Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloweenie!


If I ever tried to put a humiliating costume like this on Lucy, she would probably bite me!

HAPPY HALLOWEENIE!

Elves and Magik


The countdown has begun for the digital release of Sweet Magik! This Friday, November 4, Oskar Klaus and his brothers will be visiting Penelope's, and giving away an adorable holiday necklace and a copy of my latest installment of the Klaus Brothers Series.

In the meantime, I thought I would post an excerpt about the other cool dude in this book. He's short, he's conflicted, he's got pointy ears.....yep, he's an elf. Ingo plays an integral part of this story. And so does the magic of the North Pole. Here's an excerpt from Sweet Magik to introduce you to Ingo and the magical mayhem of Glasdorf.....



              Ingo pawed through a stack of old books in the library. He hadn't bothered to turn on a lamp. Thin shards of moonlight filtered through the dusty windows and cast an unearthly glow around the room. 
            "Where the hell did I put it? It's got to be here somewhere." Finally he spied a teetering pile by the desk and the thick tome at the bottom looked familiar.
            "Ah, got it!" He pushed the tower, scattering manuscripts on the floor. Carefully, he lifted the gold-edged book, brushing cobwebs off the leather bindings. It had been scores of years since he had the occasion to look at this volume. Even after all of this time, bits of light buzzed off the ragged edges of the spine, reminding him how powerful the Zauberwort Buch really was.
            He held the ancient tome in a shaft of light, illuminating the faded pages.
            What are you gonna do, Ingo Hertz? Verboten. Verboten. The magik of our ancestors is a sacred responsibility. Not to be used in an inappropriate manner. Not to be used for personal gain, vengeance, or evil intent.
            The voice of Master Eugen echoed in his head.
            His callused fingers hesitated over the book. Then the image of Lys struggling to free herself from Per's grip popped into his mind. He flipped open the tome and a long sigh was released into the air. Swirls of dust laced with magik funneled upward from the yellowed-pages and disappeared into the darkness. 
            The Zauberwort Buch jumped from his hands and started to hop across the floor. Ingo could tell the magik was warming up, getting ready for mischief. Eugen taught all of the elves of Glasdorf that the magik must be reined in; its natural course was to "run toward trouble." He would shout "Dicke Luft!" (trouble's brewing) as streams of unrestrained magik swirled throughout the classroom, teasing the students, attempting to incite them. 
            Ingo distinguished himself from an early age as a Magik Bändiger, or magik tamer. Only certain elves were capable of this feat. It required the ability to trick the magik, which was extremely difficult. Magik was crafty and cunning and had a mind of its own. Tricking it at its own game entailed complex strategies depending on the energy involved. Ingo always enjoyed devising traps for the runaway magik, and then sitting back to watch the inevitable downfall.           
            Master Eugen had been disappointed that he had not apprenticed as a Bändiger, but the Hertz family had a long and distinguished history as woodworkers, and Ingo's talent with the wood rivaled his talent with the magik.
            Ingo felt the familiar thrill of power course through him as he dove for the book, grappling with it as it snapped at his fingers. 
            "Halt!" he barked at the irksome Buch. Too bad these spells don't work on elves, or I'd give Per a night he would never forget. The elfin magik worked on the human population, but not on other elves. It was a built-in protection for their well-being.
            Fumbling in the darkness, he found a candle on his desk and lit it. He carefully pulled apart the dusty pages of the book until he found a section entitled Herz Magik, Heart Magik. He nodded as he perused the ancient spells, searching for one he remembered from long ago. Once he located the enchantment, he knocked about his house collecting various items...scraps of paper, more candles, a newspaper article, a button, and finally a page ripped from his new calendar in the kitchen.
            Ingo placed the Zauberwort Buch in the center of his desk, opened to a spell called Zottig Herz (Ragged Heart). First he scribbled his name and Oskar's onto a piece of paper and placed it on the tome. Then, he took the calendar insert and held it over the flickering flame of the candle, scorching the date January first, just above the image of a crescent moon. He searched the calendar for the full moon. January eleventh. Eleven days of misery. He singed the square marked eleven, blackening the plump full moon.
            Ingo rubbed the mother-of-pearl button in his callused fingers and reverently placed it atop the book. Then the article, torn from a Klaus Enterprise newsletter. Every spare candle in his home was scattered on the tabletop, looking like a collection of ominous stalagmites. He took a deep breath and swallowed the last of the liquor from his flask. The empty container fell to the ground, clattering on the floor.
            Ingo began to recite the words, dictated centuries ago. For one brief moment, his voice wavered as he thought of Lys and her sweet smiling face. She was all goodness and light, and he knew she would not approve of this act of vengeance. But the images of Wiebe's laughing face and Per tugging at Lys' waist swirled inside his brain and his voice gained momentum as the ancient words rolled off his tongue. Again and again he uttered the spell, until he collapsed in a drunken stupor on the floor. As he fell into a foggy slumber, Ingo could hear the Zauberwort Buch rattling on the table, brimming with mischief.
            


I was inspired by elfin things this weekend, and created a special Etsy treasury list. Please enjoy "It's The Elfin Apocalypse!" (I know, I know....I have an Etsy problem. So shoot me!) 

Happy Monday!
Penelope

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beard Of The Day


As you all know, I am not a huge fan of the whole Twilight movie fiasco. However, I definitely took a second look when Mr. Robert Pattinson decided to grow a nice, distinguished-looking beard. (No sparkles in sight!). In fact, if Rob popped on a plaid shirt (which he often wears) and grabbed an axe, he could probably fit right in with a rough-n-tumbly gang of lumberjacks.

Grade for the beard......A+
Grade for the sparkly movie....F

Have a great weekend!
Penelope

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Not Going To Die? Well, Hell



I made a startling discovery this week. I've spent the last 14 months thinking that I could keel over and die at any moment. Even though I "recovered" from my heart attack, lost 40 pounds, take all my meds, reversed my diabetes diagnosis, and walk 2 hours a day, I was still paranoid. I was living in "survivor mode." Every day was about staying alive. Exercise, meds, strict diet, low stress.

This week I realized I'm not going to die.

Well, hell. Now what do I do?

Seriously.

Survivor mode was actually pretty easy. You just take it day by day. "I'm Not Gonna Die" mode is much more complicated. I have to think about the future. What are my career plans? Travel plans? Where should I live, what should I do, does my ass look good in these Carhartts? (the answer to that last question is yes!)

So, I am feeling somewhat discombobulated right now. This is not an easy transition. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my brain, and somehow I need to settle them down and work out a plan of action.

First on the list is to decide which WIP to finish. I have 4 on the back-burner, and 3 new story ideas that popped up in the last several weeks just to torture me. Cripes.

In the meantime, I just started reading The Blond Leading The Blond....a cute, well-written mystery by Jayne Ormerod.

So, for today's to-do list I have.....

1. Do laundry
2. Water plants
3. Figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life

It's gonna be a fun day!
Penelope

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Magic & Witches & Romance Writers, Oh My!



18th Annual Conference
New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America ®
April 27-28, 2012, Hawthorne Hotel
Salem, Massachusetts

   Fabulous Speakers      Exciting Workshops      Historic Location  
   Individual Editor & Agent Appointments     Literacy Book Signing  
★   Ghost Hunt      Psychic Fair & Cocktail Party  

FEATURED SPEAKERS
MICHAEL HAUGE   Story and script consultant, author and lecturer. Author of Selling Your Story In 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way To Get Your Screenplay Or Novel Read.
MARIE FORCE   Bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense, including the McCarthys of Gansett Island and Fatal Series.
KRISTAN HIGGINS   NYT and USA Today best-selling author and 2-time winner of the RWA RITA ® award.

AGENT AND EDITOR APPOINTMENTS:
CRITIQUES OF THE FIRST 10 PAGES WILL BE GIVEN TO EARLY REGISTRANTS
AGENTS: Alyssa Henkin (Trident Media Group LLC), Susannah Taylor (Richard Henshaw Group), Emmanuelle Morgen (Judith Ehrlich Literary), Carlie Webber (Jane Rotrosen Agency)
EDITORS:  Megan Records (Kensington Brava), Susan Litman (Harlequin Silhouette), Steph Murray (Crescent Moon)

EARLY REGISTRATION December 1-January 15, $189 (NEC members), $209 (non-members)
REGULAR REGISTRATION January 16-April 6, $199 (NEC members), $219 (non-members)
MEALS ONLY $99
EXTRA WORKSHOP (1-5:30 pm, Friday April 27): Michael Hauge, $35


***

Doesn't this sound great????? Mark it on your calendars. It's a wonderful 2-day conference set in charming Salem, Massachusetts. Great schmoozing, great speakers, great martinis, and most importantly.....world-famous Penelope is giving her talk "Penelope Channels Miss Manners: How To Promote Yourself Without Peeving Everyone Off." You don't want to miss it!


Registration starts Dec. 1. I will post links when they are available.




Polishing her martini glass,
Penelope

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are You Trying To Kill Me?



I am continuing with the Cheapie/Freebie Reading Challenge. Whispering Rock, by Robyn Carr, was only $5.04 for Kindle. I loved the second book of this series, Shelter Mountain, so I thought I would give this one a try (it's #3).

Oh, Lord have mercy on my soul!

Within the first couple of chapters, there is a brutal rape and beating, then a teenage drugging and date rape, then a teenage pregnancy and miscarriage, and a couple of STDs thrown in for good measure.

.....curling......up.....in......fetal......position.......

Um.....um......must.....have......unicorns.....and.....rainbows......

DNF. Couldn't take it. I don't mind heavy stuff if it's interspersed with some hope, light, sweetness, and humor is especially good. This was way too much heavy stuff piled up on top of each other, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Onto other topics....

* I discovered a new website called Lumberjack Erotica! (There's your unicorn, baby!). There is a lot of plaid, axes, and beardy dudes. Super epic win!

* Yesterday, my 8 year old daughter asked me how to do something on the computer. I wasn't sure. She called my son (14) who proceeded with this convoluted explanation...."Hit shift, then control, then command, then number four, then cut, then paste....." He lost me at "shift." Anyhoo, after he totally schooled me with his computer know-how, I tried to redeem myself by showing my daughter how to change fonts and colors on the document. She rolled her eyes at me and said in an exasperated voice, "Mom, I knew how to do that years ago." Well, okay then. I suck.

* For more unicorns, rainbows, and little green aliens, check out RJ Silver's new shop on his website. I especially love the Shlongdia shirts! Hee hee......

* And finally, Oskar Klaus and his brothers will be visiting my blog next week, to celebrate the ebook release of Sweet Magik. We will be giving away a copy of the book, as well as this adorable necklace (from Etsy! hee hee).....


Contest/giveaway and celebration with the Klaus Brothers will happen November 4th. Hope to see you there!


Believe (in Santa, in lumberjacks, in unicorns),
Penelope ❅☺☀♡❉✿

Monday, October 24, 2011

Good Coming And Going


I have one single goal for my weight loss now. 

It's not about trying to look good in a bikini. (Those days a longggggg over).

It's not about trying to fit into my old jeans. (I already fit into my old jeans).

It's not about buying some mini skirt with thigh high boots. (heee heeee)

It's about these pants. Carhartt pants. I want a pair of Carhartt pants.

You're probably thinking.....what the hell is wrong with Penelope? Why would she want a pair of work pants? Well, let me tell you a story.....

A long time ago when I was just a young whipper snapper, I went to grad school. Not for creative writing or landscape design or art history. I went to turf school. What is turf school? Well, I actually went to Cornell and got a masters degree in turfgrass science. There's a science to turfgrass? Well, evidently there is. On the positive side, I also got a degree in plant taxonomy and took all the hort sci classes I wanted to, got paid, and was lucky enough to live in Ithaca, NY, which is a fabulous place. On the down side, it was just me and 10,000 dudes wearing Carhartt pants. (Not a lot of women in the turfgrass industry). Nevertheless, I persevered, got an advanced degree, and developed a fondness for Carhartt pants. These pants are tough, rugged, and indestructible. They will survive a New England winter, a small weenie dog, and several rambunctious children. 

Most importantly, they look good coming and going....see Exhibit B......


There is nothing finer than a guy wearing a pair of Carhartt pants. And nothing cooler than a chick who can carry them off. Me! Me! I can do it!

If I can lose enough weight, I am convinced that I will be able to wear these pants and look totally bad-ass. Indestructible.

So, that's my goal. 

Some women might have a picture of a string bikini on their closet door to inspire them to lose weight. I have a picture of some Carhartt pants.

Dreaming of khaki,
Penelope

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself....



"All a writer really needs is people who read."

--Charles P. Pierce



Happy Sunday!
Penelope

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beard Of The Day


I thought it would be appropriate if today's beardy dude was inspired by a horror movie. I have been watching an incredible number of horror movies over the last couple of weeks. The Underworld series, in particular, is being shown repeatedly.

Lucian is a nice hairy Lycan, brought to life by the actor Michael Sheen. He is quite the bad-ass. Of course, his beard is nothing compared to his werewolf form.....


Now, that's hairy!


Hope everyone has a great weekend and enjoys the plethora of horror movies!
Penelope

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Young At Heart


It's recently come to my attention that I appear to be the oldest living romance blogger on the face of the earth.

I just assumed that some of the "crew" were in the "40-something" range with me. Then I realized the "old guard" was actually in the 30-something range. And the "young guard" was in the 20-something range. And there were even youngsters who are only slightly older than my own children. There are some bloggers who were NOT EVEN BORN YET while I was wearing shoulder pads and dancing to Janet Jackson songs in high school.

I know that some of my friends ("contemporaries," if you will) consider my obsession with romantic fiction to be unsavory. Unbecoming of a woman of my age and station in life. They can't understand how an ivy league-educated scientist ended up reading romance novels and listening to Britney.

Well, either can I. Sometimes I feel my age when the young whipper-snapper bloggers are all chatting on twitter with their abbreviations that I totally don't understand. Many of them are still in school, still care about fashion accessories, and get the whole "Twilight" thing. I know I am sadly out of touch with this generation, but I refuse to go down without a fight.

I might not be the youngest, or the hippest (or even close to the hippest) romance blogger on the block, but at least I can still read! My eyes are showing some signs of fatigue, but they're still in working order.

Just so you know, I don't actually look like this.....



I actually look like this....



(I know, there's an actress who bears an uncanny likeness to me. Or so I've been told).

My point, after this rambling post, is that it doesn't really matter if you're young or old or look like Kate Beckinsale.

Reading romance will keep you young at heart. Forever.

(Especially if you're a vampire and you're immortal.)


With a spring in my step, and bifocals on the end of my nose,
Penelope

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just In Case There's Some Confusion...



Yesterday's post got me thinking. Maybe there is some confusion about "real men" vs. "weenies."

Just to clear up a few things, here is a handy-dandy directory for anyone at Harlequin who thinks a Blackberry-using, weenie executive is manly. Ready?


Real Man


Weenie Executive



Real Man



Weenie



Real Man In A Cowboy Hat


You Need More Than A Plaid Shirt, Dude. WAY more.



Real Man



Two Weenies



See Any Blackberries Here? Nope, Me Neither.




Any questions?
Sincerely,
Penelope

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hot Potato, Cold Potato: A Couple O' Reviews By Penelope



Last night I sucked down not one, but two short romance novels. (While my husband read about 14 pages of his "real" book.....sucker!). The first one was hot, short and sweet. The second one was a good example of why publishers need to pay attention to their cover art. It left me cold. (Hence the title of this post...Hot Potato, Cold Potato....get it? I came up with that one at about 4 am this morning. My insomnia problem continues).

Okay, here we go......

1. Hot Potato:

Hot As Hades by Alisha Rai

I don't expect the meaning of life when I read an erotica. But I do like some romance and humor thrown into a sexy story. This quick read by Rai is exactly how I like my erotica....fast-paced and hot! It's a fun, extremely sexy, mythologically-inspired quickie. And she does a fabulous job making us care about the characters in a short amount of time. She also manages to squeeze in some emotion and a sweet HEA. The sexy-hot meter on this one is in the Naga Viper chili pepper range (the world's hottest chili pepper, with a Scoville heat index of 1,382,118). Spicy, baby!

Loved this one! Grade: A-


2. Cold Potato:

Northern Fascination (Harlequin Blaze) by Jennifer LaBrecque

When a friend on Twitter saw this cover, she sent me a link. Alaskan setting, dude with a plaid shirt, ripped jeans, excellent scruffy beard, and a nice six-pack for good measure. The book blurb says he's a "geologist".....he sounds and looks like a rugged good time. Basically, my dream guy!

Unfortunately, this was a matter of false advertising, as well as a few other problems.....

1.) The hero is a weenie executive, not a rugged geologist. He is in Alaska to buy out the entire town for a mining venture.....to make money. This is the most asinine premise for a story ever.

2.) The heroine was grating.

3.) This book could have been set in any small town, anywhere. The Alaskan setting is completely ignored.

4.) The heroine is a 29 year old virgin who turns into a nymphomaniac.

5.) The best part of this book is the secondary storyline involving a shaman, which completely disappears at the end of the book with no resolution. WTF??

6.) There is a broken condom and an unplanned pregnancy. Of course! It's a freakin' Harly!

7.) The hero decides not to shave for ONE WHOLE DAY, and he feels all rugged and Alaska-y. One day? Are you crapping me? What, do you want a medal for that? One day's worth of stubble does not make you a mountain man, you executive weenie. For the love of God.....

8.) Nor does wearing some boots or a plaid shirt for one day. He was still using his Blackberry. Weenie!

9.) Funniest line ever.....right after the 29 year old virgin has sex for the first time, what does she say to the hero? "Oh my....That was better than masturbating in a hot tub." Haaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! Oh, snap! Because nothing jacks up a guy's ego more than kicking a hot tub's ass, for sure.

10.) At one point the heroine thinks "Way cool." Um, 29 or 13 years old? Way cool?

Sigh. If you promise me a plaid shirt-wearing, scruffy-faced rugged dude in Alaska, don't give me an executive weenie one step up from a hot tub. To be fair, if I didn't expect a mountain man story, I would say this was an okay, not great, read. It still had lots of problems (ridiculous story arc, unresolved secondary storyline, irksome H/h, overlooked Alaskan setting, etc etc).

Grade: C

So, one winner and one loser and I still beat my husband in the reading competition. What's next?

Penelope

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Got Nothin'



Happy Monday Morning! (uttered through half-closed eyes)....

1. I watched 3 horror movies simultaneously last night (zombies, vampires, murdering psychopaths).
2. Hubby got home at 3 AM and wanted to chat.
3. I DNFed a bunch of freebie books this weekend. Still looking for "Mr. Right" (the book that will capture my attention).
4. This is a cool photo my son took a couple of years ago. How I love autumn in New England!

Plans for the week.....Get some sleep. Watch some more horror movies (it is October, after all). Decide which WIP I am finally going to commit to this fall. 

I am off to Starbucks to get a very large pumpkin spice latte.

Hope yinz all have a great week!
Penelope

Sunday, October 16, 2011

And We Have A Winner!


Congrats to Eva/TXBookjunkie!
You're the winner of a signed print copy of Sweet Magik!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. Oskar and his brothers will be back in a couple of weeks to celebrate the digital release day.

Happy Weekend!
Penelope

Friday, October 14, 2011

Review of My Third-World Girlfriend by RJ Silver



My Third-World Girlfriend by RJ Silver

Hee heee heeee....Oh lordy! RJ Silver does indeed have a wicked sense of humor. I have been plowing through all of his books, and I just finished his latest offering, My Third-World Girlfriend.

Once again, he combines sharp and stinging wit with a sweet romance. This is a quick read, but filled with humor, social commentary, and a tender love story. Our hero, Gerry, is a bumbling westerner who has a dismal history with women. He makes the unfortunate acquaintance of three misogynist old geezers who talk him into chucking his old life and travelling to Thailand, where there are plenty of willing women, cold beers, and general debauchery.

Gerry meets the woman of his dreams (Kinlaya) while puking his guts out on a sidewalk after an all-night bender. This inevitably leads to some conflict with his womanizing partners-in-crime, who worry that his new relationship will lead to his emasculation and a lifetime of being hen-pecked.

At one point he meets his friends in a bar and realizes he has no money (his girlfriend hides his cash to invest in their future)....

"Say, you guys don't happen to have a few baht you could loan me, do you? I seem to have left my money back home."

"Vhere?" asked Fritz. "In the jar with your testicles?"

Poor Gerry. He falls in love with his sweet new girlfriend, but as the grown-up responsibilities of real life close in (running errands, cleaning dishes, building shoe shelves for Kinlaya), so does his uncertainty. I don't want to spoil the hilarious ending of this story for you, but suffice it to say it involves a shipwreck, de-programming by Amazonian natives, and a lovely Happy Ever After (HEA).

I'm not sure how he does it, but Silver manages to skewer the a-holes exploiting women from third world countries, paint a sympathetic portrait of the bumbling hero, and weave a sweet romance together in one short story. Some satires are scathing and depressing as hell. I always finish reading one of RJ's stories with a big smile on my face.

Another winner by RJ Silver! Keep 'em coming, RJ! :^)

Grade: A

P.S. I would also like to point out that all of Silver's stories are self-pubbed. I can't speak for the rest of the self-published books in the world, but I know there is still quite a bit of skepticism and snobbery concerning self-pubbed/"indie" books. ("Indie" actually refers to small independent presses, but there is confusion about these terms.) For anyone who still considers a self-pubbed book a "second class citizen" I suggest you read one of RJ's books. These are well-written, well-constructed, entertaining, clever, unique and quirky bits of storytelling. All topped off with an HEA, which makes them damned near perfect in my not so humble opinion. Yep, I am officially an RJ Silver fan-girl/stalker. No restraining orders necessary, RJ! I swear!

As of 10-13-11 (the date I am writing this post), his story The Princess and The Penis is ranked #6 on the Amazon romance bestseller list. Are you kidding me? A small self-pubbed book that is a satire of the princess and the pea is in the Top 10! Take that, big-ass New York publishers! Woo hoo! His success story is inspirational for authors everywhere.

Happily ever after,
Penelope

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's A Slippery Slope



Amazon Reviews
Review of Lovers In Love by Jane Schmo
This is reviewed by Patricia P. Paddlepuss of "Supra-Romantic Romances"

"What a wonderful story! Anne and Frank don't really like each other when they first meet. Sparks were flying! But then they finally fell in love, got married, and had 4 babies. What a romantic happy ending."

Grade: A

****

Comment from Joe: Well thanks a lot, Patricia! You just gave away the whole ending. Now I'm not going to read the book. I'm sure the author really appreciates that you just spoiled the entire story with your stupid review. I think that you need to review your reviews. Because they suck.

Comment from Lisa: Patricia, I loved this book, too. And I loved your review. Ignore Joe. He's an idiot. I think he needs to review his comment of your review. It would get an "F"!!!

Comment from Tammy: I think Lisa needs to review her review of the comment of your review. Because Joe is right. You're an idiot. (And so is Lisa.)

Comment from Marshall: I hesitate to bring this up, but this story IS a romance. All romances have a happy ending. So this just further supports Lisa's hypothesis that Joe is an idiot. Because why should he be surprised that there is a happy ending in a romance novel? They all end that way....love, marriage, babies. Sometimes vampire conversions. You know! Come on! My review of Joe's comment on Patricia's review is....epic fail.

Comment from Nancy: My review of the review of the comment of the original review is....wait, I lost my train of thought.

Comment from Jane: I wrote this book. I'm just happy if anyone is reading it, reviewing it. It's all good! Thanks, everyone.

Comment from Kira: I don't care if Jane wrote the book. I think her comment about the comments about the review, reviewing the review, is ridiculous.

Comment from John: Nice going, Patricia! This book was free, but now it's 99 cents....thanks to dumb-ass people like you who review it and make it popular.

Comment from Nancy: John, you can't cough up a big whopping buck for a book? Get a job!

Comment from Joe: I think the comment on the comment of the review on the comment of the review on the reviewer's review is superb! Well done! At least SOME PEOPLE know how to write a good review.


****

Signing Off,
Patricia P. Paddlepuss

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bridgerton Re-Read Extravaganza



Many moons ago, I learned about the historical romance genre from Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, and Stephanie Laurens. What a great education! Vintage Julia Quinn is filled with emotion, humor, and a totally satisfying level of sensuality. New Julia Quinn is a bunch of marshmallow fluff....lots of empty calories, and you can't remember the names of the characters the next day.

In spite of the fact that JQ has lost her writing mojo (in my not-at-all humble opinion), I adore re-reading the oldies but goodies. I especially love the Bridgertons...one of the greatest of historical romance families. Here is a run-down of my recent re-read extravaganza.

In order of favorites.....(not in chronological order).....


Without a doubt, RMB is my absolute favorite Bridgerton book, and on my all-time favorite historical list. In fact, Penelope Featherington was the inspiration for my pen-name. I love her! This story showcases all of Quinn's strong points...there is banter and sweetness and romance and emotional intensity and even a huge surprise thrown in for good measure. It is about a wallflower who is totally overlooked, but underneath is talented, determined, loving, loyal, and has a wicked sense of humor. Colin is a man searching for an identity. She has loved him forever. His love for her develops unexpectedly, and is so sweet and romantic, I could just swoon every time I read it. And the true identity of Lady Whistledown is brilliantly done in this book. You feel the love the Bridgerton siblings have for each other and their mother. You cheer for Penelope when the ugly duckling wallflower becomes a swan and marries the man of her dreams. You cheer for Colin who is a hero in the truest sense of the word. This book is pure gold. Grade: A+


In second place is Eloise's story. If a book has botanical Latin in it, it pretty much is going to get an A rating from Penelope, who has degrees in plant taxonomy and horticultural science and speaks botanical Latin fluently. (Plant Geek!). The hero in TSPWL is a botanist, and at the beginning of the book he and Eloise exchange letters. He encloses pressed flowers for her. *fanning myself* Oh, how I love Phillip....he has no clue how to be a good husband or how to be a good father....he is most comfortable with his plants in the greenhouse. Not only must Eloise win him over, but she also has to win over his horribly behaved children, who are desperate for affection. Well, Eloise is up to the challenge. She's a Bridgerton, for Christ's sake! This love story is lusty and romantic as hell and adorable and Phillip's final declaration of love....written in flower petals...is one of the sweetest gestures ever. Swoonilicious! Grade: A


This was the first one I read of the series....I read #1 later (which is The Duke and I....not included in this list because it wasn't one of my favorites of the series). Anthony is the head of the Bridgerton family, saddled with responsibility, and traumatized by the death of his father. Kate is living in the shadow of her sister, who is a "diamond" being courted by all marriage-minded men. She is very protective of her younger sister, and is not at all happy when Anthony Bridgerton, rake extraordinaire, sets his sights on her. There are so many wonderful scenes in this book! I especially love the croquet game with all of the Bridgerton siblings exhibiting extremely poor sportsmanship! Kate slowly begins to realize that Anthony is actually a man of honor and kindness. She is crushed to find that she herself has fallen in love with the man who is courting her beloved sister. Oh, how I love this scenario! And Anthony of course finds himself much more fascinated with brash and clever Kate than the stunning younger sib. This book is a super satisfying, romantic read. Love it! Grade: A-


This is Quinn's answer to the Cinderella story. Sophie has an evil stepmother and stepsister. She is living as a maid in their home after the death of her father. Benedict meets her at a masquerade ball. They share one magical night, and Benedict becomes obsessed with finding her....but alas, years pass until they are reunited. This story is super romantic. However, I had forgotten how big a schmo Benedict is for a good chunk of the book, pressuring Sophie to become his mistress because he believes she is not "marriageable" in the eyes of the ton. He more than makes up for his asinine behavior by several heroic acts, including saving her from the clutches of her evil stepmother. The final scene in the book which takes place outside Sophie's prison cell is priceless. I love how Violet (the Bridgerton matriarch) unsheathes her claws with the hideous step-mama in order to protect her family. And of course, she considers Sophie family when she sees how deeply in love Benedict has fallen. What a satisfying ending! As always, true love prevails. Grade: B+

5. When He Was Wicked (#6)

Meh. I know a lot of folks who really dig this one, but it wasn't my fav. I never got a feel for why Michael had been in love with Francesca for so long. This book seemed to focus quite a bit about guilt, not enough about their love. I didn't think WHWW was as satisfying as the others. Grade: B-/C+

The rest of the series is marshmallow fluff. And I didn't love the first one that much either.

Anyway, those are some of my favorites. What's your favorite Bridgerton book? Are you still enjoying Quinn's books, or do you think they are losing the magic?

Happy Reading,
Penelope

P.S. The giveaway contest for Sweet Magik is still open...please leave a comment on this post to enter! Thanks!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet Magik Print Version Now Available! Giveaway Today!


I was surprised to get an email yesterday letting me know my latest Christmas novel, Sweet Magik, is now available in print! Release day for the digital format is still 11-4-11. I have mixed feelings about print books, as you all know. I am now addicted to my Kindle for various reasons....I love being able to adjust font size, leave bookmarks/comments for myself in the text, and pages don't snap shut while I'm reading. However, it is sort of cool to have a book in print, even if it is totally overpriced ($15!!!).

Since the print version is a bit pricey, I would love to give a copy away for free. Here are the rules for the giveaway....

1.) Leave a comment.
2.) Any old comment.
3.) Tell me about your dog, your husband's beard, your garden, what book you're reading right now.
4.) Just say hi.
5.) Make sure I have your email so I can get in touch if you win!
6.) Giveaway is open until Friday Oct 14.
7.) Have a nice day.

That's it! If you would like to read an excerpt, please visit my website....Penny Watson.

Here's the book blurb for Sweet Magik....it's the 2nd installment of the Klaus Brothers Series. Yep, those Klaus brothers! You know.....they live in the North Pole, deliver gifts all over the earth, get themselves into a boatload of trouble. Happy Reading!

SWEET MAGIK......


Oskar Klaus' job is killing him. Not even his favorite hobbies (extreme snowboarding and browsing old bookstores) are enough to snap him out of his funk. It's not easy living in the shadow of four successful older brothers and a father named Santa. Little does he know that a kiss on New Year's Eve is about to turn his life upside-down.

Kiana Grant's Manhattan life is a world away from her childhood in Oahu. She traded sunsets and surfing for a respectable career in library science, but Oskar Klaus is a temptation that's hard to resist. Before she knows it, she's in the midst of an outrageous adventure in the North Pole, dealing with mischievous elves, wicked demons, and a devastating attraction to Santa's youngest son.

There's just one problem...a bitter elf hell-bent on revenge threatens the future of everyone in the North Pole, even Santa himself...

❅❅❅

Leave a comment to enter the giveaway!
Penelope

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's A Jungle Out There



This is what my lovely courtyard garden looks like right now. Not so lovely.

When I say it's a jungle, I do mean jungle. We have multi-generational bunny families living in there. Snakes. Chipmunks. Weeds taller than I am. Overgrown shrubs and vines. At some point during the summer (early) it got out of control and I was afraid to go in there and weed and prune because the baby bunnies kept hopping around.

Underneath the jungle are hostas. Somewhere on the left I think? Hee hee! I had tons of Johnny Jump-Ups (which the bunnies ate with great relish). I still have oregano (another bunny favorite), lemon balm, basil. The chives have disappeared. 

As far as horticultural goals, this is an epic fail. But since I don't like to focus on my failures, I am already looking ahead to next year. I'm going to have a highly organized "potager" style garden, with a brick in-lay and gorgeous terracotta pots. 

In the meantime, I can still enjoy the nasturtiums I planted....poking out next to the lemon balm......


I also have some nice African blue basil.....



And some pretty hydrangea flowers, seen here with a zebra grass.....


Even though my lawn guys mowed down ALL of my morning glory and sweet pea seedlings this year--TWICE! (I tried to replant them)--a few from last year self-seeded, and they survived.....




Sometimes I think my garden is sort of like my life....out of control. But with good stuff floating around in there. :^)

I hope that everyone has a great week....filled with gorgeous flowers, minimal weeds, and even the occasional cute baby bunny.

All my best,
Penelope

Friday, October 7, 2011

Beard of the Day



Beard of the day goes to.....*drum roll*.......Alexander Skarsgard! He is the epitome of excellent scruffy Swedish deliciousness.


Interesting things about Alexander Skarsgard....

1.) He had his first film role when he was 7 years old.
2.) He has been named The Sexiest Man In Sweden five times. (hee hee)
3.) He played "Meekus" in the film Zoolander.

Believe it or not, I have never actually seen True Blood. I know. It's unbelievable. However, that doesn't keep me from appreciating the blond scruffy facial hair of this hottie.

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!
Penelope

ETA: Oh yeah! I made a Beardy McBeardster treasury list at Etsy. Check it out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It Ain't Easy Being Cheap


Inspired by a new challenge at my Goodreads group, I am searching for cheap (99 cents) and freebie books this month.

This is a great challenge for me, for several reasons.

1.) I don't make any money reviewing books.
2.) I have no ads on my website.
3.) I have no paying sponsors on my website. (I like being an "Old Skool"-style book blogger...hee hee!)
4.) I rarely accept ARCs. I pay for my books.
5.) I don't make any money as a promo consultant. (I do it for free).
6.) I'm not making a ton of cash from my own book sales.
7.) All of my assorted jobs are volunteer.
8.) I read a ton of books, and there is no freakin' way I can be shelling out $20 for a hardcover when I read at least a book a day, sometimes more.

I believe in the currency of doing good deeds. (And mooching off my husband!)

My daughter's suggestions for making some money....
1) Become a dachshund breeder.
2) Open a cafe that serves only high-sugar products.
3) Start my own Etsy store selling hand-made origami animals.

While I ponder these options, I'm looking for good deals on Kindle. Here are some I've found for this month....


***A Duke For All Seasons by Mia Marlowe
This looks like a cute historical. It's only 99 cents at Amazon right now.

***My Third World Girlfriend by RJ Silver
This hilarious story is only 99 cents on Kindle. It's the latest release by my new favorite humorist, RJ Silver. His other books, The Princess and The Penis and The Ballerina, The Gymnast and the Yoga Master, are also available on Kindle for 99 cents. I can't recommend these books highly enough. They are clever, well-written and laugh-out-loud funny.

***The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred
This book comes highly recommended. Every person I know who read it, loved it. So I'm giving it a go, even though it sounds a little high on the angsty side for me. It's only $1.49 for Kindle.

***Wicked Games by Jill Myles
This freebie is wicked good. I loved it! And I don't even like contemporary romance, so there!

Any other suggestions for freebie/cheapie books? Please let me know!


Wondering if there will be a huge surge of interest in beardy lumberjack books, and I will suddenly hit the jack-pot next year,

Penelope

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Beardy Love Story, Coming Soon!



A Tale Of Beardy Love
Coming 2012
Lumberjack In Love by Penny Watson





Here is an excerpt from Lumberjack In Love......



     Ami rounded the corner of the house and stopped dead in her tracks. She had no idea what Mr. Anderson looked like from the front. But from the back, he was no grizzled old man. A massive specimen of masculinity raised an ax high above his head, then crushed it down on a log, propped on another stump. His arms bulged beneath a thin T-shirt, sweat drenched his back. Faded blue jeans hugged his ass and meaty-looking thighs. His ensemble was completed by a pair of scuffed up work boots, and a navy-blue skull cap on his head. He stopped momentarily, leaned over to grab a rag, and wiped the handle of the ax. Ami still couldn't get a glimpse of his face, but the view from behind was certainly....well....impressive.
            He swung the ax again, splitting the log in front of him, and the two half-pieces tumbled to the ground.            
            Ami must have squeaked unwittingly. She didn't mean to squeak. But suddenly Marcus Anderson's head whipped around and he leveled her with an aggravated glare. Whoa, Nelly. Looking pretty good from the front side, too.
            The mountain man dropped the ax to the ground and stalked over to where she stood, immobilized in place. His face was dark, thunderous, and absolutely freaking gorgeous. Electric blue eyes, high cheekbones, and a thick lush beard that Ami wanted to rub all over. Now where did that crazy thought come from? I don't even like beards! Think ZZ Top, think Santa Claus, think...think....
            Ami's thought process stalled as the giant man stopped right in front of her and leaned down to eye level.
            "Can I help you with something? Since you're trespassing?" his voice rumbled. His eyes raked over her, taking in her leather duster, Coach purse, and stiletto boots, and he glanced heavenward.
            "Flatlander?"
            Ami bristled. "What's it to ya?"



Hee hee hee....get ready for some lumberjack love!
Penny

Monday, October 3, 2011

Penelope's Hot Tips For Romance Writers: The Promo Checklist



What happens if you write a book and don't do anything about promoting it?

Well....here's an analogy.

You spend 9 hours getting ready for the prom. You do your hair. You put on make-up. You pick out an apricot-colored Gunne Sax dress with ruffles. You spritz on perfume.

And then you sit in your living room and never leave the house.

Don't you want to get to the prom? Dirty dance with Robby "Boom-Boom" Football Player? Spike the punch bowl? Make fun of other people's outfits?

Sure you do!

Likewise, if you spend years writing a masterpiece, and then finally get a publisher, it would be a big-ass downer if no one bought your book. Or read it. Or reviewed it. Or liked it, and sent you a nice fan letter. Or recommended it to her friends.

If you are a first time author with a small publisher, unless you get off your butt and start promoting your new book, it's possible that you'll be stuck in your living room for all of eternity. You could have dismal sales. No one will be reading your masterpiece and discovering what a talented and wonderful writer you are.

Plenty of authors focus on their craft, and the difficult path to publication. But there's more to this writing adventure than just creating a story and getting it published. Doesn't matter if you are a big-time author with a New York publisher, or a self-pubber, or an author with a small to medium sized publisher. Every author needs to take some responsibility for promoting her own work. You are ultimately responsible for your own success!

I could go on and on about this topic (and often do...hee hee!) but today I am just going to post a helpful checklist for writers who have a new release coming out. Make a promo plan or strategy for your book. Get a calendar and fill it up with events...supplement your publisher's review requests with your own, schedule interviews, guest blog posts, contests/giveaways and book signings, buy advertising spots, do chats, plan a virtual tour. Don't forget to post announcements on release day.

Here is a handy-dandy checklist to organize these events and stay on top of your responsibilities. Please comment/email with any questions! I'd love to hear from you!





Penny's Promo Checklist

6-12 months before release (or more).....

*Get a calendar and make a plan!

*Determine money and time budget first.

*Contact folks about advertisements, especially places that fill up far in advance.

*Contact reviewers/bloggers/romance sites about supplemental reviews, interviews, guest blogging, giveaways, etc.

*Create a PROMO FOLDER on your computer w/ jpeg of book cover, blurb, excerpt, bio, head shot, purchase links.

*Contact bookstores about signings/Register for conferences, etc.

*Update blog/website with announcements.

*For first time authors, make sure you have a website in place, a Goodreads author page, blog if you would like one, FB author page, etc.


2-4 months before release.....

*Make ads/hire someone to make them for you.

*Design/order promotional items such as bookmarks, Romance Trading Cards, pens, etc.

*Start working on interview questions, guest blog spots, etc. Get ahead with this work! It will start steamrolling as release day approaches!

*Update blog/website with any new info about book. If you have any early ARC reviews, add positive quotes/snippets--on website, on Twitter, on FB, etc.


1-2 months before release.....

*Email/confirm with all bloggers/sites about virtual tours.

*Step up pre-release promo, but don't over-do....maybe once a week announcement with a positive review snippet, or a quickie excerpt.... Save biggest promo for when you have your PURCHASE LINK!

*If you have a newsletter, send reminders about release day.


RELEASE DAY!!!.....

*BIG DAY! Try to schedule highest traffic/highest visibility event online for this day.  Participate! Leave comments and chat w/ readers!

*Announcements: On FB, Twitter, Goodreads, Yahoo Loops, Writer's Groups, Appropriate Message Boards, Newsletter, Chats, Blog/Website.

*Send follow-up thank-you notes to bloggers/sites.


Release week/month (1-2 months out).....

*Continue with aggressive promo for launch week/initial month. Try to schedule 3-5 events/launch week, then 1-3 events/the rest of the month.

*MIX IT UP! Don't have 5 interviews in a row. Try for an interview on Monday, new review on Wed, giveaway on Friday.

*As readers check out your new book, they post their own ratings/reviews and discuss it online. That's your promo!

*Do book-signings, organize a book launch party, attend conferences (give workshops, participate in book fair, etc).


Post-release.....

*For seasonal releases, promo is essentially done after the holiday season is over. For non-seasonal releases, you can ease up (1-2 events/month?) until the next release is out. Opt for more general promo events, not necessarily geared for that particular book.



I gave a talk to the Rhode Island Romance Writers on Saturday, and we discussed this topic. What a great group of writers! They had tons of energy and enthusiasm.

I'll be picking topics from this checklist to discuss in more detail each week on my blog. Next up...how to determine a budget in terms of time and money for your promotional needs.

Hope this helps! Please comment with any questions/concerns.

All my best,
Penelope