Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Governess Strikes Back... or, my review of Midnights Wild Passion by Anna Campbell.

 Antonia has been hiding out in the guise of a dour governess since being done wrong by a Rake some years back. Now, for those that don’t normally read Historical Romance (Shame on you, there’s some awesome Australian Historical Romance writers! Hide your face!) a ‘Rake’, in this context, has nothing to do with the backyard and everything to do with dashing and deadly. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. And hot. Really, really hot. It’s like, part of the rules of ‘Rakedom’ to be a sexy, smouldering beast of a man. At least if you’re our hero. And our hero is...

The Marquess of Ranelaw, and he’s out for revenge against the sod who ruined his sister.  All being fair in love and war, he sets out to ruin the sods daughter in turn. One impediment - Antonia - the glowering governess of the young lady whose downfall he seeks. And so we begin.

What is Antonia hiding? Why is she hiding it? And how can Ranelaw get all up in it? These are the questions of the day. The pages are afire with Antonia and Ranelaw’s smokin’ hot sexual attraction. Madame Campbell being my reigning Queen of Deep Point of View means the emotional and physical are beautifully balanced and the descriptions evocative. Add a dash of adventure and I’m a happy camper.

I haven’t ruled out trying to convince Madame Campbell to have the undead make a brief appearance in one of her tomes, but so far she is proving resistant. More wine will need to be applied to reach a favourable solution. Wish me luck.

For info on Anna and her books...

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Six Sentence Sunday... bad dreams.

Hello and Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday. Another from the Sci-Fi Rom currently getting its butt kicked by way of a structural edit. I like giving people PTSD. Not in real life, in the stories. Any in real life is purely co-incidental and I'm sorry but I did tell you not to look.

So, back to the Six. Don't you love a tortured male? I do. And the woman is his newly assigned wife, fresh off the shuttle. They didn't make a very good first impression on each other...

   Cotton sheets clung to him, his body slick with sweat, way too warm. It all felt like a fever dream, only the sickness was in his head, stuck in his memories.

   The room was as dark and cold and silent as space. Took him a moment to place the presence of another body on the far side of the bed. Thankfully, the woman was still asleep, curled up on her side, facing away. Any further over and she might fall off the mattress.

Friday, 27 April 2012

That’s not Romance... or, Love in the Time of a Zombie Apocalypse.

My non-writing BFF (my writing BFF is Babette and you can find her groovy guest post here... read my MS ‘Final Girl’ recently. Much to my surprise she got right into it. Mish (we’ll call her that because it’s her name) reads mostly historical and contemporary romance. She doesn’t do weird or bloody and has never understood zombies. So, she reads the book and makes a few comments. Let me give you a dramatic re-enactment of the tipsy moment to which I’ll be referring.

Mish: I liked it. But it’s not a romance.
Me: Huh? What do you mean it’s not a romance?
Mish: Well, you call it an Erotic Romance, but it’s not really, is it?
Me: What shit do you speak, woman? They meet, they have adventures and stuff. Sex. Zombie chaos and carnage. More hot sex. Then they fall in love. How is that not a romance?
Mish: (Rolls eyes and flicks hair. She has really cool, flicky hair because she’s a hairdresser.) It’s not a romance. Romance is (lots of waving of hands here) candles and baths and tender moments, isn’t it? It’s not running away from zombies all the time. That’s not romance.
Me: They’re not running all the time and they have candles. There’s no electricity, of course they have candles. And there are several bathing scenes (add finger wagglingg here).
Mish: What... you mean when there was a rotting body in a tub?
Me: No, apart from that. And the rotting body was there for a very good reason.
Mish: Right... whatever... Anyway, it’s not exactly romanticky, is it?
Me: Umm, that’s not even a word.

Okay. Now, romance is a subjective thing. And it’s the wooing we’re talking about here, I checked back with her when we were both sober. Mish believes in the Happy Ever After at the end of Final Girl, but still believes the tale is not ‘romanticky’. So what is romance? Is it roses and candle lit dinners? Or is it my partner agreeing to do the washing up with his shirt off despite thinking I’m a loon (and having the children laugh at him)? Maybe it’s a bit of both. Little things count. In survival situations, a hero giving the greater portion of the last can of Irish Stew to the heroine could be considered romance. How about providing your love with a shoulder to lean on when they’ve f**ked up spectacularly? Believing your honey looks rocking when they’re wrecked? Yep. Romance. There are a million, billion different versions of love and affection. A trillion ways to treasure someone, on the run from the undead or not.

In summation, different strokes for different folks. I’m chuffed she read the book in record time and wants to know what happened next. I done hooked her, I did. And the rotting body in the tub IS there for a really good reason.

Disclaimer: No Mish’s were hurt during the making of this blog.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Middle Earth Masculinity... or, a peek at The Hobbit

When news was released that Peter Jackson was FINALLY making The Hobbit happy dances abounded. LOTR was so big and brave and beautiful, how could you not squee with delight? But I didn’t expect to be squeeing with girlish glee over the Dwarves. You see, Tolkien Dwarves are not known for being sexpots, exactly. Handy with an axe and hairy? Yes. Hot as Mount Doom? No.

So let us examine the evidence. First, I give you Richard Amitage as Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the band of Dwarves setting out to deal with Smaug the dastardly dragon. You might recognise Mr Armitage from the awesomely good Spooks or the rather entertaining Robin Hood reboot from a few years back.

Mmm, Richard.

Secondly, we have Aidan Turner as Kili. Aidan made big waves as the vampire component in the original, UK version of Being Human.  He’s superb. A great actor and very easy on the eye. But remember, respect him for his mind.

Can I just say at this point that if you in fact have not read The Hobbit then I’m more than a little embarrassed for you. I recommend immediately investing in a hat and glasses, fake beard maybe... if you feel the need to board a Greyhound bus and go on the run, I understand. But it’s not too late! Go grab a copy and sit your ass down. Read it. There’s a reason why it’s one of the all time classics. So you’re not a fan of great big juicy fantasy books and struggled with Lord of the Rings? You’re feeling intimidated. Small. Unimportant, maybe? Relax, my friend. The Hobbit was originally aimed at a younger audience. It’s a different type of tale entirely. Set forth on steady feet and enjoy yourself one rollicking great adventure, knowing the most wondrous film version will be delivered come Christmas by Mr Peter Jackson himself.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Show me the Rake... or, my review of Heiress in Love by Christina Brooke

No, there is nothing even mildly apocalyptic about this book. Sorry. But never mind that... If you enjoy reading the odd Historical Romance with a healthy heat level then this book is for you.

Lady Jane Roxdale’s very crummy husband has just departed the world of the living leaving her a wealthy woman. Unfortunately, Constantine Black, dead hubby’s cousin and a dreadfully sexy rake to boot, has inherited the land and title along with a nasty debt about to come due. Marrying the prim widow Jane is the obvious answer, but nothing is ever easy in romance land. If it were, we wouldn’t have much of a story on our hands now then, would we?

Heiress in Love has a cast of thoroughly likeable characters. I love a series, there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing many of those engaging secondary characters hovering on the fringes are going to find their HEA sometime soon. I like that Jane and Constantine have layers, issues granting them real reasons to fight their growing attraction. The boudoir scenes are sensual and jam packed full of meaning for the two. There’s a generous dose of wit and a dash of adventure when Jane finally steps up to save the day. I love a Self-Rescuing Princess (not that she’s royalty but you get what I mean).

Book two in the series, Mad about the Earl, was released back in January so you may dive in knowing full and well you already have access to the continuing story. This, my friends, is ace.

You can find further details about Christina and her books here...

Heiress in Love has been my second review as part of Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge.  The Challenge being to read and review Australian Women Writers during the year of 2012. Get behind it now, you'll not only feel shiny happy but your mind will be enriched no end.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Six Sentence Sunday... the grovel.

Welcome back to another 6 Sentence Sunday. Today, we have a man groveling in a wee snippet from my Sci-Fi Erotic Romance nearing completion. If you mind the odd bit of crass language best be elsewhere, please. If you don't mind the occasional dash of sailor like talk, kindly read on.

Either way, an awesome Sunday to you!

(Oh, and she's not actually an intergalactic princess, it's just a term of endearment.)

“Princess, I fucking hate the thought of you walking away from me again. Honest to God, deep down, hate it, so... please.”
The rise and fall of her chest against his palm was furious. “You have abandonment issues now?”
“So it would seem. I’m sorry for that too, if it helps.”

Friday, 20 April 2012

Bizarre Love Triangle... or, a look at Ménage Relationships.

Hello, my name is Kylie and I’ve been an Erotic Romance junkie for many years now. In particular, I like reading about ménage relationships. M/F/M or M/M/F are my fix of choice. A bit of BDSM on the side now and then, all good. Actually, any complicated relationship story that sucks me in featuring characters I can empathise with and a decent heat level...

I would theorise that a complicated relationship lies at the heart of any romance novel. A bit of a ‘Duh!’ statement perhaps. No complication = no story worth telling, or not one that will hold the readers interest past page three. But back to today’s subject to hand, the Bizarre Love Triangle.

Polyamory is an interesting one. Poly, meaning ‘many’ and Amor meaning ‘love’. It is the term used to describe concurrent, intimate relationships with the consent of all involved. Sometimes there is one core relationship and others are of a more casual nature. Polyamory is not cheating; it’s a different state of affairs entirely. Polyandry (andras meaning ‘man’) is where one woman has many husbands. There have been multiple cases of it throughout history, go check out Wiki if you want more information. How about Ménage á trios? That’s a French term meaning household of three.  Most often this situation arose as either a husband or wife took on a lover and brought that person into the family home.

Alright, so we’ve got some terminology to throw around, but how about the practicalities of such a unique situation? How would such a relationship work? I have enough trouble keeping up with my Partner and children without adding someone else and their needs, emotional or otherwise, to the mix. But love is an awesome, mighty thing. One article I read likened the situation to that of having a second child. You might think you couldn’t possibly love your new baby as much as you love your rambunctious toddler, but that’s not so. There is room inside for a whole lot of love. Now, I’m not certain the example is accurate, I have no actual experience here (Richard Armitage still won’t return my calls. Why, oh why must he deny me!?) just a wild imagination willing to play.

Apparently, it all comes down to a couple of simple ideas from which, no doubt, spring a well of complications. But first things first.

The big issue... Jealousy. We’ve all been hot wired from birth to believe in our one and only. That monogamy is the go. Our possessive natures might well be all over such a situation without some serious work involved. Maya Banks avoided this by having the three brothers in ‘Colters Woman’ coming from a family where one wife and multiple husbands was the norm. ‘Rough, Raw and Ready’ by Lorelei James tackles the seemingly overwhelming jealousies head-on when a married man’s former male lover makes an unexpected appearance. But either way, the key to the success of these relationships (and any relationship really) is...

Communication. This seems to be the beating heart of the matter. Starting with the first serious sit down the hero or heroine has with themselves. The whole ‘if I’m willing to open my mind to all possibilities, what the hell do I actually, really, honestly want here?’ question. It goes on from there. And on. And on. Which is what makes these relationships in particular so fascinating apart from the varied aerobics achievable when three hit the mattress.

Now, jealousy might actually be a survival trait. Think about it. The competition displayed between children for their parents time and attention. For resources. Can we really overcome that? Many might believe they could love more than one person but ask them how hot they are for the idea of their partner taking on another heart. Yeah. Maybe not. And I tend to think unless everyone in the mix has at least a healthy dose of respect for everyone else involved, it ain’t gonna fly. Complicated, like I said. Hard times and tricky situations.

Okay, enough from me. Got any thoughts on the subject? I’d love to hear from you... And here's a picture of Richard Armitage, just because...

Monday, 16 April 2012

People called Kylie write awesome books... or, my review of Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin

Annika is the half-blood daughter of the Leader of the Na’Reish. She is a rare breed being part demon and part human, but she is welcome among neither. 

Kalan is a Light Blade warrior, one of the defenders of the remains of the human race. 

Kalan needs Annika to bust him out of her father’s dungeons where he is being tortured to death. Annika needs Kalan to escape for her misery of a life with the Na’Reish and to help her seek sanctuary amongst the humans. 

And so begins our adventure, rife with distrust and dislike. Our duo must work together to survive a perilous journey to safety but of course, nothing is ever easy. Politics, freaky carnivores called Vorc’s and centuries of racism make for a roller-coaster ride through a vivid fantasy world that will not disappoint. Nor will the growing attraction between our unlikely couple. 

I dig that Annika has powers to heal or harm and I would have liked to have seen a little more of them in action. She’s a layered heroine with strength and compassion, despite her truly cruddy up-bringing. Kalan is a sexy, solid hero and we soon forgive him his foibles in behaving in an iffy fashion towards Annika because his actions are always credible. There are damn good reasons why these people don’t trust each other. Lots of secrets and lies to be revealed, providing a rich tapestry for the turmoil to unfold upon. 

Kylie Griffin is a pro at plotting and world-building. She has an unhealthy obsession with LOL Cats but you’ll forgive her that once you’ve read the book. It’s great.

And you buy it here...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Six Sentence Sunday...

A scene from Final Girl demonstrating that a woman taking charge is a beautiful thing...

“I only took off my shirt, Daniel. The bra isn’t even all that revealing.” His girl replied, cool as can be, plush mouth set all prim and proper. “If all it takes for you to lose your cool is the hint of hard nipples then I’m concerned on your behalf.”
“Shit. Say hard nipples again.”

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Six Sentence Sunday...

An excerpt from Final Girl. The wooing and cornering continues... 

“You weigh a ton.”
Daniel lifted his head off his little ray of sunshine’s chest, ridiculously gratified by the calm, even thumping of her heart, the steady, measured lift and fall of her ribs. She was alright, never mind the griping. She was okay and on some subconscious, un-chartable level that equated to trust.
Had to.
Or maybe she was just exhausted.

Friday, 6 April 2012

True Love Vs the End of the World as we know it...

I’ve been working on a Short Story this week. Not something I usually do. I prefer sinking my teeth in and settling in for the 80,000 or so. (Yes, I know that’s not super long. I lost to War and Peace but did manage to defeat Lord of the Rings.) So I ummed and ahhed over my choice of topic. Then thought, f**k it.

Some believe that writing about the times directly following an apocalyptic type event is too depressing. Too ‘yucky’, if you will. Too grim. I disagree. People are at their best when put to the test. That is when true grit shows (great movie and I love you, Mr Bridges). The size of their heart and the strength of their character, the will to live and the instinct for survival... All the complex and enthralling bits and pieces that makes us humans such fascinating critters is raw and on display during hard times. Both the good and the bad.

And then there’s hope. Beautiful, uplifting, warm and golden, gushy with heavenly harps from on-high, HOPE. In romance land, love must inevitably conquer all. No apologies given. But how much more interesting is that battle when the world is shot to sh*t? How much more exquisite is the struggle for true love when the odds seem insurmountable? When civilisation and life as we know it has hit rock bottom and we’re dragging our sorry carcass’s back up?

Say you’re out and about and you meet a nice person. A lovely person, well dressed, pleasant, says the right things. As unique and free-thinking as we all are, we’re also partially a product of the system, the world we grew up in, whatever you wish to label it. So who is this perfectly pleasant person whom we just met when the system fails? When the rules no longer exist and it’s everyone for themselves? Are they a good person, a just person? Where does their moral compass lie? How far will they go to survive and to get what they want?

Okay, enough question marks. So I chose to return to writing about the zombie apocalypse cause I dig that subject. I dig wondering just how we would survive, what would we eat, blah, blah, blah. See, I managed to avoid the question marks there. Clever, huh? Hope and love are every bit as important, if not more in dire times. 

Hope, love and a semi-automatic to fight off the zombie horde.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Writing the Erotic by my guest Babette!

I am lucky enough to be one of the members of the Moody Muses, a critique group that Kylie Scott belonged to. Needless to say we have read Final Girl ......while you will all have to wait.

Kylie and I first met while doing a workshop at Queensland Writers Centre given by Louise Cusack on how to write sex scenes. Well I can assure you the social barriers break down very quickly in a workshop like that. Talking about sex, how to write it, how not to write it, defining what ‘it’ actually is and then reading each other’s work. It opened the door to a frank and humorous friendship.

As we took our new found knowledge into the world two things became quickly apparent when writing sex scenes.

Firstly, there is a big misunderstanding about writing sex. You are not writing your personal experiences, you are writing those expressed by your characters for a particular purpose in the plot and the relationship. I had to laugh when I recently read a crime writer ( sorry can’t remember your name if you ever read this!) who said that he could kill a dozen people in his book and no one imagined he’d actually done those crimes himself but write a sex scene and people felt that he was writing from experience.

The second is that sex in a romance is erotic. We know that Eros is the Greek version of Cupid, so it is about Love or some form of its expression, the journey to seek it or the different ways we can express it. Wiki erotica, from its definitions by Plato to those given in the French Enlightenment, I think there is one key element which they have in common. That is the idea that erotica in addition to its stimulation of the physical is something that strives towards beauty, towards a passion for life and a quest to be.  

Blending intense and sensual encounters with deeper and deeper layers of emotional revelation / vulnerability / connection is extremely challenging to do well. When you marry the intensely physical with the intensely emotional, you have a great erotic writer.

Babette is currently working on a series of books set in Victorian times, tentatively titled the Tattooed Sisters. She chooses great wines and thinks deep thoughts so that I don't have to.