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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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!

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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.

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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.

News from Some Trusty Bookworms (01.13.13)

Happy Sunday, folks!

It’s been a busy week of freelance work for me, so not too much to report on the novel-writing front – but keeping to my chapter-a-week pace, with writing time blocked off this afternoon (thankfully).

But many of my favorite writers have been busy generating some news of their own this week. So if you happened to miss a groovy book blogger spill it or a tweet or Facebook update from the authors themselves, maybe you haven’t heard…

  • One more Hoover news nugget… she and her colleague Jamie McGuire and Tammara Webber are going to be appearing together at a group book signing event Sunday, January 20 at A Real Bookstore, located in Fairview, Texas. I’d love nothing more than to attend but given that Fairview is about 1,200 miles away from me, I’m not seeing a road trip in my future. Perhaps I can persuade them that Tampa Bay is lovely at this time of year or even nearby Orlando and they can bring family members with them to enjoy the many local attractions and beaches 🙂 I am also not above bribing in Florida wine, cigars, strawberries and other produce, so just name your preference…
  • And speaking of Travis…Much as Stephens was able to deliver something special to her readers a little early because of their social media enthusiasm with a sneak peek at Reckless, Jamie McGuire recently announced that her publisher Atria has agreed to release the sequel to Beautiful Disaster — Walking Disaster — two weeks early if the author reaches 30,000 likes on the author’s Facebook page. As of this afternoon, she was a little under 800 shy. So “like” away, readers! I’ve done my part, have you? Come on, you know you miss Travis…
  • Author Samantha Young hosted a Twitter chat with fans earlier this week, during which she revealed that her next On Dublin Street series book will focus not on its predecessor’s leads Joss and Braden but instead on Jo, Joss’s friend with whom she works at the local bar and the telling of her story. She offered the reasoning behind the decision, assuring readers that they will continue to get a glimpse into the world of their beloved Joss and Braden but that Jo’s story had yet been told and would offer insight into her perceived identity as a “golddigger.” So perhaps we will fall in love with Jo and her adventures with Cameron MacCabe just as we did her friends. Down London Road will be available in the U.S. May 7, 2013. (Okay, everybody…chime in: hurrah!)

So many books, so many bottles of red wine. Perfect! I think perhaps I’ll crack open a new one of each this evening.

Happy reading!
ck

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.

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  • 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

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!

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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!

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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.

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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