Thursday, July 30, 2009

Age Appropriate

Last week, Dear Author did a survey on what the right age is for allowing girls to read romances. It got me thinking. Boy, did it ever get me thinking.

I wasn't really much of a reader as a kid. I loved watching movies - the stories, the drama, the worlds unfolding - but the real magic of books didn't open up to me until I was twelve. I couldn't sleep one night and my sister gave me a book by Anne McCaffrey. Dragonflight. I read until dawn. And then I kept reading.

Dragonflight isn't a romance by any stretch, but there's definitely some sex between those pages (about two sentences worth in the entire book). That summer I read my way through my sister's bookshelves - McCaffrey, Lackey, Eddings. There were romances tucked inside the stories of magic and adventure, sly little innuendos of love. Sex and the mushy love stuff were acknowledged, occasionally even showcased. They might motivate the characters or be pivotal plot points, but in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, the romance isn't the plot.

It was some time later in my reading education, after I had exhausted my sister's supply, but was still hungry for my next fix, when I tripped across the Sunfire Romances. I had almost forgotten how much I loved these books until a few weeks ago when Kate Diamond reminded me of them. Sweet romances, aimed at teen girls, featuring teen girls in the starring roles - always set during some dramatic slice of history and always seeing our beloved heroine pursued by not one but two studly teen boys. Sort of a cross between The American Girls books and Twilight (only without the bloodsucking and shapeshifting).
(<--Check it out! Merrie stows away on the Mayflower! How cool is that? And now I kinda wanna go back and reread these.)

The Sunfire Romances were my gateway drug.

I must have been about thirteen when I read my first racy romance. It was Johanna Lindsey. (Tangent: Shout out to Sara Ramsey, Golden Heart Winner in the Regency Historical category who read her first Lindsey - Brave the Wild Wind around the same time and got hooked by hook-ups a-horseback. Woot!)

My first was Secret Fire. A Russian prince kidnaps an English heiress and much passion ensues. Much passion. Those were the books with the bodice-ripped covers. The ones I tucked under my pillow and read in secret. I don't know if my mom knew I was reading them. I don't know if she would have approved.

But what, really, was the danger in them? I didn't think they were any more realistic than the stories of dragons and wizards. I certainly wasn't using them as a rulebook for how I should conduct my adolescent lovelife (heh, yeah, still waiting for that Russian prince...).

To be quite frank, I'm not entirely certain how much of them I really understood. I loved the movie Dirty Dancing as a kid. Loved it. Had no idea there was sex in it. Had no idea it was about sex. Didn't understand what "knocked up" meant enough to even realize that Penny was preggers. But the dancing was cool. And the girl that never really stood out got to be a rockstar. She got to get the hot guy and dance on stage. When I saw it again, several years later, I remember being shocked by how much sex there was. Good lord, how could I have missed it? It was right there.

So I kind of wonder how much sex I missed in the romances I read early on.

Those were the old skool romances - abductions! secret babies! - and a lot of them were not about what could technically be called healthy relationships. However, I do feel that my ability to read people and the fact that I am a pretty damn good judge of character both come from the fact that I read everything I could get my hands on. I learned a lot about seeing the motivations behind things and became a student of the quiet dramas in our own lives. I was more emotionally aware than I would have been without those books. And who wouldn't want that for their teen girl?

So what do you say? Is your daughter allowed to read romance? At what age? Are you just happy the kid likes to read at all? Worried that she'll get a glorified, unrealistic view of sex? Or might she gain a more developed emotional awareness? Could she satisfy the curiosity about sex through books so she won't have it too young? Could enabling the fantasy life prevent bad judgement?

I dunno. But I do know that it is a messy tangle in the Young Adult fiction market. Write about it? Don't write about it? Can a YA book really be authentic if it doesn't mention sex these days? Adolescents have to deal with sex. It's a fact of life.

(**Spoilers Below**)
I remember thinking the Harry Potter books came out of the gates strong, by dealing with things that the kids would actually have to face as they grew up in addition to the wild wizardry-ness, but when sex entered the picture it was quickly shuffled offstage. (Or turned into the literary equivalent of a prat fall - something trotted out for a light non-Voldemort moment and an easy laugh.) It felt odd to me because it didn't deal as directly with sex. The characters seem sexually stunted by their lack of awareness of it. (Not that they had to be boinking like bunnies, but the idea of teenage boys never even saying the word? Really? You're gonna buy that? Cuz I've got this bridge in Brooklyn...)

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, you have Twilight. In which sex is glorified to a ridiculous degree. A virgin has sex with another virgin who - by virtue of the fact that he's a vampire - has the physiology of a marble statue and is so freakishly strong he has to make a concerted effort not to crush her fragile human bones into a fine papery pulp. Yet it is in no way uncomfortable. In fact, it is so transcendent that she decides she no longer wants what she has said she wants for the last four freaking books (i.e. to become a vampire herself) because she doesn't want to miss out on the opportunity to have lots more freaky human-vampire sex. What the f*ck?! What the hell kind of message is that sending to our Abstinence-Only-trained kiddies? Wait until you're married, but when you finally do it, you will want to restructure your entire life around the awesomeness that is coitus maximus.

Then there's the Buffy-verse, where sex=death(demonic possession, mayhem, etc.). Or the House of the Night series where Zoey sleeps with (*spoiler*) freaking Loren? What the effing hell? And of course, he turns out to only be using her cuz Nyx told him to (duh.) and then he dies. Grisly nasty death. Honestly, I'm pretty darned confused about the messages were sending the kiddies about sex.

Are romance novels really any worse than the young adult stuff out there? At least some of them these days are about vaguely healthy relationships.

Okay, I'm pretty much done. Longest post ever, yeah. So here's what I wanna leave you with:

What age is the right age to allow your kids to read romance? And which romance would you start them on? What is the right message about sex?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Amazon, Meet Irony

Amazon continues to crack me up. On the Yay! side of the spectrum, they are now carrying The Ghost Shrink. (After only four months! Woot!) But on the WTF? side of the spectrum...

For those of you not inclined to click links, here's the gist. Amazon realized it had some not-so-legal copies of 1984 (and Animal Farm, but really 1984 is the funny one) up for grabs on le Kindle. So what do they do? They access all of the Kindles with those books on them, remove those books, leave a credit in the customer's account for the purchase cost of the books, and vanish like Kaiser Soze - or rather, not like Kaiser Soze since he actually left a story behind him, whereas Amazon didn't even leave a note. Stealth! Worst break-up technique ever!

But the best part? 1984? Big Brother? I'm sorry, is anyone else just dying here? Cuz that's funny. That is seriously funny.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Author Interview: Shelli Stevens

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Today we are lucky enough to have with us as the next Author Interview Victim the delightful Shelli Stevens, the author of several popular Samhain releases with a brand new novel, out TODAY from Kensington Aphrodisia, Take Me.

Welcome, Shelli! (Applause!)

When you got The Call (or The Email, as the case may be) offering to publish Take Me, what did you do to celebrate? My friend and fellow author, Lacy Danes, and I went to see Corteo a production of Cirque du Soleil, and we had dinner out at an Italian restaurant/wine bar place. It was a fabulous night.

You write for both Samhain & Kensington – one electronic and one traditional New York publisher. When you begin a new project do you have an idea which market you will be targeting with that book? At what point in your process do you decide which publisher is right for a book? I’d say most of the time when I start a project I know where I’m targeting it. I tend to write shorter for Samhain, or do multiple novellas (like my Chances Are series) that will be rolled into one print book. Though if a book doesn’t sell to a New York publisher because it doesn’t fit the market or such, I’m thrilled to be able to submit it to my editor at Samhain. I truly love both markets and don’t intend to quit either.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer and/or your favorite writing memory? I love that I get to fall in love every time I write a book. That I get a happily ever after. Because neither of those are a guarantee in the real world. Maybe that’s why I’m so unconcerned about being single .

What inspired you to write Take Me? I actually wrote Take Me to enter the Passionate Ink contest in the futuristic category. It was supposed to be a novella, but once I got going I realized it would be a single title. I’d never written a futuristic before and wanted the challenge. I had this idea in the back of my head, it was a little controversial and really pushing the lines. It reminded me of the stories I read in the 80’s somewhat. The capture fantasies. So I gave myself permission to just let go of my inhibitions and go for it, and write the book to see what happened. The gamble paid off! Not only did it win first place in the category of the contest, I sold it to Kensington and signed with my agent Laura Bradford.

You’ve written in a variety of heat levels. Is one your “home”? The one in which you feel most comfortable writing? How do you decide how hot you want to go? You know, I think I’m naturally a spicy writer, even though sometimes I fall on the more vanilla side of the erotic market. So it’s a good mix. I can move easily between erotic romance or standard romances and just be on the hotter side. I could probably even do scaled back love scenes if I decided to target a market that wanted that. I just enjoy the romance and storylines.

You have one of the best author taglines I’ve ever come across with I’m the author your mother warned you about. You’re obviously very good at the marketing side of writing. Do you enjoy that element of a writing career? Or view it more as a necessary evil? You are so sweet! Thank you! I actually enjoy the marketing side. Very much so. I think because I don’t even outright think of half the stuff I’m doing as marketing. Social Networking is a great way to get your name out there and talk to authors and readers alike. And I enjoy it. I’m a social person. I know people say they don’t have time to do the networking, but make the time. It’s so worth the friends and connections you’ll meet!

The incomparable Celeste Bradley describes her muse as “Edna--a sarcastic gravel-voiced barfly who occasionally disappears for weeks at a time with her Vin Diesel wannabe biker boyfriend.” Describe your muse. I actually do not believe in the muse. It sounds like a glamorous reason to procrastinate to me. LOL. If I waited around for a muse I’d never write a page. Though I know many people love the muse and swear by it, and I think it’s a fun idea.

Which authors are on your auto-buy list? Who do you love to read? Hmmm. There’s so many, so here’s a few. Cherry Adair, Karin Tabke, Lora Leigh, Jane Porter, Lori Foster, Pat White. Often I find people because of a genre I like. I love romantic suspense and historicals (though I’m not a regency fan, sadly).

What do you think is the most romantic moment ever from a book or movie? Ooh wow. My favorite romantic movie has got to be Love Actually. Mainly because it shows all the types of love. Even the type that breaks your heart. Such a beautiful movie! Not to mention I’ll always lust over Colin Firth.

What’s next for you? Great question! My agent has some proposals out and about and I’m waiting to hear back on those. All are hot romances, one is futuristic and the others are a series paranormal. Meanwhile I’m continuing to work on the books in hopes they do sell. Fingers crossed!

Check out Shelli's fabulous new release, Take Me - erotic, futuristic, and downright delicious.

Take Me
by Shelli Stevens
ISBN: 978-0758235282

After years as a slave to the pleasures of the powerful, Talia knows how to make a man mad with lust. But her pleasure counts for nothing—until a handsome, ruthless stranger appears. Ryder dares to look at her… to touch her… to awake in her a desire she’s never imagined. When he kidnaps her to learn her secrets, Talia vows not to let her passion take control. But soon she discovers that her captor’s intense gaze and searching hands can perform their own kind of interrogation, a sweet torture she finds impossible to resist…

Click HERE to read an excerpt! You can BUY online or find Take Me today at your local bookstore!
Thank you so much for sharing your release day excitement with us, Shelli! Best of luck with your sizzling New York debut!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Here Comes Santa Claus...

Dude! It's Christmas in July at the Samhain Cafe and I almost missed it! I clearly need to pay more attention. I'm an Xmas junkie - at any time of year when I will burst into Christmas Carols without provocation - so this is right up my alley. This jingle-filled party has Samhain authors chatting it up and indulging in the spirit of giving - so swing on by TODAY for your chance to win beaucoup gifts!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's a Flood! Where's my fricking Arc?

Do you ever feel like you have too many ideas? Like you could not possibly write all the books inside your head in one lifetime? Like each book that you need to write is trapped inside your head, clamoring to get out, if only you had the time to write it? Yep. That's me today. A few dozen unwritten novels are banging around in my head, fighting for dominance. It's getting downright rowdy in there.

Yesterday, I was out with my aunt. (For those of you keeping track of the travels, I've left DC, am back in Ohio for a couple days before going to either Boston or Chicago. No word yet on which.) We were chatting over steak fries and for some reason I started listing all the books I want to work on. Then I got home and wrote them down. I was thinking (foolish, foolish Vivi) that if I got them all on paper, it would seem more manageable.

My advice, if you are considering writing a list of all your story ideas to make them seem manageable, DO NOT DO THIS. The list scares the bejeezus out of me. It's so freaking long. How am I going to write all those books? Even after I knocked off all the ones that didn't fit into either the paranormal or contemp genres, I still had over thirty. Thirty!

I know this is a better complaint to have than the fear that I might someday run dry, run out of inspiration, but right now I feel like I'm drowning under a flood of ideas that need to be written. It feels like it will take me an age to do them all. If I can even do them justice.

There are some great ideas in there. Some fabulous books that deserve to be written. But how do I pick?

That's my question for you, today: Do you ever feel like you have too many ideas? Or maybe it's too many dream vacations, too many things to learn/do/see? How do you pick? How do you prioritize your life?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

5 Random Questions & Extremely Random Answers

Good morning, world! Today Marianne Arkins, fellow Samhain authoress, is interviewing me at her blog. I flat-out loved her questions and hopefully she wasn't too annoyed by the oddness of my answers. Come on over and tell me what your favorite joke is!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different...

There's a point to this. Really there is. Today we learn that arguments (i.e. conflict) can't be random and manufactured. It has to actually have something to do with a plot. Unless you're Monty Python. In which case, be as random as you please.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Me Show

Is anyone else getting totally sick of me, or is it just me? Well, if you aren't tired of the Me Show there's good news, boys and girls! I'm interviewed today by the most excellent Kinsey W. Holley over on her blog. Kinsey's Kiss and Kin is in the Shifting Dreams anthology with Serengeti Heat and she's been lovely enough to have me 'round to her blog to chat about my lions. If you haven't already, be sure to check out her wolves in Kiss & Kin! I loved that story. Such a fun world.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Easy Money won the GH! No, really. It did.

Last night, the RITA & Golden Heart award winners were announced with much pomp and circumstance (though not the actual song) at the RWA National Conference. It was a fabulous spectacle. Anne Stuart was delightful. The presenters poised and elegant. The honorees spoke beautifully. I was enjoying myself thoroughly, cheering on the other wonderful finalists I've met over the course of this awards trek and not in any way expecting to win.

All week people heard me just casually saying, "Oh, no, I know I'm not going to win." I wasn't saying it in order to avoid jinxing myself. I really, honestly, I-swear-to-god, 100% believed they weren't going to call me. (As I believe I mentioned here on the blog a couple times.) I was happy not winning. It meant I was less nervous about the whole thing. Finaling is a HUGE honor and there's a lot of talent swimming in that pool of finalists.

Then the weirdest thing happened. Easy Money won. It really did.

I love that book, but I wasn't expecting this - and now I must think seriously about revising the squishy parts in the middle and making them as taut as the beginning on which I was judged. Luckily I know exactly what I want to do with it, thanks to the fabulous input of my most excellent fellow finalist Kelly Fitzpatrick.

Lots of people tweeted about last night and I'm sure there will be blogs-a-plenty about who won what, what was worn, and who said what (I wish I could remember exactly what I said). So I'm not gonna talk about everyone else. You can find that a dozen other places. I'm gonna talk about me. (Narcissism, yay!) Here are a few things you would only know if you were sitting next to me during the ceremony (like Kelly and the kickass authoress of regency awesomeness Sara Ramsey, who won the GH in her category, were).

Vivi's Golden Heart Highlights:
1. When they called my name, the first words out of my mouth were, "Oh, shit." Luckily, I think the first word I said into the mic was something like "Wow" which is more socially acceptable if not more eloquent.

2. I did not have a speech prepared beforehand (again, not about jinxing, just didn't think I was gonna need one), but at the rehearsal, the woman running it (whose name completely escapes me at the moment) scared me into writing one by telling me I wasn't allowed to say anything about not having anything prepared. So when we sat down forty-five minutes early (required) in the VIP seating, I yanked out a pen and laughingly scrawled on my hand a few people I should thank, with the editorial assistance of Kelly Fitzpatrick, Sara Ramsey, and Sara's friend. (Oh. my. god. I can't believe I'm spacing her name right now. Where is my brain? Why does it have these enormous holes in it? I talked to her a lot, totally enjoyed her vibe, hung out in their hotel room, she just flew in from Paris, shares my passion for Kresley Cole, what the hell is her name? The Golden Heart has thrown me up onto Cloud Nine and there isn't enough oxygen up there for my brain to function properly!) Ahem, back on topic. The list on my hand, in case you're curious, was "RWA, judges, GSRWA, fellow finalists, fam & frnds, SP". From that, I sorta almost made a coherent speech. In front of nearly two thousand people. I think I said "awesome" about seventeen times in forty-five seconds. While I fricking cried. Yup, I'm a nerd. I totally got all sniffly and weepy. I can write funny, but apparently my public speaking is more on the tragic side of the spectrum. (Though several people called it genuine and someone said I made her cry, so maybe it wasn't too terrible.)

3. I called my mom & dad immediately after the ceremony ended. Then my Aunt Kris, who had already seen the results on some posting somewhere and answered the phone with "You won!" Then my friend Kaye Chambers, who responded when I told her I'd won with, "No. Really." I had to tell her four times before she believed me. Which is not because she doesn't believe in me, but more because she believed me all those times when I said it wasn't going to happen. My sister gave the phone to my nephews and had them congratulate me - which had me tearing up all over again, cuz a four-year-old lisping "Congratulations, Auntie" is just about the most precious thing ever. Then I lost my phone, which, if you know me, you know is totally out of character. I don't lose things. ***If you were at the conference and you've seen a silver & blue flip phone that looks like it's been through the wars, please email me!***

4. I have never been congratulated so much in my life. All the people I'd connected with over the week - renewing old friendships and starting new ones, at workshops, parties, or just randomly - were all so happy for me, it was amazing.

I did have a few Swiss-cheese-brain moments, also. No one was wearing name tags anymore and without that crutch my over-excited neurons weren't making the necessary connections. I nearly introduced Anne Hope to Jess Granger (Beyond the Rain releases in just a couple weeks!) as Anne Cain. Don't ask me why. That's the name my brain provided. When I went over to say hello to Jess later, she was sitting with Leis Peders0n, her editor at Berkley (who I met at Emerald City, pitched to at Emerald City, and who I think has a partial of mine). My brain saw Leis Pederson and said "That's Diana Peterfreund." Which, to be honest, was probably a good thing, considering how spastic I can get around editors and agents. (I'm hoping the nervous spasms and oh-my-god-what-do-I-say twitches will fade with time as I get more accustomed to this wild-and-crazy publishing biz.) I then got talking to K.A. Mitchell and Jess wandered off, I thought with her entire group, but then Joanna Bourne (how awesome is she?) was introduced behind me to Leis. And simultaneously the words, "Oh, she didn't leave with Jess" and "That isn't Diana Peterfreund" seared through my brain. Quickly followed by, "My God, was I just rude to Leis Pederson?" Not that it would have been any better to be rude to Diana Peterfreund. I generally try not to be rude at all. (Bitchy, yes on occasion. Rude, totally uncalled for.) I think it was Sara Ramsey who later comforted me with, "Don't worry, no one remembers anything that happens after eleven." Which I can only hope is the case. I certainly didn't mean to ignore Leis. I'll blame it on the Golden-Heart-cloud-nine-asphyxiated-swiss-cheese-brain. I was not firing on all cylinders last night. As evidenced by the fact that my phone is missing. I've never lost my phone before.

Okay, now that I've rambled and babbled and gushed, let's get back to the point of the post: Thank you everyone for your congratulations and your support. You are all awesome and deeply appreciated.

I found my phone (woot!) and Sara's friend's name is Terry. Hi, Terry!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

With the Eloquence of a Drunk Monkey...

The RWA Conference is:
a) overwhelming. (Nineteen hundred women and fifteen men raise the decibel level to astounding levels on a regular basis.)
b) exciting. (I get to see people I haven't seen in ages and meet lots of tomorrow's best-sellers. Woohoo!)
c) intimidating. (Stephanie Laurens, Roxanne St. Claire, Janet Evanovich, Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Allison Brennan, Rachel Gibson... just a few of the people I've breathed the same oxygen as in the last few days. I wonder if they exhale talent and I can get better just by breathing it in?)
d) All of the Above.

Yeah, the correct answer is D. The conference is great. If only I hadn't left a crucial portion of my brain somewhere else. My ability to speak coherently has abandoned me completely. I've babble like an idiot more times than I can count - at my pitch, in an interview with Books-on-Board (more to come about that later - squee!)... I even introduced myself to Angela James, who edited Serengeti Heat, for crying out loud, as if she had never heard of me or wouldn't remember who I was. Because I expect to be forgettable. I'm flat-out-stunned that people actually remember me - whether from online or personal meetings. How pathetic is that?

So now, as I head off to the final day of Conferencey-goodness, wish me luck - and the return of the portion of my brain that will prevent me from babbling like a drunk monkey if they should (by some accounting error) actually call my name to receive the Golden Heart tonight.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Embrace the Shadows! Do It Now!

We take a break from our regularly scheduled RWA Conference programming to bring you this Fantablulous guest blog at the awesome (seriously, I love this blog) Embrace the Shadows Blog! We wild and crazy shifter authoresses of the wild and crazy Shifting Dreams anthology are over there today, gabbing about our inspiration. Come on by and say hello!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Let It Begin! RWA National Conference Commences

It's time! The Romance Writers of America National Conference in sunny (hot, hot, extremely hot) Washington DC is now UNDERWAY. (Okay, so technically it's not underway until later today, but I'm here, so IT'S UNDERWAY!)

I am freakishly excited about this conference. I've never been to Nationals before, so I'm braced for it to be a total zoo. Today (Tuesday, since it's late as I write this) there was much sightseeing to be had (monuments! museums!) and then the first gathering of the Golden Heart brethren (who are all women, but I like the word "brethren" so we're not gonna be gender specific).

I used to live in DC (Bethesda, MD, actually) so this is a sort of homecoming/wild-and-crazy-RWA party for me. Double delight.

Stay tuned, more to come from DC!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Favorite Things: Belated Midwest Americana Edition

  • Town Squares (especially if they are shaped like triangles) with gazebos. I love gazebos.
  • Fourth of July fireworks shows put on by community groups where everyone sits on blankets and lawn chairs in the parks or in their own front yards, waving to neighbors and being, in general, quite neighborly.
  • Drive-in movie theatres playing double features.
  • The fake corn field (weirdest sculpture garden ever) in Dublin, OH. Utterly bizarre.
  • Picnics. Especially with gingham-lined pic-a-nic baskets.
  • Hammocks. Especially hammocks that swing lazily between enormous oak trees. This is the perfect place to read on a summer afternoon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Favorite Things: Atlantic City Edition

  • Eating dinner at Bobby Flay's Steakhouse, then running into Bobby Flay at the Borgata nightclub later that night. (My partners in crime decided that he, tragically, was not a good dancer, but I didn't find his moves so appallingly bad.) We also saw that Giles guy from Dancing with the Stars. Yes, he is just as pretty in person.
  • Gazing with rapt adoration at the biceps on the hunky Australian drummer in the hunky Australian band, Jet, whilst screaming and jumping and crowding the stage (Down with the Fire Marshall!). I almost want to list this one twice. This was DEFINITELY a favorite thing.
  • The very friendly, very patient, very Jersey-Italian guy who explained craps to us even as we watched his chips trickle away to nothing. Dude, do you know what the odds are like in that game? You gotta be a masochist to play craps.
  • Blackjack tables that are full at five a.m. Full of the inebriated and the dedicated and the desperate. There is nothing like people watching at five a.m. in Atlantic City.
  • Wandering on the boardwalk on a sunny Sunday, nearly being run over by those little push-cart rickshaw thingies and posing in front of the elephant at the Trump Taj Mahal for pics I will probably later come to regret.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Leah Braemel's Birthday Bash

It's Leah Braemel's Birthday Bash and she's letting me come over to play! Stop by her blog and tell me what you like about shape-shifters, vampires, or whatever defines your favorite romance sub-genre! One lucky commenter will win a brand-spanking-new-download of Serengeti Heat!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hey Lookee, It's that Other Novella! Remember That One?

Good morning, world! I got a review today. For The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant. Remember that story? Dude, does it feel to anyone else that it released forever ago? Five months. That's positively ages! Time flies, boys and girls. Anyway, new review at Joyfully Reviewed! CHECK IT OUT.

The reviewer wanted a more sexified cover, but (okay, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to spill this, so if I get in trouble it was you guys who made me say it and I am innocent, innocent!) there was another, super gorgeous, uber-sexy cover that was considered at one point and nixed because it was totally wrong for the feel of the book. It's a comedy, y'all. And I think capturing the feel is key. I love my covers. Natalie Winters is a goddess - as I believe I may have stated once or twice in the past.

The reviewer also thought my heroine should be medicated, which had me snorting and saying, "Yeah, possibly." I guess I'm hard to offend this morning. Especially when they also said I had "laugh-out-loud humor." That is easily my favorite thing for a person to say about that book. You can get away with a lot if you tell me I made you laugh embarrassingly in public.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Good Press!

Doncha just love it when people say nice things about the romance genre? When they aren't being all snarky and condescending, (*cough, Matt Lauer interviewing Danielle Steele on the Today Show, cough*) but are actually representing popular fiction as something people with brains might actually enjoy engaging in? Isn't that neat?

USA Today has an article today about smart chicks who read & write romance. Since a couple of the smart chicks featured are two of my ALL TIME FAVORITE authors, Eloisa James & Julia Quinn, of course I had to read every word. (Coincidentally, I'm on an Eloisa kick at the moment, devouring the latest two Desperate Duchesses and have every intention of finding out What Happens in London with Julia as soon as I'm done...)

In the article, when they talk about people giving you that look when they find out you read (or write) romance, the one where they immediately lower their estimation of your IQ by fifteen points... yeah, I know that look. I was valedictorian of my high school. National Merit Scholar. Graduated from a top twenty University that is consistently ranked above several of the Ivies. I'm in freaking Mensa for chrissake. Suffice it to say, I'm smarter than your average bear. And I love romance. So stop looking at me like that!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Top Ten Obsession

Good morning, minions! I'm over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog this fine day, gabbing about release days, best seller lists, and the Top Ten Coolest Things about Being a Writer (according to yours truly). Swing by and say hi!

Friday, July 3, 2009

TAKE ME Contest

Check it out, y'all! All this month the fabulous Shelli Stevens is hosting a big ole contest at her blog! Lots of chances to win, lots of books to be won! Don't miss out, go today!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Author Interview: Robie Madison

Hello, faithful reader! Today I welcome award-winning erotic romance author Robie Madison to the blog! She's here talking about her new release, The Man of Her Dreams, a Shifting Dreams novella.

Welcome, Robie! (Applause!) I'm so glad you could join us today to give us some insight into your recent Samhain release. Now, let the interrogation begin!

When you got The Email offering to publish The Man of Her Dreams as part of Samhain's Shifting Dreams anthology, what did you do to celebrate?

You mean after I let out a victory cheer that could be heard by my writing friend all the way in Wisconsin? :) I printed out Angela James’s email telling me The Man of Her Dreams had been selected for the shifter anthology at Samhain Publishing just to make it more real. LOL Then I told my family—in case they hadn’t heard the victory cheer. Then I called or emailed a few other writer friends who’ve kept their fingers crossed for me. By the time I got to the celebratory dinner, it was a little anticlimactic. LOL

The Man of Her Dreams is quite literally about the man of Megan's dreams. What inspired you to write this novella?

New story ideas often come to me in a scene that keeps playing over and over again in my mind, adding more details each time. If you follow my blog, you know that I attended a Dream Retreat a month ago and that dreams are an important feature in several of my books.

Put those two concepts together and you have one of the inspirations behind The Man of Her Dreams, which opens with a nightmare involving a wild stallion. This nightmare sequence is one of the first scenes I wrote—so the darn thing would get out of my head! :) It is a dream the heroine, Megan Jones, is well aware she’s in, but can’t stop. Uncovering the answers behind why this nightmare haunts Megan led to a series of “what if” questions…and the rest of the story.

The Man of Her Dreams is set in a rather extraordinary locale. How important is the setting in your books?

Very. LOL Actually, this is one “problem” I had with writing The Man of Her Dreams. From the nightmare scene, I knew the story took place, at least in part, on the bank of a river. The question was—which river? I’ve been to the U.K. several times, but my memories were rather vague when it came to river banks. :) Fortunately, around this time I had a fabulous opportunity to visit Wales for two months. It wasn’t long before I discovered the village where the hero, Owain Deverell, hangs out and the river beside it—Trefriw on the banks of the Conwy.

What do you find attractive in a hero?

I’d have to say—a man who isn’t afraid to take a risk, especially when it comes to the heroine and love. :) Of course, the kinds of risks my heroes take often lead to greater conflict with the heroines! Owain Deverell’s bargain with the Fairy Queen in a bid to end his cursed existence is an excellent case in point. Owain doesn’t want Megan to learn who—or should I say what?—he really is. Oh, and his “real” identity isn’t what you think! :)

What do you look for in a heroine?

Well…I’m rather partial to spunky, kick-ass type heroines. The kind who won’t take any guff from the big, tough Alpha hero. The kind who aren’t afraid to get in the hero’s face and tell him a thing or two.

Megan Jones, the heroine of The Man of Her Dreams may appear to be a “mild-mannered” web designer, but in pursuit of some answers—and a good night’s sleep, LOL—she flies across the Atlantic to confront Owain. And that’s before she learns that he isn’t just a figment of her dreams. :)

What’s next for you? Are there more mystical shifters in the works?

Sigh, so many ideas—so little time.

Don’t know if this will be my next book, but…Owain’s best friend in The Man of Her Dreams is Rhys the Pendragon. Six four, shoulder-length black hair, piercing black eyes, brooding dragon shifter—yeah, I could definitely see me writing his story. Stay tuned. :)

Best of luck with The Man of Her Dreams and all those future shifter releases, Robie! Thank you for letting me pick your brain! Hopefully the procedure wasn't too invasive.

Read on, Dear Reader, for more about Robie's current Samhain release:

The Man of Her Dreams
by Robie Madison
ISBN: 978-1-60504-614-3

Three days. One wish. If the Fairy Queen keeps her promise…

A Sexy Shifter Story

Workaholic web designer Megan Jones exudes sensible and practical by day, but in her dreams she truly lives. Her nights are filled with erotic trysts with a dream lover—who also defends her against the dangerous wild stallion of her nightmares.

When she inherits a Victorian-era Welsh locket, she opens it to a shocking revelation. The tiny portrait of a black-haired man with a sardonic smile is none other than the man in her dreams. There’s only one way to learn the truth about him—head to her ancestral home town in Wales.

A member of the ancient race of Tylwyth Teg, Owain Deverell has spent the last 170 years suspended between man and beast—punishment for loving a human woman. Weary of his cursed existence, and longing to be more than the object of Megan’s dream desire, he strikes a bargain with the Fairy Queen. In exchange for retaining his human form, she grants him three days to win Megan’s unconditional love.

Or remain the object of her nightmares. Forever.

Click HERE to read an excerpt.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Writers Behaving Badly... AKA Epic Twitter Freak-Out

Writing is an emotional business. Like most creative individuals, we writers are very sensitive to criticisms of our "art". I actually ask my beta readers to write down their comments rather than giving them to me verbally, because I need to read them twice before I can process them rationally. My first reaction is always emotional and defensive, no matter how valid the criticism (and the criticisms are usually spot on - my beta readers kick ass). But I know this about myself and I try to keep that first knee-jerk reflex private.

That is one of the dangers of Twitter - people posting when they are in the throws of an emotionally-fueled, rationally-devoid temper-tantrum. They say things publicly that are so epically stupid there really are no words to describe that level of idiocy.

Like posting the name, phone number, and email address of someone who gave you a negative review in a major newspaper. Like this Twit.

Bad reviews sting, but it's someone's opinion! You do not start a hate-mail campaign over someone not liking you! What was she thinking? I actually like a couple of the movies made from her books and probably would have checked out her writing if I had tripped across her name in a more positive way. Now? Sorry. I have books to read from people who aren't having meltdowns in public places and sending their readers off on hate-missions. (Though I do feel a little sorry for her that the backlash from her Twitter diatribe is going to be so harsh.)

Just a couple days ago, I got a less-than-stellar review from Mrs. Giggles. Now, I didn't agree with the review, because I think she said a couple things about the book that weren't entirely accurate - she didn't like it, no problem, but what I felt was her misportrayal of the story bugged me, as I mentioned here on the blog. But I would still recommend her site (as I have done before) to those who like a little snark with their reviews (as I do). And I urge you not to send her hate mail, not to call her, and not to try to change her mind. Her review is her review. I'm grateful she took the time to review me at all. She's a busy woman. (Dude, have you seen how many books she reviews each week? She must be reading constantly.)

So yeah, just to be clear, we like Mrs. Giggles, lukewarm review and all. I'd probably like her less if she were less opinionated, so I can't exactly bitch about falling on the wrong side of her preferences without being a total hypocrite. And I try to avoid hypocrisy when possible. Just as I try to avoid knee-jerk emotional reactions that spill out into public forums. That is just never a good thing.