30 August 2008

loyalty as an art or math

I finally realized one of the inherent differences between people. Some people see loyalty issues as a science or a math and some as an art. What do I mean by that?

Some people see loyalty as a science...a math-based process whereby the existence of A, no matter what other factors exist, will always equal A. Other people see loyalty as an art, where there are a million colors rioting and affecting each other, where massive changes in one can drastically affect something seemingly unconnected.

The math types see a straightforward connection of "rights" to loyalty, as if that's an entitlement subject. I'm not a fan of entitlement anyway. I'm a big believer in 'you don't deserve anything you don't earn.' So, you can guess I'm not a loyalty math type.

I will dutifully fulfill a contract, even if I hate it, just because I agreed to it, but that doesn't mean I have any loyalty to the other party, outside of the agreed-upon contract. Or...maybe I do, if that party has proven themselves worthy of trust and/or loyalty. Why? Because loyalty is, to many people, an art. Just being in an agreement with someone does not entitle them to loyalty from you, in every conflict that arises.

Now, there may be legal and/or ethical frameworks in place. I wouldn't, for instance, pass one publisher's plans for expansion to another, loyalty or no, because that's unethical. It may be illegal, depending on the situation.

At the same time, we live in a small world, made all the smaller by online communications. People network across dozens of groups and publishers and other communities. It's invariable that conflicts of interest will arise, at some point. The problem is, everyone in the conflict will feel you should place your loyalty with them, and that's simply not possible.

I suppose you could declare yourself neutral in every conflict of interest, but here's the catch! Doing that means forgoing your OWN interests, in the process, and when you're building a career, that's just not feasible. Not to mention, declaring yourself neutral does a few other things. It leaves you at the mercy of whatever the other parties decide, which may be unpalatable to you, in the end. It also makes you appear wishy-washy and without drives, a proactive nature, and business sense. Not a pretty picture.

I'll admit, I don't know how the math types handle this. I'd wager they give lip service to the math and then do whatever will benefit them. At least, that seems to be the thought process, as near as I can understand the decisions I've seen made by these types.

I know how I decide, and that comes down to not only what benefits me but to the possible repercussions (in any direction...playing Switzerland, taking side A or taking side B...even trying to play mediator for the two sides) and to the situation and what experience I have of both parties IN such a situation or in general. Sometimes that means I make choices people feel are disloyal. In fact, it's not disloyal to speak honestly in a situation that demands it and that will impact you and your career. You have to be loyal to YOU first.

Some people think physical closeness, when compared to the other party, entitles them to your 'loyalty' to their side. There are people I've known face-to-face for a few years and people I've known online and occasionally face-to-face for six or seven or more. If those online have proven themselves worthy of my loyalty, they have it, when a conflict of interest arises.

The trouble is, in any conflict of interest or tug-of-war over supposed loyalties, no matter what choice you make, you're hurting yourself in the end. It's a true no-win situation.

27 August 2008


Okay...I'll be the first to admit that I bought this book spur of the moment, because I liked the blurb and excerpt I saw on a Yahoogroup. So, let that be a lesson...always have your blurbs and excerpts up to snuff. It IS possible to get even a fastidious reader like me to purchase something on the first time I see it with a good enough hook.

BRILLIANT DISGUISE is a Resplendance Publishing book from JL Wilson. I've since found out that Wilson (if it's the same author) has a backlist that I'd be interested in trying out.

Interested? I must have liked the book. Yes, I did, to be honest.

The basic set-up is that computer programmer/hacker Shannon has returned home to a small town (after being widowed in Silicon Valley). Her dead husband was a real jerk: a womanizer, a wife-beater, and apparently a traitor who was selling government secrets to unknown parties and was ultimately murdered by them. Now, they want his files unlocked and delivered to them...or someone she cares about in the sleepy little town is going to die.

Enter Nick, an undercover FBI agent after those same secrets and ordered to get close to the widow. He's not sure if Shannon is a traitor like her husband or an innocent caught in the middle of the mess John left behind. His libido and his mind argue that she's innocent, but she's not an easy woman to get next to, especially with well-meaning townsfolk running interference and her father's old CIA contacts and her hacker friends proving her the better investigator.

I adore Wilson's characters, though I was a bit muddied on the kids' ages. To take a school trip that's in the next big city (not unlike my kids being driven into Boston for a school trip) would spark 3rd grade or older for me, but Beth's choices and verbiage made her read younger to me...maybe first or second grade.

I love the teasing and sarcasm Shannon falls into. I LOVE the interfering but well-meaning friends and family, especially the glimpse we get of one of her older sisters and the jaunt through the stores and churches in town. I even love the good-natured personal ribbing and professional ribbing that the characters engage in; as an ex-Navy wife, that all sounds so familiar to me.

In the same way, Nick is protective and slightly-overbearing...alpha but constantly in awe of his lady love. He's a tactician, which makes dealing with him amusing and frustrating, at the same time.

At the same time, I found some things in the characterization and plot line to be inconsistent. I find it hard to believe that the FBI, for instance, would not only condone the agent falling in love with a suspect/witness but leave him as the sole protector for said person.

Likewise, I find it hard to believe that a highly-trained woman, who proves herself capable of defending herself both bare-handed and with a knife is capable of attacking men with guns but shies and cowers from every fist or slap. Even having taken a beating in her life (once that we know of), it needs more reasoning or it falls flat.

The storyline is wonderfully convoluted. As inventive as Shannon is, the villains are just a little more so, making her well-laid plans not as well-executed as she might hope, which leads the reader on a wild ride.

I will admit I saw the end coming, but that's nothing against Wilson. I tend to eliminate possibilities and come up with solutions others don't. In some way, it might mean that we think alike, since it wasn't an obvious solution.


UNDER COVER OF THE NIGHT was a fun book, an e-book from Phaze. You have a Chippendale's-type of male strip club...very high end acts, with sinfully gorgeous men on stage. Those same men are actually sexual vampires, feeding on the sex drives of the women who can take the gents upstairs for a...clearing throat...ride after the show. But, they aren't prostitutes, because they refuse money for their intimate encounters. Simply put, making women happy makes them happy and well-fed.

Well, it has until now, anyway. Ramon has fixated on one woman and can't seem to concentrate with another, so much so that the other entertainers start taking his place with willing women after the show. The problem? His intended mate (Carlotta) is a married woman who refuses to cheat on her husband, no matter how attracted to Ramon she is. The fact that she's UNhappily married doesn't make a difference to her. As long as she's with her husband, she won't betray her vows. But, if something were to happen to sever that trust, all bets would be off! And, they are.

I enjoyed her vampires, and the husband's semi-madness was extremely well done. Her characters are likable and easy to follow through most of the choices they make. The snips of background (of the vampires and the club history) are delightful, and I hope to see more of this in future books.

The only complaint I had about it was the quick snap at the end. If the author (Megan Hussey) had taken just a few more pages to flesh out the ending, it would have been a much stronger story. There were gaps in the logic of what happened there that needed filled. Without giving spoilers, I can't give specifics on the two things I think needed more, but even so, I highly enjoyed this book and hope there are more like it coming.

review ACHERON

Everyone knows I'm a Sherrilyn Kenyon fan. I've never made a secret of that. There are few authors whose Yahoogroups I hang out and comment on regularly, but she's one of them. It's usually my auto-buys who get that much attention from me, and Sherrilyn is an auto-buy...at least for the Dark/Were/Dream Hunters, though I'm just starting into Lords of Avalon, as well.

So, how did Ash stack up? Excellent book, but I can honestly say not my favorite in the series. Sacrilege, I know! But, everyone is entitled to an opinion.

Unlike some readers, I ADORED the first half of the book. I didn't feel the torture was "overdone," but I did get annoyed with Ryssa, after a while, which I almost hate to admit.

I LOVE Ryssa. I never wanted to have bad feelings toward Ryssa, but the truth is, she was too naïve for her own good and Ash's. There was a delicate balance, in which Ash would be nearly invisible to his enemies and not take beatings or other abuse. If Ryssa would have quietly interacted with him in that safe zone, Ash wouldn't have taken half the abuse he did. But, Ryssa was always determined to draw Ash into a larger arena, which did nothing but get him hurt worse. In time, I started to think she was TSTL (too stupid to live) when it came to protecting Ash.

I liked the second half and certainly adored Tory. However, it felt rushed. I would have rather seen Ash come out in two books, the brutal first half of his life and the romance of Tory. It would have allowed Sherrilyn to expound on and explore that part of his life in more detail. Now, I admit that some romance purist types might not have wanted to buy the no-HEA first book, though most Ash fans would, I'd wager. It would have worked better, IMO, if the two books had come out in short order...maybe a month apart or so. That would encourage readers to read BOTH books, even if they didn't really like the no-HEA type, in general.

I will be the first to admit that this book is not for the weak at heart. It's harsh. It's heart-wrenching. It's graphic in both sex and violence. But, if you like a good dark romance, this book is a fine example of the breed.

I also felt that the second half was rushed, because we only got to see Ash's tastes over the last 30 years or so of his life. I wanted to know more about what he did in the long millennia between when he was made a DH and when he found Tory. What did he like and not like. I can tell that he's always liked the theatre and then the movies, but what sorts of music did he like or not? What sort of clothing did he wear and why? These are interesting things for fans to know.

I do adore that Tory and Ash have a past that he's forgotten personally. Grinning... And, though I won't spoil it...I love when we learn what his weakness is. Who would have thought it? No, I don't mean babies crying, though that makes a lot of sense. I'm talking about the one human substance that can incapacitate an Atlantean god.

I've already got the next two books pre-ordered. As always, I'm a DH fan.


Rowena Cherry has always been one of my favorite authors. Long ago, I read the e-book release of THE MATING NET, and I fell in love with her Tiger Princes and their ladies with just that novelette.

Okay, let's set up the world. You have the ruling Djinn (remember, don't pronounce that leading D, and that is very important in this world). They have 7 senses, instead of the usual human 5. One of them is a highly-evolved sense of smell that is accomplished with the saturniid gland.

This gland is both a blessing and a curse to the Djinn. It allows them to find fertile females for mating. It also locks them onto the first fertile female they ever smell, making them crave that female. As if that's not bad enough, an unmated Djinn who smells a female in season will experience the rut-rage. Yes, very animalistic. Yes, they will fight other males for her and kill each other to possess her.

They also enjoy the chase and capture of a female. Their motto is "By stealth if possible (and abduction is standard stealth practice) and force if necessary." Rest assured that only Rowena's villains resort to force, though a little forced seduction is mixed in with good old seduction, even for her heroes. Trickery isn't out of the question, either...making One marvel at how legalistic men can leave themselves elegant loopholes to exploit.

In FORCED MATE, the heir to the throne of Tigron (Tarrant-Arragon) has found the last virginal Djinn female in the universe (or so we think...I won't close the door on that for future books). Yes, she's a half-bred human/Djinn, but she's strong stock (strong enough to cause a rut-rage, they hope), and her mother was a human psychic. Since a lot of the psychic powers have been bred out of the inbred Djinn over the years, that bodes well for reclaiming some.

There are just a few little problems with Djinni-vera.

The first would be that she's a Saurian Knight, a fighting member of a group formed when a former Djinn ruler stole his twin brother's virginal bride, the same bride from THE MATING NET. When his twin retrieved his bride, half of the star-forces defected with him and formed the Saurian order to fight the abuses of the Tiger Princes.

What does being a Saurian Knight mean? It means she'd rather kill herself than submit to being Tarrant-Arragon's mate. So, the well-meaning hunter prince has to get her to love him for himself and not his name, and he's not always so lovable.

Do they need more problems? Why not add a few on? Djinni-vera is, unknown to Tarrant-Arragon, promised in marriage to her cousin J-J (Djetthro-Djason), the true heir to the throne Tarrant-Arragon is supposed to inherit. Whoops. I won't go into detail except to say that the royal family tree isn't as accurate as some people believe it is, and with no free press, it's easy enough to manage official stories.

Oh, and the Saurian Dragon (the leader of the Saurian Knights) is none other than Djinni's father...which makes her father and her avid pursuer mortal enemies.

Needless to say, it's a delightful cat and mouse game between Tarrant-Arragon and Djinni-vera, with J-J becoming aware only late in the game that his intended bride has been abducted from far-off Earth.

Wonderful twists and turns! The irony of plots gone wrong and plain bad luck are a joy to read. And it doesn't end here. One of the ingenious things about this series is that the books fit together like puzzle pieces, building on each other to raise the tension from couple to couple.

In INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL, the (believed dead) former traitor Captain Jason is reintroduced to the 'polite society' of Tigron as Prince Djetthro-Jason, the forced husband of Tarrant-Arragon's sister, Martia-Djulia.

The princess walks into her wedding day, believing Captain Jason has returned to her willingly, at the urging of her older brother, to marry her. Instead, she's faced with a 'replacement' husband of her brother's choosing, a scrawny, bald wanna-be prince with a straggly beard. Where is the man she loves? The dashing captain with the long, blond hair and the grusome scar on his face? At his urging, she runs...leaving him at the altar.

Djetth had hoped she'd see through the disguise...or maybe he hadn't. He still can't understand what happened the day he found himself in a stunted rut-rage with Martia-Djulia. He still wants Djinni, which indicates he rut-raged with her, but he wants the princess as well. It's enough to drive a sensible Djinn crazy, and Djinns aren't known for being sensible men.

Added to it are Tarrant-Arragon's plots to force them to mate, but his refusal to let Djetth admit to Martia-Djulia that he's Captain Jason; Martia-Djulia's disastrous first mating, her phobias and her limited memory of certain shattering events in her youth; and, lest we forget, a killer with a contract out on the princess's life.

Again...excellent book! Some twists you'll see coming. Some you won't. The royal family tree is delightfully twisted, and lies and plots have made it all the more convoluted.

The veiled civility of the Tiger Princes gives a refreshing edge to the usual alpha male type. Their animalistic tendencies and drives are well-portrayed and imminently believable.

This is a series you don't want to miss. With KNIGHT'S FORK coming up next (Sept 30th), you'll want to snag the earlier books and catch up, if you haven't read them already. I'm eagerly awaiting the rest of the series and have added it to my auto-buy list.

19 August 2008

what would I do?

The video bloggers started it! Can I say that?

Okay, so what are we talking about again? Oh yes...what would I do, if I were a famous author? It all started with the video bloggers. Two of my favorite answers are from:

Jackson Pearce
and Kaleb Nation

Okay... I'll be the first to admit that Jackson is the coolest. Kaleb has a few really unworkable ones, and some of the other video bloggers have completely juvenile ideas...not a big deal, since they are juveniles, but...

Back to the subject. Kaleb's idea about spoilers is pretty fun. Jackson's tattoo thing is great! Since I have two tatts already, I love that one. Her costume idea is also a blast. I've already done a few of the ones others suggested in their video blogs. But, what would I do, if I were a famous author?

I think I'm going to show how much an old fuddy I am here, but here goes. Warning...I'm also a mother, and I tend to take care of others.

1. Host a party night at RT (Romantic Times Booklovers Convention) and demand that they set a seat for every person attending the convention PLUS ten extra for press. Insist that they have food for every attendee of my party, and make sure every attendee gets a really kick-ass gift for coming to my party...good music to dance to and no pomp and circumstance! Hey! THIS is a party.

2. Have really righteous costumes made for some of my leading ladies (well, for me to play my leading ladies at conventions) and attend all the conventions I want to for a year...Dragon*Con, K-Con, Necon, World Fantasy, RT, EPICon, World Horror, Thriller Fest, Armadillo Con, Readercon...and so on! That means paying my mom to come live at my house for a few months to watch the kids...or earning enough money for my husband to quit work and return to school, like he wants to.

3. Do a month-long book tour, preferably with one staff member along to help. I've always wanted to do this. Do I need to say more? I know...I'll never sleep, hardly eat (well, I could use to lose a few pounds), spend half my time dragging stuff behind me down airport concourses... But, I still want to do it.

4. Hang out on forums and lists under an assumed name, playing devil's advocate with people postulating on the next book. It's not so much that I want to mislead them as see what they think is really going on and keep them guessing.

5. Spend a week or two in North Conway, NH. I mean that. I would split my time between Adventure Suites and Stonehurst Manor...or maybe spend all of my time at Stonehurst. It's just the sort of writer's getaway I've always wanted to take.

12 August 2008

SCREENWRITING How do you decide?

I'm trying something new...namely...making a screenplay adaptation of one of my novels, and I'd like the input of people who've done it before...not just writing a screenplay from scratch, but adapting a finished product into the shorter format of the screenplay. I know plenty of people who write them from scratch, but that's a different process, in my mind.

My question is, how do you decide what to cut? I mean... I can see some things that don't need to translate to the screen or that won't translate well. I'm cutting down characters, events to the bare minimum to keep the story... And, I'm still running longer than friends in the business say I should be running, so... When push comes to shove, how do you decide what to keep and what not to? I've always been better at adding than deleting storyline, so this is difficult for me.

Oh...and I love this link a friend sent me.

So, what do you say, folks? How do you decide?

05 August 2008

Phaze NEWS


First, I have a new release from Phaze. FATES MAGIC is a short story set in a new world for me, a world of magic users, governed by Fate and her sister Chaos. It might seem like a balance, but it's really a war. When one pushes, the other pushes back. You can get this story in e-book from Phaze.

Second... The re-edited reissue of LAST CHANCE FOR LOVE (which went on sale from the original publisher, eXtasy Books, in February 2003 (March 2003 for the SECOND SON portion of the release), went off sale in June 2006 and went back on sale with Phaze in July 2008) promptly took #1 bestselling e-book for Phaze in July 2008 (and was the bestseller for eXtasy when it released there...and for a bit at Fictionwise, as well, back in 2003). For the first time ever, this book is available in both e-book and print from Phaze. And thank you to my readers for making this possible! I love you all!

Happy dancing today!