Posts tagged with: Nora Roberts

Foanna’s 2014 Reading Roundup – Part 1

rr 1Happy new year, Banditas and Bandita Buddies! I hope 2015 is fantastic for you.

That’s enough of the looking ahead. Let’s look back to 2014 and some great books.

I thought I’d devote my spots on the Romance Bandits for January and February to listing some of the wonderful reads I found last year. After all, we all love recommendations for our towering TBR piles, don’t we?

Today, I’m going to talk about romances. Next month, I’m going to talk about books that aren’t romances (or at least not primarily – I find my favorite books nearly always include some sort of romantic plot, even if only as a subsidiary). You’ll notice that I’ve steered clear of books by my tremendously talented Bandit sisters – if I included theirs, we’d be here all year!

rr 2I blogged a couple of months ago about how I was on a major Nora Roberts kick. That looks like it might continue this year. Of the many Noras I read in 2014, my favorite is THE WITNESS, her story of a super-intelligent, high achieving teenager who finally kicks over the traces and rebels, only to be forced into a living nightmare when she witnesses a mafia killing. The woman grows up, always on the run, always smart enough to stay alive – but what happens when she falls in love with the local police chief? Is it time to stop running and finally face her enemies?

This one has two wonderful central characters (I love Abigail’s dorky but smart take on life), a lovely romance and some seriously good suspense. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you grab it now! For a peek at some of the other Nora books I read this year, here’s my blog on the subject:

rr 3The next book, THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT by Kandy Shepherd, is by a friend of mine. It just happens that some of my favorite reads last year are by people I know – they’re all well worth picking up! Summer is simply gorgeous, a lovely story about two damaged people who were in love as teenagers and reconnect after life hasn’t been kind to either of them. It’s a story about bad timing turning into forever after. I laughed and cried in this one – and you’ll fall in love with the town of Dolphin Bay where the book is set. You can read an interview with Kandy here:

The next sooper-dooper read for you is THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, the debut novel by Vanessa Barneveld, another friend of mine.

rr 5This YA is a beautiful story about coming to accept who you are and finding the right person and learning that life is a mixture of happy and sad. It’s also a darn good ghostly mystery story as heroine Keira struggles to answer the questions surrounding the death of high school hero Jimmy and in the process realizes that she’s always loved his older brother Dan. Even if you’re not usually a YA fan, give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed. You can see where Vanessa visited the lair and gave us the lowdown on her book here:

With my next recommendation, I’m cheating slightly as it’s a series of six, M.C. Beaton/Marion Chesney’s The Travelling Matchmaker books. These are trad Regencies full of wit and romance and classic period touches like duels and highwaymen and marriages of convenience.

rr 4When housekeeper Hannah Pym unexpectedly receives a bequest from her late employer, she determines to seek the adventure that her quiet life in domestic service has so far prevented. She sets out on various stagecoaches and meets danger and excitement and young lovers and a chance to discover talents she never knew she possessed. These books are such fun – definitely a series to put a smile on your face. Here’s a link to a more detailed review of the six books that I did on the Romance Dish:

My next choice from 2014 is a corker of a steamy reunion story from lair favorite Annie West. For some reason, I couldn’t link this one through the cover, but here’s the Amazon link:

rr 6I love all Annie’s stories but this one really hit it out of the ballpark for me. Orsino Chatsfield and his estranged wife Poppy have so much passion between them that when they come together in a glamorous French chateau, they set the Loire Valley aflame! This is part of the Harlequin Chatsfield continuity but you can read the story as a stand-alone. Give it a go – these characters are unforgettable. Here’s a link to where Annie visited the lair to talk about this book:

My last favorite book of the year is one I read in December. Who doesn’t like a Christmas charmer? Mary Jo Putney‘s collection of four Regency novellas plus a contemporary, CHRISTMAS REVELS, is uber charming. All the stories are great, but my particular favorite is The Christmas Cuckoo where a capable young woman who believes she’s on the shelf collects the wrong man from the local inn and takes him home for a family Christmas. A lovely story about life delivering some gorgeous surprises just when you think your chances have run out. And you’ll fall in love with Jack Howard just like Meg does.

So that’s my romance round-up. I’ve got a mixture of women’s fiction and mysteries and nonfiction coming next month so make sure you check in.

In the meantime, what were your favorite romances of 2014? I’m always looking for recommendations.

1BanditBootyAnd because I love to share my friends’ books, I’ll give one commenter today their choice from THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT by Kandy Shepherd, REBEL’S BARGAIN by Annie West, or THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE by Vanessa Barneveld. The prize is available internationally. Good luck! 

An Author by Any Other Name …

Have you ever read a book that you’ve really enjoyed, by a new author, only to discover that the author is actually one you know and love, writing under another name? Being an author myself, you’d think I wouldn’t often be caught out – and I’m not usually. But I was this week!

1168593darkness-brings-200 I can’t remember who suggested that I read Candice Proctor’s historicals, set in Australia – I think it was either Anna Campbell or Christina Brooke – but  I do remember that they were recommended because I enjoy western historicals and found the concept of romances set in Australia’s past a fascinating one. Anyway, I managed to get hold of one – Candice’s debut – A Night in Eden, and recently had a chance to read it. I loved it! Naturally, I decided to find the rest of her books and hopped onto the internet. That’s when I realised that Candice Proctor is none other than CS Harris! Now, I knew she wrote thrillers with her husband, under the name CS Graham (which I also really like), but hadn’t made the other connection! I’m sure most of you are laughing along with me, because you did know!

2979954415560A similar thing happened some years ago, coincidentally regarding an author of western historicals. I loved an author called Kathleen Kane and had many of her books on my keeper shelf. As western historicals were few and far between, I decided to see if I could hunt down any other books by Kathleen Kane. I was a little confused when I couldn’t find anything about her and I kept being sent to another author’s website. In fact, it was an author who is well-known and well-loved here in the Lair – Maureen Child. It was only when I pulled one of Kathleen Kane’s books off the shelf and looked at the author picture that I realised she was Maureen Child!

n114288Mark_Callahan_thumb The third author was also a western historicals author (are you spotting a pattern here?) called Geralyn Dawson. I loved her books and was so disappointed when she stopped writing them, in the middle of a series. Every now and again, I’d do a search to see if she’d published those other two books, but nothing came up. Until recently, when I realised that she now wrote under the name Emily March! And, no – she never did finish the series.

519+m8mDFVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_naked-in-death1 We all know about Nora and her JD Robb alter ego. And another Lair favourite, Jessica Andersen and her Jesse Hayworth alter ego.






NightkeepersJesse-Home~~element77Have you ever been caught out by an author writing under two different names? Are there any other authors you know who write under another name? Do you prefer an author to write different types of books under different names, or don’t you mind? For those authors, do you read everything they write or only in the genres that you prefer to read? Are you prepared to give a genre you’re not fond of a try, if a favourite author writes for it?   


Conference Craziness!

Jeanne's I Phone 405It’s here!  Conference season!

Today (Wednesday) is the start of the huge RWA Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  Many of the Banditas are there, promoting their books at tonight’s Open-to-the-Public Literacy Signing!  They’ll be meeting up with old friends, new fans, and getting a start on learning what’s new in the writing biz.  Yay, Banditas!!  (That’s me and Nancy from last year’s Rita night….aren’t we snazzy?)

Virtually every field has a conference.  Most have one or two, depending on their size or location.  Miners have conferences, dentists and dental hygienists have conferences (Right Terry Brisbin?), doctors, morticians, romance writers, rodeo riders, cops, and probably robbers too.

Most fields have a group get-together to network, share new ideas, educate members on tried-and-true knowledge and, of course, to have a little fun.

I love conferences.  I feed on all that people energy and adore meeting new writers, new readers, and people of all walks, talks and ilks.  Grins.

I’m not in San Antonio this year as we were on vacation last week for Eldest Son’s last baseball tournament before he becomes a high school player.  It was huge fun, but I didn’t see how I could manage going to Myrtle Beach for a week, then turn around and head to the hottest corner of He…I mean San Antonio, for RWA.  Isn’t that a gorgeous view from our balcony?beach

Now that doesn’t mean that I’m not conferencing!  Oh, no!  I most assuredly AM!  As many of you know, I had a blast at Barbara Vey’s annual Reader Appreciation Luncheon in April.  If you’re anywhere near Milwaukee, you would LOVE this event!  It’s in April.  Check out the website here:  2015’s keynote speaker is the fabulous Tess Gerritson.

The pictures of me with Sylvia Day – could we have picked worse tops to put together for a photo? – and with the lady herself, Barbara Vey below, were from the 2014 event.  Yes, I DO have alien head bobbers on my head.  Your eyes do not decieve you.  :>

sylThis year’s Nora Roberts Writing Institute (Aug 8-10)  is coming up as well.  This amazing weekend event is a brilliant way to give your writing a kickstart, especially if you’re new to writing, or you’ve been away from it for a while.  The keynotes at NRWI this year are the AMAZING Sylvia Day and the equally AMAZING Hank Phillipi Ryan.  Hank’s been on the blog with us a number of times and she has a new book out too!  Bandita Donna and I will both be presenting at the NRWI as well as the fabulous Jana DeLeon, Susan Donovan, Gail Barrett, Jeanne Ford, and Agnes Jayne (also a fab blog guest!!)

I’m really looking forward to NRWI this year, even more than last year, because I’ll be in the company of fabulous writers and great creative energy.  You should come, it’s going to be great, great FUN.  (Check it out at )

Since I won’t be at RWA (*sniffle*) I’m going to milk NRWI for all the energy and booksigning mojo I can get.  Ha!

(Nora’s bookstore, TURN THE PAGE BOOKS  is doing the signing on Sunday if you’re in the area of Hagerstown MD on August 10!)

I know Banditas Nancy and Trish will head, along with my WRW Pal, Jean Marie Ward, to Atlanta for DragonCon here before too long, and Comicon, Balticon and others will be rolling around in the fall.

What about you, Buddies and Banditas?

Do you love conferences, or do they just wear you out?photo

Is there a major conference in YOUR field?  Do you go?

What about regional ones?

I know our Bandit Buddies Helen and Barb are fixtures at the Aus Romance Writers conference, and Banditas Christina and both Anna’s have been….Anyone else?

Ever had a conference romance?  (Harder at Romance conferences, since there’s so few men…hahah!!)

What’s your favorite “It happened at a conference…” story?  Mine’s about a logging demo….me, 300 loggers, some Caterpillar heavy logging equipment, jello….yeah, that was fun.

Tell all!!

The Things You Learn….

noraI like meeting new people. 

I’m an extrovert, so this is one of those pastimes that thrill and excite me rather than terrify.  It’s why I get myself into trouble when it comes to saying “no” to projects, meetings, running events, heading up the PTA, etc. 

But I will never regret saying “YES!” to helping put together the inaugural Nora Roberts Writing Institute at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD.

The fun people I met this weekend were wonderful.  Exciting.  Engaging.  Like most events where writing-talk is involved, I came home eager to sit at the computer, eager to dive back into the story.  It made every moment of committee work, planning and oh-my-goodness-can-we-pull-this-off nail-biting worth it.

New writers, beginning writers, came from all over the country to hang out in “Nora Country” in Maryland and learn about the process and art of writing.  Washington County was the very first county in America to be named for George Washington – even before there WAS a country – so it’s fitting that these budding genius writers should start in such an auspicious place.  I’m hoping some fabulous new blockbusting writers were born this weekend.

They certainly heard about the ups and downs, pains and joys of writing from the absolute best.  Encouragement was the byword for the whole event, and “Go for it!” the unofficial slogan.

First off the bat on Friday night was Sylvia Day.  Now you can’t have been in the writing/reading world at all for the last couple of years without Sylvia-Day1-webhearing about Sylvia.  She’s a Number One bestseller in FORTY – yes that’s 40! – countries.  Her bestselling Crossfire series has just been optioned by Lionsgate Productions and is headed for TV.  And before that, she was writing for Random House, Kensington, Tor and about five other publishers and nearly burnt herself out.  She talked about that, and how you had to continue to read, to continue to feed the creative process by devouring books and stories and wondrous tales just like you did as a reader, before you started down the writing path.  Otherwise, the well runs dry.

Oh, and as a writer?  You better think about strategy…where you’re going, how you want to get there, and what you want it to look like when you arrive.  Grins.  With strategy, even if you get off track, or fabulous things happen, there’s a road map to which you can refer.

Hot-selling suspense author Gail Barrett and New York Times bestseller Susan Donovan, both Maryland authors, shared their wisdom about what’s hot, what’s selling, and what to do to keep yourself on track as a writer.   And everyone shared their processes – all different! – which reassured every single writer there (me, included) that you don’t have to write like anyone else does to be a success.

EricaThe second keynote of the weekend was the fabulous Erica Bauermeister.  Now you might think this event was totally focused on Romance, thanks to Nora’s name being on the marquee, but no!  Erica writes fabulous interconnected shortstories.  Rich, brilliant language and delicious metaphors and wonderful stories of life and loss, survival and joy all weave in and out thorugh Erica’s books.  I loved her School of Essential Ingredients and was introduced to her wonderful work sheerly because of this event.  I immediatly went on to buy Joy for Beginners, then The Lost Art of Mixing.  What a delight they each were!!

Erica talked about coming to the writing game from a different path – from teaching, and real estate and cooking!  And she talked about patience.  About letting the story come to you, and flow through you, and be organic.  She also talked about how her characters talked to her.  Some of them liked to be written in the dining room.  Others in the family room.  And if she got stuck in her writing of a scene, she’d go to the kitchen and cook whatever was being prepared in the book to move the story forward.

Now that’s a thing to learn!

Writers Agnes Jayne (whom you met earlier this month), our own Bandita Donna MacMeans, and TV writer Jeanne Ford, also held panels and workshops along with wonderful research sessions on weapons, cybercrimes and biotech.   Laura Reeth, Nora’s publicist, taught new writers the first things you should do to start making your stories “discoverable.” 

I wanted to be in every session.  I wanted to be in the audience soaking up the knowledge, absorbing the words and wisdom and stories.  I wanted to go through the FATS simulator too.  (That’s Firearms Training Simulator – you get to “ride along” and move through scenarios as if you were a law enforcement officer!) 

I too was teaching.  I figured the best way I can pay back all the wonderful help I’ve been given along this writing path, is to pay it forward to others – give a helping hand, as I was given one. 

But most of all, I learned.  Even from the podium, moderating, and from the stool in the front of the theatre where Erica and I presented, I learned.  I learned from the questions other writers asked.  I learned from the answers other authors gave.  I learned just how much I love to be with people who love to write, to read, and to dream.

It was an utter, absolute blast.home2a

So what, specifically, did I learn? 

I learned that even the most accomplished writers often think their first draft is utter and complete crap.  And that’s okay.

I learned that writers and readers love a good story enough to walk through the rain to hear it.

I learned that writers are among the most generous souls ever.  (At least THESE writers were!)  Every single presenter and writer present was willing to share of their knowledge and experience.

I learned that you actually can have too MANY contracts!  (Sylvia Day had a year where she had due dates for books 15 days apart for much of that year and it nearly made her quit writing.)

I learned it’s never too late to start.  (Erica Bauermeister didn’t start writing until she was in her forties)

I learned that the question someone thinks is “dumb” is exactly what everyone is wondering, and therefore is NEVER dumb.

I learned that pretty much every writer shared my perception that this is a “brave new wild west world” in publishing

And I learned that having a fellow Bandita on a project like this is worth it’s weight in gold.  Thanks, Donna!!

So, Banditas and Buddies, although I’m exhausted, elated, and recovering from the long, fun weekend, I want to know….

Have you read Erica Bauermeister’s books?  (If not, you should consider it!  They’re gorgeous!)

Have you read Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Series?  What do you think of Gideon and Eva’s Stories?

Susan at NorasHave you read any of Sylvia’s SJ Day books?  Or her Livia Dare stories?  Or other books she’s written as Sylvia Day?

What about Gail Barrett’s Intrigues?

Picked up a Susan Donovan book?  Wasn’t it great?

If you could hear any author speak – romance author, thriller author…any one! – who would you love to hear talk about their writing, their process and their characters?  (They can be living or dead!)

(Next year’s event will be in June, and all pictures were used with permission.  Nora’s photo by Bruce Wilder)

Red Carpet Roundup!

stylinHello from HOTLANTA!!!

This is your roving Romance Bandits Reporter, coming to you (somewhat) live from the awesome, major, fabulous Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony!!  WOOHOOOO!!!!

There are Bandits in full force here, from the awesome Nancy Northcott to Donna MacMeans, Suz Ferrell and Susan Sey to…well a LOT of Banditas!  Many of our favorite guests are here too, and all are decked out in their finery for one of Romance Writing’s finest hours.  (This is, from L to R, Gerri Russell, a frequent Guest; board member and outstanding writer Dee Davis; “Mr. Marriott” – the hotel’s Atlanta Ambassador!; Bandita Nancy, and frequent Guest, TICD, AKA Claudia Dain!)

Nominees are nervous, former winners are more relaxed, even though they’re giving awards out, and more and more people fill the ballroom.  As with any Red Carpet Event, it’s about the Metal wedgegorgeous dresses and the fabulous shoes.  So here’s an amazing selection…I didn’t get all my subject’s names, but I asked them to come on the blog and identify themselves, or their purses and shoes!!

Much as I wanted to, I didn’t list Golden Heart finalists and winners because their books are not yet available.  :>  But some of these shoes and dresses belong to finalists!!

 RITA Finalists include: (Winner marked with asterisks!)

Contemporary Single Title:

tie dye awesomeAbout Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Barefoot in the Sand by Roxie St. Claire – one of our guests! – (pictured to the left in coral with her editor, Micki Nuding!

(1) Forever and a Day; (2) Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis

Melt into You by Roni Loren

Sugar Springs by Kim Law

**The Way Back home by Barbara Freethy

Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay

Historical:Pride & P

Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie – another of our frequent guests!!

Defiant by Pamela Clare

A Lady Never Surrenders by frequent guest Sabrina Jeffries

The Recruit by Monica McCarty

**A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

(Just so you know, Pride and Prejudice over there on the right, is a PURSE!!)

Jeanne SharonToo Dangerous to Desire by Cara Elliott

Wedded in Sin by Jade Lee

(To the left is me with the elegant Sharon Wray whom I know from Washington Romance Writers!)


**Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher

An Heiress at Heart by Jennifer Delamere

A House Full of Hope by Missy Tippens  (Missy finaled in the Golden Heart with us in 2006!)The golden lady

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Naomi’s Christmas by Marta Perry

The Soldier’s Wife by Cheryl Reavis

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (Gorgeous cover on this one!!)

(To the right is Laura Griffin who won the Romantic Suspense category, holding her lovely, lovely RITA!)

Long Contemporary:

Jeanne and DiannaA Cold Creek Noel by RaeAnne Thayne

From Father to Son; and Making Her Way Home by Janice Kay Johnson

**A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton (now a member of the prestigious Honor Roll!)

A Life Rebuilt; and A Texas Chance by Jean Brashear

No Ordinary Joe by Michelle Celmer

Out of the Depths by Pamela Hearon

(The ever-popular-on-the-Bandit-Blog-Guest, Dianna Love, who was a presenter, looking FABULOUS, dahling!)

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements:

The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Le Huber  (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)most awesome hat ever

Before and Ever Since by Sharla Lovelace

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci

**The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James (Also Won BEST FIRST BOOK)

Time’s Echo by Pamela Hartshorne

The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek by Jane Myers Perrine

(Check out that AB-FAB fascinator!!  Hope this lovely lady will come on the blog and give a shout out!)


I totally want this purseAngel in Chains by Cynthia Eden

Edge of Oblivion by J.T. Geissinger

Immortally Yours by Angie Fox

(1) Lothaire; and (2) ** Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole

(With this win, Kresley is ALSO now a member of the prestigious RWA Honor Roll after tonight!!)

Mark of the Witch by Maggie Shayne

Moonglow by Kristen Callihan

Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione

(The totally cool purse on the left is currently Bandita Nancy’s but Cassondra and I both covet it….beware, Nancy, hatsbeware!)

Romance Novella:

Breathless by Sophie Jordan

The Duchess of Love by Sally MacKenzie

Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox

**Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James

(Check out these AMAZING dresses and fascinators to the right!!  LOVE it!  Ladies, I hope you’ll come on the blog and say hellow and identify yourselves!!)

Sleeping with a Beauty by my good friend Leslie Kelly

The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas


Romantic Suspense:

Celebrity in Death by JD Robb (Remember, Nora Roberts Writing Institute in two weeks….Grins)

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Don’t Cry for Me by the fabulous Sharon Sala

Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan

Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard

(1) **Scorched; and (2) Twisted by Laura Griffin (See the picture above of Laura with her lovely RITA!)

Vortex by Cherry Adairhot shoe

(To the left here, check out the lovely Rita Nominee Leslie Kelly and her handsome hubby!!)

Short Contemporary Romance Series:

Becoming Dante by Day Leclaire

Cowboy in the Crossfire by Robin Perini

The Last Single Maverick by Christine Rimmer

(Those totally hot shoes are red suede at the back and a black harlequin pattern across the front strap! GORGEOUS!!)

Awesome beltA Marriage Worth Fighting For by Lillian Darcy

**A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan

Surgeon Sheik’s Rescue by my dear friend, Loreth Anne White

The Tycoon’s Secret Daughter by Susan Meier

We’ll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart

(The ever-popular Guest, Addison Fox to the left there, was gorgeous in an off the shoulder number.  Go, Addison!!)

And last but never least, Young Adult Romance!

Bound by Erica O’Rourkenot hats

**The Farm by Emily McKay

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)

(To the left, check out the wonderfully funny ladies, Jill Shalvis (front) and photobomber Kristin Higgins!!)

Several up for BEST FIRST BOOK which did not final in a category:

Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan

All black or don't botherFirelight by Kristen Callihan

Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

That’s a great list of books!  (Winners are marked with a double asterisk!)

(Just so you know, The Haunting of Maddy Clare won BEST FIRST BOOK!)

So, Banditas and Buddies….Omgosh that's a purse

What’s your favorite of these Red Carpet looks this evening? 

And for you, do you go for Basic Black? 

Or are you a color-all-the-way gal?

Have you read any of the finalists’ books? 

Any great recommendations from either the finalist list or winners?

(All of the photos are mine, and taken with everyone’s permission.  This totally cool purse on the right is a champagne bottle in a champagne bucket, but it’s a PURSE!  Totally COOL!!  I wish I could have used ALL the pictures I took!!)


Agnes Jayne and The Problem with Power…

Hi Everyone!  First, let me say that I’m in Atlanta at the wonderful RWA Conference, but I want to welcome a fun friend to the Lair today – Agnes Jayne!  I met Agnes at a meeting.

Yes, a meeting.  Ha!

0040We’re working together on the most fabulous Nora Roberts Writing Institute. This totally cool writing and learning experience is about to launch on August 2nd, and features not only the two of us  but amazing keynotes such as NYTimes Bestseller Sylvia Day and critically acclaimed author Erica Bauermeister, as well as my fab fellow Bandita Donna MacMeans!  (If you’re thinking about writing, or just beginning as a writer, you should come!)

When I found out that she’d also recently published a fabulous adult paranormal THE PROBLEM WITH POWER, I knew I had to introduce y’all to Agnes.  :>  So even though I’ll only be on sporadically today, I hope you’ll give my friend a great Lair welcome!!  So….let’s get to know Agnes Jayne!

Welcome to the Romance Bandit Lair!

Agnes:  Thanks, Jeanne!  It’s a pleasure to be here.  It’s been fun to work on the committee together for the inaugural Nora Roberts Writing Institute with you, and this is just an added pleasure.

Jeanne: *blushing* Thanks.  So, let’s get this party started!  When did you first start writing?

Agnes:  I first started writing in second grade. It was a compelling story about a small kitten named Buffy who was always in trouble. I hid the story in my Grandma’s newspaper and she told me she thought that it was done by a professional writer. I think that this little comment and her constant encouragement was enough to keep me going. Agnes Jayne, my pen name, PWPCoveris after her.  

I didn’t start writing fiction until a few years ago when I started teaching at the college level and began to meet other writers. Then I submitted a small poem to a website and they took it. Then I submitted a short story to a writer’s competition and I received an honorable mention. Those small affirmations, as well as the support of friends and family, were enough to make me believe that I could write a novel.

Jeanne:  That’s cool.  I think that early encouragement, no matter how small, is so important!!  What was the first book you remember reading by yourself? 

Agnes:  My first, full length novel was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I was sitting in the back of the room by the bookshelf at Catholic school. My teacher had just yelled at me for talking in class, and it occurred to me that if I was reading, I wouldn’t get in trouble for talking.  I became so absorbed in the book that I missed the spelling test that day, but the teacher congratulated me on a full hour of silence and reading became my new hobby from then on.

Jeanne:  Heehee.  Silence as reward.  Well, for a teacher I guess having a student actually engaged in something productive can be forgiven for missing the spelling test!  And I adore The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  Such a wonderful story.  So, before we get to the excerpt.  You have to tell us, do you plan a sequel/prequel/series with these same characters?

Agnes:  I do plan a sequel with this book; I’m working on it right now. There are a few loose ends in The Problem with Power that lead into my next book.  The working title is The Devil You Know – it might change, but it’s a good theme for what I have planned next for my characters.

Jeanne:  Oh!  I like that!!  Are there any ways in which you are like your heroine?

Agnes:  Emily is the sort of person that I wish that I were. She is braver, more levelheaded, and far more organized than I would be in almost every situation. She’s also loaded with personal power. There are a lot of scenes where she rises up and fights where I would be more inclined to hide under the bed. There are some similarities though – she is pretty awkward around guys, she feels like an outsider most of the time, and she is a die-hard caffeine addict.

CoffeeLove_729Jeanne:  Emily is my kind of woman.  Seriously.  So what about the flip side?  Are there any ways in which you are like your hero?

Agnes:  *laughs*  Actually, I would not be drawn to Nicholas in real life, and this was difficult when I was writing his character. Nicholas has a lot of swagger for my taste, and he’s kind of arrogant, and I had a lot of fun reversing the roles in some of the exchanges between he and Emily. When I wrote Nicholas, I was thinking of someone who would be a foil to Emily, but also someone who had something in common with her. Both Nicholas and Emily are living with a sense of loss, and I think that’s what draws them together despite their differences in the novel.  Even against the fantastic backdrop of sorcerers and demons, I wanted my characters and their love story to be believable.

Between us, my book boyfriend in the story is Steph – he’s nerdy, quirky, and kind of an anti-hero. I feel like my affection for him shows a lot in the story.  Steph tends to steal the scenes, and I had to rein him in a lot in the book, but I’m looking forward to writing something where I can cut loose with his character.

Jeanne:  Oh, how fun!  I’m glad Steph will get his own story in which he can find away to be romantic despite his quirks!  It seems that’s what you’ve done with Emily and Nicholas, so tell me, does Steph….

 Agnes: *Agnes shakes her head* Not telling!  Don’t want to spoil it!

 Jeanne:  *Snaps fingers*  Drats!  I was hoping for the inside scoop.  Ha!  Shifting gears, did you read the same genre in which your book is written when you were teenager/young adult?

 Agnes:  Yes. I have read, breathed, slept, watched, gamed and painted the fantasy and paranormal genres for as long as I can remember. Any story with magic compels me.

 Jeanne:  You’ve hit on common ground for several of us with that!  So, what was your favorite book in this genre?

 Agnes:  So far,  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is my favorite book in the genre. I think of my book as more of a contemporary fantasy than a IMG_6335paranormal.  With Neverwhere, Gaiman created this world of magic alongside (underneath) the real world, and both worlds operated in tandem. This was an idea that really appealed to me.

Jeanne:  That IS a compelling book, and incredibly well-received across the genres as well.  Interesting!!  So last but not least…Who is your favorite author from the past?  Present? 

 Agnes:  I have a special place in my heart for Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brontes. Give me manors, moors, and handsome, surly strangers, and I’m happy. 

Jeanne:  Ha!  There again you’ve probably resonated with three-quarters of our readers.  So, do you have a fun question for our readers today?

Agnes:  I do!  As a new author, I am honored to be leading a few sessions at the upcoming Nora Roberts Writing Institute. As I mentioned in the comments of one of your earlier posts, WhiteLightningmy favorite Nora Roberts story is Charmed because I loved the characters and the way that she created a contemporary fairy tale.

What about you, Banditas, and Bandit Buddies? Is there a magical story that’s close to your heart?  (And it doesn’t have to be a paranormal!)

And what is the first full length, adult-type book you remember reading for yourself?

Jeanne:  What great questions! Bandita Buddies, Agnes will be giving away copies of THE PROBLEM WITH POWER to two lucky commenters today! 

If you’re not today’s lucky winner, you can get the book at your local Barnes and Noble, or online, or Books a Million or.. Well you get the idea!  Just get it!  It’s a great read.  And now *drum roll* an awesome excerpt from the book:

The excerpt below describes a chance encounter between Nicholas and Emily. They still don’t like each other much in this part of the book, though the attraction is evident.

A small noise caught her attention, and Emily walked to the opposite side of the dock. There, crumpled up against a piece of old driftwood, covered in river slime and mud, lay Nicholas Flynn, unconscious and by the look of him, badly injured.

Emily’s heart lurched, and she swore under her breath. She thought of leaving him there for a moment, but her conscience wouldn’t let her. She moved to Nicholas, crouched beside him, and ran her hand along his neck and listening for breath. A pulse, dull but steady, greeted her fingertips. She ran her hand along his face, pushing the wet hair from his eyes. A small scrape on the side of his face was the only damage to his otherwise perfect features, but he was very still and cold from the river. His chest heaved.  Coughing water, he spluttered and then gave a sharp intake of breath. He head lolled towards her, and he opened his eyes.

“Emily,” he sighed, with the ghost of a grin on his face, “I was just dreaming about you.”  His eyes closed, his head dropped, and he was again unconscious.

She held him for a moment, waiting for him to return to her. No luck. She grudgingly admired his sleeping face.  His hair was plastered against his head in thin lines. His eyebrows were golden brown. Long dark lashes framed his closed eyes. His mouth was full and soft. She wondered what it would be like to kiss him, and a grain of self-reproach bubbled to the top of her mind. That, she thought, would be the wine talking.

Comfortable Choices

Sorry about the late blog, everybody!  My head was wrapped around a different day, but I’m here now and ready to roll.

Unknown-1There are certain books or videos I go to when I need to kick back, relax and read or watch something I know I’ll enjoy.  Anything by Georgette Heyer makes that list, and I’ve built up a good collection of her books.  If I want to see a smart, brave guy with a wicked sense of humor turn the tables on his snooty, condescending relatives, I go for The Unknown Ajax.  

Or I might reach for Frederica (love the way the Merrivilles upend Alverstoke’s neatly ordered and self-centered life) or, if I want something a little darker, Regency Buck (is the hero really a hero?  Or is he a villain in disguise), or, if I’m the mood for clashing swords, The Conqueror (can an invading Norman knight win the heart of a Saxon maid while his liege tries to win the country?).  

Those are my top four favorites of hers.

UnknownIn the clashing swords video department, with a touch of mystical fantasy thrown in, is The Thirteenth Warrior, starring Antonio Banderas.  Our frequent guest Gerri Russell recommended this movie to me.  I love the Viking elements and the evolution of Banderas’ character from scholar to warrior.  And, of course, the thirteen warriors risking themselves to protect a kingdom from bear cult marauders has a lot of appeal.

My all-time favorite ever book is To Kill A Mockingbird.  I was so disappointed that the museum in Monroeville, AL, was closed when we were in that area last summer.  But it’s not a comfortable choice.  It’s a thought-provoking book, a beautifully written book, with justice served at the end, but it’s sad, too.

Books or movies with a heavy eew factor also don’t make the list.  Eew moments are not relaxing.  Sagas also don’t qualify for me.  So the LOTR trilogy, book or film, doesn’t qualify as a comfort choice.  Now, there are some eew moments in The Thirteenth Warrior, I have to admit.  Sword fight are not, er, tidy.  But the rest of the movie outweighs the eew factor, so maybe it’s better to say the eew has to be outweighed by the fun stuff

images-2Boom, on the other hand, why, that’s very cathartic.  Hence the presence of SWAT on my comfort list and my video shelf.  It has lots and lots of boom and stars Colin Farrell as the sympathetic hero (Farrell’s character, Jim Street, played by the late Robert Urich, was my favorite of the TV SWAT guys).

Samuel L. Jackson is the tough mentor, Jeremy Renner is the sleazy bad guy, and Michelle Rodriguez is great as the kick-butt female cop. Maybe we should qualify this, though, by saying that the boom cannot be accompanied by the spurting blood and graphic depictions of injuries that some action films love to linger over.

doubledanger_200If I want romantic suspense, I reach for Dee Davis or Cindy Gerard.  I love Dee’s A-Tac series and Cindy’s Black Ops, Inc.  I’m so sorry to see A-Tac about to wind up.  But one of the joys of owning a book is the ability to read it again.  Pictured at right is Double Danger, the latest release in the A-Tac series.

MerelyMagic-SH-2Anything by Patricia Rice qualifies for the list.  One of my favorites is Merely Magic, the book that introduced the Malcolm and Ives families.  I loved the interplay of the siblings, the Georgian setting, and the mysterious man who threads his way through the series until he takes center stage in the final book.

Another favorite by Patricia Rice is an oldie, Denim and Lace.  It’s a western and opens with the heroine shooting the hero.  It has romance and boom!  What’s not to love?

51KMSQQBH2L._SY300_For superb writing, excellent performances, and a balance of comedy and drama, you can’t beat early Boston Legal.  If I’m in the mood for something like that, I might watch an entire disc at a sitting.  All three of us loved this show.

NightkeepersFor paranormal romance with a fabulous arc, hot romance and plenty of boom, I’ll take Jessica Andersen’s Nightkeepers.  Now that the series is complete, I can go from book 1 to book 7, secure in the knowledge that I’ll be happy when I get to the end.

It’s hard to pick a favorite book in that series.  The first, Night Keepers, is a wonderful setup for the entire series.  But I also love the fourth, Demon Keepers, for the geek-to-hero transformation of Lucius.  Choices, choices.

85459As our regulars know, I grew up in a small town and have one in my Protectors mage series.  So it probably isn’t surprising that I have a weakness for books set in small towns.  One I’ve read many times is Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights.  I love escaping to the little town of Lunacy, Alaska, and seeing the hero, Nate Burke, come back from personal tragedy in his new job as its top cop.

I don’t like the oversize paperback format (the picture at right is not distorted but proportioned for that format), but that’s not a problem on an e-reader, which is how I usually read it.  Yet the book stays on my keeper shelf because, hey, never know when the power might go out.  

I do like the Alaska setting.  One of my guilty pleasures is Alaska State Troopers on NatGeo.  I’m not sure why, except the setting.  I don’t watch any other police reality shows.  Except I did like Police, Camera, Action! out of the UK, which was shown on TLC for a while.  And, hmm, also not set where I live.

Anyway, getting back to the topic, I also love Nora’s Chesapeake series and her Sign of Seven trilogy.  And, of course, Chasing Fire, which is not set in a small town, as these others are, but features the small, close-knit community of the Missoula Smokejumpers.

These are some of my favorite go-to books and videos.  What are yours?  Do you go for pure romance or suspense?  Do you want some magic or some book thrown in?

I’ll give one commenter today a choice of a Protector or Renegade ARC.  The winner can also opt for a download instead of an ARC if downloads are available in the winner’s home area.

And tonight I’ll post my winner and Jennifer McQuiston’s from last month.  I just realized I hadn’t done that.  The announcement will be in the comments and will go up as a booty post.

If you haven’t already clicked “like” on my Facebook page and inclined to, you can find it here.



The Morning After….

by Jeanne Adams

I’m irked. You know, annoyed. And would you like to know why?

I didn’t get to sleep until nearly 3:00 a.m. Was I blogging? Was I doing something serious, like emergency surgery or saving the world?

No. I was reading.

And all I have to say is DRAT NORA ROBERTS! I adore a riveting book, a story that keeps me immersed, but it’s the morning after that’s a killer. I have two sons and they, like most young boys, go to school. That means they need to be awake, fed and ready to go at an unholy hour of the morning. Which means I have to be up earlier than they are so that I can actually be human before I wake them up. Ugh.

That said, there are some authors, like Nora, that I should just know better than to even START after about 3 in the afternoon. Any later and I’m screwed, as far as sleep is concerned. And doesn’t that sound vaguely naughty? Grins.

Mercedes Lackey does this to me too, as do every single one of our Banditas. Kate Carlisle, drat her, has kept me up with both her Brooklyn Wainright mysteries and her Silhouette Desire. I won’t even START on Anna Campbell. I was smart enough to take Christine, Donna and Christie on various plane rides, which made the travel effortless and painless. Thankfully, I was smart enough to start Trish, AC, and Kirsten’s books when I had time to read straight through, although I confess to reading Kirsten’s book in the carpool lane, while stirring spagetti sauce, and while doing laundry. None of the laundry got folded until I was done, however. Grins.

Now, I do have a warning for you. A serious one. Do NOT read either Tawny’s ultra sexy Blazes or Susan Sey’s Money Honey on a plane or on the Metro/Subway unless you want every other passenger on the plane/train looking at you as you either blush madly or laugh out loud. And in my case, it was laughing VERY loud. Ha! I’m sure this will ber very, very true for Bandita Suz’s forthcoming, fabulous, sexy debut.

I got three books last weekend when I went to Nora’s husband’s bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland, about an hour north of DC. Turn the Page ( books is a fabulous little store, and when there’s a booksigning, the population of the town seemingly doubles, sometimes even triples. I bought three of her books, and one of Mariah Stewart’s books, and another wonderful book by Camille DeAngelis.

Camille is a new author to me, I’ll let you know how her book, Petty Magic turns out for me. So far, it’s fabulous! I started it on the brief plane ride between DC and New York. I’m at the RWA Board Meeting in the most superb, happenin’ publishing town in the world. Bandita Trish and I will check out the New York’s Marriott Marquis for next summer’s annual conference. That said, I won’t be around much on Friday. I hope, as a famous New Yorker was fond of saying on Saturday Night Live, I hope you’ll “Tawk Amongst Ya’Selves!”

For now, I need some sleep….but there’s just a few more chapters……zzzzzzzzzzzz

What? Oh, sorry. Fell asleep. That’s what happens when you get no sleep after a long night reading a fabulous book!

Who keeps you up late?

We often talk about fun new finds and favorite reads in the Lair, but which authors are your addiction? Who can’t you resist?

Do you ever skip the dishes, dinner and sleep to read?

Let’s talk “Auto-buy!”


(I promise I’ll stay awake!)

Casting Calll!!!

*It’s several mornings after the long night of reading in the Lair. Bandita Nancy and Bandita Jeanne have convened in the Lair’s cavernous, but immaculate kitchen, seeking coffee and a snack. As usual, the conversation starts with books…..*

Jeanne, contemplating Kathy Reichs’ latest Temperance Brennan book: Why is it that it’s so hard to cast people for books-to-movies or books-to-TV who actually resemble the characters? I mean, seriously. I look at who gets cast for stuff sometimes and just wince. Temperance Brennan on TV isn’t at ALL like she’s described in the book. And we won’t even mention the comic-book heroes….

(Nancy rolls her eyes, having heard Jeanne’s complaint that Karl Urban should have been chosen for Thor, rather than Chris Hemsworth.)

Nancy, stirring cream into her coffee and contemplating the tray of pastries Sven left out for the Banditas: Well, they got Iron Man right. Not too many people could play Iron Man any better than Robert Downey Jr. And Christopher Reeve was Superman to the life. Brandon Routh was fine but could’ve been better if he’d had a good script. And then there’s Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

Jeanne: *grudging concession* That’s true. Bad choices aside, there are some books and comic books that are incredibly difficult to cast. Take the In Death series.

*Jeanne points to the copy in Nancy’s “To Be Shelved – Keeper” cubby, over by the door.*

I noticed you caught up with all the J.D. Robb books, when you finished Fantasy in Death.

Nancy: Of all the Eve Dallas books, this is the one most perfect for me. It’s got gaming, for cryin’ out loud. And a convention. And Star Wars references. Right up my street, as Anna Sugden would say.

Jeanne: Now THERE’s a series that would be fun to cast. I hear our own Romance Champion, Nora, thinks that would be one of the hardest casting jobs of all time. I think I’d agree with her on that. What do you think, Nancy?

(Long, thoughtful, coffee-drinking pause)

Nancy: Bet we could come up with something.

Jeanne: *Grins* Ah, the gauntlet is cast. Let’s do it. Starting at the top….Who would play Eve?

Nancy: Ohhhh, no, let’s start with the minor characters first. That’s easier!

Jeanne: Good plan. Okay, Summerset, the butler, factotem, and what the historical authors might have called the Reeve, for the most gorgeous Irish-American hero ever (barring Aunty Cindy’s boys), Roarke. Who gets to play Summerset and sneer at Eve?

Nancy: Ralph Richardson would be perfect for Summerset, but alas, he’s dead.

Jeanne: Let’s do cast LIVE people, yes. *Grins* What about Michael Caine for Summerset. No one can do disdainful like Michael Caine. He was fabulous at it in Miss Congeniality.

Nancy: Either Michael Caine or perhaps David McCallum (NCIS Coroner) would be good for that. But I think Caine has the edge. You know, I think Dennis Haysbert from The Unit would be perfect for Tibble. And possibly my pal Teal’C of Stargate (Christopher Judge) would be perfect for Mavis’s beau, Leonardo.

Jeanne: Oh, he would!! What about Samuel L. Jackson for Whitney? He’d be great as Whitney. And perhaps Michael Clarke Duncan for Crack, from the Down and Dirty Club.

: Samuel L. Jackson is perfect as pretty much anything. I can see Michael Clarke Duncan for Crack.

Jeanne: What about Mavis?

Nancy: Katherine Heigel or Amy Adams might do for Mavis, or maybe Helena Bonham Carter, she’s got that curly hair and sort of flighty sensibility that Mavis has.

Jeanne: Excellent. I think James Marsden (27 Dresses) would be great for Baxter, and maybe Eddie Cibrian from CSI Miami for Webster.

Nancy: You know James Marsden was fabulous as my favorite guy X-Man, Cyclops, just as an aside, and he can sing, too. I can see Cibrian as Webster. I think Ewan McGregor has to play McNabb. Or maybe Michael Cera from Juno.

Jeanne: Good ones!! I’ve got the perfect actor for Troy Trueheart. He’s on Disney Channel’s Aaron Stone, and his name is Kelly Blatz. He’s just that “perfect” all-American boy-type. Or maybe Casper Van Dein, from Starship Troopers. He’s got that “Lettered-in-every-sport” kind of Troy-Trueheart look too.

Nancy: Good choices there, either one. On the female side, I think Sasha Alexander (NCIS) or maybe Emily Proctor (CSI – Miami), who’s a North Carolina native, just to confess my bias, for Assistant ADA Cher Rio. That would be good.

Jeanne: It would! And I’m partial to those NC actors too, as you know! Now for the harder ones…Delia Peabody. She’s going to be a toughie.

Nancy: *hmmmm* Zoey Deschanel? Pauley Perrette (NCIS)?

Jeanne, munching a pastry to buy thinking time: Perrette’s got the chuzpah for it. May be Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl. Body-type wise, she’s more the Peabody type.

Nancy: Hmmm, yes, but it’s all about the attitude. That’s what makes it hard to consider casting Eve. She’s not classically beautiful, she’s interesting. She’s tall. She’s whipcord rather than brawn, and she’s no lightweight in terms of her abilities. Not just any frou-frou actress can pull that off.

Jeanne: Okay brainstorming for Eve….Jessica Alba has the chops (too pretty?)

Nancy: Lena Headey from the Terminator TV series (too short?) Maybe Mary MacCormack from West Wing and In Plain Sight. She’s got an interesting face and is a take-no-prisoners kind of actress no matter what she’s wearing. Heeeeeey, Stana Katic from Castle would be excellent!

Jeanne: Ooh, good one. I’m considering Daniela Ruah, from NCIS – LA. She’s got that same attitude as Mary, with a little more interest in the face. Grins.

Nancy: I haven’t seen that show yet. I’m still not satisfied with the choices here, and we forgot one of the most important people! Charlotte Mira! Oh, and Head Lab Tech, Dickie “Dickhead” Berenski, and of all things, YOU forgot the lead Coroner, Morris! Maybe the Bandita Buddies who’ve read the series can help.

Jeanne: Capital idea! (Can’t believe I forgot Mira AND Morris…gotta think on that!) I think we’re going to need help for Roarke too. He’s got so many well-described attributes that you have to be verrrrry picky. I thought about Dermot Mulrooney (The Wedding Date), or Eddie Cahill (CSI-NY) But neither have that certain Je nais ce quoi that Roarke needs.

Nancy: So true! I did the same thing. Roarke is an action hero, but he has lots and lots of layers, darkness and light. Doing him justice requires real acting chops. Eve, too, for that matter.

Returning to Roarke, though, Milo Ventimiglia’s too short, but otherwise has the right looks. Brandon Routh doesn’t have blue eyes. Clive Owen is too greyhound lean, and Hugh Grant’s too associated with Romantic Comedy. Matt Bomer from the new series White Collar is good, looks-wise, but he’s too short and too young.

Jeanne: Yep, gotta have some acting chops to do Roarke. Christian Bale? David Conrad from Ghost Whisperer? Pierce Brosnan from 25 years ago would be good, but we can’t regress him in time. Too bad about that. Charles Durning’s a bit too old now, but he would have made a great Feeney.

Nancy: You’re digressing again! Focus! Neeson’s also too old for Roarke, and Colin Farrell’s too short and too…something. Karl Urban and Hugh Jackman could do it, but they’re so famous. Deservedly because they’re so good, but it’s sometimes hard to overlook who they are when they’re onscreen. Though I have to say Urban did a great job of disappearing into Dr. McCoy in Star Trek. And Jackman was great in a role very different for him in Australia. Did I tell you how many times I watched Australia on HBO?

Jeanne (snorking): Yes! Yes you did. *grins* (About as many times as I’ve watched Star Trek, I’ll bet.) Getting back to the point, as much as I perv over Karl Urban, you’re right there. One of my other favorites, Adrian Paul is too short, too old, and doesn’t have blue eyes. He’s got the smoldering, smirky capacity, but not the other stuff. I’m going to digress again and say that Jon Voight would make an absolutely perfect Senator DeBlass from the first book, with Kevin Bacon as his smarmy aide-de-camp.

Nancy: Darn it, we need to get the main characters, not go haring off into side trips. Remember, we still don’t have Morris or Mira! On balance, among our current choices, I’d go with Jackman for Roarke and Katic for Eve. She’s just a shade on the young side, but I think she’d be good.

Jeanne: Okay, okay! *Grins* Not that we’re taking this seriously or anything. I guess I’d go Christian Bale for Roarke and Daniella Ruah for Eve.

Nancy: Way too early in the morning for serious. I can see Bale, though, and I’ll take your word that Ruah’d be good. But I think it’s time to get some help from people who watch either more TV and Movies that you and I do, or who watch different shows than you and I do. There’s a lot of BOOM movies and Crime shows represented in our lists. Maybe something else?

Jeanne: You know Anna Campbell’s going to suggest Richard Armitage, don’t you?

Nancy: Yep. She’s like you are with Karl Urban.

Jeanne: Heehee. Well, we all have our favorites….

So what about it, Banditas and Bandit Buddies? Who would you cast as Eve, Roarke, and Co. from J.D. Robb’s famous In Death series?

Do you have a favorite series or book (not bandita books this time, please, ’cause we’re doing those on June 19) for which you’d like to cast the characters?

Let’s talk CASTING, People!!

Joanna D’Angelo asks Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings??

posted by Christine Wells
We are excited to have with us in the lair today the wonderful Joanna D’Angelo. Joanna is a writer/fillmmaker who co-produced and directed “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” – a witty and revealing documentary about romance writers and the world of romance fiction. The documentary premiered on Bravo! Canada in 2007 and will be seen on Australia’s Ovation network in 2009. (We Aussies can’t wait!)

Joanna also manages “A Love of Romance Novels” – the largest group for romance fiction lovers on facebook. She has worked in broadcast radio, TV and film and is currently writing and developing several TV projects. How cool is that? Over to you, Joanna!

Over 60 million women in North America do it at least once a week – read romance novels, that is!

That’s the tag line from the promotional material for my documentary “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?”.

“Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” chronicles three Canadian romance writers: Kelly Boyce, an aspiring writer hungry to sell her first book at a major industry conference; Kayla Perrin, a contemporary romance author eager to break out of the smaller African-American market and into the mainstream with her first erotica novel; and Kathryn Smith, an historical romance author, embraces her fascination with vampires and makes the leap to paranormal romance as a way to stand out in a competitive market.
Featuring interviews with some of the brightest stars of the romance world, including Jo Beverley, Jennifer Crusie, Eloisa James, Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts, as well as Susan Pezzack, editor at Harlequin, Toronto, “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” explores the history of romance novels, its many sub-genres and what it takes to make it in the business.

I co-directed “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings” with my friend Christine Alexiou (a writer based in Toronto, Canada). We began our journey in 2004/05 – spent about a year researching and raising the money for the film and then another year shooting and editing. No nefarious criminals were uncovered. No deadly secrets were revealed. No civil wrongs were righted. No scandals were created (well at least beyond the edit suite 😉 But I think this film accomplished something good.
When we began our research – neither Christine nor I could find any other documentaries that that had anything positive to say about romance novels. Well, we had something positive to say and we wanted to share it with the world. Yes – romance fiction is fantasy. It can be fun, entertaining, sexy, even (dare I say) tawdry. But it’s also feminist. Yikes! How can I make that claim? Well, let’s see. It’s written BY WOMEN, ABOUT WOMEN, and mostly FOR WOMEN. The woman – the heroine – always overcomes. She always wins. In the words of Jennifer Crusie (whom we interviewed for the film – lucky us!) “It’s a female fantasy quest”. So – yes, it is a fantasy. But it’s also a quest. Which means that the hero-ine undergoes a transformation in each and every story. Okay, she falls in love with the hero. But it also means she falls in love with herself as she overcomes both internal and external conflicts. She changes. She grows. She conquers. She loves. Certainly, there’s a lot more to romance fiction than that but it’s one of the reasons why I love it…why I have always loved romance fiction and what prompted me to make this documentary in the first place.

From the time I started reading romance (way back when I was about 14-15 years old and I discovered “The Flame and the Flower” and “The Wolf and the Dove” by the late, great Kathleen Woodiwiss – in my high school library no less!) I knew inside that romance was empowering. Even when I studied journalism and film theory and kinda hid the fact that I read romance from my friends (silly me) – I always loved it. And I figured out (like all romance fans do) that Jane Austen wrote romance! Ah yes, redemption! After I got older – and wiser I no longer cared who knew that I loved romance fiction. After I finished my documentary in 2007 I launched a romance fiction group on facebook called “A Love of Romance Novels”. The group has grown to more than 1,800 members including both authors and readers alike. From teenagers to senior citizens – both male and female – romance fans love a good story…as long as it’s got a happy ending of course!

“Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” has been broadcast in Canada on Bravo! many times since it premiered in 2007. Our executive producer is GAPC Entertainment – a respected Canadian production company. Our international distributor is APT World Wide – known for distributing many fine PBS documentaries. APT recently made a sale to the Ovation Channel in Australia. I am not sure about future broadcast dates so if you live in Australia and get the Ovation Channel check your local listings.

Joanna has just launched a new blog called popculturedivas. It features 25 dynamic women contributors who dish about TV, movies, music and books–and yours truly blogs there once a month:) Come and visit! We want to know what you think of the cool new design.

Are you a proud reader of romance like Joanna, or still firmly in the closet when it comes to your own circle of acquaintances? What do you say when someone asks you why you read romance?