“Heartbreaker” by Julie Garwood

Heartbreaker (Buchanan, #1)Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heartbreaker is one of Julie Garwood’s 1st contemporary romances that I’ve read, and it looks like she’s made a successful transition between sub-genres. The heroine is still charming and sweet, the hero is still gruff and something of a loner, and both characters are engaging and well-crafted—I wanted them to reach their happily ever after, I cared about what happened to them, and I was relieved when their story came to a happy conclusion. Despite that…I felt there was something missing.

The villain of the piece was rather lackluster, and so was the chemistry between the two leads. I never really felt a sense of urgency when reading this book, it never reached a point where I couldn’t put it down…it was missing that indescribable X-factor that elevates a good read into one that’s unforgettable. I’d definitely recommend it; I just wish that certain story elements had been pushed a little further.

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“Canyons of Night” by Jayne Castle

Canyons of Night (Looking Glass Trilogy,#3, The Arcane Society,#12)Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Canyons of Night is the 3rd book in a trilogy, yet it reads like a prologue for an upcoming book or series. The world of Harmony has been expanded with new locations, a new island, and a new mystery…unfortunately, the biggest mystery was not addressed in the book.

I definitely enjoyed the mix of paranormal, suspense, and romance that Castle does so well. I’ve been following her Harmony series (and to some extent her St. Helens books), for years. This latest title is a worthy addition to the line up. Engaging, well-written characters, and a story that propells you smoothly with hardly a hitch to the dramatic conclusion and happily ever after, with a loveable, mischevious four-eyed companion who’s a bit on the wild side thrown in. It was almost everything I could have wanted from a new tale in Harmony…except that when I reached the final page, it was with a sense of disbelief and frustration, not satisfaction.

There is a sense of crawling dread, of ominous, creeping doom snaking it’s way through the novel–and the source is the “Preserve”, a strange, feral, surreal forest that has been fenced off from inhabitants, and is undergoing some sinister changes. Enough page length and detail goes into describing the area that the setting becomes another character, a power player with enough impact that it took the spotlight off the main mystery for the trilogy–and switches it to wondering just what is happening out there in the darkness of the forest primeval? It’s a question that’s never answered, and probably won’t be until the next book or trilogy comes out.

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In Defense of Romance…

Romance as a genre is doing rather well these days, but there will always be naysayers who question it’s validity in Literature. Usually, I’ll just brush off those snide remarks as differences in taste, but every once in while, someone really obnoxious comes along, and off come the kid gloves.

The following posts were pulled from their original thread on Goodreads, and presented for you here. The backstory for these particular posts began during a forum dicussion: Romance Novels Sex or No Sex, where readers and authors commented on what their expectations and preferences were when reading Romance. It was a fun and lively discussion until someone arrived (I believe the correct term is ‘troll‘), looking to denounce the entire genre; with sex scenes (and the authors who write them) singled out for an extra dose of disdain. All this, without ever actually reading the material he’s decided to decry. In the interests of saving space, only his last reply and my response are listed here–for the entire thread in context, please click the links above.

message 96: by Larry (new)–the troll’s last(?) post
Larry Moniz (LarryMoniz) | 154 comments L.A. wrote: “Larry, I find it hard to see how you can judge romance novels when you claim to never read them. What a backward way of thinkinng.”That’s a distorted and specious argument. I don’t read what passes as romance TODAY. It’s about as romantic as a romp in the sack with a hooker. I’ve never killed anyone, yet I’m opposed to genocide. I made my current conclusions based on what several of you said in this column. Let me share with you the opinion of some friends of mine who are also professional authors. The male said in another Goodreads forum: “I caught some of the “erotica” published by Amazon via KDP. None of it was actually erotic, because it was too poorly written, and most of it would only a few years ago have qualified as pornography, plain and simple.”The female author said: “The line between erotica and romance has been erased. Unfortunately, a reader is told ‘skip the scenes or read Christian Lit.’

The heroines are ‘quivering bunnies’ who are fixated on the ‘sniffing dog’ hero – to the point where there is no plot, just two people obsessed with getting laid. Then for some unknown reason inspite of the fact they hated each on site – they are now in deeply love.”

I commented in the same forum: “I find it personally offensive that a wannabee passes of smut as writing ability. It’s the EBook equivalent of ‘Deep Throat’.”

That pretty much expresses my viewpoint after 45 years as a journalist, author and book publicist. My final observation: I’d be mortified to have my grandchildren see my name on anything as explicit as you’ve described here. It’s an embarrassment to all authors who strive to maintain quality standards.

I know I won’t change any minds and that’s why I’m now out of here.

message 97: by Eryn (new)–My response

Eryn Lockhart (ErynLockhart) | 9 comments Good Riddance.

I will never understand why some individuals will pick a few (poorly executed) examples from an entire genre, and then use their distorted sampling as a justification for lambasting every other work that falls within the category. No matter what you read in literature, there will always be stories that fall short of the mark, but that’s true of every genre, not just romance.

To take a romance novel, and dissect it so that the only things you care to examine are the sex/love scenes, is an extremely myopic and tunnel-visioned approach. Romances are about developing a relationship between characters, and exploring their physical relationship is simply ONE aspect of it. It’s tragic that some people can read a book, and that’s all they’ll take away; in cases like that, I think it says far more about the reader’s deficiencies than the book, the writing style, or the author’s abilities.

Also, I don’t understand what’s so wrong, shameful, or mortifying about exploring human intimacy, or the ways in which people in love can physically demonstrate that. Even wedding vows pulled from the Bible contain the lines “With my body, I thee worship.”, and the Song of Solomon is a real-eye opener for anyone who thinks that sexual repression is a Biblical concept. It is ludicrous to claim that sex scenes are somehow an embarrassment to all authors who strive to maintain quality standards, or to tacitly imply that all Authors who DO write them are somehow sub-par.

Romance is about exploring the dynamics of human relationships, the developing fascination and attraction between characters, the heady experience of falling in love–and yes, it’s also often about expressing that love physically with the person you’re in love with. It’s NOT just about sex, and while not every romance will be to your taste, it’s impossible for any genre to be filled with books that are entirely 100% in line with your personal preference.

On the other hand, Erotica is all about exploring human sexuality. Characters, story, plot–all of that is secondary. I can understand how some more conservative or reserved readers would be uncomfortable with the genre, because it’s purpose IS to incite arousal, and to some degree, it IS literary porn…but even Erotica has it’s place in literature. Therefore, if vivid, blunt, and explicit descriptions or depictions of human sexual behaviors are not what you want to read, it would be best to give the genre a wide berth.

Regardless, nothing diminishes the fact that both Romance and Erotica provide an important function: Entertaining readers. Nothing erases the fact that readers have the ultimate control over what they do and do not read. If you are not entertained, if you are not enjoying yourself, if a book is getting too explicit for your taste, you can skip ahead a few pages, or stop reading. If a genre doesn’t interest you, you can avoid it. Readers can personally censor books at anytime before reading or during, as they choose.

After 45 years literary fields, I’d be ashamed of myself if I’d reached the point where I no longer acknowledged the possibility that a different point of view is valid, that different literary tastes have merit, or that it might be best to actually have an informed opinion on the genre I criticized.

I can respect people’s preference (and avoidance) of different types of literature, but I pity the ones who’s own narrow view of the world precludes them from ever enjoying something new…and I roll my eyes over the ones whose ignorance isn’t a deterrent to sermonizing.

As it turns out, Larry wasn’t done with trolling the thread. He continued spewing his message of condescending bile for several more posts. Freedom of Speech can be a beautiful thing, though I’ve seldom seen it used quite so spectacularly for someone to exercise their right to indulge in a shrieking hissy fit.

Going the Distance

Well, it’s official. I’m not going to be able to see my fiance again until mid December. A phone call was enough to douse any hopes I had of being able to see him over the Thanksgiving Holiday or sooner…so the wasteland of waiting will continue.

I knew it was going to be hard when he moved over 400miles away to complete his studies and intern in a new position, but nothing prepares you for the reality. It’s like he took half my heart with him. I think about him constantly, want to see him, hold him, spend time together…and none of it is possible. We’ve been doing a fairly good job of not flooding each other’s inboxes or voicemail (we generally write or talk 3 times per week); but every day, sometimes incessesantly, I’ll think of him, of something he’d like, something I wish he could see…and those few moments when I was able to temporarily forget how much I miss him fade away as though they were never there.

I just became an author; had my first sales, first reviews, first interviews, first major headaches with formatting for different eBook distribution channels—essentially the end goal of years of effort…and he wasn’t here to share it.  He’s in a highly competitive internship paired with an over-sized course load for another degree in grad school, and despite outside stresses, he’s finally within reach of his fitness goal & weight…and I’m not there to congratulate him. They’re landmark achievements for both of us; but the people we most want to share them with can’t be by our side.

It gives victory a rather hollow ring.

However, we’re still going strong, tackling whatever comes our way until we can be back in each other’s arms. In the meantime, I found the perfect song for us (and possibly any couple facing long distance): Jon Secada’s Want You, Miss You, Love You, which very well may become my theme music in the months ahead.

PS: As a professional end-note to my personal life,  Smashwords users have already sampled both of my books, a fellow indie author loves my writing, and typing Bittersweet will resume once I’ve had dinner.

Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble…

Smashwords has just become the latest platform where my books are available. Thanks to a double-shot of Dr. Pepper, the help of a second set of eyes, and sheer stubborness, After Midnight and The Hellfire Bride went live sometime around 3am this morning. After an exhausting night, formatting & revision has been completed for all of my stories across each of the 3 distributors: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Mac, iPhone, Ipad, Sony Reader, smart phone, and PC readers, rejoice! Now, thanks to Smashwords, with or without a Kindle, Nook (or their emulator software), you can also enjoy my stories…and as an added bonus, you’ll get an exclusive free extended preview excerpt thanks to the site’s more flexible sample model!

I hope you enjoy…now I get to update some of my other posts with the new link info, then it’s off to bed.

Author Links

Looking for more places where you can find me on the web? Please click on the links below:

My Favorite Sites:

  • Pandora: Free internet radio that lets you customize your stations
  • eBay: Need I say more?
  • Netflix: The reason I no longer pay for cable
  • Corset-Story: My favorite place when I’m looking to treat myself to something sinfully indulgent
  • Fire Mountain Gems –Oooo, Shiny!!! The one stop shop for all the supplies needed to temporarily sate my bling addiction.

Today I swear I’m not doing anything….

Today has turned out completely different than originally planned. My sister needed her laptop, my PC is still in pieces without a place to set it up, my luggage is still in its cases because no one’s sure where I can put it until a room that was converted to storage reverts back to a bedroom—& where to put all of THAT stuff is also up in the air.

So, no formatting on Smashwords, no writing on Bittersweet; instead, I got a totally unexpected & unanticipated break from being an inde author/writer with a ton of work to do: the gift of not being able to do it. So…I decided to do what any self-respecting, driven individual would do—I went with it. Cue Bruno Mars and the lazy song, today I tuned out, relaxed, and vegged out.

Instead of going over my manuscripts with a fine toothed comb, I read Julie Garwood’s Heartbreaker. Instead of formatting for different platforms, I lazed around and enjoyed Jayne Castle’s Canyons of Night…and instead of being frustrated over the turn of events, I caught “The Wedding Planner” on TV for a dash of romance & a few laughs. I was also able to check my inbox & see a brand new email from my fiance :) The long distance situation with us right now is very hard on both of us—but seeing that message temporarily made the miles fade away.

So, to recap today:

  • Professional productivity: None
  • Personal Satisfaction: High
  • Regrets: None

& My sister wants her laptop back, so it’s once more onto the couch dear friends for the next movie. All in all, it’s been a delightful, unanticipated holiday from being me :)

Smashing Boundaries

Gotta admit, I’m loving Amazon’s KDP forum. Thanks to the users there, I found out about Goodreads, Shelfari, Indie Snippets, Bookstack Reviews, GenreBuds, and Smashwords….I’ve only been an indie author for two weeks, but because of their advice, I feel like I’m well on my way to getting a leg up in the industry.

Getting my work distributed through Smashwords is the latest step. I’m slogging through their style guide right now, then reformatting my existing books to be uploaded to their system. Chances are I’ll be tackling that all day today, because Smashwords apparently supports multiple eBook formats (which may have to be worked on & uploaded separately) for various platforms. I want to make sure my stories display cleanly, regardless of where they’re bought or where they’re read…so it’s not something I want to rush. Smashwords will let me reach the Mac, Iphone, Borders, Diesel, smartphone, Sony, and Ipad crowd…I’ve already been warned that a majority of users there are on the lookout for free reads, so I won’t be expecting a lot of sales. What I do expect is exposure. At this point in my career, getting my name and stories out there is vital…no one will be able to enjoy my books if they can’t find them, and no one will know to look for them if they don’t know that they or I exist.

Something else that I believe I’ll grow to love about Smashwords is their free marketing tools. I’ve got a very talented graphic designer who supports my efforts, and with her help, I think I’ll be able to use that avenue to truly engage my audience–get them interested, reading, and then hopefully buying. If Smashwords allows authors to plug-in those features to external sites, so much the better :)

This week is all about breaking through to the wider web: social networking, enhanced distribution, and finding new avenues, sites, blogs, and ways to solidify my presence on-line—the more people I can reach, the better my chances are of getting my stories out. I’m trying to be accessible to readers;  not just my work, but me personally. I want them to have an opportunity to connect & interact–to start a conversation on FB, Goodreads, twitter, here…I’d like to have an opportunity to  chat with people who share a common love of romance, and get honest feedback.

My career as an author is just beginning, and I figure every minute I put in for expanding my presence now will be well-worth it  in the long-run; I just have to insure I’m not obnoxious about it. Despite the fact I truly believe I have a wonderful story, there is a line between tasteful self-promotion, and the kind of in-your-face overflow that will alienate potential readers.

Getting the Word Out, Writing, and FB migration

Today has been spent alternating between working on a new category length Contemporary Romance, exploring Goodreads.com, and trying to migrate my information on Facebook from a personal profile to a true Author’s page.

I’ve dived headlong into Goodreads, and am now an active, posting member in about 12 groups that apply to my current releases…I mentioned my book in their promo threads, then had a blast participating in other topics. I’ve missed chatting in a romance BB ever since the JMBB (Judith McNaught Bulletin Board) went offline, but I believe I’ve found a new virtual hang-out.

As a result of scanning the different threads, I was able to find out the name of a Historical Western I’ve been dying to re-read, but couldn’t remember the title of: Simply Love, by Catherine Anderson. With nothing but the plot to go on, my chances of finding the book again were slim…but thanks to one of the readers there, the hunt is over, and it’s sitting in my Amazon shopping cart :)

For the first day since moving, I met my writing goal, and I’ll be doing my best to keep the momentum going tomorrow. The latest work-in-progress is tentatively called Bittersweet. It jumped to the head of the pipeline by special request: my sister wants it as a belated college graduation gift. More so than any other title, this one truly has a deadline. I’m going to try to complete it within the next 1-2weeks, but it MUST be finished in time for RWA’s Golden Heart submission.

Facebook choked a couple of times when I tried to move my blog exports from my personal profile to my author page, but it finally seems to have settled down. The moment of truth will be when this post goes live…fingers crossed that it goes to my public profile rather than private.

 

Book Excerpts

After a  request by a reader on Goodreads, I’ve decided to post links & instructions on how to snag a free excerpt from both “After Midnight” and “The Hellfire Bride”.

Cover Art for Eryn Lockhart's After Midnight

Love is the most dangerous game of all.

 

  • After Midnight on Amazon will take you to the product page, click on cover art where it says ‘look inside’ and it will pull up the preview window for the 1st three and 1/2 chapters of the book.
  • After Midnight on Barnes and Noble will take you to the product page, go to the right hand side, beneath the “Buy Now” button, and click “Get Free Sample”

 

 

 

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Cover Art for Eryn Lockhart's "The Hellfire Bride"

  • The Hellfire Bride on Amazonwill take you to the product page, click on cover art where it says ‘look inside’ and it will pull up the preview window for a part of the 1st chapter, with a cliffhanging end.
  • The Hellfire Bride on Barnes and Noble will take you to the product page, go to the right hand side, beneath the “Buy Now” button, and click “Get Free Sample”

It’s a wonderful, risk-free way to see if you might enjoy the books :)