Friday, January 28, 2011

A Random Quote Day

Today, for no apparent reason, I'd like to dedicate the day to a set of unattributed quotes that gave me some grins. Hopefully they do the same for you. Happy Friday, boys and girls.

Never argue with a fool. He'll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

The voices in my head may be fake, but they have good ideas!

Hospitality is making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

I scream the same way whether I'm about to be eaten by a shark or seaweed touches my foot.

Some cause happiness wherever they go, others whenever they go.

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Smut-o-Meter

You know what I want? A Smut-o-Meter. I picture this as much like the golden egg weigher thingamajig in Willie Wonka. You drop your completed, unreleased manuscript onto the scale and it gives you a little "bing! bing!" and tells you how hot it is - sweet, sensual, sexy, erotic, or erotica.

Cuz here's the thing - heat level is all shades of gray to me and I have a hard time figuring out when the gray is dark enough to be considered black in the black & white distinctions of "is this erotic romance?" And then regardless of how I think of the books, the stores selling them will sometimes slap their own designations on the books because they think the subject matter of a strip-teasing ghost mentioned in the blurb must be erotica. Or there are those who believe (erroneously) that Samhain and other epublishers only publish erotic romance so that is clearly what I must be writing. So my books get weighed in their minds not on the Smut-o-Meter or even on the Is This a Good Book scale, but on the Is This a Good Erotic Romance scale - and I'm not surprised they walk away disappointed (and send me letters of complaint).

For the record, I do not intend the Karmic Consultants books to be erotic romance. And the Serengeti Shifter books are not erotica. Call them all steamy or sexy romance. Say the shifters are erotic romance (barely) and the karmics are mainstream romance (you betcha). Create your own rating, but please, pretty please with loads of cherries and whipped cream, do not complain to me that The Ghost Shrink is a crappy erotica. Because you are so right about that, baby. It's awful erotica. Good Lord, I hope so. Since there's nothing erotic about it. It's terrible erotica. Cuz it isn't. See?

And if an online bookstore where you bought it lists it as erotica, I have no control over that. One online retailer also lists it as religious and puts it in the same category as the Bible, so we know those categorizations are sacred.

Romantic Times calls it "Hot". All Romance eBooks gives it Three Flames (out of five). Go ahead; make up your own rating. On a scale of lemons to bananas, I'd rate it a solid papaya. Call it whatever you like. Tell me it's too short, it's too silly, it just hit you wrong and fell flat, but please please please don't tell me I write awful erotica. Or do. Go ahead. I'll just laugh. Because when you're right, you're so right.

Does your expectation for a book's heat level impact your enjoyment of the book? Where do you draw the lines? Do you have a heat level preference? Is heat level a deal-breaker when it comes to your romance reading?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Author: Kelli Scott & Stormy Wedding

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Today we welcome contemporary het romance author Kelli Scott to the blog to talk about her recent release, Stormy Wedding. Kelli is a great friend, a delightful writer, and she's agreed (been cajoled, blackmailed and bribed) to sit on the hot seat today.

Stormy Wedding is a refreshing erotic romance, part of the new Branded line where love and marriage come before the steamy hotness, written with Kelli's delightful mix of frank hotness, honest emotion, and playful one-liners. Now, without further ado, I give you, Kelli Scott! Welcome, Kelli!

What inspired you to write your current release?

One of my pet peeves about romance novels is that the story ends when the marriage begins. As if there is no more love. No more romance. No more passion. When Ellora’s Cave announced their Branded line, which is erotic stories within a marriage, I was excited. I came up with a concept right away and dove into the deep end. The line gives me the opportunity to explore the developing sexual relationship of an emotionally, physically and legally committed couple.

If you could pick actors to play the hero & heroine in the movie of you current release, who would you cast?

The image on the cover of Stormy Wedding reminds me of a toned down version of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, which I would not have pictured in the role of my hero and groom, Rory Callahan. Now that he’s there, I can’t imagine any other hero. He’s gorgeous, funny and did I say gorgeous?

Rachel McAllister, the bride is a feisty little firecracker with a mind of her own. When I imagine Rachel, I see pretty, wholesome Zooey Deschanel. Rachel doesn’t think she’s beautiful, desirable or sexy, but she is. She’s also funny.

If one of your characters came knocking on your door, how would you react?

Before knocking on my door, call first. This goes for my characters too. If I don’t answer the phone, leave a message. There’s a good chance my house will be a mess. There’s a better chance I’ll be a mess. Let’s pretend my hero and heroine called first. I clean the house, put something besides pajamas on and have some refreshments available. I’d love to see some wedding photos and hear about their honeymoon.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

I love to tell people I make a living on my back (cue dramatic pause) because I write in bed. Sounds naughty. In reality, I’m in my jammies, no makeup and there’s a dog curled up next to me. Another larger dog will be nearby on the floor. There’s nothing glamorous about it.

What do you think is the most romantic moment ever from a book or movie?

I love it when the hero is ready to die for the woman he loves or kill for her. Some examples of my favorite movies are The Last of the Mohicans, Die Hard, Terminator (yes, Terminator). So, that’s all. Whether the story is set in the past, present or future, the hero has to risk his life or freedom or whatever it is he holds dear, he must make a sacrifice for her, even if it means he will lose her. Piece of cake.

What’s next for you?

I’ve submitted a second story for the Branded line titled Wife Without Parole. We’ll have to wait and see about that. I’ve started a third and fourth erotic, and I’m toying with more ideas.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Kelli! Best wishes with Stormy Wedding and all your future books!

Thank you, Vivi for having me here for the release of Stormy Wedding. I have a question for all your loyal followers, fans and visitors. What was your special wedding day like? Was there a disaster or did your wedding come together seamlessly? If you’re not married, tell me about your dream wedding and I’ll enter you in my drawing for a goody bag of romantic fun. Stop by my blog anytime before February 14th for more chances to win.

Don't miss Kelli's new release from the brand new Branded line, Stormy Wedding.

Rachel McAllister tried to dissuade Rory Callahan’s interest—she’d been hurt by love too many times before—but Rory had been as relentless as a dog after a bone. She gave in, but made one thing perfectly clear from the start—no sex until she said, “I do.” If Rachel knew one thing about men, it was that you gave them what they wanted—sex—and they’d be out the door before the sun came up. Rory has passed all her tests and jumped through her hoops to prove his love. They’re ready to say, “I do”, and Rachel’s ready to erase any of Rory’s lingering regrets about waiting to have sex.

Rory fell head over heels for Rachel at first sight. Getting her to date him was another matter altogether. He’d followed all her rules and has barely even complained about her strict moral code. Now he’s going to marry her for better or worse. He’s about to find out his goody-two-shoes bride-to-be is a fiery vixen who’s too hot to handle.

Click to Read an Excerpt of Stormy Wedding or to Buy Your Copy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Win a Critique

One commenter on Friday January 21st at the Ruby blog will win a 25 page critique by yours truly. So if you are a writing-type-person and you'd like my opinion on your opening, drop by and leave a few words to be entered. Best of luck!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Surprise! You're an Audiobook!

On this week's list of things that crack me up more than they should:

Guess what? Winter Wishes, the anthology of paranormal awesomeness that includes No Angel, is now available as an audiobook! I'm pretty psyched about this development because I'm a huge fan of making books available to low vision booklovers (especially since with my genetic predisposition it's only a matter of time before I am low vision myself).

So why do I find the release of Winter Wishes in audiobook comic? My humor stems from the way I found out. One of my anthology partners tripped across the audiobook on a google search and told the rest of us via Twitter. Surprise! Secret audiobook! I can't wait to hear what the narrator sounds like. :)

Are you an audiobook lover? Do you listen to them in your car or prefer them for visual impairment reasons?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Blogs & Stuff to Be Won

There are a few new kids on the blogosphere block. The new year seems to be the season of authors banding together and launching themselves into the interwebz. Which means, dear reader, that there are new places to get your author fix and some snazzy new prizes to be won.

Our first new arrivals are the various themed blogs of the Carina press authors. Paranormal, historical, suspense, whatever your sub-genre of choice. You name it, Carina's got it and their authors are talking about it.

Also debuting this month is the blog of the Harlequin Super Romance authors. These ladies specialize in category-length stories of real life, real family, and real romance. And they are giving away a bevy of prizes during their launch.

And last, but not least, is the new suspense authors' blog, Killer Fiction, who're giving away a shiny new Kindle as part of their debut.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gimme an A for Effort!

The romance writing community is an extremely supportive place for aspiring writers. I highly recommend joining organizations like Romance Writers of America, Romance Divas, and other writing groups for the camaraderie and sharing knowledge. The purpose of the Ruby website and their current winter writing festival is exactly that kind of support...


There is a difference between support and blind cheerleading. Have you ever watched the cheerleaders at a football game? More often than not, they have their backs to the action. They are bouncing and tumbling and waving their pom-poms to rile up the crowd, but do they actually impact the action in any way? Do they really have anything to do with the guys scoring touchdowns? Not so much. What we need, as writers, is not cheerleaders. We need people on the field with us, playing the game. We need writing cronies who will be blockers and passers and coaches who advise us (and tell us when to kick a field goal because we aren't going to make that touchdown on 4th and 17).

No professional football player finishes the game and makes a beeline for the cheerleaders to thank them for all they did to help them win the game. It's the coach who gets doused in gatorade. And the coach is not going to tell you that you really caught that pass when you didn't. The cheerleaders may shout "good effort" but the coach won't. He doesn't have to say a word. The receiver knows it was his job to catch that ball. And he knows he didn't catch it. He knows he won't get a pat on the back until he catches the next one.

Yesterday, I was in a chat room doing some writing sprints. (Essentially a bunch of writers hang out and egg one another on to write in timed, focused 20 minute blocks.) I returned to the room after one 20 and declared my sprint to be a "total fail" because, quite honestly, I hadn't accomplished jack shit in that 20 minutes. I was then told, by no less than three people in the chatroom, that I hadn't failed. I explained that, no, I really had. I'd gotten no words written and made no progress on plotting or any other writing-related task. It had been 20 minutes of pointless circles and thinking about how freaking cold I was and wouldn't it be nice to take a hot shower and maybe I'll take a break and take a hot shower and come back refreshed and then I'll have focus and be really... oh, shit, time's up. I'd failed. But these women insisted I hadn't. They refused to believe me. They told me that because I had been sitting there trying that I had succeeded. One woman even went so far as to demand I stop beating myself up (being honest is beating yourself up now?) and informed me that I couldn't expect it to be easy as I was developing this "new habit" of writing every day. I tried to explain that this wasn't new to me, but she told me I was wrong about that too. It was new to me. Because I was having to train my brain to write even when I wasn't in the mood. Now, I don't know this chick, but even more importantly, she doesn't know me. Why the hell is she assuming all this crap about me? I've never been the kind of person who requires a mood or a muse to write. And I don't give up just because it's work. I know she was trying to give me a pep talk, but she forgot the first element of being supportive. Listening.

I'm all for enthusiasm, but in a supportive writing community I am not looking for the cheerleader who can "Woohoo!" the loudest - whether I deserve a woohoo or not. True support is someone who kicks you on the butt when you need it, talks through your issues when you need that, gives you a stirring pep talk when you need one, and pays enough attention to know what you need when.

Blowing smoke up someone's ass when they haven't accomplished anything just engenders the belief that achievement is less important than effort and (while I don't think effort should be totally discounted) that just isn't true. Results matter. "You tried to write a book! Good for you!" isn't going to get you to the New York Times Bestseller list.

I am sick of people who think support is just telling someone how awesome they are regardless of whether or not they deserve the praise at that particular moment. I failed in those 20 minutes. I needed "Okay, take that and use it as motivation to do better next time." I got "No, you didn't fail! You tried."

Trying is not the same thing as succeeding. And I am so freaking sick of this entitlement culture where the two concepts are handled like they are one and the same. Everyone gets a trophy for participating! Everyone gets a ribbon for trying. We're so worried about bolstering self-esteem that we are undermining the value of real achievement.

The team that goes to the Super Bowl isn't the one who put in a really great effort every time they dropped the ball. The winner is the one with the most points. The one who executes. How have we as a culture lost sight of the importance of execution? Not to say effort should be ignored, but doesn't execution count for something?

Support is the coach who helps you execute. Cheerleading might be nice for your ego, but it isn't ever going to get you where you need to be. And sometimes, it's just annoying as hell.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is Comedy?

I just had an interesting chat with a fellow author. As with most truly interesting conversations we had very different opinions on the subject. What was the subject, you may ask? Comedy. What makes a book a romantic comedy as opposed to just a romance with some humor?

My fellow author was holding to the classic precepts of comedy - misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and what she felt were inherently comedic situations. I am of the belief that situations don't create humor. The treatment of the situation - perspective, internalizations, and dialogue - are what make a reader actually laugh. And to me, laughter is what makes a comedy.

I tend to draw the line between romance with humor & romantic comedy depending on (and this is oooh-so-scientific) how funny the book is. Is it a dramatic story with a steady diet of clever phrases and cute one-liners (a la Julie James, perhaps)? Then I would characterize it as a romance with humor. Is it a story with a smile on nearly every page, laugh out loud moments, and a pervasive sense of lightness to the tone that is occasionally reined in for some dramatic moments (a la Jennifer Crusie)? That would be a romantic comedy. I enjoy both, but I do think there is a difference - and to me that difference is not in the situations, but in the volume of the humor.

What do you think? When does something cross the line from an amusing romance into a romantic comedy for you? Or is it one of those things you don't care or think about when reading (or writing) a book?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Writing Festival

Calling all writers! Do you have writing goals you'd like to accomplish this winter? A NaNo book to complete or revise? A deadline looming? This winter (starting TODAY and running through the end of February) the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog is hosting a Winter Writing Festival. (Yeah, it's the WWF! Author Deathmatch!)

Set your own goals, according to what you hope to accomplish, participate in writing sprints and win pleasure books, craft books, or one of several 25 page critiques (including one from yours truly, which has a disclaimer that I am a tough cookie, so it won't be a hearts and flowers critique).

Where, are you asking, do you go for this awesomeness? Visit the Ruby Writing Festival website to read the guidelines, register as a participant, and dive into writing challenges today! Good luck and happy writing!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


These last few days, the gym has been crowded with New Year's Resolution-ers. I've never been that impressed by the tendency to only resolve to change your life between January 1st and 15th each year. Resolution season doesn't do much for me, but part of that is because I already have resolve. And that's what I'm talking about over at the Ruby blog today. Dedication, resolve, and finding it in yourself.

I'm good about staying on task. I'm good at goals. On a day-to-day, year-round basis, I am resolved to accomplish what I want to. I don't need a New Year as an excuse to make goals. What about you? Are you resolved?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Joan Swan Giving Away the Awesome in 2011

It's 2011! Can you believe it? And Joan Swan, author of fire-fighter sexiness whose first release Fever will hit the shelves in April 2012 courtesy of Kensington Brava, is kicking off the New Year right... with a huge giveaway! All this month, Joan is featuring some of the author-chickies she's bumped elbows with over the years on her journey to publication (including yours truly!) and each day she will give away another author's newest release to one of her twitter followers!

And today is my day, darlings! Be sure to come back and play all throughout the month. It's easy to play, easy to win, and there are some hellagood authors in that batch. Don't miss your chance to be exposed to the awesomeness.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year with New To Me Awesomeness!

Smart Bitch Sarah recently posted a list of new-to-her authors who had rocked her socks this year. I loved the idea and wanted to play too - which turned out to be trickier than I thought because I had to think back over what I'd read when and which books were my first exposure to which authors and... well, suffice it to say, after that mental odyssey, I discovered I did in fact add a few squee-worthy auto-buy authors to my queue this year.

Here are the new Slices of Awesome I now find I can't live without:

Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games trilogy knocked my socks right across the room. I love dystopian books and I love YA. I love tough-girl heroines with biting self-awareness trapped in gritty, cynical future-scapes. I love complex stories with hard choices and densely packed emotional turmoils handled in a frank way. So yeah, I pretty much loved every word of the series.

Tera Lynn Childs - Another YA dynamo, but of a different flavor than Ms. Collins. Tera Lynn Childs penned Oh. My. Gods. (Rita winner) and Goddess Bootcamp - quick-witted, fun and flirty tales of a girl who attends a school for the descendants of the greek gods.

Kristan Higgins - Contemporary romance goddess. Not all my new obsessions are of the YA variety. I discovered Kristan Higgins this year, much to my delight. Honestly, I don't always love her heroines, but I love how honest and insightful her books are about human nature and the bumpy road to love - without ever getting too heavy. It's quite a skill to engage the emotions without going dark and man, is this lady skilled.

Joanna Bourne - Historical romance goddess. I was deeply impressed by Ms. Bourne's Spymaster's Lady. Her books are far more than fanciful fluff. Not that I don't love me some fluff, I'm a fluff lover from way back, but her writing is tightly layered and seems more realistically historical (and therefore darker) than many historical romance offerings. Engrossing work.

Patricia Briggs - Urban Fantasy rockstar. I binged on Patricia Briggs earlier this year only to draw up rather abruptly when something happened in her books which is one of my personal "drop-it" buttons. I still adore her and her writing, but I had to take a break. I love her world, I love her characters, and I positively adore the suck-me-in-and-shake-me way she writes... and I think I finally have the gumption up to forge on to the next book. Wish me luck.

Victoria Dahl - Contemporary romance rockstar. When I grow up, can I be Victoria Dahl? Her books are bright, funny, insightful, sexy and a lovely satisfying sigh-at-the-end reading experience. I suppose that's my barometer for great books. Did I read the last word, close it, hold it up to my chest and sigh happily? Yep. With Victoria Dahl, yes I did.

Who did you discover this year who has curled your toes? Anyone you're dying to check out in 2011?