Sunday, February 26, 2006

S.Rowe on vacation

Sorry I've been MIA this week, but I will be back on Wednesday for sure!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Books on the Run

Here's a little blurb on a book I've been hearing about lately. I haven't read it yet, but if anyone has, I'd love to hear about it! Let me know what you think!

Dream of the Blue Room
Mac/Adam Cage
Paperback release, May 2005

About the author:
Michelle Richmond grew up in Alabama and currently lives in San Francisco, where she publishes the online literary journal Fiction Attic. Her story collection, The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress, won the 2000 Associated Writing Programs Award for Short Fiction, and her novel, Dream of the Blue Room, was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. She is the recipient of the 2006 Mississippi Review Fiction Prize. Her stories have appeared in Playboy, Glimmer Train, Other Voices, and many other magazines and anthologies. Her new novel, Ocean Beach, will be published next year by Bantam.

About the novel:
On a warm night in July, 32-year-old Jenny finds herself sitting on the deck of a Chinese cruise ship next to a charming but secretive stranger. In Jenny's lap is a tin containing the ashes of her best friend, Amanda Ruth, mysteriously murdered fourteen years earlier in a small Alabama town.
In this foreign landscape, filled with ancient cities that will soon be inundated by the rising waters of the Yangtze River, Jenny must confront her haunted past and decide the direction of her future. As the ship moves slowly upriver, from one abandoned village to another, Jenny journeys deeper into her own guilt and eroticism.
Dream of the Blue Room explores the nature of friendship and the intimacy that exists between young girls as they struggle toward adulthood. Set alternately against the impressive landscape of the Yangtze and in a small river town in Alabama, this stunning novel reflects on the human desire to control and tame what is ultimately untamable.
Praise for Dream of the Blue Room:
"A dreamy, haunting work with a deeply personal feel. Any time a work of fiction raises our sights to higher truths, as this one does, the writer has done her job." Florida Sun-Sentinel
"Some childhood relationships are so fulfilling they shape our lives and leave us wondering why they didn't last longer. Richmond captures, explores, and intertwines these bonds so elegantly, you might even think the relationships are your own." USA Today
"With the slow build-up of a mystery, the exquisite pain of a coming-of-age novel, the masterful images of a travel writer, and a darkness that is true to the Southern Gothic, Dream of a Blue Room is a work of wonderfully chimeric form. " Joanna Pearson, Small Spiral Notebook
"Intelligent, original, complex." The San Francisco Chronicle
"A complex and nimbly fashioned first novel." Kirkus Reviews
"The book is finely crafted and compelling, and its emotions resonate true and clear ." Booklist

Read an excerpt from Dream of the Blue Room in USA Today:

Read the story behind the novel at backstory:

Monday, February 20, 2006

Author Q&A: Julie Kenner

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1 ) Can you give us a blurb about your current release, THE MANOLO MATRIX?

Surely! Aspiring actress Jennifer Crane knows all about games-the games girls play to get a guy; the games actresses play to land a part; and the good old game of credit-card roulette. But she never expected to be playing a game with life-or-death consequences. Now she must set out upon a scavenger hunt across Manhattan in search of the ultimate prize: survival. Before this, Jen's definition of fighting dirty has been elbowing her way to the front of the line at a Manolo sample sale. Now, if she wants to stay alive, she's going to have to learn a few new uses for her stilettos . . . and they ain't pretty.

Click here to read an excerpt

2) Your books have the attitude of chick lit, name brands popping in for cameos, the fun of a good romance, but it’s also chock full of suspense, adventure and the constant threat of dead bodies. How do you balance all these areas? Is there one aspect you focus on, or did it all just come together on its own?

Oh dear! If I analyze it I’m not sure I can do it, LOL! Somehow, it all just comes together. Voice and plot (and action) first. The fashion stuff I tend to layer in. Lots of XX’s that get filled in later after I surf for designer names :)

3) THE MANALO MATRIX is a sequel to THE GIVENCHY CODE. How are they related? Does a new reader to the series need to read them in order to keep track of what’s going on?

It is a sequel, but it was written to stand alone. They’re related in that a couple of the characters cross-appear in the books, and the device that sets the suspense in motion — a deadly game called Play.Survive.Win — is the centerpiece of both books. The final book (THE PRADA PARADOX) will also stand alone. But it will also answer certain questions raised in GIVENCHY and MANOLO (such as who’s behind the whole thing). So while a reader can enjoy each on it’s own, there’s sort of an “added value” by reading the preceding book(s) first, if that makes sense.

4) So, have you ever had to play bodyguard in a matter of life and death, like the heroine in your book? Was it fun? What words of advice do you have for someone who might find themselves in that position unexpectedly?

Oh, absolutely. It seems to happen to me all the time! Gorgeous men that I’m forced to protect in innovative and daring ways. Honestly, it can be such a burden at times! As for advice ... Um, stilettos might be great for shaping your legs, but you’ll move faster in Nikes!

5) How did you research assassins for this book? I can imagine it might be difficult to come up with willing interviewees willing to discuss their careers…

Most of it is my own twisted imagination! I’ve read a few books about assassins from a psychological perspective, and several true crime books. But nothing that I can specifically point to in crafting the characters of Lynx (Givenchy) or Birdie (Manolo).

6) In addition to this series, you have a demon series with lots of paranormal beasties running around. How do these books differ from the MANOLO MATRIX series? Same attitude? Same risk of winding up in a body bag, differing only in the method of demise?

That’s actually an interesting question. My voice and humor is evident in both series, but other than that they’re quite different. The Demon series is very much a mystery series (well, a paranormal mommy-lit mystery series ), whereas the Game series is a suspense/thriller series. And while the voice is similar, the tone is different. The Game series is much more chicklit in that the heroines are more internally focused. In the Demon series, the heroine is very family-centered. It’s much more suburbia. The overarching theme of the demon series is family and the huge job that goes with being a mom, especially a mom who’s returning to the workforce. Mom stuff would seem very out of place in the game series!

7) So, your heroines in this series are all in the know about all the oo-la-la brands. Did you have to buy lots of expensive shoes to do research for these books, or are you one of those folks who has always followed brands? Is this an extension of your own passions, or are your heroines like foreign beings to you?

While I do have a few designer pieces (like some wonderful vintage Givenchy things!), I had to do real research for the labels (and rely on my NYC-saavy editor!). I do loooooooove clothes, but I tend to be bargain-shopper girl. That’s not to say I don’t splurge. My favorite purse is a Prada bag I totally splurged on (well, eBay splurge; not retail price splurge). So, while they’re not really foreign, they’re also not living the life I live.

8) Can you give us a sneak peek at your next book?

Oh, sure! My June release is the sequel to CARPE DEMON, and is called CALIFORNIA DEMON: THE SECRET LIFE OF A DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM. I absolutely love Kate (the heroine) and we learn much more about her, her past, and get much more into her relationship with her husband, Stuart, and Allie, her teenage daughter. And, of course, there’s an overarching mystery stemming from another pesky demon nosing its way into San Diablo. Between domesticity and demons, Kate’s got her hands full once again!

Visit Julie on the web
THE MANOLO MATRIX, Available Now! read an excerpt

Friday, February 17, 2006

Author Q&A: Marliss Melton

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Marliss writes Navy Seal romantic suspense, and her books are a wild ride of romance and thrill! Here's the cover blurb for her current book:

Sara Garret thought the military lawyer she married would be the perfect husband and father. But he has become her worst nightmare. Now one vicious act has driven Sara to take her ten-year-old son and flee. Yet the only thing more frightening than running trusting a stranger to help her.

Chase McCaffrey is a damn good sniper, and an even better SEAL—but he’s no knight in shining armor. His impulse to help Sara is as puzzling as the subtle way she steals into his heart, resurrecting emotions he thought he didn't have. Concealing mother and son at his remote, Oklahoma ranch, Chase dares to hope the past will never find them. Yet there are sinister forces afoot, threatening to expose them. And a calculating husband tracks them down, if only to prove that Sara is his, forever--even in death.

Danger is right behind you.

Click here to read an excerpt

Instead of doing a Q&A where I hound Marliss with my random questions, she wanted to post a response to a question she constantly gets, so here it is!

Question: My life is so busy, how can I make more time to get my writing done?

Answer: Take it from me, I know exactly what it means to be busy. As a mother of five children (four teens and a toddler), I have learned to make the most of my time so that I can write effectively 3-5 hours a day. Here’s what I do. Take what works for you and run with it!

1) Wear earplugs when you sleep. This ensures a good night’s rest and you won’t be exhausted in the morning.
2) Close your e-mail program when you’re writing. If you’re like me, you’ll be distracted by e-mail. Instead of writing on your manuscript, you’ll be making your friends happy, but you won’t be happy with yourself.
3) Shop on weekends. This way the husband or children can help out and you won’t use up all of your writing time.
4) Push naps. Quiet time for everyone. Mother is writing.
5) Do laundry in the evening in the presence of your children. Make them help. Better yet, when they become teenagers, make them do their own laundry (supervised, at first). You will find this tremendously liberating and you won’t get blamed for losing their socks!
6) Hire a housekeeper. If you can’t afford one, break housecleaning chores into chunks, twenty minutes per day. Or…
7) Join on the internet. This website will help you get organized and stay that way. It’ll create a shopping list for you, so that your weekly meals are planned and you have all the ingredients you need to cook that week.
8) Lastly, try writing in your sleep. Okay, I’m kidding—sort of. The conscious mind is most closely attuned to the subconscious mind (where your stories are manufactured) right before you fall asleep. Use this “merging of the minds” to your advantage. When you tuck in for the night, close your eyes and envision the scene that you have just written in your work-in-progress. While doing this, you may realize that you overlooked a dialogue or forgotten a nugget of information that you need to go back and fill in. While still in this semi-conscious state, pan forward and envision what will happen next in your story. If your characterization is on track, your mind will supply the next scene. Often, you will be able to envision this scene in perfect detail, complete with the dialogue and setting. Hold that scene in your mind. Tomorrow it will flow off your fingertips and you’ll marvel at how much you accomplished. If the scene refuses to come, however, there’s a reason, and it must be addressed before you can move on. You may need to work on characterization. If you don’t know your characters and their motivations well enough, it’s hard for your subconscious mind to supply the next scene. You may need to devote more time to your characters.

So, there you have it. These are my secrets to becoming a prolific author, even life is in total chaos. I’m sure you’ve heard of “keeping the night oils burning”? Forget that. An author writes best following a good night’s sleep. Rest easy!

Visit Marliss on the web

Thursday, February 16, 2006

the best part of the winter olympics

As a dedicated romance writer deeply committed to improving my craft by engaging in research whenever possible, I am happy to report that the best part of the winter olympics are the butts of the male figure skaters.

Um, wow.

And all the time I spend carefully inspecting at their tight little bums is all in the name of research, done only to help me adequately visualize the rear end of the hero in my next book.

I. Love. My. Job.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

An Agent's View: Contests

Agent Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Ageny weighs in on contests.

To enter, or not to enter: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of contest advice,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And just not enter at all?

Contests. One of the most frequent questions I am asked is: is it worth it to enter?

The short answer - yes.
The more accurate answer - if it fits into your long-term career goals.

Contests can prove to be many things for many people. Some authors use them as a way to have their work critiqued. Others find them a great way to be put in front of an editor or an agent's eye. And published authors can use them as a way to garner respect in the industry.

My best advice to is look at yourself, and evaluate where you are in your career.

Are you just starting out without the help of a critique group? Then by all mean, enter contests that offer great feedback and peer-to-peer reads. These contests will help you identify areas in your manuscript that might need some polishing - characterization, logistics, plotting. When your proposal is being read by strangers, you will no doubt receive some wonderful advice.

Have you been writing for a few years and are looking to market your materials? Then contests are a great way to get noticed by publishing professionals - and quickly, too! I've read some really wonderful proposals in the contest circuit. In fact, I have one client who told me she "stalked" me through contests. When you final consistently in the various contests, it's a wonderful way to get read.

Are you published and hoping to garner some great PR? Contests are a helpful tool. If you win a contest, often you can contact your local media with a press release. You can gain some serious PR pushes with that type of exposure.

So, yes, overall contests are a fantastic source to help you propel your career. However, pay close attention to your goals and enter the ones that will help you move forward. Because remember, it's not the number of contests you win or final in that matters - it's what the contests can do to help you excel.

As an agent, there is no prouder moment than to see a client accept an award that acknowledges her accomplishments. So, shoot for the stars. It's worth the entry fee.

Until next week, happy writing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

stephie travels the world!!

I just got notified by my publisher that they just sold the German rights to my first to YA's, PUTTING BOYS ON THE LEDGE and STUDYING BOYS. How cool is that?? It's even cooler because both these books are pretty much unavailable in the US at this point, so I thought their life span had come to an end... or not!

What a fun surprise!!

And now... it's back to work. Revise, revise, revise!

Monday, February 13, 2006

rock on!

I just finished the first draft of my YA that's due on 3/1. Yay!

For some reason, I found this book particularly draining to write, even though it went pretty smoothly. I'm so exhausted right now, I can barely even hold myself vertical, let alone think!

But I don't have to!

At least not for tonight.

Tonight, I'm shutting down my brain. Watch some Olympics, put my feet up, and turn off all mental synapses.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And the axe falls...

I was reading a romance this morning, and in the 50 page "prologue," the heroine's fiance and true love is killed, setting up the rest of the book, which takes place two years later. That's all well and good to have some solid motivation established for the heroine, but in this "prologue" where her sweet, darling, devoted true love is killed, the author wrote this guy's death from his POV. We're in his head as he's being killed, and it SUCKS (obviously, I guess).

I read romance for the happily ever after. I want to feel restored and rejuvenated. I want to feel like there is goodness out there. I do NOT read Oprah's book clubs because I do NOT want my soul to be ripped to shreds while I'm reading. Life is tough enough as it is, I don't need to read about it too.

And usually romance fits the bill.

But then I was in this wonderful guy's head while he was being killed. Murdered. It was HORRIBLE. So I shut the book and walked away. I don't need that. I don't want that. There's plenty of room for that in other genres. If you read mainstream suspense, you know you might get that, and that's fine. I read Lisa Gardner. I'm prepared for grit when I open her books, but I have to be in the mood to read hers, because often, I don't want to be faced with that side of life. So when I read a book with romance on the spine, I don't want to have to steel myself from these kinds of moments.

I've heard before that one of those "rules" of romance is to never be in the POV of someone who is being killed, and now I know why.

Maybe I'll pick that book up again.
Or maybe I won't. Right now, I don't entirely trust the author anymore.

What do you guys think?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Author Q&A: Shirley Karr

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1) Can you give us a blurb about your current release, KISS FROM A ROGUE?

Here's the short version: In my debut novel last year, WHAT AN EARL WANTS, readers fell in love with Benjamin, Earl of Sinclair. Now in KISS FROM A ROGUE, readers get to meet Ben's younger brother, Tony. Posing as the husband of a lovely lady smuggler leads Tony into far more adventure and danger than this endearing rogue bargained for…

click here to read an excerpt

2) Smugglers are so yummy! How did you get the idea for smugglers? What kind of research did you do on smugglers? Did you rob a few liquor stores at gunpoint and throw the kegs in the back of your pickup truck during a rainstorm?

I've traced the idea back to brainstorming notes that were titled "Jane Austen does Pirates of the Caribbean." I'm a huge fan of both, and it seems to have evolved from there. I borrowed a friend's book titled Smugglers' Britain, which was filled with fascinating anecdotal history as well as detailed maps. Alas, it's out of print, and she had the audacity to ask for it back, for her own novel featuring smugglers. But I got lucky and found the author's web site, and ordered the book directly from him. Ironically, the book he shipped from England arrived faster than another book on smuggling that was mailed from Kentucky. It was much easier to find info on pirates, at least at first, so I followed those trails to get a feel for nautical terms and life at sea, and gradually found the other stuff I needed.

3) In the current market, everyone is saying that to sell books, you have to write paranormal or very sexy, and preferably both. Yet you have totally bucked the trend, writing wonderful historical romances that are adventurous and passionate, but aren't over-loaded with sex and definitely don't have any blood-sucking immortals running around. You've had great success already. What's your secret?

Aww, thank you. Hmm. I think I've simply written the kind of books I like to read. There are many great historical authors out there, but so many of them write gut-wrenching angst. It's beautifully done, but it takes a lot of emotional energy to go through that much trial and tribulation with their characters, energy that I don't always have to give. Many of my favorite authors who used to write light, fun reads -- Regency romps, if you will -- have experienced tragedy in their life and now write much darker, more angst-filled stories. I love Jennifer Crusie's light, fun contemporaries, but she doesn't write historicals. So I have to.

As for the sexy part, or lack thereof… I started out intending to write traditional Regencies, which have lots of sexual tension but no consummation scenes -- mostly because that's what I read most of the time, and because I'm more comfortable writing that level of sensuality. Once I learned how little money authors were paid for them, however, I aimed for longer, single title historicals, at a publisher with great distribution and sales teams. The version of WAEW that my editor bought had no consummation scene at all. That morning in the shepherd's hut, Quincy woke up first and slid out of the bed, and all Sinclair got was hot and bothered watching her pull on her stockings.

During revisions, I made compromises to increase the sexiness, per my editor's request, but did so in a way that stayed true to the morals of the day as well as to my own. An unmarried young woman in Quincy's society did not give up her virginity lightly. When (and if) my hero and heroine become intimate, they are committed to each other and no one else, even if they haven't yet acknowledged that commitment, even to themselves. With ROGUE, my heroine is a widow, and society's rules were different for widows, so I wrote accordingly. I figured there'd be readers out there like me, who don't need to see a lot of bedroom action in order to enjoy a story. Yup, basically it comes down to writing the kind of stories I like to read. Fortunately, other readers like them, too.

4) So…you're a smuggler fan, eh? Got any thoughts on our man Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean?

Oh, sweetie, I could write an entire book. Oh, wait -- I did! I had only five months to write ROGUE, and needed every bit of help to get it done. Thinking of my synopsis as a movie script, I cast Johnny Depp in the lead as Tony. Knowing exactly how he looked, how he moved, what he sounded like (and how the heroine would respond to him) made it easier to bring Tony to life on the page. Johnny is an amazingly talented actor -- a character actor in a leading man's body, as Tim Burton says -- and transforms himself for every role. Even though I originally intended Tony to be a lot like Captain Jack Sparrow, Tony quickly became another guy entirely, uniquely his own. Sylvia, Tony's heroine, ended up having more in common with Jack -- she steals a ship, after all. Captain Jack is an incredible character, simple yet complex, and Johnny brought him to life on screen complete with all those layers. Jack is morally ambiguous at best and not very heroic if you get right down to it, but we still root for him all the way. As the writers said on the PotC DVD, Johnny's Captain Jack is exactly what they wrote in the script, but nothing like what they expected.

5) Writing a historical is so daunting because there is so much research that must be done in order to get the details right. Have you ever had any readers tell you that you got something wrong? Do you worry about that? How accurate do historical novels have to be? When do you have to stay true to history and when are you free to innovate, without losing readers?

So far, all of the readers who've taken the time to contact me have been very positive. No one has tried to burst my bubble yet. A coworker pointed out a tiny error I made regarding horses in my first book, but it was an omission, not an actual mistake. So there. Ahem. I wouldn't have attempted writing historicals if I hadn't first been an avid reader of them. You can't take other authors' research for granted -- you have no idea how accurate they really are, or if they've taken literary license or a creative interpretation of events -- but information in their books gives me the starting points for my own research. Accuracy is a hotly debated topic, and I think you need to be as accurate as possible. You don't want to throw a knowledgeable reader out of the world you've created by addressing an earl as "your grace." Stay true to history as far is it has been proven correct.

If a subject is still debated -- it might have happened this way, it might have been that way -- then you can go with what works best for the story. You also have to honor reader expectations. For example, many readers expect pirates to have parrots, bury their treasure, and make victims walk the plank -- but those expectations are incorrect. Few pirates actually had parrots, walking the plank is a Hollywood invention, and there was no treasure to bury because they tended to spend their loot on wine, women and other amusements as soon as they got to port. Disney's screenwriters on PotC knew the truth, but they catered to viewer expectations. When I'm going to deviate from reader expectations because research has proven a commonly held belief to be wrong, I'll do so in a way that subtly explains to the reader what really happened.

6) Why do the men on the covers of both your books look the same?

Because the characters are brothers. Because Johnny was busy in the Bahamas, filming the two sequels to Pirates, and was unavailable for the cover shoot of ROGUE. Oh, and because Avon used the same model, Jack Hartnett, for both covers. (If you want to see him in action, watch the Will Smith movie "Hitch." At the very end, when Hitch thinks he's losing the girl to another guy, Jack plays the other guy.)

7) Do you ever play dress-up in regency gowns? Do you have any pictures?

As a matter of fact, I do have a pic of me in Regency attire on my web site -- it's from the Beau Monde soiree at a writers' conference in Dallas two years ago, where many of us dress in costume to help get a better feel for the time period, and learn the dances and card games our characters would know. With a book about smugglers coming out, last fall I put together a smuggler costume for Halloween, and wore it dancing. Photographic evidence (of the costume, not the dancing) is on my web site, I even found the company that made the boots for the entire cast of Pirates, and ordered the style worn by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack. Mine aren't as well broken-in yet, but I'm working on them.

8) Can you give a sneak peek on your next book?

CONFESSIONS OF A VISCOUNT will be out in December 2006, and features one of Tony's friends from ROGUE -- Alistair the astronomer, who's become embroiled with a female spy. I had great fun researching astronomy, and even camped out at the Oregon Star Party. There's something quite romantic about two people alone in the dark, beneath the starry skies…
KISS FROM A ROGUE, Available now! read an excerpt
WHAT AN EARL WANTS, still available! read an excerpt

Thursday, February 09, 2006

the ups and downs of the work-in-progress

Check out this video. This was me on Tuesday after wrestling with my WIP. Fortunately, just watching this video makes me feel better...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Author Q&A: Lori Handeland

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Editor's note: I have been waiting for MONTHS for this book to come out! If you haven't read Lori's werewolf series, RUN don't walk to your nearest bookstore and buy all the books in the series, lock your doors, turn off your phone, stock up the fridge and call in sick to work for the next three days, because once you start, you won't be able to stop. They are THAT good!

1) Can you tell us about your current release, CRESCENT MOON?

Crescent Moon is the first book in a trilogy set in New Orleans. It takes place in the same world as my previous werewolf books, Blue Moon, Hunter's Moon and Dark Moon. I think the back cover blurb probably tells it best:

An ancient evil hunts by the crescent moon-New Orleans is known for sinful pleasures and strange magic, but for cryptozoologist Diana Malone it offers one irresistible attraction. For over a hundred years there have been whispers of wolves around the Crescent City, and the recent discovery of bodies in the nearby swamps hints at a creature even more dangerous…one that could make Diana's career and fortune, if she lives to capture it.

And desire may be a fatal mistake…Adam Ruelle is a reclusive former Special Forces officer, the last of a mysterious Cajun family rumored to be cursed, and the only person skilled enough to guide Diana in her search. Rugged and captivating, he fills her nights with desire…but by day, Diana is plagued with doubts. Adam clearly knows more than he's telling, but is his aim to protect her or distract her? Something is stalking its prey in the Louisiana bayous, and every step towards the horrifying truth brings Diana closer to a centuries-old enemy that lives for the smell of fear and the thrill of killing, again and again…

click here to read an excerpt

2) Your werewolf series has a different take on werewolves, especially with all the real life mythical lore (Native American lore, witches, animal totems, voo doo, etc). What is your background in this area? How did you create this take on werewolves? What kind of research do you do?

I have no background in Native American mythology or voodoo, just an interest. I did extensive research through books and on the Internet, then combined what I'd learned with my imagination for some great fun.

3) This is the fourth book in your werewolf series. How do the books relate to each other?

All of the books take place in the world inhabited by the Jager-Suchers. Sooner or later, in every book, Edward (the leader) always show up.

4) Many werewolf and vampire romance authors like to make the “monsters” the good guys, but you aren’t afraid to show the really dark side of being a werewolf. Why did you choose to take this approach and buck the modern trend?

To be different. There are times in my books when the monsters aren't monsterous all the time. But I enjoy pitting dark against light, good against evil, and someone's gotta be the bad guy.

5) Do you ever freak yourself out with your books? Like, do you lock yourself in a windowless room on full moon nights and carry a gun with silver bullets?

Not that bad! Although I have gotten spooked out at times, usually when I'm reading through the book getting ready to do revisions. I'll get to a particularly scary part and think, "Wow, that worked out. I've got the shivers myself!" LOL!

6) Have you ever had a real life paranormal experience? If so, tell us about it!

The night my father passed away, I dreamed of him. It was a very comforting dream and when I woke up I felt better. I do believe he came to say goodbye. That's as close to paranormal as I've gotten.

7) The heroines in your books are total kick-ass chicks, but they are also very vulnerable inside. Is it difficult to achieve this balance? How do you do it?

I'm not sure how I do it, except to me my heroines are very real. By the time a book is done, I really feel that I know them, and when they appear in other books I can always decide easily what they'll say and do because their characters are very solid in my mind. I try to make them as real as I can. I always think when I'm writing these books that my characters are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations. They would react the way any of us would. But they also need that little something extra--being Kick ass chicks--to survive.

8) Your werewolf books are very sexy. What kind of things do you keep in mind while writing to keep all the sexiness fresh?

This also relates to character. My heroes are hot, my heroines are into that. I've also come to believe that when you live on the edge of danger, everything is more intense. If you never know if this meal, this man, this day is your last, you have to make the most of every minute.

9) Your werewolf books are so action-packed, so tightly plotted with constant action and compelling characters and flaming emotions. You make it look so easy! Is it, or did it take you a while to achieve this level of story telling? I mean, were you mortal at one time, way back when?

The werewolf books have always come out action packed. I never really set out to make them that way, although that's a good thing! I think the first person narrative makes them more immediate. I did make a conscious decision to have shorter chapters, which in turn leads to more cliff hangers. Also, in every book there's a mystery, a paranormal element and romance which all need to be resolved before the end. That's a lot of stuff! No space for lallygagging.

10) With your werewolf books, you have broken out: RITA winner, RT nominations, USA Today best sellers. First of all, HUGE congratulations! You deserve it! Second, what does this level of success mean to you as an author?

I can continue to write what I love. It's what I've always wanted to do.

11) Can you give us a sneak peek at your next book?

Midnight Moon will be released August 1, 2006. This is Cassandra's story, whom you'll meet in Crescent Moon. Here's a preview:

Under the midnight moon, dark secrets are revealed-Cassandra thought she had the perfect life until she suffered a devastating tragedy. Now she has a new identity as Priestess Cassandra, owner of a New Orleans voodoo shop, and a new purpose. A research trip for a paranormal secret society leads Cassandra to Haiti, where rumors fly of a sinister voodoo master, Jacques Mezareau, who can resurrect the dead.

Fortune hunter Devon Murphy agrees to guide Cassandra there safely, but his sensual appeal promises danger of a different kind…and desperate hungers must be satisfied…As Cassandra and Devon make their way to the eerie jungle village, their attraction explodes into an intoxicating desire, and Cassandra begins to question her resolve to never let another man into her life. Her attempts to resist Devon become more and more impossible. But when she succeeds in learning Jacque's macabre ritual, her new powers may have come with a terrifying price. Now, haunted by violent dreams that grow more vivid as the midnight moon approaches, Cassandra must uncover the shocking truth about an ancient curse before it leads her to destroy herself-and everyone she loves…

Visit Lori on the web
CRESCENT MOON, Available now! read an excerpt

Complete list of books in the series, in order from first to last:
BLUE MOON, still available! read an excerpt
HUNTER'S MOON, still available! read an excerpt
DARK MOON, still available! read an excerpt
CRESCENT MOON, available now! read an excerpt
MIDNIGHT MOON, August 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

What's a release date all about, anyway?

You've been waiting months for the next release by your favorite author.
You know the official release date is February 7th.
You start stalking the stores the week before, knowing that some places set it out early.
Finally, on Saturday afternoon, February 4th, you see it on the shelves.
Elated, you pounce on it, rip it off the shelves, sprint to check out, run to your car and sit in the parking lot for the next three hours until you've finished it. It's every bit as wonderful as you thought it would be, and life is perfect.

Unless you're the author and you're hoping to make a best seller list.

See, here's the way the best seller lists work. They are about velocity of sales, not total sales. Translation: how many sales does the book have in that week. Not in a two week period. In one week. So if you and a few other people buy copies the week before it's supposed to be out, those sales will be counted in a different week than the big upsurge.

Now, the way sales generally work is when a book hits the shelves, there is a swell of sales right at the beginning, when people who have been waiting for the book rush out and buy it. And then it settles down. A well-known author may continue to have sales for a while, but the big swell is over after a week, or two or three.

So, there is a small window of opportunity for those books to make the best seller lists, which are critical for future shelf placement, orders and contract negotiations.

Here's where the release date comes into play. If the release date is Tuesday, February 7th, but some stores start putting it out the week before, others put it out on the 7th, and still others are behind and don't get the boxes unpacked until the following Monday, then you have fragmented sales. The author might sell enough books to hit a best seller list, but she won't actually hit any lists because the sales are fragmented over three weeks, instead of a big swell all in the same week.

So, to support your favorite authors, don't go out and buy their new book if you see it on the shelves before release date. Wait until it's supposed to be out, and then buy it that week. Help those sales get the velocity they need that first week to make it onto the lists.

I cannot WAIT for Lori Handeland's new werewolf book, CRESCENT MOON and Laurell K. Hamilton's new book, MICAH to come out this month, but their release date is tomorrow, so I'm going to sit on my fanny and not buy them until then. Not that Laurell K. Hamilton needs any help in making all the lists, but it's on principle. It's tough enough for author's to make a living, so I'm going to my little part to help.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Will someone love me?

Today is my day to post on the Warner Women blog. Zip over there to read my post on "will someone love me?"

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Today I was fortunate to be asked to be a speaker at a Founder's Day celebration for the Delta Kappa Gamma group, which is an organization of educators. Mostly teachers, but also others who educate in some way. It was all women, and it was a wonderful meeting. There was so much support in the room and so much respect for the women who had originally founded this organization 77 years ago. It was so cool to be in the presence of so much support and bonding. It made me realize how lucky I am to be part of the romance writing industry. Romance writers are supportive like this group of educators are. They support newcomers, they are all so sharing of their experiences and their ideas and their tricks of the trade. It's an amazing gift to be around people who care about you and those around you. I think sometimes we spend so much time rushing around and working on whatever project we've got going on that we forget to notice that there is some very cool stuff going on around us. I would not be where I am today were it not for all those authors, published and unpublished, who reached out to me and shared some of who they are, including their friendship and their encouragement. So, here's a thanks to all of you! The list is so long I couldn't begin to start listing names, but I can only hope that I give back a fraction of what I have gained from this amazing industry I'm so lucky to be a part of.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Author Q&A: Melissa Senate

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1) Can you give us a blurb on your current release, THE BREAKUP CLUB?

Meet the members of The Breakup Club, four co-workers at a New York City publishing house who revolt when they're assigned to work on a high profile celebrity biography about perfect love. Okay, they don't revolt so much as talk about their personal lives more than their puke-worthy project... :

Lucy Miller-Masterson... She's a superstar editor of bestselling books, the wife of a hot-shot doctor, and the mom of a precocious pre-teen. Everything changes when she finds a list of her husband's New Year's resolutions--make that resolution: to leave her.

Miranda Miller... She hates her job as an editorial assistant at the publishing house where her older sister, Lucy, is a big cheese. She hates that her ex-boyfriend, the guy of her dreams, doesn't seem to be coming back with an engagement ring and an apology. So she gets proactive--and actually manages to make her ex propose to another woman. Now what's she gonna do?

Christopher Levy... The newly-separated thirtysomething dad has weekend custody of his one-year old baby and not a clue how to handle fatherhood as a single guy. Unluckily for him, the sanctimommies at the playground are full of advice. Luckily for him, he's got the breakup club.

Roxy Marone: Hmmm... marry the guy who's been her boyfriend since first grade (her wedding's only hours away!) or, say, run out the backdoor, race for the subway (in her veil and makeup and chignon) to go on a potentially life-changing job interview? Twenty-five-year-old Roxy risks the wrath of her super-traditional family and fiance to fulfill her own dreams . . .

Click here to read an excerpt

2) What’s your worst break-up story?

A serious boyfriend actually said to me: "My mother is uncomfortable with our relationship because your brother is married to a Chinese woman." I dumped him on his head less than a minute later. (Saved from both a Momma's boy and the mother-in-the-law from hell (racist hell, at that!) I've had lots of break-up doozies, but nothing tops that one.

3) Who is your celebrity boyfriend and why?

My celebrity boyfriend is and always be the delicious Hugh Laurie. I loved him as Stuart Little's nerdy dad. I love him as the tortured Greg House. I love his face. Love his accent. I even love his cane.

4) What bad habit do you have that you’ve tried to break but you just can’t?

Playing online instead of writing! I'm addicted to the "Toddler Parents" message board on, which is totally anonymous, so you can imagine the posts there!

5) Can you give us a sneak peek at your next book?

I'm so excited about my very first YA, THEODORA TWIST, which will be pubbed by Random House in May. It's about the unexpected friendship that deveops between an out-of-control superstar teen actress and an "invisible" high school junior when they share a life for one month....
THE BREAKUP CLUB, Available now!, read an excerpt
THEODORA TWIST, (young adult), available May 06

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Curse of the Blank Page

Before I sold, I wrote 18 complete manuscripts and 8 partials.
Since I've sold, I've written 13 complete manuscripts and numerous partials.

So, that's 31 complete manuscripts I've written.

That's a lot, right?

So, then WHY is the blank page of a new manuscript SO daunting!?!?! Why doesn't it get easier to write that first word and get going? I have my brainstorming all done. I know my characters. I know my story. I know the story will work. And yet, as I sit there staring at the blinking cursor, I feel completely out of my depth. How do I start? Where do I begin? I'm sooo lost. I'm soooo overwhelmed.

What if I start in the wrong place? Well... I'll just delete the scene and write a new one.

What if my first scene is boring? Well... I'll just edit it.

What if I discover I've missed a critical element in my brainstorming? Well...I'll adjust my story as I go.

What if this books sucks? Well... I'll fix it.

See? There is no big deal. There is no reason to panic. Anything is fixable. So WHY do I go through this every time before I start writing?

I have no idea, but it's torture. I feel like running away from the computer and never coming back. Run away! Run away! Run away! (Monty Python reference, fyi. Hilarious scene. But I digress. I'm in the middle of a crisis. No time for amusing myself!)

But running away isn't an option.

I must stand and fight.

I must prevail over the blank page.

But... ARGH! This is soooo difficult!!! If anyone has any suggestions to avoid this recurring crisis, I'm all ears.

And now, I am not going to procrastinate anymore. I'm going to go write. Something. Anything. A sentence. A paragraph. Anything. Just to get the ball rolling down that hill.

I. Can. Do. This.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An Agent's View: RWA National Conference & the Secret Agent Cartel

Agent Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency talks about the RWA National Conference & the Secret Agent Cartel

Yay! It's that time of the year again - it's time to prep for Nationals. There's nothing cooler than to see 2000 romance writers running around a convention center talking, sharing ideas, connecting for the first time...

The excitement in the air is contagious, and I always leave feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my in-box. AFTER a good day of rest, that is!

You see, an agent's life at Nationals is pretty nutty. I normally have about 25 clients there, and I like to meet with each one individually. Then, I also like to meet with my clients and their editors to connect and to career plan. Finally, I try to hang out with the other agents and editors who attend. Add to that RWA sponsored appointments, workshops that I give and all the excellent parties to partake in, and I'm pretty wiped after the five days!
Not that I'm complaining in the least. I wouldn't trade my schedule for anything!! I have an amazing group of clients, and I love spending time with each and every one of them.

This year, I'm really excited to be a part of two workshops. The first with our own Stephanie Rowe!

The other? I'm coming OUT!

I've been a part of a "secret" agent cartel - a group of amazing romance agents - for the past few years. Every year at Nationals we have a reunion of sorts, and we spend the rest of the year connecting online. This year, our group is coming out. We will no longer be "secret!" Instead, we will be giving a two-hour panel discussion on the agent/author relationship. Everything from getting an agent to firing an agent will be touched on. I feel blessed to be a part of the group - the knowledge base is amazing - and am so happy that we are going to share our insights with the members of RWA.

And, of course, I'm going to be biting my nails over the next month in anticipation of the Golden Heart and RITA announcements! I love the awards ceremony and can't wait to see who the finalists will be.

All the months of prepping, scheduling and organizing for the five day event is completely worth it. I'm already counting the days until July!!

See you all soon!!