Tuesday, November 08, 2022

What have YOU been reading?

One might think that, after finishing the mammoth Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan this past summer, that I might shy away from another multi-book fantasy series.

Anyone who thinks that, doesn't know fantasy readers very well. We LIVE for the next multi-book series. And when we find good ones (even just so-so ones), we devour them.

And then we go out and find everything else that author has ever written and read that, too.

The Wheel of Time stretch started in April, finished at the end of August (with several non-Jordan books thrown in as I waited for the next books in the series to arrive). You can read my take on the series here.

The other books I read during that stretch more accurately reflect my varied tastes.

In May, I interspersed my series reading with A Walk in Wolf Wood by Mary Stewart (a children's story, but heck, it's Mary Stewart! You can't go wrong), The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick and The Magic Circle by Nora Roberts. All three much lighter reading -- needed after the relentless and often confusing Jordanian monstrosity.

June saw me stepping away from the series entirely for a bit. My husband and I did some traveling, so I brought lighter reading with me. I'd read the three Katherine Kurtz/Deborah Harris books before, but enjoyed revisiting them this month. The Temple and the Stone, The Temple and the Crown, and Two Crowns for America all have an exploration of the Masonic traditions at their heart. Still in the fantasy genre, but smaller bites.

July put me right back in the Wheel of Time and I read three books of the series that month. What can I say? They're BIG!

By August I was determined to push through and crack that sucker. I read every single one remaining, with a tiny one-day break to re-read Katherine Kurtz book, St. Patrick's Gargoyle. This stand-alone book needed a series. I truly enjoyed it.

By September, with the Wheel of Time series finished (yay!), I went for a variety of genres: Archangel's Storm by Nalini Singh, a biography of Richard the Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman, a Regency by Anna Harrington called A Remarkable Rogue and finishing the month with an autobiography of John Cleese, aptly titled So Far.

But you can't keep a good fantasy reader down for long. October started with Never After, a cute story by Melissa De La Cruz -- and then I read The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas. My husband had given me the first six books of the series for Christmas last year and I finally got around to them.

I got hooked. Bought the last two in the series and just finished it off this first week in November. Eight books in total in the Throne of Glass series and I couldn't put them down. The publisher markets these books as young adult, but don't let that fool you. This is a kick-ass heroine who undergoes some truly horrific trials as she grows from a seventeen-year old assassin to, well, her ultimate destiny (which I won't spoil for you).

How much did I like this series? So much so that I cleaned off my "permanent" bookshelves to find a spot for it. Space is at a premium here, so only the books I think I'll re-read get to stay. I now have two small boxes of books ready for donation to the library (which includes the entire Wheel of Time series -- reading that once was plenty!).

What will I read next? Something off my TBR shelves ("to be read"). I have three of those and I need to read through some of those to make room for Christmas. My husband already has my "if you're so inclined to get me books for Christmas..." list so I've gotta make room!

For those keeping record, that puts me behind on the number of books this year: I've only read 47. Between the loopiness of the knee surgery and then spending all those months on That Series, my reading ability (and time) took a hit. I'm usually around 70 by this point. 

But that's okay. I'm glad I took the time to read through that series, despite my complaining about it. I haven't seen any of the filmed version yet -- but I will. And that will be a different post.

Take care and play safe!


Thursday, September 01, 2022

Well, I finally did it.

I read the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

All fourteen mammoth books of it.

Twenty ears ago or so, I read the first book, The Eye of the World, and enjoyed it. I started the second book, The Great Hunt, and it was just the first book all over again. Same beginning, same plot structure…I set it aside and never went back. Life’s too short to spend time reading books you don’t like.

Fast forward twenty years and now my son has read the entire series. He reads with his ears rather than his eyes, and had gone through the entire now-fourteen book series over the course of several months. He liked most of the books and encourages me to try it again. Robert Jordan passed away before he could complete the series; Brandon Sanderson has written the last three books from the copious notes Jordan had left.

I like Sanderson. I’ve read all of his books. ALL of them. I like his style: straightforward, enough description to see a scene without repeating it over and over and over. Which is what Jordan did.  You don’t need to tell me the Aes Sedai have ageless faces every single time one comes into the story. Every. Single. Time. Augh!!!

In fact, if I didn’t know Sanderson was the author of the last three books, I’m pretty sure I would’ve abandoned the series after book seven, when I wanted to throw it across the room at the “climax.” Do NOT set up the villain throughout several hundred pages, detailing his plots, throwing monkey wrenches into the hero’s path, and then, at the final battle between the two, have the hero accidentally throw some magic toward someone else and “maybe” catch the villain in it as well, killing him. Maybe. Can’t be sure.

And that was it. The entire ending of a several hundred page conflict over in a single sentence that provided no conclusion. Yeah. It took a lot of will-power not to throw that book out the window.

Why did I keep going at that point? Because I hoped to find out what really happened. To find out if the villain was actually dead. And did I? Nope. Not even discussed until several books later.

Yeah, the ONLY thing that kept me reading was the fact that Brandon Sanderson wrote the last three books.

To be fair, books ten and eleven – Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams – did get better. But honestly? Some editor really should’ve told Jordan to stop the repetition.

And no, I’m not talking about the regular repetition one has to put at the start of each book in order to bring a reader up-to-date if they haven’t read the other books that came before. Every author does that because, well, because publishers demand it. The only one who got away without it was JRR Tolkien and that was because he pretty much invented the fantasy genre with The Lord of the Rings and his publisher just took his mammoth book and hacked it into three parts.

Publishers don’t do that any more. Every book in a series has to stand on its own so that, if a reader picks up Book Three in a series, they can jump in without having to read the first two. Whether I agree with that or not is a totally different blog post.

So I didn’t mind that repetition in the series. But really? Every time the reader goes into a city, even if the characters had been there just a few chapters earlier, do you have to describe the entire thing all over again? And do I really need to know EXACTLY what every single character is wearing, every time he/she changes their clothes? Does EVERY horse have to have a name? EVERY messenger who has a single line have to have a name that I’m going to forget, probably before I turn the page?

The cast of characters is huge. And people come and go quickly. You learn a name and poof! They’re gone. But don’t forget them, because three books later, here they are again and if you’ve forgotten them and their relationship? THAT he’s not going to remind you of. THAT he expects you to remember.

But I have done it. I read all fourteen books and only skimmed some of that too much description. Detail is king in these books, and what I consider to be too much, others might appreciate. Truly, the fashion choices of each character might be important and, if Jordan had followed up on them and given a clue as to whether it was a whim or a statement, that would’ve been helpful. But he didn’t. He just changes their clothes and moves on.

And so am I. No idea what I’ll read next. Probably a light Regency just to regain my equilibrium. I am leaving the world of the Wheel of Time behind. Let the Wheel turn as it will, I’m getting off the merry-go-round.

Play safe!


P.S. If you haven’t picked up your copy of my newest book, Romantic Seas, make sure you do! It’s a novella, so you can read it in an afternoon and it won’t take up months of your time. I promise. J

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

New Release!


Yep, you read that right. I have written a new novella, full of hot, hot, hot romance and featuring two wonderful characters who are finding their true love -- even if it does come a little later in life.

I know, I know. I said a few years back that Diana was done writing erotic romance. While it's true, I've been focusing on my epic fantasy (which is finished and has a title now! Threads of Earth and Sky, The Companion series, Volume I), sometimes one needs a little spicy romance to keep one's blood flowing.

So let me introduce you to Mary Elizabeth Flynn and Scott Henderson. Here's the blurb:

At sixty years old, Mary Elizabeth Flynn (Maisy to her friends) isn’t looking for romance.  The deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea, the coastline of Italy slipping by...what a wonderful, carefree way to spend a cruise. Maisy is grateful her friends talked her into joining them, especially when she meets Scott Henderson, tall, graying, and definitely handsome. Who is she to say no to a little shipboard romance?

ROMANTIC SEAS is now available for pre-order at Amazon and Smashwords (which has every format available, no matter what your ereader).

You want more? Oh, okay. Read on for a short excerpt:

Excerpt from Romantic Seas
by Diana Hunter
All Rights Reserved

Maisy’s thoughts warred with her libido as the two made their way to the Promenade. Was it only this afternoon she’d walked around this deck ten times? Now she took a leisurely stroll, her arm linked with a tall, handsome…Dom.

He’d used the word “Top,” but she didn’t think there was much more than a semantic difference between a Dom and a Top. She knew “Master” wasn’t the same—that title implied ownership. She’d read enough erotic romances to know what was what in that regard.

But reading and fantasizing were two vastly different beasts. She’d not been entirely truthful when she said she had the “occasional fantasy”—more like it was her only fantasy. One she’d never confessed to anyone. Not Peg, not Trish, not even the rare date she’d had while taking care of her parents. And certainly not to Tom. It was her secret, and hers alone.

And then Scott calmly shows her a picture of his wife and treats bondage as if it’s normal.

Well, perhaps it is for him, she thought, her gaze on the lights of a faraway ship. Not normal for me. Exciting…alluring…enticing, yes. Normal? Not even a little bit.

“You’re awfully quiet.” His voice interrupted her reverie. “If being tied up isn’t your thing, it’s okay. I still like you and would like to have you as a friend.”

“Oh, no, that’s not it. I like you, too.” She gathered her thoughts and pushed her libido to the side for a moment. “I’m just…It’s that…well, I don’t have any experience in the matter and I have no idea if I’ll actually like it, or if I’ll freak out, or what.”

“Would you be open to an experiment?”

“What kind of experiment?”

He didn’t answer, but pulled her close. With no preamble, he bent down and kissed her.

Her libido rushed to the fore once more as her knees grew weak and her arms went around his neck of their own volition. A whimper formed in the back of her throat, sighing out despite her attempt to stop it.

He deepened the kiss as his hand cradled her head, his fist tightening in her hair as his tongue touched her lips, seeking entrance. She opened for him, giving him reign.

His tongue touched hers and she slammed her knees straight lest they buckle, as her mind filled with thoughts of being controlled by the power he exercised. Gently, he moved her head, using her own hair to guide her mouth so he could take full possession.

He didn’t stay nearly long enough, however, breaking the kiss, dropping her hair, and stepping back to give her space, only keeping a single arm around her waist. She wanted to protest the sudden cool air that rushed between them on what, previously, she’d thought of as a warm Mediterranean night. But after the heat he’d created in her? The night was positively chilly and she gave a little shiver.

“Are you cold?”

“After that? A volcano is icy.”

Her voice had dropped in pitch and she had to give herself a shake to keep her limbs from going all languid on her.

“So what do you think? I controlled only two parts of you—were you okay with that?”

“Oh, yeah,” she sighed, babbling. “I mean…yes. That was okay.”

The outdoor lighting cast a shadow on his face, but she thought he smiled.

“No freaking out?”

Her voice firmer this time, she stood up straight. His arm dropped from her waist and, while she missed the contact, part of her was glad of it. She might be able to do this in only small doses. “No freaking out.”

Remember: ROMANTIC SEAS is now available for pre-order at Amazon and Smashwords (which has every format available, no matter what your ereader). Order now and avoid the rush!

OH! And once you have it in your hands and have devoured it, please return to the site where you purchased it and leave a review. We self-pubbed authors need them to be seen by others.

Play safe,

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Reading, Writing, and...Weaving?

I spent the early part of January writing a decent synopsis for The Companion, sent it off to David Farland, who promptly had a stroke and passed away two days after I sent it. I'm pretty sure my manuscript wasn't the cause, but writers lost a good friend when he died. May he rest in peace.

Of course, I did what I always do when Death enters my life, even so obliquely: I read books. The two Nora Roberts books I'd read early in the month, the remaining six I dived into. I'll post the list below.

The loom set up
in my study
Long-time readers know I'm also a weaver, although I haven't had the loom out in over six years. More personal deaths and assorted events have taken up my time -- along with finishing a certain epic fantasy (I'm looking at you, Companion!). But there's been a project nagging at me for a while and I finally decided it was time. Got it set up, dressed it, and have been weaving a table runner for the sitting room. Wanted something for the spring. Something bright and cheery.

(If you look closely, you'll see my TBR shelves in the back. Yes, shelves. Four of them. Shelves, not books.)

Jewel II pattern showing

For those of you who are also weavers: I'm using a 100% cotton thread (so this will shrink) with a 15-dent reed. The pattern is called "Jewel II" and is from Margaret Porter Davison's book A Handweavers Pattern Book. This was first printed in 1944 and contains hundreds of wonderful patterns for a 4-harness loom. 

This is a modified twill and does not use a tabby (one of the reasons I like it. Complicated treadling pattern already!)

And yes, I am still writing -- working on Volume II of The Companion. Playing around with actual titles (The Companion is my working title, not the definitive one) and will announce those when I finalize them.

Back in 2018, my hubby got me a book of writing prompts for Christmas. I started, as a 2019 New Year's Resolution, to take one each day and write from not only my personal perspective, but also from my protagonist's perspective. Basically interviewing my characters to see how they feel about things.

That lasted only a few days. Then my mom had a stroke and died two days later. I put it away in the crush of events (see above -- also put the loom away shortly thereafter as room was needed for other living) and pretty much forgot about it.

Well, I pulled it out when my characters stopped talking to me this month and have been writing nearly every day. There are two "new" characters in this volume (introduced in Volume I, play a bigger role in Volume II) and it's helped me to get to know them better. Planning to get to work on the actual story soon.

All right! My reading list for January! Short, only seven books long.

The Awakening and The Becoming by Nora Roberts (fantasy with some romantic elements; 1st two books in a three-part series. Looking forward to the next one!)
The Glass Ocean and Band of Sisters -- the first is an anthology of three authors, but Lauren Willig is one of them and she wrote Band of Sisters.
Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen by Garth Nix (fantasy)

The first four are keepers -- they've already found room on my shelves. The Nix books I'm passing on to my daughter. I've read him before and enjoyed his work, but these just didn't pull me in as well. Might be my own frame of mind, though.

So that's my month, spent reading some, writing some and weaving some!

Play safe!


Saturday, January 08, 2022

The Dreaded Synopsis

When writing my erotic romances, I don't start with a synopsis, I just write. Mostly I start at the beginning, work through the middle, and find the Happily Ever After. Why? Because if I write the synopsis, I'm no longer interested in writing the story. I know what happens and the sense of discovery is gone.

With The Companion my approach was slightly different. I'd started it several times and couldn't find it's opening scene. Out of desperation, I wrote a single-spaced, two-page synopsis to give the story some shape. I then knew where to begin and to be honest, after writing that synopsis? I never looked at it again. While I knew my ending, the events that take place to get there came out of that wonderful sense of creative discovery as I wrote. The novel also ended up being much longer than expected, as I realized taking the short way I'd written in the synopsis didn't allow for any character development.

But The Companion is finished and now looking for a publisher. When I received an email from an editor stating what he's looking for in his next book to acquire, I realized I have his perfect novel. I just have to convince him of it. He wants a 2-3 page synopsis and I'm thinking, "Hey! I have that!"

So I pull out that long-ago written treatment--and discover what I wrote then and what I ended up with are very different. I need a new synopsis.

Three days later, I'm still trying to write it.

I'm coming close, but wow. I gave up my first attempt after I got to six pages and still was only on Kiera's story. Checked the editor's email again and realize he's included a link to an article he'd written on what a good synopsis should contain. For an epic fantasy, he said in the article, one should expect a longer synopsis -- up to 20 pages! Yay!

I open a new document and start breaking the story down the way it's actually written. Each book of the larger work contains three to five chapters, so I can't stick with the usual formula of summarizing each chapter into a paragraph and still remain in my page limit. So I summarize each book and get it to fifteen pages. I'm good.

Then I re-read the email and he really does seem to be expecting two to three pages. A MUCH shorter synopsis.


By this time, I've been writing a full eight hours and my fingers are tired. I put it away for the night and start again the next morning on a new, shorter, synopsis.

And I manage to tell the entire story in three and a half pages. There's no emotional content, it's just a "she did this and then he did that and then they did this other darn thing" sort of telling and it's dry as a bone and totally lifeless. Augh!

By now I have drafted my husband into reading through these pieces and comparing them to the request in the email and getting his feedback. He teaches Public Speaking at the college level and approaches the query letter (which I've also been trying to write) with the same approach he takes to the opening of a speech. He tells me I haven't grabbed my audience yet and I start rewriting that as well.

If you're keeping count, by the end of Day Two, I now have several discarded drafts of a short synopsis, one long one that still needs work, and a query letter that *almost* works.

Day Three dawns and it's time to take down Christmas decorations. I do laundry, take ornaments off the tree, take my brother to a doctor's appointment -- pretty much anything other than face the work I still need to do. But its in the back of my head the entire time, nagging away at me. I finally go up to my study, open the crappy, "this is what they do" synopsis and add in the emotional arc. I move from three pages to six and realize, this is just the way it has to be.

Why? Because I'm really telling not one, but TWO stories here. Martin and Kiera's stories are intertwined and told in parallel throughout the epic. I have it to three pages of synopsis for EACH story. With any luck, the editor will understand that. I hope he will!

So the query letter is written, the short synopsis ("short" being a relative term) is complete, the longer synopsis will be finalized today. I'm sending both versions and he can decide if he wants more information or not. Seems prudent to attach both files--and yes, I've explained my reasoning in the query letter -- which is also too long, but he wants specific information and I've provided it. Remember, the point of the query letter is to get him to open a synopsis and the point of the synopsis is to get him to open the first chapter and the point of the first chapter is to get him to want more -- and to buy my book!

And, of course, this is only Volume One. Trying to sleep in this morning, my brain kicked into gear with what happens next and started writing the synopsis for the NEXT book. I'll actually type that out later today, but expect that, when I finish writing Volume Two, I'll be back here again, rewriting it and fussing once more.

All right. Enough procrastinating. I'm off to make a final read-through of what's going out to the editor before I actually push "Send." Wish me luck!

Play safe,


Sunday, January 02, 2022

Catching up in the New Year -- Come on, 2022!


Missing some photos for my montage,
but here's our tradition!

   New year, new beginnings, new resolutions.

   Putting the old year to bed, settling accounts, and  looking back, however, needs to happen first. To that end...

   I did a great job keeping track of the books I read this year -- right through September, as per usual. In October, however, my reading came to an abrupt halt. Why? I had lines to learn! I went back on stage for the first time in thirty-one years.

   Understand, my undergraduate degree is in Theatre Arts. My husband and I owned a theatre company for eight years. I did my share of directing both community and high school theatre. I played many parts on stage, from chorus girl to lead.

And then I had kids.

Don't mistake me. I know many women who have kids and stay active in the theatre. It wasn't for me. Working a full-time teaching job (which I defy anyone to say is a 40-hour a week job!) left me with precious little time to spend with my babies. Something had to give - and it was the theatre. I became the audience (a much-needed part of the whole!) and left treading the boards to others.

My kids are grown now (my daughter is 30! When did I blink?) and the opportunity arose for me to take on a major role in a world premiere of Just Like Sisters, a play by Jay Hannigan. I played the role of Jolie, the more comedic of the three female parts -- and loved it. I had more fun (and anxiety -- not having used my memory muscle in thirty years meant some scary "what's my next line?" moments!) than I thought I would and am thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with a love of my youth.

But learning lines (I had a third of all the lines in the play) takes work (see "anxiety" above) and that left little time for reading. We started rehearsals at the beginning of October and the show went up the weekend before Thanksgiving. I managed to read the newspaper and some online news stories and that was about it.

December, however, brought a different story. The show was done, I had arthroscopic knee surgery on November 30th for a torn meniscus, which meant a lot of time sitting on my rump and healing. To that end, I read three books before Christmas!

My hubby came to me at one point in November and said, "I know you'd be happy with no other Christmas presents than books. Which ones are on your want list?" Can you see why I love him so much? I gave him a list of authors and books and figured he'd get me two or three. He got me twelve! Twelve!!!!

I've read two of them so far -- and am trying to take my time and not read so fast. I devour books, and am thinking maybe taking a little more time with each might be better for me.

Yeah, who am I kidding? I'll continue to devour, re-reading the ones I like the most, passing on the ones not worthy of my shelf space.

So what did I read?

Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Diana Gabaldon) - this is a definite keeper and will be re-read many times.

Dear Santa and Christmas in Alaska (Debbie Macomber) - how could I resist that second title when I spent a month there this year? Both have been passed on already.

The Awakening and The Becoming (Nora Roberts) - the first two in her new fantasy series. Brand new - first edition hard covers my hubby got me for Christmas. I'm liking the series and will keep these. Yes, that meant I had to remove two books from my shelves to be passed on (sorry, The Color Purple (Alice Walker) and The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier) -- time to find new homes!).

All told, I recorded reading 56 books in 2021. That's fewer than usual - mostly because 1) I finished writing my own big book (The Companion, Part I is done!) and 2) I was in a play. :)

So that's my look back. Looking forward, I'll keep a record of what I read this year (my resolution) and write more books (my new beginnings).

Happy New Year!