Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Devil & Venus de Milo

As a little pre-Valentine's treat, Misty Evans - my fellow author from the Tickle My Fantasy Anthology - has a Free Read now available on the Samhellion webiste. Check it out here:

And don't miss the other Valentine's Freebies, coming out one a day at the Samhellion from now until the 15th of February!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gearing up for February

February is going to be a crazy month, people. We're talking New Releases, Contests, Free-Reads and More! In fact, there's so much going on, I wanted to give a little preview of coming events here on the blog.

  • January 31st - Misty Evans Free Read - The Devil & Venus De Milo available at the Samhellion Website

  • February 1st - Tickle My Fantasy Month Kicks Off! (Right in time for Superbowl Sunday) All through TMF Month, in conjunction with the February 17th release of The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo, & the Poltergeist Accountant, I will be running the Gigolo Contest here on the blog! All you have to do to enter is comment on the blog during the month of February. Every time you comment you will be entered in the drawing (no more than one entry per person per day, though feel free to comment more than that if you're inspired) to win the Gigolo Kit, filled with incense, massage oils, and various other (naughtier) gigolo accoutrement.

  • February 3rd - RELEASE DAY for Carolina Wolf by Sela Carsen!

  • February 10th - RELEASE DAY for by MK Mancos!
  • February 15th - My Valentine's themed FREE READ Love Potion Number Nine becomes available at the Samhellion Website.

  • February 17th - RELEASE DAY for The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant!!!

  • February 19th - I'll be interviewed over at D. Renee Bagby's Blog.

  • February 24th - RELEASE DAY for Witches Anonymous by Misty Evans!
  • Also February 24th - RELEASE DAY for Kaye Chambers' On the Prowl in Print!
  • Also February 24th - The Ghost Shrink will be featured at Ciar Cullen's blog & the TMF quartet will be answering the question What's it like to write paranormal comedy? over at JK Coi's blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grammar Humor

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the best paragraph ever, compliments of Marta Acosta and Midnight Brunch:

I needed to rant so I called Bernie. I left a blistering message about his mendacious nature, his ethical chasm, his quesitonable use of the semicolon, and his penchant for excessive alliteration.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Erotic Immunization

I've been thinking about sex. I just can't seem to help myself.

Books just seem to be trending hotter and hotter these days. I've heard more authors than I can count talking about being asked to "sex up" their books by editors, agents, critique partners... The whole sex-it-up trend has started me thinking about the direction the romance industry is heading and why. (I'm a knowledge nerd. I always want to understand the whys.)

I recently read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (now a major motion picture with Kate Winslet). It's a great book. A profound book. An intrinsically philosophical book. And do you know what one of the quotes on the back of my copy said? "What Schlink does best, what makes this novel most memorable, are the small moments of highly charged eroticism." Noooooooo. You are so wrong, Reviewer from Elle. You would have to put in distinct effort to be more wrong. Yes, there is a sexual affaire (forbidden, oooooh) in the book, but that is just a small part of its brilliance. The subtle philosophy, the moral quagmire... but I digress.

I was largely unaffected by the sexual details ("the small moments of highly charged eroticism") in the book - which had me wondering whether that was due to the fact that Schlink has such a matter-of-fact style or whether it was me. Have I been desensitized to the erotic? Stories are getting hotter and hotter, and my reaction to them seems to be growing more and more tepid.

Is it me, or is it all of us? Are we inured to the sensational? Immune to the titilating? Are writers having to go more and more graphic to get the same reaction they once got with much more tame language? And is graphic necessarily sexier? We are pushing the boundaries of what is sexy because we've all been told countless times that Sex Sells, but what is sexy? And will the pendulum ever swing back toward the implied heat of restrained sexual tension or are we forever locked into a competition to out-do ourselves with sexier and sexier books?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The First Annual SAMMIE Awards!

Ladies and gentlemen, you are cordially invited to the first annual SAMMIE AWARDS!
That’s right, folks. Samhain Publishing is establishing their very own award for the Top Ten favorites for each year and the Top Ten covers too! Just drop by the SP Café on Sunday, January 25th from 2-10 p.m. They’ll announce the top ten Best Selling from each year, as well as the Reader’s Choice top ten for both books and cover art. Naturally, there will be excerpts, fun and lots of prizes.
See you there!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I've been tagged by the fabulous Kate Diamond!

I'm gonna cheat and rewrite the rules a little.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try to track this game o' tag back to its source. Then report back to me.

Now, the six things that make me happy, in no particular order:
1. Singing along to the radio.
2. Gettin' stuff done. My To Do List is rapidly shrinking and I am doing happy dances every time I get to cross another item off.
3. Seeing my friends succeed. Kelly Fitzpatrick can't seem to stop winning contests and Kaye Chambers has her first book coming out in print next month! Woohoo! Go, ladies, go!
4. Chocolate cupcakes.
5. Getting packages in the mail.
6. Movie marathons.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Heeeeeere's Johnny

I love Stephen King. No one writes characters that are more believable than his. They are real people, caught up in surreal situations. They are as vivid to us as we are to ourselves - even the ones that chop their families up into little pieces and that is what is so damned scary about his books. He makes us understand the madness.

I was thinking today about The Shining. There are so many classic images from the movie - the little girls in the hallway, dear Jack's face poking through the hole he chopped in the door - that I think people sometimes forget how much better the book is than the movie. Go ahead, refute this claim if you can. The book kicks ass. Dude, while I was reading the book, I was freaked out by the topiary. Stephen King made me afraid of plants. The man has mad skills.

Anyway, so I was thinking about The Shining and I had a moment of, gee, I wish I were going to an isolated lodge in Colorado to do nothing but write until spring. Remember, in The Shining Jackie-boy is a writer. An alcoholic, borderline-abusive, messed-up-in-the-head writer, but a writer nonetheless. And so today, when I was having trouble focusing on my spreadsheets and lamenting the fact that I spend my days sitting on my butt in front of a computer just so I can afford to spend my nights sitting on my butt in front of my computer... The Shining started to sound pretty darn appealing. Isolation... peace... quiet... inspirational insanity...

Of course, I wouldn't be bringing a spouse and kid along for me to massacre and my fantasy of isolation doesn't match up entirely with the illustrious Mr. King's. My version of The Shining would be a romance, complete with a hunky cabana boy. But I'd probably keep the living topiary and paranormal mayhem.

So what's your Shining? Agatha Christie or Dan Brown? Are we finding dead bodies or hidden mysteries of religion? A Twlight vampire den or Harry Potter's passage from the muggle to the wizard world? What would you find if you were stuck at the Overlook?

Friday, January 16, 2009

With a Little Help from my Friends

I got my first review for The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant!!! Woohoo!

Now, for full disclosure's sake, the reviewer is a good friend of mine who had already told me that she liked my little story, but now she's saying it publicly. For all the world to see! Wahooo!

If you're interested in what the fabulous Ms. Kaye Chambers (Tiger by the Tail) has to say about Lucy, Jake, and my cast of lovelorn ghosts, check out today's Beyond the Veil blog.

You can also drop by Kaye's website, where she has been marvelous enough to do a guest blog-style feature for me this month.

I am giddy, ladies and gents. Giddy.

When there is more Ghost Shrink news, I will post it here, saving the links over there --> --> --> under "Ghost Shrink Buzz." Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Here Comes the Bride!

The Finally a Bride Contest announced its placements today and guess what? Picket Fences came in first in the Mainstream category! Squee!

I guess that makes me the bride. Hee hee. I think the prize is a knife and cake server. I love a contest that awards weaponry. If getting published comes down to hand-to-hand combat, I am now armed and ready to decimate the competition. And then serve them a conciliatory slice o' cake.

One more time, woohoo! And congratulations to all the other finalists!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Menage - The New Frontier in Romance?

I like good books. Well-written books. I certainly don’t select books based on the fact that I think they will have a certain type of sex scene in them and, frankly, I am baffled by the idea that many readers do. But that is the message that comes across loud and clear when ménage books leap to the top of the e-book sales. It has to be a well-written ménage, the experts will say, but why does a well-written ménage decimate the competition when the competition is well-written books of all other varieties?

A creditable e-publishing guru told me a while back that the best way to boost sales was to write a ménage – even if I only wrote the one. My reaction was a polite, “Good to know.” I then promptly ignored that advice and went back to my plain ole boy-girl book. Am I a dinosaur? Am I, god forbid, a prude?

Every book can’t be a threeway. Suppose I’m writing a new take on the Adam and Eve story, it wouldn’t really work if it suddenly became a ménage. (Hmmm… Adam, Eve & Steve: the New Eden… Steve = the snake, or at least a trouser snake. Oh geez. I’m awful.)

Ahem, back on topic…

Ménage may be hot, but certainly not to the exclusion of all else. I firmly believe that there will always be room out there for a wondrous variety. My (relatively) tame approach to the romance genre (at least in comparison to explicit DP) still has a place, doesn’t it?

A love triangle is a classic conflict. Menage authors are just taking out the middle men (or, perhaps more accurately, throwing the middle man into bed with the hero & heroine).

Ménage represents sexual adventure. Not because it cannot be romantic or loving, but because it is forbidden. A three person novel based on love in which they all wind up happy together in their triangle is no less realistic to me than the candy-coated happy la-la relationships in most romance novels where the relationships are perfect by the last page. It is not that three people can’t have a ménage based in emotion that makes ménage tend to tip the scales in the more sexually-focused erotica direction. It is because adding the third person adds the automatic illicit factor, regardless of their emotional attachment. If you are reading for adventure, you know you are going to get it with three people cavorting nekkid on the cover.

Is ménage a force in the e-publishing world because people are too embarrassed to march into their local Borders and order up some m/m/f action? They can get a cute paranormal romance from a brick and mortar book store, but is the e-world the only place many readers feel comfortable indulging their illicit ménage yen?

I wonder if you can track the upswing in erotica sales to the time when readers began purchasing books online to be shipped to them or downloaded. Remove the embarrassment factor and you see what people really want. But does that also mean that ménage will never make the leap out of the e-world into the brick and mortar mainstream? Or is it only a matter of time? Are we truly becoming more evolved? Is ménage the next step in literary evolution? Or is it just a flash in the pan, a blip on the screen, an anomaly that will last only until it is swallowed up by the more traditional two person romance?

Your thoughts?

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Long and the Short of it

I find myself continually amazed by the things we are capable of once we stop believing we can't do them.

I never used to write novellas. I couldn't write short stories either. Things would start out nice and short and simple and then suddenly there would be subplots on my subplots and I'd be scrambling to tie up my loose ends by the end of the first 100,000 words. I did this for years. And somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that I couldn't write short.

Then a funny thing happened. I decided, I don't even remember why, that I wanted to give the novella thing a shot. See if I could follow the K.I.S.S. rule and get a baby-book out of it. (Not a book about babies, a baby-sized book.) With a case of temporary amnesia regarding the fact that I couldn't, I sat down and just did it. (Very Nike of me, eh?) Then it sold. Then I panicked. I'd never done anything like that before! It was a length I didn't write, a genre I didn't write, and that was what sold? Are you kidding me?

When it came time to do a follow-up, I wrote a full length book. Back to my comfort zone. But I finished it early. And I had a few weeks before I wanted to start my next Big Book, so I randomly started typing away at this mini-novella (let's call it a novellita, shall we?) and then boom! I had another one. Then, last month in a fit of procrastination, I wrote another one. All of a sudden, I am a novella writing machine.

A year ago, I probably would have had a good laugh if you'd told me I would be writing a Valentine's free-read of less than 4,000 words - not because I have anything against freebies, but because I was so certain I couldn't write short. But that's exactly what I'm doing.

So what can you do that you haven't given yourself credit for? Don't sell yourself short, or you might just miss out on the opportunity to sell something short.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Water, Water, Everywhere

I'm back in Seattle and it's raining. Which is not unusual. What is unusual is that my apartment has a leak. It's a small leak. Just a gap in the molding over the floor-to-ceiling windows in my breakfast room. Unfortunately, my breakfast room, with its fabulous view, is where I chose to set up my office. Luckily my old manuscripts avoided a soggy fate, since I recently transferred them to my new filing cabinet in the living room. However, my electronic devices were not so lucky. Computer cables and surge protectors are now sitting in puddles of water like an engraved invitation to electrocute myself.

I unplugged and moved the computers to the living room and pulled the desk away from the windows. But until I get a maintenance guy in here to caulk it up or it stops raining here like Noah's got an ark that needs testing, I'm using the "Buy a Bigger Towel" approach to fixing my leak. Or should I put an empty pot over there? Isn't that what they do in the movies? Probably not the best resource for home maintenance, the movies. But I don't really have a better plan...

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Not You, It's Me

I've known I wanted to make my living as a writer for about a decade now, so when I graduated from college I intentionally sought out jobs without long-term potential. Jobs that wouldn't threaten my dedication to my chosen career or inhibit my ability to devote time and energy to my writing. I've been a waitress, a meter reader, a production assistant at a film company, and held more temp positions than bear mentioning.

Jobs are pretty similar to relationships. Some jobs are like marriages, long-term, involved, and leaving them can be as emotionally and financially destructive as a messy divorce. But when you go into a job (or relationship) knowing it's going to be short-term with little-to-no commitment, it's easy to leave. It isn't until you've been there for a while that the responsibilities and benefits start weaving their tricky webs around you, making it harder and harder to make a clean break.

A few years ago, while spending a stint in Columbus, I fell into a job as a "professional scorer" of standardized tests. It was pleasant enough work, sometimes amusing, sometimes frustrating, with its pros and cons like any job. But the one thing that made it perfect for me was that it was project based. Scoring projects lasted a few months, twice a year, spring and fall - which left me enormous, gaping holes of time to write in summer and winter. Over the next few years, if I happened to be in Columbus when a project was going on, I worked for the scoring center and when I left the midwest for good, I signed myself up to be considered as an at home, online scorer.

That was several years ago. I hadn't heard a word from them since. Until this year. In November, I got an email asking me to give them my scoring availabilty for the coming season. A deadline was given. Fill out the online survey by November 15th. Now, two or three years ago I would have likely jumped at the opportunity, but my current day job is a sweet deal that pays me half again as much as I could make scoring. There's no benefit in leaving it now and any free time I gave to scoring from home would be cutting into my writing time. So I ignored the automated request, figuring that would be seen as a "Not interested, thanks."

On November 16th, the second email came. It was the same email, verbatim, making no mention of the previous email I had been sent, but with a new deadline. December 1st. On December 3rd, another. Then again on December 16th. Today, I received yet another email, this one calling itself a "reminder" to fill out the survey no later than January 19th. When does it end? I feel like I'm being cyberstalked by my former employer. Do I need to take them aside and calmly explain that I am very happy with my new relationship? I thought we had left things in a good place, but it looks like it's time yet again for the "It's Not You, It's Me" talk.

So the question is: if jobs are like relationships, how do you re-break-up with your ex-job when they can't seem to understand that it's over?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Hello, 2009, you great big beautiful year, you!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday season. My 2009 started off in a great way. I woke up Thursday morning to an email in my inbox telling me I finaled in the Emily Contest! This was the first contest for this story - How Internet Dating Ruined My Life: A Love Story - and I couldn't be happier over its reception.

I also found out this week that the print version of The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant will be coming out in the Tickle My Fantasy Anthology on December 29, 2009! Less than a year from now, I'll be in bookstores! Woohoo!

2009 is going to be a great year. I can feel it.