Friday, February 27, 2009

CJ: a totally wanton woman!!

I got the books pictured here in the mail today.

I sort of laughed, thinking, I wonder what the people at the B & N warehouse must think about certain orders. I worked in positions like that long enough to know making fun of customers can be quite the fun sport in a boring job.

And also, cripes, I will get no end of teasing from my husband for my freakishly smutty reading material. 

Back blurbs will be inspected, parts perhaps read aloud for mocking purposes. MMF action, stranger sex, dirty letters. And I'll feel embarrassed, and be all protesty.  

I know I am easy to tease and therefore an attractive target, but a squiriferous husband would not mock my MMF, stranger sex and dirty letter reading material. 

I may have gotten these as ebooks, if only my relationship with my ebookwise wasn't so awful. My ebookwise and I are estranged at the moment.

Instant Attraction: a blind faith purchase
Also, OKAY all you people, Instant Attraction is the first time I ever got a book not even remembering what it was about.

I knew once...I saw reviews, but then when I realized so many people loved it, that I would probably get it, so I stopped reading the descriptive parts of reviews for fear of spoilers, and put it on my list to buy, but then I couldn't remember what it was about, only that people LOVE it. During my ordering frenzy, I just kept thinking I should get it. I'm thinking a cowboy is in it.

Are your buying habits shifting?
All these four books were over 10 bucks each! What is up with that? It almost made me put a few back. And I resolved, after this, mass market only. Hardcovers have always been a no-buy zone for me. But now, books over 10 bucks are out. Mass market 6.99 & 7.99 are the only way to go. Anyway, that was my resolution, now that I have all the ten plus dollar books I want. I'm sure my wantonness will take over again soon. A lot of really good books end up over ten bucks. I hate that! 

My rationalization
It takes me around a week or 10 days to read a book, so that's less than a buck a day. That is how I rationalize it. Still, I have this compulsion to own the books. If I read one or two a day like some people, I am sure that would change.

Another rationalization: I have so few vices. Can't I have whatever cheap books I want?

So, Do YOU have a rationalization? Is it evolving as the economy tanks?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wordy wonderances around Silent in the Grave and some questions

First, thank goodness I am doing a post and getting George Clooney off the top of my blog. It is too much to see him every time I open this thing up. He is so unnaturally handsome in that picture, it is disturbing to my mind.

Honestly, every time I see that photo, I think it interferes with the electrical charges in my brain and I go into a little bit of a daze .

Okay. I have so many books I have finished to talk about, but I just started Silent in the Grave, and I am loving it. Especially the writing style and voice, which is so wonderful. Now, to get nerdy in a reader/writer way, I'm digging lines like these:
The vicar quickened his pace, cracking through the last prayer.
The internal music of that sentence, wow! I could say it all day. And also, it feels wonderfully English. Especially the word cracking. The author Deanna Raybourn is not English, but the book is set in Regency England. Elsewhere, a cousin is described as "barking mad," a phrase that also feels old England (at least to my American ears), and which I very much plan to use someday. And:

Father was entirely capable of wittering on about Shakespeare until doomsday.

Question for those across the pond: Just out of curiosity, are 'cracking' and 'wittering' as verbs commonly or even uncommonly used today in the U.K.? I suppose there's 'get cracking,' but that use doesn't feel the same. How about 'barking' as a word that might modify a word like mad?

Could barking ever be used to modify a different word, or does it pretty much only go with mad? If your answer is yes, can you supply examples?

And a sort of question: I am starting to dimly become aware, from my interview with my first friend below, as well as looking at the fabulous work of my CP, who is Scottish, that genre books are really cleansed of non-American speech. How tragic. But I suppose they leave the words alone when it comes to Regency. Or are those cleansed, too? What is the deal? Is this an issue and I'm just late to the party?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Okay, I couldn't believe how damn delightful Just the Sexiest Man Alive was. What a complete and total pleasure to read!!

Even doing this review now, I find myself thinking back on reading the book almost the way I'd look back on a really wonderful thing that happened to me. Do you ever get that? This is definitely one of my best books of 2009 so far! This and Kiss of a Demon King.

The plot, quickly: Taylor Donovan is this high-caliber Chicago lawyer who gets sent to L.A. on a case. Taylor ends up being forced, much to her annoyance, to take time out of her busy schedule to coach a mega-movie star Jason Andrews to help him prepare for his new courtroom drama. (Guess who I was going with for the star. And his initials are not RC.)

Basically, Jason the movie star acts like an entitled jerk, Taylor decides she hates him, Jason falls in love with her, she'll have none of it.

The fantasy of it was just delicious clear through. There was a bit of the Cinderella story in here, and while I'm generally cynical toward the whole Cinderella thing (I'm much more a Little Red Riding Hood gal), this was such sassy and clever Cinderella action, I couldn't resist. The thing is full of great moments.

Example: Big movie star Jason blows off the first meeting his assistant schedules with Taylor, and then their second meeting, too, making career-minded Taylor miss some critical stuff on her important case.

Finally, days later, Mr. Entitlement waltzes in while Taylor's in court, and afterwards expects her to drop everything and stay behind and do some tutoring on how a lawyer is supposed to act. Not very squiriferous!

So let me set the stage: they're alone in the courtroom. She's pissed. Jason's like, c'mon lady lawyer, put me on the stand and show how to question a witness. So she puts him up there--I just love this scene:
Taylor launched into the first question of her "mock" cross-examination.

"Mr. Andrews--you are aware, are you not, that your assistant made arrangements for you to be at my office last Thursday?"

Jason smiled as if he found her challenge to be amusing. He eased back in the witness stand, getting comfortable. "Yes, I am aware of that, Ms. Donovan."

"You did not show up for that appointment, did you?"

"That is correct."

"And you are aware that after failing to show up for that first appointment, your assistant made subsequent arrangements for you to be at my office on Friday morning; is that correct?"

Jason stretched out and crossed one leg over the other, seemingly unconcerned with such a trifling line of questioning.
She goes on to inquire whether he owns a cell phone, and if he knows how to operate one, and is soon busting him on fudging answers about where he was the day of the first meeting, and on and on. And then this:

When his gaze met Taylor's, he detected the faintest trace of a smug smile in her eyes. It was then he realized something.
She was toying with him.

was toying with him.
I just want to type out this whole scene, because it's so fun. Suffice to say, Taylor totally toys with him, makes him look like a fool, then walks out, leaving Jason sitting there, shocked.

A lot has been made of the banter between these two characters, and rightly so. I have two things to add there. One, it's a fabulous feat of the old show-don't-tell maxim. The dialogue between Taylor and Jason just sparkles. It sings! And then when Taylor interacts with other possible suitors within the story, the chemistry isn't there, and the reader gets, in this wonderfully direct way, that the hero and heroine SO belong together.

Thing two: I think Julie James has a fantastic writerly memory of her own text. These characters are constantly pulling little things up out of past conversations and incidents and evolving all these little inside jokes and callbacks, sort of creating their own world out of their banter...oh, it really is just wonderful.

What's more, Julie James sort of does that callback thing with the reader, too, puts in these little details that she turns around and uses later. The result is that, as a reader, I felt "on the inside" with this book, instead of on the outside. Do you know what I mean?

Here's a really minor example: the button thing. Taylor has to rendezvous with Jason for a dinner "meeting" he's finagled. What to wear? She doesn't want to look like she thinks she's on a date, and deliberates at length on her white shirt: "two buttons open, or three? Two or three? She went back and forth in the bathroom mirror at least ten times." You don't find out the answer; suddenly she's parking, at the restaurant, she's arrived late. She apologizes, yada yada, and two pages later:

Taylor watched as his eyes skimmed over her shirt with an appreciative look.
Dammit. She knew she shouldn't have gone with the three buttons.

Great callbacks. What fun. Bottom line: I loved living in the world and the fun situations of this book, and I was sad to leave it. But that's okay, because I understand from a little bird that James' follow-up, Practice Makes Perfect, which hits stores in a week, is every bit as excellent.

Reviewed by the Romance Reader here, Dear Author here, Aaaah Romance here, and loved to pieces by powerpuffs Katie Babbling about Books and Ana at Book Smugglers. Nominated tops of 2008 in two categories at RNTV, and one of the best authors of 2008 by Book Binge.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Exciting news! my new ward, a wonderful word

So, after a lot of deliberation (like, do I go for a really obscure word that has little chance of survival, or something that I'd actually use?) I couldn't resist copying Megan Frampton and adopting the word squiriferous from Here is my certificate.

Squiriferous means to have the qualities of a gentleman. To be gentlemanly. Like a squire.

Isn't it a great word?

Oooh, the site is down now, but I'm sure it'll be back up soon if you want to get your own word, OR you can adopt squiriferous. I would encourage others to adopt squiriferous and use it. Who better than the romance community to save such a word?

Anyway, if you adopt or use it, send me links. You will be seeing me use it frequently here on the Thrillionth page.

As I noted, squiriferous has been adopted by Megan Frampton (see her post here) and other people, too. It's a ward of a blog called nostalgic home, and a fellow named DarkAeon over at DarkAeon's Demented Declarations, where he posted hot pictures of Dominic Cooper to illustrate, including the one I stole here.

Squiriferous was also adopted by a super creepy person on this site. WTF? I think we should call somebody in protective services.

Elsewhere, in an article about in the Gulf Daily News, the Voice of Bahrain, B. Comber writes: "'Squiriferous' (having the qualities of a gentleman) may, I fear, be difficult to bring into general circulation, there being so few squiriferous people around these days..."

I think we need to give this guy a copy of Games of Command or Sugar Daddy, because Branden Kel-Paten and Gage Travis are totally squiriferous.

And of course, John Thornton may well be the most squiriferous fellow I can think of. Except maybe my husband.

Incidentally, I suspect B. Comber is a made up name this writer uses for his GDN gig. I know a fake journalism name when I see one, being that I have two of them, which I will not tell here not wanting them linked to Carolyn Jean Jackson. A friend of mine has the fake journalism name of G. Samsa.

Anyway, Squiriferous. Now the official word of The Thrillionth page.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My FIRST friend

I recently joined facebook. I didn't say anything to anybody, but then suddenly I had a friend named Lucy Clark.

My first friend! It was very exciting—I didn’t know anything about Lucy, but then I found out she’s an author and I thought it would be fun to interview her. She turned out to be very gracious, and totally hilarious, too.

Lucy: total writing dynamo
Lucy has been writing medical romances for well over a decade. In an interview on five scribes, she explains that she started by writing "Sweet" romances (a.k.a. tender romances in the UK and Harlequin Romance in the US) and being rejected, and then heard Mills & Boon were looking for Medical Romance authors.

As a secretary to 3 orthopaedic surgeons, she had some insider knowledge of the whole thing, so she wrote 3 chapters, a synopsis and sent it off. Eventually they requested the whole manuscript (months later) and many months later suggested changes. That book became A Surgeon's Care, released in 1996.

Since then she’s written 40 books, which have been translated into more than 20 languages!!!

The interview
Carolyn Jean: Lucy, first of all, thanks for being my first facebook friend! I was very excited to meet somebody totally new as my first friend, and then I looked at your site and saw you have many books published, and that you are a husband-wife writing team! First off, who am I talking to right now? Both of you?

Lucy: I was astonished to be your first facebook friend. I went to your website, clicked on the link expecting there to be a plethora and was quite delighted to be No. 1. I've never been No. 1 like that before. Quite an honour :) As for who are you talking to, why you're talking to Me... Lucy. My husband, Pete, isn't the interviewing kind although he'd gladly put his 2 cents worth in if I let him but I don't. I'm such a good wife like that. (Some would say controlling but I think not!)

Carolyn Jean: It’s an honor to be your friend, too. I can’t believe you have 40 books now out there! You are really making it as an author; I find that so inspiring. So, tell me about your most recent book.

Lucy: The next book out is... (Lucy wanders around the house, checking next book cover on her book cover wall... hmm... it's not there. She checks in recent boxes of books... no just translations. Hmm... what is the next book out? Searches for note book which has list written in it and... ah ha - victory. Back to computer to answer question.)

CJ, the next Lucy Clark book out is titled A Mother For His Twins. (Note - PLEASE note - I do not choose any of my titles!!) It is about... (Lucy tries to think back to Feb 2008 when she started writing this book... brain slowly clicks in) ... Jennifer - a doctor who has loved and lost (dead fiancé) and thrown herself into her work.

She moves "home" to Sydney after many years away, to work at the hospital where she initially did her medical training but this time, she's back as the new head of unit. Her colleague and 2nd in charge is Jasper Edwards. (man I love the name Jasper... er... sorry) Jasper is a widower of two gorgeous 4 year old girls. He's not looking for love and neither is Jennifer yet when they meet - sparks do tend to fly (the emotive kind not the axe grinding kind).

Oh and as a side note - my daughter chose the names for the twin girls - Lilly and Lola and if you're wondering (as I know you would be) where she pulled these names from - try Hannah Montana.

Carolyn Jean: That’s cute they chose the names from Hannah Montana! I like the name Jasper, too. In fact, I wanted to name our cat that, but my husband wanted Tiberius - after, you guessed it - James Tiberius Kirk. Tiberius uses Kirk’s fighting style of going on her back and flipping her opponent.

Anyway, what's it like team writing with your husband? How exactly does the process go?

Lucy: We tend to plan the books together. We drive out to this great bakery/cafe at Meadows which is about 20 mins from our house and we brainstorm and create about 2-3 books. Some are linked. Some aren't. Meadows is just such a beautiful spot, the inspiration really flows.

Then I write the first draft, Pete gives me notes. I write the second draft, Pete gives me notes. I write yet another draft and yet more notes are given. Then we try to read the ms out loud before sending it off to the editor (who is in London) who then comes back with more notes and we do yet another draft and so on and so forth until the book is "yippee-ki-yay" accepted. Also, when the proofs come in, I read these out loud whilst Pete follows the story on the computer so we can see what the eds have changed.

Carolyn Jean: How long does it take you to write a book like that?

Lucy: What a loaded question! (and here is the involved and very boring answer oh and you must take into account that these books are only 50,000-55,000 words) The first draft I usually try to get done as quickly as possible so do a “hit” of a 10-14 day run. I attempt to write a chapter (first draft between 3,500-4,000 words) per day.

By day 6 or 7, I'm totally wiped and rely on direct IV injections of caffeine into my veins. Normally, the week after I've finished the draft, I'm in caffeine withdrawals but happy that the draft is done. Nora Robert's famous words are what I live by - “You can fix a bad page, you can't fix a blank page.”

We then start on the drafts and get it tighter to send it over to the ed. We can wait anywhere up to a month or more to hear back from her and then the revision process begins. This can be anywhere from a few days to do the re-writes or a few months. I once had to re-write a book 5 times, 3 different eds worked on it with me (and of course they all wanted something different) and by the time I'd finished, I was exhausted. Two other books of mine were bought before this poor book finally made it through with the words “ACCEPTED” stamped on it. The shortest time frame I've ever had was 17 days. I wrote the draft in 10 days, I took 5 days to edit it and sent if off. The ed got back to me 2 days later saying she loved it and was putting it through to acquisition no revisions necessary. That, of course, rarely happens.

Out of 42 books – only 3 have gone through with no revisions. I have to keep telling myself that “anyone” can write but a “real writer” can re-write.

Carolyn Jean: (revealing herself as an ignorant, geography challenged American) Just to confirm, you live in Australia - Big city, small town, outback?

Lucy: We live in South Australia, just south of Adelaide which is the major capital city of SA. We're in the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula which boasts a big wine making region. In fact, where we live used to be all vineyards so we still have lots of vines down the road. So... city living I guess is the right answer.

Carolyn Jean: What a beautiful place that looks like. Wow. And Australian wines are the best. Like Shiraz. So are any of your books available in the US? (It looks like not retail, but otherwise?)

Lucy: The Medical Romance books are available via the internet at eharlequin and you can also subscribe to receive them direct.

So in this method, you'll receive 4-6 Medical Romances delivered straight to your door every month. You can subscribe online. Other than that, they are sold retail but only in certain stores so if you feel like bothering your local Waldens or Barnes and Noble book seller to stock the Medical Romances, then feel free. I'd be eternally grateful.

[CJ note: I also noticed you can download Children's Doctor, Christmas bride and other of Lucy's books from Mills & Boon UK.]

* * *

City Surgeon, Outback Bride by Lucy Clark came out this past fall. I love the plot of this one:
A highly successful, happily married Sydney surgeon, Henry Harcourt once had everything – until he lost his wife. Two years on, he's about to have his first taste of Outback life – and an unforgetable encounter with the local GP: beautiful, bubbly Rayne Hudson!
 Henry sees the generosity in Rayne as she cares for the close-knit community and raises a little orphaned girl. But there is a secret vulnerability hidden away in her heart. Together they could find what they've both been longing for – if the city surgeon can convince Rayne that she should be his bride.

* * *

Lucy: Also, if you'd like the Medical Romances to be available to you on the shelf at your local bookstore (as they are available to other readers the world over) then email Harlequin and let them know this. The greater support we have to get the Medical Romances retail in North America, the better.

I mean, everyone else in the world (I'm talking Hungary, The Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, the UK, Australasia – everyone) can walk into their bookstores and buy a Medical Romance but you can't do it in NA. (you can in South America, btw. The sell extremely well there, oh and in France. They LOVE us in France.)

The reason Harlequin have told us they're not available retail is that the medical terminology is slightly different in the UK and Down Under than in the US and they think readers won't understand. Personally, I don't think our NA readers are that thick and actually see them as highly intelligent. Whilst most of the authors are indeed situated outside the US, there are now 5 Medical Romance authors who are indeed American.

Shows like ER and Grey's Anatomy prove that the books will indeed sell so here's hoping that 2009 is the year our NA readers can actually get a bit of McDreamy loving by walking into their nearest Waldens or Barnes & Noble and purchasing a Medical Romance straight off the shelf!

Carolyn Jean: I came to romance really recently (through paranormals and urban fantasy-I only JUST read my first contemp this year) anyway, the medical romance category is totally new to me, but it sounds really fun and fascinating. How 'medical' do medical romances get? Do the plots turn on the outcomes of various operations? Do you get descriptive about procedures, or is it more that the heroes or heroines happen to be a doctors in a hospital setting?

Lucy: Medical Romances have actually changed a lot in the past decade. They used to contain quite a lot of medical but nowadays, it's very much the ER/Grey's Anatomy sort of thing. The characters just happen to be doctors/nurses/medical professionals and it's their lives we're really interested in. The medical is very secondary to the romance.

Carolyn Jean: You know how this is sort of also a coincidence? I used to be kind of a hypochondriac, and in my forthcoming book, my character is one, too, and she is forced to go around pretending to be a nurse and convincing diabolical villains that they have weird diseases. It’s a long story why. (That is sort of unethical, I know. I hope you will not unfriend me!)

But I’m kind of glad there isn’t a ton of medical procedure in medical romances, because that would scare me! But shows like ER, etc. are fun. Also, I used to watch a soap opera that had lots of doctors in it, too. There is a lot of drama connected with medicine that is not directly on the operating table.

Lucy: I am so with you on that. When I first started writing, I would do mounds of research and now I don't have to do so much. It's sort of 'big medical words, lots of action, oh quick the patient is going to die, ahh we saved their lives. We are “big damn heroes”. Fall in love with me because I'm gorgeous. The end.'

Actually, no, that's not quite true. There are other things in the middle a lot of yummy docs and medical staff but – that's generally the gist of it :) Think Grey's Anatomy and Scrubs (although with out the creepy Janitor!) This way, I think is better for the reader.

I once had someone tell me (earlier on) that they needed to read one of my books with a medical dictionary beside them. If that's the case then it doesn't make for a fun read. However, all medical MUST be accurate and up-to-date because some medical professionals do read these books. In fact, a lot of my med writing colleagues are nurses/doctors. It's great because we all help each other out on-line with questions and research and stuff like that as well as providing support for each other (usually when revisions come in!!).

And how dare you even think that I'd unfriend you. I'm your first official facebook friend. I'm adding that fact to my résumé!!!

Carolyn Jean: I understand you're a fan of the great Joss (YAY JOSS!!!!) And Nathan Fillion. If you cast Nathan (his Firefly persona) in one of your books, what sort of doc would you make him?

Lucy: Oh Joss (I'm not worthy) is such a brilliant writer. I so want to be like him when I grow up. He has taught me so much about writing, more than any course or editor and I love listening to his DVD commentaries. Such wise words. But anyway, I could gush all day long (and probably not bore you because y'all would join in) and that's not what this is all about. The question is about Nathan - and again, I could gush all day long. A brilliant actor and a very funny man. A lot of actors can't be funny without a script in front of them, but not Nathan.

He is totally funny on his own (and incredibly delish too). I have - in a way - cast him already in a medical romance. "Her Very Special Baby" (remember - I don't chose the titles!) had all the character names from Firefly and Serenity in it. The protagonists were Nathan and Morena and I not only managed to get the character names in but the actors names as well. (the dog was called Jayne)

I tend to do this with a lot of books - when needing to come up with character names. I've done a Doctor Who book (big Doctor Who fan) and in the past I've done a lot of Star Trek names as well (although I don't remember using Tiberius. Note to self – must do that in a future book).

I do, most of the time, have a "hero" in mind when I'm writing. I'll pick an actor I just adore and he's my pin up boy for that book. The problem is that I don't like to re-use them. Once the character has come to life, I can't use that same actor as inspiration again which means I'm forever on the look out for new gorgeous hunky guys to become my pin ups. Ahh... the life of a romance writer. Such a hardship!

Carolyn Jean: I am weeping tears of pity for such a hardship! Truly! Okay, this has been really fun, first friend! Thanks so much for indulging me! See you on Facebook, Lucy.

More on Lucy and her books here.
Learn more about Lucy in this interview.
For more on medical romance, check out this blog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mexico pics

Gosh, we didn't get very interesting photos! Okay, the first one is my sister Sharon, my mom, my other sister Deb and me in a kind of cabana. We are about to go and eat. This trip was the ultimate gorge-fest.

And there is me and mom on the beach. Why do I own a skull bikini? Answer is here.

More beach pics. Mom, Deb and Sharon, and the other is Sharon and me. Sharon is a teacher and Deb is a photographer, but she didn't want to take photos. OMG, it was SO great to be in the warmth! It was like 80 every day. And people would bring you drinks. Note the quick progress of Sharon's drink.

And check out the huge iguana! Our resort rocked in every possible way!

I of course had wonderful reading material. As you see, Veil of Midnight. Excellent after a nice dip in the bright blue ocean.

Oh, look, an incredibly embarrassing pic. That was actually supposed to be ocean aerobics. It was for a while, until they made us do this. I am in the red bathing suit. Right there I was thinking, if Sharon takes a photo of this, I'll kill her. As you see, she did. But what's a blog without embarrassing pictures?

I also read Just the Sexist Man Alive by Julie James. It was SO excellent! I'll be reviewing it soon. Everybody fought over it. I totally don't know who this guy is.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gobsmacked scores!

Wow, the illustrious and mysterious author LBGregg’s first novella, Gobsmacked, has hit the top 10 in its FIRST WEEK!

(Full disclosure: Actually, I personally know LBGregg).  Anyway, check out the list at right from all romance ebooks. Okay, now, the back blurb:

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Mild mannered Mark Meehan’s good judgment flies out the window when he finds his lover banging another man. Things go from bad to worse as Mark’s crazy revenge scheme uncovers shocking secrets—sending him straight into the arms of hunky lawman and old friend, Tony Gervase, a man of limited patience and secrets of his own.
Straight into the arms...that's right: hotness ahoy. Good hotness.

This is a fun, fast-paced book with a great narrator and tons of humor. It's set in the snowy Northeastern U.S. As L.B. Gregg puts it: This place is filled with lonely, hunky available men! Men in plaid jackets! And work boots! And preppy boys who like to row on the lakes.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the romantic pair - Mark Meehan is a flawed hero, self-absorbed yet vulnerable and witty and highly human.

Opposite Mark is Officer Tony Gervase, that perfect cop type, all bossy and stern. The scenes that have them together really sing. Like this:
“It never occurred to me that I’d get arrested, Tony. I didn’t plan it. It just happened.” I winced. I sounded like Kevin. “Just tell me what you heard.”

Tony went from amicable to exasperated, “That you snuck up on Jamie who was attending mass, for chrissake, and punched him in the back of the head with a Bible. You were hysterical, swearing and wearing red shoes.” He nodded accusingly at my clogs where they lay tumbled together on the carpet.

“They’re my work shoes. I wear them in the O.R.”

He wasn’t impressed. If anything, his anger increased, “I can’t believe he hasn’t pressed charges, Mark. You’re lucky I didn’t have to go down to St. Joe’s and arrest you.
I love that little detail The red shoes. Like, what? I appreciated the level of realism here, where weird little details would make it into the story that got passed around. Or, like, in this scene, Tony again gets annoyed when he finds out Mark ditched his ex's stuff. Mark says,
“No. I literally threw his stuff out. First out the window, but only because I didn’t want to carry it down the stairs...” I trailed off at Tony’s raised brow. “And then I took it up to Little Pitch. He’s going to be pissed. I tossed his hockey gear into the dump.”

Tony barely hesitated in spreading mayo on my ham sandwich, although I could tell I had surprised him. “That was not only dramatic; it was illegal. Are you trying to get arrested? Is this some dark fantasy of yours, Meehan?”
The tension totally gets ratcheted up as Mark's reactive antics compound against a backdrop of truly threatening and serious circumstances. Smithfield, who would've known?

Gobsmacked is the first in Gregg's 'Men of Smithfield' series. I can't wait for the next!

The novella was released February 6th in ebook from Aspen Press; the print edition comes out from MLRP in March. Learn more about L.B. Gregg and The Men of Smithfield and sign up for the newsletter here. Author interviews here and here.

Other reviews:
Rain on the roof
Well Read

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eric Northman's secret diary day 240

Oh, boy! Eric Northman's diary continues!

Day 240, Valentine's Day

Having V in our little club has actually been quite nice. The BDBs are a lot more tolerable when you isolate them. In fact, after sundown, V helped me carry the chair I made for CJ to the grassy area outside her sitting room to surprise her...


Friday, February 13, 2009

Eric Northman's secret diary day 239

Day 239

Our time in the cave was a success. Sully lost a great deal of money to me in blackjack, Dain made a wonderful drunken spectacle of himself and broke some stalagmites...

more at DIK island...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eric Northman's secret diary day 238

Day 238

The nights begin to grow shorter. Nearly eight months now since the mysterious force landed us on this godforsaken island.

Last night...

Read more at DIK Island.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Several random lifestyle items

Item #1: The winner of a copy of Crash Into Me also happens to have the cutest avatar's:

Kwana, send your info to Jill Sorenson at her website. Congratulations! I can't wait to see what you think.

Item #2: Does anybody else out there watch Madmen?
We're renting it on Netflix (not done with season ONE, so no spoilers!) But, isn't it sort of a trip to see Angel's son in that role? DH and I had this whole discussion on that, in a way, he's kind of playing the same guy. But he's really quite good!

I love that show. Part of it is because the main character sort of has my same job, but most of all, it's fascinating how just a generation ago, women really had so little opportunity. (It takes place in 1960). I mean, we read historicals and freak out about how powerless women were, but this was not even 50 years ago! It is so fascinating, like another world. I really love the show. Not as much as Dexter, of course.

Okay, #3: I'm going to Mexico on Friday!!

My mother, the 70-year old rabblerouser that she is, has engineered a girls' family trip. It will be her and me and my two younger sisters.

I am looking forward to reading many dirty books on the beach, chowing down, and hopefully not reverting into my bossy, argumentative teenage self. I'm not really up on the details since those girls planned it, but I will be incommunicado from Friday to Tuesday. However, I will be supplying photos.

And #4: Save the words!
OMG, I have become obsessed with the Save the Words project. You go to this site and click on different rarely-used words, and it show their definitions, and you find one to save. You have to choose one you are willing to use in everyday circumstances, and it's like your word to save. I am so serious, I'm really taking a lot of time to pick. Because I really want to follow through, so it has to be the right word for me.

Once I choose one, I am going to post it in my sidebar with the definition, and you will see me using it in as many posts as I can! I encourage everybody to play. Let me know if you choose a word.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Item #2 I admired about the Anne Stuart experience

Last week I put up the first Anne Stuart Black Ice thing I admired...did you think I forgot about this little project? Of course not. And I'm sure everybody has totally been waiting on the edges of their seats for #2! Without further ado:

Thing #2 that I admired about the AS experience:
I felt like she was in full control of my readerly experience. Like I could just sit back and trust. Do you ever get that with an author? This sense of trust? I so admire authors who do that.

LKH: expert describer
For me, Laurell K. Hamilton has always been queen of that trust thing as far as description--when you enter a room, LKH makes damn sure you knew what it looks like, but she doesn't go on boringly. When a character appears, she give you one or two strong things to remember about their looks. I read the first ten books of the Anita Blake series a while ago, but I can still tell you exactly what Anita's boss looks like, or Edward or that carrot-top sidekick of hers. All her leading men. In fact, I think that's the only series where I still have strong visuals on all the characters.

Anne Stuart: expert info planter
With Anne Stuart it wasn't so much visual description as the way she planted information, but the feeling of trust was still there and I really enjoyed it.

Reading Black Ice, I always felt like I knew what I needed to know so I could enjoy my reading experience as much as possible, but not too much so that I'd predict things.

One example is with Chloe's roommate. You totally get her ditziness, her disinterest in anything that doesn't have to do with fashion or finding a rich husband. Then, when Chloe takes her place as translator for the arms dealers, they are all instantly suspicious and unhappy with Chloe, and you immediately guess why: because they can see she's observant and interested in life around her. They liked ditzy! And then, it's oddly gratifying when one of the arms dealers actually says so.

Hmm, I guess this doesn't seem that impressive when I say it out, but I don't know, I just really appreciated it. Like the plot was carefully built. I wouldn't say the romance arc itself was so carefully built, but the plot sure was.

A better example
Okay, here's a better example. Bastien and Chloe are hiding out in this house on page 225 and he's sort of hot for her but trying to ignore it because of how it would complicate things:
...It was a normal enough response, and he knew himself well enough to try to dismiss it. Life-or-death situations brought out all sorts of primal appetites. Ugly but true. Danger aroused him.

And being in the presence of death whether he'd been the one to kill or not, made him want to experience life on the most basic level. It made him want to fuck, and whether it was some caveman instinct about replenishing the species or a twisted fascination with sex and death, it still existed. He either acted on it or he didn't, depending on the circumstances. There were often women operatives around who shared the same reaction, and a fast, frenzied coupling usually only heightened their defenses in times of danger.
So, this was interesting to me just on a spy level. But then, like, 50 pages later, Bastien kills this woman who is trying to kill Chloe, and after, in the hotel room when they're washing the blood off themselves (this is Chloe's POV):
The water wasn't enough, the soap couldn't banish it. She needed more, and his erection against her belly was proof that he did, too.

...she reached down and touched him, and he jerked in her hand, big and heavy, engorged with the same need that swamped her.

She looked up at him though the heavy downpour of the shower. "Please," she whispered, letting her fingers slip down the solid ridge of his cock. "I need...."

"I know," he said.

He didn't turn off the shower. He simply picked her up and carried her into the darkened room...
I know. Thanks to his earlier thoughts his connecting sex and death, (the stuff above, but there was actually more) I felt like I had this x-ray eye into his head: I knew exactly what he was thinking and how he was feeling with those two little words, I know. And it was so immensely satisfying!

So anyway, I really enjoyed and admired how Anne Stuart did this sort of thing!! Do you guys have authors you've come to trust in specific ways?