I was recently asked what my dream reading area would be like. My imagination immediately started conjuring this room. Yes, room–not a nook or an area, but a whole room.

To enter my reading room, first off, you have to find the secret door. It’s hidden behind a bookshelf. Ironic, right? Or maybe not, but clever, at least. So, one opens the secret bookshelf door however one does and walks in. I don’t know, for sure, as I’ve never actually encountered one of these doors in real life.

The first thing that strikes you is the scent. There are a few scented candles placed strategically–all the same scent because I’m obsessive that way. Something fruityor foodie like pineapples or apple pie. Nothing too flowery or frou-frou. This is a serious room, for serious readers, and we don’t like pretention.

Look around at the bleached wood floors with colorful throw rugs. You just want to go stand on them, feel the softness under your toes. The room is a seating delight. There’s a chaise lounge int he corner, with a floor lamp behind it, and lots of plump pillows to settle into. There’s a window seat, of course, because that’s where one does the whimsical reading. You can curl up on the cushioned seat and watch rain bead on the windows or birds gather in the garden outside.

In the center of the room is a plush, enormous, couple-of-adults-sized poof. You can just sprawl out in the bean bag of your dreams, flopping onto your stomach, then shifting to your side, finding just the right position to get lost in a good book.

There are discreet pockets of light throughout the room. Enough brightness to read by, but low enough as to inspire a feeling of intimacy and immediacy. The reading is crucial, it’s right now, it’s all that happens in this space.

This room is a sanctuary–hence the hidden door–and only the truest book lovers can enter. One needs to know that smell an old book produces, a little bit vanilla, a little bit heaven, just to access it. Troubles are left at the door. There is comfort here, of the physical and emotional sort.

This isn’t just a physical place, it’s a mindset. A dedication to books and those who love them.

I’d love to know what your ideal reading space is like. It doesn’t need to be as detailed as mine (though that’s just as welcome!). Just leave me a comment with a bit of description or even just to say hello.

xx

gerbera-1250287_640I know it’s the end of May and, shockingly, I’m as disorganized as ever. Still, I’m trying to add some personal essays, along with the random picture post, and (my most popular) writing posts.

I know I mentioned a post or two ago, I’m no longer working. That’s a story I’ll share (eventually), but not today.

Today (circling back to May / Mother’s Day masterfully) I want to share about my grandmother who gave me a deep, passionate, abiding love of reading.

Growing up, my grandmother always had a Harlequin on the table beside where she sat. It was as certain as the sun rising in the morning and the way pinto beans, cornbread, and fried potatoes were without fail served together. A fact of life, in short.

Her life had never been easy, not since being widowed with five all children all under nine years old. She never complained. Instead, she devoured books. Books where love trumped everything and every one got happy endings.

When my cousins and I were little, we’d giggle about her grown-up books. When I got older, any time I was bored, all I had to do was walk the short distance to her house and pick out something from her bookshelf (which sets in my home today). It occurs to me now that, as fast as she read, she must’ve only put her favorite books on that shelf, but she never complained when I asked to borrow one. She understood that a reader needs books the way we need air to breathe.

When I was old enough to drive, I’d take her to the library once a month. There, she and the librarian worked out a deal where my grandmother could bring in a brown paper sack of 50 books and trade them for 50 donated books. The library wasn’t making any money on that deal, but it was doing what libraries do best–serving the reader. I’d pick out a couple of books, borrow a couple of more, and then we’d go have breakfast together.

Sometimes, we would just sit together, in her living room, and read our books in comfortable silence. She kept sodas in the fridge for her grandkids and coffee for her. So many of my best memories in life center around my grandmother and reading. If I could relive a moment, it wouldn’t be one of the flashy ones, like getting married (I was scared so bad I shook). It would be one of those quiet afternoons, reading together.

What experiences shaped you into the reader (or writer) that you are? Click To Tweet

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20150212090406I personally think readers are of superior intellect. I mean it takes some gray matter to take in words and transform them in our minds to a living, thriving story made up of people and places we’ve never seen.

However, we still get a bad rep. Actually, if we got a bad rep, that might be cool. No, we’re lumped in as nerds (which I also proudly am, but that’s for another day).

So, in no particular order, five things people who read are sick of hearing.

1. I’ll just watch the movie.

Are you kidding me? Name three movies better than the books. Oh, wait. You can’t. I’m done with you.

2. You spent how much on books?

That’s between me, the IRS, and God. And I’m pretty confident God likes readers, given the size of His Book.

3. Wouldn’t you rather do something more fun?

Clearly, this is a trick questions since there isn’t anything more fun. Boom.

4. How can you read that [insert genre] crap?

With pleasure, sir or madame. I read it with no shame, whenever I can get it, with pleasure. Now you’re jealous of me.

5. How many book can you actually read?

Ask me when I’m dead. Obviously another trick question. I’m trying to read all the books.

Now, please, go make some tea and let me read in peace.

wpid-wp-1416198092250.jpegI didn’t finish The Goldfinch. No disrespect to Donna Tartt intended, but I couldn’t do it. Obviously, some people thought this was the best book released in 2013. I really tried, too. But, when I, who read the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire in about two months, realized that I had read only ten percent of the book in ten days,  I also realized life is just too short. There were books out there I would devour. Several, in as many days.

The internet is all abuzz about whether or not one should finish the books one starts thanks to this article in The Atlantic. I used to sit firmly in the finish camp. If people got badges for hanging with books turned sour for the reader, I’d have a house full. It was a point of pride. “Why, yes, I can count on one hand the number of times that I stopped reading a book before The End.”

I mean, growing up, books weren’t just laying around, waiting to be read. I combed through discards of my family for anything at all to read. Books had weight and value. I love books. As I’ve gotten older, and I buy my own books, you’d think they’d have more value. I have to actually pay for them. With money that I worked to earn. I’m a strong believer that a person values something they have to work to get.

But, as life got busy, and I spent my time raising kids and working to earn my book money, I realized time also had value. Quite a lot of value, actually. And, then, one day I gave myself permission to quit books. I read avidly. I love reading. And life is too short to not enjoy every word I consume. I’ll never get to read all the books I’d like to read. In fact, I read an article recently to the effect that while access to books has increased exponentially, with the popularity of e-readers, free books, and the evolving self-publishing industry, the one thing that hasn’t increased is the time people have to read. Days won’t ever be any longer than 24-hours.

So, this quote from the article I mentioned earlier doesn’t ring true for me.

If you consider yourself a literary person, you shouldn’t just embrace the intellectual cachet that starting books gives you. Starting, but not finishing, books is one step above saying, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that author.”

In fact, it sounds more like the opinion of an author who would really like you to hang in there rather than a reader. I realize I may be reading entirely too much into that. I should note, I don’t consider myself a “literary person” or care about “intellectual cachet.” I’m deeply in love with words, both the reading and writing of them.

I know people who still finish all the books they pick up. Avid readers, just like me, who respect their love of books too much to miss a single word. I suppose it’s the same love of all the words I could be reading that motivates me, as well.

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic.

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Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: zdelia.

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So, last week, I finished not one but two (the only currently released, or it would’ve been more) books in the Nodaway Falls stories by Lucy March. March also writes (and has been recommended on this site) as Lani Diane Rich. I read two because I adored the first one. And then, I bought the second and realized that I was ready to settle down and have babies with it–that’s how much more I loved it. (Links to both books can be found at the end of this post.)

Dating Advice from Romance Novels: That Touch of Magic (Nodaway Falls #2)

  1. Always, always, always choose the slightly dorky but sweet and sensitive guy. Bad boys have their place, but only a good guy can crack a bad girl’s impenetrable exo-skeleton. That metaphor may have gotten out of hand. Dorks and bugs. Wow.
  2. Just because the love of your life cheats on you then leaves, for ten years, to join THE PRIESTHOOD doesn’t mean you’re not meant to be together. Yes, that really happens.
  3. Avoiding your feelings can have serious consequences. For example, you may not notice spontaneous magical mayhem erupting all over your town.
  4. If you literally catch fire when you kiss your love, be extra careful not to burn him (or her).
  5. It might be useful to deal with the verbal abuse you received at the hands of your wretched mother before you attempt to work out any relationship issues. (See number three).

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“Dating Advice from Romance Novels; now with magic! @lorisizemore http://wp.me/p1pusj-1en ” ~ Click to Tweet

2014-09-26_01_56_29So, I was thinking in the car today about what sort of advice I’m totally NOT qualified to give (conclusion: all the advice). However, I then decided, okay, fine… what advice am I really not qualified to give?

Dating advice. Oh, so many reasons why.

Exhibit A: I’ve been married so long, I’m not entirely sure of the number, but I believe I’m between years 18 and 19 of my life sentence. Exhibit B: I had very few real dates in high school. Like count on one hand. I had boyfriends come “courting” at my house (which should be Exhibit C, so let’s go ahead and call it), but only a few go-out-dates. Exhibit D: I got married at 21. As in, I became old enough to drink and then I got married and became a mother 13 months later (because that’s how efficient people get family done).

And then I had a brilliant idea…

What if I offered dating advice? Not from me; from whatever book I’m currently reading (usually romance, but not always!).

For example, here’s a little A Song of Ice and Fire advice: never insist that the witch whose village your buddies just burned, raped, and pillaged treat the tiny cut on your husband’s chest. Seriously. Neosporin that bitch and go on.

Dating Advice: Sweet Nothings

I recently finished reading Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan (from whom I. freaking. auto-buy. everything). Here are some quick dating tips:

  1. Have an adorable name so your darling rogue can use it in double entendre as often as possible.
  2. If a chick shows up at your door, in like 5 feet of snow, because her sister is having a baby, the doctor is a racist asshole, and she doesn’t know what to do because someone is going to die… she probably loves you and wants to make Sweet-ly love to you. (See what I did there? Double. Entendre.)
  3. Bigotry is no reason not to get married and have lots and lots of babies. (I did know that one already, but I’m pretty impressed I found it in an historical novel.)

I’m halfway through another book and already taking notes for you guys! See you soon.

siglori

 

 

Tweet: “Dating Advice from Romance Novels: Sweet Nothings” @lorisizemore http://ctt.ec/jat7r+

Let me say thank you and giant hugs to Lori for having me on her blog. Lori is one of my support people. When writing, the support team keeps you from tossing every word you write into the recycle bin. Now, if What You Need became a movie I can see the story expanding a bit or it’d be one of those artistic, erotic shorts. I could get a little creative with color tones for something like that.

The biggest question is who would play Royce and Veronica?

For Royce, I need a man who looks good in a tie, and ruffled hair. My top pick would be James McAvoy. He’s got a hot body. Have you seen him in Wanted? *takes a drink of water* I don’t need to elaborate then. I believe McAvoy has the acting chops to pull of Royce’s vulnerability and submissive nature. Veronica needs someone who’s got a strong back bone and looks good in dark brunette. My pick would have to be Lena Hadley. Most people are familiar with her work playing Cersei Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones series. For playing a conniving royal Lena would probably find the role of Veronica a little less stressful. At the end of the day, both Lena and James played a role in creating the visual look of Veronica and Royce. I couldn’t have written the story without them. I should probably send them thank you notes. LeJa2 As a special treat 2 lucky winners will win a $25 Gift Card to PureRomance.com and a free copy of my book. Entries will be accepted until Wednesday at midnight. 

Enter by commenting here, on any of my guest posts today, or on my site!


1Night Stand Series

What You Need

by Landra Graf

WhatYouNeed200A sexual submissive, Royce wants a woman who’ll make his fantasies come true. The last thing he expects on his 1Night Stand is to be paired with Victoria, his ex-best friend. Haunted by their past, he refuses to deny his newfound attraction or his need for answers. This time, he doesn’t plan to let her go. Victoria has loved Royce forever, but the sting of his rejection is not so easily forgotten. No longer the naïve girl he knew, she’s matured into a sexual dominant. This domme demands a chance to restart their relationship—on her terms. Knowing that one night will never be enough, she plans a seduction that will last forever.     What You Need • 1Night Stand Series Amazon | Decadent | All Romance Ebooks Enjoy the following excerpt for What You Need:

“Hi.” About the only word he managed before a pair of luscious, plump red lips descended on his. One sharp heel spike scratched the skin above his ankle. His trousers were tight and rough on his thighs igniting a pleasurable pain in his pulsing erection. She molded her body to his, and her nibbling bites on his mouth sent his brain reeling. The press of her weight sparked his nerves. Lord, he hadn’t experienced anything like that. Skin hot and flushed, he moved to embrace her and deepen the kiss. Instead, she grabbed his wrists and anchored them above his head; a simple gesture of dominance and one he’d never thought of as arousing until then. Her ministrations slowed to a crawl, opting for tracing the seams of his lips and he thrusting his own eager tongue forward, desperate for another taste of spice and something familiar…a flavor of summer and sweet lemonade. She pressed harder, her breasts crushed to his chest, his wrists still restrained, her nails biting into the flesh. Royce’s desire ratcheted up further and as he thought he might succumb to the most embarrassing release ever, she pulled away. Panting, he tugged at his shirt collar. His date faced the window, out of the fan of illumination from low-lit lamps within the room. Curvy with toned arms and legs, her bare back on display, she stood straight and confident, her profile nothing less than stunning. He took a deep breath and exhaled hard. What a way to start the night. Chemistry wouldn’t be an issue. But he also wanted a little conversation. “That’s some way to say hello.” Chuckling, he grabbed his discarded bag and moved farther into the room. “Yes, it is. But I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.” Her voice sounded sultry and all-too-familiar. Holy hell. “Tori?”

About the Author:

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Contact Details:

Website: http://riseoftheslush.blogspot.com Email: landra.graf7@gmail.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/landra.graf Twitter: @riseoftheslush

I am thirty-nine years old. That means I’ve been reading avidly for nearly thirty-five years (I learned a bit early–my mom insisted we read all the time to deal with my dyslexia. It worked. Also, now I read all the time).

Still, I’d fallen into somewhat of a reading rut. I’d scour backlists of my faves, desperate to be entertained. Mostly, contemporary romance.

Then, something o-m-g-amazing happened. I found out that Anne Rice combined my two favorite characters in one book. Finally, a Lestat I cared about again. At last, a potentially satisfying end to one of my most-loved stories that got lost in subplots.

Rowan and Lestat. I reread, caught up, and finally got some closure.

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Then, my boss brought me the Game of Thrones season 1 DVDs. (If you haven’t watched yet, drop everything and do it now. Seriously.) So much to love, so many tears. I bought the entire (book) series-so-far. Five books. Long, engrossing fantasy books. Thousands of pages. (4228 pages, to be exact, in the US hardcover editions).

I loved every minute. George R. R. Martin pretty much owns me now.  Which brings me to my most tragic ship(Spoiler – Highlight to see) Daeny and Drogo.

Six weeks later, I was left with one question… Well lots of story questions, but one practical one. What can I read next?

You can check out my Goodreads page for an idea of all the stories I found, but let me sum up just a few highlights.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; Serena (P.S.) by Ron Rash; the entire-to-date fairy tale retellings by Eloisa James; Doctor Sleep and 11/22/63 by Stephen King; Johnny Carson by his long-time attorney and friend, Henry Bushkin; all of the Brothers Sinister books (series ongoing at this time) by the amazingly talented Courtney Milan.

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2013 became the year of the reader for me. I discovered the reader that lives inside me. She doesn’t prefer one genre; she wants all the books. She doesn’t need pure romance to bring out the shipper; love is everywhere. And sometimes dangerous and deadly. But that’s good, too.

Most importantly, my inner reader wants to write. She wants to create characters that are flawed and real. She has her own stories to tell.

So, while I’ll never again box my reader in, 2014 is going to be the year of the writer. We’ll just call all this gorging on good stories like an addict in a crack den research.

siglori

 

 

I know you’re all probably sick of hearing about my broken Kindle. Poor me. But, I’ve found solace in choosing just how to make my new Kindle my own.

 

 

Kindle Goodies Collage

 

 

Right?

However, because I am not a rich person who can drop a bundle on a new Kindle (coming this week!) and a bunch of accessories, I have a plan.

  1. Order a divine Kindle Paperwhite with special offers. Done, baby.
  2. Buy a two year protection plan within 30 days of purchase. Because, hello? I like to drop my Kindle. Or, in the case of my last Kindle, forget where I put it and kick it off the bed. Got this done before the 30 day window closed. I MUST have protection. 
  3. Order a case. Did you see the case? It has the names of my favorite heroines, most notably Elizabeth Bennet and Holly Golightly. *sigh* Here’s something sad: I forgot all about the case. Forgot. So, when I went to buy it, they’re no longer in stock for a Paperwhite. However, I just purchased a Kindle Fire (for tableting, not reading) and I was able to get this case for that.

    I’ve decided I’d prefer an envelope case for my Paperwhite, because I want to see my skin and I like to hold the Paperwhite to read–with nothing extra weighing it down.

  4. Order the skin that makes it scream, “This Kindle could belong to no one but Lori!” It’s called Paris Makes Me Happy. And I’m sure it would. It has a cafe, and a stylish woman walking her petite puppy, and a woman in a beret, reading. I like to think she’s me. Ordered this at the end of August. (Forgot–again). Two days later, decalgirl.com put everything on sale, 25%. *sigh*
  5. Finally, pay the extra $20 to get those special offers to go away. I’m using my daughter’s Kindle now, and hers has the special offers. They don’t in any way interfere with the reading and they’re not hideous on the sleep screen. It’s just… I’ve really become attached to my literary portraits. When I turn my Kindle off and see a portrait of Jane Austen or some other incredible writer, I’m inspired. I don’t know if I’ll ever do this. I don’t mind the ads. I’ve bought books and the aforementioned Kindle Fire because of ads I’ve seen. 

I know this new Kindle will bring me (at least two) years of reading joy. And that, my friends, is how you finance a perfectly personal e-reading experience.

Now, who wants to tell my husband about all this?

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How I replaced my Kindle and plan to finance my so-me accessories addiction. #Kindle #blog ~ Click to Tweet

My Kindle has died.

Yes, let’s all take a moment of silence.

Before I go on, let me explain why the loss of my Kindle has made me inconsolable. I’ve always been a book lover.

Paper books. Mmm, is there anything like that smell? A little vanilla, a little ducking into the library to read because you don’t really fit anywhere.

But, then, the idea started to grow on me. Never being without a book because I can slip this small, lightweight techno-gadget in my purse. I’m a techie kind of girl.My two favorite things had made a sweet little baby capable of holding a thousand books.

A few subtle hints to my husband (reality: I pestered the hell out of him), and I got one for Christmas. Destitute from gift-giving, I filled it up with free books. FREE books. That I didn’t even have to leave my home to acquire. I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I read a bajillion more books. I found ways to read online articles and receive site feeds on my Kindle. I was suddenly reading at the doctor’s office, reading while I stirred food on the stove. Reading, reading, reading.

Since then, two years, they’ve come out with several new models and, what I’ve been eyeing for the last few months, the Kindle Paperwhite. In fact, my Kindle (billed as the top-of-the-line Kindle 3) became downgraded to the Kindle Keyboard and isn’t even sold anymore. Point: it’s old and ready to be replaced.

So, I’ll be happy to have my new Kindle. Reading in bed without lights on a screen that isn’t backlit! (I’m squeeing right now.) And yet, seeing my Kindle lying there, useless–I’m filled with sadness. We shared some pretty incredible times. I dressed it up, made it mine, filled it with magical stories that inspired me and helped me get through the hard times. It’s like my love of reading in physical form.

Okay, but what about those old Kindles?

Do you remember how on Toy Story 3, all the toys got donated (finally! Jeez kid, give up the toys already!) to a little girl who would love them just the way that kid in the movie did? Well, if you are a better Kindle caretaker than I obviously am and have an older model lying around, while you enjoy your new e-reader toy, then I have a suggestion for you. Donate it to the Kindle Classroom Project. I can think of no better purpose than giving the joy of reading to kids. Maybe, they’ll find a private corner somewhere and discover the place they fit, inside a story.

P.S. If you also have broken your Kindle, be responsible and recycle. Those batteries don’t belong in your local landfill. Amazon will pay for you to ship it back. I imagine they’ll mine it for parts before doing whatever it is one does with batteries that can explode when mishandled.

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“My two favorite things had made a sweet little baby capable of holding a thousand books.” ~ Click to Tweet