Saturday, September 29, 2012

Great Opportunity And Lots of Fun!

Congratulations to Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love! Their book, The Curse, hit the New York Times Best Seller list!!!!


On November 3, 2012, Saturday (starts at 11 a.m.), in Birmingham, AL, Southern Magic Romance Writers will be holding the annual ROMANCE READERS LUNCHEON and Sherrilyn and Dianna are the keynote speakers.   


As part of your registration, you get a bag of books and a wonderful lunch. We will also be giving away baskets of books and swag as door prizes along with opportunities to win more. There will be almost 30 other authors attending.

   Fred Arceneaux  Katharine Ashe . Katherine Bone . Manda Collins
   Jennifer Echols . Sandra Elzie . M. V. Freeman . Lexi George
   Debby Giusti . Debra Glass . Lynn Raye Harris . Laura Hayden
   Elle Jasper . Suzanne Johnson . Debbie Kaufman
 Mina Khan
   Ciara Knight . Kieran Kramer . J.F. Lewis . Hildie McQueen
   Megan Mulry . Lindi Peterson . Christy Reece .  Moira Rogers
   Colette Saucier . Naima Simone . Kira Sinclair . Sandy Sullivan
   Carla Swafford . Shannon West


For more details to register, click here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Winner of Debra Glass' Giveaway - Eternal

I'm happy to announced that Tawnya has been 

chosen by random.org to win the signed copy of my 

YA, Eternal. Congrats, Tawnya--I hope you enjoy it!


Congratulations!
(Announced 10/8/12)

Contest! Share Your Ghost Story with Debra Glass

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by things that go bump in the night. Some of my earliest memories are of eating popcorn and Kraft caramel squares alongside my dad while we watched Dark Shadows, Night Gallery, and The Night Stalker.

I was in heaven when cable TV came to my area. WTBS out of Atlanta became my favorite channel because they showed old horror flicks at night. Vincent Price quoting Edgar Allan Poe. Tony Perkins looking innocuously innocent as a mild mannered roadside motel owner. Bela Lugosi commanding an ethereal heroine to gaze into his eyes. Lon Chaney staring wide-eyed at the gypsy fortune teller and all those fog laden movie sets! I was in my element.

Much to my chagrin, these macabre tales ended in the tragic death of the other-worldly hero. Didn’t the writers see that the vampire needed to get the girl? Didn’t they realize the werewolf just needed to go on and bite his lady-love so, together, they could roam the Transylvanian forests under the light of the full moon?

In the early 90s, I attended a workshop with Michael Garret. At the time, I was penning a vampire novel, one I’m sure will never see the light of day. 120K+ words of passive voice and melodramatic love scenes… But I digress. Mr. Garret looked at the gargantuan manuscript and declared it a romance.

He told me paranormal romance was the new trend and that I should go read a few, tailor my story to those that were already on the shelves and target those publishers.

Long story short, two months later, I was on my way to my first RWA chapter meeting in the company of Beverly Barton and Rhonda Nelson.

But it wasn’t until I encountered a real-live ghost, in a half-century old piano business I’d just bought, that I was inspired to write paranormal romance with ghostly heroes. I made my first sale in that genre at Ellora’s Cave and penned a three book series called Phantom Lovers.

My oldest daughter enjoyed Twilight and the Vampire Diaries and came to me with the idea of writing a Young Adult paranormal, featuring a ghostly hero. I drew from my historical knowledge of the Civil War, my family’s roots in the plantation capitol of the world, Maury County, Tennessee, and of course, ghosts, to write Eternal, the story of a young woman whose world is forever altered when she moves to Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, and falls in love with the ghost of the young soldier who haunts her house.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00064]Can a heart still love once it stops beating?

My hopes of having a normal life died when I did. Especially since my near death experience turned me into a clairvoyant with a disfiguring scar. Not exactly most-popular material.

Now, because of me, my whole family has been forced to move to some small town in Tennessee. My parents think a quiet new school and a new set of friends will heal me of the scars I carry both inside and out.

There’s just one problem. I’m being haunted by Jeremiah Ransom, the charming ghost of a Civil War soldier who lived and died in my house. His presence makes me feel perfect. As if there’d never been a wound in the first place.

But I’m afraid that loving him will result in my death all over again.

Excerpt:
He seemed almost human in the shadows, as if his form had taken on more substance.
Looking at him in the dim light, I found it all too easy to forget he was a ghost. I gnawed my bottom lip, wild with the desire to touch him.
“What was it like?” he asked.
My gaze found his and then dropped away. “It felt like…like you.”
He stared for so long that I thought my hasty remark had embarrassed him. At the very least, I’d embarrassed myself. A hot blush crept into my cheeks. “I…I should be getting back downstairs. If Ella wakes up­—”
“She’s not awake,” he interrupted quickly.
My lips closed. Shaking from head to toe, I realized he hadn’t given me a choice. Hope welled that he might be as interested in me as I was in him but I refused to think past this enchanted moment.
“Hold your hand up,” he said.
Cold chills washed over me but I complied with his request, bringing my right hand up, palm facing Jeremiah. My resolve swerved as his gaze held mine whole. He lifted his own hand.
He intended to touch me!
It was going to happen, and waiting for it was the most intense, torturous pleasure I had ever known. Some part of me knew this moment would remain indelibly etched in my brain for the rest of my life and even beyond. The breath left my lungs in a ragged rush as he moved his hand closer and closer until our palms faced each other a mere two inches apart.

Eternal will be release at Amazon, B&N, BAM, Smashwords, ARE, and others October 31, in both digital ebook formats and trade paperback. But you can WIN A COPY by commenting about any ghostly experience you’ve had, or not had. *Please be sure to leave your contact info so when I draw a winner on Wednesday, October 3, I’ll be able to let you know you’ve won.

Advance copies of Eternal can be ordered now, by visiting http://www.discovertheshoals.com/apps/webstore/products/show/3360934

About the author: Growing up in the south where the air is thick with stories steeped in legend and truth, Debra came by her love of romance novels honestly. Well...sort of. At an early age, she pilfered from her grandmother's extensive library and has been a fan of the genre since.

A full time freelance writer, Debra especially enjoys combining history, mystery and a touch of taboo to weave stories with unforgettable, haunted heroes.

She lives in Alabama with her sexy real life hero, a couple of smart-aleck ghosts and a diabolical black cat.
For more information about Debra’s books, visit http://DebraGlass.com

If you live in North Alabama, visit ttp://florenceonfoot.wordpress.com for information on the 10th Annual Haunted History of the Shoals Ghost Walk Tour.

Winner announced for Lexi's Giveaway!

And the Winner is . . .

The winner of Lexi's giveaway is SHERYL!!!

Thanks to everyone who commented on my post about breaking the rules.  It was great fun!  Sheryl, email me at lexigeorge56@gmail.com with your address and the book of your choice (Demon Hunting in Dixie, Demon Hunting in the Deep South, or So I Married A Demon Slayer), and I will send you the gift card and the book.  Good luck to everyone on winning the Kindle!

[actually announced on 10/1/12]

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breaking the Rules

Beginnings are hard, whether it's a new job, a new relationship, or pulling up roots and moving to a new town.  Same with starting a new novel.  Beginnings are a bitch on wheels.  How to engage the reader/agent/editor and pull them into the story?  Here are a few examples/generally accepted rules about how NOT to start a book:

1.  An action or battle scene.  The reader doesn't know your protagonist from a hole in the ground, and doesn't have a clue who to root for.

2.  Prologues.  Yeah, I know.  Tons of writers open with a prologue, but they are generally frowned upon.  Readers/agents/editors want you to start the story where the story starts, at a turning point or game changer for the main character(s). 

3.  Dialogue without grounding in the characters and the story.  Again, the reader doesn't know who to be invested in, and readers like to be invested.  I know I do.

4.  Dreams.  Starting your book with the protagonist having a dream (yes, even THOSE kind) is considered cliche.

5.  Ditto on starting a book with the heroine looking in a mirror and reflecting on her looks or her past, or her troubles, or the cute guy she saw the day before on the bus.

6.  Double ditto on starting a book with a flashback.

7.  A description of the weather.  One word: boring.

8.  Backstory/info dump.  The reader wants to know what's happening NOW, not when Susie was in the seventh grade.

9.  Too many characters with weird names (more common in the fantasy genre), or confusing titles. Lord Huffinstuff, Baron Selby Corningware Shellfish, Lady Whistlebloom, and the Earl of Gladbottom, all in the same paragraph makes the reader go Wha??

10.  The main character waking up or running from something.  Again, considered cliche.

These are just a few.  Most romances start in either the hero or the heroine's point of view, to invest the reader in the main characters and the romance right away.  After all, that's why we read romance, for the love story, right? 

In Demon Hunting in Dixie, I open the story with Addy, my heroine, getting attacked by a demon and saved by Brand, a hunky demon hunter.  Hero and heroine meet right away.  In my novella, The Bride Wore Demon Dust, the story opens at the wedding.  My hero and heroine have tied the knot and wham!  My heroine learns (a) her dream man is an immortal demon hunter; (b) she is no longer human; and, (c) she's pregnant and fears she may be carrying some kind of supernatural ET.  In book two, Demon Hunting in the Deep South, Evie Douglass finds her high school nemesis dead on her desk at work, murdered with Evie's letter opener. She is whisked from the crime scene by the hero.

All three books follow "the rules."  The main characters meet in chapter one and all three begin in the heroine's POV. 

Not so Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar.  In book three, I break the rules.  No big deal?  Au contraire.  I am a rule follower.  I don't break the rules . . . as a rule.  But, in this book I do.  I start the book in the POV of a secondary character, introducing the heroine through his viewpoint at the end of chapter one.   

***

OPENING SCENE: Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar 

Being a zombie sucks. It’s hard to feel sexy when you’re bloated and starting to smell. And zombies have little or no job security. Once the zombie master is done with you, you’re leftover meat.


Tommy never planned on being a zombie, but then who does? One minute he was standing on the sidewalk outside One Shell Square in New Orleans, thinking about what he wanted for supper, and the next minute he was dead, the victim of a freak window-washing accident. Smacked upside the head by a squeegee dropped from the forty-ninth floor. He had a permanent dent in his scalp to prove it.

At twenty-four, death was the last thing on Tommy’s mind. He had a girlfriend and a job managing the Subway Shop on Poydras Street. As jobs went, it paid the bills. There was even a little money left at the end of the month to tuck into his savings account. Tommy had a plan. He was saving up for culinary school at Delgado Community College. After graduation, he and his girlfriend Robyn would open a restaurant of their own. They’d call it The Happy Vegan, and the menu would include things like homemade tortillas served with refried beans and farmer’s cheese, avocado and tomato salad, and sweet fried plantains. It was gonna be kickass.

And then Tommy screwed the pooch by getting himself dead. Sucked didn’t begin to describe it.

He was still flitting around his body in disbelief at the morgue, unable to comprehend the wrong turn this bitch of a day had taken, when his new boss showed up. The guy didn’t look like a zombie maker. Tall and handsome in a dark-haired, lean, and feral kind of way, he had the loose-limbed grace of a young, fit animal.

He was also way too skinny. Zombie maker dude needed to eat a sandwich. Seriously.

But it was his eyes that had caught and held Tommy’s attention. Purple eyes, the guy had honest-to-God Elizabeth Taylor purple eyes. A man and a woman were with him, a couple of sketchy characters. Dirty and ragged, with the nervous, used-up appearance of meth addicts, they hovered around him, skittish as a pair of stray dogs.

“Fresh,” the woman had said, eyeing Tommy’s body with ghoulish interest. Her teeth were rotted black stumps in the gaping hole of her mouth. Tommy was dead, and this chick gave him the willies.

“He’ll do,” Grape Eyes said, and waved his hands over Tommy’s body on the slab.

Quicker than he could say Jerusalem, Tommy had been sucked back into his body. He sat up and looked around, blinking. The examiner on the night shift had slipped out for a quick smoke. Ironically, his nicotine addiction may have saved his life. No telling what the Maker and his scary companions would have done to the poor sap.

“I have a job for you,” the Maker had said to Tommy. Seriously, Grape Eyes was a freak. He acted like talking to a dead guy was the most natural thing in the world, and maybe it was to him.

And just like that, the guy had made Tommy an offer he couldn’t refuse. The s.o.b. put a geis on Tommy—a kind of zombie maker curse that gave him total control over Tommy.

That was how, three days later, Tommy found himself here on a riverbank at the end of nowhere more than a hundred miles from his beloved New Orleans. Hannah, the sign at the outskirts of town had said this bit of backwoods Alabama was called. Tommy had never heard of it. Before now, that is; whoever said “ignorance is bliss” sure knew what they were talking about.

The good news? The Maker had put a spell on Tommy that kept him from decomposing at the regular zombie rate—which, apparently, was roughly the decomp rate of garbage in the hot Louisiana sun. The bad news? He was rotting from the inside out. No one else would probably notice it, but Tommy could smell himself, and it wasn’t pretty. He was a fastidious guy who took pride in his personal appearance. He’d rather be dead than stink. Lucky him, he got both.

On the bright side, it could be the inside of his nose he smelled. Who was he kidding? There was no bright side to being a zombie.

***

Leave a comment for a chance to win my prize pack (US only, please): a $20 gift card from Books-A-Million and a copy of my novel of your choice (choose from Demon Hunting in Dixie, So I Married a Demon Slayer (the novella), or Demon Hunting in the Deep South.  I will pick a winner randomly and announce it around 5 p.m. Central on Monday, October 1st, my birthday!  

And don't forget, every commenter is also registered for a chance to win a Kindle at the end of our Blog Blitz!




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Winner of Mary's Giveaway!

(Announced Thursday, Sept. 27) Winner is Jane! I will email you. :) Thanks everyone for participating. The rest will be put into the final drawing for the Kindle. GOOD LUCK! :)

Congratulations!


A Russian at the Southern Magic Readers Luncheon


Today I decided to introduce you my hero in Incandescent—Mikhail Petrov, a strong willed Russian. Instead of interviewing him I am going to show you what he’s like.
How?
I’m inviting him to the Southern Magic Reader’s Luncheon. If he came--it might go something like this:
I greet a tall man at the door. He's dressed in a grey Armani, his dark hair combed back. His eyes rotate color, first blue then ice grey, deep green. They never settle in to one color. I have force myself not to stare. He looks around, his lips curled into a half smile. Behind him are five men dressed in black suits--I try not to roll my eyes. It's obvious they are security.

M.V. : Hello Mr. Petrov, I am glad you could make it. 
A few volunteers hurry by, arms filled with decorations.  He’s early and we're not quite ready.
Mikhail-gives me a cool nod:  Of course.
 He strides into the room filled with tables.  He has no hesitation, it's as if he owns it. He probably does. He has extensive real estate holdings in the southeast. He heads to the largest table located front and center.
M.V.:  Please, that is the Keynote Speaker's table.
I hurry over and point to the one toward the back of the room.
M.V.: Just as you requested there is your table and it is overlooking the room.
Mikhail: I prefer this one.
With a snap of his fingers, three of the dark suited men begin to clear the table. I try not to hyperventilate.
M.V.: You can't do that! That is Sherrilyn Kenyon's table. She has Dark Hunters-- you don't want to meet them.
He pauses and gives me a considering look. I swallow. There is something about him that makes me want to take a step back. I managed to hold my ground, but it costs me.
Mikhail: If they come, they may sit with me. Now, did you get that bottle of Russian Standard that I requested?
I slow throb begins just behind my left eye. I have a feeling its going to get ugly.
M.V.: I am sorry, but there is no drinking at these functions. This is a sponsored...
Mikhail raises one eyebrow: Is this so? We shall see.
He reaches inside his suit jacket and pulls out an impossibly thin cellphone. It looks like an iPhone but I'm not sure--do they even make them that thin? He hits a number and begins to speak in Russian. I try to stop the men from clearing Sherrilyn's table, by putting my hand on the arm of one, who shrugs me off. Nothing like being ignored.
I'm so dead.
Mikhail ends the call: So, now we will have vodka.
The table is being reset with a black table cloth, fine china, and crystal shot glasses. That's when I notice that shot glasses are being placed at every place setting in the room.
M.V.:  Wait. Mr. Petrov, I just said we can't drink! They'll shut us down.
Mikhail rolls his shoulders in a shrug and sits down in a chair brought in especially for him, a large carved wooden chair with black leather upholstered seat. Wow. He even brought his own chair.
Mikhail: What is this to me? I pay the fine. They go away. All is good.
He pulls out a thin cigar from inside his breast pocket. I hold out a hand.
M.V.: Stop! It's against the law to....
Mikhail gives me small smile as he pulls out a box of matches. My Laurie, she says this to me once. Same thing. Someone gets upset. It is easy to solve. You worry too much.
I feel a headache coming on as another of his security comes to his side carrying a bottle of Russian Standard--by the looks of it, the expensive stuff. Identical bottles are being placed at all the tables. He lights his cigar and watches me as I rub my temples.
Mikhail: Please, come. Sit. Drink with me. We will toast for good luck.
He pours me a shot glass of the clear liquid and holds it out to me. At this point, why not? The police are going to come. I'm probably going to jail. Lets make it good. I take it.
Mikhail raises his glass: за тевя (za tee-bya) To you!
I drink.
Just wait until the Dark Hunters come.....
*****
As you can see--he is *very* difficult. Mikhail references a scene in the book---where Laurie confronts him about his smoking---here is what it reads like: 
            A cool breeze floated over Laurie again as she tried to cash out. This time, it smelled of snow and wood smoke. Her skin tingled and she held back a scream of frustration. Instead, she took a deep breath, and looked up, knowing he’d be there.
         Petrov sat on a bar stool, his trench coat draped over the stool beside him. He scraped a match along the underside of the counter and the stench of sulfur touched her nose as he lit another of his slim cigars. His strange eyes focused on her, his expression unreadable.
        He blew out the cigar smoke and studied her through the blue haze, letting the silence stretch between them. Feeling about as awkward as she’d ever felt in her life and wanting to say something that would give her the upper hand, Laurie started to tell him he couldn’t smoke in here. His lips curled upward into the most wicked and knowing grin, its blatant sexuality left her speechless. For a moment, she stood poised at the edge of a precipice, wanting to leap off and return his smile with a wicked one of her own, to lean across the bar and connect with him on a level she didn’t even have words for. The feeling terrified her.
       Instead, she stepped away from the edge and sought refuge in annoyance. What the hell was this guy’s problem, anyway? She was no beauty queen.
     “Smoking is a filthy habit and I don’t appreciate you blowing it in my face.”
       He was amused. With a teasing lift of his eyebrows he carefully blew his next exhalation away from her but didn’t stub out his cigar. “I am Mikhail Sergeivich Petrov and I humbly apologize for being filthy.” His tone was flirtatious and charming.
      
       Laurie didn’t want to be charmed. “You could be fined for smoking in here.”
       “Is this so?” He shrugged. “I think you worry too much about silly things. What is a fine, after all? I pay it and it becomes nothing. The government gets a little money and I do what I want.”
As you can see--he had the same attitude when I had him come to the Luncheon.
Speaking of---if you live or are near Birmingham or Alabama for that matter--if you love SHERILYN KENYON or DIANNA LOVE, (plus oodles of other writers) be sure to check out: http://www.southernmagic.org/luncheon.html November 3, 2012 at Harbert Center downtown Birmingham. Parking is FREE. If you attend, we will be giving away books, swag and opportunities to get more!
Speaking of swag--I have a candle, chocolate and tea to give away to one lucky commentator located in the continental U.S. (My apologies--due to cost I can't ship outside of the U.S.) --PLEASE PUT YOUR EMAIL at the bottom of the comment like this:  jane at g mail dot com.  I will post the winner the Thursday morning at the bottom of this blog.
PLUS:  For EVERY comment Romance Magicians will be giving away a KINDLE FIRE to one lucky person (U.S. only---sorry again) at the end of the Blog Blitz. (Every comment counts--and imagine if you comment every day---JUST THINK---more entries!) This ends October 16.  There are PRIZES daily! :)

Author Bio: M.V. Freeman is a native of Minnesota, but calls North Alabama her home. She is a member of RWA, and the chapters: Georgia Romance Writers, Southern Magic, Heart of Dixie. By day her mind is filled with medical jargon at the local health clinic, but at night she finds herself exploring alternate worlds within our own. Heavily influenced by Slavic languages and culture, you will find she weaves these elements into her stories. She is currently working on the next book while plotting another project. When she is not writing, she's reading, cooking, throwing around kettle bells, or making coffee.    www.mvfreeman.com  my twitter @MVFree


Winner is Jane! I will email you. :) Thanks everyone for participating. The rest will be put into the final drawing for the Kindle. GOOD LUCK! :)




Winner of Jennifer's Giveaway!!

The Winner is.. 


Per Jennifer's post, "Edited 9/28 at 5:09 p.m. to add:
Bama, you win my prize pack, even though I went to Auburn! E-mail me at echolsjenn at yahoo dot com and I'll send you the gift card, the Baty book, and my novel of your choice. Thanks to everyone for participating and good luck on winning the Kindle!"

Congratulations!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Never throw anything away

Once upon a time at a Southern Magic meeting, we were going around the room, reporting on what each of us had written since the last meeting. Our lovely mild-mannered concert pianist mentioned that she had written a lot, hated it, and thrown it away.

To which I responded, "WHAT YOU THREW IT AWAY WHAT DID YOU THROW IT AWAY FOR DON'T EVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY?!?!?" I mean, I was being exactly that rude, and I felt terrible about it later. But as someone who has been around the block, I want to stop newer writers from sabotaging their careers. This lovely friend's admission elicited a visceral response from me--not because I have thrown writing away and regretted it later, but because I never throw anything away, and I became very glad of that on September 14. Here's what happened:

Back in March 2006, Diana Peterfreund asked 12 or so writer friends to contribute to what she called the Great Blog Voice Experiment. Apparently somebody had accused somebody else online of stealing a story idea (I am always the last to know about online kerfuffles, or any kerfuffles for that matter, but I think that was the genesis of the experiment). Diana's point was that there really aren't any new story ideas. It's what a writer does with the story idea that counts. To prove it, she gave us a writing prompt--"A young woman confronts her parents after learning that she has inherited telekinetic powers"--and asked us each to write a 500-word scene. Then she posted the scenes on her blog.

I don't think the blog exists anymore, but I can tell you it proved her point beautifully. Participating were some people like Diana and me who had sold books and were waiting for them to come out, some people like Marley Gibson who would sell a book in the near future, some people like Nalini Singh who had published a couple of midlist books and was about to become an OMG RUNAWAY BEST SELLER...and each of our scenes was wildly different from the others, even though the prompt was the same.

Now, I have to say that I panicked when I saw the prompt, because I'd never written paranormal or had any interest in doing so. The panic lasted about thirty seconds, a scene came into my head, I dashed it off in about 5 minutes, and I e-mailed it to Diana. Don't hate me--that sort of instant idea has come to me...oh...once. That time. But I was super happy with the scene. When it was posted to Diana's blog, people had incredibly nice things to say about it. You can read it down at the bottom of this blog post if you're curious.

And then people moved on to other things, and in September 2006 my YA romantic comedy about drum majors in a marching band came out (Major Crush), and that was that. For all the chance this 500-word snippet had of ever becoming part of my writing career, I should have deleted it from my hard drive.

But you know, your hard drive is pretty big nowadays. You could store all of Birmingham in there, honestly. There is no need to be deleting your 500-word snippets. You might want them back sometime.

And so, when my publisher had shot down lots of my ideas for the second YA romantic comedy on my contract, I went back through my files of STUFF I NEVER THROW AWAY, and I came across this scene, which still gave me warm fuzzy feelings. I added an adorable boy to it, named it Levitating Las Vegas, and loved it even more. I wrote a whole proposal around the idea and sent it in.

Unfortunately, the series I was writing for was set up something like a Harlequin series, with a bimonthly schedule. They had a slot for me, and the slot right before mine had already been filled by a book set in Vegas called Gettin' Lucky by Micol Ostow. They didn't want another Vegas book. The editor and I tried setting the book somewhere else magical like New Orleans or Key West or Savannah, but it wasn't the same. So I wrote The Boys Next Door instead, and since that's been my best-selling book to date, I guess I can't complain about how all of that turned out.

Except, complaining is really what I do. I couldn't let this idea go. And in November 2008, when I had written and turned in Going Too Far and The Ex Games but they hadn't come out yet, and I had written Forget You but my agent and editor hadn't read it, and I had no more contracts to fill and I figured I might never sell anything again, I participated for the first time in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. The goal of this program is to write 50,000 words in a month. If you've never written a novel before, there's no better way to get it done than to jump in with both feet! And if you've written plenty of novels (at that point I had written 15, I think) but you feel like this YA thing might not be working out for you, there's no better way to get out of that rut than to write so fast that your internal editor can't keep up.

At the end of November, what I had was 50,000 words of a novel that wasn't YA. It was adult, but very young adult--the characters were 21--younger than the hero and heroine in most adult romances set in the present day. In other words, it was "New Adult" before anybody was calling it that. (Being ahead of the times is a sign of genius and also haplessness. Pick one.) It was a romantic comedy, old territory for me, but paranormal, so a real departure. It was also the most fun, most insane thing I had ever written, and I loved it with all my heart.

Can you say DIFFICULT TO SELL? (My brilliant literary agent, Laura Bradford, refers to it by the kinder term "odd duck.")

I knew it was going to be hard to sell. And I knew I wasn't going to throw it away. I revised it and revised it and revised it again. Laura signed me on this book in April 2010 or so. We revised it some more. And on September 14--the day before my birthday--we sold it as an e-book original to Pocket Star, a division of the publisher of all my books, Simon & Schuster. It's coming out really quickly, on February 19, a week before my first adult romantic comedy, Star Crossed. You can read the summaries of both books on the adult side of my web site here.

Happy birthday to me!

A couple of months after my unfortunate outburst, at another Southern Magic meeting, another member (who hadn't been at the first one, obvs) mentioned that she had written a lot in the past month but had thrown it away. Well, I wasn't going to say anything. And so the lovely mild-mannered concert pianist said, "WHAT? WHY DID I GET YELLED AT FOR THROWING SOMETHING AWAY AND SHE DOESN'T GET YELLED AT? DON'T THROW ANYTHING AWAY!"

And now, in meetings, when new members come in and say they threw something away, everybody just looks at me, and then they tell the new members they'd better not be doing that or Jennifer Echols is going to get them. If that is my legacy, I guess I will take it.

*****

THE THING I DIDN'T THROW AWAY

Jennifer Echols
For Diana’s blog
"A young woman confronts her parents after learning that she has inherited telekinetic powers."

            The street in front of the casino was blocked to traffic.  Pink and blue lights flashed on the faces of a crowd of tourists gazing up.  At the top of a hundred-foot pole, on a tiny platform, stood my dad.  His arms were down, head down, eyes closed, like he was concentrating with all his might.
            Poser.
            Every few seconds he swayed a little as if he were about to lose his balance, and the crowd gasped.  At the base of the pole, my mom in her stilettos, gold spangled bikini, and enormous feathers slapped her hands over her mouth and squealed, pretending to fear for his life.
            All this time, they had let me fear for his life for real!
            “He’s a fraud, you know,” I said to the guy next to me, loudly enough for my mom to hear.
            “Of course,” the guy said without looking at me, still watching my dad.  “They all are.”
            “No, I mean he hasn’t trained his body through long years of concentration.  He hasn’t even made the effort to construct an illusion.  He has telekinetic powers that keep him from falling.  He’s totally cheating!”
            The man chuckled to placate the crazy girl and make her go away.  No one was going to believe me.
            So I cupped my hands around my mouth and called up to my dad, “You have freaking superpowers!  Why aren’t you the President?”
            Zoë,” my mother scolded me through the crowd.  “You’re breaking the frame.”
            She meant I was diverting the audience’s attention from my dad, ruining the illusion.  But who cared, when there was no illusion to ruin—when the fake illusion was the real thing?
            I called, “Why do you make Mom dress up like Miss Nevada lost a wrestling match with an emu?”  I gave him a little shove with my mind, take that.
            He started back like he’d been physically pushed.  Someone screamed.
            Enormous feathers pushed their way through the crowd toward me.  I wondered how my punishment would change now that I knew about my powers, and my dad’s.  Electroshock when I tried to steal my mom’s cigarettes?  Telekinetic spankings?  A force field around my room when I was grounded?
            Before my mom could reach me, I called once more, “Why do we live in a two-bedroom house with the paint peeling in big patches so it looks like a Swiss cheese?  Why aren’t we cashing in?  Why?  I gave him a harder shove.  He tumbled backward off the platform, but at the last second—imagine!—managed to catch the edge with one hand.  Even at this distance, I could see his muscled arm trembling with the fake effort of pulling himself back onto the platform.
            My mom reached me and gripped me hard.  Her lacquered fingernails dug into my arm.  I prepared to be defiant in the face of her fury.  But she wasn’t furious.  She was afraid.
            “He can stay up there, but not if you push him off!” she whispered.  “Women’s powers are much stronger than men’s.”
            Dad let go.

*****


Leave a comment for a chance to win my prize pack (US only, please): a $25 gift card from Books-A-Million, which is based here in Birmingham; a copy of my novel of your choice (choose from The Boys Next Door/Endless Summer, Going Too Far, The Ex Games, Forget You, Love Story, The One That I Want, and Such a Rush); and a copy of No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, which will get you ready for NaNoWriMo! I will pick a winner randomly and announce it around 5 p.m. Central on Friday, September 28.

And don't forget, every commenter is also registered for a chance to win a Kindle at the end of our Blog Blitz!

Edited 9/28 at 5:09 p.m. to add:
Bama, you win my prize pack, even though I went to Auburn! E-mail me at echolsjenn at yahoo dot com and I'll send you the gift card, the Baty book, and my novel of your choice. Thanks to everyone for participating and good luck on winning the Kindle!

Hold on! THE Jennifer Echols Will Be Here Soon!

Don't worry, Jennifer is coming. So be sure to come back this afternoon to check out her post!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Winner of Carla's Giveaway!

The winners are:

For the $10 Amazon Gift Card, "Na"

For the luncheon tickets (if you can attend), Michel Reinhard!
And a thank you goes out to Stephanie Taylor owner/publisher of Astraea Press.
www.astraeapress.com.
She donated the tickets!

Contact me at carla @carlaswafford.com

Congratulations!

Hot Mama!


I love reading hot books. And if you read my books, you know that I love writing them too. If you do read mine, have you noticed that each of my fellows have a . . . ahem . . . sexual quirk? Yep. They need a certain something to happen to reach their pinnacle of pleasure. (No. I don’t normally write so flowery, but this blog is rated PG-13.) So now you have something else to look forward to in my third book of The Circle series.

Of course, in CIRCLE OF DECEPTION there’s more to it than just sex. I swear. My readers will finally learn all of the details of what happened when Rex and Abby (A.J.) thought each other were dead for several years. Here’s the new blurb for DECEPTION.

No one ever said returning from the dead was easy.

And for Circle operative Abby Rodriguez, it’s downright tough. After disappearing days before her wedding to fellow Circle agent Rex Drago, Abby’s discovered that trying to reclaim a life—and a love—lost is a whole lot harder than she thought. When her family’s safety is threatened by an arms dealer, Abby must go undercover with the one man who sees right through her and play the scariest role yet: husband and wife.

Mission or no mission, Rex Drago wants answers from his ex-fiancé. Forced to play along as a rival arms dealer and the husband he once wanted to be, Rex is finding it tough to stay professional—especially when Abby is just as hot as ever. And when they find themselves in a very intimate position, Abby and Rex must act the part—or risk blowing their cover entirely. 

And here’s a little excerpt.  (Chapter One)

The naked man swayed back and forth, his ankles bound by duct tape and rope to a massive hook suspended from the ceiling. A bare light bulb at the end of a long wire swung in the opposite direction, casting drunken shadows across every inch of his sweat-coated skin.
Abby Rodriguez’s gaze followed the movement of Rex Drago’s body as if watching a tennis match in slow motion.
             “Enjoying the view?”  His bored and resigned tone barely hid his sarcasm. Even upside down, his eyes taunted her. 
“Yeah. Actually, I am.” She sat cross-legged a few feet away on the warehouse floor, her favorite Sig in one hand resting on her knee. “You’ve been working on your abs. Got them looking good. Almost an eight pack. Maybe you could get a job modeling for romance novels.” With his big arms tied behind his back, she admired how the muscles expanded each time he struggled with the tape. A sparse swirl of hair rested between his pecs and trailed to a thin line across his abs toward his groin.
“Funny. Real funny.” He cleared his throat. “Get me down.”
“Having a problem with your sinuses? I guess hanging like that,” she waved in his direction, “bottom up, could cause a problem. Kind of chilly in here too.”
“Where’s Jack and Nic?” His coal black hair cut high and tight, almost brushed the floor with each pass. She missed his long hair but the military style gave him a more deadly look. Heaven and Hell knew he already intimidated enough people with his six foot five height.
            “Nic is monitoring the silent alarm, making sure it’s off and no back up wired in. Jack’s somewhere nearby, probably taking out the guard we spotted in the back that Savalas left behind.”
Tilting her head, she looked a little harder at the tattoos running across his biceps on each arm.  She never remembered seeing them on him before. Motivated less from curiosity than her attempt to avoid staring at what dangled from his groin. Oh, yeah, that appendage had always been worth admiring, but the man already had an ego the size of . . . well, of his c*ck, and he needed no one stroking—for goodness sakes, her mind refused to stay on the problem at hand. Hand? Her gaze darted to his gorgeous penis and then away.
            She sighed. Every time she worked with Rex, her libido revved up at the most inappropriate times. The man oozed sex appeal. With cheekbones to die for and eyes of a clear gray ringed by darker gray, his looks were saved from being too perfect by the scar that ran across his nose and near the corner of his lip to a point on his left cheek. Then again, the scar only added to his aura of danger.
            He growled. “Are you planning on cutting me down anytime soon?”
            She grinned big, knowing how much he hated depending on anyone’s help. “Well—“
            “Abby, d*mmit! Quit playing around.” His body began swinging harder as he fought the ties.
            “Is that any way to talk to a friend?”
            “Some freaking friend,” he muttered.
            “What did you say?” She looked a little harder at one of the tattoos. Tiny writing around a delicate Valentine heart appeared to move as he flexed his bicep. Was it for a current girlfriend? Weird, he’d never been into visual displays of love. Even when he asked her to marry him years ago, it had been during a private moment and more of a statement than a proposal. Things changed. People changed.
Gunfire echoed through the large warehouse. What trouble had Jack stumbled across? Time for her to quit teasing the big baby swinging frantically in front of her and let him go.
            “I said if I ever get down from here, I’ll spank that sweet ass of yours red.”
            “Ha! That’s no way to talk to the person who‘s saving you.” She almost flinched when his glare turned to ice. Those beautiful eyes use to be filled with love when he looked at her, but no longer. Years ago, she’d made sure of that.
            The jingle of a gun-strap caught her attention. In a smooth move, she twisted, aiming her gun at the person behind her.
“What the f*ck!” Jack Drago, Rex’s brother, jumped out of her Sig’s sight, clutching a M4 rifle across his torso. “Quit being a pain in the ass and cut him down. Savalas has more men coming and we don’t have time for you two to reminisce.” He glanced over his shoulder, checking the perimeter.
            “I didn’t need help, especially hers.” Rex continued to glower at Abby.
            She wanted to laugh, but at the same time, the thought of Rex being killed scared her more than she wanted to admit. No way would she ever let him know that. She’d broken his heart once and he’d done the same to hers. She planned to never let it happen again.
            “Fine then! I’ll put you out of your misery.” She raised her gun and pointed it at Rex.
            “Wait! Hold on! Abby, d*mmit!” He twisted and struggled with the binding around his wrists, causing his body to flop around like a hooked trophy fish.
            The shot reverberated in the large warehouse and cut off Rex’s shouting as he fell to the floor. She’d always been an excellent shot and the little bit of duct tape and rope never had a chance.
            “For Pete’s sake, what the hell’s going on here? Rex?” Nic ran to the big guy moaning on the floor. Her ball cap flying off, releasing a short ebony braid. “Oh, mygosh, oh, my gosh! Did she shoot you? Tell me where you’re bleeding.”
             “Abby, d*mmit! You could make a preacher cuss. What if he’d cracked open his skull? We don’t need to be slowed down dragging his big ass out of here.” Jack nudged Abby to the side and stood over his brother while Nic cut the rest of the rope and tape off his wrists and ankles.
            “My last name is Rodriguez,” Abby said, arms folded over her chest. The Sig secured in her shoulder holster. Frustration stiffened her back and lifted her chin. She refused to let the men browbeat her.
            “What?” Jack squinted at her in confusion.
            “You and Rex obviously think my last name is ‘d*mmit.’” She concentrated on staring back at Jack while Nic rattled on about Rex’s cuts and bruises. She hated seeing the other woman fussing over him. For some inane reason she wanted to be the one to do it.
Rex stood, drawing her reluctant attention as he rubbed the marks left behind. He towered over Nic. Abby wanted to push her out of the way and run her hands over his hard body, checking for broken bones, making sure he was okay.
“You’re crazy,” he said, glaring at her. That snapped her out of the mushy feelings.
            One eyebrow lifted, she said, “Yes, I am. And don’t you forget it.”  With a flip of her hair, she sauntered off.
**
As you can tell, I enjoy a good reunion story. So tell me the type of reunion stories you enjoy reading. And if you have a favorite book with a reunion story, let me know.

Today, we have two giveaways. For those who live in Birmingham (USA) or nearby and are wanting to come to our luncheon, we have two tickets to give away. So you and a buddy can attend on November 3, Saturday, our Romance Readers Luncheon with Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love. How exciting is that?  That’s a $60 value. Everyone who attends receives a bag full of books and swag.  Click to find out more about it.

The second giveaway is opened to everyone (including international): a $10 Amazon gift card.  

Don't forget for every comment Romance Magicians will be giving away a KINDLE FIRE to one lucky person (U.S. only - sorry) at the end of the Blog Blitz.

By the way, I have another giveaway that ends December 26. If you sign up for my newsletter at www.carlaswafford.com you could possibly win, for U.S. residences, a KINDLE PAPERWHITE and for International residences a $100 Amazon Gift Card. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Winner of Louisa's Giveaway!!

Marybelle is the winner of a $15 Amazon Gift Card!! Please send your email address to Louisa (Louisa @louisacornell.com) and she'll send it to you!

Congratulations!

[Actually announced on 9/23/12 12:24 PM]

Friday, September 21, 2012

A few of my favorite things



The role of Maria in The Sound of Music was one of my first big time performances as a singer. It is still one of my favorite musicals. Even after I moved on to singing opera professionally I went out of my way to perform in this musical. It's one of my favorite things.

Oklahoma, another musical in which I performed, was one of my LEAST favorite things for a very long time. In fact, if I never heard 'Oh, what a beautiful morning!' ever again I was perfectly content. Lets just say when the guy who sings the role of Curly cannot carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it it makes for a miserable three week run. Then someone sent me a DVD of this guy in the role.







He's one of my favorite things too. 

 

 






We all have favorite things and one of my very favorite things is BOOKS !! Books are my crack. (So is chocolate, but that's another blog entirely.) I love 'em! I love to read them. I love to see them on the shelves all over my house. I love new ones. I love ones I've owned for years and years. I love books about Regency England, especially if they were published during the Regency era. 

Sometimes my favorites change depending on where I am in my life, what sort of day or week or month I'm having. Sometimes I read a book and think "meh." Then I read it again months or years later and think "Wow! This is a really great book!" Does that ever happen to you? Of course I once read a romance novel by a new, but very celebrated author, in which I hated the heroine and the hero through most of the book, eventually grew to like the hero and at the end screamed "Run, dude! You can do better than her!" Anyone else ever do that? Hello? Bueller? Bueller?

I have a list of books I read when I want to laugh. I have another list of books I read when I want to cry. I have a list of books that are my favorites no matter what.

My five favorite books of all time are :

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

My five favorite romance novels are :

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Dangerous to Love by Rexanne Bechnel

Now when you move on to contemporary romance or paranormal romance I also have lists for those. 

How about you? What are your five favorite books of all time? What are your five favorite romance novels? Do your lists change according to your mood or what you want to feel? And out of curiosity do you like musicals and which is your favorite? Do you like opera? Do you have a favorite opera? 

Answer any or all of the questions in a comment and one commenter will be chosen (excluding Southern Magic members) to win a $15.00 Amazon gift card to buy a favorite thing or things! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Winner of Susan's Giveaway!!

Twimom227 is the winner of a copy of The Nurse He Shouldn't Notice!! Please send Susan your mailing address to susan.carlisle @ymail.com asap!
Congratulations!

Favorite Lines


By Susan Carlisle
 
                                       “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn.”

                “Make my day.”
                                                “It was the best of times and the worst of times…”

                                 “In the beginning…”
                                                                        “They lived happily ever after.”
            “To be or not to be, that is the question.
                 
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  
                                                                               “Where’s the beef?”

Okay, the last one tells my age. We all use lines that have been written by others in our everyday speech. They stick like cooked spaghetti to the halls of our life. The lines are so familiar that we all know exactly what they mean. That got me to thinking about how cool it would be to have a line from one of my books become so well-known people knew right off what it meant.
I started really thinking about this after Jessie, a friend of my daughter’s went on and on about a line from my book Heart Surgeon, Hero…Husband? This is the line:
She joined him in the special dance of life, as they found a rhythm that was theirs alone.
Jessie made a big deal out of the phrase the ‘dance of life.’ At a party with about thirty people in attendance, in less than an hour, Jessie had everyone talking about the ‘dance of life.’ They all had to know about her favorite line and give their opinion. 
                 Instead of fighting the kidding, I embraced this idea of a favorite line and asked Jessie to give me a favorite one from my second book The Nurse He Shouldn’t Notice. I’m still waiting to hear what it is because it was just release in August. I’ve even created a space in my newsletter titled Jessie’s Favorite Line and you can find her favorite lines posted on my blog www.susanCarlisle.com
                I’ll hostess a table at the Southern Magic Readers Luncheon on November 3, 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama http://www.southernmagic.org/luncheon.html and I would love to have you join me. We could share our favorite lines.
               What have been some of your favorite lines from books, movies, TV? Do you find yourself using them in your everyday life? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Heart Surgeon, Hero…Husband? and be able to read Jessie’s favorite line in context.