Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ready For Fall

I hope you enjoyed a fabulous Labor Day weekend. For me, that means fall is (un)officially here, and I couldn't be happier. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my lazy and sometimes crazy summer days to the fullest. But fall has always been my favorite season.

I love when the air turns brisk (we get 4 distinct seasons here), and I have to dig out my favorite jacket. When the leaves turn colors, it's absolutely gorgeous. It also means celebrating my favorite holiday with Halloween costume planning and pumpkin carving parties. Let's not forget sending the kids back to school because by this point, we're ALL ready to get back into a routine.

Of course, that first means tackling the mountain of laundry that never seems to get caught up in the summer months. I also spend a lot more time baking, which is also helpful when I need to brainstorm.
Tinkering in the kitchen is one of my hobbies, born out of necessity and a genuine enjoyment for throwing ingredients together. The return of cooler weather means hot drinks (stove top cocoa anyone?), homemade soups that simmer all afternoon, and baked goods that make the house smell divine--pumpkin pie, muffins and chocolate peanut butter cups are all family favorites.

I'm not sure what it is, but the autumn months kick my productivity into high gear. I pull out recipes, craft projects, home projects, and ramp up my writing. Motivation isn't a problem, but extra hours in the day would be welcome. *grins*

Here's to a lovely and productive fall for all of us! I'd love to know, what's your favorite thing about fall?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Time Flies

I can't believe I haven't posted for so long. As they say, time flies when you're having fun. Or busy working, whichever the case may be. I wanted to jump in and update everyone on what I'm doing, and upcoming giveaways.

I've been working hard on a gargoyle YA I'm so excited about. I don't have a title yet, but I'm toying with the idea of doing a title contest and giveaway. I hope you love Dev as much as I do. I have a number of projects in the works, and shortly after my gargoyle YA releases, I'll be finishing a YA ghost story. I tried writing it as a straight paranormal romance, but it needed a YA twist before it really started to flow. What's better than a haunted mansion with a tragic love story, one begging to be rewritten? TIME WILL TELL will be out in October--perfect for some Halloween fun. And goodies! I'll be doing fun giveaways in honor of my favorite holiday, so stay tuned...

Ghosts and gargoyles, what could be better? I'll also be doing something fun with a great group of paranormal writers. We have all sorts of treats and mischief planned for you. *rubs hands with glee*

I've managed to sneak in some reading time, too. I'm currently in love with Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it!  What great books have you read this summer? Next on my list is Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night. It's a fabulous series with witches, vampires, and delicious heaps of history. It satisfies the paranormal/history/romance lover all in one book.

I hope you're all enjoying a lovely summer! Stay tuned, stay cool and keep reading.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Conference Recap

I'm still recovering from a great weekend in Scottsdale. And by recovering, I mean letting my brain recharge. What a gorgeous place! The sunshine and warm temps lifted my mood (especially since I left gray, gloomy weather and returned to gray, gloomy weather).

So, the highlights of the conference...

I presented a workshop with one of my favorite people in the whole world, Amber Scott. We co-authored MUSE FOOD, and our workshop was all about keeping your muse happy and well-fed. We handed out muse "snacks", and one of the participants created the cutest Play-doh bunny while we spoke.

Do you like our aprons?

I also made new writing friends, which is always a treat. No one understands crazy...er...I mean writing, like another writer. And these women all balance their writing careers, motherhood, and a million other things successfully. Chatting with them was inspiring, uplifting, hilarious and fun.

One of my favorite things about conferences is that you can literally bump into your favorite author or dream agent. I had the chance to have breakfast with a funny editor I'd love to work with down the road. *fingers crossed* She also recommended a few books, and hey, anyone who enables my reading habit is a friend for life.

I also got to chat a little with Brenda Novak. Talk about gracious! I met her before at the Emerald City Writer's Conference two years ago, and was struck by her awesome personality then. She takes the time to talk to her fans and is such a sweetheart (not to mention a talented writer). She's on my auto-buy list forever.

Last but not least, I've got a hundred ideas floating around in my brain. It'll take me a while to sort them out and put pen to paper, but it's like a creative rebirth. I'm heading in a new (not different, just new) direction, and I can't wait to see where it leads.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy International Children's Book Day!

Thanks to the power of Twitter, I learned today is International Children's Book Day. I'm marking the calendar and plan to make this an annual event in our house. I love children's books. I spent most of my weekend reading a stack I borrowed from the elementary/middle school library I volunteer at, including:

INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher (an upper MG steam punk/fantasy)
LILY'S GHOSTS by Laura Ruby (a MG ghost story with a touch of humor)
DEEP, DARK AND DANGEROUS by Mary Downing Hahn (a well-written, delightfully unnerving ghost story)

The cold I'm fighting was added incentive, but I planned to plow through a stack of books for spring break anyway.

Lifelong readers can all tell you about their most memorable childhood books--mine range from solving mysteries with Nancy Drew to smiling with the lyrical Dr. Seuss to learning life lessons with the beautifully written and illustrated Serendipity Books by Stephen Cosgrove & Robin James. Many of us are still reading children's books today. Maybe it's because we never tire of the adventures. Or maybe we want to always stay in touch with our inner child and ability to play. It's mostly sure because we love a well-told story.

The magic of books is that it can be all of those things and more. I hope you all celebrate your love of reading and this special day. Read a children's book, new or old. Read to a child. Visit a library. Pick up a popular book (Hunger Games anyone?) or try one with a beautiful cover. Grab a picture book, middle grade or young adult. Better yet, ask a child for a recommendation. The kids I work with at the library always have great suggestions (and even better imaginations).

I'm starting MAGYK by Angie Sage today. What are you going to be reading?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Teaser Trailer

I have a minute of awesomeness to share with you. The lovely, talented, super amazing Rachel Firasek has agreed to do a book trailer for the Set in Stone series. Everybody happy dance with me! While I anxiously await my new covers (hooray!), she surprised me with this teaser trailer:


Have I mentioned she's amazing? Oh, and she's also a writer. Her phoenix series is a must read. A word of caution--your e-reader will definitely start smoking because her books are steamy hot. *winks* Learn more about Rachel and her books here.

Life has been crazy for me lately, and I apologize for my infrequent posts. My lovely mother-in-law lost a long, valiant battle with cancer, and I've been spending much needed time with family. It's amazing how life's transitions cause you to re-evaluate your life and get your priorities straight. At the time, the speed bumps in life are unwelcome. Horrible even. They can also be bittersweet blessings in disguise. My mother-in-law had a creative outlet in quilting. Her talent with color was unique and surprising. She wasn't shy about using color, and the results worked beautifully time and again. I hope to find and harness that kind of talent with my writing this year, with her quilts hanging around me for inspiration.

Rachel's creative talent was one of the first things I found waiting in my in-box when I rejoined the real world. What a gift! I hope you enjoyed it, and I can hardly wait to share the series trailer soon.

I highly recommend you go and enjoy something creative today (including the trailer!) :-)


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Villain Love

I love bad boys. Not the leather-wearing, chain-smoking kind of bad guys, but rather true villains. I think they deserve a little reader love. They bring much-needed tension to a story, and they're fascinating characters. But it's more than that. They bring stories to life in a way a hunky hero or sassy heroine never could. Their nefarious deeds and unpredictable actions make for great reading, but I want to know why they do what they do.

As a writer, I want to crawl into their heads. It's not always a comfortable place to be, but everyone--and I mean everyone--has a story. It gives us an idea of what motivates them, or what made them nasty in the first place. And every character's story shapes the story you find in the pages of your favorite book, for better or worse. I feel sympathy for some of the villains in my favorite stories. I don't excuse their terrible behavior, but without it, the story wouldn't necessarily have resonated with me.

Take Stryker from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. The guy has done some heinous things. But when you read his story, you can't help but soften toward him (at least I did). Ms. Kenyon always does a masterful job balancing the good and evil in a character. Stryker chooses to go the evil route more often than not, but his intentions are validated through his story.

Or what about V'Lane from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series? I can't totally hate him, and not because he's gorgeous (in case you haven't read the series, I won't give away any spoilers).

Then you have a character like Voldemort. It's hard to drum up any sympathy for someone who orchestrated so many terrible acts of evil. Yet without him, Harry Potter would have gone nowhere. His potential may have been unrealized. Dumbledore would have died an inglorious death, and we would have never known Snape--who was almost easier to hate--was a good guy all along.

I don't believe any character, real or imagined, is 100% good or evil. Granted, we don't all have homicidal tendencies. But I call BS on the people who claim to have the best of intentions all day, every day. We're flawed. Villains are more flawed, sometimes terribly so. Those flaws are what give our heroes and heroines an opportunity to grow. Not unlike the nasty characters we encounter in our everyday lives.

Villains play an important role in fiction. They're an essential half of the all-important good vs. evil equation. They give us a reason to root for the good guy. When they're defeated, they give us hope that maybe, just maybe, we can defeat the negativity in our own lives. For that reason alone, I have to give them credit. I'll always root for the good guy, but a small part of me will do the same for the bad guy. Because hey, that's what makes for a great book. ;-)

Who's your favorite villain?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Lure of YA

It's official. I'm hooked on YA books. This is a big deal because a) my book budget is already stretched to the max, and b) I made the mistake of thinking about my brutal teenage years and believed reading about more teen angst would irritate me. May I say I've been happily proven wrong on that erroroneous assumption. As for the other, well, like any good book addict, I make it work. *grins*

I finally (yes, FINALLY) started The Hunger Games. I can't remember the last time I was sucked into a story so fast. I devoured the first book in a few hours and rushed out to get the second. I love the message Suzanne Collins is conveying, and the authenticity of her characters and world-building. Pure awesomeness.
I also recently read Fateful by Claudia Gray and Supernaturally by Kiersten White--both awesome paranormal reads with very different tones, but equally engaging. I enjoyed them for the same reason I've avoided them for so long--the teen perspective. It's so different from what I'm used to reading. The problems aren't less dramatic or painful, but teen characters approach these issues differently. Apparently I'm old enough to now appreciate the youthful ideals and melodrama in a way I couldn't when I was experiencing it as a teen. (feel free to insert an old joke here)

The best part is knowing I can share these books with my oldest daughter in a couple of years. We already read middle grade books and discuss them. Being able to talk to her about the issues YA writers present in their books is a golden opportunity to introduce difficult topics in a way I might have struggled to otherwise (thank you YA writers!) Ah, the power of books...

So here's my dilemma. I need recommendations so I can delve deeper into the world of YA. I have no idea what to try next, but I know that die hard YA fans can point me in the right direction. I'd love to know--what is the best YA book or series you've read and why?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life is like a batch of edits

Edits. Revisions. Torture. Call it what you will, but they hit every writer with a different, yet powerful emotion--terror, sorrow, anxiety... I know a number of authors in various stages of the revision process, and a big, key theme is stress. Stress to meet the deadline, stress to do the edits right, stress to change something in their beloved story. It's this last one I secretly love.

Have I mentioned I'm a glutton for punishment?

Writers are attached to their stories and characters for good reason. We've lived with them in our heads for weeks, months or years. When the book goes to print, the attachment has waned for some, and strengthened for others. And each of these books went through an arduous editing process. Cherished scenes hit the cutting room floor. Characters we adored had names changed. And *gasp* we may have even had to add more. More! To an already perfect (in our eyes) story!

Life is exactly the same way. We cut out the junk that doesn't work. Toxic people, horrible jobs, extra weight, and our jeans from 10 years ago. We might not go so far as to change our names, but we change our hairstyles, our weekly dinner meals and our cars to name a few. And we're always adding--to our social circle, closet, pantry, credit card debt...the list goes on.

So why do authors resist the editing process so much? We experience this constant revising each and every day. I can't answer for everyone, but my initial reaction is to take a deep breath and ignore that inner voice that screams at me to panic. I know my editors--lovely ladies, each and every one of them--are asking for changes that make the story better. They expect more from me, believing I can deliver it.

Life is no different!

When you're open to change, the process, while at times painful, can alter the end result in the most amazing ways. I can't promise you'll win a personality or beauty contest, but I can assure you of one thing--you'll have to revise again. And again. And again. And just when you think you'll duct tape the entire head of the next person who dares ask you about the editing process and...ahem...what I mean is, just when you think you're done, you'll realize you're not. You can always improve on some area of your life. The trick is to know when you've hit that point where you're proud to display your latest efforts for the entire world to see.

It's not about perfection. It's about knowing when to improve things, or when you're at the best you can be. Embrace the opportunities to revise the areas of your life that could use a little polish. You and I both know you can deliver that. And don't be afraid of the process. Editing can be fun, I promise.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

You Might Be A Paranormal Junkie If...

Those of us who read paranormal romances know what the rest of the world doesn't--supernatural hotties just have that charisma, that element of danger, that sexy aura that can pull us into a story faster than anything else. I recently took stock of my book shelves and noticed they were filled with as many supernatural protagonists as there are creative minds in the writing world. Am I addicted? Possibly. Are you? If you answer Yes to any of the following, you might be too...

You might be a paranormal junkie if...

  • You can't handle your husband's Chia Pet-like back hair, but drool over the sexy were in your latest urban fantasy read.
  • You keel over at the first sign of a needle, but would think nothing of offering your neck to a vampire hottie.
  • The thought of ghosts freaks you out, but if they all looked like Patrick Swayze in GHOST, you'd create your own ghost hunting group.
  • You secretly wish the cop who just gave you a speeding ticket would turn into a shifter and take you away to give you his mate mark.
  • You know who I'm talking about when I say, "Sam and Dean."
  • You go to flea markets and rub every cheap, grubby bottle hoping to nab your very own dijinn.
  • You join your local Bigfoot Research group with the hopes of catching a werewolf mid-change.  
  • You're convinced the gorgeous guy you made eye contact with at the coffee shop this morning was actually reading your mind because he's psychic and fated for you. 
  • You get into a physical altercation with your best friend because she has the nerve to think your book boyfriend belongs to her.

This is by no means a complete list. And if you answered yes to most of them, you need to know one thing--you're in good company. All I can say is thank you to the muses of the many authors who make these heroes so real to us. I'll continue to give them all the shelf space they deserve. ;)

If you have any criteria to add, I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

All About Gargoyles

Recently my poor husband was put in the awkward position of explaining gargoyles to his grandmother. She has a copy of STONE COLD SEDUCTION, and it's safe to say she's never read a book in the paranormal/urban fantasy genre. EVER. Like I said, it was awkward.

I thought I should probably come up with a short tutorial on gargoyles to clear up any confusion on the topic. This information will also come in handy if you ever have a philosophical debate about supernatural creatures.

Gargoyles are made out of stone. Yes, that means everywhere and no, it doesn't limit their movement. (If that sounds impossible, let me point out that vampires are dead and somehow they don't rot.) However, they're not stone all the time. Like shifters, they can change at will. When they're emotions run high and their control slips, you might also get a glimpse of a rock hard hottie. Just don't piss them off.

Gargoyles can fly and baby, it's all about the wingspan. From a functional standpoint, their wings have to support their weight. But let's be honest, we're not interested in functional, are we? Heck no. Size matters. The bigger the wingspan, the better the gargoyle is. At protecting. Their wings are weapons and means of transportation. They might also be erogenous zones, but you'll have to find that out for yourself. Ahem.

Gargoyles aren't all ugly. Quite the opposite. Michelangelo knew if you're going to carve a form into stone, you've got to carve perfection. Need proof? Meet Jax...

Gargoyles have feelings too. This one is important. They might be made out of stone, but their emotions are real. Maybe you have one in your garden, or you've seen one peering from the eaves of a Gothic-style building. Those guys are protection their space and do they ever get credit? Nope. Whether they look like a garden ghoul or Jax, they all deserve a little love.

Gargoyles fight for the good guys. People think they're evil, but they were created to guard against evil. Independent studies have proven the hideous faces gargoyles make repel evil spirits 5 times better than the leading...er...I mean, they can be ugly because it scares the hell out of evil.

The bottom line is that gargoyles rock (pun intended). They can be ugly or sexy, but they're all protectors. The next time you see one, you should definitely give him a hug. If you're lucky, he'll show you his wings. *winks*

So go forth and hug a gargoyle. Trust me, he'll thank you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Book Boyfriend Giveaway

It's GIVEAWAY time!
I'm participating in a blog hop and offering you a chance to win an e-book of my latest release, Stone Cold Seduction. Check out the details below:

My Book Boyfriend Giveaway Hop Hosted is by Reading Between the Wines Book Club & As the Pages Turn Giveaway. The hop will run from 12:01 AM February 1st through to 11:59 PM February 5th, 2012.

What better way to celebrate the month of LOVE then with your favorite book boyfriend? Whether you have a valentine or not, the swoon worthy heroes we find in romances can’t be matched anyway! So why not put on those naughty underwear and curl up with one of these steamy reads this year instead? Make you Valentine’s Day perfect by joining the My Book Boyfriend Giveaway Hop where fellow bloggers offer you the chance to win some of their favorite book boyfriends!

So here's the deal: To enter, leave a comment below and tell me about your book boyfriend. Which sexy hero made your pulse race long after you read the last page? Don't forget to leave your email! For me, no hero compares to Acheron, the gorgeous, tortured hero with his own book in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. *fans self* Her heroes are all well-written, but Ash is something else.

Want an extra chances to win? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and the blog and let me know in your comment (no more than 4 entries per person).
Contest is open to international entries.

 Check out these other blogs for more amazing giveaways:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Symptoms of Crazy

I've posted about being crazy before, and now that 2012 has finally arrived, I'd like to revisit the topic. It's no secret that many people think I'm crazy. That judgement used to bother me a lot, but it wasn't just the label that irritated me. It was the assumption that I was the crazy one. I think many of these people are far crazier than I could ever be. I've seen a number of alarming symptoms they all share. So here's my public service announcement for the month. You know you're crazy if...

  • You refuse to chase, waddle, run, dance or skip after your dreams. Never growing (in any direction) is plain crazy. It's important to note that everyone's dreams are different. Sometimes wildly different. If your dream is to raise alpacas or start a mushroom growing company (the legitimate kind), I say go for it. With no hint of sarcasm or disbelief. Dreams are original and wonderful. Don't let them go to waste.

  • You ignore the voices in your head. It's not crazy to hear them. It's crazy to ignore them. Mine give me the best ideas on a daily--sometimes hourly--basis. Call them your muse posse, your little buddies, or whatever. These voices can be the spark of genius if you only let them.

  • You go along with the crowd. Yeah, you might be cute, but that still makes you a sheep.


Resist the urge to be one of many, and focus on being one in a million. (Hint--that's all you baby!)

It's okay if people think you're crazy as long as you have none of the above symptoms. Do what you love and be true to yourself. You'd be crazy not to.