Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Doubting Sex by Geertje Mak

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.)

Doubting Sex by Geertje Mak:

An adolescent girl is mocked when she takes a bath with her peers, because her genitals look like those of a boy. A couple visits a doctor asking to 'create more space' in the woman for intercourse. A doctor finds testicular tissue in a woman with appendicitis, and decides to keep his findings quiet. These are just a few of the three hundred European case histories of people whose sex was doubted during the long nineteenth century that Geertje Mak draws upon in her remarkable new book. Doubting sex offers a refreshingly new perspective on the relation between physical sex and identity over the long nineteenth century. Rather than taking sex, sexuality, and gender identity as a starting point for discussing their mutual relations, it historicizes these very categories. Based on a wealth of previously unused source material, the book asks how sex was doubted in practice - whether by lay people, by hermaphrodites themselves, or by physicians; how this doubt was dealt with; what tacit logics directed the practices by which a person was assigned a sex, and how these logics changed over time. Mak highlights three different rationales behind practices of doubting and (re)assigning sex: inscription, body and self. Sex as inscription refers to a lifelong inscription of a person in the social body as male or female, marked by the person's appearance. This logic made way for logics in which the truth of inner anatomy and inner self were more significant. Rich in fascinating examples and clear in argument, Doubting sex will be stimulating reading for academics in related fields, and make an accessible addition to reading lists for courses on gender and sexuality studies, queer studies, social history, history of medicine, and science and technology studies. [February 14, 2012]

I cannot WAIT to read this one. Not only does it speak to my heart and soul, but it fits in wonderfully with my Transcending Gender Reading Challenge. Here's hoping I can get my hands on an advance copy . . .hint, hint, cough, cough. :)

How about you? What are you waiting on this week?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

QMO REVIEW: Nobody Gets Lucky by Giselle Renarde

This afternoon brings another of my reviews for Queer Magazine Online. For those of you who have never stopped by, it's a free LGBTQ social networking site, complete with news, travel guides, magazine style articles, and (of course) book reviews/news.

Click here for my review of
 Nobody Gets Lucky by Giselle Renarde

As always, a big thanks goes out to Serena Yates for giving me a chance to once again contribute to her wonderful site. It really is worth exploring, and there's definitely more than enough book reviews, book news, and author features to keep you busy and top off your to-be-read piles.

As always, here's to even more reading, reviewing, and sharing a love of books!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Beyond Binary edited by Brit Mandelo

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.)

Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction edited by Brit Mandelo:

From the introduction: There are many ways to break, transcend, challenge, subvert, and fuck with strict binary ideas about gender, sexuality, and identity. Speculative writers like James Tiptree Jr./Alice Sheldon and Samuel Delany have done it for decades; in 1969, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness posited a world in which people are agendered for the majority of their lives, and the novel won both the Hugo and the Nebula. We still have the Tiptree Award, devoted to fiction that plays with and challenges ideas about gender, and it’s been going strong for two decades. After all, speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination — and what better for us to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes?

The thing is, stories about genderqueer and sexually fluid identities are still hard to find, even in a field active with speculation on gender and sexuality. They tend to pop up here and there, scattered throughout magazines and collections, and in queer publications that tend to get less attention from the SF readership. This book is an effort to collect and present some of the best of those stories in one place. [May 1, 2012]

I cannot WAIT to read this one. Not only does it speak to my heart and soul, and not only does it fit in wonderfully with my Transcending Gender Reading Challenge, but it's edited by the wonderful Brit Mandelo! Here's hoping I can get my hands on an advance copy . . .hint, hint, cough, cough. :)

How about you? What are you waiting on this week?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: The Public Pretender to M.D. Cliatt

I've just finished writing my debut novel, The Public Pretender. Whew! What a long and winding journey, but I like getting lost on the highways in the world of my imagination. A few times, I got off on the wrong exits--or, should I say different exits because it’s my imagination and nothing in there is wrong per se, just weird. I started writing it four years ago, and I’m glad I made it to the end.

Because I was mad about things I noticed in the juvenile justice system, I began writing a guide to educate more families in my community. As I wrote, a creative spring erupted in my mind, and I couldn’t force myself to stay within the rigid lines of legal exposition. It seemed fitting because I always found myself using analogies, examples and stories to explain to kids ranging in age from ten to eighteen what was happening to them in court.

The story is about a fiery criminal defense attorney, Maeven Dayne, who specializes in representing juvenile defendants. When it comes to her job, she’s driven and passionate. When it comes to her family, she’s devoted, but her job is demanding and distracting. She pleases her husband when she decides to quit her job to spend more time with the family. But, on Maeven’s last day at work in the courtroom, a juvenile probation officer she despises drags a weeping young girl before an irritated judge for an unscheduled hearing while Maeven is packing up her things to leave. She is walking out of the courtroom, fighting her urge to turn around when she hears the probation officer had the girl incarcerated for weeks without notifying her parents or arranging for representation. Maeven can’t resist the girl’s pitiful pleas for help and intervenes.

She discovers people are profiting from imprisoning innocent kids. A whistleblower ends up dead, but he’s left clues. When her oldest son is beaten, arrested and detained on false charges, her husband receives a message proposing an offer: Maeven must quit the girl’s case, or they lose their son. The problem? Can she sacrifice one for the other?

My book buddy and I had such different views about Maeven. We debated her methods, her motivations and how she treated friends and family. My friends had differing views too. We agreed that we were fascinated by her former client’s shady character, found her youngest son’s snarky humor terribly funny, and we really loved the way her husband loves. I cried over her oldest son’s scenes. Yes, I cry and laugh at passages in my own book; my husband thinks that’s weird. Because of the ongoing debate, I’m not done with Maeven. She’ll live on for one more book. She’ll have to wait until I’m finished writing a fantasy novel with my sons, but I’ve already have the plot for her worked out and can’t wait to get back to her.

Feel free to drop me a line. http://mdcliattbooks.blogspot.com.

Purchase links:
Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY! Monica has offered up a free ebook copy of The Public Pretender to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment below to enter!

About M.D.: I'm a wife and a mother who loves to tell stories. I was born and raised in Georgia, but now I live in Central Pennsylvania.  I'm a staff attorney in a law school clinical program, and I'm an adjunct law professor who teaches juvenile justice and legal writing. I used to be a public defender specializing in representing children, and for the most part, loved the work. I thrived on the heat of courtroom battle, but the highs are very high and the lows are very low and I burned out. Now, I spend time grading papers, supervising law students as they represent indigent clients in court and reading with my sister in our long distance book club.

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Haevyn: Humanotica Book 2 by Darcy Abriel

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.)

Haevyn: Humanotica Book 2 by Darcy Abriel:

Everyone has their poison. For Haevyn Briena, it’s her inability to resist a dare. This time it’s a challenge from her friend and lover, Grisha, to sneak into the popular, illegal cage fights that always end in all-male orgies. Eagerly she snaps up the gauntlet, unaware that she will end the night forever changed.

When expatriate humanotic warrior Entreus locks eyes with Haevyn at the sex-fueled event, he is instantly captivated. Despite a duty that binds him to an exiled malevolent sorcerer, he seeks her out in a shattering, illuminating encounter.

Grisha’s plan is in motion—to bring both his warrior lovers together and heal their scarred souls with a combined passion that he alone cannot provide. But Haevyn’s tormented past refuses to die. And Entreus will not rest until the Core that ruined his life is destroyed.

Amid ever-tangling emotions and a brutal plot to take over the city, the three lovers walk a tightrope that could be cut at any moment. Fighting for justice, bound by duty…and a love that could alter the foundations of their world.

Warning: Watch out for oiled-up, naked trinespined warriors battling for top position, feisty tracer females that fit oh-so-snugly in between, and sexy nights that segue into complex relationships. Beware of tebitcheckers wielding those nasty little contulators at illegal, testosterone-drenched cage confrontations.
[Mar 20, 2012]

Okay, so I'm not technically waiting, since Darcy was kind enough to provide me with an advance copy (big hugs and kisses, hon), but that doesn't mean I'm not squealing with delight at the opportunity! Those of you who have been following my blog for a while now will know that Silver, the first book in the Humanotica world, was one of my favourite reads of the last few years (check out my review here), and I have high hopes for this.

How about you? What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

REVIEW: The Whip by Karen Kondazian

First of all, before I get into the review, I have to point out that The Whip is an honest to gosh, cross my fingers, true story. It’s based on the life of Charley Parkhurst, a young woman who, following the death of her husband and child, spent much of the 19th century tracking down their murder . . . as a man.

This is an authentic old west tale, complete with a lynching, stagecoach chases, gun fights, and more. It’s the story of a woman who is so successful at being a man, not only is she allowed to vote (oh, the horror – LOL!), but she successfully takes her secret to the grave – or so close that it doesn’t really matter. There are, admittedly, some liberties taken with her story, but more to flesh out the grey areas than to significantly alter or misrepresent anything about her. That’s an important distinction to make, because she is most definitely not your typical heroine. In fact, at times, she is downright nasty.

Reading Charley’s story, you really get a sense of what life was like for a young, widowed woman in 19th century America. In hindsight, it’s all too easy to see her as a kind of social rebel, a precursor to the feminist movement of the mid 20th century, but the truth is she was guided by two things – the need to survive, and the desire to avenge her family – and advancing women’s rights wasn’t one of them. Charley’s life was a difficult one, both before and after losing her family, with one obstacle after another forced into her path. I daresay most men wouldn’t have been able to continue under such conditions!

The early scenes at the orphanage, with the cruel headmistress and boy-cum-monster are a bit over-the-top, but not so much as to detract from the overall story. They really help to set up Charley as a young (wo)man with potential, while her budding romance with an African American blacksmith is a nice touch, further establishing her as an early outsider.

I must say, Charley’s transformation certainly doesn’t paint the men of the time in a very flattering light, but it’s honest and down-to-earth. It’s about more than just dressing the part – it’s about walking the walk, talking the talk, and acting the role 24X7. She learns to smoke, chew tobacco, cuss, and fight with the best of them, but to Kondazian’s credit, she never comes across as some ‘butch’ character – we know there’s a woman at the heart of Charley, but the necessities of life dictate a different path.

Very well-written, this has the feel of something like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven – a raw, realistic, powerful western that stays well away from the spaghetti roots. If you're taking part in my Transcending Gender Reading Challenge, this would be a great read to kick things off.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

QMO REVIEW: Unknown Futures by Jessica E. Subject

This evening brings another of my reviews for Queer Magazine Online. For those of you who have never stopped by, it's a free LGBTQ social networking site, complete with news, travel guides, magazine style articles, and (of course) book reviews/news.

Click here for my review of
 Unknown Futures by Jessica E. Subject

As always, a big thanks goes out to Serena Yates for giving me a chance to once again contribute to her wonderful site. It really is worth exploring, and there's definitely more than enough book reviews, book news, and author features to keep you busy and top off your to-be-read piles.

As always, here's to even more reading, reviewing, and sharing a love of books!


Friday, January 13, 2012

18 and Over Book Blogger Follow

The 18 & Over Book Blogger Follow is a weekly feature that begins on Fridays and runs through the weekend, hosted by Crystal from Reading Between the Wines.

Q. What is, or was, your most anticipated release this month (Jan.)?

I've gotta go with The Pet Shop by KD Grace:

In appreciation for a job well done, Stella James's boss sends her a pet - a human pet. The mischievous Tino comes straight from The Pet Shop complete with a collar, a leash, and an erection. Stella soon discovers the pleasure of keeping Pets, especially this one, is extremely addicting. Obsessed with Tino and with the reclusive philanthropist, Vincent Evanston , who looks like Tino, but couldn't be more different, Stella is drawn into the secret world of The Pet Shop. As her animal lust awakens, Stella must walk the thin line that separates the business of pleasure from the more dangerous business of the heart or suffer the consequences.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

REVIEW: The Crossdressing Anthology Volume 1 by HunnyDo

A collection of HunnyDo's first five published stories, The Crossdressing Anthology is a rather well-written collection of transvestite erotica that could, admittedly, benefit from one more round of proofreading, but which is still a cut above much of the self-published erotica available on Amazon.

What immediately struck me with the collection is the common thread of self-confidence, acceptance, and even pride that links the stories. In each story, the protagonist is somebody entirely at peace with their gender diversity, and only too happy to acknowledge being a sissy. There is no self-conscious angst, no paralyzing fears, and no all-consuming doubts to detract from the experience. As a result, the humiliation and degradation that is so often common to the 'sissy' sub-genre of transgender erotica is refreshingly absent.

Each story is anchored very much in the realm of fantasy, with a common theme of being caught or exposed, but they're all plausible fantasies. Okay, so maybe Sissy Girl's First Date is a bit too good to be true, and maybe Sissy’s Biker Adventure stretches the limits of plausibility, but not so much that fantasy disconnects you from the story. Before we get to the fantasy, however, we get a nice amount of character building and exploration. Each story introduces us to the sissy protagonist, allowing us to get to know them as real, relate-able, identifiable people before we slip into their fantasy world. Again, getting back to the idea of self-confidence, these are sissies from otherwise normal homes, with otherwise normal, responsible lives, who just happen to express their gender and sexuality a bit differently.

Perhaps what struck me most about the stories, though, was the attention to detail. Clothing is, as you might expect, described in just enough detail to allow the reader to share in the joy of crossdressing, but not so much that it gets redundant. From colours, to fabrics, to textures, to the very feel of the material against the skin, and (perhaps most importantly) to the emotions evoked by dressing, it's all here. Even more delightful are the little cosmetic touches that add a bit of sparkle to the story, like the "beautiful, bright pink Mercedes two door convertible" and the "sterling Silver butt plug . . . adorned with a very large blue sapphire."

Make no mistake, these are very erotic tales, and absolutely meant for adults only. You're never going to find them shelved next to great literature at the local Chapters or Barnes & Noble, but they are (as I said originally) a definite cut above much of what can be found online. If you're at all curious about the lovely HunnyDo, this is a nice collection, appropriately priced, and well-suited to exploring her world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

REVIEW: Trust Me & Songs for Guitar and French Harp

Originally released as part of the Wild Passions anthology, Elizabeth Hyde's Trust Me and Angelia Sparrow's Songs for Guitar and French Harp are now available to be purchased and read separately (as are the other titles from the anthology). When Kris offered me the chance to review a few selections from the anthology, these two just jumped out at me, demanding a read.

Trust Me is a slice of sci-fi erotica involving a womanizing reptilian cadet who suddenly finds himself the subject of a very different kind of attention, thanks to a profile secretly posted to a male-on-male oral encounters site by his best friend, Sera. In this far-flung future, sexuality is no more taboo than hair colour (Koit has none), skin colour (Koit sports brown scales), or planet of origin (pretty much all the cadets are aliens), so he decides to give the boys a chance. Koit is a great character, just different enough to truly seem alien, yet human enough that we can still relate to him. His encounters are as humorous as they are erotic, with the young man forced to learn his way around the wants, desires, and physical sensations of other men. More bi-passive than bi-curious, the way in which he's completely oblivious to the fact that his male partners should be any different than his female partners in how they accommodate his alien member is just delightful.

Songs for Guitar and French Harp, on the other hand, is a much darker, post-apocalyptic tale. Set in a travelling freak-show carnival, it stars two genetically engineered animal constructs, one part bear (Arthur) and the other part lion (Gordon). As property of the circus, love between them is forbidden, but Arthur grew up with an adopted father who treated him like a person, positioning him to expect more from his lot in life. As I said, this is a very dark world, but Arthur brings a sad sort of innocence to the story, even as he tries to play the hero. More sensual than erotic, this is a story of forbidden love between young men who are as more animal than human. I would have liked to learn more about Daddy Frank, whose kindness sets the story in motion but, overall, this was a really interesting tale that works on all levels.

"Waiting On" Wednesday - The Pet Shop by KD Grace

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.)

The Pet Shop by KD Grace:

In appreciation for a job well done, Stella James's boss sends her a pet - a human pet. The mischievous Tino comes straight from The Pet Shop complete with a collar, a leash, and an erection. Stella soon discovers the pleasure of keeping Pets, especially this one, is extremely addicting. Obsessed with Tino and with the reclusive philanthropist, Vincent Evanston , who looks like Tino, but couldn't be more different, Stella is drawn into the secret world of The Pet Shop. As her animal lust awakens, Stella must walk the thin line that separates the business of pleasure from the more dangerous business of the heart or suffer the consequences. [Jan 15, 2012]

This one sounds like a ton of fun!

How about you? What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

REVIEW: The Forester by Blaine D. Arden

In many ways, this story reminded me of the work of Tanya Huff (a fantasy author whom I have always loved), albeit with a far healthier and far more forward dose of eroticism than she generally indulges. The Forester is the story of an elven truth seeker called upon to investigate a murder, and forced to revisit the pain and betrayal of lost love when his former lover is revealed to be involved with outcast forester who is the crime's only witnesses.

Romantically and emotionally, there's a lot going on here for such a short story. Kelnaht was betrayed by the man he loved, who left him for a woman, and who is now involved with another man, to whom Kelnaht is attracted. The result is an akward, tentative, uncomfortable ménage à trois that manages to do justice to the entire relationship evolution, without slighting any of the characters.

The story itself is wonderfully well-written, creating a very visual fantasy world within the reader's head. The most extravagant details (like wings) are woven in so subtly, nothing feels drastically different or completely out of place. The dialogue is a bit more modern than you might expect, but entirely fitting in the CSI police procedural mode, but the use of magic to accomplish the investiation is what really makes the story shine. If I had one complaint about the story it would be that the investigation takes a back seat to the romance a bit too much, but both work well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

REVIEW: Chains and Chocolate by Bonnie Bliss

Chains and Chocolate is . . . well, and erotic tale of chains and chocolate. You can’t be any more up front with the reader than that! Actually, this is a sweetly (pun intended) erotic story with a real-life twist that makes it more accessible to a novice reader, while still managing to entertain the most experience hardcore BDSM aficionado.

Here we have Marie, a young woman who has always dreamed of submitting to the perfect Master, and who has worked to bring her boyfriend into the fantasy. Initially reluctant, seeing it as a depraved, perverted, unnecessarily harsh activity, Neil’s resistance slowly crumbled before his wife’s insistence. With some heavy training behind them, the now happily married couple have moved into the dream house and are ready to christen their personal dungeon.

This is a story of a relationship brought closer through the shared joys of dominance and submission. It’s not just a story of a power exchange, but of an emotional exchange as well. It’s a very intimate story as well, taking place in the home, between two people who clearly love each other very much. There’s no public humiliation involved, no club scene, and no exaggerated fetish lifestyle. The story begins with the domestic banality of doing laundry, and ends with the domestic eroticism of melted chocolate in the kitchen. More than that, it’s a story that explores life on the other side of the fantasy, with Neil taking care of Marie afterwards (something we all too rarely see in BDSM fiction).

As for the writing, it’s sharp and crisp, conveying an immediacy to the scene. The characters are so wonderfully developed that you really come to care for them, and to enjoy the scene with them. It’s also a very hot read, with lovingly detailed descriptions of just what Marie must endure as the hands of her beloved.

2011 Indie Lit Awards - Short Listed titles announced!

The 2011 edition of the Indie Lit Awards is now closed for nominations, and the short lists of nominees has been announced.

As a proud Voting Member this year for the Speculative Fiction category, I'll be reading the following:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Candlewick)
The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Viking)
11/22/1963 by Stephen King (Scribner)
Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor Books)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Crown)


If you are a blogger, please consider helping to promote the awards by posting about program, posting your nominations, adding a badge to your blog, or doing whatever you can to get the word out.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Now Available - Frock Issue 12

I am delighted to announce that Issue #12 of Frock Magazine is now available, once again featuring my "From the Shelves of the Bibrary" book review column. This month's column features some 'covert' reads - otherwise mainstream novels and memoirs that can safely be shared with friends and love ones, but featuring strong transgender themes, allowing them to be used as a kind of literary litmus test of acceptance and understanding.

Completely free, and available digitally, Frock Magazine is one of the finest transgender lifestyle magazines around, and one that prides itself on being coffee-table friendly (i.e. free of any erotic content, suggestive ads, etc.).

Don't just pick it up for my column, though - the magazine has a wonderful variety of articles and features, looks absolutely gorgeous, and is a wonderful read. Please hop on over to Frock Magazine and give it a read today!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

INTERVIEW: Joy Argento (author of Emily's Art and Soul)

Good morning, all! I am absolutely delighted this morning to introduce you to Joy Argento, author of the lesbian romance Emily's Art and Soul, who has stopped by for our first interview of the new year.

Before we get into the interview, let's take a quick look at her newest release:

Emily's life's "to do" list never included having her mentally challenged sister move in with her. Then again getting a divorce or moving to a different town for a new teaching job wasn't on her list either. But a lot of things change when your mother dies. Sometimes these unexpected changes can bring new self revelations and unexpected turns. Emily's best friend, Andi stands patiently by while Emily discovers her new found sexuality and sets out to explores the world of loving women. But, will Emily see what's right in front of her before it's too late?


♥ Thanks so much for stopping by, Joy! For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.

I have spent the last 15 years of my life as a freelance artist. A friend suggested that I try my hand at writing because she liked the way I “told stories”. I thought she was crazy until I decided one day to take her advice and wrote a really bad biography. Just the act of writing it stirred something in me and created an urge to write a lesbian romance. That led to another and I have just completed the first draft of my third novel.

♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

I started writing about two years ago. Before that the last serious things I wrote were in high school and a college course…a good many years ago. It was surreal when I saw my first book in print.

♥ Did you deliberately choose lesbian romance as a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

I choose lesbian romance because it’s what I enjoy reading the most. No matter how my life is going, I love being transported into a new love story with a well written book.

♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?

Whether I set out intentionally using my own experiences or not, that is what comes through in the characters. My own emotions and weakness seem to become my characters traits. My second book, Emily's Art and Soul, features a character with Down syndrome. That character was based on my younger brother Charlie. So yes my past definitely influences my writing.

♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?

Occasionally the words come when I am not expecting them. If I can get to my computer at that time, I do. If not, I try to write it down on whatever is available. Other than that, I write on my laptop in the family room, surrounded by my partner, the dog, and four cats. Often the television is on…usually blaring. For the most part I am able to tune everything out and write. Once in a while I have to put my ear buds in and play music to get the rest of the world to go away.

♥ How about a soundtrack? Do you have a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?

When I do play music it is usually songs from Glee. I only use music to drown out other sounds.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

Once I start a book, I come up with a title. I don’t usually stick with that title and trying to come up with the “real” title is very hard for me. Writing the blurb for a book is equally as difficult.

♥ Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Something that reminds you of why writing is important to you?

Sami swallowed hard. She didn’t want to have this discussion, but she knew there was no chance of a future with Faith without it. “Are you afraid of going to hell?”

She felt Faith nod her head against her shoulder. “I am. Aren’t you?”

“No,” Sami hesitated. Her fingers tips continued to stroke Faith’s back. “I’m afraid of displeasing God and what that might mean. But I don’t think I’m going to hell. If you remember, I don’t really believe in hell. But Faith, if I did believe in hell, I don’t think us loving each other would cause God to send us to there. But if it did, I would go to hell if it meant I could be with you.”

Faith sat upright in bed, her hand holding the sheet to her chest. “Don’t say that. Oh my gosh. Don’t say that. Don’t you see I could never let you risk your immortal soul for me? I could never let that happen.” Faith slipped out of Sami’s arm and out of the bed.

♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

I’ve had characters say things that I didn’t expect them to. In the story I’m writing now, Faith tells the best friend of Sami, that she still has feelings for Sami. I expected the friend to just sort of nod and listen. Instead she went on a rampage telling Faith to stay away from Sami. It wasn’t what I had planned on writing, but it made total sense that the character would do that.

♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?

I am an artist when I’m not writing. I do oil painting, drawing, pastel and color pencil. I also do “How to” art DVDs, using my own lessons and videotaping other artist’s lessons.

♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who refreshes your literary batteries?

Georgia Beers is my personal hero. I’ve loved her books since I read her first one years ago. I fall in love with her characters and always miss them when I finish the story. I look to her work as a model for what I want to do with my writing.

♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

I always have the reader in mind as I write, but it is important for me to be personally satisfied with a story. If I enjoy writing it and then rereading it for edit, then I know I’ve done my job.

♥ What first compelled you to begin writing, and what is it that keeps you motivated?

My friend, Chris first compelled me to write. I stay motivated because I have so many story ideas in my head, and I am interested to find out what these stories are about and who is living the stories. I love getting to know the characters and being surprised and amused by them.

♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?

I am absolutely in love with Sandra Bullock. She is beautiful, funny and smart. I’m thinking that having breakfast, that stretches in to lunch, that stretches into dinner, that continues on to drinks in the evening, would be nice. (Is that asking too much?) Of course she discovers how interesting and funny I am and decides that she wants me to be her new best friend.

♥ If your book were being made into a movie, and you had total control over the production, who would you cast for the leading roles?

The first book I wrote (but it was the second one published)  Emily's Art and Soul would have Anna Silk playing Andi. Anna stars in the Canadian series, Lost Girls. Emily is still being cast in my head. I am holding auditions if anyone would like to try out. Mindy (Emily’s sister) would be played by Lauren Potter, who plays Becky on Glee.

♥ If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?

I would be Jennifer in Georgia Beer’s book Thy Neighbor’s Wife. She’s beautiful, rich and she gets the girl.

♥ Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?

Each of my books has a theme. Carrie and Hope is about letting fear rule your life.  Emily's Art and Soul is about missing what’s right in front of you. My next book, Holding on to Faith is about overcoming beliefs that were pounding in your head to be true to yourself.

♥ Okay, I think you've already spilled the beans, but what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

I am really hoping to release my next book, Holding on to Faith in late January. It is in the hands of my first readers right now and I am awaiting feedback. I should have it to my editor in early January. The cover is designed and ready to go. The book can be summed up in one line. What would you do if the one thing standing between you and the woman you love is God?


About Joy:Joy Argento spent most of her life creating visual art. Her award winning paintings and drawings have found their way into countless public and private collections around the world. The same gift of observation that gives her art such a feeling of depth and reality is also very evident in her writing. Dealing with such serious subjects as death, teen pregnancy, and religious beliefs, she still manages to inject a good amount of humor in each story. Her characters are people you would like to know, to have lunch with, to fall in love with.

Joy was born and raised in Syracuse, New York and currently lives in Rochester, New York with her partner, four cats and a dog. She is the proud mom of three grown children.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

HOLIDAY REVIEW: Marley & Red Satin Christmas

A rather belated Happy Holidays to everybody! I had fully intended to get reviews of these posted before the holidays, but life (as is often the case) just didn't cooperate.

Marley - The Other Christmas Carol by Donald Allen Kirch:

If you saw my review of The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight, then you know I'm a fan of Don's work. This is a very different story from that one, but it has the same kind of imaginative twists and narrative strengths to draw you in. A sequel to Dicken's original take, this one catches up with the ghost of poor Jacob Marley a century or so later, this time in a home that is already rumoured to be haunted . . . and currently occupied by the Kringle family. When a fight breaks out between Kathy's parents, an idly muttered prayer from the family butler gives Marley a chance at redemption.

A sweet story (without being sappy), Marley offers up a well balanced mixture of supernatural chills and domestic tension, as well as an entirely satisfying conclusion. I will say the presence of the butler initially put me off (does anybody really have a proper butler anymore?), but he is quite endearing and, as it turns out, rather instrumental to the tale.

Red Satin 3: Red Satin Christmas by Giselle Renarde:

The third in the Red Satin series (following Red Satin and The Night Before Red Satin Christmas), this is another wonderfully well-woven tale by one of my all-time favourite romance/erotica authors. Fulfilling the promise of family drama hinted at in the last volume, this story reunites us with Regan and her transsexual girlfriend, Maisie, for a little holiday romance. I've been wondering for almost a year now who Jerry's mysterious companion was, and I'm delighted to say my guess couldn't have been more wrong. Their arrival (and subsequent news) turns up the family drama quite a few notches, while the surprise arrival of Regan's father cranks it all the way up to ten.

Normally, I'm not one for stories of family drama, since I try so hard to avoid the very same dramas in real life. Giselle has done such a fantastic job of developing her characters (and their relationships), though, that I had to make it through to ensure they were all right. Of course, it helps that Regan and Maisie get more intimate alone time than in either of the first two novels, bringing an entirely different rosy glow to my cheeks.