Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Pseudonyms

I've started writing a creative nonfiction project which I hope can be self-published by the autumn. But I've decided already that I'll be publishing it under a completely different pseudonym, for reasons.

As many of you know, the name I write under--Michelle Athy--isn't my legal name. Michelle is my middle name. Athy is my real last name. I write under that name for a few reasons. I don't like my real first name, it's too distinctive. The name is part of my real name but different enough that it wouldn't cause issues in Real Life.

I know a lot of romance authors use pseudonyms: Courtney Milan, for instance. And some authors use different pen names for different genres.

I'm hardly an established author by any means, but I have written stories in different genres already and they all used my author name--and most of the things I'm working will be published under Author Name, whenever that may be.

But not this particular memoir/creative nonfiction thing. I haven't decided what the name will be, but it is an interesting thing--like, do I have to have an email under that name? What about social media? How do I promote the thing without linking Michelle Athy me--which admittedly is pretty easily connected to Real Me if you know where to look--to the thing?

Frankly, the idea of having yet another email and twitter for a pen name I'll probably only use the once sounds exhausting.

Do you use a pen name? How did you come up with it?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG July 3rd!

It's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group post, one day earlier than usual because the first Wednesday this month is the day us Americans eat too much and shoot explode-y things off in the air. 

Getting on to the July IWSG question: 

What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time?

Well. How haven't my writing goals changed over time? I've referred to myself as a "recovering writing major" a few times because at least at my college, the Writing program was very focused on literary fiction. And while I knew I didn't fit in to that whole thing--there was no way in hell I was MFA-bound--I did still have that weird fog of wanting to write the Great American Novel. 

That's gone now. 

I always wanted to write novels and I was always a bit frustrated in workshop classes because we only ever wrote short stories. Well, I still want to write novels, but I seem to be writing short stories these days and I'm totally cool with that. Short stories come easier to me. Now, I'm a little frustrated that I can't seem to sustain a plot long enough for a full-length book.

Knowing that, I'm taking my time writing a first draft/outline for a full-length book. It's not the Great American Novel--it's a contemporary romance--but I know my weak spots in writing. I know they always have to do with plot and structure.

So my primary goal with this first draft/outline has been to nail the structure and the plot. I want to make sure that the conflicts are strong enough, the stakes feel appropriate, and that the story isn't repetitive. The ultimate goal is to have a book that doesn't fall apart at some point in the middle.

My ultimate writing goals: a book-length plot, novels that entertain and inform, novels that show diversity as natural and a strength no matter the time period they take place in.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Books To Read When the World is a Dumpster Fire

Hey y'all.

It's hot as hell here in New York today. New York has this particularly humid quality during the summer that makes everything sticky.

I keep hearing rumors that in some regions of the country, there's this thing called a dry heat. What does that feel like? I've never experienced a summer with dry heat.

Anyway. The world feels like an increasingly dumpster fire-like place. When the world feels fairly doom-laden, I find it hard to be creative. Also, with limited time at the moment to be creative, the doom-laden parts of current events weigh a bit more because writing is not only a deep hobby and a continual puzzle and pursuit of mine, it's also my major mental, emotional, and creative outlet. So even if I want to unload issues in writing, sometimes I find that I can't because the world sucks or I'm just really tired or really, I only want to watch YouTube and not do anything else.

And that's when reading comes in.

I'm 5 books ahead of where I should be in my Goodreads reading goal.

For me, of course, my solace reading is usually something romance. I've read a lot of contemporary romance this year because a) I'm trying to write a contemporary romance and b) I've been wanting to read more diverse stories and many of the diverse authors and stories I want are contemporary set.

My other solace reading is fanfiction, which is truly when I want to read something but my brain is like, "I want words but I want to shut off."

But I always like to try to explore other genres as part of my annual reading challenge, too. This year, I've read a couple of books I missed reading as a kid because I was never a big fantasy reader as a child: A Wrinkle In Time and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. They were wonderful.

I've read a couple of travel memoirs. They were different in style and in where the authors traveled, but I loved reading about different cultures, languages, ambiences, and food.

My friend Krystal released a supernatural and fantasy novel earlier in this year--fantasy is a really good escape when the world feels like it's falling apart. I mean, think about The Lord of the Rings, which I was obsessed with in high school and college. Middle-Earth is in peril. Everyone fights to save it from certain destruction.

My favorite book this year is a steampunk novel set in China during the Opium Wars, called Gunpowder Alchemy.

I try to read enough nonfiction in the course of a year because I like learning things. You never know what'll prove useful or inspiring for fiction, for one thing. I tend to read history and generally, when someone takes the time and research to write about something historical, it's because that subject or time period was a true dumpster fire of a time.

So in a way, that's consoling?

What do you do when the world is tilted on the wrong axis? Do you read? What do you read?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"But this is America--this is not who we are." (Spoiler Alert: It's exactly who we are)

Unless you've been living under a rock in the past week, you've probably seen news stories and Twitter feeds about migrant Central American children coming into the United States with their parents to escape any numbers of dangerous situations seeking asylum, only to be separated--the parents sent to one place, arrested, deported; the children sent to detention centers and not let go to be with their parents.

I've been seeing a lot of "This is wrong, this is immoral"--which it is--but I'm seeing a lot of "This is un-American." Now what exactly does that mean? "This is un-American. This is not who we are as a nation."

I feel like that's either a call to American exceptionalism, an overly optimistic view of the American government and nation, or a lack of knowledge of our history.

I didn't put this list together to diminish anything that's going on today, because yes, I see some unsettling echoes of bad eras of history going on. But honestly, y'all--the United States has done some shitty shit to people in the past and it's doing shitty things to people now. I personally don't know people who approve or want any of this crap to be taking place, but they are. These sorts of things are not new and we need to reckon with the past and solve the present so our future can be full of less crap.

Also, this list is not comprehensive because that would take too long.

When you don't know history, you are bound to repeat it. When you don't know history, you are bound to let your government repeat it.

(And yes, I know, the American people and the American government are not the same entity. But since the government does things "in the interests of American citizens," there you go. This has been our country. This is our country.)

How do we get those kids out of cages and reunited with their parents? How do we grant asylum to people fleeing unstable countries? How do we improve our immigration laws?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Reading Challenge 2018: 20 Books!

Woohoo! I have finished my twentieth book of 2018, putting me something like 4 books ahead of where Goodreads says I should be, which means I can now take my sweet time with the other books I want to read.

Here's what I've read:

11. A Princess In Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) by Alyssa Cole. Fiction/ Romance/Contemporary Romance. 3 stars.

17. The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction To Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker. Nonfiction/Human Sexuality/LGBTQIA/Asexuality. 4 stars.

18. Gundpowder Alchemy (The Gunpowder Chronicles #1) by Jeannie Lin. Fiction/ Sci-Fi and Fantasy/Steampunk/Action and Adventure/Romance/Nineteenth Century/China. 5 stars.

19. Clockwork Samurai (The Gunpowder Chronicles #2) by Jeannie Lin. Fiction/Sci-Fi and Fantasy/Steampunk/Action and Adventure/Romance/Nineteenth Century/China/Japan. 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG June: Titles & Names

Welcome to my June IWSG post! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is an online community of writers. We post our writerly insecurities into the world every first Wednesday of the month. Check us out here!

What's harder for you to come up with, titles or character names?

Excuse me while I give a resounding and hearty laugh.


I'm terrible at giving titles to my stories. Pearl is Pearl because that's all I could think of. Last year, when I started planning the quartet of contemporary romance stories I'm still outlining, I decided that "Seeing You" (after a song) would make a good title for the first of the stories. "Hearing You" could work for the second, since there's a musician hero in that one. But then, the titles quickly deteriorated.

But I love character names. The character starts taking shape when I've named them. Sometimes they pop into my head already named--Alexandra and Madeline Keegan from Pearl came that way as did Kimiko and Chris from my short story "Haunted Lake." Sometimes I play around with character names for a bit until I get one I like. I like looking up names on websites like Behind the Name and Nameberry, not necessarily to learn the name's meaning, but maybe to learn its origins or derivations or when the name was popular.

But yes, character names are so much easier than titles.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Pink Nipples, and Other Romancelandia Peculiarities

Every genre has its tropes and quirks, right? Mysteries have murders and murderers. Legal thrillers have complicated cases and courtroom drama. Fantasy and sci-fi have magical creatures or people with amazing abilities or feature the future or technology.

Romance has plenty of tropes--I've mentioned them in a few past posts--depending on the type of romance. And then there are the weird little things that have built themselves into like an almost romance-canon thing. That's not explained well. Sorry.

Okay, you know how in fandoms, whatever the fandom-ee is sort of takes on its own life among the fans? In the Downton Abbey fandom, for example, there was a widely-held belief that Lady Sybil Crawley's middle name was Patricia--because there'd been a photo in one of the Downton Abbey books of her carrying a briefcase with SPC stamped on it. And it just became like an established fact in the fanfiction and everyone wrote that in as her middle name, even though the show never confirmed it and then gave her another middle name in a later season.

Little things like that, which take on a life of their own.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Once... Book Blast!

Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.
Unexpected changes to reality causes more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.
A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.
Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…
ISBN EPUB: 978-0-6399476-2-4
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-6399476-3-1
Publication date: 23 May 2018
Universal Book Links for Afrikaans and English versions of this book:
Also available in Afrikaans as “Eens…”.
Mortals cannot perceive the veil unless they are invited to – or extremely gifted. For centuries, Man and Fae have been kept apart, for nothing good ever comes from them mixing. The collection of The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog is proof of this.
Still, there are magical creatures that side neither with Man nor Fae.
Dragons are such creatures. They hold the knowledge of both worlds. Some even collect it in the written word, keeping it safe in their lairs.
An inquisitive half-fae once broke into the lair of a dragon known to hoard books. The knowledge she found was too much to keep to herself…
Here are a few tales, myths and legends from Faerie. Some may sound remarkably similar to legends held by mortals, while others are…  well… as otherworldly as the fae themselves.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon.

Connect with Ronel on:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Doctor Mom blog hop!

Prompt: Share a favorite memory you have of your mom. Or just share a picture of your mom that you cherish. Or you can do both!

Last year, my mom and I went to Japan, where my mom was born and raised. We'd been there together twice before, but last year's trip was the first time I'd been back as an adult and it had been over twenty years. I'd forgotten how long the flight was, how cramped an airplane feels after several hours, how much I hate flying. 

Granted, airplanes these days have amenities that didn't exist in the 90s. 

At any rate, my mom and I sat next to each other. We napped. We ate. We watched movies. As the plane descended towards Haneda Airport in Tokyo, my not-so-inner flying anxiety emerged because we hit really bad turbulence. The plane would sink down another few feet, then shake because of bad air. And I was starting to freak out, but luckily, I had my mom next to me so I could grab her hand. And Mom said, "It's okay--it's...yeah, it's pretty turbulent, but we'll be fine. Look, you can see the water outside. Oh, maybe that doesn't help. You're so like your dad when he flies." Then she proceeded to laugh gently as I was grimacing.

Title: Doctor Mom
Author: Elaine Kaye
Genre: Picture Story Book
Ages: 5-8 years

BLURB: It’s Saturday, and Gregory Green can’t wait to have fun with his dad on the riding lawnmower, but something is wrong. Sammy, his teddy bear and best friend, won’t get out of bed. Gregory is worried when he sees Sammy’s left leg is torn. This is a case for Doctor Mom! Can they fix Sammy? And just how did Sammy get hurt in the first place?


"Doctor Mom is an adorable story that shows how Moms can fix anything—even a torn limb on a beloved teddy bear! Children will enjoy the lovable little bear who needs a stitch or two and his boy who plays dress-up as a doctor." – Wanda Luthman, award-winning author of Little Birdie Grows Up

“A sweet and heartfelt tale kids can easily identify with, and all of that with a wonderful touch of magic.” – Tonja Drecker, reviewer at Bookworm for Kids



Elaine Kaye first created Gregory Green after her son, who loved her homemade pea soup, thus inspiring the story Pea Soup Disaster. Doctor Mom is the second book in A Gregory Green Adventure series and highlights something all moms and children can relate to; a beloved stuffed animal in need of a repair.

Kaye has worked as a library assistant and teacher's assistant in elementary schools in the Sunshine State. She currently lives in Florida, but she has called Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Okinawa, Japan home.

She is a grandmother of three boys.

Website / Etsy Shop / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram / Facebook

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Ranty Review

A Queen from the North (Royal Roses #1)A Queen from the North by Erin McRae
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was in the mood for a royal romance (gee, I wonder why?) and this was on sale. A Queen from the North is a contemporary romance with alternative history and a bit of fantasy. Sort of. I forget where I came across this book, but I was sucked in by the fantasy and alternate history angles and I was disappointed by both elements in this book.

In an England where the Wars of Roses haven't totally ended, the north--York--feels marginalized from the southern, more Lancastrian parts of England. (Which was repetitively mentioned throughout the book, but this bit of basic worldbuilding for this premise could've been expanded so much more!) Arthur, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales, (also: supposedly this Lancastrian line has been unbroken ever since Henry Tudor killed Richard III at Bosworth, but it's never explained whom or how exactly the line is unbroken. Because, like, Elizabeth I is mentioned and if she had kids or something, then maybe mention that somewhere? Did the Hanovers even happen in this alternate history? What about Victoria and Albert?). Anyway. So there's Arthur, the widowed Prince of Wales, who is nudged by his niece Princess George ("the court witch") to marry again. Arthur meets Lady Amelia Brockett, his friend's sister, daughter of a northern earl, university student in the sciences, and decides "sure, why not, she seems pretty and smart--I'll marry her!"

I think. The entire novel is told from Amelia's point of view and while there are ways to deepen a third person pov so a reader gets a better sense of other characters, this didn't do that. So I never felt I got to know Arthur all that well and his behavior seemed distant and snippy most of the time. Also, there were several instances where I wanted to smack Amelia upside the head ("I don't want to read the pre-nup! Nope! We're not in love and this is only a business merger of a marriage!" If it's an arranged marriage, then read the goddamned pre-nup, Amelia!

The main conflict between Arthur and Amelia consisted of them misunderstanding each other and then not talking through their shit like adults. I. Hate. This. Kind. Of. Conflict. Beyond the complications of royal life and Amelia's privacy being taken from her and her life being stripped away from her quickly and vaguely dark fantastical forebodings about the bloody Tower of London ravens--because if those ravens leave the Tower, the myth says, England will fall--like, that was the entire interpersonal conflict between these two.

Arranged marriage tropes are a big thing in historical romances, so I've read them a-plenty and they were done so much better.

George turned out to be a fascinating character, though I wish we'd gone more in depth into her witchcraft. Also, Amelia's best friend Priya was adorable. In fact, I found myself liking these two more than the two lead characters.

View all my reviews

Saturday, May 5, 2018

From Cookie to Kinky

Once upon a time before I started this blog, I fell ass over head for an American Idol winner's voice, voted for him, whooped and cheered when he won his season, and then chased him around midtown Manhattan when he came to New York City to do the Today Show and the Early Show.

I have vivid memories of a comfortable, sunny spring day and running the hell up Fifth Avenue to go from one show to the other. It's the only time I've followed one of my objects of admiration/infatuation around in a physical sense.

That day is almost exactly ten years ago. Ten. Fucking. Years. Ago. (I don't know about you, but I'm not feeling 22?)

Anyway, that American Idol winner was David Cook and my friend Jess and I followed him fairly extensively for a number of years after his win. We went to his first record launch in November of 2008, including lining up near Times Square at the crack of dawn to see him on Good Morning America (where I got a guitar pick le sigh), buying the CD at Tower Records in Times Square (RIP) and getting a bracelet to attend the record launch concert the next day!

Y'all, I was living as a 22-year-old. (Except for the part where there was a recession and I had an awful unpaid internship at the time...)

My friend Jess took a picture of her memorabilia from that November day: (yes, we got signed CDs that second night. Yes, he was in front of my face. No, I couldn't summon words to say anything to him. Yes, I still have the signed CD. Yes, I'm still peeved that "Lie" was never a single).

Photo courtesy of Jess

We attended so many of his concerts, every time he came through New York City. 

I bring up ancient history because David Cook has been in a limited run as Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway. Jess went to see him two weeks ago and reported that he was wonderful, then bombarded me with YouTube videos of him singing some of the songs (we'd seen Kinky Boots several years ago and while I have the cast album, I don't listen to it very often). 

Then she said she was going to see it again ("I have to see him in this again") and I went with her on May 4, 2018 because although I haven't followed David Cook all that much in the past couple of years, I mean, like, why not? For old time's sake, y'know? It's his Broadway debut and he may not be back and he's a forty-five minute ride away from my house and why the hell not?

Kinky Boots is the story of two men--Charlie Price, son of an English shoe factory owner, and Lola, a drag queen. They meet, Charlie can't let the factory he's inherited close and fall apart, he decides to start manufacturing kinky boots--heeled boots strong enough to hold a full-grown man's weight, and everyone learns to accept themselves and the people around them. 

The thing I always enjoyed about David's voice was his rich tone and his incredible range, both of which were on display. I always found the original singer's voice on the cast album to be kind of nasally in tone, to be honest. 

It was seriously fun to see David acting on stage, dancing, hitting the comic timing, going for broke on the songs, especially "Soul of a Man." His last show is tomorrow night. I hope he'll find himself in another Broadway production at some point because I will go to see him. He looked like he was having a blast on stage and it was so much fun to see him  and hear him in this new capacity.

Besides, on the subway home, Jess and I were still singing "Step One" under our breaths, but hearing Cook's voice singing the song. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IWSG May 2018

It's time for IWSG Day--the first Wednesday of every month! Do check out the group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, here. And thanks to our awesome co-hosts: E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose, C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!

On to the IWSG question for the month:

It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Funnily enough, spring has finally sprung here in the Northeast, after what seemed like an endless winter. I've had six-day work weeks for a while, which has cut down my available writing time, unfortunately, so my writing projects are going at a crawl at the moment. But I am nearly done with a short story, which I'll send to a friend for her opinion. I'll have to decide how I want to publish it after I get her notes.

My bigger project--my contemporary romance novel outlines--are still going, but at an even slower crawl. But nothing seems insurmountable when there's finally sunshine and decent temperatures outside and I am still thinking of those stories and developing them in my mind, so they will get written, just not as quickly as I would like.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Whisper by Krystal Jane Ruin: An Interview

It's practically tradition by now, right? When Krystal Jane Ruin has a book out, soon after, there will be an interview on this blog about the book.

This time, it's for her New Adult supernatural novel WHISPER.

Check out Whisper on Goodreads and get it on Amazon! And visit Krystal at her website.

Jade has been hearing voices since she was five. No, not voices. One voice. 

After her twin brother is appointed vice president of their father’s company at the old age of twenty-two, the family starts falling apart. Her parents hate each other. Her brother is stressed. His girlfriend is a gold-digger if Jade’s ever seen one. And worse yet, it turns out she isn’t crazy—the voice in her head is real. 

If she ignores it, it’ll drive her off a cliff, like it has done to every single woman on her father’s side for over 1000 years. If she listens, she’s told something terrible will happen.

The choice should be simple.

1. I know you've said that a lot of your story ideas are "Franken-ideas." Can you explain to the people what a Franken-idea is? 

Haha. Yes. Stories often come to me in pieces. A lot of the time, I won’t realize I’m looking at different parts of the same story until the plots start overlapping. Sometimes, I’ll know that all the pieces go together, I just won’t know how. But part of why I call them Franken-ideas is because when they do come together, they form this beautiful monster that kind of moves around and breathes on its own. It’s like I’m Dr. Frankenstein and my stories are my little, sometimes monstrous, creations.

2. Would you say the root concept of Whisper is a Franken idea?

This one actually isn’t. Everything was pretty much there from the get-go. So, it was more like a giant puzzle that became clearer the more I got it together. 

3. How did the character of Jade develop? Was she always meant to be the daughter of a very wealthy family with a very messed up lineage? Were her personal issues always there?

Oh, yeah. Like, she showed up with a voice in her head. Since my characters and plots tend to develop together, I can’t get too far in any story without knowing what everyone’s baggage is. I didn’t know how old she was at first, but I knew early on where she worked and that she had a wealthy father, spoiled siblings, and a penthouse. As far as the lineage, I didn’t know everything from the start, but I knew where the voice was coming from and that at least two other women in the family had died because of it. Jade always had that shadow hanging over her head. 

4. Where did Aric come from because he grew shadier and creepier every time I read him?

Haha! I love him! ^_^ He was definitely shaped by my love for otherworldly things. From the start, I was super fascinated by his connection to this family and why the connection existed. I really wanted to go on a journey with this guy who’s been painted in this golden, selfless light on the surface but honestly just has warning signs tattooed all over his body. 

5. Not to spoil things, but there are elements of Arthurian legend in this book, which was very cool. How familiar were you with Arthurian legend before writing this book? Had you always planned to have that element in the plot?

Yes! I love it! Which made that part of the research easier because I knew where to find what I needed. This entire idea sprouted up because I’d watched one too many adaptions of the legend that summer, and it was kind of bothering me how similar they all were. LOL! I get it. They’re all telling the same story, but there were elements of the legend that I kept wanting to see explored, and it just wasn’t happening! I finally decided that, as a writer, I could just do it myself. I can’t say I know it inside and out, but I’m pretty familiar with it and some of the variations, so I was comfortable ripping it apart.

Krystal Jane Ruin is the author of supernatural and paranormal fiction, living in the Tennessee Valley with a collection of swords and daggers. When she's not hoarding stuffed pandas, hourglasses, and Hello Kitty replicas, she can be found in a YouTube hole or blogging about books, writing, and random things at

Monday, April 16, 2018

Gettin' Organized

At some point in a person's life, you look around your space and go, "Where did all this shit in this room come from?"

I get this feelng every-so-often and that usually results in papers being thrown out, clothes being sorted into "donate," "give to my aunt," or "used as rags until they perish" piles, and sending books I no longer have feelings for to the depths of Amazon so someone else can read and buy them.

I was getting that itchy "this pile of crap needs to be organized" feeling not long ago--and it was particular to this pile I've had next to my blue recliner (where I'm sitting as I write this; in fact, I do a lot of writing in this chair) on my botton bookshelf. The bottom part of the pile is my "writing archive"--a binder of college stuff, manuscripts, and notebooks--things I've worked on that I'm not willing to part with.

The top of the pile was a purple box in which I kept my Playbills, ticket stubs, and other "See, you leave the house sometimes" paraphernalia.

Well, the box with the Playbills had long ago exploded as I kept putting more things in there and I was looking for a storage option. My friend Jess mentioned that was having a sale on Playbill binders--they are heavy duty binders with plastic archival sleeves meant to keep your Playbills in place, unfaded. The binders I got take about 24 Playbills each.

I had to get two Playbill binders and there are still a few outliers I ran out of space for. But now everything's all organized! 

Then my cousin mentioned that he owed me a birthday gift, I asked him for two organization bins. 

So now all my "papers" are in the bigger bin. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What I Actually Like About Romance Novels

This post is partially inspired by Krystal's Recently Read Rant.

Reading her post reminded me that I intended to blog one day about what are the things I actually like about the romance genre, since they've changed over the years. The reasons I read them now are not the same reasons I read them when I was 15.

Most of the romance novels I've read are historical romance, because that's just what I gravitate towards. I've always loved the idea of people living two hundred years ago, wearing what we think of as pretty clothes, getting into adventures, mining and healing their hang-ups and issues, becoming better people in order to keep or win or feel worthy of the love of another person. Plus, add in heavy doses of the lack of women's rights, residual issues from Waterloo or other Napoleonic War battles, social classes, poverty, Actual Historical Events and it all adds up to a dramatic, full-of-feels novel. Sometimes you just need that.

Now granted, when I was 15, I was mostly reading them because I was a history geek and because of the sexytime passages in those books.

By college, I was still firmly in historical romance land--I would climb out to read Lord of the Rings or the assigned reading for classes, but yeah, I was almost exclusively reading historical romance. And when you read so much of the same genre category, the books get repetitive. Okay, so some duke is running around the English countryside chasing after a disreputable heiress instead of...I don't know...doing whatever it is dukes actually do? Not to mention that as I grew more aware of history, upper class characters lost their shine.

Their tea plantations in India, mentioned in a throwaway line? The plantations in Jamaica, mentioned in a dialogue aside. A black servant they might have in the household. Connections to Ireland. Mentioning these aspects of English colonialism might have a step towards representing more of actual history, but after a while, simple mentions weren't cutting it for me anymore.

And I think that's the thing now: I want to read books in my fave genre that represent more of the world I live in, which is a very diverse corner of the globe. And most that is reflected in contemporary romance these days.

I'd read contemporary romance here and there. Contemporary romance has just as much conflict, but it's different. In historicals and other sub-genres of romance, couples are maybe easier to keep apart with certain tropes. Contemporary romance has to take different angles to keep the tension and the draw between the characters high but not let them get together too quickly.

But actually, I've come to like the interpersonal and psychological conflicts between characters in contemporaries. Sometimes there are social barriers, other times the barriers of working together or being long time friends or not wanting the same things are the conflict in contemporary romance, like in real life.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IWSG April Showers

It's the first Wednesday in April, which means it's time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a cool writing group. Do check them out hereThe awesome co-hosts for the April 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

The IWSG Question for April is:

When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

I'm really not sure how to answer this question, mostly because my writing life the past month has been measured in tiny drips and drabs. So there hasn't been much in the way of "digging down to keep writing." I will keep writing--or not writing, if time is a bit short, and thinking about writing--no matter what happens. So I'm not worried about keeping the writing going. 

Outside interests help a ton, though, in keeping inspiration and new ideas sparking off in a writer's mind. So whenever I'm feeling particularly uninspired or like everything I'm writing is crap or I'm just not getting there, there are books to read and podcats to listen to and music to dance around to...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Whisper by Krystal Jane Ruin--Book Blitz!

Krystal Jane Ruin
Publication date: April 3rd 2018
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal
Jade has been hearing voices since she was five. No, not voices. One voice.
After her twin brother is appointed vice president of their father’s company at the old age of twenty-two, the family starts falling apart. Her parents hate each other. Her brother is stressed. His girlfriend is a gold-digger if Jade’s ever seen one. And worse yet, it turns out she isn’t crazy-the voice in her head is real.
If she ignores it, it’ll drive her off a cliff, like it has done to every single woman on her father’s side for over 1000 years. If she listens, she’s told something terrible will happen.
The choice should be simple.
Logan jokes loudly at the other end of the lobby, entertaining a group of men with lewd jokes and wild stories from their recent trip abroad. My sweet, idiot brother leans against the wall grinning over at him, his stupid gray eyes full of trust.
My leg bounces under my desk, spreading irritation through my body. There are no words for how pissed I am. I wish I could bring the ceiling tiles down on Logan’s head. My water bottle teeters in time with my agitation, and I clamp a hand over it to still it.
Of course, I could. Probably. But if my father suspected me of being responsible, he’d have me carted off in a straitjacket.
“Don’t worry about Logan. He will suffer. Come back and open the door.”
“How?” I force my eyes away from Logan and try to keep my voice low. No one is paying attention to me that I know of, but it’s awkward, talking out loud in an open space. For a second I wish the stupid voice could read my thoughts, but then I think better of it.
Honestly though, how crazy am I that the voice in my own head can’t hear me think?
“Yeah, you said that, but—” I cut myself off. David walks towards me with a small rectangular box full of padded envelopes.
He drops it on my desk. “This is for Juliane.” He speaks slowly and stares at me hard like he’s trying to read my mind. He caught me talking to myself, I know it. And likely not for the first time.

Author Bio:
Krystal is the author of supernatural and paranormal fiction, living in the Tennessee Valley with a collection of swords and daggers. When she's not hoarding stuffed pandas, hourglasses, and Hello Kitty replicas, she can be found in YouTube hole or blogging about books, writing, and random things at