Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Brave New World of Publishing... Without the Publishers

Ladies and gentlemen, things have just gotten a lot more interesting.

In the past, publishers printed, distributed and marketed books. Authors had to write something publishers wanted to buy before they could figure out whether readers wanted to read it. Publishers were driven by the desire to produce great works of fiction (and non-fiction), but they were also driven by the bottom line. Publishing is a business and that big publishing house wants to make money. Predicting popularity is a gamble and they are always looking for what will be the next new thing - which can be great if you are what they think will be the next big thing and not so great if you aren't. They hold the keys to the kingdom.

The internet is changing all that. New electronic publishers with lower overhead costs are able to take chances on new authors (like me!). And if you want to skip the publisher entirely and try to print and distribute your own book (like my cousin did) then there are self-publishing companies available offering their services. (Note: I'm talking self not vanity publishing. That's a whole nother kettle of fish.)

But what if you are an established author and you want to skip the publisher entirely, releasing your own ebooks directly to your faithful readers... Is that the new trend? Straight from the author to the reader with no middlemen?

J.A. Konrath talks openly on his blog about the relative profitability of his Big Publisher books and the ones he self-released through Amazon. And now... drumroll please... Lynn Abbey, CJ Cherryh & Jane Fancher have opened up their own online storefront, designed to distribute their books the way they want them. You can read more about their venture and the intentions behind it HERE.

Are editors, agents & big publishers a thing of the past? I don't think so. But I do think the industry is changing a little bit more every day and this is a fascinating time to be a part of it. Market analysts are calling this Christmas the Year of the Kindle and Amazon bragged that more ebooks than print books were sold on Christmas Day.

The way we read and the way we get books may change, but I am certain there will always be work for those who want to make good books and get them into readers' hands.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Random Collection of Awesomeness

1. Today at Samhain a bunch of New Year's themed stories release including... drumroll please... Bite of Silence, the next Biting Love story from Mary Hughes! Woohooooo! I know, I know, I talk about the freakin' awesomeness of Mary Hughes to an obsessive degree, but her books hit me right in the funny bone and keep on hitting. And they're super-hella-sexy. Really, does it get any better?

2. It's my sister's anniversary! Eleven years. Time certainly flies. I remember their wedding like it was yesterday and now they have three adorable kids and over a decade of matrimonial bliss behind them. Here's to another few decades! Current family record is sixty-four years (and counting) of happily-ever-after. Beat that. Big congrats to my big sis and her hubbie.

3. I'm over at the Ruby blog today talking about sequel jitters, the movie Nine, and why I think Desperate Housewives lost its way after the first season. You are encouraged to swing by and leave a comment. I will then comment back and we will have what is known as a "chat" in the comments section. It will be profound and life-changing. (Disclaimer: Actual life-changeability/profundity may vary.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Slogging Through

I'm about to tell you something that will blow your mind. It's a truism that runs counter to instinct. Ready? Are you sure? Braced? Are you sitting down?

Writing a whole entire book takes dedication.

Oh my god, right? You're totally blown away, yeah? Okay, I'm being a bit of a sarcastic brat right now, but there are days when it is really freaking hard not to scream hysterically and then curl up in the fetal position when I'm having the "yes, I'm a writer" conversation and the friend/acquaintance/stranger says to me "I could write a book."

Yep. You could. But you know what? You haven't. And I bet I can tell you why. You either lack the drive or the discipline. Or both. Ideas are great. Ideas are necessary. Books, however, are more than ideas.

I absolutely adore Pride and Prejudice. There is this fabulous line (dozens of fabulous lines, actually, but this one in particular) when Lady Catherine says, "If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient."

Lady Catherine is talking about music, but the sentiment can be easily paraphrased as "If I ever bothered to write my masterpiece, I would be a best-seller with a Pulitzer in one pocket and Nobel Prize for Literature in the other."

The thing is, that might be absolutely true. You might be the Mozart of the written word. I'm not going to tell you that you aren't. If you tell me you have a genius idea, I believe you. So instead of screaming and curling, when people say this to me (and people have said things eerily close to that exact sentence), I say, "Writing takes discipline."

I had a conversation along these lines last week with a fellow guest at the wedding festivities. It went something like this:

Him: How long did you write before you were published? (Translation: It's really not as hard as everyone says it is, is it?)

Me: I wrote for fifteen years, but I was only seriously submitting with the intention of becoming a published author for about two.

Him: Does it take you a long time to write a book? (Translation: It's really not as hard as everyone says it is, is it?)

Me: It varies a lot depending on the book.

Him: Oh... because I've sometimes thought I could write a book. (Ahh, now we're getting to the point.)

Me: It takes a lot of discipline and dedication.

Him: Do you write at the same time every day? (Translation: Set schedule = dedication.)

Me: Nope.

Him: More when the muse strikes you, then. I get that. (Translation: Excellent! I can write a book whenever I feel like it and become a published author!)

Me: Nope.

Then his girlfriend interrupted us. But I've been thinking about that conversation ever since. The assumption that my comment about dedication meant scheduling has been tweaking at my brain. And the idea that the only alternative to a fixed schedule was the muse seemed like a total cop out.

Here's the thing: Discipline is about personality, not scheduling. The discipline of being a writer is doing it when it sucks and when it rocks your socks off. The discipline of being a writer is writing all the way through to The End, pushing through insecurity and overconfidence, mania and doubt. And then starting all over again with revisions, the next book, etc.

Writing isn't always a magical flow of words from the Muses. Yeah, sometimes it is. But if I only wrote when "the muse" struck me, I would never have a whole book. I would have brilliant little bits and pieces that never added up to a complete anything. The Muse can be a real bitch and she doesn't really like writing certain parts of the book - like the tying-up-all-the-loose-ends parts.

I don't write at the same time every day, but I have deadlines. I have goals and I bust my butt to meet them - even if the only person I'm accountable to is myself. That self-motivation is no easy skill to pick up. How many people would spend an afternoon strolling along the procrastinatory pathways of the internet or playing solitaire if their boss was out of the office and there was no one holding them accountable for their productivity? That is why I say dedication is a mindset. There is no boss to keep you in line. You gotta want it badly enough that you keep yourself on track - even as the temptation of a new (better!) story pops up in your brain. Even when it isn't fun and bright and easy. Dedication is slogging through.

You think you could right a book? You're right. You can. Will you? That's between you and your mental whipwielder.

(And if you need help wielding the whip, might I suggest National Novel Writing Month? Here's an interesting blog about NaNo pep talks and the elusive muse.)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rave Review

With only 16 days until the release of the second Serengeti Shifter story, it's perfect timing for a new review of story numero uno, Serengeti Heat, don't you think? What a great way to get geared up for Serengeti Storm!

The Raving Readers were beyond flattering in their assessment of Ava & Landon's story. Here are few of my favorite bits: "Serengeti Heat is a fabulously well-done lion shifter story, full of heat and romance."
Not bad, eh? Well check this out: "...the thought of a small beta lioness felling a powerful alpha male like Landon is darn nigh impossible to resist."
Nigh! Darn nigh, even! A reviewer who uses the phrase "darn nigh impossible to resist" is after my own heart, no two ways about it. And then this happened: "Vivi Andrews is a master at her craft, and Serengeti Heat keeps me on a contented afterglow for hours after I finished reading it."
Jeez-ma-crow. She just called me a master at my craft. Crikey. Did you feel that? That was my ego expanding to natural-disaster-causing proportions. Quick! Somebody tell me I suck before my ego explodes and takes out the northern half of the Pacific Seaboard! There's no time to lose!

Or you can just read the review or leave your own comment HERE. Thanks, Raving Readers. Happy reading!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree...

The very best presents, in my opinion, are the ones that show a real understanding of the recipient. I had an amazing Christmas. I got a bunch of stuff that seemed to indicate that the givers were really thinking of me - not just another checkmark on their list, but me specifically. Little things that seemed to show they were listening when I babbled incoherently about my favorite places and things. That means a lot. That is the thought that really counts. So I feel tickled and special and all sorts of good things on this day after Christmas.

How did your Christmas (or holiday of choice) make you feel? Was it all you wanted it to be? Greeting card perfect? Maybe you're riding the high of the best Xmas ever or grumbling over the pain-in-the-ahem of the holidays or gleeful that the shopping stress is behind you for another three-hundred-fifty odd days. Whatever the case, here's hoping the rest of your holidays bring a smile to your face.

And here's my attempt to bring you a happy new year, or maybe stretch the season of giving just a bit longer: http://www.thesamhellion.com/finalone.htm <-- Click it! You know you want to. It's a contest, boys and girls! It's a chance to win a pretty new e-reader or an ebook or two! Scavenge for resolutions and you might get a belated Xmas gift to feed your reading addiction.

Also, just in case you missed 'em, there are holiday freebies from Samhain authors HERE, including some by the excellent Kinsey Holley and marvelous Kaye Chambers. MK Mancos, Misty Evans and Juniper Bell, oh my! Oh... and MINE. And a little birdie told me to keep an eye out this week as there will be New Year's themed freebies added to the list!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Little...

Happy Holidays!

I can't believe it's Christmas Eve already. This month has galloped by - which I'm a little bummed about, honestly, since this is one of my favorite times of year and I feel like I missed it. Today I'll be watching holiday videos all day and wrapping a few last minute packages. Then maybe some cookie baking is in order...

How will you be celebrating the 24th? Will you be unwinding online? Then you might want to consider that TODAY is your last day to enter the Rockin' Raven Holiday Hunt. A shiny new e-reader awaits the grand prize winner. ENTER HERE.

Good luck and happy holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas to Me!

I'm back! I have returned to the frozen north, tanned (for me), rested (though still on the wrong time zone), and ready for the Christmas juggernaut. (Any excuse to use the word juggernaut.)

My Christmas Presents from the Unvierse:
1. Emails - 250+ (Ye Gods)

2. Author Copies - Due to Murphy's Law of Shipping, they arrived the morning after I got on a plane for parts southern, but now they are here! They are pretty! I have held my book in my hot (cold, actually, it's Alaska, doncha know) little hands! Woot!

3. Reviews! I got home to not one but two five star reviews! Many thanks to the goddesses at Fallen Angel Reviews who liked The Ghost Exterminator and Bitten by Books who gave The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant five tombstones.


Now that I've basked in the glow of presents two and three, it's time to buckle down and address present number one. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Multi-Racial Issues

Do you only want to read books about people who look like you? Only the stories that revolve around your culture?

I don't. I think that would get old in a hurry. I thrive on variety. I love to read about things which are foreign to me - whether that foreignness stems from a real culture different from my own or from a world the author made up out of whole cloth. (Also, I tend to think brown-skinned people are the most visually appealing and it would be a shame to cut them out of the game just because I'm so darned pasty.)

Race in romance novels is a topic that seems to be coming up more and more frequently of late. (Or perhaps I've just become more aware of it?) Dear Author has
an interesting thread focusing on multi-racial romance recommendations. The world isn't monotone and it is nice to see romance novels starting to reflect that.

I'm white (of mixed-European descent), but I come from a multi-ethnic (multi-racial, whatever
I'm supposed to call it) family. My father's side of the family is from Hawaii and I spent a fair chunk of my childhood there. My time in Hawaii among my ethnically-varied family engendered my attitude that we are defined less by our racial profile and more by our cultural upbringing.

Take actress Thandi Newton. What race is she? I have no idea. Mixed, perhaps? How would I describe her? British. Her nationality defines her and how she interacts with the world around her more than her skin tone, in my opinion. To me, it is the dominant aspect of her cultural profile.

I don't feel comfortable creating characters if I am not familiar with their cultural profile. That is why I feel most capable writing European, Caucasian-American, Latin-American or Asian-American characters, as those are the cultures I have been most prominently exposed to in my life. I would not want to disrespect anyone's culture by inadvertently misportraying it.

Could the dearth of romances about non-white characters actually have to do with racial sensitivity? We've been told to "write what you know" and what do I really know about being anything other than myself? (But how boring would it be to write only about Euro-mutt girls from Alaska/Hawaii all the time? Not to mention the narcissism involved.)

Then, supposing you decide to put some realistic racial mixing in your book, you have to take into account how you are going to broach the topic of race. Bookavore posted
this plea a few days ago, that authors stop naming the race of their characters only when the characters aren't white, bludgeoning the reader without the affirmative action in their prose.

I can agree with that grumble on several levels, but I do have a bit of a rebuttal: Point of view. If my heroine is white (I'm thinking of Jo, from The Ghost Exterminator) and she thinks of her boss as Asian, then when I am describing Karma from Jo's point of view don't I have to refer to her as Asian? (This argument is a one-way ticket to "Well, then your heroine is racist and that's just as bad!" isn't it?)

I have two series going right now. Serengeti Shifters & Karmic Consultants. In the Serengeti Shifters series, I've set the world up so that most of the shifters have leonine coloring (blondes, mostly), and they all come from a small collection of families (inbreeding, yay!) so there isn't a lot of racial diversity. (And I gotta say, it gets boring writing about a bunch of people who all look so similar to one another. I have to bend my own rules just to make it interesting.)

In Karmic Consultants, it's a "real world" type setting, just with some paranormal zaniness thrown in, so the races are all over the map. The Ghost Shrink's hero is mixed race and so (of course) is his sister, Karma, who is a recurring character throughout the series. Depending on whose POV we're in, they are described in slightly different ways, but I don't think I ever come right out and say what their ethnicity is. (Japanese-African-French! The truth revealed! You heard it here first!)


The Sexorcist
hero is Mexican-American. He very strongly identifies himself by his culture and he has an pretty strong accent. It would be weird if I didn't identify his ethnicity. Of course, I also identify the heroine's. So does that make it okay? The Naked Detective heroine is Chinese-American, and the hero (racist bastard!) thinks of her as Asian all the time (and hot enough to burn his tongue). Is that bad?

When the racial filter is coming through the characters themselves is it still as offensive? We don't exist in a bubble. We can't ignore race without making the book ring false - well, you can, but not if you're writing about the modern American culture.

It's a tricky subject. And now I feel like I ought to apologize for bringing it up. Well, I'm not gonna. We should be allowed to talk about these things. Taboos just make people more inclined toward prejudice. So here's to diversity! And to my feeble attempts to accurately portray the beauty of our diverse populace. I haven't had any hate mail yet. I'm hoping that's a good sign.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Explosion of Ereader Giveaways!

Greetings from the high seas! While I'm away, I thought I'd drop a note to remind you of some fabulous opportunities to win FREE EREADERS and other great prizes. Behold!

http://www.ravenhappyhour.com/Rockin_Raven_Xmas_Tree_Contest.htm
Go! Play! Win!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Life Interrupted

Today I'm over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog, talking about life's interference with our writing goals and getting through the holiday season without losing writing momentum.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jingle Bells & Wedding Bells

This week I'm trading in jingle bells for wedding bells. One of my oldest and best friends is trading in her single status.

(Warning: I'm going to gush sappily for a paragraph or two.)

I met the bride on the first day of eighth grade when I made a smartass comment about the way a teacher had mispronounced her name. Since she's a smartass herself, that comment was the cement that firmed our new friendship.

I am who I am to day because of that friendship. She was the one who suggested we backpack across Europe after highschool. She was the one who talked me into auditioning for my first play. But, perhaps most significantly, she was the one who sat on the other end of the couch the very first day when we got out our spiral bound notebooks and started writing.

We joke sometimes that she's an enabler. That she enables my laziness and procrastination. But the truth of the matter is she has enabled a lot of things that have enriched my life - travel, theatre, writing, and more.

She's the one who said, "Yes, your writing is good" and "You can do this. Why not?" when I was nothing but raw potential and hope. She's the first person who ever read a word I wrote - even when they were mostly incoherent words.

And this week she's getting married on a tropical island and I'm going to be there with a great big idiotic grin on my face. She's gonna be a knockout bride.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Serengeti Christmas

Merry Christmas from me, boys and girls! It's the holiday season and my gift to all the readers of the Serengeti shifters stories is a festive prequel to my January release, Serengeti Storm. What's on bad-girl Shana's wishlist this year? Mistletoe and naughty intentions... it's gonna be a very hot Christmas Eve.

CLICK HERE FOR FREE CHRISTMAS STORY!

And check out the Samhellion for more Christmas Freebies.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ann Lory Interview

Today I'm being interviewed by the fabulous Ann Lory. We chatted about holiday traditions, mythical creatures and the personality requirements for an author of smexxy books. Check it out!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Faking It

**Warning: Vivi is in a mood. Brace yourself for a rant.**

You know what drives me nuts? The phrase fake it til you make it.

And hyperbole in advertising. I love hyperbole (so tempted to make a hyperbolic statement about the depth of my love for hyperbole here), and I hate it when my favorite literary device is abused for selfish gain. Abused for comedy? Heaven. All other abuses should be punishable by medieval torture devices. (Can you tell I've been watching the Tudors lately?)

The literary devise of hyperbolic exaggeration has been absorbed by the marketing and advertising gurus. It has become hype. Advertisers can't come right out and lie, but bending the truth is another matter.

Seriously, how many cars can be the Number One Car in America? And how many times do we hear "The critics agree! Movie X is the Best Film of the Decade!" Technically, all you need are two critics who agree your film is the best, but the implication is that all the critics love you. And the belief is that the public will then want to jump on the awesomeness bandwagon that is your movie.

It's all about manipulation for profit. I hate being manipulated.

What does this have to do with being an author? A couple weeks back I was visiting an author's website and I saw the phrase "bestselling novel!" attached to a book which I knew for a fact did not belong in that category.

It drives me nuts when authors hype themselves as "bestselling" without context. There are certain bestseller lists (New York Times, USA Today) which are THE bestseller lists, but there are dozens of others and if you want to draw your circle small enough, just about anyone with a book out can be a "best" seller.

Serengeti Heat hit a number of ebook sales site bestseller lists. It was number one at MBaM and it still (much to my surprise and delight) periodically jumps up onto the Kindle Romance list. Am I calling myself a bestselling author? Hell no. Who would I be kidding?

Months back, I gushed about SH making some sales lists here at the blog, but that was more about sharing my excitement over the fact that people seemed to be liking it rather than any attempt to say "Look! It's a bestselling book! Everyone is reading it, so you should too!" And I'm always very careful to keep things within the context of it being a MBaM or ARe or eBookwise bestseller.

Those lists are a pleasure to be on, but they ain't NYT. And until I'm on one of the Big Lists, I'm not going to throw around accolades I haven't earned in an attempt to con my way to the top.

What do you think? Fake it til you make it or honesty all the way? Is there dishonor in manipulative exaggeration or is that just the name of the game? Am I naive to be offended by the abuse of hyperbole?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Doomsday Snark

Do you like disaster movies? I'm over at the Raven Happy Hour today, taking a look at the end of the world as we know it in 2012. Our hero, the intrepid writer, survives natural disasters, double crosses and godawful dialogue to become the pre-eminent (i.e. only surviving) scribe in the post-apocalyptic world. Sound to anyone else like a screenwriter's fantasy? Make California slide into the Pacific and drown your competition, leaving you the pinacle of creative thought. Job security, Mayan style.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Emotional Roadblock

Hello, darlings. It's been a few days. One of those weeks when I barely feel like I'm keeping my head above water - even though I don't think I'm busy enough to justify that feeling. Just a few words now...

Random Sidenote: The Rubies are having a Q&A day over at their blog. Ask and be answered.

A couple days ago, while reading a Ruby blog, I had a random epiphany. I realized that I hadn't written the death of a single character since I lost my brother. In some cases, this involved some pretty extreme contortions to do. (Especially since I was writing a Tarantino-esq gore-fest when It Happened.)

Instead, my writing took a distinct turn toward the comedic. And now I am fascinated by what moves me to write particular stories. You see, I wasn't really writing much comedy before then. And it never occurred to me until now that there was a cause behind my sudden swing to the funny side.

Why do certain stories call to us? Why do I love to read books I would be bored to tears writing? Does our writing have more, in fact, to do with our lives than our reading tastes?

Whatever the causes, I cannot put a character I like (or even one I don't) through grief. For purely selfish reasons. It would pain me too much to have to write about grief and loss. Perhaps that is why I veer away from Romantic Suspense? Because all too often, the hero/heroine are dealing with overcoming an enormous tragedy - My wife was murdered by a serial killer. My sister was abducted when we were seven - tragedies for which people always grieve. Yes, they give the character deep, dark issues to overcome, but I can't read them. And I would never write them. Even if the obstacle is overcome, there is too much pain in that emotional hurdle.

So I'll make 'em laugh (I hope) instead.

How does your life cross over with your reading/writing habits? They say escapist books boom during times of economic crisis. I know others who begin reading/writing lighter during times of family illness and tragedy. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tickle My Fantasy Release-tastic Day


It's release day, y'all!

Tickle My Fantasy has officially hit bookstores. I'm blogging at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood site, looking for wild and crazy suggestions about what I should do to make this day memorable.
You can read excerpts from all four of the TMF stories HERE.

And to add to the awesomeness that is today, the Rockin' Around the Raven Christmas Tree Hunt launches. Among the prizes is a Sony ereader! Play now!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Annie Tribute Sing-a-Long!

The book'll come out tomorrow... bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be cool giveaways & blogtastic squeals of joy...

Okay, so I took some liberties with the lyrics, but the sentiment still applies. Could tomorrow please get here just a little faster? Purdy please?

Here's the sitch on the manyana mania:

Raven Rockin' Holiday Hunt! Those divine ladies at the Raven are at it again and this time they're giving away a brand, spanking new Sony e-Reader. Starting tomorrow, swing by the Raven for details on how to enter for your chance to win an e-Reader, a $50 Visa Gift Card, or a $25 Amazon GC.

Bloggin' & Chattin' Schedule Revealed! I'll be blogging at the Ruby Slipper blog tomorrow and the Raven on Saturday. Also, swing by the Samhain Cafe on Wednesday for a chat with some excellent Samhain authors.

So there it is. Release week, y'all. Tickle My Fantasy. Four delicious paranormal romantic stories filled with lightness and laughter, perfect for a short break from the frantic pace of the holiday season.

So you gotta hang on til tomorrow, come what may....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Moon Smackdown

I love Mrs. Giggles.

I've read the entire Twilight saga. (And, yes, I think "saga" is the appropriate word to describe it. With all its melodramatic overtones.) I went to see the original Twilight movie where I snickered at the less-than-magical glitter on Edward's so-absolutely-not-human-no-way-no-how-he-doesn't-look-just-like-a-human-with-glitter-noooo face. So yeah, movie #1 was... erm... less than moving. But I enjoyed its camp with unabashed glee.

Then New Moon came out and the became The Biggest Movie in the Whole Entire History of the Universe Bar None Oh My God! So I went to see that one too. I was lucky enough to be sitting next to someone who thought the film was just as snicker-worthy as I did, so I was not alone in my chortles of mirth at inappropriate moments. (Like when Bella falls down in the forest and simply cannot bring herself to get her stupid ass up off the evil-vampire-infested ground.)

And then today (bliss!) I tripped across Mrs. Giggles's
review of New Moon. Be Warned: Orange juice really hurts when you snort it out your nose. Learn from my mistakes and put down the oj before reading this puppy.

I know there are beaucoup Twilight fans out there ready to fillet me for my sacrilege, but I just couldn't stomach the angst level in New Moon. The paranormal world - tres cool. The actors - studly. But the melodrama... I'm sorry. I have a low threshold for melodrama.

However, I really, really enjoyed the movie-going experience. This camptastic epic was oddly satisfying. And New Moon, the movie, contained the bestest Twilight joke evah:

How does Bella Swan get to Italy to save Edward? Virgin Airways.

No, really.

So, how do you feel about the Twilight saga? Love? Hate? Guilty pleasure?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Attention Amazon Shoppers...

Tickle My Fantasy (officially releasing in print on TUESDAY, DEC 1st) is now available via Amazon.com. Not just for pre-order, boys and girls. Shipping now! A friend of mine informed me her copy arrived on Wednesday. Woot! It's happening. People area actually holding my book in their hot little hands! Touching it, stroking it, reading it!

Notice, I say, people are doing this. Am I doing this? Nope. Know why? Because I live in the back of beyond and the mail takes eleven million years to get here. I don't even have my author copies yet. *sniff, sniff* Rockstar-anthomates Misty Evans & Sela Carsen both got their author copies on Wednesday. Did I? No. Cuz apparently we must bring books in from the outside world by dogsled. Books are heavy. The dogs get tired. Thus, slow mail.

Okay, pity party complete. Now for the fun stuff.

Tickle My Fantasy rocks. (And I can totally say this without bragging because 3/4 of it isn't mine.) MK Mancos navigates through the tricky waters of matchmaking for paranormal beings and demigods in Paramatch.com, Misty Evans walks us through the twelve-step process for kicking that nasty devil-worshiping witchcraft habit (even if the devil in question is as delish as dark chocolate) in Witches Anonymous, and Sela Carsen gives us a naughty librarian and a studly werewolf in Carolina Wolf - really does it get any better? All in tasty bite-sized novellas.

Go ahead. Try to resist the magic. We dare you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Plenty to Be Thankful For

You know Holiday Inn, that old movie with Bing Crosby and Fred Estaire? That movie kicks off the holidays for me each year. It isn't Christmas music on the radio or the frenzy in the shopping malls on Black Friday. For me, the holiday spirit hits with Holiday Inn.

There's a song for every holiday (well, all the ones that got screentime) and Bing croons a doozie about Thanksgiving. He's grouchy. He's lost the girl and had to close his inn. It's Bing's "black moment", to use a popular writing term. But, boy, do I ever love that song.

I've got plenty to be thankful for. I haven't got a great big yacht to sail from shore to shore. Still I've got plenty to be thankful for.

So whether you're in a black moment or a happily-ever-after of your own, Happy Thanksgiving. Here's to all the things, big and small, we have to be thankful for.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Officially a Twit

I joined Twitter.

I know, I know, I've been resisting its Twitterific allure for a while now, but yesterday, in a fit of procrastination, I decided I wanted to follow people, dammit. So that's what I'm doing. Giving in to my stalker-ish tendencies. This seems a much healthier outlet for my author-groupie impulses than, say, lurking outside their houses. Gena Showalter will tell me when she has new books coming out! Because she wants me to know. Cuz I'm special like that. Me and all two thousand of the rest of her followers.

I don't know if I will tweet much, as I am a long-winded type person and doubt I will ever have anything worthwhile to say that can be said in 140 characters or less. But I might occasionally tweet some less-than-worthwhile things... so if you wanna follow me here's the link: http://twitter.com/ViviAndrews

What do you think of the various and sundry social media? I have a feeling, now that I've signed up for Twitter, that everyone will suddenly shift over to some other new site. I will still blog (because my Narcissism is hungry and must be fed!) but it's possible facebook will suffer from even worse neglect if I really get into the TweetVerse.

I heard about this study (and now I wish I remembered where I read about it, cuz it would be awesome to cite it here, wouldn't it?) talking about teens and social media. How parents were all worried that their kids weren't socializing "normally" since they were always hooked into their iPhones and whatnot. So, apparently, this study found that kids who were linked up to various sites actually had more developed social skills than those who weren't. I found it really interesting, because you always hear about technology distancing people, rather than bringing them together in meaningful human ways.

Like anything, you get out of it what you put in, and adults may have a very different experience than kids who are raised with that as the norm. I don't know. I think, when it comes to social media, as with most things, the important thing is to not demonize them or blame the technology. It's neutral. Inanimate. It isn't out to destroy our lives, but it will only enrich your life if you use it that way. It's all in what you bring to the table.

And I've devolved into preachy pablum. Ugh.

Moral of the story: I've joined Twitter. Consider this a fact-finding mission. I will report back in a couple months with details as to my success or lack thereof in my quest for domination of the TweetVerse. Rah.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Poorly Constructed Suspension

So, I saw The Fourth Kind last night. (And I am a complete idiot, apparently, since it took me until almost all the way through the movie to figure out the title was a play on Close Encounters of the Third Kind.) It's an alien abduction movie set in Nome, Alaska. And it wants you to believe it's a true story.

I'm not really going to talk about the movie. It was more ridiculous than scary, but my friend and I enjoyed it with the delight of those who mock such films. I'm not sure why they decided to set this "real" film in Nome. Maybe so it would be harder to refute? I don't know.

What I want to talk about is the suspension of disbelief. My disbelief wasn't suspended for a moment, so instead of watching the film and thinking, "Hey, that's a cool idea! Why are the aliens speaking ancient Sumerian?" I was snorting to myself at how ridiculous the idea of aliens speaking ancient Sumerian and tromping through our heiroglyphic art in spacesuits was.

If a movie is fiction, I will buy into the premise and enjoy all the "what ifs". I may even spend a lot of time consdering afterward, "What if that what if is true?" But if you insist a movie is true, then the game becomes not about the what ifs, but about picking apart your "facts". I don't buy in for a second. So if you are creating a movie, and you have this really cool idea, why would you want to try to pass it off as true? You are setting yourself up to have to defend it, right up until the moment you admit you lied about the truth. What a pain. When instead you could be talking about the cool what ifs.

Dan Brown, I think, does a really good job of dealing right on the edge of the what ifs and the suspension of disbelief. In The Da Vinci Code, in particular, he sets up a "this could have happened" atmosphere and lets the reader do the work of deciding if his theories are true (and blasphemous and banworthy!) or just an interesting what-if. His book is fiction, but the conspiracy behind it was originally published as a thesis in a non-fiction book. However, the nonfic version by that poor other author Danny Boy got all his ideas from, that one never sold very well. Because he couldn't suspend the disbelief high enough. Dan Brown didn't try. He just set up a what if atmosphere and let the story tell itself. And he had a bestseller. Fiction can be more believable and intriguing than it's real life counterpart and Dan has the mansion to prove it.

I'm really hoping the "No, it's True!" movies go extinct soon... or go back to being produced as one hour conspiracy theories for the History channel. Give me a what if, any day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Oh-My-Freaking-God PERFECT Cover

Check out the newfound hotness, y'all! My cover art for Serengeti Storm is here! Do you love it? Cuz, I gotta say, I flat out love it. Let me count the ways:

1) The chick is hawt AND haughty. She looks exactly like I pictured Shana!
2) The lion looks like he's settled in for the duration, right? Like he's waiting out the storm. Which is totally a metaphor for their relationship, yo!
3) The contrast between the icy blue tones and the fiery red tones could totally be a metaphor for the battle between her red-hot hotness and his big strong coolness. Am I right?

Okay, okay, I'm overanalyzing the cover. Suffice it to say, it rocked my world and rocked it hard.

Here's hoping the rest of the reading world agrees. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Tortoise & the Hare

I'm over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog today, talking about writing at your own pace. Are you a tortoise or a hare?

http://dscribwomen.blogspot.com/2009/11/tortoise-hare.html

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Delinquent Blogger

I have witty and insightful things to say. I swear. I'm just kinda frazzled at the moment. I'm trying to do three things this week. I can accomplish all three, I know I can, but having all three of them looming in the "Not Yet Accomplished" column is freaking me out a little.

So, erm, blog amongst yourselves, darlings. I'll be with you shortly.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Because Saving is Fun...

Black Friday comes early this year. It's a sale! Check it out:




This Thanksgiving Season we're giving something to you.
From November 10-November 24 readers will be receiving a 25% eBook Bucks rebate on all Samhain titles.
What are you waiting for? Hop on over to
AllRomance.com or OmniLit.com and receive bucks back today...on us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Four & a Half Nymphs

It's another review! Literary Nympths Reviews gave The Ghost Exterminator four and a half nymphs. (Which, of course, has me thinking all sorts of gory thoughts about the nymph who pulled the short straw and got cut in half...)

Jo and Wyatt couldn’t be more dissimilar in personalities and life experiences and the author did a great job highlighting those differences, and changing their relationship from adversaries to lovers.

Isn't that sweet? She liked Jo & Wyatt. :) I like them too. (Is it weird to like people you made up?)

I like the premise for this paranormal series, and have great hopes that the author will continue to create characters and plots for additional books in the future.

I will! I am! Watch for the next Karmic Consultants novel, The Sexorcist, releasing in ebook April, 2010. (Jo from The Ghost Exterminator & Lucy from The Ghost Shrink both make cameos.)

Thank you, Mystical Nymph, for the lovely review.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vibration: Occupational Hazard

I'm talking today about the giant vibrating machine I spent most of yesterday with.

My snow blower. The machine that throws the snow around in my driveway. (You people all have filthy minds, you know that?) Ahem.

Yesterday I woke up to a lovely blanket of freshly fallen snow. *Cue the sleigh bells.* After an appropriate amount of time spent gazing at the picturesque vista, I decided that I did, in fact, want to be able to leave the house at some point before April, and therefore would have to break out the snow-blower to clear the driveway.

I dragged that big monster out of the garage. Throttle, choke, and away we go. With my iPod cranked up to top volume to compete with the engine noise, I bopped up and down the driveway, snow flying merrily in all directions (and then I figured out how to work the thingy that turns the chute the snow flies out of - the first big snowfall of the year is always a re-learning experience).

Hours later, after I'd reached the point of cursing the fact that the driveway is so darn big (do we really need that circle cleared? What about the spot where my sister always parks? Does she really need a parking space?), I shut off the blower. Pleased with a job well done, I rolled that puppy back into the garage.

That's when I noticed it. My hands weren't working properly.

Apparently, clinging to a giant vibrating machine for extended periods of time can really mess with your fine motor skills. My hands were numb, achy and stiff. Which, usually, wouldn't be a problem. But, see, I had this great plan for yesterday. Step One: Snowblow the driveway. Step Two: Complete Edits and return them to my editor.

Step Two became a lot harder to accomplish when I couldn't type. Even my mouse-clicking ability was distinctly sub-par.

It's funny the things you take for granted. I don't often think about how much I love my hands, and being able to use them. It hadn't even occurred to me that snow-blowing the driveway was something I should probably do after completing my necessary computer tasks for the day.

My usual light-speed typing was a fond memory. I stumbled clumsily along making typo after typo, where normally my fingers would fly lightly across the keys, easily keeping pace with my thoughts. (As an experiment, I then sat down at the piano for a bit - it wasn't pretty, folks.)

Thankfully, my hands are back to normal. It only took an hour or so before I was back to my usual fleet-fingered self. But it was a fun lesson to remember: don't overlook the little stuff. Manual dexterity is something to be grateful for. And stay away from giant vibrating machines.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Funnies

I recently discovered a new author. Okay, okay, I didn't discover her. Her editor or agent or someone or other discovered her, her books were published, a writer friend read the book, got sick of listening to me bitch about the dearth o' romance books that land on the humorous side of the spectrum (I am so sick of angst, I can't even express the degree to which I am sick of angst)... and then I "discovered" my new author (Julie James! Rockstar!) by running off to my local library to check out one of her books.

Why was I whining and moaning about the lack o' humor? Because I don't control the universe. If I controlled the universe, one of my absolute favorite rom-com authors (Stephanie Rowe - Love! Love!) would not be launching a new romantic suspense series. She would be giving me more of the funnies I need rather than writing thrillers set in Alaska, of all places. I have faith in her brilliance, so I'm sure they are amazing romantic thrillers set in Alaska. I'm sure she did her research. There will be no children walking through a thousand miles of wilderness to befriend polar bears. I just have a really hard time with psychotic killer books. They don't ring my bells. Ms. Rowe's Immortally Sexy series rang my bells big time, but she seems to be taking a break from the funny - a choice I respect. She should write what makes her happy... but oh, if I ran the universe...

So, now that I've read everything Julie James has on the shelves at the moment, I'm on the prowl again. Any suggestions? Who's your favorite rom-com author?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Raven Movie Snark!

The illustrious Mandy Roth and magnificent Michelle Pillow are allowing me (moi! no kidding!) to contribute to their fabulous Raven Blog. The first Saturday of every month, I'll be snarking it up with my commentary on a paranormal movie. There will be spoilers. Oh yes, there will be spoilers. But hopefully there will also be many giggles, a few snorts, and a guffaw or two.

Click on the pic to join me today when I'll be giving an (extremely biased) comparison between the Donald Sutherland Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Nicole Kidman's recent remake Invasion.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Stuff for Readers & Stuff for Writers

READERS: All Romance eBooks is having a birthday and all this month they are randomly selecting customers and giving them their entire wishlist. Do you buy your books at ARe? Well, make sure you have your wishlist full, just in case!

WRITERS: Have questions about romance writing, the biz, formatting your manuscript or what-have-you? There's an open Q&A at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog today. Ask away and get gobs of answers!

OH! And lest we forget... HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMHAIN! It's Samhain Publishing's fourth birthday and there's a party going on. Chaos (and an e-reader giveaway) today at the Samhain Cafe! Come on by and join the madness.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Play Nice in the Sandbox

There are some pretty sweet perks to finaling in the Golden Heart. One of them is definitely the fellow finalists you meet along the way. Danniele Worsham is one such finalist. She's also a member of the Writing Playground and this month they've invited me over to play in their Sandbox. Danniele, aka Angel, interviewed me about writing, the Golden Heart, and everything in between. Come on by and I might even share my toys...

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Keeper!

Eep! Eep! Mrs. Giggles reviewed The Ghost Exterminator and she liked it! She really liked it! She gave it a 94!

"Halloween is over, but it's never too late to cuddle up with this oh-so-so-so entertaining and funny romance. Think Jayne Ann Krentz meets Ghostbusters. Think fabulous."

Zounds, y'all. Check out the Full Review.

And then my editor tells me she tweeted it... and it got retweeted... and now I'm having to reconsider my no-twitter stance. Do I need a twitter account? Your thoughts?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Author Interview: Mary Hughes

Today's interview subject is someone I met when I sent her a gushing fangirl email about how wonderful I thought her debut book was (Biting Nixie! Available in bookstores now!). Turns out, the author is just as wonderful as her novel. I'm thrilled to welcome the marvelous Mary Hughes to the blog today to talk about how she got to be the great big slice of awesome she is.

Welcome, Mary! (Applause!)

When you got The Email offering to publish Bite My Fire, how did you celebrate?

I’m a blackbelt in Taekwondo and one of the first things you learn is board breaking. Bear with me, this does get around to answering the question. In board-breaking, the whole secret is to put your foot or fist through the board. Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people think it’s about hitting the board, which basically produces a smack and a lot of pain. You have to picture your foot behind the board, envision that point beyond. So The Email? With everything I went through to get there (see question 2), it was less a Yay! and more Thank God, finally.

Oooh, a board-breaking metaphor. Martial artist/authors unite! (I do Yoshukai karate.) And now, back to the interview...

What was your path to publication? Do you have a First Sale story you’d like to share?

Mine was a very crooked path. To lay the ground, let me say I hate rejections. As in hate so much that for every rejection I got I’d write another three novels to comfort myself. So I piled up quite a few for the drawer before I actually made it to print (no, not going to say how many. It embarrasses even me).

About four years ago I had finally gotten an editor from Ellora’s Cave interested enough to request fulls. Still no contract, though, so I sat down to write a follow up—when I was shanghaied by vampires and wrote a 200,000-word science fiction story. The funny thing about this is I swore to myself I’d never-ever write a vampire story. I mean, come on! Evil creatures of the night that suck blood for food? Yuck. And most of the vampire books I read were so fake. Then I had a ding moment and saw a way to fit most of the lore together that was quite real. Those who’ve read Biting Nixie know my vampires drink blood to fill their veins, not their bellies, and there are other ramifications as well (to be revealed in tantalizing dribbles, natch).

Anyway I wrote that mega-novel which, when I finished, I realized would never sell (not as a first sale). So I threw together everything I had gotten positive response with—humor, sex, paranormal romance and action (and the kitchen sink) and the embryonic Bite My Fire (originally titled Sizzling Satin Nights: a Novel of Sex, Guns, and Polkas) was the result. I peddled this to choruses of blank walls but in the meantime I fell across urban slang got the inspiration for Biting Nixie.

The rejections had started coming back for Sizzling Satin Nights and I realized humor, sex, paranormal romance and action (and especially the kitchen sink) was another hard-sell—nobody in their right mind puts all that together.

And then the Samhain Publishing Tickle My Fantasy call for submissions came, looking for just that combination. (Except for the sink.) After I picked up my teeth from the floor I dashed off what would eventually become Biting Me Softly (releasing April 2010). I didn’t make the anthology (Vivi did, with Ghost Shrink!) but when I read the wickedly clever warnings I knew Samhain was the place I wanted to be. So I was thrilled when the anthology editor passed my story on to the amazing Deborah Nemeth. I eventually submitted Biting Nixie and got a contract. And that, after all I had been through, was just the beginning.

Humor, sex, paranormal romance, and action... I think I've found my soulmate. I, for one, am downright giddy that you found a home with Samhain.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? (Note: this does not have to be your day job if you have one; it can be anything from flapper to astronaut to crime-solving paleontologist.)

Composer. In fact I take out my frustrations by writing truly weird book trailer music. Punk rock meets Renaissance dances, Edvard Grieg meets salsa.

I'm so jealous of people who compose! My brother inherited all the composer genes in our family. (For those interested in hearing Mary's Grieg salsa & Renaissance punk - like I had to after this comment - have a listen to her book trailers for Bite My Fire & Biting Nixie.)

What is the best advice you ever got as a writer? The worst? If you could go back in time and give your beginner-writer-self some advice, what would you say?

Best advice: 1) start with something interesting and 2) don’t get upset, it’s just business. Worst advice: well, it’s not advice per se, but “write what you read” never worked for me. If I could go back? I’d tell myself clich├ęs are anything that roll off the tongue without engaging the mind. Writing startles, intrigues, engages—and then resolves.

What drives your books? Is it the hero, the heroine, the conflict?

Definitely the conflict. I love to take a hot-hot hero, a layered heroine, toss ‘em in a mud pit and see what happens! Then toss ‘em in a snake pit and see what happens! Then toss ‘em in bed and…you get the idea.

As an author of humor, how do you integrate comedy into your stories? Do you think of yourself as writing romantic comedy or romances that happen to be funny? Do you ever feel there is pressure to make people laugh?

Great question! My main thrust is to be interesting, to say things in new and unexpected ways. So I don’t really consider myself a humorous writer. I just have a funny outlook on life. Both funny odd and funny ha-ha. I’m extremely fortunate to have three family members who are genuinely funny, and I take my cues from them. But beyond that I like to put characters in situations and see what they do. The most important thing I try to remember is that, while the situations and actions are funny, the underlying emotions must always be real. Don’t know if I make it all the time, but that’s my goal.

That is such a good point. Humor has to have a geniune emotional core beneath it or it just comes across as gratuitous schtick. I love authors who can find that balance of sincerity and wit. (Like you do.)

To date your novels have centered around the vampire community in Meier’s Corners, Illinois. (Have I mentioned how much I love that town?) Do you plan to stay in Meier’s Corners as the Biting Love series continues, or do you have plans to branch out into another series or another town?

It’s less a question of branching out from Meiers Corners and more an issue of the world impinging on MC. The Bite of Silence (Dec 29) opens a few windows on that. Not to give away too much but Meiers Corners may be caught in a wider conflict. Another series? Maybe that 200,000 word science fiction story, some day :) ! I have lots of ideas but it really depends on what people will actually want to read.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got four books contracted and another short to write, and then I want to go back to studying writing. It’s a huge field and for every two things I learn it seems one dribbles back out my ear. I’m in awe of people who can diagram sentences (like Vivi!) and while I may never get to that point I can at least try to be better.

There is always more to learn, isn't there? It's exciting to think your books could possibly get any better. (Hey, I warned you I was a rabid fangirl.) Thank you so much for submitting to my inquisition today, Mary, and best of luck with all your Biting Love books!

And now, Dear Reader, check out the awesomeness that is Mary Hughes:

Bite My Fire
ISBN: 978-1-60504-680-8

At last, the perfect lover. Now what? Stake him, shoot him—or screw him?

Elena O’Rourke lusts for two things—her detective’s shield and a good lay. Sass-Cgal’s “Bad Girl Sex Tips” will win her the man. But keeping the shield hinges on solving a murder.

Warrior-gorgeous Bo Strongwell stands in her way.

Powerful as a Viking warship, Bo would be Elena’s one-stop solution to celibacy—except for his apartment building full of mysteries. Plus, his kisses…and nibbles…and full body tongue-swipes…keep distracting her from the case. As if a caped clown named Dracula, a hooker with a heart of gold (and boobs of steel), and Elena’s own clueless partner aren’t distraction enough.

Bo Strongwell is a master vampire who needs a cop snooping around like he needs a garlic enema. Fighting rogues keeps him busy enough without Elena trying to pin the murder on one of his kind…even if she does taste like heaven.

Two fighters for justice. One incredible attraction. A terrible secret. Drunken women dancing on the bar… It all rides on Elena solving the Case of the Punctured Prick.

Warning: Jammed with hot explicit sex, graphic fanged violence, and acid cop humor. May contain donuts.

Biting Nixie
ISBN: 978-1-60504-437-8

Nitro? Meet glycerin…

Punk musician Nixie Schmeling is a hundred pounds of Attitude who spells authority a-n-c-h-o-r and thinks buying insurance is just one more step toward death. So she really feels played when she’s “volunteered” to run the town’s first annual fundraising festival. Especially when she finds out it’s to pay for a heavy-hitting, suit-wearing lawyer—who’s six-feet-plus of black-haired, blue-eyed sex on a stick.

Attorney Julian Emerson learned centuries ago that the only way to contain his dangerous nature is to stay buttoned up. He’s come from Boston to defend the town from a shady group of suits…and an even shadier gang of vampires. But his biggest problem is Nixie, who shreds his self-control.

Nixie doesn’t get why the faphead shyster doesn’t understand her. Julian wishes Nixie would speak a known language…like Sanskrit. Even if they manage to foil the bloodthirsty gang, what future is there for a tiny punk rocker and a blue-blooded skyscraper?

And that’s before Nixie finds out Julian’s a vampire…

Warning: Contains more eye-popping sex, ear-popping language and gut-popping laughs than can possibly be good for you. And vampires. Not sippy-neck wimps, but burning beacons of raw sexuality—this means passionate blood-heating, violent bloodletting, and fangy bloodsucking. Oh, and cheese balls. Those things are just scary.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Go! Play! Win!

This is your last (ultimate! ain't no more!) reminder to GO SCAVENGE! The Raven Happy Hour Halloween Hunt happeneth until Tomorrow Only! Then it will be over! Finito! (Ain't no more!) I send you forth with no hints (Jo was six... Jo was six...), cuz hints are TOTALLY CHEATING. (Jo was six.)

And, in months to come, checken Sie out das Sidebar, meine Damen und Herren. (Translation: Look! A sidebar!) If I trip across ongoing contests that I think are cool (or if someone trips me and demands I include their cool contest), I will post it over there -->>. Cool?

And in case you're wondering why I am so freaking hyper today, there are two reasons.

1) I finished the first draft of The Naked Detective! (eep! eep!) I am now in the process of finding all of the hysterical typos inside it. For example, in Chapter Nine, my heroine wears "four-inch hells". Hee hee.

2) Somebody (you know who you are...) told me my Halloween novel The Ghost Exterminator was a "four alarm hoot". I about passed out from glee.

Happy Eve o' Halloween, y'all!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happily Ever After

A while back, I was chatting with my sister. She is an avid reader and though her tastes tend to run more to sci-fi and fantasy, she does enjoy the occassional romance. So we got to talking about romance novels in general and my writing in particular. The phrase "It ain't Shakespeare" was used at least once. (No one like your big sister to keep your feet solidly on the ground, eh?) Anyway, she made a comment that, at first, seemed pretty ridiculous, but after some discussion I realized was kind of inspired.

Romance novels are like Pixar movies.

(**Note: The discussion of Pixar excludes Wall-e. I am violently opposed to the movie Wall-e. I did not like it and if you ask me to I will explain, in great detail, all of the things that made me Angry about it. First among them the fact that it is blantant propaganda aimed at children.**)

Ahem. Back to the topic at hand. Romance=Pixar. At first it seems a ludicrous assertion. Hello, completely different audiences. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense. And the more I realized my new release, The Ghost Exterminator: A Love Story, was the most Pixar-ish of all.

Seemingly different characters are thrown together exposing their unfounded prejudices a la Cars, Toy Story, and Monsters, Inc. My heroine Jo is struggling to be herself in a world intolerant of the different and unique... just like The Incredibles and Ratatouille! And through the course of the book, they learn something and come into their own and then we all live happily ever after.

With lots of sex.

Okay, so the analogy isn't perfect, but there's one phrase that sold me on the similarities. Happily Ever After.

I love those words. I think those words are the reason I read romance novel after romance novel. And the reason I actually enjoyed watching Toy Story 2 every day for a month solid. My nephew went through a phase where that was his absolute favorite movie (no scary parts!) and I was the only family member who would watch it with him every afternoon during "quiet time" while his brother took a nap. (I'm also the auntie, not the mommy, so I feel no guilt about rotting his brain with television.) I now have that movie memorized, but if the kid wanted to watch it tomorrow, I would totally be game. (He's since moved on to Star Wars... which is kinda funny since there is a "Buzz, I am your faaaaather" moment in TS2.) Aaanyway. Pixar. A nice message, some laughs, and a happy ending. What more can you ask for?

And yesterday, my most Pixar-ish book to date found its way onto the virtual shelves. That's happy ending enough for me.

What's your favorite happily ever after? In a movie or otherwise...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Boo! Early Bird Special!

It's aliiiiiiiive. (Ghosts, Frankenstein... Okay, so I'm mixing my Halloween references, but I'm just too excited to limit myself to one.)

The Ghost Exterminator is live at My Bookstore and More! It's early! Check it out: http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/the-ghost-exterminator. And while you're there, check out the other fab books releasing tomorrow, including some shapeshifter yumminess and Mary Hughes' Bite My Fire, villed vit vampire hilaaarity. Ah-ah-ah. (That was supposed to be a Count voice.)

Mary has my Workshops are the Antichrist rant up on her blog today if you wanna swing by and leave your opinions.

And, because this is just too cute for words, I give you a pic I snapped yesterday of my own little ghosts. My niece, Princess Rambo, and my nephew, Danger Boy. Booooooooo...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Let It Begin!

We've reached countdown days, ladies and gentlemen! The Ghost Exterminator: A Love Story comes out in T-minus three days! (Or four, if you're counting today. Are you counting today?)

What does that mean? Well, my darlings, it means I will be a Blogging Dervish until that puppy hits the shelves (e-shelves only, print release in 2010). Check out the schedule:

Today: Join me at the Damned Scribbling Women Blog where I will find ways to vaguely imply that Oscar Wilde endorses my book!

Tomorrow: Double Dip into the blogosphere for a delicious Sunday treat. Nikki Duncan's October Blog Party welcomes me (opportunities for FREE STUFF including an E-READER over at Nikki's blog EVERY DAY!!!). I'll be talking about the sizzling smexxy tension of a love/hate relationship.

And, speaking of e-readers... also tomorrow, I'll be at the Ruby-Slippered-Sisterhood blog providing what I hope is a user-friendly primer on those new-fangled e-reading devices.

Then, on Monday the Raven Happy Hour group is having a Halloween Bash! We got your excerpts! We got your free stuff! You don't want to miss it. (And don't forget the Raven Happy Hour Halloween Hunt going on NOW!)

Also on Monday... the illustrious Ms. Mary Hughes (dude, how awesome is she? Are you half as psyched as I am about Bite My Fire releasing Tuesday?) has allowed me to pontificate all over her website (I promise to clean up after myself). So be sure to check out my "Anti-Workshop Manifesto" rant.

Then it's TUESDAY TUESDAY TUESDAY and I'll be at the Samhain Cafe and the Samhain Blog for RELEASE DAY!

Brace yourself, boys and girls, it's gonna be a helluva four (three?) days!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stocker Stalker

So yesterday, I go to my podunk Alaska library (not the big beautiful midtown one, but the small east side one) and what to my wondering eyes should appear? They are stocking Samhain books! My publisher! Some edited by my editor! I'm only two degrees away from library stockage, y'all!

I must admit, I was tempted to ask how they decide which books they buy and put in a little sales pitch for Tickle My Fantasy. I may still. I think next time I'm at the main midtown one, I'm going to hunt down the stocker and smile pretty. Is that kosher? Do you know? Or is it bad form to stalk the stocker?

Anyway, I'm psyched about the Samhainage. Are we in your local library?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bachelor #3

Good morning! I'm over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog today, talking about how rejections are like the dating game. Come on down and play a round or two!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Squid Lovin'!

Wow. Best Book Trailer Evah.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Making Neuroses Fun!


I'm in that "It sucks! No, it's amazing, I'm brilliant, I'm an idiot, what was I thinking, who told me I could be a writer?" phase of the story I'm working on now. Thank God for Debbie Ridpath and Will Write for Chocolate.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Fine Line

I've been thinking today about the distinction between Perfectionism and Professionalism.

I'll be honest, I'm a little bit on the neurotic side when it comes to my work. Someone once told me I used a run-on sentence (which I do sometimes do for effect , but in this case I hadn't) and, being me, I diagrammed the entire chapter to show that there wasn't a single run-on in there. Long sentences, hell yes. Grammatically incorrect? Allow me to introduce you to my eighth grade English teacher's wrath.

I thought about why I was so offended by the claim and realized it had to do with professionalism as much as perfectionism. Subpar grammar is unprofessional. I felt like my professional integrity was under attack.

On a certain level, I equate professionalism with perfection. If there is a typo on my website, I feel it reflects badly on me. (Dude, I'm soooo tempted to put a typo in this blog just as a joke about how perfect I am... hee hee. My sense of humor is messed up.) If I don't get in touch with a giveaway winner right away or forget to return an email, I kick myself for not being on top of things and draw up elaborate scenarios in my head in which the neglected party tells everyone she knows how unprofessional I am.

When I was in the corporate workforce, I used to have anxiety dreams every time I made a mistake at work. Mistakes in my personal life meant living and learning and becoming a better person from it. Mistakes at the office? Nightmares for weeks.

If someone interferes with my professionalism or causes me to be unable to behave professionally (i.e. perfectly), it's really hard for me to maintain my cool. The words "reflects badly on me" dance in my head in a neurotic can-can line, encouraging me to smack the offender down. (Cuz smackdowns are wicked professional.)

I'm a control freak and a neurotic perfectionist when it comes to my career, but I try to keep it to myself whenever possible. (Except when I'm blabbing about it on the blog for all the world to see.)

My question for you, dear reader, is this: How do you define professionalism?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Author Interview: Kaye Chambers

We have another victim, ladies and gentlemen! Samhain authoress Kaye Chambers has been suckered into agreed to an author interview here at the blog. Please help me welcome Kaye as she chats with us a bit about her new release, Angelic Avenger. Welcome, Kaye! (Applause!)

Angelic Avenger is the tale of reluctant angelic enforcer Bella. You've created such a unique world. What inspired you to write Bella's story?

A nagging voice in my head. I was sitting in a movie theater waiting for a movie to start and this little voice said, “Don’t mind me. I’m going straight to Hell. That’s what you get when you take a life. Oh, don’t get melodramatic. It was only mine.”

Watching the movie, I kept hearing that little voice. Afterwards, I rushed home to find the house quiet because the kids were asleep. Snatching up my laptop, I started writing. I went to bed in tears that night. Why? I would start the book in third person, but it ended up in first before the end of the opening chapter.

After about a week of this and still no further into the book than that opening, I was talking to my friend Colleen who gave me the best advice: “Stop fighting it. Go with the story and if it flips back to third, you can always fix it."

So that is what I did.

Sounds like a good time to get out of the way and let the book write itself. What three things do you absolutely need to write?

1. Caffeine (diet Coke or coffee about the color of mocha)
2. Something to drown out the pitter-patter of little feet and the accompanying screaming (headphones and music, usually)
3. Inspiration

What would you say is the driving force behind your books? A hot hero? A dynamic heroine? The conflict?

Definitely the heroine. When I sit to write, I’m usually pretty deep into the skin of my heroines. Since the majority of my manuscripts are done in first person, it’s easy to like what they like, write what they would do in a situation, as well as embrace the inner vixen and let her rip on the pages. :)

Gotta love a feisty heroine, and the feisty writer who goes with her. Do you have a favorite writing memory?

I do have a story I’d love to share. ANGELIC AVENGER was the first book I ever sat and wrote all on my own. I did it mostly at night, slaving with coffee while my children were asleep. At the time, my husband was unaccompanied in Japan on military orders. Since I had no idea if it was going to be worth anything, I told the Cookie Monsters (i.e. my writing support group) about it, but kept my aspirations close to my chest.

Two years and many, many revisions and tweaks later, my husband was home on leave. He was sitting on the couch as I checked the voicemail. Strangely enough, I had an email from Tami Brothers regarding a contest I’d shipped the manuscript off to. Some may have heard of the Maggie Awards? Nervously, I wrote the number down on a post-it and took the phone outside to get away from the screaming chaos of preschoolers.

She answered and delivered the shocking news that ANGELIC AVENGER had finaled in the contest. Poor lady. I screamed in her ear. I was laughing, crying, shocked, excited, and generally a screaming lunatic. She laughed with me. When I got off the phone, I ran into the house, jumped in front of my husband and announced my good fortune.

“Bella finaled in the Maggies!”

“What?” He stared at me blankly.

Josie, hearing the racket, came out onto the landing of her rooms upstairs. Turning to her, I held out my hands and repeated myself. She squealed in delight, ran down the stairs, and danced with me in front of the fireplace. My husband, dear man, stared at us like we were loons even after my children joined in the dance.

“Who’s Bella?” he asked somewhat bewildered by the excitement.

“It’s Mommy’s book, Daddy,” my daughter informed in at the same time I said, “Bella is my book.”

“You wrote a book?” I nodded. The dear man sat there and thought about it a moment before shaking his head. His next question told me exactly how far out of the loop he really was even though he’d bought me a new laptop so I could write. “What’s the Maggies?”

In the two years since, he’s become much more educated about the publishing world and none of it would be possible without his support and faith in me. Every woman needs a hero in her life and it’s even better if she can lay her hands on him. :)

It can be a startling transition when our writing for fun becomes "I wrote a book", can't it? Then suddenly it's "I'm publishing a book!" with many more to come... What's next for you, Kaye?

Two things, actually. :)

In January, my novella LOVE AT FIRST SHOT releases from The Wild Rose Press. What do an inept witch, a kidnapped coroner, and a dead werewolf have in common? LOVE AT FIRST SHOT, of course. Emma Feltman is a master mage in training with one minor problem: sexual frustration has twisted her ordinarily powerful magic into an unpredictable force of chaos. Her current job assignment is the Supernatural Clean-up Crew.

When a werewolf is unlucky enough to get hit by a car, Emma's crew is sent in to retrieve the body. The sexy Dr. "T.J." Jackson is the coroner on duty. When it's discovered his mind is immune to Emma's magic and they can't erase the incident from his memory, they do the next best thing: they take him with them.

Stashed in a cabin miles from anywhere, Emma and T.J. start things off with a bang. But can a relationship built under extreme conditions really work?

In March, my new series (The Ladies of St. George) launches from Samhain Publishing with BLOOD AND DESTINY. It’s another first person novel told from the heroine’s point of view. Destiny St. George is a shapeshifting lioness private investigator just trying to make a living while avoiding the on-again-off-again relationship with the local vampire king, Marcus Smythe. When she takes a missing person case that leads her straight back to his arms, she knows she’s in trouble. Throw in an out-of-town lion flown in to be her escort to her best friend’s wedding, and she’s suddenly facing all sorts of choices, personally and professionally.

Can she find the missing woman before she disappears into the abyss of the vampire underground? Will the lion or the vampire capture her heart and convince her to change her ways?

BLOOD AND DESTINY know the answers.

Thank you for submitting to a stint in the hot seat, Kaye! Hopefully it wasn't too warm.

And now, dear reader, check out Kaye's fabulous new release, Angelic Avenger!

ISBN: 978-1-60504-720-1

The road to hell is paved with heavenly desire...

Angelic Avengers, Book 1

Fetch a soul? No problem. Quell a little shape shifter rebellion? She can do that, too. Just an average day in the afterlife of Arabella "Bella" Morrison. Or, what she hopes will become an afterlife after restoring the cosmic imbalance caused by her suicide over a love affair gone bad.

Protect a willful fallen angel? That takes a little more teamwork than she's accustomed to. Especially when the team includes Gray Devereau, a sexy, half-breed angel who's got an eye on her - in more ways than one.

Their attraction could set could set fire to Heaven itself. Normally not a problem for Bella, but Gray's sights are set on something more than a fly-by-night affair.

Save mankind from chaos? Bring it on. Let her heart trust a man enough to love again?

It'll be a cold day in hell...
Oh, and one more thing... Happy Birthday to Kaye, happy birthday to Kaye, happy birthday to Kaaa-aaaaye, happy birthday to Kaye! And many mooooooore...