Posted by Joan Kayse May 5 2013, 12:21 am in Derby, historical romance, horses, Joan Kayse, Romance
Be calm people…..not here in The Lair although Goddess knows we have some great ones.
You go first. No YOU go first…
NOTE: Would all BB’s please check the Lost and Found closet on your next visit…it’s overflowing and giving Paolo fits. We also found some “interesting” items….Helen? Are you missing a cricket bat painted with Sven’s face? PJ….girl….is the chocolate fondue pot with glitter dipping sticks yours? And who Bedazzled this riding crop?
No, I’m talking right now, in River City aka Louisville. As I write this, a long shot won the Lilies for the Fillies, the Kentucky Oaks. It was preceded by a parade of breast cancer survivors, one of which is my dear BFF. It’s known as “Derby for Louisvillians” because really? The main event is taken up by rich and famous and out of towners.
Don’t I look posh, darling?
Now, I love the races, go a couple of times a year. Yes, I bet on horses based on their names. Today alone, two drew my attention Kittens Dumplings and Admiral Kitten and dang….one called Fear the Kitten ALMOST got to be in the big race tomorrow!!!
The majority of our city folks don’t go through the root deep traditional or the over blown hoohaha of the actual event. But you always know that it’s Derby week:
1. Expressway signs start changing. Traffic cones delivered to exit ramps. Banners at the local strip clubs “Welcome” Derby visitors.
2. Wednesday is Steamboat race. Exaggerated hoopla with “shenanigans” built-in.
3. Pegasus Parade. Tried to watch it on TV only to come to the realization that parades aren’t parades anymore! The bands, the floats, the celebrities on cars all stop to perform for the camera! I’ve noticed this at the Macy’s day parade too. It’s a parade people! Move along, move along!
Also, on this day, you start noticing private jets flying into the airport. By tomorrow, a huge tarmac will be wing to wing with Lears. Among the well heeled are sheiks…very into racing. Sounds like a Harlequin “The Sheik’s Lost Horse Trainer’s Secret Baby”
4. The Goodyear Blimp arrives. This year, painted as a minion from Despicable Me? Next year, expect a Romance Bandits one
5. Right now a local society couple are having their annual bash to benefit Diabetes. It’s held at their modest mansion in the center of a historically posh neighborhood. Celebrities come, locals in formal wear. Several years ago I was among the onlookers. My friend and had a good view from the rear. It was amusing watching glamorous ladies try to use a Porto Potty in full gowns
So most years I’m a bit blasé about all of it. But this year, my friend and I decided we’d go down to Waterfront Park to the Chow Wagon. Nice area right along the Ohio River. It was a nice day, their were ducks and loads of people watching. Ok, I admit it. We went cause I saw a sign on a newscast for “Giant Corn Dogs”. :0 Didn’t realize they’d cost $10!
Here are some pics from our big party day…
So, I tried to get into the spirit. Had almost made it too. Until we went to leave and I got a Derby surprise. Here’s my imitation of Olympian McKayla Maroney
What about you all? Does your community have any annual festivities?
Posted by Donna MacMeans Mar 23 2013, 12:32 am in Attraction, Donna MacMeans, Dr. Helen Fisher, Match.com, Romance
I heard about a survey the other day and wondered if you all had seen it too.
Match.com conducted a survey that included approximately 5,500 single men and women and 1,000 married men and women. The results were both fun and interesting.
For example, to the question “what do singles want?” The answers were:
2. Someone they can trust and confide in
3. Makes me laugh
4. Physically attractive
Now aren’t those pretty much the same qualities that readers cited when asked about the qualities of a hero? Thought this was interesting.
The questionnaire was designed to look at singles’s desires and dating habits. One question was designed to see qualities a man might have that would make him attractive to women, and conversely what qualities a woman should possess to be attractive to a man. The results – at least the first two highest ranked responses – were similar. Women judge men by their teeth (70%) and their grammar (69%). I figure basically women are looking at hygiene and education, although the Phd that ran the survey said good teeth were a measure of fertility. Hmmm….have to ponder that one. The third quality was clothes (58%), I’m thinking that’s a way women can quickly judge economic and cultural status, and fourth was the guy’s car (24%) – definite economic status.
As to what men look for in women, #1 was also good teeth, although by a smaller margin (58%). Grammar was also second – again by a smaller margin (55%). The men looked for good hair (51%) which I could buy as an indication of health and fertility. I wonder, though, what exactly constitutes “good hair”? Is it an attractive cut? Long and bouncy? I’m guessing it’s not long, grey or greying . Is it hair that is multicolored? just curious.
I like this next statistic because it’s such a change from previous years. 90% of the singles open to marriage believe they can stay married to the same person forever. The previous year, 2011, this percentage was only 78% and the year before that 76%. Of the married individuals in the survey, 80% say they would marry the same spouse again (awwww). The only thing married spouses miss is having an independent schedule. Yeah – a spouse and kids will mess with independent everything But isn’t it sweet that it’s no longer assumed that every marriage will end in divorce? That was the mindset when I married back in the 70s. Good to see this changing.
The belief in love at first sight is growing – 56% in 2012, 54% in 2011 versus 41% in 2010. I would say this is the result of romance novels, but I was surprised to learn that more men (61%) than women (51%) believe in love at first sight. In fact, the Phd running the survey mentioned that overall men were more romantic than women. No kidding! If that’s true, I think they keep it well-hidden. I shouldn’t say that. My recent Cancun trip was because the dh wanted to be somewhere warm and romantic on Valentine’s Day. The photo is from our hotel room in Cancun.
Finally, I enjoyed the conclusions drawn by a series of questions that the older one gets, the happier they become. Up until the age of 60, only 20% of the population sample identified themselves as “very happy.” Of the group aged 61-70, 37% said they were very happy. The percentage jumps to 44% for those aged 70+. I have this very encouraging and yeah, I’d place myself in the very happy overall category.
You can read the full results of the survey here: http://blog.match.com/2013/02/11/dr-helen-fishers-singles-in-america-presentation/ After the power point slides, there’s a video clip of the actual presentation of results but it’s a little hard to hear over the sound of a coffee barista at work (or maybe it was a bartender – can’t tell). I’ve just mentioned the highlights I thought most intriguing.
So what do you think? What’s the first thing you notice in a guy (or gal) that interests you? Do you think the laws of attraction have changed ov er the years? Or is this pretty much the same as the past? If you had it to do all over again, would you go about things in the same way? Hey – someone will win a copy of Casanova Code, because that’s what “very happy” people do . Let’s chat
Posted by Nancy Northcott Mar 5 2013, 1:29 am in dark fantasy, mages, Nancy's blogs, paranormal, Protector, Romance, The Protectors
There were a couple of times in my life, before I met the dh, when I was attracted to guys who were seriously wrong for me. Seriously, totally, obviously wrong. Did that stop me from being attracted to them? Of course not, because then life would’ve been too easy.
This is the exact problem Josh Campbell and Edie Lang, the hero and heroine of my just-out-now novella, Protector, have. We’ll get back to them in a minute because I’m launching their story today, but first–Welcome! Give your drink order to Marco over by the bar, sample some of Sven’s canapes, and pull up a chair.
The idea for this novella came from the reading I did about wildland firefighting a couple of years ago. Nora’s Chasing Fire got me interested, and I pursued the subject the way I do all my new interests, which is to say rabidly. Just ask the dh if you don’t believe me.
Anyway, that was the year the Honey Prairie fire burned for months in Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp (Those of you who’re regulars knew the swamp was going to come into it, didn’t you?). At left is a burned tree trunk near the water’s edge. The fire raged over much of the swamp before it was done.
That’s actually good for the swamp in the long run. The ranger station at the wildlife refuge sold t-shirts describing it as a “fire-dependent ecosystem,” but the short term damage was extensive.
Here’s a photo of the plants along the Suwanee Canal in May of last year, a little less than a year after the fire was finally out. Everything should be green, but you can see that it isn’t. A lot of the trees, especially the cypresses, recovered, but others had to be taken down.
The ghouls, who’re villains in my series, think they can use the swamp’s energy, so I wondered what might happen if they were working powerful magic there and something went wrong.
Here’s the blurb:
Danger is nothing new to mage firefighter and paramedic Edie Lang, but she’d run cheerfully into a blazing forest rather than face Josh Campbell. The hot-as-hell flyboy is less the one that got away than the one who pushed her away—and Edie will be damned if she’ll go there again. But everything changes when they are connected by an evil that threatens their magic—and their lives.
For Josh, flying his helicopter in and out of fires is nowhere near as nerve wracking as dealing with Edie. She’s more than just another mage, and he hasn’t forgotten a single scorching moment of their brief time together. Now a dark, unseen force is attacking them both. It is draining their power, forcing them to search together for a cure . . . and making them live each moment as if it were their last.
Here’s the opening:
Of all the helicopter pilots who could’ve flown this medevac run, why did Josh Campbell have to be the one who showed up? Edie Lang snatched a sidelong look at him. His tall, broad-shouldered form seemed to take up more than his share of the cockpit space. Or maybe her unwelcome awareness of him caused that crowded sensation.
His headset and tan ball cap hid most of his sun-kissed, light brown hair but emphasized his profile. Josh’s straight nose and strong chin might’ve graced a classical statue. Intently tracking the burning landscape, his eyes were green today, like his flight suit, but an intriguing mix of green and brown when he wore street clothes.
He still looked as sexy and, unfortunately, as aloof as he did three years ago, when they’d last worked together. They’d been part of a helicopter firefighting crew in Wyoming until she’d left.
Not that their history mattered now.
At least he would get her to the injured firefighter in one piece. Josh had his faults, but no one flew wildfire rescue better than he did. Although fire-generated air currents buffeted the chopper, his piloting skills, combined with a bit of magic, kept it steady above the flaming, smoky swamp.
It was his skill at other things that made her edgy.
She suddenly felt self-conscious about her grimy face and the smoke and ash stains on her fire-resistant yellow shirt and green pants, not to mention her hair that probably looked more gray than blond by now. She’d fought the wildfire until she got the injury call and switched her brain to paramedic mode.
So what if she and Josh had almost done the deed once when they worked together? That’d been a freak incident, a mistake he’d realized before they made it worse by going all the way.
It was just her bad luck this fire was so big that her crew from Colorado and his from…wherever had been rotated into Georgia to fight it.
Unfortunately, their one intimate encounter had etched itself into her memory. She knew every warm, sleek contour of the sculpted form under that flight suit. Those hard, smooth shoulders of his flowed into a firm chest and muscular, well-toned arms. The man was good with his hands in ways that had nothing to do with aviation.
Edie shifted in her seat. Best to get her mind off what had so briefly been and never would happen again.
If only his spicy aftershave didn’t remind her.
The magic they shared resonated between them, but Josh projected all the warmth of a steel door in a freezer. He probably hadn’t expected to see her again any more than she’d expected to see him.
Still, his silence was aggravating. One aborted night together didn’t give either of them a claim on the other, but they weren’t strangers. Damned if she’d put up with his attitude any longer.
“So,” she began, “when did you leave Wyoming?”
“Couple of years ago.” His offhand tone signaled boredom.
Tough for him. “Any special reason?”
“Got a better job.”
“And that would be…?”
He glanced at her, green eyes baffled and brows raised. “Does it matter?”
“We worked together for two summers,” she reminded him, trying not to sound as hurt as his reticence made her feel. Had he really blocked off their time as helitack crewmates so thoroughly? “I’m interested.”
He shrugged. “I wanted a change.”
“So what are you doing now?” Besides irritating her with his minimal responses—deliberately, she suspected.
“Jesus! You just don’t give up.” But his glance this time held wry humor and warmth that might’ve been affection.
It made Edie’s heart turn over. Momentarily speechless, she stared at him, and his gaze softened and warmed. His vibe in the magic between them seemed less distant.
Josh wrenched his eyes to the side, barriers rising again. His abrupt withdrawal left Edie feeling bereft. She swallowed hard, waiting for the needy quivers in her gut to settle. It was so not fair that he could make her feel this way after three years of noncommunication.
“I fly combat missions and medevac for the Southeastern Shire Collegium , better known as the Georgia Institute for Paranormal Research,” he said.
The mageborn organized their governing districts by shires, disguising the combined headquarters and government centers they called C ollegiums as Mundane businesses. The deception allowed them to live and work safely amid their Mundane neighbors. She hadn’t visited Georgia before and had never heard the Southeastern Shire Collegium’s cover name.
“So they loaned you and this chopper to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and reconfigured the rear for medevac?”
He shrugged. “The wildlife refuge has a helicopter service contract, but that bird was already working another fire. The Collegium mages like to be good neighbors, and some of us hang out in a little town near here, Wayfarer.”
“Yeah, I stopped there on the way in,” she managed around the lump in her throat. “Nice place.”
She might be better off if he hadn’t shown her that flash of warmth, hadn’t underscored the brief, bittersweet memory.
Wildland firefighters shared a rare camaraderie. For Edie and Josh, being mageborn should’ve created an ever deeper trust, but the man kept her at the same distance he maintained with every other woman on the fire line.
Except for that night at Compadres Gulch, when grief ripped through the firefighters’ encampment because they’d lost three of their own in a deadly burnover. She and Josh had briefly found refuge in each other’s arms, but his pager had interrupted them, summoning him to make an emergency retardant drop. He hadn’t kept his promise to return afterward.
If only she could forget that incident. He clearly had. The next day, he’d treated her with his usual cool courtesy. As though nothing had happened between them.
What an idiot she was, to regret that after so long.
That’s their reunion, and their road gets rockier from here.
There are some familiar faces in the story as well. Griff, Val, Will and Stefan from Renegade are all here, and part of the story takes place at the Collegium. In addition to some magical conflict with the ghouls, there’s a bit about Stefan and the woman he loved and lost, leading up to the release of his book, Guardian, in July.
Protector is being released as an ebook, and there are currently no plans to offer a print edition. Forever Yours did have a few ARCs printed up, though, uncorrected manuscript proofs bound in trade paperback size with the same gorgeous cover as on the ebook–only bigger!
One commenter today will win one of these ARCs, signed, and a Keeper Kase with signed Renegade and Protector cover cards.
Everybody comfortable? Good. What did Marco give you at the bar, and what’s your favorite of Sven’s treats? Did you ever have a crush on someone you knew was totally wrong for you? How did you deal with it? Do you have any questions about Protector or the series in general?
Posted by Joan Kayse Feb 13 2013, 12:30 am in cats, Joan Kayse, Romance
You’ll forgive me if today’s post is a bit on the shorter side. That’s because I’m into week 3 of recovery from a knee replacement.
Dear. God. In. Heaven.
Wow, it has been an eye opener for this 30 plus year orthopaedic nurse. To say I’ve gained unique perspective from the patient point of view is an understatement. Fortunately, I’ve had the best caregivers: Brother, friends bearing chicken noodle/casserole/dumpling dishes and willing to do laundry or slap me around when a pity party threatens.
And then there are the kittes.
Gotta make sure the bed is ready!
Seriously, hanging out with my baby cats 24/7 has been fun and they are doing their part. In fact, I believe their special kind of healing began in the hospital. The 2nd night after my surgery, I kept waking up “sensing” Cricket in my room! Now, we both know I was not at home and she doesn’t drive so she couldn’t have been there, right? Right? RIGHT?
But then I came home. Cricket is the shy one even around me, but this little girl gloamed onto me like a magnet. You’ve seen the one commercial where a guy has his two kitties around his ankles like boots? That is Miss Cricket. She’s lying in my lap, draped over my ankles, following my walker, meowing her little head off. She keeps wanting to lie ON my healing knee.
Grayson is still the inquisitive one. He splays out across my chest, sniffs around the walker, the CPM machine (passive motion machine), a trick that makes me nervous when he gets around the controls! He distracts me with his antics and I’m convinced he’s set the world record for tail chasing.
Wonder what this button does?
Now, back to more kitty therapy!
What about your pets? Do they sense when you aren’t feeling well? What do they do to make you feel better?
Posted by Joan Kayse Jan 27 2013, 12:21 am in Alison Atlee, cats, Romance, Typewriter Girl
Please join me in welcoming debut author Alison Atlee!
Alison is a wonderful young lady who is deceptive in her sweet, quiet, charming way. Don’t believe it! Beneath this teacher by day is a witty, fun, crazy talented writer who I consider it a privilage to know! And now, take it away Alison!
Romance Bandits is one of the first book blogs I ever followed, so it’s an amazing milestone to be here as a writer, hosted by our dear Joan Kayse. Regulars here at the Lair may know Joan has a slight fondness for felines. Therefore, in her honor, I’d like to talk cats today, or at least two particular cats, both belonging to my mom. Here’s the first one, Caesar:
In case you can’t tell from the picture, Caesar is woefully misnamed. There’s not one thing about this cat that suggests conqueror or master strategist. The historical Caesar may have craved power and success, but this feline Caesar—he’s why the word “pussycat” was invented, always ready to take an empty lap and curl his head into your hand for a nuzzle.
Caesar has a brother. I don’t have a picture, but just imagine Caesar duplicated. Still, it was never hard to tell them apart: Caesar came running; his brother hung back.
One day, with Caesar purring and doing adorable belly rolls in the grass, one of my little nieces asked, “Why is that other cat mean?”
“He’s not,” I answered, and proceeded to demonstrate how, with patience and quiet effort, I could coax the other cat to approach, give the ruff of his neck a good scratch, and get him purring. “See? He likes to be petted, too. He just doesn’t show it as much.”
“I like Caesar,” my niece replied.
I understood. Caesar is easy to love. He asks for love, he accepts it, he returns it. Caesar’s brother always kept his distance, watching and waiting.
While these two cats were growing up, I was immersed in writing and rewriting The Typewriter Girl, which meant no matter where I was, something was likely to trigger ideas about my story. My niece’s preference for Caesar made me realize Betsey, my book’s heroine, was like that other cat.
Which made me sad. Because with time, the differences between Caesar and his brother increased. Where Caesar thrived and became part of the family, the other cat turned thin and more distant, disappearing for days before tentatively creeping back home for a bit of food. I called him Cassius sometimes because he had “a lean and hungry look,” but no name ever stuck to him. There are no pictures of him. Eventually, he stopped coming around at all.
I didn’t want this fate for Betsey. I already knew The Typewriter Girl had a happy ending, but I realized I didn’t know why it was happy. What had Betsey done to earn it?
Well, what had Caesar done to get his happiness? He asked for it. He didn’t worry so much about deserving love. He just asked for it, he was receptive to it, and it just kept coming his way.
Betsey had to learn that. I remembered an early scene in the book, when she’s still a stranger to the seaside resort town where she’s come to work, and she tries to thank the landlady at her new boarding house. That simple act is awkward for her. After thinking about Caesar and his brother, I understood Betsey had to come to a place where she could risk, reach out, and ask for love.
In the video short “Heart Attack” by SoulPancake, a big box stands in a park. Outside the box is a button labeled NEED SOME LOVE? PUSH HERE. When someone pushes the button, the box explodes with streamers and balloons and dancers–a fun, joyous celebration that fills your heart.
But the big takeaway from that video? People had to choose to push the button. Without knowing what would happen, they had to say, “Yeah, I could use some love,” and push the button.
So many people pass it by. Some ignore it, some eye it with curiosity or suspicion. One person even tries to keep her companion from going to check it out.
A few take the chance. Some are like Caesar and run right for it. Others are cautious, awkward, but they do it anyway. They push the button. In The Typewriter Girl, Betsey learns how to do it, and John, the hero, is her “heart attack.” He celebrates her.
If you have three minutes and want to feel a little lighter in your shoes, go watch the video. But come back! What lessons have your pets taught you? Are you someone who runs for the button or are you a little more cautious? And whom can you count on to give you a “heart attack” when you need it?
Cats with ROMAN names! I’m in heaven! And you will be too with this awesome book!
Alison is giving away one autographed copy of The Typewriter Girl!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Jun 27 2012, 12:05 am in Basketball, contemporary romance, Keeping Score, multicultural, Patricia Sargeant, Regina Hart, Romance, Smooth Play
Patricia Sargeant aka Regina Hart is a good friend and a great writer. What a pleasure to welcome her back into the lair again! Before I turn the blog over to Regina, I just wanted to share some of the rave reviews KEEPING SCORE has garnered. RT Bookreviews gave KEEPING SCORE a 4.5 star rating saying “When a reader gets so invested that she wants to pimp-slap characters in a book, the author has done her job. The writing is clever and funny, and the rooting interest for the lead couple is high.” Publishers Weekly says: “A keen understanding of the human heart gives this mature romantic story a realistic tone. The dialogue is explosive, seductive, and pleading as it artfully shows the silent strength of the characters.” I’d say Regina hit one out of the park with KEEPING SCORE, but then that would be the wrong sport. Here’s Regina:
It’s great to be back in The Lair! How’s everyone doing? Well, I hope!
Donna, thank you so much for inviting me back to this great community. I always have fun here. There’s a lot of positive energy. And of course, I appreciate the opportunity to tell everyone that Keeping Score, the last book in the Brooklyn Monarchs trilogy, which I’m writing as Regina Hart – will be released in six short days. July 3, 2012. I’m getting all hyped up just thinking about it.
The Brooklyn Monarchs books are contemporary romances featuring the franchise members and friends of a fictional National Basketball Association team set in Brooklyn, New York. I visited the Romance Bandits blog almost a year ago – June 19, 2011 – to chat with you about Fast Break, the first book in the trilogy. (Ah, the fond memories!) Fast Break launches the team’s Cinderella Season with the franchise’s owner, Jaclyn Jones, and the team’s rookie head coach, DeMarcus Guinn. The second book, Smooth Play, centers on the team’s vice president of media and marketing, Troy Marshall, and sports reporter Andrea Benson.
Keeping Score ends the Monarchs’ Magical Season with veteran baller Warrick Evans and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Devry-Evans. In this story, Warrick’s quest for the NBA championship could cost him his marriage. I know. It sucks to be him.
Happily Ever Afters. That’s why we love the romance genre, isn’t it? We like to read, “And they lived happily ever after.” But we sometimes wonder what the characters are doing now, don’t we? For example, are Joan Wilder and Jack Colton from “Romancing the Stone” and “Jewel of the Nile” still sailing around the world? Are Leslie Wright and Scott McKnight from “Just Wright” parents now? And what about Leslie’s cousin, Morgan? Did she find her Prince Charming? Will we get Morgan’s story?
What happens to our hero and heroine after the “happily ever after”?
One of my favorite song lyrics of all time – and I have a bunch of them – is from Faith Hill’s song, “This Kiss.” The line is, “Cinderella said to Snow White, ‘How does love get so off course?’” That lyric helped inspire Warrick and Marilyn’s story. They had their happily ever after – and then somehow their love got off course. Their story is a twist on the reunion hook. They’re still together. But they’re fighting to save their marriage. Will their love be enough to win that battle? Find out July 3. (LOL! I couldn’t resist.)
Your turn! What are some of your favorite song lyrics – or your favorite songs? Two of you brave souls who share your secrets with us will get one copy each of Smooth Play, the second book in my Brooklyn Monarchs trilogy.
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 29 2012, 12:54 am in Romance, Susan Sey, zombies
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away (okay, it was the late nineties), I was a dewy young thing, freshly shed of an annoying boyfriend.
This is an interesting time, isn’t it? The days just after a deeply desired break up? When nobody’s heart is particularly broken, and you’re both better off without the bad habit you’ve become to each other? It’s strangely optimistic. And you’re wise. You’ve learned so much. You’re thinking, “No more musicians, & I mean it!” Or “I’ll never move for a guy again.” Or “My mother was so right,” not that you’d ever admit it.
At this point of my life, Mr. Sey was right around the corner. (Not that I knew it, even though my mother had always said that’s exactly where I’d find him. Because what kind of twenty-five year old thinks her mother knows anything about love?) So I had no knowledge yet that the next boy who caught my attention would be the love of my life, the father of my children, & the best thing since paperback novels.
No, all I knew was that I was diving back into the dating pool. And this time, I was going in with a list. I had criteria. The next guy I dated would fit them, too. This paragon of manhood would do the following three things, or be summarily dismissed from consideration. He would:
1) Run with me. I’ve always been a sporty girl, & have been jogging since the tender age of 8 when my mother decided I was old enough to defend her from the neighborhood dogs on her jogs. I was tired of being able to kick my date’s butt, cardiovascularly speaking. In the event of the zombie apocalypse, I wanted a guy I wouldn’t have to piggy-back to safety. Is that so much to ask?
2) Dance with me. I was in that stage of life where a lot of friends were getting married & I was sick to death of attending receptions with guys who wouldn’t shake a tail feather. I wanted to dance, & I wanted to do it with joy and laughter and in somebody’s arms, darn it. I wanted somebody with the confidence (and, okay, the hand-eye coordination) to shake his booty occasionally and not give a rip who was looking.
3) Read with me. I, like you all, am a voracious reader. I read books like a lot of people breathe. It’s just something I do somewhat compulsively & without conscious thought. I have at least two books going at a time, sometimes three. One upstairs, one downstairs, one in my purse. When I have a minute to spare I want to stick my nose in a book, & it kills me when one isn’t handy. The only thing I like about as well as reading is talking to people about reading. What I’ve read, what they’ve read, what we think about what we’ve read. This is particularly satisfying when we’ve both read the same book, because then we can argue about it. And I refused to get involved with even one more guy who didn’t love books.
So along comes Mr. Sey, & you know where he took me on our first date? That all-important first date, when we barely knew each other? Dancing. Swing dancing, to be exact. The old-fashioned kind of dancing where you have to put your hand in his & let him spin you around. I’ll never forget standing up to walk to the dance floor with him for the first time. The place was packed so he grabbed my hand as we squeezed through the crowd & said, “Don’t want to lose you, right?”
You know how strange it is the first time somebody holds your hand? How it feels all weird & new? This didn’t feel like that at all. It felt like he’d been taking my hand all my life. So I let him have it, & I have never for a single moment considered taking it back.
Now lest you think I somehow stumbled across everything my 25 year old self thought she wanted, the running thing? That’s a wash. He runs if chased, & once in a blue moon, when I express my concerns about his stroking out in front of his iPad, he’ll lace up his sneakers & trot along on a jog. But I keep him anyway, & do you know why?
He reads with me. He not only reads with me, he scours the internet for the most interesting, talked-about books of the year, & he reads them. And when one grabs his imagination, he puts it on my nightstand–right on the top of my towering To Be Read pile–and badgers me until I read it too. And why? So he can hear what I think about it. Because he wants to hear what I think about it. He likes how my brain works, & he wants to know how our experience of a cool story stacks up.
I know, right? Sometimes I remember how lucky I am & it gets all caught in my throat. I’m wading through The Stand by Stephen King right now because he said it was awesome, & you know what? He’s right. It is awesome, & at least half of the awesome is because now we’re talking at the dinner table every night about the nature of gods and demons, & the likelihood of that zombie apocalypse. And you know what? If there really was a zombie apocalypse? I’d totally piggyback him to safety.
So what about you? Are you the couple that reads together? Does your partner read for fun at all? Do you read the same books? Or do you prefer your reading life to be separate? How much should the happy couple have in common, anyway? And in the event of the zombie apocalypse, are you the piggy-backer or the piggy-backee?
Posted by Caren Crane Sep 12 2010, 4:26 am in Caren Crane, Jo Beverley, old-fashioned love, Romance
by Caren Crane
First, a confession: I love antique furniture, high-necked blouses, floor-length skirts and men in waistcoats and fedoras. The kind of date my husband and I love is dinner and a movie – not necessarily outside our home, either. My perfect lazy day includes curling up in the padded window seat of a picture window, reading a book, sipping tea and daydreaming. I love my house and, once home in the evening, I am loathe to leave it. I love mom, apple pie and white picket fences. I am old-fashioned to my cornball core.
I guess it should come as no surprise, then, that I adore old-fashioned love stories. The kind that are far more than 400 pages, rife with multiple points of view, myriad secondary plots and a countless secondary characters. I am, perhaps, the last, lone reader who enjoys a slow introduction to a thick, well-crafted novel. I enjoy meandering through a solidly-developed plot with characters so three-dimensional you feel you know them inside and out. My ultimate is the kind of story where the romance is just one aspect of a fantastic and sweeping tale.
In other words, I love the sort of story that is rarely published anymore.
I know how scarce these books are, since I look for them periodically. I try to find new favorites, but few authors tell the kind of story I am after when I want a slow meander. I have found a few authors who manage it, notably Deanna Raybourn in her Lady Julia Grey series, which began with Silent in the Grave. Because I savored every word of the series, it was doomed to end too soon, of course. The publisher was impatient for soaring sales, which apparently it did not have – at least, not high enough for them. Too bad for us. Lady Julia’s family, the Marches, are an entity unto themselves. Each one more interesting and eccentric than the last, they should have an endless stream of books in which to live their lives. Alas, HQN killed that one!
I also recently found – thanks to my lovely sister, Holli – A Private Hotel For Gentle Ladies by Ellen Cooney. Curious about what others thought of this lovely, rather old-fashioned tale, I found many reviewers did not understand the story. Without the obvious signposts in most of today’s fiction (Hero! Villain! Black moment!) and an immediate statement of the heroine’s ultimate goal (which, according to the reviews, should be unchanging), some readers were lost. It was, at heart, a story about a woman coming into her own and learning who she is and what she wants outside her Victorian marriage. Yes, friends, it was about that least popular theme – a death knell in fiction today – personal growth. It was a book that begged for sequels, yet none have been published. Another one bites the dust.
I like books where people are flawed, cranky, imperfect and trying really hard to do the best they can, like I am most days. I don’t always need or want action, murder, mayhem, shape-shifters, magic or smoking hot sexy time in my reading. Sometimes, I just want to observe the beauty of a summer day in Cornwall with Judith Dunbar, the heroine of Rosamunde Pilcher’s exceptional book, Coming Home. I want to witness her loves and losses, trials and joys and heartbreak over the 15 or so years covered in the story.
Or I want to witness the struggle of a young, uneducated mother trying her best to keep her family together in LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory. To see Ellie learn that love can be something different and more than she never knew existed (and certainly didn’t have in her first marriage). I want to linger, at times, over the possibility of a first kiss, to agonize over an unbidden and inadvisable attraction, to dally with the notion of a forever kind of love.
I want books where I smile and sigh at the end, because things are beautiful, satisfying and full of promise, just as love should be and would be if I could design it. I want old-fashioned tales of love enjoyed in intricate, elaborate, gorgeous detail (along with observations from the cook, the gardener and Great Aunt Lavinia, if I can get them). My love of these stories has garnered much disdain from relatives and friends who prefer serious fiction. What, I ask, is more serious than establishing a love that will last a lifetime? I will happily remain a cockeyed, old-fashioned optimist.
Do you have some old-fashioned love story recommendations? Any long, detailed and fulfilling stories that have filled your heart and brought tears of sorrow and joy to your eyes? I am always looking for new favorites, so please share!
Posted by Nancy Northcott Aug 21 2010, 4:16 am in Dragons, fantasy adventure, Jo Beverley, Romance
“Here be dragons,” read the margins of old maps, warning of dangers in the seas beyond the known (flat) world. Today, however, we know what’s in those spaces, or think we do, and dragons are consigned to the realms of myth and magic.
A book I’ve been using for research on the current wip says dragons are part of almost every culture on the planet, that they’re associated with the Great Goddess and are symbols of power and royalty. Pretty cool.
The book also mentions an herb called dragon blood that’s used for a variety of magical purposes, such as those involving love, purification and protection. Some sources say it can add power to particular spells.
Helping carry a long paper dragon is part of Chinese New Year celebrations. King Arthur’s surname has come down to us in legend as Pendragon, and Wales historically used a red dragon on its flag. Beowulf fought his last battle against a firedrake, a winged serpent that breathed fire.
The Vikings, as I imagine we all know, carved dragon heads onto the prows of their ships. In Norse mythology, the dragon Fafnir guarded a treasure hoard until Sigurd, or Siegfried, slew him. Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, coiled around the world with his tail in his mouth and created the oceans.
One of my favorite children’s songs is “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary. If you’re too young to know who they are, click on the link. I think “Puff” is probably available from iTunes or from their website. It’s a sad song about what happens to our childhood’s imaginary friends when we move on, but it has an upbeat ending. And no, I never made the counter-culture associations with it until someone pointed them out to me.
The boy has led us to many fictional and fabulous dragons. Playmobil makes wonderful, if pricey, knights and dragons. One of the boy’s favorite Pokemon was the orange dragon, Charizard, who had a very obstinate and independent personality. From Pokemon, our son moved to Yu-Gi-Oh, which featured the Blue Eyes White dragon and several others.
If you like dragons, you should check out the beautiful, detailed children’s book Dragonology, which I would never have seen if the boy hadn’t been the right age to care when it came out.
Much as Sherlock Holmes’s adventures are presented as John Watson’s chronicles, the material here is supposedly the result of extensive research by a Victorian dragonologist into types of dragons, preferred foods, ability to fly, ability to speak, and pretty much anything else a person might ponder about dragons.
The boy also had a gorgeous picture book about why dragons left the world, but I can’t remember the title. One of his favorite picture books was Saint George and the Dragon (original cover pictured at left), with text by Margaret Hodges and illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, who won the Caldecott Award for it.
The tale of St. George and the dragon, of course, is an old one. This version comes from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen, but it’s beautifully retold. When the boy weeded his childhood books, we refused to let him discard this one or Dragonology.
Our search for adventure books to share with our young son, who had no bias against stories starring girls, led us to Patricia C. Wrede’s wonderful series about Cimorene, a princess who hates court life so much that she runs away to cook for a dragon. When knights come to her aid, she finds creative ways to discourage them because she has no desire to be rescued, thank you very much.
The first book, Dealing with Dragons, is pictured at right. The books are rich in story and humor, and the princess has major but endearing attitude and quick wits. She eventually finds true love. The last book in the series, actually the first published, features her son.
Now the boy is into Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, an alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars in which the armies have air forces mounted on dragons. In the first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, a Royal Navy captain captures a rare dragon egg, only to have it hatch on his ship. The dragon, Temeraire, chooses the captain as his rider, changing his life forever.
Novik won SFWA’s John W. Campbell Award for the most promising newcomer with this book. The series is now up to six and still going strong. They’re on the “must read” list for me, but I’m putting them off until the first of the year, when I’m not teaching, lest I be swept up and unable to stop until I reach the end. The Aerial Corps, as England’s dragonriders are known, seems like the Napoleonic equivalent of World War II’s RAF, and I’m a real sucker for Battle of Britain stories. And dragons.
As an adult reading Tolkien for the first time, I met Smaug, the greedy creature who has a riddle match with Bilbo Baggins in his cave outside the town of Dale. Given my weakness for archers and Smaug’s sly malevolence, it’s no wonder I loved the scene where Bard the Bowman’s expert shot brought down the dragon. I didn’t love the Bakshi version, so I’ll be interested to see how this comes across in the forthcoming movie.
The first dragons I remember finding really cool were in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight (pictured at right with the beautiful Michael Whelan cover that graces my copy), the book that launched her epic Dragonriders of Pern series. The planet Pern suffers from periodic invasions by something called thread–long filament spores that fall from the sky, starting fires and eating through anything they touch. To combat them, the Pernese bond with dragons when they hatch. As pairs, they take to the sky to fight thread before it reaches the ground. The riders feed the dragons stones that help generate fire breath, and the dragons destroy thread before it reaches the ground.
F’lar, the dragonriders’ leader, knows a queen egg is about to hatch. Because dragons choose their riders, not the other way around, he needs a selection of girls available to greet the hatchling. When he rescues Lessa, an abused servant, and takes her back to the weyr for the hatching, he doesn’t realize she and the golden queen, Ramoth, will win not only the planet’s future but his heart.
I also loved Melanie Rawn’s Dragon series, which starts with Dragon Prince. In a land threatened constantly by war, a new ruler and his wife struggle to protect the dragons tradition demands he slay. Doing so may be their best hope of avoiding war. There are six of these, shelved in fantasy but including a lot of romance. Another wonderful book is Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane, which kicks off her Winterlands series.
There are plenty of other dragons out there. Allyson James’s Stormwalker features a shapeshifter dragon as a hero, and Deborah Cooke has a series about shapeshifter dragons, just to name two. One of my favorite guilty pleasures movies is Reign of Fire, starring Christian Bale and Matthew McConnaughey, an alternate future tale about humans trying to destroy the dragons that have decimated them. Dragonheart, with Dennis Quaid and Sean Connery, has lots of fans, and How to Train Your Dragon has done well in theaters this summer.
So what are your favorite stories about dragons or other mythical creatures? A package of books I picked up from RWA National, including a signed copy of Jessica Andersen’s wonderful Demonkeeper, will go to one commenter today.
Posted by Tawny Weber May 14 2010, 4:21 am in lists, Romance, Tawny Weber
I’m about halfway through my current WIP (work in progress, currently titled Breaking the Rules) and it’s taking a much more romantic turn than most of my previous stories. Oh, sure, I’d like to think all my romances are romantic *g* But I’m feeling a much sweeter edge to this one.
Sweeter, and more romantic.
Which, since it pertains to writing, makes me instantly want to delve deeper. So in my usual fashion, I started making lists. Romantic lists, that is. Here’s what I came up with, and as you can see, the lists aren’t complete.
Soooooo…. Help? Can you add to my lists?
Best makeout songs:
- Always and Forever – Heatwave
- All My Love – Led Zeppelin
- Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden
- Wicked Game – Chris Isaac
- Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Most romantic movies:
- The Notebook
- Princess Bride
- Beauty and the Beast
- While You Were Sleeping
Most romantic places to make whoopie (to harken back to the Newlywed Game)
- Under a waterfall
- In a magical forest
- On a Harley (okay, maybe not romantic, but it’s hot, right?)
- Against the wall, just inside the front door. It has that, now, as soon as we have privacy desperation to it
- In a Sheik’s tent on a satiny mountain of soft pillows
And, of course, top romance novels?
- Easy peasy, anything by the Bandits
I’d like to build each list up to at least ten – what would you add?