Friday, February 26, 2010

The Wisdom of Bob

The marvelous Robert A. Heinlein became an instant favorite of mine when I discovered his writing with Stranger in a Strange Land in my misspent youth. Time Enough for Love and I Will Fear No Evil just cemented my affections. There is such purpose to his writing. Philosophy, scientific prophecy, fiction and humanity blended on every page.

I seem to keep having conversations about Heinlein this week, so I've decided to stop fighting it and just splash a random sampling of Heinlein-isms here, just for fun. Enjoy.

There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized or even cured. The only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private and where food can be poked in to him with a stick.

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

To be matter-of-fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy - and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful.

Don't ever become a pessimist... a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reality Check

So the other day I saw this article about HCI's announcement of a new line of books, bringing reality to romance novels. Real life couples, real life romances, as told by romance writers.

I don't think it's a terrible idea, but the concept holds no appeal for me - as both a reader and a writer. I like my fiction fictional. I like the creative freedom of making it all up. For one thing, that delicious fakeness helps me suspend my disbelief. I also like the paranormal & historical -which are just flat out of the question. (I'm waiting for the first vampire romance to come out of this line with bated breath. Har.)

Sure, I like a good anecdote of a real life romance as much as the next person, but why not just write a memoir? Why sell your story to be told by a romance writer?

The couples volunteering seem... I don't know, maybe like they are bragging about their happily ever after? And how do we know they're being honest? Will it be a scandal to discover that they didn't do all that stuff they said they did in the handy-dandy questionnaire used to compose their story?

Where does the author come in? Are they romantic historians now, taking down the stories told them? Romances should be more than just the story of Jane meeting John and living happily ever after. To me, they are more even than conflict and drama and love. The underlying themes in every good book... how is the author going to fit in symbolism and the layers of a good book into the story that must obey the rules of a real-life he-said-she-said?

And (this might be the biggest thing) I think I am more likely to relate to a character I know is fictional than one I think is based on a real person. I'm not sure why this is the case. Maybe it has something to do with the emotional distance involved. I can slide into a character's shoes, but I would feel like an interloper stepping into the emotional shoes of a real person.

It's like reality TV. Though oddly voyeuristic and emotionally exploitative, there is drama there. Entertainment even. But it's never going to have the same cultural value as Shakespeare. Art requires creative license. The most powerful emotional truth is found behind the curtain of fiction. (And if you want to argue that romances aren't Shakespeare, just remember romance is what made Shakespeare famous.)

What do you think? Would you shell out $13.95 for a real-life romance? Or are you saving your hard earned cash for a fantasy escape?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mmmm... Sugary Reviewy Goodness

It's been a good week to be a Karmic Consultant, ladies and gents. The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant was picked as a reviewer's choice for 2009 on the Literary Nymphs Hot List! Can you believe it? The little story that could. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.

And as if that wasn't a big enough slice of awesome, it also scored a shiny, pretty four angel review from Fallen Angels Reviews. Here's a bit of what they had to say: "One horny medium, a bunch of ghosts who think they have the most, a sexy PI with an agenda, and a lot of sexual tension! Lucy and Jake's dance around their attraction is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. "

And then... to top it all off, the icing on this already delicious review-cake, ParaNormal Romance Reviews had this to say about the second Karmic caper: "The Ghost Exterminator... entertains until the very end. It is funny, sexy and all over a good read for a long afternoon on the couch. I know you'll enjoy the play of words and bodies as much as I did!"

All of this is just getting me that much more excited for the April release of the next Karmic Consultant adventure, The Sexorcist. Demons! Wedding cakes! Mischief! Insanely-hot exorcists! And a heroine who gives new meaning to "having a change of heart". I'm psyched. You psyched?

Happy Saturday, reader-friend.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Dreams

I am addicted to the Olympics. I love the competitive spirit of the athletes. I love the drama of the favorites living up to the hype or a complete unknown coming out of nowhere to achieve the ultimate Olympic dream. Heck, I even love the P&G commercial where all the kids are competing and they say "To their moms, they'll always be kids." It gets me every time (and they show it about a gazillion times a night).

I'm not uber-athletic. Sure, I like to be active, but sports have never been my area of excellence. I used to be a competitive swimmer, but I was never champion-caliber. I got first place in a dressage show once and I used to race my brother down the mountain when we were downhill skiing (he won every single time). But an Olympian? That dream was never really on my radar.

But I understand drive. I understand the pursuit of a dream. I get it. I know about doing something in spite of the odds, doing it because you need to push yourself to be more. Chasing down the impossible dream. (Speaking of impossible dreams... weren't those Chinese skaters last night amazing?)

A few nights ago, six time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno said, "Before every day you go to sleep, ask yourself one question: did you do every single thing you could today to make sure that you did your best. It's hard to answer yes, every single day." It is hard to answer yes, whatever your ambition, but I bet when Ohno matched the record for the most decorated speed skater in Olympic history, it was worth every day he was able to say it.

Last summer one of the RWA Golden Heart Contests finalists told me she explained the importance of finaling to her family by likening it to the Olympics - before the pros were allowed in. Amateur excellence. An indicator of who might be going pro soon. An honor, an excitement, and an experience. I like that analogy, because I think aspiring writers are not unlike athletes training for the Games. They both take an alchemy of natural talent, learned skill, and a boat load of dedication and drive.

Maybe it's the Olympics, but I've been thinking a lot about drive and ambition lately. It doesn't matter what your goal is - a gold medal, an Oscar, a slot on a best seller list, a spot on the board of directors or a big status-y house in a fancy neighborhood. Whatever you want, you gotta go for it. It's never too late to start training.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Re-Mix or Plagiarism?

So there's this teenage chick in Germany who "wrote" a book and was hailed as a genius-brilliant-awesome author. She was short-listed for a frou-frou writing award and fast-tracked to fame and fortune. There's only one problem. Apparently, she plagiarized big old chunks of text (including entire pages) from someone else's book. (Here's the New York Times article with the details:

The thing that makes this an unusual case of plagiarism is that after she was caught, she totally owned the fact that she hadn't written every word of the book as original prose, but claimed that artistic mixing was an artform in and of itself among the youth culture in Berlin. Like re-mix DJs and visual artists who do derivative art. (Which begs the question why she didn't site her sources in the first place if the art was in the mixing and not the writing, but I'm not gonna get into that.)

On the surface, remixing a book isn't that different from Pride and Prejudice & Zombies. Except Jane Austen's work is in the public domain and Jane Austen was very obviously credited as a collaborator. I'm inclined to think this German madchen is in the wrong since she only came up with the "re-mix" excuse after she got caught, but I'm not as certain how I feel about the concept of literary remixing as a whole.

Plot themes get repeated, heroic archetypes have been reused since the Greeks, but when the actual words are being "borrowed" that seems ethically squishy to me - at least if you're calling yourself a writer. Call yourself a word-DJ and I'm fine with that, but I don't think DJs should be allowed to win Grammys in the same category as singer/songwriters, so neither should word-DJs be considered writers. And they should be required to cite the sources they're remixing.

But even then, the concept makes me a little nervous. Is this going to preserve our literary culture for future generations or dilute it until we don't even remember what the classics were before they were mixed?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Writing Misunderstandings & FOTC

It is the week of Blogging Elsewhere! Today I'm at the Ruby Slipper Blog chattering about how to milk a misunderstanding conflict for all its worth. (And I snuck in a bonus Flight of the Conchords video!) Check it out, y'all!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Passion or Masochism?

I'm over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog today, talking about the passion for writing (or really any pursuit) and what takes you beyond the point where giving up is an option.

Oh, and there's a little glimpse into my ill-fated career in the film industry, in case you're interested.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Do not be fooled by the cotton-candy exterior, ladies and gentlemen! What lies between these pepto-pink covers is a book that is most certainly not sugary, insubstantial fluff. Don't be drawn in by the completely non-supernatural blurb on the back or the fact that the spine marks this book as a pure historical romance. If you like Amanda Quick's Arcane Society books, then you will love Anne Mallory's For the Earl's Pleasure - though even the title sounds sadly non-paranormal.

This book is a Regency romance, yes, but our heroine sees dead people! (And, as it turns out, not-so-dead people.) There is mortal peril (not cotton candy!), ghosts (not pink!), and the threat of being permanently institutionalized in an asylum should anyone notice our heroine talking to thin air (blushing rose? I think not!). I shake my head at the Avon marketing folks, darlings. I just don't understand what they were thinking when they studiously avoided any mention of the metaphysical on the exterior of this book. This is a brilliantly executed Regency-paranormal hybrid! Why are they hiding that?

I'm puzzled. Distinctly puzzled. But For the Earl's Pleasure rocked my socks. Lovely, readable style. Cleverly-handled paranormal elements. Nuanced characters. Delicious twists. And a sigh-worthy ending.

Perhaps it is all a marketing ploy? I don't know that I would be so rabid to recommend this book to all and sundry if I didn't feel its trappings grossly misrepresented the content. Hmmm.... did they bumble the cover or have they outwitted us all?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Beowulf: The Drinking Game!

Have you seen the movie Beowulf? Did you love it? If so, you have my apologies. I'm sending it up at the Raven Blog today. Stop by and defend this master epic! Or just have a laugh with me. Grab your sword and let's drink!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Author Interview: Beth Kery

Ladies and gentlemen, today I'm delighted to welcome to the blog Beth Kery, a delightful and talented author of sizzling erotic romances. Today Beth will give us an inside look at her new book Release, which came out yesterday from Berkley Heat. And now, without further ado, Beth Kery & Release! (**Applause!**)

Now Available from Berkley Heat

His need for her was so absolute, he agreed to share her with another man in order to possess her.

Genny loved her husband Max, but something was missing—a sexual charge that was instead ignited by his business partner, Sean. He was ruggedly handsome, with a heart-stopping smile and a slow, sexy New Orleans drawl that made Genny weak. The more time they spent together, the stronger the attraction between them became and when her husband offered to share her with Sean for one intoxicating night, both Genny and Sean were too tempted to refuse.

That night in the company penthouse, Max and Sean showed Genny the heights of ecstasy. But it was Sean who scored her very spirit, and one-on-one, they were red hot. But as Genny learns, there’s a price to pay for such impulsive pleasure. What began as a night of forbidden desire spirals into a whirlpool of murder, sensual submission, secrets, and a scorching passion that threatens to consume everyone it touches.

“Beth Kery handles intimate power play in a true and sensual way. Powerful emotion and scorching hot sex makes for an irresistible combination! I was drawn in from the very first page-a compelling read!"
Author of “A 21st Century Courtesan” ~Eden Bradley~

“Scorchingly erotic, packed with raw tension, and starring a hotter-than-sin hero, Release is an intoxicating read. Beth Kery has become an auto-buy!”
~Larissa Ione~

“Beth Kery is a powerful and engaging voice in erotic suspense. Her natural talent shines through in this sophisticated, erotically-creative novel and will keep readers feverishly turning pages.”
Award-Winning Author ~Lacey Alexander~

Read an Excerpt :: Buy It Now

Welcome, Beth, and thank you for joining us today! Release seems an intense and powerful look at where some of the darker passions can take us. What initially drew you to write this book?

The kernel of this book had been with me for a while. I liked the idea of a man and a woman falling madly in love, but not acting on their desires until one night when the woman’s husband offers to share her with the hero for one night. The hero and heroine agree, because they’re almost going crazy with the desire to touch each other. But it ends up being a huge regret, because the husband is sort of this Machiavellian character, a career spy who is constantly maneuvering and manipulating people in his life. When he’s murdered, the hero and heroine are both terrified that the other one did it, and they are forced apart. Even though Release is a suspense, it’s the poignancy of the love story that stands out for me; two people who are reunited after years of loss and hurt, and how they fight their fears in order to be together.

The layers of this story are fascinating. You're a very prolific writer. How do you keep up your momentum and maintain enthusiasm for each new story? Exactly how many releases have you had in the last three years?

I was first published at Ellora’s Cave in January of 2007, so yeah…it has been three years. Weird. It’s been a whirlwind, that’s for sure. Let’s see, I’d say I have about fifteen ebooks, and out of those, Subtle Magic and Groom’s Gift are in print format (Groom’s Gift in the Naughty Nuptials anthology). I have five Berkley books out to date. As far as momentum and enthusiasm, it can be a challenge at times. For the most part, it’s the story itself that motivates me. Once I get a good ‘feel’ for the characters, I’m energized to tell their story. Getting started is the hardest thing, for me.

Speaking of getting started... What initially turned you onto writing romance? What do you find most challenging about writing erotic romance?

It’s funny, I read all genres of books, but for some reason, I just thought I could write romance. I don’t know for sure why. It’s like…I got it. As far as the biggest challenge in writing erotic romance? I don’t think people realize how hard it is. You’ve been contracted to write a very sexy book. How do you maintain a tension level when people are interacting sexually? How do you make sure it is super sexy while also writing a complex plot and rich characters? I look at sex in my books as a powerful form of communication. It’s not just there for no reason; it’s building conflict, character and driving the plot. It’s a lot harder than it looks, don’t you agree?

It definitely takes a deft touch - one you seem to have mastered. If you could go back in time and give your beginner-writer-self some advice, what would you say? What is the most significant lesson you've taken away from your writing thus far?

I’d probably say ‘be patient.’ It takes time and hard work to build your readership and become a recognized author. Results will come if you set realistic goals and work steadily. I was (and still am) good with taking risks in my writing career, but I’m not so good about patience and waiting. However, it’s a crucial—and inevitable—part of this job.

Excellent advice, Beth. The waiting drives me nuts, but I'm trying to build my patience. We'll see how that works out. Thank you so much for joining us today and congratulations on the release of Release.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Release Video

Tomorrow on the blog, fabulous author Beth Kery has agreed to submit to an interview and tell us about her new book, Release which hits stores TODAY. As a little sneak peek of the awesomeness to come tomorrow, check the fabulosity of her sexy trailer!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Oooh, Check Out the Sammie-ness

What's a Sammie, you ask? It's Samhain's annual best o' the best awards and guess who gets to decide who takes home the Sammie? That's right, darlings, Reader's Choice. So visit the poll and cast your ballot!

Here's the official notice:

Sammie's knockin'! Will you answer?

Smokin' hot heroes, and the heroines who tame them. Melt-the-pages ménage. Ground-breaking gay romances. And cover art suitable for framing! Bringing them to you was easy. Now comes the hard part—choosing your favorites! Vorte for your top three picks in eight categories spanning Samhain's 2009 ebook and print releases.

The link to the poll is at the top of Samhain Publishing home page. The addy for that page is: Then click on the "Click here to vote..."

Need some help deciding? Did you love Serengeti Heat? Laugh through The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant? Was Jo from The Ghost Exterminator: A Love Story one of your top three heroines? I would never want to influence your vote (nooooo...). Just food for thought. ;)