February 28, 2011
Posted by Rosalie Lario under Reading
| Tags: books
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After Friday’s blog in which I discussed the great books I’ve read lately, I had an epiphany. Why not give some of those fabulous books away?
So today through March 5th I’ll be running a contest to give away the following books:
- First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (Hardcover)
- Magick Charm by Jennifer Wells (Trade Paperback)
- 666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce (Trade Paperback)
- Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells (Mass Market Paperback)
Okay, so here are the Contest Rules -
Enter a comment to this post to be entered for the giveaway. If you’d like an extra entry, I’ll give:
+1 For current or new blog followers
+1 For mentioning this giveaway on your blog including a link to this blog post
+2 For current or new Twitter followers who post a tweet about this giveaway including a link to this blog post
+2 For current or new Facebook followers who make a FB post about this giveaway including a link to this blog post
That makes a total of 7 entries per person.
When you make your comment below, please tally up your total entries based on the above.
At the end of this week I’ll log the entries in a spreadsheet and pick a winner from the list using random.org. *U.S. entries only please.*
I’m so excited about giving someone else the chance to read these great books. Please help me spread the word about this giveaway!
February 25, 2011
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. There are just so many good books out there, and since I’m in between projects right now I’m indulging in my reading addiction. (I’ve also been single-handedly trying to keep Borders out of bankruptcy, but apparently my efforts have failed).
Today I thought I’d share a few of the good stories I’ve read lately, as well as those next on my list:
- First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones—This is the first book of a new urban fantasy series featuring a snarky detective who moonlights as the grim reaper. It won the 2009 Golden Heart award for best paranormal romance, and boy is that well deserved! Hilarious, engaging and utterly unique, this book is not to be missed.
- Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells—just discovered this series about a half-vampire, half-mage assassin who’s got major family issues. It’s a really fun urban fantasy read, and Book 3 of the series was released just this week.
- Magick Charm by Jennifer Wells—I got this one after reading the great review in RT Times. Holy cow, it was such a cute story. I’m feeling a major case of writer envy after reading it. This despite the fact that, even though its billed as paranormal romance, there wasn’t much paranormal about it. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t even any sex in it. Since those are two of my favorite things and I loved this book even without them, you know it’s got to be good!
- Claiming the Evil Dead by Mary Abshire—This is the first book in a new urban fantasy series featuring a half-demon soul catcher. The premises is fun and unique, and the plotlines remain fresh and exciting as the series progresses. (I can say this with certainty because Mary is my critique partner and I’m currently working through her awesome Book 4. ) Book 2 entitled Catching an Evil Tail released just last week from Noble Romance Publishing, so if you love this story like I did, you don’t have to wait for the next installment!
Next up on my "To Be Read” List:
- 666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce—This book is billed as a sort of Rosemary’s Baby meets Gossip Girl. Right now I’m about a third of the way into it and I can’t put it down. I love gothic horror and this story certainly fits the bill.
- This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost—The next installment in her Night Huntress series (Book 5). This is my absolute favorite series right now, so I’m dying to get the book in. Hopefully it will be in the mail later this week. Borders has been taking forever to ship their books lately. Wonder why? (*wink*)
- A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang—This has been billed as a cross-genre novel: Urban Fantasy Romance. I’ve been dying to find another one of these since I picked up Ms. Frost’s Night Huntress series, so I can’t wait to get my grubby paws on this one.
- Beyond a Highland Whisper by Maeve Grayson – This one features an archaeologist and a cursed 15th Century highlander. I love the concept of this story and just can’t wait to start reading this one.
- Heir to the Underworld by E.D. Walker —This is a YA featuring a heroine who discovers that the Greek gods really do exist. If you follow my blog, you already know how psyched I am about this one.
- Ruling Eden by Michelle Picard – I won this book from the lovely Rachel Firasek’s site. A story about a woman who learns she is the ruler of the magical realm of Eden. A unique and beautiful-sounding fantasy romance; I can’t wait to read it.
So have you read any good books lately? Maybe something by a new or up-and-coming author? If so, please share! I’m sure there are at least a few people looking for a recommendation on a good book to read right now.
February 23, 2011
A few weeks ago I read Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. I must say this novel featured the most flawed hero I’ve ever read. A victim of sexual abuse, not only could Zsadist not stand to be touched, but he couldn’t even stand his own penis. How on Earth was someone like this going to get to his HEA? Well, to my amazement Ms. Ward did a damn good job of making him grow and change so much that, by the time his HEA came along, I pretty much bought it. Which brings me to today’s topic: Flawed Heroes. (And when I say flawed heroes, I’m not talking about bad boys. I mean really damaged heroes.)
What is it about a flawed hero that’s so intriguing? Is it compassion for what he’s been through? The idea that maybe he can be fixed?
A truly flawed hero can be the product of many things, but I’m going to talk about just a few of those:
- The Broken Home: His parents divorced when he was young and the psychological trauma of that is so deep that he’s sworn never to have a family of his own, or sworn off women altogether.
- An Abusive Childhood: The product of sustained physical abuse from a family member, commonly the father, this man grows up to become the tough guy. He doesn’t want a long-term relationship, because look what marriage and family did to his father. He’s got a chip on his shoulder.
- Sexual Abuse: This hero is so damaged that he believes he can never have a normal relationship. Worse, he doesn’t believe he’s good enough for one. Like Zsadist, he thinks something must be inherently wrong with him.
Okay, so say you’ve got a fabulous idea for a flawed hero. That’s great, but what do you do with him? Well, if you write romance the answer is simple. You’ve got to redeem him! This is where the heroine comes in.
The heroine has to be properly motivated to try to change the hero. There’s got to be a pretty good reason she would put up with his abrasive attitude, and not just because he’s hot. Maybe she senses a certain vulnerability in him that she can’t walk away from, or maybe she faced many of the same issues in her past.
Whatever the heroine’s reason for trying to motivate the hero to change, the change can’t happen overnight. That’s what I liked about Zsadist. He didn’t go from sexual abuse victim to confident lover in one day. It was a slow process, one with many setbacks. But that’s what made it believable. And once he got to his HEA, I was rooting for him. Not just that, but I actually believed he could be happy with the heroine. That was a powerful moment.
Do you have a favorite book, movie or television show that features a flawed hero you just can’t resist? If so, what is it that makes him so irresistible?
Thinking about writing a flawed hero? Check out the “Deeply Flawed Heroes” Workshop given by Lisa Ruff and Sarah White at RWA’s 2010 Conference.
February 21, 2011
Today I’m talking about the most amazing thing I’ve discovered during the past two years in which I’ve been seriously writing: the power of strong words. It’s something I never thought about before I started writing fiction. Consider these two verbs:
* Tugged *
* Jerked *
Each of them is just one word, but think about how much imagery is created with that one little word. Consider the differences each of these verbs evoke.
When I think of the word “tug”, I immediately get the image of someone gently removing something from someone’s hand. But if you use the word “jerk” I get a far angrier image. Much more intense.
There’s emotion behind the words, and an author’s job is to manipulate the reader’s emotion. So think how effective an author could be by simply choosing the right words?
I tend to use a lot of adverbs when I write. It’s how I think; can’t help myself. But I know that when editing time comes, I will need to go in and find power words to replace most of those weak verbs along with their adverb modifiers. Doing this properly allows the reader to evoke a stronger image of the scene, ad that’s one of the things that takes writing to the next level.
Do you have any tips for adding power words to your writing, or are you one of the lucky few who naturally think that way? (If so, I hate you.)
February 18, 2011
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably already aware of my love of paranormal television shows: Supernatural, Being Human, Smallville, Vampire Diaries. When I have a hankering to watch an old show I’ll tune in to Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Hercules. Pretty much if it has a supernatural theme, I’m interested. The reason why (besides the fact that they’re fun and interesting) is because they get my creative juices flowing. Something about watching paranormal stories sparks new ideas in my brain.
Many of my characters have been brainstormed out of the creative flow of energy I get from watching paranormal programs. But there’s another place I get my characters: Greek mythology.
In college I double majored in Anthropology and Classical Studies. For those of you who have no clue what Classical Studies is, it’s the study of Greek and Roman mythology. I had no idea what I was going to do with the degree; I just knew I really loved the subject. (I should have known it would go perfectly with a fiction-writing career. Sadly it took me many long years to figure that out.)
To anyone who loves to write paranormal and is looking for fresh ideas, I urge you to examine Greek or Roman mythology (or pretty much the mythology of any culture; there’s a vast world of interesting history out there). I mean, you’ve got a god of thunder (Zeus), a god of the underworld (Hades), a god of dreams (Morpheus), a god of the sea (Poseidon), and that’s just to start! Just thinking about it gets that creative wheel in my head spinning. The problem then becomes which idea I’ll go with first.
So I’m curious, where do your characters come from?
February 16, 2011
I’m starting to plot a new novel and have been thinking a lot about how to present my heroine, who is tough and battle-hardened. When you have a character like that, I think you need to go the extra mile to make sure your reader empathizes with her in some way. Otherwise you run the risk of the reader finding the character unlikable.
So what are some ways of creating an empathetic character? Michael Hague outlines a few suggestions in his DVD “The Hero’s 2 Journeys”:
- Make the Reader Feel Sympathy for Her
Perhaps something horrible happened to her in her past, or she’s a victim of some form of prejudice.
Whether it’s physical or otherwise. (Maybe she’s in danger of losing her child to her abusive ex-husband).
We automatically empathize with characters we like.
When we find someone funny we automatically like them and want them to succeed.
We are all drawn to powerful people. We want to follow them. Create a powerful character and your reader will read on.
I recently read Red-Headed Stepchild, an urban fantasy by Jaye Wells. Even though the heroine begins the story by killing her friend, we feel empathy for her because of where’s she’s coming from. She’s been ordered by her grandmother (who raised her) to kill her friend because he is supposedly a traitor to the vampire clan. Her whole life she’s sought (and failed to receive) her grandmother’s approval. We can understand how her inner child would do anything to win her grandmother’s love, even kill a traitorous friend.
February 14, 2011
I’m currently rereading Book 4 of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series in preparation for the release of Book 5 later this month. For those of you who haven’t read it, the series features Cat, a half-vamp in love with Bones, a full vampire who’s a former prostitute and reformed playboy.
Something about Bones drives me crazy. He’s the perfect blend of naughty and nice. That led me to thinking about today’s discussion topic: bad boy heroes.
What is it about bad boy heroes? You can’t help but be drawn to them, even if you might know better. Something about them is totally irresistible. So just what is it that makes them so fun to read and write about?
Bad boys have enough internal strength to go against authority. Remember the television series Angel?
Once Angel’s soul was returned, the easy thing for him to do would have been to run and hide. He was now vulnerable. But what did he do instead? He opened up his own detective agency focused on helping people suffering from supernatural problems.
- They Have Sexual Charisma
Bad boys are sexy as hell. Much of this stems from their confidence. They aren’t afraid to be who they are. Going back to Whedon-land, I’ll use Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an example.
Spike knew exactly who he was and what he wanted, and he wasn’t afraid to show it. That’s sexy.
- There is a Hint of Vulnerability
Bad boys don’t become bad boys for no reason. Using Spike once again, we learn that at heart he’s a man looking for love. He only became a vampire because he was heartbroken over being jilted by Cecily, the woman he loved. Although he may act tough, what he really wants is to be loved and needed.
- They Make their Own Rules
Bad boys balk at authority. They operate outside of the boundaries of the law. In effect, they are natural leaders, and nothing draws people like leadership. William Wallace in Braveheart is the perfect example of this.
- We like to Watch them Fall in Love
Those of us who read romance love to watch a bad boy redeemed. In the Night Huntress series, Bones gives up his playboy ways when he falls in love with Cat. Despite her insecurities, he shows her over and over again that she’s the only one for him. What’s hotter than that?
So what is it about a bad boy that calls to you? Do you have a favorite bad boy character?
February 11, 2011
Today I’m talking about my favorite television show: Supernatural.
I can’t imagine there’s anyone who hasn’t at least heard of the show, but in case you haven’t, it’s about two brothers fighting monsters, demons and other evil. Most recently they’ve even fought angels. Now in its 6th season, the show manages to raise the stakes every season.
Although the two brothers, Sam and Dean, have had various love interests throughout the years, no one has ever stuck. While I’m sure part of this is due to the fact that the show’s heavy female audience wants to pretend they have the brothers all to themselves, I think it’s also partly due to chemistry.
It’s my hypothesis that none of the love interests have been able to match the natural chemistry the two brothers share, and that’s a major part of why none of them have stuck. Sam and Dean play perfectly off each other. Their jokes and hijinks, their wisecracks. Their personalities are in perfect sync. Which has led me to a crucial understanding: chemistry isn’t just for lovers.
In the past I always thought of chemistry as sexual attraction, but the two aren’t necessarily the same thing. Chemistry (in my mind) is when two or more people share a special bond based on how well their personalities mesh.
In creating my series about four half-demon brothers, I referenced the natural camaraderie of Sam and Dean. My heroes are great on their own, but even better when they’re together.
Can you think of a book or series that features characters who aren’t lovers or would-be lovers but who have great chemistry?
For me, Larissa Ione’s Demonica series comes to mind. There is a genuine bond of trust and friendship between the brothers that propels the stories forward. Whenever I pick up one of the books in the series, I know I’m in for a great read.
February 9, 2011
I have been listening to the “Freud Knows Romance” Workshop given by Sandy James during RWA’s 2010 Conference. While it contains a lot of great information about psychology in writing, there were a few concepts I found especially interesting. These are basically nature vs. nurture concepts to examine when thinking up a character.
This is a study of temperament, an inborn way a person acts and reacts. There are four types of temperaments:
- Sanguine: Kind, fair, generous, adventurous, spontaneous. Comic sidekick. Think Iron Man.
- Phlegmatic: Patient, rational, innovative, unflappable. Think Obi-won Kenobi.
- Melancholic: Serious, pessimistic, idealist, moody. Brooding heroes and tortured heroines. Think Mr. Darcy. Could use a comic sidekick to offset moodiness.
- Choleric: Courageous, enthusiastic, bossy, stubborn. Alpha males and strong heroines. Think Hans Solo.
This concept relates to the types of parents a character has, and how this shapes their personality. There are three types of parent figures:
- Authoritarian Parents – very strict. The offspring of authoritarian parents either rebel or are too afraid to go out on their own. Psychopaths tend to have a strong authoritarian parent (think villains).
- Permissive Parents – give their children their way all the time. The offspring of permissive parents tend to lack focus and motivation. They can be your playboy-types.
- Authoritative Parents – work with their children. They tend to have well-balanced, independent offspring (which, let’s face it, can make for a boring character).
I have to admit, I don’t consciously examine psychology when thinking up my character, but the above concepts seem like useful tools for crafting 3-dimensional characters and rationalizing their motivations.
For you writers, do you examine psychology when creating your characters? If so, do you find it helps you to create a fully fleshed-out character?
February 7, 2011
Writers often hear that in order to write a great novel, we must incorporate the 5 senses. Doing so draws a reader further into the novel, allowing him or her to feel the emotion between the characters. Easily said, but why, and what can we specifically do to incorporate the 5 senses?
Okay, this is an easy one because we are all visual beings. My gut instinct when writing a first draft is to write down everything I’m seeing in my mind. I try to keep in mind that some, but not all, of this will stay in. A reader will need enough description to be able to envision the scene, but not so much they are bogged down in the details. The power of imagination is a great thing; a reader should be able to envision the scene in his own way.
Using sound helps to ground the reader in the scene. The click of the heroine’s boots on the ground, the honking of the cars in the city, the roaring of the waves at the beach. All of these things help set the scene and draw the reader in. So when writing a scene, go further into it than you might otherwise. Think of what sorts of background noise the character would be hearing and add it. Just a sentence or two suffices to add that detail that draws a reader in.
Ever smell something that brings back a memory? Perhaps the scent of gardenia reminds you of your grandmother’s garden, or the aroma of a hot dog evokes a childhood memory of a day spent at Central Park. Smell is one of our most powerful senses, which is why it is so powerful when used in a story. When writing romance, the hero and heroine should have distinct smells that call to each other. Perhaps something reminds him of the smell of her hair, and he realizes just how much he misses her. Or the heroine is trying to move on with her life, but finds that no other man smells as good as her ex. Whatever it is, smell should be incorporated into scenes as much as possible to draw the reader in and evoke their own memories. As with hearing, a sentence or two in every now and again is all that is needed.
Taste is very much like smell. It has the ability to bring back memories and the emotions attached to them. It’s not necessary to add taste to every scene, but it should definitely be there in the big emotional scenes. If your character is in a fight, does he taste the metallic tang of blood in his mouth? If the heroine has been kidnapped, perhaps it’s the bitter taste of fear creating a film in his mouth. Love scenes are fun because you can use a variety of flavors to evoke the feeling of danger, excitement or home (whatever it is you’re going for).
The sense of touch can be used to create sensual scenes that draw your reader into the moment with the character. That’s why bathtub scenes are so popular in romance, especially for historicals. The silky slide of water along skin automatically evokes sensuality and promise.
For you writers, do you have any specific tricks for ensuring that you use the 5 senses in your writing?
I don’t automatically think of using the 5 senses, so I know that this is something I will layer in during the first revision stage. The trick becomes to add it without it reading like I’m just sticking in sensory sentences. If done well, using the five sentences should be seamless and should allow the reader to create a deep, emotional connection with the characters.
For more on use of the 5 senses, check out the “Sense and Sensuality” Workshop given by Melissa Endlich, Catherine Mann, Stephanie Newton, and Krista Stroever at RWA’s 2010 Conference.
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