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A pink ribbon

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks
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(with thanks to Beth Williamson for the reminder of this awesome video)

Shotgun Wedding by Maggie Osborne

Even though I love Ms Osborne’s Silver Lining (review here), I had not sought out any of her other novels—I’m not exactly sure why. However, Super Librarian Wendy has talked about loving most of what Ms Osborne has written1 and… well, when I saw a copy of Shotgun Wedding at the USB last week, I just couldn’t resist it.

Set in the late 1800s or very early 1900s, the novel details events occurring during the few months between late Spring and early Fall in the small Kansas town of Marshall.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Annie Malloy is in a fix. She’s gotten herself into the worst kind of trouble, and there’s really only one way out. It seems the town’s handsome new sheriff, Jesse Harden, has taken a shine to her—and has offered her a way to end the scandal once and for all. But Annie soon finds that the quiet life she once lived has been exchanged for one full of chance, desire, and the breathtaking possibility of true love.

Jesse John Harden has always followed his instincts and has no doubt that he can turn this marriage of convenience into a true marriage of the heart. With each day that passes the bond between him and his pretty new wife grows stronger and the spark between them gets hotter. But Annie is hiding a secret that could destroy their delicate happiness. Now Jesse must convince Annie to let him stand beside her to face the past so they can have a chance at a happy future.

The first thing that struck me as I began to read the novel was that once again Ms Osborne’s writing drew me into the story so deeply that I couldn’t stop reading—even when at times I wanted to.

As the novel starts, we learn that Annie Malloy has been having an affair with a rather not-desirable sort of man and that she finds herself pregnant. He offers her marriage, but since he’s a bank robber, she realizes that she can’t marry him.

Which leaves her in a rather difficult position.

(more…)

Well, damn!

It would seem that someone is suffering from withdrawals, not getting enough attention lately.

Seriously, people, this is the new comment on a two years old post:

I don’t see what the big deal is (more…)

I find that we—those of us who blog, blog-hop, participate in message boards, readers/authors loops and groups—tend to forget that we are, in fact, a minuscule percentage of the total of readers.

This is, of course, not an original observation—Super Librarian Wendy has often talked about this—but it seems to be a frequently held belief that online readers are, in fact, the majority of romance readership.

What brings this on, you ask?

Well, when news that author Anne Stuart will have books under a different pen name with her new publisher, Janet W. said (among other things) that “…we always know that Jane Smith is now Sally Jones when she’s not writing as Judy Smart …”

Yes, we—people who are active online or are avid followers of Ms Stuart—may know this from the get go, but there will be many readers who will not have a clue. Readers who shop primarily at brick and mortar stores, and whose method of choosing something to read is check out the covers, then read the back cover blurb. Those are the readers the publisher is hoping to entice to read these books by the same author under a different name.

As Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick aka Jayne Castle mentioned during her speech at RWA’s Awards Luncheon, (more…)

Big Bad Wolf, by Christine Warren

Two quick caveats: this novel contains quite explicit depictions of sex and is not suitable for minors (or people who are easily offended, by sex1 and/or adult language), and it is one of the many shiny books I got at the RWA National Conference last week.

This is the first novel of Ms Warren that I’ve read—and I realized too late that it’s actually part of a series (in fact, it is the expanded and revised version of the previously published second story in the world of The Others). It follows unassuming kindergarten teacher Missy and hot werewolf Alpha Graham during their whirlwind… courtship? marathon to HEA? (if I understood correctly, the novel takes place in exactly seven days).

Here is the back cover blurb:

Missy Roper’s fantasies have revolved around Graham Winters since the moment they met. But the imposing leader of the Silverback werewolf clan always seemed oblivious to Missy’s existence. At least he was, until Missy collides with him at a party and then abruptly runs away—arousing Graham’s interest…and wild desires.

Lupine law decrees that every Alpha must have a mate, and all Graham’s instincts tell him that the sensual, beguiling Missy is his. Trouble is, Missy is human—every delectable inch of her. Convincing his clan that she’s his destined mate, and keeping her safe from his enemies, will be the biggest challenge Graham has ever faced. And now that he is determined to have her—as his lover and his mate—Missy’s world is changing in ways she never imagined…

The first thing I have to mention is that Ms Warren excels at the difficult art of writing believable (and yes, arousing) sex scenes. In them, there is some internal dialogue going on, from both of the protagonists’ points of view, but it doesn’t get in the way of the (heh) action.

Pretty early in the story it is made clear that Missy and Graham have met more than once during the previous couple of months, which would make the whole “her scent told him she’s his mate” a bit iffy for me, if Ms Warren hadn’t made a point of explaining it: each time they have met before, they’ve been surrounded by many other humans, whose perfumes, soaps, etc. have all but obliterated Missy’s own natural scent. It is only when alone with her that Graham identifies her as his mate.

(more…)

Sunday

It was a very sad (and still exhausted) aztec who dragged her ass out of (a very comfortable) bed around thirty minutes past oh-dark-hundred along with Kristie(J) and SLWendy. Both of them and Rosie had ungodly early flights back home, so the plan was to vacate the room, check out downstairs and be in a taxi (along with Rosie’s roommate, L.B. Gregg) by 5:30am. Despite the fact that no bellperson was available (I don’t think the management of the Dolphin realized how many of the 2100 conference attendees were leaving before dawn…) we managed to drag ourselves and our possessions downstairs and to the front desk without incident.

There I stayed with the bigger suitcases while Wendy and Kristie got in line (yes, in line—did I mention a bunch of people checking out before dawn?) to check out—and managed to catch a greeting, a goodbye and a hug from Beth Williamson, who was also leaving.

Once Wendy and Kristie had straightened their hotel bills out, we took thirty seconds for a picture, and then it was time for schlepping books, boxes, backpack and weary body to the car for the half hour drive home—then crash for something like six hours straight.

Exhausted and sleepy aztec, Kristie(J) and SLWendy

In no particular order, all the things I forgot in previous days’ recaps (or, memorable moments throughout the conference): (more…)

Saturday

Mapquest tells me that I live some 37 miles from the Dolphin, which makes for a good forty minutes drive on weekdays—plus, the fuel gauge in the rental car was dipping perilously close to the big E—so I got myself up and ready at some truly ungodly hour in order to be at the hotel on time for… yeah, you guessed it: the second edition of continental breakfast, Dolphin version.

Adding weight to my desire to be on site early was the fact that there were going to be five (yes, you read that right: FIVE) publisher signings on Saturday, the first (Ballantine) starting at 9:00am—and the line, oh yes, the line! was bound to be fierce. I confess that it made me a bit sad that I had to skip Writing Fight Scenes, a workshop given by Angela Knight that started at 8:30—but priorities are priorities, and this is where it’s truly clear that I’m a reader, first, last and foremost: the lure of books! shiny! books! free! books! signed to me!

No contest, really.

So I called Kristie(J) while fueling, and about forty minutes later, after dropping off my overnight bag in their room again, we got back down to the ballroom, ready to tackle the lines for the donuts. We talked a bit about our plans for the day and I promised to save her a spot in the line for the St. Martin Press book signing later in the day (two words: Lisa Kleypas). We were joined, surprisingly enough, by SLWendy a little later—and I finally got to take the picture I had been waiting for since Tuesday:

I’m not sure you can see it clearly (will someone explain my camera to me, please?—in words of one syllable, thank you) but our very own Super Librarian is wearing… Karen Scott! 😆

*ahem*

With that bit of business out of the way, I went back to the well known hallway with the couches and the women sitting on the floor by the doors of two very unimposing rooms…

(more…)

Friday

You may wonder why on earth, after going to bed totally wiped out in the early hours of the morning, I would want to wake up before seven am. The answer: continental breakfast, included in the registration, and scheduled for 7:30 to 8:30 am. Being frugal *coughcheapcough* I made sure I was there early enough to avoid the rush of like-minded fellow conference attendees, but perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered: the buffet tables were not opened until about 7:40, and the waitstaff started clearing out the first one (which was empty as the desert) at about 8:15. Mind, the food offered wasn’t anything to write home about—some fresh fruit, Dunkin Donuts Krispy Kreme donuts (thank you, Kim in Hawaii!),  a couple of fruit breads—but I confess that I’m still puzzled by how little of it there was, considering that there were 2100 registered attendees. (This is not a swipe at RWA, by the way: I blame this entirely on the hotel2)

The company, on the other hand, was great: I hailed down Jodi Henley, of Will Work for Noodles fame, and we were joined in short order by Lorena Streeter of Hearts and Handcuffs and Anna Alexander (who has a wonderful tag in her cards: Live for the day, to hell with the rest), and a bit later by Linda Nielsen and Nikki Enlow. Again, conversation flowed around the table—most of us strangers to each other until that moment, but easy with each other, comforted by the knowledge that we all were there because of our passion for books and reading (and, in their cases, writing those books 😀 )

And here is when things got surreal… (or more surreal, if you will).

(more…)

Thursday

Despite all my good intentions of the night before, I had a rather late-ish start—I didn’t manage to get to the parking lot until just minutes before noon (though I once again snagged a great parking space) so I basically carried my overnight backpack with me to the keynote luncheon.

Since I literally didn’t have time to find Wendy, Rosie, Kristie or anyone else I already knew, I was delighted to run into Bradford Bunch ladies Beth Williamson and Juliana Stone, who graciously invited me to sit with them.

As luck would have it, we were close enough to the front of the line that we got a table just behind the camera that was trained on the podium and projecting to the large screens strategically placed throughout the ballroom—excellent! Later we were joined by Ms Stone’s roommate, and also by Mindy Klasky, Nancy Yeager and Christina Watson.

Juliana Stone (right) and her roommate
Left to right: Christina Watson, Nancy Yeager and Mindy Klasky

As always when romance readers gather, there was little awkwardness and plenty of topics of conversation during lunch, up until the moment when RWA President Michelle Monkou took the stage. We were all stunned and delighted to find out that more than $55,000 was raised during the literacy signing (after taxes). This means that, over the years, RWA has donated over $687,000 to literacy efforts in cities across the country. I am sure I speak for readers everywhere when I say, thank you!

After Ms Monkou, Nora Roberts stepped up to the podium and held the crowd—all more than two thousand of us—spellbound with her speech. (more…)

Just as I thought, once RWA got going, there was no way on earth (or in hell) that I would be able to blog—or read other people’s blogs for that matter. Conference brain hits early and hard! Knowing this was going to happen, I made a point of having paper and pen with me at all times, naïvely thinking I would remember to take notes during the day.

Yes, I know: of course it didn’t happen.

Still, I took pictures like a the crazy woman I am and I’m hoping *sending vague prayers upwards* that a visual prompt will help me remember at least some of the highlights… Plus, of course, all the cards I tucked on the back of my badge. Really, some memories should surface.

Right?

A couple of things I forgot to mention in my previous post: first, that while sitting with the bloggers at the Dolphin’s lobby on Tuesday afternoon, I saw Eloisa James walk by. I said her name out loud, and she looked over, smiled… and walked just a tad bit faster… I think I’m scarier than I know 😉

Second, when AnimeJune joined us there, she was coming back from (in her own words) indulging her obsession with all things Disney. She sat down, exhausted, and put her feet up. Then she noticed our badges and wonderful, roomy, pretty, heavy-duty tote bags, and asked where the registration area for the conference was. When told that it closed less than ten minutes later, she jumped up and literally raced across the lobby. Amazing, the reviving powers of the shiny, eh?

And without further ado, here’s the first part of my way too long and image heavy round up: (more…)

Still suffering from conference brain…

Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks
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which means I won’t post anything coherent about RWA until Wednesday.

In the meantime, though, here’s the newest addition to chez Aztec:

center

Got kitten!

This utterly comical ball of fluffy fur (and he’s a ball, his stomach feels like a really tight drum skin) was found a week ago by a co-worker.

Next to the median in a very very busy road.

The rescue included some heroics and some drama (I hear rumors of an eight car pile-up, as a matter of fact), but the baby came home unscathed—and an orphan.

He’s just about six weeks old (as of Sunday) and has yet to be named. Considering I already have a Shadow (a shiny black cat weighing more than 18lbs), do you have any suggestions for our new baby?

Please note that although he’s mostly black, he has three white spots (one in his neck, the second high on his chest between his front legs and the last one low on his belly near the tail) rather like clown buttons.

* * *

(once again, please forgive the crappy picture–technology ain’t my friend)