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Guest Blog Post

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

September 29, 2014
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Our guest blogger is Evy Journey author of several books including Hello, My Love! (4.3 stars, 21 reviews, FREE on Sept 29-Oct 3).

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

If Àlain Badiou, greatest living French philosopher—according to his compatriots—writes a book called In Praise of Love, wouldn’t you pay attention?

I did. After all, aren’t the French also famed as some of the world’s greatest lovers (after the Spaniards, Italians, and Brazilians, maybe)? Besides, he’s in his late 70s—which means he’s wise—and he’s a writer/novelist and a sometime actor—which means he’s in touch with his feelings. Don’t all those add to Monsieur Badiou’s credibility as an authority on love?

In any case, I had to read this profound little book, dense with meaning and implications in its 90 pages. The title was borrowed from a movie released in 2001 by famous French director Jean-Luc Godard in which Badiou did a turn that might have been cut out of the final film. I have read the book twice, but still have not fully grasped all that it’s trying to say. Maybe, the vagaries of love are too complex to contain in any one book. It was also originally in French (Éloge de l’amour, published in 2009 by Flammarion, in hardcover) so something might have been added, lost, or reimagined in the English translation (2012). Or, maybe, it’s just the way of the philosopher to sound deep and abstruse.

But I am with Monsieur Badiou. I believe in love and agree with his thinking on it. Love is at the heart of the books I write—as one of the themes and as a necessity for the work that goes into creating books.

We are all, in our idiosyncratic ways, preoccupied with love issues—either as firm believers or as skeptics for whom love is, at best, an illusion that doesn’t last. Or, worst, as atheists for whom love is merely a veneer for sexual desire and who, therefore, Read more »

Why I chose Books Over A Boyfriend by Lauren Clark

September 22, 2014
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Our guest blogger is Lauren Clark author of several books including Pie Girls (4.9 stars, 24 reviews).

Why I chose Books Over A Boyfriend

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were having an animated discussion about free time. During our talk, I made this sweeping statement:  “If I had an extra hour every day, I’d spend it reading books.”

No brainer, right?

I added that I’ll read any genre—literary, dystopian, humor, romance, suspense, and thrillers. I’ll read on my iPhone, my iPad, my Kindle, hardcover, or paperback. I listen to audiobooks, too, and have been known to sit in the carpool line or my own driveway in order to finish the next chapter of a gripping novel. And when I’m not reading books, I’m thinking about writing, storyline, plot, and characters.

All of this was met by…a blank stare.

Now, let me clarify. My (ex) boyfriend is super smart. An engineer. Can multiply a quadrillion numbers in his head and divide by the square root of Pi. (What?) Can fix broken electrical stuff. Occasionally cooks me spaghetti. Yep. He’s a good guy.

But when it comes to books, there’s no real connection for him. No excitement about reading the first chapter of a long-awaited sequel. No late night, stay-up-until-you’ve-finished-the-best-novel-in-the-world moments. No imaginary cartwheels when a favorite author releases a new book.

And definitely no understanding of falling into total-groupie mode when meeting Fannie Flag, Joshilyn Jackson, Chris Bohjalian, and Bella Andre in person. (All awesome, BTW!)

So, fellow book lovers, for a girl with little free time on her hands, it came down to this.

My books. Or my boyfriend.

And…you guessed it. I’m spending my extra time with Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Mary Kay Andrews, and the dozens of other authors I adore.

Besides, who says that book-loving boyfriend isn’t around the next corner?

What do you think? Deal breaker or not?

How To Get Your Workout And Reading In At The Same Time

September 16, 2014
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Our guest blogger is Deirdra Eden author of Knight of Light (The Watchers Book 1).

How To Get Your Workout And Reading In At The Same Time

 Leg Lifts
Crunches. Or get in this position and hold.
One handed push-ups

Read more »

Please Save the Puppies

September 15, 2014
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Save The PuppiesOur guest blogger is Suzanne Vince author of The Many Lives of June Crandall.

Please Save the Puppies

A few years ago, in order to quell the tedium of my 110-mile round-trip commute, I began listening to audio books. It quickly became an addiction. Though I write romance books, my supplier prefers murder mysteries, so that’s what I listened to. And hey, as expensive as audio books are, who am I to argue.

But then I listened to a book where the antagonist (bad guy) beat a poor, defenseless puppy to death. I stopped listening to the book immediately and got my own subscription to www.audible.com so I could listen to my own kind of books. Ones that do not involve the savage murder of innocent animals. I mean, seriously, who would want to listen to listen to such a book? More, what kind of person actually writes that kind of book?

And so I began listening to women’s fiction and romance novels, and listening to books on tape became safe again.

But recently, my friend and author Jansen Schmidt posted a blog entitled,Sometimes You Just Have to Kill ‘Em. In the post, Jansen talks about how upset her husband was when one of his favorite characters in a book he was reading was killed off. She argues that sometimes it’s necessary to kill off a character (for various reasons), and asks if any of us (writers) have ever killed off a character.

My reply? No, none of my characters have ever ticked me off enough. Read more »

Writing is an Endurance Sport

September 9, 2014
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LV Marathon LegsOur guest blogger is Suzanne Vince author of The Many Lives of June Crandall.

Writing is an Endurance Sport

I started running in 2001. The first time I ran, I huffed and puffed my way to the corner and back and wondered what in the heck I was thinking. The next day wasn’t much better. But then, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And I was not a quitter (except when I tried to golf).

In 2003, I ran my first marathon. In the two years since I’d begun running, I’d logged over a thousand miles, gone through a dozen pairs of running shoes, incurred at least seven of the ten top running-related injuries, and experimented with every imaginable form of nutrition.

I read every magazine made for runners and triathlete’s, and scoured Mental Training for Peak Performance for tips on how to avoid hitting The Wall (also known as the 20-mile marker).

I was as prepared for Race Day as one can be.

Or rather, I should say that I was prepared in all the ways a runner could be prepared. And then, everything that could go wrong, did:

Two days before my husband and I were scheduled to leave for Las Vegas, my father had a heart attack. He’d been battling esophageal cancer for a year at that point, and the doctors said he wouldn’t last the day. My father did make it through the day, and the next, and he encouraged me to do the marathon.

Three days before the marathon, I came down with a bad head cold and a nasty cough. I bought some Dayquil and sucked it up.

The night before the marathon we watched the weather report for the Big Day. Forecast called for 35mph sustained winds with gusts up to 50 mph. Read more »

Are We Honest or Overboard About Obscenities?

September 8, 2014
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Our guest blogger is Bonnie McCune author of several books including Falling Like a Rock (4.9 stars, 12 reviews).

Are We Honest or Overboard About Obscenities?

While watching a 50′s Western on television, I chuckled to be reminded of the extremes the media used to reach to avoid censorship or offending their audiences. One character, a rancher, was married to a Native American woman; and two of the townsmen launched a sexist tirade to get his goat, stating, “We’ve heard she’s some pumpkin.” To update the scene, replace “pumpkin” with the profanity of your choice.

At the same time, I was rereading a science fiction classic, The Stars My Destination,” by Alfred Bester. (The teleporting hero seeks revenge for his abandonment on a wrecked space ship and causes havoc all about him.) Published originally in 1956, the version I perused made special note twice of the lack of complete rape and sex scenes, claiming that had the author been writing more recently, he wouldn’t have been stifled and we could have been treated to vivid renderings.

I was thankful I’m not limited in my writing the way people were sixty years ago. I have more freedom, I thought. But then I wondered why that was my reaction. I didn’t miss the violence and sex in the book; the plot certainly raced Read more »

The Thoughtfulness of Fiction

September 2, 2014
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Our guest blogger is Bonnie McCune author of several books including Falling Like a Rock (4.9 stars, 12 reviews).

The Thoughtfulness of Fiction and How It Impacts Our Mental Acuity as Well as Ideas, Beliefs, Perceptions, Even Behavior

Have you ever read a novel and felt as if you’ve left your surroundings for a new world? This is one of the ways I use to decide if a book’s made a major impact on me. The process by which this happens isn’t simple, not a matter of exciting action or steamy love scenes. A combination of writing style and language, plot, compelling characters, and an unfathomable mixture of interesting ideas old and new are some of the qualities that go into what’s called “willing suspension of disbelief.” In essence, although I know what I’m reading is imaginary, I react as though it’s real. And it changes me in ways I haven’t measured, provides knowledge, even, dare I claim?, wisdom.

Some of the books that have done that for me are Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Hunger Games, Main Street, Caramelo, Doomsday Book, Revolutionary Road, and The Things They Carried. These probably aren’t your choices, but you might have your own favorites.

Or you might not read fiction. I know people who refuse to on the grounds that it’s not real, not for serious-minded people, it’s fluff. Stop and think a minute though: fiction is more truthful than nonfiction because it allows us entry into other people’s minds and emotions. It presents thoughts in action and practice. It’s the closest thing we have to eternal life since every eon, each individual can be represented.

As usual with slap-your-face obvious information, this perspective, known for centuries to readers and writers, now is being substantiated through various studies. Yes, reading fiction stimulates and strengthens certain areas in your Read more »

Pursuing the Creative Muse

August 29, 2014
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Our guest blogger is J. Cafesin author of several books including Reverb (4.3 stars, 39 reviews).

Pursuing the Creative Muse

How do you get good at anything?
Practice.
 
How do you get great?
Obsession—Practice most all the time.
 
Pick any famous author, artist, musician, and they’ll all have obsession in common. And while we, the public, enjoy the fruits of their creative labor, those closest to these individuals were/are generally left wanting.
Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, “was an indifferent and often inattentive father and husband.”
Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame, “worked 12 hours a day seven days a week, [and] his wife, Carol, tended to their daughters, Jodi and Anne.”
Adrienne Armstrong, wife of Billy Joe Armstrong of Greenday said of her husband after the release of the album American Idiot, “I think it challenged us to a new level, pushed us pretty far, the farthest I ever want to go.”
The creatives above are all men. All married and all had/have children.
Now lets explore a few famous women.
The romance novelist Jane Austen never married. She was, in fact, ‘relieved in later life to have avoided the pitfalls of married life, not least the huge risks of childbirth, “all the business of Mothering.”’

Read more »

What Is Chick Lit?

August 25, 2014
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Our guest blogger is Jennifer Gilby Roberts author of several books including The Dr Pepper Prophecies (4.1 stars, 152 reviews). 

What Is Chick Lit?

There seems to be a lot of disagreement about what ‘Chick Lit’ means.  Here’s my take on where it fits in:

Chick Lit and Women Writers
Some people believe that chick lit covers everything written by women, which is ridiculous.  The range of work by women authors is, amazingly enough, just as broad as that by male ones. 

Chick Lit and Male Writers
Chick lit doesn’t have to be written by women.  Mostly it is, but there are a few male authors too (e.g. Nicholas Sparks, Nic Tatano and Chris Dyer).  And now of course we have lad lit (also called dude lit, dick lit, etc.) which is the same style but aimed at men.

Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction

I view chick lit as a sub-genre of women’s fiction, which I take as all fiction aimed specifically at women by dealing with issues of modern womenhood.  What marks chick lit out is that it is funny.  The degree varies from laugh out loud to quiet smiling, but there is always a significant element of humour.

That doesn’t mean that chick lit is all about sex and shoes and never deals with anything serious.  Some is like this, certainly, but not all.  A good example of one that deals with meatier issues would be Marian Keyes’ Rachel’s Holiday, which is about drug addiction.  The key to making it chick lit is that the book looks for the humour in all situations.  If it could be described as ‘gritty’, it’s not chick lit.

Chick Lit and Romance
Chick lit usually includes a romantic relationship, but unlike in romance the relationship is not the focus of the book.  The heroine(s)’ relationships with friends Read more »

The Jeopardy in Instant Gratification

August 17, 2014
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Our guest blogger is Christina Carson author of several books including Suffer the Little Children (4.9 stars, 22 reviews).

The Jeopardy in Instant Gratification

I was stunned the other day when I happened to pick up a somewhat current copy of Newsweek and began to read about the effects our digital world has on instant gratification. It focused on the younger generation which has grown up with access to a digitalized life and how they have become addicted to their cell phones. It even talked about toddlers who are given ipads as amusement and the behavioral ramifications of that parental act.
The allure of instant gratification is nothing new to human beings. It seems to come with the package. The difference between today and 30 years ago, or less, is the digital world has upped the ante on how many hours a day someone can be involved in instant gratification. For most of modern history, the places people could turn for a quick fix were food, drink, drugs and sex and that brought on the havoc of obesity and concomitant disease, substance addiction and with sex, the lessening of a moral imperative that honored relationship, especially familial integrity. The digital wave is not a tsunami per se, but its destructive potential is every bit as real and great.
Why? Because it is making it increasingly difficult for our children to accomplish tasks which require a time Read more »

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