Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

To all my readers, regardless of which holidays you celebrate, may your days be merry and bright!

The very best of holiday wishes,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice, everyone! Tonight is officially the longest night of the year - a fact which is probably only noteworthy in Alaska where we start talking about how many seconds of daylight we're gaining every day as soon as solstice passes. It's eleven-thirty a.m. as I write this and I can just now see the edge of the sun breaking out over the mountains across the valley. How am I celebrating? With a slice of solstice pizza from the Moose's Tooth and a vow to wrap packages until the sun sets or I finish them all. (Which is kind of a wussy vow since the sun won't stay up long, but that's how I roll.)

Enjoy the holiday! And remember, it's only T-minus 365 days until the end of the world, Mayan-style! Make this year count, boys and girls.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Sundance Channel Wants YOU

You guys, social media marketing is weird. The way businesses promote themselves online is... odd.

Case in point: I tweeted a snarky comment about the prestige involved in my alma mater being picked for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. (Lube up with Wildcat football!) Imagine my surprise when Meineke Car Care tweeted me back, urging me to attend the game.

Why does a car care company have a twitter account? And why are they encouraging alumni to attend a bowl game? How is that tweet - which was doubtless done by an employee paid to find references to Meineke and reply to them - going to further their business interests and enhance their reputation as a good place to take your car to get it fixed? I would rather know that Meineke wasn't wasting their money on twitter campaigns, but lowering their prices by the amount of that Twitter employee's salary... or teaching him how to fix a carburetor.

(And yes, you may be saying, but Vivi, aren't you doing the same thing with your blog and twitter-ness and whatnot? Promoting your books, aka your business, instead of perfecting your craft? Wasting your time? Well, sorta. But really, this blog doesn't exist to promote me. It exists so I have a place to put announcements and talk about any random musings that trip across my brain. It's more recreation than marketing. If this is self-promo, I totally suck at it. Just sayin'.)

A couple weeks back, I wrote a blog which (very indirectly) mentioned Jennifer Grey. A few days later, I got an email from a publicist for the Sundance Channel. They had a new television show coming out, designed to humanize celebs by sharing their embarrassing childhood moments. Jennifer Grey was going to be in it, and didn't I want to let my readers at the blog know about it? (The Mortified Sessions: Mondays at 8pm EST on the Sundance Channel! Come watch Jennifer Grey and Will Forte relive their childhoods!)

Now, I've received emails like this in the past. I usually just shrug them off since 1) I'm not a fan of being told to publicize stuff. If I'm gonna publicize stuff on the blog, it's gonna be whatever random crap I happen to be noticing that week and not what some publicist with a Google Alert thinks I should publicize. And 2) I generally think they've made a mistake by sending it to me. I am not, in fact, this influential person they seem to think I am, so I'm doing them a favor by ignoring their request for me to try to influence you guys to do something.

But this time they were offering bribes! A "swag kit of exciting Sundance Merchandise" was available to folks who emailed them and told them "Yes! I'm going to pimp your show for you!" Sure, there have been other chances to whore my website and blog out for advertising dollars and "swag", but how could I possibly resist Sundance Channel merchandise? Especially since I'm such a devoted watcher (I'm not even sure I have the Sundance Channel) and there were only a LIMITED NUMBER of swag bags available!

Alas, no swag shall be forthcoming for my pimpage, because I did not reply. (And I might be about to get in trouble for "disclosing" the contents of said email... though they did send it to me and I feel like if you find some gabby chick online and send her an email asking her to talk about crap and then get mad at her for talking about the fact that you asked her to talk about crap... yeah, I'm thinking that's not sound legal footing, but what do I know about confidentiality?)

It's just so peculiar to me, the way people are trying to buy word of mouth - and it's WORKING. I've fallen victim to their evil plot. By bitching about their attempts to expose themselves through me, I have ingrained in your minds the subconscious desire to go get your brakes checked while watching celebrities attempt to be real! Now you guys are all thinking about Meineke and the Sundance Channel, aren't you? You can't help it! It's like pink elephants (which reminds me of a story about testicular cancer, but let's leave that for another day, shall we?). Ooooh, wait, did I just free associate The Mortified Sessions with testicular cancer? Oh noes! Marketing backfire!

It's a strange world we live in, folks. Getting stranger by the day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tis the Season to Give Some Books!

Looking for a great read for a loved one this holiday season? Don't know which book to get that hard-to-shop-for someone on your list? Fear not! A horde of authors are coming to your rescue! (Cuz that's what authors do, yo.) All this month, Tilly Greene has been hosting an event at which authors recommend their favorite books for holiday giving. Swing on by and get some great recommendations to give away or keep for yourself. My pick is up today and is a book I have, in fact, given away for Christmas in the past. It's the strangest Christmas pageant ever. The holidays with a dose of the ridiculous.

How's your holiday season going so far? Got your shopping knocked out?

I've been busy doing "Designated Shopper" duty for some of my non-local family members (to save them the crazy shipping costs up here, we run around and pick up the presents they want to give and wrap them), attending three Christmas concerts (one classical concert choir, one delightfully irreverent barbershop chorus, and one pre-school barely-audible-mumble-the-words-but-they're-so-darn-cute), picking out, lighting, and decorating three Christmas trees in two cities, wrapping like crazy, and catching up on the latest season of Dexter - because really, what says Christmas more than blood spatter?

Happy Holidays, y'all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wayfaring Eden

Friend of the blog Brenda Hyde is interviewing me over at her online home today - The Wayfaring Writer. We're chatting about Eden, my love of Sam Worthington and zombies (cuz really, who doesn't love a mindless fleshbag intent on eating your brains?), and the future of the end of the world. Swing on by and say howdy to the delightful Ms. Hyde!

And while you're there, you can see her thoughts on Reawakening Eden - which were totally flattering enough to make me blush. And I loved this encapsulation: "The story is about survival, both physical and emotional, but it's also about trust and a willingness to think beyond one day at a time."

YES. Don't you just love that feeling when someone totally gets it? Bliss. Thank you, Brenda!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Semantics on Parade

I'm over at the Ruby Blog today, shoving my foot as far down my throat as it will fit on the topic of critiquing, judging & beta reading. Learn why I find the criticism "bad writing" somewhat less than helpful & come argue with me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snow Day!

I think there are days you probably have to be a little nuts to love living in a place like Alaska. Luckily, sanity has never been a handicap for me. Man, do I love it here.

I've completed my latest round of travels and I'm back in the frozen north (woohoo!) for Christmas with the folks. This weekend Winter welcomed me home right. It started on Sunday morning, right as we were returning home from picking up the Christmas trees (yes, two!). Just snow at first and a few power flickers (which we've been getting all week, including a couple 4 hr outages), so we went about life as usual. We headed over to my sister's place (through near white-out conditions) to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday with presents and sledding.

My brother-in-law (a lower-48 transplant) laughed at our hapless Alaskan weathermen, who'd predicted up to an inch and we already had two or three, with more falling fast. With night already closing in (it was 3:30pm, after all) we headed home through the snow. Back at Casa Andrews, my dad and I settled down for some football as the wind kicked up outside, but the power began flickering again and then gave up for good. We pulled out some candles and played cards by their light as we listened to the chinook howl through. The spruce trees in the yard bent over at sixty degree angles, but luckily no more of them came down in our yard (we already had one mega-wind-storm this year take out almost a dozen trees in the neighborhood).

The wind died down enough to stop being a danger to the electric company crews around ten and, confident the power would be back on soon, I grabbed some extra blankets and burrowed under them to read a historical romance by candlelight - because what could be more fitting than reading about folks who read by candlelight?

But in the morning we still had no power. What we did have was eighteen-plus new inches of heavy, wet (gorgeous, white, perfect for snowmen!) snow.

Behold! The barbecue grill - tipped over by the wind and ever so lightly snowed upon:

We started a fire in the fire place and lit the burners on the gas stove to keep the house from cooling down too fast. The contents of the refrigerator migrated outside in coolers to stay chilled (though, alas we were too late to save the ice cream).

We melted and boiled snow on the stove to make coffee and cocoa (Ice Coffee & Snow-coa!) and then took turns wrestling the snowblower through the heavy masses of snow piled in the driveway.

By midday the driveway was clear and the house was getting COLD. Our road still hadn't been grated (and still hasn't as I'm writing this) but we'd seen our neighbors push through in a Suburban so we all piled into the truck and went back to my sister's (where they had power and everyone was home for a snow day).

One of my nephews showed me his pirate fleet (composed of drawings of ships, many of which have laser-shooting mermaids as hood-ornaments). Another showed me Mesopotamia (the actual Mesopotamia on his world map). And I watched Cinderella with my niece - who is going to be Rapunzel when she grows up and therefore has stopped cutting her hair. (She's convinced that someday it will glow when she sings.)

After the bliss of hot showers and the marvel of fully charged cell phones & laptops, we eventually headed back to the Ice House where temperatures were now in the fifties. We pulled out even more blankets, preparing for a very cold night, when what to our wondering eyes should appear, but ELECTRICITY!

The roads are still clogged with snow, but we're nice and warm with our delicious luxuries of heat and running water. The wind has calmed, the sun is up (as much as the sun comes up in the winter), and it's a true winter wonderland out there.

Nothing beats an Alaskan winter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Smutketeers Holiday Festival of Awesome!

It's time to bring out the naughty and nice, boys and girls! The lovely (and delightfully naughty) ladies over at the Smutketeers are hosting a holiday Twelve Days of Christmas blog party and giving away books and prizes every day!

My day on the blog with the "Three Wise Vivis" - which made me giggle like you would not believe - was actually yesterday. I regret I was not on-the-ball enough to schedule this blog in advance and then yesterday was a comedy of errors internet-wise with jetlag and router misfires and power outages, oh my! So I missed giving you a heads up in advance, BUT I'm online now and here to say, Merry Christmas to All and to all a Smutty Night! Hie yourself over to the Smutketeers for some flirty Christmas fun!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advanced Buzz on Some Ghostly Valentine's Giggles

She liked it!

The first review for Ghosts of Boyfriends Past is in from Night Owl Reviews and it's 4.25 Stars! (GoBP! Coming January 17th from Samhain & up for Kindle pre-order now!)

"Ghosts of Boyfriends Past was one heck of a roller coaster read. I actually felt totally guilty laughing throughout the story given that three of Biz's boyfriends had died but I couldn't help myself."

Ah, the guilt-giggle. Check your sense of shame at the door, ladies and gents. This one will make you smile in spite of yourself. Read the full review here.

"A great seasonal read wrapped up with kooky paranormal elements, Vivi Andrews never disappoints readers and Ghosts of Boyfriends Past is definitely top notch!"

Dude. Can I just say? Having someone tell me I never disappoint readers has to be the biggest, most ginormous, oversized, humongous, mega-Costco-bulk-purchase, King-Kong compliment I've ever received. (And because I'm a neurotic mess, it also freaked me out because I was all what if the next one disappoints her? I will have lost my "never disappoints" status! Oh noes! Yeah, I'm well-adjusted like that.)

Happy holidays for your friendly neighborhood neurotic and Thank You, Night Owl!

Monday, December 5, 2011

We Have SUPER Art!

Guess what I just got permission to share, boys and girls? We have Superhero cover art! The fabulous Xanaxa is the artistic genius behind this baby and she's given us DynaGirl in all her vampy (not in the vampire sense, but in the va-va-voom sense) glory. Oh my...

Without further ado, I give you... Superlovin'!


What do you think? A touch of you can save my day any time, big boy perhaps?

Coming this May along with shiny new superhero hotness from Jodi Redford and Kimberly Dean!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Whomper

I have a new metaphor for writing success. And, as with all my extended metaphors, I am totally in love with it. It's sailing! Grab hold of a mizzenmast and brace yourself, y'all. There's some awesomeness slicing across the waves toward you.

See, as a sailor, you can't control the wind, but you can control how you react to the natural conditions. The right sail, the right tack at the right moment, the right hull shape and rudder length... you face what nature gives you with the skill you develop and the equipment you choose.

You are just as much a sailor in a one man craft on a lake or a Hobie-Cat in a bay as you are on an IACC yacht trying to kick the defender's ass in the America's Cup. There's no shame in being a weekend sailor just as there is no shame in being a hobbyist writer - we aren't all going to be John Grisham and Stephen King - but I think it's important to realize what type of craft you're sailing.

The hobbyist in that lake dinghy is going to get his ass rolled to hell and back on the open ocean. If you want to sail with the big boys, you need to have a big boy boat - or in this case, a big boy book. Not all books have the broad, mainstream market appeal. A niche novel is a lake boat and can sail beautifully there, the NYT best-seller is an IACC yacht. But even a NYT best-seller doesn't get there without the right crew (editorial/art/publicity) and being launched in the right waters (distribution).

And even with that beautiful yacht, the right crew and the right seas, you need the wind. Those glorious gusts are unpredictable and will determine how fast and far your yacht can fly across the waves. Public opinion, word of mouth, reader reactions, a magical chemistry of timing and luck - all those little things that take a good story and make it into a popular one. That's the wind, and when it isn't there for you, no amount of perfect craftsmanship or well-trained crews can fill your sails.

In her post-Dirty Dancing days, Jennifer Grey appeared in a movie all about sailboat racing called Wind. Her character is in love with the science and the mystique of the sport, addicted to it, helpless to fight the way it gets into your blood. There's no cure for that passion, even when it's knocked you around some. At one point, she sews a giant sail and then at a pivotal moment in a race, talks her team into deploying the "Whomper", a massive big-daddy of a spinnaker that, as advertised by Ms. Grey, catches the wind, goes whomp and their boat rockets forward to win the race.

I feel like Harry Potter was a Whomper. Twilight. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The Help. Those big-daddy books, deployed just right, catching the wind and flying.

For the last few years, I'd say I've been writing Hobie-Cat books. Learning the feel of the sails and how to read the wind, having a great time as a bright-eyed young sailor, but now I'm starting to want something bigger, faster. I want to get into the big race. That means a bigger boat, more high tech sails. A book with a broader audience, one that pushes me to apply everything I've learned so far.

I love my Hobie-Cat books and have no intention of giving them up, but I want to try an IACC race or two. So I'd better get sewing. And then pray for wind in my sails.

(Random note: I come by my sailing metaphors naturally, with a genetic tendency for throwing money into those holes in the water we call boats. There's nothing like the wind and the sea.)

How 'bout you? Do you see yourself as more a Hobie Cat or a IACC yacht? Or do you have no flippin' idea what I'm jabbering on about in the first place?

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Little More End of the World

Still in the mood for a little more post-apocalyptic action? Just want to get your paranormal fix on? The Dynamic Duo of Moira Rogers has a brand-spankin'-new-out-tomorrow-don't-miss-it after-the-demon-apocalypse, high-tech, sexy, The Island meets Constantine (not sure that's a good "meets"; must think about the "meets" some more) badass paranormal release: Demon Bait. It's sex demons and lockdowns and cyber-awesomeness, oh my! (And check out the insanely gorgeous sexified yin-yang cover.)

His mark could bind her forever—or finally set her free.

Children of the Undying, Book 1

Fifty years after a demon apocalypse devastated the world, summoners still bear the bulk of the blame. Marci lives in secret, hiding the gifts that could cost her a secure spot in one of humanity’s underground cities, and access to their virtual world. After all, her chances of avoiding the genetic-testing lotto are better than her chances of surviving topside.

The bastard son of a terrifying incubus, lust heats Gabe’s blood and sex fuels his magic. Innate charm and charisma help him navigate the cultural gap between the outcast town he calls home and the human settlements he infiltrates for trade. His latest mission nets him an unexpected asset—a summoner strong enough to soothe his darkest needs.

Trust a half demon, especially one who uses a lockdown to trap them together? Not in this lifetime. Yet Marci can’t resist Gabe’s offer to see her safely to a selective outcast settlement where she can live without fear. The journey alone is as dangerous as the way Gabe makes her heart race, but it could be her one hope of a real life.

If only she could be sure Gabe’s telling her the whole truth…

Product Warnings: Contains a virtual world where humans flee to escape the demon-infested earth, a dangerously seductive half demon with sex magic to burn and a network-hacking summoner brave enough to make herself vulnerable to him.

Grab it from Samhain :: Kindle :: Nook

I must say, boys and girls, the world Miss Moira has created is so deeply awesome. I just want to crawl inside it. Demon Bait is the kind of story where I can't wait for the next one to take me even deeper into the sexy demony-techy-depths of it. It sets the imagination a' whirling. Luckily for us Hammer Down is coming soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful Winners!

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! I love seeing all the awesome thankful tidings at this time of year. Anyone else still stuffed from Thursday? Did you go shopping on Black Friday?

Should I just skip the preliminaries and get to the WINNERS? All right, y'all, here we go. Drumroll please...

The Winner of an ebook copy of my new release, post-apocalyptic romance Reawakening Eden is... Brenda Hyde!!

The Winner of an advanced digital copy of my Valentine's paranormal romance romp Ghosts of Boyfriends Past is... Susan!!

The Winner of an ebook copy of my Christmas angels & demons novella No Angel is... Jen B.!!


Please email me at to claim your prize. (If you've won something you already have a copy of, let me know and we'll work something out.) Prizes must be claimed by noon Pacific time on Tuesday (extended because I'm a couple hours late announcing the winners... mea culpa, I was busily wrapping Xmas presents!). If we have unclaimed prizes on Tuesday, I'll draw another winner at that time.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Be Thankful; Win a Book

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

You know what I'm thankful for? You. You guys rock. So today, to kick off the holiday season my favorite way, I'm giving stuff away. Comment on this post any time between now and Sunday at noon (pacific time) and you're entered to win. Just tell me something you're thankful for and check back on Sunday when I'll pick three winners - one of whom will get my latest release Reawakening Eden, one will get an ARC of my upcoming release Ghosts of Boyfriends Past, and the third will get a copy of my Christmas novella No Angel (tis the season!).

Thanks for my writing dreams a reality. It wouldn't be possible without you.

The Small Print: Void where prohibited. Must email me to claim your prize via email by Monday at midnight or it will be given to someone else. You can comment as many times as you like, but will only be entered one time per day (maximum 4 entries per person). Winners will be chosen randomly. Good luck and THANK YOU!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Damn Good Interview, A Zombie Interview & the Passing of a Personal Icon

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today the release week frenzy continues with an interview and giveaway with the fabulous Book Pushers. We're chatting about pretty much every book I've ever written under the sun, so swing on by and feel free to chime in with any burning questions.

I am ALSO at the flippin' amazing Moira Roger's Apocalyptathon 2011 today, giving away a copy of Reawakening Eden (because apparently I just can't seem to stop doing that) and talking about how I would react to a Zombie Apocalypse (note: I would totally kick ass).


And, in totally unrelated news on a much more somber note...

One of my writing icons passed away yesterday: Anne McCaffrey, 85, best known for her marvelous dragonrider books. Her passing feels particularly significant to me because her book Dragonflight was a turning point for me. It was the first book that swallowed me whole. It changed the way I felt about reading during one long can't-put-it-down-and-go-to-sleep night when I was twelve years old. Perhaps if it hadn't been that book, it would have been another, but all I know is that it was the first. The catalyst. Anne McCaffrey woke me up to reading as a passion rather than a pastime. And without that feeling about books, about the worlds they contained and the lives lived between the pages, I doubt I ever would have become a writer. So this passing is particularly poignant for me. She opened my door. Anne McCaffrey will be missed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The End of the World is HERE!

Happy Release Day, ladies and gents! It's the end of the world as we know it (sing it with me now) and I'm feeling mighty fine.

Reawakening Eden
is OUT NOW!!! (<-- I'm using up my lifetime allotment of exclamation points. Yeah. I'm just that excited.)

When life is a struggle, love is the ultimate luxury.

Librarian Eden Fairfax knows exactly where to find books about survival. None of them mentioned how to manage in the aftermath of a worldwide epidemic—with two young orphans in tow.

On a journey south to warmer climes, she finds sanctuary for all three of them among a community of survivors in Seattle. Until she realizes the children are the centerpiece of their bizarre new religion. There’s no choice but to run as far and as fast as her stolen car will go.

Former Army Ranger Connor Reed had planned to live out the end of the world in peace. Yet he can’t stand by and do nothing while a lone woman defends two children from an armed thug. Even if doing something means taking the trio in.

Eden’s not sure if the armed hermit is her salvation or an even more dangerous threat. A blizzard forces her to trust him with their lives, and in Connor’s arms she remembers what it’s like to live.

Just beyond the edge of the storm, though, the cult leader awaits his chance to get his hands on the children—and make Eden his next sexual sacrifice.

Warning: This book contains a strong, silent action-hero, a tough, tenacious heroine, a pair of steal-your-heart kids, and a pony-sized dog named Precious.

Read an Excerpt. Buy from Samhain :: Kindle :: Nook

Today, in the usual release festivities, I'll be dropping by the Samhain Cafe (though it'll be late afternoon EST since I'm currently in sunny Honolulu for the holidays with my family and the time zones don't play nice out here in the middle of the Pacific). Join me there for some excerpts of Reawakening Eden and all the End o' the World chat you can handle.

Also today, you can find me at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog where I'm chatting about the inherent optimism involved in falling in love when the world as you know it is gone (and giving away a copy of Reawakening Eden to one lucky commenter).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Get Under the Covers: Reawakening Eden Release Week

Today, join me at the Under the Covers Book Blog for their After-Dark Paranormal Event, including an interview with yours truly and a chance to win a copy of Reawakening Eden.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Release Week!

Happy Release Week! Reawakening Eden hits the digital shelves on Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, boys and girls! It's almost time... for the END OF THE WORLD!!! (best if imagined in a deep, movie-announcer voice)

In a matter of days, the world will be ending... or rather already over, the apocalypse behind us, time to rebuild a new world out of the (metaphorical) ashes. What better ways to spend our last minutes pre-apocalypse than by checking out People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive edition. They even created, for our edification, a 100 Sexy Men in 1 Minute video.

Did you watch it? Hotness ADD. On speed. Gotta love it.

So... does People do a sexiest chicks edition? It never gets as much press as the Sexiest Man one if they do. Or are they afraid of objectifying women the same way they gleefully objectify the sexy dudes?

Do you have a favorite? Anyone you can't believe didn't make the Top 100?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Separation Anxiety

Fair warning: This has NOTHING to do with writing. At all. Not even a little bit.

You guys, I sold my car. And I'm feeling slightly traumatized.

Yes, it was the most logical thing to do. (The alternative being putting it in storage for anywhere between four and seven months while I'm in Hawaii, Alaska, and Europe, and then having to replace the battery and god-knows-what-other problems that cropped up from long months of sitting around. Cars need to be driven like dogs need to be walked.)

Yes, I knew in advance that I was going to sell it this weekend. I fly out for Hawaii on Monday, so this was really the last possible minute.

Yes, everything went perfectly and the first buyer to test drive it handed me an envelope of cash and drove off with my Baby. (Yes, I named my car Baby. She's so cute and tiny! Don't judge me.)

It wasn't until the hand-off was complete that I realized I hadn't had a chance to say goodbye.

I know, I know, it's an inanimate object. But it was my inanimate object for eight and a half years! She was the first car I ever bought new, slapped down my own money for and made every payment. That car has 101,000 miles on it and I put on every single one. She took me to every state (except Hawaii and Vermont), and half the provinces of Canada. She fit my random crap beautifully on multiple cross-country moves - a subcompact with a massive trunk compartment... heaven. She was reliable and had the smoothest, sweetest transmission of any of the cars I test drove lo, these many years ago. And now she's gone. Poof. Ain't my car no more.

I know the new owner will be happy with the car and treat her well (and, yes, she's inanimate, so she won't really be conscious of a difference... won't even know I'm not there anymore) and yes, I've been planning on trading her in for a shiny new model for the last few months... once I'm done with my current airborne gallivanting. (And I've felt guilty every time I've uttered the words "new car" while driving her, as if I am betraying her trust by even mentioning a new automobile.)

Okay, inanimate objects only have as much personality as we give them - but life is more fun when we assign human personalities to our possessions, so is it any surprise we get attached?

This was probably the one object I owned to which I had grown the most attached and now she ain't mine anymore. It'll take a bit of time to sever those ties.

Farewell, Baby. I hope you have a good (mechanical) life.

And could you guys please tell me I'm not the only one who gets attached to Things like this? What have you had the hardest time selling?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reader Throwdown, or The Venn Diagram of Rockstars

Dear Minions,
I love it when you send me emails and leave notes on my blog. It makes me feel all warm and squishy inside. Today I would like to chatter about a trend I have noticed in said notes and emails which I find fabulously entertaining. Are you ready? We're gonna call it, the Venn Diagram of YOU, my rockstar readers.

You see, boys and girls, you may not realize this, but you have factions. Observe:

On one side are the Karmic lovers. When is the next Karmic book coming out? you ask me. Will you write Karma's book? or, at times, why the hell is it taking you so damn long to write Karma's book?!

On the other side are the Shifter lovers. When will you write more shifters? you pester. What could possibly be more important than some hot lion lovin'?

And in the middle, the cross-section that makes the Venn all Venn-y, we have the Book Lovers. You beautiful people don't care what I put out next, as long as I get off my ass and put something out often. Voracious readers who need to be fed. What are you working on? When's it coming out? Why is it taking so long? Why do I have to wait sooo long? One more week? Might as well be forever!

For the record, darlings, I love all you factions equally. How could I not when I completely understand series favoritism as a reader myself? (Okay... I love you almost equally, I will confess a slight additional affection for the ones who encourage me to write whatever the hell I please as long as it comes out fast - you will notice that they got purple in the diagram. I love purple. But the favoritism ends there. You're on your own in the Battle Round, Purples.)

Now, you may be wondering why you should care about the fact that you have self-divided into factions. (Though I hope some of you are already picking out your Thunderdome costumes for some No Holds Barred Reader Deathmatching to determine which faction shall rule as my lieutenants when I become the Evil Overlord of the Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape.)

Yep, I've decided it's time to turn you against one another. (If there isn't at least a little bloodshed as a result, I will be highly disappointed.)

Dear Shifter-Lovers: The reason I do not have time to write another shifter book is because the Karmic Lovers are being so demanding. Insisting that I actually finish the series I started with them. (Sheesh, right?) Bring out the claws!

Dear Karmic Lovers: The reason you do not already have Karma's book in your hot little hands is that the Shifter Lovers came out in greater numbers and kicked and screamed until I wrote their novellas first. Unleash the demons!

Blame one another!

Dear Book Lovers: Feel free to get into this fight wherever you please. I hope you will be the lovely little chaos-makers in the middle, making sure things stay nice and riled up. Feel free to go all havoc-y and full-on Urban Fantasy Heroine with a Grudge or just chant "Fight fight fight fight!" if it makes you happy.

Y'all ready? Let's get ready to rrrrrumbllllllllle!

There can be only one... of me. Which is why I can't make everybody happy. Doing my best, boys and girl. Doing my best. Now back to my writing hole.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Early Word on the End of the World

It's T-minus one week to the release day of Reawakening Eden and we have our first review, y'all! The first vote on this post-apocalyptic lovin' is in, courtesy of Night Owl Reviews. "Reawakening Eden is well paced, sexy and thoroughly enjoyable." It's a Reviewer Top Pick, earning 4.5 Stars! Can I get a woohoo?

Thank you, Night Owl!

You can check out the full review here, though I should warn that I think it is just a smidge spoiler-ish. Though, really, aren't all reviews? That's what being a review is all about, right? Because how can you really talk about a book without talking about the book, amirite?

If you can't wait a week for the post-apocalypticy goodness, Samhain has a trio of other post-apoc romance novellas currently on the virtual shelves in the End of Days stories.

And, if you're more in the mood for some cowboy lovin', the fabulous Ms. Vivian Arend has a sexy new release out today - Rocky Mountain Heat, Book One of the Six Pack Ranch series. Dude, how much do I love a woman who names her ranches after washboard abs? Oh, the fabulousness!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tapping Out

I'm calling the fight, boys and girls. It's official. NaNo has won. I cede victory. I admit defeat - and yet don't feel even the least bit defeated. See, here's the thing. NaNo doesn't work for me. I have a system that has proven successful through um... kind of a lot of books, and that's what I need to keep doing. NaNo is a fabulous tool for lots of folks, but it doesn't do me any good. These first two weeks have been less productive than my normal weeks because the NaNo mindset just screws me up.

So even though I'm giving up, this is good news! I'm reinvigorated by being back in my normal work mode. "I yield" is my battle cry!

Nothing works for everyone, so do what works for you. And try not to get suckered in when your fellow writers are gushing about how amazing this one thing is and you'll love it if only you try it - trying new things is good and all, but don't let it derail you. Every writer's process is different. Mine apparently does NOT include NaNoWriMo.

How's your November going? Are you NaNo-ing? Getting geared up for the holidays? Enraged by the presence of Christmas commercials? See, I am kind of loving the Christmas commercials this year because I'm traveling and there is NO SNOW here. Without the Christmas commercials, how would I even know it was winter?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veteran's Day, everyone!

Today the Rubies are talking about military heroes and have a lovely tribute to the Vets in our lives. Both my awesome grandfathers were veterans of World War II (though I only had a pic in one in uniform to share at the Ruby site - and all the commenters seem to think I'm the spitting image of him, which I've never heard before). Two fabulous fly-boys, fighting over different oceans, in different air craft (one bomber, one fighter), but both serving honorably.

Thanks to all those who serve.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Self-therapy Books

Write what you know. Common writing advice. The problem with that is that each one of us only knows so much. Oh, you can do research, you can stretch yourself and broaden your horizons, and as people we are always growing and learning new things, but there is only so much we can know with any level of expertise.

I think this applies to authentic emotional conflict also.

A while back, a reader criticized Serengeti Sunrise for being a reprise of Serengeti Lightning. I was surprised by this, but in the reader's eyes Zoe's restless, independent soul and Mara's need to leave the pride so she could nest and build a family felt the same - because they both wanted out of Texas (though for very different reasons). I hadn't seen that similarity, but it doesn't surprise me that someone reading my books might notice a trend of itchy feet. My gypsy blood refuses to settle and that likely comes through in my writing whenever I'm feeling particularly restless. Feeling trapped or penned in are things I can write with absolute authenticity.

I try to keep things fresh, but there are themes that are bound to recur in my books because they are issues that are real to me. I hope only people who know me well can tell which issues are mine and which are borrowed, but I think it is natural (if scary at times) to put our own concerns onto the page. There is an honesty in it.

When I read books by friends, I can see the pieces of themselves that sneak into the books. A friend who grew up in foster care, writing about the system. A weight-conscious friend writing about a heavier heroine. Whether it's a kind of self-therapy, a way of working through our issues, or something else entirely, it just is. Good, bad, or other.

It's a terrifying display really. You make your character's fears open to the world and in turn expose your own. Perhaps it is normal for readers to feel that they know you by reading your books, because there is so much of us in them. But it is also a mistake to think you know me for that very reason, because I am more than my books... and my books are more than me. We are a Venn Diagram. If you see me and my books together, the overlap will be obvious, but seeing only one, you can only speculate on the other.

Which of my books are self-therapy? I'll never tell.

Have you ever written a book - either intentionally or by having it just sneak in there - to work through an issue or fear in your own life? Read a book that helped you do the same and made you feel a kinship with the author because you felt they "got" it?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Long is a Book?

A few days ago a friend asked me what I would call a book - obviously a three hundred page tome is, but what about a 55 page story? A decade ago I would have just said that a book is a physical book and that it may have one or more stories inside it, but epub has muddied the waters. Since novellas are sold alone now, and even short stories, and they look no different on your Kindle than that full length tome, how do you define a "book"?

I was stumped by the question. I call all of my releases "books" mostly for the simplicity of it, but I tend to evade when possible and use "story" to refer to the lot of them or "work" or "release" or whatever other verbal dodge I can come up with. I don't think of A Cop & A Feel as a book (considering it's less than 20,000 words long), but when I'm talking about the Karmic Consultants books, it gets lumped in. Imprecise, but sometimes the best answer to the question of How many Karmic books are there? isn't two novels, one novella and two short stories. It's five so far. Or maybe the answer they want is two? For just the novels?

Perhaps the problem is a lack of shared definition anymore. When someone asks me how many books I've written, I don't know how to answer. If I say, "a bunch" they feel like I'm blowing them off. If I say, "Do you mean just novels or novels, novellas, and short stories combined?" then I also feel the need to clarify, "Do you mean books I've written, or the ones I've had published already or the ones that are under contract?" Yeah, I suck at small talk. I always want to be precise.

What is a book to you? I feel like we've gotten beyond the "ebooks aren't really books" argument (woot!), but now what length constitutes a book? And does whether an author has written a full length book sway your decision? For example, if someone had only written two fifteen thousand word short stories (so about sixty pages or so) would you say they had written two books? But if they had written one novel and one short story of that same length would it change the number?

How long is a book?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Anonymous - The Shakespeare Attachment

The movie Anonymous seems to have hit a lot of people's buttons. I love the idea of it, the possibility (which I have heard argued before) that the man Shakespeare was a front for the real man with the pen - but when I mentioned I was going to see the movie, I had several people express outrage and insist that I not believe any of that garbage. To which I have two responses: 1) I don't believe everything I watch. I promise. 2) What would be the harm if I did?

Why does the man who wrote those plays need to be the man from Stratford-upon-Avon with a grammar school education who left his wife his second best bed? Shakespeare, as he is known to us now, is the pen name, the body of work. Why this attachment to the man? Why this need to connect what he did to a birthday and a rather vague and unimpressive personal history? If Monet were really a frontman for the real painter, would those water lilies be any less beautiful? Would he be any less Monet?

Do I want people giving someone else credit for my work? No, but I'm alive. Which, unless Shakespeare is a vampire living in Forks, is not something the Bard can say. Once I and all the people who knew me have passed away, my memory becomes whatever of my work lingers and the idea that people construct of me based on my words. It is my legacy not my self. So why does that legacy need to be bound to a particular body? It is speculation. Ideas. We will never know for sure if Shakespeare the man was also Shakespeare the playwright, but we still have all of his plays to enjoy and even if the man and the muse did match up in one body, we know very little about that body, so why the fuss? Why the attachment?

Is it because of his epic reputation? People who've never even heard of the histories and the political impact they had on sixteenth century England like to spout off "It ain't Shakespeare" as a slur. It's like there's perfect and then there's Shakespeare. This whole other level of flawlessness. He can do no wrong. God forbid you even suggest that some of his plays are less than brilliant.

But what is Shakespeare? Ribald comedies with rampant sex and innuendo and a happy ending with everyone paired off - so telling me my romance novel ain't Shakespeare, um... okay. And brutal slasher-style gore-fests (cough, Titus Andronicus, cough) - so telling Stephen King he isn't Shakespeare... really? Twisted, revisionist histories designed as propaganda - so telling Oliver Stone he isn't Shakespeare... um.... yeah. The sonnets - would they have been song lyrics today? The tragedies... the comedies... the histories... the sonnets... Is his versatility the reason he is Shakespeare (with a GIANT capital "S")? Or is it really the quality level that sets him apart? How many people actually enjoy reading or seeing Shakespeare anymore? How many people understand it?

I love Shakespeare, but I actually love his work, not his legend. I think his legend is kind of ridiculous. And I almost think the mythos of it detracts from real enjoyment. Because you have to almost start from the assumption that everything is perfect and an unsatisfying ending or unbelievable character reversal were there to make a point - because He would not have made a mistake. Or tried a risk that didn't pay off.

One thing every writer knows is that not everyone is going to love your work. No one is universal. Except Shakespeare? But even then, it isn't his work that gets a pass, it's his reputation. A reputation which somehow exists separate of both the man and his work.

If he were alive today, what would be be? An Aaron Sorkin? A Seth MacFarlane? Would he be a writer at all? We don't know. But we are basing so much passion on the idea that he was a poorly educated actor from Stratford-upon-Avon. Why? Because the Shakespeare mania fuels a tourist industry in a small English town? Because we need him to be a "man of the people" rather than an educated well-born man in order to satisfy our American self-made-man mania?

Why couldn't Shakespeare be a lord?

Are you protective of Shakespeare's persona? Can you tell me why?

**Side note: The movie premise was interesting, but I think they went a bit far with it. No, my friends, I did not believe the Earl of Oxford was really Shakespeare, but I don't think the movie was really trying to convince me. Their goal was to entertain (not unlike Shakespeare's goal) and that they did quite well. Very interesting film.**

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNo Writing Tips

Are you NaNo-ing? Looking for some pointers on how to get through your book? Michele Stegman is hosting a series of tips from published authors on how to push through. Today, you can get a fresh, juicy tip from yours truly, but don't miss the bevy of other helpful info.

ALSO today, if you swing by the TRR YES! Party and answer a couple questions, you can win an advanced copy of Reawakening Eden. Good luck, boys and girls!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ghost Sex!

This is just, um, too me to ignore, you guys. For anyone who loved The Larrinator, apparently he wasn't the only horny ghost on the block.

Oh, Colbert...

Friday, November 4, 2011

RT Squee!

Guess what, you guys? The Sexorcist has been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award! Best Indie-Press Paranormal/Futuristic/Fantasy! Can I get a woohoo?

I found out a couple days ago, but was sworn to secrecy until the fifteenth. However, in this digital age, apparently secrets are impossible to keep and the list was leaked and now we've been given the all-clear to shout it from the rooftops, so shout it I will! Squeee!

This remains one of my favorite books I've written and I'm so thrilled to hear it resonated with the reviewers enough that they remembered it these many months later and honored me by including it in their list. Some great books on there, boys and girls, some really great books. What a thrill to be considered!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Moira Rogers Is Post Apocalyptically Awesome

I'm not the only one with some End of the World Awesome coming out this month. The dual geniuses that comprise Moira Rogers will release Demon Bait, Book One of Children of the Undying, at the end of the month (omigod, the badassness, you guys!) and all this month at her blog she is hosting the Apocalyptathon 2011! Thirty Days of World Ending Romance! Not to be missed. Hie yourself on over and prepare for the end of days with some steamy-hot lovin'.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TRR's Year End Splash!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, The Romance Reviews is hosting their Year End Splash party with Games and Quizzes and Prizes Galore. Test your memory by matching covers. Win beaucoup books and gift cards.

The contest runs all month so play at will, but be sure to visit on November 6th & November 23rd when you'll have a shot at picking up advanced copies of Reawakening Eden. Win it before you can buy it!

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNo. Yeah. I'm Doin' It.

November is almost upon us and that means the writerly inclined the world over are talking about one thing - National Novel Writing Month AKA NaNoWriMo or just NaNo.

Now, I've never actually participated in the one month write-fest, the goal of which is to complete 50,000 words in 30 days, but this year it is on, y'all. I'm in. Locked and loaded and all that stuff. This month is also a release month for me (Reawakening Eden! post apocalyptically awesome!) so I'll probably be talking about that more than anything here on Das Blog, but I'll grab a NaNo widget and put it over in the sidebar there so you can harass me if I appear to be falling behind.

Are you NaNo-ing? Is it your first time two? Your twentieth? How do you feel about a one month compulsive write-fest?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sexorcism Going CHEAP, Y'all

I have never before, in all my live-long-days, seen The Sexorcist print version (regularly priced at $15 a pop) at such a screaming good deal.

Amazon. $3.71.

I kid you not, you guys. 75% off.

Now, I am a sucker for a deal. Resistance is futile in Casa Andrews when it comes to the value buys. (I already bought a stack for giving away and I'm having a really hard time not going back for seconds... so tempted.) If you are anything like me, now is the time, minions! Our moment has arrived! Like Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd at the end of Trading Places, buy buy buy. Though sadly, unlike Dan and Eddie, this purchase is unlikely to result in such mad profit that we then snap up a Caribbean island of our very own, where even our butlers have butlers. Wouldn't it be great if books were like orange juice futures? Forget pork bellies. Stock brokers are wandering Wall Street, puffed up and bragging about the killing they made in Kresley Cole futures.

I seem to have drifted slightly off topic. To recap the Public Service Announcement: Sexorcist. $3.71. Amazon. Consider yourself informed.

Have you guys seen other similar deals? Other print books going for mad crazy rates? Cuz I'm feeling spendy spendy spendy...

**UPDATE: Oh noes, you guys! The sad! The sale went away. It's back up to normal prices. Which kinda makes me want to cry a little. I will keep you posted if it miraculously drops back to the happy zone.**

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Heads Up, Tweeple

If you are on The Twitter and you want a shot at winning an advanced copy of Reawakening Eden - the post-apocalyptic romancey goodness coming in four short weeks - be sure you follow @sknighteditor and look for the hashtag #NovARC for details on how to win!

When life is a struggle, love is the ultimate luxury.

Librarian Eden Fairfax knows exactly where to find books about survival. None of them mentioned how to manage in the aftermath of a worldwide epidemic—with two young orphans in tow.

On a journey south to warmer climes, she finds sanctuary for all three of them among a community of survivors in Seattle. Until she realizes the children are the centerpiece of their bizarre new religion. There’s no choice but to run as far and as fast as her stolen car will go.

Former Army Ranger Connor Reed had planned to live out the end of the world in peace. Yet he can’t stand by and do nothing while a lone woman defends two children from an armed thug. Even if doing something means taking the trio in.

Eden’s not sure if the armed hermit is her salvation or an even more dangerous threat. A blizzard forces her to trust him with their lives, and in Connor’s arms she remembers what it’s like to live.

Just beyond the edge of the storm, though, the cult leader awaits his chance to get his hands on the children—and make Eden his next sexual sacrifice.

Warning: This book contains a strong, silent action-hero, a tough, tenacious heroine, a pair of steal-your-heart kids, and a pony-sized dog named Precious.

Pre-Order from Samhain :: Amazon :: B&N

I've been rather quiet on the blog lately, mostly because I am deep in edits at the moment and they are sucking up all my energy/will to live, but I promise to come back to you soon, beloved reader minions... unless Death By Edits proves to be truly fatal. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Would You Have Read The High Bouncing Lover?

Turns out, that is almost what The Great Gatsby was called. Mental Floss has an article about ten classic books and their almost-titles.

Seemed topical since this week has been all about titles for me. Did I mention we have an anthology title for the Samhain Superhero antho that I'm in along with Jodi Redford and Kimberly Dean? It's Midnight Justice, baby. What do you think? Better than bouncing lovers?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Survey Says...

You like books, right? You like winning them, right? So hie yourself on over to the Ruby blog. Just take a brief survey about your book buying tendencies and you can win some books! Woot! Your personal information (email) is ONLY for the purpose of contacting you in case you are selected as a winner and will not be used for any nefarious or obnoxious purposes. Or really any purposes other than to give you books should you be drawn as a winner.

And if you're interested in the survey results, be sure to come back on Monday the 24th to see exactly how freakishly abnormal your book-buying tendencies may be compared to the rest of the world (or at least that portion of the rest of the world who took the survey).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Got Titles?

Need a title for a manuscript? At the Ruby blog we're brainstorming for the masses today and DUDE I'm having an abnormally good time throwing out (semi) helpful suggestions! Want to help name a yet-to-be-published book? Come play!

Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Take Feedback

So you've written your novel (woot!), you've found a critique partner or vaguely impartial loved-one to read it, and they've given you an opinion (or several). Now comes the tricky part. Learning to take it. Maybe some people are born with this ability, but I think for most writers just starting out, it takes some practice to perfect. The trick, I think, is learning not to argue with your audience.

If someone says your heroine seems unmotivated, it's tempting to explain to them why their reaction is unreasonable. How you put in that one sentence in chapter three and if they'd only read it right they would see her motivation crystal clear. It's instinctive to defend our work, but every reader is going to react to it differently and you have to respect their reaction. Instead of trying to get them to read it right, or explaining why their reaction wasn't the one you wanted, consider how you can make your heroine's motivation more clear, how you can make it so your reader has NO CHOICE but to react the way you want them to. Box them in with your precision prose.

Think of your beta readers as people who are helping you find the places where your reader might escape your carefully laid path, and then patch the fences to keep them neatly corralled. And thank your betas. Profusely. Because it is much MUCH better to find out about problems in your book when you still have a chance to fix them rather than after the paying customers get their hands on it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fix It Friday: Real Steel

There is a real art to the underdog story. You start with a character you can root for, someone you like and/or relate to and can really get behind. Then you put that character up against impossible odds, and just when it seems like all hope is lost, your character's heart, tenacity, faith and sheer willpower drag them through to an incredible victory. And everybody cheers!

Karate Kid. Seabiscuit. Rocky. Rudy. Major League. We've seen it time and again and we just keep coming back for more, because that addictive underdog story sweeps us up and carries us on a tide of feel-good tinglies right out of the theatre.

Real Steel was not that movie.

Reel Steal wanted to be that movie. It wasn't trying to be Death Race or Running Man or any other kind of dystopian-social-commentary-anything. There were moments when it almost wanted to be Free Willy (if Willy was a giant robot rather than a giant whale), but in this edition of Fix-It Fridays, we're going to teach Real Steel how to be a feel-good underdog story. Ready? Let's get to it.

**STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Spoilers! We got 'em and we're not afraid to scatter them wantonly throughout the post. Consider yourself warned.**

Let's start by looking at ingredient number one of the underdog story: the hero you can root for. Within the first fifteen minutes of Real Steel, we know that Our Hero is running from several people to whom he owes large sums of money and we get to see how he came to be in debt when he himself instigates a reckless bet for twenty-thousand dollars which he loses when he is distracted by a random cute girl in the crowd, allowing his robot (and only source of income) to be destroyed. We also learn that he is a prick with children when he tells a trio of adorable little girls that they can only have a picture with his robot if they give him five bucks. AND THEN, as if that wasn't enough to make him the apple of everyone's eye, we learn that he abandoned his child a decade ago and does not know that child's age - consistently referring to him as nine rather than eleven (even after he and said son have started to bond). What do you say? Isn't that the kind of guy you want to see rise up against the odds and win the day? Of course he is. Especially after he offers to SELL his legal custody of his son (whom he sort of inherited after the mother died) to his ex's sister for a hundred grand and only agrees to spend time with the kid to seal the deal.

At this point in the film, I don't want to see him succeed. I don't even really want to see him learn his lesson about what it is to be a father and grow as a human being. I just want to see a robot malfunction and pummel the hell out of him. Please.

That's not an underdog. That's an asshole. Don't worry, Hollywood, it's an easy mistake to make. They look so darn similar.

Let's move on to tenet number two of the successful underdog film: impossible odds. We are shown a brief montage about midway through the film demonstrating the unbeatable awesomeness that is the super-robot Zeus. I think I might be supposed to dislike the team behind Zeus, though it is hard to tell why, unless it is based on the fact that they are beautiful, rich and intelligent enough to build an undefeatable robot. Yes, the odds of defeating Zeus are impossible, but they aren't really in front of our hero & his kid. Our heroic father-son robot team essentially call them out on national television, so... well, let's look at it like this: would you still root for David if he ran around trash-talking Goliath until Goliath finally agreed to fight him?

And the third element - victory through heart, passion, willpower, etc. Oi. When we see Rocky get knocked down and he struggles to his feet, in spite of the pain we know he must be in, we are awed by his strength of character. The makers of Real Steel were at a disadvantage. They don't have Rocky. They have a robot which cannot feel pain (regardless of the fact that they made a couple half-assed attempts to humanize it a la A.I.) and when he is knocked down and struggles back up in the face of system-failure, it isn't willpower that does it (his or his operator's), it's just mechanics. I'm not moved by my toaster's ability to keep popping up the toast, day after day, no matter the abuse heaped on it.

So how do we fix it? Oh my. Brace yourselves, darlings. This is a big 'un. It might take a while.

First, a quick fix with a flaw in the premise - the idea that a bloodless bloodsport could replace real boxing because it was "more violent" which implies that violence without actual threat of injury or danger is more riveting than the same including the potential for human injury... dude, seriously? Instead, we say that real boxing was outlawed because all of the MMA stuff had gotten out of control with folks dying in the ring and Robo-Boxing took its place as a safer alternative.

Honestly, if I were going to really fix this baby, I'd probably ax the entire opening and re-angle the entire film to be more from the kid's perspective. His is the most interesting story to me. But to keep as much of the story-structure in place as possible, we're going to let Hugh Jackman continue being The Star... and a huge douche (though we are going to down-grade his asshole quotient by a factor of ten).

We open on a scene twelve years before the action of the plot. It's Our Hero's big fight, his big chance as a boxer. The high point of his career. We see his trainer (Evangeline Lilly's dad), we see Evangeline and her puppy love for his manly self, and we see the woman who will become Max's mom. The commentators at the match are talking about the new Robo-Boxing fad and whether it will ever take off. Our hero will get cold-cocked by the Texas jerk in a Mayweather-esq move of questionable sportsmanship. He goes down and sustains some injury such that his career is over. He will leave the girlfriend (Max's mom-to-be) and his trainer and everyone and head off to try his luck in the Robo-ring, because he sees himself as a fighter and only that. He can't stop now. He will not know that Max was conceived and therefore is not a dead-beat dad on purpose. But we learn all of that throughout the course of the film. We cut away at the knockout.

What next we see is Our Hero, down on his luck, trying to string something together, strapped for cash and in debt (but not gambling stupidly) and getting unlucky (not losing due to his own stupidity and overly cocky attitude). The kid he didn't know about lands on his doorstep unexpectedly and he's stuck with him for a few months but he DOES NOT sell the child and he tries to sort of play at dad half-heartedly. I know this makes it into a dozen other cliche cheesy family-friendly movies (many starring the Rock and an adorable girl who likes to bedazzle footballs), but having your hero actually SELL his freaking CHILD... it's hard to come back from that when it comes to likeability.

When they find the robot, Atom, our hero will humor the kid at first (rather than telling him over and over again that his dream is stupid and pointless) and then eventually start to believe in the 'bot and through that begin to bond with the child. To make sure we still have conflict, he could, at some point, sell the kid's bot out from under him for the money and then have to make it right. Or perhaps child protective services becomes involved at some point and he has to prove that he's a fit father... but what we need is for him to be struggling against circumstances, not causing his own bad situation with bad choices (and the bad karma of his extreme jerkishness).

Also, the bad-guy 'bot, Zeus, and his owners could offer up some kind of prize to anyone who can defeat the undefeated robot. That gives the kid a motivation to challenge the Big Bad to a fight and provides a concrete reward if they win. It's always good for the audience to know what we're rooting for. (As it stands, I'm not even a hundred percent sure how this story ended. Who has custody of the kid?)

And after we've done all that, after we've developed concrete stakes for the prize-fight and have a root-able hero, we just hope that it's enough to counteract the fact that robots don't have feelings and can't overcome their emotional challenges. (Or perhaps we go to greater lengths to demonstrate that the robot has human-esq cognition. That could be cool. To have it "glitch" at convenient moments to help the kid or demonstrate emotion of some kind.)

That's the fix (or as much of one as I have energy for tonight). Then maybe, just maybe, then we'll have the makings of an underdog story.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Golden Heart Tips

Today I'm over at the Ruby blog, talking with my fellow Rubies about writing tips for folks who are focused on entering the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart awards. If you are of the writing inclination, swing on by and check out the Rubies' series of Golden Heart tips.

My brilliant tip? Luck. It's all luck. That's my theory.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ghost Art!

Ghosts of Boyfriends Past, my ghosts and Valentine's curses novella (or perhaps we should call it a novella-plus since it's a bit on the long side) which'll be hitting the shelves this coming January now has a pretty face to show the world! Look, everyone, ART!

Angela Waters gave me this slice of pretty to show off. Isn't it deliciously curse-ish? I'm all aflutter.

What do you think? (And does anyone else want to steal that model's hair? Or is that just me?)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Love is SUPER!

The "i"s are dotted. The "t"s crossed. You know what that means, boys and girls. I can talk about it! Woot!

It's official. My superhero romance, Superlovin', will be included in the Spring Samhain anthology of Superhero Sexiness! It's love in capes, y'all! You know spandex has never been sexier. (I flippin' love this book, y'all. Sooooo excited.)

What happens when a superheroine finds herself falling for the very supervillain she was sent to thwart? Tune in this Spring to find out. Just in time for the next Avengers fix! (Yes, I want to be Black Widow when I grow up.)

I would kermit flail with glee right now except for the fact that I'm likely to send myself into a coughing fit, so please dance around your living rooms on my behalf until I'm healthy enough to manage it myself.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Success Sequence

I analyze everything. And because I'm narcissistic, I especially analyze myself and my reactions to stuff. This week I got some good news (which I will share as soon as the ink is dry...) and I realized I've developed a pattern of reactions to good news and success and whatnot. It's rather boring to be so emotionally predictable, but there it is. And now I share with you, because I can... and because I'm interested if other people have a similar sequence they go through when they get good news.

Reaction the First: Elation. Yep, not surprisingly I am euphoric when something happy-making happens, but what may surprise you is how long this lasts... or doesn't last. For me, it's usually only about twenty minutes to an hour or so. After that, I stop smiling for no reason, randomly bouncing in my chair with glee, and calling folks to share my gushy enthusiasm.

Reaction the Second: Guilt. I know I work hard for the good things that come my way. It's not that I don't think I deserve them. It's not that I don't want them. But I feel bad for getting them - like by being successful I am purposefully screwing over all the other people who want what I have who don't have it yet. I don't feel like this all the time (thank god, because how would you function?), but for about an hour immediately after my elation phase, I feel like a horrible terrible no-good bad dreadful person for getting exactly what I worked for.

What gets me out of this mode?

Reaction the Third: Planning. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, right? So when the best happens, you have to shuffle your plans to accommodate. When is my good thing coming, how will it impact my plans, what do I need to do to prepare, what comes next? I make lists on every available writing surface. I call my parents to tell them about my "New Plan!" I dig into my goals spreadsheet and plug in new data. And then...

Action: Moving On. It's a few hours after I got my news and I'm past it. Focused on implementing my new plan, moving on toward the new shiny goal. I've never been good at wallowing in success, which I think is probably a good thing. If you spend too much time focused on what you did, it can clutter up the path to what you are going to do.

So what about you? How do you react to good news?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Love at First Sight is Lame

I'm over at the Ruby blog yammering about why I think love at first sight is boring in romance novels. Swing on by and argue with me! Tell me why insta-infatuation rocks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Epic, Dude.

Guess what, boys and girls? The Winter Wishes anthology, featuring my lil Christmas novella No Angel, along with most excellent works by the divine Moira Rogers (Freeze Line) and transcendent Vivian Arend (Tangled Tinsel) has been named as a finalist in the 2012 EPIC Awards. Can I get a woohoo?

Also among the finalists is my good friend, the fabulous Kelli Scott for her novella Stormy Wedding!

Congratulations to all the finalists and good luck!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Make It Golden Contest for Writers

If you are an aspiring writer planning on entering the Golden Heart this year, hie yourself over to the Ruby Blog RIGHT THIS INSTANT. The Make It Golden Contest is now live. No entry fee for the Make It Golden Contest and the prize is a paid Golden Heart entry fee. Only the first 100 entries will be considered, so polish up your first line and scamper over to enter. Don't delay!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Vegas Tally

While in Vegas this week, in a one hour period I saw:

2 Elvises
3 Brides in poofy gowns
4 Ambulances (rushing to the aid of alcohol poisoning victims...)

...and a partridge in a pear treeeeee.

Also, wandering back from admiring the fountains at the Bellagio (love!), a guy handing out nightclub flyers offered unlimited alcohol for women until 5 am "if you can stay standing that long". Yeah... cuz that sounds... awesome. And not at all sketchy. BYOR: Bring Your Own Rohypnol!

Stay classy, Vegas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ruby Birthday Bash

The Rubies are having our second annual Birthday Bash and you know what that means - PRIZES! GAMES! Yeah, we're nerdy and we love it. There are toddler pictures (including one of yours truly) and random trivia and SCADS of prizes to be won (gift cards, books, you name it). So trot on over to the Ruby Blog and snag yourself up some awesome.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Joyfully Reviewed

Ooh, lookie, you guys! A new review for Serengeti Sunrise! Joyfully Reviewed is full of joy and awesomeness as they chat about Tyler and Zoe HERE.

"Vivi Andrew’s Serengeti Sunrise is a sexy smashing shifter love story!"

Doesn't it just make you all warm and fuzzy to hear that? And the word "smashing" is one of my personal favorites, so I'm doubly giddy. I'm gonna wander around today calling everything I see "Smashing!" A practice I highly recommend.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Random Musings from the Road

I'm in travel mode at the moment, gallivanting without much in the way of direction across these United States. As I'm drifting, certain snippets always strike me as ridiculous funny. Today, I share with you my random (and at times somewhat inappropriate and/or mildly offensive) Musings from the Road!
  • I love staying in casino hotels. I don't gamble (and I seriously do not understand the appeal of slot machines) but I flat out love the fact that random strangers wish you luck in the elevator. It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy. I might just start wishing random passersby good luck regardless of where I am, but I'm thinking outside of a casino atmosphere it might seem creepy or mildly threatening. Good luck in context: Yay! Good luck out of context: What do you know? Why do I need luck? What's that supposed to mean? So maybe I won't take it up as my greeting of choice.
  • In lovely West Texas, I saw the following billboard: "'We need to talk.' -God"
    Now, I don't know about you, but my first response was. "WTF? God's breaking up with me?" Because, dude, I have never before seen such classic break-up words used as a come-to-Jesus. He was probably cheating on me with that slutty Vishnu with all her extra arms...
  • Religious billboards in general crack me up. Especially the ones that are like those Burma Shave ones from Ye Olden Tymes where they ask you a perfectly interesting thought provoking question ("Where will you spend eternity?") only to follow it up a few miles down the road with HELL IS REAL or some other deeply cheery PSA. I seriously wonder how many people take up religion from a Burma-Shave ambush billboard. Kinda like I wonder how effective people who stand on street corners banging Bibles and screaming verse at passing cars actually think they are.
  • And in unreligious news... In Arizona, this little gem was on a ginormous billboard: "Indian City. Blankets: $5" Blankets for five bucks, you guys! Small pox included! (Okay, I know, it's a cringey joke. Too soon?)
  • And last, but certainly not least, I found Radiator Springs! (From Cars, for those of you without Pixar-addicted children in your life.) In Holbrook, Arizona, I tripped across the actual Cozy Cone (though they called it the Wigwam Motel), but seriously! There's Mater too! Look! (I was waaaay too excited by this discovery. Feel free to mock me for my giddyness.)

And that's all for now folks. Now you all know what it's like to go on a road trip with me - only without the vaguely tuneful belting along with the radio.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Selective Memory Loss

I was chatting with my dad last night about the World's Greatest Sport (we're both baseball junkies). We were watching the 49ers win (a few thousand miles apart but still able to enjoy the game together - don't you just love technology?) and complaining that football has officially taken over the airwaves and overshadowed the pennant races as it does every September. The conversation wandered through coaching and mental toughness when my dad brought up one of my favorite jokes on Major League Relief Pitching.

"What's a reliever's best friend? A short memory."

You can't fixate on yesterday's shelling. Or yesterday's success. You have to enter each game as a blank slate.

Today, on one of my writer loops, there is a conversation about bad reviews. I mean nasty, awful, dreadful, worst-book-ever-written style reviews. The kind that actually make us laugh they are so over-the-top vitriolic. A bunch of authors were posting clips of their worst reviews (and they were jaw-droppingly horrible). Now, I'm not immune. I've gotten some whoppers. But I realized I couldn't jump into the Worst Review Ever competition. Why?

Selective memory loss.

I remember that I got shelled, but in a vague, yep-that-happened kind of way. The words themselves blurred.

Even though I could easily have looked up those one-star gems to refresh my memory, I decided not to. The good it might do (of giving me something to laugh about on the loop) couldn't compare to the harm it might do (of undermining my confidence when I'm trying to plow through The Book That Will Not Die).

Writers are like relief pitchers. We need that blank slate. That short memory. And a certain amount of tunnel-vision.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Wolfie World Tour!

The always fabulous Vivian Arend is hosting me at her blog today and we're talking about A Cop & A Feel. Ever wonder what Matt would take on vacation or where the happy couple would go for a special anniversary? Swing by for the scoop and stay for the awesomeness that is the ever-awesome Vivian Arend! (And comment for a chance to score an e-copy of any of the Karmic stories!)

And don't miss Black Gold, her latest yummy werewolf romance, coming next week from Samhain!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Specifically Set

I happen to be on another of my road-trips at the moment. My little car is fast approaching 100,000 miles as I tool through the Southwest. As I'm driving through the vast, largely empty expanses of West Texas for the first time since I wrote the Serengeti Shifters series that takes place there, I find myself: 1) relieved that I'd remembered it accurately enough that I am not cringing at every mile over the mistakes I made (though I'm sure I made plenty) and 2) ruminating on setting specificity.

Do you like books that take place in very specific locations or do you prefer the generic Anytown, USA settings?

The benefit of the first is that you get a strong sense of place, but there be landmines in specificity.

I have a hard time reading books that take place in Alaska or Hawaii because I know enough about the uniqueness of those places that any little wobble will throw me out of the story. I had to put down a book by a Beyond Awesome Author because she used a combination of phrases to describe an Alaskan location that made no sense to me because of the slang we use to describe our regions. (Southeast & Interior are two very different regions and to combine them... dude, I have no idea where you are talking about - but if you had said the southeast of the interior, it would have made total sense. It's a tiny little word that no one would care about except someone from my big ole state.)

But how many people would notice or care about those wobbles? To everyone else the specificity of place will provide atmosphere and enrich the setting. So should you only write about settings you know like the back of your hand?

Kristan Higgins writes about the Northeast - largely Maine and Massachusetts. Jennifer Crusie's books tend to take place in Ohio. Keri Arthur's books live in Melbourne. Do we, as authors, need to regionalize ourselves?

What do you prefer to read?