Monday, April 30, 2012

Desert Dreams Wrap Up

Apache Leap Mountain, Superior Arizona

Thought I'd post my thoughts on the Desert Dreams conference I attended this past week in Arizona. Technically the conference was only from Friday through Sunday, but I took a few extra days to see friends and gather research for future books.

The conference was very well run. The people were more than friendly, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The hotel, the Chapparal Suites, boasts rooms with a bedroom and suite portion, and I like that. My only complaint with the hotel was a lack of hot water when I showered after that first day. I wasn't pleasant after a lukewarm shower, but I was awake for the day.

Back to the conference... I attended some nice classes. Erin Quinn did a standup job on perfecting pitches. She helped quite a few folks tighten up their blurbs to pitch to editors and agents. I also liked the agent/editor panel, because I learned what the agents/editors wanted. My pitch to Blaze went well. I found Brenda Chin to be pleasant, personable, and very smart about books and her industry. My pitch to St. Martins didn't go as well, but I don't write inside the box. I also don't write within the bounds of one genre, and that's sometimes hard to sell to higher ups who don't want to take a chance on something new. Their loss. :)

My only issue with the conference, besides the food that I didn't much care for, was that I'd sent goodies that didn't make it into the large goodie bag we were all given. Not sure why that happened, but I did find an avenue to send those business cards and chocolate kisses, so all ends well. And since that's the only fault I could find with it, that's saying it's a great conference. I plan to attend again in 2014, when the next one's held.

During the book signing, I sat next to Elizabeth Hoyt--a funny, nice, down to earth NY Times bestselling author of historical romance. She had quite a few readers stop by. I've heard her give a class before, but I never had the chance to speak with her. I also bought and had her sign a copy of Wicked Intentions for me. I'll dive into that one when I finish a few projects on my plate. All in all, I was surprised to have enjoyed the book signing. Book signings can be ugly if you're next to someone not that friendly or sitting by yourself. And I sold a few books, so not bad at all.

I had a ton of fun with friends, and I'd like to thank them for such a wonderful time. Cat, Teri, Isabella, Jordan (great talking with you), and especially thanks to Cat and Todd for letting me crash at their place. A nod to Trouble as well, because I know that dog secretly likes me, despite her growls and killer stares.

And now I'm back on track and writing my fingers to the bone once again. Also, don't forget, today's the last day for Ayla Ruse's The Fires of Beltane contest. Ayla is picking a winner from those who comment on her blog post here. She'll be picking a winner later today, and she's East Coast, so if you haven't commented yet, you still have time.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Contest is Good Through Monday

FYI, Ayla's contest is running through this weekend. Good luck, and feel free to comment on her post to be entered to win a copy of her book, The Fires of Beltane. And on another note, getting up this morning after last night was reallllly rough. And yet, I think martinis and cosmos will again be on the menu tonight. Writing conferences can be tough on your nerves. At least, that's the excuse I'm using. :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dipping My Toes: Guest Post by Ayla Ruse

The Fires of Beltane ~ What was supposed to be a celebration of life turns into a festival of fear…

Natalie and William meet at an annual springtime festival, where, unknown to the participants, there is someone using the festival to exploit its darker history. This night will test Natalie and William's attraction, but could it also cost them their lives? 

Dipping my toes…where they belong?    

Most writers I know like to explore. Like the curious cat, we try to see how the story will flow if it goes one way as opposed to another. Sometimes, the story will take us in a direction we never saw coming, but it’ll work.

This was the case for me when I wrote The Fires of Beltane, my newest release with Total E-Bound. My curiosity got the better of me in many ways. One, this is an erotic horror story. I love horror and am thrilled because of this alone. And before you ask, yes, erotic and horror go very well together. Think about it: the next time you’re at a horror flick. Would you rather sit and huddle to your lonesome self, or have some handsome guy by your side to help distract you from the more gruesome parts? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

As I wrote The Fires of Beltane, the big curiosity leap for me came in the form of a short f/f scene and a couple, lengthier m/m scenes. I’m not opposed to either (obviously, I wrote ‘em), but this story is the first time I’ve had either published. You know what? I had a great time writing these scenes. Yes, the story is predominately m/f, but let’s face it, the setting is the festival of Beltane. A celebration of fertility, sex, being naked together. In short, a great big orgy.

Did I know I would write same-sex scenes when I started the story? Honestly, no. When my fingers were tapping away at the keyboard, the relationships, the backgrounds, the reasons and whys and why not’s started taking over, and before I knew it, I was inside my hero’s head and he was hot and heavy inside his best friend. It was wild!

But I’d rather give you a taste for yourself. Marie’s warned me not to get too explicit here, so I’ll tease you a little from my website, here.

If you want your own copy, you can pick yours up at Total E-Bound . You can also comment on this post today for a chance to win a PDF copy of this story from me! 

Ayla Ruse

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Desert Dreams

I'm in Arizona and having a blast. And the conference hasn't started yet. Here are a few pictures...

The agave plant. I use agave (natural sweetener) with my coffee every day.
 My buds Teri and Cat at our hotel

 The hotel grounds. How pretty!

A spot for hummingbirds at the Arboretum in Superior, AZ

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Wrote That?


My new catch phrase. I just finished doing my final line edits for my next Cougar Falls book, A Matter of Pride. I can't believe I'm up to five already in this series, and I still have so many Shifters I'd like to write about.  But what really struck me about my edits... I had written the story. 

Sounds bizarre, but writers write a lot. I work on many different projects throughout the course of a year. Slower paced writers write and delete and write some more. Rereading what you've written is like looking at a baby that came from your  genes. "I mean, really? That's mine?" you might think.

It was funny reading the story again, because I've already read it a few times since it's been finished. And I keep liking it more and more. This doesn't always happen with my work. Sometimes the first read through is enough to make me want to pull my hair out, and the thought of editing the same thing over and over makes me nauseous. But this particular story has been a trip from start to finish.

And it made me appreciate some of my earlier work. Every now and then when I'm in a rut or I'm just plain bored, I'll reread my earlier stories to see about style, content, or hell, just for the sake of the story. I find that I really like some of my ideas. For example, I'm still gaga over the Circs. Sure, everyone and their mother has jumped on the government conspiracy bandwagon, but my Circs had a camaraderie I really enjoyed, and it made telling their stories cohesive and exciting and sexy. 

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I look back on some of what I've written, and it's like reading someone else's work. I wonder if other writers go through that. Or if I'm a wacko for rereading my own stuff. I don't know. I only know it's fun to rediscover myself, and in some ways I grow from seeing the mistakes I used to make and also the things I did right that I might not do as much any more. 

In any case, I'm happy to say my next Cougar Falls book is a winner, hands down. And I'm not just saying that as a writer, but as a reader too. :)  I can't wait to share the cover. It's stellar, I must say. Soon as I get my cue, I'll share. 

A Matter of Pride releases July 24. And that's not so far away, not with May around the corner!  

And now, I'm off to Arizona for fun, sand, and mojitos... I mean, for an educational conference where I'll learn more about writing. Which I will. Totally. With mojitos.  

Enjoy your Tuesday and read a book.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Getting Ready for Desert Dreams

Whoa! Not sure if I like this new Blogger format or not. I'm fine with change, but sometimes it takes me a little while to comfortably adjust. :)  Getting ready to head to Arizona for my big Desert Dreams conference. I really look forward to writer conferences, because it's not often I get to talk to other writers in a large forum. Mostly my characters talk to me, and if I talk back, well, that just looks odd.

I'm planning on taking many pictures and hope to share them. So bear with me this week.

On another note, Carrie Ann Ryan and Lia Davis and I all have new releases coming out May 1st. So we're going to do some blog hopping and sharing a giveaway or two. Sounds fun, and something to look for next week. And my buddy Ayla Ruse has some new release news too. Maybe I can convince her to give something away. I'm all about the "free" in freebie. :)

That's my Monday in a nutshell. Now back to the work in progress...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Funny Story...

My 61 year old mother is dating again. After her jerk of an ex broke up with her, she's dipping her toe into the pool. It's tough, because I'm also dipping my toe into the dating pool, and I definitely don't want to be swimming with my mother. But that's a whole different story.

So she's creating a profile, and I helped her, because man, she types SO SLOWLY. It was killing me to watch. And her spelling is atrocious.

I wrote what she said. Blah blah, blah seeking nice man. Organic foods, hiking. Outdoors, dogs. Typical Central Oregon active person profile. Except I then added things like, Must know how to use your equipment. Hotties only need apply. Six inches is a waste. Gimme the foot-long. And then the pièce de résistance. (Last year someone hacked her Facebook account and wrote under her lovely profile pic, "I like big c*ck."Which is hilarious, because this older, attractive woman with a bright smile is lingering over "big c*ck." When I let her know this, she didn't think it was funny at all. I couldn't stop laughing.) So of course, I added that nugget of gold to her profile.

She hadn't been paying attention, so when I asked her to read over what I'd added, her face turned red and she sputtered with laughter and horror. Needless to say she deleted all the fun stuff and is back to looking for boring men.

Such a shame, really.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Magical Today

I'm at Here Be Magic today, where Grady's talking about Shifters making better lovers. But then, he's biased.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods: A Movie Review

I give The Cabin in the Woods a solid A.

I won't spoil the movie or give you a detailed plot. All you need to know is that five college-age people travel together to an isolated cabin intending on a fun-filled weekend. Chaos ensues. But there's so much more to the story, as trailers for the movie have probably indicated.

Though labeled horror, this movie isn't scary. It's gory, smart, and spooky. Mostly it's a mystery, and you spend the first three quarters of it trying figure out what the heck is really going on.

Any horror buff will get a thrill out of the genre conventions touched on in this film. Nods to Romero, Poe, especially to HP Lovecraft, and other great horror aficionados are evident. (Loved the wink at Clive Barker.)

It's not a movie for kids. The gore is, well, gory. But it totally fits. This is not torture porn. It's not a slasher flick. It's a well thought out movie for people who like horror and what horror is really about, delving into the human psyche. Okay, that sounded deep, and the movie isn't that intense. It's fun, laugh-out-loud funny, and clever without being pretentious.

I loved it. And I can't help giving it anything less than an A.

Monday, April 16, 2012

B*tch, Please.

This is too funny, even for a Monday. Bitch, please. haha I'm still laughing.

I have a few odds and ends to share, so I'll get right to it.

1. My friend's website is brand new and awesome. Check out author Ayla Ruse and be amazed.
2. I read Cherise Sinclair's The Wild Hunt Legacy2: Winter of the Wolf. This was the second in the series but reads as a stand-alone. And it was friggin' awesome. I am SO glad I can now go back and read the first book with a smile on my face. Loved the story, and it's a lot of story for not a lot of price.
3. I'm finishing edits for A Matter of Pride (Dean Chastell's story--Cougar Falls) for my editor.
4. Then I'm hard at work finishing up Silver Tongue for my editor at Loose Id. I have to finish early because next week I'm going to Arizona for a romance conference.
5. And yes, next week I'll be at the Desert Dreams conference in Phoenix. Can't wait!

So my Monday is quite full. Hope yours is as well. And don't listen to Snoopy. Bring sexy back. The world needs it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Just In!

Just got my brand new print copy of Storming His Heart. Wow! Looks awesome. It's the second book in my Westlake Enterprises series, a psychic investigations book. Now I have to write book three. Man, I need more time in the day. Storming His Heart (in print) releases May 1st.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Street Team

So I'm putting the word out. I'm looking for some folks to help me promote my books, so I can spend more time writing and less time promoting. Okay, less time worrying about promoting. I hate PR stuff, especially because it detracts from my creative time.

Bottom line, I'm looking for anyone interested in: free books, promotional goodies, sneak peeks.
In return for the perks, you: post reviews on Amazon, B&N, All Romance Ebooks and Goodreads. You share my news through Facebook, blogging, and Twitter.

If you're interested, send me an email with the subject, Street Team, and I'll give you the details.

And just as an example, I have the cover art for my newest Cougar Falls book I can't share with the general public, but with my team... And my newest book, Tip of the Spear, which has yet to be released, could very well be in your hands.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Cover: Flight of Fancy

Loving this! Flight of Fancy is a psychic m/m romance coming out from Loose Id May 1st. I love the cover and can't wait until it releases. I've been dying to share. A big thank you to the artist, the very talented Anne Cain, and to Loose Id.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Self Publishing: My Two Cents

I've been reading about a well-known traditionally published author bashing self-publishing. (Although I don't know that she's necessarily against self-publishing, she was vague enough that I don't know the opposite to be the case either.) This isn't a new phenomena. People have loved and hated the idea of self-publishing even longer than they've loved and hated ebooks.

I think self-publishing can be both good and bad. It's good, because it allows ideas and writing to get out there that a lot of publishers won't take. Publishers want to make money. And if you give them something new that's really not being done, they may not want to risk investing in what could be a great product, simply because the market being what it is, they don't want to lose their shorts.

However, those publishers can often weed out the crap. Yeah, I went there. A lot of what's out there right now is crap, because every Joe Schmoe with an idea thinks he's an author. And in general, authors tend to be an impatient lot. So instead of editing, proofing, and going through an actual editorial process, they want what they have to be immediately accessible.

Eight years ago, after I finished writing my very first penned novel, I thought it was stellar. The best thing ever written. In actuality, I head-hopped all over the place (meaning POV shifted faster than you could blink), my dialogue tags weren't actually dialogue tags, the story basically unfolded piece by piece, me telling you what happened instead of showing you, and the pacing had issues. And those are a just as few of the problems with that manuscript.

But if self-publishing had been as viable back then as it is today, who knows? I might have foregone the traditional route and published it myself. And boy, would that have been a mistake.

By submitting and getting those many rejections--for that book and the ones that followed--I learned better how to write. I read a lot, so I had a basis on which to pattern my books, but reading and writing aren't a hand-in-hand process. If they were, we'd all be Nora Roberts. By submitting, I was able to experience harsh rejection, learn where to go for help (RWA--for all that they can be a PITA, they also help tremendously, especially when beginning writing), and how to write a better book.

How can rejections be good? They reinforced the fact that I'm a writer, because they didn't deter me from continuing to write. And they insured that I know everyone has an opinion. So when someone trashes my book in a review, I continue blithely on. Whereas some other writers, not used to hearing anyone disparage their books, rant and rave and act like complete idiots at poor reviews.

The most successful self-published people these days are ones who tried the traditional route. (And by traditional, I mean New York or smaller press publishers.) They were rejected. They finaled in contests or won but just couldn't nab an agent or contract. Many have never been with a traditional publisher, but they still hone their craft. They edit. They understand decent cover art (hello, marketing) and how to tell a good story. They know that commas and periods are our friends.

Granted, my experience in publishing has been with romance and through small press. I tried for big name publishers back in the day. But I grew tired of waiting 4 months or longer to hear a no, then to resubmit and wait another half a year, and another... Also, as much as I try to, I don't write inside the box. My stuff is always a little out there, sexually or idea-wise. I'm impatient, and I'm lazy. I admit it. Having a publisher do my edits, cover art, and formatting, not to mention distribution, takes a load off my mind.

That said, I tried self-publishing to see how it would work for me. I find it to be both liberating and a huge hassle. I okay the cover art and the editing. I'm in control. Yet everything is also my responsibility. So while dealing with edits, art, formatting, distribution, and advertising, I'm not writing. Not good.

Do I think self-publishing is a legitimate source of publishing? Absolutely. There are many successes out there today. I also think true writers hone their craft and do their very best to put out a good story. Waiting is a part of the writing process, like it or not. New York definitely needs to wake up and realize what readers want. Good storytelling, obviously, but how many years were we inundated with vampire romances while the underground, if you will, ate up BDSM and shapeshifters and m/m romance? Self-publishers and small presses have given readers a true taste of what's available, not just what publishers want you to read.

So yes, I think self-publishing is a terrific venue. But I also think a smart author will try to publish through other means first, to get a handle on what the editorial process is like. And by building an audience through other means, it also guarantees at least a few readers when you set out on your own. Easier said than done, I know, but having a basis to compare before heading out on your own really helps.

My two cents on this sunny Monday morning.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Super Secret Thursday: An Unveiling

I could tell you about my project, but then I'd have to kill you...or I could just tell you.

Every year, I try to work on at least one large project I envision being bigger than Harry Potter. (Hey, it's something to strive for.) *grin* So far, I've got an alien romance and a contemporary sitting in slush piles in the Ether. I'm currently working on a Norse YA story, which is way different than most things I write. However, I feel that it's time for my super secret project to come out of the dark. I'm done waiting.

Two years ago at an RWA convention, I came up with an idea (along with help from my friends Cat and Teri), for an Amazon Western. Yes, those two words really do go together.

It's a 90,000 word completed novel. A mix of romance, western, after-the-end-of-the-world, nature, steampunk, and steam--the erotic kind. I've shopped the book around, but though several agents and even a few editors liked the writing, they felt the story wasn't quite right for them or wasn't marketable--too outside the box. Which, interestingly enough, is the reason I fell into epublishing in the first place. My ideas always seem to be outside the box.

Mind you, I wanted to write a typical western romance. I'd even decided I'd seriously research the past. Then my idea for hunky cowboy meets tough western woman fizzled, because my brain flipped and then the world ended, electricity failed, and the west was reborn. Sky rocks fell from--you guessed it--the sky, and the world changed, big time. Yeah, I even restructured North and South America, cause I'm good like that.

So now I have a fully written Amazon Western that's way outside the box. Kind of green too, because it's all about the Nature Laws and protecting the land instead of protecting people. I like that. And then there's an Amazon who kicks serious ass. And men and creatures affected by the Impact Zone who are no longer normal, i.e. carnivorous horses and blood trees. Oh, and a quest to retrieve a stolen crown. It's got a bit of everything adventurous and romantic.

I've waited long enough, over a year in fact. I'll be releasing my super secret project in another week or two. Just an FYI... And here's the cover. So now you know.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy, er, Release Day?

Well, today was supposed to be the day of my newest release, Blackthorne's Light. However, a few glitches occurred. I'm having problems uploading to All Romance eBooks, and I completely forgot it takes a few days from upload to availability at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Forgive my stupidity, and know that both Amazon and B&N should have the story at any time within the next 48 hours. I'll keep plugging away at ARe until their site is up and running again.

Good news is that I have more versions of this book. The novella will be available in .rtf, PDF, EPUB, .prc, LIT, html and .rb.

So there's that at least. More come to come, I'm sure...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bacon Makes Everything Better

Can you tell I'm getting ready to make breakfast? But you know, it's true. Bacon does make everything better.

Take writing. With greasy fingers, you can type faster. The protein (er, fat) gives your brain a boost. And that salty cure forces you to drink more water, thus you're hydrating. The best part about bacon? The taste. It puts a big smile on my face.

I can always tell when it's going to be a bacon day. Today feels like it. I'm about halfway done my current work in progress, and I need to be completely finished by the end of this week. No problem. I'm focused, and I'm eating bacon (or I'm going to). And for a completely inane segway, let's talk about authors acting piggy--like idiots.

Perhaps I should have offered my bacon to the divas blasting one of my publishers on a public loop. But it's fascinating to me that people think they can talk crap to their employers. Even in a rather bohemian profession like writing, where rules apply in odd ways, it's common courtesy not to lambaste the powers that be, showing your ugly face to all and sundry. It's interesting though, because a few well known authors are now complete Never Reads to me, simply because I've been witness to such poor behavior.

When does success mean you can treat others poorly? How many copies can you sell before you can rip into another author/editor/agent without feeling some kind of consequences? No, I haven't witnessed anything too extreme lately, but instances of this whacked out god-like behavior by some authors have stuck with me.

I was always taught that you reprimand in private and praise in public. Something I adhere to this day. And it makes me super curious, wondering how many instances of bad behavior I might see when I attend a writer's conference in a few weeks. I'll make sure to post my impressions. Though when I attended this same conference two years ago, I saw nothing but friendly and helpful people. Hmm... we'll see. But to be on the safe side, I'll take a baggie of bacon with me, and toss it helpfully to anyone behaving like a childish moron with delusions of grandeur.

Bacon, anyone?

Monday, April 2, 2012

A GOOD Monday, for Once

Working for a living. Yeah, my new theme. I figure if I say it enough, I'll start doing it. Of course, my bills do help reaffirm the notion that work=rent money.

Good news on a Monday, besides the fact that my kids get a break from me by going back to school, and I get a break from the little monsters. I've finished editing and polishing Blackthorne's Light. Just two more days until it releases. Woohoo! Here's my cover and a short blurb. Happy Monday.

When Dara Ellis sets out to do research for a new article, she gets much more than she bargained for. Vampland is a hedonist's playground. It's the hottest new dance club in town, and her inspiration for showing women how to embrace the bad girl within. But it's the club's owner who really gets her pulse racing, first in lust and then in fear when she learns who--and what--he really is. But Trey is far more than a creature of the night. He's a flesh and blood man with gifts given from a higher power. And only the love of the right woman can save his soul from the darkness growing closer. But will Dara take a chance on a creature as much myth as man? Or will fear deny the love burning brightly between them?

To read an excerpt, click here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Review: OUTFOXED

Courtesy of the Library Journal

Grady Chastell of the Ac-taw pride will pounce on any chance to mate with Gabby Easton, the most sought-after shape-shifter in Cougar Falls, MT. Gabby is a sexy redheaded fox who also happens to be a playful cat. This is a very unusual trait, being able to shift into not only one animal spirit but two. Gabby refuses to give the cocky cat Grady the time of day until she is outsmarted by a very conniving lie that spirals out of control. Some uninvited guests arrive, and trouble follows close behind. Will Gabby give in to her basic animal desires for Grady, or will she cry wolf—or cat?
Verdict Outfoxed is a dramatic soap opera mixed with pure animal magnetism. Add in some heavy petting, and your pulse will elevate and your mouth water for more lusty bedside banter between Gabby and Grady. If you enjoyed Vivian Arend’s Black Gold, then you will also go for this steamy bath-time read by Harte (Closing the Deal).—Leslie Jean Cerkoney, Elk Grove Village, IL

**My only question: What exactly is a bath-time read?**