Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies--Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Chastity screamed, aiming for that proper damsel-in-distress tone that her mother made her practice for hours on end. Rock's thunderous footsteps pounded down the stairs and over to her. As soon as he was within reach, Chastity did her best faint, counting on Rock to catch her—which he did.

What she did not expect was for him to start slapping her back to consciousness. "Chassy, baby, c'mon, wake up. You gotta tell me what made you scream," he drawled. She'd thought his voice sexy at one point, but now it just grated on her nerves. She needed a man with a classy voice. Like that rich man on the island on that TV show. She wasn't good with names, but she knew he had loads of money and spoke like it, too. But for now, she'd find a way to be happy with Rock, so long as he kept giving her presents.

She finally decided to stir, having had enough of his not-so-gentle ministrations. "Ooh, Rock," she cooed, batting her long fake eyelashes at him. "My hero."

"Chastity, what scared you?" he growled.

"Ooh, Rock, there was a man outside in the cactus! He scared me so much, baby. But you know what would make me feel better? A weekend at that spa I showed you." She gave her most winning smile and waited for him to take the bait.

He frowned, deep lines carving into his granite face. "A trespasser." His eyes flashed red and he plopped her down on the couch. Too stunned to take him to task for his ungentlemanly behavior, she simply sat and gaped as he grabbed the shotgun from over the mantle. "Trespassers. Y'know, this is Texas. All I gotta do is see he's over my boundary line, and I can shoot to kill. Let's see how the bastard likes that."

And with that, he left. Chastity didn't quite know what he meant--he'd used some awfully big words—but she did know he'd left her in her moment of trauma. She'd make him pay for that when he came back—in diamonds.
***
Billy Bob Bobson watched the whole display inside Rock Fangsworthy's house. He had awfully clear windows for someone who sunburned easily, but Billy Bob wouldn't argue with it because he'd had a prime view of the fine woman in his front room. She had a voice like a banshee, but damn was she hot. It almost made up for the cactus needles currently embedded in his tender behind. It was just like a vampire to have pointy blood-drawing things all over his evil lair. When Big Daddy had given him this assignment, Billy Bob thought it would be a piece of cake. Visit the Zillionaire Cowboy Vampire and stake him. But nothing had gone to plan. First, there were bats to contend with. He shuddered. Bats scared the bejesus out of him. Not to mention they always tangled themselves in his long brown hair, even when it was tied back in a neat queue.

He gave a disdainful sniff though his hawk-like nose. Killing Rock Fangsworthy was supposed to be his ticket into the family vampire slaying business, and even though he just wanted to be a day trader, he needed to be in the business to get his share of the family's gazillions before he could do so.

Suddenly and without warning, the front door slammed open and a large-shouldered figure loomed in the opening. Fangsworthy. Billy Bob pocketed his taser and prepared to do battle with the immortal undead. Until he heard the lock and load of a shotgun. His long eyelashes fluttered over his eyes in alarm. Big Daddy didn't mention any gun-wielding demons of the night. All he had was the stake and mallet given to him and the taser he'd picked up at the gun shop in town. Billy Bob disliked guns even more than he did bats.

Billy Bob was too far away to be sure, but he would have sworn the man's incisors grew three inches. "I smell the blood of an Englishman!" Rock roared leoninely, his devilish eyes flashing red.

"Hey, I'm not English, I'm New English!" he replied indignantly. He didn't have any funny accent or eat vegemite!

"Oh, I guess you just have English ancestors. Now show yourself!" he bellowed angrily.

"Not likely, you ill-tempered son of a biscuit-eater!"

Suddenly and without warning, Rock was standing beside him. Billy Bob yelped and stumbled backwards into yet another cactus. "Dagnabbit, why do you have galdarned spiky yard plants, Fangsworthy?"

The man laughed evilly. “For men like you. And judging from your hawk-like nose and coal-black eyes, I'd say you're yet another Bobson here to disrupt my life." Billy Bob rubbed his behind and tried not to look intimidated as Rock leaned closer, towering over him.

"You must be the runt of the family."

Billy Bob growled. "Oh look, the cub thinks he has teeth." Rock's slate-blue eyes glistened in the moonlight and his pearly-white teeth flashed a grin of superiority.

Without thinking, Billy Bob lunged forward, taser in hand. "Billy Bob Bobson!" was his war-cry as he fell around Rock's legs and tasered him at the ankle.

The demon's slate-blue eyes went wide and he stumbled backward. Billy Bob hoped he'd find his way into a cactus, but was sorely disappointed. "Bobson, this is not over," Fangsworthy yelled in his deep, gravelly voice before vanishing into thin air.

Score one for Billy Bob, he thought proudly. He was of half a mind to call Big Daddy and share his first victory, but he really needed a warm hot chocolate first—with extra marshmallows. Hopefully the diner in town carried Swiss Miss.

He took one last gander at the woman silhouetted in the window, her large bazoombas standing out prominently, before picking his way back through the cactus to the road where his Mini Cooper was.

He opened the door and cranked the engine, reveling in the purr of zippy horsepower beneath him, and drove off for his chocolately nightcap.

To be continued... Chapter Five

If you enjoyed this chapter of The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies, please be sure and join us again next Thursday for the next exciting installment.
You can read more about this exciting serial HERE. And be sure to enter our contest! Rules and information can be found HERE.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Do Women Read Romance

A few weeks ago Meg Benjamin wrote a great blog article here “If women like it, it must be stupid”. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.

It started with the Jennifer Weiner/Jodi Picoult/Jonathen Franzen story and the fact that “The New York Times really does review more fiction by men than by women. Far more. Over about two years, from June 29, 2008 to August 27, 2010, the Times reviewed 545 works of fiction—338, or 62 percent, were by men. During that period, 101 books got the “one-two punch” of a review in both the daily Times and the Sunday Book Review—72 of them were by men.”

They do point out that this doesn’t take into account how much of all published fiction is written by women versus men, but as we all know, romance is the biggest selling genre and I’m pretty sure women publish more fiction than men. Not only that, when women writers do get reviewed by the NYT, it’s never romance (someone mentioned Nora got reviewed there once).

Picoult and Weiner made several points not just about reviews by the NYT but that in general fiction written by women does not get the same respect as fiction written by men. It also interested me that the article noted “Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, Carl Hiaasen, David Nicholls...all of these guys write what I'd call commercial books, even beach books, books about relationships and romance and families. All of them would be considered chick lit writers if they were girls.”

Then I read another blog article by Katherine Buetner which referenced Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance, a sociological study of romance readers published in 1984. She conducted interviews in a midwestern town with forty-two romance readers, asking them about their reading motives, habits, and rewards. Radway found that the women she studied devoted themselves to nurturing their families, but received insufficient devotion or nurturance in return. In romances the women found not only escape (remember that word) from the difficult and boring routines of their lives but also a hero who supplied “the tenderness and admiring attention that they have learned not to expect. Specifically, she suggests that romance novels teach their readers to create fantasies that will render their unsatisfying marital relationships more satisfying by applying the rules of the hero’s “transformation” to their husbands: he rarely shows me tenderness, but because he does show it occasionally, he must secretly feel it all the time; those moments are the only moments when he allows himself to show it, but knowing that tenderness exists should be enough.”

Holy crap. Okay, that was 1984 but still, it seems to be saying that romance teaches women to create fantasies to escape from real life – from real, unsatisfying life.

First of all – WTF? Is that a fantasy? Do we expect men to show tenderness and affection all the time? Jeebus. I know my husband loves me, pretty sure he loves me a lot – but hell yeah, he doesn’t show his tenderness and affection all that often. Though I do get a kiss goodbye every morning, without fail. I’d say that’s more like teaching reality, rather than teaching a fantasy.

Second, not all readers of romance are married. And the ones who are, aren’t necessarily unsatisfied in their marital relationship. And...well I could go on and on about the flaws in this research but that’s already been covered elsewhere.

And third - what's wrong with escaping from real life for a while?

What I don’t understand is all this fascination with the reasons women have for reading romance. I Googled “why women read romance” and found pages and pages of hits. Then I Googled “why men read science fiction” and found – nothing. I searched “why men read westerns”, and “why men read adventure” and again – nothing. I Googled simply “why men read” – nothing. Perhaps they don’t. If they do, nobody cares to analyze why or what they’re reading. Ha! Then I Googled “why men read fiction” and the second thing that came up was a blog article by Jason Pinter called “Why Men Don’t Read”. It seemed to prove my point, however when I read the article, he’s discussing a publishing bias against men and the difficulty publishing books that men would read, which leads to a dearth of books that would interest men. Hmm. Interesting. Considering most of the books the NYT reviews are written by men.

In fairness I also Googled “why women read mysteries” – again, nothing.

So...the preoccupation with why women read romance seems to be based on the assumption that romance is unworthy and romance readers (primarily women) are intellectually inferior. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, there was a cultural belief that women were intellectually inferior to men and men believed women would be harmed by reading fiction. And here we are in the 21st Century and it seems that things haven’t changed all that much.

Why do women read romance?

There are two main reasons I read anything: to be entertained, or to learn something. In many cases, reading serves both purposes.

I noted the word “escape” above because romance novels are often called “escapist”, with the idea that the reader needs to escape her world by retreating into the world of the novel. Yet literary fiction isn’t described this way, which implies that readers are getting something more out of it than just “an escape.”

But what’s wrong with escaping your real life for a while to immerse yourself in a different world? That’s entertainment. It’s watching a movie or television show or listening to a concert. But the term is pejorative. It implies there is no learning.

I believe there can be much more than just escaping when women read romance. As I say on my blog, “I believe in the power of romance stories to portray strong, loving, romantic, sexual relationships that succeed, and to celebrate strength, courage, honour, and love. I believe love, romance and sex teach us about ourselves, about each other and about relationships, and break down barriers and boundaries.” So I believe that reading romance does serve the purposes of both entertaining and educating.

Furthermore, why does romance get knocked as a form of escapist entertainment? And this applies not just to books, but to movies – ever hear the term chick flick? Readers of mysteries, crime thrillers, watchers of those types of movies don’t earn the same derision as those who read romance or watch chick flicks. Could it be because they’re primarily...women?

I am deeply interested in the study of romance as literature — but I am NOT interested in the question of why women read romance. I don’t even want to hear that question any more. Nobody is asking “What do readers get out of reading Steven King?” or “Who are the people who read Nicholas Sparks and why do they read his books?” so why do they ask it about the books that women write (and read)? We need to explore romance as a fiction genre without cultural stereotypes and biases about who reads it and why.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guest Blogger Inez Kelley - Dirty Laundry Sucks



Seriously, if there is a more disgusting, boring job in the house, I have no clue what it is. I don’t mind cleaning the kitchen. Dishes? No problem. Scooping the cat litter? Ick but hey, whatever, doesn’t take but a minute. Clean the toilet? I have twin boys. Trust me, I *KNOW* how bad that job can be but I’ve never minded it really.

But dirty laundry? OH EM GEE, shoot me now. I would rather do any of the above. And if you even say the word IRONING in my presence, I break out in hives.

1) Gather the clothes, you know those piles on the floor, the towels no one used but are filthy, the bed linens, the shirt tucked under the couch cushion(What is with that anyway?).

2) Sort the clothes because it is too hard to hit the laundry hamper marked WHITES with your socks and the one marked COLORS with your tee shirts. Trigonometry is a snap but that hamper thing, Mensa-time there.

3)Do you have any idea the amount of dirty, disgusting things people leave in their pockets? One simple tissue makes a hell of a mess in a washing machine. Legos get sucked into the hoses. Coins and rocks make a helluva noise, and Chapstick? I have melted more waxy sticks than the U.S. Ski team uses in a lifetime.

4) Why is there always some weird red thing that bleeds on EVERYTHING every damned time? Unless you wash separate, alone. You know, because it is special. It can’t be rubbing fibers in a water bath with any other clothing, snotty little twerp-sweatshirt. Of course, it is my son’s favorite.

5)Don’t get wrapped up and forget there is a load in the washer or it smells and you have to rewash it. Which actually makes no sense, does it? You are rewashing clothes you already washed because they dried….mmmkay.

6)Dryer lint. Worse than cat hair. And if you forget that little white sheet? Everything crackles and sticks to each other and your hair looks like you licked a light socket just by pulling on your shirt.

7) Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. And then fold some more. When you are done, fold another basketful.

8) Who the hell decided socks had to be mated and why is there always at least three refugee orphans left in the basket? Do I look like Mother Stocking Teresa?

9) Cart the crap back up the stairs and put it away. Nice neat stacks that last until someone pulls out the drawer and rummages through it.

10) Hanging stuff up. Why? It is just going to get dropped on the floor of the closet and all those hangers are like a Chinese puzzle.

Repeat. Often. Every week. Several times.

I. HATE. DIRTY. LAUNDRY.

So why did I write an erotic novella series dealing with Dirty Laundry? Better the devil you know, I guess. Ginny Glass and I teamed up and took a new approach to the most despised household chore. By airing this dirty laundry, we exposed secrets that were held deep. The dirtier, the better in this case.

In Ginny’s COIN OPERATED, she twisted the laundry aspect with a BDSM flare. Bea lovingly does Eli’s laundry, the only way she can get close to his skin. He holds her away out of fear of all the naughty things he longs to do to her. One late night load pushes his buttons though, and man, she puts that Dom through the wringer.

Ginny and I co-wrote TALK DIRTY TO ME. A nameless, shameless voice on the phone tempts Nora into revealing her hidden desires. While James dirty-talks her to orgasm at night, Jarod romances her heart by day. The secrets are overflowing in this one and you’ll never guess what comes out in that wash!

I went for broke in COMING CLEAN…literally. A broken washing machine leads best friends Cade and Grant into a tight, wet spot. Grant’s wife doesn’t mind at all. After all, it was her threesome fantasy that lifted the lid off all their long-suppressed secrets. And when the threesome go for a tumble, coming clean never felt so good.

So if you have a pile or three of dirty laundry waiting on you, heave a sigh and get to it. Load the washer, head over to Carina Press and grab our novellas. Then settle back for a steamy good read while the machine does its thing. I can guarantee that our version of DIRTY LAUNDRY sucks better than yours any day.

COIN OPERATED by Ginny Glass

“Someone to teach you new ways to scream.”

Elijah Elliot and Beatrix London's fledgling ad agency is under siege. Not from outside competition but by Eli and Bea's unspoken lust for each other. As their unsatisfied cravings to dominate and submit bloom into vivid daydreams, the office becomes a minefield of frustrated needs and dangerous desires. Now something's gotta give or their partnership is going to self-destruct.

When Bea unveils a racy new light bondage ad campaign for their key client, she pushes Eli to cross the line he's drawn between them—the one that keeps him from doing all the hot, sinful things she imagines he's capable of...


TALK DIRTY TO ME by Ginny Glass and Inez Kelley

Tell me what you want. Talk dirty to me."

Biologist Nora MacGregor is frantic when she loses her dissertation notes on female sexuality—and some very personal fantasies. Then a sinful stranger calls with a wicked proposition: if she talks dirty to him, he'll return her notes, page by page. "James" allows Nora to explore her deepest desires and challenges her clinical ideas about sex. But James can't give her the loving touches she finds in her budding relationship with Dr. Jarod Reed.

Jarod seized an opportune moment to fulfill his desire for Nora by becoming the mysterious James. While the anonymous, erotic phone sessions are unforgettable, Jarod longs to tell Nora he wants more than just talk. But how can he confess his deception without it costing him the chance to make their fantasies a reality?

COMING CLEAN by Inez Kelley

Coming clean never felt so good...

Grant and Vivi Michaelson share everything in their marriage: love, commitment—and their wildest sexual desires. But their relationship is tested when Vivi admits she wants a threesome with Grant's old friend Cade, proposing their annual trip to the lake as the perfect opportunity to fulfill her fantasy.

All three of them are aroused by the idea. Vivi and Cade have long felt a smoldering attraction to each other...and Grant and Cade have hidden an illicit desire for decades. Going through with the ménage will test their boundaries, reveal old secrets...and maybe tear them apart. After all, there might be room for Cade in bed, but is there room for a third in their marriage?

And now for the CONTEST! I'm donating one commenter's choice of any of the Dirty Laundry books free, winner's choice. Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for a Dirty Laundry book.

Bios:

Inez Kelley is a multi-published author of various romance genres. You can visit her at her website http://inezkelley.com/ Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inez.kelley

Ginny Glass writes everything romance related. Drop by http://www.ginnyglass.com and say Hi or follow her on Twitter at @ginnyglass or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/authorginnyglass

Monday, September 27, 2010

Keeping Secrets


I have a love/hate relationship with secrets.

Sometimes they can be wonderful, like a surprise for a friend or good news you know you'll be able to share soon.

Sometimes they can be irritating, like having a pen name and not being able to tell anyone in town about good writing news because they all think you've been actively trying to sell a book for ten years now with no success. (Gee, Kate, issues much? LOL)

Sometimes they can be agonizing, because you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to share and you just can't.

I'm pretty good at keeping secrets. (Okay, NNN, stop laughing. I have a point.) Let me rephrase - I'm good at keeping secrets when they aren't mine to share. If it's someone else's news, if it impacts another person, I'll keep my mouth shut as long as necessary. A few years back, we took our kids to Disneyland, and didn't tell them until we pulled up at the hotel. They thought we were on our way to the Grand Canyon (which we did eventually visit, after Disney), and the fact that we were taking the same route we'd used for Disneyland in the past was merely a coincidence. As tough as it was to plan the whole thing without letting anything slip, it was worth it to see the looks on their faces as they realized what was actually going on. It was priceless.

On the other hand, I have been known to preemptively spill my own personal good news to a select few, even when technically I shouldn't, just because it's so hard to keep it all inside. I know, that makes me weak, but I think it's pretty human as well.

So how about you? Are you a never-tell, "loose lips sink ships" type, or do you share a little soon sometimes? What do you think about the art of keeping secrets?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why John Grisham is Right

Did anyone else catch John Grisham’s New York Times article about the various jobs he had before becoming a massively successful bestselling author? He wrote it in honor of Labor Day, and he described his years as a plumber’s assistant, an asphalt layer and a litigator. The conclusion of the article was that out of all his jobs, being an author was the most difficult.

I loved this article because it made me feel kind of proud of myself. Here I am, doing the hardest job of all! Harder than crawling under houses looking for leaks. Harder than paving roads during a Mississippi summer. I ran right out and told my carpenter fiancé that even though mixing that concrete might look hard, it was nothing compared to hammering out a plot point.

And hey, John Grisham does the hardest job and gets the big loot to boot. I’m doing it for a mere fraction of a fraction of a fraction (I could probably keep going) of what he makes. Doesn’t that make me some kind of writer-saint or something?

And then I had to wonder about my own work history. I’ve had some fairly random jobs, but is writing the hardest one ever?

(For the record, the following are all actual jobs I’ve held. Full disclosure: I was fired from at least one of them.)

Exhibit A. Hotel Chambermaid. I made beds, cleaned rooms, emptied trash, left chocolate on pillows.

As an erotic romance writer, I mess the sheets up and delve into what wild, forbidden things might have gone on in those beds.

DEFINITELY HARDER.

(Plus, now I have to buy my own chocolate.)


Exhibit B.
Breakfast cook. Manned the grill, cooked omelets, made home fries. Sent my customers off with satisfied bellies.


As an erotica writer, I have to do more than fill my readers’ bellies. Other parts of the body and mind must be satisfied too.

MUCH HARDER




Exhibit C
. Encyclopedia update researcher. Updated facts, researched news events, wrote articles.

Facts? Hey, make it easy, why don’t you? As a writer, I have to make that shit up!

WAY, WAY HARDER

Exhibit D. TV news promo writer. Wrote teasers for upcoming newscasts. Had to keep people from changing the channel for a full 30 seconds.


HARDER! If I can’t keep people reading my books for more than 30 seconds, I deserve to get fired.

Then again, it wouldn't be the first time.


So John Grisham, I have to agree. Being an author is really, really hard. But I’d still rather do this than anything else I’ve tried.

Of course, I haven’t given plumbing a shot yet.

What about you? What's the hardest job you've done? And the most satisfying?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies - Chapter 3



Rock’s jaw tightened as did other parts of his anatomy. Damn! Why had he invited Chastity here anyway? She was…distracting.
Chastity rubbed her supple body against Rock’s rock-hard abs and even harder loins. Oh yeah, that was why. Unfortunately, he had other problems to deal with at the moment. Although a nice roll in the hay might make those other problems a little easier to bear. Of course, that roll in the hay would have to be paid for later. He suspected Chastity never did anything for free. “Raincheck,” he panted.
“It’s raining right now,” Chastity purred in his ear.
“Double raincheck,” he groaned. “That means, you know, next time it rains and…sorry.” He ducked through the door to his study, slamming it behind him, then throwing the bolt for good measure. Good thing Chastity wasn’t one of the Children Of the Night. He really didn’t have time to stuff something under the door to keep her from changing into a mist and seeping inside. Actually, he wasn’t entirely sure Chastity couldn’t do that even though she wasn’t one of his people. She seemed to have special powers all her own.
He opened the small refrigerator underneath the bookshelf beside his desk and pulled out a plastic bottle with a bright green nylon cover that extended almost to the opaque top. Twisting off the lid, he inserted an opaque white bendy straw and took a sip.
Tasted like chicken. Sort of. In the neighborhood anyway. Marcel LaTouche, his personal chef, tried to flavor his dinner so that he didn’t have to think about what he was really consuming. Unfortunately, trying not to think about what he was really consuming always made it impossible for him not to think about what he was really consuming. He finished the bottle with a quick gulp and sank onto the couch to let his stomach settle again. Damn stupid blood phobia.
He mopped his face with his bandana, then pushed himself to his feet again, squaring his rock-hard shoulders as he headed for his top-of-the-line computer in the corner. Time to check Babs Braveheart’s will for loopholes.
***
Chastity settled onto the couch, pouting picturesquely. Unfortunately, nobody was around to appreciate the picturesque nature of her expression, so she let it slide into a sneer. Stupid, freakin’ cowboy zillionaire! She’d been here for a week already, and she hadn’t picked up so much as a pair of earrings yet. And she’d been dropping hints like crazy about that ruby bracelet that was supposed to have belonged to Catherine the Great. Whoever she was. History wasn’t Chastity’s strong point. Gemology, on the other hand, was something she could really get into, given the right inspiration.
And what the hell kind of ranch was this Double Fang place anyway? When Rock Fangsworthy had invited her to fly down to his ranch with him, she’d expected something like South Fork. Servants. Jacuzzis. Sundecks. Thousand-thread-count sheets. Champagne in buckets. Maybe a couple of really cool-looking horses in a corral to give it that tang of authenticity, so long as the corral was far away enough away from the house that that tang of authenticity didn’t drift through the windows.
And what had she gotten instead? A freakin’ ranch. One bad-tempered French cook who’d bared his pointy teeth when she’d asked for an egg-white omelet at breakfast. A stock tank out back she could swim in if she didn’t mind sharing it with the cattle (who really didn’t believe in sharing). Sheets that looked like they’d been purchased at Walmart. And outside the main house, fields full of prickly pear cactus and cow flop. Lots and lots of cow flop.
Was this any way for a billionaire to live?
Chastity frowned as much as the Botox allowed. “Billionaire” wasn’t right, but she wasn’t sure exactly what was. Once when she’d purred something about Rock being a billionaire, his rock-hard jaw had become, well, something harder than rock, and his slate-blue eyes had flashed with fury. “I am not a billionaire,” he’d grated.
Chastity had managed a great sucking of her lower lip in counterfeit confusion while doing a few quick mental reviews. She was absolutely certain Rock Fangsworthy was as rich as sin. If she hadn’t been, she wouldn’t have bothered shimmying his way in the first place. “You’re not a billionaire?” she crooned. “You mean you’re a millionaire?”
Rock’s eyes had flashed even brighter and his canines had suddenly looked as if they’d sharpened to needle-points. “You do realize that millionaires have less money than billionaires?”
“Oh.” Chastity had sucked on his index finger for a moment, dropping her eyelids to half-mast so that he could have some time to make the mental leap from finger to other parts of his anatomy. “I always get those mixed up.”
“Just remember one thing,” Rock muttered. “Zillionaire is considerably more than billionaire.” His voice had sounded slightly choked as he’d dragged her through the door to his bedroom.
Chastity had checked out zillionaire as soon as she’d managed to get out of Rock’s bedroom the following week, but she hadn’t yet come up with any concrete figures. Still, she was willing to take him at his word. And, of course, take him for all he was worth.
Outside a sudden flash of lightning was followed by a crash of thunder. Chastity pouted again. Terrific weather for cuddling. Maybe she could hammer on Rock’s door and convince him she was afraid of thunderstorms. She chewed on her lip for a moment, trying to work up some tears, but she was too annoyed. Pouting as much as she could manage, she wandered across the pegged pine floor toward the picture window in front, hoping those stupid cows were getting good and wet.
Another flash of lightning illuminated the prickly pear cactus field at the front of the house. Where something was moving. Or rather, someone.
Chastity squinted. Lightning brightened the velvet darkness of the sky again and she saw the figure more clearly. Dressed in black from head to toe. One extended hand holding something long and sharp. White moon face peeping out from the black knit cap. The man was attempting to tiptoe through the cactus. Attempting unsuccessfully, judging from the male voice that suddenly echoed through the front yard.
“Oh mother frickin’ son of a seacook cactus. Dadblame Texas anyway!”
To be continued...Chapter Four
If you enjoyed this chapter of The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies, please be sure and join us again next Thursday for the next exciting installment.
You can read more about this exciting serial HERE. And be sure to enter our contest! Rules and information can be found HERE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

E is for Erotica

I think I may have been around the block a few too many times.

I used to be able to handle the sometimes clueless questions about romance or e-publishing with a whole lot more grace and good humor. I used to be able to smile tolerantly at the people struggling to figure out whether my books were “real” books or…god only knows what.

Lately, however, it’s been starting to get to me. So here’s a brief (well, hopefully it’ll be brief. I can occasionally be concise you know!) rundown of some of my current pet peeves.

1. Please don’t refer to me as an e-book author. I write books. Period. Technically, I suppose I should say I write stories (or novels, if you prefer), which are then turned into books by my publishers. These books can take several different forms—print, digital, maybe audio someday. 

Maybe you don’t mean for it to sound like an insult when you relegate my books to a particular category based on the format in which they're released, but the simple fact is this: that’s exactly how it does sound. Kinda like Paul McCartney’s Paperback Writer, if you know what I mean.

2. Please don’t assume that I’d rather be print published than e-published. That may have been the case at one time but at this point I’m actually pretty sure my books are exactly where they’re supposed to be. You may think of “e-publishers” as being somehow inferior to “print publishers” or “real publishers" or "New York publishers" or however else you want to refer to them. I don’t.

3. Please do not make the assumption that gave this post its title. The “e” in “e-book” does not stand for erotica—no matter what you may have heard. Which is not to suggest I have anything against erotica or erotic romance, because clearly I don’t. It’s just that there’s a lot more to digital publishing than sex...disappointing as that may be to some people.

4. While we’re on the subject: Erotica and erotic romance—not the same thing. No, really.

5. Want to know what other two things “aren’t the same”? E-publishing and Indie Publishing. 

Look, I have nothing but respect for indie authors, but they have to wear a lot of hats and spend even more time “not writing” than I do. Most publishers—yes, even the digital ones—employ people to handle all (okay, most) of the non-writing work involved with bringing a book to market, work that I can’t or don’t want to do myself. 

I don't want to be the person responsible for finding or hiring these other people either. And I don't delegate all that well. As long as I can find reputable, well-respected publishers willing or—even better—eager to publish my books I’m happy to share the profits of my labor with all the people (editors, proof-readers, cover artists, everyone else I’m leaving out) who help me sell my books or who help to make them better.

6. If you’re writing a book, or thinking about writing a book, or maybe you’ve just finished writing a book, I will most likely be genuinely happy for you. I will most likely even be happy to listen while you tell me all about it. At. Very. Great. Length. 

Hey, you’re excited. I get that. And I think it’s great. I will probably even be willing to listen if all you want to do is complain about how hard it is to find a publisher ‘cause, trust me, I get that too. However, here’s another “e” word for you: Education. 

We all feel like we’re throwing darts sometimes, but if you’re sending your manuscript to the wrong publishers because you couldn’t be bothered doing a little research first, or if, even worse, you’re not sending your manuscript out at all (‘cause, you know, these e-publishers, all they want is erotica!) then you’re making things even harder for yourself than they need to be. And I have to wonder if you really want to be published at all.

7. And if you’re writing a book, or thinking about writing a book, or thinking about thinking about writing a book, and all you want to talk to me about is how your book is too good for “commercial” publishers—that’s why it’s being rejected. Or maybe you want to tell me how it’d be a sure-fire, blockbuster, best-selling hit if it weren’t for all those short-sighted agents who keep shooting it down. Or that it’s the kind of hard-hitting, truth-telling story that could get you killed if it ever came out…please, find someone else to share with.

8. Oh, yeah, and please don’t tell me that, of course, you “could” write books--and they’d be awesome too, man!  Because, after all, writing books is really a very easy thing to do, right? It's just that you have so many more important matters on which to spend your time; or “people” (ie publishers, agents, readers, me perhaps) just don’t have the intelligence to appreciate your talent, or… 

You know what? Forget it. I don’t care. You have your reasons. Let’s leave it at that, 'kay?

***

I have one more “E” word for you today, dear blog readers, and that’s “Erin”. Yes, I’m referring to our very own lovely Ms. Nicholas who believes she’s under some kind of weird Twitter curse. Go here and follow her: www.twitter.com/ErinNicholas I hear she’s planning all sorts of cool giveaways in conjunction with her latest releases: tote bags, refrigerator magnets, free books, blueberries…oh, no, wait a minute. Not blueberries. Those were for something else.

Don't forget to come back here tomorrow to read Chapter Three of The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Blogger Vivi Andrews - Tearing Up the Lists


Thanks to the Nine Naughty Novelists for having me here today!

Hi, my name is Vivi and I’m a list addict.

I confess. I’m one of those freakishly organized people who gets a little too excited when I check an item off one of my many To Do lists. Oh baby, the thrill of clicking strike-through on an Excel spreadsheet – it’s practically indecent. There’s probably a clinical name for people who lust after accomplishment and itemize their goals with little color coded sticky tabs – but I just call it incurable nerddom and wear my naughty librarian glasses with pride.

The heroine of my latest release, Serengeti Lightning (http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/serengeti-lightning-p-6081.html), shares my list-mania, but beyond that our similarities pretty much break down. (In case there was any confusion, I am not, in fact, a shape-shifting lioness. But I am a Leo.)

Mara is all about goals and lists and plans. And like any true list-devotee, she has a checklist for her perfect mate. (Like you’ve never gotten a little tipsy on margaritas with your girlfriends and scribbled a list on a cocktail napkin declaring your need for a man with a bulging… intellect.) Pragmatic Mara’s dreamguy is faithful, sensible, and reliable. He’s the picture of stability and was probably an Eagle Scout who helped little old ladies across the street. Mr. Perfect-on-Paper.

Lust, emotion, heat – all the intangibles didn’t make it onto the list. Mara believes in making important life decisions with her head, not her heart.

Yeah, I’m guessing you can see where this one is going. Our hero, Michael, wouldn’t score very high on Mara’s mate test, but if anyone can get her out of her head and thinking with her, ahem, other places, it’s Michael. Hotter than sin? Oh yeah. The sensible choice? Not so much. Mara has discounted him as forever material since day one.

Don’t you just love it when a heroine is forced to realize just how wrong she can be?

I love my lists (oh baby, do I love my lists), but I also love tossing them aside for the sake of spontaneity. There are some things that lists and plans just can’t do. They can’t find you the love of your life or teach you how to listen to your heart when your head is screaming something else. Sometimes you have to tear them up and just enjoy the ride.

Have you ever made a Mr. (or Ms.) Perfect list? Is your real life significant other the kind of person you thought you would end up with?

Vivi Andrews lives in Alaska and writes paranormal romance for Samhain Publishing & Carina Press. For more about Vivi & her books please visit her website at www.viviandrews.com.

Monday, September 20, 2010

All about the Hero?

Almost from the beginning of my writing career, I've found it a little easier to write from the hero's point of view. Which is strange since you'd think it would be easier to write from the heroine's point of view being that I'm also a woman. Or maybe that's the problem. Maybe part of my brain gets too hung up on making sure my heroine is her own person and not some fantasy extension of myself.

I think in some ways writing women is harder, for me anyway, because I tend to write a lot of kick-ass heroines. Most of them are strong and self-reliant and don't need to depend on the hero when it comes to a physical threat. But it can be challenging writing those kinds of heroines without having them cross the line from tough and street-smart to cold and bitchy. An unforgiving hero often feels like an easier obstacle to overcome when it comes to redeeming a character.

Writing the hero seems to be easier for me, too, since it's usually the hero I remember best from the majority of books I've read. Except in the case of urban fantasy or other heroine-centered series, the hero just stays with me longer.

I know the men from Tara Janzen's Crazy series have stayed with me for a long time. Mmmm Hawkins and Kidd.

What about you guys? If you're a writer, do you find it easier to write the hero or the heroine? And when it comes to reading, do you find it's usually the hero or the heroine that's most memorable long after you've finished a book? Who have been the most memorable heroes and heroines for you?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Contrived plots? No, never!

Last night, I could not sleep. Which turned out to be a good thing, because I seem to get some of my best plotting (yes, plotting, you pansters!) done past 1 a.m. The bonus is getting to spend time with Phin, my night owl better half.

Phin reads fantasy. And mystery. And various other fiction sub-genres, but he's never quite gotten over his distaste for romance.

But he's an amazing help in plotting. So I give him bare-bones situations, my question, and, ta-da!, he usually has a solution. Last night, however, he needed more detail, so I gave it, to which he replied, "Isn't that awfully contrived?"

At first I was defensive, but the more I thought about it, I knew he was correct. That being said, I hate the word "contrived" because it has such a negative connotation. It's more like, as I explained to him, setting up the right circumstances so the right people have the chance to fall in love.

"Life isn't like that, though," he told me, so sure of himself.

But it IS like that. For two people to meet and fall in love, they both have to be in the right place at the right time. Whether they're ready or not, sparks fly.

But what if their goals create conflict? What if their motivations for those goals create more conflict down the line? Sounds like our golden Goal-Motivation-Conflict trinity to me.

And for those two people to compromise and grow, all for the sake of their love for the other...well that's really an aligning of perfect circumstances. For every successful relationship, that person has (usually) had to weed through the ones who weren't right, with whom they couldn't find a happy ending.

It's all about the circumstances. And character. Sounds like the recipe for a good romance to me.

We write romance because it reflects life. Paranormal, contemporary, suspense, erotic--it's all about the right two people finding each other at the right time.

Just like life.

I know Phin will come around at some point. But until then, I'll keep picking his brain and reminding him that we fell in love because we met the right person at the right time, and managed to tolerate each others' flaws while highlighting each others' strengths. And I'll continue writing my love stories, thankful for my own relationship as I plot each one.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies - Chapter 2

CHAPTER TWO




Buffi fell back against the door, her heart pounding wildly. She closed her eyes, remembered pain knifing through her. Rock. Oh Rock. She'd loved him so much, with all her being. And he'd broken her heart.

Even now, nearly three years later, he was still so familiar – the stony line of his jaw, the intense slate-blue of his eyes, the wide shoulders and hard muscles of his body. And his mouth. Remembering how he'd plundered her mouth with his had her tummy fluttering and her pulse racing. She drew a deep, unsteady breath.

Lightning illuminated the small foyer of her home, immediately followed by a sharp crack of thunder. Rain poured down outside in torrents. The wind howled around the eaves. And whines and whimpers at her feet had her eyes flying open.

"Oh my poor baby boys," she crooned, bending to scoop up the twins. They'd always been terrified of thunderstorms. "It's okay, my babies." She carried them into the living room, still trembling with the shock of seeing Rock again after all this time, still trembling with the panty-melting desire he aroused in her with just one look of those flinty slate-blue eyes. How could this be, after all these years?

She sat on the couch, Vlad and Ivan snuggled into her, one under each arm, and she held them close. Rock hadn't recognized them as his. And it was damn well going to stay that way. They were so precious to her, all she had in the world now. Them...and this winery.

Grams had left it to her in her will after her unfortunate passing last month from complications from an ingrown toenail. Buffi still couldn't believe it. She'd lost her job at the Houston Meat Market three months ago... Mmm. Meat. But never mind that. This darn recession had put so many people out of work and competition for jobs was tough. Pounding the pavement for weeks hadn't yielded employment. She hadn't been sure how she was going to pay next month's rent on the apartment, how she was going to put meat on the table for her babies. Not sure what she was going to do, she'd been on the edge of desperation. And then thankfully Grams had gone toes up.

Well, not thankfully. Buffi had loved the old girl, truly she had, and she'd miss her, but...at least she had a home to call her own, for her and the boys. And a business to run.

Although the Best Little Winery in Texas apparently...wasn't.

Since moving there she'd learned that the winery had some problems. Last year a big storm had destroyed much of the grape crop, and their yield had been much smaller than normal. Because of that, apparently Grams had tried to save money by skimping on sanitation, resulting in many bottles of wine that had been tainted with mold and yeast. And her winemaker Vince Yardley, although talented and exceptionally skilled in enology, had a little too much liking for tasting his product and spent an unfortunate amount of time face down in the cellar. Now the reputation of the Best Little Winery in Texas was in big trouble.

"Hungry, Mommy."

She looked down at Ivan, who had shifted into a toddler boy with the dark hair and pale skin of his father. "Are you? Let's go find you something to eat."

"Blood! I want blood!"

"Me too!" Vlad piped up. "Blood!"

She smiled. She had some nice bloodsicles in the freezer that would take their minds off the raging storm outside, a nice cool treat on this hot, muggy Texas night.

She watched Vlad and Ivan devour their icy treats in the kitchen, blood dripping off their chins and staining their little fingers scarlet. Love for them swelled up inside her and she reached over to tousle their hair affectionately. Her fierce love for her children stiffened her resolve and she straightened her shoulders. Sure she'd had some problems thrown at her recently, but things would work out fine. She just had to be strong for her babies. Now she had a beautiful home for her boys, space for them to run and play and use their boundless wolf energy. She had a business to run, and even though the business had some problems and she knew nothing about running a winery, she could learn.

And even though Rock was back in her life and he wanted her winery, he wasn't going to get it. She straightened her shoulders. He would never take this winery away from her —and he would never take away her babies, either.


* * *


Rock galloped back to the Double Fang, his jaw tight, muscles rigid, water dripping off his limp hat. Dammit. His earlier feelings of contentment and satisfaction had washed away with the Texas downpour.

Buffi van Pelt. Back in Bloodsuck after all these years.

He supposed it made sense that Babs had left the winery to Buffi. After those weeks Buffi had spent there three years ago...no five years ago...how long ago had that been? Never mind. After those weeks she’d spent helping Babs out after her hip replacement surgery, she and Babs had grown pretty close.

His loins heated at memories of those weeks — weeks of heat and passion among the vines.

He stabled Monk in the barn and strode into the house.

"Hello, Rock."

He turned to see Chastity Feelsgood sitting on his couch.

"Chastity. What are you doing here?"

"We were supposed to go out tonight. Don't you remember?"

He rubbed the back of his neck. "Damn. I guess I forgot. I was distracted by business."

Chastity rose from the couch and sauntered toward him, her long dark hair hanging in shiny waves down her back. The leopard-print mini dress she wore hugged her curves and left her long legs bare, bare all the way down to the red pointy-toed stiletto-heeled shoes she wore.

"You're always distracted by business," she purred, dragging one long fingernail down the side of his neck.

Her fragrance, that combination of roses and patchouli, filled his nostrils, and she pressed her newly-enhanced breasts against his chest. He waited for the usual reaction he had to her touch, her scent — that flow of blood south, that surge of lust. Instead all he could think about was Buffi's natural beauty – her clean face, soft golden-retriever gold hair and sweet smile.

Tightening his jaw, he stepped away from Chastity. "I'm sorry," he growled. "I'm not in the mood to go out tonight after all."

Her dark eyes narrowed and her glossy red lips pouted. "But Rock...if I were you, I'd have sex with me."

Huh? This woman was whacked. Stacked, but whacked. The vein in his temple throbbed harder. "I'm sorry."

"Come on," she whispered, running a hand down his chest. “Let's go upstairs. I can change your mood."

To be continued... Chapter Three


If you enjoyed this chapter of The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies, please be sure and join us again next Thursday for the next exciting installment.

You can read more about this exciting serial HERE And be sure to enter our contest! Rules and information can be found HERE

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just My Type... of book!


Just My Type came out yesterday and one of the things I love most about this book is that it's a friends turned lovers story, one of my favorite themes. It also has the best-friend's-little-sister thing in it, and the woman-as-the-pursuer thing... oh, and a beach and cotton-candy flavored body powder and a small town with some fun characters and return appearances of some favorite characters... all things I love!

Oh, and I happen to have some extra copies SO... I'm giving TWO copies away to random winners chosen from any comments! To get you started... do you have a personal friends turned lovers story? How about a story about a woman as the pursuer? Those are fun! Or: what flavor body powder would you choose--cotton candy, banana split, chocolate, strawberry or cinnamon? Anything gets entered! :) I'll pick a winner and post on Saturday to give people a chance to catch up and so I don't disturb the other bloggers this week-- definitely don't want to get in the way of that Zillionaire Cowboy who'll be stopping by on Thursday! Be sure you include your e-mail in your response so I can get a hold of you!

And here's a little peek at Just My Type:
“I need you to kiss me.”
Several heartbeats passed before he said, “Excuse me?”
“Doug, the guy I was talking to a minute ago, thinks he’s taking me home. I need you to help me convince him I’m involved with someone.”
Mac frowned down at her. “Tell him no.”
“He’s in town until Tuesday and comes back on business all the time. He’ll keep bugging me.”
Mac’s frown turned to a scowl. “Keep telling him no.”
“This is easier,” she insisted, moving closer as Mack leaned back slightly. “If he thinks I’m involved, especially with a big, mean-looking guy like you, he’ll drop it.”
“Mean-looking?”
“When you frown like that.” She moved even closer. “Come on. Just a little favor. One kiss.”
He’d kissed her cheek, her forehead, the top of her head and her hand before. And once on the lips. New Year’s Eve. Two years ago. Which was when the lust had started. She’d never felt like that with even the most passionate kisses from other men and this had been only a New Year’s Eve kiss. It hadn’t been a peck, but neither had it been carnal by any stretch—it had been full, lips slightly open, up against the full length of his body, lingering for a good minute.
All she’d been able to think after was wow and if he ever really turned it on, I’m a goner.
“Tell him you’re with me,” he said with a growl turning back to his chair at the head table. He grabbed her hand just as she thought he was walking away and pulled her along with him. “Stay with me and you won’t have to tell him anything at all.”
Sara let herself enjoy Mac’s hand, big, warm and strong, for a moment before making herself keep up the argument—even though he was right. She wanted that kiss.
“Someone already told him I’m single. He’ll think we’re just friends sitting together. Even if he doesn’t approach me again tonight, he’ll probably call tomorrow.”
Mac settled down into his chair and pushed the chair next to him out for her. “Want me to stay over and answer the phone until Tuesday?”
She swiveled on her chair seat to look at him, gauging the motivation behind the offer. She knew he didn’t mean it like that. He’d slept on her couch before.
“Yes,” she said simply.
“I will,” he told her lifting his glass. “But you have to buy Twinkies.”
Mac’s favorite food. Normally, she would roll her eyes and joke about his propensity for junk food. But she was in a mood tonight. She leaned over and put her hand on his hard, flat stomach.
“How do you keep these so tight with all those Twinkies?” She rubbed her hand back and forth over the warm, white linen of his shirt.
Mac seemed to freeze. And stop breathing. His eyes were locked on hers and she felt a current zing between them. She’d never touched him like that. They’d held hands, even hugged before, and she’d touched his arms, back, shoulder, even face once, but never his chest, or stomach, or lower.
“Sara?” His voice was definitely hoarse.
“Mac.”
“Move your hand.”
She slid it downward and Mac shot back, tipping his chair onto its back legs and throwing him off-balance enough that he stumbled to his feet, knocking the chair over.
“Damn, Sara!” he swore. Straightening to his full height and glaring down at her he demanded, “What the hell was that?”
She blinked at him, trying for innocence. “You said…”
“I didn’t mean that!” he snapped.
“Well, why not? I certainly wouldn’t mind doing it.”
He gaped at her and she almost laughed. She’d never seen Mac flabbergasted like this.
“You wouldn’t mind doing what exactly?”
Maybe he thought—or hoped—she was talking about something else. She had to make this clear.
“Putting my hand on your…”
“Okay,” he interrupted, throwing up his hands. “Enough. You’re obviously drunk.”
Instead of looking up and arguing his statement, Sara’s eyes found the object of conversation almost right in front of her. And it looked interested in what she was proposing.
Mac had an erection. Right there. Front and center. Unmistakable.
“You sure you’re not interested?” She looked directly at the tent in his pants.
He quickly righted the chair, sat and dropped his napkin in his lap. “Knock it off.”
“What? You’re telling me you’ve never thought of it? Ever?”
“Of having your hand down my pants at your brother’s wedding? No, I can honestly say I haven’t.” He wouldn’t look at her.
“So when have you thought about having my hand down your pants?”
He opened his mouth, shut it, shifted in his chair, frowned. “Stop it.”
She scooted her chair closer. “Mac, honestly. Have you ever thought of us together?”
“Sure. We’re together all the time at Sam’s, at the center and the hospital.” He still wasn’t making eye contact.
Sara touched his knee and he nearly jumped out of his chair again. She smiled. She was no dummy. She had a master’s degree in psychology and was a licensed social worker in Nebraska. She studied people. She’d watched the two people she knew best—her sister, Jessica, and her brother, Sam—fall in love with their spouses. She’d seen the effect that intense attraction had on people and how they acted until they admitted the attraction and did something about it.
“I’m talking about naked, you and me.”
“Of course not,” he answered quickly. Too quickly. He was scowling again. “You’re a kid, like a sister to me.”
He was lying. He had to be lying. Before she could think it out any further and potentially chicken out, Sara slid from her chair to Mac’s lap, cupped the back of his head in both hands and kissed him with all she had.


You can buy it here!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guest Blogger MJ Fredrick - My Secret Plotting Weapon


I have a secret plotting weapon—you’ll never guess what it is.

It’s my fourth grade class.

In Texas, in fourth grade, writing is one of the state tests, so we spend a lot of time learning how to brainstorm, get words on the page, revise and edit. (They don’t like those last two so much.) So I bring my work in to class to show them what I do.

Since we learn about story structure (I insist they know the movies The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean) and beginning, middle and ends, I bring in my story board. Now, my story board isn’t fancy, just colored sticky notes on a trifold board, divided into 12 chapters. I show them that each color has to be in every chapter, and show them that sometimes there are holes.

For example, before NaNoWriMo a few years ago, I decided to completely plot out my romantic suspense so I wouldn’t hit any snags along the way. I had my basic plan—bodyguard/local politician. Her daddy is a Jack Bauer type and his enemies went after her. I knew there’d be another man she was interested in, someone more like her, not like the bodyguard who is too much like her daddy. So I set up the project board in the front of the room, showed them where my holes were (mostly in the second part of the middle) and one of the kids, without even looking up from his doodling said, “You have to kill the other boyfriend.”

YEAH, I did.

I also was plotting a paranormal novella later that same year, and was having trouble working the cursed object as an integral part of the story. Those kids were the ones who told me the cursed object has to be used as a key, and as a symbol throughout the story.

Now, it doesn’t always work. Some of their ideas are, well, pretty typical 10-year-old ideas. But even if that’s the case, they love being part of the process, and I think it helps them think outside the box for their own writing. See, a win-win situation!

Sunrise Over Texas was conceived in Room 27, during social studies. While the kids weren’t in on the plotting of this one (I barely plotted it, since I started writing it for NaNoWriMo a few days later), they knew about the concept and were almost as excited as I was when it sold!

Monday, September 13, 2010

If Women Like It, It Must Be Stupid


Okay, now that the Zillionaire Vampire is well and truly launched, we’re back to the usual blog posts, or, in my case, blog rants.

A few weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly ran a cover story on Eat, Pray, Love the movie, and they had a sidebar interview with the book’s author, Elizabeth Gilbert. In the course of the interview, Gilbert addressed the backlash against her book and its sequel, Committed, as being somewhat gender based. The attitude, she said, seemed to be “If women like it, it must be stupid.”

I have to admit, I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love (hey, I’ve got a lot of Nora Roberts still to get through), but that statement really struck home with me because it’s so true of the general attitude toward romance. The overwhelming majority of romance readers and writers are women, and the overwhelming majority of romance critics seem to be men. The prevailing attitude always comes down to “You read that stuff? How can you stand it? It’s, well, stupid!”

So here we are, writing in the most popular genre of popular fiction, drawing millions of readers, maybe even inspiring people who hadn’t ever read anything for fun before to pick up a book, and somehow it’s a big embarrassment. If women like it, it must be stupid.

Male critics, and some female critics who want to show they’ve grown a pair, go after romance with open derision. An author on the RWA-PAN recounted a conversation she’d had with an independent bookstore owner who, when asked if she carried romance, replied, “No I only carry good fiction.” It’s lame, it’s dumb, it’s totally…female. If women like it, it must be stupid.

I keep pointing out that this attitude is both subjective and unfair. I tell people flatly that the best romance writers are as good as or better than the best mystery and thriller and sci fi writers. It doesn’t seem to matter. My local newspaper, the Denver Post, devotes one page of book reviews every month to new mysteries and thrillers, but they’ve never reviewed a romance so far as I know (and yes, I do check—compulsively). The editors in charge of the books page and the entertainment section are both men—my guess is they share the opinion of the independent bookseller. If women like it, it must be stupid.

The Romance Writers of America have a long-standing program that tries to raise the profile and increase the respectability of the genre, including grants for academic study. The Popular Culture Association has a romance stem in which scholars can share the results of their research. But when I used to go to PCA conventions myself, the romance sessions got a lot more snickers than, say, the sci fi and horror sessions. If women like it, it must be stupid.

Maybe RWA could fund an initiative to get men to try reading romance. We could even give them plain brown book covers to use if they found it too embarrassing to be seen with a romance novel in their hands. Maybe we could get them to admit the possibility that love and sex are at least as interesting as the aliens of Galaxy 23 or the latest in high tech warfare. If women like it, it must be stupid.

I wish I had an uplifting finish here. I mean, I’m a romance writer—I believe in HEA. But I don’t see it happening. We’re stuck with the perceptions that have been foisted on us from the outside, and they seem to be pervasive. Maybe the best we can do is to keep pounding away at this cliché by personal example. Yeah, I’m a woman. Yeah, I read and write romance. And I’ll match my IQ to yours any day of the week, boyo. If women like it, it must be stupid? Fuck that!