Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bev Pettersen is Full of Awesome

Guess what, boys and girls? I just got an email from yesterday's visitor, equestrian writing guru Bev Pettersen, and she'd like to give away FREE copies of Color My Horse to everyone who commented yesterday on the blog! How awesome is that?

To redeem your copy of Color My Horse by the excellent (and generous!) Ms. Pettersen, please email me at and I will make sure you receive the redemption code for a FREE download! (The code does expire on Sunday, so don't delay!)

All together now: THANK YOU, BEV!!!

Is she not full of win?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Horse of a Different Color Romance

I come from a horse-crazy family. My mom rode, two of my aunts are renown for their dressage riding and training chops, and even I rode as a young 'un (though I never came close to the level of awesome of my badass aunts). And all of us read romance. But where are the romances for horse-crazy chickies? Where are the romance authors who know their fetlocks from their withers?

Bev Pettersen is just such an author. (I like to call her the Dick Francis of Romance.) A fellow Ruby, she's been writing racetrack romance with a little murder mystery thrown in for years, but the Big New York publishers didn't believe there was an audience for the subgenre, so she decided to skip the middle man and self-publish through Westerhall to find her horse-crazy romance readers. Her first two novels, Jockeys & Jewels and Color My Horse. released earlier this year. Here's a peek:

Jockeys & Jewels
Racehorse trainer, Kurt MacKinnon, resents being yanked into undercover police work. But when his ex-partner is murdered, Kurt is determined to find the killer and moves his third-string Thoroughbreds to the backwater track where his partner was last seen alive.

Julie West, a struggling and dedicated jockey, pins her dreams of an elusive win on the new trainer in town, never suspecting she’s a person of interest—and not because of her riding skills.

Kurt didn’t expect his contrary colt to flourish under Julie’s feminine touch nor for his own rusty heart to soften. However, his deceit sucks them both into the cross hairs of a killer, and suddenly much more than their love is in danger.

Buy for only $.99 from Amazon :: Buy from Barnes & Noble

Color My Horse A disillusioned heiress swaps her credit cards for a pitchfork and shovel in a desperate attempt to escape her grandfather’s iron-fisted control. However, at the track she must earn the respect of an uncompromising horse trainer who has little tolerance for greenhorns, especially one he’s been forced to hire.

Mark Russell never expected his rookie groom to have the spunk or savvy to last at his demanding race barn. Or that his reluctant respect would turn to desire. But as the forbidden attraction between them sizzles, manipulation and murder threaten not only his horses but also their lives. And suddenly a Breeders’ Cup win is the very least of his worries.

Buy from Amazon

Meet Bev: bevpicwinter

When Bev broke her leg galloping at the track, a friend brought a Dick Francis novel to the hospital and she was hooked. Horses had always been a integral part of her life, from Pony Club as a child and later within the dynamic world of horse racing so the combination of books and horses was irresistible.

Born and raised in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Bev moved to Alberta and spent five years racing and training Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. Her love of racing has taken her to Texas, Kentucky, California, Ontario, New York, and Dubai.

She earned her Bachelor of Business Degree from Mount Saint Vincent University and is an Equine Canada certified coach. Bev lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and two teenagers and when she’s not writing, likes to be riding.

Are you horse crazy? Do you love a romance (or other) novel with some equine elements thrown in? Tell me about your favorites!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Stamos Cuddle

You guys. John Stamos wants to cuddle with you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm Not Really Listening to You

So, I think this is just a genetic quirk passed on from my father, but it might be a writer thing so I'm gonna blog about it, because it kinda cracks me up... when it isn't slightly screwing up my life.

I ignore people. Not all the time. I've been told I'm an excellent listener and I like to think of myself as being highly aware of undercurrents and whatnot. Except... (there's always a "but" isn't there?) When I'm concentrating (writing, most often, but any kind of pure focus will elicit the same response), I completely ignore whoever is talking to me. This wouldn't be as much of a problem (I always apologize when I come up from the depths of my brain where I've fallen during the concentration period) except for the fact that I talk while I do this. I respond, logically and at times eloquently, to the person asking me questions. And I have no memory of these responses or the conversation at all. I remember that you are physically in the room and there are words happening, but that's it.

My dad is exactly the same way. You don't ask him to make plans with you when he is reading his newspaper. It will just end badly.

The trouble is there's no obvious cue that it's happening. I sound totally normal. It's amazing people don't think I'm a blithering idiot when I make them replay the high points of a conversation I just had.

Luckily my family and friends tend to find this funny and I almost always remember that I've talked to someone later, even if I don't remember what was said (or sometimes even who I was talking to). It's not something I do consciously, so I'm not sure how one would even go about breaking yourself of this habit. I just try to compensate the best I can.

Certainly keeps things interesting.

Anyone else out there in internet land do this?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chuck the Wise

For the record, I kinda love Chuck of Terrible Minds. So now, I send you forth to be educated by the awesomeness that is his view on Social Media for Writers. (Probably not safe for work and intended for adults and all that type disclaimery stuff.) Just don't forget to "Engage with the 3-D fleshy meatbags" occasionally.

...and also, for the super-secret-author-handshake-inside-scoop on how to write a book. Kindly refer to This Post by Chuck. (Hint: You just write it.)

...or really all of his posts. I really love that brain of his.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't Mess with Texas

It's time for another eye-rolling edition of "Really? You're that upset about a book?"

The Texas Department of Transportation is suing author Christie Craig and her publisher. Know why? Because the title of her latest release is "Don't Mess With Texas" and they trademarked that phrase as part of their anti-littering campaign. Still wondering why they're suing? Well, folks, it appears that Christie Craig's latest has been deemed "porn" in the lawsuit and the title of her book will cause "irreparable harm" to their attempts to keep Texas clean.

What a great thing for the government of Texas to do, right? Fabulous use of tax payer dollars.

I saw a workshop of Christie's once. Funny lady. Good writer. She writes light-hearted, flirty contemporaries in the vein of Jennifer Crusie if you haven't read her before. Click here to check out Don't Mess With Texas.

**UPDATE: This afternoon a judge threw out the case. Go Sam Sparks! Not only do you have a great name, you also have common sense. Well done, your honor.**

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Get Your End-Of-The-World Now!

Good morning, reader-minions! Guess what! Reawakening Eden, my tale of love after the end of the world, is now available for pre-order from Amazon! (And there was much rejoicing in Casa Andrews.) Behold:

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.

What say you? Sound like your kind of apocalypse?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fix It Fridays: The Green Lantern

You know, based on the one-star review from my local paper and the horrendous word of mouth, I thought The Green Lantern was going to be among the worst films ever made, but you know, it really wasn't that bad. (A ringing endorsement, I know.) The general plotline was good (if a bit heavy-handed - dude, if one more person said the word "fear" I was gonna give them something to be afraid of) and the cast was pretty badass (and just pretty, too. Ryan Reynolds is so six-packy!).

But they made a mistake. One which I think is kinda elementary. Writing 101. Here's the rule (and this is not a rule I found anywhere, just something I'm making up as I go along, so take with a grain of salt): No matter how cool and interesting your world is, your viewer needs a reason to care about it. A connection with a character connects you with the world and gives you a reason to watch.

You know all those disaster movies where the world is crumbling to pieces? Have you ever noticed how they all begin with one random dude (usually not even a primary character, just some guy) being impacted by the first sign that there is disaster to come? It's not a voice-over telling us that there is an asteroid hurtling toward Earth, it is that human moment of Average Joe realizing "Oh shit, an asteroid is hurtling toward Earth!"

Now, good movies can begin with a brief voice-over, a line or two, but if you're still once upon a time-ing after five minutes, your audience is starting to rustle their jujubee wrappers. The Green Lantern's opening seemed to go on forever - and what really killed it for me was the fact that ALL of that information had to be revealed to the hero later in the film anyway, so it's not like we wouldn't have had a chance to learn all of this (really not that urgent) world-building then.

So immortal dudes harness will, build planet, form green lanterns, imprison fear-eater dude, fear eater-dude breaks free, attacks latern guy's ship, lantern guy gets away but is badly injured and is headed toward earth. At most what we need of that is that latern guy was attacked and is injured & headed toward earth. The rest can wait.

The problem with starting with massive chunks of worldbuilding is that it sucks away time that could have been used establishing the relationships between the hero & the girl & the villain. They all knew each other in their childhoods. The bonds they formed then are important. The day Hal's father is killed seems rather crucial, but all we get is one tiny flashback of the crash with no shots of the girl or the villain? What the movie needed to do was open there. Open on the HUMAN side of the story, not the alien side.

Three kids who will later grow into the pivotal trio, playing on an airfield during a test flight. You see how each of their fathers shaped who they became. You see that the hero & the girl have a connection (perhaps she is the one to first try to comfort him when he sees his father blow up). You see the villain is brilliant but always feels like an outsider. Then when you jump forward and they are all adults, you don't have to work so hard to demonstrate a depth of relationship between those three.

What's weird is that the rest of the movie almost plays as if that scene was really in the opening. I often had this feeling like I was supposed to know the relationships, the history. If I had, I might have cared more about the characters. Instead we meet our hero for the first time when he is crawling out of bed with a blonde we never see again and on his way to have a fight with the heroine before flying a daring test flight. It was like the Rocketeer, only... not.

Moral of the story: Harry Potter doesn't start with a voice over explaining that Hogwarts exists and magic is cool. It starts with Harry. Our character is our access point to the world. So instead of starting with the green lantern mythos and working inward, start with Hal and work out. That's the fix.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

End of the World Art!

Happy Birthday to me! Guess what I got for being a good girl this year? Post-apocalyptic art, boys and girls! It's the end of the world as we know it and, my, doesn't it look fine. Reawakening Eden will be hitting the shelves this November and while there are no zombies, there are studly mountain men, feisty librarians and a post-apocalyptic world. Woot!

What do you think, y'all? Is that not some badass cover art?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Appeal of the Zombie Apocalypse

Our friends at the New York Times have shared their estimable opinions on the Zombie Lit trend. And, as frequently happens with folks who try to analyze a trend from the outside (usually from above whilst looking down their noses) I'm inclined to think they got it wrong. In my oh-so-humble opinion. (Don't laugh. I'm a font of humility.)

See, our friends at the New York Times focused on the scary scary monster aspect of the zombie trend, but I think the real appeal of zombie lit - and really any post-apocalyptic literature - is in the survivalist aspect. And I think there's an element of shoot-em-up video game glee involved too.

In the zombie apocalypse, morality is survival and you don't have to feel guilty about taking a shot gun or a machete or a baseball bat to that zombie's head because it's already dead. You aren't just fighting for yourself, but for the survival of all mankind. There's a nobility in your zombie killing spree, heroism in your rampant violence.

Not to mention the fact that the zombie apocalypse is the great equalizer. Shaun of the Dead? Zombieland? Our heroes are the ultimate average Joes. The guys who would never be your standard action heroes, but they are survivors and they get the hot chick and live happily ever after (as much as that is possible in the post-apocalyptic world).

Vampires live forever. Werewolves embrace their animalism. But zombies, those are just for killin', baby. At least that's my theory. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gremlins... Zombies.. Same Diff

So I know I promised Zombies today, because I've been rather obsessed with the zombie apocalypse lately, but instead the universe decided to give me gremlins - in the form of a check engine light and a day with mechanics. Moral of the story - in the interest of my car continuing to run, the Zombie Apocalypse will resume tomorrow. As you were.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Easy Imaginability

There's this concept I've been kind of in love with for a while now: Accessibility, as it relates to how easy it is to imagine yourself engrossed in a certain book. I babbled, rather profusely, over at the Ruby blog today about accessibility, high concept, trends, and how a writer can lure you into envisioning yourself in your favorite chair curled up with their book. Come check out my fabulous pseudo-intellectual ramblings, y'all!

And tomorrow... Zombies!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Last Chance!

If you're an aspiring romance author type and you're planning to enter the Golden Heart this year and you want some feedback on your opening, the Golden Pen contest closes tomorrow (the 15th!) for entries.

Go forth and conquer Romancelandia, minions! (I really needed to call someone "minion!" today. Just sayin'.)

Also, if you are a published author type and feeling the inclination to judge, such volunteering is always welcome and much appreciated. Click here to register to judge.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Unbiased Opinion?

There's a very interesting blog & conversation going on at the Ruby Blog today by Honorary Ruby Gabriella Lessa about critiques, jealousy among writers, and gender differences between male and female writers. I'm quite intrigued. Head on over if you'd like a gander:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Snazzy New Website Stuff

Lookee, boys and girls! I put something shiny and new up on Das Website! It's a reading recommendations page! I'm all psyched. (As evidenced by the proliferation of exclamation points.)Link
This fabulous new feature includes suggestions for books that are similar to my own in subject matter or style to keep you busy until my next book comes out (so no more complaining about me writing slowly, minions!), and I've listed some of my all-time-favorite, slam-dunk-every-time authors.

Also new on the website: Serengeti Sins, the print anthology featuring Storm, Lightning & Sunrise, is now available for pre-order from Amazon & B&N! (Squeeeee!) And on the B&N page under "people who bought this also bought..." are a bunch of Nora Roberts books. Which, I will admit, caused me a startled double-blink. The books don't really seem to go together, but I suppose Nora is on EVERYONE's people who bought this also bought list, right? Like it's mandated by the Romance Gods or something? She is, after all, La Nora.

So, what do you think? Good list of books on the recs page? Have you already read them all? Or did your TBR just get bigger?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fix It Fridays: Captain America & the Love Interest of Doom

It's time for another exciting edition of Fix-It Fridays! Today we take a look at the 'Roid-a-licious Captain America! You too can juice it up for justice, baby!

Ready? Let's do this. Slap on your blue ski-mask of patriotism and let's get rockin'.

**Standard Disclaimer: There will be SPOILERS. Oh yes, there will be spoilers. Massive, six-packy, on-neon-blue-steroids SPOILERS. Consider yourself warned.**

For the record, I am not a Marvel purist. I love me some X-Men and some Avengers, but I'm not enraged when the movies are their own entity, bearing only a vague resemblance to the classic comic plotlines. Therefore, today we are examining the film on its own merits, independent of the Marvel-verse. Mmmkay?

Now, I'm a sucker for supers, so for the most part, I really enjoyed the movie, but as we walked out of the theater, I found myself saying, "Pretty cool. It's a shame the romance arc was totally f*cked." (I was chatting with friends. I promise. I do not just randomly announce my opinions to my fellow movie-goers in a sort of critical Tourette's.) One of my cohorts might have argued with me, and there might have been a no-holds-barred I-know-my-romance-arcs smackdown, but I confess to nothing.

You may be asking, What was wrong with the romance arc, Vivi? Oh, dear reader-friend, what wasn't wrong with it?

There was no happily ever after. Which, admittedly, in a super-flick is not that unusual, but there was no potential for a happily ever after or even a happy for now! At the end of the film, Captain America is cryogenically frozen in the impenetrable shell of his own awesomeness so he can be transported into the future seventy years and thawed out to participate in The Avengers movie next summer.

Seventy years. His love interest is either at least ninety-five years old or dead. Either way, he is much less likely to get with the bow-chicka-wow-wow. (I had a "My eyes!" moment when I accidentally visualized their reunion.)

What's wrong with that? She was presented as The One, reader-friends. The romance arc told us that these two were gonna live happily ever after, dammit. But instead, our heroine either spent her life A) pining for the death of Captain America (downer) or B) got over it and married someone else and popped out a bunch of babies (thus invalidating the romance).

My friend (who foolishly thought to argue romance with me) stated that Captain America doesn't need a love interest because he's married to America. At which point I restrained myself from yelling, "Then why was he cheating on America with Hayley Atwell?" I merely pointed out that the filmmakers established dear Peggy as the Love Interest and then essentially killed her off. Which means Captain America is going to be pining for her for the entirety of the Avengers movie. And as anyone who has seen the Bourne Trilogy knows, there is nothing more pathetic than a pining action hero.

Now perhaps the filmmakers are planning to reveal that Peggy somehow got sucked into the future too, still all young and pretty (let's all roll our eyes together and groan at the totally over-the-top suspension of disbelief required to pull off that ploy) OR they are going to bring in a Peggy lookalike (maybe even a granddaughter) to captivate the Captain (which I find more than a little creepy, not gonna lie). Otherwise, we get Captain Angst in the Avengers and... gotta say, not looking forward to that. Thank God for Robert Downey Jr's snark and My Editor's Hollywood Boyfriend's muscles to keep us from being drowned in Captain Angst's tears.

The annoying thing, to me, is that this was such an easy fix! (Vivi takes a moment to swear and stomp in a circle. Oh, the frustration!)

THE FIX: Peggy is already married. Ta-da! She is the unattainable. Her husband is either A) away at war or B) Howard Stark (somebody has to spawn Tony). She and the Captain still have chemistry, but there is this guilt/tension/resistance and they both know that their Love shall never be (and there can be some question on her side whether she really loves him or is just being kind to a boy who has a crush on her). When she believes him to be dying at the end, she can confess some kind of affection - but the viewer and she and the Captain all know that they could never have truly been together so even though he Longs and Yearns and all that Good Stuff, he is still Available to his True Love Interest in the Avengers or some later film.

But as is, we get to envision the depressing future of Peggy and watch Captain Angst pine, because Peggy is a distraction from his marriage to America. Woe. Woe is us.

Luckily, the Avengers has so many characters, odds are there won't be much screen time devoted to Captain America's girlfriend's hundredth birthday.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More of the Same

Every year, my college cohorts and I meet up for a week(end) and reconnect. We fly and drive from literally the world over to some central location and one of our yearly traditions is called "One, Five, Ten" - during which we give our professional & personal goals for the next one, five, and ten years.

This year I realized that my professional goals almost all included the words "keep on" or "continue" - even those that involved change. Such as my one year goal of "Reassess to determine how to best continue making a living at this crazy writing biz."

I'm not sure if this is a really awesome development (I'm a real writer, y'all! I did it!) or a sign that I need to step it up and figure out how to challenge myself with NEW goals.

My question to you is - what do you do to keep yourself motivated after you've achieved the initial goal that was your primary motivating factor? How do you keep your goals new and fresh?

Do you ever wonder if "continue" is perhaps the hardest part of any dream? Because we slowly lose the hunger that got us there in the first place and start to take it for granted? Like marriage. Staying married is so much harder than tying the knot, right? So this is my marriage counseling session - how do I stay in love with my career, the same way I was when our romance was new?

What's your secret?