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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bucket List: Authors I Need to Meet

By now you've all probably heard of the "bucket list", the top however many things a person feels they should do before they die. Some wish to travel the world, some prefer to accomplish a task, others might already have an impressive list to add to. For me it's really quite simple. I want to meet all of the authors I admire before I die. I've always been an avid reader. Some of my earliest memories are of curling up with a good book. So when I first heard of the bucket list I immediately thought of who I'd like to meet before I die.

I've been very lucky in that I live near the fourth largest city in the nation. Houston is a hub for the entertainment world whether it be Arts, Music, Theater or even Literary. In 2007 the Romantic Times convention came to town and I was able to meet great authors like Nina Bangs, Gena Showalter and Shana Abe'. In 2008 I attended the convention in Pittsburgh and met Christine Feehan and Mary Janice Davidson, among others. Laurell K. Hamilton and Patricia Briggs have also come into town and one of my all-time favorites, Stephen Lawhead, made a stop in Austin earlier this year. With those wonderful authors my list is quickly filling up, but not exactly complete. I still have quite a few to go before I meet my end.

The top of my list at this time is Stephen King. I know he is one I most likely won't ever get the chance to meet. He lives and plays in Maine. It's very far away and not a place I'll travel to in the foreseeable future, but I can dream. His son, Joe Hill (another fabulous author), will be in Austin at the World Horror Con this weekend, but my plans to go were derailed early on. Next would be Clive Barker, another unlikely one. I honestly don't even know what country he lives in but I've never heard of him traveling in Texas. Such a shame. After those two there is Frank Beddor. From everything I've read about him online, he is actually a more feasible goal. He's been to conventions before in support of his Looking Glass Wars trilogy and Hatter M comics. Now I just have to make it to the conventions myself.

On to the romance genres. Lilith Saintcrow tops my list of paranormal/urban fantasy authors. I've already met Anne Aguirre (she is awesome!) who would naturally be second. Then there is Lynsay Sands and Emma Holly. I have to admit I would probably squeal like a fangirl if I ever got to meet theses ladies and embarrass the hell out of myself. Maybe stalking them on Twitter is best for now.

That's certainly not all and the list grows every time I read a new-to-me author. So, who is on your author bucket list? Have you already made plans to meet them soon? Share in the comments below and don't worry, I won't be mad if I'm not number one ;-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Character Review #4: Lord Tynan, the Dark Chieftain of the Tuatha De' Dananns

This week for character review #4, I've chosen to step into the world of the Fae by talking about Lord Tynan, the Dark Chieftan of the Tuatha De' Dananns, in R. Garland Gray's Predestined. Tynan is the hero in the first book of the Fairy Faith series and an interesting character. Aside from having an awesome cover, Tynan's book is a good fantasy read. There is romance, a struggle between good and evil, pissed off, spoiled Fae and an interesting garment made of webbing. What more could you ask for?

When it comes to the Fae I've read a few different versions. Some authors keep their characters mysterious and arrogant. Some make them playful and charming. Gray adds a little bit of everything in her main characters by making them descendants of Fae. They have attributes of the fair ones but don't stick to a strict set of features I've read of in other Faerie stories. I think Tynan is a good mix of leader, warrior and faerie liberator. His destiny is predetermined but he doesn't let it rule him. Once he meets Bryna, and his destiny is set in motion, he makes his own path through the obstacles they encounter to "set the land aright".

Overall, I really liked this character. He is strong physically and emotionally, he is intelligent and cunning. And best of all, he has long black hair and a well-muscled body. Two of my favorite features in a hero ;-)

This is book one and I was lucky enough to read book two as well. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a good faerie tale. So, the question of today is how do you like your Fae? Do you prefer the silent, serious type ala JRR Tolkien and Laurell K Hamilton? Or, do you prefer the playful types that like to be a little bit naughty with their local humans? Recommend your favorite faerie read in a comment below and you're entered to win Predestined. Please include your email address.
Good Luck!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Giveaways, Contests & Prizes Update

Call it what you want, I love giving out prizes to my readers. So in the spirit of doing it more often I've begun my character reviews where I critique another author's character and give that book to a reader. I think it's going well so far, though I haven't had a huge response, I'm happy with the new followers I have now (thank you!). However, I do need to make a couple of adjustments already.

First of all, I'd originally posted on Sunday and drew a name on Wednesday. I thought that would give everyone plenty of time to read the post and comment on it. Well that takes up half a week and cuts down on my posting. I prefer to post a couple times a week rather than have one on top of another. Therefore, the critiques will now be posted on Mondays and I'll draw the winner Tuesday evening. That's still over twenty-four hours for everyone to get their comments in, and I won't feel like I'm covering up the character critiques with other posts. 

Second, even though I just got this thing off the ground in April, I will not be doing it in June. Don't worry, the characters for May have already been chosen and the full list is available on my site. However, in June I will once again be doing my Birthday Blog Tour. I'm setting up dates and already have quite a few. I will be giving prizes on every single stop and don't want to overload myself. I promise to have the full schedule listed here on the blog and on my site by the last week of May.

That being said, I'll need suggestions for July character reviews. So far I've only done romance genres but I am a very eclectic reader. I also have an extra copy of Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I hadn't put it on the schedule because both copies are used and I can't decide if either is good enough for a giveaway. Does anyone mind pages marked on the edge in marker where I crossed out a name? Plus I really love historical fiction. I don't have any giveaway copies yet, but I am an avid book buyer ;-)

That's everything for now. If you have any suggestions for character reviews, guest blog posts for my blog tour or anything else, feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How's Your 2011 Reading Going?

At the beginning of the year I thought it would be fun to participate in a couple of reading challenges. You can find the icons with appropriate links at the bottom of my blog page. Since this was my first year I decided to keep it simple and go with two I knew I should be able to pull off with no trouble. One is simply based on the total books read in 2011. My goal this year is fifty books. So far I've read twelve and number thirteen will be devoured in the next couple of days. You can see the full list of what I've read on my Goodreads or Shelfari page, along with a review of each book.

The second challenge was a Stephen King reading challenge. I chose this one because I absolutely love his books, but I've been terribly remiss the past couple of years. The honest truth is that once I started reading paranormal romance I stopped reading horror. It wasn't a conscious decision, more of an accidental habit. I've continued to buy his books as they were released, but they've been gathering dust on my TBR pile. I started with Blaze and absolutely LOVED it! It did a good job of reminding me why Stephen King is one of my favorite authors.In honor of reverting back to my love of the horror genre, I also picked up a copy of Joe Hill's The Heart-Shaped Box. It was absolutely fabulous and I will be picking up his books as I see them now too.

So, how is your 2011 reading going? Are you gearing up for the inevitable summer reading programs? I sure am. I won a $50 Amazon gift card from my local library last summer! Plus there are so many great books coming out in the next few weeks I can barely contain my excitement. It'll be a wonder if I get anything written myself. One of my highly anticipated TBR is the latest release in Madeline Hunter's Rarest Blooms series. It comes out next week! If you see my door is closed then don't knock. I'll be reading...

Have any books you've loved so far this year? Share the recommendations below.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Character Review #3: Dora the Sentient Computer

Welcome to my character review #3 where I will discuss a very unique character named Dora. No, she's not a little Hispanic girl with a cute black bob. The Dora I'm talking about is featured in The Dare by Susan Kearney and she is one of the most unique characters I've ever read. This is actually the second book in Susan Kearney's series about Rystani warriors, but like many paranormal romances can be read as a stand alone novel. It doesn't require reading the first book to understand the storyline.

So, let's discuss Dora. She is sassy, sexy and sarcastic, three things I love in a strong female character. What sets her apart? She began life as a computer and for three hundred years remained that way. However, Tessa, an earthling, finds and befriends Dora in book one (The Challenge) and Dora quickly adapts to her personality. Dora learns from Tessa and from watching Tessa's evolving relationship with a Rystani male named Kahn. As she learns, Dora evolves into more than just a sentient computer. She has emotions and reacts to situations much as a human would, albeit a human without a body. One of her reactions includes a very serious interest in a single Rystani male named Zical. He's strong, smart and fiercely loyal. She admires him and enjoys moving satellites out of orbit just to spy on him at will. Maybe she sounds a little obsessed, but even she doesn't understand the full scope of her feelings until she achieves the impossible. She grows a body and transmits her personality into it, becoming a full, real-life human woman.

I loved Dora because she uses her astounding intelligence and logic, mixed with a little imagination, to achieve the amazing goal of turning herself into a completely different entity. Numerous obstacles arise both in the learning process of becoming human and in her ultimate goal of gaining Zical's affections, but she never gives up. She sacrifices much and ultimately has high rewards, but her struggle was a fascinating journey. This is the kind of character that science fiction is all about and one that every true sci-fi fan should meet.

Would you like to win a copy of The Dare to judge for yourself? Comment below on what you would do if you could slip your mind into a computer mainframe for a day. Sounds strange, but nothing's impossible in paranormal romance! I'll choose a winner on Wednesday afternoon, please include your email address in your response.
Good luck!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Four Months In - Life Update

It's mid-April, which means it's officially been four months since my youngest was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My family has learned how to read nutrition labels, count carbohydrates, inject insulin and take blood glucose readings. It's been quite an interesting four months and we've made it through with only a few bumps in the road.
Spring break came and went with our annual road trip up into the Hill Country. We bypassed the Blue Bell ice cream factory this year for a stop to see miniature ponies. Then we camped at Lake Summerville for a couple of days. It was great spending the week with my girls, even if I didn't get much writing done.

Professionally it has been a good year so far. I had an erotic release from Ellora's Cave in January and am currently revising another to submit soon. I joined other Texas Authors of Romance Fiction members at the Houston Indie Book Festival at the beginning of this month and had a great time. Plus, I began a new blog post of reviewing characters and then giving away their books to my readers. Response has been good. So, what's next?
I recently found out that I am able to submit the sequel to They Call me Death elsewhere. I'm disappointed that my publisher rejected it, but it happens. I've already changed Emily's story and don't feel comfortable doing so again. I want her story to stay true to what I've envisioned. It's currently under review from a friend of mine who's opinion I trust in letting me know if I really should change it up. Hopefully I'll have information about where/when it will be published in the next couple of months. I've also submitted a vampire novella to one of my publishers and hope to hear back on it by the end of the month. My current WIPs are: another book in my shifter world, Kotori's story, tentatively named Shifting Perceptions; a contemporary erotic novella about a photographer; and the sequel to Resignation about home-wrecker Heather, tentatively titled Redemption.

Anything new in your world? Feel free to let me know ;-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Character Review #2: Dark Ones

Welcome to my second character review. I hope you enjoyed last week's post about Carpathians. This week I'm talking about a different but similar type of character known as a Moravian Dark One. Who are these mysterious men that share blood-sucking tendencies with a plethora of other characters in fiction? They are Katie MacAlister's take on the vampire, and they are hot, hot, hot! For this giveaway I'm offering Zen and the Art of Vampires. It's not the first of the series, but it does start a story of it's own with human character Pia Thomason. As usual, it can be read as a stand-alone novel.

So, what do I like and dislike about the Dark Ones? Firstly, they're very close to the traditional ideal of a vampire: soulless, bloodsucking, night-roaming men searching for that one special woman who can redeem them. Okay...maybe not entirely. I've enjoyed Katie MacAlister's books for a few years now. Her historicals, contemporaries and other paranormal novels usually have me crying from laughing at the messes her quirky heroines always get stuck in. She keeps that same vein in the ladies of the Dark Ones novels. For the men, the actual vampires, she adds mystery and an alpha streak that is close to believable. Her Dark Ones are not chest-beating, male-chauvinistic characters (well...not all of them). They use logic and valid arguments to woo their "Beloveds", even the non-human ones. Overall, I've enjoyed all of the Dark Ones novels. I can't say they are my all -time favorite vampires, but they're definitely worth a read.

Have you read any of the Dark Ones novels? What did you think? Are they your ideal of a good, romantic vampire? Comment below and you'll be entered to win a copy of Zen and the Art of Vampires. Please include your email address. The winner will be posted on Wednesday. Good luck!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Character Review #1: Christine Feehan's Carpathians

For my first character review (which will hopefully be an ongoing blog feature) I've decided to review a set of characters that all have very similar characteristics: Christine Feehan's Carpathian males. If you're not familiar with this ongoing series you can find out all about it here. At the moment it's a 21 book series that has a HUGE following, and rightly so. I honestly enjoyed the first dozen or so books of this series. Unfortunately I'm the type of reader that gets burnt out on a series of this size. I'm struggling to stay faithful to Anita Blake at the moment as well. So, I own about half of the Dark books, but have read more by borrowing from a friend and the library.

What do I think of the Carpathian males? Well, first and foremost, where can I get one?! These fiercely loyal men are HOT,HOT,HOT! Every one of them is a study in masculine perfection of the physical form (well, duh). They're tall and gorgeous, some dark, some light and ALL alpha male. To be completely honest, I wouldn't mind having a man who could toss a small car, with an overprotective streak ten miles long, wanting to pamper me and set me on a pedestal. My biggest beef with this series is how many of the female characters get angry at them for these inherent characteristics. I'm all for women's rights but can easily put them aside for a little pampering. I mean really, is it so hard to let the man take over where your life is being threatened? No. So, overall these men are strong, fight vampires and whatever else threatens their lifemates, friends and families, and are nigh indestructible. They can turn into mist, sleep in the healing earth of the Carpathian Mountains and prefer blood to beer. What's not to like?

The Carpathians are not exactly vampires because vampires are evil, former Carpathian males who resorted to killing their prey. Carpathians do drink blood but don't kill innocents. They exist in a muted world of black and white, with no emotions until they meet their lifemates for the first time. Once they meet their lifemates, they hate to be separated from them for any length of time, which really pisses off a lot of the women. Their female lifemates can be converted into Carpathians, however, reproduction is a problem that hadn't been solved by the time I stopped reading the series. They were working on it though. There are humans who know all about them and work with them in some way. They have enemies in both evil vampires and humans. They live all over the globe.

That is the Carpathians in a nutshell. I did enjoy most of the books, but became burnt out and found it hard to keep reading. I still have a couple on my TBR shelf. One of them, that I did in fact read, is Dark Possession (#18). It's a good story that can be read alone, though the information about will also explain a lot. The copy I'm giving away was read once and is in very good condition. Do you want it? Just post a comment below, either with your own opinion on the Carpathians or just to say hi, and you're entered to win. I'll draw a winner on Wednesday, April 6th.
Good luck!