Gotta Read ‘Em – Erotic Romance

A couple months ago, I attended a fun, regional readers and writers’ conference, Lori Foster and Duffy Brown’s Readers and Authors Get Together. They had a great, well-attended book signing, where I met Allyson Young, who sat beside me. Allyson was  gracious enough to give me a copy of Wishes, one of her erotic romances.

I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, erotic or otherwise, and have to be in the right mood for it. When I do dig into one, I expect characters to face real issues and have emotional baggage, and Wishes did not disappoint!

Wishes is the story of Kennedy, a young office manager who has just moved to San Antonio to join her best girl friends who live there. When her friends celebrate with a night on the town, Kennedy’s thrown for a loop when she finds it’s not just for drinks and dancing: they take her to a BDSM sex club. When she witnesses some of the “performances” at the club and bursts out laughing, she attracts the attention of Graham, one of the owners.

Graham is not amused at Kennedy’s outburst, and when he confronts her, decides he wants to get to know her better – and teach her a few lessons while he’s at it. Kennedy’s immediately attracted to Graham, but can’t oblige his need for control – at least, not at first. But Graham whittles away at her objections, and in the process, discovers a few things he never knew about himself. Kennedy too, confronts her past, that she’d thought she’d made peace with, and there is the best part of the book: the emotions and conflict, not just between the characters, but within themselves. Kennedy has a good reason to be uncomfortable with the idea of being dominated, just as Graham’s background gives the reader a good insight into why it’s so important for him to be in control. Just as both are beginning to give in to each other and love, a rude awakening appears at the club, in the form of an old flame of Graham’s – complete with his toddler son.

Wishes is without question erotic, but it doesn’t shortchange the romance. If you like a steamy, explicit romance that’s all about the emotions and the development of the relationship between hero and heroine, pick up Wishes. You’ll be glad you did!

Do you read erotic romance? Got any good ones to recommend? Or if not, what else have you read lately that’s good? I read all kinds of stuff, so bring ’em on!

A New Vacation Phobia

I’d never really thought about it before, but as I was packing for my recent trip to France, it occurred to me that I have a phobia that’s very real, and mostly manifests during vacation: the fear of running out of reading material. Never mind the plane trip – whenever I feel nervous about that, I remind myself that plane accidents make the news because they are so rare, and that I do something statistically more dangerous every day when I get into my car and drive to work.

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

No, my fear is running out of books to read. The longer the plane ride, the worse it is. Traveling internationally, to a country whose primary language is not English is another concern – we might be able to find a bookstore, full of stuff I can’t read (or in the case of French, can’t read well enough to just enjoy the story).

Of course, you’d think it would be easily handled by simply taking lots of books. I used to do just that. I didn’t bother packing my clothes until a day before departure – if not that morning. No worries there. But my books, I started collecting several days before, if not a week. I’d pick books from a variety of genres, and a variety of subgenres of romance, because hey! – who knew what I’d be in the mood for when I finished the current book?

If the vacation was a long one (a week), the books would get their own bag, or at least would fill my carryon bag, along with the change of clothes I always packed in case my luggage got lost. So when ebooks became popular, it was a godsend.

Problem solved, right? Finish a book, just hit Amazon, Smashwords, or the local library’s website and download another.

Except that you can’t go online from an airplane. OK, yes, we actually can, but bucking those rules is not something I want to try.

So I still spend a good bit of time before vacation loading up my smartphone with ebooks. Again, I need a good selection of genres so I can read what I’m in the mood for – and so I have backup in case I get hold of a book I don’t like. Then it’s necessary to open each book to ensure that it’s downloaded to the device so that once I’m up in the air, I don’t need to worry that I’ll click on a book that looks really good, only to find that it hasn’t been stored on my device.

But ebooks aren’t a universal solution either. You can’t even turn on the smartphones and ereaders until the plane is a good ways up in the air. Depending on how long the wait to take off is, that could be the better part of an hour. Okay, yes, there’s the Skymall mag, but that’s only good for 20 minutes or so for me. I need books. So I still wind up packing a print book or two. Oh, and with my smartphone, battery is another concern. An 8- or 9-hour flight is more than my phone’s battery lasts, especially if I take some time off reading to play games. So I also have to be sure to pack an extra, extended-life battery, and double-check that it’s fully charged before I leave.

So how did all of this work out for my trip to France? Well, I read two ebooks and one print book the whole time (I am not a speed-reader, and I did spend some time playing games). My extended-life battery had just gotten low when we landed in Paris, so it served me well. And the books themselves?

I still have over a dozen on my phone, unread. 🙂

What about you? How many books  do you pack, if going on a week-long vacation? Do you worry about running out of reading material?

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How to Load up at the Buffet without Gaining a Pound

Time's Enemy

On sale for $.99 through June 22, 2012

At the Booklovers’ Buffet, that’s how! (I didn’t say food, did I?) You can load up on books without taking a hit to the waistline–or your wallet. OK, maybe that’s cheating, but I’ve had a crazy-busy week what with two freelance web design jobs that both came in last week. Sometimes, there really isn’t enough time to get done what we’d like. Not to mention time to read! But I’ll be going on vacation soon, so you’d better believe I’ll be hitting the buffet. Because it’s over 150 books, each for only $.99! (Or priced based on current exchange rates, for those outside the U.S.)

Most of the books on the Buffet are full-length novels – one of which is my own Time’s Enemy. So if you’ve been thinking about grabbing a copy, now’s a great time, because I don’t foresee pricing it this low again.

The sale goes through the 22nd, and features fiction from a variety of genres, although most of the books feature at least some romance. Most of the books on the buffet are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, although a few are Amazon-only.

If you enjoy reading, do you take advantage of sales like this? Or is the plethora of free books enough for you? If you buy (or borrow) ebooks, where’s your favorite place to get them?

Dear Barnes and Noble…

For the past couple of days, it seems everyone involved with epublishing has been talking about Microsoft, and their purchase of $300 worth of stock in B&N’s new Nook spin-off company. It will undoubtedly provide Nook with some much-needed leverage to compete against Amazon and Apple, and hopefully provide them with some real competition.

But what does it mean for us readers? All we can do is speculate, but right now, my guess is…

Not. Much.

And it mostly comes down to one area which for me & B&N, has been a big, fat, FAIL: customer service.

First, let’s be clear on one thing – I’m talking online, not the stores. The people I’ve dealt with in the stores have been great – super-supportive of us Nook authors, listening to us, trying to find ways to encourage customers to buy our books in the stores. But I do most of my shopping online, and that’s where the breakdown occurred.

You see, last fall, someone tried to buy a bunch of stuff at HHGregg with my Discover card number. Discover Card knew it wasn’t me, denied the charge, and called me. I confirmed that it wasn’t me, and the Discover Card rep said I’d get a new card in the mail in a few days. (Barnes & Noble.com, are you listening? You can learn something from the folks at Discover Card.)

So, no problems there.

Until I went to buy some ebooks and my default credit card – yup, Discover – was denied, because I’d forgotten to update it.

Amazon sent me a polite email informing me that the charge had been denied, and suggesting that I update my payment method, and re-place the order. Which I did.

When I tried to order from Barnes & Noble, they emailed me too – informing me that my credit card was denied, my account was locked and I’d have to call customer service to get it unlocked.

WTF???

OK, I get that they don’t want to take a bad credit card, no problem there. But really? LOCK my account??? And they expect me to CALL to get it unlocked, just so I can switch out my credit card and SPEND MONEY??? Just do a quick search on that one to see what B&N’s customer service is like – stories of hour+ hold times abound.

I admit I didn’t even try to call. Did I mention I’m not fond of talking on the phone? And if I wanted to, you know, talk to someone, I might have just, oh I don’t know, gone to a STORE? And the big question: Why bother calling at all when a couple clicks will take me to AMAZON?

So that’s my story. How about one of my friends’? She started out with a Nook reader, and loved it – for about three months. Then it stopped holding a charge. Could she take it back to the store? NO! Granted, this was probably because she’d bought it at Best Buy, not B&N, but still… so she shipped it back. And waited for a replacement. And waited. And waited. Finally, her new, refurbished Nook came a month later.

Which she again loved. Until it, too, stopped holding a battery charge.

To make a long story short, she ended up going through this twice more. When she was on her fourth Nook, she finally said screw it and bought a Kindle 3, which she’s been enjoying without problems for over a year.

So do I think that the Microsoft infusion will cure these ills? I’d love it if they did, because really, competitions is good for everyone (well, at least for the consumers). If B&N stepped up their game, it would keep Amazon better as well, and the readers would continue to have choices, something I’m definitely in favor of. Of course, I’d be even more in favor of a universal ebook format (like that’s going to happen anytime soon). But failing that, choices are good. But my skepticism meter’s pegged out. I’ve used Windows computers since 1997. Customer service? If I have problems with Windows, I go look it up on a web forum. So hopefully if nothing else, the Microsoft partnership will spawn a bunch of those, where we can get self-serve support.

Because I really like that Nook Touch with Glow Light (with expandable memory!). But until the support situation improves, I’ll keep reading Kindle books on my Android phone. 😀

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you! Do you think Microsoft’s buy-in to the Nook will make things better for the customer? Do you have any other crystal ball revelations? Please share!

The Book I Waited Years to Read

A couple weeks ago, a book was published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords that I’d waited for for years. No, not the latest installment in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. It wasn’t by a big name author – in fact, until a few months ago, I didn’t even know the author’s name!

Every winter, I judge in the Golden Heart®, the Romance Writers of America’s annual contest for unpublished romance. In this contest, the first three chapters and a synopsis are judged – up to 55 pages total. There’s no commenting – each entry gets a single, numeric score ranging from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest. Little direction is given beyond that we’re supposed to be choosing “the best in unpublished romance fiction,” and that each entry should be judged on its own merits, not against the others in our packet of 5 – 7 entries.

I’ve been a member of RWA since 2000, and probably have judged the Golden Heart for ten years. Based on the 1-9 scale, I’d consider a 5 to be “average” unpublished romance fiction, a 1 to be unreadable, and a 9 to be can’t-stop-thinking-about-it, want to read the rest NOW. The lowest score I’ve ever given was a 2.5. I’ve given several in the 8’s, but only one 9 in my ten years of judging. That entry was a paranormal romance called Ashes in the Wind.

The story was about a young noblewoman in the Roman empire who found herself inexplicably drawn to a gladiator slave and begged her father to spare the man’s life. For the next two chapters, she bargained her jewelry and other valuables for a few stolen moments with her gladiator here and there, unaware she and her love interest were under the care of a pair of guardian angels who’d been tasked with getting them together. But the bumbling angels didn’t count on one thing: Mount Vesuvius, and their charges die a horrible death in each other’s arms while trying to escape.

And that was where the entry ended. I was choked up (something that doesn’t happen to me easily!), and even though I had the synopsis and knew how the story ended, I thought about this book for days afterward. I judged it in 2005 or 2006, I think. I was astonished when it didn’t make the finals (what were the other judges thinking???). Some entrants put their names on their entries, but most don’t, and RWA doesn’t release names of judges or entrants, nor will they forward emails. I hoped this book would be published, and that I’d hear about it, because that was the only way I’d get to read the rest. Even years later, I remembered it, especially each year when I received my GH packet and wondered if I’d get anything that good.

After I decided to take the independent route with my books, I joined a Yahoo Group for indie romance authors. New people joined every day, and often answered the invitation to introduce themselves. A few months after I joined, an author named Lori Dillon joined and described her book, a reincarnation romance set in Pompeii. It was that book! I couldn’t believe it, and I emailed her. We have something else in common in that we’re both graphic artists-turned-web designers. She also read my book Time’s Enemy and gave it a wonderful review.

The book was released as Out of the Ashes earlier this month, and I bought it right away. It didn’t disappoint! You can read my review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. The book is also available on Smashwords. If you enjoy an emotionally-rich romance with a paranormal element that’s not the same-ol, same-ol, Out of the Ashes is a must-read!

Have you ever picked up a book that for whatever reason, you didn’t finish – only to find it again years later? Did it meet your expectations?

Fantasy and Family: Author Alicia McKenna Johnson, with Giveaway

I “met” Alicia McKenna Johnson last summer in an online workshop, and today I’m welcoming her to my blog to tells us a little about her writing and her new YA Fantasy novel, Phoenix Child! 

Alica writes about snarky girls, kind boys, and the adults trying to keep them alive. After day dreaming for the first thirty years of life, Alica finally began writing her stories down, much to the delight of her readers. As Alica sits in her armchair at home dreaming of traveling the world, her diverse characters explore for her listening to music, seeing the sights, and eating exotic foods.

JMP: Have you been published by a big publisher? Small press/epub? Independently? Please share your publishing experience.

AMJ: I only have the one book out, which I have self-published. At times my stomach would get twisted into knots worrying about messing up, but I have read blogs and emailed friends who have self published and found it to be easy, with the right help.

JMP: Isn’t that the truth! One of the best things about indie publishing is the friendships that have come from it -authors helping each other! So what made you decide to take the indie publishing path?

AMJ: I didn’t want my book cut up to meet industry standards. I also didn’t want to wait until someone decided I was worth representing, patience isn’t a gift of mine.

JMP: Haha, me either! Now that you’ve tasted the control and flexibility that comes with indie publishing, are you still pursuing a traditional publishing contract, or perhaps an agent?

AMJ: I don’t plan on pursing the traditional publishing path at this time. I won’t rule it out, but right now I’m content.

JMP: Me, too! Glad to hear it’s working out for you. I know one thing I struggle with is time, especially with a day job. What do you do (or have you done) for a day job? Has this informed or inspired your writing in any way?

AMJ: I’ve done all sorts of things, worked in heath food stores, taught natural childbirth classes, been a stay at home homeschooling mom, phone psychic, and now I’m a houseparent at a group home for children remove from their homes by CPS.

In Phoenix Child, Sara my main character, starts out in a group home. Through the series she learns what it means to be part of a family. I’ve seen many people upset because they are offering a home, either being a foster parent or wanting to adopt a child and hurt because the kids don’t seem to care. When in reality, the child doesn’t always understand what they are being offered, having never been part of a family before.

JMP: Have there been any particular events, places, things you’ve seen/heard/read that inspired the overall premise of a book, its events, or any of the characters?

AMJ: I love Cirque du Soleil, the performers are amazingly beautiful and strong. I would love to be able to be in the circus, however I can’t so I write about them.

JMP: That’s what I love about good books – they can take us anywhere! And through our characters, we can live vicariously and do things we would never be able. Most of us have trouble getting to the writing every now and then, if not every day. What keeps you from writing, and how do you handle it? How do you make time for writing?

AMJ: I try very hard to write 1000 words per day. The only way I get this done is by not allowing myself to check my email, facebook, twitter, etc until I met my word goal. The biggest thing that will stop me from writing is my emotional state. If I’m angry, sad, or bitchy I’m probably not going to get any writing done that day.

JMP: LOL, me too! I guess it’s a good thing I have a pretty boring (in a good way!) life. So tell us about your current or upcoming release?

AMJ: Phoenix Child is my debut novel. It’s a YA urban fantasy which I hope is interesting enough for teens and adults to enjoy.

Sara’s dream is to find her family but she doesn’t count on discovering magical creatures or catching on fire. On her fourteenth birthday a surprise inheritance changes her appearance, abilities, and identity. Welcomed into the family of the Phoenix she is taught to use her new powers. Will Sara embrace being a Child of Fire or will the evil that killed her parents destroy her as well?

JMP: Phoenix Child sounds like a really cool story! It’s on my list TBR.

You can download the first 30 pages or purchase Phoenix Child on Amazon and Smashwords.

Got a question for Alicia? Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for a free copy in the format of your choice. I’ll do the drawing with Random.org between 6PM EDT and midnight tomorrow (Friday), so speak up to win!


UPDATE: The winner of an e-copy of Phoenix Child is Emma Burcart! Emma, Alicia will be in touch to see what format you’d like. Everyone, thanks for your comments!

From Stagecoaches to Starships: Author Cynthia Woolf, with giveaway

Today I have a special treat on my blog! Cynthia Woolf writes western historical romance and science fiction romance – cool combo, huh? I recently read the first in her science fiction romance series, Centauri Dawn, and really enjoyed it! If you always wished there were more romance in Star Trek, then you really should check these books out. I know I’ll be reading the rest of the series, and I want to give her historicals a read too.

JMP: Cynthia, how long have you been writing? How many books did you write before publishing?

CW: I’ve been writing seriously to publish since 1990. I had finished 2 books when I decided to publish them on my own. The first one I published was actually the second one I finished.

JMP: Have you been published by a big publisher? Small press/epub? Independently? Please share your publishing experience.

CW: I published my books independently. I couldn’t find a traditional publisher who wanted my books, so indie publishing was the only way that my work would ever see the light of day. I’ve been very, very lucky in that my books are being well received. I’m always surprised that others like my work. 🙂

JMP: I know the feeling!  I love how indie publishing has opened up opportunities for sooo many wonderful books that didn’t fit the NY mold. Yet, some indie writers are still looking for that elusive contract. Now that you’ve tasted the control and flexibility that comes with indie publishing, are you still pursuing a traditional publishing contract, or perhaps an agent?

CW: I am not pursuing a traditional publishing contract. I’ve already made more than I would with an advance from a traditional publisher and my books will be out there forever, earning me money and making people happy.

JMP: That’s awesome! And inspiring for those of us still working to build readership. Especially the part about “earning money and making people happy.” I love it! Tell us about your current or upcoming release.

CW: My current release is TAME A WILD WIND. It is the second in my western romance series set in southwestern Colorado in the late 1800’s. It is the story of a widow with two children who meets a widower looking for resolution.

JMP: Sounds like a good read! Do you read or write series books? What do you love or not love about series?

CW: I do write my books in series and I like to read series. The reason for both is that I love to revisit old characters and see what they are doing now.

JMP: Me too. Tell us about a really fantastic novel you’ve read recently?

CW: I just finished While You Were Dead by CJ Snyder. Excellent romantic suspense novel. She keeps you on the edge during the whole book and I never saw the villain coming. Great book.

JMP: I downloaded that when it was free. I’m looking forward to reading it! Does your significant other read your books? What about your parents? Your kids?

CW: My husband does read my books but not until they are finished and he doesn’t want to know anything about them before hand. Not even the blurb. The first one he read, Centauri Dawn, he loved and he doesn’t read romance. It was very gratifying.

My extended family also reads my books, Some love them and some (the older relatives) think there is too much sex in them. LOL

JMP: LOL, I can relate to the latter! And now for the authors that are reading: what are some things you did to build your readership? What’s worked? What didn’t?

CW: I tweet like a mad woman, every 3 – 4 hours about my books. I’ll tweet about other things in between and I retweet for anyone who retweets me. I figure that’s the best thank you I can give someone is to tweet about their books. I also facebook. And I blog. I’ve found these to be the most effective for expanding my readership. The things that I’ve paid for tend to be the least effective. It may just be me, but so far I haven’t seen any increase in sales for the paid advertising that I’ve done.

JMP: That’s encouraging! Especially for us who are also working to build a blog readership as well. But most of all, I love reading about success! Thanks so much for being here, Cynthia!

You can find out more about Cynthia and her books at her website: www.cynthiawoolf.com.

Tame a Wild Wind is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance Ebooks.

So what about you? Do you like a little romance mixed in with your science fiction? Or a little science fiction mixed in with your romance? Or if you prefer something more real-world, do you like historical settings or contemporary?

Got a question for Cynthia? Anyone who comments will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of her latest release, Tame a Wild Wind. I’ll do the drawing between 6PM and midnight (EDT) on Friday using random.org, and either Cynthia or I will email the winner, so speak up to win!

 

UPDATE: The winner of Tame a Wild Wind is Coleen Patrick! Coleen, Cynthia will email you your prize! Thanks for all your comments, everyone!

Big Name Books We Don’t Love

Last week’s post on why a particular book didn’t draw me in ended up generating quite an interesting discussion! And, according to my stats, last Thursday got more hits than any other day so far. Most of my blog followers are readers (many are also writers), so we all love discussing books. But when it really got interesting was when the author of the book in question outed herself in the comments, after we chatted on Facebook. It hadn’t been my intention to identify the book, but I had to give enough detail to discuss why it didn’t work for me, and who would know the book better than its author? I only hope I’m as professional and willing to learn as Elizabeth West was when bad reviews come in for my book – and I’ve no doubt they will. I’m not sure who said it, but one of my favorite quotes is, “Nothing is so good that someone, somewhere, won’t hate it.”

The comments also made me realize that Elizabeth is in some pretty prestigious company when it comes to books I didn’t like enough to finish. Prestigious as in, I am talking J.K. Rowling and Stephen King!


Yes! Harry Potter was a DNF for me! I love a good fantasy novel – in fact, I just read an absolutely wonderful untrained-mage-goes-to-college story: Fire in the Mist, by Holly Lisle. I enjoyed the first three Harry Potter books, too. The fourth… it was okay, and I finished it. But Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix began with eighty or a hundred pages of nothing happening, and I just lost interest in it. I’d been reading it aloud to my daughter, who was seven at the time, and she was bored too. After the first couple books in the series, each was longer than the prior installment, and not necessarily because more was happening, or it was a more complex story. Maybe I’ll pick Phoenix up again someday. But with three shelves full of books I haven’t read, not to mention dozens on my netbook and smartphone, it’s unlikely. It just seemed bloated. Now I have been guilty of this myself – in fact, I just went over Time’s Fugitive with one of my beta readers, who pointed out a section where she caught herself skimming, because it was all boring, unimportant details where nothing was happening that added to the story. At least it wasn’t in the beginning of the book. But thanks to her, it will get cut!

One thing I have not been guilty of – at least, since I started writing with the aim of publication – is the bloated, tedious writing I found in Black House, by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Although this book too, began with pages upon pages of nothing happening, it was far more egregious than the Harry Potter book. At least in Phoenix, we had a main character to focus on, root for (and wait for to do something). Black House began with over a dozen pages of nothing but omniscient description – a nameless, personality-less presence flying over a small town, describing it in minute (and boring) detail. It did eventually touch on Jack, the main character, but even this was boring description. Talk about a disappointment! Black House was supposed to be the sequel to The Talisman, a book I loved so much I’ve read it multiple times. I say “supposed to be,” because Black House was nothing like The Talisman, either stylistically or content-wise. There were hardly even any allusions or references to it! Well, at least in the 16 or 18 pages I managed to struggle through until I dropped the book on the floor.

I’ve put down romance novels, too, some by NYT best-sellers. Paranormals with characters I didn’t care about – heroines that were too invincible, too kick-ass. Romantic suspense with “as-you-know-Bob” dialogue and characters that were doing stupid things without enough reason. Contemporaries with watered-down conflict. Historicals that were the same as the last three historicals I read. And yes, plenty that just didn’t pull me in like the one discussed last week.

Don’t get me wrong, DNFs are the exception for me, rather than the rule. Next week, we’ll talk about books we love. But for now, what about you? Have you read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? That’s one I’ve heard a lot of people have trouble getting into, but it’s worth it – after about 100 pages! I’m not that patient. I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any blockbusters among your DNFs?

Why I Stopped Reading

Not everything! Just one particular book. It’s what some popular book review blogs call a DNF, to borrow from auto racing terms: Did Not Finish.

It was a free download, so I didn’t feel as obligated to finish as I might have if I’d paid for it. It wasn’t by someone I know, or anyone I network with, so that also cut down on the potential guilt factor. And I gave it a chance: it was approximately 75,000 words, and I read over 25% before I gave up on it, deleted it from my smartphone, and moved on.

boring e-book

Life's too short to read boring books!

I always like to analyze why I give up on a book, so I can learn something from it. The reason I put this one aside? One word: boring!

So what made this book boring? Or to put it another way, what did this book lack?

Well, for starters, it was a straight contemporary romance – no suspense or paranormal –  which I’ll admit is not my thing unless it’s a) really funny or b) really sexy or c) really emotional. This book was none of those. While it had its mildly humorous moments, they were super-mild, and I don’t know if they were even amusing enough to make me smile. It did have a consummated love scene in the portion I read – and I felt none of the rush of excitement or desire when the characters got it on. Instead, it was glossed over pretty quickly. But what really killed it was that the emotions were barely hinted at – and this was one of those best friends to lovers stories where the emotional whirlwind is key.

Add to that the fact that this was an office-set romance – which I have nothing against, but in this case, there were way too many boring details about work and again, at the cost of the emotions, the excitement and the fear the characters should have felt at risking being found out – and the impact it could have on their careers.

In a romance novel, emotion is what it’s all about. In a paranormal romance, some of the slack can be taken up by the weirdness of whatever situation the character’s in, otherworldly setting, magic, whatever. In a historical or suspense, there’s often other stuff going on that can pick up some as well. In this book, the author seemed to be trying to do this with the character’s work – which might have been okay if it was interesting, but it wasn’t.

In the book’s defense, it was well-written from a technical standpoint, it had an interesting premise, and characters that could have been people I’d have enjoyed spending a few hours with, had their emotions been better drawn. The book wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t have kept reading – except like most people, I have a To-Be-Read list (and pile of print books) that’s easily over a hundred books, if you count freebies I’ve picked up at conferences over the years that I still haven’t gotten around to reading. So with all that “competition” for my time…. life’s too short.

And this, I suspect, is the battle all authors face.

Read (or tried to read) any boring books lately? Or any that you just couldn’t see the point in finishing? Care to share why? If you’re an author, do you try to pick these apart to learn what not to write?

My Town Monday: Ohio, the Heart of It All – for Romance Novels!

Amazon.com released an interesting study last week: The Most Romantic Cities in the U.S. They based this on per-capita purchases by customers in cities of over 100,000 people – as in how many romance novels they bought, how many romantic comedy movies and television shows they rented or purchased, and purchases of CDs and sexual health products.

The results may surprise you; I know I was. Apparently, Virginia is still for Lovers, but not as much as last year – and not as much as Tennessee and Florida. New York certainly isn’t – NYC was at the very bottom of the list. The other surprise? Two Ohio cities made the top 20: Cincinnati at #5, and Dayton at #9!

So where are all the romance novels that take place in Ohio? It’s the first place that comes to mind when choosing a setting… oh wait, that’s just me. Or is it?

If you’re looking for a good contemporary romance, turns out it’s not hard to find one set in Ohio. Big name authors like Lori Foster, Jennifer Crusie, Toni Blake, and Diane Castell have all written a number of romances that take place in Ohio. Some are in big cities, like Columbus or Cincinnati, while others feature the ever-popular small-town romance, like Toni Blake’s series set in the fictitious town of Destiny. A recent read I enjoyed was Forever Material, a romantic comedy by Athena Grayson, which takes place in an unnamed suburb of Cincinnati.

Time's Enemy CoverBut what about historical romance, or paranormal? Those are a little trickier. The only historical that quickly comes to mind is Into the Valley, by Roseanne Bittner, which is several years old, but very good. For paranormal, there’s Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Waling urban fantasy series. I haven’t read these, so I don’t know how much romance is in them, if any.

Those all take place in Cincinnati. So where’s the love for #9 on the list, Dayton? Offhand, I can’t think of any romance novels set in Dayton except for one, and you need venture no further than this website for that. Time’s Enemy is historical, it’s contemporary, it’s paranormal. And it’s set in Dayton.

Do you know of any good romance novels set in Ohio? Especially historical or paranormal? Especially Dayton?? Bring ’em on! I want to read them.