Run For Your Lives, It’s The Romance Genre!

Hmmmmmm, I feel another book review in the works. Not in this post, but definitely upcoming, and soon, because I have had my eyes opened today ladies and gentlemen. I read, for possibly the first time in my 30+ years if memory serves, a Romance novel……from start to finish. That’s not too shocking I suppose because I do love to read and don’t like to give up on any book I start without giving it what I deem a fair shot. The fact that I actually liked it is what shocks me beyond belief.

I generally don’t go for all that wishy-washy romance stuff in my books. I mean, there’s not even one action scene in the whole thing (the nerve!), so I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. I wasn’t even sure I was going to read the whole thing. I got it on my Kindle in yet another of my “I’m broke and want to download tons of free books I’ve never read” moods. (I do that a lot since I don’t sleep well.) I was even surprised that I chose that book as one, but hey, why not? There’s nothing wrong with expanding our horizons once in a while, ya know?

So I get the book, along with five others (all of the rest in the Fantasy genre). Read three of them in a few hours because they’re kind of short, then turn my eyes to the fourth and don’t even get past the first page. Just not feelin’ the vibe on that one right now, perhaps another day. Great, now I can’t even put off reading the dreaded Romance novel anymore. I get like that sometimes, where I HAVE TO read new books rather than the old standby’s, and since I don’t have local access to my storage unit, all my paperbacks/hardcovers are not an option at the moment. I can hardly go to the library at 10 o’clock at night and browse for some books.

Here we go, might as well get it over with. I will say up front that when I read the blurb on Amazon.com it seemed not as “bodice ripping” as I would normally come across. I’m sure that’s at least part of the reason why I snatched it up. I don’t do those kinds of novels, period. There’s something that repels me from reading about a helpless female being entranced by a man wearing a kilt, and sex scenes every five minutes (and no, I’m not talking Erotica here, these were Romance novels) with every euphemism for male and female genitalia that a writer can think of tossed into one paragraph. OK,  OK,  I know they’re not all like that, but they’re just not my thing. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to my reading, but we all have our likes and dislikes. To each their own and more power to you if like those kids of books. Read a few for me, won’t ya? 😉

As is turns out, Double Trouble written by Deborah Cooke, isn’t all that bad. I rather enjoyed it to be honest. Now I crave to read more about these Coxwells. They are an intriguing bunch to be sure. Partly because they are so out of the league of my “norm”, partly because of the narrator’s voice. I’m not sure it’s just one thing, it never is for me, but a lot of things all rolled in together that made me appreciate the book. Thankfully there are more books on the Coxwells, this actually being the second book in the series. Alas, I didn’t have to read the first one to understand the second one.

That’s another first for me. Not only have I skulked into a new genre, I’ve gone against every belief I have about reading a set of series books, I didn’t read the first book first. For shame! I’ll just cover my head while you throw things at me and quietly explain that 1) I didn’t realize this was the second book until after I’d already downloaded it, and 2) it was made very clear to me that I didn’t have to read the first book of the series before the story even started. Score points for the author on that one! I enjoyed reading a “series” book that I wasn’t required to start somewhere else. Like I said, I’m expanding my horizons here people.

I’ll get more in-depth on the book itself during my review, but this post is more to help me understand my shock factor. Seriously, what’s happening to me as I grow older? I’ve never been interested in reading this genre before. Don’t get me wrong, there is an element of romance in a lot of the books I’ve read in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, in the M/T/S genre, etc., but mostly it’s about world crisis and saving someone or other, things of that nature. This is the first time I’ve ever stepped into the flowery world (or so I like to see it) of the Romance genre, willingly, and enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, wanted more of it. What the- ?!?! Thankfully this book was devoid of what I mostly think of the genre to be filled with and perhaps that went a long way in my feeling for the book/genre in general. As I’ve said, I’ve had my eyes opened today, but in a good way. Is it so wrong that I want to read a Romance novel that’s not about some head-over-heels-in-love scenario? Where it’s automatically love at first sight and these two people just HAVE to be together? That I want to read a book where, although there may not be physical fight scenes with vampires and were-creatures and witches or dragons, but actual real world problems that middle-class girls like me can perhaps relate to…on some level? Oh hey, look what I found. A book that has just that…

Here’s the clincher for me. In my past (and admittedly limited) experience with the Romance genre, I’ve mostly read, as stated above, the tragic inconvenience that somebody couldn’t be with who they wanted to be with, sprinkle in those euphemisms and all those “hot spots”, and it’s the same old thing over and over again for a few hundred pages. I can’t even get past the first few chapters without wanting to rip my hair out. I understand that a lot of these kinds of books are character driven, (almost have to be really because what’s the point in a Romance novel if there’s no romance right?), and I love character driven stories. But give me some meat (no pun intended), give me something to sink my teeth into as it were. I want a reason why I should care that these people are struggling to be with their “soul mate” or whatever frilly term you want to put on your can’t-live-without-you-other-half. (And by the way, I have one of those myself. He is the other half of my circle, and without him I fall over and don’t roll properly. So, I’m not adverse to being wishy-washy all of the time. I’m quite sure in fact that I annoy him sometimes with my massive amounts of cheesiness  but I just can’t seem to help myself around him.) Give me something to work with here, ya know? That’s all I’m saying. That can be said for any genre though. We have to care about these people who’s lives we are delving into, and we have to have a reason to care about them. You can’t just tell me to and expect me to go, “OK, as you wish, no questions asked, I care immensely about why this poor woman/man can’t be without the most wonderful man/woman on the planet.”

Yeah right, like that’s going to happen. Point being, I need some kind of substance to pull me in and something to hold me there. Much to my surprise, I have found it in the Romance genre. Perhaps it takes a special kind of author or book to do this for me. Perhaps I’m getting mushier as I get older. I’m not really sure. I’m inclined to explore this a little further though and see how it turns out. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll even start putting Romance novels on my bookshelf with those monsters and future technologies I covet so much. After all, anything is possible when it comes to love.

 

 

And yes, I really did just say that 😛

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The Temple: Part One – Excerpt Of My Attempt At A Short Story

Please keep in mind that: a) this is only a small part of a short story, b) I don’t self-edit well, c) nobody has critiqued or done a beta on the story, and d) I’m still attempting to work on my writing style/technique…which has many flaws. All that being said, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The breeze cooled the sweat on his body. Goosebumps popped out on his skin as a chill descended his spine. He was bent over, hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath and keep down his meager dinner. A twig snapped to his right.

“Great, here we go again,” he moaned.

“Samuel, wait! I just want to talk to you for a minute,” Edgar yelled.

Samuel was so tired of running. Seemed to him that’s all he’d been doing for the past few years. Running from one thing or another. And now this. Betrayal by someone he’d known since they were babies. Best friends, training partners, practically brothers. How Edgar could have done this, Samuel still didn’t understand. He had no intention of waiting around to find out though. He gathered his strength and pressed on towards his destination. The only salvation he had left to him.

As Edgar ran through the small group of trees and bushes at the edge of the forest, he saw Samuel run across the field toward the temple. He swore under his breath. He had to explain, but Samuel wouldn’t give him the chance. It wasn’t betrayal that he’d committed, but an act of kindness, a necessary evil. Obviously, Samuel didn’t agree. And now he was headed for the one place he should have avoided at all costs.

“You will have to listen eventually. There’s more to the story than what you know,” Edgar sent out telepathically.

Samuel hesitated in his stride at the thought in his head, but only for a brief moment. It didn’t matter what the murderous monster said anymore. He had to get to the Temple of Beor where he would be safe.

**********************************************************************************************************************

I will post more…eventually. Please feel free to leave any comments/critiques. And don’t worry about hurting my feelings if you think it’s horrible. I have tough skin and I welcome any and all criticism, particularly harsh criticism.

Hera, Queen of Gods (Goddess Unbound) Review

Available on amazon.com

Hera, Queen of Gods (Book One of Goddess Unbound) by T.D. Thomas (click pic for link to amazon page), published October 2012.

A wee bit o’ history on how I found the book first. I was recently browsing the Kindle Store for a new Fantasy book to read when I came across Hera, Queen of Gods. At the time I downloaded it, it was free. Funds were low at the time, so what the heck, why not? Couldn’t hurt to check it out right? Exactly! Didn’t hurt one bit. Although it did sit on my Kindle for about a month before I read it as I’d downloaded some other free books at the time. I kept putting it off because it was the one that interested me most, and it was the longest one I’d “purchased” that day. Plus, I procrastinate reading books I’m really interested in sometimes, strange but true.

So here I am yesterday, early morning and can’t sleep anymore. Not wanting to read any of the other books on my Kindle, I decided to dive right in and give it a try. I ended up reading the whole thing, couldn’t go to sleep until I’d finished it last night. Perhaps it shouldn’t have taken me that long to read as it’s only a little over 500 pages, but I’ve been told before I’m a “slow reader”…whatever that means. Allow me now to attempt to review the book I enjoyed so much (forgive me if it’s bad, this is the first book review I’ve ever done). Also, please forgive me if I sound all fanboyish (er fangirl, that is) about it, but there was much I liked about the book.

Here we have various gods and goddesses; Hera, Athena, Zeus, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, and Hermes, descending from the Heavens into mortal teenage bodies so they may find the Fates and keep the balance between Order and Chaos intact. If you’re not up on your Greek Mythology you may want to do a little reading on the subject beforehand, but that just depends. I don’t recall everything on the subject from my long ago high school days, but I remembered enough to give me an idea of who each character is. (In truth, I don’t think new readers will need to do the “research” as the author does a good job of giving us an idea of their personalities right off the bat.)

At first I was a little iffy about them using the bodies of teenagers, but the prologue gives good insight as to why it was written this way. Turns out it’s not really all that bad as a concept and the story seems to flow well. It does have a tendency to take the reader back in time, if they’re out of high school, and make them feel like they’re right there roaming those halls again. Scary concept for those of us so long out of those times, but effective nonetheless.

Justin’s character is probably my favorite after Athena. He’s a mortal, but he’s different than the others in some way Hera can’t quite figure out…until later. I won’t give anything away here, but I will say that I enjoyed watching his character develop and grow throughout the story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all the characters, even the bad ones, but some stuck out with me more than others did. Hermes was another that caught my attention quickly. Besides his love of mortals, his everlasting humor kept me giggling and cracking a smile, even when I wasn’t expecting it.

I have spoken to a few other people that have read the book, as well as read some of the reviews on it, and one thing I would like to mention is the amount of fight scenes in it. This wasn’t a problem for me. I love a good character driven novel, but I also like ones with action in them as well. This, I thought, was a good combination of both. While at some points there was more dialogue than I thought necessary, it didn’t take me away from the scene so much that I was annoyed by it. I enjoyed reading about one struggle after another while the characters were attempting to accomplish their goal. I didn’t see a problem with them having to fight all of the time. We are talking Fantasy here, filled with gods, goddesses, monsters, you name it. I expect there to be a lot of fighting in a piece of work like this.

All that being said, there is one problem I had with the book. There are some grammatical and spelling errors that did in fact jar me out of the moment when I felt like I was just getting into it. While these were few and far between, it was still enough sometimes to make me have to read back a sentence or two, or a word or two, to make sure I was understanding it right. This can be a big turn off for a lot of readers, but honestly I’ve seen misprints like this at times in novels on the best seller list, so I wasn’t bothered by it so much to stop reading.

Overall, Hera, Queen of Gods, is a good read, and one that I now consider a favorite. There are struggles between right and wrong, good and evil, and so many “what if” situations to really make a reader think what it would be like to be in any of these character’s shoes…particularly Hera and the other gods/goddesses. During my time reading it, I kept looking down at the progress bar on my Kindle screen and hoping I wasn’t getting close to the end yet. I just wanted it to keep going. It wasn’t too long (though I don’t think I’ve ever considered any book I read too long) and it wasn’t so short that I felt like much had been left out of the story that the reader should have been given. Hopefully Thomas will be coming out with more of the Goddess Unbound books soon because I would like nothing more than to read what happens after the ending of this book.

Check it out, maybe you’ll like it too. Maybe you won’t. We all know that as writers we can’t please everyone, but this book certainly pleased me.

Random and Cluttered Thoughts

So much going on, so much to talk about, so much to do, and I can’t keep my thoughts on one thing for too long. So today I’ve decided to randomize my blog post and see if some of this stuff just goes away. Hopefully it works.

First off, the February Blog Chain for Absolute Write this month is gonna be a tough one for me. The person going before us gets to pick our topic. This means I have two days to write about something completely random. Wha……… I don’t do so well with short-term writing goals. Hence the nerves. Granted, I didn’t HAVE to sign up for it, but I love doing the blog chain and it’s fun to read what others write about our suggested topics. So, I WILL TRY!

I’m looking for suggestions for a Fantasy epic I haven’t read yet. I suppose it doesn’t have to be an epic, could be a stand alone book, a trilogy, whatever. But I prefer an epic. Those are my favorite. Nothing like being lost is someone else’s world for over a week…or more if possible. I can only read the Lord of the Rings, Dark Tower series, and Shadowmarch series so many times back to back. It’s time for something new.

Ugh, Anniversaries has been taken out of submissions and is strictly in revisions at the moment. I know I just said this in a recent post, but it needs repeating. I’ve been working on this novel for years now and it’s beginning to become frustrating. I’ve put a lot of work into it. Perhaps it will have to sit for a while without me touching it or thinking about it. Though the not thinking about it part will be difficult, I shall do it!

I finally made a Twitter account today to link my blogs to. Yeah, go me! Hopefully it will give them a bit more exposure. Only time will tell.

Oh goodness, I was napping today (horrible, I know, but I couldn’t help it) and some wank in the apartment complex was blaring his car radio right under my window. So what do I do in my cranky-first-waking-up stage? I go to the window and yell that people are trying to sleep. My man comes in the room shortly after laughing so hard that even though I was still a bit cranky, I couldn’t help but smile. That’s one of the only things I don’t like about living here. I’m a country girl at heart, I dislike city living. And I dislike music when I’m trying to sleep even more. I get it from my mama that I just wanna get up and dance when I hear music. Always have, always will. Real talk, it wakes me up from a dead sleep every time. Something that I’m sure annoys my significant other because we have different sleep schedules (for the most part) and he likes to listen to music when he’s bored. I try not to let it bother me, but it’s like a television being too loud in the background when I’m trying to read. It can be partly tuned out, but not completely.

Oh, I’ve come to a bad place in The Dark Hand. Bad as in meaning I can’t seem to write anything more on it and nothing much has happened yet (not even 9,000 words on it to this point). I was hoping it wasn’t going to be yet another of those stories that I start to write and it fizzles before I get even a quarter of the way through it. That’s what it’s looking to be though. I have more ideas in my head, in my notebook, on my computer, and on my phone, but I was more excited about this one than the others. What to do, what to do??

I need to find better, more effective ways to promote my blogs. I know essentially they are the same thing as I post the same on both of them. And maybe that’s where part of the problem is, that they’re far too much alike. They are on two different blogging networks so I thought at least one of them would have more exposure. But I think I have something like three followers (which I am thoroughly grateful for) on one of them, and when I look at the stats for both, they are horrible. Well, I’ll give it more time and try to get more people interested in them, and we’ll see what happens.

And lastly, I never thought I’d say this, but I love Texas winters. I’m originally from Michigan so the move down here was a bit of a shock when it happened this past August. My goodness was it hot, even then. I know the temps then were nothing compared to what it’s going to be like when summer is in full swing and thankfully we have central air and swimming pools in the apartment complex. Being in Texas is such a huge change for me. Mainly being away from my mom, older brother, sister (sister-in-law technically but that’s a fine distinction I don’t pay attention to), my nephews, and of course all my fabulous friends and their amazing kids. I miss everyone a lot some days. That being said, I couldn’t be happier with the choice we made to come and live here.

There ends my random and cluttered thoughts. Incidentally it did help to clear my head a little bit so that’s good. Hopefully I haven’t bored you so much you’ve fallen asleep mid-post.

Why Do Writers Put Themselves Through Hell?

I’m sitting here thinking about all the rejections I’ve received for my M/T/S novel and wondering when it’s ever going to be ready. Maybe it won’t be. Perhaps that particular book just isn’t a good idea. But it got me thinking about the hell we writers go through when we spend our time writing something, then revising it, then sending it off to beta readers, then revising again, then finally the hell of query and submission. Sometimes this can be the span of only a few months, sometimes years.

Oy vey, why do we do these things to ourselves? Particularly when we know how difficult it can be to have a book published. The answer is simple, because we do what we love and we love what we do. That does not, however, diminish the amount of hell we put ourselves through to try and get our work out there to the general public.

There are some authors that are lucky and have their books published, and when we read them, we sit there scratching our heads and saying, “I could have done a much better job than that.” Then there are authors that are genuinely talented at what they do and get published in a shorter time than even they expected. Of course there are also those that go through the self-publishing route, which with the technology we have these days is a lot easier to do than it ever was in the past. I sometimes feel for these people because even one bad review of their book could send it from high sales down to almost nothing. But I suppose that is true for any book that’s published, regardless of how it came about.

I had the (not so) fabulous idea of continuing to revise my M/T/S novel and continue with submissions at the same time. Turned out not to be the best choice I ever made. Live and learn. So, now that one is just in revisions at the moment and I’m doing the best I can to take the massive amounts of advice I’ve been given by the many critiques.

I’ve spoken to writers that told me stories to give me nightmares about their query and submission efforts. Sometimes it’s enough to make me consider giving it all up. Who wouldn’t have that feeling once in a while though? Considering all we do for the small chance that someone else will one day read and enjoy our work, it doesn’t always seem worth it in the long run.

Ah, but here’s the clincher. We take pride in what we do, even when we know we’ve written junk. Because it’s something we love. We dislike the pain and trouble at times, but at the same time we love it. There’s no better feeling than realizing you’ve accomplished your goal, or at least part of it, by finishing your novel or short story or whatever it is you’re writing. Hell, some days I’m delighted I’ve managed to write a coherent and semi-decent blog post and give myself a pat on the back for it.

If you’re committed enough to put in the effort from beginning to end, and to learn from other people where your work needs improvement, then the hell you put yourself through to get to the end is definitely worth it.