Urbanization, Secular Holiday Music, and the Simulacra

I was in my kitchen this morning drinking tea and listening to Christmas music. Bing Crosby’s recording of “Silver Bells” came on, and I started singing along. In between the city sidewalks and the ting-a-ling, something struck me as odd, as not like the rest of the songs on the mix.

What the hell? But I couldn’t place it.

Next came “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland,” and suddenly it hit me: “Silver Bells” is about “Christmastime in the city,” and that setting stands in contrast to the bulk of other Christmas music.

I began flipping through my playlists and reading–really reading–the lyrics, and I posted on Twitter to ask if there were other Christmas songs about cities. It quickly become obvious that the validity of my thesis rested on how I defined Christmas music and the city. So I’ll explain my methods, codify my list, and explain why I think this might matter below.

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Deleted Scenes Going Out to My Newsletter

I interrupt this insane news day to say I have two deleted scenes from “The Fourth Estate” (from Rogue Affair) that I’ll be sending to my mailing list next week. They’re both from Drew’s POV: one is the coffee meeting (except his perspective) and the other involves him watching Brynn on the news. If I do say so myself, they’re pretty cute.

So, if you want to read them, make sure you’re signed up!

ETA: if you missed them, they’re here, but consider signing up so that this awesome stuff goes straight into your inbox.

Lend Margie a Hand, Please!

In completely unexpected but totally exciting news, Kobo Writing Life selected Midnight Feast as one of its Ten Best Romance Covers of 2017.

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This is already an amazing honor, but they’re holding voting across three categories to pick the best cover of the year. The competition is fierce in romance. Obviously we’re biased, but Margie’s sassy silhouette makes for one distinctive cover, so if you’ve got a moment, we’d love it if you’d hop over there and cast a ballot for Midnight Feast. Voting ends next Thursday. Yup, that’s right—on Thanksgiving. How auspicious is that? So vote early and often!

If you haven’t picked Midnight Feast up yet, it’s only 99 cents and available at AmazoniBooksB&NKobo, and Google PlayDear Author labeled it a recommended read, SmexyBooks gave it an A, and All About Romance called it “intensely emotional” and “carefully crafted.”

Rom Coms Where the Wrong Choice is Right

Ahem…this is going to be controversial. But what follows is a brief list of romantic comedies and dramas in which the “wrong choice” love interest is far more deserving than the “right choice” one.

Casablanca (1942)

Perhaps the originator of this trope, Elsa was right to stay with Victor, but Rick is Rick, and you know she’ll always wonder.

The Sound of Music (1965)

What can I say except McSweeney’s convinced me: Captain Von Trapp would have been happy married to Baroness Schrader.

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Let me say I think the “she should have ended up with Duckie” stuff is overplayed (see Jon Cryer thoughtfully arguing against that here), but I don’t think there’s any doubt Duckie is a better realized character than Blane. I’ve always wondered if twenty years later, Duckie and Andie might make a go of it.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

I always pretend this movie is centered on Patricia (Parker Posey) and that after her boyfriend (Tom Hanks) dumps her to pursue the children’s bookstore owner (Meg Ryan) whose business he destroyed, Patricia goes on to take over New York publishing and find love with someone worthy of her.

Enchanted (2007)

At the level of satire, this movie works for me. At the level of romance…no, definitely not. Idina Menzel’s Nancy in particular deserves much better than she gets. The idea that driven career women secretly want to become princesses? No, not so much.

Letters to Juliet (2010)

This film could make the list twice, first because the B-plot (the romance between Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero) is infinitely more interesting and charming than the A-plot, but also because Gael Garcia Bernal is a metric ton more attractive/beguiling than Christopher Egan.

ETA: I deliberately omitted Twilight not wanting to reopen Edward vs. Jacob…but yeah, Team Jacob. All the way.

Rogue Affair Release Day!

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It’s the anniversary of the 2016 presidential election and also release day for Rogue Affair. It’s a collection of ten political resistance romances featuring me and Tamsen Parker, Ainsley Booth, Olivia Dade, Kris Ripper, Amy Jo Cousins, Adriana Anders, Kelly Maher, Stacey Agdern, and Jane Lee Blair.

I am crazy proud of my novelette, “The Fourth Estate.” It’s about two reporters who work for competing papers fighting over stories about White House corruption and, oh, falling in love. Brynn and Drew’s enemies to lovers, banter-y relationship was so fun to write. If you’ve been enjoying all those 5 p.m. breaking news stories–this little boomlet of resurgent journalism–this book is for you. It’s my favorite contemporary project since Party Lines. If you need more convincing Heroes and Heartbreakers had ten exclusive excerpts here.

You can pick it up at fine ebook retailers, including AmazoniBooksB&NKobo, and Google Play or add it to your Goodreads shelves. If you want a behind-the-scenes peek, the inspiration board for “The Fourth Estate” is on Pinterest.

Also, I have a deleted scene and an alternative POV scene. You don’t know it yet–because you haven’t read Rogue Affair–but you might need these. I’ll be sending them out in my newsletter in a month or so. So sign up now if you haven’t.

A Midnight Feast: Jello + Release Day

It’s release day for A Midnight Feast, a book that could be subtitled the Mitch and Margie Thanksgiving angst-fest. So of course I made Jello to celebrate, specifically this simple orange fruit salad. Even though it was a pain to get out of the mold (the same one I’ve used before), it turned out very pretty. (Note to Jello aficionados: plastic molds are awful.)

Enough about the food, though; what about the book?

On my own or with Genevieve, I’ve never written a character who elicited as much fan response as Margie Dunsford. “When will she leave her husband and get an HEA?” began many emails and Tweets.

But did she have to leave Mitch? As we filled in their backstory, we found twenty years of frustrations resentment, passion, laughter, misunderstanding, and, eventually hope. So that was the story we told: about rediscovering love and reimagining a marriage.

You can get your copy at AmazoniBooksB&NKobo, and Google Play. You can also add it to your Goodreads shelves or check out the inspiration board on Pinterest.

Happy reading, and also happy holidays.

Rogue Affair Cover Reveal!

You can see the cover for Rogue Affair at USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, and it’s gorgeous! The book will drop three weeks from today, on November 8, 2017.

Here’s the blurb for mine:

Reporter Drew Orlov wants to write about the corrupt president hurting regular Americans, but readers only care about the bombshells penned by his rival Brynn Allen. When he goes after Brynn’s high-level source, though, he finds himself snagged on more complicated—and personal—feelings. Brynn’s been working her tail off and doesn’t have time for Drew, even if he does look good when he smolders, and they’re soon locked in a tussle for the truth with their hearts on the line.

It is a very, very me story, and I hope you’ll love it.

As with Rogue Desire, Rogue Affair is 99 cents to preorder, and the price will rise after release week. You can get it at all the cool retailers, including AmazonB&NKobo, and Google Play and you can add it to your Goodreads shelves (it’ll be available at iBooks soon).

ETA: I added an excerpt from “The Fourth Estate” and FAQ here.

A (Virtual) Spooky Reading

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Binge on Books is doing a month-long Sounds Like Halloween celebration of scary stories, and I recorded myself reading the mission sequence from Earth Bound for it. It’s more suspenseful than spooky–and obviously very spoiler-y if you haven’t read the book!–but you can listen to it here.

Also, I talked to Rachel Kramer Bussel from Salon for an article on resistance romance. A lot of my favorite authors are quoted and are name checked, so it was incredibly cool to be included.

Finally, I started an author newsletter. I promise I won’t send too many of these, but if you want to keep up with my new releases and sales, you can sign up here.

Sight Unseen Reveal

Back in May, a group of five authors released a collection of semi-anonymous romances called Sight Unseen. Our names were on the cover, but they weren’t on the individual pieces. This week, we’ve been revealing who wrote what: Erin Satie authored Lost that Feeling; Meredith Duran’s was A Clear View of You; and my entry was Free. That’s right, I wrote the motorcycle romance. (ETA: JA Rock wrote Chariot of Desire and Sherry Thomas’s was The Heart is a Universe.)

You can read interviews with Erin here, Meredith here, me here, and JA and Sherry here. The only thing I’ll add is I utterly adored this project. I can see how readers might feel frustrated that we wandered out of our niches, but Free is so far beyond my wheelhouse, I don’t think I would have finished writing it let alone marketed it without Sight Unseen. From an author point of view, the freedom and anonymity were wonderful.

If you want to a peep into my head, here’s my Pinterest board for the book (I had to finally answer that important question, “what is a Metallica?”), and the passage I’ve screenshotted above is one of my favorites I’ve ever written.

A Fine Romance Friday: Jackie

So it’s neither Friday, nor is this a romance. But since this is the label I use to write about film, here we go.

In 2016, Pablo Lorrain released a biopic about Jackie Kennedy called, creatively, Jackie. Focused on the period immediately surrounding JFK’s assassination, it’s a vehicle for Natalie Portman, but it’s also a meditation on history, gender, and grief.

Now I might be sort of interested in the mid-century. Okay, maybe a lot interested (exhibit A). So when the trailer dropped, I was SO EXCITED, but then the reviews trickled out. While they were generally positive (88% at Rotten Tomatoes), there was some prominent dissent, and I’d characterize them as muted on the whole. Therefore I didn’t see it until now. But I found it to be one of the most absorbing films in recent memory, and I have a few thoughts which I’ll drop below.

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