Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read.

* Open to a random page.

* Share 2 “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


"Anthony stands beside me as the king rides away, his hand raised in a salute, a false smile on his face.  'Not going with him?' he asks sarcastically."

~ page 52

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bad Boys vs Tortured Heroes

Team Damon or Team Stefan? Angel or Spike? Jack or Sawyer?  Do you love bad boys or tortured heroes?


Bad Boys are the difficult and morally complex men that women love in books, movies and TV. Emotionally distant or brutal, demanding and dishonest, uncompromising and sexually adept, these men demand a great deal from the women who love them. In fact, in romance novels, they often demand a great deal from women who don't know them at all.

What on earth makes women flock to bad boy romances? What makes women love Lestat and Captain Jack Sparrow when better men go wanting?

Strength & Self-Knowledge is Sexy
The thing is, bad men know they are bad. At least the interesting ones do. They are honest with themselves (and their women) about what they want. They have no problem taking steps to get what they want, they certainly don’t wait for permission to act. They are absolutely willing to take what they want if required.

The truth is, that's kind of an attractive trait in a man . . . because it’s attractive in anyone. The world is filled with people who won't admit to themselves what they want. Bad Boys never have that problem.

Fearless is Cool
Bad Boys may be brutal, evil, angry, violent and a hundred other things, but they generally are not afraid. Why should they be? They are the kind of men other people fear.

In a romance novel, where bad behavior rarely results in truly horrible outcomes, bad boys look like winners. In a fearful world Bad Boys are magnets that attract people who are very tired of being afraid. Who doesn't love a strong man who is determined to win every battle?

In Romance Novels There Are No Consequences
In a romance novel a bad boy can whack the heads off lots of people and never go to jail. He can abduct a woman and not find himself in prison for a decade or two. He can take a ship on the high seas and sail away with plunder. In the real world that kind of thing rarely goes well.

Bad Boys Are Models for Us All
Bad Boy romances can remind us that, like the real men we love, we too can put ourselves first. We too can be strong. We may live in a world of consequences, but we can admit to ourselves what we want and what would make us happy.

The Bad Boys
 James "Sawyer" Ford  - Lost
 James Dean - Rebel Without A Cause
 Captain Jack Sparrow - Pirates of the Caribbean 
 Damon Salvatore - The Vampire Diaries 
 Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Riddick - Pitch Black 


Tortured heroes have been a favorite romance hook almost as long as romances have been hooking readers. Heathcliff, from Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, is another classic example of this mysterious, brooding man. But what is the allure of the tortured hero? Why do so many romance readers delight in the suffering of the brooding hero? When you think about it, it seems incredibly mean-spirited to enjoy the mental or physical pain of the man the reader is asked to fall in love with.

Inner Demons = Great Emotion
The hero's pain engages the readers’ emotions, and romance books are all about emotion. When we meet that hero with the dark wounded soul, our initial reaction is not sadistic delight in his pain, but rather a sympathetic ache, a burning desire to help, to heal, and to ease his suffering. While there is nothing the reader can do for this poor hurting man, we put our faith in the love of the heroine to rescue the hero from his pit of despair.

Conflict, Conflict, Conflict!
The hero's inner pain also adds another layer of conflict to the story. More conflict translates to more emotion for the reader, a bigger stake in the outcome of the romance. Not only must the heroine resolve the external conflict she faces to reach her goal, but in order to find true love, she must help the hero find resolution and peace from his inner demons. This theme of redemption resounds with us because we all have, to some extent, past sins, past pain and lingering heartache from which we want to be freed.

Dark and Dangerous
A tortured hero has an element of danger about him. What dark secret is he hiding? What is at the root of his pain, and will his pain suck the heroine in and ruin her as well? Danger has a titillating allure that stirs our adrenaline.

Love Sooths the Savage Beast
Tortured heroes give off a certain air of invincibility, but the reader knows better. She knows there is something lurking in his past–or present–that has the ability to cripple him physically or emotionally or both. She sees it coming and she knows he’ll eventually crumble beneath the weight of his pain. She expects the heroine to be there for him, to take his hand, to put his world to rights, to bolster him up and see that he stands tall and true.

Macho Alphas Outside with a Gooey Marshmallow Center
Brooding men are sexy. How many cologne and underwear ads have you seen where the male model is practically snarling at the camera? Plenty. Light-hearted humor is generally considered feminine or child-like, while serious introspection and toughness are traditionally masculine traits, connoting virility, competence, strength and sexual prowess. The Alpha Male. The tortured hero takes this serious brooding to an extreme, and when the heroine manages to break through the tortured hero's pain and protective walls to find the charming prince that lies beneath, she claims the best of both worlds. Tough and tender. No wonder a romantic's heart flutters for the tortured hero!

Only the Strong Survive
Our glorious tortured hero must be thrown into the crucible, dredged through the fire to be forged into a stronger man. The reader understands this and is expecting the heroine to understand it, as well. She is counting on the heroine to get the job done. When the last tear is wiped away, the last drop of blood washed off, that last lock of thick brown hair has been smoothed back, the contented reader can wipe away her own tears then sigh with relief.

The deeper the hero's pain, the greater the victory for true love. The love between the hero and heroine has been strengthened by the test of fire. He has been deemed worthy; she has been deemed his equal. He has overcome all the debilitating obstacles with her help and there is nothing standing in the way of the Happily Ever After ending he deserves.

That’s the allure of the tortured hero— the payoff that soft-hearted romantics like myself find so appealing. We are drawn to the victory when the heroine's love, faith and devotion conquer the hero's personal demons.

The Tortured Heroes
 Henry DeTamble - The Time Traveler's Wife
 Angel - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
 Louis de Pointe du Lac - Interview with a Vampire
 Edward Cullen - The Twilight Saga
 Phantom of the Opera
 Wolverine/Logan - The X-Men
 Dean Winchester - Supernatural
 Sam Winchester - Supernatural

Stefan Salvatore - The Vampire Diaries

So which type of hero do you prefer?  And who? 
Personally, I love tortured heroes. The darker his angst, the better. Bad boys tend to be a tad too arrogant for my taste. However, there is a certain southern rebel who really appeals to me.

That smoldering glower, those abrasive nicknames, the twin boyish dimples…Yeah, I wouldn’t mind being lost on a deserted island with him for six plus years.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

"Surrender to an Irish Warrior" by Michelle Willingham

gift card purchase - store clerk said he thought the cover model didn't look Irish. 
Who cares, dude, when the model is HOT!

"Seduced by a Highlander" by Paula Quinn

contest win

"Highland Hellcat" by Mary Wine 

ARC purchased for $1 - my new favorite author

"Killbox" by Ann Aguirre

gift card purchase - I love the Samantha Jax series.  I can't wait to read this book!!!

"The Hawk" by Monica McCarty

gift card purchase

"Barely a Lady" by Eileen Dreyer

debut novel

"Shadow Fall" by Erin Kellison

Emily Bryan contest win

"Shadow Bound" by Erin Kellison 

won from Emily Bryan

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Finds

Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer. This debut by Mary Robinette Kowal is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Plain Miss Jane Ellsworth and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

What books have you heard about or discovered this week?
Thursday, September 23, 2010

Writing 101: Herbal Lore

Online workshops are a terrific way to hone your craft and learn something new.  I try to take at least one class a month.  The lessons and assignments motivate me to stick with my writing goals. 

I'm already signed up for my next class, which starts in October and will be taught by author Beth Trissel.  The class is offered through the RWA chapter Hearts Through History, and covers herbal lore and the historic medicinal uses of herbs.  I'm really excited to learn more about this subject because herbs play an important role in my Medieval WIP, Her Heart's Desire.

The deadline to register for the workshop is October 2nd.  For more info or to register, click here.
Monday, September 20, 2010

Under Where?

Get thee to a nunnery in 1559 if you don't want to be laced into a bone-crunching corset.  Fearing for their health, Emperor Ferdinand of Austria passed a law forbidding young girls to wear corsets in nummeries and other places of education. 

Like Catherine de' Medici. Queen Elizabeth first wore this iron hinged armor like corset.  It flatten the body, giving a smooth outline beneath gowns. 

No doubt the corset was exceptionally uncomfortable and heavy to wear.  The only benefit seems to be that the corset produced an incredibly small waist and elongated flat chested smooth line torso.

Eventually Queen Elizabeth opted to wear a softer corset made of leather or canvas, boned with wood or steel.  Worn over the chemise, these corsets were lined with sheer silk and laced up the back.


Corsets of gold and silver were only found on courtesans...until the catch the fancy of Catherine de' Medici.  Then she decreed that having a thick waist was bad manners.  To achieve the desired 13 inch waist, she designed the hinged corset.

Corsets of the late 16th century are more recognizable to us today than the iron versions.  These later corsets incorporated materials such as whalebone, bone, wood and flexible steel.  The patterns on the corsets showed the placement of the chosen support and were elongated after a fashion trend set by the boyish figure of Queen Elizabeth I.

more corsets 

Friday, September 17, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

"Tall, Dark, and Wolfish" by Lydia Dare

blog contest win

"A Gentleman Never Tells" by Jerrica Knight-Catania

won from Lady Scribes

"Awakened by a Kiss" by Lila DiPasqua

blog contest win

"Trial by Desire" by Courtney Milan
and "Three Nights with a Scoundrel" by Tessa Dare

won from Courtney Milan.  Thanks!
Thursday, September 16, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

I won this award from Sarah Hoss at Heart of Romance.  Thanks, Sarah!

Now, I’m passing the award on to the blogs I regularly follow and enjoy.

(In no particular order)

Carrie at In the Hammock
Kris Tualla’s Author and Writing Blog
Marissa N. Berry
Pat McDermott – Put the Kettle On
Book Soulmates
Mary McCall Chats Through Time
The Season for Romance
Nicole North - Fierce Romance
Natalie Murphy - The Sound of Rain

Here’s how the award works:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog along with the name of the person who has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

2) Pass the award on to 10 other blogs that you enjoy and contact the blogger to notify them of your choice.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blogmania 2010

Visit the Bitten by Books site for a chance to win a Kindle! 

And while you're on the site, read a review...or two.

Lost in Tudor England

John Steinbeck once said:  “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

Yesterday I had a dozen plus bunnies hopping around my head and it felt more than a little crowded.

So what’s a gal to do when she’s deeply engaged to her current WIP and a new idea takes hold?

Write it down
Let your imagination run wild

Because if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget all the juicy details by tomorrow or, at the very least, forget what was so darn exciting about the idea when you finally revisit it in a few months.

I went one step further yesterday and began research on an idea that’s been brewing in my mind for a long while now. For half a year I’ve only had a very vague outline about this paranormal romance I want to write.  I don’t know much about the characters or even the exact era in which the trilogy will take place. Victorian, Viking, Medieval. Who knows?  I've yet to settle on a time period.  Up until now I haven’t allowed myself to dwell on the details of this trilogy because I don’t want to get distracted from my current WIP.

But yesterday something I read sparked an idea and I allowed my imagination to soar. And l landed smack in Tudor England!

Once I hit on the perfect time period, everything clicked into place. I got so excited, I spent yesterday afternoon researching Henry VIII’s court. I didn’t get any writing done on my current WIP, and yet I had a very productive day. Eventually I’ll flesh out my characters and let the story really take hold.

Today, it’s business as usual. The glittering, sumptuous world of Henry VIII’s court has taken a backseat to the pageantry of the Middle Ages as I set out to wrap up an oh-so-important scene in my current WIP. Looks like Tudor England has to wait for the weekend.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Rosalind turned and ran as quickly as she could toward the wing of the palace the king and his household occupied.  She kept low, stumbling over tree roots and avoiding overhanging branches that threatened to slap her in the face.
~ page 92
Monday, September 13, 2010

The Long and Short Of It

A very effective way to make your writing deadly is to never vary your sentence length. Short sentences are quick and good for describing dramatic events or action. However, write one short sentence after another and your prose sound choppy.

Example: The bird chirped. The sun shone brightly. All else was silent in the meadow. From the distance came the sound of thunder.

Long sentences can be used to slow a description down to create a sense of relaxation or time dragging. But using all long sentences can make your writing hard to read.

Example: The English lesson seemed, to Zach, to be dragging on forever, as Mrs. Kirwood’s voice droned on and on, in its weary, low monotone, about the apparently fascinating poetry of some long-dead writer, who seemed to Zach at least, to be unnaturally interested in scenes of empty countryside and quiet decay.

Unfortunately, writing all medium-length sentences doesn't work, either. Sentences that are all the same length create monotony.

The trick is to hear the rhythm of your sentences and know when to use a longer sentence or a shorter one.

Analyze Your Own Writing
Calculate the average number of words you use per sentence.

1. Take a page that represents your normal writing and mark off twenty sentences.

2. Count the number of words in each sentence and then add those totals to get a grand total.

3. Divide the grand total by 20. Your result will be the average number of words per sentence.

An average sentence length below 14 words per sentence may indicate that you use too many short sentences and you need to learn how to combine ideas. If your average sentence length is well above 22 words a sentence, you may have a prose style that is dense and tangled. If your average word length falls between 14 and 22, you need to look at your sentences to see if there is some variety or if they are all about the same length.

Fixing Short Sentences
To fix short sentences, look for words that can be combined.

Example: Last weekend I saw a chick flick. Three friends went with me. The movie focused on a woman tired of looking for Mr. Right. She decides to have a baby on her own.

Fix: Last weekend three friends and I saw a chick flick in which a woman tired of looking for Mr. Right decides to have a baby on her own.

Short, choppy sentences also make it difficult for a reader to understand the connection between ideas. By using subordinating conjunctions (connective words that make one clause in a sentence dependent on another) a reader is given more direction. Subordinating conjunctions include words such as after, when, although, because, etc.

Example:  I kicked the chair. My foot hurt terribly.

By using different subordinating conjunctions, the sentences take on very different meanings:

After I kicked the chair, my foot hurt terribly. OR  I kicked the chair because my foot hurt terribly.

Fixing Long Wordy Sentences
Longer sentences can be extremely effective; they can also be just plain wordy. To streamline your sentences:

1. Avoid using passive verbs such as is, was, were, are, has, had, etc.

Example: The pedestrian was hit by the man who was driving a red car.  VS The man in the red car hit the pedestrian.

2. Avoid using too many prepositional phrases, such as "the house of my mother" rather than "my mother's house".

3. Prune your sentences. Eliminate repetition and unnecessary words.

4. Cut back on the use of words, such as it, which, whose, that, those, thing, these, they.

Effective sentence style doesn’t just happen. It takes work. Go give it a try.
Sunday, September 12, 2010

Read It First

Looking for your next great book? Look no further!

Join St. Martin’s Read-it-First e-mail book club and sample a hot NEW release each week. Each weekday morning, you’ll receive a taste of the week’s featured title right to your inbox. By the end of the week, you’ll have read approximately a few chapters, enough to decide whether it is the right book for you…sometimes just before it even hits the stores!

And it’s all completely FREE!  Click here to sign up.
Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Finds

What great books did you hear about this past week?

Here are a couple of books I discovered...

Karen Essex

London, 1890. Mina Murray, the rosy-cheeked, quintessentially pure Victorian heroine, becomes Count Dracula’s object of desire. To preserve her chastity, five male “defenders” rush in to rescue her from the vampire’s evil clutches. This is the version of the story we've been told. But now, from Mina’s own pen, we discover that the story is vastly different when told from the female point of view.

In this captivating, bold act of storytelling, award-winning author Karen Essex breathes startling new life into the characters of Bram Stoker's Dracula, transporting the reader into the erotic and bizarre underbelly of the original story. While loosely following the events of its classic predecessor, Dracula in Love deviates from the path at every turn.

Elizabeth Chadwick

Ida de Tosney arrived at King Henry II's court at age 15 to be his ward. But the King favored her immediately and she became his mistress. Ida really had no choice and was his mistress for years and they even had a son together. When a handsome, shy young lord, Roger Bigod, comes to the court for the King to settle his inheritance, Ida is smitten. She flirts with Roger at every chance, but Roger is very cautious of not offending the King. Will Ida be able to convince the King to give her up and let her marry, and what will become of her son?