OMG: Julian Sands

This post is completely off-topic from my usual sort of thing, but I just have to post it. Those of you who know me on Facebook or Twitter have heard the story, but I’m going to tell it one more time. Maybe posting it on my blog will make it seem just a bit more real, and not some sort of daydream.

Last Saturday, I attended the AGM and workshops for my local RWA chapter (CaRWA). During one of the workshops, my friend Julie called. She was at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. Of course, I didn’t want to answer, since that would be rude. However, my curiosity got the better of me and when my phone flashed to voicemail, I couldn’t resist checking. Here is what it said:

Hello Alyssa, this is Julian Sands. I’ve just signed a poster to you and I’ve put a couple of kisses. If you’d been here I might have put a couple more. Anyway, you have a great weekend, I know you’re at a writer’s conference. Bye-bye.

If I hadn’t been sitting down, I might have fallen over in surprise.

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Book Review: The Creed Legacy

The Creed Legacy, by Linda Lael Miller. (website)

This is the third (and final?) book in LLM’s Creed series, and it features Brody Creed, the twin of Conner (in Creed’s Honor) and cousin of Steven (in A Creed in Stone Creek). But Brody is different from Conner and Steven. He’s never stopped moving, and in the last few years has had little contact with his family. But now he’s back in Lonesome Bend, attempting to settle down. He buys land and becomes a part of the community, but something is missing. His friend and occasional bed-partner Jolene isn’t to his taste anymore, but there’s no one that he could fall in love with. Or so he thinks.

Carolyn Simmons has finally been able to settle down: after years of being a house-sitter for wealthy folks in and around Lonesome Bend, she has a place of her own. She’s partnered with Conner’s wife Tricia to open up a store and art gallery, and she’s living in Natty’s apartment with Winston the cat. She’s always had a thing for Brody, and now that he’s back in town, the old memories resurface.

As would be expected, the two knock heads, each being rather stubborn. The blossoming interest and tension between them was fantastic. As this is a romance novel, one expects an HEA (‘happily ever after’), but the story is in the journey. Carolyn and Brody are each figuring out the ups and downs of finally putting down roots. Carolyn’s past has as much heartache as Brody’s, but they both have to learn to put the past behind them.

As interesting as their journey was, my favourite part of the book was finally learning about what made Brody tick. Why he’d left home, why he’d stayed away, and what his deep dark secrets entailed. None of which I shall mention here. You’ll have to read the book. It’s being released on June 28, 2011.

Guest Post: Anya Winter – Finding the Passion

The Master, by Anya WinterThere’s one thing we can all agree on. Without the passion there is no story.

Without the passion, we might as well close the book, turn off our e-readers and watch the news.

Boring!

Have you ever tried to live a passionless life? It’s not easy. There’s an innate need with us women (sorry boys, but I’m ignoring you) for passion. We need it. Thrive on it. If we don’t have it then we’ll start searching for it. We’re happier when we are passionate about something – and let’s face it, a happy woman is a sexy woman.

I’ve noticed something lately in many of the erotic romance stories I’ve been reading. Whether they are BDSM or just erotica, the sexy, sensual heroine is not the normal Barbie type figure. Can we say AMEN to that? I love that the heroine is one who is scarred, carrying a few too many extra pounds, tattooed or even has a lisp. The writers have taken an average woman, someone we can relate to and have shown us the sensual side. The side that we don’t often think is possible. The side that we don’t think others can see.

That’s the type of woman we crave. Desire. Want.

That’s the type of woman I am. How about you?

It’s not hard. You find something that you can be passionate about and give yourself the freedom. I am a complex woman (just ask my husband), but there are a few things in my life that I am passionate about. Chocolate is one. Sex is another, and please don’t forget the writing. Combine them and you have a dangerous combination! :-) When you give yourself the freedom to be passionate about something that is important to you – whether it’s your career, your family, your body, your hobbies … that sensual side that you always hid comes out. How? It’s in your demeanor. Your actions. Your words. Your body betrays you and starts to glow, shine and be full of life.

For me, that’s the secret in writing passion into stories. It’s not just in the sex. As a writer, when we focus on pouring passion into every scene, that’s when the characters come alive. That’s when the readers are engaged. That’s when we know we’ve done our job.
And that’s when I break out the chocolate ;)

Steena Holmes writes her steamy romances full of chocolate and passion as Anya Winter. Find her on Twitter @SteenaHolmes or for her passionate side as @AnyaWinter. Her website: www.steenaholmes.com and Anya’s Home Page: www.anyawinter.tumblr.com (erotic images/NSFW).

Her work The Blindfold, a short erotic story, is available on Amazon or Smashwords. Her newest release is The Master – where you’re sure to crave chocolate afterwards!

Changing the name of the game.

I spent part of Friday brainstorming new titles for my MS, with the help of my RWA chapter-mates and Tiffany Reisz, and a canvassing of Twitter peeps. (I love Twitter for the instant feedback; it’s insanely helpful.)

The new title: THE PARIS GAME.

Also, check out the new blurb:

A modern re-telling of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, set in Paris. A chanteuse and her ex-lover make a wager over seducing a shy young woman.

Book Review: Smuggled

Smuggled, by Christina Shea.

This is the life story of Eva Farkas, a Hungarian child who is smuggled across the border into Romania in order to escape the Nazis. Her name is now Anca Balaj, and she lives with her aunt and uncle.

The book spans the decades, from the end of the war until the fall of the Iron Curtain. As someone who was a child (I turned 10 in 1990), very little of this time period is at all familiar. I hardly remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, though I do remember Gorbachev. I know little of Hungary or Romania either.

As a result, this book was an eye-opener for me, as I hadn’t considered what life would be like in a Soviet/Communist state. Nor had I thought much about the corruption, the lack of opportunity, and the results of defection to the West (and what it brought to those left behind.) Eva/Anca’s struggle to make something of herself and escape the drudgery of manual labour was compelling.

The book is not overly dramatic, but the events and struggle of Eva keep you reading, even when things seem most dire. Her ingenuity and continual efforts to succeed keep you cheering her on, wanting to see how she’ll manage. And manage she does – whether it is by playing table tennis, living with an old dentist who fixes her teeth in exchange for pretending to be his dead wife, or making a marriage of convenience.

I highly recommend reading Smuggled for its demonstration of the strength of human determination in the face of difficulty.

Released by Grove/Atlantic, July 2011.