Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm Not Reading Lately

And I’m not sure I know why.

I think it’s about being stuck between edits… I’m waiting for the next round and just holding off on reading. Save for my older MSS, sitting around on my computer. I keep thinking about… “Oh, yeah…that scene…I’d like to read that again…” And I dig it out of the archives, start reading and then find myself on a ‘reading myself’ bender.

And it’s not bad…nothing I’d shoot off to my editor without some major revisions, but it ain’t bad. It’s a bit sweet to find I impress myself here and there, especially with emotionally impactful scenes. Nice!

And I do learn a lot with reading my old stuff. How far I’ve come. How much therapy writing has been to me over the last ten years.  My, the things I did to people I found frustrating in these books! And to myself as a character. (I’m one who admits, I am always writing about some aspect of myself.) So, it isn’t wasted time. But wow, I have a lot of old stories sitting around!

Too many late nights captivated by my own prose can't be good for a person...can it? I tell you, it's hard on the eyes. Not doing a hell of a lot for my love life, either. Sigh.

But other than my own stuff? I’m just not reading. I have a list of books need to get at the e-store, even some just sitting there, unread. Part of it is trying to stay away from eating out in an effort to eat healtier. If I don’t eat out, I don’t haul out my reader during lunch. And once I’m home? Well, there’s television to watch…all those wonderful summer series. I mean Burn Notice is back on! And In Plain Sight! And Drop Dead Diva…and TeenNick is playing Buffy, the Vampire Slayer from the beginning! (I found out how to use my DVR and now I’m buried with things to watch. Curse you DVR!)

I know. What is going on with me?

But I’ll be reading more soon! The newest Jim Butcher is due out! At the end of July.

Honestly, I’m not sure why this happens! Perhaps I just don’t want to start something I’ll feel driven to put down once the next round of edits arrives? I have round two for The Chameleon Goggles coming up and the same for a short I wrote for Decadent called Something Different. (I can’t wait to see the cover for this one. It’s a contemporary short, very sweet. I was requested to write this one, so I was super flattered to be part of the One Night Stand series from Decadent!)

Plus, I did decide one of my old MS deserves an edit so I can send it to my agent. (Remember my blathering about The Alien Library? We’ll see if Saritza can sell it!) So, I’m working those from the notes my editor has sent me about the things I do that I didn’t think I did.

(We recently had an e-mail discussion about how many uses of the word was is excessive, for example. I also have an obvious fondness of the words turn, look, see – in all of their many forms. And I like to start sentences with the word and.


I do seem a bit fixated on looking for those things in what I read lately… Hmmmm! It’s my editor’s fault?

I’m not really reading right now. I know I should. I know that it will wake my brain up and keep me fired, with new ideas and words and… But geez, my brain is just so blank lately! Editing brain is a whole ‘nother beast compared to writer brain!


Anyone else have periods of no reading in their life?
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Revising for Continuity

I just lost half today's readers with that boring title didn't I? Revising for continuity. Ugh. That sounds like . . . well, anything that starts with revising is bound to end unpleasantly. And I don't know about you guys, but I find continuity hard to come by. It's hard, over the course of a 400 page novel, to keep all the details straight -- even harder over a series. Yet mistakes in continuity, especially obvious mistakes, drive readers nutso.

I was at school this past week, gorging myself on writing classes and critique sessions, and got some awesome advice on how to avoid those sneaky continuity errors. Side note: this is most useful at the end of the book, when doing fairly major revisions.

1. Pick an object or secondary character. This can be a bit player that appears only a few times, an important secondary character, or some object that reappears a few times throughout the novel.

Find every instance it appears, copy the text, and past it into a clean document.

Go through the whole novel like this, moving every appearance into that separate document sequentially.

2. Read through the new document from start to finish. Look for two things:

For everything to stay the same -- some details should never change, such as a name (Ellen or Helen, anyone?). Does your second floor apartment suddenly become a two-story condo? Does the ring your heroine inherited and carry everywhere with her change from diamond to pearl?  I read one (published) novel where the hero only had one brother, who was a new dad staying home with the baby at the beginning of the novel, and a single, player, bachelor at the end.

For things to change - While details should provide continuity, look to see if this character or object has a mini-story arc itself. Give him/her/it a purpose and obstacle. It might echo the primary story arc, contradict it, add to it, or something else entirely.

For example, in my WIP, my heroine has a pendant that means a lot to her. In the opening scenes, she's trying to conceal her identity, but starts playing with it (a nervous habit) and gives herself away. The pendant itself appears in five scenes throughout, and has its only little arc:  1. Pendant reveals Naomi's identity; 2. pendant is hidden away in Naomi's pocket; 3. pendant is covered in blood when Naomi is injured; 4. pendant is washed clean; 5. pendant is returned to Naomi. It's not a big arc. It's an echo of the same arc Naomi travels, but there's a purpose there. There's change and movement. There's drama.

Once you've made sure the details which should not change have remained steady, and the growth and progress has been shown, put each peice back in the novel in its proper spot.

What do you think? Are there characters or objects in your novel that you think could benefit from this type of revision trick? Are there continuity errors in books that drive you crazy? What other tips do you have for maintaining continuity? Any thoughts on letting objects have their own mini-arcs?
Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Does “Published” Mean?

Warning: This is a serious, industry-related blog. Grab an extra shot of rum before diving in.

I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America for four years now, and all four years I’ve been a General member. That means I’m a newbie who hasn’t accomplished much beyond thinking I’d like to be published some day. It’s assumed I’ve put words on the page but even that is not guaranteed nor required.

As a general member attending RWA Nationals, I often felt as if I didn’t belong. I didn’t have multiple manuscripts (MSs) under my bed. I didn’t have revision and rejection horror stories. No contest finals, no pretty pink ribbon across the bottom of my badge, and no bookmarks to pass around.

But a couple weeks ago, that all changed. Well, a little bit of it changed.

I recently achieved PRO level in the RWA organization. What this means it that I was able to prove I wrote a complete, full-length MS and attempted to either sell it to a publisher or gain representation for it from an agent. The proof can be a contract or a rejection.

In my case, it was a rejection.

Membership in this new club comes with two perks. One is being able to attend the PRO retreat at RWA Nationals, but since I’m having to skip this year, that will have to wait for Anaheim in 2012. The other is joining the PRO members Yahoo loop. This is like getting that secret password and gaining entrance to the clubhouse with the sign on the door reading MEMBERS ONLY.

Now I belonged.

But in my short time on the loop I’ve learned an important lesson. Unpublished does not mean what it used to mean. I expected my fellow PRO members to be like me - no published book to speak of. (I’m so naïve.) But more and more I see that’s not the case. The majority of signatures on the emails include links to books available through everything from well-known digital publishers to self-publication.

So much for feeling like I belong.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be a member of RWA and I understand the mission and purpose of the organization. They advocate for professional writers – those attempting to and deserving of earning a fair income for their work. I appreciate all they do for authors, from the beginner to the multi-published to the Best Seller. My intention here is to share my observation of how certain definitions within the organization are getting harder to nail down.

In the case of RWA, “Published Author” is defined by a minimum amount of earnings ($1000) either in advance payment, royalty payment, or combined advance and royalty payment on a single Eligible Novel or Eligible Novella. The terms “Eligible Novel” and “Eligible Novella” are clearly defined on the organization website but the bottom line (other than a minimum word count) is that the author should not be required to pay any of the costs that go into printing or distributing the work, nor should it be the authors sole responsibility to sell said work. A publisher must actively play a role in making sure the work reaches a larger audience than just the author and her friends and family.

I don’t know about you, but all of this sounds damn reasonable to me, and having an organization the size or RWA standing with me, fighting for my rights as an author, is a blessing I’m honored to have. But I can’t help but wonder if these definitions are beneficial to all members if the loop that is meant for those members who have yet to see their name on a book cover is filled with members who actually HAVE their name on a book cover.

I admit, I have no answers here. I know this has been an issue for many years, though the situation regarding e-published authors has improved significantly in the last two years alone. However, since RWA makes it clear self-published authors are never eligible for the PAN network, a new battle is about to be waged. Gird your loins and buy your popcorn now. This should prove to be an interesting and contentious show.

I have two questions for you.

1.) Do you consider yourself a professional writer. If not, what do you think would (or should) qualify you for the title?

2.) Have your publication goals changed with the new developments and options in the publishing world or are you a “stick to the tried and true” kind of writer?
Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Wee Survey For The Crew...


You know all those "favorites" surveys your friends send but you never return?  Of if you do, it's when you have the door to your office shut and you know your boss is out?  Well, I've decided that, as pirates, it's our duty to get rid of all those boring, standard questions and have our own, piratey survey!  I will answer these questions in the comments and expect you to do the same.   Feel free to adlib your own answers if mine do nothing for you.  The wench with the best answers wins this fabulous, knitted praying mantis!  Woo hoo!
1) Blood spilled...Brown or Red?
2) Shit List...or Hit List?
3) Long, slow torture for above, or merciful death by pistoles?
4) Favorite 2 Colors for Jolly Roger? (I do get so tired of b/w)
5) One Night stand with Capt. Jack Sparrow, or Will Turner?
6) One Night Stand With Capt. Barbossa or Blackbeard?
8) Mascot - Undead Monkey, or Knitted Praying Mantis?
9) What Would You Name Your Own Ship?
10 What One Person Would You Have Walk The Plank?
11) What Monster Would You Have Lurking In Water Below Said Plank?
Let the fun begin!

Ms. Bray-Weber's Booty Goes To...

Darynda Jones!!!

Email me at djtlo AT yahoo DOT com and I'll forward your information to Jennifer. You have your choice between digital and print, though the print version won't be available until July. Your choice!

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words about Jack's interviewing talents. He's getting quite a big head about the whole thing.


And thank you, Jennifer, for being such a fun guest. We can't wait for your next visit!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Of Playground Rejection and Black Moments


Captain Jack hurries onto the deck, blurry eyed and frantically dressing.  He yanks his trousers up, skidding to a stop.  "I'm here, I'm here.  Where are the damn cards?"

Gunner Marnee perches on a barrel of rum, dressed in a dry clean only dress (something she'd never wear at home), typing at her laptop.  She peeks at Jack over her  librarian glasses.  "Morning, Jack.  Need some coffee?  I think DRD's already fired up the pot.  Couple of ibuprofen for the headache?"

"Only  had one… er, a few tankards of rum last night.   Didn't want to be incapacitated for our guest."

Gunner scans the empty deck.  Confetti litters the planks, empty bottles roll about.  A layer of dust covers everything but the bar.  Chance would never allow dust to settle on the bar, after all.

So, the boat looks pretty much like it does every day.

"No guest today, hon.  Just me."  She shrugs.

Jack scans the scenery.  "Damn.  You're right."  His gaze falls on the Gunner again, a wicked tilt to his lips.  "Well then.  It seems we're alone, lass."

"So it does."  The Gunner smiles, all innocent sweetness.  "But remember?  I'm one of the happily married ones."

"Oh yes.  Your husband's carries the clubs."

"You mean he plays hockey?  Yes.  That's him."

"Right you are."  Jack slinks toward the stairs.  "Well, then.  I believe that's Hellie calling me.  She doesn't like to share anyway."  He sweeps off his tricorn hat and sinks into a courtly bow.  "Good day, love."

He doesn't wait for a response.  Gunner shakes her head, chuckling, and turns back to her laptop


Last week, my husband and I took our sons to the playground in our neighborhood.   My oldest is going on five and he's always hoping that there will be neighborhood kids there for him to play with.

This day, there were.  In fact, there were eight of them.  They were all racing around, all seemed to know each other.  My son practically wriggled with glee.  Like a puppy, he squirmed and hopped.  "Mom, can I go play with the kids?"

"Sure, baby.  Go ahead."  As he skipped ahead of us, my hubby and I smiled to each other.  My son is not shy.  He'll talk to anyone, much like his mommy.  So he walked right up to those kids, found the boy who appeared to be the closest to his age—maybe a year or two older—and introduced himself.

"Hi.  Can I play with you?"

Then he waited.  And waited.

The little boy was playing with a girl who seemed to be a year or two older than him and he ignored my son.  The boy and girl climbed up the slide, ran across the shaky bridge, and cast curious looks at my son who still stood where they left him, alone.

The other kids on the playground were watching the proceedings though they were pretending not to.  The chatter had petered off.

I'm a mommy.  My little son, so sweet and so friendly, looked dejected.  His little shoulders were set and he glanced at me with a questioning look, as if he didn't know why he felt the way he felt right that moment.  I wanted to sweep in and insist that these kids include him.  I wanted to scold and stomp my foot.

But I didn't.  Because my son is at the age where he doesn't want me to be involved all the time.  He's starting to exert his independence.  He wants to do things for himself, damn it.

So I stood to the side and I prayed.  Please God.  Don't let them hurt his feelings.  Don't make my son doubt how awesome he is.

My heart ached.  I remembered times on the playground from my childhood, of mean things kids would say, and I felt his pain as if it was my own.  Maybe it was my own, magnified through my love for my child.

The little boy continued to avoid eye contact but the girl he was playing with turned to my son and said, "What's your name?"

My son's posture changed.  Gone with the stiff shoulders.  He smiled brightly and told her.

"Do you want to play tag?"

He nodded with an enthusiastic, "Yeah!"  And they were off.

Turns out the little boy was just really shy.  He warmed up to my son.  It's hard not to, honestly.  My guy is a darling, really, and I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom.  (Okay, maybe….)  But it was a happy ending.  They played until the sun went down.

I realized later that this rejection and the fear of it is what drives black moments in romance novels.  If a happily ever after is the result of two people finding companionship and love together, the converse—the black moment—would be the result of feeling or being rejected.  When I read a romance and hit that black moment, if it's a good story, my heart aches and my throat tightens.  I'm connecting with the hero or heroine and projecting my own fear of rejection, my own remembered rejections, onto them.  But as I'm wrapped up in my empathetic response, I know that it'll work out for these characters I've grown to love.  It's a romance after all, not unpredictable real life, where rejection can stand unchallenged.  In a romance, I know that their loneliness is short lived and that they'll find their way back together.

I just read Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn.  The black moments in that book come after the hero and the heroine both realize they love each other.  But then the heroine finds out the hero was pressed into watching over her by her absent brother.  So she thinks the hero only cares for her like a sister, that her brother made him even take that much interest, and now she's the one who loves him and he sees her as an obligation.

She worries that she cares more for him than he cares for her, that her love is going to be unwanted.  I knew that he loved her, but she didn't.  And I've been in that place, worrying that I cared for someone who didn't care as much for me.

So, my request today is for you to think on your favorite books.  At the black moment, how does rejection manifest itself?  In your own writing, how is rejection a part of your black moments?  How do you produce that feeling of being rejected, of possible loneliness?  What writing techniques can really wring out the fear of rejection in the black moment?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Winners Of The Booty!!

No, this is not a prize for the best booty, though we'd all tie for that one, don'tcha know. This is giving away the lovely booty offered up by our guests last week.

The winner of J.K. Coi's IRON SEDUCTION is.......


The winner of Randi Alexander's novella HER COWBOY STUD is......


Congratulations! You ladies should see info in your inboxes in the near future. (Could I throw in one more "in"? Ha! I did!)
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fabulous Captain Jack Interviews Author Jennifer Bray-Weber

It’s another Fabulous Interview with the Fabulous CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow!

CJS: Ahoy there, me hearties. It is I, Jack, back once again with… *Jack looks around for his guest* Where is this lovely creature I’ve come to interview?

Bo’sun: She’s waiting in the green cabin, but I wanted to talk to you before we get started.

CJS: Bo’sun, darling, you’re doing that controlling thing again. *waves hand in the air* I assure you I can handle this interview with my typical charm.

Bo’sun: She brought her own pirate Captain. *Bo’sun closes her eyes and waits*

CJS: *hesitates, then raises one brow* What did you say?

Bo’sun: He’s not coming out for the interview but a certain Captain Zane Fox is wondering around the ship and I don’t want you doing anything stupid. Jennifer is a sweet heart and our guest and she’s welcome to bring along any of her characters she wants. *Bo’sun waves to someone off stage* Now here she comes. Here are your cards. Be nice!

CJS: But- *Jack turns to see a beautiful blonde walking his way* And who have we here? *glances down at top card and finally addresses the camera* Won’t you please welcome my guest, the enchanting Jennifer Bray-Weber.

*Crew and pals applaud wildly*

Jenn: Ah, Captain Jack Sparrow, you rapscallion. The pleasure is all mine. And what an honor to be here at Romance Writer’s Revenge. May I have a spot of that rum?*smirks and holds out hand* Thank you.

CJS: *blinks at the rum now gone from his hand* I understand you’re a woman after my own heart, as well as my rum. A writer of pirates, this says. Do tell us where you came up with this brilliant topic.

Jenn: Well, Jack, it came to me in a dream. No, really. I dreamed one night that I was whisked away to a pirate ship. I had so much fun in that fantasy, I wrote it down. A seed was planted *winks at Jack* and high seas adventure BLOOD AND TREASURE was penned.  Tavern wench, Lianna Whitney, is caught in the crossfire between the Royal Navy and a lusty pirate when she unexpectedly comes into possession of a golden medallion. I know how much you like golden medallions, Jack. *offers another wicked smile* Captain Zane Fox gets more than any respectable pirate bargains for when he steals away with bewitching Lianna and the prize. Soon it becomes clear the medallion is not the only treasure worth risking their lives for.

CJS: A pirate Captain. Oh, that’s right. Bo’sun mentioned something. *snickers and curls his lip* Let’s talk more about this Lianna person. If she has a thing for pirates, I like her already. I’d love to meet her.

Bo’sun: Jack! The cards. Stick to the cards.

CJS: That wench needs to relax. *flips to the next card* This says you finaled in something called the Golden Heart. *the crew applauds and whistles* This apparently means something to these ladies. Do tell them about it or I’ll never hear the end of it.

Jenn: The Golden Heart is an esteemed contest hosted by Romance Writers of America. For unpublished authors, taking a final in the Golden Heart is akin to an Emmy nomination, or a treasure map leading you to, say, the Fountain of Youth.  Originally BLOOD AND TREASURE was titled UPON A MOONLIT SEA. I was lucky enough to have the manuscript garner me a spot among the 2009 Golden Heart finalists. Our merry band of 2009 finalists is known as the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood and you might be interested to know my nickname is the Ruby Wench.

CJS: And a gem of a wench you are. *Bo’sun clears throat* Yes, yes I know. Bo’sun has something written here about self-… *turns to Bo’sun* I think you have the wrong word here. Shouldn’t this be self-p--?

Bo’sun: The card is right!!

CJS: *curls his lip again* This says you self-published this book. Bo’sun seems intently anxious to know what led you to this decision. Though if you’d rather talk about self-something else I’d be happy to…

Jenn: Maybe later, Jack. *looks to the ceiling, nods thoughtfully* Yes, definitely, maybe later. Self-publishing is a hot topic at the moment. It wasn’t too long ago when I didn’t see self-publishing as an option. Let’s face it, until the rise of popular e-readers such as the Kindle, self-publishing was considered pejorative.  Listening to the winds of change and witnessing the success of other authors, best-sellers and newbies alike, made me realize the possibilities on the horizon. Plus, I like to be in control. *shrugs nonchalantly* So, I took the helm and charted a course.

CJS: An independent woman. I like that. I have a thing for a woman with her own ship. *looks around for Hellie, doesn’t find her* I happen to know of this little cove where we could-

Hellie: I’m behind the camera, Jack.

CJS: *clears his throat* Back to the cards now. What can we look for next and what are you working on now?

Jenn: BLOOD AND TREASURE is the first of five in my Romancing The Pirate series. I’m expecting the print version of BLOOD AND TREASURE to become available in July. I hope to have A KISS IN THE WIND featuring libertine pirate Captain Blade Tyburn and raven-haired, knife-wielding thief, Marisol Castellan out by spring 2012. Follow that with the despicable Captain Thayer Drake, who quite possibly loves his rum more than you, and stowaway songstress Gillian McCoy in THE BRUISED SKY.

CJS: More pirate Captains. Lovely. Just what we need, more Captains sailing about.

Jenn: Don’t look so glum, Jack. You might actually enjoy Captain Joelle Quint. She’s a fiery, red-headed hellcat who purchases ex-pirate Sloan King off the auction block in CLASH OF THE TIDES.

CJS: Well now that’s a Captain I can get on board with. *looks down to see he’s run out of cards* Looks like it’s the crews turn to ask the questions. Speaking of, do you have something you’d like to ask our audience?

Jenn: If you had a chance to play out a fantasy, in what time and place would you go? Who would you be with? Would you have a thrilling adventure? A love affair? Both?  Remember, it’s just a fantasy, so have fun with it.

Jennifer has been kind enough to offer up a free copy, either e-book or in print, of BLOOD AND TREASURE to one lucky commenter!! (Print book will not be available until July but think of it as something to look forward to.)

You can find Jennifer in several places around the web including her website, the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood mentioned above, and the Musetracks blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fabulous Interview with the Fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow: Jack Cowboys Up with Randi Alexander

JACK: *off screen, odd Texas drawl overlaid a British accent* ‘ello, ladies and gents, to another Fabulous Interview with the Fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow. Today is a bit of a surprise. I have been practicing—shit, damnit *sounds of someone tripping and a bunch of stuff falling to the floor* —PRACTICING how to cowboy.


*camera zooms in and we see the Captain Jack Sparrow in pirate gear and eye makeup, wearing a black cowboy hat, chaps, spurs, and carrying a lasso*


JACK: *excited grin* Look! I’ve almost got it! Watch. *swings lasso above his head and tosses it* Ha! *draws it back in and with it comes Hellion and a blonde woman who doesn’t seem to mind being tied up* Here’s my interviewee now! Please welcome Randi Alexander to the ship!


HELLION: If you don’t knock it off with the rope, I’m going to tie you up. *Hellion removes the rope from her and Randi and moves to the couch*


RANDI: Well! Seems we're off to a kinky start already. Thank you for letting me board the ship. I'm excited to get this threesome…ur…interview started.


JACK: I always say the more, the merrier. *winding up the rope* This is a very handy trick, Ms. Alexander. I can’t thank you enough for teaching me.


RANDI: *batting her eyes* Since you've had your lasso on me already, you may call me Randi. And if we have time later *winks* I have a few other tricks to show you.


JACK: I'd love to see them. Maybe we can.... *sotto whisper* Hellie is glaring at me again. I suppose we should get on with the interview itself. *adopts a serious look* So first things first: you don’t write about pirates—you write about cowboys. I, myself, am a pirate fan, as are many of the followers of this ship. Can you tell us how pirates and cowboys are similar? Why would a pirate fan start reading a book featuring cowboys? Aside from the obvious roping scenes, of course….


RANDI: You and that rope, Captain Jack. *bites her lower lip* You're going to get us all into trouble! If readers are looking for an alpha male, pirates and cowboys are the best place to start. Irresistibly sexy, they're both sweet-tongued enough to turn a woman's body to jello. Imagine a tall, buff, dark-eyed cowboy with a day's growth of beard swaggering up to you in a bar, his boot heels loud on the wooden floor. His Stetson is as black as his hair, and the sleeves of his western shirt are rolled up to reveal muscled forearms. *shivers with delight* His jeans are worn but clean, and mold around him, showing off narrow hips, strong thighs, and a really big, impressively bulging…um…belt buckle.  His scent reaches you and you breathe deep of a mix of man and cologne. His grin is slightly lopsided and his eyes twinkle as he tips his hat and drawls, "Ma'am. Could I have this dance?" How could you say no?


JACK: I'll be the first to say: I love a girl who can't say no. What is your book, Chase and Seduction, about? And can I just say: FABULOUS title. I’m all about the chase and seduction.


RANDI: And I'm sure your conquests appreciate that! *wiggles her brows at Jack* The book is about Chase Tanner, a cowboy who has made it big - really big - as a country western singer. The object of his seduction is Reno Linden, who has talked the studio into casting Chase in a role in her movie. She's a small-town girl, and avoids Chase's mega-star come-ons during filming - until one weekend, when everything changes, and she gives in to him. *sighs* But life intrudes, old insecurities surface, and things fall apart for Chase and Reno. Will they be able to overcome and reconnect? Chase and Seduction is packed with lots of hot, sexy lovin' and deep, tender romance.


JACK: The hero’s name is Chase? He certainly lives up to his name, doesn’t he? *Jack turns to smolder at the camera* Much like I live up to mine: the Fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow. *turns back* What makes this guy so heroic?


RANDI: You ARE fabulous, Jack, and you're MY personal hero!


HELLION: Really, don't encourage him.


JACK: No, please, do encourage me. *ducks flying rum bottle from Hellion* You were saying before Hellie so rudely interrupted....


RANDI: Chase is Reno's hero because he's a lot more than his wild and loose public persona reveals. He's caring and kind, a man whose humble beginnings ground him, and whose social conscience defines him. Once he realizes how lucky he is to have found Reno, he goes all in, showing her his flaws and vulnerabilities, his intensity and strength.


JACK: He’s all that, is he? *grins wickedly again* Your heroine must be in trouble then. What’s she like? Hellie makes me ask about the heroes first, but I don’t understand why anyone would be interested in them. It’s the heroines who are fascinating: beautiful, smart, funny, and completely vulnerable to charming men like me. *leans forward* So do you think your heroine would like me?


RANDI: Jack, she would absolutely swoon if she met you. *Hellion groans* Reno's a strong woman, independent and successful in her writing. But not so lucky in her romantic life. Her last boyfriend was more interested in her career than in her heart, and at first, she's skittish, avoiding Chase's intense seduction until he caresses away all her reservations. Once she recognizes the bond she and Chase share, she'll do everything she can to keep him in her life.


JACK: *looks slightly discomfited* Perhaps she's better off with Chase. My true commitment is with the Black Pearl and the sea. *clears throat* Once I get done reading this one, when can I expect to have another one from you? Much like rum, I don’t like to run out of a great thing. What will your next book be about?


RANDI: Just as the rum is swirling around in your brain, my next book is still rattling around up in mine. It's the story of a bull rider and a nanny, with whom fate seems to be playing games. Since it's another story for the Cowboy Kink line, I'm researching something very kinky for these two to enjoy. *grins wickedly*


JACK: I could help you with your research if you like. *shifting on the couch, not making eye contact with a glowering Hellie* I’m getting the Evil Eye again. I suppose I’m not keeping on task--*smoldering look at Randi*--you’re distracting me. I’m supposed to be asking you about your Call Story and your writing process.


RANDI: The story behind Chase and Seduction is all about fate. I'd written the book, then attended a writer's conference in Pensacola, Florida. I met an author who contracted her book with The Wild Rose Press' Cowboy Kink line. Once I got home, I read her book and knew Chase and Reno's story would fit perfectly in the line. I rewrote, submitted, and was asked to make a few changes. Made the changes, resubmitted, and received a contract within a week. Yee-haw! Sorry, Jack, that's 'cowboy' for Shiver Me Timbers!
I'm a full-time writer, and I write rather quickly. The novella I'm giving away today to one lucky reader took me three days to write. And it's 40 pages! But have no fear, I did a healthy revision and my two excellent critique partners edited it to a high-gloss. When I write longer novels, I will do an comprehensive backstory on each of the characters, and I'll write a detailed outline. For shorter stories like Her Cowboy Stud, I just keep the backstory and outline in my head.


JACK:  Most excellent. Thank you for sharing your pirating skills. Last question, typically I ask what you’d do on a rainy day—what are you wearing, what are you reading, what are you drinking—but it’s SUMMER and it’s obvious you wouldn’t be at your house, inside, not enjoying the sunshine. So the question is: you’re at the beach, in a hammock, shaded by a large umbrella (skin cancer you know, so bad for you). What are you wearing? What are you reading? And most importantly, what are you drinking?


RANDI: Love the beach! I'm wearing a purple swimsuit and pink snorkel gear. (I'm an avid snorkeler.) Right now I'm reading Should've Been a Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson and Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward. I like a variety of genres, and I love hot and spicy writing! I'm not drinking rum, sorry to say. My new addiction this summer is flavored vodka and club soda. Did you know they make pineapple-flavored vodka?


JACK: No, I did not. Fabulous. Now…is there anything you’d like to ask the crew before they start peppering you with questions?


RANDI: I would love your crew's opinion. I mentioned that my next book will have an interesting 'kinky' theme. The book will be a M/F, and a H.E.A. romance, and taking these criteria into account, what do you consider kinky? What kind of kink do you like to read?


To celebrate the release of Chase and Seduction, I'm giving away, to one lucky *commenter, an e-copy of my novella Her Cowboy Stud. Just leave a comment today and we'll choose a winner tomorrow. *Commenter must be 18 years of age or older to win.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Iron Seduction - Not Your Usual Steampunk

It is my pleasure to welcome good friend and amazingly talented writer, JK Coi to the ship today. Her latest release - IRON SEDUCTION - from Ellora's Cave is not your typical Steampunk. In fact, it's not your typical story, period. I'll let JK explain.

When Terri asked me to blog about how in the heck I came up with the idea for Iron Seduction—what I like to call my Chinese Fake Zombie Steampunk—a few words came out of my mouth that I wouldn’t normally use (okay, so I've used them before. Maybe once. Or three times). Anyway, F**k. Was I supposed to keep track of that process?

I’m not sure how it all came about. This short little book has everything—a journey up the Great Wall of China, ancient clay warriors brought to life by an evil dispossessed empress, a female British Ambassador who falls for a Chinese mercenary…but to explain why I wrote it is difficult. And I hate when my brain hurts like that. It makes me start stuffing food into my face, and I need more snacks about as much as I need another genre to write in.

Steampunk has been my latest guilty pleasure—along with a foray into horror writing and another dip in the contemporary romance pool. Iron Seduction was the first Steampunk I attempted. Of course, I devoured a few stories from other fantastic authors to get my feet wet but when I sat down to start writing my own, it was this description that stuck in my head: Steampunk is Victorian elegance and aesthetics meets futuristic invention and exploration. But it doesn’t have to be Victorian—it can be any time period, real or imagined, which blends elements of science, history, fantasy and technology. It’s a spirit of high adventure bridging the past and future. It captures the imagination in ways that make the eyes go wide and the heart beat a little faster.

With this in mind, I knew I wanted my setting to be more exotic than an alternate reality London. I wanted to do something other than vampires and werewolves (not that I haven’t had great fun with those too), and I wanted my characters to have an adventure along the lines of Indiana Jones (without the spiders. Hate spiders). Also, I wanted the villain to be just a little bit crazy (okay, she’s batshit crazy with maniacal frosting on top).

Then I was looking at some pictures from a friend’s trip to China, and everything “clicked”. Doesn’t that sound nice and neat and all wrapped up in a pretty bow?

Of course it's not because then I actually had to write it. But that’s another story J

So who has been reading Steampunk? What have you read? What have you liked?  What do you think really characterizes the genre? There's a book up for grabs so comment early and often!


British Military Ambassador Lady Jane helped free China from the tyrannical rule of the evil Empress Cixi. But now the Empress is fighting back with ancient, unnatural warriors under her command.

As Jane and compelling mercenary Jian Danzen struggle to the Great Wall to stop Cixi, all the excuses Jane has been using to keep the sexy Dance at arm’s length become less convincing. The overwhelming attraction she’s pushed aside for so long since their one night of passion threatens to consume them both.

The danger they face this night might mean Jane never leaves the Wall alive again. If so, she wants it to be a night without regret. But only one night, because even if they survive the Empress and the even greater foe waiting for them, Jane knows there can be no future for two people from such different worlds.
Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jack Finally Gets His Own Book Thanks To A.C. Crispin

Today we welcome Science Fiction/Fantasy writer A.C. Crispin to the ship. (Insert awesome, complimentary intro here.) Ms. Crispin has created a stew of jealousy among the crew with her latest project. Not only is it about pirates, it’s about THE pirate, Captain Jack. But not exactly the Jack we know today.

Ms. Crispin, could you tell us about your latest release, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM?

The Price of Freedom is the prequel to the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  It’s Jack Sparrow’s “backstory” of how Jack first became a pirate captain, and how many of the events we saw in “Curse of the Black Pearl” and the other films were set in motion.  In my novel, Jack is 25, with flashbacks to when he’s 24 years old.  As the story opens, he’s an honest merchant sailor, serving as First Mate on a ship called Fair Wind, and his boss is none other than Cutler Beckett.

Maybe with a younger Jack around, our rum supplies will last longer. How did you get involved with this project? And did you find it intimidating to take on such a well-known character?

Oh, Jack was drinking rum when he was in his 20’s, no doubt about it.  He swills down quite a bit of it in my book.

Chance, hide the rum!

I was chosen to write Capt. Jack’s “backstory” because I had done several books exploring the backstory of some famous media characters.  I did The Han Solo Trilogy for Bantam, where I covered the ten years in Han’s life prior to meeting Obi Wan and Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina.  When the Disney editor got permission to commission a novel about Captain Jack’s backstory, she told me she began reading all of the Star Wars novels that focused on Han Solo.  She thought that I captured the character best, so Disney offered the project to me.  Naturally, I was thrilled at the prospect.

I found Jack Sparrow to be the biggest challenge yet in writing backstory, because he’s really idiosyncratic.  No other character talks like Jack, acts like Jack, or even walks like Jack!  Disney also instructed me to write the book so it was historically and nautically accurate, where it didn’t conflict with POTC film continuity. That meant I had to do a tremendous amount of research to get that period authenticity.

Bo’sun: *jaw drops* I can’t believe you wrote about Han. I LOVED Han Solo. *clears throat* Sorry, back to the topic at hand. How much freedom did you have in writing the story as you saw it?

Once Disney decided on the time period in Jack’s life for my story, I had a lot of freedom to develop a plot and new characters.  Disney told me where the book had to end, so the story I developed had to flesh out HOW and WHY those events in the POTC canon occurred.

I see on your website this book took three years to write. Was that due to your schedule or was Jack just that uncooperative?

I spent the first six months of that time just researching pirates and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Then, after I signed the contract, it took another year for Disney studios to approve the time period for my story, and the outline that I’d submitted based on that time period.  The actual writing time for the book was about 16 months of steady writing.

Bo’sun: Those Disney folks sure took their time. I understand young Jack has a love interest. We’re always interested in the Romance around here. How did you create a heroine for Jack Sparrow?

Jack’s true love is his ship…and the sea.  But I had a good time creating a couple of feisty female protagonists for him to encounter.  One is a pirate.  Esmeralda is the Pirate Lord of the Caribbean.  The other is a runaway princess who has been sold into slavery.  She’s the magic worker in the story.  She’s a mistress of illusion. 

Both women are strong and resourceful, but they are drawn to Jack, as many women are.  There’s a funny scene in the story where Esmeralda and Ayisha meet and spend time together, while Jack is left alone for the evening, picturing them duking it out over him.  Instead the ladies get tipsy together, and have a great time talking about Jack.  When he realizes they’ve become friends and confidants, he’s not sure how to react.  It’s pretty funny.

Bo’sun: Ha! Two women against one Jack. Talk about karma. I also see on your website that you write full time, but some projects are delayed due to your workload. How do you handle time management and decide what projects get your attention?

When I am deep into a project, I write a lot, every day.  In the early stages of a writing project, it can be like pulling teeth to write my requisite number of words. But if you want to pay the mortgage and eat, you have to work, so I do.  I turned my attention away from my fantasy trilogy (that I still hope to complete, especially now that it’s reverted to me) in order to take on the Disney project because it seemed so promising. 

Can you tell us what’s next for you? Will there be more POTC books in your future? Or Jack’s past?

I’ve recently started a new book, and I’m in the very early stages with it.  It’s science fiction, a YA novel.  I was glad to return to s.f.  It’s been a while.  I have no idea whether there will be more POTC books in my future.  That’s a decision Disney will make, and they probably want to see how this book does.

Thank you so much for being with us today. We’re quite proud of our extensive drink menu aboard The Revenge and like to add a lovely concoction in honor of our guests. For you we add the Sippin’ Crispin. It must be sipped lest ye set your arse aflame.

LOL!  Thankee, mate!

So tell us, Pirates and Pirate Pals, what character’s past would you like to read about? Is there a character’s story you’d like to write? Ms. Crispin has some obligations today, but she will be in and out so feel free to shoot some questions her way.
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heather Bennett Knows Decadence

*Hector leans against the new bar, sliding his hand along its smooth surface. “So, dear Chance. Yer alter ego’s editor will be visitin’ taday?”

*Yup, and ya better behave. I bribed Jack off the ship wit’ two kegs a’ rum and me Tortuga Liquor Barn credit card.” She snickers. “Course, I didn’t tell ‘im it’s expired. The new one be locked in me new safe.” She grins at the tall pirate and winks.

*And he didn’t think ta check, a’ course.” He shakes his head and lifts his tankard. “Refill love?” As she tops him off he glances over the railing. “How’s this lass arrivin’?”

*I sent Deuce to get her. Not sure what is takin’ so long…” She glances at the hourglass.

*Hector grins crookedly. 

Just then, a disturbance in the water to the port occurs and Deuce’s Harrier jet comes to a rest on the pier. A bouncing blonde leaps out, blowing a kiss to the Revenge’s personal pilot and looks up at the ship. Chance waves her aboard, putting a glass in her hand before she sits down.

*Heather takes a sip and fans her face. “The ship looks much smaller from the air!”

*Yeah, we get that a lot! Hector, this bit a’ loveliness be Heather Bennett, one of two brilliant entrepreneurs who founded Decadent Publishing. Don’t slobber on ‘er.”

*He shoots a superior look at Chance then elegantly bows before Heather, takes her hand and places a chaste kiss upon her knuckles. “Greatly pleased I am ta make yer acquaintance.”

*Heather smiles. “Likewise, Hector, though your reputation precedes you. I’ve been warned that you could charm the barnacles off a boat without much effort. Though, Jack had other words to describe you. Where is he anyway?”

*He’s off drinkin’, pity he’s missin’ a chance ta meet a lovely lady. Ya don’t need no barnacles scrubbed off ya, I be certain a’ that!” He winks.

*Chance sniffs at him then pulls out a second bottle of her cherished Kraken Rum and admires the label. “I so like this stuff.”

*Ya have an unhealthy appreciation a’ slimy things, lass.” Hector mumbles

*Explains why you’re here!” She spits back, then turns to Heather as she opens the bottle and tops of her glass, “Pardon us, we tend at bicker. So, I hear tell from me alter ego that yer one a’ two ladies who run this here publishing company… Decadent Publishing. How’d ya go about deciding ta dive inta such volatile waters. Wit’ the state a’ the written word, seems a risky voyage!”

*Hector breaks in, “Like the name, by the way.”

*Why, thank you Hector.” Heather smiles and winks at him, then raises her glass in a salute to Chance before downing a generous swig of rum. “Mmmm, Chance, this is delish.  Can I take a bottle home with me?”

* I thinks I can manage a spare bottle fer ya.” Chance nods, looks around the bar before reaching far beneath it to haul out a sparkling bottle.

*Yes, Decadent Publishing has been a wild ride this past year.  We started out with a handful of various romance single titles and have expanded like crazy. We now have everything from YA to non-fiction, from sweet romance to melt-your-Kindle erotica, a successful short story series call 1Night Stand and many 5star full length fiction books.  We’re fortunate to have some very talented new authors, like that delightful Maureen O. Betita, and veteran authors such as Amanda McIntyre, Mari Freeman, Desiree Holt and Sahara Kelly who’ve submitted to us and written truly entertaining stories. Working with the creative community, and appreciating what they have to offer, is why my partner, Lisa and I dove into the stormy sea known as ‘publishing’. 

*Can you top me off over here? My glass seems to be empty.”

* Happens a lot on this ship. Profession hazards a’ the pirates life!” Hector smiles and pours.

*We are looking for romances with characters who are, shall we say...more experienced?  Romance between people 50yrs and older.” Heather shoots Chance a sly grin. “I heard Maureen say all that carnal knowledge adds flavor to the brew even if there’s a little dust on the bottle, if you know what I mean.” The editor raises her glass again before continuing. “We also want to put more pirates in to port at the Decadent pier, and we adore a gritty western.  Of course, I wouldn’t turn down a good military romance. Somethin’ about a man in uniform…Um, when does Deuce come back?“

* He’s off parkin’ the jet, sure ta be back soon. The local harbormaster don’t like it when he clutters up the pier.” Chance sighs. “I do love flyin’ wit’ that lad!”

*Hector glares.

*Lisa and I are both fans of sci-fi romance.  We are waiting for someone to drop a spectacular non-romance sci-fi in our laps, as well. Even a series. Linnea Sinclair is one of our Sci-fi writing favorites, so this has always been something we want to explore. We have a lot of people interested in speculative fiction of all kinds.  I will admit to a schoolgirl crush on Han Solo.”

*Aye, Lisa be the one with the foresight ta snatch up me alter’s book. And there were something a’ the pirate in Han. Now, Lisa confided in Maureen back at RT, that her crush was on Keir Dullea 2001 A Space Odyssey.” She grins. “I remembers him! Don’t blame her at all!”

*Chance gestures the length of the bar, stacked with trays of succulent sweets. “Oh, feel free to snack. Ya might recognize one a’ the bar specialties. We have double stuffed Twinkies. The captain frowned on me settin’ them on fire, save fer publication days, so they ain’t flamin’. There be the captain’s no calorie brownies and those strawberries? Aye, they be hollowed out and filled with chocolate liquor!” She winks at Heather.

*Why, Chance, have you pirated my signature shot?” Heather laughs. “I served them to our crew at the Romance Times convention. It’s one of my favorite decadent treats.”

*Hector pops a Twinkie in his mouth. “I’m in that book, ya know.”

*No, yer not! Shut yer gob!” Chance smacks him, then hands him a napkin. “Now, Heather, me alter tole me how she’s proud ta be part a The Read for a Cure. I understand this is a cause dear ta yer heart. With all the nonsense earlier this month, ‘bout how romance is bad for women…good ta see that romance is really all ‘bout a cure! Can ya explain more ‘bout this cause and how yer involved?”

*Bad for women? Huh. Wonder if they’d say the same thing if a woman read Stephen King or Barry Eisler, Emily Dickenson or Edgar Allen Poe.” Heather snorts. “Just because a woman appreciates a deep, emotionally satisfying story--or even a light, sexy story--doesn’t mean she’s an addict or has unrealistic expectations. Heck, I know men who are exactly like some of the male leads in my favorite stories; flawed, human, have a great sense of humor, and are sexy as the day is long.

*Sometimes, when real life concerns like brigadiers, rum shortages and nuclear meltdowns get a girl down, we need to have a mental escape into a world where conflict can be resolved and a happy ending is guaranteed. It keeps is sane and gives us an hour or two of joy, maybe some laughs and an adventure in a foreign country or alternate dimension. Nothing wrong with that.”

*Read For a Cure is a Decadent Publishing program that benefits the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. We donate all publisher coin for one book each month to Relay. Since Lisa and I have both lost people very close to us to the disease, it was a natural fit for us. My mom lost 2 brothers within a year, and my father died within that same time period. It’s not an enemy you can swing a sword at, so we fight this way. Our crew page is here.

*Tis a terrible affliction. I be fortunate it don’t run in me family, but others…” Chance shakes her head. “Seems ya hear ‘bout someone ya know bein’ handed that sentence far too often.” She glances at Hector, who’s looking away and fighting not to let a tear drop.

*Here, Hector, blow yer nose, ya soft-hearted lout.” Chance sets a box of Kleenex on the bar and then ducks below the bar. The sound of a loud sniff or two rises before she reappears. “Well, okay. So, good month ta buy The Kraken’s Mirror. Got it! Ya got anything else ya’d like ta say to the crew? They’ll be shovin’ in soon and no doubt be askin’ questions and makin’ wildly inappropriate comments.” She leans close. “We do that. Can I count on ya to stop by and respond? They gets cranky when our guests disappear inta the hold with the hotties.”

*Aye, cuts inta their time in the hold with the hotties.” Hector pockets the Kleenex and empties his tankard. He looks up as Deuce strolls in…

*Heather pats the seat next to her and the pilot takes a seat. “As long as I have such good looking people to keep me company”—she wrenches her gaze away from Deuce’s devilish grin and graciously waves a conciliatory hand at her tablemates—“I’ll stick around for sure. The view from here is…inspiring.”


So, crew, feel free to interrogate Heather today. I’m hoping we get an influx of other Decadent authors and editors as we get this Friday party underway!

And I’m curious, what cause would you support if your treasure ship pulled in this morning? Aside from the standard, I’d support something about keeping the Caribbean healthy… And helping out animal shelters. Because I’m just that way!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fabulous Interview With Captain Jack Sparrow: Susan Sey Gets All Bubbly

Hellion: Susan! Welcome to the ship, and the first thing I want to say is don’t worry!—we’ve had a long talk with Jack, so I’m sure we’re not going to run into any of those problems we’ve had with new authors in the past where Jack has run off with them to an undisclosed location and done Lord knows what. *handing Susan a tankard of rum*


Susan: *hopeful look as she takes rum, looking over her shoulder* I’d heard the rumors, of course, but I thought with how outrageous stories get, it was an exaggeration at best….


Captain Jack Sparrow: Exaggeration? *Jack sliding down a rope from the Crow’s Nest and landing on his feet to pose with his hands on his hips, taking up as much room in the camera angle as possible* I assure you the rumors of my prowess in the bed chamber are not an exaggeration.


Hellion: *sotto-voice* They’re completely made up. *Jack turns to glare at her; she smiles* Jack, darling, I’m so thrilled you could show up on time for a change. I was just telling our guest all about you. She was just telling me how disappointed she was that she missed out on your interview skills the last time she was here.


CJS: *taking Susan’s hand and making bedroom eyes at her* Extremely glad and honored to meet you, luv. Might I escort you to the couch?


Susan:  *blinking*  Oh…my.  Would you? *Jack makes great strides in his wooing efforts in the three feet to the couch until Susan is practically lying sideways*


Hellion: *rolling eyes and hurrying over to the table with a bottle of rum and a notebook with pen; plunks down rum in front of Jack, then seats herself to record the interview* Please proceed.


CJS: *straightens and sits, arranges his coat* I’m quite capable of conducting my own interviews. You treat me like I couldn’t find my way out of a telephone booth.


Hellion: Well, there was that one time….


CJS: *ignoring Hellion, smoldering at Susan* Just ignore her. I do. Why don’t you tell me about this book of yours?


Susan: Book? *shakes herself, snaps out of it.* Book!  Yes!  I have a book!  It’s called MONEY SHOT, and it’s fabulous.  Nearly as fabulous as you...  *trails off, staring.  Shakes self, snaps out of it.*  Okay, here’s the skinny:  It’s about a secret service agent--Maria “Goose” di Guzman--who, after a little speed bump at work, finds herself exiled to a frozen island in Lake Superior, chasing a counterfeiter who may or may not exist.  And the only local law enforcement available to help out is Mishkwa Island Park Ranger Rush Guthrie.


CJS: The hero’s name is Rush? *cocking eyebrow* I hope that’s not an indication of everything he does. It’s not, is it? If I had a name that spoke of my prowess, it would be Boulder. Rock hard and huge, massive, intimidating….


Susan:  *Pause* I would *love* to know if that’s true.


CJS:  I’d love to show you.


Susan:  *Mind wanders.  Day dreams are wonderful.  Shakes self.  Snaps out of it.*  Hmmm.  Maybe later.  Let’s get back to Rush, shall we?  To answer your question, no.  He is absolutely not a guy in a hurry.  If anything, he’s a fan of slowing things down.  Goose is all about the hurry up; Rush is all about taking the time to do things right.  Which is an excellent quality in a hero, don’t you think?


CJS: I knew you were a woman of keen intellect as well as beauty. *kissing her hand and then the inside of her wrist* Do tell me are your heroines all as beautiful and intelligent as you are?


Susan:  *giggles.  Shakes self.  Snaps out of it.  Takes hand back, though reluctantly.*  Oh, much more so.  Maria--Rush doesn’t care to call her Goose for some reason--is nearly six delicious feet of brainy sex appeal.  But she’s hiding some dark secrets behind that pretty face and designer suit.  And Rush doesn’t do secrets any more.  The decade or so he spent as a Navy SEAL left him with some serious scars on his conscience and he came back to his tiny island home town to heal.  He wants a real life now--honest, authentic, open--and a real-life happy every after.  But Maria’s as determined to hang on to her secrets as Rush is to unravel them, and convincing her to take a shot isn’t going to be easy.


CJS: Secrets should stay secrets in my experience. I don’t know if your hero—Rush, you said his name was?—can handle a fine woman like Maria. I knew a Maria once. *dreamy look* She was going to become a nun, but I changed her mind. Black was not her color. Maybe for your next book, you’ll have a hero who is more pirate-like, like me. What will you be dazzling your readers with next?


Susan:  Right now I’m trying to drum up interest in my Devil’s Kettle trilogy.  Like any Minnesotan worth her long johns, I have a thing for Lake Superior, so I put my little town of Devil’s Kettle right on the shores.


CJS:  *cocks a brow* Long johns, eh?  I don’t suppose you’d care to give a fellow a look?  I knew a girl once who wore long johns…*dreamy look*  I quite enjoyed them.


Susan:  *disappointed*  Oh.  I’m not wearing them right now.  It’s summer.


CJS:  Not wearing them? I knew a girl once who wore nothing. Can I look? *famous smile*

Susan:  Well… *Leans in, too.  Enjoys soulful eye contact, Hellion clears throat meaningfully, Susan snaps out of it.*  So!  My Devil’s Kettle trilogy!  Right.  It’s about three women, each of whom gets her own book but I should warn you, they’re not sisters.  They’re not college roommates or childhood friends, either.  Seems like those are the standards when you’re talking about romance trilogies, but my women have nothing in common but a man.  And he’s dead.


CJS:  Charming.


Susan.  I know, right?  Strangers at best, enemies at worst, they’ll be sisters by the time I’m done with them. Let’s hope my editor’s interested in finding out exactly how that happens.


CPS: *counting off on his fingers* Well, we’ve talked about your book, the hero, the heroine, and your next book. I think that about covers the small talk. How about I give you a tour of my bedroom?


Hellion: Nice try, Jack, but Susan is too smart to fall for your wiles.


Susan: Oh, I don’t know. *wistful look* I could be, if someone would give him a bath.


CJS: I just happen to have a bathtub in my cabin.


Hellion: We have more questions for Susan. You’ll have to show her the magnificence of your bathtub at a later time. *hands him a stack of notecards*


CJS: *grumbling, flipping through the cards* Fine, but I definitely get a Bubble Bath Check. *winks at Susan, who winks back despite herself* You really won’t believe how big my tub is.


Hellion: He says that to everybody. It’s not that impressive. It just looks bigger on a ship.


Susan:  *shrugs* Doesn’t everything?


CPS: I’m ignoring you both now. *takes a drink of rum* First pirate question—this is dreadfully organized, Hellie darlin’, really you should consider being a secretary—what was your favorite part in writing Money Shot?


Susan:  Ooooh, torn on that one.  Mishkwa Island is home to an ancient coven of pagans who perform their ceremonies sky-clad--


CJS:  Sky-clad?  As in naked?  *Cocks a brow*  On a frozen island?  In the winter?


Susan:  Yep.  And checking out stacks of books on witchcraft from the library with my two little kids in tow was hilarious.  I’m sure the librarians were talking about me.  But what I really loved about writing this book was that all-important declaration of love scene.  Goose fesses up first and she does it so badly.  She’s all awkward and reluctant and pissy and completely, devastatingly honest.  Rush isn’t exactly Mr. Hearts and Flowers himself, after all, so he’s completely knocked sideways by this and pledges his own troth.  And yeah, he actually uses the word “troth” he’s so carried away by her.  *big, happy sigh*


CJS: That does sound lovely. Not as lovely as a bath with the incomparable Captain Jack Sparrow, but there you go. *flips through the cards* Oh, yes, *waving a card* can’t have an interview without this question. This is the Missionary Position of Interview Questions here: “What is your writing process like, and what happened when you got the call?”


Susan:  Oh, my process.  It’s so generous to call what I do a process.  It’s more like what happens when you up-end a bucket of toys and release the toddlers.  It takes me forever to write a draft and then I have to re-write the entire thing three full times before I get it right.  Then there’s the polishing and proofing, the fighting and whining, the tantrums and breakdowns.  A smart person would find something to do she’s better at.  But me?  Heck, no.  I just write another book.  And as far as what happened when I got The Call?  Let’s just say there was much rejoicing throughout the land and the tankards of rum flowed freely.  There may have been a bubble bath involved.


CJS:  Now that sounds promising.  Tell me, darling, if I give you a call, will you stop talking and get into my bath?


Susan:  *twinkling* I could be persuaded.


CJS: Excellent.  Last question, then, before I insist Susan has a bath. Who are some of your favorite authors, and what are you reading right now?


Susan:  When it comes to Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jenny Crusie and Eloisa James, I’m a rabid fan-girl.  I also heart J. R. Ward and Jessica Andersen for the paranormal.  And I’m not usually a SF/F girl (not speaking Elvish or Dwarvish or Klingon or what have you) but I’m mad, crazy in love with George R. R. Martin right now and his Game of Thrones books.  It’s like Tolkien wrote a soap opera, and I’m addicted.  All I want to do is read those books.


CJS: Great answer. *standing and taking Susan by the wrist* You know I might have one of those books in my cabin right now. Let’s go look.


Susan: Which one?


CPS: Doesn’t matter.


Hellion: Jack, stop harassing our guest. She may have questions for the rest of us. Susan, do you have any questions for us—or do you mind if the crew asks some questions?


Susan: You know, Jack’s question about my favorite part of writing MONEY SHOT made me realize that one of the reasons I love romance novels is the declaration of love scene.  I love that moment where a person strips himself utterly bare and just splats his heart on the sidewalk at the feet of his beloved.  That’s the scene that takes my breath away, and when an author really pulls out all the stops it’s the one I’ll remember and circle back to with a big, happy sigh years later.  So I’m interested to know--what’s that scene for you?  The first kiss?  The meet cute?  The proposal of marriage? The first fight?  First sex?  What’s the scene that makes the romance for you?  And is there a particular scene from a particular book that comes to mind?

Impress me and there could be an autographed copy of MONEY SHOT in it for you!  (Continental US only, though.  Sorry.)
Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fabulous Interview with Captain Jack Sparrow: Tiffany Clare's Governess Story of Love

*camera zooms in on a classroom: old fashioned desks, quills, and ink pots, a big chalk board in one corner, and a large globe that looks out of date by about 200 years. Captain Jack Sparrow is seated—trying to sit comfortably to no avail—at one of the small desks*


JACK: Hello, crew, as you might have guessed, today is another edition of Fabulous Interview with the Fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow. *waves his hand, knocks over an ink pot* Shit. No wonder there are so many high school drop outs. How can anyone learn anything sitting at this torture device? *scowls at his damaged outfit*


HELLION: It’s fine, Jack. We’ll find you a new shirt later.


JACK: But I got this shirt from an Egyptian princess on her wedding night.


HELLION: *deadly voice* Are you whining?


JACK: *looking alarmed* No, no, I’m not whining. *smiles at the camera* As I was saying, today is another fantastic interview. With me. And oh, yes, Tiffany Clare. You may remember last time, she regaled us with all the mysteries of the harem life with her debut book, The Surrender of a Lady, and today, she’s here to tell us about the surrender of a different kind of lady: a governess. *eyes bright* I do like a governess. Especially once you get them naked. Tiffany, do tell us about your governess and this tale. Is she naked?


*camera turns to show Tiffany Clare sitting behind the teacher’s desk, looking every inch like a naughty schoolmarm*


TIFFANY: Well, not at first, but she does show up like a drowned cat—on the Earl of Brendall’s doorstep….Abigail Hallaway has run away to become a governess. Why? Because she wants a little independence, and to be away from her happily married sisters when she's, well, almost a spinster! I know, 22 years old and almost a spinster!


JACK: Well, that is a start, I suppose. I do love older women myself, quite enthusiastic they are. And admittedly, there are no finer romantic words than “Let’s get you out of these wet clothes.” How about this hero? He doesn’t sound very heroic, letting her stand there, possibly to get her death of cold. I would have whisked her out of her clothing first thing, then asked questions, but that’s the kind of gentleman I am. What kind of man is this Earl of Brendall?


TIFFANY: Well, if you had a woman show up in your house, wandering around in the middle of the night, wouldn't you think her no more than a wayward ladybird?


JACK: I plead the fifth.


TIFFANY: He's pretty heroic as the story goes on though. You see, he's got these dark secrets and this past he wants to keep hidden from our fair heroine. He's all about his son, and protecting both him and his son's future, and well, getting under Abby's skirts. What's not to love? I adore Elliott! He just breaks my heart and he's just the kind of guy you want to give a big hug and say, I love you, so believe it, receive it, and indulge in that feeling.


JACK: You know, you’re a lot more touchy feely than you were the last time you visited. I like that. Despite the hero being rather unheroic where clothing is concerned, it does sound like a fascinating story. Hellion was rhapsodizing about your previous book, The Seduction of His Wife, and she was very excited that this one had a connecting character from that story. Was it your intention to connect these books?


TIFFANY: Yes, it was! I love connecting books! Actually, the hero from The Seduction of His Wife does make a brief appearance in Surrender of a Lady :) My next trilogy is much more interwoven and connected than this series. I love the build up a series offers. You feel like you really get to know characters when they appear over a series of books as opposed to just having one book.


JACK: That is true, though rather sad when the series ends. I’m still not over Twilight. *Tiffany looks at him like he’s mad; Jack clears his throat* Your first book had the premise of a harem/forced enslavement; your second book was about a reunion between a man and wife; and now this book—I’ve heard said—is a cross between Beauty and the Beast and Jane Eyre (which, of course, I haven’t read because again, no naked women). You don’t seem to stick to any one trope (as they’re called). Do you have a favorite trope you like to write about or read?


TIFFANY: I don't have a favorite trope I prefer to read or write. I'm all about the characters. They tend to come to me fully formed, and then I just try and work with them to get their story on paper. For instance, I knew that Abby was going to run away to accomplish something 'better' with her life. I also knew I wanted no outside interference with her romance. And she had to be far away from her sisters, or they'd track her down. Voila, I needed a castle setting with a recluse hero. Enter Elliott. He's so dark and secretive and brooding and hot… did I mention the hot? Based him on Clive Owen… *Swoons* He's number two on my list (you know, the list of five people you could have without question)?


JACK: We’re only allowed to have five on that list? *takes out a piece of paper from his jacket* I need to adjust my list. *winces at Hellion’s glare* I mean, what will we be reading next from the exciting Tiffany Clare?


TIFFANY: I’m working on another trilogy for St. Martin’s Press, something in the vein of Dangerous Liaisons.  Here’s my blurb: Four friends in the pursuit of pleasure enter a dangerous game of wagers, seduction and temptation, but when one of their own is bent on a self-destructive path of ruin, they must put aside their schemes or lose everything they’ve come to hold dear.


JACK: Last time we talked about your Vixens and how important it is to have a great support system—blah, blah, blah, more women who aren’t naked—so this time I thought we could just talk about you. *smoldering look, taking her hand to kiss it* A fast five—


TIFFANY: *The Look* I’m not into fast much of anything, and frankly you are a little short. And your shoes aren't doing much for your feet there, pretty boy.


JACK: *blows raspberry* I do love a woman who is a challenge. So we begin: Jazz or Rock?




JACK: Vodka or wine?


TIFFANY:  I'm a whino.


JACK: Top or bottom?


TIFFANY: *The Look* BWAHAHAHAHA! Wouldn't you like to know?


JACK: *unrepentant smile* It was worth a shot. Fine. Favorite meal?


TIFFANY: Mum's cooking.


JACK: Favorite way to splurge on yourself?


TIFFANY: Any way possible :)


JACK: And what are you reading right now?


TIFFANY: Miranda Neville’s, The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (you're all jealous I got an advance, aren't you)! I do love my governesses.


JACK: Do you have any questions for the crew?


TIFFANY: What's your favorite trope to read? Do you have any favorite mash-ups you've read or want to read one day?
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Social Swamps and Mountain Tops

Yeah, odd subject. Sorta.

But I want to come at this stuff of socializing two different ways.

Firstly, we’ve blathered about the whole ‘nightmare’ of social networking. Ups and downs, etc. Now, here is the question of the day on that front…it’s easy to make mistakes in the swamp of social networking. Easy to have a bad day, say the wrong thing and inadvertently smack someone in the face. I’m curious about how those stumbles affect the actual sale of books, not to mention an author’s rep.

Yes, I’m certain that if you are slapped, you aren’t likely to buy a book from that author again. But…what if you’re on the sidelines, just saw this faux pas? Or you are a friend of the slapped? And this is an author whose books you absolutely adore. An author you have on auto buy! An author whose prose sends you floating…

What do you do?

You see, I’ve met authors who I enjoyed reading. They weren’t necessarily my ab-fab favorites, but I liked them. They told good stories and they did it well.

Then I met them. And…blech. Sometimes more than blech. Sometimes real revulsion. Did I stop reading them?

Actually, a few I did. And when friends would gush about these authors? I’d sorta smile and didn’t try to go into why I seldom read them anymore…

I mean, everyone has a bad day. And my snubs may have just been bad days. And the more than snubs? Those I did talk about.

What about you? I do tend to be pretty forgiving on the social stumbles. We all get a bit bogged down sometimes and we all have bad days. I figure I’m gonna mouth off or say the exact wrong thing eventually and I can only hope those who witness won’t judge me from one bad day.

But I’m curious, how do you feel about this?

At the other side, I want to crow about my publisher and something they are doing this month. My book, The Kraken’s Mirror, is the Read for the Cure Book of the Month at Decadent Publishing. What does this mean? Well, any purchase of the book during the month of June means my publisher donates the proceeds from that book to the fight for a cure to cancer. If you’re going to buy my book, consider doing it this month. If you bought it and liked it, consider encouraging anyone you think might enjoy it to buy it this month.

Because this is the peak of social networking, publisher style! ;-)

Gads! I almost forgot! I have a pair of pirate socks to give away! Random comment wins the prize! ;-)