Monday, May 31, 2010

May DIK Reading Challenge Links

This is a sticky post - for newer posts see below

Please post links to your DIK Reading Challenge submission in the comments of this post. (through 5/31/10 11:59pm)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Romancing Historical Details

Please welcome author Jackie M. Smith to the Island!

When I first researched for my historical romance A Soldier’s Vow, I discovered so many interesting facts about the French country during one of the most terrifying periods in their long history. The German army had easily invaded the Northern part of France and often bombarded Paris but never succeeded in penetrating the city’s walls. Nonetheless, the city had been hit in other different and equally devastating ways.

Blackouts, food shortages and influenza affected everyone. Through my research, I discovered many families could no longer afford to keep their children fed, therefore they sent the weakest members of their family to their relatives in the country or other safer places. In A Soldier’s Vow, I wanted to show how the heroine Winnie Douglas saw and lived what everyone went through between 1914 and 1918 Paris. I also show how the war affected the women who stayed behind and waited for their husband, brother, cousin who joined the war effort.

The war also changed the soldiers who fought and saw firsthand the horrors and victories of war. Henry Whitfield, the hero in A Soldier’s Vow, had no idea what he would see and experience when he left his Canadian hometown. Many countries including Canada sent their strongest and bravest men overseas and fight an unknown enemy. They trained hard and fought even harder. Yet what waited for them in the trenches became their worst enemy. Rats, lice and other diseases caused the most terrible living conditions for every soldier on both sides.

Using such details in my book not only creates a setting but also brings the reader back to a time of turmoil, courage and undying love.

My novel A Soldier’s Vow will be available soon with XOXO Publishing. For more information about my books please visit my website

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dressing Your Characters for Success

By Author and Guest Blogger - AC Katt
There are several ways in which to subtlety dress your characters personality besides the obvious description of physique, hair and eye color. For both you and your readers to intimately know who your character is, his dress is a unique part of his personality.
In my book, A Matter of Trust, Donald K. Drummond is the owner of a successful commercial real estate empire. If I had said Dona
ld wore a suit and tie, it would not have properly conveyed certain aspects of his personality that were important to the story. Instead, I created a word picture for the reader to digest that portrayed Donald as a man who used his mode of dress to overcome his humble beginnings. Donald Drummond dressed in Savile Row suits and Lobb shoes. His ties were fastened expertly in a Windsor knot. Donald’s shirts were handmade with French cuffs and cufflinks.
This word picture describes a meticulous man who is particular and demanding. Contrast that with the description of Brian Murphy from the same novel.

He wore a pair of beige Dockers and his well-worn Oxford shirt spilled halfway out of his pants. The left side of the shirt bore the brunt of the stain. He had a white plastic pocket protector with about three or four pens attached to the pocket on the right. The kid’s belt was black, but his shoes were brown. His tie went askew and the clip showed along with the black elastic fastener. He wore huge horn rimmed glasses held together at the nose with a band-aid and hung from a croaky. When the boy wore the glasses, the sparkling blue eyes with long, light brown lashes remained hidden.
The description of clothing in that paragraph describes a different type of personality. This man was either careless of his dress or unable to afford decent clothing. His style of dress bespeaks an innocence of Donald’s world.
Using clothing, an author can convey nuances of personality without using backstory or overt narrative description, thus can dress their character for success.
My novel A Matter of Trust is available from XOXO Publishing at For additional information about my books visit me at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Contemporary or Historical Romance?

Woops, I lost a day here on the Island *hick*, lets just say my menz kept me verra busy!

So back to the normal line up here on the Island, my time here is nearly coming to an end and as always I do NOT want to leave the Island........... But as always, good things must temporarily in this case come to an end.

So the topic of today is going to be about......... Contemporary or Historical Romance?

This is something I have always wondered about, for me i personally don't mind, if I love the author then I will buy the book no matter what they write be it historical or contemporary. But I think if I was told that I could only read one type and I had to choose then I think the choice would have to be Historical.

Why? I hear you ask, well I do think for me its the escapism, the reality that in a book you can pick it up when you have the time and in that instant that you begin to read you are transported into the story, the time, the era, you smell the smells, feel the emotions of the characters and for those few moments you loose yourself and you escape into another life. I find this level of getting totally into a story happens for me most in the historical genre.

Now don't get me wrong, I do get the same experience with contemporaries on occasion but when I want to totally loose myself (so much so sometimes I don't even hear the phone!) then I pick up a historical.

I have to confess though I have a weakness when it comes to a time-travel romance, one of these days I am convinced I am going to be sent back in time and I think part of my family think that I am not of this time that I was meant to be born in another time or maybe I was born in another time and I liked it more than this time! But that is a tangent that is for another time. If I have a bad day the thing I love most is to curl up in my reading chair with a time-travel romance now that is my ultimate escape!

What is your choice?

Why do you choose it?

And, what is your favourite method of escapism?

Well thats it from me and my menz, I've really enjoyed my time on the island and I cannot wait for the next time I get to come to the island!

Thanks for stopping by, and you are all invited to my hut tonight to have an awesome party before my men and I head back home to Ireland so its cocktails all round!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Romance in a different Country

Well its that time again! When I take off into the sunset and arrive here at the Island.

Woo I'm delighted to be here on the Island with my menz for the next three days and boy am I looking forward to the time off from the normal day to day slog to spend some time relaxing, drinking cocktails and ooogling the hot men here on the Island!

So what to blog about for the coming days...........? I've been thinking long and hard about it and I have a couple of ideas flitting around in my head.

Today's topic is Romance set in a Different Country.

Personally, for me if a book is set in the Highlands or Scotland in general then I'm sold, sometimes I don't even read the blurb on the back of the book just pick it up and go, and if I'm being honest its worked for me I have discovered a few crackers in the books I've picked up just because they've been set in Scotland.

For some its Regency England, Ireland, the rest of Europe, or America. There seems to be something out there to suit everyone and an abundance of them is to be had!

My absolute favourite series set in Scotland has to be the Outlander series! No
matter how many times I read this series I still fall in love every single time.
There are so many fabulous fan video's dedicated to this series on YouTube, you could spend hours looking at them here is just one of many which I fell in love with today. Although if you have looked at my menz lately you'll know I have one of the men from Diana Gabaldon's series with me!

Being Irish I also really enjoy series that have been set here in Ireland and knowing the places that are in the story, alot of the time I know where they're set and can visit them which for me always makes for a richer reading experience. I love Karen Marie Moning's Fever series which is set here in Dublin, although I am a little concerned that I apparently live in the Dark Zone!!

So how about you??

What is your favourite country for a book to be set in?

Do you like when you have first hand knowledge of the place?

Until tomorrow.......... Roger darling please bring me another Pina Colada!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sex and Food Together

It's my last day on the island for a few months and I have one more topic I'd like to discuss: Food & Sex Together.

I have only seen one movie and read one book were food was a part of a sex act.

The movie: 9 1/2 Weeks (a movie about a dom and a submissive and lots of sex)

The book: "Suddenly You" by Lisa Kleypas

This was a beautiful and sexy scene in the book after the couple had lost a child and the heroine was suffering. The hero was determined to reach her and pull her back from the dark place she had gone. He adored her and she needed to know that.

Graphic Food & Sex scene Excerpt (page 367-368):

"He reached for the table, plucked something from the china plate, and brought it to her lips.
'Open your mouth,' he said, and she obeyed in confusion. Her tongue curled around the small shape of a ripe raspberry. The sweet tangy flavor burst in her mouth as she chewed and swallowed. Jack's lips urged hers to open, and he shared the taste with her, his tongue hunting for every trace of the fruity sweetness that lingered inside. Another raspberry was placed in the little indentation of her navel, and she gasped as he bent to lap it up with his tongue, tickling and swirling inside the sensitive hollow.
'That's enough,' she said shakily. 'Enough Jack.'
But he seemed not to hear, his hands wicked and gentle as he reached between her thighs...and suddenly she jolted from the peculiar sensation of his fingers nudging something inside her...raspberries, she thought, her muscles tightening as she felt the trickle of fruit juice in the intimate recess of her body. Her mouth trembled, barely able to form the words. 'Jack, no. Take them out. Please-'
His head lowered obligingly, and her limbs went taunt with shame and pleasure as his mouth covered her.'

There's more, but I will leave that for you to read on your own!

So here's my question (no I don't want personal details!), what movies or books have you seen/read that included a food & sex scene? Did it work, was it sexy or was it just nasty?

Thanks for a great three days back on the island, I've truly enjoyed posting here and visiting everyone.

Moonlight to Twilight Blog

Friday, May 21, 2010

Penis Day on DIK

Anyone who reads romance, especially erotic romance has seen assorted penis references. Usually the guy is ‘well hung’ or ‘hung like a horse’. Today I am talking about three books with three different penises that are forever burnt into my mind. Along with these books and penises I am including a list of all the penis slang words I could come up with. I know I am missing a lot, so please add some more penis slang's in the comments area (I’m dying to hear what you all come up with!).

Penis slang: wiener, pecker, tally-whacker, schlong, dong, wang, cock, willy, prick, sizzlestick, log, equipment, junk, eleventh finger, love missile, dipstick, hot beef injection, lance, poker, pole, wanker, tube steak, spunky monkey, skin flute, manhood, hooded knight/warrior, clit commander, jizzer, kielbasa, pipe, probe, Mister Winky, Mister Happy, one-eye monster, salami, tool, tonsil tickler, meat, man root, yummy doodle, third leg and last but not least Vlad the Impale-HER (a personal favorite slang of mine).

What’d I forget?? Bring on the penis slang!

Now time for famous penises in books! {Famous to me anyway!}

First up: The Largest Penis

The largest penis is romance fiction I’ve read is in a book called “Passion” by Lisa Valdez.
The hero, Mark Randolph Hawkmore Earl of Langley is so huge that no woman has been able to fully take his manhood. That is until he met up with Passion. Passion wanted all of Mark and Mark was very, very determined to give Passion every inch of him.
The scene in this book where Mark actually penetrates Passion’s cervix (there’s a “pop” sound”) is beyond erotic and steamy…it’s part horrifying in a fascinating way and completely mind blowing. All I can say is that chapter seven of “Passion” is forever burnt into my brain. Read it! *grin*

Next: The Pierced Penis

My first pierced penis read is also my favorite. It’s “Dangerous Games” by Lora Leigh. The hero is a hard-bodied Navy SEAL Clint “Iceman” McIntyre, who likes a bit of bondage and hardcore sex. He's one of my all time favorite heroes - the full package- smart, sexy, good looking, a bit dangerous, tough and vulnerable to his lady love and more.
He also loves his pierced penis (and so do others) because according to him it gives more pleasure to the woman he’s banging and himself.
Chapters eleven and twelve must be read with a tall glass of ice water, a fan set to high speed and hot hunk ready for action. *waggles eyebrows*

Next: The Alien Penis

Have you ever read a Scifi book about a sexy human-looking alien with an amazing penis designed not just to pleasure women, but to drive them mad with multiple orgasms? I have.
The series is “The Cat Star Chronicles” by Cheryl Brooks and the male penises are amazing. The first book in the series is "Slave" and it's still my favorite of the series and my favorite Sci-fi romance book to date.
They put human male penises to shame! First these alien penises can move- like a third arm. These males have complete control of their penis and it can do wonders in a woman.
Secondly, the head is flared and when excited the foreskin sort of blooms and oozes a fluid that from one drop gives a woman an orgasm – it’s more intense if she tastes it. Also they can’t and don’t masturbate. To relieve an erection they must have a female and when they are sexually satisfied they purr like the cat that ate the cream (and sometimes they do!).

Those are my top three stand-in-my-brain-penises in books.

What are some of YOUR three books that have memorable penises in them? Let’s go, I’m taking notes here! *grabs handy dandy Books to be Bought List and pen*

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Periods in books...and I ain't talking time

Last time I was here on the island I talked about butt cracks (just when you thought I couldn’t go lower) this time I am going to talk about periods. No I am not talking about time periods, I am talking about (yeah you guessed it, I’m totally going there) menstruation in books. So if you’re stopping by DIK during your lunch hour you may want to come back later- it’s gonna get messy.

My first book that talked about women’s periods was “Are you there God? It’s me Margaret” by Judy Blume. I think a lot of girls read this one. No big surprises there, just a story about a girl growing up, going through puberty and dealing with family life. Sweet.

The next time I was exposed to periods in books was Zebra historical romance books (when I was about eleven years old or so). These stories didn’t elaborate and almost always were about the woman being pregnant and missing her period or having it and not producing an heir.

Then when I was about 14 or 16 I read a book that scarred me for life as I believe it did all the young readers (and there were dozens of us in my high school alone). This book was not a romance per se, but it did evolve around a teen romance gone wrong. The book included a long and graphic sex scene where the teen boy goes down on his girlfriend during her period-during her very heavy period. It’s a bloody mess but he loves it and so does she.

Anyone who’s read the book has already guessed it by now. The book is “Endless Love” by Scott Spencer, which in the 1980’s was made into a movie starring Brooke Shields (I’ve never seen the movie but I assume the bloody muff diving scene was not in it).

Not until the past two years have I again encountered menstruation in fiction books. Most recently I read an erotic ménage a trios book “Surrender” by Kimberly Zant that included the heroine having her period – near the end of her period she and the hero have sex. The story includes them washing and cleaning the slight mess after the sex scene.

Even more recently I’ve found it in urban fantasy/paranormal books. And this is the area that has (to my knowledge, which I grant isn’t that extensive) largely been ignored. In both the Night Huntress series by Jeanine Frost and the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series it is mentioned a few times that the male vampires can ‘scent’ the human beings crotches (does that make them Crotch Connoisseurs?), know and get turned on by them during the woman’s period (vampire Bill in the Sookie Stackhouse series, fangs ran out of his mouth the moment he scented her period- protruding fangs mean a vampire is horny in this series- or they want to feed- in this case it was both at the same time!).

If vampires were real this would be a given right? Once a month women would be Happy Meals on legs. Eww gross I know, but never the less in the world of vampires you know it would drive them stark raving mad. So why isn’t it mentioned more in paranormal books? Too gross? Too much information? Is it a line that shouldn’t be crossed? Are authors or publishers afraid of it? Readers repelled by it? Are all things menstruation still a huge taboo in society, even in paranormal fiction?

Why the hell did I write all that about periods? Because I am curious how other readers feel about the subject. It’s like the ‘condom-in-romance’ issue I think. Some people want the romance to be realistic and the author to take a moment and make sure the couple (or more) are having safe sex so they want the detail of a condom in the story. Sometimes merely putting on the condom adds to the sexual tension of the sex scene.

What about women’s periods? Do we need that mentioned in the story for authenticity? Do we want to know when our heroine has her period? Do we want to know if she’s having cramps and bloating? Is that all TMI? Do we want to see our hero running to the store for some tampons for his lady love the way we read about him stocking up on condoms?

I’ve got mixed feelings on the issue. I was sort of glad when authors Jeanine Frost and Charlaine Harris mentioned the vampires taking distinct note of the heroine’s menstruation cycles. It fit with the story and I can’t be the only one to wonder how vampires and menstruation might combine in a paranormal story (or am I??).

That said, I can honestly say I wish author Scott Spencer had yanked that bloody muff diving scene out of his book. To date that is still the most graphic, turn me green sex scene I’ve ever read and I don’t feel it was that important to the story, but I do know others who say it was. The sex scene (in their opinion) proved how far obsessed the ‘hero’ was with the heroine and that the hero was mentally unstable- but that’s another discussion.

So what are your thoughts on books depicting or merely mentioning menstruation? TMI?

**all photos from GOOGLE IMAGES**

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Rant About e-book Piracy!!..

Tori & I caught a quick flight over to the Island because I needed a little break from it all and God knows I’ve been neglecting my own blogspot lately. I have books piled up to read and review and Tori has this stalker in her closet and she is crabbing about that, dust and barnacles everywhere. Sad, I tell you, sad... And, I have this ever present refrigerator issue that is a major pain in my ass because it keeps freezing stuff that shouldn’t be frozen and stuff that should be frozen isn’t, and then there is the sour milk. Essentially the damn thing needs replacing and I don’t feel like spending the fortune it costs to buy a new one. I know, I’m rambling, the guys are looking at me, rolling their eyes, and now are turning the other way. They know I’m about to embark on a rant because that is what I do when I get like this.

Too. Bad..

Start Rant..

So here is the thing. The thing is not too long ago an author that I got to know through reading and enjoying her books, then linking with online was celebrating the publication of a brand spanking new e-book. She was very excited about the release of this novel as she had intellectualized and plotted it for a long time, and then took countless hours to pen the story. Within an hour of it’s release it turned up on a e-book piracy site free for the taking. Not only that, four more books that were released by other authors on the same day appeared there as well.

What. The. Hell??

I guess I’ve had my head in the sand or am just extremely uneducated regarding the lack of respect for an author’s work that is shown by individuals that patronize these sites because I had no idea. None. There are literally thousands of books free for the taking on the one site that I was shown alone.

Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos blog regularly hosts giveaways of e-books in support of authors. One of the contest rules at her blog is:

  • If you win, please respect the author’s intellectual property and don’t make copies of the ebook for anyone else.

Well HELLO!! Intellectual. Property.

Authors pour their imaginative heart and soul into their books which take countless hours to write. Stealing their stories isn’t just theft, it is a violation, and those involved in piracy or patronizing these sites deserve nothing but contempt. We all know how bad the economy is and Publishing Houses will publish fewer and fewer books as demand decreases because people are pirating books! Further, the majority of authors don't make enough money through their writing to be able to put food on the table and meet the bills so they hold down full or part-time jobs in addition crafting their stories.

A quote from the December 24, 2009, column “E-Book Piracy: The Publishing Industry’s Next Epic Saga” from NETWORKWORLD states:

"We are now seeing large volumes of e-books being pirated on everything from file-sharing networks to Websites," says Ed McCoyd of the Association of American Publishers, a trade organization representing major U.S. book publishers. The year-to-year percentage growth of available e-book titles is unknown, McCoyd says. Other publishers, such as Hachette Book Group, say that e-book piracy has grown "exponentially" over the past year.”
© Tom Spring, PC World

Author J.K. Rowling does not allow her “Harry Potter” series to be released in e-book format because of fears of piracy. However, it doesn’t matter because hackers scan the books page for page, convert the file and offer the books as a download. Once the pirate site is established it is extremely hard to eradicate.

We all know this problem isn’t specific to books, the internet is riddled with torrents that offer music, movie, software and computer games free for the taking. Interestingly, the son of one of my colleagues is a gamer and was caught by the all seeing eye of Microsoft using pirated games on his X-Box system. Microsoft reached out within minutes, touched, and nuked his system. Too bad pirated books weren’t as easy to trace, thereby reaching out, touching and nuking the offender’s e-reader.

What can one person do to help our authors?
  • Don’t patronize piracy websites. 
  • Be careful, make sure the site you are downloading your e-books from is legitimate. 
  • If you are a blogger and haven’t already grab the button below and post it on your site. 
  • Non-bloggers and bloggers alike can click on the button which will take you to an online petition that was established in 2006 to combat e-book piracy.

If we prolific readers don't support our Authors who will??


Opinions? Comments?

End Rant....

Ms.M. Is arriving on the Island tomorrow so be sure and stop by for a good time. ;)

Off to read my book, now, that I purchased...

Oh and Chris - I need a new refrigerator too. She just got a new one, I am very jealous. grumble, grumble..

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

All Quiet on the Western Front (NSFW)

So sorry that it's been so quiet here on DIK.  We had a hut party last week and apparently we're all still recovering from the overload of fun!  But stayed tuned we've got great stuff coming the rest of the week!

We're so grateful for you patience we got together and made cookies!  And we took pictures of them too (it's amazing the ingredients you can find around the island):

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fighting Evil...

I've been plagued with evil Migraines forever (since I was a sweet, naive seventeen... don't ask my mother she'll tell you something different ^_~). What if they were a precursor to superpowers?

Hmm.... what superpowers would they be... I suppose they would be mental powers.

What about... Telepathy. Hearing people thoughts. Hmm.... Maybe even animals thoughts. I would love to know what Misty Shadow, Empress of Southern Indiana is thinking. Probably something on the lines of how that human has her trapped. But other people. I don't know. I suppose if I could control it, it would be cool. If there was no control, well that will make for a very fast trip the the funny farm. But then again, most of my co-worker think I am crazy anyway so they might just chalk it up to one more crazy Aymless-ism.

What about... Telekinesis. Moving thing with the power of the mind. I could actually hold a book open and eat dinner/supper (there was a huge discussion on what that last meal of the day was, frankly I don't care as long as I get fed) with both hands! And I could knit and read at the same time no problem. I could even play with her royal furriness and type at the same time as well. All pluses in my book. So Telekinesis goes in the plus column.

What about... a Sixth Sense. Not necessarily in the whole "I see dead people" sense, but the sensing of the "other" be they ghosts, demons (only those with yummy lickable horns of course), or angels (again only that like to get down and dirty with us human gals). Not so useful. I'd spend my time talking to the air around as far as other people are concerned. But then that just goes back to the "Aymless is crazy" so no harm no foul.

With my luck, it'd be the power to give other people migraines. What fun would that be? Hmm... well maybe would be so bad. That not so nice person who cut you off on the highway. The annoying co-worker who doesn't do their job. The noisy neighbor. Yup I can see endless application for this, but then on the other hand. I really don't want to make other people suffer like this. 'Cause it sucks!

What do you think my superpowers would be?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What If...

So yesterday I told you what I've been up to in the last eight months. But really, let's face it. My life is BORING (yup all caps boring). My routine is as followins:
  • Wake up, go to work
  • Eat breakfast
  • Work some more
  • Eat lunch
  • Work some more
  • Go home
  • Eat dinner
  • Check Facebook (yup I am addicted to Facebook games)
  • Go to bed
  • Repeat
So I believe "BORING" sums it all up nicely.

Since I'm boring, I've decided to think about what it would be like if my life were a romance novel. So taking a few facts and twisting a few truths, here what it would be... (I'm not much of a writer and really this is my first attempt at writing any story, but here it goes)

Aymless left work early to make her court date. She was dreading it, since she had no memory of the events that led to this day and didn't know what the possible consequences would be. As she made her way timidly up the stairs into the court house, she saw him. He was six-feet tall with stunning deep blue eyes, black hair and with an athletic build dressed in an Indiana Highway Patrol uniform. And he was looking straight at her. Men like him never look at her with that intensity. She discreetly glanced behind her to see who he was really looking at. There was no one.

As she approached to door, he opened it and said hello. Startled, she returned his greeting without meeting his eyes.

"You don't remember me, do you?", he said.

"Excuse me?", replied Aymless.

With a crooked grin and a twinkle in his eye, he replied, "I'm Kyle Long."

Oh, my. Thought Aymless, as she recognized the name. It was the name on of the officer on the ticket!

After an awkward pause, Aymless gave him a weak smile and moved into the courthouse and down the hall toward the courtroom. Kyle followed.

"Can I have a minute?" he asked. Aymless nodded. "I'm glad to see that you are looking better. I just wanted to tell you that you can ask for a deferral. It allows you to clear this off your record. Just ask the DA for deferral."

Aymless thanked him and briskly moved into the courtroom. Being unused to such attention from strangers, especially good looking men, she was unsure as to how to take it. Once in the courtroom, she looked around wildly, still a bit flustered from her encounter with Officer Long.

Kindly, older gentleman noticed her distraction. After finding out what she was there for, he directed her to the DA who was sitting at a table near to front of the courtroom. She got in line to speak with him. When it was her turn, she asked him about the deferral process. After explaining what it was, he gave her the appropriate paperwork to fill out.

Aymless filled out the paperwork and gave it to the court clerk. With a huge sigh of relief, she turn and left the courtroom. And ran right into Officer Long.
And the romance starts...

I figure the DA will also be yummy and I'll end up having to decide between the two. *sigh* And somehow, I'll get over my relationship-phobia and live happily ever after with one (or both) of them. *grin*

Monday, May 10, 2010


What has the Aymless been up to?! I know that enquiring minds want to know. So here's the scope...

Poor unemployed Aymless got a great paying job in Indiana. Although she didn't want to leave the wonders of the San Francisco Area and the DarkRiver Leopard and the SnowDancer Wolf Packs, she sadly packed up her bags and trekked across two-thirds of the USA to settle in southern Indiana without her trusty sidekick, Terrain the Wonderous Cat (who sadly passed way from cancer right before the movers showed up). After all, it was work and being unemployed in the economy was not an option.

Once there, Aymless discovered that there were no Angels, sexy Vampires or stray Guardians to add spice to everyday life, but she persevered, somehow. Slowly she found some kindred spirits and life was getting less stressful. But, still no intense werewolves or playful Breeds to oogle. And, unfortunately, the evil Migraine began to strike more frequently, must to Aymless's dismay.

Then came WINTER. As a life-long California coastal girl, Aymless had no idea what to do when that white fluffy stuff that fell from the sky. As far as she knew, it was suppose to fall on mountains so that the people could go visit it and strap on pieces of wood to their feet and slide/glide down from the top for entertainment. What was the suppose of this stuff on endlessly flat surfaces? She sadly discovered that it served no purpose at all other than causing her to slip and fall and make her late for work because she had to un-bury her car. And the Migraine was still messing with the new life Aymless was trying to build.

Then came that fateful day in January. Aymless woke one morning with no memory what had happened during the last Migraine attack. As she prepared to go to work, she found a traffic ticket in her day planner. It appeared that while completely drugged out, due to the attack from the evil Migraine, Aymless had gotten in her trusty car and got on the highway. Where she had caused much panic and mayhem and was given a court date. Unfortunately she has no memory of that day at all!!! (scary)

Aymless went to her court date and found out that she was give TWO counts of wreckless driving, one for speeding (who knew the Pruis could get up to a 105 mph) and one for weaving all over the highway (shoulder included). She paid her monstrous fine and has to be good for a year so that she can get these wiped off her record. And started yet another round of visits to a neurologist. So it back to the drug roulette, find a drug that works and doesn't give weird side affects.

On a happy note, Misty Shadow, Empress of Southern Indiana, has agreed to live with Aymless and has trained Aymless to do her bidding.

So those there are the facts... tune in tomorrow for more....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lord of the White Hell: Book One *Ginn Hale*

There aren't many books I consider to be epic masterpieces. When an author writes a book that will be labeled as such, and knowing that have achieved a deep emotional response from a reader, that is where they deserve a major pat on the back. This is where a reader will finish reading the last page and finally release a deep breath they have been holding inside because they have been on the edge of their seat the entire time. And, they will most likely go back and re-read it all over again.
An author who has written such a book has truly accomplished something incredible.

That book is Lord of the White Hell: Book One by Ginn Hale.

Lord of the White Hell will astound you. Ginn has written a story of wonderment that has amazing world building and not to be forgotten characters. This is an adult read with a gay romance, but also has a feel of a young adult fantasy book. The main protagonist is the seventeen-year-old Kiram, who has been given the chance of the lifetime in attending the very affluent Cadeleonian Academy. Kiram is not a Cadeleonian, but is a Haldim. Because Kiram is from a different race, he is looked down upon and is a victim of bigotry. Kiram is a very skilled as a machinist and his father is a well known candy maker. Kiram knows he won't fit in, but will try his best to excel, seeing as no full-blooded Haldim has ever been accepted into the school.

Kiram ends up being roommates with Javier Tornesal, duke of Rauma, who will also be his mentor of sorts. Javier is well respected, admired and equally feared not only because of his station in life but because he has a deadly curse living inside of him. This curse is known as the white hell, and through punishment by the hands of the school priest and deep physical and mental spiritual mediation, Javier can keep it under control.

Kiram doesn't believe all this hell nonsense because his religious beliefs are very different from the Caledonians. His is intrigued by Javier, more than he would like to admit. Javier is very handsome and gives off this vibe of entitlement and power. When the two men are first introduced, Javier does his best to seduce Kiram. Even though some of the students do have affairs at the school, it isn't acknowledged, but kept as a dirty secret. Kiram comes from a culture where men can be together out in the open, so this is a culture shock. He refuses to be one of Javier's plaything and won't be used in such a demoralizing way.

Javier keeps his distance, but is always watching Kiram as they both maneuver around the school. Kiram is the subject of some scorn from his students and a few teachers, but he finds acceptance with Javier's simple cousin Fedeles and Nestor, who is very friendly and looks up to him. Kiram and Javier eventually become close, where Javier takes on the role as Kiram's protector and guide. And because Kiram's feelings for Javier have grown, he welcomes any interaction and attention Javier throws his way.

Soon Kiram joins Javier's group, known as the Hellions, who pal around together and end up at the local brothels for some fun. Kiram doesn't like this side of the Hellions, and of Javier, who always goes along with them. He is very confused because Javier looks upon him with great desire and seems to be very jealous, especially when Kiram mentions an old lover back at home. No one else seems to be aware of the attraction these two have for each other and they can barely keep it in check.

Then Kiram's uncle comes for a visit during an annual tournament and brings warnings. He wants Kiram to leave the school and come back home for his protection. Kiram refuses because he wants to remain with Javier. After some investigation, they figure out that Javier's curse is not what it seems and perhaps someone wants to kill Javier and gain a great reward.

It's so hard to explain why Lord of the White Hell is a remarkable book. Compelling, well written, romantic and thrilling are just a few words to describe this latest by Ginn Hale. There is great balance in regards to the world Ginn has created, mainly with the relationship between Kiram and Javier. Their romance is written in such a way that those who may not be comfortable with a male/male attraction will not mind in the least. Ginn has a wonderful way of building up a connection between these two and you can't help but want them to be together.

The magical side of things is downplayed, and I really was expecting Javier's release of the white hell everyone keeps mentioning. I assume this will come more into play in the sequel (Book 2) that will be out in September. The ending will have you anxious for the next book, which is played very well on Ginn's part. *I want to read the sequel with every breath I take*

There is so much more to recommend about Lord of the White Hell. Magical and remarkable is what Ginn Hale has accomplished here. And unless another book comes along and blows my mind away, I can say with utmost certainty that Lord of the White Hell will most likely end up being my favorite book for 2010.

(You can pre-order Book 1 and Book 2 together at Blind Eyed Books)

Final Grade: A

Lord of the White Hell: Book 2 will be released on September 15th.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blind Eye Books stumbles onto the island with e-books!

Nicole Kimberling: Hello – Nicole here, Editor at Blind Eye Books, talking with fellow author Astrid Amara.

Astrid Amara: Hello!

Nicole: Frequent visitors to our website already know this, but Blind Eye Books is partnering with Weightless Books to put out digital versions of Blind Eye Books titles. In March, Ginn Hale's Wicked Gentlemen was released.

Astrid: Woo-hoo!

Nicole: And in April my own book, Turnskin came out.

Astrid: Yee-haw!

Nicole: So you’re just going to yee-haw? No information to share?

Astrid: I work best as a support network.

Nicole: ...okay...

Astrid: But I will throw in that Turnskin was a Lamba Literary Award winner! And Wicked Gentlemen was a Lambda Literary finalist, and won the National Spectrum Award for best fantasy!

Nicole: Have you ever thought of joining the Booster Club? I think you'd make a great cheering section.

Astrid: Zing pow!

Nicole: "Zing pow!" does not qualify as a cheer. But I'll let you have it this time.

Astrid: Action cheering. The kind of cheer that punches you hard in the thyroid. So what’s coming out next?

Nicole: The next book to be released digitally through Weightless is your very own chariot-intensive fantastic epic, The Archer's Heart.

Astrid: All right! More cash!

Nicole: Is that all you care about?

Astrid: Yes! I’m only in this for the money.

Nicole: Yeah. That’s why you spent years writing this novel… for an independent publisher.

Astrid: … Okay. Maybe I also like writing hot stories where dudes fall in love with each other.

Nicole: Well, I personally think The Archer's Heart digital release is really cool because we're going to try our first experiment in serialization. We've divided the book into three sections and will be releasing them sequentially. I personally love serials. I like the idea of having the next part of a story to look forward to--especially when I know that the whole story is already finished.

I know a lot of people have been burned on serial novels because of huge waits between segments and the ultimate pain that occurs when an author simply doesn't finish writing the story for whatever reason. But fear not! The Archer's Heart is not only complete, but has a really cool ending.

Astrid: I LOVE serialized stories. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of the next part of the series, and then when it arrives…. *sigh*. Perfect joy. Unless of course the author sucks.

Nicole: The Archer's Heart will not let people down. It too, I should point out, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

Astrid: Yeah, I’m pretty excited about the e-book version of The Archer's Heart as well. As much as I love the fact that, in print format, it is heavy enough to validate its status as “potential murder weapon” I think that the e-book version will make it more accessible to a lot of e-book-only readers. Plus, easier on the wrists!

Nicole: What, besides its convenient new format, should people know about your novel?

Astrid: Well, it’s my favorite novel that I wrote, and not just because it took freaking forever to write. I think epic fantasy allows for some really intriguing themes to be investigated, and this book has a lot of them. Plus I got to spend time developing the “bad guys” into real guys, i.e. no one is a cardboard cut-out of Evil. And I love blurring the line between hero and villain, and how a person can change direction based on what roadblocks life erects in one’s path. Heh. I used the word “erect.”

Nicole: When do you not use the word “erect”?

Astrid: I always use it. I also laugh at Lake Titicaca.

Nicole: Has anyone ever told you that you have the mind of a third grade boy?

Astrid: Is that why I liked the Transformers movie?

Nicole: I think that’s because you like robots.

Astrid: True. Although for the record, The Archer's Heart does NOT include robots. It does, however, have magical weapons, demigods, horses, archery, sex, men in gold vests, more sex, betrayal, violence, war, chariots, some sex, family conflict, moral uncertainty, and intriguing bad guys.

Nicole: I think you didn’t mention your favorite part enough.

Astrid: SEX! Actually I like character development more than anything else. And speaking of that…. What about your book that came out from Samhain Publishing, Ghost Star Night? I think that has one of my favorite blurrings of bad guy/good guy characters in any of your novels.

Nicole: Smooth transition! (LOL) But yeah, I liked Ghost Star Night too. It was a real challenge to write. Readers have probably figured out by now that you and I are friends in real life, (we are have been exchanging our stories for about fifteen years now) so I think it might be interesting for them to know a little bit about the creative exchanges that can take place between two authors.

Ghost Star Night is a great example of this. When I started writing it I had THE CRAZIEST POV EVER. Sort of first person omniscient. Really confusing to read, but in order to get the first draft of it written at all, I had to use this bizarre approach. I don't know why. Writing can be weird that way. As I recall you were supportive but firm. Supportive of the story and me as an author while definitely putting your foot down about using the crazy POV.

To me, telling one of your author friends that they've gone to far is, in my mind, the exact equivalent of telling a friend that she's not only put her shirt on inside out but also has toilet paper hanging off her shoe. Painful and awkward, but better for her in the long run.

Astrid: I guess my “toilet paper” moment would be the time I wanted to write an upbeat, cheerful holiday Chanukah story that involved an abusive ex-boyfriend, the mafia, torture, and a high-speed car chase in a mall. Thanks for stopping me on that one.

Nicole: No problem.

Astrid: So back to Ghost Star Night…

Nicole: It comes out in print this June. It costs $14 normally, but last time I checked seemed to be discounted to around $9. I have no idea how long they're going to be discounting it, but if you'd like to pick up a copy of the book made of real paper you should head on over and get it while it's hot.

Astrid: Huzzah! Hazzoo!

Nicole: All this cheering is just compensation for the fact that you never made the cheerleading team, isn't it?

Astrid: I didn’t try out. I was too busy being the goth in the corner who wore a cape and a coffin around her neck, cursing the world for its inherent cruelty.

Nicole: So, really you haven't changed much at all since then, eh? *g*

Astrid: I’ve changed. Love of ponies makes you a happier person in general. You can’t be an angry-at-the-world-goth when you ride around on cute ponies all day.

Nicole: Don't tell me when I can't be angry! You're not the boss of me! As a side note: I was wondering how long an interview with you could continue without at least one mention of ponies.

Astrid: Ponies! *squeeeeeee*

Nicole: Can we try and focus here? We’re supposed to be talking about Blind Eye Books titles and the topic of speculative fiction and romance.

Astrid: Fine. I’ll focus. What do you like about speculative fiction?

Nicole: I’m most intrigued by the opportunity to look at common conflict points from an angle that is rarely (or never) seen in a person's real life and in that way bring a sort of freshness to the subject.

Astrid: Uh-huh. Like the time I had this dude in my story and he totally wanted to get down with this other dude? But he couldn't because he'd get in trouble?

Nicole: No. Not like that at all. That's a real conflict that people deal with every day. I mean if one of them is a psychic warrior and he can't get down with this other dude because the power imbalance between them is so great that he'll make the other dude's head explode. Psychically.

Astrid: Yeah, that’s cool an all. Exploding heads. But I’m more about exploding passion, and guy’s whose #$$%%$#...

Nicole: FOCUS!

Astrid: Fine.

Nicole: Do you have anything truly fresh or relevant to say about this dude-getting-down-with-other-dude topic?

Astrid: Uh…. I like it??

Nicole: *sigh.* I really wanted to bring substantive discussion about the valuable contributions of speculative fiction to the literary world. Or perhaps plumb the depths of how the exquisite creative-intellectual interaction between fellow writers that can result in tremendous frisson and excellence.

Astrid: And you thought you could do that with me here? Ti-ti-ca-ca.

Nicole: You’re right. What was I thinking? Blue-footed Booby.

Astrid: Heh.

Nicole: Heh.

Astrid: On a clear day I can see Uranus.

Nicole: And… I think we’re done here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Second Line by Poppy Z. Brite

Second Line: Two Short Novels of Love and Cooking in New Orleans by Poppy Z. Brite is a single volume that includes The Value of X and also D*U*C*K, two short stories from the Liquor series about chefs and lovers Ricky and G-Man.

I'm a huge fan of Poppy Z. Brites work. I love this innate ability she seems to have of making me feel like I've experienced a part of New Orleans that the average tourist doesn't see. It's vivid, rich with authentic detail and her underlying passion for the city is apparent. Makes me was to save some cash and travel.

The Value of X begins with Ricky and G-Man's friendship as young boys, which eventually develops into a romantic relationship. Growing up together in the Lower Ninth Ward and dealing with their burgeoning feelings, overcoming their families objection to their relationship and then, being apart from each other is a lot to pack in. But the story doesn't lack for depth or romance and it provides a great backdrop for reading the other stories in the series.

Both books are beautifully written, romantic and kinda sexy without feeling intrusive with the bedroom door wide open. I found their relationship to be complex and incredibly touching, especially in The Value of X. Ricky and G-Mans depth of feeling and love for one another is complex and strong. They complimented each other, without seeming cheesy or plastic and come across as not quite whole when forced apart. They're very real characters full of foibles and faults and incredibly accessible for a reader. I liked them.

D*U*C*K is set at the end of the series and involves the boys after they've had Liquor open for a few years. It was published post Katrina and is terribly poignant as she has not actually written about the storm, so the city stands untouched as you're dragged into another adventure that's deliciously good and full of food, ego and drama. It's defnitely a little shorter, especially after reading the 3 novels the come before this one, but it is still a satisfying read.

I feel in some ways I've grown up with Poppy Z. Brites books. I read her horror and vampire series when I was going through my wearing of dark clothing phase and then onto her more visceral works like Exquisite Corpse, but I have to say these later novels are my true favorites. I love reading about Ricky and G-Man, they feel real and everyday, but somehow special at the same time. Excellent reading from an exceptional talent.
Second Line is available in ebook and paper back via Amazon, The Book Depository and her other novels (which I highly recommend) are also available through Fictionwise. The 3 novels that this book bookends, are Liquor, Prime and Soul Kitchen. Magic stuff. Poppy Z. Brite's work can also be seen here on her website and if you're into gardening and the like, then do check out her blog and twitter.
Below is Poppy talking about Liquor. (I must confess I had a minor squee moment when I found this FANGIRL much!!)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tracy Wolff's DIK List

Sorry I'm so late-- things have been nuts around my house this morning.

Anyway, I mentioned on Monday that I have ecclectic reading tastes when it comes to romance, which is why I write four different sub-genres. So today I thought I'd give you a glimpse of just how all over the place my romance reading tastes are. Below are some of my favorite books from my very own DIK bookcase.

Before I Fall has the most beautiful prose I've read in a very long time. Seriously, the book is absolutely gorgeous to read and the plot and premise are really interesting too. If you knew today was your last day, how would you live it?
I'm a big Nora Roberts fan and have been since I was ten or eleven. But of all of her books, this one stands out as one of my absolute favorites. I love the hero and heroine in this book (and don't think that the Lifetime movie did either of them justice, btw). The villain is truly awful and the plot kept me turning the pages long into the night.

Laid Bare is one of those books that you pick up and think the author just got it right-- all the way around. Lauren Dane creates an incredible heroine in this book, one who has been to hell and back, who is down but not out. It's impossible not to root for Erin-- and her happily ever after. Rarely has a romance heroine deserved an HEA more.

Julie James's Practice Makes Perfect is awesome! I've loved all three of her novels, but this one is by far my favorite. The story of two lawyers who go to great lengths to one up each other, I laughed so hard during the courtroom scene (when you read it you'll know which scene I'm talking about) that I nearly cried.

Iron Kissed is the third book in Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson UF series and one of the best UF novels I have ever read. This is the book where Briggs really gets her characters down and they are incredible. From the heroine, Mercy, to the two men in her life, to the incredible cast of characters that goes along with them, this book is a roller coaster ride from start to finish.

Christine Feehan is one of those writers who gets it right almost all the time (IMO) but there's something about this book, Night Game, that really sticks out for me. I love the hero and heroine, really like the plot, love the setting (New Orleans ;) and think the premise of the Ghostwalker books-- especially at the beginning-- is awesome.

Sherry Thomas's Not Quite a Husband: This book is an unusual historical, as it is set in India not England and its heroine is a doctor. Sherry's prose is beautiful in this novel-- rich and powerful and so evocative that it literally paints pictures for the reader. I'm not a big historical reader, but this book is definitely on the top of my DIK list.
Thanks so much to the DIK ladies for having me on the island this week. I so appreciate it-- and you, their wonderful readers. Stop by and see me sometime at my website and blog.
So, these are a few of my DIKs. What are some of yours? Leave a comment for a chance to win my new erotic romance, Tease Me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tracy Wolff's Guilty Little Pleasure

I’m a trivia nerd. Seriously, I’m a freak when it comes to useless—and useful—bits of knowledge. Trivial Pursuit is more than just a game to me, it’s a lifestyle and my husband laughs every time a new subject comes up and I spout off with some weird, obscure fact that almost nobody knows—nobody, anyway, but me and my oldest son, who is following in his mom’s footsteps.
I bring this up now because the flip side of the coin is that I love to research. I love, love, love to immerse myself in a new place or a new occupation or a new way of life and find out everything about it. Thank God my career as writer allows me to do just that, every time I pick a new setting or create a new character.
So, as I was writing my brand new erotic suspense, Tease Me, I immersed myself in the culture and history of New Orleans. Now, I lived in New Orleans for four years so I knew a fair bit about the city to begin with, but as I wrote Tease Me I learned a whole lot more. So, with no further ado, here are the top ten weird and wacky facts I learned about New Orleans while writing Tease Me.

10. Despite The Big Easy’s disturbingly high murder rate for much of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, there has only been one serial killer in its long and varied history: The Axeman of New Orleans, who terrorized the city for most of 1918 and part of 1919.
Southern Comfort whiskey was originally known as Cuff and Tails.
When Andrew Jackson and his men came to N’Awlins, they cleaned out the canals (which were filthy) and did away with malaria for nearly five years.
7. New Orleans hosted the first opera in North America—at the end of the 18th century.
6. Louisiana’s maximum security prison, Angola, hosts one of the largest Rodeo’s in the country every year. People come from all over the country to see it.
5. The architecture in the French Quarter is Spanish (I already knew that, but I think it’s cool).
4. The first president of LSU went to jail for embezzling from the university. They still have his picture hanging up—in his prison uniform.
3. In Louisiana, biting someone with your natural teeth is considered a simple assault, but biting someone with your false teeth is considered an aggravated assault.
2. The airport code for New Orleans, MSY, is so noted because long before there was an airport there it was a plantation, where a pilot named John Moisant crashed his plane in the late 1800s and died. The area was later named Moisant Stock Yards after him and the name has stuck, even after it was turned into an international airport.
1. The famous bar, Pat O’Brien’s, was originally a speakeasy during Prohibition. Its most famous drink, the Hurricane, was invented to get rid of a surplus of rum during World War II.

So, lay it on me—what weird trivia facts do you know? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy Tease Me! Winners will be chosen from comments made yesterday, today and tomorrow J Have a great Tuesday!
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