Monday, July 31, 2006
The truly happy thing is that this town has become such a home to me that I feel like I could return at any time and settle back into life here. I wish I could thank all the people who've made this experience such an awesome one. This includes all of you out there, who kept me from feeling isolated as a writer. So a great big thank you to all my friends, near and far, those I've met and those who are only names. You are, each and every one of you, absolutely wonderful.
I'm going to leave you all with a fact and a question.
Fact: Nalini was in a helicopter yesterday.
Question: How in the world did Nalini end up in a helicopter on her last Sunday in Japan?
Speculate away. And I'll be back in a couple of days time to tell you who got the closest.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
That philosophical piece of writing comes to you courtesy of all the carbs in my system. I just returned from a pancake breakfast that streeeetched past lunch. All the food was golden brown - muffins, pancakes, corn bread and even the peach sauce, and the company brilliant. A great way to spend my last Saturday in Japan.
What're you up to? Any philosophical thoughts?
Friday, July 28, 2006
And just generally, what makes a book good for you? Is it the characters, the plot, the humor? For me, I think it'd have to be the characters. You can have a great plot but if the characters don't grab me, I probably won't pick up the next book (if it's a series).
Only one book I recently read broke that rule and still grabbed me by the throat - The Da Vinci Code. For me that was a very plot-heavy book, with less emphasis on the characterization. But it worked. However, it was very much an exception to the rule. I'm more likely to remember people, not plots. For example, I love Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series because of the very well defined characters - from Nathaniel (whose character arc is getting mucho interesting) to Jason to Edward. (I haven't read Danse Macabre yet so no spoilers please!)
Because I tend to concentrate on the characters, it makes me crazy if they act out of character just to advance the plot. Right now, I'm halfway through a Desire novel and I'm loving the bad-boy hero. I'm hoping like mad he doesn't magically transform into perfect huband material in the second half cause that would take all the fun out of it.
So, what hooks you into a book/author? And what drives you crazy (open-ended question *g*)?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Done so far
1. Fridge & Freezer - yay!
3. Kitchen cupboards
4. Living room
5. Bedroom cupboards
Which leaves not that much to do but it's just taking time to get all the little things done. Wish me luck!
p.s. Tomorrow's post will be late because of the furniture shifting. (And I'm going to lose my air con too.) Eek!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
2. Learn Stuff
3. Win Stuff
4. Catch up on things you put aside because you were reading too many blogs
5. Begin a savings fund for next year's conference
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
First - Rosario did a great review for Awaken to Pleasure. :-)
Second, Harlequin Japan just forwarded me the results of a reader poll for books published in the first half of 2006, and guess what's #3 on the list for Best Book? Craving Beauty! But wait, I have to tell you who #1 & 2 & 4 are so you'll truly get my excitement.
1. Diana Palmer
2. Beverly Barton
3. Me! Me!
4. Sharon Sala
I cannot believe the company I'm in. So a big shout out to my Japanese readers - you guys rock!
Okay, enough of the manic excitement. Today let's talk about procrastination. I love writing too much to procrastinate overly about it. But what I do procrastinate about is the business-side of things. Getting correspondence written & answered, things like that. As a result, the first thing I'm going to do when I become a bazillionairre is hire a personal assistant.
What do you procrastinate about? And on a tangent - what would you get/who would you hire if you became a bazillionairre?
Monday, July 24, 2006
I barely used my cell in NZ but man did I ever grow attached to my keitai here. I feel like I'm cut off. In the wilderness. I'm sure it'll pass (she says hopefully). Now I just have to find a new place to hang all my cool, sparkly keitai dangly things.
So, do you have a cell? And are you unnaturally attached to it?
Paperback Writer did a really interesting blog post on Wickham/Darcy and Pride and Prejudice - check it out if you're a fan. She talks about the possible secret that could've motivated Wickham's actions.
Cute Overload is a site that everyone should visit. I dare you to not start grinning as you go down the page.
And oh look what I accidentally found 'cough', a 4.5 star review for Slave to Sensation from Romance Junkies!!
Lucas has a sensuality that will curl your toes and speed up your heartbeat. Sascha is a courageous heroine that you just know has an inner passion waiting to be let out and when it does, watch out. Together this couple is dynamite and you don’t want to be anywhere near when the explosion goes off.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
I also like Tawny's tagline - Red Hot Fiction With Sassitude. Anybody want to come up with a cool tagline for me? Just generall, do you think taglines work??
Here's the blurb:
City girl Abby Clumm wouldn't normally travel to remote cabins in Alaska alone. But with the expectation that her friend will be arriving shortly, she makes the journey to their rented cabin solo. Unfortunately, things don’t go as she plans--no real surprise there, when do they?--and her first night she finds herself alone in the boonies, a shotgun she doesn’t know how to use and a failing wooden door the only things standing between her and some kind of very hungry animal outside. She’s now caught in a battle for survival.
Research scientist Tarik Evert has no idea what’s wrong. He’s suddenly driven by a need so urgent it’s painful. The scent of a woman nearby beckons him, sends him staggering outside into the cold. And then somehow he’s at her door, not sure what just happened...or what is about to happen if she lets him inside.
He only knows one thing--the hunger that brought him to her in the first place.
So, have you seen any nice covers lately?
Friday, July 21, 2006
I'm not going to Atlanta. Who else isn't going? Things tend to die in the blogsphere over the RWA conference, so in the efforts of keeping this blog going, I reckon we should throw a party. A big, giant party that'll make everyone else jealous. I've got a pink sombrero and a pina colada. What've you got?
If you're looking to develop your writing muscles, check out Scrambled Sage on Toast, which has just been launched and offers writing tips and exercises.
Okay, back to the all-important question of facial hair. Do you want it on your heroes or not?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
While this is not something I usually spend much time thinking over, an author on one of my email groups actually threw this question out there - how long is too long? And I thought it'd be interesting to discuss. To begin with, here's my basic sig line:
SLAVE TO SENSATION - Sep 06
Sometimes, I put Berkley Sensation in there, or very occasionally I'll add the blog if I think we're discussing something others might be interested in. But my limit is four lines. Three is better but four will do. Anything else and my eyes glaze over.
I totally understand the urge to put everything and the kitchen sink in there, I do. And if you're doing it for yourself, as a motivational thing - a sort of "ha, I did it!" - then go for it. I see nothing wrong with a really long sig line. Enjoy your success. Wallow in it. I certainly did some wallowing yesterday.
But if you're using that sig line as a promotional tool - ie. if you're giving people notice about your upcoming books, then prune, prune, prune. Personally, I think if you go much over four lines, people don't even notice the sig line. It becomes a meaningless block of text.
So my answer to the question would be that five lines is too long. I might of course be completely wrong, which is why I'm writing this blog. I'm interested in others' take on this too - as readers and as writers, how long do you think is too long?
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I just sold two more paranormals to Berkley Sensation!! The first is currently titled Caressed by Ice and is part of the same series as Slave to Sensation. Wheeeee!!!
p.s. None of my Yahoo Groups are letting me post, even from the website, so I'm not ignoring all you guys, I just can't get through!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
This morning it took me 3 hours to respond to all the emails that had come in during my hermitage, including the ones from my web designer Gabrielle. You guys are going to love the new site! And if you don't - lie. Just kidding. ;) It should be up sometime in the next couple of weeks so look out!
I've been meaning to put up the link to Teach Me Tonight, which discusses romance novels from a literary perspective, for ages. (Brenda Coulter's post at RTB reminded me to do it).
What else? Oh yeah, I might have something to tell you this week. And that's all I'm going to say...(cue evil laughter).
Think the grocery store is a great place to meet men?
Hunky interstellar fugitive, aisle 5.
With outrageously false accusations piling up against her famous political family and an ex-fiancé in hot water determined to take her down with him, the last thing Jana Jasper needs is more trouble--especially man trouble. But when she heads to the grocery store for an ice cream fix, not only does the muscled hunk in the frozen foods section ranting about spaceships and invasions look crazy, he looks... familiar.
Cavin of Far Star has never forgotten the girl he met during his weeks spent on that quaint little world, planet Earth, the girl who didn't believe he was real. And now he'll risk his future to save her. All she has to do is take him to her leader. Simple enough plan--although Jana isn't so easily convinced. Hell-bent on charming his way past her defenses, he's determined to stay one step ahead of the galaxy's most feared assassin--and may just capture his favorite Earthling's heart in the process.
ABOUT SUSAN GRANT
One of the first women in history to attend the US Air Force Academy, a former Air Force instructor pilot, and currently a 747 jumbo jet pilot for United Airlines, New York Times best-seller and RITA winner Susan Grant loves writing about what she knows -- flying, adventure, and the delicious interaction between men and women.
"...one of the best books of the year!" - Mary Janice Davidson, New York Times bestselling author
“...a cute, quirky otherworldly romance that’s totally delightful to read!” -- Tanzey Cutter
“Veers uncomfortably close to our actual plans to invade your pitiful little planet. Pull this book from the shelves immediately or I shall have it vaporized!” -- General Neppal, Supreme Commander of the Coalition fleet
Saturday, July 15, 2006
This is a very interesting article that talks about Jane Austen and how she's been appropriated as a women's/romance novelist, when in fact, she's something else entirely, though passion does play a part in her stories. (Link from Bookslut.)
Charlotte's subsequent life is a kind of decorous hell, made bearable by the fact that the alternative would have been worse. She is the stony reality at the heart of Pride and Prejudice. She tells a woman's story, but in a way that is utterly remote from feminine convention: with scant emotion, appealing to nothing other than rationality. And, like her creator, she has remarkably little to do with cosy readings of The Jane Austen Book Club and communal swoons over Mr Darcy.
Personally I agree with the statement about Charlotte - she's always struck me as a very smart-thinking woman who does the best she can in the circumstances. However Austen very clearly bases most of her stories around a love story, so she is very definitely also a romance novelist. Does that fact necessarily take away from the other themes in her story? I don't think so.
What do you think?
Friday, July 14, 2006
Getting this package yesterday made me think about the fact that pre-publication, most writers focus on just writing the book (as they should). But there are a heap of things that come after and demand your time. So in the interests of writerly solidarity, I'm going to put down some of them. These things will vary according to your publishing house, editor and whether you write category or single title fiction, but the basic steps will tend to be the same.
1. Revisions (a step that may be skipped)
2. Line/Copy Edits - The line editor (who's usually your editor) goes through the manuscript line by line and makes their changes. The copy editor checks the technical stuff (commas, grammar, repetitions etc). Your job is to go through that marked-up ms and agree/disagree to the changes, and make any last minute changes you have of your own. I once added an entire page at this stage to fix something.
3. Galleys - This is the last time you'll see your manuscript before it goes to print. You don't have the chance to make huge changes here, which is why the line edit stage is so important. Instead you focus on picking up typos, spelling mistakes, typesetting errors.
1. Bio - you have to come up with some sort of blurb about yourself. I have a lot of trouble with this, which is why my website one is split up into sections. Makes it easier.
2. Author Photo
3. Conversations about cover art or completion of a cover-art form if you write for Harlequin (very detailed).
4. Talking about the back-cover copy (single title).
5. Promotion. Even if you're allergic to promo, you will have to at least come up with a website (which I personally think is so, so important in today's world).
Those are just a few of the things that come after publication and which new authors should be thinking about when they set themselves deadlines. I love every aspect of being a writer, but without adequate planning, you could stress yourself out.
Any questions? Any additions?
Thursday, July 13, 2006
This is me at the Sapporo Snow Festival - I'm such a dedicated romance writer that I found a symbol of romance even in below freezing weather. And yes, that is me under all those layers.
But I should be careful what I ask for - in a few weeks I'll be going from summer to winter. My body's already wincing. Anyway, this ramble on weather has a point. I thought we'd do a location/weather check today. Where are you posting from and what's the weather like?
Me first: Kyushu, Japan, Hot & Humid enough to melt tar (and possibly human flesh)
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I have a question for you – do you notice food in books? Do the edibles of choice for the hero and heroine stick in your mind?
I’m asking you this because I received a very passionate letter yesterday urging me to remove all references to meat eating in my books. I have to say it left me nonplussed, because as a reader I rarely notice what the characters are eating, unless it has some bearing on the story ie. vampires drinking blood.
The only other time I recall being interested in the food was in one of Jayne Ann Krentz's contemporaries, because the hero drank green tea and ate soba noodles. I stopped, thought about it and decided it worked.
So what about you? What's the most memorable food moment you recall from a book? And if you don't remember such a moment, leave a comment about that too!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE by Michelle Rowen
(Warner Forever, July 2006)
When you're hot for a demon, you might as well kiss your halo good-bye...
Falling naked into the killer whale tank at MarineLand is always bad news, but it's a real bummer when you've just been kicked out of Heaven. Former angel Valerie Grace is determined to reverse her banishment-Earth's just no fun.
Her best friend is a slightly perverted human-turned-rat, and she's being tailed by a sexy Tempter Demon named Nathaniel, who's trying to lure her to hell with kisses that are almost worth the trip. With the talking rodent sneaking peeks down her shirt and Nathaniel getting more irresistible every minute, this ex-angel has only one hope: find the stolen Key to Heaven and go home.
Then the oddest thing happens-Nathaniel starts to show signs of loyalty and love. And soon Val is asking herself if it is such a bad thing to have the hots for a demon.
ABOUT MICHELLE ROWEN
Michelle Rowen was born in Toronto, Ontario. As a child she decided that when she grew up she would become a flight attendant, a jewel thief, or a writer. One out of three ain't bad. She is a self-confessed bibliophile, the proud owner of an evil cat named Nikita, Reality TV junkie, and has an unhealthy relationship with all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Rowen does a delightful job mixing things up with her sassy and sexy characters. She has her own unique spin on life and the afterlife and good and evil, which makes for downright fun reading. 4 stars – Romantic Times
ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE is such a fun story...Michelle Rowen has proven herself to be an ace storyteller with a truly fresh and sharp sense of humor. I'm officially a fan! -- Lani Diane Rich, RITA Award-winning author
An amusing heavenly romance with a hell of a price to pay for not reading it. -- Harriet Klausner
Monday, July 10, 2006
It's an unusual mix of the past and the future, being set in a Victorian setting where people have gained access to advanced technology through the ‘demons’ they’ve come into contact with. The Yama aren't actually demons but a very different race which inhabits this same alternate reality.
Here's the basic synopsis, taken from the Booklist review: "Inspector Adrian Philips has long felt on the outside. A human who has been "enhanced" by Yamish implants in order to police the rougher parts of town, he is feared by his coworkers and has been spurned by his former wife. After a fight leaves him wounded, he finds himself in the care of the infamous artist Roxanne McAllister. Despite social norms that say they aren't a good match, each finds in the other the sense of home they've longed for..."
Adrian is a gentler hero than I'm used to reading in this kind of book. He's strong but has this vulnerability that's very sweet. Roxanne is a great heroine, smart and capable but not hard, someone whose side I was on from the start. What I liked best is that these two don't have silly misunderstandings. They're very upfront about the things keeping them apart.
And last but not least, the sensuality is so hot I'm pretty sure I had steam coming out of my ears. *g*
I'll definitely be picking up Prince of Ice, another book set in this alternate reality, when it releases this November.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
2. Met with old friend
3. Two big boxes packed
4. Two loads of laundry done
5. 30/150 books signed for a promotion being run by Harlequin Japan where the prize is a signed copy of one of my books (color me ecstatic!)
And it's only 1pm!
No, I can't believe it either. Who is this hyperenergetic bunny? Oh yeah, I forgot to add:
6. Accidentally dowsing self and clothing in cold water when turned on shower instead of tap. Oh well, it cooled me off!
Want to share your weekend achievements?
(p.s. don't forgot to enter the giveaway before the deadline)
The mouse potato (who spends as much time on the computer as his/her 1990s counterpart did on the couch), the himbo (attractive, vacuous - and male) and the excessively emotional drama queen were among 100 new words added to the 2006 update of America's best-selling dictionary, the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.Read the full article at the NZ Herald. Learned any new words this year? I learned the meaning of the word steampunk.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Incidentally, July 4th was the one-year anniversary of this blog. And yes there's a connection between the two dates. I was going crazy, biting my nails as I waited to hear about Slave, so I decided to procrastinate by starting a blog. It was one of the best decisions I've made - I've met a whole bunch of wondeful people through blogging. So all you wondeful people, pull up a chair and pour yourself a drink. Let's party!
Friday, July 07, 2006
Has Lots of Intimate RelationsIf you haven't already read this post at PBW about eupemisms used in love scenes, check it out. I am in awe of her genius. I think I have blog jealousy.
His masculine demands reduced her to give the whole of her being to him until the wee hours of the morning.
She surrendered again and again, withholding nothing from him.
They blazed together in love's fiery furnace until dawn.
Diana Peterfreund is running the funnest contest - the twist is that you won't know what the prizes will be. As Diana says, "It may be a free copy of my book. It may be a lollipop." My blog jealousy is increasing (psst, my own blog giveaway, while not as cool as Diana's, is still open).
And if you need a laugh, have a read of this story on Jill Shalvis's blog. Makes me grin every time I think over it.
Kendra has a new blog template and it's so pretty!
If you're feeling chatting, drop by the The Knight Agency chat featuring the authors of Mysteria (MaryJanice Davidson, Susan Grant, P.C. Cast, Gena Showalter). Personal plug - these chats are always fun. Unfortunately I won't be able to make this one because I'm heading off to a goodbye party.
Talking of parties, you should see how my diary is filling up over the next few weeks. It's quite a shock for the hermit in me. Kind of sad too, to know that these events might be the last time I see some of my friends in Japan. I'm hoping to stay in contact with people but from having moved around since childhood, I know life happens, addresses change, people put off travel and before you know it, you've lost contact. The internet makes things so much easier these days but still, it's hard to maintain friendships over distance.
Have you moved away from friends? What did you do to keep the bond alive?
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Today I wanted to share some early reviews for Slave to Sensation cause I can't help myself.
SLAVE TO SENSATION is a fantastic story...The plot is compelling and very character driven. The characters are very realistically portrayed and remain true to themselves. The danger is there and very real. And I have to admit, I cried when I finished this story. Something which doesn’t happen very often and the highest accolade a book can receive. I just hope the author comes out with more books set in this very fascinating world!
Is it bad to admit that the fact I made someone cry makes me happy - a deep emotional reaction from a reader is what every author dreams of eliciting.
As I love Anne McCaffrey's work, this review delighted me.
With the feel of some of Anne McCaffrey's work, this is an intriguing mystery and coming of age story as well as a romance. Sascha's coming to life unfolds beautifully in this strange, yet familiar world.Huntress Reviews
Yes I have even more advance reviews including one that talks about Lucas's sensuality 'curling your toes' *g*, but that hasn't been posted yet so I'll hold onto it for now. I feel all cheerful now after reading those reviews over. What makes you feel cheerful? Spread the joy!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Last night I was going through my books and boxing them up for a friend who’s salivating at the idea of inheriting my library. (For those of you new to this blog, I’m in the middle of preparing to move from Japan to New Zealand.) During the process, I, of course, got distracted by fun titles and shiny covers, but I also discovered something very interesting.
I have quite a few category novels that I picked up during the Romance Writers of America NY conference (which I attended just before I arrived in Japan). I’ve read several of them but pretty much every single unread one involves a secret baby plot. I hadn’t realized how much that device does not work for me until I saw that pile of books.
I’m a big believer in honesty in romances and for me, the secret baby is one lie that crosses the line in the wrong direction. I want a really, really, really good reason for the secret being kept, and in most cases, I don’t accept the rationalizations offered by the heroines. The other thing that makes me leery of this is that I see in the secret the evidence of a huge communication problem between the two protagonists. And if that kind of problem can occur once, what’s to stop it being repeated later on down the road on a different issue?
Am I being too tough? Maybe. There are authors who have probably done this very well and I just haven’t been exposed to them because the idea turns me off. However, the prevalence of that plot device in category novels tells me that it works for a lot of people. If it does for you, want to convince me of the error of my ways? Perhaps I’ll just have to write a secret baby book of my own to work it out. Then again, I’d probably have the heroine keep the secret for about two seconds before blurting it out. (Have a read of the first line of Secrets in the Marriage Bed if you don’t believe me).
So are there any particular romance plots or themes that don't work for you? Which ones do?
And just because I feel like it, I’ll draw a random name from all comments on this topic that come in before midnight Fri PST (extended to midnight Sun PST) to win either a copy of something from my backlist (subject to availability), or a pdf ARC of Slave to Sensation (winner’s choice).
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
WHAT, NO ROSES? by Marianne Mancusi
(Love Spell, July 4, 2006)
And you thought your Valentine's Day was bad?
AND ALL THAT JAZZ
Unless Dora Duncan can stop it, it's going to be another St. Valentine's Day Massacre. A year ago, her (now ex) boyfriend Nick stood her up at the worst possible moment. That was when she gave up important TV reporting for stories like "Too Stressed for Sex." And though such clips have a certain relevance, things have been a whole lot quieter. Too quiet. Until now.
Now she's gotta go back in time (don't ask!) and stop that very same Nick from messing up the time-space continuum. She has to travel back to a place where everybody speaks easy and cuts a rug-and this Chicago ain't no musical. Here, there are tommy guns and torpedoes, guys and dolls, gin joints, flappers, stoolies, rats and a whole lot more; and prohibition means anything but no.
It's the 1920s. Time for Dora to roar.
ABOUT MARIANNE MANCUSI
When not out exposing scams and righting wrongs, Emmy award–winning TV news producer Marianne Mancusi is probably writing.
Her first chick lit novel, "A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court" was called "a sparkling debut" by Publisher's Weekly. And Romantic Times magazine awarded four Stars to her upcoming 1920s time travel "What, No Roses?", pronouncing it "fast, funny and as bubbly as bathtub champagne."
In addition, Marianne has six other adult and teen books under contract, including a teen comedy vampire series from Berkley called "Boys that Bite."
She lives in Boston's historic North End.
Mancusi’s witty, tongue-in-cheek remarks and sprightly dialogue make for a joy ride of a read with an ending that’s as surprising as it is original. 4 stars – Romantic Times
Ms. Mancusi’s sense of comedic and dramatic timing is dead on... She masterfully blends a time in our history with an idea from her incredible imagination. – Once Upon a Romance
Monday, July 03, 2006
A year or so ago, I began doing the same thing for my writing, inspired by fellow Desirable Emilie Rose. If you're not already doing this, try it. It's a wonderful motivational and inspirational lift to see where you've been, the things you've accomplished, especially when you have days where you feel like you're standing still.
Do you scrapbook? If not, how do you save your memories?
Saturday, July 01, 2006
What's up with you guys?