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Archive for February, 2012

Best of Romance Writers of the 20th Century ~ Kay Hooper

Now Kay Hooper isn’t on my list because of her romance novels, which is kind of strange.  But she is one of my favorite authors, and has taught me as much about romance writing as any other.  Why?  Because I LOVE her thrillers.  Let me say that when I found Kay, she had already transitioned from Romance to thrillers.  Paranormal thrillers at that.  At that time I’d not found paranormal romance, and had actually become bored with what I read.  Historical romance had dropped by the wayside, not because authors weren’t good, but because I was ready for something new.  I couldn’t seem to find the balance between insipid romance (or how I thought of romance) and my desire for excitement.  I picked up one of Kay’s books at the grocery store.  It was part of the Bishop SCU series.  Oddly enough, I’d read her The Wizard of Seattle previous to that, and it had rung no bells.  But the Bishop series, now that was awesome.  It taught me about how to pace a book to make the heart beat faster!  It wasn’t until later I read some of her romance novels, and like the Wizard, I wasn’t all that impressed.  (Sorry, Kay).  I learned a great deal from her books of both styles. I learned that first, an author grows.   It doesn’t matter who you are or what you write, you grow as an author from the first book to the last.  Second, there is nothing wrong with that growth.  Also I learned that not every book an author writes is for every reader.  Just because I didn’t like Kay’s romances didnt’ mean they weren’t good, just that they didn’t capture my imagination the way her thrillers do.  But when I read my very first Kay Hooper book, I’m so thrilled it was one of the ones that could steal me away.  I set the book on my kitchen book shelf, and proceeded to get caught back up in life.  About 2 years later, someone recommended her to me, and the instant I got caught up in the book, I knew it was hers. I dug out that old book and knew I’d found an author I’d always love.

The most funny thing about my Kay Hooper story is that I bought one of her books “If there be dragons”.  The title caught me, and it was at the grocery store, and I did not realize it was a reprint of one of her older romances.  My husband decided to see what kinds of books I was reading and chose that one, due to the title.  Uhm, he didn’t like it.  In fact, he didn’t like it so much I heard about it for the next six months.  I’m trying to get him to try one of her later books to show the difference, but as of yet have been unsuccessful.

So, by choosing Kay for this list, I’m pointing out that not every book an author writes works for a reader, but just because one doesn’t, doesn’t mean that others won’t!  Always give an author a second chance.  Research what you like, and see if you can find what of their work is best for you.  Kay is one of my favorite authors who wrote romance in the 20th century, but I adore her 21st century work!  So Kay, my hat is off to you!  LOVE your work!


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The Zombie Apocalypse Is at hand! #ZART

I know you all thought the end of the world was going to be in December 2012, but the zombies are already out there, and we must stop them!  They’ll be heading to New Orleans just in time for the Authors After Dark Conference!  That’s the terrifying event where all paranormal romance lovers get to meet their favorite authors!  But wait!  Some of those readers are zombies!!  Oh no!  So, I’ve joined the Zombie Apocalypse Response Team!  You heard that right!  We have to do something about it and fast!  What do you have to do?  Jump on board!  Get your pitch forks and the flashlights and come join us for free books and exciting contests!  There will be video journal entries and a book a week drawing!  There will be 4 premium gift baskets, t-shirts and mugs!   Our leader is Author TJ Michaels, and you can find all what’s going on here at TJ’s Facebook page!

Watch Twitter, Facebook and all those amazing places so you can participate in this terrifying apocalypse!  I’m digging out my Air Force Uniforms, packing my backpack and getting my camelback (and if you don’t know what that is, just you wait!).  I can’t bring a gun, cuz you all know Zombies don’t die when you shoot them!

My biggest fear is being turned into a zombie myself!  OMG, how will I deal with it?  I have enough trouble with my hair and nails as is!  Imagine if I were a zombie!!!!!  My complexion might get better though.  I look really good in certain shades of green.

The shifters are all going to join in.  And not just mine either!  Keep your eyes open for more ZART information!

So join us, because the ZART team will be the only ones to survive this terrifying apocalypse!

Learn more about ZART by dropping in Wednesday night at the Lakota Phillips Radio Show The Rebel Goddess. at 3 pm Pacific time!  (Which I think is 6 pm ET).  Don’t forget!  ZART is important!  Your life is at stake, and only we of the ZART know how to save you!

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Best of Romance Writers of the 20th Century ~ Jude Devereaux

How I found this author is rather amusing.  I’d been married just a few years, and my sister in law kept shaking her head at me because I bought books instead of using the library.  I can’t tell you why that is, maybe because I rarely owned my own books as a kid, or if it’s because I learned such respect for books young that I wanted to keep them looking pretty on my shelves.  Who knows, but I can tell you if I still owned every book I’d ever purchased before the kindle came along, we wouldn’t be living in our house.  We’d be out in the yard while the books took over our home.  I’m sure you know the type – right now I have 4 book shelves filled with books.  One bookcase is filled double, since paperback books aren’t as deep as the shelves.  I still have books that I purchased in the 1980′s, including the 1982 version of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  (yes, I was a research addict very young).  My desk has shelves in which I have put my “keeper” romance novels.  My kitchen has a small case which contains all of my cook books, but also seem sot have a few novels that have made their way there.

But while I was gathering all these books, my Sister in Law just RAVED about this one book.  A knight in Shining Armor.  I was hesitant, because by this time I had left romance books and primarily was focusing on thrillers and Science Fiction.  At last I gave in, and there I was, once again dragged into romance books.  I blame my SIL (Yes her name is Teri) for all of my writing, because this book brought me back to where I’d once been as a young woman.  Back into romance.  I have to admit, A Knight in Shining Armor has a special place on my shelves, and shall be there forever more.  I loved reading the rest of her books as well, as the Montgomery/Taggert family went from family member to family member.  I do believe I read every book she had in all of her series.   So tell me what is your favorite Devereaux book?


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Best of Romance Writers of the 20th Century ~ Lavyrle Spencer

It seems to me I discovered Lavyrle Spencer when I was stationed in Arkansas at Little Rock AFB.  I moved out of the dorms and lived in a small efficiency apartment.  Because I lived alone, I focused my off time on music and reading.  Not necessarily in that order.  I spent many a night not sleeping, but instead reading an entire book from one day to the next.  I guess you could say this was when I developed the habit of not putting books down until I was finished with them.  This is a bad habit I still have to this day.  I can’t remember which of her books I read first, maybe The Hellion, but it kept me engrossed for hours.  During this time in my life I very nearly became a recluse, rushing home after work to bury myself into a book.  I can’t say I regret that, because I found such wonderful authors as Lavyrle Spencer!

Biography as on Wikipedia:
LaVyrle Spencer was born on July 17, 1943 in Browerville, Minnesota, where she was raised. Shortly after her high school graduation Spencer married her high school sweetheart Dan Spencer. The two had two daughters, Amy and Beth (who died in 1990), and are grandparents. They live in a Victorian house in Stillwater, Minnesota, where Spencer enjoys gardening, cooking, playing bass guitar and electric piano, and photography.

Although she showed a flair for writing during high school, Spencer didn’t begin her first novel until she was in her thirties, working as a teacher’s aide at Osseo Junior High School, she had read “The Flame and Flower” by the bestselling author Kathleen E. Woodwiss, which gave her the idea to become a novelist. She decided to try transferring to paper a recurring dream she was having about a story based on her grandmother’s lifestyle on a Minnesota farm. She awoke at 4:00 a.m. one morning, and quickly began writing down her story in a three-ring notebook. This story became her first novel, The Fulfillment.

She sent her manuscript to best-selling novelist Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, who read it and promptly mailed it to her own editor at Avon. The editor purchased the novel, which was published in 1979. The Fulfillment was very different from the historical romance “bodice-rippers” which were popular at the time. Unlike the other novels, Spencer’s debut work did not include any grand adventures, and featured a “nice man” instead of a more overbearing hero.

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Best of Romance Writers of the 20th Century ~Danielle Steele

The thing about being in the military as a young airman, I had to live in the barracks.  While you only have one or two other roommates, it’s like having an entire family of sisters who live on the same floor, even if they are in the same room.  There’s no privacy.  There’s no quiet time.  And yet, I still managed to tuck myself into my room and read books.  I’ll never forget, right after reading Carrie by Stephen King, I picked up another novel that wasn’t quite so frightening.  Yet it was no less emotional.  In fact, it was so emotional that when one of my “sisters” heard me bawling my eyes out as I read, she knocked  on the door to be sure I was all right.  I don’t typically think of Danielle Steele as romance.  I think of her books more as Drama.  Drama about what women have gone through over the years.  As a young adult, these were some of my best stories to disappear in, to give me something to help build my own pocket of morals.

Bio from Wikipedia:

Steel was born in New York City, the only child of Norma da Câmara Stone dos Reis and John Schulein-Steel. Her father was a German Jewish immigrant, a descendant of the founders of Löwenbräu beer. Her mother, born in Portugal, was the daughter of a diplomat.

Steel was raised Catholic and had wanted to be a nun during her early years. She spent much of her childhood in France, where from an early age she was included in her parents’ dinner parties, giving her an opportunity to observe the habits and lives of the wealthy and famous. Her parents divorced when she was eight, however, and she was raised primarily in New York City and Europe by her father, rarely seeing her mother.

Steel started writing stories as a child, and by her late teens had begun writing poetry. A graduate of the Lycée Français de New York, class of 1963, she studied literature design and fashion design, first at Parsons School of Design in 1963 and then at New York University from 1963–1967.

So I know we all have read a Danielle Steele book.  Which one is your favorite?  Well I don’t know which is my favorite, but I can tell you which one had me bawling my eyes out so much my “sister” knocked on my door.  It was “The Promise”.

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Best of Romance Writers of the 20th Century ~ Julie Garwood

As a teen, my favorite place was the school library, and to this day I feel blessed to have had a well stocked library. I read Walter Farley’s Black Stallion Series, I read every single Hardy Brothers book.  Science Fiction was another great section for me.  I loved finding new works. I even read many of the classics.  But one of the nice things was we also had the joys of romance hidden in the stacks.  It was my secret pleasure, and I read them quickly.  But when I moved forward, I changed the books I read.   I’d joined the military and discovered a love of the thrillers and horror.   Imagine my surprise when I discovered Julie Garwood and found myself falling into history again, the way I had in high school, discovering truly amazing stories.  So what is your favorite Julie Garwood book?

Julie’s Biography from Wikipedia:

Julie Garwood was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, the sixth of seven children in a large Irish family. She has six sisters: Sharon, Mary Kathleen, Marilyn, Mary, Mary Colette “Cookie”, Joanne and Monica, and one brother: Tom. After having a tonsillectomy at age six, Garwood was a sickly child for years. Because she missed so much school, she did not learn to read as the other children her age did. She was eleven before her mother realized that other children had been doing her homework, and that Garwood was simply unable to read. A math teacher, Sister Elizabeth, devoted the entire summer that year to teaching Garwood how to read, and how to enjoy the stories she was reading. This teacher had such an impact on Garwood’s life that she named her daughter Elizabeth.

While studying to be an R.N., Garwood took a Russian history course and became intrigued by history, choosing to pursue a double major in history and nursing. A professor, impressed by the quality of her essays, convinced Garwood to take a year off of school to write. The result was a children’s book, What’s a Girl to Do?, and her first historical novel, Gentle Warrior.

She married young with Gerry Garwood, they have three children: Gerry Jr., Bryan Michael and Elizabeth, the family resides in Leawood, Kansas. Although Garwood enjoyed her writing, she was not intending to pursue a career as an author. As a young wife and mother she took several freelance writing jobs, and wrote longer stories to amuse herself. After her youngest child started school, Garwood began attending local writers’ conferences, where she soon met an agent. The agent sold both her children’s book and her historical novel, and soon the publisher requested more historical romances.

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Best Romance Writers of the 20th Century ~ Kathleene Woodiwiss

Today in my series about Best Romance Writers of the 20th Century, We’ll talk about the Indomitable Kathleen Woodiwiss.  I found her books in the same way I did Victoria Holt – In my high school library.  I have always been a voracious reader, and when I got tired of reading the boys books, I’d wander over into the romance aisle.  Okay, I don’t think they were really sorted that way in our library, and I don’t remember why I found her books, but I remember some of them to this day.  The wolf and the Dove, now known as one of the best books of her genre, has always been my favorite.

Bio from

She was born Kathleen Erin Hogg in Alexandria, Louisiana, the youngest of eight children of Charles Wingrove Hogg, a disabled World War I veteran, and his wife, Gladys (Coker). As a child, she relished creating her own stories, and by age six was telling herself stories at night to help fall asleep.   Her father died suddenly when Woodiwiss was only twelve, leaving her to be raised by her mother and older sisters. Woodiwiss would later remark that, “every single one of us had minds of our own even then; I was no exception. I suppose that carried over into my creations of heroines who weren’t weak-willed.”
At the age of sixteen, she met U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Ross Eugene Woodiwis at a dance.  They married the following year, on July 20, 1956.  She attended school locally and graduated in 1957. Her husband’s military career led them to live in Japan, where she worked part-time as a fashion model for an American-owned modeling agency. After three and a half years in Japan, the family moved to Topeka, Kansas and then settled in Minnesota. During these years, she attempted to write a novel several times, but each time stopped in frustration at the slow pace of writing in longhand. After buying her husband an electric typewriter as a Christmas present, she appropriated the machine to begin her novel in earnest.

I highlighted that one section, because it made me laugh.  That’s exactly what I have done since as long as I can remember.  I remember in pre-school laying down for a nap and unable to sleep so I played a little story out in my head until I relaxed well enough to sleep.  And it’s something I have done ever since.  If Only I could be as loved as an author as she by the end of my career!

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Best Romance Writers of the 20th Century ~ Philippa Carr & Victoria Holt

First, let me start off that by talking about this topic, I don’t consider myself an expert.  Hell, when it comes to books, I think we all have to admit our preferences are all different.  But I thought for this week we could celebrate romance by talking about some of the best writers of the 20th century.  Feel free to add your own suggestions through the week as well in comments. :)  Now let me say that when I was in high school I took such courses as “love in literature” and “Science fiction literature”. Love in literature was a terrible disappointment for me, for none of the books we read celebrated romance, but instead showed only the down side.  Everyone knows my dislike of tragedies – and that’s all we read.  I was so hoping for something better.  So most of the books you will see featured here are probably on the “new” side for 20th century.  But I’d love to see people suggest things from the first half of the century to give me something more to study!  Books that celebrate love and what it can do to make our lives better, not worse.

So let’s start off with my first choice of best romance writers of the 20th century.  And remember, these are in no particular order.

Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr.  Born as Eleanor Hibbert in 1906, she wrote under various pen names, but I primarily remember reading her work under the two mentioned here.  I discovered her books in high school when my illustrious Love in Literature class left me unfulfilled.  I believe I also read some of her stories as Philippa Carr, but mostly remember her as Victoria Holt.  In comparison to romance authors of today, her work was very different, but I remember how her books got my heart beating at the danger and the changes in life.  She gave this high schooler some serious moments to think about when it came to future romance.  Back then, nobody picked on you for reading such books.  They came in hardback, and that, for some strange reason, lent them a credibility you don’t get from other types of books.  I proudly carried her books from one class to the other, and while the boys didn’t seem too excited, there weren’t those derisive comments you get about romance today.   Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr will always remain one of my favorites of old.  She has done what few of us seem to do in this day and age – gain respect among the young men. I still think it was because they came in hardback.  Well, at my school they did, anyway.



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The Worst Ways to Die ~ Death by fire

I remember as a child a story of a truck driver caught in his truck during an accident with flames building higher and higher around him.  Amid his screams it was reported he begged the local police officers to shoot him.  I recall asking my mother why that was. Her answer?  Because fire is the most painful way to die.

I never forgot that event in all my life.  Every time I burn myself by accident, a minor burn, of course, I find it to be exceptionally painful.  I’m a wimp.  I cry over it, or moan and groan over it. I Sit with a glass of ice water and try to freeze it off.  Anything to stop the pain.  My grandfather was a fireman, and it was said he could remove a pan from the oven with no pot holder.  I can honestly tell you I did NOT inherit that skill.  Fire terrifies me like nothing else.  It’s not because our house was destroyed by fire when I was a kid.  No, it’s the feel of every tiny burn I’ve ever received.  It’s the memory of the discomfort felt at such tiny burns.  Nothing terrifies me more than death by fire.  so when you see me kill a villain or other character within a book, know that I consider fire to be the worst.  The flames will be saved for those who deserve it the most.  The ones who need to feel the brimstone to make up for their evil.

I’ve had a few explosions cause death in my work, but as of yet, have not shown the torture of fire, the screaming pain we all hear about.  It wouldn’t take me much to imagine it, when I can barely tolerate a simple cooking burn.

So now you know the three worst ways to die in my books (and in my life).  What’s yours?

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The worst ways to die ~ The public spectacle

One of the worst ways to die, for me, would be a spectacle death.  A death in front of others where you must show strength and courage instead of fear and terror.  Thank heaven the public spectacle of executions has gone by the wayside, and when prisoners are put to death, it’s only in front of a few people as opposed to thousands.

When I think of public spectacle death I think of Marie Antoinette.  How much courage did it take for her to walk forward to have her head chopped off and not be hysterically trying to get away?  There’s a pen and ink drawing by Jacques-Louis David which shows her on the way to the guillotine, with her back straight and proud.   What strength did it take to be displayed in an open cart through Paris, wearing a simple white dress, holding her head high?  And before she died, she apparently stepped on her executioner’s foot, and then apologized.  I can only consider that a HORRIBLE way to die.

Now I don’t pretend to be a master historian and be able to tell you about all the wonderful things this woman did, or the terrible things she did.  I Can’t tell if you
she deserved to die, or if she did not.  But I can tell you that her strength and courage had to have been tremendous to meet her public spectacle of a death without screaming and crying!  Kudos Marietta, Kudos (Marietta is a nickname for Marie Antoinette).

How about you?  Could you put yourself in the Queen’s place for a moment and imagine the horror of walking to your own death?  Would you find it in your soul to apologize to your executioner for a minor infraction?  What a terrible way to die!

The public spectacle alone is frightening in it’s presentation.  I’m so glad I was born after such things were no longer common place, whether it be beheadings or hangings, they just reeked of pure horror.  But they also reeked of pure courage upon the part of the condemned.  I can only hope that I will meet death with even half the dignity of Marie Antoinette when it comes.  The question is, will I die in a spectacle? or will it come as a thief in the night?  Ahh such morbid thoughts, but it’s not like I don’t write unusual things.  :shocked:


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