Friday, January 28, 2011

Celebrations, shout outs and topless Johnny Depp

I'm not in a really "bloggy" mood today, but I totally wanted to share the good news! If you'd care to take a peek at my progress bar on the right, you'll see that I completed the second draft of WRENCHING FATE!!!! W00000T!

This is a bigger deal than usual because this book has quite a history. I started it nine years ago...that's right, nine years ago. Then in 2008 when I got back into writing, I finished it, called it BLOOD PROPHECY and began querying it too soon. Needless to say, it didn't get anywhere. But I learned a lot from the experience, though not enough at the time. I revised it a kajillion times and still tried querying it until I finally realized it was so broken it would take a major overhaul to fix it. So I trunked BLOOD PROPHECY and wrote something completely different. That something different got me an agent, but I couldn't get the characters from my other project out of my head.

Finally I decided on a compromise. Seven years ago I had started a novel that began with a bang...and then I got stuck. This novel was AN IRONIC SACRIFICE and it was to be the sequel. I dug it out, intending it to be a stand-alone. I managed to finish it, but it still had too many elements of a sequel. So I resigned myself to overhauling book 1. I changed it so much that it needed a new title. And that's how WRENCHING FATE was born.

I gotta shout out my thanks to those who helped me along the way.

First to Jamie De Bree who gave a valiant attempt to read BLOOD PROPHECY. By chapter 5 she said, "I quit reading here" and thus showed me that the book was broken.

And thanks to Erica Chapman and Rissa Watkins for slogging through that awful draft and showing me what was salvageable and what had to be cut.

Finally thanks to Monique, Anahi, Millie, and Dana for reading the first draft of WRENCHING FATE and providing much encouraging feedback. And a huge hug to Danae Ayusso for hooking me up with these lovely ladies!

And now, for our viewing pleasure, here's some topless pics of Johhny Depp!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dude! I got a "Stylish Blogger" award!

I was awarded this pretty badge from the lovely Lynn Rush, which is an honor because her blog is way more stylish than mine. All I did was paste together a picture of a hot paranormal guy with a gorgeous paranormal girl...and my cat and then arranged the colors and layout to be pleasing to the eye and easily readable...or at least I hope it is.

Anyway, there are rules to this thing:

1: Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2: Share seven things about yourself.
3: Award ten recently discovered great bloggers.
4: Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.
Thanks, so much, Lynn!
Here's my 7 things:
1.) I will eat anything once.
2.) I'm a semi-professional dart player
3.) The movie A.I. makes me bawl like a little girl
4.) I hunt and fish for food, not for sport
5.) I have a fetish for long hair on men (thus all my heroes will have long hair)

6.) I collect metal lunch boxes and hats
7.)   I don't have cable and I don't really watch TV so I am oblivious to what's "in."
And I shall award: 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Define "Smut."

This was an older post of mine that I thought was a lot of fun.

From 5th grade on I was famous for reading horror, fantasy, and classics. What people around me didn't know was that by age 13, I'd also gotten a taste of historical romance novels and was hooked. It wasn't until after high school that I decided to quit reading them in secret and to "come out of the closet," so to speak. But still, I used to be a little embarrassed and offended when a friend would eye one of the romance novels I was reading and say, "Oh, you're reading one of those 'smut books' again."

I threw off the shame of reading "smut" after awhile...or so I thought. I was always adamant to argue that the romance novels I read weren't smut. "Becausethey have a plot," was my typical argument. I had cast away the shame of reading romance novels so much that I began writing my own. Never mind that it took awhile before I would flat out say "romance" when asked what I wrote, after awhile I admitted it.

Then, a couple years back, I embraced the term "smut." I was a mechanic that also did some construction work on the side and all of my coworkers were men. When they saw me working on a manuscript during break time, they'd ask what I wrote.

"Paranormal Romance," I replied with a steely gaze, daring them to laugh.

My response was always greeted with a blank stare, and maybe a tentative, "Huh? What's that?"

Finally I grew sick of their confusion and said, "Supernatural Smut." (Catchy name, huh?)

Comprehension dawned in every man's eyes. "Oh, okay." Then either we'd all get back to work or they'd go on to ask what the story was about.

It was then that I realized a few things:

1.) Many men don't know what "Romance" is as a genre, but they all know what "smut" is.

2.) "Smut" isn't really a bad thing for most people.

3.) "Smut" is a figurative term.

Did you know that THE GREAT GATSBY was once referred to as "smut" when it was banned by a few schools a few decades back? I remember very little about that book. Schools have a way of sucking the fun out of almost any piece of reading. But if it DID have anything I would remotely consider to be "smutty" I bet I would have enjoyed it more.

So what is "smut?" Is it any romance novel? Or just romance novels with sex scenes? Is it romance novels with cheesy or non-existent storylines? Is it porn without a plot?

I would love to hear how you define "smut" and why.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Paranormal Romance? An Analysis.

I'm one of those people that has to know "why" for everything. I pick things apart and dissect them further under a microscope. One of my mom's trademark scolds to me was, "Brook, stop being so f***ing analytical!" But I just can't help it. ..And one evening I started analyzing my favorite fiction genre: Paranormal Romance. It rocks! But why? I came up with a few theories, but please keep in mind that I am not a trained psychiatrist, so many of these are probably crackpot ideas. But I think they're still fun.

1.) The "My Man's Better" Fantasy.

a.) You know those catty women who like to rub in your face (especially if you're single) how good looking their man is, how much richer, etc.? Imagine firing back: "Oh yeah, bi***, MY man can fly, has superhuman strength AND is a walking wet dream!" HA!

b.) Or even better: "Supernatural Boyfriend Beats Loser Ex in Every Way." Sherrilyn Kenyon does awesome with this, in my opinion. The heroine's heart was broken by her loser ex...but sometime later in the story, loser ex and new paranormal hottie cross paths. Most of the time, he doesn't even have to touch him and loser ex is shrinking away with his tail between his legs. Good stuff!

2.) Side Effect of Women's Liberation. I may come under fire for these, but please keep in mind, they're just random musings.

a.) Only a supernatural guy can get away with "alpha/ protective" tendencies without offending a lady's strong woman sensibilities. Because he's an ancient vampire and thus old-fashioned/ because of his werewolf instincts/ etc... a gal just has to accept...and secretly love that that is just how he is.

b.) Only a supernatural guy could handle a tough supernatural woman without it hurting his masculinity. Our culture seems to imply that the stronger a woman becomes, the more she has to give up her femininity....and the world seems to hint that men don't like that. But say you were a kick ass heroine with supernatural abilities? Surely a kick ass hero with abilities of his own won't be threatened.

c.) Only a supernatural guy can protect/ take care of me. In today's world, women aren't supposed to "need" a man to take care of them. We do just fine taking care of ourselves. But...admit it: The thought of a big strong man who REALLY could take care of you and destroy bad guys in a single blow is kinda nice once in awhile. But it's really hard to picture your average corporate guy or lawyer rising to the occasion. A vampire, on the other hand...

3.) Justification for Natural Desires that Society Causes Us To Be Ashamed Of:

a.) Supernatural Sex Appeal: It is still bantered about that if a woman likes/ wants sex, then she's a whore. But if a supernatural event sends you tumbling into the man's arms, you can't be blamed, right?

b.) Supernatural Stamina/ Skills in the sack: No "one-minute-wonders" here! And he has superhuman strength to maintain some hot positions!

4.) Dealing With Prejudice:
Prejudice and bigotry is all around us. Everyone suffers from it one way or another. Fiction helps us deal with it. Whether it's vampires vs. werewolves, demons vs. angels, or katagari vs. arcadian, we can empathize.

5.) Monster Within, Monster Without.
What inspired this post was reading RAGE by Richard Bachman (Stephen King) for the second time. The 1st read is too much of a slap in the face to be able to process, kinda like the 1st time you see "Fight Club." Anyway, the story is about a kid who loses his mind, shoots his teacher and holds his classmates hostage. Throughout the story the class reveal their inner demons and come to respect each other and themselves.

So...maybe paranormal romance is a way to bring out your inner monster...and come to love it a little?

6.) Fear of Not Being Valued:
Okay, this one's a little dark, twisted, and sad. There's a paragraph in RAGE that brought me to tears, it was so close to home (pg. 116 in THE BACHMAN BOOKS, Signet, 1986):
         "...I felt really good. It was like the Christmas spirit and all that. I was thinking about getting home and having hot chocolate with whipped cream on top of it. And then this old car drove by, and whoever was driving cranked his window down and yelled, 'Hi, cu**!'"
       "........'Just like that,' she said bitterly. 'It was all wrecked. Spoiled. Like an apple you thought was good and then bit into a worm hole. "Hi, cu**.' As if that was all there was, no person, just a huh-h-h....' Her mouth pulled down in a trembling, agonized grimace. "And that's like being bright, too. They want to stuff things into your head until it's all filled up. It's a different hole, that's all. That's all."
Okay, I hoped I followed the rules in quoting that paragraph right.

So I wonder how many women besides me fear that that is all men see when they look at us, just a hole. And maybe it takes a supernatural being to see us and value us as human beings.

7.) Good Old-Fashioned Escapism:
The real world can be depressing and boring. It's fun to take a break from it!

So there's my half-baked theories on the appeal of the genre. Feel free to call me crazy. But what are yours? I love to theorize!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Martin Luther King was a true American hero with a dream: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character," he once said in his famous speech.  Every day, in many ways, his dream is closer to being realized.

How is this related to a paranormal romance blog? I believe it's related because King's dream was about ending segregation. For the longest time, there was/ still is segregation in publishing. For the longest time anything by an African American author or anything featuring African American protagonists would be segregated in book stores to the "African American" or "Multi- Cultural" section instead of the genre it belonged in. Slowly but surely, it seems we are moving away from that.

Readers everywhere are beginning to ask: "Are there any Paranormal Romances with African American characters?" Why yes, there are. And here are a few.

                                                                        L.A. Banks

                                                                           Lexi Davis
I don't know about you, but I think these covers are freakin' hot and I want to check em out. I have a dream that an author's or character's skin color will have no bearing on a novel's genre classification. I believe that we come closer to that every day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

...And the Winner is:


Congrats! And please email me your choice of books from Tina's Site And I'll forward it to the awesome author. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Interview with Trina M. Lee and bonus chance to win a free book!

Trina and I met when author Stella Price invited us to form the Paranormal Pretties blog. Since then, I have enjoyed getting to know her online and my admiration has grown since I read her work. I am so happy to finally have a chance to interview her.
 Without further ado...

 What made you stand up one day and say, “I’m going to write a romance novel.”?

I     I  never really planned to write romance. I just wanted to write what I enjoy. As a reader I love all genres and I think I draw a little on all when writing. But I am a sucker for a love story. I guess it was natural for me to write them.

 What made you decide to write paranormal romance/ urban fantasy?

I’    I've been in love with vampires and werewolves since I was a kid. I started my first vampire story at the age of 12. Urban fantasy has the best of all worlds: action, drama, horror and romance.

     From what I understand you’re predominately in the e-book market. What are some benefits and challenges you’ve encountered in this market?
      The e-book market allows authors more freedom in many ways. Authors often have several publishers to consider for their work. I find authors in the e-pub market are able to take more liberties with their stories and push certain boundaries or ideas that you may not see in mainstream markets. It can be a challenge to promote yourself effectively and get your name and books out to the readers. Like anything, it takes work. I find personally the benefits outweigh the challenges.

 What is some memorable feedback that you’ve received from your fans?

       I’ve had a few fans of Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series that have welcomed my Huntress series with open arms. They have done so much to promo my series and spread the word to other readers. It’s beyond amazing. I can’t thank them enough.

       Name one thing you’d do/ buy if you became a mega best-seller?

      That’s a tough one. I’m not sure. I’d probably start by building my dream house. Not to mention the charities I’d love to contribute to if able.

Tell us a little about your next project.

      I’m currently working on book 4 in my Huntress series as well as two other books, neither of which are currently in a series. Latest release is: Huntress Book 3, Only Vampires Cry Blood

Trina was awesome enough to do a book contest. A random commenter will get their pick of any of Trina's books featured here: New blog followers will get an extra entry. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Writing is a JOB, damn it.

What do Eloisa James, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Jeffery Deaver have in common? They all write full time. Putting out kick ass novels is their job. But once upon a time, they had to work other, less fun jobs to pay the bills. Somehow between their day jobs and family lives, they had to squeeze in their writing time, which they didn't receive any pay for and no guarantee that they ever would.

But somehow they pressed on with their writing. In cramped houses with noisy children, dirty dishes, and {insert adjective} spouses, somehow they pressed on. Part of it was likely that force that drives all writers. We have stories within us and they just HAVE to come out. But another part was because they likely treated it like another job: Show up and do it these days, these times, or you're FIRED! ...or something like that.

I live in a house that is 600 square feet. There is literally nowhere for me to go. My laptop sits on a TV dinner table in the living room, where the TV is always on because my husband is home all the time and he's one of those people that needs constant noise. Every once in awhile I get lucky and he'll go away for awhile and I'll get some work done. But most of the time I have to struggle to drown out the quacking box and I'm lucky if I get more than a thousand words in a 6 hour period. And then I have the husband complaining that "I'm ALWAYS on the computer."

I have tried and tried to get him to go away for a set period of time so I can get more work done. My efforts usually fail, but now I've realized something. It's not up to him, it's up to ME. I need to treat my writing as the JOB that it is. I need to literally go to work. So I did.

A lot of writers go to coffee shops, but I don't like coffee and I don't like crowds. Also I can't stand the smell of those places...and most of all, I like to smoke when I write. So how could I find somewhere that is like home and I could smoke while I write? I cannot believe I didn't think of it before. THE POWDER RIVER SALOON.

This place has been my home away from home since I was old enough to drink. It's like a CHEERS, everyone knows my name. My friends there helped me get through college, they helped pick up the pieces when I lost my career and then my mother, and were full of support in my pursuit of a writing career. And best of all, there's an electrical outlet right above MY barstool.

The reason I didn't think of it was because I go there usually at night to, you know, drink. But during the day, the place is mellow, attended by a few old timers affectionately known as "the coffee crew." So this morning I tried it out and whaddya know, I banged out 1k in less than two hours. I got a little jittery from the Mountain Dew, but otherwise it was great.

So, this year I plan to "Go to work" at least three days a week and see if my writing improves. Because writing is a JOB, damn it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My 2011 Goals

Another blogger stated that they preferred to use the term New Year's "goals" rather than "resolutions" because the word "resolutions" seems made to break. I agree, so I'm going to adopt the term as well. Since 12 is my favorite number I decided to come up with twelve goals.

1.) Get the first two books in my BRIDES OF PROPHECY series polished enough for my agent and then ready for her to submit to publishers.

2.) Complete another manuscript. The problem is: I have 2 good ideas and haven't settled on one yet.

3.)Blog at least twice a week.

4.) Have at least one awesome guest author every month.

5.) Become more regular on Twitter and Facebook

6.) Get up to 3000 followers on Twitter (I'm at 1370 already so I think I can make it.)

7.) Keep the house clean and organized. (I don't feel confident with this one, but it's worth a shot.)

8.) Lose 20 pounds...and get my tummy looking good again. (I got a head start and lost 3 lbs already)

9.) Learn how to use a sewing machine to make/ repair clothes. (It's actually going to be a husband and wife activity. It was HIS idea, if you can believe it.)

10.) Keep my marriage healthy, happy, and full of passion. Between my grief over losing my mom and burying myself in my writing, I've been neglecting the poor guy.

11.) Become a better mother. If I could be half as good with kids as my mom was, I'd be thrilled.

12.) Get a tattoo...or 2.  These are the two I have planned:
                                                      I'll get this one on my left upper arm
 And I don't know where I'm going to get this one: