Please post links to your DIK Reading Challenge submission in the comments of this post. (through 2/28/10 11:59pm)
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Oh Julie James, there is just something about you, about the way you write. Is it the witty banter? No, although it is quite wonderfully fabulous. Is it the clean story lines? I love that your focus stays true throughout your books, but it is not that either. The sexual tension that is getting steamier with each book? No, but thank you!
I know! I've got it! Characters. Girl, you know your way around a character. Your heroes and heroines are sharp, intelligent, sarcastic, funny, relateable. All around well-developed enjoyable characters. We like them. We want to find out what happens to them. We root for them. But you don't stop there. You give us more.
I recently had the pleasure of reading Something About You. (Coming soon to a store near you!) Let me tell you, Ms. James does not disappoint with her characters in this one. It all starts with Cameron. A successful assistant U.S. attorney, she is staying at the fancy pants Peninsula hotel. She is treating herself. She has been working hard and deserves some pampering. The hardwood floors in her house are being refinished so instead of crashing with a friend, there she is tucked into bed at one of the most expensive hotels in Chicago... and she can't sleep. Why? "Oh, God! Oh, yes!" ::bang bang bang:: "Oh yes, right there!!!!" And no, she was not the one on the receiving end.
The noisy neighbors continue. And continue. And continue. A living, screaming advertisement for Viagra. Just as she is about to call the front desk to complain... silence. Beautiful, blessed silence. Cameron begins to drift away, exhaustion claiming her. ::bang bang bang:: Seriously??!!?! The front desk receives her complaint. Cameron hears the door open next door. She peek through the peep hole and sees a man leaving. Damn, security won't get to (politely) rip him a new one.
Then the plot thickens. When security arrives no one answers. They enter to find a young woman. Dead. Dun, dun dun!!!!! Talking to police is nothing new for Cameron. She is an attorney, after all. But then the FBI gets involved. Not just any FBI agent. None other than Jack Pallas, the man who blames her for ruining his career!
Now these two characters could have easily been left at that. Julie could have chosen not to delve much deeper in their development. But this is Julie! Of course she gives us more. Cameron's motivations are strong and based on past experience. She isn't perfect and doesn't pretend to be. (Her culinary skills lead her to fill her freezer with Lean Cuisine entrees "neatly organized according to the four major food ethnicities: Italian, Asian, Mexican, and macaroni and cheese.") Jack is a multi-faceted man who can see when he is wrong and fights when he is right. The two are not a perfect match. They don't instantly click. They butt heads constantly, and not only as a way to build sexual chemistry (although they do have tons of that. ) You like Cameron. You may have a friend very much like her. Jack is the guy you want to be with, provided he gets his head out of his ass by the end of your story.
Here's the thing, though. It isn't just about Cameron and Jack. There is Cameron's best friend Collin, who is going through a rough patch of his own. He is hilarious and snarky. Perfect best friend material. He is very real and Julie does a great job of not turning him into a stereotype. Jack's partner Wilkins is one of those characters that makes you hope against hope that Julie will decide to turn this into a series. I would LOVE for him to get his own story. Young and new to the FBI, Wilkins is slick with just a little too much pop culture and fashion knowledge stored in that brain of his. His references to Carrie and Miranda result is some serious ribbing from those around him. He's a total professional when he needs to be, but the perfect lighthearted foil to Jack's brooding attitude.
We know who the "bad guy" is and she makes him plenty creepy in that "I've killed and I don't feel a thing" sort of way. What I did appreciate was how she wrote the character of Sen. Hodges. He could have been a slimy politician. Lord knows we have enough of those here in Chicago. Julie didn't take the easy way out. He was a flawed man. He made mistakes. He wasn't bad. I like that he was not what I expected.
There is just something about Something About You that makes it fantastic: the characters. Julie has a way with them. It keeps me coming back for more. Write faster Julie, write faster!
Friday, February 26, 2010
SM: Hey Julie, welcome back to the island. I read Something About You and couldn't help but notice that you went a different route with this book, bringing in a suspense element. How did that change the way you approached your writing?
SM: Was it more challenging?
SM: Did anything surprise you during the writing of Something About You?
SM: Jack had a dark, brooding quality that was new to your hero. What made you decide to go this route?
SM: Oh, that sexy, sexy Triumph. What about it screamed "Jack"? Did you go take a test drive to make sure it was the right fit?
JJ: Most of my supporting male characters seem to have more feminine insight than my heroes do. . . I like Wilkins (Jack's partner), because like Cameron (the heroine), he doesn't let Jack get away with his brooding. And he and Jack do a great good cop/bad cop routine.
SM: As a Chicagoan it is great fun to read your books, recognizing my home town. Do you plan to continue setting your books here or is there another location that inspires you?
JJ: I love using Chicago as a setting. Such a great city. Book 4, which I'm currently writing, also takes place in Chicago. (Although there might be a scene in Napa as well...) For me, it's about whatever works for the book. And if what works happens to be the city I live in, all the better. No location research. ;-)
JJ: There are a lot of locations in Chicago that would be great to use in a book, although I wouldn't say there's one particular place I'm dying to use and haven't yet. In terms of other locations. . . well, I'd love to set a book on an African safari, just because I went on safari myself and thought it was an amazing experience. And I'd also like to use Napa Valley as a location--hopefully that'll be covered with Book 4.
Book 4, eh? Now that I can't wait for! In preparation for this Napa inspired story I shall kick back and open another bottle of wine. What would you all like? Red? White? Rose? Maybe a bottle of each? Wanders over to contemplate the island wine cellar...
Thursday, February 25, 2010
It is amazing what you will overhear.
It made me giggle, then, when I started reading a book during my last trip. The story opens with the heroine laying in her hotel bed at 3AM , wide awake. Why? The headboard pounding, wall shaking, deity invoke ("Oh GoD!!!!!") sex her neighbors were having. It's what she overhears after that that gets the plot going. But, more on that book and it's lovely author later.
We overhear conversations every day. In the grocery store you hear a woman talking on the phone say "I had never seen one that color. I mean, how do you tell him it shouldn't be blue?" Perhaps you are at a meeting and hear, "I don't know how to get him interested. What would a teenage boy enjoy measuring?" (Yes, that was an actual quote from a teacher meeting. It was clear who in the room- besides your truly- had a dirty mind.)
Have you ever wondered what the story is behind the conversational snippets? What prompted the comment? What happened afterwards? So tell me, what is the story behind this snippet overheard in New York:
Oh my God! Why would you move the couch!? Why the hell did you move
it, idiot?!? When you move a couch, bad things happen! Move the
couch... You stupid... Oh my God!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Today we have a special in aisle two.
Carolyn Crane: Hold ON! You can't give away my book, I was just going to give away YOUR book today!!! Your release is way before mine! Gimme that bucket.
LB: Where the hell did you come from? This is my DIK. Not yours. ::checks security of password:: You can give a book away next week when it's YOUR turn. ::shoves CJ:: Until that time, here's a shivery excerpt of CAROLYN CRANE'S highly recommended first novel MIND GAMES.
Shivery Excerpt of MIND GAMES by CAROLYN CRANE:
FROM WHERE WE SIT I have the perfect view of Shady Ben Foley, dining on the other side of the lavishly decorated Mongolian restaurant. He’s with an innocent-looking young couple— a pretty girl with dark ringlets and a wholesome blond country- boy fellow. Do they not get what he is?
The last time I saw Foley was maybe fifteen years ago— I was a teen and he was a middle- aged man in drawstring pants, mowing his lawn and ripping off my family. He’s grown paler and thicker, but I recognized his sharp little nose and peering eyes the instant I saw him out on the street.
My boyfriend, Cubby, pulls a hunk of meat off his skewer. He’s been a good sport, letting me drag him here to basically stalk a man--
LB Gregg: No!
*Carolyn Crane grabs LB Gregg by the hair and hurls LB across the room into the wall.
Carolyn Crane: AHEM, DIK SHOPPERS! Today we have a special in aisle two--a free sample of LB Gregg's upcoming release. Leave your name and email addy and I, Carolyn Crane, will place your wee name on a scrap of paper, drop it in my bucket, and I could possibly if you are VERY lucky, select you to win a SIGNED (not really) SEALED AND DELIVERED copy of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN**see photo.
LB arranges flatty hair-do over bump-it: I understand that within CAROLYN CRANE's exciting first novel due for release on March 23rd but you can pre-order from Amazon here--the heroine Justine knows she's going to die. At any second. DO YOU SEE A SIMILARITY MISS CJ?
::LB makes puny fist::
Carolyn: *Throws head back and laughs* Try it.
LB: Uh. Okay. *Lisabea punches Carolyn in the face and, arms akimbo, CJ flies into a sand dune on the island shore.*
Carolyn: *Fighting her way out of sand and picks up a palm frond* Keep your DISTANCE! Because I understand that within CATCH ME IF YOU CAN there is a mysterious art gallery gatecrasher. And a mysteriously missing Justin Timberlake statue. People are going to want to know WTF is up with that. And I AM going to send them the book so that they find out.
*Carolyn whips palm frond in the air at LB*
Carolyn: Here is the blurb of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN:
The fear of getting caught is half the fun.
Lowly art gallery assistant Caesar Romano is freely out of the closet. Now he'd just like to get out of his Nana's guest room. Everything -- his reputation and his financial freedom -- is riding on the success of tonight's gallery opening. If only he could shake free of the past so easily.LB: *interrupting blurb* What are you doing? NO! We at DIK want to know more about the psychological hit squad and who exactly it is they're hitting on--because that's naughty! It's pure genius and we're quivering with anticipation over CAROLYN CRANE's new book MIND GAMES because we luff her and we know she's going to kick all kinds of ass.
A mysterious gatecrasher, Dan Green, looks like a promising addition to his pending new life -- until Caesar's ex shows up and suddenly the opening disintegrates into a half-naked dance melee. When the glitter settles, a missing sculpture of Justin--
*Carolyn pokes LB in the eye.* NO! We want to know about the insane capers, and the clown kleptomania.
LB: Get that fricken twig out of my eye, CJ. OW!
Carolyn and LB fight some more. Punches are thrown. Hair is pulled. Heros begin to gather, eyes gleaming. Bets are placed.
Carolyn: Wait, we don't have to fight. We can each give away each other's book!
LB: You. Don't. Say.
Carolyn: I'll give away yours on March 2, and you can give away mine on March 23rd! One random commenter can win both books.
LB: You're such a smarty, CAROLYN CRANE. It's one of the things I love about you! Plus your fashion sense and the fact that you're a lightweight. ::dusts hands::
**LB glares at heroes as money changes hands** Alright Alright. Nothing to see here people. Keep moving.
Leave a comment here between now and next Monday March 1 and you'll be entered into the BUCKET for our
Carolyn: Okay, um... *wipes blood from fat lip, glaring at LB* Okay.
RULES: to enter, leave a comment naming a favorite showdown from literature. It can be vampire on vampire, hero on vampire, heroine on werewolf, or even verbal sparring from a historical! ONE lucky winner will be chosen randomly. That lucky winner will win TWO books! First, One copy of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN by LB GREGG will arrive. Later in March, one copy of MIND GAMES by CAROLYN CRANE will arrive. Contest closes Sunday February 28th 11:59 pm ET.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
- She ate a huge slice of birthday cake (butter cream frosting, not that nasty ass fake whip cream crap) with a spoon and her fingers. Sans plate. Because sometimes when delivering cake to mouth, you need to skip the whole neatness counts thing.
- Her pants are tight.
- She needs to put make-up on that zit on her chin, but you know what? SCREW YOU PIMPLE.
- The stupid Olympics keep making her cry. Stupid Olympics. Stupid ice dancers. Stupid.
- She's snarling at the dog.
- G is breathing too loud.
- She almost called the radio station to ask why the hell Alcohol and Ass is even allowed to be on the radio. There ought to be a law.
- She flipped off a student driver. Get out of the way, novice. It's just snow.
- She burst into tears over a kind email.
- She burst into tears over an unkind email.
- That last slice of cake looks so good. It's just sitting there. It's the only piece left. It's small. She deserves that cake. She paid for it. Everyone else had two slices. And, besides, no one else wants it now. It's two days old. It's taking up so much room in the refrigerator. Go on. It's cake. Cake with thick, rich, delicious butter cream frosting. It's a win/win. EAT IT. EAT THE CAKE.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
First things first...there's something extra delicious about a scruffy guy who's totally fit stripping off his shirt. Maybe it's the dirty girl in me but all I can think is "Oh, yeah!"
Okay, so the hand behind the head pose kind of kills it for me, but the whole stripping thing? Plus being commando? Oy!
Let's see. Strategic tattoos. Check! Totally ripped. Checked twice! Sweaty? Checked again! Kinda dirty, but in the best possible way? Oh, who am I kidding? *sigh* *drool* Ack!
Okay, this one makes me sigh, but also giggle just a smidge. For one thing...very unfortunate tan line. For another? Ouchies! That tatt on the butt had to hurt! Still, yummy (I figure Kris will appreciate this one, especially after her rather vocal thoughts on tatts not that long ago. Hmm...Kris? :D ).
And I hope you enjoyed today's random cleverness. :) I'm still high on pain pills and am going to bed. Ciao!
Friday, February 19, 2010
I've got nothin' today, but promise to have a great post tomorrow. Lots of half-naked menz and stuff. Promise! Now I'm going to go hide. Maybe I can get my face to stop throbbing. *crossing fingers*
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
For example, I just finished Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh. I think of it as hard core alternative music. Not obscure in any way, but fresh, and unlike anything else out there. Also, compulsively listen-able. Whereas I think of her Psy-Changeling series as Rachmaninov. Dynamic, changable, and epic in scope.
I think of Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas as Air on the G String by Johann Sebastian Bach. Gorgeously crafted, and very romantic.
When I read romance, I almost always have a soundtrack going in my mind. I adore it when authors give readers the soundtracks that inspired their work, and often when I listen to the music, I can see why. In particular, this works for me with Young Adult literature. I look forward to each time Melissa Marr publishes a book and then gives the soundtrack that goes with it.
Think about the last romance you read, what music goes with it? Or, think of your favorite romances, what music would best unveil the romance of the story?
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
In honor of PBS Masterpiece Theater airing Emma, they created a quiz where you can find the right perfect man for you!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Just a quick post to say that Dakota Flint has put the names into a hat of all those who have commented on her posts over the weekend and randomly selected two winners for copies of her new book Seeing You. The winners are
Congrats to you both. I shall pass your emails onto Dakota and she will be contacting you shortly.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about sexual tension lately. In fiction. *clears throat*
It all started when I read a story last week where the "love" interest was a real d-bag. Total asshole. In fact, I wasn't even sure if it was going to turn out to be a romance regardless of how the book was marketed. But it was, in fact, a romance and I finished it thinking, "Boy, I should have hated that, but I kind of liked it." It was…refreshing. Why assholes would be refreshing…yeah, I don’t think I’ll continue with that line of commentary… *g*
But it got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't the jerkish behavior I found refreshing, it was the sexual tension, the attraction and the will-they-won't-they feeling. It felt like something was building and I was really enjoying that slow burn, which has been a little sparse in my romantic reads of late.
I love that slow burn. I love the waiting. I love the whisper of unfulfilled desire in the room, the shiver of want down the spine, the wave of anticipation moving over skin. For me, that's often sexier and more intriguing than a full-on sexual relationship from the start.
Sometimes what I like to call instant-lust fits a story and that's fine. I can name some of my favorite romances where the couple is getting down and dirty within the first chapter. But even then, my personal preference leans toward the ones where after the sex in in the first chapter, the two characters take a step back and the story--conflict!--develops with a break from the bedroom, maybe some belated build-up. One heated encounter vs. constant sexing, if you will.
But overall, I just dig stories that lay the sexual tension on thick and the characters don't get together right away. Because then when they do finally kick it, it's like passing a point of no return. No U-turns ahead. The dynamic has changed and now it's all about the conflict and the obstacles and whatever is keeping them from trying on Happy Together hats. Nothing about it feels easy, and so the payoff feels that much more significant.
And maybe that’s what it comes down to for me—sex in romance shouldn’t be easy. Sure, sometimes gratification can be just that easy, but moving into a sexual relationship with someone, becoming intimate, should be complex, complicated, maybe even uncomfortable or just plain hard. *cough*
That’s just what makes good reading for me. I like characters to work for it.
What about you, do you like the slow build-up or do you prefer characters to feel the attraction and then act on it?
Thanks to the lovely Dakota for joining us for these three days on the island. Her boat now awaits to take her back to reality, but don't forget that all those who comment today and the previous two days are in the running for a copy of Dakota's new m/m cowboy novella Seeing You.
Friday, February 5, 2010
I haven't really come up with an answer to that yet. No clue why they hit all the rights spots, they just do. I read a blurb and it contains one of those tropes, and I barely glance at the excerpt before I hit, "add to cart." That makes me…easy, doesn't it?
And maybe it's silly, but I feel like I shouldn't be. It should be harder to hook me. Surely it should take more than "secret baby" in the blurb to get me?!?
I'm kidding (about the secret baby trope--that one's not for me).
So not completely sure about the why's, but here's the what's (am I using term "trope" loosely? I don't know):
Dakota's favorite romance tropes (in no particular order)
Best friends to lovers:
This gets me every time. I love this. Well, I love this idea. If I'm being honest, this is probably one that works out the least in execution. What turns the relationship romantic when it never had that aspect to it before? Why now and not before? I think that's the hardest question to overcome and needs a very strong reason (personally, I'm not sure how often I buy the whole I-don’t-want-to-ruin-the-friendship excuse). And yet I'm fascinated by the possibility of one day seeing someone that you already love in a new way, fascinated by the reevaluating and changing a relationship in order to grasp a greater level of happiness. I'm a sucker for any story that can do this in a successful and satisfying way, and so I'm always on the lookout for this one.
His sibling's best friend or his best friend's sibling:
This might be a variation on the same theme, but…well, there you go. I love this one too, and it's an instant-buy for me. I think this one is the best of both worlds--it's the same idea of one day looking at someone in a way you never had before, it's about looking at someone who's always been there and suddenly a whole door opens to new possibilities. But I think it's easier in execution than best friends to lovers for the writer because even though you still have to answer why now, the range of answers to why not before is greater. It's easier to believe for this one, and so this is usually an instant-buy for me too.
Enemies to lovers:
Oh man, I love this one too. A LOT. Fine line between love and hate and all that, I think. I really have no clue why I love this one, but I am so there. I love when the relationship starts out antagonistic, strong dislike in the air, and then something--or a series of somethings--happen to make two people look at each other in a new way and realize maybe they didn't know the other all that well after all. (I'm sensing a reoccurring theme here, are you?) Another thing I like about this one is that it usually accompanies a great amount of sexual tension, of which I am a HUGE fan. But more about that tomorrow. *g*
This one is kind of like crack to me. This actually gets me in other genres too, but mix it with a romance and garnish it with government or big business conspiracy, and that's my trifecta of bliss. If you upgrade that by throwing in danger, life on the run, and the pursuit of truth at any cost…well. Blissed out, that's what I'll be. If any of you out there write one of those as a gay romance set in DC, I will officially worship at your feet. See? I told you I was easy. *g* I guess I gave more a formula than a trope, but it all goes back to the secret life. I love the possibilities it suggests. I see a whisper of it in a blurb and I'm totally hooked.
So these are my instant-buy tropes. What about you, do you have any favorite tropes that make you click the buy button automatically?
Thursday, February 4, 2010
For all those who love their cowboy men, Dakota has a m/m cowboy novella, Seeing You, recently released at Samhain HERE. Just to prove what a kind and generous person she is, Dakota is giving away two copies of Seeing You to two people who comment on her posts in the next three days - Good luck and over to Dakota!
Favorite Reading Position?
Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning. (Why Never Land was the first thing to pop into my head…I don’t know what that says about my state of mind. *g*)
Now this one is easy. Anne Shirley.
Author everyone loves but you don’t.
I don’t think it’s safe to answer this one. *g*
If you could be in one book/series/world which would you pick?
I was just talking about this book the other day, but definitely Time at the Top. I mean, seriously. Who doesn’t want an elevator ride back in time? As long as it’s not a ride back to high school.
Batman. Definitely. Don’t laugh.
What heroine is most like you?
Well, I’m hoping it’s not Ramona—the pest. *g*
If I had to pick one I’d say Penelope Featherington from Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. I guess. This question was hard!
What heroine would you like to be?
Oh man. I’d be Bella from Twilight so I’d always have something to laugh at (myself). And I could make the right choice and choose the wolfie. *g*
Boxers, Briefs, boxer briefs, kilt (I say we add commando)?
Definitely boxer briefs. Black. Hugging tanned muscular thighs and a significant…um, not that I’ve given this much thought. ;)
Favorite book set on a tropical island.
Will I get heckled if I say Swiss Family Robinson? Because man, they knew how to live.
If you were stuck on a desert island what 3 things would you bring?
A boat. (Is that cheating?) Sun block. My iPhone…don’t tell me I’ll be out of the 3G network?!?
Favorite drink to bring to the DIK party.
You can visit Dakota here http://dakotaflint.com or at her blog http://dakotaflint.livejournal.com.