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Buried Under A Pile of Fantasy Books: Your Wildest Dream Come True

5 Feb

by Madeline Iva

Hello my pretties — have you seen this contest for fantasy and fantasy romance lovers? The prizes are sick.

You can enter to win my book WICKED APPRENTICE, plus 20 fantastic epic fantasy novels–from authors like Bree Barton and D.K. Holmberg among others.

PLUS you get FREE ebooks just for entering–from an amazing collection of authors.

PLUS a brand new eReader.

You know you want it–enter the contest by clicking here: http://bit.ly/magesandsages-feb2018

This BookSweeps contest ends Mon Feb 12th. Since this giveaway ends soon, make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck! When you’re done, dwell on the fact that you’re about to be showered in books and prizes.

Litsy: What You Get if Goodreads & Instagram Have a Baby

11 Dec

by Madeline Iva

Dear readers–Hello! I am here today with Melissa Norr, a librarian that I met on a blogger panel at Washington Romance Writers a few weeks ago.  Melissa is going to tell us all about a new–well, new-ish–app called Litsy.  

MELISSA NORR: Litsy is an app-only book focused social media. It’s relatively young in that it has only been out a few years on iPhones and only about a year for Androids. It is often described as “if Goodreads and Instagram had a baby” and that’s pretty accurate.

How Litsy works

Sample Litsy page

Much of the content on Litsy is book based in that Littens (Litsy users) post books they are reading or want to read as well as short reviews of books they have read. Every post requires that a book be tagged but despite that there are non-book related posts, mostly in the realm of sharing likes and dislikes so Littens can get to know each other. There are also many pet related posts and #catsoflitsy and #dogsoflitsy are popular tags on the app.

That said, like most social media, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. Interaction is key on Litsy. Following, posting, liking, and commenting are the key to growing your Litfluence (a score generated by Listy based on interactions) and gaining followers.

The Littens @raimeygallant, @TrishB, and @julesG created and collated a #LitsyTips tag with some wonderful advice and hints for joining, using, and getting the most out of Litsy.

MADELINE IVA: Given the hesitation that many timid folk may have about getting more involved in Goodreads you might want to check this new app out.  I think our own lovely Kiersten Hallie Krum put it best: Goodreads is fabulous! But it can go from friendly to toxic in the time it takes a sports car to go from zero to sixty.  Melissa, are there any reviewers you’d recommend?

MELISSA NORR: If I use tags in reviews, it is usually a genre tag like #romantsy for romance or #ilovecozies for cozy mysteries. That said, anyone who follows me (or another reviewer) will always see everything we post in their feed. Litsy doesn’t use an algorithm to decide which posts show up – you see everything posted by the people you follow in chronological order.

I recommend following people based on what they review. For instance, if you write urban fantasy then follow folks who have left reviews on books in that genre. That said, the more people you follow, the more people will follow you and build your network.

Madeline Iva is the twisted sister you always wish you had.  She’s also the author of the fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice.  Check out her other Lady Smut postsJoin her newsletter or follow her on Facebooktwitter, and PinterestWicked Apprentice

Guess the Lady Smut TBR Stack–Win $10 Amazon Gift Card!

4 May

Hi RT Orphans! Does your TBR pile have some of the same titles as ours? Let us know–leave us a comment below. 🙂 Want to buy the book on our TBR list? Click the link.  Meanwhile, here’s another fun game you can play at home.

FIRST Read the TBR lists. THEN guess which list belongs to which blogger. Your blogger choices are below & we’ve abbreviated the longer names for you. We also provided some hints.  THE FINAL STEP IS TO email us at LadySmutBlog@gmail.com with your guesses. The first reader to email us the most correct answers wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

CONTEST ENDS FRIDAY MAY 5th AT 12PM PST!!!!!

OUR BLOGGERS:

Elizabeth Shore

G.G. Andrew

Kiersten Hallie Krum (KHK)

Alexa Day

Rachel Kramer Bussel (RKB)

Elizabeth SaFleur (ESF)

Isabelle Drake

Thien-Kim Lam (TKL)

Madeline Iva

Ready to play? Here we go——

Lady Smut TBR List #1

Hint: This blogger is a foodie who loves diverse romances & sex toys

  1. Alpha by Jasinda Wilder
  2. Nine Kinds of Naughty by Jeanette Grey
  3. The Muse by Anne Calhoun
  4. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  5. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Lady Smut TBR List #2

Hint: This blogger likes to share all after a few dirty dates. ; > 
  1. The Pawn by Skye Warren
  2. Trophy Wife by Alessandra Torre
  3. The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke
  4. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
  5. The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

Lady Smut TBR List #3

Hint: This blogger is a big fan of New Adult romances, secrets, and other crazy, sexy topics.

  1. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
  2. Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  4. Deadly Testimony by Piper Drake
  5. Ghostland: An American History of Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Lady Smut TBR List #4

Hint: This erotica author loves blogging about TWD, kidnapping & a few other illicit topics.

  1. Truly Helpless by Joey W. Hill
  2. All the Lies We Tell by Megan Hart
  3. Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Chorderlos de Laclos
  4. Slow Surrender by Cecilia Tan
  5. The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres

Lady Smut TBR List #5

Hint: This blogger is wild about reviewing her fav authors.

  1. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
  2. The List by Tawna Fenske
  3. Madly by Ruthie Knox
  4. Beyond Doubt by Kit Rocha
  5. Edge of Ruin (set of 3 Viking Dystopian Novellas) by Megan Crane

Lady Smut TBR List #6

Hint: This author blogs about edgy topics of desire including: swallowing, tattooing, cross-dressing–even Jewish Swingers. 

  1. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
  2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
  3. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  4. The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose
  5. Beyond Ruin by Kit Rocha

Lady Smut TBR List #7

Hint: When this author wasn’t all tied up, she’s blogged about CW’s Riverdale.

  1. Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler
  2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  3. DC Comics Bombshells: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett & Marguerite Sauvage
  4. Initiates of the Blood by Cecilia Tan
  5. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Lady Smut TBR List #8

Hint: This blogger is a capital BDSM Erom author

  1. Bombshell by CD Reiss
  2. Truly Helpless by Joey W. Hill
  3. Royally Matched by Emma Chase
  4. The Chosen by J.R. Ward
  5. The List by Anne Calhoun

Lady Smut TBR List #9

Hint: This author loves blogging about wicked villains & paranormal television shows.

  1. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  2. The Unlikeable Demon Hunter by Deborah Wilde
  3. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  4. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
  5. A Darker Shade of Magic V.E. Schwab
Send off those answers and follow us at Lady Smut. If you want to know the about the latest fun when it comes to sex, romance books, and pop culture–we won’t leave you guessing.
Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Heroines of Destiny!

23 Mar

You could go to college and get married — or you could be a brown fairy with wings instead! Choices, choices, choices.

by Madeline Iva

Go to college, have a career, get married, have children.  Is this the modern woman’s destiny? What if you don’t tick one of those boxes? I’m moderating a panel called HEROINES OF DESTINY on Saturday, 10AM at Virginia Festival of the Book, so I’ve been questioning the concept of destiny lately, especially for women who swim against the strong current of societal expectations.

The ancient Greeks thought of destiny as inescapable–your fate would find you no matter what.  Struggle as hard as you could against your destiny, the outcome would still be the same.  Cassandra is the ultimate heroine of destiny — Her inescapable fate was signed the moment she rejected Apollo’s advances, and that was that.  He cursed her with the gift of prophesy; no matter how often or how much she warned people of their fate, she was never believed. Yet she kept trying to over and over to change the outcome, only to watch events play out the way she foretold–even her own death.

Moving forward a thousand years or so, our panelists (including Pintip Dunn, NYTimes bestselling YA author) will discuss how their book’s heroines are fighting a certain destiny — whether it’s to marry and have children, to accept the loss of a lover, or to remain locked up in prison for a crime that hasn’t been committed yet.

I love the idea of a heroine who changes the course of her life because she’s fallen in love.  I see these works as feminist because the women go against the grain of their lives according to society’s expectations yet it all works out in the end.  Here are some of my fav fantasy examples:

THE LITTLE MERMAID: having fins while your loved one has legs is a pretty big romantic obstacle to overcome.  The Little Mermaid was very bold and plucky when it came to pursuing the object of her love–right down to changing her fundamental physical being–even though she had to pay a very large price.  Let all those considering plastic surgery and other gendered forms of modern torture beware.

STARTDUST: Yvaine is a star, who’s destiny is to twinkle in the sky and watch the doings of men from afar.  Yet she decides to abandon her place, and come down to the world of men to explore their hearts, as well as experience their joys and suffering.  I have some serious issues with parts of this novel/movie, but I appreciate the idea of a great and powerful star forging a new destiny for herself–with the man she loves.

Yvaine is a star who rocketed to earth and met her one true love.

Another way to think of HEROINES OF DESTINY is to think of powerful women who shape the lives and change the future of those around them.

THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD: Sybel is content with her own solitude and magical menagerie far from the world of men until fate brings her a baby and a flame haired hero.  Then she is drawn into the snarled paths of men’s destiny.  I love how McKillip shows Sybel, using her various powers to shape and thrust aside the male forces around her rather than become their pawn.  Sybel takes her time and sounds her own heart in her decisions about how to forge the future.  Though the world of men shakes and angers her, ultimately, she finds a way to shed their petty resentments, fear, and bitterness. She finds her way to true love by the end, yes, but more importantly she discovers the path back to the calm stillness of her heart that makes her serene and content.

Sooooo good!

And finally — by far and away my favorite:

MALEFICENT: A fairy creature (Maleficent) and a boy become friends–the first way in which Maleficent goes in a different direction from the other creatures in fairy land.  At one point Maleficent (now grown) is betrayed and loses her wings–a kind of symbolic fairy tale rape.  What happens after that is partly shaped by Maleficent’s determination to avenge herself, and partly shaped by her wounded heart.  The movie offers an unexpected twist at one point — wherein Maleficent, now the wise protector and leader of her land in times of crisi, can shed her identity as victim once and for all.  I LOVED THIS FILM SO HARD.  It really made me want to cheer.  Though it is not in a typical m/f  love story or romance, it provides that same kind of deep joy and overcoming of obstacles that make us romance peeps so very happy.

In my novel WICKED APPRENTICE, Zephyr averts disaster for the people and the land all around her once she becomes a powerful sorceress.  Meanwhile, her desires and magic work upon the hero until he goes from being a tortured, reclusive wizard into a magnificent hero who is the only one that can end a decades long war. She is most definitely a Heroine of Destiny — and if you haven’t read the book yet you should– it’s only .99!

Are you the heroine of your own destiny? What great heroines do you love –and how do they shape the the lives of those around them?

And follow us at Lady Smut–we’re fated to be together.

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Waiting for Godot: Living Through Series Delay

13 Mar

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Recently, an author for whom I am a big fan–in fact, I think it’s safe to say I am a superfan–released the first book in her new series. Cue the confetti. Strike up the band. Huz-freaking-zah. Right?

This new novel is in a new genre for said author and is the start of a three-book series, the remainder of which will come out throughout the rest of the year. Goodness abounds, yeah? Well, no, not really.

The author is rightly super excited about her new foray, a genre into which she has long been noodling on her own, ramping herself up to finally go for it. She also values her readers and is enough in tune with them to know not all of her dedicated flock are going to happily trot along behind this new venture. To this end, she’s taken great pains to explain the long path that’s brought her to write this series. She’s posted blogs on her web site and on social media patiently laying out, not her argument, because she needs make no defense for following her heart into writing the stories that have been weighing on her or so long, but an explanation as to what led her to make the decision to pursue this series. No author or any creative force, is obligated to take this sort of effort to, essentially, state her case. She’s done this with grace and care, and I have a lot of respect for her, or rather, even more respect for her, for doing so. And I’ve read enough of her books (over and over and over again) to feel confident that she has hit it out of the park.

That said, I’m unlikely to read this series because its genre is not in my wheelhouse. Like I said, I’m a superfan and have deep dived into this author’s extensive back list. That said, there’s a dozen or more of her novels I haven’t read, or ones where I’ve read the first in the series and the genre and situation didn’t/doesn’t appeal to me.

But, I’m woman enough to admit, this time, I’m a little miffed.

This is not because this author has written a series in a genre I don’t like, which leaves me going nearly a year without new goodness from a favorite (my choice, admittedly). Okay, it’s not only because of that. Mainly though, I’m miffed because this author has at least two unfinished series for which I am rabid and another series that readers (including moi) have been greatly anticipating for years, all of which are being denied for something new. Instead of working on what is already in play, she’s taken a new creative direction and thus created another new series.

I don’t want a new series. I want the books that have been explicitly or implicitly promised for existing series I’m on which I’m already thoroughly hooked. I want the series installments for which I have been (im)patiently waiting.

And yes, I would like some cheese to go along with that whine, thank you very much.

Look, I’m miffed, I won’t lie. That’s the reader side of me. I want my jones for those existing series to be fed. I got hooked on one of them fast and deep only to have the brakes slammed on the three or four books yet waiting to be written. Now I hafta wait out this unwelcomed series and hope that maybe next year there might be a hint of these upcoming books being in the works much less the break off series that has been promised for years.

But the writer side of me gets it. Sure, you have to sit and write whether the Muse or the spirit or whatever floats your boat gets your butt in the chair and your hands of the keyboard or not. Especially if you’re a full-time writer making a living off your words. You have to produce pages in order to get paid. It’s much easier to do this when you’re passionate for the project, when you’re driven to get that story out of your system. A writer can’t always pick and choose what story grabs her and when. In order to be true to reader expectations of the quality of your work, you have to make sure your commitment to that work is on par. That doesn’t always mean giving them the story they think they want. I know enough to know it doesn’t always work that way. Added to that, when an opportunity presents itself to do something different, something you’ve been somewhat secretly working on or leaning toward for some time, you don’t say no. You pursue that opportunity with prejudice if necessary. No author jumps off into the deep end of something new, knowing you might be risking a portion of your readership and therefore your livelihood by making a drastic turn in what you’re writing. Don’t get me wrong, I totally support this writing and admire her for having the guts to pursue this direction for which she clearly feels substantial compulsion.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want those upcoming books that I’m keenly anticipating to suffer from a rush job either. If the author isn’t feeling those stories, isn’t prepared to live in the heads of those characters, I sure don’t want her to force herself to write them simply to appease her readers’ desires when she’s not prepared to tell those stories. That disappoints everyone.

Look, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve waited on a series. Diana Gabaldon cranked out Lord John novels and novellas in-between her Outlander tomes. We all know the pain and suffering G.R.R. Martin fans have been going through for decades. Cripes, Godot shows up more often than new Game of Thrones novels.

Maybe I’m feeling this one so keenly because to me, it feels like a waste because I have no desire to read this series. This means I now have to wait for it to burn out so she can get back to writing what I want, because I’m a selfish superfan in need of her jones. God forbid she come out with an announcement later this year that she’s writing more installments in this new series. I may just plotz.

It’s a weird line to walk. I support the author’s new endeavor because I like her and I dig her work hard. I’ll probably read it too at some point, despite my dislike of the genre, because I’m curious to see how her voice comes through in that situation. What her unique take on the genre turns out to be. But I also resent it because it just means more and more delays until she writes the stories I’m waiting for with ever so-much-less patience.

The writer/reader relationship can be so wonky.  There’s an ownership a superfan feels when they’ve invested time and emotion and dollars into a writer, or any content producer really, and then something happens that makes the reader feel as though they’ve been gypped. It’s not just in books either. Lord knows, I’ve railed and fumed when TV shows and movies don’t fulfill the promise of relationships or story lines. It’s gotten to the point where I refuse to invest in a TV series until I can wait out the will they/won’t they of the primary ‘ship. (Do *not* get me started on Arrow’s abysmal treatment of the Olicity ‘ship, which has made me stop watching the show altogether.) This resentment I’m feeling now is along the same lines, the continued disappointment of not getting what I want, no matter what the motivations or desires of the content provider. And yet, as a content provider myself, I understand the creative and marketplace demands that may take precedent over one reader’s (or a thousand readers’) preference.

Have you been disappointed by a writer or other content provider’s creative decisions? Are you waiting for a book that feels like it might never come? Have you had a favorite author go in a direction you don’t like? Tell me your experiences in the comments!

Lady Smut is out and about in the wild again. We have a hot and spicy event at the upcoming RT convention in May. Share your sexy secrets at the “Never Have I Ever, Ever, Ever” game with in-person Lady Smut bloggers Elisabeth SaFleur and Isabelle Drake. We’ll have more information on the event in the upcoming weeks so be sure to follow Lady Smut so you don’t miss a trick!

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

 

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

I Love You, iBooks!

27 Feb

This week’s guest post comes from Lyla Bellatas, author of The Real Fling series, standalone, saucy vacation romances that begin as a fling, but end up as the real thing. Lyla was a hard convert to digital books and is here today to tell us why. Welcome Lyla!

I was born a reader–loved the feel, the smell, the look of books from the beginning. It was always my escape. I could get lost in a bookstore for hours looking for my next adventure. I’d reverently pick up a book, sniff it, let the feel of the pages soak into my skin. They were presents waiting to be opened. I adored looking at the covers and yes, I’ve judged more than one book by its cover.

deeper

Click on image to buy!

When my brother got sick we took him to many hospitals chasing a miracle. I’d sit at his bedside while he was asleep and read. I read to flee the horror of watching his young life fade away. Reality was too cruel to deal with, so I ran away, mentally. I remember the books I read during his last six months, vividly. I devoured them and they seared into my soul, ever so thankful they kept me company during the most awful time of my life.

When I was on bed rest during my pregnancy I was incredibly anxious. Bed rest is not as easy as it sounds. I’d get daily deliveries from Barnes & Noble and I’d be good for a little while, but it was never enough. More times than not, I’d open a book to find it lackluster, and I’d be crushed for the day.

I remember the joy and relief on my husband’s face when I got Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was huge at 870 pages. My husband thought it would keep me busy for a week. Yeah, he underestimated me. One of the few and probably the last time he did. By the time he got home that night, I was done and jonesing for my next fix. The look of disappointment and horror on his face was comical, now. Not then.

When Amazon introduced the Kindle, I balked. I kicked and screamed. No! How could I enjoy reading without the accompanying sensual pleasures? Ha! This time I underestimated me.

What I didn’t take into account is my obsession with books. It’s the stories that I couldn’t live without. The escape.

I can’t say I’ve ever been a collector of anything but books. Every trip to a bookstore would have me leaving laden down with a stack of new prizes to explore and a lot less money in my pocket.

hotter

Click on image to buy!

I’d slip my latest read in my pocketbook to sneak a page or two throughout my day. When I was traveling, books were always the hardest things for me to pack. I’d sit on my bed with them spread out before me trying to choose which ones would make the cut. How many I would be able to read in the week or so I’d be gone? The worst was deciding which would go in my carry on. What if I got on the plane, cracked open the book and decided I hated it? Then what? So, I’d over pack and my back would pay the price.

Today, with more than 4,000 books in my iBooks and a few hundred in my Kindle app, I don’t have to choose anymore. They all come with me wherever I go. It’s amazing! I can read without stuffing books everywhere you could imagine. My back thanks me!

I’m still a collector but now I browse Goodreads, Amazon, and blogger sites looking for new books to add to my collection. And, as such, I’m reading more. I read when I’m waiting online or when I take a break. I can read at night without turning on the light. I LOVE that! I read at red lights or when stuck in traffic (shh, don’t tell anyone). I don’t freak (well, almost) when the doctor’s office keeps me waiting. What a revolution! I love you iBooks.

head-shot

Romance author Lyla Bellatas

Born Armenian American on Long Island’s Gold coast, Lyla has defied convention and morphed too many times to count. Beginning her career as an engineer, she swiftly made the move to marketer then drifted to digital design, printing CEO, and tarot enchantress, collecting stories along the way. As with her career, Lyla’s passions have also led to many outlets. She’s a high performance race car driver and driving instructor, poker player without the face, loves to shoot pool and although she hates being away from home she does enjoy exploring new places.  She was gifted her first tarot deck during a chance encounter in an elevator. Innately empathic and claircognizant, tarot unlocked the natural witch within. Lyla has taught tarot, pessomancy (reading stones) and reading junk oracles. She’s read tarot, stones and junk professionally for decades and still reads with or without a deck when the moon shines just right. Swept off her feet by a handsome Greek she met at the race track Lyla finally found her happily ever after as a wife, mother to a beautiful, spirited daughter, and writer. They live in the NYC suburbs and love the fast-paced brutal honesty, great restaurants, arts, and energy that define New York City. And they never fail to light a new/full moon candle charmed now by three.

Follow Lady Smut and be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t missed a single, sexy second.

The Kama Sutra: More Than Tab A and Slot B

7 Feb
Need a roadmap? Look elsewhere. Want to think? This might be the book for you.

Need a roadmap? Look elsewhere. Want to think? This might be the book for you.

By Alexa Day

Want to hear a secret? Sure you do.

Pretty soon, we’re going to announce a giveaway. Aren’t you excited? Nothing like a little random chance to make the day go by faster, I find.

But while you’re waiting to hear more about the giveaway, I thought we’d spend a few minutes with one of the classics.

Do you have a copy of the Kama Sutra?

I do. It’s not a new copy; I’ve had it for years. Mine is the Danielou translation. It’s complete, unlike the Burton translation. Burton was known to skip over the parts that made him uncomfortable and then use euphemism to render the rest of the book incomprehensible. Not so with Danielou. It’s still not the easiest thing in the world to read, but at least it’s all here.

My copy isn’t illustrated. There’s a large contingent of readers who question the utility of a Kama Sutra without illustrations. I’m not sure I’m convinced, either. Reading about the sex positions without the illustrations is a bit like reading assembly instructions without diagrams. Sure, you’ll probably get the project finished eventually, but you will wish for a picture many times before you’re done, even if the picture isn’t especially helpful.

Truth be told, though, the positions aren’t the most interesting part of the Kama Sutra. Not even close. So if you have a copy with no illustrations, have no fear.

The best part of the Kama Sutra, to my mind, is that it will make you think.

There’s a chapter entitled Virile Behavior in Women, which describes the alternatives available to women who had not been satisfied by their lovers. Scratching and biting each get their own chapter. I never imagined there was so much to know about scratching. Apparently, there are eight kinds of scratch marks, where I would only have counted one.

There are six chapters on courtesans, and a great deal of attention is devoted to the emotional difference between a relationship with a lover and commerce with a courtesan. And of course, there’s the challenge of reading the positions without illustrations, if you want to put your visual imagination through its paces.

The Kama Sutra isn’t a how-to, despite its format. It’s more of a cultural study. But it’s interesting to examine what life the Kama Sutra brings to today’s sexual culture.

And it lends a bit of weight to one’s shelves. Right?

Follow Lady Smut. You won’t need a map.

Walk the Walk by Turning the Page

31 Jan

2017-ls-reading-challenge

By Alexa Day

Black History Month starts tomorrow, and this year, I’m mindful of our #ReadHotter challenge. You saw that, right? We threw down the gauntlet about a month ago with ten reading challenges, which I’ve placed here again for your reference.

This year, we again challenge you to read “a book with main characters of a different race or culture than you.” We had the same challenge last year. I’ve always felt some sort of way about it, to be honest. See, for a great many readers for a great many years, the mere act of reading romance was reading books with main characters of a different race or culture. Hell, for me, writing romance is writing characters of a different race or culture.

But today we live in a climate of frankness and openness. We’re called upon to be allies, to protect and understand each other. We can’t fall back on the same old stand-bys of black history.

We all have to do better. We have to teach better, and we have to do a better job of learning. That’s going to be hard for everybody.

(We do all need to be allies for each other — for everyone. You’re hearing mostly about black people today because I’m a black author and next month is Black History Month, but be ready to hear something similar from other sources.)

For our purposes today, I’m presuming that you all have at least bought a book with main characters of a different race. I want to push you a little harder, though. I want to ask you about the book you bought with an author of a different race or culture than you. Because I presume you have at least one of those, too. Seriously, if you don’t have at least one Beverly Jenkins book by now, you’ve earned the side-eye I’m giving you. It might also be any one of the other books I’ve recommended on Lady Smut over the years.

Go put your hand on that book. If it’s on your Kindle, go pull it up. I’ll wait.

Got it? Okay. I’m going to ask some in-your-face questions.

Have you read that book? Have you actually read that book written by a black author?

Did you read all of it?

Did you talk to anyone about it? Did you recommend it? Review it?

Did you ask any questions it raised for you? Did you examine the ways it challenged you?

I’m not just asking because our #ReadHotter challenge requires you to actually read the book. I’m not asking because I want to make sure you check off the little box on your Good Reader list.

I’m asking because actually reading that book you bought is more important than it’s ever been.

Buying the book — whenever you bought it — is a fantastic gesture. It’s an effective way to support diverse authors and the call for diversity in publishing, and I will never tell you that isn’t important.

You’re not going to get any answers that way, though. You’re only going to move forward if you read the book and act on it by leaving a review, asking questions, and going deeper.

It’s not enough any more to just buy that book. It’s wonderful and all, but just having that one book doesn’t make you an ally. It doesn’t make you an activist. You’re going to have to read it.

Read that book. Then read another one with a different author. Consider the way the heroines walk through the world — the billionaire socialites, the ancient queens, the 18th century doctors. Travel through ancient Africa and the American South still smoldering after the Civil War. Immerse yourself in the authors’ blogs as well as their books.

(Just as a start, go check out Alyssa Cole’s blog and her books — you will not be disappointed there. I promise.)

We serve each other by going beyond the mere gesture. Buying that book, in order to support that author and the call for greater diversity in publishing, is absolutely fantastic. But reading it — taking in the places where your viewpoints differ, where the author’s culture teaches you something, where you have something in common — benefits both you and the author. Reading it is where we go beyond mere talk and good thoughts and move toward real understanding.

So … what are you reading this month?

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Hoarding: The Secret Life Of A Book Addict

8 May

By Elizabeth Shore

In addition to reading romance – lots and lots of romance – I’m also a big fan of the horror genre. Not only Stephen King, whoseBuried in books work I’ve been reading since I was fourteen, but other horror writers as well including Clive Barker, Dan Simmons, and Dean Koontz to name just a few. In recent years I’ve also become a fan of Stephen King’s son, who writes under the name Joe Hill. His work is really good, and I await his new releases with nearly as much gusto as I do his father’s. So when Mr. Hills’ newest book, NOS4A2, came out recently, I dashed to the bookstore the very day it was released in order to scoop it up.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course. It’s not like I’m robbing banks. But here’s the thing: my to-be-read pile is at least 75 books long. And I’m not talking electronic books (because that would push the total even higher), but honest-to-goodness printed books. Hardcovers. Softcovers. Bound books, ink on paper, taking up space on my limited bookshelf. To top it off, I  live in a small apartment where space is a premium. Yet what did I do in the face of a space crisis? I went out and bought yet another book. Even more: while I was at the bookstore, I inquired whether or not Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth was out in paperback yet. ‘Cause if it was, I was buying that, too. (thankfully, it’s not until July 2. I’ve got it marked on my calendar). So here I am, friendly readers, baring my soul. My name is Elizabeth Shore, and I’m a book addict.

My book addiction sprouted roots when I was a Tween, probably eleven or twelve. Back then, I used to get as birthday and/or Christmas presents a gift certificate to Waldenbooks. Oh, those were heady days! Having that gift certificate in my hand, walking into the bookstore and seeing all those new, fresh books just sitting there, on the shelves, awaiting my potential acquisition. I could barely contain myself. I was like Imelda Marcos in a Jimmy Choo store!

Books take me away, sweep me into a world of fantasy, romance, adventure, excitement. Naturally I love the stories in the books. What reader doesn’t? It’s the whole point, after all. But I also love the books themselves. I love how they feel when I’m holding them. I love running my palm across the cover of paperbacks and feeling the raised lettering. I admire the antiquated look of ragged edged hardcovers and note how handsome they look sitting atop my shelves. It’s an addiction, I tell you, and one that I’m thinking needs to stop.

Once I’ve read a book, I rarely read it again. There are a few treasures, of course. But for the most part, it’s one and done. I read it, enjoy it, and move on to the next, devouring each and every one of them like a starving cookie monster. I’m beginning to fret about the fact that I have no room for more books, as well as the amount of money I’m spending on them. Really, I need to be directing my hard-earned cash toward more practical things. Like food. I don’t actually need to own a single book. There are libraries, after all. I can read books for free and then return them and never have to worry about squeeeeezing yet another book upon my groaning shelves. But seriously, how boring is that? I don’t actually need nice handbags, either. A sack cloth would do the same trick. But how pale life would be stowing my stuff in a sack, just as it would be having shelves with no books.

Whenever I lament to my husband about being struck with buyer’s remose over buying books, his go-to response is always, “hey, at least you’re not snorting the money up your nose.” Well, no. I’m certainly not doing that. I am, however, supporting writers, and that’s assurance enough for me that if I’m going to have a vice, there are plenty worse ones than buying books. If only I lived in an airplane hangar.

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