Monday, May 18, 2015

Interstellar Scifi Romance Release Party! #Scifi #SFR #Romance #ASMSG


May 20th 2015 - Two Series, Two New Books!


ANGEL 6.0: Enslaved to a Catlike Alien race of Warriors, Angel is whisked away to the far side of the galaxy. Experience her struggle to survive captivity as a concubine.

HUNTED: Running from Alien abductors who've put a price on his head, Raiss finds sanctuary and companionship with a strangely beautiful half-breed who risks her life to save his.

Join Travis Luedke and Kayla Stonor for an out of this world celebration with guest author appearances, giveaways, games, prizes and more!

Guest author appearances (All times are CDT-Chicago)
12-1 Travis Luedke
1-1:30 Teresa Noelle Roberts
1:30-2 Lyn Brittan
2-2:30 Victoria Melantha Black
2:30-3 Jonathan Taylor
3-3:30 Veronica Scott a.k.a Jean Walker
3:30-4 Ed Hoornaert
4-4:30 Krystal White
4:30-5 Electa Scott Graham
5-5:30 Simon Oneill Okill
5:30-6 Michelle Patricia Browne
6-6:30 Jennifer Cothran
6:30-7 Kayla Stonor
7-7:30 Shannon Bell
7:30-8 Susanne Leist
8-8:30 Cathryn Cade
8:30-9 Rachel L. Smith

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Who Is The Romance Novel Reader? #Romance #ASMSG

Who Is the Romance Novel Reader?

Posted: Updated: 
It is a truth universally acknowledged that romance readers are single women in possession of cats and in want of a man. Other "true" facts about the romance reader: They're "nice people with bad taste in books", uneducated, bored, stupid, "lack romance in their lives." Or if we want to be really specific, they're "middle aged women who are bored in their marriages and want to fantasize about hard, chiseled men." Or maybe they're "younger women who are using them as emotional porn."***
The romance industry is big -- it's the second largest category of fiction, outselling science fiction, fantasy and the classics -- which means there are a lot of readers, who may or may not fit the stereotype. It means that you or someone you know might be reading romances.
There are many myths about who reads romance novels and why -- something I explore in my bookDangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained -- but here's the truth, based on research, survey data and common freaking sense:
MYTH: The romance reader is likely to be a desperate housewife, lonely spinster or sorority sister.**
FACT: Contrary to popular perception, women do not make up 150% of romance readers. According to survey results from Romance Writers of America, 84 percent of romance readers are women and 16 percent are men -- up from 9 percent a few years ago.
While 70% of romance readers discover the genre between the ages of 11 and 18, most romance readers tend to be older (the average age range is from 30 and 54 years-old.) She's also likely to be coupled up and has an average income of $55,000 per year.
The romance industry is large -- more than half of the mass market paperbacks sold in the U.S. are romance -- and it's readership is vast as well. So for every desperate housewife, there's a happily harried wife and/or mom taking a break with a romance novel. For every lonely spinster, there's an unapologetic single woman. And for every sorority sister, there's a proud geek girl who loves romance novels.

MYTH: The address of the romance reader: Fly over state, USA
FACT: There is a grain of truth in this one. In the United States, romance readers are most highly represented in the south, followed by the midwest. But romance novels are read all over the world and translated into many different languages.

MYTH: Romance readers are stupid
FACT: There's a sense that romance novels are stupid books for stupid people. The non-romance readers I surveyed thought romance readers were less likely to have an advance degree than romance readers reported having attained. But the idea that women's fiction was frivolous and the readers were foolish goes way back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when the novel was gaining popularity and women were gaining literacy. General impressions of women's intelligence were hardly flattering, probably because no one thought to give girls an education. This is just an old, leftover association that is hardly relevant these days -- isn't stupid to keep perpetuating it?

MYTH: Romance readers lack romance in real life. 
FACT: "I don't think people assume that people who read mystery novels are thwarted detectives,"Esi Sogah, a senior editor at Kensington books, told me. "But there's this idea that people who like romances don't actually have romance in their lives." Get some candles, soft music, wine, flowers, chocolate and a hunk of a man immediately. Or just a romance novel. Because someone out there might not have enough romance in their life.

What is enough romance anyway? What if we have candles but no wine? What if there are flowers but someone forgets the chocolate (that's really bad). What if there is no man? Can it still be romance? What if you are not swept off your feet because that sounds like someone could get hurt, which would lead a night in the ER which I think we can all agree is not romantic (well -- unless it's McDreamy, RIP).

And if someone doesn't have enough romance, and supplements with a novel, what's wrong with that? And if someone doesn't have a relationship that looks like the ones she reads about in romance novels -- where she is cherished, pleasured and respected -- and that gets her thinking about making some changes, is that so bad?
MYTH: Romance readers wear ugly sweaters
FACT: So does Mr. Darcy.

MYTH: Romance readers are stay at home mothers and housewives, idling away the hours by reading trashy Fabio books
FACT: Well this is a fraught subject. Raising a family and keeping a house in order is a tough job and someone has to do it. For a long time, housewife and mother were the highest occupations women could aspire to (also, basically the only one). To claim romance readers aren't full time family caretakers is to suggest that there's something wrong with that, which is not something I want to do. 

In the 1970s, when the bodice ripping boom happened, women were just starting to venture out into the workforce. In the early 1980s, Janice Radway wrote Reading the Romance: Pop Culture and the Patriarchy based on her focus groups with "The Smithton Women" who were a group of avid romance readers and stay at home wives/mothers, and for a long time this was the only official study of romance readers. Given that the popular perception of the genre seems frozen from the 1970s (Don't even get me started on Fabio), it makes a certain amount of sense that this is one of the stereotypes that might have been grounded in truth, and stuck around, even though attitudes and day-to-day realities have changed.

Most women work at jobs. Many women work now for reasons ranging from because they can to because they have to either because they're single or because it's insanely difficult for a middle class family to get by without two salaries nowadays, which hasn't always been the case. 

Whether staying at home, working from home or working in an office, many women turn to romance novels for some entertainment, escape and relaxation at the end of the day.
MYTH: Romance readers are obsessed with wine, chocolate, and Pride & Prejudice.
FACT: You say that like it's a bad thing.

MYTH: Romance readers can't distinguish between fact and fiction.
FACT: Along with decrying the genre as unrealistic, this is something we say to lessen the impact of ideas women get from romance novels. "Crazy" ideas like they can be the heroine of their own lives, that they can find fulfilling love, have orgasmic sex, or just be happy. It's shorthand for saying "lower your expectations honey, your needs are taking a backseat to Law & Order reruns and no I'm not going to put my socks in the hamper. Also, can you get me a beer?" Romance novels show an idealized -- but potentially attainable -- life of happiness and satisfaction for women and then they can inspire women to make that fiction a reality.

MYTH: Romance readers don't know good writing
FACT: "Easy reading is damn hard writing," said none other than esteemed and celebrated author Maya Angelou. When it comes to romance, it often seems like the entire genre has been written off as crap because of a few poorly written books. Even die hard romance fans, in defense of 50 Shades of Grey will say "it was terribly written" or "it really needed editing."

But romance readers appreciated a well crafted sentence or a lovely and surprising turn of phrase as much as the next reader. And romance authors strive to deliver, some with more success than others.

Romance readers and writers do know good writing -- it's the kind that make you forget you are reading, that transports you to other worlds, make you feel all the feelings, and makes you want to pick up another book and repeat the experience. 
MYTH: Romance readers are cat ladies
FACT: I think the Internet has proven that everyone is a cat lady.


**Sources: Romance Writer's of America, The Dangerous Books For Girls survey.

Monday, May 11, 2015

15 Pieces of The Creepiest Vampire Folklore #Vampires #ASMSG


Originally blogged here:

15 Pieces of The Creepiest Global Vampire Folklore

Think you know vampires? Maybe you do. But odds say all you know comes from t.v., movies and novels. But the undead arise from myth and legend, stuff far outside the imagination of Bram Stoker or Anne Rice. Consider these fifteen tidbits of genuinely creepy vampire folklore…
1. The Anti-Mothertumblr_lbx1clAkeQ1qdqopvo1_500
Our image of a vampire as seducer, an avatar of seduction, has nothing to do with most folkloric creatures such as the Portuguese Bruxsa or Filipino Aswang. These embody the opposite of the Earth Mother, a female who devours instead of engenders. A death dealer instead of one who gives birth. Not a being of beauty or pure love, but foul and disgusting, fueled by hatred. To most mythologies, the vampire simply finds the weakest and most vulnerable of us–children–to treat them as prey, nothing more. Such stories say nothing of romance or loneliness and everything about revenge.
2. Vampires as Godsrussel_gif
Although touched upon now and then in fiction,  a vampire god to us seems more an aberration or perversion of true faith than a genuine religion. Other cultures do not agree. Egypt had a war goddess Sekhmet, to whom the shedding of blood was in some sense worship.  The Hindu Kali was the ultimate defender of mankind and the world, in no small part because she literally drinks blood! Naturally enough, worshipers of the latter sometimes go so far as to commit human sacrifice in her name (although to be fair, most do nothing of the kind).
3. Land of the Vampirestumblr_mag8jcIBFM1r0ejv0o1_500
You just thought ofTransylvania didn’t you? Well, why not? Ever since the novel Dracula appeared in print the association between the undead and that part of Romania has only grown. Yet in terms of myth, no place in Europe seems more infested with vampires than Greece. Indeed it seems likely nosferatu derives from a Greek word for disease, nosforos. Indeed Greece and its thousand-plus isles gave rise to the ancient legend of the lamia as well as tales of how the dead long to drink fresh blood (see Homer’s Odyssey).  Such a beautiful land, but one steeped in fear of the hungry dead.
4.tumblr_lgbe18T4ml1qg39ewo1_500 Un-Killible!
Despite Buffy, we do tend to believe pretty much anyone with the right tools and training can bring True Death to one of the Undead.  Not according to folklore.  In many places genuine vampires are held to be utterly immortal (like the Bruxsa above). You, a mere mortal human, stand no chance in any combat with a vampire. None at all. All you can do is protect yourself as best you can, praying you’ve not made any mistakes. It is a paranoid world view, one that assumes we humans as very nearly powerless, at the absolute mercy of an uncaring Fate.
5. bruxsaVampires as Disease
Operas and gothic literature of different stripes may seek to make romantic death by “consumption” but in fact tuberculosis means a steady fading of one’s strength, slow suffocation, coupled with the constant taste of blood in one’s mouth.  Little wonder victims of such in real life were often seen as nascent vampires. It inspired genuine terror, especially when the cause for disease remained unknown.
6. Tumblr_ln63wtRYMi1qbvrito1_r1_500Children of the Dead
It might startle some to realize how many viewed vampires not as in any way seducers but ratherrapists. These days we rarely examine our dead personally, so all kinds of disturbing details escape our notice. Among these is the tendency for corpses to sport erections. Biologically speaking, nothing at all odd about this, but to many this indicated a desire by the dead for more than blood. Hence legends that spouses were among the first “visited” by a newly risen vampire–with the result sometimes a dhampir, half-breed between human and vampire.
7.tumblr_ml0k4lEHEX1qjouuqo1_500 Flesh-Eating
No, not all vampires survive on blood alone. Hindu Pishachafor example follow battles in order to eat those who have fallen. RomanianStrigoi  are straightforward gluttons, eating massive amounts of food, forcing people to starve. Then they drink the blood of those people, killing and then eating the people themselves–man, woman and child.
8.tumblr_mkcgohHhVZ1s8o1r4o1_500 Stench
Unpleasant to think on, but in folklore nearly all vampires give off the odor of the grave.  If you’ve never actually encountered the smell of a good-sized animal (like a dog or cat) decomposing, believe me you are missing nothing desirable in your life. However, such was far more common in ages past. It was said to be emanate from a vampire, a way to warn you such a creature might be near. In fact, this idea probably kept many a person from a real source of infection.
9. tumblr_inline_mnj9lcpSry1qz4rgpHidden
Some legends say vampires are easy to spot. Others insist, however, there’s no way to easily recognize one of the undead. Ever. Lots of myths make zero mention of sunlight causing any harm at all to the things, mirrors refusing to reflect them, crosses or holy objects having any impact upon them whatsoever.  Most aren’t even coldto the touch, etc.  Our fiction comes up will all kinds of ways to give humans the advantage, but folklore has no such imperative. So legendary vampires remain many times more terrifying.
10. tumblr_static_tumblr_mb2glftiye1r3nfc7o1_500Unhuman
For clear and obvious reasons, dramatic stories about the undead have them retain (or sometimes acquire) human personality traits. Legend sometimes insists nothing of the kind is even remotely true.  The Hindu Peymakilir  to give one example, isn’t even a former human being. They are demons, never spending their time as humans do in distorted versions of our own lives. Russia’s upir likewise seem little more than eating machines, their minds gone and replaced by all the conscience or emotion of a leech.
11.30daysChildren First!
As mentioned earlier, legend insists that most vampires do not in fact seek out lovely young virgins to join them in an eternity of darkness. Rather, their meat of choice are the youngest of our species, the younger the better.  Some legends even refer to Lilith, supposed first wife of Adam, who seeks with all her offspring to consume the children of Eve.  When you blend this tendency with other types of vampires, we can see the undead as another version of our own modern monster of legend–the pedophile.
12. tumblr_niz7b3bkCq1u9cqypo1_500We Drink Blood Too
Yes we do. Human blood as well. For pretty much the same reason we imagine vampires to do so.  Many a warrior in history proudly drank the blood his enemies, sometimes (as a matter of style or at least boasting) from the hollowed out skull of another enemy.  Understandable in a way. When we lose blood, or are pale, we weaken. Certainly some animals live upon blood, like fleas and ticks and leeches. But we don’t do that anymore, right? Even if many of do adore our steaks rare enough to bleed. The less said about the ritual symbols of drinking God’s blood on Sunday the better, though. Right?
13. tumblr_mt9znctePc1qj5wwwo1_400Zombies
We think of zombies as shuffling mindless corpses motivated by a simple, implacable hunger. Our image of vampires focuses on temptation, infused with eroticism. But that really begins with Dr. John Polidori’s The Vampyre novel. In centuries prior, what most peasants and others thought about “vampire” (or the equivalent) what they had in mind was a lot closer to what we call a George Romero-style zombie.  No cape, but rotting rags. Not eyes burning with eldritch power, but filmy orbs lacking the spark of what made our loved ones human.
14. tumblr_lt55fhAEQm1qdx4k4o1_500Hammer and Stakes, Not Enough!
Movies might portray it easy to pierce a chest cavity with a pointed piece of wood. Actually, not really. Rib cages are tough precisely to as protect what’s inside! Mind you, according to folklore that really isn’t enough, usually. At the very least one is supposed to burn the vampire. That sounds easy, too, though. Well, no.  You need a fair amount of kindling for one thing. For another, legend and legend says all kinds of things will crawl out of the flames–birds, frogs, snakes, insects and like. You have to kill every single one of these or the vampire will return. Every. Single. One. And there might easily be thousands.
15. tumblr_mvi8faBRli1qcxbdxo3_r1_500No Help.
This one in some ways is the most creepy of all. Movies and books portray some essence of divine power ready to defend you against the thirsty dead. Folklore doesn’t have that much hope in it. Most assume the universe just naturally wants to kill and eat you, with vampires just one vivid example of this. At best, even among the most Christian of nations, firm belief insisted the powers of the universe–God, his Saints, the Angels–will leave you to your fate if you do one little thing wrong. If you are born on Christmas, you become a vampire. If you forget to light a votive candle, God will let a vampire eat you alive.  If a cat jumps over your corpse the Heavens reject you and back into your corpse you go, to prey upon your friends and family. Prayer may or may not work to protect them from you. And no one–no one–knows why.

David MacDowell Blue blogs at Night Tinted Glasses.  He graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory and is the author of The Annotated Carmilla. and Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) as well as a theatrical adaptation ofCarmilla.