism, the catastrophic events of this week in Boston.
I have pride in my city. I am in awe of the courage and heroism of so many people--ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers, doctors, neighbors, runners. Extraordinary events unfolded this week. And I don't think we will ever be the same.
But I will say this. And I believe this with all my heart. There are evil people in this world who cause unspeakable horror. But there are many more people with courage, with integrity, filled with goodness and kindness and love.
And that gives me hope.
I would like to thank all of my friends and colleagues and on-line pals who checked in with me to make sure my family was safe, to let me know that they were thinking of me and praying with all of Boston. It made a world of difference, and reinforced my belief that there is much more goodness in this world than evil.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Something exciting is coming up on Saturday April 27! At the Burlington Marriott! In Burlington, Mass! From 3:30-5:30!
What's happening, Penelope?
There is going to be a big bunch of romance authors hanging out, signing books, chatting, and some of them will probably be wearing tiaras or sparkly unicorn tattoos. Or both!
Who will be there, Penelope?
Well, thanks for asking! Look at this amazing crew of writers...
Julia Quinn Caroline Linden Hannah Howell
Loretta Chase Marie Force
Loretta Chase Marie Force
Tiffany Reisz Sarah MacLean
Cara McKenna Donna Alward Cathryn Parry
Barbara Wallace Terri Brisbin Ella Drake
Ashlyn Chase Marissa Doyle
Lesley Matthews Karen Stivali
Anna DeStefano Corrina Lawson
Laura Moore Lena Goldfinch
Frances Stockton Judy Phillips
Victoria Morgan Megan Frampton
Liberty Blake Stephanie Queen
Christina James Samantha Wayland
Jordan Rose Sammie Grace
Megan Caldwell Miranda Neville
Lisa Carlisle Jamie Cat Callan
Kate Locke Amy Atwell
Kady Cross Wendy Marcus Rosza Gaston
Pepper Goodrich Lisa Verge Higgins
Kady Cross Wendy Marcus Rosza Gaston
Pepper Goodrich Lisa Verge Higgins
Cara Elliott Kate Cross Colleen Connally
KJ Montgomery Teresa Noelle Roberts
KJ Montgomery Teresa Noelle Roberts
This is a once-in-lifetime opportunity for New England romance readers. Buy books, get autographs, take pics with your favorite authors. It should be a roaring good time!
I will post a reminder next Friday, but I just wanted to let everyone know this week so you all could make plans, get out your sequins, and hopefully make your way to Burlington next weekend.
Hope to see many of you at the Burlington Marriott
April 27, 3:30-5:30!! (Hm. Is that happy hour?)
April 27, 3:30-5:30!! (Hm. Is that happy hour?)
"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." Willy Wonka
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
"Today, rescuers were running toward the wounded on Boylston Street in acts of true heroism -- running toward the sound of the screams. In the end, the terrorists will fail because Bostonians did not turn from their fellow men -- they turned toward them. And that is the real music of mankind."
Monday, April 15, 2013
Happy Patriots Day! Here in Massachusetts we are celebrating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.
It's also Boston Marathon Day. Good luck to all of the runners!
I have now officially entered the week known as SPRING BREAK. On the list for this week...
1. Spring cleaning.
2. Buying my daughter new clothes since she no longer fits into any of her stuff.
3. Reading Jesse Hayworth's novella Sunset at Keyhole Canyon (ARC)...coming out in May!
Jess Andersen, author of Harlequin medical stories and the UF series The Nightkeepers, is starting a cool new endeavor. She is publishing "fun, sassy contemporaries" as Jesse Hayworth. Why do I like this?
1. Jess is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth authors I have ever met.
2. I love the idea of an author branching out and trying new things. Not being afraid of risk.
3. We desperately need some positive stories in romance. I've personally had enough of the "a-hole hero" and that whole trend. Cripes.
Jesse Hayworth has her novella Sunset at Keyhole Canyon coming out in May.
Summer at Mustang Ridge is coming out in June.
And finally, Winter at Mustang Ridge will be out in December.
I can't wait to read these. Giddy up, cowboy! (I wonder if any of the cowboys have a beard? I'd even be happy with some scruff).
And finally, as my friend Sam Wayland put it, Twitter broke me.
Yes, it broke me like a wild stallion.
Too many negative, horrible news stories and links. Folks being mean and judgmental. I need something perky, dammit! Perky and happy and positive...and rainbows and unicorns...
Do you like my unicorn?
So, I started a new Twitter account. Please follow if you are so inclined! It's called @PerkyHappyStuff, and I will post only happy news. Cute puppy pics. Uplifting stories. Vintage Britney Youtube videos. If you have any happy news, send it my way.
In related news, I got my sparkly unicorn temporary tattoos from Amazon. I have to hide them from my 10 year old daughter.
Hope everyone has a great week!
Friday, April 12, 2013
Beard of the Day.
Ginger of the Day.
Hairy Beast of the Day.
Manliest Manly Ginger Beast of the Day Holding An Axe, With A Six-Pack and Bad-Ass Sunglasses.
Everyone say hello to Lucas Parker!
Lucas Parker is a 5'7" 185-pound Canadian CrossFit athlete who evidently has the nickname Teen Wolf.
If I got to nickname him, it would be Hairy Beast. Ginger Beast. Beard Master of Disaster.
I am also picturing him in a Scottish plaid on the cover of a romance novel.
Happy Beardy Friday!
P.S. Lucas has a Twitter account! *Penny presses follow faster than the speed of sound*
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The truth is...I had a whole blog post written about my pet peeves. Which are plentiful. Piercing. And problematic.
I decided to push aside the profound protests, and focus on something positive and purifying. (I think I've run out of opportunities to use "p" words, although I really, really wanted to get the word "pusslike" in this post. I'll try later.)
So, without further ado (you're thinking THANK GOD!), here are some perky picks from Penelope...
2. Robins (they're back! yay!)
3. If He's Tempted by Hannah Howell
(I really enjoyed the latest Wherlocke book by HH)
4. Tim McGraw
5. This hilarious Tumblr site: Reasons My Son Is Crying.
I hope everyone has a good day and avoids pusslike protrusions. I did it!
Friday, April 5, 2013
I think Shemar Moore is absolutely adorable! He is so rocking the scruff, the goatee, the FBI vest. Yowzah!
Here are some interesting things about Shemar....
1. He is multi-cultural! Yay!
2. He was a regular on The Young and the Restless.
3. He lived in Denmark.
4. He was the host of Soul Train from 1999-2003.
5. He is adorable.
And for the ladies, here is a pic with scruff and buff!
Happy Beardy Friday!
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
One wears boots.
One wears flip flops.
One wears a duster.
One wears skinny jeans.
One drinks whiskey.
One drinks a latte from Starbucks.
Yes, there is quite a difference between a good old cowboy and a hipster, but both captured my attention this week. In a good way.
Lady X's Cowboy by Zoë Archer.
One of my all-time favorite books is Warrior by Zoë Archer. It is a fabulous mix of adventure, fantasy, and romance. Larger than life story. Larger than life characters. Lady X's Cowboy is an historical romance, and I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, Archer has put together a nice little story--with an interesting British widow heroine--caught between her life as a noble-by-marriage, and her position as the owner of a brewery. A lot of romance authors create weak heroines, but Archer isn't one of them. Her heroines are strong-willed, capable, and sensual at the same time.
Lady Olivia has a dilemma--a villain attempting to put her brewery out of business--and a delicious American cowboy shows up just in the nick of time to help save it. Will is scrumptious! Brazen, swaggering like a good cowboy should, a real gentleman, protective, and smarter than he lets on. He and Lady Olivia have some smoky hot chemistry, and a sweet romance develops between them.
This is quite different from Warrior. It's a more traditional historical romance. But I loved the fascinating bits about the brewery, I loved the determined heroine, and Will was the perfect American cowboy hero.
Julie Garwood has a book with a heroine raised by Native Americans and a British nobleman. It's one of her most underrated books, IMO. I love it--The Lion's Lady. There is something very appealing about mixing that rugged, rough and tumble American pioneer sensibility with the starchy upper crust British nobility. It provides great contrast and chemistry in the story. Garwood made it shine, and so does Archer. I would highly recommend Lady X's Cowboy to anyone looking for an American/British historical with some fascinating background about the brewing industry and a sexy H/h combination.
Next...an unpublished story (hopefully published soon)...The Lonely Hipster by Ellis Drake.
What do you get when you mix one lonely hipster, a sweet barista, a creepy police chief, a well-intentioned mother, a bunch of shady characters, a mystery-that-must-be-solved, and an awesome sense of humor? The Lonely Hipster. I sure hope this gets published soon. It made me laugh out loud at least five times. Here's one of my favorite lines...
"Hands in the air. You're under arrest, you perverted hipster!"
I'm in love. With this story.
Other books I bought this week....
The Fornarina Affair by Ellis Drake
Aire by Lena Goldfinch
Cool Shade by Theresa Weir
Tag Man: A Joe Gunther Novel by Archer Mayor
If He's Tempted by Hannah Howell
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
I have horror, mystery, romance, and YA. What a great mix!
Hope everyone is having a good week,
Sunday, March 31, 2013
It's a day for ham and eggs and pancit (our favorite Filipino dish) and "peeps." Yuck! My kids asked for them, so I put them in their Easter baskets, but seriously. Peeps! Ack!
Hope everyone has a great day. It is sunny and gorgeous and spring-y here.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I don't watch very much television, but there are a few shows I love. Mostly centering around creative endeavors.
I used to be a huge Project Runway fan. I would actually get chills watching some of the designs walk down the runway. The final collection for Season One's Jay McCarroll was nothing short of phenomenal. Astounding. Creative, exciting. Gorgeous.
It was a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and designs, which unfolded in a rainbow assortment before our eyes. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Unique and bold and brazen.
And I loved it.
The recent seasons have focused more on melodrama with the increasingly boring, tedious, and super annoying contestants, and less on the designs themselves. Which is probably good since the designs have been not only mediocre at best, but actually embarrassingly bad.
At its heyday, Project Runway took amazingly talented designers and gave them superb challenges. Using botanical items to create a runway look. Burlap sacks. And on and on. There is something magical about watching strips of foliage transform into a couture dress. It makes you feel like you are part of the creative process. That we are all capable of greatness. It reaffirms and inspires and cultivates our imaginations.
Top Chef is always popular at our house. Seeing these talented cooks create masterpieces from disparate ingredients and under adverse conditions--using vending machine food, cooking over a fire pit, preparing school lunches for kids using only healthy ingredients--is fabulous. I find the difference between Project Runway and Top Chef fascinating. Project Runway is a visual competition. We at home can see the clothing and make our own assessment of the success or failure of each design. With the food, we have to accept the judges' opinions as to taste and the success in that arena. We can see if the dishes are visually exciting, but ultimately we are depending on the judges' assessment of the food.
Nevertheless, I still find this show super entertaining and inspiring. I especially love the outside-of-the-box approach to cooking, and the self-taught chefs proving their worth. I love seeing how their minds work--looking at the ingredients in different ways. The color, the texture, the taste, how they can modify it, play with it, change it up, be silly or serious or deferential. The sky is the limit with every episode and dish.
And in startling contrast to the cattiness of Project Runway (although there are always exceptions to this), the contestants on this show usually help each other out and support each other. I find that refreshing and inspiring as well.
(The dish below was created by our favorite Sheldon Simeon, Filipino chef and total sweetheart. He posted this photo on his Facebook page. LOVE him!)
Our latest obsession is Face Off, on the Syfy Channel. My 10 year old daughter and I have been faithfully watching this season, and the hard work, creativity, technical achievements, and sheer imagination going into these designs are beyond impressive. You watch clay and plastic and paint and hair and fabric transform an ordinary model into something extraordinary, horrifying, alien, fantastical. And more than any other show we've seen, the camaraderie between the contestants on this show was heart-warming. They cheered for each other. They were kind to each other. They supported each other. This is the best possible world for folks involved in a creative field---they have mentors, friends, the proper tools and inspiration, and folks looking out for them and encouraging them. Bravo to SyFy for showing us this side of creativity, and what amazing results you can get from a positive experience.
Anthony Kosar's Finale Design
Photo from SyFy website, by Brett-Patrick Jenkins
(Photo at top of post is also from Face Off)
Does this mean all the designs are successful? Of course not. Some are failures. But the stories and people I find most fascinating are the ones who are crushed by the judges, get back up the next week, brush off their pants, and get back to work. They believe in themselves, their vision, and their talent.
This is also why I find fiction that pushes the envelope exciting and impressive. Instead of following the mold, dishing out the same old stuff, there are authors willing to take a chance. Add a cat's POV into the narrative. Create a hero with quirky flaws, outside of the same old formula. Mix up the structure of the novel. Challenge the reader.
Bravo to the authors willing to take a risk, try something different, create a bold new world.
And hopefully you'll find a posse of friends who support you, help you, encourage you, and spur on that creativity.
Hoping everyone has a bold and inspiring day,
Monday, March 25, 2013
1. Easter is coming up! Natty and I spent yesterday working on three dozen eggs for our baskets. My husband's eye was twitching because we made such a huge mess. But we had a great time.
If you're looking for something sweet and silly and different for your kids' Easter baskets this year, why not order a copy of LUCY THE WONDER WEENIE? You could add a small plush weenie dog, too, just for fun!
2. As you all know, I love ridiculous movies. Somehow I missed the sheer excellence that is HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, starring John Cusack and assorted other hilarious actors. Dear Lord! It was utterly fabulous, set in the 1980s, and chock full of delicious gems like this...(my favorite quote)...
"I write Stargate fan fiction. I think I know what I'm talking about."
Penelope Highly Recommends watching this movie if you have fond memories of the 80s, like John Cusack, asinine humor, and lots of cocktails. A winner!
3. First I read a book with a cat's POV (The Girl With The Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir). Then, I read a book with a dog's POV---The Love Dog by Elsa Watson. The premise for this novel is really cute. A tabloid reporter goes undercover on a reality TV show that features a "love dog" who brings together fractured couples. The suspense portion of this story was high...the entire time you're worried that Samantha's cover will be blown. Watson did a good job wrapping up this difficult conflict at the end.
I'm not gonna lie. My favorite character, by far, was the dog Apollo. He was super sweet, loving, and adorable, and I was stressed out thinking he would not get his HEA. (I was more worried about Apollo and his HEA than the human characters in the story). Well, the ending was PERFECTION! True love and happiness for all, human and canine alike. I do think the H/h of this book took a back seat to the dog and his quest to make people happy. But the magic of this story was the dog, and getting his charming POV added the pop into this book.
I think I am now addicted to books with animals' POVs and must find more!
All righty folks...time for another exciting Monday! Hope y'all have a great week.