Thursday, July 31, 2008

Let's Talk Historicals

Historicals are my passion. If there’s any one thing that I love the best about romance, it’s a great historical. Some of my favorites include A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught, Lord Scandalous by Loretta Chase, Whitney My Love by McNaught and the list goes on. One of the things I love the most about historicals is their magical quality. As I’m flying across the country this week, I'll be revising my latest historical romance in preparation for submission to houses. The resurgence in publisher interest in historical romance is really wonderful for me as I love bringing stories like Mirage and Dangerous to readers.

For me, historicals are magical, I mean I know they’re fantasies, but that’s what I love about them. They transport me to another place and time where chivalry and honor are romantic, despite the realities of the time period. And I’m sorry, but tight buckskins covering hard thighs, a white shirt opened to reveal just a hint of a well-muscled chest—well, for me there's nothing more seductive!

With the RWA convention in San Francisco this week, there will be a number of big name historical authors who will be present. If you’re familiar with Michelle Buonfiglio’s Romance by the Book blog, you know that she’s a huge romance fiction advocate. This Friday at the convention, she’s doing a radio show with several of Avon Books top name historical authors like Sophie Jordan, Lorraine Heath and Elizabeth Boyle and others.

Michelle's Radio Show is set for Friday, August 1, 3:30 pm PDT If you’re on the East Cost, you can catch the show after work because we’re three hours AHEAD of folks in San Francisco (6:30 pm EDT). Click here to hook up directly with the radio show where they’ve even got this COOL reminder feature that you can set so you get an email prompt! Means you won’t forget. How sweet is that?

So dial in and ask some questions about historicals!! Besides, think about how cool it will be to be on Internet radio!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dragon's Heart Book Video!

Here's is the book video I made up for Dragon's Heart, releasing soon at New Concepts Publishing! I made it myself on iMovie! I was actually quite proud that I figured out how to make the video since I didn't even know how to use iMovie at this point in time last week!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Forgotten Princess Released!

Just Released!

The Forgotten Princess

A pawn of her ruthless
father, Lavinia became the child bride of an equally ruthless monarch and was
shuttled aside when she failed to produce the heir, forgotten—Except by Eric who
rose to power as the new ruler and refused to allow it.

Click Here to read an excerpt!

Don't Miss this award
winning tale by S.D. Grady of desire, duty
and derring-do!

For all that King Eric knew that he couldn’t take a barren
bride to wife, neither could he ignore the King’s widow. Draw to her loneliness
by his own, he couldn’t resist just one kiss—but the kiss they shared that
awakened the forgotten princess and set her free, imprisoned his heart.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cooking With The RITA/GH Categories

Whenever RWA’s National Conference rolls each year something generally creates some friction within the organization. One thing that just reared its head then died a quick death because of a missed deadline was a request for the RWA Board to consider adding an ER/E category to the RITA/Golden Heart contests. There’s been some heated discussion about this topic in a couple of quarters, and over a year ago, I posted about why a separate category was needed.

The Ingredients

They say it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, but I rarely do unless new info on a particular subject comes to light. Here’s the crux of it if you’re in the dark. A large number of writers in the ER/E community want their own category in the RITA and GH. The predominant reason I hear is an ER/E category is needed so our work is judged fairly. Writers want to be judged by others who’re familiar with the structure of ER/E. I understand this mindset given letters to the RWR this past year as well as debacles at the AGM over the past few years. I also keep hearing that ER/E deserves its own category since Inspry has their own.

As I understand it, RITA and GH categories are defined based on established subgenres. From my limited perspective and knowledge, my guess is Inspry got their own category because it became an established subgenre. If this is true, then this is the strongest justification for an ER/E category, primarily because ER/E is its own subgenre. It’s been around for quite some time. Ellora’s Cave was founded in 2000 to provide ER/E to readers, and that was eight years ago. I’d say that qualifies as an established subgenre. However, the real question is what the parameters RWA uses to define a subgenre as established. If they only define the establishment of a subgenre based on print publication (which is my guess), then ER/E is probably not be an established subgenre from RWA’s viewpoint, despite the subgenres birth and roots in ePublishing and its continued growth in that medium over the past eight years. In terms of NY print, it’s only been around for about three years. That might not be enough staying power for some of RWA’s powers that be.

Mixing The Batter

Added into the mix are a lot of ER/E works that easily fit into the categories that are already established subgenres. But then I believe that’s true of a number of inspry books as well. All of this still points back to a desire by writers to have judges reading their work who understand the subgenre of romance. Particularly fiction on opposite spectrums that can incite strong emotional reactions (religion and sex, hell doesn’t get any hotter than discussions on these topics!). Further complicating the issue for me is my recent discussion with writers who received their scores from this year’s RITA contest.

In a recent discussion with several ER/E authors, I learned their RITA scores ranged from 4s to 9s with a number of the scores leaning toward higher numbers (7s and 8s) as opposed to lower ones, and I don’t recall any 1s, 2s or 3s either. I pointed out to one of the authors who’d received all high scores except for one low number that she’d done really well given the fact that there are up to 1200 entries allowed in each category (and her category is a popular one). I mean she was sporting numbers over six in all but one score. That’s great given it was an ER/E with some quite erotic elements. I interpreted the results as saying that the judges who read the book were able to look at the book objectively and not judge it harshly simply because it had erotic content. So for me, this discussion on RITA scores seriously impacts the argument that ER/E won’t be judged fairly. Granted, this was a small group of writers, but I’m going to encourage the special interest chapter for ER/E, Passionate Ink, to poll its members for scores so we can study the issue more closely.

Oven Set to 350 Fahrenheit

So has this new information changed my mind completely? No. I can still see the devil in the details, and I am convinced ER/E is a legitimate, fully established subgenre. But I’m not convinced that we can claim unfair judging as a reason for establishing the category. However, I can see the possibility of an entry being entered into say the paranormal category and then SLAM the entry is marked as being in the wrong category because in the judge’s opinion it’s ER/E. This is one of the downsides to having an ER/E category.

New Recipe

What I’d really like to see is something so radical that it won’t ever happen! I’d love to see the RITA’s and GH condensed down to the best top 10 or 20 books out of all entries. Claire Delacroix mentioned that idea to me not to long ago and I loved it. (Claire said 10, but I think 20 would be more fair and well-rounded). There would be no subgenre categories at all. It would be about what the majority viewed as being the top books of the year. On top of that it would make the awards event not so long and drawn out.

Then there’s THIS idea. Why doesn’t RWA work with booksellers to establish a reader-based contest? Yes, RT does this, but I’m suggesting something that is coordinated via the booksellers versus a magazine. This could be a way of promoting romance in a way that RWA’s never done before. Let the reader decide what they consider the best of the best.

The Icing

In the end, it really doesn’t matter, because IMHO, the RITAs and the GH are like the Oscars of the romance fiction world. It’s really nice to be recognized by your peers. The only difference is that our awards don’t generally carry that much weight when it comes to money (i.e., increased reader sales, and I’m not convinced it means more money in advances). I think a final or win in these two contests are more like an accomplishment on a resume as opposed to greater financial gain. It’s earning respect for your work from your peers. While that’s important, it’s the opinion of readers that help us butter our bread. Thus I’m slowly coming to the party with the thought that what my peers think of me isn’t necessarily as important as what my readers think of my books.

See, I was half-baked and I’m still cooking!! LOL


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Love Affair with Bookstores

Maybe I should have paid closer attention to my habits as a child. You know, what I did with my spare time. Every child runs wild on the playground, treks through the woods looking for adventure and even joins in the neighbors in a good game of tag. But really, how many spend all their meager allowance at the bookstore?

I did. I always have. Bookstores and libraries are my favorite places to spend an hour or two. There’s so much to love! Not just the latest releases, but the treasures that are often hidden amongst the aisles, in an awkward pile on the bargain table or just while you’re passing through the Art section. But today, I stopped at my local B&N and some of that passion has dwindled for me…at least since I’ve embarked on this endless journey of writing and publication.

When I arrived at the Romance section, I didn’t just look for my favorite authors, I took the time to inspect which imprints were on the shelf. Heck with all the time I spend in chat rooms, myspace, etc. I know exactly who has what book out. The disappointing thing was that those were the only titles on the shelf. Those…what, maybe 1,000 titles released by the biggest New York pubs written by perhaps 200 authors. Even the newer erotic romances all have the big names pubs on them. There’s no exhilaration in the hunt for something new and intriguing. I can now tell, simply by the imprint on the binding, what the plot requirements, length and acceptable sex level is. My joy in reading that which has been approved by the establishment has been destroyed.

Thank you very much.

As a reader, more and more, I’m turning to the small e-presses for my guilty pleasures. Scanning the lists on Fictionwise and Amazon is far more rewarding than the big box bookstores. Their search engines are not quite as guilty about presenting only the very few books that have sales in the upper echelons for my approval.

I still left the store today with a few purchases. Lets face it. It’s not really possible to wander through a bookstore without doing this. But they were not what you might expect from a woman obsessed with Historical Romance and Fantasy.

I picked up a copy of Anna Karenina and one of Dante’s Inferno. For my Mom, I discovered a collection of short stories about Maine written by some of history’s greats. I did find some new stories to fill my days. The sad thing was they were not the ones written by my contemporaries.

Maybe 5th Ave. still knows how to make money. But I am beginning to wonder if New York is where we should commit the future of our imaginations to.
Visit my website to see what else I have to offer that New York doesn't ;)
S.D. Grady

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What keeps you writing

I'm throwing this out for everyone. The cause is a recent birthday, 72nd and also realizing it's been 40 years since I published my first short story. Had a break of about ten years when I didn't write, though I did think about writing. Worked as a nurse and was exhausted at the end of the shifts. I've decided my reason for writing is because it makes me happy to create characters and watch them grow and change for the better or worse. I do not have a muse. The only person who cracks the whip is myself. Janet

A Small Dissertation Regarding Vocabulary

Good morning, fellow readers and scribes. This past month or so I've been on a reading kick. I do that when my writing muse gets stuck. Oft times, I think I do this to find settings and thoughts that might spark my whimsical interest. I dig through current releases and ones that grace my bookshelves, revisiting old friends.

But what makes a great story, for me? There are so many parts that my reading monster craves. The characters must sing...jump off the page with their enthusiasm and realism. Even a lady who is in search of a titled gentleman for a husband must be in posession of a sparkling spirit and practical manner. Secondly, the plot should not be so transparent that I can tell the story without turning the page, or indeed, skipping over paragraphs that simply fill space.
And lastly...this is something I only came to realize in the last few days.
I love words. And if there is one thing that will draw me into a love affair with an author/'s a really good vocabulary. Sometimes this gets me in trouble on a day to day basis. One time I got into a screaming match with a co-worker that "niggle" was not a word. And even if it was, I had no business trying to use it in daily conversation. *shrug* I still employ niggle when it seems appropriate.

Anyway, a few days ago, I was searching for something to read. I had not purchased anything by Stephanie Laurens in over a year. The last book I finished by her, I had decided was too predictable. But, I was bored and really, if there is one author that inspired my addiction to historical romance, it's her. So, I bought "A Taste of Innocence". I turned page after page. Yes, I still could see the plot coming a mile ahead, and even though the characters were typical, they were still imbued with her special brand of magic. BUT, the one thing that sparked my attention, grabbed me and sucked me in...the vocabulary.

Like so many of my favorite authors of all times (Le Guin, McCaffrey and Tolkein), Ms Laurens uses "big words". I LOVE IT! I say them in my head over and over. I will even bring up a dictionary, if needed. Because, by using our language in the manner it was intended, these authors say exactly what they mean. They employ the precise word for the occassion, expanding my enjoyment of the tale and simply the joy of discovery.

I have been told, from time to time, that I should not utilize my vocabulary when writing, that it will put off the reader. But I've also learned that each author brings their own special voice to the table when they write. For some of us, that means putting words to paper in a way that every person on the corner says. I've never been that person on the corner. I don't talk that way. I speak...perhaps I have read too many books in my life...but I actually do speak as my writing does. My boss has asked me on more than one occassion what a word meant in a memo I issued. He usually asks with a raised eyebrow and a shrug, but I'm not his precise version of a corporate manager, so there we are.

So, I ask of you, dear reader, do you enjoy finding a new word when reading? Or am I truly an odd duck on this planet? I don't mind if I am. I'm rather comfortable in these eclectic clothes I've chosen.

Look for a my upcoming release The Forgotten Princess at NCP.

Love, S.D. Grady

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dream Realm Awards

Just letting everyone know that The Temple of Fyre is a finalist in the Dream Realm Awards. This is a spicy fantasy. Just being a finalist makes me very proud and glad NCP published the book. Janet

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Hope List

In less than two weeks, I’ll be winging my way to San Francisco to attend RWA’s annual conference, fondly referred to as National. Claire Delacroix once stated that she didn’t understand the nickname as it always made her think of a horse race. Since then, I’ve been unable to lose the imagery of 2000 women stampeding into a city to discuss, learn and party over the romance genre.

Usually at this time, blogs and websites are loaded with travel tips, how-to-pitch articles, conference behavior or some other type of helpful blog related to National (and they’re heading into the backstretch). However, I’m in a selfish mood, so I thought I’d do a hopeful blog as opposed to helpful.

Hope 1 – That I meet an editor who so falls in love with my personality that she absolutely MUST read my latest proposal. Naturally this hope is just that, as we all know that editors don’t buy books on author personality. I mean let’s face it there are some authors out there who make Mean Girls look sweet, so clearly personality isn’t going to get me sold. So I’m going to rely on the luck factor, which given my life in general is something that continues to elude me. But then, I was born on a Thursday and according to that old adage, I’ll work hard for a living. Yes, I had that term coined LONG before Donna Summer made me famous in She Works Hard For The Money. So luck is a long shot here at best. If I were a horse and you bet on me, you MIGHT want to be conservative in the money you put down. Although I could always be that dark horse that surprises people. I sort of hope I’m that kind of a horse (better that than a cow - see
Hope 9)

Hope 2 – That the DH will be understanding. Despite this trip being a surrogate 2nd honeymoon, I can only pray the DH will understand when I say “I’m tired and I have to get up early tomorrow.” Of course, he’s threatened on many occasions to write his own book. It will be called 101 Ways To Say No. I’m sure he’s at 500 by now.

Hope 3 – That the foggy weather clears by midday on all the days we go sightseeing. I told the DH that the sky in San Francisco is unlike any other sky I’ve ever seen. It’s an indescribable color when it’s clear. I really want him to see it, but given the fact that he’s color blind, I guess it won’t matter if it’s foggy.

Hope 4 – That my pacemaker doesn’t set off every alarm in the airport. All I can see in my head is one of those blue light specials on top of the metal detectors spinning around while the Waaannh, Waaannh, siren alerts people all the way down to the boarding ramp that I’ve been pulled over. I mean it’s not like I can unzip my chest, pull the device out, drop it into a gray bin and pick it up along with my laptop once I’m through security. More importantly, I so do not want to be responsible for someone else’s heart attack if I’m stripped search by TSA officials. It won’t be pretty I can assure you.

Hope 5 – That I don’t do something stupid like open my mouth and insert foot. I’m going to try really hard not to do a lot of talking. Okay, okay, you can stop laughing now. Seriously, I always try to say something intelligent and I generally come off sounding like an idiot. I mean Bridget Jones Diary is the funny side of my life. As luck would have it, all I have to do is open my mouth and follow it with my foot for an appetizer. Of course, this means I can generally get through the main course and dessert without too much trouble. *sigh*

Hope 6 – That I find something intelligent to say if I meet an editor who’s read my work. The same goes for librarians and booksellers. I’m not an industry guru, and I can’t talk about how romance has evolved, nor do I have any deep insights as to the female psyche and why she reads romance. I mean I don’t get Austen, so how the hell am I supposed to understand social commentary disguised as romance? I just write and tell a story. My books don't contain any messages. As much as I despised the Seinfeld show, maybe that’s the story of my life. Much ado about nothing (thank you Shakespeare). *sigh*

Hope 7
– That going to the Sunday’s a Drag Buffet won’t be uncomfortable for the DH. He’s only going to the drag show because I want to go. Some of my best girlfriends have been gay men, and these guys knew exactly how I felt and weren’t afraid to show it. The DH is quite comfortable NOT showing his emotions. So Sunday should be interesting.

Hope 8 – That some famous author will see my badge name and know me because she liked reading one of my books and NOT because of something stupid I said on some blog post or comment. Bad comments are like toilet paper sticking to the bottom of your shoe. Of course, we must again account for the luck factor here. Lucky to meet someone who likes me. Not so lucky if I meet someone who doesn’t like me. Lady Luck has a lot to answer for if you ask me.

Hope 9 – That I’ll be savvy enough not to ask, “What’s a Sarto.” I am so NOT a fashionista, and I prefer comfortable flats over the stilettos the DH would pay big bucks for if he believed for one minute I’d wear them. But then the image of a cow on four-inch stilts just doesn’t work for me. So I’ll enjoy seeing others earning their war blisters as they wobble around on their little stilts while I just relax in my Pagare Menos (that’s Italian for PayLess)

Hope 10 – That I don’t get my hopes up and develop such high expectations for this conference that I wind up having my hopes dashed. When all is said and done, this trip will cost around $2500 (without sightseeing costs). It’s a lot of moolah to be spending for a writer’s conference. Of course if I’d gotten my act together and not waited to buy my airline ticket, it would only be costing me about $1800. But as luck would have it I waited too late to get a good flight out of SFO and so I had to do the red-eye. This then began the domino effect of upping the cost when I convinced the DH to come too. See, I told you Lady Luck has a lot to answer for.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Never too late for another review


I recently had the pleasure of reading this short story, and now I can't wait to get my hands on this author's books! It's a short read, but far worth the price of the download. I won't summarize it, cause I really can't do it justice. It was an absolutely compelling Science Fiction Romance read, with a depth and intricacy that transports you to this fascinating world. The characters are vivid and jump right off the page. The ending was fabulous and satisfying, while at the same time, making you crave more of Ms. Cherry's writing. Here's the link, since this is in e-book format only:

~Kathryne Kennedy

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Misty Saturday mornings and new projects

There's something wonderful about Saturday mornings in the country. The quiet world seems to move at a slower pace. We're under some cloud cover and my woods are green and misty. I stood on my patio and listened as drops of water fell from leaf to leaf and finally to the ground. A pheasant called to an unresponsive mate then he, too, fell silent. Finally, a soft rustling reached my ears as my black cat decided it was safe to leave his post as defender of the jungle and come in for a nap.

I love Saturday mornings. It's prime writing time for me. I have to drag my sorry butt out of bed Monday-Friday to go to my day job, but on Saturday, I can hop out of the rack at five a.m., ready to write. The bulk of my body of work has been written on Saturday mornings. Loving Luke is no exception.

Now I'm on a new project. Or is a new, old project? I had the idea for this story a long time ago, but other stories somehow got in the way. All I know is the words to this story are finally flowing onto the page and this time I won't allow another man to distract me with his story.

Well, I'm going to try not to let him distract me. It is the weekend, after all.


- - -

An excerpt from Loving Luke:

Chere’s tongue flicked across his lips. Luke answered, laving her lips with his, nibbling on her full, pouty lower lip that had begged his attention all evening. His balls drew up. He hardened in three quick jolts of pure, lusty anticipation. She pressed closer and he slid one hand down to cup her bottom. She jumped as he pushed her against the French door, pinning her. The kiss deepened. She took all he gave her and offered up her desire in return.

Luke pulled away. She looked up at him and blinked.

“Maybe we should sit down and finish our wine.”

She blinked again. “Maybe we should go over to the sofa where it’s more comfortable. They say you shouldn’t stand at a window during a thunderstorm.”

He shook his head. “Lightning has already struck here and I’m still breathing.”

She rolled her eyes. “My, how you do go on.” She pulled his head down and kissed him lightly then slipped out of his embrace. “I’m going to the sofa and kick off my shoes…Oh!”

Lightning cracked! Thunder boomed and the room plunged into blackness. He looked out the window to find half of Morrisville suddenly dark.

“Are you okay?” He did love the way girls let out those little shrieks upon occasion. It was just so… girly. “Do you have any candles?”

“I’m fine, honest. It just startled me.” She motioned for him to sit on the couch. “Sit there and don’t blunder about and break anything while I get a couple votives.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He dropped onto the sofa, stretched out his legs, leaned his head back and tried to relax while trying to convince himself to behave when she sat down beside him.

They were going to keep all four feet on the floor. He’d keep his hands polite and not slide that pretty skirt up and find out just how soft her inner thighs might be.
He wasn’t going to lay her back and kiss every inch of her he could reach. He just wasn’t going to that. He didn’t care if his balls turned blue and his cock ached worse than healing gum surgery. He would be a gentleman, damn it, right after he adjusted his bits while she couldn’t see him with his hand down his jeans.

Chere walked slowly back into the room carrying two lit votives in amber colored holders which she set on the coffee table.

“This should be enough light to see by so we can finish our wine. I guess you really are stuck here for a while. The elevators won’t be working with the power out.”

“The emergency lighting will be on in the stairwell if you throw me out.”

“Out is not where I’m throwing you.”

She planted her hands on his shoulders and pushed him over onto the cushions and stretched out on top of him.

Thank heavens.

LOVING LUKE - now avaiable at New Concepts Publishing

Rayne Forrest
Through a Glass Brightly
Rayne's Ramblings
Rayne on MySpace
KC Kendricks

Thursday, July 3, 2008

For Wont of a Pronoun

The other day I found a review on my book Mirage written by a reader who is familiar with Arabic. In the review, the reader expressed frustration with my misuse of pronouns when the hero spoke Bedouin endearments to the heroine. This single issue was enough to make the reader find the book less than satisfactory, which prompted a comment that I should have done my research better.

I didn’t take offense to the statement because having lived abroad for a year; I know the importance different nationalities put on their languages. It’s a part of who they are as a people. What I found intriguing about the comment was that while my research was quite meticulous (I point to my $50 Arabic dictionary) it only took one minor point (a pronoun) to give a reader a less than stellar experience.

Reader Interaction

I did comment back to the reviewer though. Yeah, right about now you’re thinking I’m nuts. No, I didn’t have a delusional moment. I explained to the reader that I’d used an Arabic dictionary BUT, I would love to have someone who speaks Arabic as a resource for me to call upon for any future research questions. I left my email in hopes that the reader will contact me. I didn’t have a connection to a resource like this reader when I wrote Mirage in 2004, and I wish I had.

On the flip side of the coin, I have to accept that no matter how deeply I research something, there is always going to be someone who knows more about a subject than me, and Murphy’s Law dictates that individual will read my book. *grin* But this isn’t necessarily a bad things. I mean if this reader does contact me, I’ve acquired a resource I didn’t have before. What this experience HAS pointed out to me is that no matter how deeply we research an issue reader satisfaction is varied at best.

Research Sets Stage

But then like everything else in reading, subjectivity reigns supreme. I’ve always believed that the point of research was to set the stage and be as accurate as possible. I’ve never been a historical “purist” who believes that a book has to completely and totally reflect the time period. My belief rests on the premise that unless I talked to someone who actually lived in the period, even empirical evidence can be incorrect. People always said unicorns weren’t real, but in Italy last month, the basis for the legend was photographed.

While I appreciate the reader’s position (and dearly hope she’ll contact me so I have a resource for the language), I have to work with what I have at hand for creating my stories. The whole point of fiction in my mind is to tell a good story, and to tell it with as much believability as possible. Suspension of disbelief is vital, and my goal is to accomplish that for every reader. I accept that even though I pride myself on meticulous research, there will always be someone who believes the research could have been better. That’s okay, because when I turn in a book, I do so with the knowledge that I’ve done the best that I can with my research. If a reader points out something down the road, that’s cool, it means I’ve learned something new.