Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Lair Will be HOT in July!

    First of all, this month we have not ONE...

    Not TWO...

    But THREE launch parties for new Bandita books!

    July 2nd Aunty Cindy's Launch Party for The Wild Irish Sea will be a blarney-filled blast.

    July 6th will be Susan's long awaited Launch Party for her former Golden Heart winner, Money Honey.

    July 12th will be Kate's Launch
    Party for her first Silhouette Desire -- The Millionaire Meets His Match.

    We also have a wonderful selection of guests:

    July 7th Nancy chats with Patricia Rice about her new historical, The Wicked Wycherly, the first in the Rebellious Sons series.

    July 9th Tawny hosts Josie Brown, who will be chatting with us about her latest novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives.

    July 16th Aunty Cindy hosts her buddy Marie Force for a return visit to celebrate her first e-book for Carina Press. Fatal Affair is the first in a series of romantic suspense stories set in Washington DC.

    July 19th Kate welcomes debut mystery writer Avery Aames who writes the Cheese Shop mystery series. Join her as she discusses The Long Quiche Goodbye and the romance of cheese!

    Young adult debut author Holly Cupala will be joining us on July 21, hosted by fellow YA writer Kirsten. Holly's book, Tell Me a Secret, is a gripping emotional story that's sure to attract adults and teens, and has gotten great reviews. We hear the bubbly and delightful Holly can't wait to hang out with a bunch of romance readers, so it should be a great time!

    July 23rd welcomes Tessa Adams with her new paranormal, Dark Embers. (check out that cover! HOT!)

    Contest news:

    Anna Campbell has a mini novella called 'Upon a Midnight Clear' in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE (released on 24th June in the U.K. and 27th July in the U.S.). To celebrate, she's giving away two signed copies! All you have to do is email her on and name two authors other than Anna Campbell who have stories in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE. You might find the answer in her June Latest News:
    or on the publisher's website:
    The contest closes 31st July, 2010 and for more details please visit her website:

    RWA's National Conference starts the last week of July, but the Lair will not be totally empty. Who knows what kind of cool treats might be in store? Please drop by to see what's going on with so many absent Banditas.

    Will Sven, the gladiators, and cabana boys get a much deserved vacation?

    Will the Golden Rooster stand the test of doing double duty in both the Lair and National in Orlando?

    Do you think we should give Sven and the others a few days off? Where should we send them on their vacations? And how do YOU like to cool off on a hot summer day?Source URL:
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Bandita Booty

    It was so awesome to have Pamela Palmer hang out with us - and even better, she offered THREE copies of DESIRE UNTAMED to three lucky winners. And the names drawn are:

    Blodeuedd, Bkwrm 26 and Gigi.

    Ladies, congratulations. If you'll drop Pam an email with Bandits Prize in the subject line and your shipping info, she'll get those books right out to you :-)

    And thanks to everyone for hanging out!!!Source URL:
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Wednesday giveaway!

    Today's giveaway is from Ruche, a fabulous California boutique with vintage-inspired pieces. They're offering one lucky winner a $100 gift certificate to perk up her summer wardrobe.

    (Ruche has super reasonable prices, so $100 would get a bunch of cute things -- for example, you could get two tops and a skirt, or a dress and sandals.)

    For a chance to win, please visit Ruche's shop and leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck!

    Update: Kelly from Maine is our lucky winner. xoSource URL:
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Guest Post: Bocce Ball

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summertime and the Living Is . . .

    by Jo Robertson

    We’ve just reached the triple digits in northern California and I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West screeching, “I’m melting, I’m melting.”

    Summer’s definitely here to stay in our little corner of the world. In spite of the heat, mosquitoes, and escalating air conditioner bills, summer recalls those wonderful memories of childhood in my home state of Virginia.

    Barefoot explorations. My mother never cared if we ran wild and barefoot all summer long. My standard clothing issue was shorts and halter top and NO SHOES. Our property sloped down the hillside to the banks of the James River and my brother and I spent hours exploring the territory.
    Gives me the shivers now.

    Sleeping in. We had a screened in side porch where we always slept during the hot, humid summers. Our old house had a swamp cooler, but no air conditioning, so the meager breeze that swept off the river was essential!
    Why is sleeping in still so wickedly delicious?

    Fireflies. Not the Nathan Fillion kind – yum – and I’ll again recommend your buying the complete DVD of that amazing Joss Whedon TV series – but the bugs that light up.
    As kids we always caught fireflies during the summer, captured them inside my mom’s canning jars, and stared at them all night as they rested on the floor by my bed. I'm still fascinated by the way their tiny bodies flash this amazing green light.

    Ticks. Yes, we had tons of those little buggers. I distinctly remember one particularly fat one burrowing its body into my right butt cheek. I was about eleven, I think, and horrified at the thought of some crawly creature sucking my blood out like a vampire. That was also the summer I got interested in Bram Stoker. Mom used alcohol and tweezers and finally snipped off the head, leaving the body deep in my tender flesh.
    I don’t remember the rest – I think I passed out.

    Accidents. Why is summer always the time someone breaks a bone, gnashes a wrist or knee, or falls into an open sewer? I mention these three things because the summer I was twelve, my little brother Ken, eleven, managed to do all three on consecutive Saturdays.
    The sewer was the worst. And I swear -- I was responsible only for one of the events -- the slashed wrist.

    Ice Cream. I know, I know. It’s way cheaper to buy ice cream nowadays than to make your own, but there’s something that speaks of home and mom and comfort during warm summer nights with a giant bowl of homemade ice cream for company.

    I’m again offering my super-duper infamous recipe for anyone who missed it previously. It’s easy, quick, and so light you’ll eat the entire canister by yourself. If the other people living in your house don’t beat you to it!

    3 cups sugar

    2 quarts of half and half

    1 can evaporated milk

    2 TB vanilla extract

    1 TB lemon extract

    And finally, making out on a blanket (otherwise known as picnicking). Okay, I’ll keep this PG-13, but summertime reminds me of dates I had with Dr. Big when we picnicked by the river. It was so beautiful and we were so much in love. Nuff said!

    What about you? What's your standard "uniform" for the summer? What childhood memories does summertime bring to you? What kind of memories are you making for you children?
    Are summer sports your thing -- water skiiing, rafting, sunbathing (hey, that's a sport!) Are you a sun worshipper or do you avoid it like the plague?
    Do you enjoy picnic scenes in a romance novel? Do they remind you of a more relaxed time as opposed to our current hectic pace?
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Guest Post: Mini things for mini people...

Guest Post: Magical Bubble Photos

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kissing Frogs

    by Susan Sey

    It’s 1994. I’m twenty-one years old, student teaching 9th grade English. In the four months I’ve been on the job, Tonya Harding has put out a hit on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee & Kurt Cobain’s committed suicide. It’s a pretty accurate barometer of how my pursuit of a teaching certificate is going, actually. But since my dad has recently informed me I can’t be a camp counselor forever, I feel compelled to augment my imminent English degree with an actual skill set. Hence the teaching certificate.

    My cooperating teacher is napping behind a barricade of books on his desk. I am three inches shorter & twenty pounds lighter than my smallest student, a fact that has not gone unnoticed. Kids are actually singing & dancing in the aisles. I have completely lost control of my class, which is bad enough. But then something in my head snaps—what the hell am I doing spending my senior year of college in high school??—and I lose control of myself, too.

    At the top of my surprisingly formidable camp counselor lungs, I bellow, “STOP!”

    There is an instant of shocked silence. I find this immensely gratifying & am about to perform a hostile take over of my own class when somebody gets there first. Two beats into my hard-won silence, a girl yells, “Hammer time! Doot, doot, doot-doot…”

    (It’s a song, for those of you too young to get the joke. MC Hammer? See, there were these crazy pants, too, & this little dance he did, and...okay, never mind. You'll have to trust me on this. It was a big thing.)

    Anyway, the class about injures itself laughing—admittedly, her comic timing is exquisite—and there goes my brief flirtation with efficacy.

    Okay. So. Not a teacher. Sorry, Dad.

    And why am I telling you this story?

    Because I got invited to my 20 high school reunion this week.

    Because in my high school year book, I predicted that by now I'd be living on my own private island with an iguana named Issaac writing best-selling novels. (I have a husband, two kids & a house in the suburbs, in case you were wondering how that worked out for me.)

    Because while my dad didn't specifically include writing romance novels in the "camp counseling is not a career" talk, I understood it came under the same heading.

    Because after thirteen years of trying other things, I sat down & started writing anyway.

    Because after five years of writing, I sold a book.

    Because after two years of waiting, that book--Money, Honey--is finally going to hit the shelves.

    In exactly one week.

    Ladies (and gentlemen, I know you're out there), today I am here to testify. If yesterday's post didn't convince you (and congrats again, Suz), maybe today's will tip the balance.

    Dreams aren't impossible. Only improbable. And this is coming from a woman whose toddlers used to blurt out, "Rejection letters!" every time they saw a mailbox.

    Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs, people. But you kiss the right one?

    Worth it. Totally worth it.

    So what about you? Have you ever dreamed the impossible dream? Longed for something so outlandish you didn't really allow yourself to hope for it? (I include Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, & a tremendous singing voice on my list, so don't be shy.) Did you ever pursue it? Even a little? How did that work out for you?Source URL:
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Guest Post: Picnic Ideas

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Birth of A Story...

    by Suzanne

    In case you're one of the few people on the planet that I haven't told, and trust me, I'm pretty sure I've shouted it from the mountain tops, I sold my first book this month!

    Now, this wasn't my first book. Nope, it was actually my ninth. I've been writing seriously for about 15 years. Over that time I've tried my hand at many romantic sub genres. At first it was American Historical...the market fell out from under me. Then contemporary, then contemporary small town, (not much market at the time for those). Then romantic suspense...oh, wait the market went really dark, plot-wise.

    Hmmm, what was a girl to do? I'd always had good lusty sexy scenes. So when my CP Jo Davis started writing erotica, I thought...okay, why not give that a try?  Here's where I ran into a problem. I wanted to write an erotica where the sex was integral to the plot. One would not exist without the other. Geesh, exactly how was I going to do that?

    As I am want to do in the middle of the night, I picked up a pad of paper and a pen and let my creative forces free write, with a focus on how intense sex could not only be a major part of the plot, but also propel the story forward.

    Well first I needed a character. A heroine in need of saving, whether she knows it or not. Next a hero to come save her. Wait. This is an erotica....I can have TWO heroes. Oh boy!! I'm suddenly liking this very much! Okay, so what kind of heroes do I like? Tall, dark, strong, (Have we discussed how TOMBSTONE is one of my all time favorite movies? Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott in THE SHADOWRIDERS made me drool? How I adored all the bad guys in THE LONG RIDERS? How much I loved the romance and the gunfights in OPEN RANGE?) And hey...a western historical erotic romance? Well, that's taking a unique twist to a genre.

    So now I have my cast of characters, my time period, and a spark of a plot. I flesh it out, (pardon the pun), and send the idea to Jo with a "what do you think of this story idea?" e-mail. Her return e-mail was very enthusiastic. I decided I'd give it a try, but if the story didn't hold together, I would put it aside as an experiment gone wrong.

    But here's the thing. I fell in love. Yep, with all three characters. I wanted the men...uh...yeah, I wanted the men to capture the bad guy. I wanted the heroine to get justice. I wanted the bad guys to get what they deserved. So, the book kept growing, building, until I couldn't stop. Nope. Had to finish it.

    Okay, now I needed some feedback and a title. So after some brainstorming, I came up with a title I loved, The Surrender Of Lacy Morgan. It had so many connotations that fit this story I just had to go with it. Next, I entered Miss Lacy, as she has become affectionately known in the Lair, in a writing contest or two. Dang, if she didn't win both erotica categories! Yippee!! Those contests also garnered her a request for the full manuscript by one big NY publisher and a request for the partial from another--alas, sadly neither panned out.

    So here comes my middle of the night what-the-hell moment. I e-mailed a query off to Ellora's Cave. I immediately got a standard auto reply that they'd received my query and it was in the queue to be read and that I'd hear something in 1-3 months. Okay, cool.

    Two days later, on Thursday, I get another e-mail that looked like a repeat auto reply, until I reread it. This was from a pre-reader who liked what I'd submitted and put in the queue for the acquiring editors to read. I would hear something in 1-6 months. Okay, even cooler!

    The next Monday I receive a very enthusiastic e-mail from an editor who loved what I'd sent and requested me to send the entire manuscript by e-mail for her to read. And she'd be getting back to me in....1-6 months. Okay, super cool!

    A month went by.


    Now I was getting worried. Things had been going by so fast, then poof. Did this bode well for Miss Lacy? Was it an ominous warning off the port bow?

    Then the week before Memorial Day...two months from when the process started, I see another e-mail from the editor in my inbox. OH NO....poor Lacy is about to be rejected. Because if the editor wanted the story she'd call, right? Isn't that what everyone says?

    So, with hands over my eyes, I click open... It's NOT a rejection, HALLELUJAH!, but an apology for taking so long, and a question re: was the story still available?

    Well, yes it was! After a deep, calming breath, I replied as professionally as possible, that yes it was and I'd look forward to hearing her thoughts after she had a chance to read it.  (Even if it took 1-6 months.)

    A week later, I get another e-mail. She loved the book! The editor not only loved the story, she loved the idea of the other brothers in the book having their own stories, too! But she didn't think she could buy it as is, because, "There was too much story" in it. Would I be willing to revise and resubmit, so that the really good sex in the book be more of the focus?

    Here's where some people make a mistake. They say, "No. Take it as it is or not at all."


    Okay....cut to the chase, after a week or so of e-mails about how I was proceeding, did she have any suggestions, etc. I got another e-mail.

    Jillian Bell, the editor with the most excellent judgement and taste, wanted to contract the book for Ellora's Cave! I still hadn't completed the revisions, but I seriously think the professional effort I was making to comply let her know she could work with me and that I meant business when it came to getting my book published.

    Okay...I only read the first paragraph of that e-mail, then went calmly into the living room, stepped in front of the baseball game on TV and did my version of the happy dance! Hubby lifted one brow and said..."Uh...I take it you have good news?" "Duh! Yes! They want to buy a book!"

    Then after much hugging I made him read the e-mail to be sure I wasn't seeing things. This is where I learned I'd have to change one character's name. problem! Hawke became Dakota. Yippee!!!

    Next came phone calls to my CP's Sandy Blair and Jo Davis, and of course our Bandita Joanie. Then e-mails to my Texas girls, the Foxes and then the Bandit Loop! Oh yeah, and then my Mom! And after three glasses of champagne from one of the bottles I'd been saving for this occasion, I called my boss, who is my beta reader! Oh yeah, and the girls at work!

    Honestly, you know when it really hit me? The next night on my way to work. I started grinning from ear to ear, doing the happy dance in the car at all the stop lights. Yep! I had received the contract by e-mail that day, read it and was going to sign it.

    So, the call, wasn't really a call....but
    I am a contracted, soon to be published author!

    So, tell me what's the best party you ever threw! What was the occassion? Did people cram in and leave the place a disaster? (Uhm...let's make sure Sven and the boys have a reason to complain tomorrow!) Oh....and how do you feel about Western romances...both the regular and erotic variety?

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Writing on the wild side or... Where do you come up with this stuff?

    by Tawny

    I'm so jazzed to welcome one of our favorite authors, Pamela Palmer, back to the Lair. Today's she's hanging out with us and talking about that ever-exciting topic that keeps all writer's going hmmm... Imaginations. I know, you can't wait to hear what she has to say (okay, read what she has to say) so without further ado... Here's Pam!!!

    All fiction writers have imaginations, big imaginations, or we’d never come up with the stories we do. We’re the ones walking around with the voices in our heads. But these big imaginations can take different forms. I think all novelists love the quesiton ‘what if?’ But not every writer looks at a plane in the sky and wonders, “What if it exploded?” or “What if it just disappeared? Or morphed into an alien spacecraft?”

    I think those of us who write speculative fiction (paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy) tend to have brains that serve up the strangest what-if questions. What if that dude in front of me in the check-out line were to suddenly shift into a jaguar? What if I could suck the life out of someone with the touch of my hand? What if I were immortal? All three of these questions came to me at one point or another in the creation of my latest Feral Warriors shape-shifter novel, RAPTURE UNTAMED, which hits stores Tuesday (June 29th). It’s the story of a pair of immortals -- a jaguar shifter with a ripping bad attitude, and a non-shifter who has a secret -- a forbidden ability that could make her a danger even to the Feral Warriors. The shifter, Jag, is the last male on earth she could ever trust. And, ultimately, the only one who can save her soul.

    So, where does this stuff come from? Honestly, I wish I could give you the secret. I think we’re born with brains that serve up the surreal. When my son was four, he woke up one morning filled with the memory of a dream -- a dream about a magic ring with incredible power. His detailed explanation of the workings of this ring took a solid ten minutes and made eerily logical sense. Yes, he enjoyed books and he watched t.v., but I read the books to him, and was almost always nearby when the t.v. was on. I’d have known if he’d heard about this ring somewhere. He hadn’t. It was the creation of a four-year-old’s imagination. How does a brain that young come up with something that intricate, something that doesn’t exist? It amazed me at the time, and it still does.

    Do non-writers dream like this? I don’t know. You tell me. My son has no desire to be a writer, but I’m convinced he has the imagination for it if he ever changes his mind. And I absolutely dream crazy, exciting, high-action dreams along with the more mundane and frustrating I’m-late-but-I-can’t-remember-how-to-get-there dreams.

    What if I could shove my hand through that table...without breaking it? What if the Dupont Circle fountain in D.C. was a gate into the fairy world? What if I could see the future? The questions come almost fast as I can type them. There’s a fine line between weirdly creative and crazy, trust me. So where do these ideas come from? The best I can figure, they’re all a function of some weird quirk of the brain. If there’s a cure, I don’t want it! If it weren’t for the strange paths my mind wanders, I wouldn’t be able to tell the stories I love.

    Do you dream? Do you remember your dreams? And if you do, are they strange or pretty normal (for dreams)?

    In celebration of the release of RAPTURE UNTAMED (in three days!), I’m giving away three signed copies of the first book in the Feral Warriors series, DESIRE UNTAMED, one each to three random commenters.

    Sweet dreams!
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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Crack of Doom

    by Nancy

    I've heard that phrase, "the crack of doom," all my life. Learning from context, I figured it meant the end of the universe but didn't give it much thought. It recently popped into my head again, probably because I've been reading post-apocalyptic novels, and I decided to find the derivation and specific meaning of the phrase. Since I didn't feel like going to the library, where a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary resides, I went on a quest via the internet. This was a tactical error. Many, many, many people apparently think the phrase originated with Tolkien's discussion of the Ring of Power and Mount Doom. Uh, no.

    I found other references citing Shakespeare's Macbeth, which seems likelier, though it also seems probable the phrase was around before Shakespeare and he just gave it power, as with so many other expressions. The specific meaning of it--thunderclap "crack" of sound, "crack" into the fabric of existence, "crack" between this world and the next--remains elusive, however. A friend who has the OED looked up the crack of doom for me and could not find a specific meaning, so I decided just to go with "the end of everything" and not worry about whether the specific wording "crack of doom" has a particular meaning.

    In the weird way of associational thinking, this search led me back to the book I was reading at the time, S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire, the first in a series (naturally, given that it's alternate history and I was reading it!), Emberverse I, about life after a mysterious event much like an EM pulse, but also different in key ways, destroys all technology--and apparently changes certain laws of physics as well. I liked this book enough to read the next one, and I've now read the third, which I just happened to have, completing the first trilogy, because I didn't send back the "no, thanks" slip to the SF Book Club in time. That turns out to be a good thing, since having that book, which looked interesting, did eventually push me to find the first one.

    The good guys in Dies the Fire include an ex-Marine turned bush pilot, a Celtic folksinger who's also a Wicca priestess, various ex-military (including SAS) personnel and medieval re-enactors (SCA --Society for Creative Anachronism--and others), and geeks. The bad guys are an assortment, but the one who rises to the top is a professor of medieval history (as a former history major, I give this one a bwahhahaha salute!) who loves William the Conqueror and is a former SCA heavyweight. This was the first of Stirling's many books I've read, and I look forward to seeing him at DragonCon.

    Archery plays a big role, which appeals to the longtime Robin Hood fan in me. The series also has certain Arthurian overtones, and I'm always a sucker for that. One of the characters has a severe case of Tolkien-itis, which creeps into the story in many ways, some of them humorous, and I love Tolkien anyway. References to other books and genre conventions add fun little zings here and there.

    Continuing the train of associational hops led me to Pat Frank's Alas Babylon, which I used to say was the first post-apocalyptic novel I read, though I've recently realized this is not right. The story of survivors trying to rebuild society after a nuclear war, it seems somewhat dated now, but the characters remain engaging, and I liked it enough to buy a copy when (way back when) I had to return my high school-issued one. I've read it several times since. Alas Babylon fits well with Neville Shute's On the Beach, about survivors of nuclear war, though the Shute is less positive since people are basically sitting around waiting to die. I never read On the Beach again. Once around with a serious downer is enough.

    I recently discovered a book on a library sale table that I remembered reading in junior high, Robert Silverberg's Time of the Great Freeze, a YA about people surviving an ice age, and that truly was the first post-apocalyptic novel I read. I remembered liking the Silverberg, even after many, many years, so I bought it--for 50¢ or something like that. I'd forgotten about it until recently, when I was looking over the bookshelves for something else and spotted it.

    Thinking about this reminded me that I used to read, many years ago, a Gold Key comic book called Mighty Sampson, which was set in post-apocalypse New York City. I tracked down the title and bought an issue at our local comic book convention this summer, but I haven't taken it out of the protective sleeve. I probably won't. Looking at the art on the cover, I think it's one of those things that, as the boy says, you shouldn't look at now because you wouldn't like it as much and that would take away from that earlier pleasure in it. Still, I'm glad to have it for old times' sake.

    I've taught Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, which is set in California after an unspecified ecological disaster leads to lack of rain, with chronic water shortages and societal breakdown. After an escalating series of troubles destroys the heroine's family and neighborhood, she and her two surviving friends strike out for the north--Oregon or Washington, where rumors say water remains available. If you can get past the armed guards at the border. Along the way, they meet other people and must decide whom to trust and whom to turn aside as they struggle to survive. It's a terrific book and has sequels, though I haven't gotten to them yet.

    What all of these books have in common is a struggle to create a society or social group with morals and ethics and honor, to keep back the tides of darkness when the worst in human nature comes forth. A friend of mine is more interested in the social structures and technological issues. I care more about what happens to the people and how they interact.

    My favorite character dies at the end of the third book in the Stirling series. Despite this rather annoying conclusion, which at least had a big story payoff, I liked the other characters and the world enough to read the next series, Emberverse II, as well. I already have the first book, The Sunrise Lands. The ending of the first trilogy is not the HEA we expect for romance, but it is a triumphant ending, as befits the end of a trilogy's story arc, albeit at a high price for the heroes. I think that's a key genre difference.

    In science fiction and fantasy, victorious endings tend to have a higher personal price than in romance. They may not be happy, necessarily. The ending of LOTR is not happy but bittersweet, at least for Frodo and the elves, as the Age of Men begins in Middle Earth. One could argue that LOTR also is apocalyptic, just in a different setting than the term usually evokes. When romance characters die, they tend to have been either unsympathetic anyway or else minor. Getting the reader to care about a character who then dies tends to spoil the HEA nature of the reading experience. It's not what we expect in a book that says "Romance" on the spine.

    Romance has recently acquired more books with apocalyptic themes, as thinking about all this reminded me. Our popular guest Jessica Andersen writes of the Nightkeepers, Mayan magi trying to avert the 2012 apocalypse. Lori Handeland's Elizabeth Phoenix series features a psychic trying to avert Doomsday. The Phoenix series involves vampires--but they're icky ones, not heroes, mostly, and the books include other types of magic or psi skills.

    I like the character progression in a series, such as the Nightkeepers and Elizabeth Phoenix books have. That's much more common in science fiction, fantasy and mystery than in romance, but I'm glad to see it getting a toehold in romance. It certainly hasn't hurt Eve Dallas and her Roarke. Come to think of it, their stories are set after a devastating conflict, the Urban Wars. Gena Showalter's Alien Huntress series is set in the aftermath of a human/alien conflict.

    I've also noticed other books appearing in the Romance section that have apocalyptic events of some sort in their backstories. Maybe this and steampunk are the new rising wave, but that's a subject for a different blog.

    Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which is usually shelved in Horror, maybe because the vampires are seriously and grotesquely evil, except for the hero, is one of the few vampire romance stories I like, and it occurs after a magical apocalypse. The hero and heroine are trying to stop one of the oldest and most evil vampires from not only killing them but destroying lots of other people.

    Hmm. I appear to have read some very gloomy books--but they all had satisfying endings. Sort of like when the Battlestar Galactica crowd (speaking of apocalypses) reached Earth. Other TV series with post-apocalyptic settings include Jeremiah, starring Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (years prior to the series' opening, a virus killed all the adults on the planet, leading to social breakdown) and Dark Angel (an EM pulse killed all the tech and wiped all the bank accounts, and people are struggling back). There's also Jericho, not to be confused with Jeremiah though I sometimes do confuse them, about the aftermath of nuclear war in a small midwestern town. All three of these latter ones turn up on SyFy from time to time, usually on days when I have to go teach, alas.

    There's a whole spate of movies, of course, from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to the Planet of the Apes saga and The Omega Man to Will Smith's I Am Legend and Independence Day. Just out or about to come out on DVD are The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington and The Road with Lair favorite Viggo Mortenson. The Road is based on a Cormac MacCarthy novel, which I pulled off the shelf at the store to check out. Skimming through it, I decided it probably wasn't for me, and I didn't like the ending. But having two such movies come out recently also encourages me to think this may be a rising wave.

    In a way, the Terminator series fits here. Last summer's Terminator Salvation (Sam Worthington, anyone?) definitely did. I tend to prefer movies without flesh-eating zombie-like creatures or spewing blood, as a rule, though I did make it through 28 Days Later, which the dh endured with me. We used the fast-forward button a lot. We both were more impressed with Children of Men, based on the P.D. James novel and starring another Lair favorite, Clive Owen, in a non-action-hero role, and I liked Vin Diesel's Babylon A.D. The latter two may be more dystopian (lacking a cataclysmic upheaveal) than post-apocalyptic, though I'd say a virus destroying humanity's ability to procreate, as in Children of Men, qualifies as an apocalypse.

    I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoyed the arc about the threat of Ragnarok, the end of everything in Norse mythology, in the Marvel Comics Thor series. I read Thor (now in production as a movie with a stellar cast) for several years, though I've drifted away from it now, and I think that storyline helped pull me into it. So did Sif, the warrior goddess who's married to Thor in mythology but who pined for him while he adored mortal nurse Jane Foster in the comic book--though an interesting twist resolved that particular conflict. At that time Sif wore a really cool silver skinsuit and fought with a sword. She still has the sword, but the costume (see below) has changed. Regrettably, imho.

    (Just FYI, I didn't see what Thor liked so much in Jane when he could've had Sif, who's not nearly so dynamic in the mythology as in the comic, but that's also a whole different blog topic). I read the Ragnarok arc about the time I discovered Wagner. I had an album of excerpts from Wagner's Ring Cycle, and I love "Ride of the Valkyries" and "Gotterdamerung," the Twilight of the Gods, though I prefer the orchestral part without the choral overlay. Very dramatic. Lots of brass and tympani.

    Anyway, all this mental meandering led me to wonder why I like stories with these themes. I think it's partly the heroic struggle to maintain not just life but decency, but it's also that the stakes are so very high. When failure means the end of all things good and true, as we deem them, the stakes can't go much farther up. High stakes ratchet up the conflict and the risk and give a good, affirming ending, in whatever genre, that much more punch.

    As befits the meandering nature of this blog, I have varied questions, so feel free to answer any, all, or none, as usual: If all the tech ended tomorrow, what would you do first to cope? Do you like apocalyptic novels or films, or do you prefer a more settled story environment with more personally focused stakes? What's the most intense, gut-wrenching book or movie you can recall? Who're your favorite romantic couple in a high-stakes situation? Source URL:
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The Kids Are All Right

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Every Millionaire Needs a Wife

    We always hear about the millionaire playboy, but seriously. Trotting the globe alone. Sounds kind of sad and pathetic, doesn’t it? How much fun could a man have, bedding different women every night? No man wants to do that! Snort!

    After a while, arm candy would make a millionaire sick.

    Or at least, it would a millionaire of character, like Adam Duke, the hero of my latest book, The Millionaire Meets His Match. Adam has no intention of ever settling down, but that’s because he doesn’t realize how much a wife – the right wife – would add to his life.

    So here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Every Millionaire Needs a Wife

    10. She makes a fabulous tax deduction.

    When you’re raking in the bucks, you need every tax deduction you can get. Which brings us to…

    9. He needs someone to bear his insanely gorgeous heirs.

    No mansion is complete without the sound of children laughing as they play in the bowling alley or build a fort in the wine cellar. Of course, it will be a while before the children inherit because…

    8. Married men live longer.

    He needs time to enjoy all that money. And of course, he won’t truly enjoy it without a woman to help him spend it.

    7. He needs someone to name the yacht after.

    As well as to model for the sculptor of the figurehead.

    6. He needs someone to keep away all those skanks who are only after him for his money.

    Who do they think they are?!

    5. He needs someone to buy jewelry for.

    Tiffany blue just doesn’t look good on a man.

    4. Who else is going to watch the pool boy?

    The millionaire is too busy. Someone needs to make sure the pool boy gets every leaf! And is properly covered with sunblock.

    3. He needs someone to help him choose a tie to go with his thousand-dollar suit.

    The valet’s taste is simply too traditional. The millionaire needs a woman with an eye for color and a sense of whimsy to choose his ties to keep him from taking himself too seriously.

    2. To get his mother off his back.

    Does every millionaire have a matchmaking mother, or just Adam and his brothers?

    And the number one reason why every millionaire needs a wife…

    1. Because everyone deserves to find love, even millionaires!

    (A big thank-you to my Facebook fans, who helped me brainstorm this list. If you’re on Facebook, I hope you’ll come say hi! Join the fun! We share funny videos, talk about interesting articles, and just generally have a good time.)

    Let’s have fun with this! What other reasons can you think of? Why does every millionaire need a wife?

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