Monday, June 30, 2008

And they lived happily ever after...

What is it that defines a really satisfying story? I'll admit to habitually picking up the standard grocery store historical romance and reading it in a few hours. I know what I'm getting. There will be a handsome rogue, a feisty lady, some kind of problem that needs addressing and yes, there will be a final portrait of the family living in wedded bliss.

However, as much as I enjoy these romps through the landscape of Old England, I do make practice of closing the book at the end of the last chapter. I don't tend to read the Epilogue that hints at babies born, joy and everything is just perfect now. It's all a given. There's no punch.

This is why my stories are not always Happily Ever After.
I've got two books releasing in the next month. The Forgotten Princess has the ending we all look for in a fairy tale—white horses, carriage, a wedding, and children to remember our hero and heroine. The Silver Scream, things do not end so well for our main characters. And yet, if you ask me which one has the better ending…I will pick The Silver Scream.

A little bit of sadness and desire unfulfilled leaves me, the reader, wanting just a little bit more. There's a need to return, and maybe for one little instant, a need to cry.
Crying…that is the ultimate stamp of approval in my reading world. If the Kleenex box is emptied, the book goes in the "Keeper" pile.

What about you? What makes you pick up yet another book? Is it the happy ending? A heartfelt experience? Or something else…

Visit my website!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Reading

Baby is on a reading quest this summer as she is every summer. She has five books to read for a summer challenge where in the fall she gets to attend an ice cream party at school. If she reads eight she gets something else over and above that. DO NOT ask me what the extra is. I’m getting to old to remember unimportant things like rewards (unless it's my royalties).

It also makes me sigh a little because I NEVER had to be given a reward to read a book. I devoured books from the time I was four, or was it five. *shrug* Thank God for my grandmother who handed me books left and right until eventually I was pulling from her bookshelves when I visited her house for two weeks in the summer. I remember several times begging to take a book home with me (750 miles) to return to her later. She generally let me unless it was a particular favorite of hers.

Reading YA Can Be Fun

Anyway, I looked over Baby’s sheet of books to select from, and I saw the book about Marley and Me. I'd heard good things about the book, and always thought that one day I'd get around to reading it. So that got me to thinking. What if we selected books I wanted to read. I could read them and be able to answer questions Baby has when she reads the book. So that’s exactly what we did.

The DH went and bought the five books that Baby and I agreed on taste wise, and I’ve already read one of them. I figure since this is a review, I needed to have a rating system like eveyrone else. Since I blog the same post on all my blogs to different audiences, I needed to come up with my own rating system outside of my weekly post at the GabWagon. Given that I love chocolate AND strawberries, I figured combining the two was a good rating picture. *grin* Personally, I'll only review books with a three rating or higher. I figure for a book I don't like, there will be enough scathing reviews from others that I don't need to expand the dialogue in that way.

The Review

Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Bethany is a sharp 12-year-old who is dropped off by her parents at an aunt’s house. An aunt she never knew until her parents unceremoniously drop her off at Myrlie’s place. As the plot unfolds, Bethany starts learning things about her parents and herself she never knew. Like most kids she questions whether some things are her fault, whether her parents don’t love her and she internalizes all of this because she’s afraid to ask questions. With each turn of the page, a question gets answered and a new question gets raised.

What I liked about this book is Bethany’s insecurities and the way the people around her react to her. Bethany is a strong character who asks the kind of questions parents hate, primarily because as parents we want to protect our children. This is a key element in the story. Everything that happens in the story is a direct result of Bethany's parents trying to protect her. As a parent I truly identified with that, but as a reader, I also identified with the insecurity that Bethany displays. I remember those insecurities and some of them still exist today. This isn’t an action adventure so much as it is a mystery. It’s the kind of mystery I loved to read when I was growing up.

The only thing I found weak about the book was how a politically controversial matter was dealt with in the story. I don’t want to give anything away, but the treatment of the “wrong-doing” on the part of a couple of characters didn’t work for me. But then I think for most kids, the politics aren’t going to require anything more than a neat and tidy ending. They’ve got other things on their minds than politics.

I heartily recommend this book as a fun YA book that you can share with your 10-year-old and up.

Baby is just now into Chapter 8 and really seems to be enjoying the read. I’ll post her opinion when she’s finished.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Little Bits

Some People Just Don’t Get It!

Yesterday I was getting the word out about an MSNBC poll about romance with lousy language. I wanted readers to get out and vote. I heard about the link from another RWA member on RWA Online who posted about it. I checked it out and wrote my own little blurb (didn’t even THINK to be lazy and copy my chapter mate’s words!)

Here was the message I posted on numerous loops.

Ok, the wording isn't the best...bodice rippers... but MSNBC has a poll going that asks folks if they read romance. They're showing a low percentage in the YES! category. If you love romance, let them hear us roar! You can vote at this link.

(Scroll down past the Danielle Steele's Rogue cover art to reach the poll link.)


Guess what I just read on a loop with major published authors on it.

Ok, the wording isn't the best...bodice rippers... but MSNBC has a poll going that asks folks if they read romance. They're showing a low percentage in the YES! category. If you love romance, let them hear us roar about it! You can vote at this link.

(Scroll down past the Danielle Steele's Rogue cover art to reach the poll link.)

I’m thinking the reuse of my words probably falls under the Fair Use section of copyright law. However, when I think back to the Cassie Edwards debacle (see SBTB and DA) and the uproar that caused, I’m going, Wait A Minute. This is a frigging published author posting this message who didn’t have the common decency to just say, hey I saw Monica Burns post this on another list. Here’s what she had to say.

While it’s possible the author who posted the message may have seen someone else repost my words, I think that’s a stretch. Particularly since there were only TWO changes and the rest is verbatim. Then again, maybe the author found it to be a major challenge to rewrite the damn post. I don’t know about you, but writing something new is tough. Credit I don’t need but I deserve the F*ck’ing respect and courtesy I give to other authors. On the flip side of the coin, Dana M. Bell used my post verbatim, but she said where the post came from. Dana clearly understands simple courtesy.

Pink Shoes

On SBTB the other day, they had a great topic about a FAN-TAB-ULOUS photo taken by a photographer for the Daily Pilot, a Hampton Roads newspaper. The subject matter was a discussion about the reaction to the photo in the newspaper’s readership. There was apparently some backlash because the photo had a sexual overtone to it. HELLO?? I’m sorry, but if I had legs like this gal, a sexy tattoo and I was waiting on my guy I’d be wearing hot pink shoes too. Not to mention my legs would be crossed because having kids has affected my ability to hold water (except at certain times of the month) to a non-existent state these days. Being a Virginian, I can attest to the fact that this kind of histrionics occurs regularly. Personally, I think these people need to get a life and stop trying to make a nuclear bomb out of a picture that’s brilliant from a photography POV. It’s truly stunning IMHO.

2008 RITA Trash

A great nod of appreciation to Dear Author who brought this terrifically funny video to their readers attention. I think the video says it all!

Contemporary Nominees Talking Trash


My new mini-office is almost complete. However, there is a minor glitch. When the DH hooked up the wiring as directed by the hardware store personnel (they gave him incorrect info), he fried the trailer’s converter box. THANK GOD the air conditioning unit wasn’t on. So we have to take the trailer to have it checked out. Fortunately, the hardware store has agreed to put their money where their mouth is and pay for the trailer check, the fried microwave and the fried TV. Whew!! With San Francisco on the horizon, I don’t want to dip into my monies any more than I have too. It’s bad enough that I had a $600 gasoline bill last month!! I’m beginning to feel like the frigging sky is falling.

Until Next Week

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blonde Moments and Then Some

Last weekend I went to the Lori Foster event where I hooked up with old friends and made some new ones. This year the event was bigger than ever with almost 300 authors and readers in attendance. As always, there just wasn’t enough time to spend with everyone. Of course, things could have been easier about actually getting to the event.

For example, I decided to break up the driving this year and stay in Beckley, WV. Now to get to Beckley, you have to take I-64 from Richmond to I-77. Since a couple of siblings live in Roanoke, I decided to call and meet up with them for dinner. Sounds good, right? Well it would have if I’d bothered to look at a map BEFORE I called my sister.

Blonde Moment

I knew that I-64 runs concurrent with I-81, but what I didn’t remember was that I-64 breaks away to the west from I-81 about an HOUR north of Roanoke. (Note to self - look at the frigging map before traveling, Monica) There I am southbound on I-81 and I see the signs for I-64 west. I frown and begin to wonder if I’ve made a mistake. (Okay, so I make a lot of those, but this past weekend was FILLED with mistakes.) Did I get my signals crossed? Roanoke can’t be too far out of the way. Nope, it’s only an hour away. Hooray, seeing the siblings isn’t that far out of the way.

As I breeze past the I-64 west exit, I suddenly have one of those Uh-oh moments. “Damn it! I have to come back up I-81 to get to I-64.” Can we say Dumb Blonde moment here? Now the brain starts churning, and I wonder if it’s worth the pain of annoying my family by calling to say, “um hey sis, I made a slight miscalculation in my directions.” I decide not to go that route. Besides, I’ve not seen them in about eight months, so if I’m that close I should stop.

Second Blonde Moment

I figure since the traffic’s light, an oddity for I-81! I can reach for the Lori Foster Event folder I made months ago to check drive times to Beckley. Have to adjust for side trip to Roanoke. OMG, where is it! Damn, damn, damn, I left the bloody thing on my desk. Now I have to contact the DH who isn’t happy with my less than usual organized self. So I get the exit number and phone number of the hotel in Beckley.

Onward to Roanoke and a quick dinner before I head back the way I came to catch I-64 west. Now I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed my ride from Roanoke to Beckley. I had the windows down and the music blaring. My Escape was sooooo rawking. It could have been one of those boom box cars you see in movies where the car is bouncing off it’s rear end. About dusk I hit the West Virginia line, and as usual, I yell, “God, I LOVE those West Virginians.” Why you ask? Well in West Virginia the speed limit is 70mph, which really means you can drive up to 77mph without too much risk of a ticket. In Virginia, I’d be handcuffed for going that fast. We’re SOOOO backward!

I arrive at the Fairfield Inn in Beckley around 11pm. Three young cuties are working the front desk and one of them says “Hey you need to call home; the DH wants to know where you are.” When I call home, the DH is not a happy camper. “Where the hell have you been? I’ve called you half a dozen times. Why didn’t you answer your phone?” Umm, did I mention I had the music blaring? It tends to drown out my Indiana Jones themed ring tone.

Third Blonde Moment

Now because I’m staying over in West Virginia, I’m guessing my trip to Cincinnati will only take me about 4.5 hours. So I stay up late doing some marketing and writing. Get to bed around 1am. I get up around nine and take my time getting my act together; after all, it’s only 8am in Cincinnati, right? That means I’ll still be there in plenty of time for the event. Finally I’m on the road and I’m booking along at 77mph when my phone goes off. It’s my uncle who lives in the area with a traffic update. He says to avoid I-275 because there’s a huge backup. So I suddenly think, I’ll just use my GPS device to navigate around…Oh for Pete’s Sake! I left the frigging thing at home! Where the hell is my brain? On drugs?? Well yes, but generally bipolar drugs make you happy and not forgetful.

I’m now debating whether to stop and pick up a new GPS device to keep in the car. We’ve talked about getting a second one so we’ve got one in each car. Reluctant to buy another device, I tell myself, the only way I’ll stop and spend $200 is if there’s a Best Buy right off the interstate. An hour later, there it is, that yellow, blue sign that says Best Buy. Naturally I miss the exit. So I tell myself if the next exit is a mile away I’ll go back. It was--the highway makes me so easy. I tracked back the way I’d come. (Does that sound familiar?) I figure since Cincinnati’s an hour behind, I’ve got time to stop at the Sears store too and pick up that oscillating fan I need for my office at home. Finally get back on the road about an hour later with the GPS set up on the dashboard.

Fourth Blonde Moment

Yes, I really was shooting for the Guinness Book of World Records. I really can’t say when it happened, but it clicked when I looked at the GPS unit’s arrival time. I’m looking at the speedometer and thinking, that’s not right. I’m only three and half hours away. I should be there by 4:30pm not 5:30pm. I ponder it for a moment before it hits me. I did this exact same thing last year. I thought Cincinnati was on CTS, but they’re not! They’re on my time, which is EST. Oy! Now I’m really pushing the pedal to the metal. Thank God Kentucky likes the 70mph signs, because I was doing 80mph.

Everything’s good until I hit I-75. Congestion and traffic the highway advisory signs say. Oh great. Fortunately, it’s not too bad, and I reach the outskirts of Cincinnati a little over an hour later. It’s now rush hour, but WAIT! I’ve got my handy dandy GPS unit, it will take me away (like Calgon) to roads that are less congested. OMG, soooo not happening. It took me another hour and half to get through traffic, little by ways, rude 4x4 truck drivers who can’t figure out that an out-of-state license plate might mean I really didn’t know two lanes would merge into one, etc., etc., etc. to reach the hotel at around 6:00pm. I was livid with myself! I have since made a note in next years appointment that Cincinnati is on the SAME time table as Richmond. *sigh*

Adventures In Attending Writer Conferences

Friday night was spent doing the rounds in the conference room saying hi to Chrissy, Marty and Angela from Samhain, Michelle Buonfiglio from Romance B(u)y the Book, with my friends from TwoLips Reviews (Kerin and Sue), plus L.A. Day, Diane McEntire and others. Challenged as I am with traveling you would think Kerin could have made a better choice in co-pilots. We’re driving to a restaurant we visited last year, and after about 10-15 minutes, someone says they don’t think we’re going the right way. Oh, look at the map! Well it says we’re going in the right direction. The gal who lives in Cincy says, “No, were not going in the right direction.” So we have to turn around, which isn’t easy to do on an interstate. Now it wouldn’t be so bad if it were just our car, but we’ve got people following us, so Kerin’s phone rings and its Sue in car number two. We all know why she’s calling. So instead of talking to Sue herself, Kerin passes me the phone (coward). It’s an iPhone (I’ve GOT to get me one of these things!), which I’ve never used before and I’m not sure where the phone speaker is. So I’m doing the Verizon geek thing. Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Kerin thinks I’m doing this on purpose and is laughing wildly. I keep on letting her think this.

Saturday night, rather than risk another wild adventure driving through the burbs, we go to the restaurant across the street where we’d gone the year before. Lucy Monroe was joining us for dinner, and I’d told her the restaurant was very quiet. Well it was last year. We walk in and I look at Kerin and say, “Are you sure we ate here last year?” “Well, I think so, but it doesn’t look the same.” It sure as hell didn’t, and it was a LOT louder than I’d led Lucy to believe. I’m so embarrassed I slink down to the opposite end of the table to hide. That and to keep from pelting Lucy with my loud voice. We’d not been sitting long when it was the deja vu. For the second year in a row, a waiter dumps food all over me! Last year it was spaghetti sauce, this year it was salsa. At least I got a free meal out of it! I didn’t let the mishap spoil my fun though. Instead I enjoyed Kay Stockham'scompany and met Amy Knupp, a major sweetheart, for the first time. We laughed like crazy.

Sunday was pretty much a no brainer. Traffic wasn’t too bad, although the cops were out in full force. I think the poor economy has them prowling for revenues. There was one amusing cop event. I’m barreling along at about 75mph and there are all these cars in front of me barely doing 65mph. I’m cursing their first born and I’m ready to whip around them, when the road curves and I see this SUV with the words State Police on it. I’m going OMG, I almost blew past that guy doing close to 80mph in a 60mph (this was in the Cincinnati burbs). So from then until the cop exited the interstate, I maintained a sedate pace and roared with laughter every time someone zigzagged their way around us slowpokes to fly up almost to the point of passing the cop then suddenly braking like there was a deer in the road. I got such a perverse pleasure in seeing others do the same thing I’d done. Bwwwwwwaaaaahahahahaha

All in all, it was an excellent conference, and I’m looking forward to next year. Come join us, but be forewarned. You do not want to sit next to me at dinner.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Winging It

Yes, I'm late, WAY late, but I've got an excellent excuse!! I'm traveling. I'm in Cinncinati at the moment attending the Lori Foster Author/Reader Get-Together! Having a blast, but I'm exhausted all ready. Anyway, on with the post!

I’m often asked where I get my ideas from. I’m never sure how to answer that question because I really don’t know. Take this post for instance. I don’t have any clear cut idea of what I’m going to end up with here, but as a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) I just wing it.

What drives me nuts is when I stop being a pantser and I become a plotter (that’s a writer who plots out where they’re going). I become a plotter when I stop typing and reread what I’ve written to ensure I’m coherent with my words. I usually am, coherent that is (although my sanity is another story), but I don’t trust myself to get it right. Thus, I go back and try to edit. But when I do this, the worst happens.

Generally, I stop to edit when I come up with this wonderful line I want to use. I mean it’s sheer poetry, brilliant and worthy of Dickens, Bronte, you name it, it’s awesome. But I’m obsessively compulsive about going back to make sure the damn thing will work with what I’ve written already. I mean you can’t put brilliance on the page if the rest of it is mediocre. So what do I do? I hang onto that line in my head and go back to review my previous words. To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake, Big, HUGE.” BAM I’ve hit a wall because the rest of the damn paragraph looks decent but the problem is, I’ve forgotten that brilliant line I stopped for, just to see if it would fit. ARRRGGGHHH!

Now you’d think I’d learn my lessons, but writers tend to be creatures of habit, and if you (or we) change something on them, we get completely out of sync. I mean we drop off the cliff with blood curdling screams of frustration the whole way down. But I’m determined to learn how to save those brilliant thoughts. Someday I’ll remember to type the damn line out BEFORE I go back and edit.

Of course that means I’ll have to start hiding the bodies of my family as they have this annoying, irritating habit of just walking into my office as if I’m not even involved in writing. Of course that’s the topic of another post. So will someone please remind me of that?

Tell me what drives you nuts?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Birthdays and Loving Luke

Yep. It's my birthday, and sitting on my desk is the most beautiful flower arrangement ever with the card, "Sorry you had to work on your birthday - hope this helps - Love Ronnie." Now how sweet is that?

I'm happy about a lot of things this spring. My trip to RT in Pittsburgh, the new shingles going on the roof (okay, I'm easily amused by guys in shorts over my head - get the view?), and the release of Loving Luke. Loving Luke is the first release I've had in a while, having taken some time off while Ron was a cancer patient. I don't regret any of that time away from my writing, but I'm glad to be back at it.

Loving Luke is also my first release at New Concepts Publishing. A contemporary romance, Loving Luke is about putting the past behind you and taking a leap of faith. And a second leap, if necessary, because love is always worth it.

To read two excerpts from Loving Luke, please visit my website at . If you click through to the second one, be warned - it's adult in nature.

Thanks for being a reader. I hope you enjoy Loving Luke.

Rayne Forrest

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Heaving bosoms and throbbing members"... oh dear

A part of an author's professional life which may come as an unwelcome surprise to many is the need to promote.

Sometimes, promoting with good manners and in the best possible taste seems to work, and sometimes one wonders.

I was on earlier this week, where I try to maintain a presence, recommend authors other than myself, and contribute to discussions that interest me. However, I couldn't resist the dangled bait when a gentlemen posted that he was tired of reading whatever genre he'd preferred in the past, and that he was willing to venture into a new genre.

So, I suggested that he try Romance. That's all.

His reaction took me aback. He had neither the wish nor the need to read about "heaving bosoms and throbbing members"!

Body parts may be part of our palette, but surely Romance is about more than that. I'm willing to bet that some of us have never yet used the word "heaving bosom", or "throbbing member" for that matter.


Straw poll, anyone?

Rowena Cherry

Romances with Chess titles:

Mating Net
Forced Mate
Insufficient Mating Material
Knight's Fork