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There Can Be Only One

Sexy fit manToday’s MANhandler photo is favorite of mine. Of course, they’re all favorites of mine. Go figure. Enjoy!

The topic for today’s post came in and I panicked. I’m not talking a little “oh no, what will I write about” panic. I’m talking “holy crap, there is no way to do this in less than a doctoral thesis” panic. The topic? Discussing our favorite book. I know, I know — I see the panic on your face. I felt the same way. How can I choose just one book? Impossible. This isn’t a remake of Highlander and there are no swords and beheadings and stuff. But I’m still talking books. Just a little off center.

Reading is a huge part of my life. I’ve been a compulsive reader ever since I was a kid. Some of my favorite memories center on the mailman delivering my Disney reader books every month. Remember those little square, cardboard-cover books? Yeah, those. I still have all of mine, even the ones my evil little brother defaced with crayons. He almost had his eyebrows shaved for that one. If only Mom hadn’t caught me with the straight razor… There’s still time, though.

When I entered elementary school, I was exposed to the Serendipity books. They were a huge turning point for me. It was like this creative switch was turned on in my brain and I fell in love with reading. It was then that I knew I wanted to write. I wanted to create stories that made people think and feel and get lost in the words. I was six.

As I got older, I continued to read. As a child, my absolute favorite book was Watership Down. I didn’t understand all of the social implications of the book, but the story was incredibly engaging and it made me think. I was nine when I first read it.

I also loved anything by Shel Silverstein, particularly A Light in the Attic. The man was a brilliant voice for children. One of the favorite things I have ever written is a silly poem. It won awards. It made me realize humor had to be part of my literary voice.

book with pages in shape of a heartIn college, I read romance. Lots and lots of romance. Anything I could get my hands on — historical, contemporary, paranormal. I realized that romance gave me an outlet to get lost in a world where the outcome was much more predictable than anything I was facing at the time. And, though predictable happy endings occurred, I never knew which path the author would take to get me there. Of course, my favorite book then was Outlander, though I know the author isn’t keen on having her book categorized as straight romance. That book taught me the value of complex world building and reader engagement.

In my thirties, I glommed onto paranormal romance like it was an illicit $5.99 drug. Yes, paperbacks were still $5.99. I read Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione, JR Ward and a few Sherrylin Kenyon. I found Nora Roberts’s different trilogies and ate up anything with recurring characters. I discovered I’m madly passionate about stories where I get to experience characters over and over. A main character in one book who cameos in the series? My favorite setup ever.

It wasn’t until my mid- to late-thirties that I discovered “good” erotica — stories with an actual plot that were sexy as hell. Thank you, Denise Rossetti and Robin Rotham. I discovered that closed-door sex scenes annoy the crap out of me and, therefore, have no place in my writing.

I entered my forties last January. I’ve discovered Gena Showalter. Why it took so long is beyond me, but it did. I’ve devoured everything of hers this summer. Her paranormal romances have indulged my love of world-building in a contemporary setting.

So many authors have had so much influence on my love of reading that it seems horribly unfair of me to limit myself to one favorite. In forty years, I’ve collected favorite books and favorite authors and favorite themes and favorite… You get the idea.

What about you? Are you able to identify one book that is, above all others, The One?

The Best Book Evah!

Hey y’all, remember me? Danica Avet? Yeah, sorry I’ve been away for so long, but between real life going all bonkers and shoulder surgeries and deciding to self-publish something…can we say I feel a little crazy?

And then I saw the topic for the next two weeks and lost a little more of my mind. The best book or ebook…How can I possibly choose? I mean, what are we basing this on? Because there are a lot of books I adore for different reasons. If you’ve ever seen Mallrats, you can just imagine me saying this like Brodie trying to describe his favorite superhero or whatever that was.

Is it based on emotion? Because there’s one that immediately comes to mind called The Reluctant Dom. I bawled my eyes out for this book, sobbing so much that a family member asked me if someone else in our family hurt my feelings. Hello? I do not cry because my feelings get hurt. But this book broke my heart and healed it and broke it again and made me like it.

But on the other hand, I’ve read a non-erotic

romance that left me in tears after the first chapter. It was the first edition of the book which I read in the early 90’s and I’ll never forget that emotional train wreck. I loaned the book to my friend and never saw it again and when it was re-released several years later, it wasn’t the same. They took all the raw emotion out of it, I guess to make it more palatable but I still recommend it if you enjoy books that leave you in tears. Redeeming Love is actually an inspirational romance and it really does make you wonder if there are greater powers at work. I’ll have to see if I can find a used copy to see if the original is as good as I remember it.

But if we’re going off of books that are funny, and I love my funny books, there’s none better than G.A. Aiken’s What A Dragon Should Know. Oh Gwenvael is easily my favorite hero ever. Because he’s so ridiculously conceited and funny and I just love how well he’s written. There’s some serious stuff going on in this book, the series actually made my mom cryy’all, my mom hasn’t cried for a movie since she watched Imitation of Life in the 60s. For her to cry for a book series…well, that should tell you how deep it can get, but I tell you now these books area  riot when they’re not being deep and dangerous.

And the horrible thing is? I’ve only mentioned three books that I truly love. There’s no way I can get to all of them. Let me just say that when I cleaned out my bookshelves a couple of years ago to keep only what I couldn’t get rid of…I was left with 600 paperbacks. From historicals to paranormals to action-adventure romance, there are way too many out there for me to point to one and say “That’s the best book I’ve ever read.” Heck, I haven’t even mentioned Kresley Cole and she, along with Shelly Laurenston and J.R. Ward are the reason why I became a writer.

But one thing is for sure, one day I’d like my own books to be on the list of “best book evah”.

Have y’all read the three books I’ve mentioned or any of the authors mentioned here? What’s your favorite book by them?

Muppet-flailing, Fangirling and Restraining Orders

Alright, my fellow MANhandlers. I searched through many files to bring you this week’s delightful pic. Too delish.

This blog cycle, we’re talking about the author we’ve always wanted to be. This is a hard one for me because there are a so many authors I I seriously admire. Picking one would be like trying to pick my favorite MANhandler pic. Can’t I just love them all? Okay, okay. Let me think…

It’s no secret that I love Diana Gabaldon with a crazy passion that probably alarmed her a little the first time I met her. I’m 6’1″ and a naturally exuberant person. She’s probably 5’3″ and incredibly soft-spoken and even a bit reserved. It’s impossible to be as tall as I am and not feel like I’m looming over such petite people. And then, when the conference coordinators have her seated to meet her fans, I have to either bend over to shake her hand or kneel in front of her. Of course I knelt. What did security think would happen? Yeesh. Anyway, Diana’s literary voice is rich and varied, and I’ve coveted the almost melodic “sound” of her storytelling since I read the first page of Outlander. I’d love to create the passion in readers that she’s cultivated over the last twenty years. I’d also like to find myself still writing after that long. Above all, I’d like to look back over the stories that will create my legacy and know I touched readers, gave them respite from the world’s demands if only for a while and helped them fall in love with my characters the way I have.

Another un-secret is my passion for absolutely anything written by Larissa Ione. When we started chatting on social media and privately, there was some very private Muppet-flailing and a few total fangirl moments. When she first emailed me? I may or may not have screamed, depending on your definition of “scream.” She’s been amazing to me, and I want to do the same for other authors who are finding their way through the difficult world of publishing. But back to the point of this paragraph — I’ve found that, the more I write, the harder it is for me to read. I can’t turn off my internal editor. It seems like I’m always rearranging scenes, catching typos, counting the “to be” verbs — all the things we authors aren’t supposed to do if we want to find success. With Larissa’s books, I get sucked into the vibrant world, the relationships, the (hawt) sex, the storylines. I admire her ability to write such clean, crisp stories. Her creativity is off the charts. The way she crafts her worlds and scenes engage every one of the readers senses. That, that, is what I want to look back and know I’ve done.

Finally? I have to be very frank and admit that I want to be me. What I spend my days doing is a total dream come true. There’s no way to describe the feeling of getting that first contract, landing a superstar agent, having your editor call you (insert your definition of “spastic” here), or finding out your book received an awesome review from Romantic Times magazine. All of these things and more have come to mean more to me than I can explain. I love what I do. I’m passionate about it. It’s everything I ever dreamed it would be. It’s also infinitely more difficult, unbelievably frustrating, guaranteed tear-inducing at times and worth every damn minute.

There’s no one author I want to be, but the two listed above are people whose talent, compassion and magic I admire and aspire to. If I could mash their skill together and mix it in a potion, I’d drink it right down. At the very least, I’d end up with a restraining order. At best? I’d be everything I want to be. Instead of scaring these two lovely ladies, I think I’ll just bust my ass and do my best to follow in their footsteps. It might take longer, but it’s the only way I want to get there. Plus I don’t have bail money.  😀

Who are the authors that inspire you? If you could be any author in the world for a day and experience what it’s like to have their skill, who would it be?

The Two Sides of Anya

So, the question is posed: why do I like writing in my particular genre(s)? And, thinking about it, I realized it’s a really good indication of two distinct sides of my character. On one hand, I love to research. I mean, REALLY love it. I could spend hours searching out and absorbing information about just about anything–time periods, occupations, what people wore, ate, thought about different topics. For the most part that type of info goes into my historical novels, hopefully giving them a certain depth and flavor.

Then there is the other side of me… the one that gets up and shouts, “Don’t need no stinking rules. Don’t wanna follow any but my own!”

That side is in charge of the paranormal/fantasy writing, gleefully making shit up as she goes along, often throwing physics, normality and even on occasion sanity out the window.

Damn, I love that chick!

So now you know why I write what I write… It’s authorial schizophrenia! And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Journeys Through Seduction

Anya Richards/Anya Delvay books available from Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo.

Fierce Women Love Romance

abdominalOooh! I started writing this post without thinking about my MANhandlers! You have my deepest apologies–and some serious skin. Here you go. 🙂

This week’s post is on why we love our genres so much. It’s something I’ve never really put into words, so writing this has been a challenge. I’ve been mulling it over in the hopes I’d get it right. Here you go–my best effort:

I freaking love romance. Period. I want a good story that gives me a sense of who these characters are and why they’re right for each other, even if it’s only right now. Sure, HEA’s (happily-ever-afters) are brilliant, but I’m just as satisfied with a good HFN (happy-for-now) if it means the book is part of a series. Because I looooove series. But under that broad category of romance, there are sub-genres that really flip my switch. Primarily those genres are paranormal, urban fantasy with romantic elements and (some) historicals. Yes, my likes are wide and varied, but they all have one primary thing in common: kickass women who are not content to let life come to them. They seize the day, whether by choice or circumstance, and show the men around them exactly what a strong woman is capable of accomplishing.

“Fine,” you say. “But this isn’t news. What makes your genre preferences stand out?”

I’m glad you asked.

Paranormal Romance
There’s something about the otherworldly that absolutely thrills me. The idea that there are vampires and shifters and fey (oh my!) in our midst? Wow. It makes me look at the grocery store clerk differently. It makes me wonder if the hot pale guy at the doctor’s office was giving blood or getting it. And what about the gym teacher who can climb a rope, hand over hand, and never break a sweat? (I’m talking about you, Mr. Carson.) Not. Natural. And that’s the thrill.

There’s also the matter of these men being incredibly sexy. You never read a book with an average-looking ocelot shifter. You never find a mediocre fey lover between any set of covers. And you certainly never read about ugly vampires. These men are always out-of-control sexy and, without fail, they’re packing both the goods and the skills to use them. Who doesn’t love that?

Wiszący most na latających skałachUrban Fantasy
Give me a kickass woman with a gun in her hand and her battered heart on her sleeve and I’m your slave. I want fierce women who dont’ shrink away from violence, whether they’re dealing with it or the cause of it. Doesn’t matter. I love reading about women who meet challenges by charging into the fray. “Kicking ass and taking names” is a way of life, and they don’t complain about it. Instead, they learn to manage it, deal with the fallout of bad decisions in battle and in bed, and always find a way to defeat the Big Bad with smarts, tenacity and serious weaponry.

Romance is often secondary to the plot, and that’s fine with me. I do love (smoking, scorching) hot love scenes, and urban fantasy typically delivers.

Also, the world-building fascinates me. I love being able to make up my own rules and fit my characters into those parameters. So. Much. Fun!

Historical Romance
This one’s a little different. I don’t like all historical romance. I’m all about the stories where women buck convention and find a way to defy societal expectations. Those are the stories that make me want to read about days gone by. I’m not interested in women who faint and heroes who think they’re superior. Give me Alpha males and spirited women. Those are the characters I love to play around with. I really enjoy researching eras long past and then figuring out how to successfully bend–okay, break–the rules in order to find happiness.

So there you have it–my love of, well, love. The one thing these genres have in common is that, at some point, the girl gets the right boy and, at least in my worlds, love prevails.

What are your favorites? Why? I’m dying to hear from you. Maybe I’ll find a new favorite author. 🙂

 

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