Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I know I’m not the only one, because I’ve talked to, written or e-mailed to my friends and relatives, and we all agree that movies are  not as good as they used to be. News reports confirms it too, reporting that movie ticket sales are down. Of course, they don’t mention the reason for that, but stupid, boring and cringe-worthy fare, in my humble opinion, is the reason.

One thing they got right was knowing who was actually watching what the movie studios have produced recently: teenagers.  So most films released in recent years have been aimed at them. On Friday evening, when school is out and homework can be put off until Sunday night, teens flock to the cineplex to see action and adventure movies, heavy with murder, mayhem and special effects. And because those same young people fill the seats, and sometimes watch the same film more than once, studios give them what they want and thereby drive certain films to record highs for attendance.

Sounds like I’ve contradicted myself, doesn’t it? What I’m saying is that, by producing films teenagers like, they’re killing the market for thoughtful, even beautiful, films that would appeal to a more mature audience. So we adults stay home, try to find something on television or watch Netflix movies, preferably those made two or three decades earlier.

Yes, WOMAN IN GOLD was a good film that anyone twenty-one years or older, could appreciate. But it was the only one worth watching in the last three months. Ever since he played Darcy in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, like most women, I’ve been a fan of Colin Firth. I even rent his movies on Netflix. However, except for THE KING’S SPEECH (for which he won the Academy Award), there are no good Colin Firth films. And that is really surprising when you learn, as I did recently, that, although the man is only 54 years old, he’s made 42 films. One could argue that  some percentage of the total are bound to be stinkers, but why so many? Is he just really bad at picking out scripts? Is he desperate for money and will accept acting roles in anything they shove at him?

Although I’m tempted to, at least to spare my readers, I’m not going to list the clunkers. I must also admit that many of the actors we could once count on to do a good job in A-list-type movies are too old to be todays’ heroes, or dead.  Paul Newman, James Garner, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Steve McQueen, Burt Lancaster, William Holden, or Glenn Ford.

Of course, I’m showing my age here, but most of the movies starring those actors were worth watching. Today’s male stars should be taking their place, but I haven’t seen any of them in a major film this year. Which leads me to the obvious conclusion that Hollywood isn’t making those kinds of movies anymore. Why? Are screen writers not writing good stories? Darn. I didn’t want the reason to be the fault of writers because I’m a writer. However, I don’t write for films and don’t want to. From what I’ve read, writers in Hollywood are the least respected part of the industry. There’s even a joke that the “starlet was so stupid she was sleeping with the writer.”

There are always others who are ranked higher and are free to rewrite anything, leaving the original writer with a plot he doesn’t even recognize or with no final credit for his hours or weeks of work. On the other hand, I’m told they’re very well paid. I guess some find that a seven-figure salary is worth the aggravation. Oh, never mind.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I didn’t bother with the Golden Heart Awards because they’re for unpublished writers. Besides, with 90 novels entered in the Ritas, there’s no room. Yes, 90 books. Contemporary Romance has 31, divided into three categories depending on book length. Plus, there are ten Romance Novellas (call them “extra short?). Historical Romance has eleven entries, divided into Long or Short. When I was a judge for the Ritas a few years ago, there weren’t as many. Even so, I was given seven books to read in a short length of time. More on that later.

Sonali Dev, A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR, Kensington
Natalie Meg Evans, THE DRESS THIEF, Quercus Publishing
Beck Nicolas, FAKE, Harlequin Teen
Kate Breslin, FOR SUCH A TIME, Baker publishing - Bethany House
A. E. Jones, MIND SWEEPER, Self-published
Elia Winters, PURELY PROFESSIONAL, Harlequin-Carina
Alyssa Alexander, THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK, Penguin-Berkley
Patience Griffin, TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE, Penguin-Signet

Winner: Clara Kensie, RUN TO YOU, Harlequin Teen

Tracy Brogan, THE BEST MEDICINE, Montlake Romance
Heidi Cullinan, FEVER PITCH, Samhain Publishing
Jill Shalvis, IT’S IN HIS KISS, Grand Cental Pub.
Nancy Harkness, THE PLACE I BELONG, Montlake Romance
Nicole Burnham, SLOW TANGO WITH A PRINCE, Self-published
Beth Vogt, SOMEBODY LIKE YOU, Simon & Schuster - Howard
Liz Talley, THE SWEETEST SEPTEMBER, Harlequin Superromance
Patience Griffin, TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE, Penguin - Signet
Katy Regnery, THE VIXEN AND THE VET, Self-published

Winner: Jane Graves, BABY IT’S YOU, Grand Central - Forever

Virginia Kantra, CAROLINA MAN, Penguin - Berkley
Tanya Michaels, HER COWBOY HERO, Harlequin - American
Sarah Mayberry, HER KIND OF TROUBLE, Harlequin - Superromance
Jennifer Apodaca, HER TEMPORARY HERO, Entangled Publishing
Lori Wilde, LOVE WITH A PERFECT COWBOY, Harper-Collins - Avon
Tara Taylor Quinn, ONCE A FAMILY, Harlequin - Superromance
Inara Scott, REFORMING THE PLAYBOY, Entangled Publishing
Emilie Rose, STARTING WITH JUNE, Harlequin - Superromance
Caitie Quinn, WORTH THE FALL, Self-published

Winner: Jill Shalvis, ONE IN A MILLION, Grand Central Publishing

Caro Carson, THE BACHELOR DOCTOR’S BRIDE, Harlequin - Special
Julie Miller, BAD GIRL, Harlequin Intrigue
Nancy Warren, BLUEPRINT FOR A KISS, Self-published
Louisa George, ENEMIES WITH BENEFITS, Harlequin - Mills & Boon
Tiffany Reisz, THE HEADMASTER, Harlequin - e-Shivers
Merline Lovelace, HER UNFORGETTABLE ROYAL, Harlequin Desire
Farrah Rochon, YOURS FOREVER, Harlequin - Kimani

Winner: Caro Carson, A TEXAS RESCUE CHRISTMAS, Harlequin Special

Lynda Aicher, BONDS OF DENIAL, Harlequin - Carina
Talia Surova, CALL ME SAFFRON, Self-published
Elia Winters, PURELY PROFESSIONAL, Harlequin - Carina
J. Kenner, WANTED, Random House - Ballantine

Winner: Tiffany Reisz, THE SAINT, Harlequin - Mira

Grace Burrowes, DOUGLAS, LORD OF HEARTACHE, Sourcebooks
Jodi Thomas, A PLACE CALLED HARMONY, Penguin - Berkley
Kaki Warner, WHERE THE HORSES RUN, Penguin - Berkley
Grace Burrowes, WORTH, LORD OF RECKONING, Self-published

Winner: Meredith Duran, Simon & Schuster - Pocket Books

Amy Lane, THE BELLS OF TIMES SQUARE, Riptide Publishing
Debra Cowan, THE COWBOY’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, Harlequin Historical
Elizabeth Hoyt, DARLING BEAST, Grand Central Publishing
Margaret McPhee, THE GENTLEMAN ROGUE, Harlequin - Mills & Boon
Samantha Grace, IN BED WITH A ROGUE, Sourcebooks

Winner: Tessa Dare, ROMANCING THE DUKE, Harper-Collins - Avon

Kate Breslin, FOR SUCH A TIME, Baker Publishing - Revell
Stacy Henrie, HOPE AT DAWN, Grand Central - Forever
Jennifer Beckstrand, HUCKLEBERRY SUMMER, Kensington
Rose Ross Zediker, THE WIDOW’S SUITOR, Harlequin - Heartsong

Winner: Irene Hannon, DECEIVED, Baker Publishing - Revell

Jane Lynne Daniels, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU KISS FOR, Boroughs
Jenn Bennett, BLITHE SPIRITS, Penguin - Berkley
Cynthia Eden, BURN FOR ME, Kensington
Gena Showalter, THE DARKEST TOUCH, Harlequin - HQN
Bec McMaster, FORGED BY DESIRE, Sourcebooks
A. E. Jones, MINESWEEPER, Self-published
Katharine Ashe, MY LADY, MY LORD, Self-published

Winner: Kristen Callihan, Grand Central - Forever

Heidi Rice, 10 RULES TO SEX UP A BLIND DATE, Harlequin - Cosmo
Megan Crane, A GAME OF BRIDES, Tule Publishing Group
Cara McKenna, HER BEST LAID PLANS, Harlequin - Cosmo
Grace Burrowes, KISS AND TELL, Self-published
Lorraine Heath, THE LAST WICKED SCOUNDREL, Harper-Collins - Avon
Robin Lee Hatcher, A LOVE LETTER TO THE EDITOR, Thomas Nelson
Kimberly Kincaid, PUSHING THE LINE, Self-published
Caroline Linden, WILL YOU BE MY WI-FI, Self-published
Kate Hewitt, A YORKSHIRE CHRISTMAS, Tule Publishing Group

Winner: Anna Richland, Harlequin - Carina

Trish McCallan, FORGED IN ASH, Montlake Romance
Katy Lee, GRAVE DANGER, Harlequin - Love Inspired
Tonya Burrows, HONOR RECLAIMED, Entangled Publishing
Carolyn Crane, INTO THE SHADOWS, Self-published
Kimberley Troutte, LOCK AND LOAD, Self-published
Elle Kennedy, MIDNIGHT ACTION, Penguin - Signet
Mary Burton, YOU’RE NOT SAFE, Kensington

Winner: J. D. Robb, CONCEALED IN DEATH, Penguin - Putnam

Elizbeth Fama, PLUS ONE, MacMillan - Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Clara Kensie, RUN TO YOU, Harlequin - Teen
Patty Blount, SOME BOYS, Sourcebooks

Winner: Juliana Stone, BOYS LIKE YOU, Sourcebooks

Having just listed finalists and winners of the Daphne Awards last week, I noticed some familiar names. Apparently some authors submitted to both contests. I‘d have done the same thing, and it paid off for Irene Hannon, whose DECEIVED finaled in the Daphne, but won first place in the Rita. If RWA wanted - or needed - to cut down on the number of books entered, I’d suggest not allowing authors to submit books in more than one category, because there were a lot of those.

I’m not familiar with the rules, so I suppose it was legal for the six authors who did so to submit the same book in both “Best First Book” as well as in another category. RWA could also have disallowed authors to submit more than one book in the same category, which was done by three authors, or submit a book in each of several different categories. Personally, I think it’s great that our authors write so many books every year, but, having been a judge, I’m thinking of those poor souls swamped with so many to read. Maybe I’m pessimistic, but could some judges NOT READ some of the books and just vote for the one from a big publishing house, “assuming” it must be better than those from small publishers or self-published? After all, I’m told some people still think self-published books are a “tsunami of crap.”

But I’m not one of them and I’m thrilled that 13 self-published books finaled. Add to that the 21 books from small presses, and it seems those titles make up more than a third of the grand total. Very impressive. What surprised me most, however, was the large number of books from Harlequin. Yes, they used to be the “premiere” romance publisher, but they’re in a class action lawsuit filed by authors who accused them of massive cheating on royalties. Not my cup of tea.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Daphne du Maurier Awards

Every year the Mystery/Suspense chapter of the Romance Writers of America (affectionately called the “Kiss of Death” chapter) holds two contests for romantic-suspense novels. One is for unpublished writers (and that means unpublished in any genre, not just mystery) who may enter manuscripts, and the other for published writers who may enter their novel published in the preceding year.

Awards are handed out at a party (called “Death by Chocolate) at the RWA Conference (this year on July 22-25 in New York City) In each of six categories, there were four finalists and one winner, and this year they were (drumroll please):

1. Category (Series) Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Natalie Charles, WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, Harlequin
Delores Fossen, RUSTLING UP TROUBLE, Harlequin
Karen McCollough, THE DETECTIVE’S DILEMMA, Kensington Lyrical
Bobbye Terry, THE WIDOW JAMES, Black Opal

Winner: Lena Diaz, TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN, Harlequin

2. Historical Romance Mystery/Suspense
Anthea Lawson, MISTRESS OF MELODY, Fiddlehead Press
Brenda Novak, A MATTER OF GRAVE CONCERN, Montlake Romance

Winner: Amanda DeWees, WITH THIS CURSE, Self-published.

3. Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Elizabeth Camden, WITH EVERY BREATH, Bethany House
Irene Hannon, DECEIVED, Revell
Katy Lee, GRAVE DANGER, Harlequin-Love Inspired
Dani Pettrey, SILENCED, Bethany House

Winner: Debby Giusti, THE AGENT’S SECRET PAST, Harlequin

4. Paranormal (Fantasy, Time Travel, etc) Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Margo Bond Collins, LEGALLY UNDEAD, World Weaver Press
Angie Fox, BEVERLY HILLS DEMON SLAYER, Self-published
J. T. Geissinger, DARKNESS BOUND, Montlake Romance
Rebecca Zanetti, MARKED, e-Kensington

Winner: Liah Penn, PURE DEATH, Etopia

5. Single title Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Melinda Leigh, HOUR OF NEED, Montlake Romance
Tamsen Schultz, WHAT ECHOES RENDER, BookTrope
Michele Sharp, DREAM HUNTRESS, Self-published
Leslie Tentler, FALLEN, Left Field Press

Winner: Kendra Elliot, VANISHED, Montlake Romance

6. Mainstream Mystery-Suspense
Traci Andreghetti, LIMONCELLO YELLOW, Gemma Halliday Publishing
Carey Baldwin, JUDGMENT, Harper Collins-Witness Impulse
Kylie Brant, 11, Cedar River Press.
Libby Fischer Hellmann, NOBODY’S CHILD, Red Herring Press

Winner: Sandra Parshall, POISONED GROUND, Poisoned Pen Press

OVERALL DAPHNE WINNER: Kendra Elliot, VANISHED, Montlake Romance

As I’ve done in the past, I’ll point out which books were published by the BPH (Big Publishing Houses). This list includes Harlequin, since it’s still the best-known romance publisher, (only six titles, when in previous years it often won almost all). And I was being generous. Besides the well-known names (Penguin, Harper-Collins, and Poisoned Pen Press) I also included Kensington and the two inspirational presses, Bethany and Revell, giving them a total of 14. Therefore, it was only fair to put Montlake Romance (Amazon imprint) with small presses and self-publishers, which gives them a total of 16.

Not only did small presses and self-publishers fare better than the BPH, a self-published book, WITH THIS CURSE, was voted best Historical, and Montlake’s VANISHED was voted the Overall Winner. It will be interesting to see how the Ritas fared. Tune in next week.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Last week I read an article about Introverts which reminded me I’m an Introvert and had blogged about the topic a few years ago. Assuming there might be some visitors who hadn’t seen the earlier post, I’m repeating much of it today.

I wrote the original post on February 9, 2012, because of a TIME magazine article on introverts by Bryan Walsh. Among the interesting things he said about introverts was:

(1) They make up about 30 percent of the population.

(2) Introverts are not always “shy, although there’s some overlap.”

(3) Introverts don’t shun people. They just prefer them in smaller groups and less often. For example, I love intimate dinners of four to six people. Big cocktail parties not so much.

Walsh says this is especially difficult to do in America, which he calls “the land of the loud and the home of the talkative.”

Because we introverts are outnumbered and the culture expects people to be outgoing and sociable, we can be uncomfortable in situations that extroverts enjoy. To make matters worse, those who don’t understand our personality can be unintentionally cruel. They may chide or even insult us, or treat us as if we have some silly problem we just need to “get over.”

Make no mistake. We’re born this way. Scientific studies have shown that small babies exhibit behavior that marks them as future introverts. If the parents of such a child are extroverts, they may try to influence his behavior, thinking it’s not normal, causing, at an early age, the tension that goes with feeling different. At the very least, parents may feel that their child will not have friends or be successful in life.

Not to worry, Introverts learn to adapt early and there are plenty of occupations which require what introverts are good at, such as thinking things through.

Yes, it turns out that we introverts are actually smarter than extroverts. We make fewer wrong decisions, are less likely to get into danger, and take better care of our health. And why not, when we spend most of our time reading or thinking, while extroverts are bungee-jumping or talking?

Walsh mentions well-known introverts, such as Mahatma Ghandi, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mother Teresa. He names no famous authors, but I suspect most writers are introverts. Why else are we so happy alone, or at our computers, inventing stuff?

What about you? Are you an introvert? How do you cope in our mostly-extrovert world?