CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Tamie Burdick of Bookish Temptations: Genre Trends

This week’s guest blogger holds a special distinction and place in my heart, and is not actually aware of this herself. Tamie Burdick at Bookish Temptations is the first book blogger I began following after I discovered the contemporary romance genre, and in particular, the incredible writings of one Mr. Sylvain Reynard, quite possibly…no, definitely…my favorite writer in the genre. It was her book blog that helped me get swept up in sharing the excitement with other fans of his work as well as the similarly awesome writing of such masterful authors as Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber and others.

Tamie started the site in October 2011 after working with another book blog, and soon realized she could add greater reach and value for readers by building her own team committed to passionate book discussion. Now this trusty posse of very diligent and busy cohorts invites readers on a daily basis to engage in a dialogue about their favorite books and authors, with each other, with the bloggers and often with the authors themselves.

I’ve since begun following a number of other excellent book bloggers, as well, who go out of their way to keep readers updated on the latest author news and offer access to cool contests and exclusive book information. If you’re a reader, you know the service that book bloggers provide, and if you’re an author, you recognize the influence and weight their opinion can potentially carry. With Bookish Temptations garnering nearly 10,000 blog followers, I thought Tamie was the perfect person to share a little insight on what she’s seeing as trends in the genre she (and I) and so many readers have fallen madly in love with…contemporary romance. Swoon. So take it away, Tamie…

And you can follow Tamie and Bookish Temptations on Twitter here.

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BookTempt

When Chris asked me to share my thoughts on trends in the contemporary romance genre, and the direction it may be headed in, I was honored. It’s the genre I read and review/spotlight the most on Bookish Temptations. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart.

As far as trends go here’s some of what I’m seeing…

The line between romance and erotica is getting blurrier by the day. They really were very distinct genres not that long ago. I’m a fan of the incorporation for the most part. I enjoy both genres as long as they’re well written.

That’s the tricky part tho. I’m afraid many authors feel the need to write more graphically than they are comfortable with. What can start as a great story becomes awkward and uncomfortable to me as a reader when this happens.

Throwing in sex for the sake of sex, or using sexual words does not a good story make. It takes a certain skill to balance the romance of a story and to include really great erotica.

My advice to authors is simple. If you aren’t comfortable writing it…then don’t. You can make and develop an extremely satisfying sensual scene without the explicitness. I have many favorite authors that do just that. As a reader and reviewer, I’m far happier with that than feeling like I want to flounce on a book because the author is chasing a certain audience.

Two trends that may or may not be related? The prevalence of series and the shortening of books. Series books aren’t new of course, but it sure seems like there are less and less stand alone novels and more stories that are being made into sequels, trilogies, and beyond. At the same time novels seem to be getting shorter, and I have wondered if authors are being encouraged to write with that in mind.

It’s no secret that I love lengthy stories and series as well, so I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I’m all for authors telling the most complete story they can, and it’s hard for me to leave some characters behind. I’ve read some novels that actually needed a 3rd book, but I’ve also read some recently that could’ve been told in 2 longer books.

Epilogues…no, they aren’t a new invention, but I see them more and more and more and…I FLOVE this trend. I’m actually starting to get disappointed when I don’t see one at the conclusion of a stand alone or at the end of a series. It’s the perfect way to end with a peek into what happened to our favorite and beloved characters in the future.

Finally, let me cheat just a little…this really can’t be considered a trend, but I have to give a standing ovation to all the fabulous books being written in the New Adult genre. Some of the very best books I’ve read so far this year have come out of this newer classification and I’m thrilled about it. I think this is going to be a huge market for publishers and self- published alike.

Thanks for inviting me to write this guest post , Chris!

My Own Sesame Street (Sorta)

I could start singing the theme for you, if you’d like. 

Sunny day. Sweepin’ the clouds away…

Snuffi

We all know it. Or at least those of us born in 1969 or later really know it, particularly here in the U.S. (I’m so glad that at least I can honestly say I’m not in THE oldest class of kids who watched. Okay, I’m part of the second oldest kids that watched. In 1970. Oy.)

This isn’t a blog about TV, by the way. You probably don’t believe me. I wouldn’t blame you.

I had planned another topic today, one more related to the book itself that I’m working on. Okay, here is where I think I’m supposed to pipe in with that mandatory early plug – I suppose I’d better get used to this… *coughs*

THE MUSE UNLOCKED coming this June!

And now, this is where you’re supposed to add a flag to your June calendar to remind you to check on its availability then. So go ahead. I can wait here. Go on.

I wonder if I could hire George Clooney to step in and say that little book  promo every time for me as my spokesperson. And I could just sit back and watch him…say it. Uh-huh. Or Stephen Amell of ARROW. Yeah, that would work, too. Or my Man of Steel, Henry Cavill. Mmm.

<Crickets.>

<Crickets.>

Sorry, lost myself for a moment.

No, this isn’t a blog about TV, my book or singing really great TV show themes poorly.

But I think it should be known that anything I’d sing for you this morning would sound much, much sexier than my usual nasal Midwestern twang thanks to my LOWER, raspier Kathleen Turner pipes that I’m developing courtesy of one miserable head cold and nagging cough  (So I’ve got that going for me…) These two guests are determined to ruin my birthday weekend, but I’m not going to let it. No way, no chance, nuh-uh.

So… what is this blog about? Good question. I think my cold medicine’s kicked in and I don’t really know anymore.

Oh wait, I do know.  Focus, Chris, focus.

Community. That’s what it’s about. Now, I remember.

You see, when I entered the Twitter community back in 2008, I was an editor for a magazine, so my interaction and updates were pretty specific and mostly locally-driven. In 2009, when my job changed from full-time editor to holy-shit-I’m-unemployed-now, I had to broaden my mind and my message, and go for it. After all, I could write for anybody, anywhere, anytime – and hey, that included me. So I started talking to people of all backgrounds, professions and home turf as I grew my work as a freelance writer and editor. Twitter basically opened the door to the world for me and invited me to take a step outside.

So I did.

Fast-forward four years.

Now, I’m out here exchanging wise quotes and lyrical sound bites with a former journalist based in Singapore, chatting romance and book boyfriends with an aspiring Canadian author I’ve since met in person and completely adore, and volleyed delicious double-entendres and what-not back and forth among a charming collective of erotica authors across the U.K. and the Land Down Under. And here in the States, I’ve truly enjoyed clinking virtual toasts with the newly published and engaging in conversations about everything from the writing process to Walking Dead with newbies like me and already published, successful authors. 

I’ve been dazzled by how giving folks are in the writing community, and it doesn’t even matter the genre. I am regularly interacting with fantastic writers beyond the realm of the contemporary romance scene — erotica, suspense, vampire thrillers — and it doesn’t seem to matter to them if I’m bound for one genre and them, another. All that truly matters is that connection, a genuine appreciation for each other’s work and the opportunity to learn from each other. That last one’s immeasurable.

I am discovering  a surprisingly symbiotic network out here in a field that I may have falsely presumed was solely about self-promotion but whose outstretched, open arms have embraced unexpectedly and  invited me graciously to be a part of the network, despite not being published yet.  The words of encouragement and support are beyond anything I could have imagined.

Now, for years, I haven’t been above gushing about people who I admire, for their work or the way they carry themselves, and I don’t think anything of doing this and spreading the love. It’s so refreshing to see writers out there doing the same for each other in the published world, and I so look forward to gaining my full-access membership card to this club. Soon… soon…soon. Must. Keep. Plugging.Along. Am trying to finish those all-important final steps.

So a special thank you to the members of my little informal, eclectic Sesame Street. People like…

Karen M. Hanks

Cameron Lincoln

Paige Thomas

Rebecca Gibson

Lisa Fulham

Robert India

John Geddes

Khaled Talib

Carrie Bailey

P.J. Bayliss

Mark Grago

Tiffany Reisz

M. Leighton

Sylvain Reynard

Gail McHugh

…just to acknowledge a few. Thank you for making me feel a part of something much bigger than a silly little book written by a lowly copywriter thrilled to be invited to her first prom.  Yep, I guess I am on my way and the air is definitely sweeter with you in it. 

Much love to my favorite posse of writers. I encourage you to check out their work which runs the gamut of genres, writing styles and formats.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everybody. And happy reading!
ck

Book Bash 2013: Always the Doting Reader, Soon to Be the Published Author…Whaa??

If you are an avid reader, particularly of the contemporary adult or YA romance variety, then read on. Several of the genres’ best will be appearing at an upcoming event in Orlando, Fla. How I just learned of this only yesterday worries me – clearly I am living under a rock as I’ve suspected all along.

Good to know.

Book Bash 2013 is being hosted by the Hilton Doubletree in Orlando (www.bookbash.net) and is scheduled for 12 p.m to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 29. The event is expected to draw well over 40 top authors in their field.

I do recall hearing of this event about a year ago. A friend asked me if I was going to be attending. I had no clue what they were talking about and did little to investigate further. At the time, I was just diving into the contemporary romance genre as a reader. Now, however, I would be a total fool to miss it given how well it’s represented.

AuthorPhotos AuthorPhotos

AuthorPhotos

For one thing, I live just 90 minutes away. For another, nearly a  dozen or so of my favorite authors will be in attendance, including…

  • Colleen Hoover
  • M. Leighton
  • Tammara Webber
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Rebecca Donovan
  • J.A. Redmerski
  • Sylvia Day
  • Gail McHugh
  • K.A. Tucker
  • Maggi Myers

And there are several other names listed that friends and book bloggers I also respect have suggested that I check out, and I’m sure I will, quite possibly before the event…like Jillian Dodd, Charles Sheehan-Miles, Elizabeth Reyes, A.L. Jackson, etc.

And then there are those who aren’t listed as scheduled to appear…some noticeably absent and I can only hope will decide they really want to visit Orlando in the summertime. And since I have no sense of dignity whatsoever, I will make my formal gushing appeal here. Authors like…

S.C. Stephens…where are you, oh mother to one of the most delicious rock star gods this side of the page, Kellan Kyle?

Olivia Cunning, can you sneak down there, maybe bring the Sinners on Tour to the Sunshine State?

Oh, Tiffany Reisz, how we will miss you so and your sinfully mesmerizing menagerie of memorable characters. (See, you even inspire me to get all alliterative on you…) 

Samantha Young, want to hop over the pond and meet Mickey Mouse? I hear there’s a little Irish in him… wait! That came out much more dirty than I ever intended. 😉

Shelly Crane…any chance you would consider bringing your own signature significance to our little party?

I will admit after my initial shock that such an event existed and nearly down the street from me (figuratively speaking, of course), I had my greatest jaw-to-the-ground moment when I read that Sylvain Reynard was “scheduled to appear.”

I believe I actually shrieked.

Squealed even.

In delight.

Is there any other way to squeal?

Wait a second, now,  let’s get our minds out of the—never mind, I should know never to go there with a bunch of romance and erotica readers, writers and followers! Yowzah…

And then…I clicked on the link and read the disclaimer. ”

NOTE: SYLVAIN REYNARD will be represented at the event by his assistant “ENN”

I almost wept. My stomach sunk. Damn. So close. Ah well, that just keeps that mystery rolling along, doesn’t it? I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised but I was still a little disappointed after that initial euphoria.

 As soon as I learned about this event, I knew immediately – I would be going to it. After all, I am fortunate enough to occasionally  have the honor and sheer joy of bantering a little with some of these wonderful writers who are gracious enough to interact with their readers on Twitter and Facebook.  And then it hit me —

Chris, you are aiming to release your book in time for summer.

Your own target self-pub release date is JUNE 2013.

Holy crap, I’m babbling like a geeky fan about everyone I’ll meet but I should really be taking notes. Hell, my whole goal is to be part of an event like this myself.

For now, I will keep writing and strive to finish my book by March as planned. And I will buy my EventBrite ticket and plan on meeting some of these clever writers who inspire my own imagination. And if the fates allow and all goes as planned, perhaps I’ll have my own little table at events like this and others. Soon…

Patience, young grasshopper.

Okay, the young part might be stretching it a bit.

Morning Book Morsels for 02.02.13

I have been missing in action, haven’t I? I’m sorry…

From the blog, yes, I have been,  but from books – mine or others – hell, no, I’ve been as obsessed as ever. In fact, I thought this might be a good time to pass along some updates.

  • BOOK UPDATE FROM ME – So if you’ve been following along here or on my previous blog, you know that I’ve been working on my first novel, a contemporary romance.  I’m happy to say that I am now officially two-thirds of the way through the story (about 70,000 words)! I am also thrilled to report that I seem to have located my book editor and can’t wait to work with her. She and I met together for the first time this past week, and I truly believe we’ll make a great team. Most exciting of all, it was the first time that anyone else has laid eyes on Cate Mullen and Oliver Sand —their first four chapters, at least! — and I was thrilled to introduce her to them and their story just as I cannot wait to introduce them to you!http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23685146There are a lot of tasks (many thrilling and many daunting) still at hand but as long as the content itself flows steadily and I’m able to tackle these other very relevant elements and decisions as I go, I say I’m still on schedule for a summer release. The “exactly when” may still be a bit of a mystery (even if the book isn’t that genre), but ever the optimist when it comes to this, I’m going to stick with June 2013 for now and continue aiming for that! I will keep you posted. If you’d like to stay in the loop on its release, become a subscriber to this blog today to get the latest news of when it will be available and for those in the Tampa Bay area about any special launch events held locally or online.
  • E-BOOK RELEASES FROM OTHERS – Can you believe it? We’re finally just days away from two hotly anticipated releases?  On February 5, readers can check out e-books from rock erotica writer Olivia Cunning with her fourth Sinners on Tour installment Hot Ticket (can’t wait!) and Sylvia Day‘s A Lush Kiss of Surrender, a novella in the Renegades Trilogy (which I will admit I have not read yet). Having just read the three other Cunning novels merely weeks ago, I am on pins and needles awaiting the latest rock romance even though I understand paperbacks are already out there and available in some places. But I have become a Kindle convert and so I shall wait it out…gasp…another three days. Oh the horror…
  • TEASERS, TEASERS, AND MORE TEASERS – Many authors have been dazzling us these past couple of weeks with teasers. If you’ve missed the links, maybe I can catch you up right here. For teasers to the still untitled book 3 of the Gabriel trilogy from Sylvain Reynard, check out the author’s most recent blog here where he includes links to the specific book bloggers hosting his two previous teasers. And let me tell you, they are so very worth the effort to locate. Trust me. Mmm……S.C. Stephens, who has all of her fans (this one included!) panting as they wait eagerly for the return of sexy rocker Kellan Kyle and his band, has been kind enough to hold up her end of the bargain following a successful Facebook campaign and share the release of not only chapter 1 but most recently unveiled chapter 2 of the third and final installment of her series Reckless. Dig in, fans, if you dare. I, myself, am afraid it will be like a really fine chocolate or moscato and just leave me wanting more and have opted to hold off until the whole book is available, March 5. Sigh. Yes, perhaps I am a bit of a Joan of Arc. So shoot me. (Or perhaps hoist me up and set me on fire would have been more accurate here…) Oh, and if you’re truly a Kellan fan (who isn’t and if not, are they a zombie then?), you may also want to check out an extra-special Kellan-POV version of Chapter 6 of the original book in the trilogy Thoughtless, which Stephens also recently shared as a special thank you to readers……And one final teaser, if you happened to miss it. It’s short and sweet but we’ll take what we can get when me miss our favorite book characters, won’t we? Jamie McGuire released a third teaser prior to the early April release of Walking Disaster at her blog, so be sure to check it out if you’ve waited far too long for the return of one Mr. Travis Maddox.
  • Finally, while I perhaps have been a bit lazy as a blogger, my reading habits have stayed loyal and true, I assure you, and so has my commitment to review everything I read starting this year. You can check out all of my recent book reviews at GoodReads.com by clicking here. In particular, some recent reads like Jodi Ellen Malpas’ This Man and its follow-up Beneath This Man, as well as Shelly Crane‘s Significance series, Jay Crownover‘s Rule, M. Leighton‘s Up to Me and Tiffany Reisz‘s The Prince left very distinct impressions…and not always matching the consensus of other readers. And hey, if you too are an avid reader, particularly in the romance or erotica genres, reach out to become my friend on the site or subscribe to follow my reviews. I have a little over 20 already written (yes, it HAS been a busy reading year!) and I may be able to offer some insight before you make the purchase. And I promise that I’ll never spoil it for you as a reader but may point out some aspects to the style of the book that you either love or hate, so I could you save you some moula or frustration. Just stop by my page on GoodReads and let’s crack open a merlot, shall we?

Happy reading!

ck

Your Handy Guide to Future Book Releases

For those of you as swept up in the adventures of some of our favorite mutual authors, I thought I would provide a public service in the form of a convenient, at-a-glance guide to upcoming follow-up book releases. I’m always struggling to remember what is supposed to come out and when as I chat with other fans of these books.

This by no means covers the entire contemporary romance/erotica genre – just a dozen or so authors that I read consistently, and from my interaction with some of you on this blog, Twitter and GoodReads, several of you do, as well.

Keep this list handy as you await opportunities to pre-order and download. And keep in mind that the dates may not reflect when all formats of the book will be available (that is, Kindle vs. Nook vs. paperback, etc.) But if it’s available in some form or another, that’s certainly a wonderful start!

From time to time, I plan to update this list and post for fellow fans. We wouldn’t want to miss out on a new book that’s available for pick-up or download, would we? I should think not.

Most of this information has been pulled from the authors’ websites or current listings on Amazon.com. Otherwise, I didn’t speculate. I won’t do that. It’s far too tempting, because if I could, I’d make all of them have a release date of…um…let’s see Friday, January 19, 2013 maybe? Works for me!

For those authors whose books do not have an official release date or title yet announced, please feel free to share that information if this is no longer the case. I will happily update that info right here. I might even skip or do a jig for you. Seriously. 🙂

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Oh, and once I have a release date for my own first book, tentatively JUNE 2013 (fingers crossed!), I will be posting that here, as well. Of course. I’m not a completely silly and senseless woman.

Happy reading!

ck

BOOK FOLLOW-UPS ~ RELEASE DATES
– as of 1/17/2013 –

Olivia Cunning HOT TICKET Fourth release of the Sinners on Tour Series (previously Backstage Pass/Rock Hard/ Double Time)  February 5, 2013
Sylvia Day A LUSH KISS OF SURRENDER Novella in Renegade Angels Trilogy  February 5, 2013
S.C. Stephens RECKLESS Follow-up to Thoughtless/Effortless  March 5, 2013
Jamie McGuire WALKING DISASTER Follow-up to Beautiful Disaster from Travis’s POV April 16, 2013****expected to be moved to 2wks earlier after FB campaign 
Sylvia Day ENTWINED WITH YOU Follow-up to Bared to You/Reflected in You  May 7, 2013
Samantha Young DOWN LONDON ROAD Follow-up to On Dublin Street  May 7, 2013
Rebecca Donovan OUT OF BREATH Follow-up to Reason to Breathe/Barely Breathing June 2013
Tiffany Reisz THE MISTRESS Fourth release of the Original Sinners Series (previously The Siren/The Angel/The Prince)
July 30, 2013 
Olivia Cunning SNARED Fifth release of the Sinners on Tour Series Fall 2013
J.B. McGee FORGIVEN  Follow-up to Broken/Mended

2013 – date not yet announced

M. Leighton WITH CASH Follow-up to Down to You/Up to Me Not Yet Announced
Sylvia Day A TASTE OF SEDUCTION Final installment in Renegade Angels Trilogy  Not Yet Rescheduled
Sylvia Day STRIPPED DOWN Follow-up to All Revved Up Not Yet Announced 
Sylvain Reynard title not announced
(aka GABRIEL BOOK 3)
Follow-up to Gabriel’s Inferno/Gabriel’s Rapture Not Yet Announced

News from Some Trusty Bookworms (01.03.13)

Each week, I plan to share  updates not only on the latest development news with my own first book in progress and that wonderfully frightening but exciting process, but also any author or book release news that I’ve stumbled upon in my travels for some of my favorites. And if you’ve recently begun following me because either you do share similar reading tastes or you are interested in the contemporary romance genre that I am working toward joining myself, then you will likely find some of the news below of interest.

So, this week, in case you missed it, some trusty bookworms passed along to me…

  • A group of fans of Sylvain Reynard and his books recently revamped their own blog celebrating his characters and works by launching The Argyle Empire at the first of the year. If you have read Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture and were swept away as much as me and the growing Professor Emerson fan club population, then you are going to want to check out this great fansite.

ArgyleEmpire

  • M. Leighton followers and contemporary romance fans, in general: if you contemplated reading Ms. Leighton’s Down to You, consider picking up the e-book this week. Down to You is only $0.99 on Amazon.com Kindle between now and January 6, when her follow-up to the novel, Up to Me becomes available for purchase and download.
    • Bookish Temptations will be launching its next Book Club on Saturday, Jan. 5 about S.C. Stephens’ Thoughtless. It’s a terrific book if you haven’t explored Stephens’ work already. I highly recommend. Best of all, Stephens’ follow-up Effortless is available for download so you won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next..because you know that’s how we crazy readers are! And thankfully, Stephens’ panting fans do not have too long to wait for the third installment Reckless scheduled for release March 5, 2013! Facebook fans of the writer have been in a frenzy these past few weeks spreading the word about the author’s Facebook page as the author has promised a preview of Reckless (the first two chapters!) once the page reaches 20,000 likes and a special POV scene not found elsewhere when the page achieves 25,000 likes. (As of this writing, the page is only shy by 600 or so for its first milestone…good luck, fellow followers! ) Update — 1/4/13 — The author reached 20,000 likes and released chapter 1 of Reckless (click here for the link!) There are plenty of extras after the first chapter but chapter 2 will now be released after 25,000 likes are achieved. Enjoy!
  • If you are a fan of the Breathing series, you may want to check out this link. Author Rebecca Donovan (Reason to Breathe and Barely Breathing) did an interview with Alexis Avila of Prepped and Polished and talked about her success so far, the reaction to the characters and her own processes as a writer. Her third installment Out of Breath is scheduled for a June 2013 release. Here is the link to that 20-minute audio interview…enjoy!
  • Donovan has also teamed up with Tammara Webber (Easy) in December 2012 and throughout January 2013 on a UK blog tour called “Love Hurts,” as the two respond to Q&As, offer giveaways and share novel excerpts. You can follow along at the various blogs they are visiting. I absolutely love this idea of a blog tour and cannot wait to learn more about how it works for my own future book promotion. Here is a link to Webber’s recent blog on the subject for more details.
  • Finally, kudos to Colleen Hoover and a lovely way to wrap up a stellar year. Her readers (this one included) snatched up her latest release Hopeless on e-book as soon as they could get their grubby little hands on it and clearly told their friends, because the book took off like a rocket and stayed within the top of the e-book charts on Amazon throughout the end of the year. To thank her fans and those who inspired her, Hoover blogged in her post “Paying it Forward…” that she would donate the proceeds from all sales of Hopeless during the final 30 hours of the year to a trio of organizations near and dear to her. The result? A total of $30,000 is being donated across the three groups, and all because of one talented writer, thousands of loyal fans and the beauty of social media. Gotta love it. See what we can do, folks, when we set our minds to it…

I’ll be sharing some info about my own writing journey in a future blog, so look for that soon. In the meantime, don’t forget you can receive email updates from this blog as new posts become available, so just enter your email address under the little red “Subscribe” heading top right of the page.

Until next time, happy reading!

ck

2012 Year of the Grooviest Dozen Awards

In honor of winding down the year, I’m celebrating some real gifts of 2012. This week’s Kuhnspiration challenge gives us the chance to look back at the year and host our own awards to celebrate the best of the best…through our eyes, anyway.

So without further ado, ahem – this week’s question asked:

Give your list of winners for the 2012 Year-Of-The-Grooviest-Dozen Awards… your take on the best of the best for the following: Film ~ Song ~TV Show ~Book ~Movie Star ~ TV Star ~Author ~ Singer ~Band ~News Story ~ Quote ~ Tweet.

Welcome to the 2012 Kuhnie’s Year of the Grooviest Dozen Awards here in lovely Tampa Bay. Isn’t the view of the Riverwalk and nearby University of Tampa and its trademark minarets spectacular? Aah. Who needs Hollywood and the red carpet? We’ll host this special occasion right here in Cigar City, high above the city, looking down on it from one of the downtown skyscrapers. We won’t need a song and dance fanfare to start it out, just a charismatic, funny and capable master of ceremonies. Hmm. For mine, I’m thinking we call in one of the Tony host phenoms Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. Or ooh, maybe we go another route and pick late-night hosts… Conan O’Brien or Jimmy Fallon…it may be time to give David Letterman a chance to wipe out that Uma-Oprah Oscar memory. He is the best of the best after all. It would only be appropriate.

And without further delay…the awards…

Best Film of 2012
For me, I’ve got to go with my favorite movie I saw at the theaters this year and that was THE AVENGERS. I didn’t even like IRON MAN coming into it, had only been burned my past attempts at the Hulk and had not seen THOR. When it was done, I was a fan of them all. Got my attention early on, won me over and excited me about a sequel. Nice job, superheroes. Nice job.

Best Song
Someone that I Used to Know (Gotye)  – different, stark, poignant, unusual, catchy-as-hell, unforgettable. And if you aren’t as up on your contemporary music, here is the music video. (Keep in mind this song was chosen because of the track not the video, but the video could be described with many of the same adjectives…)

Best TV Show — I decided on my own to have co-winners – existing show and new show
Existing… “New Girl” – for me this show just gets funnier every season and I probably look forward to seeing this cast on a weekly basis more than any other show on TV. New Show…“Arrow” – finally, someone has whipped up people in a frenzy again about a lesser known DC comic. In breakout star, Stephen Arnell, we’ve got a fella guys admire and women swoon for, leaving everyone in anticipation of Oliver Queen’s very next move. At first, I was ticked off at the producers for not casting Justin Hartley of “Smallville” who previously played Oliver Queen on that show, but I must say, Mr. Arnell, I am a believer. And hopefully this will create some buzz about DC wonder boys and my much-anticipated  MAN OF STEEL next summer with Henry Cavell.

Arrow

Best Book
I read more books this year than ever before, but if I had to single out my favorite that I READ this year (and I highlighted quite a few of them recently in another blog), not that necessarily came out this year…it would be The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I finished the trilogy before seeing the first of the films and was happy to not have any of the images floating through my brain as I read this imaginative, captivating and thrilling ride like nothing I’ve ever read. And if I’m picking a book released this year, my favorite I’ve read released in 2012 so far was Slammed by Colleen Hoover. Someone wrote in a review that this book sneaks up on you and I wholeheartedly agree. I found myself cheering when I thought I wouldn’t and looking for answers to help the lead characters myself, I was so hell-bent on the ending I wanted. I found it funny, endearing, romantic and frustrating – just like the perfect love. It did not disappoint at all…

Best Movie Star
For me, the movie star who captured my attention this year most was Jennifer Lawrence. I am just amazed at all she can do – both from an emotional standpoint as an actor but also physically, she’s been able to transform herself. THE HUNGER GAMES proved that she can also bring in box office moula. I am so looking forward to seeing SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and expect that I’ll be gushing about that in next year’s top film list…

Best TV Star
This is a tough one for me. I gushed earlier about Stephen Arnell and I crush more on Zooey Deschanel every year, someone who I think is absolutely funny, charming and scene-stealing. But if I had to pick someone whose performance has really captured my attention the most on TV this year, I think it would have to be David Morrissey, who plays the infamous Guvna on “Walking Dead” — he has been absolutely riveting in a role that should make us thoroughly disgusted. Yet he has completely captured our attention – we are both mesmerized and shocked that we could possibly have any empathy. His calm and stoic “Gary-Cooper” like quality makes him the most attractive villain we love to hate in a looooong time. But I must also give some honorable mentions to two other unbelievable performances in 2012 — Anson Mount and Common on AMC’s other fabulous show you’re probably not watching, “Hell on Wheels,” but had better next season – yes, it got renewed. Woo hoo. These two actors bring such an intensity and ferocity to their roles and the words they delivery. It’s quite a sight to witness.

Best Author
I have a soft spot for Sylvain Reynard and last fall’s Gabriel’s Inferno (which I was just introduced to this year) and this year’s follow-up Gabriel’s Rapture. I can’t help it. Not only am I completely enamored with the lead character he created as are women everywhere (and I’m sure some men, too) Professor Gabriel Emerson, it has also brought forth from me many longings about returning to see Italy one day, particularly Florence. It has re-ignited my passion for Botticelli, Raphael and other great artists of the area that I loved studying so much in the past but had set aside that passion to do those important things like work and help raise a family. I will be rediscovering that passion again next year as I do a little return to humanities study on the side, as a hobby again. I do love it so much. So thank you, Mr. Reynard, for that completely unexpected bonus from reading your lovely books.

Best Singer
This is really hard because there are a million and one ways I can go with this. I can pick someone whose work I enjoy regularly and still impressed me this year, like Katy Perry. Or I can pick someone like Adele, who really knocked me out with her haunting James Bond single “Skyfall” which totally took me back to the classic Bond tunes I always loved so much… You might expect me to pick someone who was really big this year like Taylor Swift, who I am a big fan of but unfortunately, I really don’t like her biggest song of the year “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” And there’s always Carly Rae Jepsen with only one of the biggest songs of the year “Call Me Maybe.” Nope, none of those. I’m going with Kelly Clarkson. She just amazes me from album to album. She keeps getting better – this year was no exception. She sounds crisper and more powerful than ever, not to mention is practically glowing from her recent engagement announcement. Yep, Kelly. You are the best in 2012 if you ask me. Keep it up, girl, and remind us all that American Idol really has delivered some relevant people along the way, despite what the haters say.

Best Band
I’ve touched on this before in a recent blog, but for me, this was a big year for discovering The Black Keys, and that process of experiencing their music has been such a joyful ride. I have been lost in their soulful lyrics, their driving guitar licks and often infectious rhythm that whips me into a frenzy. I will continue exploring their previous albums for years to come, and can’t wait for an opportunity to see them perform live someday. Sigh.

BlackKeys

Best News Story
It was a very sad year, a year of mass shootings from CO to CT, horrific devastation left behind from natural disasters, and unrest across the world. So how does one pick the best news story? How about a story that may have offered a little hope…because it was a year that didn’t offer too much of that. How about stories that reminded us that we can do almost anything if we put our minds to it… aerialist Nik Wallenda taking on Niagara Falls and crossing it successfully on a high-wire and Felix Baumgartner makes a record-setting skydive jump from space!

Best Quote
“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I am afraid of no one.” – Malala Yousafzai (though the quote is technically from the young girl’s diary from an earlier year, it came to light for all of the world in 2012)

Best Tweet
It’s a tie from the same guy…POTUS.
“This happened because of you. Thank you.” — President Barack Obama, announcing his re-election victory that evening of Nov. 6     —- and —
“Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom” from later that same evening, featuring the most tweeted photo ever. If any picture captured the essence of relief that a hard-fought campaign was over, this image did it, no matter which side you were on.

And that concludes the Kuhnie edition of the 2012 Grooviest of the Year awards…what would you highlight as the best of the best, through your eyes for this past year? Look forward to hearing from you and as always, thanks for reading.

For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas Eve and I guess Happy Boxing Day a little early for my friends just across the border. Be smart, safe and careful on the roads wherever you are.

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life!
~Chris

Mapquest Your Inspiration (a/k/a Hey, Is That Your Butt on Fire Over There?)

Inspiration.

It’s what lights a fire under your ass and gets you moving forward, not living a stagnant life.

Many of us operate by inspiration and don’t even realize that we’re doing it. We think of that term as one of those frilly, flowery words that those “woo woo” New Age people throw around, but it’s a word more people should be using, contemplating and talking about EVERY day.

Why is that, I hear some of my realists and straight talkers ponder. Because when we turn on the TV, as I did yesterday afternoon when I returned from a lunch appointment, the news that sometimes comes up to greet us can be daunting. It can be enough to convince us that there is so much hatred, pain and gloom in the world, that we should simply turn around, hop back into bed and throw the covers over our heads.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this isn’t a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and have done so many times before, but sometimes what we see and hear around us can be paralyzing. It is inspiration that fuels a fire in our belly to DO, to GO, to IMAGINE that no matter what it looks like outside, there is always more. Somewhere out there.

So this week, I asked you to get over your own prejudices about the word “inspiration” (should you have it) and contemplate where your sources of inspiration lie in your own life. The question:

What are your sources of inspiration and how do they inspire you?

I hope you took a morning walk and thought about it or maybe if you write in a daily journal, considered this topic something worth a few minutes of your time.

I derive inspiration from many sources.

I am inspired by special people in my life — my husband, my sons and their family, my dog – to follow my dream and hopefully get out the messages that I hope will touch other people’s lives. If in the process, I can be successful in really reaching people, if I can also ultimately improve the quality of life for my loved ones, even better. That drives me.

I derive inspiration from human connection — that moment you and another person realize that you are on the exact same plane, all alone straddling the clouds together, talking enthusiastically on something you both feel passionate about. There’s nothing more exhilarating and exciting, and in that moment, I am fueled to take that moment of connection and channel it into something inspired by the conversation- a song, poem, character in a book, blog…something!

I find inspiration in fresh air — Okay, I know this one sounds bizarre. But I can be sitting at my keyboard, my favorite tea beside me (Good Earth, black chai vanilla decaf, if Santa or any of his elves are wondering), my awesome dog snoring away peacefully and a completely free day ahead for writing…and hit a concrete wall – THUD. Then step outside, and as soon as the many smells of winter and conservation behind our house and Christmas and all of those other wonderful smells, sights and sounds are absorbed, and the fresh air tickles my nose and fills up my lungs, I am so full of energy, peace and best of all, inspiration. The ideas come flooding through and I’m charged and ready to go. With one simple step outside and a few good inhales. Mmm. It’s amazing what a little oxygen can do. It reminds you …that’s right. You’re alive, blockhead. Now do something valuable with that bit of news.

I am inspired by Italian art and architecture— I see a picture from Florence or Rome, and I immediately transport myself back to the greatest travel adventure of my life, something I’ve yet to experience again but do hope to once more – someday.

Florence

I’m sure this was what fueled my interest and love in a book series this year (Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard) whose main characters embodied all things Florence – the history, the storytelling, the art, the architecture, the food, the landscape, the passion. I haven’t lost my infatuation with that place and I know that I will go back again someday and when I do, I will see it with a new set of eyes but until then, each read, each view, each contemplation really sets my heart afire just thinking about it and inspires me to make that return journey again.

I am inspired by the opportunity of good will carried forward — Yeah, that’s right the “Pay It Forward” concept. (Not as crazy about the movie, which despite my complete adoration of anything with Kevin Spacey in it except maybe Superman Returns —<shudders> — but the ending of the film PAY IT FORWARD pissed me off beyond belief!) The concept, however, is so intriguing. I am instinctively a hopeful person. Sometimes I think to others I may come across as a glass half-empty person but I’m not. Not really. In my heart, I am always half-full but through my experiences, I have been faced with some personal disappointments and heartache that has definitely left some scars and I have to make a concerted effort sometimes to have faith in others. I try really hard but it isn’t always easy, I’ll admit. I have felt let down a lot but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that you can only be let down if you set expectations in such a way that creates a no-win, and often, I’ve done just that – created an impossible scenario so there was only one thing that could happen – disappointment.

I know, that deep in my heart, I’m an idealist. I always believe people can be good, that they are inherently good and that the circumstances of their life now, their past, their surroundings and their ability to satisfy their basic needs shade this part of who they are. For some, it lightens it and for others, darkens. So in this way, as part of that outer world, I see each of us playing a part, having an influence, in some way – big or small. I have to believe that. I’ve just got to. Even when news like yesterday’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut might try to convince me otherwise…though I do realize that biology and body chemistry also play significant roles in someone’s words, actions and judgment.

I try to force myself every day to look for opportunities to create settings that cultivate good will, not pain, not fear, not anger. Some days, it’s easier than others. (Usually those days where I don’t have to face bumper-to-bumper traffic or go shopping at WalMart…otherwise, look out!) I don’t believe in karma, yet I do believe that the actions, words and energy you generate and deliver to the world really do have more power than we remember sometimes. We have the power to heal or hurt — educate or block — help or sideline — encourage or silence. I am inspired by that fact…that as human beings, we have the ability to make this choice every day with the words and actions we elect to wield and how we use this personal power. And when I see others using it in positive, healing and enlightening ways, I feel energized myself and can’t wait to follow their lead.

How about you? What inspires you — to do what you do? To carry forth whatever you think is the reason you’re sticking around here on Earth? To be a better person?

I’d love to hear from you. As always, thank you for reading. It really means a lot to me, and I just wanted to tell you that from the bottom of my heart.

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life!
~ Chris

My Great Finds of 2012

A day behind but just as committed to keeping up this weekly Kuhnspiration challenge throughout the rest of the year. By the time this year ends, I will have posed 52 different questions – some personal and introspective, others completely pointless but fun to ponder…about everything from breakups and family memories to great vacations and dream dinner party guests.

This last week, I posed a question that asks you (and me) to take a look back at the year and celebrate great finds. Specifically, I asked:
What great discoveries did you make this year? (whether it’s a rock band, a new TV show you finally watched, an author, hobby, cuisine, etc.)

I explored a lot of new artists across media this year.

MUSIC
In music, bought my first Black Keys and quickly became addicted. Have since discovered the Avett Brothers courtesy of one fabulous author Colleen Hoover who introduced them to me throughout her wonderful book Slammed. I also loaded up on old David Gray CDs like crazy, and boy, was I happy about that. He’s become one of my greatest musical muses for writing…so thank you, David!

TV
Made a lot of great discoveries in TV this year — in particular, Walking Dead, which I was slow to the party in experiencing but once I did, I couldn’t get enough of it and caught up on all previous episodes in about a week’s time!  I was also thrilled to see really GOOD music-infused shows hit the little screen like Smashed and Nashville, two new shows who had better soundtracks in my opinion than most movies at the box office! This summer, I finally checked out The Tudors (all of my fellow Anglophiles told me I would love it, and they were so right. (I’ve already purchased all four seasons for my own collection, by the way, after watching them all summer long…thank you, ShowTime!) Not to mention I found my latest schoolgirl crush in Hollywood…they come along every few years or so… years ago, it was Alec Baldwin… then Noah Wiley…then George Clooney……and Aaron Eckhart…Viggo Mortinsen… now, my latest crush? Mr. Henry Cavill. Mmm. Introduced him in my recent blog about MY Top 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year (not him specifically, but the fact that he is my ideal choice for nabbing the part of THE Mr. Christian Grey).

MOVIES/ACTORS
Not too many huge discoveries here, although I will say that this is the first year that I finally “got” the big deal about Ryan Gosling. Any of my swooning girlfriends would swear that he was truly their favorite movie ‘stud” and I never understood that. Then, I finally watched The Notebook (yeah, I take a while to see this stuff sometimes…) and after seeing that, and Ides of March, okay, I finally get it. As far as great charismatic acting goes (looks are fine but not the key motivation), I was pleasantly surprised to discover Daniel Craig as James Bond (I did not see his first 2 as the character) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a few great performances from this year and some past movies that I happened to see including 50/50, a performance that really knocked my socks off. I will no longer look at this actor as the boy from that mediocre 90s sitcom that I didn’t watch. I will now seek out his movies.

BOOKS/AUTHORS
I never dreamt that I would even have this category listed this year. The biggest reading find for me in 2012 was… ME! I used to be an avid reader – as a kid and a college student in classic literature, plays and philosophers’ teachings. Then I grew up and found myself lacking interest in fiction – so I became a big reader of humorists, essayists and film personality biographies. But then after my work became more focused on writing, I stopped reading anything but magazines and newspapers. I didn’t have the patience, time or interest anymore – not even in non-fiction. Finally, a few years back, the Twilight Series changed all of that and I slowly crawled back into reading, checking out the Hunger Games Trilogy, beginning the Harry Potter series (ever so slowly) and the recommended book here and there like Time Traveler’s Wife, etc. But THIS YEAR, 2012… I truly found books again in a way that I had not before, and I attribute it to two main reasons — an unquenchable desire to write my own book and yep, E.L. James. Now, I have a disclaimer here first – Fifty Shades of Grey was not my favorite book that I read this year (nor were her sequels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed) yet I will admit that I read all of them multiple times. What they did do however was lead me to a genre that really tapped into a mindset and character studies about people that I wanted to know and meet, stirred up emotions and feelings that these other books I had been reading weren’t able to do — and best of all, she led me to some authors who I actually enjoyed more, but had I not read and enjoyed her series, I would never have discovered them as well. Hell, in the past 3 months alone, I’ve read 17 of these books and many of them at least a second time!

  BooksAndBooksHeader

I hit upon some of the authors also in that same 10 Most Fascinating People blog — authors like Sylvain Reynard, Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber, M. Leighton, S.C. Stephens, Jamie McGuire and others. Best of all, many of these are also authors who are fans and friends of Ms. James and vice versa – it is quite a supportive community and as an aspiring author heading into the contemporary romance realm next year, at least with my first book, I find that part most encouraging of all.

MISC – HOBBIES/FOOD/PLACES
Some other great finds this year for me personally —- well, I’ve really explored Thai cuisine more than ever, even going beyond my usual order of Pad Thai Tofu, and getting more adventurous to order more curries like Panang Curry more frequently. I haven’t really picked up any new hobbies in 2012 besides reading non-stop but did get to attend some events for the first time that I really enjoyed including the Florida Strawberry Festival (yep, it was my first time ever in 2012)…

StrawberryFest…as well as the Gasparilla Film Festival (a lot of fun) and the Greek Festival in Clearwater in the fall. I had always gone to a smaller Tampa event and was amazed at  how huge and well-orchestrated the Clearwater folks did with their event! Okay, I guess this was a milestone year for me for one hobby – I do like my wine and I have always been a white wine drinker, gravitating toward the sweet ones like Moscato and Riesling and the occasional sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. But in 2012, especially during my late-night reading marathons, I became a big fan of…wait for it…of all things…MERLOT. I don’t know how it happened, I never saw that coming, but now that is my wine of choice when I read late at night. Go figure. Still determining my favorite brands. I welcome suggestions, by the way (keep in mind my budget is under $15/bottle please!)

So what about you? What were some great personal finds and discoveries that you made in 2012? I’d love to hear your list!  And as always, thanks for reading…

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life!
~Chris

Fascinating, Schmascinating

I love TV specials, especially ones that involve lists. (Yes, I’m funny that way.) Perhaps it’s the closure fiend in me that appreciates a good definitive ranking or it may just be all of those years growing up with Casey Kasem’s Top 40 — who knows!

Each year, Barbara Walters offers her own take on the 10 most fascinating people for the year – sometimes they make sense; other times, they seem to come out of nowhere. But no matter how many years I watch it, I always feel like the list doesn’t reflect who I would include. Last year, I ranted to my Facebook friends and shared with them my own list but THIS year, you get to suffer, too.

So it only seemed fair that I also INVITE you to join in the merriment when I posed this week’s Kuhnspiration blog question: Who would you feature in your own “10 Most Fascinated People of 2012″ TV special?

Have you thought about your choices for the year? I do hope that you’ll share your picks, too. Remember: this is my list, so I can put whoever the hell I want (as you can, too). So please, no whining about who did or didn’t make the cut. I have my own definition of “fascinating” as I’m sure you do, too. So without further delay…here we go!

10. Kate Middleton. The chick got married last year but she was everywhere in 2012. As the future Queen of England, she found herself quite busy — touring the world, representing the host country with her main squeeze at the Summer Olympics and giving people plenty of opportunities to ponder both her outfits and the status of her biological clock and baby-making desires. Poor thing. Talk about a walking spotlight. She has one built into her perfectly stylish stilettos, I’m sure.

  9. Zombies. They were everywhere — books, TV, movies, music…embedded in our brain voluntarily though no doubt for the pure pleasure of devouring that zombie-obsessed brain later!

zombie

And if the growing popularity and surprisingly good ratings of the AMC hit “Walking Dead” indicate, we won’t be rid of these mind-gnawing mongrels anytime soon. And. That. Is. Okay. By. Me.

  8. Ryan Murphy. Okay, you probably won’t find this talented producer, writer, TV innovator on other people’s lists this year BUT YOU SHOULD.  He just may become this decade’s David Kelley with one big difference – all of HIS shows don’t feel or look like the same show. Armed with the challenge of keeping Fox’s “Glee” interesting despite most of its graduating class members being scattered across the country, Murphy has managed to introduce some new intriguing characters and still highlight old favorites. It hasn’t always worked this season though there have been a few standout episodes including one featuring not one, not two, not three…but FOUR break-ups in one hour-long episode. And though viewers were sad as hell as they watched, Murphy was still able to deliver an entertaining and poignant show. Let’s add to this existing show two new ones earning both critical acclaim and a fan following – “The New Normal,” a half-hour sitcom on NBC, and FX’s sophomore installment and completely haunting and addicting “American Horror Story,” and you’ve got one talented, and fascinating creator.

  7. Whitney Houston. No one ever doubted her talent but she hadn’t really been on anyone’s mind lately. Then, one unbelievable news day and she became all that anyone talked about for months. In much the same way Amy Winehouse left following an all-too-soon, truly sad way to go, the iconic singer seemed to become more popular and revered after her early 2012 death. We knew the talent was still there but were saddened to see it get buried and lost deep under a long-time and ultimately, life-ending addiction. This was a tramautic year for music fans who saw so many of their favorites besides Houston depart – from Dick Clark, Don Cornelius, Davey Jones and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees to Beastie Boy Adam Yauch,  Donna Summer, Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay, Etta James and The Band’s Levon Helm, and unfortunately, so many more. Whitney was just one more heartwrenching final note.

  6. Mitt Romney. There are going to be some people surprised to see this guy on my list, particularly since there is an absence of the other guy… you know, the one that won, the one I actually voted for and have been behind since 2008. Again, this list is about fascinating — and it was fascinating to watch this guy running for the most important office in the land come up against his own party’s leadership and their lack of enthusiasm and backing at times. Sometimes his own mouth got himself in trouble. (We on the other side understand this only too well — we’ve got Vice President Joe Biden in our camp, remember?) Still, it was never a dull moment to watch his campaign unfold from waaaaay back over here and see how campaign progress and platforms changed on what felt like a daily basis sometimes. Which Romney would we see today, some late-night talk show hosts joked but there was some truth to the levity.

MittLyle

Separated at birth? I’ll let you be the judge. You must admit – he looks an awful lot like Lyle Waggoner of “Wonder Woman” fame.

As Election Day neared, I do believe we got closer to seeing the real Romney. I wonder now had he run a little bit closer to home and owned up to representing what he truly believed from the get-go — what appeared to be a more moderate mix of views — and worried less about pleasing more conservative factions in his party, if he would have been able to beat President Obama. Quite possibly. I was originally worried that Romney’s religious affiliation as a Mormon being somewhat unknown or understood by many Americans might hurt him, but I really don’t think it did and for that, I was relieved. I do believe someday there will be an openly atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or Jewish president but it will be a while probably, but I hate to see anyone unfairly treated because of their religious beliefs or lack of them. No, I wasn’t rooting for the guy, but I’d never want to see that happen and besides, for me, there were plenty of good reasons having nothing to do with infringing upon his freedoms that led me to vote against him. But it doesn’t change the fact that he was a fascinating dude to follow this year.

 5. Justin Bieber. Disclaimer: I do not own one CD by Mr. Bieber nor have I downloaded anything from iTunes or viewed his concert film, seen him perform live (and with no intentions of changing this anytime soon)…so I would by all definitions of the word NOT be considered a fan. That being said, the world ate this kid up like he was chocolate-stuffed pizza all year! Whether it was what he was singing, what his hair looked like this week or who he was or wasn’t dating anymore, everyone was oozing Bieber Fever…still! Wait a second. I thought this kid was supposed to fade away by now. So if that’s the case, why is he still so popular? I just saw a headline last week that he was even the most searched celebrity online for 2012, so just running into news stories is apparently not enough. People are actually out there LOOKING for more of them, too! I don’t get it. I just don’t get his allure. He seems like an okay kid, a little awestruck with himself but nice enough, but his singing is nothing special, only a few of his songs the slightest bit memorable and his dancing does nothing for me. Don’t forget I watch all of the superstars over on “So You Think You Can Dance?”  Now that’s dancing. But clearly the world disagrees with me. Hmm. Maybe I’m missing something. Oh well, I’ve got books to read and books to write, so I’ll just have to miss the ferry for that one.

    4. Christian Grey, et al. Nope, Grey’s not a real person but a fictional character from the best-selling Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy but I haven’t seen this much fervor about the casting of a character for the big screen since the selection of the young actors to bring Harry Potter to life many years ago. Unlike that casting, I find myself caught up in this cinematic frenzy myself. This year, people began following movie producers’ every move to get one step closer to finding out who is going to write it, who is going to direct it, and of course, topmost on the minds of a predominantly female reader fan base, who will play the dangerously sexy object of their affection. I could have listed the book’s author E.L. James like Barbara Walters will and Entertainment Weekly already has, and it would certainly make sense, but let’s remember that the title of this list is not the BEST people of 2012, the SMARTEST people of 2012 or the most LIFE-CHANGING people of 2012. The word is “fascinating,” people. And it is this character that has completely captured the attention, hearts and minds of readers across the world, and this year demonstrated just how deep that infatuation lies with book-inspired product sales and social media melee over movie production and casting news (legitimate or otherwise) with no signs of waning anytime soon. Unless they take too damn long to cast the part. Oh, and if you want to know who  this writer thinks should play the part, ahem, it’s this fella right here. One Mr. Henry Cavill…and you’re welcome.

Cavill2

Another fascinating development stemming from this Grey infatuation has been the transition of these readers to other contemporary romance as well as erotica authors as they continue their quest to uncover other intriguing characters and dream lovers among the pages. Female readers especially are starting fan pages and Twitter handles for their favorite characters and leading in-depth story discussions online and in book clubs about everything, including dialogue, character drive and motivation and fantasy casting for these other beloved characters not yet destined for the big screen. These range from the similarly intense and complex Gideon Cross (Bared to You/Reflected in You, Sylvia Day) and Professor Gabriel Emerson (Gabriel’s Inferno/Gabriel’s Rapture, Sylvain Reynard) to the charming bad boy (is he or isn’t he?) Travis Maddox (Beautiful Disaster , Jamie McGuire) and Cash and Nash Davenport (Down to You , M. Leighton) to the nice guy with just a little bit of an edge Will Hooper (Slammed/Point of Retreat, Colleen Hoover) and Lucas (Easy, Tammara Webber). If you are a woman and romance, lust and emotional connections to characters were requirements on your reading checklist this year, you probably have been introduced to every single one of these sexy men on the list and have  read (and in most cases, RE-READ) these books. You will be happy to know (as am I) that nearly all of them will be back in 2013 sequels. Sigh.

3. The American Voter. And that means those of you who voted for that other guy (see #6 above), too. Thanks. That’s right, thanks. For coming out and doing your job. Not everyone expected you to do so, but I had faith that you would. It was mesmerizing all year to watch the various people who came out from the shadows to speak up about their candidates – sometimes people whose support you never expected to see thrown in a particular direction or words emerge out of some mouths that should have perhaps stayed behind their lips. (Yeah, that’s right, Donald Trump and Jack Welch – I’m talking to both of you.) But most fascinating was watching to see people rally behind their candidates and in some cases, major policy changes about everything from gay marriage to legalization of marijuana. All of the political “experts” thought they knew exactly what the American Voter would do on November 6, but many of them were quite surprised at the outcomes for various races and initiatives across the nation.  I was just pleased to see so many people speak for themselves and come out to the polls. Good job making yourself heard, America – again, whatever your message was. It was heard – loud and clear.

  2. Malala Yousafzai. One young girl may have changed the way many people view education and what it really means for other people across the world. The little girl from Pakistan could be voted Time Person of the Year, and it all started with an anonymous blog about wanting to go to school. Once she revealed her identity, her name and face and the reaction to her plea became synonymous with what is wrong in the world that a young girl not only can’t speak her dreams aloud but that they can be taken away with force and brutal violence. She was shot in the head for wanting to learn and telling other people this. No matter how many times I repeat that sentence in my head, it will never make sense that this is the same world that I live in and where I make my dorky, off-the-wall comments about anything and everything (as I am doing right now), and here is this brave, pensive young girl that gets nearly killed for stating what would make her happiest in her life. It’s such an important lesson for us all to be vocal and expressive about what we want because we have the right and the ability to do so. We must. For Malala.

And finally, the most fascinating person in 2012, according to moi…

  1. Lucy Marie Kuhn. No, you haven’t heard of her yet but you will. Someday.

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My little granddaughter was born early one Tuesday morning last month and has already mesmerized those around her. She truly is the most fascinating person of 2012…if you ask me.

I’d love to hear about your list, too. Do tell. 

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, and as always, thanks for reading.

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life.
~Chris