Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Piracy

Pirates have been in the news a lot lately, but my thoughts have less to do with Somalis, snipers, or even swashbucklers, and more to do with internet pirates - those who illegally distribute copies of licensed, copyrighted ebooks.

A reader commented on Jess Dee's blog post on the Samhain Blog yesterday, complaining that the restrictions on sharing ebooks were unconstitutional and that Samhain's policy regarding ebook sharing was "unethical".

It's funny, this is another case of me assuming everyone thinks exactly like me. It didn't even occur to me that others would have such a diametrically opposite view on this situation. I sort of thought that people who pirated books knew it was wrong, knew why it was wrong, and did it anyway.

So, just to give my side of the tale and help anyone on the other side understand my rationale, I'd like to present my thoughts on why ebooks should not be shared online. I am not a spokesperson for Samhain, I do not represent them or their views, but I do believe they are an extremely ethical company. (And I'm a little amused that this strongly anti-Samhain sentiment came to light on Samhain's very own blog.) I would also like to state that I am not a scholar in copyright law and these are just my opinions. The opinions of one lowly author, trying to make it in this biz.

I share print books. I read a lot and I don't have a lot of disposable income, so I have to get my books from alternate sources. My aunt sends me boxes filled with books she bought and read and liked. I buy books from second hand books stores (my absolute fav being Title Wave in Anchorage, AK - woot!). I use my library card to the point of exhaustion - and many libraries are beginning to have ebook selections available for checkout (with timestamp expirations). None of this is illegal. So why, you might be wondering, is sharing ebooks?

Ebooks do not have a physical product to be bought or sold, so like other nonphysical proprietary items (software, mp3s, etc.) they are licensed and sharing is forbidden. I think this is just and right. Here's why: My aunt lending me a book she read is not the same thing as my aunt making a thousand (or a million - with the internet there is no control) copies of that book, then walking over to the local Barnes & Noble and handing them out on the sidewalk out front.

If you share an ebook by a new author you just discovered with your next-door neighbor, the Feds are pretty darned unlikely to come after you. However, if you post my ebook online for anyone to download, they should come after you. They probably won't, because ebook piracy is not as important to them as it is to lowly little us who are having our livelihoods stolen, but I might personally ask you to take it down. And Samhain might ask you to take it down. And I, for one, am grateful that they will. That doesn't make Samhain unethical. That makes them a business. Do you get mad at Target for stopping shoplifters?

My book costs $3.50 (less at some legal vendors who have it on sale). Is it really so unreasonable to shell out $3.50? I bet you spent more than that on a bucket of popcorn last time you went to the movies. As I've said before, we authors aren't rolling in our millions, taking baths in tubs filled with hundred dollar bills. The more people who actually buy my books, the less time I have to spend at my day job, and the more time I have to write more books for you to read.

You want to read ebooks for free? Become an online ebook reviewer with a reputable site. Or go check out your local library's selection. But please do not support online piracy sites - it's stealing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Speaking of which...

While we're on the topic of why we read romance... over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog, they're asking how we got turned onto romance. Did your mother give you your first? Did you give your mother her first?

As for me... I found an old romance somewhere around the house (I think it had been left there by one of my many romance-loving aunts) when I was a teenager and I've been hooked ever since. I'm not sure if I gave my mom her first, but I can say I have definitely broadened her reading horizons as she tries to keep up with my genre-jumping ways. I told her she wasn't allowed to read my romance manuscripts without some perspective on what was kosher in the genre these days. I force-fed her Crusie & Liu & Quinn, among others. Yep, I am proud to say I have turned her on to several excellent authors. Most of whom were recommended to me by my aunt, her little sister... so it's all in the family.

What about you? Head on over to DSW to join in the discussion.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Read Romance Because... Contest Results!

Congratulations, Joy! You won!

Thank you to everyone who entered. I loved reading all the responses. There's a lot to love about romance: alpha heroes, kick-ass heroines, being taken to "far away places and pleasures", and an escape - whether from "teenage drama queens", "screaming kids", or the "mundain life of work & school". All that and it can also spice up your marriage and guarantees you happy ending every time? Sign me up.

As I've been thinking about why I read romance novels, all of your reasons struck a chord with me, especially with regard to being taken to far off places and getting that happily ever every time, but when it came to a quesiton of why romance rather than any other genre of fiction, I think Joy (the winner was randomly chosen, I swear!) put it best:

"When I read a romance book I can say I have 1.loved 2.been in a relationship 3.laughed 4.been in a bedroom with the opposite sex 5.have had erotic encounters 6.have loved and lost... and just about everything a romance novel covers. Sort of like 'been there, done that several times, and will do again.' Bottom line-I CAN RELATE TO THE ROMANCE NOVEL."

I like books about love. Books that aren't afraid to say that love is important and worthwhile. Because what else are we living for?

One more time, thank you everyone for participating!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The On-Going Saga of Craptastic Covers

<-- This guy? He's hot, yeah? It's kind of a bummer that I have no idea who he is. Cuz he sure as hell isn't the hero. The hero with white blond hair. The hero with massive scarring over one eye, who frequently wears an eyepatch. Who is this ubiquitous guy who keeps ending up on romance covers? No matter how different the author writes the hero, this same guy keeps popping up. I don't get it. If you know why then please, I beg you, explain it to me.

Yes, he is attractive, but I do not buy books based on the pretty boy on front. I spend very little time looking at the front cover while reading. It's somewhat distracting to keep closing the book to drool. And why do I buy books? To read them, not to gaze at them. Funny, that.

I will buy a book because I like the author, or the premise, or on a recommendation from a friend. But apparently, I am in the minority, because I keep hearing "Covers sell books!" everywhere I go.

Does Sherrilyn Kenyon, 5 time #1 New York Times Bestselling author, really need a pretty boy on the cover to help her sell books? Can't the man on the front at least vaguely resemble hero? Maybe you don't want to show that the hero is disfigured in any way (he is supposed to be perfection, after all), but why is his coloring all wrong too?


As an author, if I am ever lucky enough to have Sherrilyn Kenyon's level of success, I'm sure I will be given ridiculous covers and keep my big mouth shut, smiling all the way to bank. But as a reader, I still want to know why the cover can't in some way reflect what is going on inside. Arg.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Free Reads!

For those who haven't heard, there are freebies by Samhain authors available for download this week at the Samhellion. Spring is sprung, baby!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Staying Home Party & NEW CONTEST!

Hello, minions.

Where am I today? At home. Workin'.

Where do I want to be today? At the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is sunny Orlando, Florida. Running to workshops and signings, mingling with cover models (some of whom are more muscles than brains, but we try not to hold that against them cuz they're so darned pretty), and talkin bout books til I give myself laryngitis.

Luckily for poor, pitiful, stayin'-at-home me, there's a party going on over at the Samhain Cafe all this week! Two Samhain ebooks will be given away each day until Sunday, and trust me, there will be many other prizes to be had since this one was described to me as, and I quote, a "free for all." Sounds like my kinda party.

Now for the sad news: My Gigolo Contest winner never claimed her prize! Tragic! However, this means I have a Gigolo Kit, as seen HERE, that I need to give away to someone. So...


To enter the dynamaramic (yeah, I just made up that word, cuz that's how I roll) NEW IMPROVED GIGOLO CONTEST, send an email to with your completion of the following sentence: "I read romance because..." (Acceptable alternatives include "Romance kicks ass because..." and "I write romance because...")

The winner will be drawn randomly on Sunday, April 26th at noon (Pacific Time). On Sunday, I'll also post my completion of the sentence and a selection of your responses.

The fine print: Must be 18 to enter (cuz I'm giving away naughty bits and I don't want to explain to your parents why I sent you flavored warming lube. Just sayin'). Must have mailing address in US/Canada (sorry, New Guinea). Your email address will not be used for any nefarious purposes. If you would like your email address to be used for nefarious purposes, such as email newsletters with information on my upcoming releases, please put "Yup, newsletter" or some varietal thereof into the body of your email. Email addresses will not be given/sold/auctioned to anyone else. Your email is safe with me. (Mwa-ha-ha.)

EXTRA CHANCES TO WIN! You can only answer the question once, but if you join the newsletter group ("Yup, newsletter!") you get an extra entry into the drawing. Also, if you refer a friend, and your friend mentions you in their email, you get an extra entry into the drawing. So the number of entries you get is directly related to how many people you can manipulate into doing your bidding. Go forth and multiply, minions! (Can you tell I've been watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-along-Blog a lot lately? I think my evil laugh is improving.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Three Thoughts on Dentistry

Three little things I thought of today while sitting in a dentist's chair:

1. Do they hire Jewish mothers to teach dental hygenists the nuance of the guilt trip? Do they really think that ordering me to floss every day, threatening dire dental consequences if I don't, is going to make me want to come in for my cleanings/x-rays on a more regular basis? Confession: It has been five years since my last trip to the dentist. Yes, my teeth survived. I am the picture of dental health, my teeth cavity free. Woohoo. And yet, the guilt. I'm not in danger of needing a set of wooden teeth any time in the near future, but you would never know it from the way my dentist & dental hygenist were talking. Sheesh.

2. What kind of person aspires to spend all day with their fingers buried in other people's mouths? Seriously. Or podiatrists. What gives a person that kind of passion for feet? Or dermatology. Emergencies & surgeries I get, but the more sedate medical specialties don't inspire any depth of passion in me, so I'm wondering what kind of person is drawn to them? Your thoughts?

3. Lastly, why do they talk to you while there are sharp implements in your mouth? My dentist & dental hygenist are lovely people and marvelous conversationalists, but it's hard to get a word in edgewise when they are poking at your teeth and gums. I bet dentists would be great bloggers. They talk and talk and talk and then at the end, the patient gets two seconds to insert a comment before the dentist takes off on another post. Ya think? Dentists as frustrated bloggers? Yay? Nay?

P.S. What do you think of when you're in a dentist's chair?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Money, Honey

So we've all know about J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown, the gold-rush phenoms who struck it rich seemingly overnight (emphasis on seemingly). Some of us have sat in workshops or attended signings at which the presenter was introduced as having X million books in print and done a little royalty math in our heads. There are success stories out there and, oh, what successes they are. We hear them and our agile imaginations place us on our private yacht in the South Pacific, plunking idly away at a book we certainly don't need to write for financial reasons and generally having a smashing good time.

But the reality for most of us is more accurately represented by the immortal words of Macaulay Connor, the struggling writer turned reporter from The Philadelphia Story (arguably the best movie of all time, and by arguably, I mean that you can argue with me, but you would be wrong). Connor, in a moment of brilliance says, "You know, that book of mine represents two solid years' work and it netted Connor something under six hundred dollars." Tracy's reaction to those words couldn't be truer: "But that shouldn't be!" And yet, it is. Allowing for inflation over the last seventy or so years, those numbers seem about right.

Don't believe me? Brenda Hiatt debunks the Publishing Your Book = Winning the Lottery myth on her website by posting anonymous information on how much authors in the romance genre are really making these days. There is a wide variety, but the average numbers might surprise you.

Think it's only the debut or midlist authors who are rubbing pennies together? New York Times Bestselling author Lynn Viehl demystifies the earnings of a bestselling novel in this blog post: (And I cannot thank her enough for being so forthcoming. Where did this stigma against copping to the financial realities of life as an author come from? Are we trying to foster an illusion of wild success in some misplaced positive thinking? Or is it that they - whoever they are - think we won't put ourselves through the emotional rollercoaster of publishing if we don't have the mega-millions dreams to spur us on? Trust me; most of us would write anyway. We are writing junkies. We don't do it for the money. Which isn't to say we would turn down money...)

So how is a writer to make a living at this nasty biz?

One alternative to starvation is to be fiendishly prolific. Write like a mad thing (maintaining a high quality, of course) and publish enough books a year to wallpaper the palace at Versailles.

Option two is to marry well - I am in a small minority of romance writers who are not also loving wives and carpool mommies. And I am wildly jealous of them for their bringing-home-the-bacon-hubbies (although admittedly, I have exponentially more time to devote to my writing since I am not tasked with taking care of anyone but myself).

The third tried-and-true technique is to be lucky. Really, really lucky. And talented. And determined. And lucky. And skilled. And... did I mention luck?

Option four... well, I'm still looking for a fourth option that doesn't include a forty hour week in the accounting department. That is where I am stuck at least until my “patron lady bountiful” comes along. Suggestions?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quotable Me

The charming Ms. Misty Evans (Witches Anonymous, I'd Rather Be in Paris) has an article in this month's Samhellion newsletter about the Writing Addiction and yours truly is quoted therein. Checken Sie out, y'all:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bosoms Everywhere!

I would say that this book is a must buy for fans of Smart Bitches, but I'm certain all true fanatics already have their copy and are eagerly devouring this snarktastic commentary on romances and why we love them.

For those who haven't heard, Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan of the review/blogarama site Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books (All the romance, none of the bullshit) have released a witty, incisive, and utterly hysterical examination of the most defamed genre in fiction. And, yeah, it's awesome.

The Bitches' Dictionary? Brilliant. Simply Brilliant. Here are two of my favorite definitions:

Rake. n. 1: A sharp gardening implement used to comb through dense bushes, usually in hopes of finding riches and security.
2: A species of attractive and sexually promiscuous male; scientists postulate that rakes exhibited strong antibacterial properties, as they were capable of copulating with anything and everything on two legs without falling prey to venereal disease.
Vampire. n. 1: Immortal, soulless animate corpse that drinks the blood of the living. This is, for some reason, considered extremely sexy.
2: An excuse for authors to inflict their most Outrhageouz Nhames on the reading populace.

Hee, hee. Now available at a bookstore near you. Go on. Ask for Heaving Bosoms and watch the clerk react.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are you a Junkie?

Dottie of Romance Junkies reviewed The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant and gave it four and a half blue ribbons! Wahoo!

"This tale of ghostly mayhem is a joy to read. Filled with humor, romance, steamy hot sensuality, an imaginative plot, interesting characters and frisky ghosts, this story is a winner."

Awwww. I'm blushing. Thank you, Dottie & RJ!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Laugh a Little on Tax Day

A must-click for anyone who loves grammar humor, the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks:


And a great big thank you to L. & her honey A. for sending this to me.

While you're over there, don't miss the "other snarks" links, among them The Grammar Vandal (they diagrammed Obama's sentences! My excitement knows no bounds!) and Apostrophe Abuse (the tattoo, oh my freaking gawd, the tattoo).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pro or Con?

The Today Show did a thingamajig about how romance sales are rising (Woop!), but as I watched it, I couldn't help feeling a little patronized. Maybe I'm too sensitive? What do you think?

I have to admit at times I'm bothered by the feeling that I have to defend romance novels. I was chatting with a new acquaintance a few weeks ago about being a writer in the Seattle area (he was an aspiring scribbler himself). He eagerly name-dropped a couple local authors and I cooperated by saying that yes, I had read and thoroughly enjoyed Richelle Mead's Succubus Blues (set right here in the Emerald City!). Then he commented that he'd read another book by her and been disappointed by how "romancey" it was. He made a cringey face as he said the "R" word and then smilingly asked me what I wrote. Oh, joy.

What have we done to deserve this stigma? Jennifer Crusie (Goddess!) has an interesting essay on her website about why romance is universally condemned - unlike mystery, Sci-Fi, or literary fiction - but it does not resolve the issue of how to eliminate the cringing.

What say you, dear reader? Shall we proud heart-on-sleeve scribes and bookworms march on the Capitol? (See: RWA National Conference this year in DC.) Or should our warfare be more subtle? One conversion at a time? Maybe we should start a campaign to force romance critics to actually read a book before they slam it. Just a thought.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Giant Mutant Bunnies Sneaking Around in Your House! Ahhhh!

Do you ever wonder how so many of our holiday traditions got to be holiday traditions when they are so darned creepy when you think about it? So many of them hinge around breaking and entering. The fat dude in the red suit climbing out of your fireplace, the giant bunny hiding eggs behind your furniture, the winged guy with the tooth fetish coming into your bedroom at night... these are supposed to be happy images? If you stop and think about it, we have some pretty weird holiday traditions.

One of my friends sent me a pic of her adorable child sitting on the Easter Bunny's lap looking totally freaked out. Yeah. I'm right there with ya, kiddo. No wonder Easter is a time of copious chocolate-therapy. Mmm, Cadbury...

So what do you think is the creepiest holiday tradition? Disguising yourself and banging on the doors of strangers demanding sweets? A naked cherub shooting people with arrows? Frankly, I think the ginormous bunny is pretty creeptastic.

And in case you're wondering, the Easter Bunny came from the Germans. The same people who gave us the Grimm Brothers and their charming children's tales of women chopping off parts of their feet to try to fit into a pair of shoes... Creeeeeepy.

Happy Easter, y'all!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I always tell people that I'm nomadic - I've lived in ten cities in the last ten years - but they never really believe me until I sell my possessions, pack my bags and take off for parts unknown (or parts known, depending on my mood).

I'm not sure if this incredulous reaction to my moving habits is because they thought I was kidding or exaggerating, or if it is just a question of a blind spot when it comes a foreign lifestyle. I'm guilty of this spotty blindness myself. I always assume everyone is just like me, until proven otherwise. Intellectually, I may know that not all writers at the conference are at exactly the same point in their careers, but I forget that when I start talking to someone. Then I find myself inexplicably startled when I find that they either a) have eleven-thousand books published or b) haven't actually started their first book - the one they pitched to Patient Editor A when we met at the group pitch.

It isn't a conscious assumption. Just as I think most people do not consciously assume I'm not serious when I say I move around a lot. But they are still surprised when I skip town. Maybe it has to do with how I present myself? Do I seem too stable and settled to be a wild wanderer?

However I may seem, I'm embracing the rambler within. T-minus three weeks to get out of the apartment and hop on the plane to Hawaii. Then three weeks with my grandma (aunts, uncles, miscellaneous cousins...) in Hawaii. Then the real fun begins. I'll be back in Seattle just long enough to pick up my car for the roadtrip portion of my escape from the everyday. Destination: East. (Cuz if I head west, I end up in the Ocean pretty darn quick.) Two months in a car with only three weeks of that actually planned and pinned down. The rest? Wherever the road takes me.

So advise me, dear reader. Where should the road take me?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ooooh, Controversy!

The Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards have the romance writing community all a'twitter again. The finalists were announced a couple weeks ago and apparently that was all the impetus needed to spark up the old debate.

I have to say, I'm pretty psyched about going to my first ever National RWA Conference this year. Partially cuz I get to see it all as a Golden Heart finalist (woop!), but also because I love a good controversy and I think the general meeting this year is gonna be a doosie.

Here's the sitch: Many erotic romance (FYI: not erotica, but romance with erotic elements) and ebook authors feel marginalized and discriminated against by this national organization that purports to advocate for and support career-oriented romance writers. Not just mainstream romance writers. Not just plain-vanilla, euphemistic, married-sex-behind-closed-doors romance writers. Not just Dame Nora, in her noble quest for the longest Lifetime movie marathon of all time. All of us.

Now, you may be wondering, why do these authors feel marginalized and discriminated against? It boils down to three RWA policies which, for various reasons, many erotic romance & ebook authors find discriminatory.

Thing Number One - The Tortoise & the Hare. PAN is RWA's Published Author Network. It's the Big Girl's Table. In order to get into PAN you have to receive $1000 or more from the sale of a single novel or novella either as an advance or in royalties. Frankly, I agree that there should be standards for PAN, a financial benchmark seems as logical as any other, and I don't think $1000 is an unreasonable amount. HOWEVER, let's look at a hypothetical. Suppose Jane Truelove sells her masterpiece to a NY pub for an advance of $5,000. She's insta-PAN. But then she gets sophomore-itis, or has triplets, or decides to join the peace corp, and doesn't sell another word for four years. Her masterpiece was not a rousing success and never earned out the advance (so she doesn't get another penny). At the same time, Sally Sexitup sells four novels, novellas or short stories every year to a bitty itty e-press, making royalties of $800 on each one, but never crossing that $1000 threshold. No PAN. In those four years, Sally has made over twelve grand to Jane's five, but Jane is the one who gets to go to the PAN retreat at the National conference. Is Sally any less published or "career-oriented" than Jane? What do you think? Fair? Unfair? I definitely think there should be standards, but the deck does seem to be stacked toward those who achieve a certain kind of success. It's a tricksy quesiton.

Thing Number Two - Categorically Unfair. The RITAs are RWA's version of the Oscars for Romance Novels. The controversy is this: There is no category for erotic romance. There are two different categories of historical (regency & regular). There are two different categories for series romances (adventure/suspense & regular). Also Paranormal, Single Title, Novel with Romantic Elements, Inspirational, Young Adult and Best First Book. And the categories are revised often in an attempt to maintain relevance to the current romance market. But no erotic. Erotic romances get tossed into whichever other category is the closest fit. Now, I read across several different genres and heat levels and I'm pretty hard to offend, but not everyone is comfortable with all levels of sexuality. RITA judges who are offended by the heat level may score well-written erotic romances poorly or even mark them as "Not Romance" - a classification which can disqualify an entry if used by three judges. Some erotic romance authors feel that their books are not given a fair shake in the RITAs. While that may be true (judging is subjective so how would you even determine whether or not judges were treating them fairly?), I feel they also need to acknowledge the luck of the draw involved in any contest of this kind. Even with a specialized erotic romance category, there will still be judges who react in unexpected ways to your books. Maybe you gave your hero her ex-husband's name. Or maybe your villain's name is the same as her cute little cuddly puppy. You can't predict what will resonate with a reader. Even if you are positive you won't offend her heat-level sensibilities. (For more on this debate, you can check out Dear Author's discussion on the topic: )

Thing Number Three: Mass-Produced Hysteria. This debate was more violent a few months ago when authors were submitting their RITA entries, but I have a feeling it's gonna be a hot topic at National this year. It's nice and incendiary. Very polarizing. Ahhhh, doncha just love controversy? Anyway, the issue is this: a new rule was added to the RITA qualifications this year, stating that all entries had to be "mass-produced." To the best of my knowledge, no definition of mass-produced was ever provided, but the implied exclusion of small presses & epresses incapable of running mass-market print runs set spark to an explosive debate. (For more check out this entry of the Beyond the Book Blog: ). RWA explained that they had to limit the number of entries somehow and in order to promote romance novels as a whole they were best served by focusing on the mass-produced books. In this, I must say I disagree. I think that quality whether it comes from a micropress or the biggest print publisher is what will best promote romance novels as a whole. You have to limit entries? First come, first served. Or a mix of first-come, first-served and a willingness to judge - which is exactly how they cut off entries for the unpubbed contest that runs alongside the RITA, the Golden Heart. The judges can see the imprint on the book, so small presses may still not get a completely unbiased read, but I would like to see them being allowed to enter the race. Quality not quantity of copies produced should determine who is honored, in my opinion.

I have my own biases on these issues, as you can see in what I've written above, but I want to be very clear that I am not attacking or blaming anyone. I like RWA and I think I have benefited a great deal from being a member. I think, like any large organization, that RWA is rather slow to adapt to change and things are changing mighty fast in epublishing right now. There will always be those who resist change, but attacking them or their beliefs is not generally a very effective way of changing their minds. I tend to think cooler heads will eventually prevail... provided all the ebook & erotic romance authors don't march off in a huff and leave RWA feeling justified in running the upstarts off. This year's explosive debates will lend themselves to next year's (or, perhaps more likely, the year after's) plodding changes. RWA is, in many ways, a political body. And, as we are all learning as we watch our country make the slow turn under the heading of a new administration, political bodies are notoriously slow to react to change.

But in the mean time, the controversy sure is fun to watch.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Irony in Action

In case you're wondering what you're looking at, this is a big ole overstock bin at Target filled to the ever-lovin' brim with pamphlets entitled Green Living for DUMMIES. Let's just take a moment to appreciate that, shall we?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ain't No Second Chances: A DABWAHA Post Mortem

The 2009 Dear Author/Bitchery Writing Awards for Hellagood Authors have drawn to a close and Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs has emerged victorious, edging out The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne. Which means I'm gonna be road-tripping it out to my nearest Borders to do some shopping in the very near future, because, tragically, I have yet to read either of these Hellagood Books. Oh, the shame! How can I call myself an avid reader?

I'm sure you're all dying to know how I did in the brackets. (Or not, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. Cuz it's my blog and I can cry if I want to.) My DABWAHA Brackets = Epic Fail. I think I ranked somewhere around 230th place in the regular brackets. Unfortunately, I also saw they were having second chance brackets about midway through the melee, and I thought, "Hells yeah, baby! Second chance at fame and glory!" Unfortunately, I did not trust my instincts when filling out said Second Chance Brackets. I tried to predict how people would vote, tried to guess at popularity rather than just going with my gut. And ya know what happened? Dead last. (Okay, slight exaggeration. I came in tied for second to last place.) Yeah, go ahead, point and laugh. I can take it.

So the moral of the story is... go with your gut cuz there ain't no second chances. Or use the force, Luke. Or something like that. Life lessons can be tricky to pin down when you're basing them on the bibliophile's version of online gambling.

One last sigh for my epic failure and a big congrats to Patricia Briggs. I can't wait to read the official Hellagood Book o' 2009.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Free Stuff!

Harlequin is celebrating 60 years by giving away free downloads of 16 of their books! Click here to download yours:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For the Record

I know some people prefer a certain level of formality. All Toms are Thomases and all Nicks are Nicholases. However, I recommend that when you go formal, you make sure you have the name right. I have an Aunt Kris. If you called her Kristine, she probably wouldn't be terribly offended, but I bet she'd laugh. You see, her name is Kristan. Very different name.

So, just to clear up any confusion, my name is not short for Vivian, or Vivien, or Vivienne. Or any varietal thereof. Yes, it is short for something. No, I'm not going to tell you what it's short for. No, you will never guess. So just a nice casual Vivi, please. No formality required.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hint, Hint...

Long & Short Reviews is celebrating National Humor Month! And I'm a sponsor, cuz it's all about the funny, baby. Today, I'm giving away a free download of The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant as part of their every-day-a-new-prize month-long Scavenger Hunt through romantic comedy authors' websites! Click for details:

Want to know the answer to the scavenger hunt question? Go to the BOOKSHELF page and scroll down about halfway. And don't say I never did nuthin fer ya.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cornelia Funke is a Goddess

I'm a sucker for all stories that bend the boundaries of reality, and I've always felt there was something particularly intriguing about books that blur the line between this world of ours and the world of words. To literally crawl inside the world of a book! To truly, physically be there! What a concept! This is why I was so captivated by Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series and this is why I loved the Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

The first book of Cornelia Funke's series, Inkheart, has now been made into a movie with Brendan Fraiser, Paul Bettany & Helen Mirren. I thought the film was fairly faithful to the book, but lost some of its magic in the retelling. The basic premise is that there are Readers with voices so beautiful they have the power to read people in and out of books by speaking the words aloud. In the first book of the trilogy, one such Reader, a bookbinder named Mo, inadvertently reads a pack of villains out of a book called Inkheart, trapping his own wife between the pages in the process. He and his daughter, who has inherited his gift, must find a way to set the story to rights again, putting fiction and reality back into a proper balance. In the second book, Inkspell, Mo, his family, and the author of Inkheart, Fenoglio, are themselves read into the Inkworld, where they find themselves much more a part of this story - and in much less control of it - than they could have imagined. It is in the last book, Inkdeath, that the lines between fiction and reality become haziest. The writer is blocked, Mo is becoming more and more lost inside the character he was set to play, and the story seems to be writing itself in a new and unexpected direction.

Cornelia Funke weaves an ensemble of dynamic real characters into a plot rich with causal ripples. Her style is fluid, lyrical and wraps the story around you. But what prevents Inkdeath from being just another well-written fantasy trilogy is its quiet philosophy. When does a person become real? Once they shake your hand, can you never again think of them as merely words on a page? Once you have seen them breathing, laughing, and talking, can you take yourself out of the story again, knowing that if you do they will suffer from your absence? Even if there is a danger to you in the Inkworld, do you stay because its cares have become more real to you than those of your own world? Your own story? Can that translate to our world? Our stories? If people from foreign cultures were more to us than just a soundbite on the six o'clock news, would we care more about their stories? Would they be real to us?

The philosophic parallels are many, but Ms. Funke deftly prevents them from drowning the rich story. Our frustration at the writer, Fenoglio, who is too busy feeling sorry for himself to write a happily-ever-after, subtly parallels the all-too-human frustration with a God who has created this beautiful world and then left it to tumble into war and hardship. Because in the Inkworld, writers are gods, their wills creating worlds. And Cornelia Funke is a goddess without compare.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Mrs. Giggles is reformed! Only love and cuddles from here on out.

Fluffy Bunny Lovin. Yeah, baby. Best April Fools Joke Ever? (Well, maybe not ever but definitely on the list.) Hysterical. LOL. Happy April, y'all.

And if that one didn't do it for you, how about the Guardian Goes Twitter?

Or Dear Author's New Literary Venture?

Or maybe CADIE's love for Pandas?

April Fool's jokes may be the best use of the internet to date. You know, aside from all that "globalization" nonsense.