Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson

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Review: Kind of Famous by Mary Ann Marlowe

What would you do if you had the opportunity to meet the rock stars of your dream but for very good reasons decided they could never know you ran a huge online fansite for them? That’s the dilemma met by midwesterner Layla Beckett when she moves to New York City to work for the industry darling Rock Paper. Starting on day one she comes face to face with fame, and must decide how to deal with it.

Layla’s journey is both exhilarating and one she has to think about every step of the way, especially after she meets–and falls for–drummer Shane. He’s not with the band for which she’s a superfan, but he’s close enough, sexy enough, witty enough, and kind-hearted enough. The two fall for each other hard, and things move a little too quickly for Layla’s comfort. When Shane’s jealousy and lack of faith in himself kick in, the fragile web they’ve started to build fractures.

Deeper than it seems on the surface, Kind of Famous explores the treacherous natures of fandom, friendship, and love–and the explosions that can result when those three things collide. Author Mary Ann Marlowe‘s book is a sweet coda of a love song to the rocker universe she created in Some Kind of Magic and developed further in A Crazy Kind of Love. If you loved those books, you’ll cherish this one as well.

Note: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Writing Romance & the RWA (my thoughts on it all)

RWA (Romance Writers of America) is a mess right now. It’s hard to take a turn without hearing more about what a shambles the organization is in. So naturally, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

I’m not here to rehash the scandal. You can Google it, or read any syndicated newsletter, or check out Twitter. But there are a few things, personally, I want to say.

  • The RWA needs transparency. So much of its operation is carried out behind closed doors. No, I don’t want to watch a live stream of board meetings, but I do think it’s important that members are kept informed about what happens. As a voting member, I don’t want the redacted version. I don’t want the recap.
  • The RWA needs accountability. The “explanations” they’ve sent out have largely pointed fingers at other members, accusing them of acting inappropriately. Excuse the fuck out of me, but why should any organization that won’t take responsibility for their own actions be listened to when they chastise their members?
  • The RWA needs a total overhaul at the top. There’s a lot being said about current president Damon Suede. I only met him once and he might be a really nice guy or he might not. What I do know is that he’s the one at the top. That means he’s the one who needs to speak on behalf of all RWA and he needs to do it well and eloquently. So far, he’s done neither. Dude, you’re a writer. Take a note from Hamilton and write your way out if you must. But please note that we are also writers, and we’re onto all the tricks. Sometimes, for the greater good, a person has to let go of their own power position. Yes, I did sign the recall petition.
  • Romance writers don’t need to belong to RWA to write, read, or become published. RWA is a professional organization currently acting in a wholly unprofessional manner. As a result, I’ve decided that I don’t need them. I don’t need their annual conference. I don’t need to renew my membership to keep writing my stories. I don’t need their half-assed attempts at explaining their poor behavior. I don’t need their promises to work on stopping the long-standing racist nature of the organization. I don’t need to stand behind them any longer. What I do need is for them to effect change immediately. A new charter, a new board, a new openness.

I realize that not everyone will agree with me here, and that’s fine. But when those accused of harmful behavior decide it’s better to do some tone policing than to admit their faults or complicity, I say the time is up. Would I love to see RWA reinvent itself? You bet your ass I would. But I can no longer support or be part of an organization whose leadership tells us one thing and does the opposite.

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Book Review: Dating by the Book, by Mary Ann Marlowe

Dating by the BookDating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I was reading this book (I received an ARC and yes, you should be envious) I kept thinking how sweet it was. How cute. How easy it was to read, and how relatable all the characters are. But once I finished and realized how many layers this book has, I was even more impressed. It’s still sweet and cute, and if you devour it in one sitting like I did, that might be all you need. However, there are similarities between happenings in the main character Maddie’s life and the selections she offers up to the participants at her failing bookstore’s reading club. Even if you’re not intimately familiar with those titles, you will be deftly guided toward seeing the parallels between them and the goings-on in Maddie’s life.

To complicate matters, Maddie’s sworn off romance but when her upcoming release under a pen name garners a harsh review from anonymous blogger Silver Fox, she breaks the first rule of negative reviews and argues back. As Maddie and Silver Fox become closer online, the potential romantic heroes of her day-to-day life become frustratingly difficult offline. There are a few mysteries thrown into the mix: could one of her bachelor friends be the mysterious reviewer, or is Silver Fox truly a stranger? And which one of them, if any, is sabotaging her bookstore? It’s not just the graffiti on the front door: a series of mishaps occur…could the person behind them be her ex-fiance, who has her over a financial barrel? The childhood friend eager to turn the bookstore into a cafe? The ex-boyfriend rock star who wants her back? Or the English teacher who’s allegedly only there for the sweets and free wifi, but clearly has something else up his sleeve?

As the complexities of Maddie’s situation broil and stew, her online relationship with anonymous reviewer Silver Fox heats up. Uncovering Silver Fox’s identity will be a delicious treat for readers of this book.

Five stars because it’s fun, breezy, and far more complex than it seems on the surface. Thank you, Mary Ann, for another wonderful book.

View all my reviews


Good News!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m now represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.

As with most every writer I know, getting here has been an uphill climb. I’m nowhere near the top of the mountain yet, but at least I’ve reached the first way station. Thank you, Pitch Wars, for teaching me how to rewrite yet again and thank you, years of querying, for teaching me not to quit and thank you, Romance Writers of America®, for propelling me into the finals for the 2018 Golden Heart® award. Without those three things I might have given up long ago.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program. In my case, that means revising and editing. Onward!

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Some Kind of Magic

Some Kind of MagicSome Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those of us who write rock & roll romances know there’s a certain beat you have to meet to keep readers entertained and interested. Unsurprisingly, it’s a lyrical and flowing pace, and I’m so happy to say this book meets the mark. An earnest, honest musician? A discriminating, snarky scientist? A family connection to the music biz? All those items get checked off in this lovely debut book from a talented and accessible writer.

My favorite thing about Some Kind of Magic has to be the writing. Marlowe’s prose doesn’t try to seduce readers into appreciating it. It’s simply there to tell the story in the manner of some of my favorite authors. She doesn’t need smoke and mirrors to be engaging or to draw readers in–her plot and characters do that all by themselves.

If you’re looking for a light, fun, breezy, and sexy romp through the world of rock music (and science), you can’t go wrong with this book. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.

View all my reviews

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Michelle Hauck’s FAITHFUL

The next volume in the Birth of Saints series is available now!

Following Grudging–and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall–religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck’s Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.
Faithful– November 15, 2016
Harper Voyager

Also enter to win a signed paperback of Grudging, the first book in the series: 

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A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

November 17, 2015
Harper Voyager

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two kids in college. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging and Faithful (November 15, 2016), is available from Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. She’s repped by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary.