Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lightning Two Week Countdown!

T-minus 2 Weeks until Serengeti Lightning hits the virtual shelves, y'all! Are you psyched? Cuz me? I'm psyched.

In the third installment of the Serengeti Shifters series (disclaimer: these books actually take place in West Texas, not, you know, on the Serengeti), we return to the Three Rocks Pride and dig into the love-lives of the youngest Minor brother, Michael, and the pride's schoolteacher Mara (who, is a lioness and also what is known in the popular vernacular as a "cougar", hee hee).

In trying to decide what to say about the book, I'm thinking I'll let you, the reader, dictate. Tell me in the comments what you want to see in the two weeks leading up to release day.

Do you want plot teasers (no spoilers, I promise)? Character interviews? A book trailer? An ARC giveaway? Perhaps an excerpt or two?

It's time to Build Your Own Book Launch, boys and girls. You're in control.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Irrational vs. Believable

I recently read a truly interesting book about behavioral economics called Irrationally Predictable. It's a fascinating read about why people make the decisions they make - even when they don't appear to be in our own self interest.

One chapter in particular focuses on the different ways social norms influence human behavior. In a fascinating study, the participants demonstrated that they were more highly motivated when doing work for free (as a favor or charitable act) than they were if they felt they were being underpaid for their time. If the option was a fair market wage, a low wage, or free, the people who performed the task for free were actually the most productive of the three groups. It showed how strongly we are influenced by social norms that encourage us to be neighborly and good.

Coming at it from a writing viewpoint, it's an intriguing way to approach character and conflict. Social norms are all about balance. As soon as one party takes advantage of the social relationship, it begins to break down and market norms take over.

For example, let's say my heroine loves doing things for her family. She gets a strong sense of validation from it, even though she is busy and overworked and doesn't really have the hours to waste - but to her they aren't wasted hours. Until something happens and she realizes that her family is taking advantage of her kindness. Suddenly her time is no longer weighed in "but I want to do this for you" and it starts to be measured in all the other ways she could spend her time. It becomes a tug-o-war between the market norm (how much she gets paid for her time at work) and the social norm (the satisfaction she gets out of helping her family). And any time you have an internal tug-o-war, you have conflict.

There were at least a dozen additional experiments in the book that evaluated other aspects of human nature. One focused on the way humans become irrational when aroused or caught up in heightened emotional states. That one is particularly tricky. Certain parts of our brains definitely power down when we're turned on or fired up, but how do you write that without tripping into the 'Too Stupid to Live' heroine or the Alpha Asshat hero? It's a fine line between the Irrational Reality and the Logical Credibility that will keep your readers from chucking the book across the room.

I could probably go on about Irrationally Predictable for a few more days - especially if I accessed the Number Nerd part of my psyche and started looking at the way it applies to market trends - but I'm going to shut up now with one final question for you:

Consider the line between believable irrationality and irredeeemable stupidity in characters. We all do stupid things for stupid reasons, but are our characters allowed to be as irrationally human as we are?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Meet Cute

Have you ever thought of how the hero & heroine meet in your favorite romance novels? Have they known each other for years? Did she accidentally take his double shot mochaccino and he got her skinny carmel machiato at Starbucks? A chance encounter... paths crossing in the course of an investigation... coworkers... Whatever the meet, there's probably a romance novel for that.

And in this modern age, it seems like more and more real life happily-ever-afters are starting on the internet... so why aren't more romance meets taking place on the interwebz? Is it because the online meet up inherently lacks the romantic potential of love at first sight? Does the online connection still carry the stigma of desperation?

What do you think? What's your favorite kind of meet? And how did you meet your significant other? Would it make a good story?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kissing Cousins

I'm a broad-spectrum reader. If I like an author's style, there are very few genres/subgenres I won't follow them into, but I'm coming to understand that this makes me something of an anomaly among readers.

The other day I was chatting with a friend about a mutual friend's complete and unswerving addiction to vampires. If a book doesn't have a vampire - even a book by an author she knows she loves - she won't touch it. Her tastes are very strict. I know other readers who are equally devoted to British Regency romance, shape-shifters, or small-town contemporaries. They don't want to be broken out of their favorite shell.

In the interest of broadening horizons, I started thinking about the books I would recommend as a baby-step away from those familiar favorites - which led to a long and involved thought-bender about the relationships between various romance subgenres - the siblings & cousins of romance. Like a happily ever after family tree.

Consider this: Are paranormal romantic comedies more closely related to dark, atmospheric paranormal romance or fun and flirty contemporary romance? I'd be more inclined to put Michelle Rowen next to Jennifer Crusie than JR Ward. What about romantic suspense? Surely a serial killer books has more in common with a really dark vampire book than a flirty, cozy mystery.

Are the relationships necessarily drawn along the genre lines? I say that I read eclectically, but that isn't really true. I don't like characters saturated in angst or plots heavy on the evil & death - so I veer away from darker romantic suspense and darker paranormal alike.

What about links drawn by theme or character type? Do Alpha male books drag you across genre lines (by your hair)? Is a secret baby book in category romance a kissing cousin to a secret baby who will save the world from the apocalypse in futuristic? Or are they just too dissimilar?

Where do the lines get drawn? How would you describe your Happily Ever After family tree?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mommy, Where Do Ideas Come From?

Today I'm over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog, talking about where I get my ideas... or perhaps more accurately where I don't get them. Let's talk inspiration, baby. Where do your ideas come from?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Holiday in Hell!

I'm a little superstitious and a lot neurotic, so I tend to be freakishly closed-lipped about new books until I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are going to actually be released. I still don't have what I would call an overwhelming level of critical certainty, but since I did sign and mail the contract a few days ago, I should probably fess up to a little project I've had in the works for a while now.

Drumroll, please...

This December, Carina Press and I invite you to take a break from the burdens of shopping, caroling, and spreading good cheer to read my little spin on the Christmas season, angels & demons style. One badass chicky on an angelic quest, one studly demon chained in Hell needing rescue by dawn on the 25th, and all the fire and brimstone you can handle. It's Christmas just like you always dreamed it could be - with fireballs and semi-automatic weapons!

Look for No Angel (though the title doesn't actually have final approval yet so, um, look for some book by me) coming December 6th from Carina Press!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And the Winner of Tickle My Fantasy is...

Shea Berkley! Congrats, Shea! Please email me your physical address at vivi@viviandrews.com and I'll get your shiny signed copy of TMF in the mail to you pronto. (Or if you already have a copy, email me that and we'll work out special circumstances...)

THANK YOU to everyone who made my b-day fun and shared your tales of thirty (even those of you who haven't gotten there yet)! Y'all are awesome.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's My Birthday and I'll Give Stuff Away if I Want To

Which I do! Happy Birthday to me, y'all!

I'm 30 today! And since I'm the youngest in most of my peer groups, this doesn't actually freak me out so much, but I've decided today is going to be the day of Thirty Rocks! anyway.

How do I launch my thirties off right? With a contest, of course! I'm giving away a signed print copy of the Tickle My Fantasy anthology! How, you may be asking yourself, do I win this booty? Just leave a comment here at Das Blog telling me something deeply awesome about being thirty (or above) and then check back tomorrow to see if you won!

Simple, yes? Want another way to enter? Send me a tweet @ViviAndrews and tell me why 30 rocks. If you win and you already have TMF, a special super-seekrit alternate prize may just have to be arranged.

Good luck, boys and girls!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It's my birthday tomorrow and for me a birthday is like New Year's Eve. I look at what I've accomplished with my year and make resolutions. Since I'm freakishly goal-oriented, I make resolutions all throughout the year, but birthdays are a convenient deadline for my goals, lending themselves to "By the time I'm..." speculations. By the time I'm thirty-seven, I'll be a bestseller... (My age begins with a three for the first time tomorrow and I'm trying not to freak out about the decade rolling over with positive reinforcement.)

Today I'm over at the Ruby blog, sharing my goal-setting techniques. Come on by and we'll talk dreams and goals and how to turn them into realities.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Alaskan Mystique

This is one of those weeks when I feel like I am inundated by romances set in the Alaskan wilderness. Everywhere I look, I seem to be tripping across books about bush pilots and mountain men looking for love (with a delicate city girl from the lower-48, of course).

Maybe I'm a pessimist, maybe I'm over-protective or too possessive of my state, but as a life-long resident of Seward's Folly, I avoid those books like the plague, convinced they will get everything wrong. The books could be awesome, the research flawless, but I can't take that chance because if they aren't, the mistakes would drive me nuts.

I hate it when lower-48 authors try to capitalize on the selling point that is the Alaskan mystique. Because, let's face it, the Alaskan mystique has nothing to do with the real Alaska. And that drives me straight up the wall.

This is how cowboys in Montana feel about cowboy romance, isn't it? If you know too much about the reality of anything, you can't read the fantasy of it without cringing, can you? I guess my crankiness stems from the sudden popularity of my reality.

And the fact that if I wrote about what living up here is really like, I have a sneaking suspicion it wouldn't sell.

Though maybe the crankiness has something to do with the fact that I banged my knee up something fierce while picking salmonberries in the mountains today. Time to switch my heat pack back to an ice pack if I want to be able to walk tomorrow.

Rant complete.

Can you read about the fantasization (yeah, I just made that a word) of your reality? Do you have any settings/themes that you avoid because you know too much about them?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's for the Kids!

A few months back, when The Sexorcist released, I announced I was doing a charity drive in conjunction with the book. If you sent me proof-of-purchase via email, a chunk-o-change from my royalty check would make its way to the Children's Heart Foundation.

Well, that promo officially ended last week (but if you forgot, send me your receipt by the 15th & I'll add you to the numbers), and I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who participated (hopefully you like the book too!). I didn't have the participation numbers I'd hoped for (maybe it was my own deficiency of gettin-the-word-out, but I'm hoping it was just that y'all are like me and prefer to donate directly). Anyway, I decided to triple the percentage of my planned donation (up to 30% of my earnings). And I just might have to do something additional when the print release comes out.

Because it's for the kids, y'all.

Charities helping children are always at the top of my list - which is why I'd like to take this chance to talk a little bit about another charity drive that recently contacted me. Here's a snippet from Renee's email:
I am a nineteen year old female college student. This summer I am shaving my head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise childhood cancer research funds. Childhood cancer is seriously under-funded and it is our job to raise awareness for the children who can’t fight this war on their own.

As a part of a group called “46 Mommas Shave For The Brave” I and the others will have our heads shaved in LA in an effort to raise childhood cancer awareness and then appear on the Stand Up to Cancer Show airing September 10 at 8 pm. In case you are wondering why we call ourselves the “46 mommas” the answer is simple, there are 46 children diagnosed with cancer every weekday.

You can click on their website for more about how you can support their efforts. To learn more about St. Baldrick's Foundation and what they do, you can visit the site here.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Beware the Knitters

If you are a romance reader in the mood for some indignation and WTFery, pop on over to Smart Bitches and check out SB Sarah's analysis of Bloomberg BusinessWeek's recent look at the romance industry. Pull out your flasks, darlings, cuz this is a heck of a drinking game.

On the plus side of the article - yay, Romance! We're a growth industry, y'all! Long live the happily-ever-after!

In 2009 romance novel sales continued to defy industry trends, increasing to $1.4 billion, up $100 million, or 7.7 percent, from the previous year, according to Simba Information's annual Business of Consumer Book Publishing report. Romance now accounts for 14 percent of all works of fiction sold. Some 75 million people read at least one romance novel in 2009, and it's the top-performing category on the best-seller lists compiled by The New York Times, USA Today, and industry trade Publishers Weekly.

Of course, then he gets all patronizing. Here's a charming example of his take on the popularity of knitting & quilting themed romances:

The industry would seem challenged to find greater mundanity (bridge games? Wheel of Fortune reruns?), yet that's what the public is demanding.

Now, I'm not a crafty person, but I'm also of the opinion that mocking something just because it is a popular trend doesn't make you erudite and insightful. It makes you a dick. You can not get it (I do not understand the appeal of most domestic tasks - knitting, sewing, cooking, you name it), but at least respect the fact that it makes others happy. Dude.

Don't piss off the knitters, Bloomberg. They're armed and dexterous.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In the Company of Writers...

I'm over at the Damned Scribbling Women blog today gabbing about how writing conferences can invigorate you and revitalize your writing, even when you aren't physically there.