Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Feel Dirty

Here I am, just minding my own business in Napa, California, when I find a disturbing reference to my latest publication.

In an article about....ahem....library porn.

That's right. Evidently, there is a category of pornography all about naughty librarians. According to Avi Steinberg in "Checking Out" (an article he wrote for The Paris Review), "...it comes as no surprise that the sexy librarian, a fixture of the pornographic imagination, is most at home in books. Each year, new titles are added to the librarian-porn bookshelf. This past season's crop included additions like Hot for Librarian....Lucy the Librarian--Dewey and His Decimal....The Nympho Librarian and Other Stories....A Librarian's Desire.....and soft-core selections like Sweet Magick by Penny Watson."

Oh. My. God.

First of all, Mr. Steinberg spelled my book title incorrectly (it's Sweet Magik). For cripes sake, if you're going to call me out as a pornographer, you could at least have the common courtesy to spell my book title correctly.

Second of all, Sweet Magik is not soft-core porn. It's not erotica. It's not even an erotic romance. It's fantasy romance. Just because a book has some sexy time with a librarian does NOT make it a porno.

Third, I can't believe my Christmas story just got lumped in with The Nympho Librarian

I feel dirty.

ETA: I got an extremely nice email from Mr. Steinberg saying he loved my book and is recommending it to friends. Hot dog! :^)

On a slightly more wholesome note, I got a nice shout-out at RT Reviews, in an article called "Trend Watch: Lumberjack Romance." They mentioned my Etsy collection "For Girls Who Love Lumberjacks." They listed some lumberjacky books, but none seemed quite as beard-inspired as my own WIP, Lumberjack In Love.

Well, I'm off to enjoy another day in Napa with Julia! I'll post more pics soon. :^)


Monday, January 30, 2012

Morning Walk In Napa

Morning walk with Julia and Jake....a hot air balloon! So cool!

Wild mustard and grape vines.


Off for a wine tasting and olive oil tasting.....yum!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Napa Or Bust

I'm leaving soon for Napa! Hope everyone has a great week. I'll be sure to post lots of pics when I get back. I can't stop singing this song...hee hee!.....

All my best,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's Wack Today

Padma Lakshmi

1. Oops! From last night's episode of Top Chef....it looks like Padma forgot to put on her pants.

2. From The Annals Of Pseudo-Intellectual Misogynist Douchebags Whose Names Sounds Like a Vegetable

(I refuse to give his real name or link....he doesn't deserve any more traffic to his site).

Here are some choice quotes from his asinine romance-hating post yesterday.....

"Well romance is nothing but base human desires."

(Um, I think you might mean lust, not romance.)

"It's the stuff of children."

(Really? I personally don't think romantic fiction is age-appropriate for kids, but whatever floats your boat).

"Adults read to learn, and that includes fiction."

(And adults also read for entertainment. I think you need to lighten up, grab a beer, and watch.....)


That's right, baby! Darth Maul is coming at you in 3D on February 10th....here's the trailer on Youtube
I know some of my fans readers people who hated my book more than life itself will be super excited to see this epic movie event!

Have a nice day,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Totally Pointless Weenie Dog Photo

Best part of winter in New England....snuggling with a hot dog.

Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Werewolves On My Mind (And Some Other Stuff, Too)

Thanks to a recommendation at the Amazon Romance Message Boards (aka Wackadoodle Central), I bought and read this book last night. I have read some contemporaries by Lucy Monroe I really enjoyed, but never any paranormal books by her. Well, Moon Craving is the second in this werewolf series, and I lubbed this baby!

What's better than sexy werewolves?

How about sexy werewolves who also happen to be Scottish lairds-alpha-hotties with that wicked buttery accent, tattoos, stubbly beards, muscles on their muscles, and a possessive streak? Okay, that would be it!

I loved everything about this book--especially the deaf heroine who seems weak but has an iron will and intense loyalty, the werewolf laird determined not to repeat the mistakes of his ancestors, and all the cool secondary characters. This book is a serious winner!

Grade: A ....All.....The.....Way!

Other deep thoughts....

  •  The continuing battle of authors vs. reviewers has me considering closing down my twitter account and doing my own "black-out." I have never seen so much negativity flying around. Angry authors, insulted reviewers and readers. This new and continuing trend doesn't appear to be going away. So maybe I'll go away. It's bumming me out.

  •  I am re-animating the zombie corpse of my diet (how do you like that image? hee hee). After losing 45 pounds very quickly, I re-gained some of the weight back and now I need to get back on the train. It's all about "mindful" eating vs. "mindless" eating. Mindful eating is very difficult when you are cooking for a family of four....kids eating junk food, hubby eating white rice, snacks around the house. I have to be super-vigilant about not eating anything that is a no-no. A bite of a cookie here, a bite of a left-over waffle there....and pretty soon I've gained 10 pounds. I've gone back to my super-strict diet I was using right after my heart attack, and it's working. I'm losing weight again. 50 pounds down or bust!

Well, that's it for Tuesday. Hope everyone has a great day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Penny From Heaven And An Alien Love Child: Quickie Reading Update

I finished my first book for the Penelope Project....In For A Penny by Rose Lerner. Holy Canastas! This is a wonderful 5-star read. Charming historical story, adorable characters, lots of emotional conflict, and a kick-ass Penelope. I love "heroic" heroines, and this one fits the bill. It reminded me of an old-school Julia Quinn novel....you fall in love with these flawed characters and pray for their HEA. And you get it. I wish the ending hadn't been so abrupt, but otherwise this book was close to perfection. Rose Lerner has a lovely voice and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Grade: A

Next up: Alien Overnight by Robin Rotham. This book looked so weird I just couldn't resist. The book blurb says the heroine is "quirky"....what they should have said was foul-mouthed, rude, irritating and totally unlikable. Frankly, I couldn't understand why the horny alien dudes were so hot to trot with Dr. Teague. They liked her "spunky" attitude....I thought she was horrible. However, the two horny alien dudes were hot alpha guys, with a little bit "extra" (bizarre alien anatomical appendage....and I'll let your imagination run wild with that one). This book had some good points....pretty well-written, interesting alien plot (I really like the premise of an alien planet desperate for females....it's a great concept for a sci fi erotica!), and 2 hunky heroes. Unfortunately, I couldn't stand the heroine. I laughed out loud when they mentioned the "alien love-child"....hee hee! If you're looking for a spicy sci-fi menage story, and you don't mind foul-mouthed, rude heroines, this is a fun read. If bitchy chicks piss you off, skip it.

Grade: B-/C+

Happy Monday,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Baked Potato Salad by Todd English

This is one of my favorite weekend dinners, and such a great concept! Todd English takes a roasted Idaho potato, and stuffs it with a delicious watercress salad. For folks eating a lot of salad (me!) this is something a little bit different to break up the monotony.

"My Favorite Baked Potato Salad" by Todd English, from The Olives Table cookbook:


4 Idaho potatoes
1 T olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. black pepper
1 small bunch watercress, washed, dried and ripped up into bits
1 cucumber, sliced
1 and 1/2 c. green beans, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes
1 sm. red onion, thinly sliced (I use less, probably 1/2 onion)
1 Belgian endive, sliced up

2 T good olive oil
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T balsamic vinegar
3/4 crumbled good blue cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Rub potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, prick them with a fork, then roast in the oven until tender (right on the rack), about 40 minutes-1 hour.

Make salad....toss watercress, endive, cuke, green beans, onion and season with salt and pepper. 

Make the dressing....heat up a small skillet on high and then add the olive oil. Add the walnuts and toast for a couple of minutes. Be careful...they burn quickly. Add the lemon juice and vinegar and heat for about 1 minute. Take pan off the heat and add the cheese. It makes a delicious hot dressing....yum! Pour this over the salad and mix together.

Open up the potatoes and mound the salad on top. Serve hot!


Penny (Guess what I'm eating for dinner tonight?)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter In New England

The view outside my front door this morning. Snowflakes still falling in the morning sun....gorgeous!

Winter in my garden.....

Stay warm, everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Dinner With Julia (Rachel Barrett)


Some folks have it. Some don't.

Many of us had it in our younger days. And then lost it with the arrival of 2.5 kids.

Some of us had it in college. For others, it may make an appearance after a few drinks.

I haven't had a lot of spontaneous moments in the last year and half. Having a heart attack makes you hold on tight to familiarity....the structure of each day makes you feel safe and secure.

But I realized at the beginning of this new year, I needed to shake things up. I needed something fun and different and spontaneous and maybe a little bit ballsy to look forward to.

How about....

....hopping on a plane, flying across the country, and meeting someone you have never actually seen in real life?

Someone you have developed a friendship with, initially based on mutual love of books, good food and wine. Shared experiences. Someone you respect. Someone who is a kindred spirit in many ways. Someone who is kind, intelligent, thoughtful, and funny. Someone who is supportive and understanding.

Julia Rachel Barrett issued an open invitation to visit her in Napa, and one day I emailed her and said...."I'm coming to see you." I'm not sure if she was shocked or surprised. But she said "Great!"

And so, in eleven days, I am flying across the country to meet a "stranger" who really isn't a stranger. We're going to taste wine, and olive oil, and visit the farmer's market in San Francisco, and hike, and eat at some fun restaurants, and walk her adorable dog, and get to know each other in person.

I can't wait.

Of all the things that have happened to me since I discovered romantic fiction, started writing and reviewing, the very best part has been "meeting" cool people. Other authors and reviewers and readers who have unique perspectives on life, who have gone through trials and tribulations just as I have, who offer support and kindness as life throws a few curveballs our way.

And so, I'm looking forward to my dinner with Julia. Good food, good wine, good company. It's a grand adventure, and a wonderful way to start the new year.

A wonderful source of inspiration. Visiting a new place. Meeting a new friend. Taking a journey by myself, without my family.

I like the fact that my first introduction to Julia was by reading her book Beauty and the Feast. I knew right away that I liked her. I liked the way she saw the sensuality of food, the simplicity of a good meal, the beauty in the world around her. These things came out clearly in this book, and after enjoying it immensely, we started corresponding and became friends.

Another Julia would heartily approve, I'm sure....

"Remember, 'No one's more important than people!' In other words, friendship is the most important thing--not career or housework, or one's fatigue--and it needs to be tended and nurtured." Julia Child, My Life in France

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude." Julia Child

"One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed." Julia Child, My Life in France

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." Julia Child


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Feeling Peevish

1. Pet Peeve #1.....

I have the most incredible news in the world!!! OH MY GOD! 

(Too bad I can't tell you right now. Maybe later.)


Maybe you should tell me later.

*Penny sharpens her katana with an evil glint in her eye*

2. Pet Peeve #2.....

If one more author/agent/publisher/blogger/reviewer/reader tells the rest of us how to read/write/review/talk/post/rate/grade I will swing my steely katana through the air like a muther f*ckin' ninja on crack and kick some idiotic ass!

3. Pet Peeve #3....

When my dachshund plays with her dinosaur chew toy. The squeaking! The squeaking! Make it stop!

*Penny fantasizes about decapitating dinosaur with large, sharpened sword*

4. Pet Peeve #4......

Hey....let's make a lot of money by encouraging folks to eat super-unhealthy diets and develop diabetes! Great idea!

Here's the thing. Eating deep-fried food isn't good for you. Ever. It's gonna kill you. So, saying "I'll eat deep fried food in moderation" is the equivalent of saying "I'll smoke 7 ciggies a day instead of 14." One way or another, it's still gonna kill ya. Shame on you, Paula Deen.

5. Pet Peeve #5.....

Captains who save their own sorry asses while their luxury cruise liner sinks and innocent people die. I guess the George Clooney-style honorable captains who go down with the ship (A Perfect Storm) are only found in Hollywood? Jay-sus.

6. Pet Peeve #6......

Getting folks addicted to paranormal series with a crack-like intensity, then charging exorbitant amounts of money for the Kindle version. So. Very. Un. Cool.

Still feeling peevish,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"When It Looks Like A Lion's Mane, I'm Done"

Instructions to my stylist.

These are words I never want to hear at the beauty salon....subtle, natural, flat.

These are good.....big, fluffy, Jon Bon Jovi from the 1980s.

Off for my hair appointment......


ETA: My hair looks fantastic! :^) Bon Jovi would be proud!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Planning My Summer Vacation

While I freeze my arse off in New England, I am planning my summer vacation to Kauai.


Anyone been there? Suggestions? Recommendations? Let me know!

Happy Monday! Dream about sea turtles and lush green landscapes,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Invitation to Read This Book, With Just a Few Conditions....

Miss Penelope,

Our client has written a stunning work of epic proportions. We would like to invite you to read and review this book, with just a few conditions....

1. You must have at least 100,000 followers on your blog.
2. Your blog must have won a minimum of 386 awards.
3. Your followers must all possess a high school diploma.
4. We frown upon an abundance of curse words.
5. Blogs with half-clothed male models will not be approved.
6. We highly encourage 4 or 5 star reviews. If you grade this work below that mark, please do not expect to receive any more freebies from our publisher.
7. If you do decide to read and review this book and give it an excellent rating, we have a time-share in Bermuda that is open in the month of April.
8. Promoting this book via tweets, facebook posts, etc will result in 250 additional free ebooks being sent to your address.
9. Blogs with satirical posts mocking the publishing industry will not be approved.
10. Due to an unfortunate incident with a dachshund in our childhood, any blogs with a weenie dog mascot will not be approved.

We hope to hear from you soon,
Marketing Director for The Next Big Thing

P.S. Once you have signed the attached document in your own blood and returned it, we will send you a pdf file.

Dear Marketing Director,

Boy, oh boy. I sure hope I meet your stringent requirements. I never realized that I had to pass a strict set of criteria in order to read a book and write a review. How about I buy the book with my own money, and then I can say whatever I want to. I'm gonna pass on the freebies.

Have a nice day,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Observations by a 9 Year Old

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Observations by my 9 year old daughter Nat....

"Mom, he's so cute. I like baby monkeys. Mom, that guy is mean. I don't like him. Mom. Mom. Are the apes good or bad? Mom, how is that guy sick? Mom, what is his disease? Oh. I think he's better now. Mom, I can't keep all the different ape names straight. Mom, what happened to the circus ape? Mom, is this movie going to have a happy ending? Mom, I want a pet monkey. I always wanted a pet monkey. Mom, when I get my pet monkey I'm going to name it Caesar. Caesar's a good name. Mom, that virus is good for the apes, but bad for people. Mom, I can't eat any dinner because I'm thinking about Caesar. That also happens to me when I watch zombie movies.....

Mom, this movie is totally getting 5 stars."

Grade: 5 stars (4.5 from Nat's mom)

Happy Weekend,

Friday, January 13, 2012


What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller

What doesn't kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter

Rock along, little chickies....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thrilling Thursday: Thrills and Chills and Dills

I read 3 books yesterday....

1.) Thrills....


I finished Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow. What a book! What an ENDING! This book was absolutely.....


I will put together a review and post it for release week in February. I can't stop thinking about it. Fans of her Kate Shugak series will be thrilled. Liam's fans will be thrilled. This book not only lived up to the hype, but surpassed it in grand fashion.


2.) Chills....

I read a quickie erotica about a woman who owns an ice-cream shop, called Kandy Shoppe.  Her name is Kandy, of course. Hee hee....really! It was a cute, sexy read, but not a lot of story.

3.) Dills....as in Dill Pickle...as in Weenie....as in dachshund (I know that one's a stretch!)...

I read Doxology, which pretty much seemed like a blog post. Super quick, funny, not a lot of substance. A cute satire about a doxie with healing powers.

Now I'm about to start a book for my Penelope Project...In for a Penny by Rose Lerner. Hope it's good!

Happy Thursday To All!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Litmus Test

To each, his own.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

That's why there are 31 flavors to choose from.

We all know that our tastes and opinions are unique. There is no other person on earth who shares all of our likes....in film and fashion and home decor.....and books.

Even certain things that seem like a given--EVERYONE likes vanilla ice-cream!--are not set in stone. There are folks who hate vanilla ice-cream. Even though it seems classic, simple, delicious, as though it should be universally loved.

But that's just not the case.

It's not that surprising that certain books we love and cherish are not loved and cherished by all of our colleagues, friends, neighbors, family.

But I bet most of us have one book, maybe more than one, that we use as a litmus test.

It's....THE one. The one that is most special to you. The one that embodies everything you truly love about romance...your perfect hero, your perfect heroine, your perfect story, your perfect everything.

The folks who adore that book know something about you. About who you are, what you believe in. They get you. They're on the same page of life.

And the folks who don't get that book.....

Well, maybe you look at them a little bit differently. Not that you don't like or respect them. But you realize that you're not really on the same page. If they don't get that book, then.....they don't get you.

Your sense of humor.

Your quirks, your eccentricities.

Your belief in love. Your belief in romance. Your belief in happy endings.

Our favorite books reveal something about ourselves. Why we are reading romance in the first place. What we need. Comfort, reassurance, hope, inspiration, sex.

I have a book that's my litmus test. It's Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Kluger. This book is not a normal "romance" novel by any means. It's actually a M/M story, which is not my typical read.

It's funky, it's quirky, it's weird, it's hilarious. It's unexpected. It has yin and yang. Balance. Hope. Pop culture references. Some of the funniest dialogue I've ever seen in a book.

It has a happy ending.

This book....is ME. I'm weird and quirky. I'll all about yin and yang. I'm about the happy ending.

I still remember who recommended this book to me. I respect her opinions on everything. Because anyone who gets this book is totally on my same page. Anyone who gets this book.....gets me.

Not everyone likes this book, of course. It has a funky structure, it takes a while to get into, it has a very strong voice. But it is my litmus test.

I'm thinking that most people have a litmus test. That one book that is you. That embodies everything you love about reading. It could be a classic, like Jane Eyre. It could be something controversial. It could be anything, really.

It's your litmus test. When you hear someone say...."That book changed my life. That book was the greatest thing I ever read. That book is....THE ONE"---you know you've found a kindred spirit.

I think we all have a litmus test book.

What's yours?


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review of Wild and Steamy: An Anthology

Review for Wild and Steamy by Meljean Brook, Jill Myles, and Carolyn Crane

Let's review my criteria for writing a kick-ass novella. I actually love shorter stories. If they are done well. Which is difficult. You can't squeeze in a lot of stuff with 15,000 words. A novella should be an amuse-bouche. Just a taste....satisfying in one, single bite. A quick introduction to the author's voice, a quick snippet of a love affair, a brief and intriguing look into a paranormal world.

Making one bite good and satisfying is extremely difficult.

Some folks are left wanting more, and feel gypped.

Some folks are left saying...."What? That's it? I don't get it."

Some folks get a perfect single bite, an explosion of tastes and textures, and say...."Holy macarena! That author is the master of the universe!"

In addition to this, an anthology should have some sort of cohesive theme holding it together. For example, a Christmas anthology is all holiday-themed. A Bearotica anthology is all about hairy, gay guys. Stuff like that. Just throwing together a bunch of short stories willy-nilly does not make an anthology.

Now, onto Wild and Steamy.....

1.) I read the whole book and thought...."These stories do NOT go together. Why were they in an anthology together?" Then, I went to Amazon to read the book description...."Three all-new novellas of the supernatural and steampunk kind...." Hmmm. Interesting. But it makes no sense. Brook's story was steampunk, Myles story was an erotica, and Crane's story was UF. There was no cohesion in this anthology at all. They were a mismatch.

The title: Wild and Steamy? What the hell is that all about? Brook's story was not wild or steamy. Myles' was extremely steamy, but not wild. And Crane's book was neither. A misnomer if I've ever seen one.

2.) The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook

Absolutely freakin' fantastic. Everything a novella should be. A taste of her quirky steampunk world. Fabulous characterization in a short amount of time. Suspense, intrigue. This is text-book perfect how to write a novella. Even got an awesome HEA at the end.

Let's face some facts here. You just don't have time to lay down all the world-building details of a paranormal setting in a novella. Can't do it. Not enough time. Brook didn't even try. She just threw us into the world and let us sink or swim. I have read The Iron Duke, so I knew what I was getting into. I do think a brand new reader would find this story intriguing enough to continue with the series.

I LOVE Constable Newberry. What a great character! What an adorable love story. This is an epic win!

Grade: A

3.) Vixen by Jill Myles

I have read a couple of other stories by Myles, and I really liked them. I was NOT expecting anything like this from her. In fact, her book Island Heat would be perfect for a Wild and Steamy collection. It was certainly wild and steamy in a great way. Loved that one.

Unfortunately, this was not fabulous. It was basically a vehicle for a lot of sex. Menage sex. The fact that the characters were shifters did not add anything to the story. Except as a way to explain why they were so horny, and as a lukewarm storyline. The Blushing Bounder was a hard act to follow, and this was not the right way to do it.

Grade: C+

4.) Kitten-tiger and the Monk by Carolyn Crane

I am a huge Carolyn Crane fan. I adored Mind Games....thought it was one of the most unique, well-written, intriguing books I've read in the last 5 years. This story is part of her Disillusionist UF world.

What I didn't like: Way too much backstory. It felt like 90% of this novella was backstory...Sophia thinking about her family and her time with Monk, and Monk thinking about his childhood and his relationship with Sophia. If you are writing a full-length book, it's okay to have a certain amount of backstory to get the readers up to speed. But not too much. It's an info dump, it slows down the pacing, and it doesn't grab the reader's attention. In a novella, it's a huge no-no. There is not enough time to bog down the novella with that much backstory.

What I loved: Crane's UF vision is absolutely superb. It is twisted and terrifying and fascinating in a sick way. Once she got out of the backstory and into the present tense, the story picked up, although I wish Sophia and Monk had been able to spend more time in the Tangle. What an amazing setting! The resolution of their relationship was very satisfying, and surprisingly sweet for this dark UF world. I really liked it. There is just a bit of sex in this one....I would not call it Wild and Steamy.

Grade: B

My overall impression of this anthology? Worth the read. A great introduction to Brook's world, a nice introduction to Crane's UF series, and not the best taste of Myles' writing....I would recommend Island Heat over this one. This anthology was not really Wild and Steamy, but it's still worth an exploration.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Morning Update

Here are the fastest updates on the face of the earth! Ready...set....go.....

Here's what I've read recently and is coming up in the TBR pile....

Beauty Touched The Beast by Skye Warren

This was a freebie download at ARE. It was a short, hot read with some of my favorite themes--older man/younger woman, and beauty/beast. It has a lot of potential to be expanded into a longer story....I hope the author will consider it. My first read by Skye Warren, and it won't be my last!

Grade: A-

Wild and Steamy anthology

So far, I've read the first story by Meljean Brook....The Bounder. Absolutely loved it! It kicked total steampunk ass, and now I can't wait to read Heart Of Steel. I also read the second story in this anthology, Vixen by Jill Myles. This was nothing like the other stories I've read by her....pretty much an erotica about a were-fox. It's a menage...not my favorite. A lot of sex, not a lot of substance or anything else. It was a fun read, but seemed out of place next to The Bounder. Looking forward to finishing this book with Carolyn Crane's Kitten Tiger and the Monk.

Grade: A for Brook story, B- for Myles story

Doxology by Tim Black

This is a satirical book about a magical weenie dog. Nuff said. Hoping to get to it this week.

And.....drum roll please......the Holy Grail of ARCs.....

Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow

The latest book in the Liam Campbell series, which I got addicted to last year. It's coming out on Valentine's Day, but I was thrilled to get an ARC of this one. Can't. Wait. To. Read. It. Hallelujah!!!!!!

I also managed to cram in 2 comfort re-reads this weekend....Julie Garwood's The Bride, and Stephanie Laurens' All About Love. I'm feeling very romantic! :^)

Happy Monday,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mad Libs for Romance Reviewers and Authors

Reviewers: Are you running out of original things to say about the books you read?

Authors: Need some new insulting comments to leave after crappy reviews?


Reviewers: Write your reviews in a matter of seconds! Come up with concise and entertaining observations!

Authors: Crush those idiotic reviewers with your scathing comments!

Give it a try.....

Review of                        [BOOK TITLE] by                     [AUTHOR NAME]

I found the hero of this book to be a                         

  • hot alpha male with a 14-inch penis.
  • metrosexual pansy-ass.
  • brooding bastard.

The heroine of the story was                        

  • a gentle, loving sex goddess who volunteered in a homeless shelter.
  • a skanky ho-bag.
  • a were-unicorn.

This book was a                       

  • fantastic mix of hot, sweaty sex and love-at-first-sight.
  • deranged sex fantasy, clearly thought up by a 13 year old boy.
  • DIK, if Hugh Jackman lived on the island and liked role play.

The sex scenes made me want to                    
  • join a convent.
  • hurl.
  • get it on with my next-door neighbor. And he's not even that cute. Seriously!

Overall, I thought the book was                       

  • the greatest piece of literature since Moby Dick.
  • a piece o' shite.
  • meh.


  • 5 sparkling stars.
  • 2 pathetic bookworms.
  • 4 hearts filled with unicorns and rainbows and glitter and Cabbage Patch dolls.

Initial Authors' Comments                     

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my book.
  • Bite me.
  • Do you have a high school diploma? Just checking.

In Response To Reviewer Outrage                         

  • Why don't you try writing a book? F*ckwad.
  • Do you know that I'm dying of a terminal disease? I only have 2 months to live.
  • You obviously don't get the underlying important themes of Phantom Menace and its ramifications in modern-day society.

After Rabid Blogger Fan Girl Posse Attacks                         

  • Let me guess....your favorite TV show is Jersey Shore? Am I right?
  • If this book was too hard for you to understand, maybe you should try something a little bit easier. Like the Sunday comics.
  • Does it make you feel good to disparage someone's life work? I spent YEARS on this book. What have you done lately? No, writing a shopping list for Claire's doesn't count. 

Final Wrap-Up For Reviewers                        
  • Delete blog post.
  • Get banned from Goodreads for all of eternity and beyond.

Final Wrap-Up For Authors                            
  • Delete Twitter Account.
  • Send half-hearted apology to all involved.
  • Adopt a new identity and flee to Costa Rica.
Authors: Act now, and we'll throw in a new passport and over-sized sunglasses for identity protection!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Don't Be Hatin' On Nickelback

I'm not really sure why Nickelback gets so much crap. I love their music. And this video is superb. Then again, I also love Britney Spears, Celine Dion's Christmas Album, and I still wear glitter nail polish at the ripe old age of 45. I guess my taste might be suspect.



Hope yinz all have a fabulous weekend!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beard of the Day: Steampunk Style

I just finished reading The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook in Wild And Steamy. I forgot how totally cool her steampunk vision is, and now I can't wait to dig into Heart Of Steel, which is my next read. I decided to search for some cool steampunky beards, and lo and behold, I found Mr. Steampunk himself, Jake Von Slatt. This guy is obsessed with steampunk culture...in a good way. He has a website called The Steampunk Workshop, which is funky, inspired and filled with wacky inventions. I would have to say that goggles and beards are an excellent combination!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hot Writing Tips From Penelope

I have been getting a ton of review requests lately....some good, some bad, some crazy, some totally out of left field. There are a lot of writers who are newbs doing the self-pubbing thing. Good for them. Some of them can write....even better. Some of them have potential, but need to learn a lot about the craft of writing. It's not that hard....you can pick it up at a workshop, class, conference, on-line, with a critique partner, with a critique group. But you gotta learn it. If I start reading a manuscript, and there are grammatical errors and/or typos in THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE, it's bad. Way bad. Here are the most glaring problems I have seen recently....

1. Tighten It Up, Baby.

Writing that is sloppy is boring. It's tedious to wade through a bunch of superfluous stuff. It throws off the pacing of the story. Here's an example.....

Tommy decided to take his new puppy for a walk around the neighborhood. He scratched the little dog behind his ears and tickled his tummy. The pup stretched and yawned and showed him his tiny pink tongue, hanging out of the side of his mouth. The dog bounced up and shook himself off vigorously, obviously ready to play. Tommy attached a green and red plaid leash on the collar, then tugged the dog toward the sidewalk. The tiny pup got sidetracked by a worm and began to dig in the dirt. Tommy dragged him along the grass.

What is the critical information in this paragraph? What does the reader need to know in order to move the story forward? Does it give us any clue about Tommy? Is the dog's personality important for the story? Can this paragraph be replaced by this sentence.....?

Tommy walked his dog.

I found a couple of stories lately that had pages of narrative that could be replaced by several sentences.

2. Omit The Stage Direction

Karen walked along the path to the old farmhouse. She took a right-hand turn at the mailbox, then continued on the brick sidewalk to the porch. She stomped up the porch steps, then went into the front door. At the back of the kitchen, she entered the parlor and sat down on the end of the sofa.

How about this instead?

Karen went home.

The reader doesn't need to know every step of her journey. Just get her to the destination. Too much stage direction slows down the narrative and bores the crap out of the reader.

3. Bag The Inane Details

My biggest pet peeve is when writers detail every single meal the characters eat throughout the course of the day. (I find this happens quite often with contemporary romance). Unless the story is about a caterer or a master pastry chef or something, we don't need to hear about every freakin' meal.

Sandy sat down at the table and fixed herself a ham and cheese sandwich. She made sure she used spicy mustard and a dill pickle, too. She got a diet Coke out of the refrigerator and then a napkin from the cupboard....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..............

Oh! I'm here. Just taking a little nap. Who the hell cares about a ham sandwich? Not me! This information is not critical to the story. Unless the hero is a pig farmer. Or a were-pig. Or something like that.

Other things that are sloppy...dangling participles, run-on sentences, dialogue/internal POV formatting problems, misspelled words, lack of agreement w/ subject/verb/pronouns.

I highly recommend newbs joining a critique group, even if it's on-line. Getting older, more experienced writers to help you tighten up your writing BEFORE you publish is an excellent idea.

And now, Penelope is off to walk the dog and get a delicious ham sandwich.....with mustard......


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Harlies Come Lately: 2 Quickie Reviews

The Other Laura by Sheryl Lynn

This is an old Harlequin Intrigue, published in 1996. I don't remember the last time I got so caught up in a romantic suspense. Usually, I put up with the plot/mystery/storyline while jumping from love scene to love scene, and watching the character arcs unfold. This book did a fabulous job with the suspense portion of the tale. The "heroine" has total amnesia after a horrible accident, and has been badly burned and disfigured--beyond recognition. Who is she? What does she know? What really happened on the day of the "accident"?? I love how the "new" Laura helps this whole family to heal and experience what a real, loving family should be. And how absolute strangers, who are supposed to be her husband and child, eventually win her heart and trust. But we're not quite sure who to trust in this tale, filled with twists, turns, and a totally satisfying storyline. Reminded me a little bit of Lisa Kleypas' Someone To Watch Over Me, especially the scene where Laura sees a nude portrait of herself. Highly recommend it.

Grade: A

The Heart of a Hero by Barbara Wallace

How to write a perfect book for Penelope?

1. Include an adorable weenie dog nicknamed The Tube Of Terror (love it!).
2. Have a hot, studly tortured ex-soldier/handyman hero (tool belt.....schwing!).
3. Add a newly divorced heroine who writes an advice column (bossy girl!).
4. Setting should be a Martha's Vineyard-type New England island....old rickety beach house, the ocean, and small-town charm.
5. Add lots of sexual chemistry, an emotional storyline involving the tormented soul of the hero, and a sweet, satisfying HEA in the epilogue.

Another great Harly read! I'm on a Harly roll, baby! Only one problem--if they served vegetarian Harly Rolls at a sushi bar, they would have carrots, cuke and avocado, but no wasabi. Good God, they need wasabi! I needed me some spicy lovin' in this book, but it's totally G-rated. Ack!

The emotional healing at the end of this book was just a tad rushed, but it was very sweet. I also loved that the heroine smelled like lemons coz....well....I love lemons! Anyhow, this is my third Harly this week. I think it might be time for a spanky elf book, just to get my equilibrium back.

Grade: A-

Harly Rolls 4-Evah,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Penelope Project

A long time ago, I decided to choose a name for my romance alter ego. I chose Penelope, after reading Julia Quinn's Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Penelope Featherington was an invisible wallflower on the outside, but a passionate and talented woman on the inside. As Mrs. Whistledown, she had the chutzpah and courage to say things most people think, but never speak aloud. I adore the romance that develops between charming Colin and spinsterish Penelope.....he finally sees beyond the plain facade, and discovers the real woman Penelope is. Sigh. What a story!

Anyhoo, inspired by the rash of 2012 reading challenges that many readers/bloggers are jumping into with open hearts and positive attitudes, I decided to make up my own challenge. (Because most of the other ones are totally intimidating to me.)

And so, I give you.....The Penelope Project.

How many books do you think I can find with heroines named Penelope? I have no freakin' clue, but so far I have amassed a list of fourteen...including mysteries, children's books, historicals, light BDSM, and The Odyssey. I wonder what kind of qualities most of these Penelope heroines will have....will they be prissy and uptight, as the name suggests? Will they be rough and tumble, courageous and curious, passionate and inspiring? I would love some more recommendations, so if you have any favorite Penelope books, please let me know!

Here's my list so far....

  • In For A Penny by Rose Lerner
  • Something Reckless by Jess Michaels
  • Penelope and The Christmas Spirit by Ron Voigts
  • The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly
  • A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by CA Belmond
  • A Rather Charming Invitation by CA Belmond
  • A Rather Curious Engagement by CA Belmond
  • A Rather Lovely Inheritance by CA Belmond
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
  • Penelope and Prince Charming by Jennifer Ashley
  • Where The Heart Leads by Stephanie Laurens (re-read)
  • Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (re-read)
  • A Penny For Your Thoughts by Jess McBride (TSTL heroine, almost DNF)
I'm hoping to read at least one Penelope book a month in 2012. That's my challenge, and I'm sticking to it!

Hope all of you had a wonderful new year's celebration, and are pumped and ready for 2012.

Here's to a year of excellent reading, writing and arithmetic,

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! I'm In The Bargain Bin, & I Like It!

Happy New Year To One And All!

I hope all of you had a festive New Year's Eve. I had a great time at a neighborhood party....good friends, good food, Just Dance 3, and my memorable Gingerbread Man cocktail. Although I noticed folks were nursing that baby....for hours. I gulped mine down in a respectable 2 minutes, thank you very much. And I don't even have a hang-over! Go, Penny!

For the first time ever, I've been marked down. Yes, I am now officially in the bargain bin, and it feels soooooo good. Hee hee!

SWEET INSPIRATION is now $2.99!!!!!! Act now, and I'll throw in some stale candy canes. (That was a joke, by the way. I mean the part about the candy canes. Not the part about my book being on sale.)

SWEET MAGIK is now $5.75!!!!!

Savvy shoppers who like to get Christmas wrap on sale after the holidays, and hideous holiday sweaters, and other Christmas-related stuff that is suddenly so "yesterday".......here ya go! A couple of holiday books that will be totally hip and happening in 359 days. :^)

Well, I'm off to slurp my first cup of 2012 coffee. Here's a photo of me ready to party last night: note the purple glitter nail polish, big hair, sequiny sweater, and plenty of bling. Subtle, I hardly knew ya.

Happy January 1st!