Friday, January 29, 2010

The Demi-God's in the Details

Warning: I'm having a hissy fit over "Chapter Five: I Play Pinochle with a Horse" from The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

While I realize Rick Riordan probably had to do a lot of research into the Greek gods when writing The Lightning Thief and was probably quite bored of it by the time it got down to researching the little human details in his story, I still think if he didn't know how pinochle was played and didn't want to bother to learn, then he should have had Percy Jackson just play freaking poker instead. Which seems to be the way it was written. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find the card game was changed in edits because a twelve-year-old gambling is verbotten, but when the changes were made, there was apparently no one hanging about who knew ANYTHING WHATSOEVER about pinochle.

Okay, yes, I am being a little irrational about this, but I grew up playing this game, so it's like Rick Riordan just ripped a piece out of my childhood and stomped all over it with his big clumsy centaur hooves! That is so not okay! Curse you, Chapter Five, and the horse you rode in on!

There are maybe half a dozen references to pinochle in this chapter and more than half of them are wrong, dammit. Such a small scene and SO MANY ERRORS. So here is my idiot's guide to how not to write a pinochle scene:

1) Four player pinochle is a partner game. Bidding is about communication with your partner to establish how much meld you have combined and how many tricks you estimate the two of you will be able to pull in actual play. Bidding cannot be taught to anyone (no matter how demi-godly) in five seconds. And when the winner is declared, there would be two. Since you have a partner. Always.

2) "Oh, a royal marriage. Trick! Trick!" There are just a few problems with this bit of dialogue. A royal marriage is meld. Meld is laid down before play commences. You win the bid, call trump (which determines whether a marriage is royal), then try to make the board by combining your meld with that of your partner. A trick is in a separate part of the game entirely - the actual play. Those two phrases would never go together in one breath. And the game would be really, really slow if you tallied up points after every trick - especially because you don't get to keep your points until you've pulled 20 counters in play. Don't pull enough counters and you get nada. You might even go backwards. (Yes, it is a vicious game. If you play lousy we will take your points away.)

3) You can never win by laying down a straight (run in trump) because laying down your straight is how you make the board with meld, not how you save your points. Also, the game is played to 500. Scoring the most points on the first hand doesn't really mean much. In order to win the game on a single hand, you must pull every single counter (which, in all the years I've played pinochle, the thousands of games I've played, I have never seen happen once).

You can't just grab a random collection of pinochle words and smash them together. Pinochle isn't a bizarre mish-mash of poker and gin rummy. Anyone who has ever played the game is going to be jolted right out of your world. Demi-gods in Manhattan? No problem. But you have to get the basics of the human world right if you are going to convince me you have the first idea what you're talking about.

Unfortunately, we can't even say the gods play pinochle differently, because Dionysus tells us specifically that pinochle is a human construction. Like PacMan. So who let that slide?

I know this is a little thing, but it made me put down the book. And it made me put it down in anger. And it would have been so easy to fix. So why? Why are they doing this to me?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Savvy Reader, Savvy Writer

Good morning, darlings! I am over at the Savvy Reader's Blog today, answering 5 Quirky Question. Ever wondered who I'd rather be best friends with: Amy Winehouse or Britney Spears? Your prayers are answered! I tell all!

Check it out:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Absentee Blogger

I've been a bad girl on the blogging front lately, and for that you have my apologies. I have a good excuse though! I've started a new project and it has swallowed me up whole. Great wonderful gobs of writing are pouring off my fingers. It's a book! And I'm writing it! How neat is that?

And, in completely unrelated and distinctly unimportant news, I have recently found Google Alerts to be a constant source of hilarity. Here's the sitch: I have a Google Alert for each of my titles - so I am notified (in theory) of any mention of my books online and can then web-stalk the perpetrators to find out what people really think of me. However, this also means I am alerted whenever those words appear in completely unrelated contexts. So every morning, I get these emails from Google Alerts that I have begun to find wildly entertaining (because I'm an odd duck).

It starts off pretty normally - The Ghost Shrink links almost always take me to references to my book. Same deal with Serengeti Heat & Serengeti Storm - though I get occasional references to actuals storms on the actual serengeti, which is kinda cool. Then, for reasons I don't quite understand, The Ghost Exterminator alert keeps trying to get me to download ringtones.

And then there's my April releases, Shifting Dreams & The Sexorcist. For Shifting Dreams, 99.9% of the links are to random people's blog-poetry. This phrase is apparently used to a freakish degree in online poetic exposition. Who knew?

The Sexorcist Google Alerts are a horse of a different color. Half the time it links to some pretty kinky stuff I'm not sure my innocent mind wants to know about. From what I've figured there must be an online sex therapist who goes by this name. The other half are links to places where I can download songs from a Necro album of the same title. I don't know who Necro is, but I have to say, they have excellent taste in titles. I might have to check out their music, since I am bombarded daily with reminders of their titular awesomeness.

It's amazing the things I never would have known about in the webverse if not for Google Alerts. Long live the random information explosion of the internet.

(And I promise to have something more substantial to say tomorrow.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

All About Romance Poll Open

Do you like romance books? Do you have opinions? Then the All About Romance Reader Poll is for you, baby.


I pretty much love this poll because the categories rock. Things like "Best Tearjerker" and "Best Kick-ass Heroine" - I love polls that compare apples to apples. (I will leave it up to you to decide whether I'm talking about fruit or computers.)

Let your voice be heard, reader-friend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cover Clash: Serengeti Storm!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Serengeti Storm is up for Cover of the Week in the Embrace the Shadows Cover Clash! You can vote for your favorite HERE. And just to remind you how un-freaking-believably gorgeous the cover is, and how superhumanly-awesome cover artist Natalie Winters is, here is a GREAT BIG PICTURE of Serengeti Storm for your viewing pleasure.

And in other cover news... I just saw the preliminary cover art for The Sexorcist and it pretty much rocked my socks right off. I'll toss it on the blog as soon as I get the official go ahead, so keep a weather eye.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Givin' Away Ebooks & Guest-Bloggin'

Today I am a busy, busy bee. Due to the vagaries of life and the Fates, I have two (count them TWO!) guest blogs today wherein I will be giving away cool stuff.

Over at the fabulous Beth Kery's blog, I'm talking about reunion romances - the one that got away, or the one that you just keep coming back to. With a shape-shifter twist, of course. Join me, leave a comment, and you could win your choice of either of the first two Serengeti novellas. (I know it says you can only win Serengeti Heat, but if you already have it, we can work something out. Wink, wink.)

AND... as if that weren't enough (and because More is Always Better)...

I'm also over at RomCon's FF&P blog. What is RomCon you ask? Well, RomCon is a brand-spanking-fresh-off-the-presses Romance Conference designed around the romance reader. Talk books, chat with authors, get recs for new auto-buys. It's in Denver this summer and it's gonna be a blast! I'm not sure my finances will let me attend, but I'm already jealous of everyone going.

And at the RomCon paranormal blog today, I'm talking about the books that are so good they stick in your brain and take up all that memory space that might be used for things - like finding your keys. I do so hope you will come by and comment today because:

1) I am giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter.
2) I'm kind of nervous. Whenever I'm on a site that has best-sellers (Marjorie Liu! Gena Showalter! MaryJanice Davidson!) blogging and then they have little ole me, I get all twitterpated and discombobulated. Wanna come hold my hand?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vote for Pedro!

We interupt our regularly scheduled Serengeti Storm pimpage to bring you hot-off-the-presses Ghost Exterminator book pimpage! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, The Ghost Exterminator: A Love Story is back in the limelight! This week at Long & Short Reviews, the little ghostbuster that could took home a FIVE (count 'em 5!) star review. Check it out!
"If you want a book that will keep you giggling and panting at the same time, with a marvelous happy ever after, this one is definitely for you."

Ain't that sweet? And you know what else this means? The Ghost Exterminator is up for Book of the Week at LASR! Oooooh, aaaaaaaah. You can vote for your favorite here:
Rock the vote, fans of Jo & Wyatt! Or really, rock the vote for whichever book rocks your socks. I've heard some very good things about a couple of the competitors.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Life Steps In...

I had a couple more guest blog/giveaway thingies set up for this week, but sometimes life wallops a person and these things get postponed. Is it just me or are there a disproportionate number of crises at the moment? What is up with the universe right now?

Good luck to everyone coping with the unexpected this month and check back next week, reader-friend, for more giveaways on MONDAY, MONDAY, MONDAY!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Family Affair

My family is extremely supportive of the writing thing. My mom reads everything I write. One of my aunts is one of my beta readers. Even my grandparents have been known to page through my books. And then there's my dad. He doesn't read romance generally (being more of a Robert Ludlum/Ken Follett reader) and, well, he's my dad, so I'd just as soon he not read the racy scenes I write. But he finds other ways to be wonderfully supportive.

I discuss my works in progress with my mother, describing the characters, the setting, the plotlines I'm planning in my head. But my dad's involvement comes a bit later in the process. He's an engineer and a businessman. He likes the numbers and the linear, analytical side of things. He wants to know about percentages, royalties, list prices, ratings, distribution and everything about writing that can be quantified.

My father loves lists. At any given moment on any given day, he is a dozen times more likely than I am to know what my Amazon sales ranking for each of my books is. He knows when the My Bookstore & More list refreshes each night. If I call to tell him about some list I hit, he already knows. It's pretty awesome.

So in honor of lists, I'm giving away a stack of books by some ladies who've made much more important lists than little ole me. Bestsellers UP FOR GRABS, y'all.

These books are going to one commenter (w/US mailing addy) who tells me who their favorite author is. I'm always on the lookout for new awesomeness, so recommend me someone awesome. (And absolutely no telling me it's me. There will be no sucking up, people! I wouldn't believe you anyway.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Villainy Unmasked

Today I'm at the Samhellion Blog, talking about villains - are they pure evil or just misunderstood? Do you have a favorite villain? Someone you just love to see be bad?

Leave me a comment here and tell me who your villain of choice is. One lucky commenter will win these three Romantic Suspense novels (chock full o' villainy!).

(Winner must have a US mailing address where I can send the books. Sorry, my international friends!)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Release Day!

Serengeti Storm is here! Which means I'm holding my breath until I turn blue, waiting to find out if it lives up to expectations. Blue is such a flattering color on me, you know.

In addition to the breath-holding, I am also at the Samhain Cafe today posting lots of excerpts and generally gabbing about the book. Ask me a question, any question and I will answer it.

So far, the most common question seems to be "Why Shana?" People who read Serengeti Heat didn't like her. Well, yeah, she's a total bitch. But she's the way she is for a reason... and even manipulative felines need lovin'. So, yes, Zoe's story is coming, but give Shana a try. She may surprise you. And if you really hate her, you can always send me hate mail. I've never gotten hate mail before, so the experience would be novel.

And, just in case you wanted a giggle, Amazon has listed Serengeti Storm as a Western. It takes place in Texas, yes, but there are no cowboys and a bunch of people change into lions. Western, Paranormal, Western, Paranormal... I can see how it's easy to mix those two up. Hopefully readers aren't disappointed by the lack of spurs.

Be sure to visit tomorrow thru Friday, reader-friend, when I'll be giving away scads of books.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Three Awesome Things for a Monday:

1. Pride & Prejudice in emoticons. Cuz it's funny, y'all. Hella funny.
2. Fellow Samhain authors Moira Rogers & Keith Melton are squaring off in a battle royale! (Which appears to mostly feature Sesame Street and LOL Cats. I'm a sucker for LOL Cats.) View the funny.
3. Serengeti Storm is Now Available at MBaM!!! Can I get a woot woot? Check it out!

Onward Sisyphus!

Today I'm at the Damned Scribbling Women blog where I will be talking about how each book makes me grow as a writer and giving away a copy of Janet Evanovich's How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author. Join me!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Okay, I know you wanna know who won already, but can I just take a second to say how much you guys rock? The comments, the tweets - what a great way to start off Release Week! Now, without further ado...

Randomly selected from our commenting and tweeting entrants, the WINNER IS:

Maria! (queen of all she reads)

Congratulations! Please, email me at to let me know which ebook format you would like. Everyone else, I hope you'll be back later this week as I'm giving away MORE STUFF.

Happy reading, everyone.

Storm Warning

It's here! Ladies and gentlemen, the week has arrived! It's RELEASE WEEK!!! Serengeti Storm hits the virtual shelves on Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday!

Are you ready to head back to West Texas to see how hot it can get at the Three Rocks Ranch during a winter storm? (Disclaimer: I had nothing to do with the freakishly cold weather down south these last few weeks. Don't blame me!)

The bitch is back, and nothing gets in her way. Except her own heart…

Serengeti Shifters, Book 2

Shana Delray is hissing mad. The pride’s Alpha has chosen a mate—and it’s not her. Bred to be his consort, she’s not going to let some runt of the litter take her destined place—no matter how much ass she has to kick in the process.

Her way back into the pride is Caleb Minor—her former lover, the Alpha’s loyal enforcer…and the runt’s brother. And if she has to go through Caleb to get what she wants, so be it. She’ll do whatever it takes to pry the little usurper out of her way.

Caleb’s familiarity with Shana’s manipulative ways serves him well when he’s assigned to keep the seething she-cat in line. A nearly impossible task, as he’s forced to use his body—in more ways than one—to save her from herself. Now if only he can save his battered heart from the explosive desire that isn’t as dormant as he’d thought.

Caleb’s stronger now. Tougher and harder. And, to Shana’s fury, he won’t be used. The harder she pushes, the more she finds her heart yielding…and suddenly she wonders if she can somehow win back the man she spent a decade trying to destroy…

Warning: This book contains manipulations and power plays (in and out of the bedroom), a naughty kitten who deserves a good spanking, and a second chance at that first love.

Read an Excerpt :: Pre-Order

All this week, in honor of Serengeti Storm's releasey goodness, I'm giving stuff away. What sort of stuff, you may ask? Well, allow me to elucidate.

I am a writer-chicky. Which means periodically I go to writer conferences. At these writer conferences, people give me big ole bags of goodies - among them, books! What do I do with these books? I read them, of course. But there are times when I either a) already have a copy of said book or b) am never, ever, ever gonna read it. (Option "b" books almost always feature the ookie serial killer villains who creep me the hell out and I cannot, cannot, cannot read them. Cuz I'm a wuss like that.) Anyway, I end up with books that need homes. Happy, loving homes.

That's where you come in. This week I'm giving away some books. Books by authors I love, love, love so much I have multiple copies of everything they've ever written already... and books I know I'm never gonna read that I would like to see others get enjoyment out of because they are quite likely marvelous examples of their genre.

But today, instead of giving away someone else's book, I'm giving away a copy of mine. An advanced copy of Serengeti Storm. Read it before anyone else has a chance to buy! All you have to do to be entered is either 1) comment here telling me why you wanna read it or 2) retweet me (if you're on Twitter - new, exciting possibility for giving stuff away!). A winner will be chosen at midnight EST. Good luck!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shifter News & Reverse Stalkerism

Guess what? It's official! Serengeti Lightning, #3 in the Serengeti Shifters series will be coming out with Samhain Publishing later this year. The dotted lines have all been signed. Woohoooooo! This one is about Ava & Caleb's youngest brother Michael & naughty schoolteacher Mara. More details to come...

Where will those details be? Why on the Death-By-Purple Website, of course! I'm actually thinking it's time to give the Death-by-Purple Website a facelift. When I first launched that puppy (low, these many moons ago) I didn't have much in the way of content. Now I feel like I have a surfeit (yeah, you heard it, I said surfeit) of content, but am lacking on the organization and user-friendliness.

I think I'm going to keep the overall (freakishly-purple) look. Partly because purple is my school color (Go Cats!) and partly because I tend to freak out when websites I frequent drastically change their look. Lately Dear Author has been messing with my mind by changing their theme on an almost daily basis as they try to find one that is wonderful and pretty without crashing their servers. My changes will be mostly having to do with navigability and fonts. Because I am currently infatuated with a new font. (Puppy-love at the moment, but who knows where this character devotion will lead?)

And in unrelated news, Hello, you! Yes, you! I know you're there. I can seeeeee you. (Creeped out, yet?)

So, the other day I got to feeling like I was talking into a void. I started to wonder if my blog is essentially me talking to myself, so I opened up my website-stats-tracking-program-thingy and There You Were! There are actually quite a few of you, my silent lurker visitors. Now, I'm not going to try to get you to break your vows of silence. I just wanted to make sure you were acknowledged and welcomed. So hello and welcome!

Fair warning: Next week there will be a couple contests and if you wanna win stuff, you're gonna have to comment. But if you don't wanna win stuff, I hope you still come by and silently loom, because I love having you here. Even if the only people who know you're here are you, my stats-tracker, and (when I bother to check my stats-tracker) me. Happy lurking, darlings!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Too Much Freedom

Hello, boys and girls. Are you having a happy new year?

This year, in the season of newfound (and often all-too-temporary) resolve, I find myself in an unusual position. I'm trying to plan for the new year, really I am, but I can't seem to make up my mind what I want 2010 to bring... which makes it a lot harder to plan for it.

I'm gonna be writing, I know that much. But where will I live? Will I be traveling or will I settle somewhere for a while? Stay here in Alaska or bounce off to my next nomadic destination? Which has more appeal: A desk with all my writing stuff set up around it or a laptop on a plane? I don't know!

I love being able to plot and plan my future - even if life reroutes my plans more often than not. This not-knowing, not-planning, plotless phase I'm in has me all tangled up and uneasy. I have designed my life around having the freedom to do whatever I want, but what happens when you don't know what you want?

I feel like these decisions would be so much easier if I had stricter parameters - a job that required me to stay in one place, a mortgage, a spouse, two-point-two kids. Having none of these, I am footloose, fancy-free, and utterly confused.

Is there such a thing as too much freedom? Decisions can seem so much harder when the only determining factor is whim. (And you may now throw rotten tomatoes or any other unsavory edible you can find at me. I know I am spoiled beyond belief to be complaining about having too many choices. Whine, whine, whine.)

So what should I do? What would you do? Flit around the globe? Or should I plant myself in the hopes that some of life's delightful roots might finally manage to tangle themselves around me? Do I have to stand still for the spouse/mortgage/kids life to catch up to me?

Boston? Chicago? Sydney? London? Lubock? Advise me. I'm begging here. What should my new year bring?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Yesterday I joined Goodreads. I was giddy about the prospect - a community revolving around books! Reading challenges! People who understand my joy when I squeal with delight at the prospect of another Eloisa James or Kresley Cole! Goodreads is my kind of place.

But then I signed on and they wanted me to rate books. Just like that. Pfft! My momentum was gone. My concern was not that I didn't have opinions about those books (oh, boy, do I ever have opinions). My concern was that my happy-happy author persona could not be seen to dislike any of them. I can despise Book X with the fire of a thousand suns, but Vivi Andrews is supportive of other authors and their escritorial efforts - all of them.

We are told, as authors, that professionalism is paramount... but somewhere along the line, professionalism got muddled in with "Thou shalt not say a single negative thing about anything ever." Which is so fake! And so bland.

I love to gush about books I love, but I also love to bitch about the ones that make resounding contact with my wall during the reading experience. I have opinions! Strong opinions. But if I publicly broadcast them, will I be tarred as unprofessional?

No book is going to be universally liked - but I feel like I'm not allowed to be the one who doesn't like it. Reading is so subjective. So personal. But how do you marry the personal and the professional without sacrificing one?

Since I am representing my "brand" as an author, am I even allowed to have opinions? Where does the business end and I begin? I don't believe in going through life restraining yourself, self-censoring in the hope of being universally loved, but it is such a tricky line to find - how to be sincere, but professional, opinionated, but leave a positive footprint on your industry.

Got any advice?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One Week Til Serengeti Storm! ...and WTF?

Let the countdown begin! We are now one, yes ONE, week away from the ebook release of Serengeti Storm, the second lion-shifter novella. Can I get a woohoo, people?

In the grand tradition of releases, there will be guest blogs & interviews... there might be a giveaway or two... and there will be much squeeing and gushing here at the blog. Consider yourself warned.

And in completely unrelated news...

The rules of what you can and cannot take onto airplanes have reached a new level of weird (aka epic stupidity). Check out the funny: No books? This is a joke right? You're punking me. I get it. Ha-ha-ha. No? Seriously? Wow. That's... so ludicrous I can't even put it into words. I think there isn't more of an uproar because who would believe anyone would actually indulge that level of idiocy?

On the plus side? They don't appear to be banning electronics... so don't forget your Kindle. Much less aircraft-threatening than paper, doncha know.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

For No Apparent Reason...

I started thinking about words that I use way too much today. Not in my writing. In my speech. They are words and phrases I actually can't use in my writing because I use them so much I actually think of them as me-isms and therefore since I am not writing stories about myself, it would be really weird if my characters said them. Especially if they said them as often as I do. Right?

Here is a short list of my daily-use words (in no particular order):
  • slice of awesome
  • Jeez-ma-crow
  • cool beans
  • wonky
  • whacked out
  • dumb as a box of rocks
  • rockstar
  • that/he/she/it rocks so hard and/or rocks my socks (can also be used as a question e.g. "how hard does that rock?")

And lots and lots of "the swearz" that are not appropriate for public consumption.

I think I cycle through words. I remember freshman year of college we called everything "A-maaaay-zing." Now, I don't think I call anything amazing anymore. I wonder what my most popular phrases will be this time next year?

What about you? Do you have any you-isms?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Avatar pretty much Pocahontas on steroids. I'm talking about the awe of the film and the dynamics of world-building today at the Raven Happy Hour Blog. Join me!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: Year of Awesome

Happy New Year!

Okay, so I know 2009 wasn't great for everyone, but it rocked pretty hard for me. I had my first story published in ebook and then in print. I actually started making money for my writing and I quit my day job (though the two aren't precisely related - I'm still a little fish in the writing pond). My second novella and first full length novel also hit the virtual shelves - proving that first one wasn't a total fluke. I won the Golden Heart (which was freaking surreal) and reviewers & readers seem to be liking my stories for the most part. So 2009? Year of Awesome, baby.

Can 2010 live up to the precedent 2009 has set? I don't know, but it looks pretty darn good so far. Serengeti Storm is coming out in less than two weeks and so far y'all seem almost as super-psyched as I am. In April, the Shifting Dreams print antho comes out AND the next Karmic Consultants debaucle, The Sexorcist, hits ereaders. After that, keep an eye out for Serengeti Lightning to continue the lion-shifter saga later this year AND... well, I'm not exactly sure what AND, but I do know, for absolute certain, that there will be an AND. I'm going to make that AND happen.

Better get my butt in gear. That AND is waiting on me.