Memorial Day Book Review: Suspect by Robert Crais

May 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

On this Memorial Day, I’m taking a breather from my intensive writing schedule to post a long-overdue mini-review of the book Suspect by Robert Crais.

Suspect

I was drawn to this book for two reasons:

  1. An LAPD cop survives a shooting that leaves his partner dead, and hunts for the killers while suffering from debilitating PTSD. That makes for some gripping, suspenseful drama.
  1. Said cop chooses a K-9 dog as his next partner, a military dog also suffering from PTSD, after watching her handler get blown up by an IED in Iraq. That makes for heart wrenching, gripping, suspenseful drama.

Officer Scott James is the tough, stoic, determined protagonist, haunted day and night by the final words uttered by his dying partner. His grief and need for justice propel him through the sleepless nights, the chronic pain, his state of disgrace within his organization, and the apparent lack of leads in the case.

USMC German Shepherd Maggie is a dog with “a problem” as one of the K-9 Platoon trainers points out. She reacts violently to sudden noises, is prone to aggression, and has a limp that Scott desperately tries to hide from the K-9 leader. Scott is instantly drawn to and rescues Maggie, knowing that she needs him, and even more importantly, he needs her.

Of the cast of fun supporting characters surrounding this compelling duo, the most colorful was Dominick Leland, the K-9 Platoon Chief Trainer. It was hard picking my favorite quote from this man, as so many of his rants made me laugh out loud, but here is one that I think really illustrates his particular way with words, his love for the dogs, and his training style when dealing with the problematic Officer James:

“Talk to her, goddamnit! She ain’t a stick of furniture. She is one of God’s creatures, and she will hear you. I see these goddamned people walkin’ dogs, yakking on their phones, makes me wanna kick their sissy asses. What they got a dog for, they want to talk on their phones?”

Reading Maggie’s journey made me remember my pit bull Piper, bless her heart, and really appreciate even more how our every move and every mood means the world to these dogs.

The plot is pretty straightforward and clips along at a nice pace, and then I got to the part where things are heating up I was like “Crap! What’s going on? What’s going to happen next?” I hit this point while I was on my lunch break, and ended up getting back to work late because I couldn’t stop reading.

MemDayFlowers

There is a touch of romance in the book, too, as Officer James struggles with whether he can confide in and trust a female detective on the investigation. I love a little bit of romance in just about everything.

The main love story, however, is between Scott James and Maggie. A man and his dog. What’s not to love about that?

4 out of 5 stars

Steamy Hot Tub Reading Party, or Reading Sex Scenes Aloud is a Bit Awkward

May 21, 2013 § 2 Comments

Talking about the birds and the bees . . .

Talking about the birds and the bees . . .

It got steamy at the latest Hot Tub Reading Party, and not just because of the water. I am polishing the chapters in my novel where the heroine and her guy get a lot closer.

That’s right, I’m talking about explicit sex scenes.

I was nervous for two reasons.

1. Reading sex scenes, that I wrote, no less, out loud to my critique partners is a lot different than me reading them from my computer screen at night, while sipping a glass of wine and listening to After Hours Oasis jazz music.

2. If my critique partners found the scenes a total yawn, well, there goes my romance writing career.

A little more liquor than usual was called for. Especially since Dia said, “Now, we want you to put some emotion, some acting into these scenes. No deadpan reading here.”

Pass the bottle, please.

Wine and Vodka

We got down to business. There was some giggling, some “Aww, yeah” and “slow down, boy!” commentating. My favorite: “Who cares about the shoes? Leave ‘em on! Just do it!”

I took a breath and kept on reciting. It helped that I had my back to my audience, since I was reading from my clipboard resting on the edge of the hot tub.

The verdict?

“You are in your groove.”

and

“I liked this section a LOT.”

I literally blew kisses to God.

I asked my critiquers if the sex scenes turned them on at all. They laughed and Dia said, “Not with you all sitting here.” Vic said, “Yeah, this is sitting-by-myself-in-a-dark-room material.” I knew what they meant. When I was alone at my kitchen table reviewing the scenes, I frequently had to stop and fan myself. But reading aloud—a little awkward.

One thing they agreed on: the hottest scene was the one where the two characters were “really connecting emotionally, and just let go.”

Which kind of describes what real romance is all about.

Tidbits from LERA at the SW Book Fiesta

May 14, 2013 § 6 Comments

Darynda Jones dished on her NYT best-selling Charley Davidson series, and LERA authors talked love and sex at the romance panel.

The Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) participated in the Southwest Book Fiesta on May 10- 12, 2013 in Albuquerque, NM. It was a great opportunity to get the scoop on some of my favorite topics, including Charley Davidson, Reyes Farrow, romance, and sex. Sweet sex, spicy sex, you name it.

Audio book star Clifton Chadwick interviewed Darynda Jones, author of Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet and Death, Doom, and Detention.

Clifton and Darynda

I am happy to announce that Darynda announced that books six through eight in the Charley Davidson series have sold. Woot! Fifth Grave Past the Light will be released July 9, 2013. Cannot wait!

Clifton asked how Darynda came up with the character of Charley: “I wanted a smart-aleck, sarcastic, tough female detective living in a paranormal realm. Then one morning I woke up and there she was, in all her glory.”

Guys will also like this paranormal romance series, Clifton said. “They’re funny. They’re fast-paced. They have a lot of action. And they have a lot of action.

Now that Darynda is a full time author of two popular series, both the adult Charley Davidson series and the young adult Darklight series, she has to handle the business side of being an author, and it is often a challenge to actually get the writing done. She has a new incentive program, a pact she made with her husband. If she doesn’t write 5,000 words in a day, he will administer some sort of punishment. “And that’s as much as I’m going to say.”

“Well,” said Clifton, “we’ve read your books.”

Darynda SW Book Fiesta

In answer to a fan’s question on whether we will see more of Reyes, Darynda said: “Yes. Yes. In Fifth Grave, you’re going to love me. You’re going to email me how much you love me, and I will know why.”

Let me just say, Hallelujah!

Authors from LERA  answered questions at the Romance Writers panel.

Samantha Ann King’s debut erotic romance Sharing Hailey was nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice award in the category of E-Book Erotic Romance.

“I’ve had people say my book was sweet. I’ve had people be offended by it, too.”

Parks, Berkley, King SW Book Fiesta

(l-r) Lydia Parks, Shea Berkley, Samantha Ann King

Jeffe Kennedy, author of the Facets of Passion series, got started writing erotica with Petals and Thorns after seeing a call for erotic fairy tales. “So I came up with the idea of a kinky Beauty and the Beast. Because, come on, what really happens in the castle at night?”

(l-r) Jeffe Kennedy, Darynda Jones, and Barrett.

(l-r) Jeffe Kennedy, Darynda Jones, and Barrett.

Lydia Parks had to rewrite her first erotic book a couple of times after her editor said “no, this is just spicy sex, not erotica.” She eventually got it right. The publisher’s note on the back of her book Devour Me reads: “Warning. This is really hot.”

So what is the difference between erotic romance (romance with hot sex) and erotica?

Lydia Parks: “Spicy romance is focused on the romantic connection, on how the couple is coming together sexually. Erotica is just about the excitement of sex. With erotic romance, you have to have an HEA [happily ever after]. With erotica, you just have to have happy sex.”

Jeffe Kennedy: “In erotica, the heroine’s journey is about her sexual journey.”

Toward the end of the panel, the topic turned to how hormone levels can help or hinder the joy of writing sex scenes. Darynda said a writer friend of hers recently had to start taking physician-prescribed hormones, and suddenly she “can’t stop writing sex scenes!”

Which left a lot of us wondering, “How do we get some of her hormones?”

Land of Enchantment Romance Authors at the LERA booth.

Land of Enchantment Romance Authors at the LERA booth.
(l-r) Jeffe Kennedy, Samantha Ann King, L.M. May, Robin Perini, Barrett, Shea Berkley,           Shelly Alexander, Shannon Yvonne Moreau, Lydia Parks.

Five Awesome Quotes from My Mother

May 12, 2013 § 4 Comments

What can you say about mothers? Sometimes they drive you crazy, sometimes they are just plain crazy. Sometimes that craziness makes you laugh, and becomes a moment, or two or three, that you remember lovingly forever.

SnoopyBrag

In honor of Mother’s Day, here are five such moments, courtesy of my mother.

1.  I was lamenting to my mom about how four different guys at my job were interested in me, yet none of them were viable candidates. No. 1 was a seriously down-on-himself kind of guy, a guy with lower self esteem at twenty-something than I had had in high school. No. 2 was—to quote Max from Dark Angel— a “playa playa from the Himalayas.” No. 3 had some sort of police record. I don’t know what for, but he was on one of those ankle monitoring programs. And No. 4 was much younger than me, a skinhead looking guy who—and I never told Mom this part— used the term “gang bang” to flirt with me.

Mom said to me, with zero irony and zero sarcasm, “It sounds to me like your best bet is the one with the prior criminal record.”

2. Remember when JLo was dating Puff Daddy? I was talking to my mom on the phone and she said, “Oh, I don’t like that guy Jennifer Lopez is dating. What’s his name? Cream Puff? Pop Corn?”

3. My mom loves rock music, and she really liked Van Halen in their early days, but she hated their cover of Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street.” She said to me, “I hear their version of that song and it’s enough to make me think that white people have no rhythm.”

Mom with the Happy

Mom with her Mother’s Day present, a Clinique Happy gift set.

4. When my mom was in rehab after her hip surgery, her doctor told her that she was not really allergic to some of the foods that she thought she was, and told her to add those foods back into her diet. After she was home, she called me and said, “I’m taking my doctor’s advice. If I get sick, he’s going to have a very long hate letter coming his way.”

5. My mom and I were walking down the street and some guys in a car drove by yelling, “Hey, baby!” I was fourteen, and developing a little spunk,  so I flipped them off.

My mom said, with sincere affection, “Oh, you remind me so much of your father.”

Love you too, Mom.

MeandMom2010

Mom and Me, Christmas 2010

What are your favorite Mom moments?

Free Comic Book Day and the Batmobile at Kaboom Test Labs

May 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Batmobile and Storm Trooper and Vader

What got me out of my writing cave on a Saturday morning? Free Comic Book Day and the Batmobile, of course.

FreeComics

At Kaboom Test Labs, everyone got to pick 3 comics for free from a decent selection in a side room. It’s an opportunity to try out some titles I normally wouldn’t buy. The Lois Lane and the Resistance title intrigued me, because I am a Lois fan, but I’m going to need someone to explain the whole Flashpoint thing to me. I also picked up The Justice League of America #1 (but I am so, so sad that the New Mexico flag covers were sold out), and The Ultimates 2.

Darth Vader at Kaboom

Vader, holding it down

“The Batmobile’s stuck in traffic,” the Kaboom guy said to those of us waiting around, expecting it at ten o’ clock sharp!

“Can’t it just tumble right over all that?” I said.

“It’s the Adam West version, so not yet.”

Can you imagine driving down the street and seeing this? Way cool!

Batmobile long angle

Batmobile front

Batmobile-inside right

Batmobile inside left

Emergency Bat-Turn Lever

Batmobile inside left 2

Batmobile-Back

Love this with the New Mexico plate

Batmobile side

It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Did you take advantage of Free Comic Book Day?

The Reading Parties Are Heating Up

May 3, 2013 § 8 Comments

We’ll talk about the hot tub in a minute.

I registered for the RWA2013 conference in July, where I will be pitching my book to agents and editors, and now I am totally freaking out because I don’t know how I am going to get the final draft done in time. Just thinking about it makes my stomach plummet in panic. Getting the scenes right always takes longer than I think it’s going to and I am way behind schedule.

Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

CoffeeFest

Stocked up at the Chocolate and Coffee Fest in March. Already need to restock.

Now for the hot tub. Last Sunday my critique partner Vic hosted the reading party at her house, and she has a hot tub. Sitting in rippling and toasty warm water while drinking Vodka and ginger ale (if you’re me) and Baileys (if you’re Vic and Dia)—now that’s the way to read through three new chapters.

HotTubReadingParty

Vic looking chill, me and Dia pretending we’re in Wild Things

The good news is my next three chapters were well-received by my intrepid reviewers. This must be how directors and TV show producers feel during the audience test screening. My favorite scene reaction sequence:

Vic and Dia: “What?!”
Vic: “Oh, that’s just wrong.”
Dia: “Play on, player.”
Vic and Dia: “Wow.”

Vic said she is really caught up in the story, she can see it, feel it, it’s like she’s there.

Dia said the story is real, relatable, hilarious, and that she feels like my main character’s friend.

“She kind of reminds me of you.”

To which I replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

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