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: 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...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bright Sunshiny Day

What's better than a hotly anticipated blockbuster? How about the little film you've never even heard of that turns out to be deeply awesome. Thanks to the magic of DVR, I saw this movie called Sunshine the other day. Have you heard of it? I'm usually pretty tuned in to what's coming out in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, so I'm surprised this one slipped past me.

The Premise: The sun is dying. A team of astronauts are being sent with a payload including all the fissile materials left on earth to set off a nuclear bomb inside the sun, therefore "restarting" it.

On hearing that, I rolled my eyes, visualizing some ridiculous, campy, disaster film like The Core. Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered Sunshine is a very different sort of movie altogether. A nuanced sci-fi character drama. Subtle, smart and electric.

The first clue that I was getting something more than just camp was the name of the spaceship. Icarus II. What I loved was the fact that they didn't insult the viewer's intelligence by over-explaining the significance of the name. They simply stated that the first Icarus mission had failed. It had gotten too close to the sun, beyond the range of communication, and they'd never heard from it again. So Icarus II was the second desperate attempt at what was already a risky proposal.

And Icarus? The boy of mythic wax-winged fame, who flew too close to the sun, melted his wings and fell to his death? What better name could there be for a mission whose basic premise is the hubris of overruling nature by restarting the sun?

The story opens right before our intrepid astronauts are about to leave communication range with Earth. They know these will be the last messages they send and the odds of their safe return are variable. They will likely never receive a response for the messages they are about to send (though they still believe there is a chance they will make it back to Earth after completing their mission).

It is the characters who truly make this story sing. The psychologist who gets his kicks by staring in to the sun (through a shield, of course) and walks through the entire film sunburned. The crew member who's slightest mistake can turn into a suicide risk, when viewed through the filter of the salvation of all of mankind. The pressure bearing down on this team is phenomenal. They are brilliant, picked for this mission for their knowledge of astrophysics, nuclear physics, or astronavigation, but they are human, with the weight of all humanity resting on them.

The immortality of youth is faced with the hard realities of hard choices in the face of true species extinction. A god complex, a hero complex, and an unholy terror at the idea of failure all rolled into one.

I have to recommend this intricate and well thought out sci-fi character drama about the seemingly ridiculous idea of restarting the sun. Yeah, it gets a little... odd in the last half hour, taking an unexpected turn in a more thriller direction, but all in all, Sunshine was some pretty rockin' sci fi. An unexpected treat.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Too Supportive?

In my speech for the Golden Heart, I thanked my family and friends, describing them as "sometimes too supportive." It occurred to me, as those words were coming out of my mouth, that maybe I should have phrased that differently. (For the record: Impromptu speaking in front of two thousand people = not recommended... as I believe I may have mentioned about two million times already.)

I am incredibly lucky to have an amazingly supportive network of friends and family. (Does anyone else think that sentence sounded like it should be part of a wireless phone commercial?) But there are times when the cheerleading of my supporters gets so loud, it's hard to hear the reality that I've still got a lot of room for improvement.

My family doesn't really do "tough love." My mom loves every book I've ever written (and some of them were just dreadful). It's hard to get an accurate idea of where I fit in the grand-writing-scheme of things when my mom tells me I'm just as good as Jennifer Crusie. (Go ahead and laugh. I get a little snort of laughter every time she tries to sell me that one. The Divine Miss J? I don't think so. I'm not even in the same zip code.)

This well-meant blowing of smoke up nether regions extends beyond my immediate family. Writers groups are marvelously supportive places, but that may not always be a good thing. When your website is a travesty or you are making a grievous career misstep, are they going to tell you that? Or are they going to support you all the way to your next self-sabotaging behavior? We need more than just rubber stamps and yes men. We need people to kick us in the butt when we need it and tell us when we are being idiots.

And God forbid someone should say something negative about a book! With a few notable exceptions (Smart Bitches, Dear Author, Mrs. Giggles), review sites are so gloriously supportive of our books that it's hard to figure out which ones they really like. I love having people tell me they like my book, but if they wax poetic absolutely everything they read... well, I'm more discriminating than that. And the praise would mean more to me if they were too.

I'm glad I have an editor who will tell me when I need to go back to the drawing board (though sometimes I secretly worry that she's too easy on me). Revisions are designed to make us better, not tear us down. When someone asks me to do better, sure it may sting a bit at first, but I know it's the best thing for me and I'm grateful.

I am capable of more. I won't shatter if more is demanded of me.

I know it seems strange to be complaining about being wrapped up in warm fuzzies, but honesty is paramount for me. Sometimes the honest answer is that I'm not the greatest thing since sliced bread. And that's okay too. It's good actually. I'm still learning. And I need the pressure to try harder. Sometimes we need people who believe in our potential just as much as we do the people who value what we've already achieved.

And when (fingers crossed, knock on wood) I'm a big name, when best seller lists lie down and beg for mercy when they see me coming, I hope I have someone - editor, agent, crit partner - who will kick my butt if I lose my way and start churning out formula pulp. I think one of the worst things a writer can have is the level of success where the people around you turn into giant rubber stamps.

So here's to rejections, revisions, and criticism. Long may they reign.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Handful of Books

Five! Five is a beautiful number. Hold up all your fingers. Isn't that fun? I've been doing that all week, and now that the ink is dry, I can tell you why (and it ain't cuz I want to be in a Subway commercial).

I sold my fifth book to Samhain!

The third Karmic Consultants story will release as an ebook this spring. It's gonna be a busy year. The Ghost Exterminator this month. The Tickle My Fantasy print anthology in December. Serengeti Storm in January. And now, both the Shifting Dreams print anthology and a new Karmic Consultants ebook in April.

I've certainly got plenty to be thankful for, so a big ole HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all you Canadians out there. Enjoy your holiday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ebb and Flow

You know what bugs me, as a reader? This new trend where everything has to be all-action-all-the-time because we, as readers, have been immunized by the internet, television and movies to have short attention spans and want every moment to be an I-can't-put-it-down moment. What happened to good ole ebb and flow?

I'm reading this book, which shall remain nameless, in which the heroine is "startled nearly to death" by the loud noise some makes pounding on a door. The funny thing is this: she is watching the person pound on the door. So she should have expected a noise, just not the volume.

Maybe it's just me, but "startled nearly to death" doesn't leave you far to go in the amping-up-the-dramatic-tension department. By making even the most innocuous scenes into Def Con One, the really dramatic scenes lose impact. She was scared nearly to death by a loud noise... so how am I supposed to feel when she's fighting for her life ten pages later? I've stopped feeling anything about this book and these characters because the author wants me to feel so much all the time. Every second is high drama, high tension.

Of course, the opposite can be an issue too. I watched There Will Be Blood last night. Two and a half hours that felt like four. Perhaps I was in the wrong mood for it. I just didn't have patience for long slow scenes with characters I didn't like. Huge long stretches of nothing happening were punctuated by moments of action and character interaction, but I couldn't make myself care about it when things were actually happening because my brain checked out during the extended pointless scenes of characters walking or swimming or just sitting. There were long stretches where the drama was so understated as to be nearly non-existent.

You know what movie was great at maintaining tension through long, slow scenes? Inglorious Bastards. It was surprisingly subtle, the way the tension flared through the silences. The inherent drama of each situation was played out to perfection. Even though very little was happening on an overt level, there was so much there. (Or maybe I just thought that because it's Quentin Terrantino and I knew gore might errupt at any moment.)

So the trick seems to be in finding the balance. The ebb and flow between too much and too little. It can't be all adrenaline all the time or the reader will burn out and lose interest. Even that Jason Statham movie where he has to keep his heartrate up or he dies has moments - albeit brief ones - of tension release.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

RWA Photo Journal #2 - RITA/Golden Heart Awards Ceremony

My pictorial accounting of the RWA National Conference continues... it's Saturday, the day of the big ole RITA/Golden Heart Awards Ceremony.

Photo #13: At the Golden Heart Rehearsal thingy, I see The Room. It's... uh... kinda big. (This photo is taken from beneath the giant floating head screen.)

Photo #14: Kelly Fitzpatrick and I primp for Awards Night and this is the result. I couldn't make my hair do anything I wanted it to all night. *sigh*

Photo #15: We arrive early (because we're supposed to and I'm nothing if not an obeyer of rules - when I like the rules). The room is slowly starting to fill. Please note 1) the room is freaking huge. Yes, that is the screen on which people's giant floating heads are projected. And 2) everyone who is already seated is texting. Yee-haw technology.
Before the ceremony starts, I go a little nuts and take pictures of everyone...

Photo #16: It's Sara Ramsey & Terry!

Photo #17: Jenn Bray-Weber looks too gorgeous for words seven months pregnant. (This is a very early shot of her precious little girl.)

Photo #18: Heather McCollum and her kilt-wearing hubby. (I know, I know, I should have gotten a shot of the kilt. Mea culpa.)

Photo #19: Me and Amanda Brice.

Photo #20: Best Picture Ever! Is it me and Sara Ramsey? Why, yes, it is. But what's this? Who's that in the background? Could that possibly be ELOISA-areyoufreakingkiddingme-JAMES and JULIA-ohmyfreakinggod-QUINN sitting right behind us? Why, yes. I do believe it is. (And we totally knew they were back there and slouched down as much as we could to try to squeeze them into the shot. Fan-obsessed? Okay, maybe a little.)

The ceremony commences.

Photo #21: Sara looks like a rockstar giving her speech. She sounds poised and fabulous.

Photo #22: I look like an idiot giving my speech. What the hell kind of face is that to make? I must have made it the entire time because every picture of me looks like that. Ugh.

Photo #23: Oooooh... Is that a Golden Heart? Or, dare I say, two?

Photo #24: Doesn't Shelli Stevens look fabulous?

Photo #25: Look, Ma! It's a speech! Note: The scribbling random words on your palm method is not a recommended speech-giving procedure.

Photo #26: Because Golden Heart Winners are totally dignified. Heh. Yeah. Dignified.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

RWA Conference Photo Journal

Okay, this took a couple months for me to get around to posting, but I will now attempt to make up for my tardiness by being brilliant and witty as I narrate the pictorial proof that I was really there.

Tuesday... Sightseeing:
Photo #1: Even though I used to live in DC, I tag along on a sightseeing blitz of the National Monuments guided by the fabulous Ms. Amanda Brice, 2008 & 2009 Golden Heart Finalist in the YA category (she's the one on the far right... at least, I think it's right. Do you know your right from your left? Am I the only one who flunked that part of kindergarten?). Along with Shelli Stevens, Crystal Jordan, Loribelle Hunt, and Robin L. Rotham, we take on the National Mall and emerge victorious (and exhausted).

Photo #2: Washington just isn't Washington without a giant phallic symbol.

Photo #3: Amanda and I ham it up with The Ruby Slippers, as members of the Sisterhood should.

Photo #4: George Washington was a stud without his shirt. Who knew?

Photo #5: Following our Capitol tour, Amanda & Robin rejoice in finding the dastardly nail scissors which would have been a threat to our national security if we had taken them inside the building.

Golden Heart Dinner:
Photo #6: Later Tuesday Night. I meet up with the other Golden Heart finalists for the first time. Tamara Hogan, Jenn Bray-Weber, Amy Talley and Cate Rowan keep me laughing all night long.
I forgot my camera on Wednesday & Thursday during the day. On Tuesday night, I went to a midnight showing of Harry Potter with some old non-writing chums from DC. Got to bed after four. Then it was time for the Golden Network Retreat on Wednesday afternoon, where the editor & agent panel reviewed some query letters for us - so illuminating! Afterwards Kelly Fitzpatrick and I breezed through the Literacy Signing, but decided it was too overwhelming to wade through and we needed sustenance! We chatted with the lovely Elise Chidley (Rita nominee) well into the evening.

Thursday was conference, conference, conference! Opening session with Janet Evanovich, RWA Annual General Meeting (which lead me to muse that if you want to change the rules, it is important to actually know the rules and the legal procedures for changing them), Keynote luncheon with Linda Howard (cows and crazies!), workshops... it's a busy day. That night, I get gussied up for the Finally a Bride award presentation. Kelly goes along as my date when they give me my weaponry... er, engraved cake knife and server. Then it's off to the Golden Network Desert Reception.

Photo #7: Ain't we cute? Kelly Fitzpatrick and I in our Thursday Best.

Photo #8: The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood pose pretty, showing off those red shoes at the Golden Network reception.
We then retreat back to the bar (Mecca at a romance conference) where we chat up the marvelous Ms. Sara Ramsey and her cohort, Terry. We also run into Jess Granger and Angie Fox... the latter of whom inspires a fangirl moment where my brain evaporates and I turn into a blithering idiot. Sadly, I do not think Angie Fox was impressed by my inability to form a coherent sentence in her presence. We later hit the Moonlight Madness Bazaar briefly before calling it a night and admitting defeat...

Operating under the We Don't Need No Stickin' Sleep Theory, I am up early again on Friday. Breakfast, PAN Retreat, Workshops, Luncheon with speaker Eloisa James, pitch with Chris Keeslar, Golden Heart Reception thingy where they give me my certificate of Golden Heartiness (there was a dude taking pictures... where are those pictures? Your guess is as good as mine.), then on to the Samhain Wine Reception:

Photo #9: Shelli Stevens and a mystery guest (my memory for faces just sucks) at the Samhain Wine Reception.

Photo #10: Yes, I forced Kelly to come with me. Isn't she nice? She didn't kick or scream much at all!

Photo #11: Here I am chatting with Cate Rowan. Notice how I look like I've been run over by a cement mixer? I'm so tired by this point I can barely form a coherent sentence... or rather I can't form a coherent sentence, which meant bad things during my pitch earlier that day.

A Note on the Importance of Sleep: Sleep is necessary. Really really necessary. If you do not get sleep, your brain will start to shut off non-crucial portions. Luckily, this means it will keep you breathing and ambulatory. Unluckily, this means it will no longer allow you access to the part that comes up with pithy, clever answers when people ask you in depth questions about your books... say, at a pitch session. Or perhaps it will shut off the facial recognition function. And you'll forget who people are... say, editors you've met before. So yeah. GET SOME SLEEP.

After a late workshop Friday night, I give up on being social, go home and SLEEP. I sleep in late Saturday morning, making it to my second pitch with not a second to spare. I am brilliant (sorta). Afterwards, I head off to more workshops but then...

Photo #12: FIRE! It's an epidemic. This is the second conference I've been to where a workshop has been halted due to a sudden threat of incineration. We are just too hot to handle, baby.

Okay, I'm gonna have to break this into multiple posts. More photos from the RWA National Conference and specifically the Golden Heart Awards Ceremony tomorrow.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Whether Tis Nobler in the Mind to e-Pub...

So I was reading this blog today called "Holding Out: Why the Golden Heart is One Factor in My Decision Not to E-Publish" and I had a whole host of reactions to it. First off: NO FLAME WAR. We like L.A. Mitchell. We (using the royal 'we' here) think she made some rational points, presented in a thoughtful manner which was not overly condemnatory toward the e-pub option. Yay!


Made up statistics piss me off. I realize that people respond well to numbers and statistics. It makes the arguments quantifiable - and therefore easier to prove. But if your numbers are made the fuck up, you and I are going to have a small problem. My inner math geek will puff up like the Incredible Hulk and attack your numbers with the vengeance of logic. Rrroowr.

Evidently, an "optimistic" look at epublishing shows exposure as 500. So all those people past the first 500 who've read my stuff? They don't know who wrote it! Oh, no! And every time you final in the GH your exposure is 15,000 people. No idea where this number comes from. Especially since the entire RWA membership numbers around 10,000. So even supposing that everyone in the RWA is avidly following this contest (which stretches probabilities quite a bit) there are still 5,000 unaccounted for "exposures" out there. Okay, so let's say only half the membership are interested, and each of them tell two other people the names of every single finalist. Fine. We'll give you fifteen thousand. Here comes the fun part. Final twice? Just double that number, baby! 30,000! You won't be exposed to the same people again. Oh, no! The entire membership will have changed and you will get 15,000 brand spanking new exposures! I hate made up math.

The argument might not seem quite as cut and dry if you leave the numbers out, but I would prefer that to using fake ones. The important arguments are not easy. Which publisher (e or otherwise) to submit to is an individual decision which each writer has to make. I just don't think presenting the information in a mathematically faulty manner helps.

(In L.A.'s defense here: she is referring to her experiences not mine. To my knowledge she has a short story in a Wild Rose anthology on which she is basing her e-pub stats and I can only assume her Golden Heart exposures are far greater than my own. It seems likely she was pounding the pavement more than I was, after the finalist announcement. And likely that she's counting repeat exposures to the same person as unique hits...)

There are good contracts and bad in both "New York" and "e" publishing. A writer needs to do her research and be savvy about the market - whichever route she chooses.

I just don't understand, when digital publishing is a growth area in the industry, why e-publishers have been lumped together and declared the whipping boy. What is with that?

Some e-presses have failed as businesses. True. But if a New York press suddenly went out of business, would we all start screaming that all New York presses were terrible and unreliable? Perhaps we would. People are weird, man.

It's a messy argument. But an interesting one.

So, um, what's the opposite of "holding out"? Is "holding out" like waiting for marriage? Wow, I'm like the super-slut of the romance community then. I just keep giving it up to Samhain, over and over and over again. Makes me feel kinda naughty. All those virtuous authors waiting for their big New York payday shake their heads and mutter, "She seemed like such a nice girl."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Banned Books

Oops! It's Banned Books Week and I almost missed it!

To celebrate "Censorship? We don't need no stinkin' censorship!" Kaye Chambers and I will be chatting it up at the Samhain Cafe today at 6pm EST. Much fun to be had... and maybe a book or two being given away. Swing on by and say hello!

UPDATE: In honor of Banned Books Week, I'm having a mini-contest. Send an email to by midnight tonight (EST) and tell me which of my books you think is most likely to be banned and why. I'll randomly select a winner who will receive that ban-worthy book. Good luck!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Good Month

October is awesome. Have you noticed that everywhere you look these days there is something Halloweeny going on? Scavenger Hunts and blog parties are just the beginning, my dears. And what could make the month of spooky delights even more delightful? Why, books, of course! October is chock full of new release goodness. Check out some of this month's offerings:

Angelic Avenger
by Kaye Chambers

Samhain Publishing - October 6th (ebook)

Kaye Chambers and I met at the Moonlight & Magnolia Conference (lo, these many years ago...) on the day before she won the Maggie Award for the best paranormal unpublished manuscript. When she later let me read her Maggie manuscript, I remember telling her I was glad we were already friends because I would have been a useless fangirl if I met her after I read that book.

That story is now finding it's way into reader's hands for the first time. Angelic Avenger is a clever, unique spin on the angels and demons we think we know. Bella is a dynamic heroine who deftly navigates a world made complex by karmic retribution and a cast of supernatural rebels.

I'd like to think I'd love this book just as much if it weren't written by one of my best friends, but hey, I'm biased and I know it. So I'm just going to say, I hope you love it even half as much as I do. (And swing by this Tuesday for an interview with Kaye Chambers here on the blog!)

Bite My Fire
by Mary Hughes

Samhain Publishing - October 27th (ebook)

From the hilarious author of Biting Nixie comes this prequel to that delicious caper. Bite My Fire tells the story of Elena & Bo and had me jumping out of my chair squealing, "Yes, yes, yes!" when I saw it was going to be released this month.

Badass vampire meets even-more-badass cop chick. A murder investigation amid hilarity and snark - it's my kind of book, baby.

Come on back to Meier's Corners, or visit it for the first time. Bite My Fire is guaranteed to be a wild ride. I, for one, can't wait to read Ms. Mary Hughes' latest.

Deep Kiss of Winter
by Gena Showalter & Kresley Cole

October 13th (Hardcover)

Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series is my crack. Gena Showalter's Alien Huntress series is my smack. The combination of these drugs - two novellas, by these two goddesses, in one anthology - might be more than my system can handle, but I'm gonna go for it anyway.

Though, I must confess, I had a "Hardcover? Son of a..." moment when I saw the format this puppy was being released in. When I see a combo like this one, my joy is a living thing, but it can be bludgeoned to death by a $21.99 price tag. Why must the publishers gouge their loyal readers this way? I know hardcover is supposedly better, but I like my cozy little paperbacks. *sigh*

Still, it's Kresley Cole & Gena Showalter. You can bet I'm ponying up the cash.

Never After
by Laurell K. Hamilton, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn & Sharon Shinn

October 27th (paperback)

Laurell K. Hamilton & Marjorie M. Liu are both autobuys for me, so putting them together in an anthology? Well, that just means I'll be opening my local Barnes & Noble that morning.

Add to that the fact that this anthology is all about turning faerie tales upside down... oh, mama. Princesses on dangerous quests, Sounds dark and delicious, doesn't it? Yep, I'm psyched. You psyched?

Oh... and The Ghost Exterminator: A Love Story releases in ebook October 27th, too. Not a bad month, eh?

So, tell me, what fall releases have you in reading bliss? What books are you most looking forward to?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Win Cool Stuff!

I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again: Scavenger Hunts are by far my favorite type of contest. I get such a sense of validation out of filling in those little answers. It must be a throwback to my school days and a lingering teacher's pet syndrome. Whatever the cause, I get a little shiver of excitement whenever I see a scavenger hunt and October, that month o' tricks and treats opens with a doozie: It's the Raven Halloween Hunt!

(Is that a sexy graphic or what? Doesn't it just make you feel all witchy?)

This is gonna be a big month, boys and girls. The Ghost Exterminator: A Love Story hits the shelves, along with a bunch of other hotly anticipated books. I'll be babbling more about those in days to come, but for now, Go! Hunt! Win!

And have fun.

Oh, and while you're at it... check out Nikki Duncan's October Blog Party! One lucky winner will take home an Simplicit E-Reader already loaded with a bunch of fabulous ebooks!

It's gonna be a great month, folks.