Bloody Battle Rounds

On the voice, it’s becoming clear this season that not only does Adam have a crazy good team with talent to burn (or poach if you’re another coach) but he is clearly amazing at creating crazy good duets.  The crying shame is not not that the singers who lost had to go home (two got poached and Adam told Patrick he wants to keep working with him) but that The Voice is no longer putting the duets on iTunes.  Instead, you get to hear the winning artists rendition.  Now this may not be so bad in the came of Sarah Simmons, but Judith Hill, Amber and Midas Whale’s versions won’t be nearly as good without the wonderful contrast of their duet partners.  Here’s a sampling of hulu clips that highlight Adam’s team’s talent.

Remember you can find my blog posts at LadySmut.com on Mondays and Thursdays.  Follow me — the button is on the right there.

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Out, Broken, & Saved–The Shocks Keep Coming on The Voice

VoiceThey pull it off every year.  These whacky battles just confound my expectations.

For instance: Christian Porter is knocked out of The Voice.  Oh the humanity! Christian was one of my top favorites from the blind auditions.

He's out!
He’s out!Christian was one of my top favorites from the blind auditions.

Meanwhile, who would have thunk it, but Usher–the man destined to rein as coach supreme–broke his little red-headed girl, Miss Taylor Beckham.  Broke her.  As in, he– Usher–just snapped her confidence in two.  Why would he do a think like that? What was he thinking? Meanwhile, who knew her confidence would snap so easily?

Here’s what happened: It was a three punch knock out:

First he gave her a song that was way beyond her years and experience to convey.  Amy Winehouse had been to hell and back by the time she was 17.  Miss Taylor didn’t become an olympic gymnast hopeful by being trouble and letting people know she was no good.

She's got sad, sad, eyes. Hopefully Blake wants her for more than cannon fodder.
She’s got sad, sad, eyes. Hopefully Blake wants her for more than cannon fodder.

Then, while Taylor’s hopelessly lost trying to find her inner sexy button, Usher attempts to help.  He walks off a ways and saying to lure him in.  Bring it, Taylor.  But he’s Usher. Usher!  I mean, the guy oozes seduction.  What unprepared woman would be able to handle that?  I’m sure she found the experience surreal.  Why oh why couldn’t he have thrown some pimply PA down a dark corridor and let her try to give her inner siren call a whirl with that dude? Then maybe she won’t have been so overwhelmed.

The last straw was when, lost and bewildered, she just needed a hug. Instead, Usher wrapped up the session in a professional way, giving her a few more helpful notes in a very nice sounding voice.  But it wasn’t the help she needed.  She didn’t find a way into the song and now she wasn’t going to, because time was up.  That’s when we saw her confidence snap.  Poor Taylor crawled away, still lost and already defeated.  Hopefully Blake–who’s good with youngin’s–can put her back together.

Amber Carrington, you rocked it.
Amber Carrington, you rocked it.

Then there are the folks who I NEVER expected to make it this far. Swon Brothers I’m looking at you. Okay I get it.  The older one is funny.  He’s fast on his feet.  He and Blake have a natural rapport. He gets Blake and Blake gets him.  I’m still sore about it.

Then there’s Garrett.  He sounded better than the other guy, I’m just amazed that he did sound better than the other guy.  Still not a huge fan, Garrett.  It’s probably not your fault.  I’ll admit it, I just don’t care for your stinkin’ looks.  It’s totally subjective.

Some of the rounds were so good–here’s the best one of the evening.

Now let’s talk strategy.  I think Blake is doing chess player moves.  Surely people want to see a duo get farther than they have the past three seasons.  If he’s looking a few rounds ahead, I bet he matches the Swon Bros. up against the Twins so that a duo makes it to the third round.

Let me make some predictions: I think that Adam’s team is going to look scary strong by the end of the battle rounds but I think he’s still going to sound like a whiny twit.

Do you all have any predictions out there?  I’d love to hear them.

If you want to follow my blog, just click on that lil’ ole button to the right.  You can also pop over to Lady Smut where I blog Mondays and Thursdays.  xo -Madeline

Your Voice Dream Team

Yes the blind auditions are over. Yes, there’s some really good stuff going on this season and I am as sucked in as ever.  Last season on The Voice website they had some sort of ‘build your own Voice dream team’ kind of thing.  I regretted not doing it after a few weeks and they don’t seem to have that option this year.  So here’s my Voice dream team–I’ll track them and see how I do.

I Think Blake has the best team this year:

Here are my Top Picks:

Christian Porter's figured out he's sexy.
Christian Porter’s figured out he’s sexy.

1)Christian Porter

2)The Morgan Twins — duos have yet to make it past the first round in the past, but I think this year we’ll see at least one duo bust through and become a major threat.

3)Savannah Berry

Fun pick: Christian Porter (so he’s a double threat)

4)Fun pick: Grace Askew (best name ever!)

Adam started off with so many four chair singers.  I think he has the next best team:

Top picks:

5)Sarah Simmons

Judith6)Judith Hill

7)Midas Whale

Fun pick:  Midas Whale –so they’re a double threat

Secret Threat: Patrick Dodd (Sarah mentioned she used to go see him perform in Memphis, I was meh about him, but we’ll see if he’s hiding something)

I DO NOT LIKE: Warren Stone (in one clip he seemed like the sexy firefighter. Maybe—but watching him interact with his children made me think something’s wrong there—his little girl would NOT look him in the eye)

Usher didn’t get some good picks until towards the end—but I have a feeling he do a lot with what he’s been given:

My top picks:

8)Jessica Childress

9)Ryan Inness

10) Fun pick: Audrey Karrasch (irrevent, love her hoarse voice)

Taylor
Taylor –Usher’s eyes lit up with cash signs when he saw her.

11) Think he’ll favor Taylor Beckham—the female version of Justin Beiber.  His eyes lit up with a fanatical glow when he turned around and saw her.

Poor Shakira has only one singer that wowed me.  I just hope she can pick up some more heavy hitters in the battle rounds when coaches can steal.

12)My final pick is Monique Abbadie — so who would you pick?

Blog Much?

Hi Readers! Hi VRW ladies.

Searching for blog material? My first and foremost tip is this

FOLLOW YOUR BLISS.

(Unless that bliss is 100% about self-promotion.)

If I read a book by Kim Harrison that I liked, I’ll blog about it. I don’t care if it’s her latest book or if it was written back in the ’90’s.  Meanwhile, if I tag that blog Kim Harrison, her readers will find me and my blog, and that’s a good thing.

Some of us at VRW have been discussing the wonders of The Virginia Festival of the Book lately.  This event is coming up in our neck of the woods.  Here are some tips about how to use an event like the VABook Fest to focus your blog topics.

I blog about events that I’m going to before I go to them.  This is easy-peasy.  I simply revel in my enthusiasms and dreams for the event. Who’s going to be there, who am I particularly looking forward to seeing, what questions would I like to ask of the participants, the panelists, etc.  I also like to blog about my favorite sub-genres that will be featured at the event.

This is a particular no brainer if you actually write in that sub-genres.  I blog about what I’d like to get out of the event–either to meet an author face to face, or to find out an answer to a burning question.  Events are fun if only because sometimes it’s just the chance to connect with people that I never get to see enough of at our romance chapter meetings. Some times it’s enough to just smell the heady whiff of success in the room.

So may successful bloggers are good at taking their reader’s pulse.  They see if readers are excited or curious too, and get all kinds of replies on their blogs.

Meanwhile, blogging about someone else’s book can be a launching point to discussing your own book/your book’s similar themes/struggles–or your own journey in publishing.  Sometimes you can approach an author via FB or twitter and ask a question and relay the answer in your blog.  If you’re REALLY bold you can reach out to that author to ask if they’d be willing to engage in a Q&A session on your blog.

My advice is to go for it.  Only don’t take is personally if you don’t get a reply or the reply is ‘no’.  A lot of authors are overwhelmingly busy. Also, the bigger the author, the fewer questions I ask. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if you blog about an author and hear back from her in your comments section.  A lot of authors use google alerts.  The authors who have contacted me this way have often suggested giveaways to go along with the post or have been very pleased that someone is noticing her work.  They’ve been darlings–it makes me feel motivated and happy to have these connections happen.

You can also take the easy way out and reblog something from one of the author’s blog posts that you liked. Just make sure everyone knows you’re reblogging it.  I also try to write reviews of an author’s books that I really liked.  For me it’s not even about praising the author for a job well done.  It’s about digesting what I read and identifying the unique successful qualities of the book.

Meanwihle, I would sincerely welcome seeing posts from my VRW sisters about your dream panel, or posts about your ideas for “10 Wacky Romance Panel Titles” etc.  Yes, this is because I’m already thinking about next year’s VABook Fest.

  • The main thing about blogging–if you decide to blog–is this:  you’re demonstrating that you know how to choose thoughtful topics that relate to your book and start building an audience of readers.  For instance, if you write romantic suspense, and we’re having a romantic suspense panel, talking up the panel and its authors will help you build your own romantic suspense audience.

Of course there’s no point in blogging if no one knows the post is there. Tweeting out a link to your blog or posting a link to it on FB will help you engage with readers.  Use that TAGS section to tag the blog with the names of authors or topics in your blog.  Discussing the latest romance darling or news-worthy trend in romance actually will draw an audience to you.

  • Some other blogging tips: 1)Include photos — check creative commons for the free stuff. 2)Include links to your topic. I like the author’s name to her website, her book to where you can buy it, etc. 3) Friend or follow the author and use her Twitter handle in your tweet about your blog post or paste your link on her FB author page.  4)Stay on target–try to keep away from mundane topics or filler.  Search around for what inspires you to write your story in your sub-genre and take a moment to thoughtfully share something about that inspiration. 5)Be funny, witty, sexy, and full of pathos.  Imagine these are the first and last words someone will ever read by you.

Good luck!

Screaming For More: Mary Burton’s Dying Scream

screamI’m ready to scream this morning after tangling myself up in Facebook for over an hour. Does anyone really understand how those wacky author pages work?  I’m taking a breather to do something fun — like chatting with you about Mary Burton’s, DYING SCREAM.

Now, this isn’t Burton’s latest book.  Her latest book is THE SEVENTH VICTIM.  DYING SCREAM came out in 2009, but I picked it up last year and plunked it on my TBR pile (Which is so toweringly high I give one of those silent Edward Munch screams every time I peek at it.)

screamyDYING SCREAM is my favorite Burton novel to date.  This book reminds me of an early Mary Higgins Clark. There’s a hard working heroine named Adrianna who’s pretty perfect.  Normally, I’d not be very sympathetic to Adrianna as a character, but life has handed her a heavy load to bear for the last few years and you’d need to be pretty perfect to keep chipping away at all the problems in it, as Adrianna has. As she’s working through a massive heap of both emotional and work-a-day world woes, you wonder if they will ever end–and that’s just when the spooky-creepy factor starts to build.  Adrianna gets a loving note, but it’s from her dead husband.

What I like about Burton’s skill in this book is that once that fear of a crazy stalker sets in for Adrianna, she starts thinking back.  She’s perhaps been too busy to notice, but maybe he’s actually been around for awhile.  The ripples spread far and wide in her mind as uneasiness spreads to all areas of her life.  Being an extremely busy woman, she’s not exactly surrounded with people to support and protect her.  It’s more like she’s alone in an empty dark building at night, counting out cash and paying bills. I certainly can relate to this workaholic scenario of tired isolation. I really enjoyed the way Burton started cranking the tension from there.  She also does that really good Higgins-Clark move of providing a wide array of male suspects who are both appealing and likeable, yet they all have a little kink in them that could potentially reveal something nasty.

SeventhThe cherry on top for me in this book was Gage Hudson, detective as well as Adrianna’s former love interest.  The writing Mary Burton does around these two in their moments of sexual intensity were SO DAMN GOOD.

That’s all I’m going to say.  It’s a romantic suspense thriller after all.  I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.  Meanwhile, you can see Mary Burton in person this year at The Virginia Festival of the Book in March.  On Saturday, March 23rd, she’s appearing over at Crime Wave but she’s also on a panel at 4pm called KISS KISS BANG BANG.  Writers on this panel will talk about romantic suspense and how to injecting that romantic intensity into works of mystery.  I’m definitely going to ask Mary about how she makes her wound up readers melt.  There’s a book signing right after the panel, and you can find the details here.

Promote that Thang!

Hi readers! Hi lovely VRW ladies —-

Book Festival 2013 - Date - Add contact Info - ColorWe’re launching the social media campaign for Love Fest–the day of romance panels at Festival of the Book 2013.  So how do we get everyone on the same page? Some people love social media, know how to use it well, know exactly why we should be promoting the authors appearing at the fest, and are ready to hit the ground running.

But frankly, some of us fear/loathe social media.  Some of us are unsure about why we’re doing this in the first place.  Some are still unfamiliar with or just meh about the authors who are coming.  (Jehanne Wake—who’s she???) Finally, a lot of us may already have plenty on our plates, so what exactly are we getting out of all this blogging, tweeting, etc?

Let me try to answer some of these questions below.  In the coming weeks, I’ll also provide strategies for those that need it every Wednesday. I welcome all comments here or on other social media platforms.  The next step in our campaign is to just start sending social media related to the VA Book fest out.  Whatever you send to me, I promise to pass on to the rest of the posse and my readers. I’ll cross my fingers and hope you do the same.  If we suddenly find ourselves bonding over mutually shared interests, a strong sense of cameraderie, and orgasmic excitement about VA Book Fest–that’s a bonus prize. ;>

1. What can we do, why are we doing it, and why when we’re so busy should we take the time to promote others?  

What can we do?

I like blogging.  You may like tweeting. I encourage you to do what social media you like best.  We’re posting social media about anything and everything relating to the romance events at the festival. Tips on blogging, tweeting, fb posts, and how to get the most out of being at a romance event will be coming in the following weeks.

Why are we doing it?

With all of us sharing posts/tweets/blogs around, you’ll be expanding your network to a wider local audience and also helping bring people out for the day.  (Pat yourself on the back for that.) You’ll have the chance–even as an author in the audience at the event–to meet potential readers, mention your book, and the VRW table will be loaded with your bookmarks, your swag, etc, so you might actually wind up getting a bump in book sales. (Who knows?) You might even want to bring books to give away in our gift baskets.  One free read can lead to other sales you know…

Finally, with a directed focus, you might get better at social media.  You might gain insights into what works best for you or want to model off of others. At the very least we’re creating a sense of solidarity and enthusiasm about ourselves and about romance–professional romance authors do this all the time.

Why should we take the time to promote others?

Angela James is whip smart when it comes to author branding.  James recommends you follow the 75/25 rule for social media.  Write/tweet/post about OTHER people/books/topics 75% of the time.  Relate these things back to your books and your brand 25% of the time. Liz Everly is a great example. (Note Liz not promoting her new book as much as she’s promoting the genre, specific authors specifically, and–a real soft sell move–a give away to her readers.)

Finally, let me address some of the elephants hanging around in the room.

2. Who are these people, how did they get chosen to come, (and not me) and why should I really engage with them?

Who are these people?

KimCheck them out.  Most of them are names with big sales and/or have some affiliation with VRW. Some were here last year and wanted to come back.  We don’t realize quite how big Festival of the Book is simply because it’s been there for forever, and it’s right in our own backyard.  Yet these authors were very excited to come to the event and they spread the word around to each other. They all know each other.  Get it? They know each other.  So by coming to the fest, tweeting with them in advance, and being ready to engage–you have an opportunity to get to know them.  They also have reputations for being excellent panelists.

Basically it’s an entertwined social grid of successful authors. I want to be a part of it–don’t you? Okay, a part of me can suddenly get overwhelmed and intimidated by the whole thing if I think of it as one big chunk.  But if I think about just one small bit of it at a time, I can deal.  So this is one small bit: creating social media that links your name with theirs and the fest.

The first step: follow, follow, follow.  Below are ladies who comprise our social media campaign.  Are you connected to them through Fb, Twitter, Google +? Take a few minutes and hook up to your new social media buddies.  Want to join us? Let me know in the comments, or through twitter, etc. and we’ll fold you into the mix.

Second step: If you’re blogging about the fest or authors, etc, then I suggest you post a link to that blog on Fb & Twitter & Google+ so we can find it.

XO, Madeline

Twitter links: @tinaglasneck, @lori_dillon@nicoledgreen @sherryink @SapphirePhelan @leahstjamesStephanie Gurnsey Higgins is @whatacoolidea@AlexaJDay @nara_malone@lucybalch@lizeverly01, @madelineiva

[WHO IS THIS LADIES? I could NOT read her writing: Geri (?) Starma (?) @geri_starma01]

Folks on Facebook: Tina Glasneck, Sandy Raven, Julie Dove, Lori Dillon (Lori Dillon Stacy), Nicole Green, Pamela Kinney aka Sapphire Phelan, Leah Price, Stephanie Gurnsey Higgins, Alexa Day, Nara Malone, Allyson Johns, Lucy Arnold Balch, Liz Everly,         Madeline Iva and Geri (?) Starma (?) (Who is this???)

Google + links: Tina Glasneck, Sandy Raven, Pamela Kinney aka Sapphire Phelan,      Leah St. JamesGeri (?) Starma (?) Nara MaloneMadeline Iva

Blog links: (FIY, I’m not saying you have to stuff your email inbox with all of our blogs. But you might be curious, so. These are blogs I could find–they are awesome. Did I miss any?) Tina Glasneck, Sandy Raven, Pamela Kinney aka Sapphire Phelan,      Leah Price aka Leah St. JamesNara Malone, Alexa Day— all three of whom are also at wordswomenwisdom, Madeline Iva, Liz Everly we are also at Lady Smut,                         Lori Dillon (Lori Dillon Stacy), Nicole Green, Lucy Arnold Balch.

The Next Big Thing: C’est Moi!

I was tapped by Rebecca Lamb to do a Next Big Thing Post.  What is that, you ask? Well,  I answer several questions below about my novel manuscript that she sent me.  Then I pick some other authors to link to, and you my dear reader can skip merrily along the links discovering, hopefully, a whole slew of exciting new authors.  By the way, you can learn more about Rebecca Lamb’s work on her website here.  (Her manuscript, LADY VICE,  is glorious!)

Here are the questions:

What is your working title of your book?  I have two erotic romances that I’ve written: WICKED APPRENTICE–which is a fantasy erotic romance & BE MY BRIDEZILLA which is contemporary.  I’m going to talk about BE MY BRIDEZILLA today, since I’m sending that out to Loose Id this week.  They’re having an I Do, Unless I Don’t call for submissions call for wedding-gone-wrong erotic romances, and BE MY BRIDEZILLA is perfect for them!

Where did the idea come from for the book?  Basically, I thought about all the elements I was looking for in a romance: Sex, Fun, & Luxuriousness–With a little crazy thrown into the mix.  For instance, there is a hot wedding cake battle at one point that was soooo much fun to write.

What genre does your book fall under? Erotic romance, but with a lot of witty dialogue and a robust plot–a la Victoria Dahl.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This is a GREAT question because I almost always base my heroes on an actor.

BE MY BRIDEZILLA’s hero is 100% shamelessly based on my obsession with John Krakinski.John

As for the heroine, this may reveal how out of it I am, but I was looking at People Magazine one day in the doctor’s office and I saw this photo and said:  “That’s her! That’s Becky.” It was Kim Kardashian pre Kris Humphries and the wedding-with-a-budget-bigger-than-Mexico’s-GNP.  As a result of this, I now feel a little sympathetic towards her marital breakup woes.  I mean, I feel that in picking her for my heroine I sent a lot of kharmic wedding break-up vibes her way.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A naughty bridezilla gets dumped on her wedding day, then runs off to Paris with her hottie wedding guest after discovering his penchant for taming bad brides.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  Come on you agents out there, represent me.  I dare ya!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  Two years, but that includes a lot of non-essential TV watching. It took me six weeks to reduce the manuscript by half.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  While the sex is more explicit than Victoria Dahl’s contemporary erotic romances, it has that same light comedic tone that her books have.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was watching an ad for Bridezillas one day where this actress dressed up as a sexy bride in long satin gloves was screaming at a chef and throwing spaghetti right into his face. I was riveted–I just couldn’t look away.  It was so out of control, and almost sexy in a way.  I thought to myself: Taming of the Shrew meets Bridezillas.  And voila!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  The ‘villian’ in the book is the hapless groom who turns out to be a sweetheart named Spencer.  About three-fourths of the way through the book, I found myself in one of those Casablanca situations wondering who Becky would end up with–Spencer or Braden? I didn’t quite know myself, and it made writing the ending very interesting because I found both men very sympathetic and really hot.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

I was tagged by Rebecca Lamb.

I’m tagging:
Liz Everly and Nara Malone.  Click on their names and check ’em out!

I’m also tagging Leah St. James here cause the tag line on her book SURRENDER TO SANCTUARY just kills me.  “Love and Danger collide when FBI Agents David Owens and Anna Parker go undercover in a BDSM ring.” Doncha wanna read it? I do!

Sexy Holiday Cheer–

pretty treeHello sexy-sex kitten! Enjoying the festive season? I bet you are. If you’re looking for a little holiday joy, here’s some quick fun from Lady Smut.com & the blog-o-sphere.  Enjoy!

Here are some great movie recommendations for the holidays. (I forgot to add White Christmas to the list.)  “What’s So Sexy About Christmas”? If you love holiday food and alcoholic holiday drinks try this perfect marriage of the two in this seasonal recipe for Bailey’s Irish Fudge.

Bing doesn't look happy.  Rosemary Clooney is George Clooney's aunt.
Bing doesn’t look happy. Rosemary Clooney is George Clooney’s aunt.

Wear your favorite scarf and mittens to watch the December meteor shower with someone special.  Date and details are here. Holding hands is mandatory.

If you’d rather stay indoors in front of a toasty fire, I don’t blame you. Here are  ten fun blog posts from Lady Smut to keep you entertained:

By now you must know about my obsession with Terry McDermott.

#1 This obsession includes All Men Scottish.

#2 Meanwhile, sexy bald men thrill Liz Everly.

Oops! I broke one.  Well, I'll just have to eat it.
Oops! I broke one. Well, I’ll just have to eat it.

#3 Elizabeth Shore concurs, but reminds us not to forget long haired hotties.

Elizabeth asked this year if horror can be erotic? I said hell yeah.  and wrote this campy post on         #4 really cute guys creeping into horror movies.

;>  Oh, you liked that, did you? Well then…

#5 Here’s some Steam-Punk sass.

#6 For some shivery fun, Pamela Palmer got interrogated about her dark n tormented creation: Vamp City.

ornamentsThe future — I predict it’s full of sex.

#7 Do you love Hunks O Steel?

#8 A World Without Men?

#9 Teledildonics? (Seriously–what are they doing over there in Second Life?)

Meanwhile, it’s Christmas.  Here’s something about #10 Sexy Elves.

Have a joyous holiday! May your stocking be full of delights and your time under the mistletoe slobber free.

Love n nutmeg,

xx Madeline

Terry McDermott 1, The Hobbit 0

Terry McDermott
Look at those dimples.

Last night Terry McDermott rocked it out on The Voice with–of all things–‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’ by Aerosmith.  Doing a duet with Blake Shelton, he made his coach look bad as he outperformed the country singer with one hand tied behind his back, nailing the song.  Steve Tyler would be proud–if, he hadn’t been a judge on a rival show.   The way Terry sang it, you could even understand the lyrics–I never realized before but that song is edgy, man. Their duet has appeared on the itunes top 100 songs chart this morning–I’m not at all surprised.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties appeared to mar Terry’s performance of his second song “Broken Wings”.  Adam Levine referred to Terry as digging himself out of a hole and recovering by the end.  Because all top three singers reprised their ‘breakout’ song moments, Terry redeemed himself, once again, by ripping open his heart with “I Want To Know What Love Is”.  This version was a little softer, and a little better.  He was definitely feeling it tonight, looking right at his family as he performed.

Perhaps the school shooting this week brought out the feelings.  The show opened with a musical tribute to the children who died.  Being the father of a six year old, Terry said later he couldn’t make it through a chorus without tears. The other reason for some heavy-hitting emotion was his father’s presence at the finale.

The Voice maybe pushed things a little too far in going for a third “surprise” visit for Terry McDermott.  When they brought out his father the effect was a tad underwhelming.  Though he apparently was the one who introduced his son to classic rock, and could make a song out of every little thing himself when Terry was a lad, at this point the best he could say about Terry Jr. was that he’d worked very hard to become a success. (But wasn’t a success? You had to wonder if this opinion was unspoken.)

It was not anything like the heart-warming moment he had seeing his aunt and uncle from Scotland.  However, his father was absent a lot as Terry jr. was growing up, and mother died from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS as it’s called (a horrifying disease where your body slowly freezes up until you’re mentally aware but completely unable to move).  Sometimes there are a mountain of complicated deep feelings that are too hard to tap–and not appropriate for reality television.

And now it’s all over.  Casidee is queen of the prom, sitting on her itunes throne in the number one spot.  She has various other numbers from the show in the top 100 as well.  She was excellent last night, as always.  Perhaps her solid excellence proves that consistency can beat out sporadic moments of sheer perfection. (Not that she didn’t have her perfect moment with ‘Over’ and came very close with ‘Stupid Boy’.)

NicholasNicholas David churned out an excellent performance of all his songs too.  He even ladled on some crazy sauce with extreme karate kicks at the end of his first performance.  Yet he was barely fluttering the itunes charts today.  On one hand I get it–he doesn’t make me want to buy anything either.  On the other hand, he did what I was hoping Terry would do in a way–he put it all on the floor, left nothing undone to perform his heart out for us.  The judges acknowledged this in their own way.

Even though my heart sank a little that “Broken Wings” didn’t go so well and didn’t seem to suit Terry, I had hoped that the itunes version would sound better.  Indeed it does, and Terry’s sitting right below Casidee in the top 100.  He’s filled up practically the entire top 10 rock chart.  I hope his father sees that and is proud of him.

Nicholas must feel a little frustrated that they both only perform older songs, but Terry’s had so much more success.  (Well, he does have a better voice.  Though Nicholas is perhaps most improved.)

I was struck by how much the top three finalists gleam with an extra patina of charisma and presence this season.  They look, feel, and sound like top entertainers in the biz.   Good job, people at The Voice!

So back to my obsession: what will become of Terry after The Voice?  Will he sink down into obscurity? Will some rock manager/promoter/producer looking for the next Stephen Tyler get ahold of him and make him into a star?  It would have happened if he was in his early twenties. It might happen now…I want to say, but it’s kind of tragic that he only got this opportunity at age 35.  He said he’s sorry it’s all ending, even as tiring as it is. At least he’s had this shining moment before going back on the road, away from his son, to slog, slog, slog once again.  Certainly he doesn’t show any signs of quitting the biz.

Meanwhile, I went to see The Hobbit yesterday and I was disappointed for the following reasons:

1) There was NO Hot Elf King. 😦  I am super-disappointed by this.  He must show up later down the road in this drawn out trilogy.  Ugh!

2) OMG it was so long…I took a long nap between the escape from the Trolls and the arrival in Rivendale and I can’t tell that I missed anything at all.  It’s called editing, Peter Jackson.

3) There’s this whole plot problem with the eagles.  Yes, it’s a great moment in the book when they get to fly on the backs of eagles, but at the same time I remember thinking as a kid that that if the eagles flew them to this far, why couldn’t they have just dropped everybody off at their destination? If I could figure out this major plot point when I was nine, you’d think someone else would have figured it out.  Alas, the movie unfortunately makes this plot hole even more obvious.  Even as the eagles are dropping them off, you can see the enormous mountain standing out in the far, far, distance.  As audience members we’re left saying “really?” as the credits pop up and we tromp out of the theatre in disgust.

That said, the acting in The Hobbit was good–really good, and sometimes it was quite excellent.  Jackson handled the dwarves well too, differentiating them physically and presenting them just right.  They were playful and vigorous, but not too vulgar.  They were not made into fools.  You could appreciate the strength and endurance of the dwarves, and yet notice the fault of pride within their leader.  Well done.

brothers fili & kili
More hot dwarves. Fili & Kili. The one with the sword is h-a-w-t.

As an added bonus there were two unexpectedly extra hot dwarves (aside from Thorin.)  Why hello, Fili & Kili.

Hotness in Hobbit Land

Are you planning on seeing The Hobbit over the holidays? For awhile I kept see-sawing back and forth about whether or not to go. On one hand, reviews say the narrative is stretched out like no body’s bizness.  The first movie is two and a half hours and that’s just part one.

Meanwhile, although I have a soft spot in my heart for Terry McDermott, in general I am not a huge fan of hobbits. Yes, they show a proper appreciation of the best things in life: tea, gardening, food, books, and cozy living.  At the same time those big furry hobbit feet freak me out.  Then romance writer Charlotte Stein tweeted about the elf king in the movie, named Thranduil who is played by hottie actor Lee Pace.Elf King Thranduil

She had me at elf king.  I have blogged about hot elves before.  Is it wrong to be hot for both Legolas AND hot for Thranduil, who is, after all, Legolas’ father? Probably.  I don’t care.

Lee Pace
Lee Pace, nice guy
Bad Guy
Lee Pace, drool worthy vampire

Lee Pace himself, though perhaps a perfectly nice guy in real life, seems to really find his mojo playing a character with edge.  Here he is on the left working his hotness in Breaking Dawn, Pt.2.

Thorin
Thorin has a greatly expanded role in The Hobbit

Which is not to say that the elf king has cornered the market on sexual charisma in the Hobbit movie.  No, Thorin, head of the band of dwarves, is working some brooding magic of his own–and I don’t even like bearded men, usually.  I’ve seen Richard Armitage work his period magic before and  I hear that Thorin’s story has been greatly expanded in the movie, so I’m very interested to see how he does in this role.

Dinklage
Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

We’ve known since the rise of Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent that dwarves can be quite attractive.  But Peter must have been busy shooting Game of Thrones when they were casting for The Hobbit.  I’ve always admired those writers who could make their heroes differently-abled and very sexy at the same time.  (I’m thinking J.R. Ward’s blind king in her vampire series.) So I’ve decided to go see the movie after all.  Not just for the elf king, but because I am always inspired by heroes who break the mold.

Questions for Terry McDermott

terry & casideeI wish I could ask Terry McDermott from The Voice these questions:

1)People constantly mention that success on The Voice depends on connecting to a song emotionally–how hard is that for you? Do you feel you’ve gotten better at it during your time at The Voice? Did you feel connected to the duet you did with Casidee?

2)How do you feel you’ve grown during the time you’ve been involved with The Voice? Do you think your singing has gotten better? How?

3) You quoted your father as saying that you can’t have success without sacrifice—and you said you’ve finally learned that lesson.  What were you reluctant to sacrifice before starting the show? What have you been sacrificing lately–and has it brought you more success?

MY FANDOM TRAJECTORY:

My own journey in becoming a Terry McDermott fan has been riddled with some embarrassment.  I’ve liked The Voice since it first started, but I have never rooted for a fan this much before. The fixation is on the level of a tween sighing over some random Jonas brother.  So embarrassing.

BLIND AUDITIONS: I thought Terry McD was a serious contender.  I thought he’d make it to the end for sure.  Yet I liked others singers just as well.  But it was Terry I kept looking up on the internet.

BattleBATTLE ROUNDS: Terry crushed it.  Then the battles went on and on and on.  I kept thinking: But they’re forgetting about Terry.  He was on a million years ago.  When do we get to see Terry again.  It’s also sad that they don’t sell the duets on itunes anymore.  His duet had to be the best, next to Amanda and Trevin’s.

KNOCK OUT ROUNDS: Even Terry’s opponent Rudy seemed to recognize that Terry had come out to obliterate him quickly and painlessly.  You can see Rudy nodded approvingly at one point during the knock out round. Yes, he’s wiping the floor with me. Knock out 

LIVE ROUNDS: First there was the embarrassing/obsessive phase where I couldn’t believe that I was hooked on wanting Terry to win as much as I did.  That blog post is here at Lady Smut. (Terry, it’s not completely 100% admiring, and I’m sorry for that. Sort of. It’s the squirmy embarrassment talking.)

Then I wrestled with the fact that while my heart was still for Terry, my head had to admit Casidee Pope was killing it.  I mean, putting aside the mysterious magical properties that makes Terry into Scottish catnip for grown women, is he really the best voice on the show? Could he really win The Voice–or at least be in the top two? That blog post is here.

terry4Finally knowing he sailed through the semi-finals with a little help from Sir Paul McCartney and is safe in the top three–I’m not sure how I feel.  He probably has the top two spot all sewn up.  Today I looked around the web and found out–wow–people on the internet really like him.  Yet like Terry’s son Liam, I’m over it.  For the semi-finals Liam gave dutiful, somewhat apathetic applause.  Maybe he was tired—Terry’s wife seemed tired.  Terry’s said he’s exhausted—the whole journey seems to have been just as exhausting for his family as well.

terry & trevinThe Voice really needs a Kelly Clarkson or Jennifer Hudson.  Casidee seems poised to become that break out star that takes things to the next level for The Voice. Meanwhile, on Tuesday Terry’s duet with Casidee was perfectly pleasant, even if the song seemed a bit low in range for him.  They seemed to be watching each other closely at the close of the song. If you looked carefully, however, it’s not that they were connecting so strongly, they were just looking at each other’s mouths to make sure they were singing the words together.   Perhaps it’s the fault of live shows–yet I wanted to see Terry pushing his boundaries in connecting to the lyrics and connecting with Casidee.

Classic Terry, he always leaves you wanting more.  Sure, I can live with him not winning the show. I can even live with him going back home to his family to rest and be happy after his moment of glory.  Never before though, have I wished so hard for someone to go out and leave his blood and guts on the stage.   My biggest hope is that Terry does this so he can walk away with no regrets that he didn’t sacrifice enough to win.

terry & casidee2That’s the sign of a true artist.  None of this gentle “we’ve already won” shite they were talking about in the after-show.  You give what you have to give, and then you give some more.  Not because it’s a contest, but because you feel compelled to connect with your tribe–in their hearts or in their visceral gut.  Look at Terry’s face–you can see he wants it. I think Casadee’s got our hearts.  Next week Terry’s only hope is to go for our guts and bring it home.

Place Your Bets–Can A Hobbit Win The Voice?

terry1As you all know, I’ve been obsessing about Mr. Terry McDermott a lot lately and how he’s doing on The Voice.  The Scottish rocker has held on with his classic 80’s mojo–not to mention his hobbit hair.  What will he do next? Is he peaking at just the right time? Will he stay classic or try another contemporary song? Will he emotionally invest in a song so that he wins over more fans? Could he actually win The Voice?

Terry HobbitMy guess is he’s gonna stay classic–though I would love to see what he could do with a U2 song or a Coldplay ditty.  Yet he sings “in a straight line” as Cee Lo Green has mentioned before, and perhaps just reaching the notes wouldn’t be enough to successfully fill the footsteps of Bono.  I’d die to hear him sing “Beth” –a stripped down ballad by the rock band Kiss.  Or Led Zeppelin–anything by Led Zeppelin would make me happy.

As far as winning goes…man, though he’s my absolute favorite, I wouldn’t want to be a bookie right now taking bets on Terry.  There are so many other factors to consider.  Let’s look at his competition :

Trevina) Trevin Hunt: So far two men have won the voice–two black men.  Trevin, can you really win given this history? I suspect the show might work against him in this regard somehow–mostly by having Cee Lo Green his coach give Trevin some kind of funky song to sing.  The other week Trevin sang ‘The Greatest Love of All’ —bleh. Who’s brilliant idea was that? I see him as a strong contender to make it to the final two, however.  He’s got 41,000 followers on Twitter and probably picked up some of Amanda Brown’s fans.  He’s a classic definition of ‘the voice’ and yet despite the killer voice, despite the breathy soft-spoken voice (luv it!) I just don’t find him that interesting.

casadeeb)Things look just right for Casidee Pope.  She’s white and female–so she’d add some diversity to the winner’s circle.  She’s so well groomed to win the whole thing.  The girl hits her marks–she’s very present in the moment, and yet never makes a wrong move.  She seems emotional, yet sincere.  She has a story to tell, and she is consistently very strong vocally.  Most of all she’s got 250,000 twitter followers.  She’s been hitting the itunes charts and staying there for a long, long time–and all those votes will be added to the grand total.  So to most TV bloggers, Casadee is a done deal and it seems clear to everyone that knowing this sucks some fun out of the show.

So just for the sake of adding back in the fun, let me play devil’s advocate.  If you look at season two of The Voice, you’ll see that it doesn’t pay to peak too soon.  Casadee seems like she’s peaked with “Over”.  That song was genius, but since then she’s holding on, not surging forward.  It leaves just an inch of hope–just an inch–for the others. [But when you consider how they rigged the voting–not really.] Definitely final two, probably the winner.

nicholasc)Nicholas David.  I don’t think he’s going to win.  I love, love, loved his duet with Melanie the other week, and yet, he’s perhaps the weakest singer in the bunch.  He had 21,000 Twitter followers–so he doesn’t seem to have as strong a following as Terry.  Yet you never know.  If he keeps getting stronger, and is able to pull in the alternative folks who were voting for Melanie he might get there into the final two.  For instance, since Melanie was kicked off, he’s gained another 8,000 Twitter followers. Yet, ultimately, I think Terry can take him.

terry 2d) Terry himself.  He’s got 54,000 Twitter followers–more than either Trevin Hunte or Nicholas David.  He’s getting better at emoting the songs.  He’s flirting more with the camera, letting those dimples show, and you just get the sense that everyone on the show likes him.  Since many of the “characters” have left–including Cody and Amanda–he’s the lively force during the after show videos.  I think he’s got staying power.

I just hope that  he doesn’t let visiting friends or some travel to performances between episodes of The Voice prevent him from getting enough sleep.  Not enough sleep takes a serious toll on one’s voice.  Ideally, he should be sleeping long hours and then spending the rest of the day not speaking to anyone and sipping orange juice.  So get some sleep, Terry!  My sense is that he’s still aware of how fleeting this all is, and that he’s enjoying the moment while it lasts.

NBCUniversal's "The Voice" Season 3 Red Carpet Event - ArrivalsWill he make it into the top two? If Trevin doesn’t pull out something like he did with ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, if Nicholas doesn’t perform some amazing feat of wonder like he never has before, then Terry probably will.  Casadee Pope seems like a lovely young woman and I have nothing against her except that she’s in Terry’s way.  Yet my first impression of her was “here’s another girl singer, sounding like almost all other girl singers ” and in the last weeks since performing ‘Over’ I’m slowly going back to that opinion.  So if she holds steady and the rest of America starts thinking the same thing, while Terry surges ahead with continued brilliance, then there is a wee melting snowflake’s chance in hell he might pull it off.

The key seems to be sticking to songs that are stripped down so you can see just how good he is.  For instance, he did a track that was never released that you can listen to here.  It’s excellent–with just the guitar you see something of a blues influence on his rock voice.  It’s in the very best kind of American-blues-influences-British-Rock style.  You find the same thing with the Rolling Stones or Robert Plant.  Let’s hope that wise heads manage to put him in that space this week.  Look, even if Casadee wins, we at least want the chance to hold our breath up to the last minute thinking she might not.

She Falls For the Baddest Boy In Town…

I have a wide range in taste.

On one end of the spectrum of what I love, love, love in paranormal romance (as you must know by now if you’ve followed my blog,) is J.R. Ward.

On the other end is Mary Janice Davidson.

Strangely enough, both are not only considered paranormal romance, but also erotic romance.  One is kick-ass intense, the other kick-ass funny.  One makes your insides squeeze up together, the other is so light that the books float a little bit above my reading shelf.

I like them both, and now, I can add another author to my paranormal favorites list.   She happens to fall right in the middle: Darynda Jones.  She has a debut book called First Grave on the Right.  It comes with a kick-ass heroine, and ass-kicking action.  Some ‘tude and one liner funny biz follows, along with a dark smokey cloud that occasionally reveals the heroine’s scorching hot lover, who is btw, the baddest bad boy in town.

Meanwhile, I’m obsessing about the goth cover.  [I’m convinced that white is the new,  black in the Goth world, and this cover revels in that stylistic shift.]

This book is the first in a series, and follows the trend we’ve been seeing (thank you,  Deanna Raybourn) of having the romance not at all resolved at the end of the first book.

When even Library Journal–Library Journal, people–says “And let’s be honest–the sex is pretty hot too.” the sisters of paranormal romance have a contender on their hands.  Anyone know when her next book is out?

It’s Like Auditioning On THE VOICE

There’s nothing I love better than transcendence. The Voice is all about transcending that point in your career where you’ve paid some dues and want to reach the next level.  I was agog watching the auditions, and can’t wait for the battle rounds to begin.

Next week I’m headed off to my own transcendent experience– I’m headed off to New Jersey Put Your Heart Into A Book conference.  I’ll be pitching my latest manuscript there.

Yes, New Jersey is calling me.  It’s a lot like auditioning for The Voice.  You walk into a room full of editors and agents.  You sit down in front of one, and then you’ve got just a few precious minutes to convince her that she must see more of your work.

Last year I was nervous and I kept perseverating on the idea that without a Coach purse, I wouldn’t be classy enough for NJ and all the slick folk from NYC.  My DH scoffed at this.  Finally he stopped all my whining by saying, “Get a book contract and we’ll celebrate by getting you a Coach bag.”

When I went into the first workshop at the beginning of the conference, a woman came over and sat next to me.  She placed her glorious white Coach bag between us.  Not one to throw away a good omen, I immediately complimented her on her bag–and she introduced herself.  Her name is Elizabeth Shore, and we’ve been friends ever since.

I also got the unique chance to volunteer in the pitch room. That was a hoot.  I stood amongst the tense, nervous authors almost all of whom were sweating bullets, but still felt a strong sense of volunteerism while trying not to hurl.  The woman in charge said they needed someone to wrangle overly-enthusiastic would-be romance authors,  someone who could get them out of the room at the end of a pitch session if they just wouldn’t leave, and I heard the call. So for the next few hours, I became an editor’s bouncer, if you will.  Does it sound weird to say I enjoyed it? A part of me feels sympathetic towards people who don’t behave.  After all, if you think about it, most characters in romance novels don’t behave — if they all did, the plots would be exceptionally dull.

But the most heady part of going to NJ was when it was my turn pitching to editors and agents.  I learned that I just l-o-v-e pitching.

Why? Because pitching is a nugget of storytelling in miniature.  It’s a form all its own.  It’s story DNA.

Like the smell of a man’s cologne when he kisses your cheek, the perfect pitch presents you with a delicious sense of possibility.

Last year, meanwhile, I was totally new to the idea of having a ‘platform’.  I had about ten friends on Facebook.  That was so depressing.  This year, I am within range of 1,000.  But who cares? What really matters it that I’m going to have an absolute blast meeting people at NJ–both friends from last year as well as new people.  I feel like a whole new person–I blog, I tweet, and I’m a part of  Lady Smut.

 

Lady Smut (since you’re wondering) is a group erotic romance writers–including that same Elizabeth Shore of the white coach bag–who blog about all kinds of erotic romance books and related topics.  It’s classy, it’s funny, and it’s going great guns–in no small part to some or all of you who’ve subscribed :).  (I’m feeling the love, folks.) I’ve also become the person who organizes LOVE FEST –a day of romance panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book every March.  So this year, if someone asks me if I have a ‘platform’,  I can talk about the people I adore and efforts I’m involved in that bring me great joy every day.

I’ve also got a killer pitch in my back pocket.  So wish me luck–in a few weeks I’ll be back with tales of adventure!

A Bloody World & A Reluctant Seduction: BLOOD SEDUCTION by Pamela Palmer

Hello Kittens!

I owe you — shoulda posted yesterday.  Let me make it up to you: here is a review of Pamela Palmer’s A BLOOD SEDUCTION.

Pamela Palmer is an author who has interested me ever since she came to the Virginia Festival of the Book last year and spoke words of wisdom.  I noticed she had a die-hard core of fans in the audience who, from their hoots n hollers were there to see her, only her.

A BLOOD SEDUCTION is the first in her new VAMP CITY series.  For those of you who grok her Feral Warrior series, A LOVE UNTAMED is also coming out soon.

In A BLOOD SEDUCTION Our heroine Quinn starts off experiencing ever-increasing weirdness in her life, while hovering over her younger computer-geek bro and his would-be girlfriend Lily.  People are disappearing from D.C. and soon enough, Lily is one of them.  Searching for Lily with brother in tow, Quinn is sucked into Vamp City — an alternative dark  world to D.C. where cruel vampires rule, and humans are slaves.  (I mean, it’s literally dark — there is no sun) There are also werewolves lurking in the swamplands and other fey creatures treading about that are no help to Quinn at all.  Soon she’s fighting to find her brother, to save her brother, and along the way to escape rape, torture, and becoming immortal (and thus stuck) in Vamp City.

Along the way she slams into Arturo. As we see, Quinn adapts to her circumstances.  Part of that adaptation is the building connection between her and Arturo.  No matter how little either of them wants to get involved, it’s just happening between them.

In this new series, Pamela does several things that I really like.  She explores the kind of Urban Fantasy where old, new, and really old mix together.  We’ve got modern day yellow jeeps mixing with civil-war era frocks n decor.  Some gladiator style entertainment is tossed in as well.

Palmer creates a world so harsh that the hero is quite horribly flawed and yet still a nice guy by comparison.  No “oh at first he seemed so awful and dangerous, but really he’s not”.   [I am usually quite peeved by that kind of backsies move in romance novels.]  No, Arturo is a slippery character that Quinn most definitely shouldn’t trust.  But she doesn’t have a choice.

Pamela Palmer knows how to keep her readers turning the pages.  Brace yourself, though, this novel is definitely part of a series.  Nothing is really resolved by the end–probably because everyone is too busy scrambling around to simply stay alive. Palmer is remorseless in her willingness to let her characters almost succeed in finishing their goal or mission and then dragging them right back to the beginning again.  She creates an adaptable heroine, a very flawed yet understanding hero–and by trapping them in Vamp City she shows us that she is one very cruel author.  ;>