Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's (Almost) A Brand New Year!

I started to write a blog post about my serious new year's resolutions. It was all heavy and profound....and totally laaaaaaaaaaame.

So instead, I decided to do this! Enjoy!

Penelope's 2012 New Year's Resolutions

1. Wear More Sparkly Nail Polish

A quick and efficient way to jazz up your day....I highly recommend it! (So does my 9 year old).

2. Make My Hair Bigger And Blonder

Some things never go out of style. (At least in my own mind).

3. Add To My Sequin Collection

If I'm going to be a glamorous romance novelist, I might as well look the part.

4. Collect Humiliating Sweaters For My Weenie Dog And Force Her To Wear Them

She'll thank me when she's older.

5. Watch More Hideously Bad Made-For-TV Movies On The SyFy Channel
(With Option To Turn Decapitation Events Into Drinking Game)

There's not a lot to do in suburbia on Saturday night. Believe me.

6. Leave No Stone (Or Log Cabin) Unturned Searching For The World's Greatest Beard

Too bad I can't get paid for this.....

7. Banish The Bunnies From My Garden

As God is my witness, I will have a pea crop this year! Bunnies Beware!

8. Work On A Top Secret Project (It May Involve Hugh Jackman, But My Lips Are Sealed....)

No amount of torture will force me to reveal this secret....although I am open to bribes.

9. Read More P*rn. Read More Spanky Elf Books. Read More.

Making easy-to-accomplish goals builds self-esteem.

10. Be Happy

Simple is always best.

To all of my readers.....

Have A Wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cowboys, Aliens, & Some More Spanky Time

What have I been doing during vacation week? Watching movies and reading romance novels!


1.) Cowboys and Aliens

Boy, was I excited to see this one! Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and a totally cool sci-fi premise: Aliens dropped into an old-timey western. Unfortunately, the premise was better than the execution. The pacing was too slow, and the movie was neither a classic western nor a high-octane sci fi movie. It was somewhere in the middle. Had some good moments, Daniel Craig was perfectly cast in this one, Harrison Ford was pretty good.....but the aliens after gold storyline? Meh. Best part of the movie? When my daughter said, "Why does he keep kicking everyone in the nuts? Is that his signature move or something?" Why, yes....yes, it is.

Natty gave this one 3.5 stars.

2.) Super 8

Now that's what I'm talking about! This was a freakin' fantastic movie. More aliens....this time, a train wreck gives an alien the chance to escape captivity and cause a big ole ruckus. Great cast of kids, perfect balance of stark, cold reality vs. paranormality. It was quirky, touching, and had an excellent hand-holding moment (you know how I feel about favorite gesture!). And as an added bonus, Ron Eldard has a totally kick-ass 70s beard thing going on.

Natty gave this one 4.5 stars. I give it 5!

3.) Snow Job by Delphine Dryden

I packed in one more holiday story. And I'm so glad I did! Delphine Dryden has some excellent writing chops. How do I know this? I forgot I was reading. I was so immersed in this story, I read the whole thing at once. Honestly, I shouldn't have liked this as much as I did. It was a contemporary w/ a sort of borderline-douchey estranged hubby (didn't like his sexual tactics to get his wife back), a sometimes irritating judgmental wife (can you say "tree-hugger"?), and a pretty mellow storyline (estranged couple thrown together for a "fake" Christmas celebration). Nevertheless, I absolutely loved this book. Dryden's writing is fantastic....smooth and mellow like the finest eggnog whiskey buttery toffee candy. Yeah, that's it! Candy! I really really really really like her writing. And even though some of the sex scenes made me slightly uncomfortable (the little wifey was filled w/ guilt), they were hot! Karl was a fine example of husband-turned-alpha-male-to-get-the-little-wifey back. Although he had some douchey moments, I ended up rooting for him, and hoping Elyce would drop the fig-up-his-ass-tree-hugger-wanna-be-boyfriend faster than some recycled cardboard. And she did! And, as an added bonus....there was some spanky time! Which means that every single holiday erotica I read this year was spanky. Spanky hanky-holiday-panky.

Grade: A-

Well, that's the wrap-up for Friday. Looking forward to the New Year's Eve party....I have a sequin-y sweater that's ready for action!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Purging The Dog House

I have noticed something about myself lately. And it isn't very flattering. (No, I'm not talking about my thighs). What I'm talking about is my penchant for holding grudges.

I didn't used to be this way. I used to be fairly easy-going. If someone pissed me off or offended me in some way, I would just laugh about it, immediately clear the air, and move on.

Somehow, paired with white hairs, wrinkles, and a less-than-stellar heart, I have developed the ability to hold grudges in an Olympic size manner. In fact, if they handed out gold medals for grudge-holding, I am sure I would be standing on the podium with a Janet Jackson song blaring on the loud-speakers behind me. My grudges are large and small, real and probably imagined, profound and absurd. Anything from professional back-stabbing to leaving dog shit on my yard is grounds for a Penelope Grudge.

My dog house is so packed, it's about to explode. Lots of folks are in the dog house, and I realized something today.

I need to let it all go. It's time to purge the dog house.

The insults, betrayals, broken promises, hurt feelings, ego-crushing incidents, patronizing comments, and petrified dog poops are being purged. Today.

In preparation for a new year in 2012, I am cleaning out the dog house.

My tolerance for bull shit was extremely low after my heart attack. If someone pissed me off, I immediately announced "She is dead to me." That elicited some chuckles from my husband. Until I was surrounded by so many "dead people," it was like the zombie apocalypse.

Time to re-establish tolerance. Time to regain that laid-back attitude. Time to approach 2012 with a clean slate.

Maybe if the dog house is purged, there will be room for a new dachshund puppy. Then it won't really matter how many dog poops are on the front lawn, will it?

It's hard to be good,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

ARC Review of Something To Prove by Cathryn Parry

Review of Something To Prove by Cathryn Parry

As most of you know, I am not a huge lover of Harlequins. (I like to call them Harlies...☺). I find many of them too shallow, too formulaic, and too generic. I guess the Superromance series are longer, and because of that the author has more time for character and relationship development. Which is a good thing. Harlequin still loves the hard-to-believe totally convoluted plotlines, love-at-first sight premise, and  chiseled six-pack-abs kind of hero (I'm right on board with that last one!).

Anyhoo, Something To Prove has a difficult-to-swallow plotline. It involves secrets and betrayal and ambition, etc etc. It's a typical Harly sort of thing, which I just over-looked, because I really don't give a crap about plot. I give a crap about characters. Characters make the story. Plot schmott. And the characters in this book are excellent. Parry does an amazing job creating a ski legend hero running scared, but dedicated to his team, a journalist heroine who is loyal and loving with her sister, and has been crushed by a son-of-a-bitch father, and plenty of interesting secondary characters who are not just thrown into the book for no good reason, but actually help to paint a fuller portrait of the leads. Most importantly, in spite of the crazy storyline and instant love/lust-at first sight, the chemistry between the hero and heroine is totally believable. Parry does an excellent job with their chemistry, growing trust for each other, and eventually, love.

This is Parry's debut novel, and I am impressed with her writing. Something To Prove is a rock-solid debut, which showcases her writing skills, talent with character development, and ability to create an emotional and satisfying story. What is also showcases is her potential. As I was reading, I felt myself wishing that the author could slip out of the Harly restraints for a bit, and let herself go. Outside of the formula, outside of the box. This new author has a lot of potential, and I hope she gets a chance to let it shine.

Grade: B

(This is an ARC Review. Something To Prove will be released on January 3, 2012.)

All my best,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vacation Week: Reading, Writing & The Ultimate Easy Bake Oven

We have now entered.....the post-December 25th phase of the year. Which means....I'm done!

Any and all promotional events pertaining to the sales and dissemination of the Klaus Brothers Series have officially ceased.

Cause, let's face one wants to read about Santa and the North Pole after Christmas is over. And that's fine with me. I'm freakin' exhausted.

I would just like to say.......

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! everyone who bought my book, read my book, discussed my book, sent me fan emails (hee hee! so cool!), wrote reviews about my book, left messages for me on Facebook, recommended my book to their friends, and all of you who have been supportive, wonderful and generally cool.

God bless winter vacation week! Lots of reading, relaxing, and wasting time cooking minuscule baked goods in the Ultimate Easy Bake Oven (Natty's favorite xmas gift!)

On the reading horizon....

✵ Just finished reading Cathryn Parry's debut Harly novel, Something To Prove. A solid debut, emotional story. Review coming soon.

✵ Started reading Snow Job, a holiday erotica by Delphine Dryden. I won this in a giveaway...looks cute!

✵ TBR this week.... The Heart Of A Hero by Barbara Wallace. It has a weenie dog in it! Yippee!

✵ Also on the TBR pile....Where the Heart Leads by Stephanie Laurens. I actually read this a while ago, but I'm re-reading it and reviewing it for my new project, called The Penelope Project. I am reading books with heroines named Penelope. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Happy Day!

Monday, December 26, 2011

ARC Review of Xavier's Loving Arms by KT Grant

Review of Xavier's Loving Arms by KT Grant

This story looked appealing to me for a couple of reasons....1.) a multi-cultural couple (I'm part of a multi-cultural couple) and 2.) Xavier has a goatee (I like goatees). Anyway, I really had no idea what this book was about when I started reading it. In fact, I wasn't exactly sure who the hero was supposed to be. We are introduced to Dev, who kept wavering back and forth between being a good guy and a douche. I wasn't sure if he was going to end up being the hero or not. Grant keeps the reader guessing, and does an excellent job making Dev a complex character, with both good and bad qualities.

I finally figured out that Xavier would be the hero, and what a great hero he is! A kind, thoughtful, sexy family man who is protective and loving of Rebecca, the heroine. I'm not usually a big fan of beta heroes, but Xavier is perfect for this story. Rebecca is incredibly vulnerable....she has a borderline abusive ex-boyfriend, a devastating eating disorder, financial woes, and a sick grandmother. She needed someone kind and supportive, not a caveman ready to drag her off to the mountains.

Even though this seems like a lot of problems for one poor heroine to deal with, they don't seem unbelievable in this story. There are plenty of people dealing w/ financial difficulties, emotional difficulties and self-esteem issues. The great part of this book is how Becca survives all these things, determined to do it on her own, but learning that love and friendship can ease her burden.

As a former eating disorder patient (I had anorexia when I was younger), I found Grant's portrayal of Becca especially heartening. Women suffering from eating disorders have control issues. They need to feel like they are not totally powerless about their lives. Dev (who is alpha-possessive) wants Becca to quit her jobs, let him pay off her mortgage and take care of her. On the flip side, Xavier helps her get a job interview for a better position. In spite of Xavier's overprotective streak, he understands that Becca needs to help herself, not be babied and coddled. That is a huge part of recovering from an eating disorder. This level of understanding made me really fall in love with Xavier.

This book packs it in. There are numerous secondary characters, story lines involving Becca's grandmother, jobs, ex-boyfriend, and home. And of course, there is a highly lusty relationship going on, as well. (This is an erotica after all). The sex part of the story was the weakest didn't detract from the story, but it wasn't really necessary either. This book would have done just as well, if not better, as a romance instead of an erotica. The meat and potatoes of this story is the emotional journey for Becca. Xavier was sexy because of his caring, compassionate nature.

After experiencing this bumpy journey with Becca, the HEA was a wonderful ending to the story. She finally found hope for her future, a chance at recovery, and a man to share her life with. (I teared up a bit at the!)

To be honest, I was not expecting such an emotional and touching story. Most erotica that I've been reading lately has been about spanky elves. This book takes some very real and troubling issues, and handles them perfectly. The girl gets the guy and a happy ending. Every woman who has struggled with body issues or an eating disorder needs this message of hope.

Grade: A-/B+

(This is an ARC review; Xavier's Loving Arms will be available for purchase on Friday, December 30.)

Pleased As A Peacock,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beard Of The Day

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE, Twas the Night Before Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Random And Excellent

Scott Fiander has done it again! Made me laugh so hard my dog freaked out. He was inspired by several of my recent posts. The illustration above, titled "Penny In The ER" is a reference to my trip to the ER. The one below, "Christmas Spirit In A Candy Cane" was inspired by yesterday's post. How I love these! Merry Christmas to me. Thanks, Scott!

And in other excellent, random news, I made a Random Booklist for 2011....twice! Melissa, of Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf, listed Sweet Inspiration as Best Foodie Book and Most Embarrassing Book Cover....hee hee! Excellent! And totally random.

Also, Dead Trees and Silver Screens gave Sweet Magik an A+ review yesterday....She calls it "A perfect Christmas fantasy!" I am feeling tingly all over.

ETA: Another great 5-star review....from Got Erotic Romance..."Penny Watson has a charming style I just can't get enough of." Yippee-i-ay!

Last day of school, start of Christmas vacation, time to watch Santa Claus Is Coming To Town! Yee haw!

Happy, happy, random, excellent day!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The True Meaning Of Christmas: Candy

I've spent the last several days shopping for the holiday. People are grumpy. They are driving like insane, let me modify that. They are driving even more insanely than they normally do in Boston. Which means they have a Starbucks cup in one hand, a cell phone in the other, are giving you the finger, texting, whipping the steering wheel over to cut you off, cussing you out, and generally behaving like a professional athlete. They are also driving a jumbo SUV larger than a submarine. Which is a necessity when you have 2 kids. Right?

Folks are fighting to the death for a parking space at the mall. They are hitting their children in public. They are yelling at the poor salespeople for no good reason.

So, yesterday, after another day of shopping--yippee! I'm done...I'm done!---I decided to go grocery shopping. This also involves risking life and limb for a parking spot, getting rammed by little old ladies in the store, and wanting to curl up and die in the produce section.

My main purpose for this mission was to find candy canes for the kids. I hang tins on their doorknobs on Christmas Eve, and "Santa" leaves them candy canes. They come downstairs on Christmas morning crunching candy canes with big smiles on their faces.

I found a large selection of gorgeous, hand-made candy canes. With weird pie, cherry, butterscotch. I've never seen a candy cane that wasn't peppermint-flavored. The store manager was standing next to the candy cane display, and I asked him if the candy really tasted like all that stuff. He said it was delicious. Then he disappeared.

As I strolled away, I felt a tap on my shoulder. "Here, Ma'am, try this." The manager had broken open a candy cane for me, and offered me a piece. We stood there in the middle of the store, as the crowd hustled around us, and munched on candy canes together. And they were delicious. 

I wished him a Merry Christmas. And he wished me a Merry Christmas.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And This, My Good Friends, Is Why You Need A Sense Of Humor

This book is too sickly sweet.
This book is so sweet! It's filled with Christmas spirit.
I love Nicholas and Lucy.
I hate Nicholas and Lucy.
I love that Nicholas has a beard.
I hate that Nicholas has a beard.
This is very well-written.
This book is terrible.
This book is charming.
This book is wacky.
I love the cover.
I hate the cover.

And my favorite...
I want to burn this book because Phantom Menace is clearly the worst Star Wars movie ever made.

All In A Day's Work, My Friends

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Wacky Book, One Confused Look & A Cookie Right Hook

(Best Blog Post Title Ever!....What do you mean it's supposed to make sense?)

1. The Wacky Book.... Gabriel's Woman by Robin Schone. This was one of the weirdest, wackiest, most confusing, bizarre, sexual, and surprisingly compelling books I have read. I have never been so confused at the beginning of the book. Who was the first man? Who was the second man? Who the hell was Michel? Who was the other woman? The evil woman? The evil man? The angel? Gabriel? Remember that scene in Moonstruck where the grandfather says "I'm so confused!" and he has tears in his eyes? That was me reading the beginning of this book.

Then we got to the internal dialogue. Which went on and on and on and on...for the entire book. Super melodramatic. Sentence fragments. For emphasis.

Extremely raw, blatantly sexual love scenes.

A horribly tortured hero, which reminded me of Zsadist in many ways. Raped, body and soul, almost beyond redemption. But the love and understanding of a remarkable woman brought him back from the edge. Gave him hope. Gave him a future. (Notice my sentence fragments...hee hee!).

The plot line (when I finally figured it out) became very suspenseful and engaging. Although the final climatic scene was totally over the top. Nevertheless, I kept going because Gabriel and Victoria were fascinating characters and I wanted to see what was going to happen to them. By the end, I couldn't put this book down.

It was often heart-breaking, very intense, and strangely satisfying. I almost DNFed it at the beginning because I had no freakin' clue what was going on. By the final page, I was a Robin Schone fan. I'm not sure how it happened exactly, but she got me.

Grade: A

2. The Confused Look.....

5 stars = A
4 stars = B
3 stars = C
2 stars = D
1 star = F

No matter how Goodreads wants to redefine the star system, them's the breaks. 2 stars is not a good book. It is almost failing. I don't know how Goodreads decided that 2 stars is "okay" but clearly someone was on crack when he made that decision. I'm never sure when I see a "2" rating at Goodreads if the person means a real 2 (bad) or a Goodreads 2 (okay). Those are two hugely different things in my opinion. The confusion continues.....

3. A Cookie Right Hook....

It was an epic battle of good vs. evil. Penny, in one corner, wearing her elf apron and wielding a cookie sheet like a shield. In the other corner, Lace Cookies. Penny had faced Lace Cookies in the past and won. Feeling cocky, she whipped up a batch when the unthinkable happened. The mother f*ckin' cookies stuck to the tin foil on the cookie sheet. Ravaged, crumbled beyond recognition, the cookies taunted her from the counter. (Her daughter Natalie hungrily snatched up the debris and announced "These taste delicious.") Penny conceded defeat. (Although half of the 2nd batch turned out okay). Nevertheless, in this battle, on this day, Lace Cookies kicked Penny's ass.

If you are feeling lucky, and would like to attempt these mother f*ckin' cookies, here is the recipe. Sam Wayland, author extraordinaire and cookie master, gave me the recipe. She is clearly more skilled in the culinary arts than I am.


Here's the recipe.....

Sam's Lace Cookies
by Sam Wayland, author of Destiny Calls and With Grace

(do not attempt these if you have high blood pressure, anxiety disorder, or a tendency to whip things with a rolling pin).....


1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
 1 tsp vanilla
1 c. oatmeal (quick oats)
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. rice crispies or other cold, crunchy cereal

Mix in order, stir well, drop by tsp on tin foil covered cookie sheets or Teflon cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes until there is a dark ring around outer edge. (Penny's tip: Make sure cookies are very flat, and well-browned. If you remove them too early, they will stick to the mother f*ckin' cookie sheet and you will cuss like a sailor). COOL COMPLETELY before picking off tin foil. Then you sort of peel away the tin foil and the cookies are left behind.

Good luck!!!!!!!


P.S. Please stop by Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books today to check out a post I did about holiday inspiration and cocktails! :^)

Monday, December 19, 2011

December Joyathon At Romancing Rakes

Please stop by Romancing Rakes today to chat with me and win a copy of SWEET MAGIK.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Walking On Sunshine

Another excellent 1980s bit o' music. Here is Katrina and the Waves singing Walking On Sunshine.

Have a Sunny Sunday,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program....

Nothing like 24 hours in the emergency room getting an EKG, blood work, chest X-ray, more EKGs, and a stress test to bring home the true meaning of Christmas.....


☺Just kidding. Due to ill effects of a new med (which I figured out 24 hours later), I experienced chest pain on Thursday night, went to the ER, got a whole bunch of stuff done, and ended up not leaving the damned hospital until almost 24 hours later. The good news: I'm fit as a fiddle, and my heart is doing great. No blood clots. Everything is A-OK. The bad news: I was in the ER for 24 freakin' hours. Cripes.

(Just as an aside, I find it extremely irritating that you cannot wear a bra while doing the stress-test. Jogging on a treadmill without a brassiere is a super bad idea).

So, I'll be taking it easy this weekend and enjoying time w/ the family. My son brought me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in the hospital, and my daughter refused to sit down because it was a "germ-fest in here." 

This week I'm shopping for the kids and my hubby, which I love to do. And planning a Christmas dinner. My husband is making his famous beef tenderloin with 3 sauces....white, red and green. Cute!

Happy Weekend To All,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If You Take The "Maul" Out Of The An-i-maul, All You Have Left Is Zzzzzz......

If you ask me what I think is the most boring thing in the world, I will answer without hesitation.


(Also.......watching golf on TV).

I fall asleep reading about politics. I fall asleep watching news shows about politics. I fall asleep when people start talking about politics.


So, I can't think of a better way to crush a potentially exciting story than to smother it with politics.

In theory, paranormal romance about animal shape-shifters is a brilliant concept. Animals are primitive, loyal, brutal. These stories should be filled with excitement, sensuality, chemistry, passion, intensity and even violence. What could be more intense than animalistic sex? What could be more powerful than loyalty to a mate?

So what would be the #1 way to mess up a shifter story? Add politics. A lot of politics. Instead of focusing on the animal, focus on the most boring-ass part of "human" society. *Yawn*

If you take the animal out of the animal shifter story, all you have left is stupid-ass humans. Bor-ing.

Christine Feehan gets the appeal of animal shifters. She focuses on the animal in its habitat. She really gets into their heads. Think like one. Smell like one. Hunt like one. Kill like one. Love like one. The focus of her shifter stories is the characters, what motivates them, how they behave and how the animal part of their personalities dictates their lives. These books are totally satisfying reads. I love them!

I just finished reading Jennifer Ashley's Bodyguard and I was underwhelmed. Too much politics. Too much focus on the plot/storyline. Where was the animalistic, hot and heavy sex scenes? Missing in action. I find that Shelly Laurenston's shifter books, as well as Lora Leigh's breeder series, also do the same thing. By focusing too much on the human-side of things, including the political structure of these societies, they have squashed the animalistic excitement right out of the story.

If the hero of a story is a gigantic Kodiak bear, I'm jonesing for some gigantic, bear-sized sex scenes.


Thinking that a spanky elf could have helped out that story, too (which is worrisome),

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Defense Of Spoilers

I have been following an interesting thread at Amazon where folks are discussing the pros and cons of spoilers, among other issues. Here are some thoughts on the subject.....

First of all, there is a difference between stating an "opinion" of a book, and writing a review. For example...

This is an "opinion".... That book sucked.

This is a "review".... That book sucked because of poor writing, shallow characterization, too much purple prose, and unresolved conflict.

This is an even better review..... That book sucked because of poor writing (do you not know how to spell "captin"?), shallow characterization (we never got to see any deep POV for Charlie's character), too much purple prose ("your petals are filled with the sweetest dew") and unresolved conflict (what happened to the sister trapped in a Turkish prison)?

In other words, an opinion is just a statement with nothing to back it up. A review should be supported by details. Specific details make it even better.

I have an academic background. You always, always, always, support your hypothesis. You cite specific examples from the text to back up your claim. It's still an opinion. What I consider purple prose someone else might think is the best writing since the holy bible. But at least I am supporting my point of view with details.

This is why I use spoilers in my reviews. This is also why I usually don't read full reviews of books until AFTER I have read them. I don't want to spoil the read for myself, but I enjoy checking out other folks' opinions after the fact.

It is possible to write a general review that includes basic details without including spoilers. I do it all the time. It just sounds like a more generic review. "Great pacing, lovely setting, beautiful love story!" This is fine. But this is even better..... "The moment when Zsadist scribbles 'I love you' on a scrap of paper and hands it to Bella is one of the most touching scenes I have ever read in a romance." It's a spoiler, but it also captures what is magical about that book.

So, those are my deep thoughts for the day!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Didn't See That One Coming

And in somewhat unexpected news yesterday, the following occurred....

1. Aliens landed in Hollywood and kidnapped the Kardashian family.
2. Santa Claus announced his retirement and subsequent relocation to Aruba.
3. My daughter ate something healthy.
4. RT Book Reviews reviewed Sweet Magik in a Web-Exclusive Review.

I know. I know. You're shaking your head and thinking "Sure, Penny, RT Book Reviews reviewed your little Christmas story. Uh huh."

Haaa Haaaa Haaa Haaaaaa!!!!!!!!! Craziness!!!!!!

Anyhow, it's a very nice review. Here are some snippets and here is the link to the full review:

"This book starts with a crazy premise and it just gets wackier as it goes." Holy crap! That is so true! It is wacky!

"....there are some surprisingly sweet moments." Sweet! I love sweet!

"Sweet Magik will surely help readers get into the Christmas spirit, at least those readers that are willing to suspend disbelief and go along for a ride to the North Pole." Hot diggity damn, that's awesome!

Okay, I am done hyperventilating, dancing a jig, and checking to make sure one of my friends isn't playing a practical joke on me.

(Julia--you better not be playing a practical joke on me!!)

Pretty sure she's not.

Hope everyone has a great day! (Wouldn't it be great if aliens really did kidnap the Kardashians?)


Monday, December 12, 2011

Penelope's Top 20 List For 2011

It's that time again! Time for Penelope's World-Famous Top 20 List....Enjoy!

1. Best Book With The Word "Penis" In The Title: The Princess and The Penis by RJ Silver

I thought it was a joke. But the joke was on me. The Princess and The Penis is the best self-pubbed book I've read this year. It's well-written, clever and laugh-out-loud funny. And it's written by a little green alien. Who knew?

2. Best Amish Romance: Jacob's Return by Annette Blair

Annette Blair never ceases to amaze me. She can write snappy mysteries, quirky romances, and emotional tear-jerker Amish stories. Jacob's Return is a powerful and intense love story. I bawled my eyes out at the end, and fell in love with this book.

3. Biggest Metrosexual: Roarke from JD Robb's Naked In Death

In spite of receiving death threats in Bertucci's from a rabid fan, I am sticking to my guns about Roarke. Based on the first book of the series, Naked In Death, I don't get the appeal. While Eve kicked butt, Roarke drank wine. Give me a freakin' break! I am firmly ensconced in the "I-Don't-Love-Roarke" brigade. I have a membership card and everything. (I appear to be the sole member of this club).

4. Most Over-Priced Quickie About A Horny Alien Gorilla Dude From Outer Space: Dementia 

Here's the book synopsis in a nutshell.... It's a 30 page quickie about a super horny alpha male gorilla alien dude from outer space who kidnaps an earth girl to use as a sex slave, chases after her in the jungle, and then she gets trapped by a super horny alien plant that fondles her sex organs and tries to suck her dry until she goes completely insane (hence the title Dementia), but then the "hero" finds her and boinks her for most of the 30 pages, and then they decide they are hopelessly in love with each other.

Any questions?

5. Most Misleading Cover: Northern Fascination by Jennifer LaBrecque

The cover shows a rugged bearded hero wearing a plaid shirt, with six-pack abs and ripped jeans. The hero in this book is actually an executive weenie who goes to Alaska to buy out an entire town. His only "tool" is a Blackberry. Oh Harly, how could you?

6. Best Cougar Story: The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton

I could not stop laughing out loud at this hilarious, sexy cougar story. (And I don't even like cougar stories). This book has awesome pop culture references, smoky hot sex scenes, and an adorable British hero. It's a sure thing.

7. Best Sci-Fi Erotica: Captured by Julia Rachel Barrett

What if aliens came to Earth to capture humans and auction us off as a food source? This is the premise for Barrett's excellent sci-fi erotica Captured. I found it suspenseful, thought-provoking, and intelligent. Another winning story by Julia.

8. Characters I Most Want To Hit Over The Head With A Cast-Iron Skillet: Shelly Laurenston's Beasts.

They're immature, horny, foul-mouthed, hyper and the most unlikable characters I have ever encountered. I seem to be in the minority, because most folks love this series. I would really love to ding them over the head with a cast-iron skillet, although I don't think that would do any good. They would just pop back up and yell "bitch"!!!!

9. Best Cocktail Of The Year: The Gingerbread Man

This ain't your mamma's gingerbread recipe, baby. Bailey's, schnapps, and vodka will knock you on your ass faster than you can say "Ho, ho, ho!"

10. Most Disturbing Use Of A Jar Of Honey: Bearotica

I found my limit with hairy dudes, and it was Bearotica. This compilation of gay male "bear" stories was poorly-written, often disturbing, and liberally sprinkled with pots of honey. My therapist thinks I'll recover by 2015.

11. Favorite Spanky Elf Christmas Story: Santa's Wayward Elf by Paige Tyler

What do you get when you mix the mob, a naughty elf, a hot cop, and the Big Apple? One fun spanky elf story! Spanking and Santa Claus seemed to be the theme of the month for holiday erotica.

12. Best Multi Boy Band Concert: NKOTBSB

The New Kids On The Block and The Backstreet Boys might be old, they might be bald, and their voices might crack on occasion, but they still got the moves! There's nothing like Donnie Wahlberg ripping off his T-shirt and showing off some fine-looking abs. A sublime moment of musical history, I'm sure.

13. Best Zombie Mash-Up: Jane Slayre by Sherri Erwin

It takes a lot of chutzpah to zombify a well-beloved classic like Jane Eyre. Erwin has managed to add humor and horror into the classic tale, and transform Jane into an empowered monster-slayer. Me likey!

14. New Favorite Mystery Series: The Liam Campbell Series by Dana Stabenow

I sucked down this whole series in a matter of days. These books have got it all....stunning Alaskan setting, conflicted romance, fascinating storylines, and even a bit of the paranormal. Killer series. (And I mean that both ways).

15. Best Book With Marauding Cavemen, The Bermuda Triangle, T Rex, Plane Wrecks, Time Warps, and Hot Conquistadors: Island Heat by Jill Myles

This book was right up my wacky alley. It packed everything into one story, and for some crazy reason, it worked. Surprisingly, it's the only book nominated in this category.

16. Best Beard: Nash in Winter Woman

Nash is a pioneer who lives a brutal life in the wilderness. He is wild and raggedy and beardy. A big, scraggly beard. (Which he unfortunately shaves off, but let's pretend that didn't happen, shall we?). The pioneer beard wins. Also known as The Pa Ingalls Beard Of Achievement.

17. Best Steampunk: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

I'm hoping that I never experience a zombie apocalypse, or a world like Brook's steampunk vision. Dark, disturbing, fascinating, scary as hell. What an incredible back-drop for a love story! This book is excellent.

18. Best Heroine

This is always a toughie. I adored Thalia in Zoe Archer's Warrior....she is a beautiful, strong-willed and loyal woman, and the perfect match for her hero. I also loved Cordelia in Winter Woman. She transforms herself from a scrawny city girl into a heroic pioneer. Linnet in Eloisa James' When Beauty Tamed The Beast is a wonderful mix of contradictions...vain and lovely, sharp and thoughtful. And Mina in The Iron Duke is a phenomenal heroine...brave and resourceful and passionate. But the #1 heroine for the year is.....none other than Jane from Jane Eyre. Despite all obstacles and heart-break, she maintains her strength, her integrity, and her love. Jane is a wonder, and my favorite heroine of 2011.

19. Best Hero

I met some very cool heroes this year. Max in The Reluctant Nude was quirky and charming and endearing. Nash in Winter Woman was like a big wounded bear dedicated to keeping his new woman safe and protected in the wilderness. Piers, in Eloisa James' When Beauty Tamed The Beast, is one of the greatest heroes I've ever seen. Brilliant and blunt and angry. What a wonderful love story! But my pick for Best Hero of 2011 is the quintessential wounded soul, Rocky McRochester from Jane Eyre. Edward Rochester is filled with passion, and flaws, and pride. And love. I adore his long-winded monologues. I adore his melodramatic proclamations. I adore his acceptance and love for Jane. Hot damn, Rocky is the one!

20. Best Book

I read some doozies this year. (No, I'm not talking about Bearotica!). Shadowfever wrapped up Karen Marie Moning's epic series with a bang. It was an extraordinary journey, filled with incredible imagery and drama. The Iron Duke was a stunning steampunk vision, Warrior was a passion-filled adventure, and When Beauty Tamed The Beast was a perfect bit of storytelling. Winter Woman, an oldie but goodie, was one that I will re-read again and again. But the best read of the year was a classic that I was lucky to discover at the ripe old age of 45. Why I waited that long, I have no idea. Jane Eyre is my kind of story. It takes you to the edge of the abyss, a place filled with despair and tragedy, and then it brings you hope. It gives you joy and love and hope for the future, as a man crushed by tragedy embraces his soulmate and salvation. Holy macarena.....that is one of the greatest final scenes ever! EVER! I had a wonderful reading year in 2011, and Jane Eyre was the greatest gift of all.

All My Best,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mexican Wedding Cookies

This weekend's agenda: Get Christmas tree. Put up Christmas decorations. Mail Christmas cards. Listen to Christmas music. Watch "Elf" for the 10 billionth time.

Notice a theme?

We are also baking Christmas cookies for a Christmas Cookie Party. One of our favorite family cookie recipes is this one for Mexican Wedding Cookies. My mom used to make these every year. Yum!

Mexican Wedding Cookies

2 c. flour
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 c. finely ground pecans
powdered sugar

Beat first 5 ingredients at low speed until just mixed. Then increase speed to medium until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in pecans. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours.  Roll into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1" apart. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (or until lightly browned). Cool slightly, then roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely, then roll again. Eat 'em up! 

Happy Weekend!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Reading Recommendations From Penelope

In spite of the fact that I have read a couple of stinker holiday romances lately, I still love this sub-genre. It's not enough to have your story take place at Christmas-time. A real Christmas romance should have some underlying themes that are Christmas-related....things like generosity of heart, love of family, belief in Christmas magic, the occurrence of miracles. (And for holiday erotica, lots of spanking....hee hee!) Here are some of my favorite Christmas reads....

1. Under The Mistletoe by Mary Balogh
Historical romance lends itself very well to Christmas-themed stories. Mary Balogh is the master of sentimental moments. It's a winning combination. This is a super romantic and lovely collection.

2. Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan
You wouldn't think that a bunch of Carpathian vampires would make for a funny, tender, and emotional holiday read, but you would be wrong! This book is an awesome re-visiting of my favorite Carpathian couples. If you are not familiar with the Dark series, I wouldn't recommend it. But if you do like Feehan's books, this one is great. (Skyler and Dimitri make an appearance....yay!)

3. A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
I adore this book. I love stories with wounded heroes....Ian has a big red beard and has been traumatized by his time in the military. He is raw and angry, and only the love of a good woman can bring him joy again. This book kicks ass. Romantic, emotional, sexy. And did I mention the hero has a beard? Just checking!

4. An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James
Even though this book has the most preposterous premise for a historical ever (please see my review), it is still an adorable book. Sweet and satisfying and very Christmas-y. And this is my favorite line from a holiday romance....

"Poppy, what did you think that Christmas was for?"

"Nibbling on gingerbread men?" she whispered.

"I'm your gingerbread man," he said.


5. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman
This is one of my favorite Amish stories. It is sweet and romantic and the hero has a beard. (Well, he's Amish for God's sake!). I cried reading this one. In a good way. :^)

6. A Christmas Ball  by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan and Alissa Johnson
This is a cute historical anthology, with stories by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan (Mia Marlowe) and Alissa Johnson. Ashley's story was not my favorite, but I adored the ones by Bryan and Johnson. They were clever and funny and touching. Definitely recommend this one.

7. Santa's Wayward Elf by Paige Tyler
This is a very sexy, quirky holiday erotica. I was totally entertained. (Some other holiday erotica I enjoyed last year....The Christmas Fantasy by KT Grant, with a sexy firefighter and a curvy heroine, and Kidnapped For Christmas by Evangeline Anderson, a "light-BDSM" holiday story.)

I don't normally read traditional contemporary romances like this, but I'm really glad I checked this one out. It's all about family--you can't get more Christmas-y than that. Kyle is a wonderful hero. (Another traditional romance I read this year was Holiday Secrets by Jill Sorenson--it's a Harly!--I loved the surfer hero and the sweet HEA).

9. Christmas Elf by Tielle St. Clare
Another naughty elf story...this one is really funny, too. 

10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Not a romance novel. This is a children's book, and it makes me cry every single time I read it. In fact, my kids often say, "Hey, let's make Mom cry! Get out The Polar Express!" Then we read it and they watch my face on the last page. I start sobbing every time. Beautiful.

Have any favorites to add to the list?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Feel Better Yet? How 'Bout Now? Now? Now?

Didn't I say I was going to take a break from reading Christmas romance? Didn't I? Huh? Huh?

Well, I didn't. As I was perusing my Kindle, I found out I had down-loaded this freebie (One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson), and I couldn't resist.

That'll teach me.

It started out okay....for about 1/2 page. Then it got bad. And worse. And more depressing. And filled with despair. It's about a crumbling marriage. And a woman filled with guilt. And a daughter filled with anger. Everyone's life is going down the toilet. Down deeper....and deeper...and deeper....

I didn't like any of the characters. They were irritating, self-absorbed, and some were downright duplicitous. The husband was okay. I didn't like the daughter. Or the daughter's friend. Especially the wife. I didn't even like the brother. The business partner. Or the delivery guy.

At 12% I thought, things will get better soon, right? At about now? At about now? At 79%....please, now! Please, I'm begging you! At please? At 99%....too late.

Why did I keep reading? Because I kept thinking it would get better.

So, about half-way through I finally realized this was a Christian Inspirational romance. (The references to God/Jesus and prayer time finally registered in my thick skull.) I have no problem with that at all. In fact, the only bright, hopeful spots in this book for about 99% of the story were when the characters prayed.

Prayer: Dear God, I love Daniel. Please let our marriage survive. 
Dialogue: Daniel, you are a horrible father. You neglected our marriage. You never tried to understand me.

What the hell is that? I have never seen such a big disconnect between deep POV and/or internal prayer time and the actions/dialogue of a character. Natalie keeps thinking she loves her husband, and then she turns around and acts like a snotty selfish ding-a-ling. O-kay.

At one point, I actually wished Natalie would file for divorce so her poor husband could find a new woman who would be nice to him.

I cried at the end. Three times. I'm not sure if this was from sheer emotional exhaustion, or if I was moved by the Christmas spirit.

See, this is why I need to avoid contemporary romance at all costs. Because I don't want an "imperfect" Christmas with real-life problems. Selfish wives, run-away hubbies, conniving daughters, conniving daughter's friends, interfering family members, ineffective therapists, depressing subject matter. Who needs it?

There were a few sweet moments in this book....all of them had to do with the mother who was incapacitated by a stroke, and her long-suffering husband desperately trying to hold it together. But after all that angst, what I really wanted was a wonderful reunion between Natalie and Daniel. And it just didn't happen. Two sentences on the last page do NOT make a HEA.


This book was not poorly written, and as far as standard contemporaries go, I'm sure it was okay. I just found it depressing as hell. I was sort of wishing for a spanky elf to show up at the end and lighten the mood.

Grade: C? For...Crushing My Soul? D? For...Darkening My Day? F? For...Forcing Me To Take Lexapro?

I have no clue how to grade this book. I give up.

Anyhow, as God is my witness, I am taking a hiatus from holiday romance. *signed in blood and sealed with a shot of egg nog*

Going to read the comics,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Sex Or Not To Sex, That Is The Question

I just finished Mistletoe and Margaritas by Shannon Stacey. Yet another holiday romance. I might actually be reaching my saturation point on the holiday romances, believe it or not.

I had high hopes for this one, since I heartily enjoyed Stacey's book Exclusively Yours. It was cute and sexy and funny. Unfortunately, Mistletoe and Margaritas was a big flop for me. Some authors can capture the magic in a shorter format, and some can't. This book was too short, the ending was way too abrupt, and the sex scenes were a huge let-down. Which made me think about something that drives me nuts.

The sex scenes in a romance/erotica need to be appropriate for the book.

Here's what I mean.....If the book is an angsty Amish story that focuses on the emotional connection between the characters, then throwing in a wild orgy scene is not appropriate. Likewise, if the book has highly sexualized characters, then having "closed-door" sex scenes is not appropriate. (Imagine JR Ward's series without the sex....)

With some Harly books, the authors concentrate on sweet and loving gestures, such as kissing, holding hands, etc. These books don't need graphic sex scenes to complete them. The emotional connection is more important for the story arc.

On the other hand, if an author spends a lot of time building up sexual tension between the H/h, talking about how they lust for each other, are hot for each other, have been fantasizing about each other for years, can't wait to get it on, etc etc etc, then for the love of God, we better get a smokin-hot sex scene in that book. You can't build up sexual tension and then leave your readers hanging. That is a less-than-satisfying read, and super disappointing.

That was one of my main problems with Mistletoe and Margaritas. The hero has been in love (and lust) with the heroine for years. The heroine keeps talking about how horny she is. But the sex scenes didn't deliver. They were too brief and totally unsatisfying, in my opinion. If the sexual tension is a big part of the story, then we need a lot of frosting on the cake of love. (That sort of sounds like an Elvis song).

Grade: C-

Anyhoo, I think I might read a non-Christmasy book next. To cleanse the palate, so to speak.

Don't Leave Me Hanging,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out, Martha Stewart!

Frustrated by the apparent lack of holiday doo-dads in our house, my daughter Natty took it upon herself to decorate the living room. She made paper snowflakes, paper chains, curling ribbons, and printed up Santas from the web. I'm not sure what a rubber band ball has to do with Christmas, but it's an interesting look. She's so helpful!

In other news.....

❅ GOOD NEWS: Both Sweet Magik and Sweet Inspiration are on the top 10 romance bestseller list at Fictionwise. It's a Klaus Brother invasion!

❅ BAD NEWS: My good friend Julia Barrett has had some catastrophic problems with her website. Evidently, everything on her site has disappeared. She has no idea what happened. It's heart-breaking. She had four years worth of blog posts there, including some of my favorite serial posts about her canoe trip. If you are so inclined, please drop Julia a message on twitter to wish her well.

❅ GOOD NEWS: I got a great fan letter yesterday, from a woman who is a Barnes and Noble employee. She loved my books and is recommending them to her customers. Thanks, Michelle!

❅ BAD NEWS: 20 days until Christmas and I haven't started my shopping yet! Ahhhhh!

❅ BOOK NEWS: Carolyn Crane's new book Head Rush it out today! Carolyn is one of the most talented up-and-coming authors I know. I am sure this book is going to kick ass.

Also, my Secret Santa at the Refugees Goodreads group got me Heart Of Steel by Meljean Brook....woo hoo! I cannot wait to read this. Thank you, Secret Santa, whoever you are!

Finally, I am about to read yet another holiday romance....Mistletoe and Margaritas by Shannon Stacey. Once I finish, I am going to post a holiday reading list with my top recommendations.

Happy Tuesday To Everyone!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Morning Updates: Girlz With Guns, Velveeta-Free Reviews, & Mamma Mia

1. I survived the weekend. My 9 year old daughter's laser tag party was a big hit. 15 screaming kids ran around shooting each other, consuming enormous quantities of sugar products, and producing ear-piercing screams that could shatter fine crystal. All in all, a fine party.

2. I am tickled that the sales for Sweet Inspiration are popping up this Christmas. I got a great review from Dead Trees and Silver Screens. I think it's hilarious that Amanda calls it "Velveeta-free." I personally love cheesy stories, so I wouldn't mind some Velveeta with my book, but that's just me.

3. Historical romance author Mia Marlowe is hosting me today at her blog. We are discussing my penchant for beardy men, Oskar Klaus, and tube tops. Stop by and leave a comment--Mia is giving away a copy of Sweet Magik, as well as one of her own stories, A Duke For All Seasons or My Lady Below Stairs. I love the name reminds me of Mamma Mia, which reminds me of ABBA, which reminds me....

How Can I Resist You? A Swedish Dude With A Velveeta-Heavy Beard?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Ran So Far Away....I Ran All Night And Day

Time for Saturday's Blast From The 1980s Musical Past! It's Flock Of Seagulls singing....I Ran (1982).


Today is all about my daughter's 9th birthday party....a laser tag party with 15 screaming nine year old kids. Ergo the lyrics....."I ran all night and day....I couldn't get away."

All my best,

Friday, December 2, 2011

Penny Wins The Lottery...Ding, Ding, Ding!

Stranger: Well, hello there!

Penny: Hello. Nice to meet you.

S: I just wanted to let you know that my book club has chosen your recent release, Sweet Magik, as our December reading selection.

P: Oh my goodness! Thanks so much. I am thrilled!

S: *snicker* We'll see about that.

P: What does that mean?

S: We're not just any old book club. We are a small, very select, very superior group of readers.

P: Uh....well....that's great. Good for you!

S: Very superior. As in....we know what kinds of literature are valuable, worth-while contributions to society, and which are trashy-ass pieces of shit, also known as..."bodice rippers."

P: *stunned* Um...I'm not sure I'm following your train of thought.

S: Don't strain your brain. Obviously, anyone who reads, writes and reviews copious romance novels is lacking in basic intellect. What I'm trying to tell you is....we hate bodice rippers and we like to crush them in our ratings and reviews. It's super fun.

P: Well, I didn't actually write a "bodice ripper".....bodice ripper is a term that refers to romantic fiction published in the 1980s, that featured forced seduction scenes....

S: Silence! I'm not interested in your pointless drivel, minion.

P: What's your name, Mister?

S: Snobby Asse. What's it to you?

P: Well, Mr. Snobby Asse, I can see how you find all this good, clean fun. Reading a genre you know nothing about, ripping the books to shreds, then snickering with your friends. What exactly constitutes "real" literature?

SA: I know you will find this difficult to believe....but there are actually many other types of reading materials available in the world. Ever read a textbook? *snicker*

P: Actually, I wrote a textbook.

SA: Huh? find that hard to believe. Let me college? Right? *brushes dust off of Harvard diploma*

P: Uh, wrong. Ivy League. Graduate degree.

SA: Bull shit! You can call me Doctor Snobby Asse from now on, Miss Penelope Romance Pants! Ever get published in a scientific journal? Do ground-breaking research?

P: Yep.

SA: *looks slightly frazzled* What the hell are you doing slumming with the bodice ripper crowd, you wack?

P: I love romance. I love reading romance. I love writing romance. I love talking about romance. And I love reviewing romance. As a genuine romance reviewer--someone who is well-read in all fields, and extremely well-versed in this genre, and reviews it within the context of which it was written. It's not a Shakespearean play, for Christ's sakes, and is not meant to be viewed as such. Romances are simply fiction that focus on a relationship as the basic story arc, its conflict and resolution, and finish with a happy ending. You do know that, Mr. Snobby Asse. Right?

SA: Of course! I know everything!

P: Do you also know the subtleties of all the sub-genres you are reading? Dark paranoramal? Light paranormal? Romantic suspense? Steampunk fantasty? Each sub-genre should be critiqued according to its own set of, the inclusion of horror, humor, etc. I'm sure you're totally up on all that stuff and how it applies to each unique sub-genre of romance. Excuse me, I mean bodice rippers.

SA: *sputters* You talk a big game, Penelope, but that stuff is still crap. No matter what fancy words you use to dress it up.

P: Hmm. I can think of a few things that are crap.

SA: Well, I think I've wasted enough time here. I need to spend some time reading books I hate so I can ding them in a public setting for the hilarity of myself and my superior friends. You know, real authors spend years of their lives doing research. You can't just write a book willy-nilly. For example, did you really go to Bavaria to research the Klaus family? I think not. *shakes head in a patronizing manner* I am soooooooo not impressed.

P: Um, Mr. Snobby Asse. I have something to tell you. But I don't think you're going to like it.

SA: Uh huh. What might that be, Inferior Girl?

P: Santa Claus, know....

SA: Spit it out, Smut Lover!

P: Santa isn't real.

SA: NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P: I'm so sorry. My book is make-believe. Not real. I didn't do any research about the Klaus family because....well.....they only exist in my puny mind. Sweet Magik wasn't meant to be anything heavy or serious. Just a fun little romance ditty, with some tongue-in-cheek humor, celebrating the holiday season. Celebrating love, and family, and romance, and happy endings. I hope you have some fun, light-hearted plans for the holiday season. *ponders Mr. Snobby Asse* Um, has anyone ever told you that you look a little bit like Scrooge?

SA: Bah humbug! *storms off*

P: Oh, I feel sort of badly about that.

Old Man With Big White Beard: Well, hello Penelope. How are you?

P: Hi! Do I know you?

Old Man: I think so. Yes, Penelope, I think so. *scratches beard which Penelope eyes with great interest* So, Miss Lover of Bodice Rippers, what would you like for Christmas?

P: Hugh Jackman!

Old Man: I'll see what I can do.

Happy Christmas To All, And To All A Good-Night!