Please help me give a warm welcome to author Amy Atwell. Her FIRST published book is so new it still has the shine on it. (Okay, that one doesn't always work, but you know what I mean. )


Do You Have a Taste for Books? Wine? Heroes?

Over the table at Thanksgiving dinner, the conversation turned, as it often does among my family, to books. My brother’s girlfriend said she’d read one of the Stieg Larsson books. I asked what she thought but her answer surprised me.


“Oh, I didn’t really start reading books until a few years ago. I’m not experienced enough to offer an opinion.”

After I succeeded in not coughing up green bean casserole on the tablecloth, I started to argue that she must have some sort of opinion. Then I caught myself. You see, I used to work in the wine industry. (Okay, I stocked wine on shelves in a grocery store—but, I also lived near Napa for four years and even designed wine cellars, so that counts for something, right?) I’ve had lots of conversations with wine buyers who aren’t necessarily wine drinkers. They want a “good” wine.

“What’s good?” they would always ask.

“If you like the way it tastes, that’s good,” was my standard reply. Sure, I could launch into explanations about tannins and aging, oak versus stainless steel, temperature and oxygen. But wines, to me, boil down to a matter of taste.

So do books.

Personal taste, or opinion, is purely subjective. It’s yours. No one gets to take that from you. Let those who claim to know more tell you you’re wrong. Let them tell you you’re a clod. Let them sneer at your choice. But don’t let them tell you what you like. You know what you like. Drink your wine. Read your book. Enjoy both.

Starts to walk away, washing hands, done with the conversation.

What? Oh, right. HEROES. Left them totally out of the mix, didn’t I? They were really the point of the whole blog.

Returns and pulls up a chair. Uh oh, you may be here awhile.

Okay, so remember when I was trying not to cough up the green bean casserole on Thanksgiving Day? The thought rolling around in my head was that if I’d asked her a similar question about my brother and she’d given me a similar answer, I’d be worried:

“So, what do you think of my brother?”

“Oh, I’ve only been dating him a few years. I’m not experienced enough to offer an opinion.”

You see, to me, books and men are the same. As women, we may not be able to fully articulate our tastes, but come on, we know what we like.

Hugh Jackman.

Johnny Depp.

George Clooney.

Who’s the new kid on the block? Ryan Reynolds? Eh… shrugs

The danger zone here is allowing others to define what we want in a man. I’ve seen too many marriages fail because what looked good on paper didn’t “taste” quite right. Me? I’m one of the lucky ones. I formed an immediate opinion when I first saw him: that’s the man I’m destined to spend my life with. And 29 years after meeting him, we’re still together.

A woman not having an opinion about a man often means she’s avoiding admitting that she doesn’t like him. Or worse, that she recognizes that she likes him far more than she should, and she can’t explain why.

This is the dilemma presented to my heroine, Iris, in Lying Eyes. (Oh, come now, you knew I’d get to the book at some point, right? Stick with me; this will be brief.) She’s listened to society. She thinks she needs a stability her life has always lacked. And so she’s agreed to marry someone who, well let’s just say he doesn’t make her heart or tongue stutter. It’s a solid foundation for a practical future.

Until she meets a jewel thief who involves her in a world of danger and intrigue. Here’s a man who, from the first touch, makes her heart fly, her tongue get tied, and her brain seize up. Because it’s not smart to get involved with a man like this. But instinctively, she knows what she wants. And she wants him.

I think for many generations, women have been hampered by a certain amount of what I call “gender expectation.” Women are supposed to be soft. They reach for consensus. They tend to go along with the norm. Opinions can be dangerous to have because not everyone might agree with us. The wrong wine and we look uncultured. Caught reading romance and we may be labeled bimbos.

I repeat…

Personal taste, or opinion, is purely subjective. It’s yours. No one gets to take that from you. Let those who claim to know more tell you you’re wrong. Let them tell you you’re a clod. Let them sneer at your choice. But don’t let them tell you what you like. Do not allow them to rob you of your most personal freedom. You know what you like. Drink your wine. Read your book. Enjoy both.

Confession time: Is there something that you REALLY LIKE that you’ve never publicly admitted because you’re afraid others would tell you you’re “wrong?” A book you enjoyed? An inexpensive but tasty wine? A hero figure others might not find as sexy? A favorite food others might think is gross? Music you never admit to listening to? Here’s your chance, express it to the world.

—Amy (who listened to Barry Manilow, Wilson Phillips AND Air Supply while writing this. Yes, I really did.)

Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. Her debut romantic suspense, Lying Eyes, is now available from Carina Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When not writing, Amy runs the WritingGIAM online community for goal-oriented writers. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Visit her online at her www.amyatwell.com, What’s The Story? and Magical Musings blogs, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.

21 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // December 3, 2010 at 12:10 AM  

    Good morning, Amy!

  2. ArkansasCyndi // December 3, 2010 at 12:14 AM  

    Barry Manilow...Oh yeah! My husband refused to go to any of his concerts. Luckily, I had a girl friend who would always so.

    There was a book that won the RITA one year. I had bought that book. Could not get past page 25. Hated it..with a passion. But obviously somebody loved that book. RITA winner. Best Seller.

    On the other hand, I love country music. Certainly not everyone's taste.

    However, I love the idea that "I've only been dating your brother for a few years so I'm not experienced enough to give you an opinion" HAHAHA

    And then there is a "very popular vampire series"...I do not get all the hysteria about the books, the movies and especially the actor chosen to play the lead in the movies. Do Not Get.

    What you know what? How great we all have different tastes! How boring the world if we all read the same books, drank the same wine, etc.

    Viva La Difference

  3. Mary Marvella // December 3, 2010 at 1:28 AM  

    Yep, consider the readers who love Nora Roberts but can't read JD Robb, or the other way around.

    And how about those folks who eat Ketchup on scrambled eggs? Or won't eat peanut butter and mayo?

  4. Judy // December 3, 2010 at 6:53 AM  

    Loved the blog, Amy! Your book sounds fabulous and I love the fact that you lived in Napa and worked with wines. One of my stories takes place in that area...Good luck! Thanks for visiting...

  5. Mona Risk // December 3, 2010 at 6:54 AM  

    Amy welcome to the PFS. Congratulations on your book. Gorgeous cover and great excerpt.

  6. Autumn Jordon // December 3, 2010 at 8:09 AM  

    Hi, Amy. Welcome to the Fuzzies and congrats on your new release. I will have to look it up and read more.

    I love your advice. No one should tell you what you like or don't like. I love sweet wine and romances, it's not a confession, but a known fact just like my loathing for liver.

    Okay, confession. I peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, sometimes with bacon.

  7. Amy Atwell // December 3, 2010 at 8:55 AM  

    Good morning, ladies--so glad to be here! Like Cyndi, I went to see Barry Manilow with my best girlfriend. I've developed a taste for The Who and my husband has developed an acceptance of Abba. I like my wine red and dry, and I like pizza with goat cheese. I use only red raspberry preserves on my PB&J sandwiches.

    Thanks for the kind words about the book. It's getting good reviews (for which I'm grateful!) and I'm hard at work on the sequel.

  8. Autumn Jordon // December 3, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

    Abba and red raspberries. You're all right. Another confession. I've never had goat cheese. I need to get out more.

  9. Bianca Swan // December 3, 2010 at 10:15 AM  

    I sometimes listen to old country and I like chicken livers. There I've said it to the world. Enjoyed your post Amy.

  10. Patrice // December 3, 2010 at 10:58 AM  

    Welcome, Amy. So nice to hear about your debut book and learn a little about you. Congratulations on getting published with Carina Press. I've heard very good things about them, and expect great things to come. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to tell people I was a Rodeo Queen because I left that country life a long time ago. I like having opinions, right or wrong, they are mine. I also enjoy a "good" glass of wine, and books, books, books.

  11. Amy Atwell // December 3, 2010 at 1:47 PM  

    Autumn--goat cheese is fab! Mix a little in with mashed potatoes and basil--yum....On pizza, it's great with spinach and sundried tomatoes. Okay, now I'm hungry and I just had lunch.

    Bianca--chicken livers? I'm not one to judge. Obviously, *I* need to get out more.

    Patrice--how cool that you're a former Rodeo Queen! Congrats. I remember the first time at work I was brave enough to tell people I was writing a romance novel. They all thought it was way cooler than I did. I mean, I just knew it was hard work and I wanted to do a good job of it!

  12. Beth Trissel // December 3, 2010 at 2:41 PM  

    Hello Amy and welcome to the Fuzzies! A big congrats on your super new release! So happy for you.

  13. Joanne // December 3, 2010 at 4:13 PM  

    Amy,
    A warm welcome to the Pink Fuzzies. I've always admired your well-thought posts on the various RWA loops, and want to congratulate you on your book release.

  14. Mary Marvella // December 3, 2010 at 8:21 PM  

    Evening, Amy!

  15. Dale Mayer // December 3, 2010 at 9:19 PM  

    Another lovely blog post! Can I have all three? Wine, books and a hero? Tonight would be great, it is Friday after all!

    Of course Lying Eyes is getting great reviews! It's a great book. I'm so glad to hear you're working on the sequel. What I can't remember is which sister's story comes first. But I do know they both deserve telling.

    Dale

  16. Barbara Monajem // December 3, 2010 at 10:15 PM  

    Hi, Amy! Nice to see you at the Fuzzies.

    As Cyndi said -- how boring it would be if we all liked the same stuff.

    I'm drawing a complete blank right now re making any confessions, but I do know what I don't and don't like, and also what I'm not sure about. Sort of, more or less.

    Congrats on the release! Carina Press is putting out some great stories.

  17. Edie Ramer // December 3, 2010 at 11:15 PM  

    I bite back comments when people talk about Danielle Steele. Yet I can't James Patterson. Yet I can remember when I liked Barbara Cartland books. LOL I was very young and it didn't last long.

    And you know how we're supposed to love bad boys? I really don't. I can't see that they're sexy in a book and my hero on my latest is kind of a bad guy, but in real life I prefer good guys. It just goes to show...

  18. Scarlet Pumpernickel // December 4, 2010 at 1:48 AM  

    Welcome to the Pink Fuzzies Amy! We are glad you stopped by and congrats on the release with Carina. What can you tell us about the experience with Carina? Give us an overview of what it was like to sale to them. Good luck and many sales!

  19. Amy Atwell // December 4, 2010 at 8:31 AM  

    wow--sorry I disappeared last night. Been fighting some sinus stuff and the doc gave me three prescriptions. Knocked me on my butt!

    So glad people enjoyed the post, and I do encourage you to confirm within what you like and don't like, even if you don't want to proclaim it!

    Dale--Lying Eyes is the first book of the series. The next book will be about Cory (Cheating Hearts) and then Allie (Stealing Kisses). THEN, I get to move on to what i think of as tertiary characters for Russian Hands and Roman Fingers. From there, who knows?

  20. Amy Atwell // December 4, 2010 at 8:37 AM  

    Scarlet Pumpernickel asked: What can you tell us about the experience of selling to Carina?

    I've been very pleased. Carina launched sales last June, and they're are growing steadily. To sell to them, you submit a complete manuscript. It gets handed off to one of the acquiring editors. If that editor likes it, it goes to a second reader. Only if both readers give it a thumbs up do they make an offer.

    Since it's digital first, there's no advance, but I also didn't have an option clause for my first contract. I saw this as a plus. It allowed me the chance to test one book with Carina and see if I thought it was a good model. I'm so pleased with the editorial and marketing work they're doing, I'll happily submit future books to them. They're planning some exciting growth in 2011. You can track updates on their blog, on Facebook and Angela James is all over Twitter.

    It's not an easy sale. They accept a very small percentage of submissions for publication. But Carina does publish stories that don't fit neatly in the box. So, my story had been turned down by HQN and Mira (and yes, it was seriously considered by both, but neither could figure out how to market it exactly within their line). I knew the quality of the writing was there, it's just that a funny RS has become a tough sell. But at Carina, they loved the story--and I'm so pleased they've helped me make it available to the public.

  21. Mary Ricksen // December 4, 2010 at 5:54 PM  

    Sorry to be late. I missed this one!
    We used to sit at the table and sing Barry Manilow at the top of our lungs!
    Do love the cover and congratulations on the new release!
    We loved this blog!