Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

Romance Author’s Web Sites: An Update of Essentials and Fun Extras

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Screen shot 2011-11-14 at 2.28.18 PMThree years ago I posted here about romance authors’ Web sites and listed four essentials: (1) a complete listing of the author’s books, and connections for those in a series; (2) news of upcoming books; (3) a brief bio; and (4) a method to contact the author (email link or form). These are all still essentials for me. They can be fairly brief and hopefully require little time for updating. I’ve visited a lot of author Web sites in the intervening three years and have some other essentials I’d like to add. I’ve also discovered some fun new extras at other authors’ Web sites.

First, it’s vital that the Web site be current. I immediately leave an author’s site if I discover that their homepage features as “new” a book that was published one or more books ago while failing to mention their latest release. I expect that a News tab will actually have recent (not necessarily daily or even monthly) news. Even something as simple as news about an upcoming – or recently published – book works here. What doesn’t work is “news” of books published or awards won years earlier.  Many authors have extra sections including one for Appearances or Upcoming Appearances. These are of particular interest to me when I prepare AAR’s monthly booksigning post. However, events that occurred months, or years earlier, don’t really qualify as “upcoming,” and call into question the content of the entire site.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: Narrators Forum

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Today at Speaking of Audiobooks, we are hosting our first live Narrators Forum.  It’s an event structured for narrators to come together and discuss pertinent issues in their industry as well as provide listeners with a glimpse into their world of bringing multiple characters to life.  Once the live portion of the forum is over, those involved want to hear from you.  Your feedback is important to them.

When I first started writing about audiobooks, I envisioned those reading to me in a studio surrounded by a director, producer, and recording technician.  My mind saw the director instructing a narrator to stop occasionally and try a line again or explain a needed change.  I guess I imagined something similar to a movie set with only one actor sitting in a sound booth performing all of the characters.  However, after visiting with a number of narrators this past year, I understand just how inaccurate that vision was.  Now that home studios are becoming more commonplace, narrators often operate alone and in somewhat of a vacuum.  There just aren’t that many opportunities to get together and talk about what they do day in and day out.

Meet the Narrators

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Romance Novel Wish List

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

pride-and-prejudice-graphic-novelI recently began re-listening to Jayne Ann Krentz’s Eclipse Bay, the first in her Eclipse Bay trilogy, originally published over 10 years ago. After being very frustrated by her recent Arcane series books, this re-listen has been refreshing. I’ve found myself wishing that Ms. Krentz would write another series like her Eclipse Bay series, with no paranormal elements (well, except in the mind of one of the secondary characters). Or if not a series, I would love to read a straight contemporary by her such as Trust Me or Family Man.

This re-listen has also reminded me of some of my other romance novel wishes. Now these aren’t about my desires for specific settings (Egypt, Malta, and Santorini head that list) or time periods (post-World War I is a particular favorite). These are wishes I have for books I want specific authors to write.

First up is a wish for Colby Hodge. One of the first books I reviewed here at AAR was her paranormal time travel Twist. Abbey, the heroine, is smart and tough, but has her girly moments. I would love to see this turn into a series, or at least have a sequel where Abbey and the real Shane get to spend some time together.

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The Other Guy’s Bride: Exclusive Excerpt from Connie Brockway

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

brockwayI am really excited about this one, so fair warning.

On November 22nd, The Other Guy’s Bride, the long, long, long(!) awaited sequel to As You Desire will finally hit your Kindle, with the print version following one month later.  I’ve read the book and it’s fair to say that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited.  I’ll have more to say later, but this new book is a worthy successor to a book so fondly remembered by so very many of us.

You know, there was so much controversy over how this book is being published and now we’re down to what really matters.

We’ll be back in a few weeks with a giveaway, but, in the meantime, Connie offered us an exclusive excerpt from the book to whet your appetite.  So, read it, enjoy – and leave a question or your reaction for Connie in the comments.

- Sandy AAR

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Buy These Books…Even If They’re Awful

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

One message I kept hearing during this summer’s RWA conference was that publishers were finally ready to look at books that are different. Not every publisher was saying it, mind you, but I heard it a lot more than I had the year before – when the message seemed to be: “Take a look at what we are already publishing…and write something just like that.” But at the same time, I had an author tell me that her slightly different historicals (I mean really, they were still set in England) weren’t selling as well as she – or her publisher – had hoped. Consequently, she will probably have to switch back to Regency or Victorian set historicals. Which really made me think that those of us who are informed, internet-savvy readers need to vote with our pocket books.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Regencies as much as the next person, and probably more than the next person. I hope that the people who love writing them continue to write them. There will always be room in my heart for spies, spinsters, poor relations, and Almacks. But I don’t just want to read about that. People have been successfully falling in lust and in love and populating the planet for some time now, all over the world – not just in nineteenth century England. And those of us who have been reading and reviewing romance novels for years start craving variety like we crave air.

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Friday, July 29th, 2011

eblWith the relentless bad news lately, what better time for a little pick me up in the form of the Edward Bulwer-Lytton contest winners announced just this week?

For the last 29 years, San Jose State University has held the annual contest that asks contestants to submit opening lines for imaginary novels with the goal that they be as bad as possible. The contest was inspired by the great Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who penned the immortal “It was a dark and stormy night.”

So, without further ado, let’s enjoy the grand prize winner:

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

Sue Fondrie

And the runner-up:

As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

Rodney Reed

The Bulwer-Lytton contests also chooses winners in genre categories.

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Embracing My Inner Fangirl

Friday, July 15th, 2011

You know, the veil between publishing and authors and readers is pretty much kaput these days.  And, frankly, I kind of miss it.

I miss the days when I didn’t know anything about authors and just picked out the books I wanted to read while browsing in the bookstore before author names started to leak through.  I miss the days when books took place all over the world in exotic places and times. Some were in Regency England, but we all had a taste for diversity back then.  I particularly loved stories set in the Gilded Age in New York and Rhode Island.

This was all brought back to me in New York at RWA recently.  I was in an elevator with Bertrice Small.  Yep, that Bertrice Small.  We did that thing you do at RWA where everybody is always looking at chests to read your badge and she spoke to me first and remarked that she very much enjoyed All About Romance.  I told her that “I used to read her” which, frankly, was the best I could do.  After she thanked me, we began one of those conversations about RWA being very tiring and she indicated that she’d had it and that this would be her last conference.

Anyway, it was a thrill to meet her and it brought back to me those thrilling days of yesteryear.  I remember reading Ms. Small and her harem girls and rapes and truly skanky sex when I was in high school.  I must have read three or four – or maybe more.

For a moment or two or three, I was back in high school and secretly reading my romance novels, knowing nothing about the industry or authors.

I’m not saying I want to go back because I don’t.  I just want to remember for a moment the way it used to be.

What about you? Do you miss those days?

- Sandy AAR

The Big “I”

Monday, July 11th, 2011

2421311-LI don’t remember much from Psych 101, but I do remember Sternberg’s Triangle of Love.  Sternberg sees Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment as the three corners of love.  Pick any one or two components and you have various kinds of relationships; combine all three, and you have what he calls the Consummate Love.

Which is sort of what 99.99% of romance novels is about.  Except in the romance world, there’s a fourth corner: Fidelity.

Wait.  Isn’t that the same as Commitment?  Well, not according to Dan Savage, the love and sex columnist who was featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine two weeks ago.  He recognizes that monogamy is right for most couples, and that’s great.  What he doesn’t like is our society’s assumption that monogamy is right for all couples:

Folks on the verge of making those monogamous commitments need to look at the wreckage around them (Schwarzenegger, Clinton, Vitter)…and have a conversation about what it’ll mean if one or the other partner should cheat.  And agree, at the very least, to getting through it, to place a higher value on the relationship itself than on component of it, sexual exclusivity.”

Mr. Savage doesn’t support thoughtless infidelity, but he’s asking for smarter boundaries and honesty, an acknowledgement that: (more…)

Romance Novel Covers: A Rant

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

coverThey’re like bad relatives.  You can’t avoid sleazy Uncle Bob or foul-mouthed Cousin Betty, because Uncle Bob married to Aunt Emily (the loveliest auntie in the world), and Cousin Betty is sister to Cousin Mark (who’s like a brother).  But you’d really, really prefer not to have to see them.  Ever.

Give a romance detractor a romance novel, and I’ll bet that nine times out of ten, they’ll look at the cover and grimace.  Hell, give a romance reader the same book, and you’ll probably get the same reaction.  So much for not judging books by their covers, but really – really, can you blame them?

Creamy bosoms and hairless tanned chests.  Serifs gone mad.  Florid colors.  And the clinches – oh, the clinches.  Shudder.

Let’s ignore the fact that they’re totally generic.  Hey, romance is a genre book, and all genre books, to a certain degree, are generic.  That’s the point, so that readers can spot them from a mile away, and go, “Oh, a romance/sci-fi/fantasy/mystery novel!”

And let’s also ignore the fact that there can be serious discrepancies between the cover models and the characters.  How many plus-sized, curvy heroines are depicted like Nicole Kidman?  Or the blonde heroes, drawn with black hair?  We’re told that black hair and thin women sell; I’d argue, but there are worse crimes, so I’ll leave it there.

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Casting the AAR Top Ten Romance Novels

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

ioanIn 2010 readers voted on their Top 100 favorite romance novels. Some of these have been made and remade into films, but many of the top 10 haven’t. Isn’t it time to give Hollywood a nudge and help the powers that be to cast the crucial roles in our favorites?

That’s today’s game: Cast the Top Ten.  Let’s start from number ten and work our way to the top. I’ll explain my picks, but the real question is whom you would cast in your favorite book.  In case you’ve forgotten who’s who in the books, there’s a link to the AAR reviews to jog your memory. And the actors’ names are linked to their IMDB pages.

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