Friday, November 30, 2012

And Then You Add Some Lettuce and Tomato...

It must have been that orgy book I read by Julia Rachel Barrett (One Four All). Or maybe it's just all the naughty Twitter talk about menages, hairy dudes, and whatnot. But God help my tortured soul, I got a story idea this week that is making me cringe.

A teddy bear threesome!

That's right. It's a TEDDY BEAR SAMMIE. (For those of you not up on the Penelope lingo, sammie=sandwich).

Just imagine, one super-lucky innocent heroine, sandwiched by two huge hairy delicious teddy bears. No need to add mayo.

I'm hoping that the inclination to write this insane menage idea will pass. Sort of like the day I decided to clean the basement.

If I do write it, I'm going to have to come up with a new pen-name for erotica. Something like...Penny Paddle? Hee hee. OK, I'm stopping now.

In other news, my self-pubbed Christmas story, SWEET INSPIRATION, is now available at Barnes and Noble, as well as Kobo.

Hope everyone has a beary hairy weekend!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Most Insane Book Title Of The Week Goes To...

(by Louise Allen, recommended by Rane at Goodreads)


I could not help myself. This title was so wack, I just had to read the book. Well, the joke's on me, because this book kicked arse! It was set in ancient Rome and had marauding barbarians, a hot alpha hero, a courageous virginal (oops! that didn't last too long) heroine, excellent secondary characters, a suspenseful story line that kept me guessing until the bitter end how the hecka Ms. Allen would pull an HEA out of that hat, super hot sexy times, and a cool dog/wolf. I'm in love! With this book! Woo hoo! (Thank you, Rane).

P.S. The hero has a beard, and it makes the heroine swoony.


Haaaaaa! Still laughing.

Feeling slightly barbaric,

Monday, November 26, 2012

ARC Review of The Long Way Home by Cathryn Parry

I read Cathryn Parry's debut novel Something To Prove  and I thought it was a solid first publication in the great big world of Harlequin. Harlies are all over the place. Some are utterly ridiculous (inexperienced virgin mistresses and the tycoons who love them), but high on the entertainment scale if that's what you're looking for. Some are short and sweet and formulaic. Some push the envelope. I'm not looking for believability when I read a Harlequin. That's not usually an expectation with one of these romances.

Having said that, I found The Long Way Home a lovely, romantic and believable story. This is an enormous jump up from Parry's debut. Close to flawless story-telling. The writing is smooth and engaging. The characters felt real. With real issues. Hearing loss, guilt, family problems, fear of emotional entanglements. 

I totally bought into Bruce and Natalie's relationship. Parry did a great job developing the character arcs for both the hero and heroine, and made their love affair believable, sweet and satisfying. I find the heroine is usually the weak spot in most romances, but I adored Natalie in this book. She has a lot of courage, but she is also a romantic at heart. She's a wonderful character.

Parry balances the story-telling with a beloved New England setting, well-fleshed out secondary characters, and touching moments of healing and love. I think sometimes authors forget that incredibly touching moments can happen in ways other than with the central romance. And these touching moments add so much richness to a romance novel. Parry does an extraordinary job with this, in particular at the end of the book with a woman who is lonely and wounded by the death of her son. 

It's funny. I've been reading a lot of holiday romances since the season is upon us. This book is not really a Christmas romance, but in many ways the themes here are perfect for this time of the year. There are themes of home-coming, forgiveness, family, generosity and love that are not only timeless, but are also very appropriate for the holiday season.

I was really touched by this sweet story. Bravo, Cathryn Parry!

Grade: A-

All my best,

The paperback is available for purchase at Amazon.
The Kindle version is available for pre-order now and will be released on December 1st.
It is available at the Harlequin site in print/ebook/large print.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Teddy Bears, Merfolk, and Food Trucks: Reading Update

To say I've had quite the eclectic reading experience lately doesn't quite capture the insanity of my reading list.

I've read everything from "teddy bear" stories (about jumbo hairy guys) to merfolk horror to inexperienced virgin mistresses to my first interracial love story.

So, without further ado, here are some of my crazy reading selections from the last week. In no particular order.

Her Teddy Bear (#1) by Mimi Strong
Take Your Teddy To Work Day (#2) by Mimi Strong
Dress up Your Teddy (#3) by Mimi Strong

Thanks to Kate at Babbling About Books, I embarked on an epic journey of hairiness. Or so I thought. Kate sent me the link to this wacky book, which I think was free at the time, and so I figured...what the hecka! Let's try it.

Well, the first book was a bit odd, and also not that hairy. I mean, come on! Look at the book cover! I was expecting Sasquatch. But the hero was indeed a nice big jumbo-sized teddy bear. And the heroine was quirky and vulnerable.

Then I discovered there were two more books in the series. Ack! So I read them. The second book was cute, and by the third book, there were actually some sweet and sentimental moments. (I know. In a teddy bear book? It's hard to believe). But it's true. I enjoyed the series, especially the last book. The sexy times were hot, the characters were quirky, and Mimi Strong is a good writer.

Grade: B (SURPRISE!)

The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress by Lynne Graham

This was another freebie. This book had a quirky English-author feel to it, and I liked it. The hero was not as big an arsehole as usual, the heroine was a bit spunkier than the typical doormat virgin heroine, and I liked their love story.

Grade: B

Once Burned by Dee Carney

I started chatting with Dee Carney on Twitter and she told me she wrote a book about a food truck cooking competition. Yippee! I am obsessed with those shows. Little did I know that not only did this book have MOUTH-WATERING food descriptions (*Penny pats drool on chin*), but it also had super intense, sexy chemistry between the H/h and a cool interracial love affair. This was my first interracial erotica, and I thought it was handled perfectly. Their racial differences caused some painful conflict in the past, but this wasn't dragged on and on to mess up the pacing of this quick read. And the resolution was believable. I wish there had been one more smoky scene at the end. Well, I didn't get an extra sex scene, but I did get a recipe. Yay! Love recipes at the end of foodie books. Well played, Dee Carney!

Grade: B+

Jane's Gift by Karen Erickson

Recommended by Stella at Ex Libris, this was my first Christmas read of the season. If there is one place you can go WAY over the top with sentimentality, it's a Christmas romance. And I'll eat it up with a peppermint stick. This book was very emo and sweet. The hero was a too-good-to-be-true fireman, the heroine was a badly scarred (emotionally and physically) widow, and their love story was totally satisfying and had a lovely romantic ending. I cried. *sniff, sniff*

Grade: B+

Seduction and Snacks by Tara Sivec

I think I downloaded this book when it was free. It had tons of great reviews and I could not wait to read it.

I didn't last five pages.

I found an editing error in the first couple of pages, and I totally did not get the humor here. At all.

Grade: DNF

Dive: A Quartet of Merfolk Tales by Christine DePetrillo, Rachel E. Moniz, Heather Rigney, and Joseph Mazzenga

This is a collection of four very short stories which I also got for free on Black Friday. Needless to say, the horror stories (MERMAIDS ARE NOT NICE by Heather Rigney and BLOODY DEPTHS by Joseph Mazzenga) were the most successful. And I'll tell you why. The other two stories are romance, and to be honest, it's almost impossible to write a successful romance this short. There is just not enough time to develop the characters or the romantic story arc. But horror works well as flash fiction or as a short story.

Both the romance shorts, by Christine DePetrillo and Rachel E. Moniz, were well written and had a great kernel of romantic potential. I just wish they had been longer to develop it. The horror shorts were scary! I would never have thought of making a mermaid story into horror, but these did a great job. Mazzenga's short had a nice story arc and excellent blood-thirsty resolution packed into a quick bit of writing. And Rigney's story blew me away. This is an author to watch. Beautiful writing, engaging voice, fascinating characters, and unique story line. Well worth the read.

Over-all grade for the collection: B

So, that's it! I'm reading another Robyn Carr holiday story right now. Tis the season!

Happy Week to all,

Friday, November 23, 2012

Making Assumptions Makes An Ass Out Of...Well, Not You, Just Me

Once upon a time, I made an assumption.

That folks might be sick of the same old-same old-book covers and enjoy something different. Quirky. Funny. Outside-of-the-box. 

Whoops! You know what happens when you make an assumption.

To be fair, some people did enjoy the quirky book cover...See Exhibit A:

Exhibit A

It's a parody of a bodice ripper-Fabio book cover from the 1980s. In block-print style.

And I personally think it's hilarious and cute.

Unfortunately, I had many readers give comments like these...cheesy, horrible, amateurish, cartoony, if you can't afford a real cover artist please don't make your own covers, etc. Obviously, they didn't get the humor or appreciate the fact that I hired a professional artist to do this fun cover.

Oh well. Live and learn.

I decided to stick with the cover. And then I saw that many readers were reluctant to download this book as a freebie because of the cover. 

God Good Almighty! Turning down a free book that was recommended because of the cover? I had to make a change.

So, here's what I decided to do. I am keeping the original quirky cover for the print books. And I had Lena Goldfinch design a gorgeous new cover for the e-books...still available at Amazon, soon to be available at Barnes and Noble and Kobo. (See new cover above...LOVE it!) If you're looking for a totally kick-ass, amazing designer for a book cover, I cannot recommend Lena highly enough. She is fabulous!

Anyhow, that's my cover melodrama in a nutshell. 

In other news, The Wild Rose Press is having a Black Friday sale today. Sweet Magik, #2 of the Klaus Brothers Series, is on sale for $3.89!

And finally, the most important news of all. I made the cranberry mojitos yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner, and they were absolutely delish! See Exhibit B.

Exhibit B

I have lots of books to discuss, which I will get to on Monday. Hairy books, DNF books, innocent virgin mistress books, and my first inter-racial story which I loved.

Hope all of you have a great weekend!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks


Hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Huge thanks to everyone who entered my give-away. Here's the list of winners...

Mug winners:

1. Susan
2. ClaudiaGC
3. Geek

Paperback winners:

1. Handy Man Crafty Woman
2. Pollie the Pug
3. Beebs

I need snail mail addresses from everyone to send you the goodies! I will be in touch, or you can contact me with your info at penelope DOT romance AT gmail DOT com.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Making Dreams Come True

Years ago, when I started writing, I had a dream.

A dream that someone other than my friends and family would actually read my stories. And hopefully like them.

I never cared (and still don't) about the money. About the lists. About the contracts.

I really just wanted someone to read my books.

This was before everyone was self-pubbing. And at the time, I figured...if I don't get my books published in the "traditional" way, I'll just post it for free on a website. So folks can read it.

My critique partners were pretty much horrified by that idea.

Lo and behold, I did get a publishing contract for my first book. With a small digital press. My sales were not high, although by the standards for this publisher, they were fine. But in the great scheme of things, not a lot of folks were reading my book.

It wasn't in print, it wasn't in bookstores, most folks didn't even know that it existed.

Jump forward to the year 2012. Two years after a scary-ass heart attack. Two years of soul-searching. I write a book...for me. With a hairy, bearded guy. I know plenty of women don't like hairy, bearded guys, but I wrote this book to heal my own personal wounds after a near-death experience, and to reignite my passion for writing.

I decide to try my hand at self-pubbing. Not only does the book do pretty well, but unexpectedly, most folks are digging it.

And so, years after I started my writing "career," I decided to give my book away for free after all. I offered it as a freebie at Amazon, thinking..."Maybe I'll give away 1000 books?"

17,000 downloads in five days put LUMBERJACK IN LOVE into the top 10 contemporary romance Kindle freebie list.


I know there are plenty of authors who sell/download many more books. And for profit. But for me, this is a dream-come-true. 17,000 people have my book. And hopefully some of them will actually read it.


I have been getting emails and messages and tweets and Facebook posts from total strangers. Folks who are reading my book and like it. And they keep saying the same thing..."Your book made me happy." "Your book made me laugh out loud." "Your book brightened my day."

I am humbled this morning. How many times in your life can you say that your dream came true?

Well, one of mine came true this week.

I didn't make any money, but I did make people happy.

I have many, many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Season. Making some folks happy with my lumberjack story is one of them.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this crazy journey with me!

All my thanks,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review of The Grey, a.k.a. THERE IS NO HOPE WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE

Last night something exciting happened! My daughter went to a school dance with her friend, my son just got his new XBOX game and disappeared into the basement, and my husband and I had 2 WHOLE HOURS to ourselves!


So we decided to watch a movie together. The Grey starring Liam Neeson.

I choose this movie based on two vital bits of information...

1.) It stars Liam Neeson.

2.) It stars Liam Neeson with a beard.

So, we start watching. Right away I know we're in big trouble.

Hubby: I can't understand one word he's saying! He's mumbling! He's mumbling!

Me: I can sort of understand him. A little bit. Um, is this really slow and boring or what?

Hubby: He's mumbling!

The movie goes along. It's dark, dreary and depressing. But Penelope, being the eternal optimist, does not give up hope.

One by one, the survivors of the plane crash start dropping like flies.

Me: Is it me, or is this movie really slow and super depressing?

Hubby: There are a lot of interesting themes going on here.

Me: You mean like man vs. nature? Stuff like that?

Hubby: He's mumbling!

More people die. I notice that even though they're in the Arctic...

1. No one is wearing gloves.
2. No one is wearing a hat.
3. No one is wearing a coat.
4. Even though Liam Neeson somehow makes spears for everyone, they only have them in one scene and then they disappear and they have no weapons for the rest of the movie.
5. After they fall in the freezing cold water, which of course would mean INSTANT death, Liam Neeson gets up and keeps going. Like the terminator. O-kay.

And then...

Everyone dies.

It would have saved me 117 minutes to have this forewarning at the beginning of the film...


After ruminating about this film for a while, and attempting to come up with meaningful themes, my husband finally conceded (God bless his heart)..."This movie was totally pointless."

Hee hee!

But Penelope, because she has read 10,316 romance novels and has the heart and soul of an optimist and believes in the HEA, came up with this conclusion...

"Well, it's true that the movie seemed to indicate that death is bad, life is bad, wolves are bad, and there is no hope. BUT...if you're a wolf, that movie totally has a HEA! Because the wolves win! They kill all the stupid humans, they get some yummy snacks, and they totally kick ass! If this movie was being marketed to a wolf pack, it would say something like this...

A feel-good movie for the whole family!"

My husband said "I love you."

The End

Have a happy weekend!

Awwww-oooooooo!!!!! (that's my wolf howl)


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Insert Eye Roll Here

✵ Here's what I think about fanfic. I totally get fans being obsessed with fictional characters and wanting this fictional world to go on and on and on...can't let it go quite yet...still going...

But seriously. If you're a professional writer and you can't freakin' come up with an original idea for your own book? You need to get a new day job.


✵ Thanks to Cara McKenna, I am now obsessed with pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. They sound DIVINE! So, here's the Thanksgiving meal that I've planned so far...

1. Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
2. Cranberry mojitos

What turkey?


✵ Channing Tatum (what kind of weird name is that?) is the Sexiest Man Alive? Is he legally able to drink?

(I'm rolling my eyes with Daniel Craig, who is looking super hot with his salt and pepper beard and his bad-ass James Bond sports car)

✵ Out of the mouths of babes...When Natty found out I was giving my book away for free, she said, and I quote..."That's stupid."


✵ Something totally crazy has been happening lately. I've been getting fan mail. EVERY DAY! Haaaaaaaa! That is banana nut crunch cray cray to the max! Pretty soon I'm going to be dressing like JR Ward, with the pearls, sunglasses, and a posse of body guards. Yeah. That's it.


Well, that's it for the day! Have you had any eye roll moments lately? Let me know!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Desperately Delicious!

I got into a werewolf-y mood this week, and was desperately searching for a shapeshifter book.

So, in desperation, I splurged on this cute-looking novel by Jessica Sims--Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter

I discovered that Jessica Sims is also Jill Myles, who wrote my favorite time warp-caveman-dinosaur romance, Island Heat

Needless to say, this book was the perfect answer to my shapeshifter desperation. It was adorable! First of all, the characters were very appealing. The hero Ramsey is a delicious giant were-bear, the heroine Sarah is a were-wolf struggling with past abuse issues, there are plenty of secondary characters to add flavor to the story, and even some evil villains. Unlike other shifter series, I found the politics in this one just right...not overwhelming or confusing at all. The story flowed nicely, the pacing was spot-on, the sexy times were smoky, and I loved the unexpected ending with Sarah's rise above her fear and incompetence as a shifter. Didn't see that was a great surprise! 

Sims's writing is excellent. This book is a big step up from many of the shifter books I've read in the last couple of years. There is humor, but it's not over-the-top or off-putting. There are shifter politics, but they don't bog down the story. The romance is super satisfying, with an emotional connection to complement the sexual attraction. I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!

For anyone looking for a super satisfying, well-written, adorable, and sexy shifter story, your desperation is over. 

Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter is a grade-A winner.

Grade: A (I know, I already said that.)

Desperately searching for coffee,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Free Lumberjack!

Freebie time! From today until Saturday, the Kindle-version of LUMBERJACK IN LOVE is free!

Please spread the word, far and wide, all over the land.


for those of you who don't have a Kindle and eschew modern technology, I'm giving away three paperbacks, too.
Just leave a comment after the post and say hi! Make sure you have an email included so I can contact you if you're a winner.
(And you can tell me who your favorite beardy guy is, if you're in the mood!)


one lucky commenter will also get a GOT WOOD? mug filled with candy and goodies.


Happy Early Holidays from Penelope!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday's Recommendation

Yet he had smiled at her...

This had been a full-faced, radiant smile, curving his mouth, crinkling his eyes at the corners, brightening his whole face. All the dark, forbidding harshness had fled, to be replaced by a beauty full of light and warmth and potential laughter.

It had been somehow, strangely, more intimate than any of their couplings had been. Something deep within him, some joy brighter than the sun, had reached out to envelop her, to enfold her more closely than arms...

He had smiled at her.


From Slightly Married, by Mary Balogh. This book is incredibly romantic. Treat yourself this weekend!

All my best,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Orgie Porgie Puddin' and Pie

Do you hear that?

It's the sound...the sound...the sound of silence!


For the first time in 6 days, the kids and the hubby are back to school and work and I finally have a moment of peace and quiet to myself.

*Penny slurps coffee and enjoys peace and quiet*

Here are some updates!

1.) Every once in a while, Julia Rachel Barrett will make a comment about her "menage" book and giggle. That's right. She's actually incapable of discussing this book without laughing. I kept hearing about the "menage" book, and I incorrectly concluded it was a "menage a trois" which, for those of you not familiar with the French language, is a "threesome." So, I decided to read this giggly threesome, One Four All. The heroine is Lira, a totally kick-ass royal from another planet. And her "good buddies" (French for "good buddies") are Cer, Redda, and Kepp. Wait a minute. Cer, Redda and Kepp. That's three good buddies. Let's do the math...

3 good buddies + 1 heroine = 4! 

OH MY GOD! This isn't a menage a trois! This is a foursome! Julia wrote an orgy book! (The title One Four All should have been a dead give-away, but I guess I'm a bit dense.)

I tormented Julia for several days with the fact that she did indeed write an orgy book. However, I wasn't giggling while I read it. I was sweating! This book is hot! It is also extremely well-written, has a cool sci fi storyline, a very believable 4-some going on--dealing with feelings of possessiveness, lust and love--and a satisfying ending. It's one of the best written multi-partner (a.k.a., orgy) books I've read. Nevertheless, I shall continue to torment Julia. Coz it's fun!

2.) Just in case you like quirky, outside-of-the-box stuff (like moi), Carolyn Crane, one of my all-time favorite authors, has some new books out. Mr. Real is a mish-mash paranormal/spy book/romance. And her alter-ego Annika Martin has #2 of the Bank Robbers series's The Wrong Turn. Not to be confused with the movie Wrong Turn, which is super gory and disgusting, and yes I've watched it about 20 times. So sue me.

3.) I'm thrilled the Goodreads group Kindle Smut has chosen LUMBERJACK IN LOVE for one of its November book selections. Hopefully they'll be in the mood for a beardy love-fest! Feedback about my latest release ranges from good ("great book!" "short and sweet" "pure fun read") to meh ("meh" "corny" "didn't like the cover"). As always, I appreciate the wide array of feedback, good and bad. C'est la vie (French for "the reader is always right").

4.) I am getting ready for another conference this weekend. So far my preparation has included polishing my nails with Big Money Sally Hansen nail polish.

5.) The photo above is our jack-o-lantern. My adorable hubby did this custom doxie pumpkin for us. So cool!

6.) As many of you know, this month is NaNoWriMo. Since I am resuming work on my children's book, LUCY THE WONDER WEENIE, my month will henceforth be known as WeeWeeMoMo (French for "livre de teckels").

7.) After discovering some interesting things in my search engine history (*cough, cough*), I decided it was time to have THE TALK with my daughter who is nine years old. So, I got the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You. We chatted for about 10 minutes. I think I used the word "egg" "embryo" and "uterus" although I'm not exactly sure because I seem to have blocked out the entire experience. All I remember is my daughter rolling her eyes and saying "I know that, Mom!" with complete exasperation. (Just in case you were wondering, "les oiseaux et les abeilles" is "the birds and the bees" in French).

So, those are the updates for the week! I hope everyone had a festive Halloween.

All my best,