More on Diversity

I have never read a book by Tana French and the first time I saw her name was in the Eagerly Awaited August Books where both Dabney and Lynn indicate that they are looking forward to her new release Broken Harbor.  Then while surfing the Web, I came across  her name again.  She wrote an article for Publishers Weekly outlining her writing tips.

A few of them didn’t resonate, but this one did:

There’s no such thing as ‘men’ or ‘women’. There’s only the individual character you’re writing. One guy emailed me asking me how to write women, and I couldn’t answer, because I had no idea which woman he meant: me? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Lady Gaga? If you’re thinking of ‘men’ or ‘women’ as a monolithic group defined primarily by their sex, then you’re not thinking of them as individuals; so your character isn’t going to come out as an individual, but as a collection of stereotypes. Sure, there are differences between men and women on average – but you’re writing an individual, not an average. If your individual character is chatty on the phone or refuses to ask for directions, that needs to be because of who he or she is, not because of what he or she is. Write the person, not the genitalia.

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What a Pain

manHaving had major surgery a few weeks ago, I was a little disconcerted when my next two review books featured protagonists in pain. I was immediately struck by the realization that physical pain is something that many authors don’t portray realistically at all.

We all know the cliché: Hero is shot, stabbed, beaten up, whatever, and his immediate thoughts turn to sex. Sex?! Having just been sliced open under the best sterile surgical conditions, I can say without a doubt that sex was the last thing on my mind. Adding a pain killer like the norco I’m taking doesn’t change my mind at all. General oral pain killers, it seems to me, mask the pain as long as you don’t probe the wound, but don’t totally kill it. You need a shot near the wound site for that.

But Victoria Dahl’s cowboy hero Cole in Close Enough to Touch, recuperating from having a horse fall on him and suffering from a broken tibia and pelvis is ready to roll at the drop of a hat. And does.

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Books with Buzz: Nalini Singh Interview and Five-Book Giveaway (Contest Closed)

tangleThe minute I read Nalini Singh’s Slave of Sensation, I knew we had something special in our hands.  In the intervening six, short years, Nalini has published fifteen stories in her thought-provoking Psy/Changeling series, each of them gritty, passionate, and loads of fun.

With this month’s release of Tangle of Need, we took the opportunity to ask Nalini a few questions, and she’s coming along with some free books in tow.  Five lucky readers will have their pick of any one book from the previous 10 books in the Psy/Changeling series (not including Tangle of Need – sorry), and all you have to do to enter is comment on this post by Friday, June 8, 11:59 p.m. EST.  We will notify winners by email on Saturday morning, and they will have 24 hours to respond.  If we don’t hear from a winner within that time, a new winner will be selected.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  Unfortunately, only residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible to enter.

Now, on to Nalini!

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Five Awesome Romance Things

bookofawesome3dIntroduction first: In case you were unaware of the 1000 Awesome Things blog, Neil Pasricha was at a down point in his life a couple of years ago, and decided to cheer himself up by blogging about the good, often unnoticed, things in life.  When gas prices go down just as you need some gas.  When you turn a pillow onto its fresh side.  The fact that we exist.  When a cashier opens a new cash line.  You know – awesome things.

1000 posts and 3 bestsellers later, the blog is over.  In (belated) honour of the 1000th post, I decided to write about the awesome things in romance.  It’s been a good exercise, because too often I focus on the annoying or tedious in romance novels.  But despite the bad stuff, there are many reasons I stick with romance novels, and they’re all awesome (in my opinion, anyway).  So here, counting down, are my Five Awesome Romance Things.

5. You can’t please everyone, but you can please someone. Publishing is a transient business.  Just think of all those thousands – no, millions of books that clutter used bookstores, books that are in and out of print, remembered and forgotten.  But what’s great about romances is that even 999 people think a book’s absolute crap, there’s probably at least one person who finds it awesomer than Kraft Dinner.

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Dark Shadows

darkBefore we had the tormented Carpathians, and the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not to mention Edward of the Twilight series, many people grew up watching Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows. No doubt the show paved the way for the acceptance of romantic vampires today. Yet many of today’s tormented vampires can’t hold a candle to Barnabas. In fact, Barnabas was all about the candles. Candles,  eerie music, cobwebs, fierce storms, crypts and graveyards. And unlike many vampires today, he was a true anti-hero.

Unlike many people from my generation, I didn’t grow up watching Dark Shadows all the time. I never seemed to get home at the right time, so I watched Captain Chesapeake instead. Still, although I was a scaredy-cat, I managed to sneak in a few episodes now and then.

When I heard that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were working together on a Dark Shadows movie, my first reaction was “Perfect!” I couldn’t wait to see it. Then I realized that many fans were upset with the trailer because the movie comes across as a send-up. They are not amused. Or as my sister-in-law pointed out to be, fans took the show very seriously.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: Giveaway Plus Author and Narrator Interviews (Giveaway Closed)

The Madness of I MacWhen I discovered that Tantor was set to release Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie on March 26th, I enthusiastically shared the news far and wide.  Published in 2009, it’s a favorite among romance readers winning Best Romance of 2009 in AAR’s Annual Reader Poll and ranking #10 in AAR’s 2010 Top 100 Romance Poll.  In print, we were mesmerized by hero Ian Mackenzie and, in audio, we hope to move the entire experience up a notch by actually hearing him interact in his matter-of-fact manner as he determinedly pursues Beth.

Today, we are celebrating the release of this much loved book with a giveaway and interviews with both author Jennifer Ashley and narrator Angela Dawe.

The Giveaway

We are giving away FIVE MP3 CD copies of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie courtesy of Tantor Audio.  Place your name in the hat by commenting on this column by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, March 22nd. Due to the cost of postage, the giveaway is open only to listeners in the U.S. and Canada.  We encourage multiple comments in our discussion, but you will only be entered in the contest once.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  The winner will be notified by email on Friday morning and will have 24 hours to respond.  Another winner will be selected on Saturday morning if the winner has not responded.  Audiobooks will be mailed to the winners upon release of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

Talking with Jennifer Ashley

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My Favorite Irish Heroes

irishcastle Maybe it’s the brogue. Or the green eyes so many of them seem to have. Perhaps it is the passionate, artistic nature. The Irish, after all, are credited with being great poets and musicians. It could be the magic – the Island is equated with all manner of faeries and myths. Perhaps it is their imports- men who look like Colin Farell, Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan all have the look of a good romance rogue. Whatever it is, there is nothing quite like an Irish hero, is there? With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I felt it was time to pay tribute to lads of the Emerald Isle. Here are my favorites, in no particular order:
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Do We Give Paranormal Heroes a Pass?

werewolf Think about it. If I read a historical where the hero comes along, tells the heroine she will be his, and they engage in a courtship that seems to consist of bickering, near rapes, and the hero having to mark heroine as his in some physical way, you’d think I was reading an old-school 1970s/80s book, wouldn’t you? Sure, every now and again a novel comes along that has a hero pushing the envelope in terms of sexual coercion or controlling behavior, but it’s unusual enough that it often sparks controversy and readers talk about it.
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Endearments – Yea or Nay?

imagesDearest, darling readers: I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your loved ones.  My day began quite unexceptionally, at school with those sweet children in my class, and all I planned to do when I got home was start Gaelen Foley’s One Night of Sin.  But guess what, cupcakes?  Before long I was sighing and shaking my head.  There was one thing, O Best Beloveds, that was driving me to near insanity – much as I am probably doing to you currently, my poor angels.  And that was the proliferation of endearments.

I have a hard time dealing with them, especially the flowery ones, and especially when they’re used often.  One Night of Sin has them in abundance and I find them nauseating.  But are they nauseating because it’s actually overkill, or is it just because I’m not used to them?

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Series, Series, and More Series

We have all seen the trend that is happening in Romance novels these days.  The Series.  I can’t even remember the last time that I read a book that wasn’t a part of a series.  Paranormals, fantasy, Regencies – it doesn’t matter the genre, all the books seem to be a part of a series.  For me, that isn’t really a problem.  I like that.  I like that I don’t have to say goodbye to characters that I love and have come to care about after I finish a book.  I like that a younger sibling or a best friend that we like in one book finds their own HEA in the next book.  So this trend hasn’t bothered me all that much.  That is until very recently.

While I have no problem with the trend that all books are a part of a series, I have started to see something that I don’t like.  Usually, I enjoy a good epilogue.  It used to be that the epilogue was a small chapter at the end of the book where we get a chance to peek at the future.   This used to be a place that transcended the “series” chronology and jumped forward a few years and let us know that despite what may be happening is the great story arc of the series, this is what is happening with the couple currently.  A good example of this would be Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward.  At the end of this book, we get an epilogue that takes place 18 months after the book ended and the epilogue is a scene with the main couple, Z and Bella, and it steps out of the chronology of the series and gives a glimpse of the future.  I love these scenes.  They reassure us that all is well with the couple in the future, they reaffirm the HEA, and they satisfy any curiosity of children that may have been born or events that might have played out off page.

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