Monday, May 31, 2010

To Grovel or Not To Grovel...

I know that it’s Memorial Day in the U.S., which means two things. One, there might not be too many people reading this :). Two, I need to at least mention what the day is really about. So, thank you, thank you to all the men and women who have and continue to serve to protect our country and our freedoms!!

But I do have a question that I hope at least a couple of people can help me answer. I’m just finishing up edits on my next book (Just Like That, June 15th from Samhain) and my editor and I are discussing the ending where the hero admits he was wrong. She and I like the ending as it is, but are wondering if he needs to grovel more :). He’s sorry, it’s obvious he’s finally figured it all out, but true to his personality he’s laid back about his apology. Lindsey commented that readers do love a hero that grovels! So that’s what I want to know. Should the hero have to really grovel when he’s screwed up and if so, how much? And what about the heroine? Can’t she go to him? Can the heroine grovel? Is it okay for no one to grovel?

That’s it. Short and sweet today. Just give me your opinion as a reader.

Unless you also want to share some of the best groveling scenes you can think of :) Some of my favorites are (not surprisingly) from Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In Nobody’s Baby But Mine the hero, Cal, majorly grovels! She not only writes strong alpha men who really know how to beg, but women who can hold a big-time grudge! Lady Be Good also has some good groveling in it. Do you have any favorites?

Hope everyone is having a fun, relaxing weekend! Thanks for taking time to weigh in! And if you're curious about we decide to end the book, you can check it out on June 15th from Samhain :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

In Case You Hadn't Heard...

Samhain Publishing and Coffee Time Romance have been running a little promo all month. There's still some time left to get in on the fun, read some cool excerpts and add to your TBR and TBB stacks--as well as possibly win a lot of great books and really cool prizes!

Just click on the link under the graphic above to check it out, or visit one (or, better yet, all!) of the links below...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

13 Things People Seem To Think Are Good That Actually Aren't

That's a long title. Sure, I could have called it "13 Things Erin Doesn't Like", but the interesting thing about these particular items is that they are actually quite popular. I just can't figure out why! :) So, yeah, this is my opinion on things but well... I'll take any chance to share what I think about stuff! Feel free to disagree (and be wrong).

This is not in any particular order either-- except for number one!

1. Matthew McConaughy wearing a shirt (no explanation needed-- we've covered this topic before I believe?)

2. Kit Kat bars (generally cover something in chocolate and I'm a fan but these are a waste of cocoa beans)

3. The Twilight movie series ('nough said)

4. Lady Gaga’s music (this chic is really just trying too hard)

5. Remaking the Karate Kid (don't mess with a classic. Even if you are Will Smith's kid)

6. Putting raspberries in white chocolate cheesecake (raspberries are fruit, white chocolate cheesecake is dessert. Let's not mix these food groups okay? You don't put green beans on top of your ice cream do you? Exactly.)

7. Letting Glee cover Madonna songs (I love Glee. Seriously. But only Madonna should sing Madonna)

8. Putting meat of any kind on a stick and deep fat frying it (do I really need to explain this?)

9. Giving your precocious nine-year-old son “just because” as a reason not to do something (nine-year-old boys are programmed to think "just because.. her head might explode? Let's find out!")

10. Las Vegas (I don't have enough room here to explain this. Just trust me.)

11. Being mature enough to invite your fiance’s ex-girlfriend to your wedding (wasn't me but it was REALLY not a good idea-- especially when she looked better in her dress than the bride did in hers)

12. Getting up before seven on a Saturday morning (should be a law against it in fact)

13. Advertising a story as a romance when the main characters don't end up together (not cool, Nicholas Sparks, not cool)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Releasing My Inner Slayer

Last night, while letting the dog out before bed, I was thinking over an idea for my blog post. Maybe something about my writing process, except my process seems more like a series of excuses for my procrastination before writing fast and hard to meet a deadline. So I was in the midst of coming up with something else when I grabbed the leash for the dog from the hook next to the door. And then I felt it, or maybe I should say felt them.

Spider legs.

My arm had disturbed a freshly spun web over the leash hook. And when I say disturbed, I mean went right through it and knocked loose the bigass spider sitting there, waiting for its next meal to come along. I think it even had teeth.

I screeched something unintelligible and jumped back, jerking the poor dog with me. As tempting as it was the shove the dog at the spider, who was busy hauling its creepy ass up the wall I'd bumped into when I realized what happened, I didn't think it could be all that healthy for her to eat a spider that big.

Dragging the dog with me (couldn't let her outside loose when I'd just that morning discovered a raccoon had taken up residence next door), I went inside.

A lot of authors say there's a little bit of themselves in every heroine they write. Well, I can tell you what bit of myself is not in any of my heroines. None of them are afraid of bugs. Most of my heroines kick ass and take names every day of the week. They face murderers, assassins, demons and stubborn alpha males on a regular basis. There's no way any of them would freak over a spider.

So damn it, there was no way I was going to let a stupid spider chase me off, no matter how many teeth it had. Not when it might spin its web of death across the door the next night and lay in wait for me.

Instead of getting my husband, which I'm sure he would have just loved, I grabbed his shoe (it's the biggest) and went back outside. I'm not sure how far spiders can jump, but I kept as much distance between us as I could and whacked the spider. Of course, some people might equate whacking as going batshit crazy, but let's not worry about them.

Once I scraped what was left of the spider off the bottom of my husband's shoe, I stood up, basking in the high from my spider slaying. Which is where I went wrong. I got cocky. Planning to head inside and tell my husband how I saved him the effort by killing the spider myself, I whipped around.

And came face to face with the June Bug stuck to the glass. Right at eye-level.

If the light had been on when I went outside the first time, I wouldn't have missed it. Not that knowing that did me a damn bit of good in the moment. The only thing standing between me and my safe, insect-free house, was a clicking, flying beetle that was going to end up stuck on my hair. Because that's what they do.

Stick. In. Your. Hair.

Knowing I had only seconds before the June Bug (who I'm pretty sure had teeth too) noticed I was there, I lifted my arm to whack it with my husband's shoe. Unfortunately, since my door hadn't been shut tight, I knew I had just one chance to deliver a death blow, and I couldn't miss. Otherwise the door was going to fly open and that bug was going to be IN my house and then I'd really be in trouble.

Closing my eyes(okay, I kept one open) I killed it on the first strike. And thank god, because I would have gone to bed with the covers over my head and left the bug slaying to my stubborn, alpha-male husband.

So what about you? Any crazy bug stories or particular creepy crawlies that freak you out?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guest Blogger Christine Price - Coming Out

I’m not J.K. Rowling. Or John Grisham. Or any other superbly-high-earning author who has millions of book sales (yet). For the first time ever this month, I received a royalty cheque. It wasn’t huge, but it was exhilarating. I’m considering framing it. Writing to me has always been a way of expressing myself. I love everything from the initial conception of a story to developing characters to writing dialogue (the dialogue part is ultimately my favourite). What it’s never been before is a way to support me and my family. Getting paid for doing something I love? It’s exhilarating and fantastic and amazing all bundled into one perfect package. But I haven’t gotten to the point where it pays the bills. And therefore, like thousands of others out there, I have another job.

My other job is awesome in different ways. It’s shifted from being another resume entry into a career, and I have people there who support me and who I love working with. In fact, I love them so much, that I recently opened up about publishing my first work. Suddenly, the two are colliding a lot more than ever before.

I won’t lie, it’s a little awkward to come right out and say that you write erotic romance. I’ve noticed that people have three reactions: the “snicker, snicker, really??”; the “I’m so excited for you” and the “I’m so cool, I’m not even phased, check out my awesome nonchalance.” I’ll admit, I was worried when I came out of the romance closet to discuss my writing. A lot of what I write is m/m, and that has the potential to add another layer of awkward. I was worried. Would my colleagues and friends get weirded out by the fact that I write gay romance? Would things suddenly get really uncomfortable?

Release day came, the posting went up on Amazon, and my coworkers—while not exactly flocking to see it—did take a look. I braced myself. And what I learned was that I had to start having more trust in the people around me.

The responses were an outpouring of the aforementioned second reaction, with a few memorable thirds. “Romance, eh? Make sure that the word ‘throbbing’ appears at least once on every page.” “Hey, did you know they’re both guys?” “That is one hot cover.” The snickering was (mostly) absent. And I think that Amazon was accessed more from work computers that day than it had since Christmas.

Coming out as a romance writer was probably one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in my life. Not because I was previously ashamed of it, or because I wanted to hide it, but because I didn’t trust the people I knew to support me, even though I would support them if things were reversed. I now fly my romance flag proud (there’s still a little bit of rainbow in it).

And they’re right… it really is one hot cover.


Christine Price lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband, two cats and a slightly retarded Anatolian Shepherd. Soul Bond, with Samhain Publishing, is her first published work.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Creative Outlets

I've just taken up crochet. Yeah, I have no time for it or any other hobby, but its so fun. And relaxing! There's something incredibly satisfying about creating something out of nothing, and I think that's part of the appeal of writing. You start with a blank screen, and slowly it fills with words and sentences and paragraphs until there's a story that someone else can enjoy and get lost in. Its the same with yarn crafts. Stitch by stitch you build a larger project, and when its finished, you have something practical to use or to give as a present.
The other big benefit--to both writing and crochet--is the low cost. Especially in this economy, that is a huge bonus. For crochet, you can make a scarf for less than $5. Hello Christmas presents! And to top it off, I've always been told handmade presents are better than store-bought ones. True, a scarf doesn't necessarily compare to, say, a Kindle, but you get the idea.

How do you channel your creative urges? I'm always amazed at the art people create--please link to pictures if you have them!


Friday, May 21, 2010

For Whom the Book Tolls

Forgive the play on the word 'toll' in the title there. It's late and I've just gotten home from a long road trip and I've just learned that my son's missing dog (who I consider mine, btw) might have been found! So, a little bit giddy at the moment. 

But, anyway, I've been thinking lately about the toll a book can take on your emotions. As a reader, there have always been books that have touched me--books that have made me laugh or cry or think, books that have changed the way I looked at the world. I broke up with one of my high school boyfriends after reading Ibsen's Dollhouse  (I know it's a play, but fiction is fiction after all) when I saw too much of us in Nora's relationship with her husband.

There have been books that I've loved and read and re-read and re-read, etc. And there have been books that I've reacted so strongly to that I could never stand to read them more than once--if I finished them at all. But, recently, I've realized that the books I've written have each (or most, anyway) affected me in their own way as well.

Take my current WiP, for example. Bad things are happening to good people and it's hard to write about it--even though I know I have to.  My mind keeps trying to come up with ways to change what I know has to happen and make it turn out otherwise. I might find myself feeling disenchanted with the whole writing process or the whole writing industry, or I might find myself feeling all written out--nothing more to say--even though I know that it's only an advanced procrastination technique.  

So, what about you? What are some of the books that have taken a toll on you, in some way or another?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alphas Through the Ages

I’m on record as not liking some kinds of alpha heroes: heroes whose main qualifications are big muscles, membership in some elite military group and thinly disguised misogyny just don’t do it for me. But I think a lot depends on how alphas are defined. And I recently had a chance to take a look at alphas in a historical sense.

A few weeks ago I picked up one of those big omnibus DVD collections, this one including all the Ocean’s films including the very first one with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Now I loved Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Thirteen (could have done without Ocean’s Twelve, but that’s the way it goes). And I’d seen the original Ocean’s 11 several years ago, but I’d mostly forgotten it. However, I think the comparison between the two versions of the same basic set-up says a lot about what’s happened to our concept of alpha males over the past thirty or forty years.

To begin with, I’d argue that Frank and Dean (and Peter and Joey and Sammy, et al.) were definitely alpha in their day, although a different kind of alpha from John Wayne or Clark Gable. They represent the type I think of as the “frat boy alpha.” The Rat Pack were, after all, the definition of cool in the fifties and early sixties—the “in crowd.” To me, that’s alpha. Ocean’s 11 was first of the Rat Pack movies they made. The eleven men in this first film aren’t professional crooks; they’re a former WWII platoon at loose ends and looking for excitement. And while they wait for their plan to fall into place, they have a great time in Las Vegas, with the obligatory booze, gambling, and, yes, “broads.” The women in this movie are basically either accessories or bitches. Angie Dickinson plays Sinatra’s wife, but she doesn’t have the integral role that Julia Roberts has in the remake. Instead she basically sits at home and wishes she could still have a relationship with her former husband. There’s another woman, an estranged girlfriend, who tries to make trouble, but Angie tells her off good and proper. Then she goes back to pining.

In terms of the movie’s attitude toward women, the most significant line may be a joke from Dean Martin. He fantasizes about becoming a member of the Presidential Cabinet (this was close to the 1960 election involving Peter Lawford’s then-brother-in-law JFK). His first act, he says, would be to repeal the constitutional amendments giving women the vote and outlawing slavery. Then he’d turn all the women into slaves. Everybody laughs, of course (and I picture some woman watching this movie when it first came out and gritting her teeth while her boyfriend guffaws).

So what you’ve got here are, basically, jerks. Guys who think robbing casinos would be a gas and who think women are basically inflatable dolls who need to stay out of the way. Groovy. I can’t say I’m too upset when things in the film don’t work out for them.

Now let us turn to Ocean’s Eleven. I must admit, going in, that I love George Clooney, but that’s beside the point. The guys in the remake are professional thieves and con men, taking on the casinos because 1) they can make a lot of money that way and 2) they can put one over on slimy Terry Benedict who owns the casinos in question. There’s something about their calm professionalism that’s really sexy (even if it is a bit, well, anti-social). The crime they plan is insanely complex, but it doesn’t involve holding anybody at gunpoint (Frank and company do that). It’s more reminiscent of The Sting than of your average bank robbery. And Clooney, far from being a player, is hopelessly in love with his ex-wife whom he ultimately wins back from the evil casino owner.

The attitude in Ocean’s Eleven is completely different from Ocean’s 11. Clooney is affable rather than snide, professional rather than creepily thrill-seeking, and so besotted with Tess that he apparently hasn’t even considered the possibility of loving anyone else. Now that’s cool!

If you’re willing to accept Clooney and the guys (or at least Brad Pitt and possibly Matt Damon) as alphas, I’d have to say bring ‘em on! But if we’re still stuck with the Rat Pack version of what an alpha is supposed to be, uber-cool and vaguely hostile, I’m afraid my objections to alpha obsession still stand.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Guest Blogger Madelyn Ford - To Series or Not To Series

I received a disturbing email the other day from an author friend. The third in her series was being rejected from a pub that shall not be named. And one of the reasons cited; series do not sell well. In fact many pubs won’t touch them period.
Now as a series writer, this caused me a moment’s panic. Then it got me to thinking. Is that really true? New York publishing houses are teaming with serial work. In fact, all of my favorite authors write at least one series, if not multiple. So if not New York, than is this just an e-pub thing? Because looking at some of the bigger e-publishing houses, I am seeing examples of this falsehood all over the place.
Now I am a sucker for a series. If an author can hook me in that first book, if she can really make me care for one of her secondary characters, I’ll likely be in it for the long haul. I’ll even forgive a less than stellar second or third book (because, hey, all of us have those kind of days), if the overall series arc remains steady. So if I’ve been grabbed by the story, I’ll be looking for that second book.
So I’ve got to ask, am I the only one looking for more after I’ve finished a good story? Is it just me hunting all over the internet for that next book or for information on whom the next one will be about? Am I alone?
I’d love to know what you think.

As a shy child, Madelyn Ford learned at a very early age that one could be and do many different deeds, all it took was opening the pages of a book. From there, it was a natural progression into writing. A fan of all things paranormal and a lover of romance, it is hardly surprising to family and friends that she has combined these two great loves.
Madelyn lives in the Midwest with her fixer-of-all-laptop-problems husband, three energetic and excessively talkative kids (send duct tape please), two of the laziest dogs who still somehow manage to chew up everything, and a swarm of invading ladybugs.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I recently sent Laurie Rauch – executive editor at Samhain Publishing, and my editor as well – two manuscripts. One’s a novella entitled Little Red Ragtop, and the other is my first (and so far only) full length book, Rocky Mountain Howl. I’ve been just a teeny bit anxious, waiting to find out if she wanted to publish either one.

Then Laurie told me she’d be appearing at the Winter Rose award luncheon, sponsored by the Yellow Rose, the Fort Worth chapter of Romance Writers of America. As it happens, RMH placed in the Winter Rose contest last year, but I wasn’t able to attend the luncheon. I thought it would be fun to meet both Laurie and the members of the Yellow Rose. And since a couple of my best friends live in Dallas, and I haven’t seen them in years, this seemed like a good time for a road trip. So I loaded up the Diva (my friend Belynda and her husband adore the Diva, and she them) and hit the road for DFW.

While I was at the luncheon, Belynda spent the day with Diva at the Fort Worth zoo. Diva had a wonderful time; B's training to be a grandma in the next few years and she has the patience of a woman whose children have all left the nest. In fact, she wants me to bring Diva and the Monsters back in July so we can take them to Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor. (B and Rusty have raised three boys; nothing scares them).

I had a blast at the luncheon, even though I forgot to take my camera, and the pics I took with my phone came out crappy :(. I didn’t arrive in time to hear Christie Craig talk about character motivation (everyone raved about it, and Christie asked great questions during Rachel Caine's talk), but I did hear Rachel Caine, bestselling author of the hugely popular Morganville Vampire series, talk about writing YA fiction. She was both informative and funny as hell. Rachel’s been writing for over twenty years. She had a lot to share about marketing and promotion, the publisher-author relationship, and current fiction trends, as well as specific issues related to the YA market. Since the Diva will be a teenager in just a few years, I was interested in Rachel’s insights about teenage readers – she obviously has a strong bond with hers. I found myself getting a little jealous as she described what it’s like to have adolescent readers tell her how her books changed their lives. YA writers have an opportunity to touch their readers in a way that those of us who write for adults never can. (I realize how clumsy that sounds; if I didn’t have to post this thing for tomorrow morning, I’d take the time to better express myself – but it’s late, and I have a slight hangover, and I need to finish this and get to bed. Honestly, I do sometimes finish my posts days before they’re due – but not this one!)

I met lots of members of the Yellow Rose, including two of my fellow Samhain authors - Michelle Miles and Denise Belinda McDonald (who has a new book, The Cowboy Plan, dropping on June 1). I also met Jennifer August, Rebecca Lees (whose YA book placed in this year’s contest) and Mae Harless, who pitched a story to Laurie, who asked to see the full. Go, Mae!

The best part of the luncheon (from a totally selfish point of view, that is)? Laurie told me Rocky Mountain Howl is going to contract!!! Pretty soon I won’t be a one-book author anymore! She liked Little Red Ragtop as well, I just need to do some tinkering with it. AND she wants me to do more books in my world, including a full length book for Nick and TJ. WHOOT!

Of course we had to celebrate with margaritas. And wine. And a little beer. Got up this morning, ate breakfast with Diva and B and The Other Wendy (B and The Other Wendy were instrumental in my finishing Rocky Mountain - I couldn't have done it without them) and then drove five hours with a hangover, a portion of which is still with me as I write this at 9:00 on a Sunday night. Driving from Dallas to Houston with a hangover - no fun. Thank God for Buc-ee’s (for those of you not fortunate enough to travel in the vicinity of Buc-ees, home of great food and beautiful restrooms, my sympathy).

So. How was your weekend?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why Men Love Bitches

I recently read “Why Men Love Bitches” by Sherry Argov. I thought it might be interesting reading for research purposes and I do think I got a few things out of it that I’ll use in my stories.

I have never considered myself a bitch. Not even close. I’m at the other end of the spectrum talked about in this book – the nice girl. Of course, the author of this book defines bitch not in the way you usually think of the word – more like that acronym Babe In Total Control of Herself. Some of her basic bitch princicples: a bitch maintains her independence, she doesn’t pursue him, she leaves him wanting, she remains in control of her time, she places a high value on herself, she is passionate about something other than him. Her basic premise is that guys will respect a woman who respects herself.

She goes through 100 “Attraction Principles” with lots of anecdotes to demonstrate. Many of them I agree with. Some of them I cringed at. And a lot of them, I wished I’d heard when I was 19!

At that age I was in a very unhealthy relationship with a man I thought I was crazy about. Okay, I was crazy about him, literally. I lost all my self-respect. No wonder he walked all over me and treated me like crap – I let him. I was young, lacking in self-esteem and apparently didn’t think I deserved better than that.

I did so many of these things that this author is telling women not to do! I pursued him. I certainly didn’t leave him wanting. I let him control my time – totally. I gave up friends and other interests for him.

Now, much older and wiser, I can reflect on how my current relationship is very different.

Some of the things in the book I would consider “game playing”, like the strategies for when you’re dating – things like not always being available when he calls, not calling him back immediately, not always being available when he asks you out, not jumping to do everything he wants to do. Some of it seems very manipulative.

But the thing that fascinated me was the part of the book where she interviews real men and asks them the top reasons men “play it cool”. They may not call a girl too much in the beginning of a relationship because they don’t want to give the impression they’re too eager. One man said: “Guys are just as emotional but they aren’t supposed to show it. If you seem too eager or show you’re too interested right off the bat, women will think you are desperate.” Sometimes they’ll pretend to ignore a woman in the beginning of a relationship to keep her interest. “No guy wants to look too desperate.” If you appear weak, people take advantage of you. And the real kicker: men don’t just act this way with women – they act this way with OTHER MEN. For the same reasons.

Attraction Principal #1: Anything a person chases in life runs away.

If men do all these things, and it’s okay – why not women too? Why not play it cool? Why not ignore a guy a little in the beginning? Why not appear strong? Why not hold off on calling him so you don’t look desperate?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday Thirteen - My 13 Favorite Pictures from RT

Having just downloaded the photos from my camera from the RT Convention, I thought I'd share my 13 favorites today!

With LB Gregg at Club RT.

With fabulous editor Angela James, after the RT Awards. She edited my winning book!

Excellent author, fellow RT Award winner, and all-around nice person Tessa Dare.

LB Gregg was my date for the awards ceremony. (That means we got in early for close-up seats. Whee!!)

Isn't it pretty? (Ignore the fingerprints.)

At the booksigning.

My view across the way at the signing - fab debut author Carolyn Crane!

My lovely roommate, Debra Parmley.

I hate to say it, but Lauren Dane and Victoria Dahl can be ... how can I put it delicately? ... troublemakers. LOL

Twitter friend Jenny stopped by the signing to see me! It was a treat to get the chance to meet her.

With reader Aimee at the Saturday luncheon.

Lucy Monroe, Lori Foster, a bunch of wonderful readers, and me!

Good food, good company, good times!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

OTP vs New Romance - What Do Writers Owe?

There's a storm brewing in my newest fandom, and it's fixing to be a doozy.

See, on As The World Turns, Luke has a new love interest, and it's sending some fans into a rage.

If you're not familiar with the background on Luke and ATWT, here it is in a nutshell. Three years or so ago, Luke fell for a supposedly straight co-worker, Noah. Turns out Noah was in the closet, and fell for Luke as well. They became the American soap opera world's first gay supercouple, spawning nicknames (Nuke), fan clubs, even fan events as far away as Europe. Even through the most ridiculous of storylines, fans stuck with them. They survived the Kissing Ban (the network refused to allow them to kiss onscreen for several months after their first two kisses, leading at least one website to put up a countdown clock), the green card marriage to an Iraqi woman, the homicidal father, the college prof who theoretically had a thing for Noah. (Here, again, the censors kept a tight rein on the storyline, causing it to be far more of a whimper than a bang.)

But Noah was blinded in a fireworks accident (and yes, I know how this sounds, as I type it. It *is* a soap, after all), and decided he needed a break from his relationship with Luke, to try to stand on his own two feet. They haven't been a couple for quite a while.

In the meantime, Luke has started falling for snarky, antisocial neurosurgeon Reid Oliver (I know! Give me a break. It's a soap!), and they've even shared a couple of kisses.

To the hardcore Nuke fans, this is a declaration of war.

Me? I'm not an early adopter by any means. I started watching this storyline just a month or so ago (catching up thanks to the magic of YouTube), and I'm a huge Reid fangirl. He's brusque, bordering on rude, and has a snappy comeback to almost any situation. He's also hiding a tender side that really humanizes him.

And the actor who plays him, Eric Sheffer Stevens, is fantastic.

I'm not the only one who's taken notice. The internet is buzzing with fanlove for Dr. Oliver, and the Luke/Reid pairing is gaining a lot of attention.

Me? I'm rooting for Luke to get together with Reid. He's refreshingly honest, he doesn't play games, and he makes Luke act like an adult.

To Nukies, though, that's sacrilege. Luke and Noah belong together because they're OTP (One True Pairing). One phrase I've seen more than once is that the writers owe it to them.

Part of the urgency and backlash, I think, is due to the fact that the show will be ending in September after 54 years on the air. (I said I wasn't an early adopter, didn't I?) Whatever decision the writers make now can't be taken back in the future. Whoever Luke ends up with - or if he ends up with nobody - will be the end of the road.

Maybe I'd have more invested in the Nuke pairing if I'd watched from the start of their storyline. Even then, though, I have to disagree with those who feel entitled to the ending they want, just because they've been fans for so long.

I don't think the writers owe anyone anything, other than a compelling storyline, well-written, with opportunities for all three actors to shine. At the end of the day, it's the writers' story to tell, and the actors' job to sell it.

So what do you think? Is there an obligation on the part of writers to fulfill fan expectations? What if the audience is divided? And what about in books? Do you feel disappointed if an author goes in a direction you hadn't expected or wanted?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guest Blogger Nara Malone - Life as a Quickie

A rose by Dani Gama on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Modern men don't like waiting. We like fast cars, fast women, fast fame, fast fortune, fast food. The faster the better.

Except for one thing... Raise your hand, who wants a quickie life?

Ah, it is as I suspected, not many takers. We don't want death to find us in a hurry.

And yet, our mortality drives our need for speed. I know I try to outfox mortality. The clock is ticking and I need to pack as much living as I can I fit into this life. I take shortcuts to squeeze more in and wind up squeezing the soul out.

The things that feed my soul -- family, friends, love, food cooked slow, exploring passion -- are the things I neglect. The minimum daily requirements for a nourishing life don't come in a quickie version. So I set them aside for when I have time, when my work is caught up, when I've achieved this or that important thing.I rush through my days, giving the heart of life attention that is the equivalent of popping vitamins instead of eating meals.

When Mimi--my good friend and mentor-- died, I had to stop and reconsider.

There is an old Danish proverb that says: The road to a friend's house is never long. Yet, somehow my life grew too busy to stop by for a visit. Rather than make time, I sent postcards, made the occasional phone call. And now there is no undoing the loss of her company. I can't unchoose whatever thing it was I believed more important then spending time with her over a meal we cooked together. There is no way to claim the wisdom, love, laughter we didn't get to share.

So now I am downshifting, pulling into the slow lane, working to flavor my life with the things that matter, the woman who matters. May is my stop-and-smell-the-flowers month, my stop-and-kiss-a-special-flower month, my savor-her-sweet-petals, this love makes my mind wander.

I encourage you, mes amis, to join me in the slow lane. Make a plan to make a memory, do something special with someone special, something to savor for a lifetime. And don't be afraid to share your recipe for cooking up a special memory.

~Jacques Bond

* * *

Thank you, Nine Naughty Novelists, for inviting me to guest blog today.

This post is a character blog in response to The Carry On Tuesday prompt for May 11th --

The road to a friend's house is never long

Jacques Bond(the bogging bondage chef) is the hero in my new novel, The Dungeon Gourmet. Carry on Tuesday is a weekly prompt provided to inspire bloggers and the blogging characters who inhabit their imaginations. You can see what other Carry on Tuesday participants wrote here.

~Nara Malone

Monday, May 10, 2010

The fine line between sympathetic and annoying

Okay, I have to see what you all think. I’m working on a new book and the heroine has a… let’s call it a phobia of sorts. She’s irrationally scared of something happening (something VERY unlikely) and this will lead to the moment when she believes that she can’t be with the hero.

Now, I get phobias. I do. I have a big problem with heights. REALLY big. We visited New York three years ago and went to the top of the Empire State Building. I could look out over the city, but could NOT look straight down. Can’t do it. My heart races, my palms sweat and I get dizzy. It’s bad. I couldn’t even enjoy an IMAX theater show about hang gliding. I actually got nauseated. I also have a particular hatred and, yes fear, of spiders. In fact, anything with more than four legs can really creep me out. And finally, small spaces. Hate elevators in particular. So, yeah, phobias are real and I’m sympathetic.

My question is how forgiving can we be of a character’s fear? Our characters are supposed to be heroic, yes? Strong, able to overcome. In the end, they do (she will—I promise!). But what if they come across as whiny and weak in the meantime?

So, what’s your tolerance as a reader for character flaws? They have to have them to be sympathetic and real. They have to have them to grow, to triumph, to prove to themselves that they are strong enough to face anything with and for this person they’ve fallen in love with.

But have you ever met a heroine, or hero, that you were not sympathetic toward or who started to bug you as the story goes on? I have.

I don’t want to name names, but I read a heroine once who was so worried about what her father would think that she did a bunch of really stupid things, made multiple wrong choices and eventually ran the hero off. Of course, they reconciled in the end, but I barely made it to that part. I kept wanting to yell at her “get a spine! Tell you’re a-hole father off!”. She never did and I definitely liked her less. A New York Times bestselling author who I follow faithfully also once wrote a hero who was convinced he was going to die at a very young age like his father did. This belief colored everything he did, including not wanting to get close to the heroine. I kind-of get it. His father’s death was traumatic for him, of course. But as the book went on it became less and less believable until I got to the point where I was annoyed rather than sympathetic toward him.

I don’t want that to happen. So when does a sympathetic belief turn into an annoying weakness? Anyone have an idea? I’d love to hear your opinions. And I’d love to hear examples of heroines and heroes who have blown it in your opinion!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mama Told Me...

Since today is Mother's Day, we've decided to honor our mothers by passing along some of their best advice and words of wisdom. I was going to illustrate this post with pictures of famous Mother/Daughter duos but, after taking a look around, decided not to. Here's a link ( 15 Famous Mother-Daughter Look-Alikes ) just in case you're curious. But, I have to warn you, it comes along with my own piece of advice (hey, I'm a mom. I'm allowed): Forget plastic surgery unless your goal is to look like an aging freak. I'm just sayin'.  

Anyway, since I couldn't find any pictures I liked, I decided to post some advice-ful music videos to go along with our own Mom Advice. Enjoy!

nicholas_dingOkay, it's Mother's Day. I have a wonderful mom and we're very close so, I probably can't help but make this a little mushy.

The best mom advice, that I still remember and follow to this day, is to never write something down that I don't want others to read. This, of course, meant not writing nasty notes about Heather Stuck-Up or oh-my-gosh-he' s hot notes about the cute new guy. Interesting that I turned into a writer, who has entire books published that I hope LOTS of people read!

But better than the little bits of advice, my mom has taught me the big stuff. Like the idea of being true to myself, doing things that make me happy, surrounding myself with positive people.

My mom is my best supporter, she knows the real me-- and she loves me anyway. *g*

Photobucket My mom has given me lots of great advice over the years, not least because she's an amazing woman and a terrific friend. But there are three that stick out for me.

1. Don't forget to clean the lint trap. Practical and easy to accomplish.

2. 350 degrees for an hour. It works for a surprisingly large number of recipes.

3. The last one has a story behind it. I was in college a few hours from home and we were in the middle of a major cold snap. I called my mom to complain (I'm not a cold-weather girl) and she listened patiently for a few minutes. Then she said, "sounds like a good night to curl up in bed with a good book. Or someone who's read one."

How can you argue with advice like that?

:) Love you, mom!


jamieson_ding My mom gave me a lot of bad advice (with good intentions, though!) but the best advice she gave me was about marriage. I'm not sure how she got to be so good at marriage - just a smart lady, I guess! 

Her advice:

Don't nag. If you sound like his mother, he'll think of you as his mother, not his wife and lover.

Don't hit him with bad news the minute he walks in the door - the plugged toilet, broken window and kid's F in Math can wait half an hour.

Have lots of sex. Lots. Of. Sex. He won't care if you can cook or if the house is clean if you have lots of sex.

holley_ding My mom is the most practical person on earth. I'm always telling the Diva that her aunt and I are a lot more fun than our mom was, and that her and the boys get to do stuff we never did, but...wait. I'm not supposed to be bitching, am I?

Two things about my mom: practicality and unfailing, unceasing, unconditional love. My mom always taught me: do your chores before you have fun, pay your bills before you buy the pretty shoes, do what you have to do first, and then you can enjoy the fun stuff w/o the other stuff hanging over your head. That advice helped me avoid the kinds of problems a lot of my friends had in their twenties. I wish I'd followed her advice on finances, but oh well...

And my mom always told us that no matter what we did, no matter what happened, she'd always love us without reserve, and we knew she meant it. When I was a child, Mama was safety, and warmth, and love. If I could get to Mama, I'd be alright. I want my Diva to feel that way about me.

benjamin_ding1 Things My Mom Didn’t Tell Me

My mom wasn’t much for telling me things—she sort of led by example. But there’s one incident that stuck with me, mainly because I was such a moron about it at the time. I’d agreed to substitute for another girl at work one summer when a friend invited me to go to New Mexico with her family. This was a very big deal, and I told my mom I wanted to do it. She said no—I’d made a promise, and I had to keep it. I argued that my coworker could find somebody else, but my mom was adamant: I’d given my word. Needless to say, we spent a very chilly weekend, but I’ve never forgotten the principle. If you promise, you do it, no excuses, no wimping out. A very valuable (and in my case, painful) lesson to learn.

forte_ding I think the most memorable piece of advice I got from my mother was probably, "Don't go down the slide headfirst." Sure enough, the first time I did it anyway I smacked my face on a rock and nearly broke a tooth.

Two other ideas I got from my mother that have really stayed with me are...

#1. You can't know you won't like something until you've tried it. I'm pretty sure she was just talking about food, but I like to apply it to just about anything.  Sorry, Mom. *g*

#2. Trees are not brown. Whether you're painting a picture or writing a book or whatever you're doing,  it's important to really look at your subject--without letting your preconceived ideas get in the way. You might be surprised to find that what you "think" something looks like is not at all the way it is.

A few years ago, I put together a small collection of poems I'd written that were mostly about motherhood. I'm giving them away today as  a Mother's Day gift to whoever wants them. You can download them: Here.

somers_ding My mother has given me a lot of great advice over the years but one that has always stayed with me is not to worry about what other people think, people other than my mother anyway. LOL A few years back I decided to shift gears with my writing (I'd been targeting Harlequin when I wrote my first two books) and try erotic romance. This was before erotic romance had really hit the NY publishing scene, but like a lot of other things with my writing, I obsessed about whether I should write that hot. I'd been talking about it with my mother and sort of feeling her out about it, and she looked at me and said, "Even if you decided tomorrow that you wanted to be a porn star, I'd support you." LOL Love you, Mom.

And there you have it. Hope all you mothers out there are having a great Mother's Day. Don't forget to comment for a chance to win this month's prize: A Taste of Honey by PG Forte.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nine Naughty Novelists

For anyone who hasn't seen this! (Though we're no longer "coming soon" - we're here!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wedding Bell Blues and Me

Wedding Bell Blues, my second Konigsburg book, was released in print on Tuesday. I loved writing it, at least in part because I’d just been through my older son’s wedding and I had weddings on the brain. But it also gave me a chance to play around with some things connected to weddings and wedding rituals.

The bride here is Docia Kent, the heroine of my first Konigsburg novel Venus In Blue Jeans. Docia and I have a lot in common, at least in terms of attitude (no, I’m not six feet tall, and my figure has never stopped any conversations). Docia doesn’t like fancy, although she’s a rich girl herself. She wears jeans and T-shirts, and at one point she considers dumping her high heels into the trash because of the pain they’ve caused her. A girl after my own heart, in other words.

What happens, I wondered, when you combine a woman like that with a mother who wants a lavish, Cinderella-style wedding? You get trouble, that’s what. A bride who hates her dress and who tries to hide out when her mother wants to look at place-cards. Fortunately for Docia, she has the best friend of all time, the unflappable Janie Dupree, who runs interference for both Docia and her mother Reba. Janie manages to come up with solutions to all the problems that arise, and she even gives up the one thing every bridesmaid craves—the perfect, celestial bridesmaid’s dress—to make the wedding run smoothly.

Of course, I wanted to give Janie somebody to love, but I couldn’t make it easy for her (gotta have that conflict, y’all). Her hero is Pete Toleffson, the brother of the groom. Pete’s attitude is a lot like Docia’s—a pox on all weddings. But Pete’s a born fixer, and this wedding requires a lot of fixing. He and Janie have to put out a lot of brushfires to get Cal and Docia to the altar. And, of course, they discover they’re perfect for each other in the process, although that doesn’t mean they can just proceed to the exit and HEA. In other words, problems ensue, big ones.

Anyway, I’m really fond of Wedding Bell Blues. It introduced the entire, sprawling Toleffson family and re-introduced the quarreling Kents. And it usually makes me want to go have a glass of champagne, even though most of the characters are thoroughly sick of it by novel’s end!

Here’s an excerpt in which Pete and Janie consider getting busy.

“Why did you become such a nice girl in the first place, Janie Dupree?” He watched her now, dark eyes to dark eyes. “Nature or nurture?”

“I’m from Konigsburg.” Her smile turned wry. “Females here are bred to be nice. My daddy was from East Louisiana and Mama’s from Lampasas—they both knew how girls were supposed to behave. I’ve spent most of my life living up to that standard, even after Daddy died.”

“What happened to him?”

“He was killed in an accident on the highway—his truck collided with a semi. I was nineteen.” Janie shook her head. “I had three semesters at UT, and then I had to come home and help my mom.”

“Nice girl,” Pete said softly.

She nodded. “Nice girl. I always wanted to go back and finish, but I’ve never had time.”

“So now?”

“So now I’m assistant manager of the bookstore, thanks to Docia.” She shrugged. “I never thought I’d get this far. I figured I’d be a waitress for the rest of my life.”

“Gratitude’s a bitch,” He murmured.

“No. I don’t resent her. Not Docia. And not Cal. He’s the best thing that ever happened to her. I’m so happy for her. I want her to have the best wedding ever.”

Pete nodded. “Yeah. Same for him and me. Although my little brother has never had a problem finding women. Girls always flocked after him like swallows headed back to Capistrano, not that he ever seemed to notice.”

“They didn’t do that with you and Lars?”

He paused to consider. “Lars, yeah. Lars is Mr. Responsible—or he used to be, before Sherice. Women always thought he was a great husband candidate.”

“And you?” Janie cocked her head.

Pete stared up at the streetlight on Spicewood. “Nope. Nobody has ever considered me much of a candidate for Mr. Right. I’m a great candidate for Mr. Right Now, however.” He glanced back at her, feeling his groin tighten. This was definitely not the direction he’d originally planned on going. But then lately his plans had had a tendency to go south.

Part of his brain screamed at him to say good night and go upstairs, but it couldn’t make the connection to the rest of his body, particularly not when she smiled at him like she was doing now.

“I guess that’s one way to get rid of sympathizers. Jump into bed with somebody else.”

She was going to keep talking, and he was going to say something supremely stupid. That was almost a given. Pete leaned over abruptly and covered her mouth with his own.

Heat flashed through his body, sucking the breath from his lungs. She was soft and warm against him, her breasts pressed lightly on his chest. He cupped her face in his hands, angling his head to deepen the kiss.

Janie’s hands moved up his chest to his shoulders. And then she pushed, gently. She tipped her head back, staring up at his face, her eyes narrowed. “Tell me the truth, Pete Toleffson—are you doing this because you feel sorry for me?”

“Sorry?” He was having trouble focusing. What exactly was she talking about? And why had she stopped kissing him?

Her jaw firmed. “Are you sorry for me because Otto dumped me so publicly?”

Good Lord, she was serious!

It took him a moment to remember just who Otto was. “If I’m sorry for anybody, it’s Otto,” he muttered. “The freakin’ idiot blew it big time.”

Janie gave his shoulders a small shake, like a miniature Rottweiler. “I’m serious, Pete. I don’t want pity.”

Pete took a deep breath, closing his eyes. If only he could get enough blood back to his brain to form a sentence. “I don’t believe in pity sex, Ms. Dupree. Among other things, pity doesn’t really do much to get me in the right mood.”

She grinned up at him. “Are you in the right mood?”

Too much talking. Entirely too much talking was going on right now. “Lady, I’ve been in the right mood since I saw you walk into the Dew Drop my first night in town.”

He dropped his head, opening his mouth against hers again. One arm locked around her shoulders as he pulled her against him. Then Janie’s arms wrapped around his neck, and she pressed her body to his, shoulder to hip.

Pete felt as if a small rocket had ignited in his groin. He leaned back against the stair, moving his tongue into the warmth of her mouth, his fingers spearing through her soft hair. All of his senses were suddenly in play—pinwheels of light went off before his eyes, he tasted something sweet, spicy, felt the warm, wet rasp of her tongue, smelled a faint echo of lavender, heard the distant humming of the street lights—or was that him?

Janie’s fingers slid beneath his shirt, smoothing across his chest. Her palm touched the jut of his nipple and every inch of his body was suddenly like rock.

Somehow he had to get her upstairs. Now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Lines

There are some parts of writing that are really hard (ie pain-in-the-ass gargoyle heroes that need to do everything their way) and some things that are just plain fun. First lines are fun for me. Maybe because a book’s first line is one of the first things that comes to me when I have a new story simmering in the back of my mind. Half the time I know the first line before I even have all the character and plot details fleshed out.

From a reader's perspective, I'm always curious to see if the first line of a book sets the tone for the story, if it fits with the vibe I've gotten from the cover and blurb, if it's unexpected or makes me just have to read more to see what comes next.

I love it when a book starts with dialogue, which is probably why a lot of my books tend to start that way. :) I enjoy being pulled right into the conversation and figuring out what they're talking about and what impact it's going to have.

A few examples from my books:

“What are you going to do, fire me?” - Primal Hunger

"Montana is dead.” - Whatever It Takes

“I thought you liked it rough?” - Storm Warning

I'm also a big fan of getting caught up in a character's thoughts right from the start and knowing that no matter how innocent a thought might be, a character's life is probably about to be turned upside down.

Here, kitty, kitty. - Primal Attraction

It all came down to a towel. - Dark Obsession

It was official—she was going to die shackled to a damn gargoyle. - Primal Pleasure

Of course I can't talk about first lines without mentioning some that I’ve read in the past while that pulled me right in.

"I’VE met teenage girls with more testosterone than that man has.” - Erin McCarthy, Flat Out Sexy

I’d die for him. - Karen Marie Moning, Fae Fever

“Live life balls out,” Katie Kramer told herself every night, and even though she didn’t own a pair, she hoped the mantra would keep the nightmares away. - Jill Shalvis, Instant Attraction

I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first. - Patricia Briggs, Moon Called.

So what about you? Any favorite first lines (read or written)? Have you read any first lines that seemed weird or any that made it impossible to set the book aside?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guest Blogger Nikki Duncan - Scent Of Persuasion, Naughty Trouble

I thought writing SCENT OF PERSUASION would be easy. I knew my plot. I knew my hero. I knew my heroine. What I didn’t know was that knowing the heroine would give me fits. See, this Kami is not just any fictional character I cooked up or who came to me fully formed like some of my characters. I had trouble writing her for a good while. I knew what the problem was, but I couldn’t make myself change the heroine, because Breck was meant to be with Kami. No, I had to get past this.

So what was my issue? Other than the fact I was seeing a friend in the ever naughty role of an escort?

That was basically it. We thought it would be fun to name a heroine Kami. And it was. But no matter how loosely based the character was on my friend, it gave me a hard time. I was seeing my friend being put in the situations my heroine was in and they were NOT computing. My friend has spunk and a ton of heart and a loyal streak as wide as the Grand Canyon, but I could not imagine a single scenario where she would in real life pose as an escort to prove a loved one hadn’t committed suicide. I can see my friend fighting for her beliefs. I can see her falling for a guy like Breck. That was about it.

Another big issue I had was that the opening scene is Kami’s first assignment and every doubt she’s got is lunging to the surface and shoving her into a desperate back pedal. Proceed? Retreat? Find answers? Live in doubt? What’s the right answer? What price is too high to pay?

I tried to answer these questions for Kami. I found I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the answers, which made it impossible to write her for a long while. Only once I got it into my head that Kami was fictional, that she was not my friend, could I answer the questions and move forward. Yes, there were some similarities between my friend and Kami. There still are. Her spirit. Her generosity. Her spine. That’s about it.

My friend is an inspiration to me, but I’m still not sure I could answer any of those questions about her. What about you? If someone you loved died and you knew deep in your heart that it was not accidental or at their own hand, what would you do to convince the police? What if all you had to go on was your gut? Your instincts and knowledge of the person? What if you were faced with overworked cops who didn’t buy your story? Would you let it go? Would you push?

I know it’s a tough question to answer, and you may not be able to. But playing the what if game is what we writers do. It’s what makes our jobs fun. It’s what makes great stories possible. So, even if you can’t answer the questions about yourself, what is a great book you’ve read that made you wonder... What if?

SCENT OF PERSUASION release from Samhain Publishing, Tuesday, May 4th. It is the second book in the Sensory Ops Series, where each book is centered around a different sense. In book one, SOUNDS TO DIE BY, the hero was a blind listener for the NSA. In SCENT OF PERSUASION, escorts become a man’s lure to death by wearing a, shall we say, SCENT OF PERSUASION. :)
Check it out!

Visit Nikki at her online homes:
Sign up for Nikki’s monthly newsletter to be automatically entered in monthly gift card drawings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tough as Nails

Never, ever have I had long nails. Between being rough on my hands and nervously biting them, they never even had a shot. Maybe its all the vitamins I'm taking or a less physically-demanding day job, but they're growin' like weeds.

That by itself is not revelatory. (duh) But what they've done for my sense of femininity? It's bizarre. And surprising. Somehow, being able to tap my nails and paint them to some effect has made me more conscious of being female. Proud of having curves. Happy to be a little girlie.

Until now, I'd glossed over that beautiful middle ground between tomboy and overdone time-suckingly coiffed woman. But nails... they suit me. In an hour, I can go from sweet and innocent lavender (the hot May shade, I've heard) to bad-ass black with blue sparkles to channeling my inner vixen with blood red. Hello self-expression for the personality conflicted.

I think I'm gonna keep them, despite the time needed to file and the dirt that gets stuck under there when gardening without gloves (I'm still struggling to remember the gloves before I'm wrist-deep in loam). They're almost a more versatile accessory than purses and shoes--cheaper, too.

What about you? What gives you that surprisingly feminine edge? Do you hate having long nails, or revel in it?

Skylar, who's nails are currently fuchsia.