Reader Highlight with Meghan of Medieval Bookworm

Keira: You own over 1000 books. Do you have special bookcases to display them all and a picture you can share with us? Now, looking at your bookshelf what color pops out the most to you or what color is the most dominant among the shelves? What do you think this color says about you? Are there any more similarities between the covers in relation to cover art besides color?

Meghan: Sadly my books are mostly not with me, and so I don’t have a picture of everything!  I have three bookcases in total (this picture is one).  Of the books that I have with me right now, black and blue seem to dominate, so apparently I like the colours of bruises.  I actually think that probably reflects my avoidance of women’s fiction outside of romance more than anything else.

Keira: As a lover of historical romances, if you had a time machine, what year and location would you go back in time to and what would you see while you were there?

Meghan: Oh, you’d find me in fifteenth century England having a chat with Richard III or Anthony Woodville, if I was lucky enough to be able to speak to them as an ordinary woman and not nobility of any kind.

Keira: What are your top five favourite medieval romances and what would you retitle them if you could?

Meghan: Believe it or not, I avoid medieval romances like the plague these days (and often medieval historical fiction as well).  I’m too prone to spot inaccuracies.  I can, however, recommend Carrie Lofty, as I recently really enjoyed Scoundrel’s Kiss.  I’d name that something else for sure, but I sadly lack creativity (and thus am doing absolutely nothing to solve the bad romance novel names.)

Keira: You read over 200 books in 2009 and have over 500 reviews on your website. What tips would you give readers who want to read more themselves?

Meghan: Reading is my favourite hobby, so I tend to devote the very large majority of my leisure time to it.  I also read very quickly so that helps a lot.  And I don’t watch all that much TV.  My recommendation would mostly be to devote an hour a day to reading whenever humanly possible, and stick to it – even if it means turning off the computer for a while.

Keira: Can you share with readers a little bit about your 2010 challenge, A Tournament of Reading? How can they participate and what are 3 books you’d recommend them to try first?

Meghan: Sure!  It’s my goal to get people reading more about the Middle Ages.  There are so many misconceptions about it and Americans aren’t taught much in school about it, either, so I’m hoping to expose new people to my favorite period in history.  Anyone who wants to join is welcome to sign up here.  For beginners, I would definitely recommend The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer, a fantastic little book full of facts about the most exciting and typical part of the Middle Ages.  You can find wonderful readable fiction by Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick, two of my favourite authors.

Keira: You’ve been writing and running Medieval Bookworm since 2007. Why did you start and what are some of your favorite blog posts that you’ve written?

Meghan: I started blogging mostly to keep track of the reviews I was formerly posting on LibraryThing.  I didn’t realize there was a whole book blogging world out there and I only slowly got introduced to it through the meme Tuesday Thingers, which I believe is now defunct.

My favourite recent review has to be The Decisive Moment by Jonah Lehrer.  That was a great book and I tried to do it justice.

Keira: What is your favorite and/or least favorite plot, character type, or literary device?

Meghan: Favorite literary device is the unreliable narrator.  This is why I love Kazuo Ishiguro so much!  I love, love, love it when a truth is slowly revealed over the course of a book leading up to a huge moment of revelation.

Keira: How do you define love?

Meghan: Tough question.  In books, I always want to see chemistry between the characters that goes beyond lust.  Great interactions, sparkling conversation, genuine happy time spent together.  Passion is a big part of any love affair but there has to be that emotional and personal connection, too.  I think Julia Quinn is fantastic at this.

Keira: When it comes to romance who makes or breaks the novel: the hero or the heroine?

Meghan: The heroine.  I love a strong heroine and a weak one will annoy me to no end.  On the other hand I actually prefer beta heroes, but I can’t recall a single book where the hero really made the whole book for me.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share or discuss?

Meghan: I don’t think so!

Reader Highlight with Mailani

Keira: What are your top 5 favorite romance books and what would you name them if you could retitle them?

Mailani:

a) The Wedding by Julie Garwood… aka Peaking up Kilts
b) Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie… aka Stuck Between a Man and Open Toed
Butterfly Heels
c) Rebel by Heather Graham… aka Swamp Thingy’s Bride
d) What She Wants by Lynsay Sands… aka Please Cover your Crotch Before She…
e) Short Straw Bride by Dallas Schulze… aka Small Woman, Big Hoes

Keira: You’re ship is sinking and you’re only chance for survival is to reach an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Which romantic hero would you pick to help you get there?

Mailani: Uncus from The Last of the Mohicans! His hotness will heat the water alone.

Keira: If you’re stuck on that iceberg for a year and could only read one type of romance which subgenre would you pick and why? Your choices are: civil war romance, regency romance, or romantic suspense.

Mailani: Romantic Suspense. Who doesn’t want to slide on ice beatboxing Mario’s Castle music while role-playing your current romantic suspense novel?

Keira: Who are your top 3 favorite romance heroes and why do you love them?

Mailani: I’m a side character lover, there is something about the mystery of the untold characters that just enlighten my imagination. Antonio from The Scarletti Curse by Christine Feehan. Tall, dark, handsome… what else can I say? lol He’s charming, dark and his political affiliations make him powerful, yet he’s gentle and in touch with nature. He’s the epitome of perfect. Uncus from The Last of the Mohicans: charming, sweet-tempered, one with nature, cultural, practices a great deal of control/patients, and a hot bod! Simon Stein from In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner. Simon isn’t defined physically as a hunk, but his demeanor, funny quirks, nerdisms, and his strong, take charge nature turn him into a very romantic hero, whom breaks the mold.

Keira: What do you look for in a heroine? Do you like her to be similar to you, or do you want someone completely different?

Mailani: Yes, I do like heroines to be similar to me, maybe not physically but personality-wise, yes. It makes it easier for me to lose myself in the story and float out their in la-la land.

Keira Looking at your bookcases – what author dominates the shelves? Would you say this author is your favorite and why?

Mailani: Julie Garwood seems to grow on my shelf. I don’t know if her editor has stayed the same over the years, or if she’s just spanks the dictionary on a regular basis, but her quality of writing soothes the grammar hound in me. Her characters are well-rounded and her plots are simple. Which makes a great trap for my wandering mind, allowing me to alter the circumstances in my head and paint my own stories about the characters on a regular basis.

Keira: What/Who is your go to for a solid comfort read?

Mailani: Julie Garwood. Need I say more?

Keira: How do you define love?

Mailani: I’ve always thought as love as a simple thing. Why makes something more complicated than necessary. Love is commitment, passion and honesty. Though the word passion evokes the erotic feel of red velvet and black silk. Passion can be complex emotion. Passion for a craft or person can be wholesome and sweet, just as easily as it can turn to the wicked.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share or discuss?

Mailani: Yes, I’d like to talk about graphic novels, and no it’s not one of those things you pick up in a black sleeve at 7-11! I’m talking about manga or comics. I recently started reading Naruto, and it’s changed my perception of the craft completely. I originally believed manga to be a quick story fix, with a two-bit plot. Boy was I wrong. This story actually has an intricate plot, strong developed characters, romance, action, sorrow, and all those other complex emotions that cultivate from social interactions. Let’s face it, isn’t that why we read our romance novels: to absorb those social realisms, that allow us to feel happy, healthy and human.

Reader Highlight with Kati of Katidom

Keira: You pick up the phone and on the other end is your all time favorite romance author offering to write you a story just the way you want it – setting, names, character types, time period, genre, etc. Which author is it and what are you going to have them write?

Kati: Great question! It would be Lisa Kleypas, and she would be writing another contemporary. In my dream world, it would be Joe Travis’s story from her Texas set contemporary series. But this time, she’d give us both view points, and not just the heroines. Lisa’s contemps have been my top reads for the last three years. She’s an absolute sure thing for me.

Keira: As someone who works for NASA you’ll love this next question – they’re sending you up to the space station and providing you with all the books you could desire, but there’s just one catch – only one subgenre of romance is allowed. Which subgenre do you pick to be free and why?

Kati: This is tough because I read contemporary, paranormal and historical. But I’d say paranormal, because they can have both contemporary and historical settings, thus feeding all my needs! ;o)

Keira: You’ve been blogging at Katidom since 2007. What are some of your favorite posts that haven’t gotten as much loving as you feel they deserve?

Kati: My favorite posts are the ones that deal with pop culture. I know, I know, it should be the ones about romance. But my post on which fictional TV or movie character would be your boyfriend, or my secret inappropriate crush are probably my two favorite posts. Mostly because even non-romance readers have opinions about that. Also, I have a not-so-secret love of meme’s.

Keira: What are your top 5 favorite romances and if you could rename them what would their titles be?

Kati: God, I’m terrible at this. I’m about the least creative or imaginative person you can think of. My favorite romances are:

  • The Windflower by Tom and Sharon Curtis. The new title would have something to do with Merry’s Evolution from Weak Heroine to Stronger Heroine
  • Sea Swept by Nora Roberts uh, the title would be Cameron Quinn is Sex on a Stick
  • Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas uh, the title would be Jack Travis is Sex on a Stick (do you see a theme here?!)
  • Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, um, Lucas Hunter is a Bad Ass Alpha and ALSO Sex on a Stick
  • Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh uh, Raphael is Hot?

See? Unoriginal, but there’s a theme.

Keira: Who is your favorite Nora Roberts hero? You can pick two if you give one from her J.D. Robb books also!

Kati: Easy! Roarke (who doesn’t freaking LOVE Roarke?) and Cameron Quinn, who I love because he’s a race car driver/daredevil guy who gives it all up to become a stay at home dad.

Keira: Your favorite clinch cover is:

Kati: Oooh! Love Only Once. Reggie and Nicholas, yummy! God I loved that book!

Keira: Name 3-5 romance authors you haven’t had a chance to read yet, but want to read:

Kati:

  • Ilona Andrews
  • Sarah Mayberry
  • Simone Eckels

Keira: What are some of your favorite/least favorite character types, plots, and literary devices?

Kati: I absolutely loathe the “love by deceit” trope. Any book where the hero lies to the heroine or where they deceive each other by impersonating someone else is an immediate DNF for me.

Keira: Do you prefer Old School romances or New School romances and why?

Kati: I started reading romance in 1983, so I’m a definite Old School reader, which I think makes me more forgiving of super dominant heroes. I am someone who definitely isn’t horrified by the whole forced seduction scenario or a heroine who is “silly”. That being said, I love how smart new school romances are. How the plots seem so much more complicated and the settings are really exotic. So, I’m an Old/New School reader. I read them all and enjoy most of them.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about or share?

Kati: I can’t think of anything. Thank you so much for this opportunity, Keira!

Reader Highlight with Wendy the Super Librarian

Keira: You’ve been blogging for approximately 7 years now. What are some of your all time favorite posts that you’ve written?

Wendy: This question is pretty much impossible to answer, because 7 years worth of archives is particularly daunting.  That said, people seem to like my semi-regular Little Miss Crabby Pants feature and by far the most mileage I’ve ever gotten from a blog post was my Open Letter To Romance Bloglandia.

Some blog readers seem to enjoy it when I rant, which admittedly I try not to do all that often, because I love focusing on books and reading – you know, all the good stuff in life.

Keira: I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and saw on your blog recently that Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen Mysteries compares to that writing style. What other book series or authors would you recommend for fluffy mystery?

Wendy: I think the greatest cozy mystery series ever written is The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun.  That being said, the later books are unreadable and feature robot-like Stepford characters.  It’s especially sad considering that the early novels are what I consider the foundation for the sub genre as we know it today.  I always tell readers to go through the first five (starting with The Cat Who Could Read Backwards) books in the series if they want a crash course on the sub genre.

Keira: What are some of your favorite romances with librarian heroines? Have you read any with librarian heroes?

Wendy: The #1 librarian heroine of all time is Lily Morgan from Breathless by Laura Lee Guhrke.  Hands down.  No contest.

Honorable mentions go to Gwendolyn Price from In Too Deep by Portia Da Costa, Tess Bucek from Three Little Words by Carrie Alexander (Harlequin Superromance #1186) and Rachel Robinson from What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss (Harlequin Superromance #1622)

And as for librarian heroes – the answer is no.  I have never read one or come across one.  If anyone knows of one that I’ve missed, please let me know!

Keira: You’ve been put in charge of a completely empty specialty library which will only cater to one subgenre of romance. What do you stock it with and why?

Wendy: Argh!  After much internal debating….probably historical romance.  1) Because it’s my favorite sub genre 2) because it’s how I “discovered” the genre and 3) because of the depth and breadth.  I could include everyone from Georgette Heyer, to the old school gothics, to present-day bestsellers like Julia Quinn.  Also, the sheer volume of time periods and sensuality levels.  I could run the gamut from medievals to Edwardians, kisses-only traditional Regencies to burning-up-the-sheets erotic romance.

Keira: From the The Great Western Drive (and many other posts too!) we know that Westerns are your favorite romance genre. What are some of your favorite plots or literary devices that populate these books?

Wendy: A lot of readers like the romance genre because of the escapist factor.  I totally understand this and “get” it.  Titled heroes have a built-in Prince Charming fairy tale quality, as do those modern-day Greek tycoons.  However, for my money, nothing flips my switch more than romances about “regular” people.  People who aren’t rich, titled and privileged.  I’m much more likely to find that in American-set historical romances than I am in English-set historical romances.  Period.

Also, I’m a complete sucker for redemption and second chance themes.  These fit very nicely into the western setting.  So many people moved west looking for a “fresh start” or to build a better life for themselves and their families.  And let’s be honest, a lot of people moved west to run away.  You can find a lot of wounded, vulnerable heroes in westerns, as well as strong heroines with backbone.  Heading west took gumption.  Sissies and cry-babies need not apply.

Keira: What’s the difference between “regular Westerns,” “gritty Westerns,” and “frontier-style Westerns?”

Wendy: In my mind “gritty” implies that the western won’t be for the faint of heart.  It was a lawless country (before civilization moved through), and settlers had to take the law into their own hands out of necessity.  So when I attach the “gritty” label to a western, I’m implying that there is violence in the story and also a darker tone.

I adore frontier-style westerns, and sadly these aren’t nearly as common.  I define these as pre-Civil War, when areas of the country that were east of the Mississippi were still largely unsettled.  Also, these books tend to feature a lot of hero/heroine vs. The Environment.  In other words, no small, quaint western towns featuring homes with white picket fences.  They live in a cabin, in the middle of nowhere, and a bad winter has the potential to kill.  Jenna Kernan has written some wonderful frontier-style westerns for Harlequin Historical.  Another great example would be Pamela Clare’s Ride The Fire, which takes place around the time of the French and Indian War.

I tend to call traditional non-romance westerns “regular westerns.”  Old school authors like Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour for example.  This genre is slowly fading away, but there are still authors out there doing their part to keep it alive – Loren D. Estleman and Elmer Kelton leap to mind.  The seminal “regular western” in my opinion would be Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

Keira: If you could rename any five romances – what books would you rename and what would their shiny new titles be?

Wendy: I’m horrible at this sort of thing, but I’ll give it a shot.  How about I give some of my favorite romances sensational Harlequin Presents-style titles?

  • In Too Deep by Portia Da Costa = Shag-a-thon: Naughty Librarian, Randy Professor
  • Wild Oats by Pamela Morsi =  Her Virgin Hunk
  • I Do, I Do, I Do by Maggie Osborne = Conned!: Three Pissed Off Brides
  • Bad Moon Rising by Katherine Sutcliffe = Reformed Ho, Drunken Lawyer
  • Breathless by Laura Lee Gurhke = Sassy Librarian, Slick Lawyer

Keira: While you love the hunks that populate romances, you’re a very heroine centric reader. Can you share your top 5 all time favorite heroines?

Wendy: Seriously?  Only five?!  Sigh.

  • Lily Morgan from Breathless by Laura Lee Guhrke
  • Laurel Covey from A Reason to Live by Maureen McKade
  • Lucy Hathaway from The Firebrand by Susan Wiggs
  • Rita Warren from The Long Way Home by Cheryl Reavis (Silhouette Special Edition #1245)
  • Holly Jones from Bad Moon Rising by Katherine Sutcliffe

Keira: Your favorite cheesy clinch cover is:

Wendy: I have a bit of a “thing” for old school historical western romance covers, so this is hard to narrow down!  After more internal debating, I’ll have to go with Sioux Splendor by Rosanne Bittner.  I love that the back cover copy describes the heroine as “shy as a doe” (a preacher’s daughter to boot!) yet she’s flashing her assets as brazen as can be on the cover.  Also, like a lot of Old School covers, the hero looks to be devouring the heroine’s mid-section and there’s some sort of demented-looking wild life featured prominently on the front cover.  For a change of pace, it’s not a wild-eyed horse here, it’s some mythical-looking, inexplicable giant bird.  I mean, what is that thing?  It looks like a hawk, but it’s all white.  Is there such a thing as albino hawks?

Cover art can be found here:

And for the record, I haven’t read this book, but it is in my TBR.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Wendy: I’ve been blogging for a long time, and love it just as much today as I did when I first started.  I’m at the point in my life where I think I own every book I could ever want to read, and I’m lucky enough to have the greatest job in the world.  Maybe even better than being a romance writer, who gets to sit at home and work in her pajamas.  While I have to drive myself to an office (in mind-numbing traffic), properly attired no less, I do get to play with books all day.  Does it get any better than that?

Reader Highlight with Zarabeth

Keira: What was the first romance novel you ever read? Was it the one that got you hooked on reading them?

Zarabeth: The first romance novel that I ever read was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It was actually a romantic suspense. It was absolutely not the one that got me interested in romance. It was recommended to me by my art teacher in high school. I liked the romance part but hated the mystery aspect. I tried reading a bunch of the big name romance authors and I couldn’t get into them. I got hooked when I bought a complete cookie cutter type romance from the airport for something to read. It was cheap (not a category) and I fell in love. Completely random.

Keira: What are your top 3 favorite Highlander romances and what would you rename them if you could?

Zarabeth:

Keira: What’s your stance on Time Travel romances? Would you prefer to have a Medieval or Highlander hunk come to the present or go back in time to meet him?

Zarabeth: Go back in time to meet him. I don’t think the Highlander hunk would do well in today’s setting. What makes them Highlander hunks aren’t valued in today’s society, which might be the problem with society but let’s not go there.

Keira: What is your favorite and/or least favorite plot, character type, or literary device?

Zarabeth: I like spinsters and the plots that usually accompany them. Those heroines are far more interesting to me. They generally know who they are and what they care about and they don’t annoy me. My least favorite plots are the ones where the hero gets tricked into marriage by matchmaking mommas even though they usually end up working out. It’s just a bad premise all in all because why on earth would a real guy fall for that and how could it really work out well in the long run? I just picture future fights ending with him saying something like, “Well I never wanted to marry you – you tricked me!”

Keira: How do you define love?

Zarabeth: I’m not sure I can. In my life, love is friendship, respect, and passion all rolled into one and increased by many orders of magnitude. He is my best friend, the person I trust without doubt, a person I greatly admire, and someone I simply can’t get enough of ever. I also have to know that it is mutual.

Sometimes in our books our hero/heroine is so certain that they are in love with the other after just a few minutes of interaction, but for one reason or another assumes that the attraction is not mutual. Other plots have our hero/heroine absolutely refuse to admit that they are in love until some near-death situation. This leads to internal angst and lots of tension.

Both of these settings actually really upset me because I do not believe love should be a difficult and distressing part of life.  I believe it is a blessing and always should be.

Keira: You’re lost wandering around a Scottish moor all by yourself when you stumble upon a fairy willing to grant you one hero to accompany you and help you get safely home. She also promises that if you fall in love by the time you get home he’ll be yours forever. Which hero do you pick and why?

Zarabeth: Simon from Some Like It Wicked.

He is the kind of man who could never be a nincompoop. He is a strong, confident (though sometimes overly so), intelligent man. He has a solid history of being able to take care of himself and the people around him (especially his heroine).  He is passionate and serious about every opinion he has. I very much admire his conviction and would find every conversation ultimately stimulating and satisfying for the rest of our lives.

Keira: What do you look for in a heroine? Do you like her to be similar to you, or do you want someone completely different?

Zarabeth: I want to be able to follow her thought process and usually that means she needs to be similar to me, but a great author can make any heroine relatable.

Keira: When it comes to sex scenes in romances what are some of your turn ons/offs?

Zarabeth: I guess I’m a little bit of a prude when it comes to the sex scenes. I really don’t want to read those “dirty words” which I’m sure you can fill in. My other turn offs are when the hero so convinced of his charm and sexual appeal he manipulates the heroine into sexual situations. That doesn’t seem to work in real life. Major turn ons include: when the heroine is certain of what she wants and goes and gets it, that’s pretty sexy and passion. Flat out passion and good sexual tension! Love.

Keira: Describe the perfect hero in 10 words or less:

Zarabeth: Confident but humble, burdened, honorable (eventually), dark, masculine (no dandies).

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share or discuss?

Zarabeth:  Give me solid plots! I know this is an escapism genre but I still want intelligence from my authors.

Reader Highlight with Mandi of SmexyBooks

Keira: You’re stuck in outer space on the space station with a very fickle mail system (because really how often do FedEx shuttles drop by). They will only bring you one subgenre of romance books. What subgenre do you pick and why: paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, m/m?

Mandi: Although this is a hard choice, I would pick urban fantasy. Those books, when written well, can have such dark gritty worlds, with kick-butt heroines and awesome romantic tension. I love it.

Keira: I really like your post Smexy’s Ten Favorite Sex Scenes of 2009. Have you come across any yummy ones in 2010 releases yet?

Mandi: Oh yes – a few have got my heart beating a bit faster already. Garreth in Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole has some great, hot scenes. Dare to Surrender by Lili Feisty has a scene in a photography dark room that will definitely be on my list. And I loved a few scenes in L.B Gregg’s Catch Me If You Can – hot smex in a closet….oh yes.

Keira: Speaking of favorite blog posts, what are some of yours that you’ve written and why do you like them?

Mandi: Ack..I don’t know. I have fun writing hairy chest posts, and pimping out new books. I recently wrote about why fantasy is important to me when I read. My favorite part is reading all the insightful and funny comments people leave behind :)

Keira: For smutty sexy (smexy) goodness you’d recommend which authors and stories?

Mandi:

Keira: When it comes to erotic romance what do you find most sexy? Does this change if the sex is straight or gay?

Mandi: The most sexy thing in an erotic romance is a good story! LOL. If I can’t connect to the characters, then I couldn’t give a damn whether they have hot sex or not. Give me an emotional pull, and then steam up the pages – and whoa baby! To me, it doesn’t matter if the sex is M/F or M/M – but I will admit – I have soft spot (or should I say hard spot) for M/M. SEXY!

Keira: When it comes to romance, what is your favorite and/or least favorite plot, character type, or literary device?

Mandi: I really don’t know if I have something specific that bothers me in general. I get tired of virgin heroines sometimes, and I have a hard time with characters being introduced to a paranormal power, when they have grown up their entire life not realizing anything supernatural exists. I have a hard time believing their reactions.

Keira: Looking at your bookshelf what color do you see the most of? Why did you buy those books? Are there any other book cover factors that play into your buying habits?

Mandi: I see a lot of black. I tend to buy books based more on recommendations, then the cover. I DO think covers are very important, and if I had never discovered this blog world, I probably would base a lot on the cover. I adore Nalini Singh’s Psy books, but I think the covers prevent people who have never heard of her from buying them. That is just my opinion, but if you wander into a bookstore having no idea what you are going to buy, covers are what you look at first.

Keira: What tips would you give to readers who want to read more books?

Mandi: As in, you want more time to read? Stay off Twitter – LOL! I have to force myself in the evening to get off the computer period! I can’t even have it open so I hear my email or twitter alert go off. I also think it is important to change it up! If all you read is paranormal romance, eventually you will get sick of it. Throw in a contemp, or historical or, gasp! A M/M! :)

Keira: You can’t go before talking about your Smexy Boyfriends! The FedEx shuttle agrees to bring you three (and only three if any sneak aboard the whole mission is called off) up to the space station – who do you pick?

Mandi: You are evil!! No – I have them listed in order of importance to me..LOL. So my top three are John Matthew (JR Ward), Barrons (Karen Marie Moning) and Adam (Patricia Briggs). And to be stuck in a space station with the three of them. HOT DAMN!

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Mandi: Thank you so much for having me!!

Reader Highlight with Katiebabs

Keira: You write and run Babbling About Books, and More! Tell me, what is your favorite aspect of blogging and what posts do you think people shouldn’t overlook when they visit your blog?

KB: I love the interactions the blogging community has. It’s a great way to be vocal, as well as learn new things and meet new people.

Everyone should read all my posts! LOL. Because my blog is for the publishing industry, author and books, I would hope people would read my books reviews, mainly because the amount of time I put into writing them (haha). Knowing that at least one person will by an author’s book based on my suggestions and opinions give me incredible joy.

I also hope when I come up with an opinion or commentary post on something that concerns me, people will read and think about the points I have raised. I’m all for discussion, regardless if you agree with me or not.

Keira: You list the following as your favorite books. If you were to give them alternative titles what would you call them?

KB:

  • The Stand
  • “The Devil Went Down to Las Vegas”

  • The Host
  • “A Body Snatchers Love Story: Tales from the Secret Cave”

  • Wuthering Heights
  • “The All Consuming Passion on the Moors”

  • The Bronze Horseman
  • “The Girl in the Cherry Dress and the Lusty Boy Who Loved Her and Wanted to Own Her Soul”

  • The Passion
  • “The Most Tragic Werewolf Romance Ever Told”

Keira: What is your favorite and/or least favorite plot, character type, or literary device?

KB: I despise the hero who sleeps with too many women to count to the point he would have an STD because he never wears protection. My ideal hero is not some man whore who can’t keep his “manhood” in his pants. I also hate a hero who refuses to love a woman, but will engage in very intimate acts with the heroine and enjoy giving her pleasure and want it in return. But the moment she speaks of her feels toward him, or ends up pregnant, he’s out the door. That’s what I call a loser, not an ideal man, aka the hero. I’m also sick of these rich, powerful lord type heroes who end up being part of a secret group of spies in England circa the year 1820.

I absolutely love a hero who is dark and brooding, but the minute he meets the heroine, he has a new outlook on life and wants to do whatever he can to be worthy of that woman’s love. A heroine who is intelligent, strong, does things her way and doesn’t care what others think, is exactly what I want to read in any book.

Keira: Okay let’s look at your bookshelf now. First, which authors occupy the most space? Second, are they mostly older or newer romances? Third, what would you say the average color cover is? Why think you bought them? Fourth, how many are unread?

KB: My top three authors on my bookshelves are JD Robb, because I have every single book in the In Death series, which is now up to 30 books. JR Ward’s BDB series, and almost every single book written by Lisa Kleypas. Because I’m sent and buy the most up to date releases, I tend to newer romances. But I’m also addicted to used book sales, and will go out of my way to buy many older, out of print books I can find, especially old Loveswept category and Harlequin Silhouette reads.

I noticed lately many covers are dark colors with purple, blue and blacks. I’m not a big fan of anything too pastel or floral, unless it happens to be a historical romance. Historical romance covers seem to be big on bright, shiny colors.

Cover can grab my attention and visually I’m a sucker for the man chesty ones, as well as the ones with the woman looking over her shoulder as her dress falls down and shows her back. I also like covers with interesting backgrounds, such as urban settings.

My unread book pile is literarily in the hundreds. Last time I counted, I had 300 books that still need to be read.

Keira: What tips would you give to readers who want to read more books?

KB: I would recommend you set time aside each day to read. If you commute to work on the bus or by train, that’s a perfect way to catch up on your reading. I also make sure to read before I go to bed each night. Usually 90 minutes before my bedtime, I will shut down for the day and relax with a good book. Helps calm down your mind and takes you away from all the stress and worry in your life.

Keira: You have received some very good news recently! Let’s talk about that!

KB: Since I was thirteen, I have wanted to be a writer and to walk into a book store and see my book on the shelves. Finally my dream has become a reality. I sold my first book, which happens to be something very different for me. It’s a contemporary lesbian romance set in New York City about a thirty-five-year old woman, who runs a hotel empire, and falls for one of her employees, a twenty-five-year old college student. Lovestruck is all about opposites attracting and overcoming those odds to be together.

Keira: What was the very first thing you did after hearing that Lovestruck was being picked up by Noble Romance Publishing?

KB: First thought was, “Holy BEEP!”, I grinned like a loon and then the shock set in. I was speechless, excited and nervous, all rolled into one.

Keira: What were some of the challenges you faced and things you learned in the process of writing and getting published?

KB: One of the biggest challenges is those internal things we do to ourselves. Self-doubt, depression and questioning our abilities to succeed are the hardest things to deal with. There will always be others who will criticize your work, and you have to learn how to deal with it and either, learn from it, or move on to something better.

Writing can be a love/hate process. One minute you find enjoyment in what you’re doing, the next you want to fall to the floor and have a tantrum because a scene, character or the words aren’t coming out the way you want them to. One of the worst possible things a writer can do is not having those you trust read your work. Criticism should be a welcomed step as you work toward your goals, and this goes for both unpublished and published authors.

I also found out that the publishing industry is very different from the other industries I worked for. Whereas you can use your connections and networking to hand over your resume to someone to possibly get you an interview or a job, that’s not the case when you are trying to get published. It seems to be an unwritten rule, where you can’t go to an author and ask them to put in a good word with their agent or editor, unless they come to you first and want to help you. Also, just because you may be on good terms with an author, agent or editor of a publishing house, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a foot in the door, so to speak. It all comes down to the quality of your work and if doesn’t fit for that person who can extend you a writing contract, than you have to go back and do all the leg work yourself. Don’t rely on others to help you succeed. They can give advice and support, but in the end, it all comes down to you.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share? What’s next for you?

KB: The next step is working on my final edits for Lovestruck, waiting for it to be released and try not to chew my fingers down to the nub to see if people will read it and like it. I’m also in the process of selling another lesbian romance, but nothing has been made official yet, when it is, I will definitely announce it. I’m also working on various other writing projects that are different from my GLBT titles, such as two young adults and an erotic straight romance. I guess you can say I’m a big multi-tasker!

I will continue to do what I’ve been doing. Reading, reviewing, blogging, writing and enjoying my other bloggers and the newbies who are bringing something new and exciting to the blogging community.

Reader Highlight with Scarlett Moore

Keira: Let’s take a look at your bookshelf (nightstand, floor, wherever lol). What color covers do you have the most of and are they by a bunch of different authors or by one author? Why do you think you bought those books?

Scarlett: The predominant book cover colors are red (Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare, Something About You by Julie James) and turquoise (The Ideal Wife by Mary Balogh, Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie).

Actually, these books are all IN BED with me right now.  They’re all by different authors – I guess you could say that I sleep around.

I typically choose books first based on the cover and then based on the jacket description.  Of course, there are some authors like Mary Balogh and Lisa Kleypas whose books I’ll purchase regardless of the cover.

Keira: You write and run Best Romance Stories. Why did you start it and what is your favorite part about blogging? Share some of your favorite posts that you’ve written!

Scarlett: I started the site because I love connecting with other like-minded readers.  There’s something special about reading an email from someone who read (and loved) a book based on my recommendation!

My favorite post thus far is my review of Getting Lucky by Carolyn Brown.  Why?  Because the author herself found the review and thanked me for it!

Keira: You read a lot of romance. What tips would you give to readers who want to read more books?

Scarlett: There’s never enough time is there?  First off, if you’re looking to read more books you have to stop forcing yourself to read bad books.  In other words, if you’re reading for pleasure and you start a book that’s just horrible, STOP READING THAT BOOK!  I used to feel obligated to finish a bad book, in part because I purchased it, but now I don’t think twice about putting a book aside and moving on to the next one.  I just donate the not-so-great book to the library or a book swap.

Keira: If you could only read one of these genres for the rest of your reading career (crossovers aren’t allowed) which would you choose to read: Paranormal Romance or Erotic Romance?

Scarlett: Oh drat, no historical romance?  Oh well, then I’ll choose paranormal romance.  To be honest I’m a big vampire groupie and there’s some great paranormal romance out there.  Also, there’s lots of paranormal romance on the shelves that have erotic elements (check out the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward or the Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton).

Keira: What are some of your favorite books in that genre that you think readers shouldn’t miss out on?

Scarlett:

Great paranormal romance books:

Keira: What is your favorite and/or least favorite plot, character type, or literary device?

Scarlett:

Favorite

  • Books with strong, independent female characters that can solve their own problems.
  • Books that include a bit of mystery or suspense in the storyline.

Least Favorite

  • Although I like historical romance I can’t stand reading about weak women who are prone to getting “the vapors”.  I mean, what the heck is that anyway?
  • Books where the male and female characters’ love/hate relationship is annoyingly repetitive.  Or a “love triangle” plot that never gets resolved – especially if it continues throughout a series.

Keira: How do you define love?

Scarlett:

Love: Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns ice cream
True Love: Haagan-Dazs Rum Raisin ice cream with whipped cream

Keira: When it comes to erotic romance what do you find most sexy?

Scarlett: I like books with male leads that aren’t particularly drop dead gorgeous.  And if the guy tends to be a bit socially inept when it comes to women (but turns out to be a hottie in bed), that’s even better!

Keira: Tell me: what’s the romance novel are you waiting to see get written? (You can go crazy like the Twilight Saga in Space or whatever *grin*)

Scarlett: Well, since I’m a big historical romance fan and I also love paranormal romance, how about “Sookie Stackhouse: A Compromised Lady” or “The Truth About Lord Edward Cullen”.

I’d also LOVE to read a modern day Dr. Zhivago-type book.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share and discuss?

Scarlett: Although purists would pooh-pooh this, I actually like some of the Jane Austen romance mashups that are on the shelves now.  I read Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler and thoroughly enjoyed them both.  And I just purchased Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, the book that started this craze.

I think that’s it for now.  Thanks so much for spotlighting me and my new site!