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Archive for February, 2009

Love Scenes: Risque Business!

I’ve just finished reading a book by a fairly well-known author. The writing was solid. The characterization good. The dialogue made me chuckle in a few places, and then I reached the love scenes…

Most of the love scenes took place on horseback. Now I’ve ridden a horse before. I know anything is possible, but honestly, when the hero and heroine started having anal sex on horseback (the heroine was a virgin and they were in the middle of nowhere with the baddies after them) I was ready to throw the book at the wall. The love scenes were also really long. The characters chit-chatted for so long while doing the deed I became bored and lost track of who was doing what. Pages and pages of chit-chat during a love scene does not work. I fast forwarded to find more of the same. After that I became cranky and started to notice the plot holes in the story.

My love scenes range from a paragraph to half a page to several pages. It depends on the characters, the story and what stage the relationship is at. I like to change it up when it comes to length. When it comes to location: bedroom, kitchen, hallway, outside, spa pool, a tent, a vehicle, mountains, sea, space ship… A horse or other similar moving object such as camel or elephant–no, because it doesn’t strike me as safe or sane even though it might be possible. Animals are unpredictable creatures and I keep thinking about the injuries…

So, my question for you is: how long do you like the love scenes to be in a romance? What is the strangest location you’ve read/written in a romance? Are there locations that make you go ewww!?

G-g-ghost Towns!

Thursday Thirteen

My first introduction to ghost towns was on TV. New Zealand doesn’t tend to have many ghost towns. We’re people who believe in recycling and we take our buildings with us when we leave! I remember Shaggy, Scooby and the gang exploring ghost towns and the baddies running after them. I remember the Brady Bunch going on a road trip and getting stuck at a ghost town. When we visited the US, hubby and I were determined to see some of the real thing, and we did–until we were both ghost towned out!

Here are Thirteen Ghost Towns:

1. But first – the official definition of a ghost town is a place where people once lived and deserted for some reason or another – usually it’s to do with economics and a town no longer producing enough work to support the population. We usually think of them as historic sites but there are modern ghost towns too.

2. Kolmanskop, Namibia

People rushed to the Namib desert to make an easy fortune and a town, complete with a casino, school, hospital and exclusive residential buildings, was established in the barren sandy desert. The diamonds gave out and the town was abandoned. Drifts of sand fill the buildings these days.

3. Bodie, USA

This is one of my favorites. The entire town is well preserved and in the middle of nowhere. It took ages to drive there and I remember the heat! I understand it’s pretty cold there during the winter. The people walked out when the gold ran out. At its peak around 10,000 lived there and it was a town with a bad reputation. One little girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: “Goodbye God, I’m going to Bodie.” This phrase came to be known throughout the west.

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And here’s a photo of me at Bodie.

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4. Prypiat Ukraine

Prypiat is an abandoned city in the Zone of alienation in northern Ukraine. It was home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers, abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. Its population was approx 50,000 prior to the accident.

5. San Zhi Taiwan

This futuristic pod village was initially built as a luxury vacation retreat for the rich. However, after numerous fatal accidents during construction, building was halted and not completed.

6. Craco, Italy

Between 1892 and 1922 over 1,300 people moved from the town to North America. Poor farming, earthquakes, landslides, and War – all contributed to this mass migration.

7. Bam, Iran

This is another I’ve visited, although I don’t have any digital photos to show you. The modern city sprawled around the old abandoned mud city and both were mostly destroyed during the 2000 earthquake. It was a simply amazing place and I’m so glad I got to see it intact.

8. Oradour-sur-Glane, France

This is one ghost town with a horrid history. The occupants of the village were massacred by German soldiers as punishment for the French Resistance. It is left to stand as a memorial to the dead.

9. Gunkanjima, Japan

In 1890 when a company called Mitsubishi bought the island and began a project to retrieve coal from the bottom of the sea. Petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960’s, and coal mines began shutting down. Hashima’s mines were no exception. The town has been used for the 2003 film ‘Battle Royale II’ and inspired the final level of popular Asian videogame “Killer7”.

10. Famagusta, Cyprus

The Turkish Army gained control of the area during the war. They fenced it off and have since refused admittance to anyone except Turkish military and United Nations personnel. The Annan Plan had provided for the return of Varosha to Greek Cypriot control, but this never happened. No repairs have been carried out for 34 years, and all of the buildings are slowly falling apart.

11. Agdam, Azerbaijan

It was once a thriving city of 150,000 people, but it fell victim to vandalism while occupied by Armenians. The buildings are gutted and empty.

12. Kadykchan, Russia

When the Soviet Union collapsed, residents were forced to move to gain access to services like running water, schools and medical care. The state moved them out, and they were taken to other towns and provided with new housing. Once a tin mining town of 12,000 people, the city is now desolate.

13. Rhyolite, Nevada, USA

I visited this ghost town last year. It’s an old gold mining town and once again, it was in the middle of nowhere and an unpleasantly hot place to eat our picnic lunch. Trees, anyone???? It’s near Death Valley, btw, which was why it was so hot. The financial panic of 1907 caused the town to go bust.

Here’s a shot of one of the banks.

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Have you visited a ghost town? If so, where? If not, what’s your favorite TV show/movie featuring a ghost town?

A Day at Munro House

I’ve been busy writing, editing, sending off queries and judging my pile of books for the RITAs. It’s unpleasantly hot here in New Zealand at the moment with today being the hottest so far. Scotty is really feeling the heat, too. Poor thing, although it doesn’t affect her appetite. She is still in possession of Dexter’s basket (see my post on The Curious Series of Events to get the scoop). Dexter hasn’t turned up to claim it so that’s good. I don’t think Scotty would be happy to see it disappear like her old basket.

Mr. Munro is still dragging me out of bed at an ungodly hour each morning to go for a walk, and we go for another after dinner. He’s determined to lose weight and is even having beerless days. I know he’s really serious when that happens. I have to say that my clothes feel a tad looser so maybe giving up an hour or so of sleep is a good thing.

We’ve booked a holiday to Samoa and that’s something to look forward to in a few months. Mr. Munro also came home with a very fat travel brochure today so we can plan a holiday for next year. We did intend to go to Nashville and that side of the US while taking in the RWA conference, but our exchange rate has taken a hit. When we went to the US last year the rate was around .78 and it’s sitting at .51 at the moment. Not good news for us or another US trip. Instead we’re looking at exotic places like Namibia, South Africa, Portugal and India. We both love the planning stage of trips and it makes for a very interesting dinner conversation. “What about xy?” one of us will suggest. “Yes, or we could go to zz.” the other will say.
LOL – we might win Lotto too. That would help!

I’m pretty sure a new scavenger hunt starts at The Samhellion today and I’m one of the authors. Check it out at The Samhellion and don’t forget there’s a new free story out each day to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

And finally, I’m guest blogging at We Write Romance. Here’s the link.

What’s happening at your place?

A Reason to Diet

Last week I taped a travel show because hubby and I are considering where we might visit next and some of the destinations looked interesting.

Singleton in Australia is one of the places they visited. It’s in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales and is known for the wife carrying competition.

Wife carrying originated in Finland. The sport is thought to originate from two historic tales. The first is a 19th century legend has it that men stole wives from neighboring villages. In a second tale, an outlaw named Rosvo-Ronkainen made potential soldiers prove themselves in a race where they carried heavy sacks. The result is the wife carrying contest.

The rules are fairly simple: everyone involved must have fun. Competitors don’t have to carry their own wives. Rules state that a part­icipant may carry his own wife, his neighbor’s wife or someone he found “farther afield.” The onl­y stipulation is that the wife must be more than 17 years of age and weigh a minimum o­f 108 pounds (49 kg). If the wife weighs less than that, she must carry a weighted rucksack to make up the difference. The official length of the track is 831 feet (253.5 meters). The surface of the track includes sections of sand, grass and gravel. There are two obstacles to climb over, as well as a 1-meter- (3.2-feet-) deep water obstacle to wade through.

Last year, Anthony Partridge and Angela Moore, both from Singleton, came fifth in the World Championship with a time of 70 seconds. The world record stands at 55.5 seconds and is held by a couple from Tallinn in Estonia.

There are three methods of carrying a wife – the traditional piggy back, the fireman’s lift and the Estonia lift, which is shown in the video.

Hubby took one took at the screen, he looked at me and then said, “I hope you realize I’d never lift you.”
I said, “I’d never let you carry me around like that.” We looked at each other, grinned and settled back to watch TV. Neither of us have any desire to try the sport.

Would you like to try wife carrying?

Getting the Word Out!

One of the most difficult things for a writer is the promotion side of the business. There’s so many variables with promotion, and it’s hard to gauge what works and what doesn’t because royalties are often received months after the event. Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to juggle the time because there’s no doubt about it, promotion is a huge timesuck! It’s also difficult to know what will work for you. Each writer and book is different, and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

Today I’d like to look at the pros and cons of promotion companies where the writer pays a company or individual to do their promotion for them. The theory is that this will free the writer to do what he or she does best. Write.

Advantages of a Promotion Company

1. They take over the chore of promotion for an author and therefore the stress.
2. A writer can save time and focus on their writing.
3. They (supposedly) have expertise and know exactly how to tailor a promotion for an author.
4. They can take care of both online and “real world” promotion, depending on the company.
5. A company can tailor make a package to meet your special needs.
6. A promo company knows all the right places to promote and all the posting rules on loops.
7. They can also help with printing needs i.e. banners, postcards, bookmarks etc.

Disadvantages/Cons of a Promotion Company

1. They can be expensive.
2. Some readers consider promotion posts are SPAM and delete them unread.
3. Sometimes overbooking clients can mean all clients are at a disadvantage and don’t get value for money.

Here are some links to a few author promotion companies:

Topaz Promotions
Millennium Promotion Services
Heartfelt Promos

In addition to promotion companies are author communities. These are groups of writers who pay to belong to a community. The owners of the community promote the authors together and individually. The theory is that a group of authors will attract readers and hopefully those reader visitors will discover new authors. Once again, it can be expensive to join a community and all communities are not equal. Some are over committed and not very good at communication. Some don’t attract readers as well as others. Some communities such as Writerspace attract large numbers of readers and have thousands of readers receiving their newsletters.

Some examples are:

Author Island
Writerspace
Access Romance
The Romance Studio
Eye On Romance
Fresh Fiction
I Read Romance

I am a current member of Access Romance, which I really like. They’re pleasant and efficient with a professionally run website. I’m also with Erotic Romance Writers, a sister site of I Read Romance. I found the owner friendly and efficient and the cost is very reasonable. I joined these two communities to help spread the word about my new releases, to gain traffic to my website and hopefully gain more name recognition. It’s hard to tell if I’ve achieved the name recognition, but my website traffic is up on this time last year, and I think more readers know about my releases. I’ve also had favorable dealings with Author Island and Fresh Fiction.

Readers: I’d like to know if you enjoy visiting author communities, and if you visit them on a regular basis. What is it that attracts you to the communities and which are your favorites?
Authors: Have you had dealings with either promtion companies or author communites? Good or bad? Do you have any questions?

Blog Participation Winner: January

Congratulations to Cheryl McInnes who wins a print copy of Romancing the Alien for visiting my blog during the month of January.

Visit my blog during February, comment on a post, and go into a draw to win a print book from my prize box. The more times you comment during the month, the better your chances of winning a prize. Good luck. See you around the blog. :grin:

Books, Reading Challenges and Moms

I saw the Mom song at Leah Braemel’s blog last week and had to post it here because it made me laugh.

Early in January I posted about the Book Challenges I intended to do for this year. They’ve stalled a little because I’m judging a contest and need to read those books first, but I have two mini reviews of books for new-to-me authors I’ve read so far this year.

Love Undercover – Hailey North

Jenifer Janey Booth is a single mother, living in a small town called Doolittle. Her two twins have left for college and she’s on her own for the first time—apart from her family and relations. Despite being alone, she’s determined she doesn’t need a man. Of course that doesn’t mean that sometimes she doesn’t want one.

Eric Hamilton is undercover, trying to catch the people responsible for counterfeit money. Jenifer is his main suspect since she was witnessed chatting to two of the crooks on two occasions. He befriends Jenifer, trying to solve his crime. He’s happy with his life, moving from place to place and from one undercover assignment to the next, but he hadn’t counted on the friendly people of Doolittle and the way they embrace him into their lives. And then there’s Jenifer. That’s a definite temptation for a start. Soon he’s thinking she’s not a criminal, despite evidence to the contrary.

I chose this book from my to-read pile because I’m going through a contemporary stage after overdosing a little on paranormal stories. It’s a sweet romance rather than the spicy ones I prefer, but the characters really grabbed me. They’re loveable and very human. I cared what happened to them as they took me on a wild ride trying to solve the case. I enjoyed the small town setting and the secondary characters. The secondary plots were interesting. As a writer, I tend to analyze a book. I know it’s a good book if I stop analyzing and start reading for pleasure rather than as a research exercise. I stopped analyzing Love Undercover fairly quickly and enjoyed both the plot and pacing. This is a solid B for me.

When She Was Bad by Cindy Kirk

Jennifer Carman is a CPA. She spends all her time working, aiming for a promotion. When someone else gets the promotion she wanted, she goes to a pub with her friend Marcee. Her friend tells her she should have a one-night stand. She says no until she sees Robert Marshall. They hit it off and she ends up going home with him, but she tells him her name is Jasmine and invents a more exciting background for herself. The sex is incredible but she doesn’t intend to see him again. She meets up with Robert again and a relationship evolves. They talk about financial matters and have this side of their life in common, although Robert doesn’t realize it. Jennifer has opportunities to tell Robert the truth about herself but she keeps putting it off. Then it’s too late and Jennifer realizes she might have made the biggest mistake of her life.

Once again, I stopped analyzing pretty quickly with this book. This was a hot read with great characterization, although I thought Jennifer carried on her pretence for a little long. I liked the way she grew during the course of the book and the way her relationship with her younger sister changed and improved. The plot held my interest, and I enjoyed the financial careers of the main characters since that’s my background. I liked it enough to pick up the connected book about Marcee, Jennifer’s friend. Another B read for me.

Here’s the link to my updated new-to-me author list.

If you’re doing any reading challenges, how are they going? What are you reading at the moment? Does the video remind you of your mother?



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