Sunday, February 27, 2011

And The Winner is.... and other news.


Congrats, Rachel!!! Email your address to: and I'll pass it on to Rebecca! W000t! This was a lot of fun.

In other news, for those of you eyeballing my stagnant progress bar for AN IRONIC SACRIFICE, I must let you know that though I haven't been working on that one, I did complete a short story called IDOL'S KISS, so I've been writing. Also I've been doing some drawing on an anniversary gift for my husband. It's not till May 30th, but I really wanted to draw again.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and let's hope this week will be excellent for us all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Making Vampires Unique: by Special Guest author, Rebecca Zanetti

I met Rebecca Zanetti on twitter as a fellow paranormal romance author. I didn't realize she lived in my town until I saw her on the front page of the newspaper and read the story announcing her deal with Kensington. So I was beyond pleased to not only attend her release party on Tuesday and pick up a signed copy of FATED, but to also get to feature her on my blog. 

Since we both write vampire romance, I asked her to give her perspective on how she made hers stand out in this beloved, but crowded market.

Without further ado, here's the awesome Rebecca Zanetti! Isn't she gorgeous? 

When Brooklyn Ann asked me to blog about vampires and world building in this crowded market, I thought it was a great topic.  As a writer, it’s a lot of fun to create something new, or something with a different angle.  In doing this, I’d advise you to “remember the why.”  If your world is different than the norm, there has to be a reason for it.  Keep in mind that world-building is important, but don’t spend all your energy with that.  

What sells a book is the characters, vampire or not. 

Lately I’ve asked people who’ve read my books about their favorite scenes, assuming (incorrectly it turns out), that they’ll choose my favorite scenes.  The scenes most often chosen are those that dig deep between the characters, either in a heartwarming or downright sexy way.  The fact that the hero is a vampire usually doesn’t come into play.  (Except his vampireness makes him dark and dangerous…all the more sexy.)
Having said that, hey, if you’re writing about vamps, what does make them stand out?  Mine in FATED are a species on earth, born and not made.  You’re either a vampire or not, and there’s no turning into one.  

Incidentally, vampires in FATED’s world are only male.  Now, science comes into play in the book, so I had to go into a bit of genetics with how this happened.  Easy enough and necessary.  So it isn’t really enough just to say…hey, my vamps are only male.  You have to explain why.  Remember the why.  Readers want to know.  For me, science was the easiest way to explain and took only a few sentences through some dialogue with the heroine.  If you met a vampire and he told you they were only male, wouldn’t you ask why?
Of course, the fact that vampires are only male makes it necessary for them to mate with human females.  
How convenient!

I really appreciate Brooklyn Ann having me on her blog today!  Since my amazing editor sent me some promo copies of FATED, why don’t we give one out to a commenter?  Please leave a comment for a chance to win.  You can comment on whether or not you believe in fate…if you like romances, or whatever’s on your mind today.  Can’t wait to read!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Rebecca! Readers: I'll draw a random winner on Monday!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fun at the Release Party for FATED

I'll warn you now, I'm going to make a huge deal over this. I live in northern Idaho, which is a beautiful place, but  is practically in the middle of nowhere. Therefore, we miss a lot of excellent concerts, plays, and other attractions. Authors almost never come here for book signings. But this time, I lucked out. In case you haven't heard, FATED by Rebecca Zanetti came out yesterday. And what's even better is that she's from my area, so I was able to attend the release party!

It was held at The Gourmet Way, a fabulous store full of cooking supplies, spices, and wine. And I got a new digital camera so I was able to go all fan girl and get a picture of myself with the author.
I gotta say, Rebecca Zanetti is even prettier in person! And she was all cool and classy the whole time signing TONS of books for her never ending line of eager readers. I would have been blushing and babbling like a moron, I'm sure.

With all the people there, I didn't get a chance to talk to her long, but there were other awesome people in attendance. My buddy and fellow IWL member, Shelley Martin was there along with romantic suspense author, Bonnie R. Paulson. Then later I ran into author, Asa Marie Bradley who did an awesome workshop at last year's IWL conference.

I also got to sample some delicious appetizers, yummy wine, and these decadent chocolate cupcake thingies. While munching, I overheard the funniest conversation between two guys. They said they loved the cover of FATED because men could read it in public without anyone knowing they were reading a romance novel. LOL!! I was still laughing when I left to go to work.

NOW for my awesome news: Be sure to stop by on Friday, because Rebecca Zanetti is doing a guest post and you guys will get a chance to win a copy of FATED!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting to Know You.

It's been about a year and a half since I created this blog and I'm all the way up to 90 followers! W00T! Now I must confess that I check out all your profiles and I enjoy getting to know more about you. One surprising thing I've noticed is that despite my blog's subject being predominately Paranormal Romance....though I frequently deviate... many of you read and write different things. I have followers that write horror, fantasy, science fiction, and all subgenres of romance... including inspirational!

It warms my heart to see such a variety and I think it helps make this blog more interesting. Now I would like to thank you all for your support and feedback on my posts. I would also like you to let me know what you write and what you read so I can better tailor my posts to be useful or at least entertaining to everyone.

Again, thanks so much and big hugs to you all!

P.S Be sure to stop by on Friday for a Special Guest post from debut author, REBECCA ZANETTI and a chance to win a copy of her shiny new release, FATED!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Beautiful People in Romance

Most romances feature heroes and heroines that are too beautiful to be real. Flowing tresses, sparkling eyes, perfect skin, they have it all. A few rare romances have characters with flaws. Full figured heroines, scarred heroes. I see the appeal of both. It is nice to put yourself in the role of a beautiful heroine once in awhile. But it also warms the heart to see an imperfect one find love.

Still, with all the perfection and beauty around us in romance novels and advertising alike, I want to remind us all not to hold ourselves up to impossible standards. I found this video and it says it all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hilarious Research

So I was doing some browsing on Amazon and I came across a discussion in one of the romance forums. It's titled "Your Darned Hated Certain Phrases"

It is pages and pages of educational hilarity. Check it out, but do not drink anything while reading the posts or your computer will be in danger of getting sprayed.

Then, through that site I found the website: Uncle Walter's Bad Romance

It's split into 2 sections: one is bad romance novel covers, and the other is bad quotes. Both have amusing commentary.

And then I met "Uncle Walter's" lovely wife and found this fun blog post:

Besides the entertainment value, sites like these are a valuable asset to romance authors. They contain countless cries from readers of what not to do. Let us never compare male and female organs to fruit, use the universally hated term, "manroot" or have our characters do physically impossible things in the sack.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Memory of Karen Ann 6-11-62 ~ 2-14-09

My mom passed away on Valentine's Day two years ago. I want to take a moment to remember and share with you, the most important person in my life. Because of her, I believe in angels.

  As a person:

Karen was a gentle soul with a vivid personality. She was generous and forgiving. She would help anyone in need and never bore a grudge for long. She was inquisitive. She loved to learn new things and was fascinated with history, science, and the nature of human beings. She had a great capacity for finding joy in the little things in life. She loved yard sales and would gleefully wake us up early on Saturday mornings to hunt for treasures. Her absolute delight in the things we would get made Saturdays my favorite day of the week.

She loved her parents and brothers and sisters very much. Our family get –togethers on the holidays were made better with her presence. She maintained such a close friendship with all her siblings that they loaned movies to eachother and then constantly bickered about whose movies were whose. She loved shopping with Grandma and Aunt Wendy, dancing with Aunt Jane, and teasing Uncle Don and Uncle David. She told the funniest stories about them as children. She loved and got along with her mother so well that they were able to work together at the daycare for practically twenty years in harmony. She had a special bond with her father and was the one who pointed out to us kids that “grumpy grandpa” wasn’t so grumpy after all. I was delighted as a child to learn that my love of cars and potatoes came from him.

Her favorite color was purple and her favorite flowers were lilacs. They were our special flowers. She was ecstatic when they bloomed every spring and the enthusiasm always caught on. She loved to sing and dance, which always made housework fun. She was an artist and a poet. She loved lines, shapes and colors just as much a language, words, and rhyme. Countless homes hold things she has crafted, painted, or written from her great heart. I know everything she has made will always be greatly cherished.

She brought comfort and joy to everyone around her. She was able to reassure us all that no matter what happened, everything would turn out okay and her quiet strength asserted that a person could make it through anything.
She held no hatred or malice in her heart. Her only dislikes were actually charming little quirks: spiders, spoons, clowns, fish, and the color yellow.

She loved Christmas. I can still hear her singing “Oh Christmas Tree” in her high clear soprano as she decorated her tree and filled the house with her miniature Christmas villages. She loved decorating the tree at the daycare and making things for the hospital’s Christmas bazzar, and singing carols with the daycare kids. Her gifts were always personal and thoughtful. They showed her ability to get to know a person well enough to get them something truly special. And the amazing thing was that she didn’t just do this for holidays, she would often give unique gifts “just because.” It showed that her friends and loved ones were constantly in her thoughts.

She was a great teacher and loved children. She always knew the best way to encourage a child to live up to his or her potential. She was always correcting my grammar. Her heart was so big her calling was to not only love and teach her own children, but also to teach children across the community at the daycare, and later to teach and nurture her stepchildren who needed her very much.

As a Mother:
My mom was the best mother in the world. Her never ending love, support and encouragement went far beyond that of many mothers’. Even though she had three children to share her affections with and later two more, she always made sure to give each of us some special time and attention. She did her best to protect us as children from the bad things in life and took care of us when we were sick or sad. She gave her full support in our interests. She gave me books because I liked to read. When I began to paint, she gave me her easel and bought me paint and brushes. When I began to write, she gave me her typewriter. She did the same for my brothers and stepbrother and stepsister.

I was a lonely child at first. She was my friend and confidante. And when I met my best friend in third grade, mom encouraged that friendship, never complaining when we stayed up giggling all night. And when my friend moved away in seventh grade, mom helped us stay friends by buying me stamps and envelopes to write letters and even would endure a two hour drive several times a year to meet with my friend’s mom so we could spend a week together. Thanks to my mom, Rachel and I are still best friends.

Mom’s patience and love was legendary. When I was thirteen, I was especially difficult. We had the most passionate arguments, which were always short because she didn’t like being angry for long. She would always forgive me and assure me of her love. I remember a particular screaming match we had. She was mixing cookie dough and I drove her so crazy that she threw the mixing bowl against the kitchen wall. There was flour and sugar everywhere. We looked at eachother and at the mess and burst out into laughter before we hugged and cleaned up.

She made great sacrifices for us kids. When times were lean, she’d make sure we were fed and had new clothes first before herself. She’d do things she didn’t like to do for us. She let us have pets. She tolerated our music and fashion choices. She took us fishing even though she hated fish, that is, until I caught a tiger muskie that scared the daylights out of her. She decided we were old enough to take ourselves fishing after that incident. I remember, about a year ago, she told me she hated strawberry shortcake. I  said, “But you always made it when I was kid.” She just gave me a look that said I was being silly and replied, “That’s because you kids loved it.”

She made almost all of my Halloween costumes. She made my high school prom dress. She made my wedding dress and helped me plan and coordinate the wedding and walked me down the aisle. She was there to witness the birth of my son. She was there for me when the marriage didn’t work out. She was there when I decided to go to college and was beaming with pride when I got my degree. She supported me in my relationship with my new fiancee and gave me advice with my two new kids. She treated my stepdaughters like they were her own grandchildren. As a child she was there when I needed my mommy. As a woman she was there when I needed a friend…and my mommy.

She took so much pride in us kids that she talked about us to her friends and coworkers so much that we were all recognized on sight. I’m still striving to live up to that pride. Every good thing I’ve done and will do is because of her.
          Karen will be missed by many adults and children alike. The world has lost a great daughter, wife,     mother, and teacher. Heaven has gained a great treasure.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Romances that stay with you forever.

In honor of the upcoming holiday, especially since I lost my mother that day 2 years back, I'd like to bring a little romance back into Valentine's day for us all. The best way I can do that is to discuss those special romance novels that were more than a good read. You know the ones. By the time we finish with them, the characters are still with us, for we can't let them go. We often read them over and over again and replace them when they are in tatters. I will list some of mine. Not all are paranormal, but I feel they have a place here anyway.

These are not in order.

1.) Until You, by Judith McNaught: This book puts a whole new twist on the "governess wins the heart of an Earl." In fact, due to her having amnesia, neither of them find out she's a governess until just before the wedding...and then shit hits the fan. This tale will make you laugh and cry.

2.) Tempted, by Virginia Henley: A brazen, bad-ass Scottish lass, a sexy-as-hell Scottish Lord with an accent that'll make you quiver...what's not to love? The sparks and conflict in and out of the bedroom, set against a rich tapestry of the historical events leading up to the battle of Flodden Field will have you on the edge of your seat. As a bonus, there is also a ghostly love story in the background. I adore all of Henley's novels, but the romance in this one is by far the most powerful.

3.) Night Play, by Sherrilyn Kenyon: I love this book because the heroine is not perfectly trim and gorgeous, but a sexy werewolf loves her for it. The exciting plot developments and delightful shifts between humor and poignancy makes this book in the Dark Hunter novels one of my favorites. I love when a book gives me happy tears.

4.) Infinity, by Maggie Shayne: This is the second in her Immortal High Witches series and was my fave until I read the 3rd one. Now I can't decide. When the kick-ass Arianna recovers her beloved's heart, she wastes no time restoring him to life. Problem is, he thinks she was the one who betrayed him and cost him his life centuries ago.

5.) Almost Heaven, by Judith McNaught: When Elizabeth's asshole miser uncle makes the a ludicrous offer of her hand to men that had previously proposed to her before her reputation was ruined, a mistake sends Elizabeth to the hunting cottage of Ian Thornton, the very man who ruined her. The compounded misunderstandings and intense chemistry between the two keep the reader turning the pages.

7.) Lover Unbound, by J.R. Ward: This is my fave in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, no matter what anyone says. The chemistry between the vampire, Viscious, and the human doctor, Jane was sizzling. Also, Jane was one of the most developed heroines in this series so far. I'm not a fan of the ending, but I made peace with it.

8.) Dance With the Devil, by Sherrilyn Kenyon: The Dark Hunter Zarek is one of the grumpiest heros I've ever encountered. But he has good reason. His back story will make you cry. When Astrid, little sister of the 3 fates, is sent down incognito to decide whether he will live or die, sparks immediately fly between the two, and eventually start an inferno.

9.) Destiny, by Maggie Shayne: When ancient Immortal High Witch, Nathan discovers his former love, Nidaba in an asylum, he rescues the near-catatonic witch and nurses her back to health. Their back story in ancient Sumer is revealed as past betrayals and a rival high witch threaten the hope of their love being rekindled.

10.) The Hawk and the Dove, by Virginia Henley: When sheltered Sarah Bishop is wed by proxy to Shane Hawkhurst just for her land, she is infuriated. She hatches a plan with Shane's brother to become a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and ultimately Shane's mistress. She takes on the name, Sabre Wilde, and intends to wrap her unsuspecting husband around her finger before revealing her identity and demanding a divorce. This book is a blast. Also HOT as hell.

What about you? What novels have you read until the pages fell out? What romances have made you sigh and daydream even on the worst days? I'm always looking for more.

Have a happy Valentine's day, all!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Influences and Hugs.

I'm buried in projects so I decided now is a good time for a "getting to know you" bit.

We all have influences that have shaped our lives and styles of our work. Our influences had influences of their own. I wish I could hug those people that have enriched my life and in their own ways shaped the person that I am today. So here's the top 11 famous people living and dead that I want to hug. :)

1.) Stephen King – Author extraordinaire

2.) Dave Mustaine -Megadeth

3.) Virginia Henley- Historian and Author extraordinaire

4.) Anne Rice- Author extraordinaire

5.) Tori Amos – Vocalist and musician

6.) Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)

7.) Alice Walker- Author extraordinaire

8.) Eloisa James- Scholar and Author extraordinaire

9.) Judith McNaught - Author extraordinaire

10.)  Tim Burton- Film maker who spoke directly to my state of mind

11.) Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman- Authors extraordinaire


1.) Jesus- dude, it’s Jesus what more can I say?

2.) Leonardo Da Vinci- Dude did everything but tap dancing.

3.) Ronnie James Dio- (Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, Heaven and Hell) One of the founding fathers of heavy metal, his career spanned across 6 decades. That's longer than Elvis, people. :)

4.) Benjamin Franklin- Founding father of my country and zen master of common sense.

5.) Mary Wollstonecraft- Raging feminist of the eighteenth century and Mary Shelley's mom!

6.) David Wayne- Lead singer of Metal Church with a voice that gave me happy goosebumps. 

7.) David Eddings- Author of some of the best fantasy novels out there

8.) Queen Elizabeth I- One of the most successful monarchs of all time

9.) Edgar Allen Poe- The Raven, Masque of the Red Death, Alone. Need I say more. 

10.) John Keats- Everyone should read Ode to a Nightingale!

11.) Beethoven- He was the heavy metal of his day. 

How about you? Who would you hug if you had a chance?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lessons from Beta Reading Part II

Now that I've covered common technical errors, I'll move on to regular stylistic issues I've seen in my manuscripts and those I critique. It's funny: many of the mistakes I spot are the same as those that are in my own work. :)

1.) Talking Heads belong in the 80's band, not in your story. 
                                                                                                   "Blah Blah Blah" 
                                                                                                     "Blah Blah!"
                                                                                                     "Blah Bah?"
                 Who is talking here?

2.) Lack of emotion. I used to get nailed for this one all the time. It's a fairly easy fix. "Blah Blah Blah." Her hands shook as reached forward.  
3.) The White Room, or lack of setting.  Christine Moore did a lovely workshop on this at the IWL conference. Until you say otherwise, the reader will picture your characters in a white room. This issue often goes hand in hand with the talking heads. Again, it can be an easy fix. Her hands shook as she reached forward to push a soggy branch out of the way. The pelting rain mixed with her tears.

4.) Scenes where nothing happens Whether it was a struggle to get in the daily word quota or one was was focused on characterization more than plot, I don't think anyone is immune to this. This issue can be fixed either by having the character thinking about the main problem of the story or including some sort of action amidst the ennui. ...and if it's really dull and pointless, you can always cut it.

5.) Anti-climatic endings Often we writers are so excited to reach the ending of our project that we rush through the ending, thus cheating our readers. During the rewrite we all must remember to go back and draw out the ending to the heart-wrenching suspense it deserves.

6.) Someone acts out of character Sometimes this happens because we're still getting to know our characters. If that's the case, then one may cut the scene in which they are not themselves. Other times the author means for the character to grow or change in some way and that is why they act out of character. In that scenario, the author must go back and emphasize the character's growth and changes so the event is more believable.

7.) Repetitive statements/ actions. In one project I was trying to find a way to introduce the back story so I tried it out in various ways and forgot to cut all but one. The result: an overdose of redundancy. Then there was the time when I was trying to point out a character's habit but I overdid it and drove the reader crazy. And one time I read a manuscript where the heroine was falling asleep so often I asked if she had narcolepsy. In return, the author called me on my hero's constant smirking. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Because it is February

I pick up my phone to call my mom to share the good news, or seek solace in face of the bad. Then I stop. Helpless agony fills me yet again with the realization that she is dead.

I have been doing this for three years now, more so because it is February and Mom died on Valentine’s Day. I wrote her eulogy.

I saw Grandma at the grocery store this Saturday. Joy filled me and I ran with my shopping cart to hug her. I’d been thinking of her for months and longing to talk to her. We hugged and it was wonderful. There’s nothing like a hug from Grandma.

 She had a bag of tomatoes in her cart. If I only wanted a bag of tomatoes, I wouldn’t bother with one. We talked, but only for a few minutes. The mother and the daughter of Karen Ann. We were both in a hurry to leave the store and curl up with a movie…we both said so at the same time. Then Grandma removed the tomatoes from her cart, put them back, and left.

On the drive home, I realized it was strange to see Grandma at that store. She lives on the opposite side of town. But then I remembered it is February…and that grocery store is next to the craft store that Mom, Grandma, and I used to frequent every Saturday.

 Grandma is still hurting too. I know this now and I feel like an ass for not thinking about it before.
I’m going to call Grandma and spend more time with her. Not just because it’s February. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lessons from Beta Reading part I

In the past 30 days I've read and critiqued 3 manuscripts. In return, my buddies have been working on mine as well. One thing I've learned from doing this is that it helps me to become a better writer. Many of the errors and mistakes I've found in my buddies' stories are often found in my own. Now when my buddies and I go through each other's work we go through it all the way, which means we point out spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues as well as add comments and feedback within the text. Over the course of my reading I've spotted enough patterns to merit two blog posts.

Part One: Common Errors in Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation.

1.) Its vs. It's. Its = belonging to it. It's = It is. Example: It's the biggest one I've ever seen! Its girth is terrifying! (Hey, I'm a romance author. Of course that's the first thing that came to mind.)

2.) Loose vs. Lose. Loose= opposite of tight. Lose = loss of something. Your corset is loose. Your girls may lose their support.

3.) Your vs. You're Your = belonging to you. You're = you are. Ex: Hey, hot guy, you lost your shirt. You're making my tummy flutter.

4.) Each other = 2 words. I had a nasty habit of making it one. Please say I'm not alone!

5.) Questions end with question marks! I blame JR Ward for this one. For some reason her characters turn their questions into demanding statements to emphasize how manly pissed off they are...or something. It worked for a bit but got old fast. "What are you doing." = wrong. "What are you doing?" = no headache.

6.) Plural nouns vs. Names anding with S. For some reason a lot of people want to treat a main character with a name ending with "S" as a plural noun, which is incorrect. Proper use: Silas's breath caught at the girls' incredible music. Wrong: Silas' breath caught...etc.

7.) Commas and the word "then." I don't know anyone, including myself that hasn't had an issue with this. There is no comma before then! Ex. She filled the pitcher then carried it to the table. NOT She filled the pitcher, then carried it to the table. Don't ask me why that's wrong, it just is. (HEY, DEAN, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, PLEASE TELL US WHY, OH FELLOW NERD PAL!)

8.) Proper punctuation with dialogue. This is was a disease I had until a wonderful beta cured me. Wrong: "Blah blah blah." He said. Right: "Blah blah blah," he said.

I know there's tons more, so please feel free to chime in! Next time I'll focus on structural issues.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Rant on Writing Romance

I'm suffering from a monster headache that's been here since yesterday so this is an old post of mine from The Paranormal Pretties blog. However, it's an issue that still has me gnashing my teeth so I think it fits nicely...ooh and it's close to Valentine's Day! Even better! So, without further ado....

It’s been awhile since I had a good rant.

I have a friend and fellow book addict who has recommended many great reads in a variety of genres, despite the fact that she doesn’t bother to hide her disgust for most romance novels.
Eventually she began to ask about my writing and my books. Like any writer excited with their work, I told her. And then…::deep breath:: and then she said, “I don’t understand why you want to write crappy romance novels, you could write something so much better.”

And now the rant shall commence. J

First off: I don’t appreciate that judgment coming from someone who hasn’t even read my writing. How would she know if I can write something “better?” In fact, I only hope that I am good enough to write romances. I highly doubt that I have a “literary” bone in my body.

Second: I LOVE writing romance. It makes me happy and brings fulfillment to my life. And it’s not a matter of “wanting” to write them. My characters won’t stop falling in love, but I don’t mind that one bit.

Third: Romance novels are often hard to write. Think about it. They all have the same formula. Two beings get together and fall in love and find happiness at the end. But the author has to find a way to make it new and interesting. With the thousands of romances already out there, that is a daunting task, but it is fun and exciting to tackle.

Finally: It’s not very nice to dismiss something one isn’t familiar with as “crap” out of hand. I’m sure when I am published, readers and book reviewers will crucify my babies, but they are allowed to because they READ it.

Really, I am surprised I haven’t run into this sooner. I mean many people have asked me what I write, their eyes lighting up as if I’m about to claim to be the next Salinger and dimming in disappointment when I say “romance,” but no one has come out and implied that my work is “crap.”

My hero, Stephen King had dealt with this all his life, as have every writer in any genre that is not “literary.” Were you all just as pissed as I was? How did you handle it? And to all of you who write romance, horror, sci-fi, etc. YOU ROCK!