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Ii think, in a previous post, I said that A Knight in Shining Armor was my first romance novel, but as I thought about this post a little throughout the day, I realize that I was wrong.

When I was 14?  I think?  The neighbors – I live on a road that has no close neighbors, but the ones down the road would circulate bags of books.  Mum would go through them, but mostly they were the thin Harlequins that, while perfectly fine, held no interest for either of us.  She was hoping for adventure novels (fantasy, SF and mysteries and thrillers are her cuppa, you never found f/sf, but sometimes you got lucky and got the latter.  Or a Stephen King book.)  but usually had no luck.

I went through the bag one summer, and found a copy of Jude Deveraux’s Velvet Angel.  It had knights on the cover, and, flipping it over, I saw that it took place in Medieval Times. So, of course, I read it.  And that started the summer of reading every historical romance I could find and afford.  Up the road there was a used book store, and we’d stop, and I would stop and try and find something.  Jude Deveraux was particularly prized, as were the early Joanna Lindseys.

I got into Julie Gardwood because I was at a flea market, and I was either kind or honest – I don’t remember which – and the book seller insisted on rewarding me with a book.  So, I quickly picked the first book to catch my eye, The Gift, which I fell in love with immediately.  Such an adorable book.

Teresa Medieros, Laura Kinsale – I adored them all.  To be honest, I think that a lot of who I am as a person and as a writer comes from reading these books.  I am in love with love, in love with the fall and the happily ever after.

I have happy memories of one summer, laying in my folding plastic chaise lounge under the pine trees, reading.  Then going in for dinner.  Then reading, unable to go to bed until I had finished the book.

There was a joyful abandon, there.

Eventually, I got married.  And then I wasn’t.  Romance novels didn’t hold the same allure. ..perhaps I love faith in the happily ever after for a bit, or it just hurt too much.   And though I have been able to read some romance novels since – I reviewed for Affaire de Couer, though my poor, generous and long suffering editor soon gave me the “Treasure from Other Genre” books as much as she could – it has never been the same.  I purged maybe 90% of my romance novel collection, keeping only a few favorites.  I love romantic subplots, I write them very happily, but I changed.

But someday, maybe, I will change back.  And my old friends will be waiting for me.

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Oone of the things I have always dearly wanted was a set up where you could create a wish list of used books, and tell them what you are willing to spend on each book, and then every month, you randomly get one or two books sent to you from the list.   I love the idea…there is always something nice about getting packages randomly in the mail, it always gives you a little hope, a little anticipation.  Something to look forward to.

And then when you open it up, it’s a book that you chose and actually wanted.  I know there are book clubs, like Doubleday, but it’s not the same, is it?  It’s whatever they want to push, they want to send you.  But this could be anything.  And I rather like that idea.  I bet someone somewhere has that set up, I just need to find it.  :)

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No headache today. With it gone, the birds have begun to sing in unison, the deer and foxes are pals, and everything is both peachy *and* keen.

I also managed to get caught up with work (as much as possible, a budget problem is causing me to sit on some things….grrr.) and I wrote about Bronwyn, a warrior lady from the Pandoth Empire, the empire that sort of comes out as a background bag guy in Chocolatier’s Wife. I also finished Unbalanced…I guess we have one more read through and everything should be good. We took out a sub-sub-story and I need to make sure that there’s no way to tell that it had ever been there.

So, I’ve been looking at Amazon, Half and all the other places I try and get my books from, and now am trying to complete my Laurie R. King and my David Duncan collections so I can catch up on Sherlock Holmes and The Kings Blades. Secretly, I’d love to take a whole pile of books to Pennsic and dedicate an hour or two a day just reading, but I have a feeling that I won’t do that…time just goes too, too quickly. That’s not to say that a half dozen books won’t be packed…

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So, I’ve been going through my books. It’s slow going because I’m really a pack rat when it comes to books.

In a way, though. they are a diary of what I was, what I thought I’d be, and what I’ve become.

There are the historical romances…I started with Jude Deveraux’s Velvet Angel, which I’d found in a bag of books that were being passed around and started reading because it was in medieval times. That was the summer when I’d turned thirteen…that summer I went to the local used book store and bought every one of her books I could, expanded out, reading Joanna Lindsey (Oh, those horrid Fabio covers! I can’t look at them without thinking about fake butter.) and Katherine Sutcliffe and Laura Kinsale. At a flea market I did some lady a kindness and she told me to pick out any book I wanted, and that’s how I got into Julie Garwood. I’d do my chores, take my lawn chair out, and read until dinner. Then I’d go to my room and read more. I was devouring a book a day, sometimes getting a good start on the next. Even though, later, I’d read and review romances for Affair de Cour (the only print book reviewing gig I could get) I just…didn’t have the joy of it, most of the time. So I got rid of a bunch of those…I kept the favorites, I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever read any of them again, even Jude’s A Knight in Shining Armor, but they were a major part of…something, and I just want to keep them a little while longer.

Then, there are the novels I felt that a woman who was going to go on to get her MLS and Masters in English and finally get her PhD (I wanted to get my doctorate in Arthurian Literature) needed to own. Books I’d read for class, things I’d picked up at book sales. I sorted those today, too. I don’t keep books for cool value, (I became very disillusioned with that idea when I realized that people didn’t think that the fact I have a whole bunch of Nataniel Hawthorne books is cool. Apparently, I’m the only person in the world who actually *likes* Nathaniel Hawthorne. I blame it on people being tortured by the symbolism in The Scarlet Letter — which, I think, is a lovely book, but really, let’s not keep people from reading The House of Seven Gables or The Marble Fawn because of it, shall we? I felt particularly pleased to get rid of Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One. I’d never had a worse time finishing a book in my life. I also own several copies of Shakespeare’s plays…I think I kept them because they were paperbacks, and because I have Shakespeare’s plays all in this really old, beautiful, hard cover set. I looked myself in the mental eye, tole myself it was either get rid of the paperbacks or get rid of the hardbacks, and put all the paperbacks (save for “Much Ado About Nothing”, which is my favorite comedy and, being the movie tie in has pretty pictures in the middle) in the Goodwill box.

I also found my Graham Greene books…I was reading the back of them and wondering if any of them are half as good as This Gun for Hire…they all come off sounding a bit boring and even a little soapy. Any suggestions?

I am sort of on the fence over M.M. Kaye. When I was little I read The Ordinary Princess, one of my favorite stories of all time. I’ve not read it since my teens because I’m afraid that it won’t be as magical now as it was back then. So, every library sale I went to that had them, I bought whatever M.M. Kaye book I found that was fairly cheap. I know she made her name through The Far Pavilions which I have but have never read, but she also wrote a bunch of murder mysteries. I read Death in Cyprus the other night, and while I did stay up late to find out if I was right about who I thought the murderer was (she gave it away by one small line of dialogue near the end of the book, it was very much an aha! moment) but I found that the tone bothered me. There’s a certain era of story where the woman is a blithering idiot and the guy is a hard keep your chin up don’t you dare start crying after you almost fell to your death but were saved by your long hair catching in a pine tree (not joking) or go into hysterics because someone is obviously trying to kill you. type of bloke. Very forceful and controlling and “You’re a little dumb, since you’re a woman, so let me take care of all these plot points off the page so that you’re safe and you won’t ruin my plans.” And I’m sort of like, “Bleah” about it…I know it’s the era, and I certainly don’t mind powerful, proactive, protective male protagonists, but I want my women to be powerful in their own way (without going to the other extreme where they are completely bitch cakes and yell at the guy all the time.) So, I have this big pike of M.M. Kaye books that I’m not sure if I’m going to ever read now. I did love her descriptions of Cyprus…I now sort of would like to visit the place…but eh.

I’m also going over books I was given to review. Technically it’s considered bad form to do anything but keep them, but I suspect donating them to a good charity is not a bad thing. And sometimes they’d send me the hardcovers, then the paperbacks of every title. And some of these books I liked…but not that much. Or just never read because I knew I wouldn’t like it.

But it’s also been…a walk down a happy road, really. I’ve become re-introduced to old friends, I’ve found books that I forgot I’d had, books I’ve not yet gotten to read. Sometimes books remind me of a period of my life, or a story of what was going on when I got it, sometimes they remind me of story ideas that I was working on because I’d bought it for research, sometimes they just make me happy, anticipating what’s inside of them. I think that may be why I kept so many of the romances…they were good dreams.

I did, however, finally find my copy of the Eyre Affair…yes! So I can finally read the whole Jasper Fford series, front to back.

But first, more sorting of books.I don’t understand it, but somehow I managed to make more shelf space yet have less room for books. The logic of this is failing me.

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I know this is silly, but I really wanted to post this…apparently you can read Blue Moon on your iPhone. The Chocolatier’s Wife will be available soon. I think it’s really exciting…eventually everything I’ve published will be ready and waiting to go with you everywhere, on any device you like.

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The zombie…or whatever it was…backed her into the corner. “I’m not afraid of you,” it growled…or garbled…”You’re one of the good guys.” As messed up as the words were, she couldn’t miss the mocking tone. Still, she brightened. This was the opening she’d always wanted…she surged forward, smashing the pommel of the sword between its eyes. It fell heavily, and was still.

She grinned, brandished her weapon. “Good, bad…I’m the girl with the sword.”

Ashton slowly got up off the barn floor, brushing himself off. He arched his eyebrows at her. “Please don’t tell me that one of your life’s ambitions was to quote Army of Darkness…or rather, misquote…during a fight.”

“Ooh, yes. And it couldn’t have been more perfect.” She stepped over the body. “And you’ve seen Army of Darkness? You’re kidding, right? You? Mister I-am-too-good-for-pop-culture?”

He ignored her for a moment, looking outside to see if the coast was clear. “Indeed, I saw it. I thought I might have to fight a skeleton army, and hoped it would be instructive. Sadly, it was not.”

“You’re having me on, right?”

“I’m afraid not. I was quite out of ideas, but fortunately it did not come to pass. Now, if we may?” He gestured outside, and she followed him, grinning.

That excerpt is not from anything, yet. But I thought of it this morning and decided that now is the perfect time to introduce you to Minerva Corvae.

Minerva is one of my newest characters. A daughter of academics, she feels like sort of a disappointment because she went right out after school and started temping as a secretary, rather than working on a degree. She loves learning…adores reading…but she never could figure out exactly what it was she wanted to do, so she decided to skip it until it came to her.

She loves fencing, video games and movies and as long as her jobs cover her expenses there, she’s ok. She lives in a crappy apartment, and currently has a hard time keeping a job because of a newly gained ability to see the shadows of the dead. She thinks she’s going crazy, but keeps it to herself.

Eventually she gets hired to work for Ashton, whose primary occupations include, according to her, “Being a smug pain and looking for trouble.” In reality he used to work for the government agency Balance until he decided he didn’t like their politics. He didn’t make a lot of friends in the werewolf or vampire communities, so mostly he leaves those mysteries alone, looking for more obscure cases. Now she acts as his secretary, lab assistant and voice of reason.

She’s a sweet girl, funny, goofy, but good at her job. She cares about the people around her, and now that she knows she’s not going crazy is trying to find a way to use her ability to benefit others…while trying to ignore the fact that she can see the ghost of her former boyfriend everywhere she goes. Ashton insists that ghosts are rare, trapped in one place…and that most of what she sees are just shadows of deaths or happenings so horrible they left a scar on time itself…but that doesn’t explain why Sunny’s dark eyes follow her, why he seems to be trying to help her.

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Because my brain is pulp, I forgot to tell you about Beautiful Death. It’s Joley Sue Burkhart’s newest novel…the book is absolutely magnificent…exciting, filled with action, and the sexiness of it is just gorgeously written. I adore powerful (read: kick bottom) women…Starbuck, Zoe from Firefly, Wonder Woman (Especially during George Perez’s time…Gad, that man can draw) Zintiel from Flaky Pastry. Isabella Thanatos is deinfinately one of my new favorites.

What else is new? I need to sew like mad, and I’ve been writing again. I;ve picked up momentum and I might actually…GASP!..finish a book this summer. I have gone back to my delightful and beloved team of Ashton and Minerva. Minerva is a woman who sees ghosts…out of one eye. Someone seems to be determined to drive her mad…weird phone calls, spray painted messages on her walls…and the Police can’t find any evidence of phone calls being made or breakins. One cop hands her the card of a Dr. Ashton (“What’s your first name?” Minerva asks when they first meet. “Not anything I allow anyone to call me,” he replies.) and tells her he’s her only hope.

But Minerva is haunted by more than the ghosts she thinks she sees. Everything seems to be leading to a man named Sunny, a man she loved very much and who’s death is the last thing she saw with her own eyes…and Ashton is not exactly the best man to help her. He is battling demons of his own, an illness that threatens to make him into the very monsters he dedicates himself to fighting, and a price tag on his head that allows every vampire, mage, or changing kind to kill him if they so choose…

So, that’s my new obsession. 😀

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