Monday, January 30, 2012

Dressing the part

Posted by: Julia Knight
So, I've been booking up my conferences for the year over here in Blighty. Lots to look forward to. At Easter, I'm off to the appropriately named Eastercon, one of the bigger fantasy cons in the UK. It'll be my third year, but this year, I'll be joining in a bit more than I have previously.

Because every year they have a big Ball, and it's dress to impress, steampunk style. After been shamed by my writers' group efforts last year, I'm actually going to give it a go, and if you knew what a scruff I am usually....But yes, I'm taking the plunge, as will my d├ęcolletage because it's corsets and bustles all the way! And possibly goggles, because I'm very tempted to go as a steampunk air pirate.

So, ladies and gents, what should I not be without? What do I need? Any tips on looking my best in steampunk?


Friday, January 27, 2012

Talking Up Books You Love

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
I've read 3 fantasies this month and I enjoyed every single one of them. I think it was a record -- both how many I've finished (I don't have as much time to read now that I write, especially big meaty fantasies) and how much I enjoyed them. But the trick this time: these books were highly recommended by people I "know" online.

First up was Master of Crows by Grace Draven, recommended by @has_bookpushers on Twitter. If you like fantasy romance but dread the fluffy "fantasy lite" this is a really interesting book with memorable characters and a satisfying romance ending. For me personally, I could have used more steamy romance and even more magic details, but overall the book was well balanced and I enjoyed every moment of it.

The other two books I read this past weekend were The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells, recommended by The Book Smugglers. The Cloud Roads was one of Ana's top 2011 picks - how could I resist? Wow, am I glad I gave these books a chance, because I totally gobbled them up. I loved the unique Raksura culture, both bird like and even insect like in a way. There are two different kinds of Raksura, one winged and one not. They remind me of bees or ants, with workers and the queen ensuring the survival of the colony.

My only complaint (and I say this lightly) is the romance aspect was pretty lacking. I mean, yeah, there is an important relationship between Jade and Moon, but it's not the focus of the book at all. This is solidly in the fantasy camp, and the characters just happen to end up together to continue the colony. The fantasy is so strong and rich, though, that I didn't mind the lack of romance at all.

I find myself still thinking about the Raksura, even a week later. I wonder how Jade will challenge Pearl to become the queen. When Moon and Jade will start their first clutch. What will happen at the other colony when their old queen dies. Ahhh, I love a book that lingers on and on!

I am still on the search for deep, rich, sexy romance AND detailed fantasy worldbuilding - so if you have recs, please shout them out!! What great books have you read lately that you're still thinking about?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Australia Day!

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
You'll be happy to hear I resisted buying the hot pants with the Australian flag printed across the butt. Trust me, my diet hasn't been so spectacular that anyone would want to see me wearing those! On the other hand, Australia Day does make me feel vaguely patriotic ... though I can do without all the fireworks. Fireworks, in the middle of bushfire season, seriously? Doesn't anyone else think this is a problem?

Fortunately, there is a perfect way to celebrate Australia Day and that is to sign up for the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. The details below are copied from the Australian Women Writers website, which is where you sign up. There is also a lively Goodreads group. So if you're looking for a reading challenge, or simply a readerly gossip, this is a great way to celebrate your Aussie-ness ... even if you don't live in Australia!

Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge

Keen on romance, fantasy, crime, YA, literary, mainstream women's fiction? Contemporary or historical? Memoir, other nonfiction or poetry?  

Whatever your preference, whether you're a fan of one genre or a devoted eclectic, the 2012 Australian Women Writers Book Reading & Reviewing Challenge invites you to a year of encountering the best of Australian women's writing.

Objective: This challenge hopes to help counteract the gender bias in reviewing and social media newsfeeds that has continued throughout 2011. It actively promotes the reading and reviewing of a wide range of contemporary Australian women's writing throughout 2012, the National Year of Reading. (See the page on gender bias for recent discussions; also this page for the rationalebehind the challenge.)

Readers should approach this challenge with a spirit of willingness. There are no failures, just personal goals. Reviews can be long or short, favourable or "this book is not for me". Hopefully, along the way, you'll discover some future classics and perhaps a few surprises among genres we're not familiar with. 

Challenge period:  1 January 2012 -  31 December 2012

Goal: Read and review books written by Australian women writers – hard copies, ebooks andaudiobooks, new, borrowed or stumbled upon by book-crossing

Genre challenges: 
Purist: one genre only
Dabbler: more than one genre
Devoted eclectic: as many genres as you can find
Challenge levels: Some readers have complained that the original challenge levels were too easy, so "casual" and "dedicated" levels have been added here.

Stella (read 3 and review at least 2 books)
Miles (read 6 and review at least 3)* 
Franklin-fantastic (read 10 and review at least 4 books)*
* The higher levels should include at least one substantial length review  

Some bookbloggers are combining the AWW2012 challenge with other challenges including Bookdout's Eclectic Reading Challenge, Booklover Book Reviews Aussie Author Challenge, and the GoodReads Aussie Readers' group's Aussie Author Challenge with a Twist. Others have set the goal of reading more books written by Australian women than they read in 2011. If you have another idea, please let us know. 

Added optionWeLove2Read2. This page gives participants the option of a further challenge which could help redress the genre imbalance of the National Year of Reading's, Love2Read "Our Story" campaign (where only 18 out of the 48 books selected are written by women). Dedicated bookbloggers and reviewers are particularly invited to add this element to their challenge. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Dreams Come True

Posted by: Veronica Scott

What happens when a dream actually comes true? This week has seen one of my lifetime dreams fulfilled – my first book , Priestess of the Nile, has been released by Carina Press! What I hadn’t anticipated was all the things that came in the wake of becoming a published author. First and foremost, I’ve met SO many lovely people – other authors, the folks at Carina (especially my editor Alison), bloggers, reviewers…and this week, the Readers!
Secondly I never had much internet presence before but now I’ve unleashed the total twitteraholic lurking inside me. Who knew? 11,000 tweets from @vscotttheauthor and counting….Follow me! LOL. And there again, on twitter I’ve made some wonderful friends, learned a lot of things, had thought provoking conversations on a myriad of topics.
If there is any downside to the dream fulfillment, maybe it’s the fact that I still have to slog to the day job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good job, interesting, friendly people, worthy work, but now that I’ve tasted the life of a writer, WOW, do I want to be one of those full time. One of my favorite authors reminded me over the weekend that while Release Day is exciting, it’s just one day in the journey and you have to keep writing, keep editing, keep doing promo…and keep doing the day job. At least for now!
Merys, the heroine in Priestess of the Nile, had simple dreams, which she thought were beyond her grasp….until she met Sobek the Crocodile God in his human guise. Here’s a short excerpt:
“There was one man who had some interest in courting me—the new captain of the guard assigned to my village after the Nile floods last year.”
In the ensuing silence some night bird called loudly and flew away from the palm fronds above. The waves lapped at the beach and a breeze arose. Merys shivered. He wondered why she didn’t finish her story.
Bek reached out and put one hand under her chin, gently turning her face to him. He studied her. “But? You didn’t care for this man?”
“He was amiable, pleasing to look at and wellspoken. Educated. I didn’t dislike him.” She shrugged and bit her lip. “It would have been the answer to my prayers to have my own household, maybe children someday—” She broke off. He thought tears glistened in her eyes. She laid her head on her knees, facing away from him again, watching night hunting birds swoop over the river to catch insects. “The truth is I have no dowry.”

Rest assured, meeting Sobek puts new dreams into Merys’s heart…
When one of your major dreams in life came true, were there unexpected benefits? Or side effects that surprised you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Come Listen to Authors Read Excerpts From Their Books!

Posted by: Linda Mooney
Every Monday night I host a radio show on Blog Talk Radio called "Other Worlds of Romance". During the 30 minute show, I have guest authors who write sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal romances, and they read excerpts from their new releases. Sometimes it's bawdy, sometimes it's romantic, but it's always fun!

You can check out who my monthly lineup includes by checking out my own blog. I also advertise upcoming shows on my Twitter (Linda Mooney) and Facebook (Linda Mooney).

Come have a listen! You can park on the website and hit the Play button to listen, or you can come into the chat room where you can type questions and comments for the author to answer, or you can call in to talk directly to the author!

The show is on at 11 pm et/ 10 pm ct/ 8 pm pt.  Come join us!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Top series I'd like to see on HBO

Posted by: Unknown
I'm a big fan of HBO series. My favorites are True Blood, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. I think HBO does an incredible job of casting and producing complex multi-character worlds in a way that draws me into the story just like a good book. Here are my top three picks for other paranormal series I'd like to see on HBO.

1. Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs

I love this one because of the strength of the secondary character cast.

Who wouldn't like to see Adam and Samuel, Bran and Mercy walking around in the fascinating world Patricia Briggs has created?

2. Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost

Interesting and flawed female lead and loads of action but when it really comes down to it, this pick is all about Bones.

3. Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

Okay, so I've made no secret of the fact that this is one of my favorite series. It's very dark. The morality of the characters, ambiguous at best. There's actually very little sex in the series but it's one of the sexiest series out there.

Which series would you like to see?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fun Facts About Wonder Woman

Posted by: Rayna Vause
Melinda did fun facts about one influence for Amazon Heat, Amazon Mythology. Today,  I'd like to focus on the other inspiration, Wonder Woman. Here are a few fun fact about this awesome super hero who kicks butt in an awesome pair of boots.
  1. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston (the inventor of the polygraph).

  2. Wonder Woman's alter ego is Diana Prince/Princess Diana of Themyscira. 

  3. Wonder Woman made her first appearance in December 1941 in All-Star Comics #8. 

  4. In creating her William Marston wanted to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.

  5. Initially, Wonder Woman was an Amazon champion who wins the right to return Steve Trevor — a United States intelligence officer whose plane had crashed on the Amazons' isolated island homeland — to "Man's World" and to fight crime and the evil of the Nazis. Her origin story was later revamped to increase her Hellenic and mythological roots. She received the blessing of each deity in her crib, Diana is destined to become "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules, and swifter than Mercury." Her origin was changed yet again in 2011 making her a demigod, the natural-born daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus

  6. Wonder Woman had arsenal of powerful god-forged weapons at her disposal, but her signature weapons are her indestructible bracelets and the Lasso of Truth.

  7. In the television show the bullet proof material the braclets were formed of was called 'Feminum'. In the comic books, it was called 'Amazonium'.

  8. Wonder Woman spinning into costume was also solely a television fixture. She would spin her lasso around herself in the comic books to transform.

  9. She depict her as a masterful athlete, acrobat, fighter and strategist, trained and experienced in many ancient and modern forms of armed and unarmed combat, including exclusively Amazonian martial arts.

  10. In May 2011, Wonder Woman placed fifth on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time.

Who else loves Wonder Woman as much as we do? Do you have any fun facts to add to the list?

Amazon Heat was released on January 9, 2012 from Carina Press

2 years ago...
Driven by grief to find a cure for cancer, Elizabeth DeMarco left Logan Spencer to accept a position on a research expedition to the Amazon rainforest. Kidnapped by guerrillas, she was saved by a secret all-female civilization, the last of the ancient Amazons. But Elizabeth discovers she's traded one form of captivity for another.
Logan never stopped searching for Elizabeth. While consulting in the remote Brazilian interior near where she was kidnapped, Logan suffers what should be a fatal fall. Near death, he's collected by the Amazons and magically healed. Elizabeth is the first person he sees as he wakes.
But there's no time for a joyful reunion. The Amazons' mystical medicine is rapidly changing Logan. They want his DNA and plan to take it—and then kill him. Logan and Elizabeth must escape before dawn or Logan—and their second chance at happiness—is doomed.

Find Amazon Heat at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Carina Press.   


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fun Facts about the Amazons by Melinda Leigh

Posted by: Melinda Leigh
I'm letting my inner geek out to play today.  When Rayna Vause and I teamed up to write Amazon Heat, we did some research and learned there are many versions and stories of the Amazons in Greek mythology.  Here are some fun things you may not have known about the various legends.

  • The Amazons were a tribe of warrior women who kicked butt across Asia Minor. 
  • In order to prevent their race from dying out, the Amazons, uhm, visited a neighboring tribe, the Gargareans. In some stories, male children from these liasons were killed.  In others, the infants were delivered to their sires.
  • The Amazons didn't kill all the men they defeated. Some they took as slaves. In some legends, they used such males for, well, you know.
  • Amazons had their right breasts removed to ensure accurate aim with a bow. Can we have a collective ewww here?
  • One of the labors of Hercules was to acquire the girdle of the Amazon Queen.
  • Amazons are first mentioned in Homer's Iliad.
  • Marriage was seen as a sort of slavery to men and was prohibited. 
  • The statue on the left is a depiction of an Amazon preparing for battle.  Amazons were trained to fight hand-to-hand, with all weaponry, and on horseback.
  • Amazons remained virgins until they had killed three men, therefore proving themselves as warriors before they were allowed to reproduce.
  • The Amazons fought against the Greeks in the Trojan War.
Any other geeks out there?  What are your favorite myths?

Amazon Heat was released on January 9, 2012 from Carina Press
2 years ago...
Driven by grief to find a cure for cancer, Elizabeth DeMarco left Logan Spencer to accept a position on a research expedition to the Amazon rainforest. Kidnapped by guerrillas, she was saved by a secret all-female civilization, the last of the ancient Amazons. But Elizabeth discovers she's traded one form of captivity for another.
Logan never stopped searching for Elizabeth. While consulting in the remote Brazilian interior near where she was kidnapped, Logan suffers what should be a fatal fall. Near death, he's collected by the Amazons and magically healed. Elizabeth is the first person he sees as he wakes.
But there's no time for a joyful reunion. The Amazons' mystical medicine is rapidly changing Logan. They want his DNA and plan to take it—and then kill him. Logan and Elizabeth must escape before dawn or Logan—and their second chance at happiness—is doomed.

Find Amazon Heat at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Carina Press.  


Monday, January 16, 2012

Resources, Or Getting My Act Together

Posted by: Loribelle Hunt
I'm so much in 'it's a new year I have so much to do' mode that I'm having a hard time focusing on much other than working, but I'm trying to do it smarter than I have in the past. I start off with great energy and huge plans, peter out by summer, and end up taking off/wasting two months before I can get motivated again. Burn out is not fun lol.

Part of my problem is I write in spurts, part that I'm a pantser, and part that I have that dreaded author disease, WADD (Writer's Attention Deficit Disorder). Actually, I'm pretty scatterbrained under the best of circumstances so I guess I can't blame WADD. I'm trying to find ways to at least manage these issues.

1.Daily word count. I have to admit, I am not good at this. When I'm 'on' I write about 10k a week, but that's 2 or 3 days of a lot of writing and the rest of the week procrastinating. I'm aiming for a more consistent spread. 2k a day for 5 instead of 5k a day for 2. That's just exhausting. I stumbled on this spreadsheet on Twitter and hope it keeps me honest.

2.I don’t know if I can fix the pantsing "issue". I'm trying to do a very simple and vague outline. Wish me luck. I've found some useful tips in some of Holly Lisle's articles.

3.Which leaves me with the dreaded WADD. I don’t know if there's any hope for a cure for this affliction. There are too many stories to tell, too many characters whose voices are loud and demanding. This year I'm going to try to work on 2 projects at a time instead of flitting from one to another and back again. Unfortunately, I haven't found any helpful suggestions for pulling that off yet lol!

And since I'm talking resources (and organizing mine) here's a few cool links:
10,000 Words A Day
Most Common US Surnames

And just for fun:
6 Ways Crows Are Smarter Than You Think


Kiss of Twilight
Dark Bonds 2

Dupree Jackson is everything a senior soldier of the Order of Templar should be. Cold. Unbreakable. A master at arms in the fight against demons. But as a hybrid, Dupree is beginning to lose himself to the demon half of his soul. One woman has the power to save him. If he lets her.

Kara Stone wants two things in life: to be merged with a demon so that she can become a full member of the Order; and Dupree Jackson. She knows they are meant to be together, if only Dupree would love her back.

Though his desire for Kara is undeniable, Dupree’s need to protect her is stronger. Not wanting to see her merge, to face the internal struggle he deals with every day, he refuses to bond with her. But when Kara becomes a target and uncovers a dark secret about her past, Dupree may no longer have a choice…

Available at Carina Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble


Loribelle is a former Army MP who traded in her combat boots for motherhood, flip flops, and all the Diet Coke she can drink. (She almost misses the combat boots.) She’s the author of more than 20 books, herder of three energetic children, and an occasional sun worshipper.

Loribelle can be found at her website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A walk on Toronto's wild side!

Posted by: Sheryl Nantus

I've always loved Sherlock Holmes – the original books, not so much the movies. My husband is the opposite; he started off being a huge fan of the older Holmes movies with Rathbone and just within the past few years sat down and read the original books. Needless to say we both adore the new incarnation with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law where Watson is returned to his proper place as an active and competent assistant and not just a comedy relief buffoon, as so many movies portray them.

When I set out to write "Blood of the Pride" it started first and foremost as a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) exercise – to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. I knew I wanted to write some sort of mystery but didn't want to just create another detective. I needed a character who had her own quirks and abilities that would make her unique among others, much like Holmes's deductive skills.

Thus Rebecca Desjardin was born. A woman with the skills of her shifter race, the Felis, but without the ability to Change. A misfit in two worlds, Felis and human.

A private investigator working out of her small house in Toronto, Canada, she uses her innate skills to work a variety of cases – adultery, insurance fraud, industrial theft. But suddenly a murdered Felis calls her back to her old family.

I love to write about Toronto – it's my hometown and even after living in the U.S. for a decade I can still see the streets and stores I used to frequent. I suspect a lot of them have changed or disappeared entirely but in my mind they're all still there from the hot dog carts on Bay Street grilling onions at the crack of dawn to draw in the lunch time crowd to the Silver Snail on Queen Street West, the best comic book store in the city. 

But setting a mystery in Canada presents problems that Holmes would enjoy. Personal handguns are rare and well-documented so I couldn't have Reb carry a pistol. While Canada is a lot like the United States in many ways there are the little things that distinguish one country from the other – and it was a joy to write them into the story. There's a Brown Betty for tea, Tim Horton's coffee and Timbits and a healthy love of all things Canadian, eh?

I hope you'll come along for the ride as Rebecca rediscovers the ups and downs of her extended family along with the rush of a new love as she deals with Brandon Hanover, a reporter who could provide all the answers she needs – or be her worst enemy. It may not be Holmes and Watson but I can promise you one heck of a chase scene!

"Blood of the Pride" releases on February 13th from Carina Press!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Where Do Your Favorite Films Take You?

Posted by: Regan Summers
I don’t watch a lot of movies. I’ve got a day job, a night job and an active toddler. Plus I like to read, cook and travel, and every once in awhile I break for sleep. So I’m very selective in what I watch. (Please note that this, as it's often been pointed out to me, is not the same as having good taste.)

Movies are designed to suck you in to a different place, the same as books, the same as any storytelling. Except the price of admission also gets you surrounding darkness and a comfy chair. This is my movie wish list, the roster of places I'd like to go without leaving home, in 2012.

Out NowNorwegian Wood – This is a Japanese film based on the book by acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami. I’m a huge Murakami film. His stories are unique, thought-provoking and bewilderingly magical. Or magically bewildering. I’m intrigued to see how this one has been adapted to film.

JanuaryUnderworld: Awakening – I will watch Kate Beckinsale in that vinyl/leather suit, as this character, until her husband Len Wiseman stops making these movies. That is all.

JanuaryHaywire – I watch a bit of the MMA, and while Gina Carano isn’t a superstar in the sport, she knows how to fight. Add Steven Soderbergh, a consistently good director, with an amazing cast (including Michael Angarano, whom I adore), and I’m hoping we have a gritty action series with a female lead in the making.

MarchThe Avengers – Superheroes. Joss Whedon. Need I say more?

MayBrave – This is a Disney/Pixar animated film about Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), the daughter of a Scottish king. She defies an age-old custom, bringing chaos to her lands, and must discover true bravery in order to save her land. It’s your standard hero story, but with a heroine. And she’s accompanied by her triplet brothers, which I assume will be hilarious.

JulyThe Dark Knight Rises – The darker side of Gotham is fascinating, and this reboot has maintained a good balance of action and character development. And Christian Bale, even when using that throat-rolled-in-gravel Batman voice, is magnetic.

AugustPremium Rush – I have a soft spot for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as well as couriers. While some of his film choices have been questionable, it’ll be interesting to see him in an urban action role in this bike thriller. That's right, a Bicycle Thriller.

What movies took you on a ride in 2011? And what or who are you looking forward to in 2012?

Regan Summers’ electronic novella Don’t Bite the Messenger, starring a vampire courier with a price on her head, debuts on 1.16.12. Order now at: Carina Press Amazon Barnes & Noble

Friday, January 13, 2012

Readers: Are you tired of paranormal romance yet?

Posted by: Angela Campbell
Besides being an author, I am also a reader, and like any good reader of romance novels, I often turn to reviewers to help me field my options. You might not realize that two of the biggest review sites – Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books – also come together and do a regular podcast, which I must say is always hilarious and probably shouldn’t be listened to while you’re working (or pretending to work). Trust me on this. You will laugh. Out loud. A lot.

Anywho, Sarah and Jane were recently answering letters from readers, and the question was posed, “Do you think we’ve finally reached the saturation point on paranormals, or will it simply undergo some sort of change?” The question was prompted because best-selling author Linda Howard announced on her Facebook page not too long ago that her paranormal “Warrior Rising” has been put on indefinite hold. Linda went on to explain that “the bottom has dropped out of the vampire market, and (the publisher doesn’t) want to risk the book.”

Not too long ago on Twitter, agent and author Mandy Hubbard tweeted, “I've never had a ‘do not send me x’ list on my guidelines, but guys: I can't imagine being able to sell vampires or werewolves now. #pubtip

I know this topic has been discussed before, but as someone who writes primarily paranormal stories, so far based on werewolves, I find this trend – if true – to be a little unsettling. But as a reader, I find it even more disturbing.

I still love reading paranormals! I love vampires and werewolves and angels and…you name it. In fact, the last book I read was the vampire anthology “A Vampire for Christmas” published by Harlequin, and I loved all of the stories in it.

Both Jane (of Dear Author) and Sarah (of Smart Bitches) agreed they believe that paranormals are still going strong, with the trend leaning toward angels and demons and paranormal mashups these days. Hey, sounds great to me, but seriously, publishers? Don’t get rid of all the vampire and werewolf stories. I do love me a good bloodsucking romance, you know?

But that’s just my opinion. I’d love to know yours. Are you sick to death of paranormals yet, or are you still rubbing your hands together and murmuring, “Keep ‘em coming, guys?”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

5 Things Meme

Posted by: David Bridger
This is a "get to know each other better" meme.

Here we go.

What five things were you doing five years ago?
1. being a photographic model
2. losing my dearest old German Shepherd friend Harry to cancer
3. providing academic research support and full secretarial services for my daughters in their various studies
4. working hard towards publication
5. learning to massage

What are five things on your to-do list for today (in no particular order)?
1. continue researching spaceship propulsion options
2. revise a good chunk of Wild Times Bk2
3. write next scene of my ghost story in space
4. cuddle baby grandson Gabriel
5. cuddle baby grandson Sebastian

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. smoked and marinated tofu cubes
2. fresh pineapple
3. canned pear halves in their own juice
4. Walkers ready salted crisps
5. Digestive biscuits

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. buy a fully-crewed luxury bluewater yacht and travel the oceans with my family
2. learn to fly a plane and buy one
3. set up all our kids for life
4. sponsor hundreds of kids in the third world through a charity
5. buy, maintain and staff several hospital ships for poor people in the third world through a charity

What are five of your bad habits?
1. comfort eating when ill or upset
2. overactivity during remissions, often leading to sudden relapses through stupidity
3. fighting against tiredness to continue working on things that excite me (often leading to... etc.)
4. determined optimism
5. confronting bullies head-on

What are five places you've lived?
1. Wallasey
2. Portsmouth
3. Chatham
4. Gibraltar
5. Plymouth

What are five jobs you've had?
1. lifeguard
2. sailor
3. intelligence gatherer
4. investigator
5. writer

How about it? Will you give us your 5 Things list in the comments?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Heart Novellas

Posted by: Shona Husk
I first started my love affair with novellas while I was pregnant with my second child. I didn’t have time to sink into a novel, but I didn’t want to give up reading. I also didn’t want to stop writing as I'd just discovered how much I loved it. (I’d also reached the conclusion that trying to learn how to craft a story in 80k was going to take me forever). So novellas ticked several boxes.
  • Quick romance fix
  • Quicker to write=faster learning curve on things like black moments and HEAs
  • I could experiment with different genres in both my reading and writing
Since then I’ve read scads of them. Sometimes I was reading to see what a publisher was buying, other times because I was looking for something different to read (I mean who knew contemporary cowboys could be so hot? I’d dismissed them for so long after the historical ones didn’t work for me).
Sometimes I just wanted to try a new author. When I buy something that’s only 20k long I know it’s not going to be a big story. I know it’s going to be short and intense and that I’ll be leaving the characters after just an hour or two…but I don’t care. I’m reading for that bite of pleasure.
Do you love novellas?
Brightwater Blood, 31 January, avilable for preorder now:
To survive, they’ll have to think outside the circle.
Were-lion Lachlan Garvey is closing in on the Brightwater women, the last of a Shamanic line that the Council wants eradicated for their murderous use of magic. One minute he’s in his animal form, examining a dead body in a patch of charred grass. The next, he wakes up human—naked, shot and lying in a circle of his own blood.
Dayna Brightwater is sure the man she’s bound with a blood spell is the one who just murdered her twin sister. Yet even if she did have the stomach for revenge killing, she doesn’t have the power. But what to do with him now? If she lets him go, he’ll kill her, too.
Trapped in the path of a deadly magical fire, Lachlan has to think fast—and talk faster—to convince the beautiful Shaman he’s innocent. As the roaring flames creep closer, Dayna must choose. Trust Lachlan and use magic to save them both…or flee. And live with the knowledge she caused his death, proving that no Brightwater is capable of love.
Warning: Contains a naked hero who’ll do anything to save his life...including saving hers.

Monday, January 9, 2012

42 Questions For Writers

Posted by: Jody W. and Meankitty
Do you ever find yourself presented with the opportunity to interview authors? Do you ever find yourself unable to come up with any questions that aren't run-of-the-mill, "Did you always want to be a writer?" style questions? Do you ever find yourself drawing a huge blank when it's your turn to blog and so you go through all your saved notes searching desperately for inspiration and run across a really long list of questions for authors?

Perhaps you haven't had any of these experiences, but in the off-chance that you do one day, I thought I would share this list of 42 questions that you may enjoy asking authors or answering yourself should it be your turn to blog and you're drawing a blank for various reasons.

Feel free, in the comments, to answer any of these questions yourself. Everybody pick one!


1. What do new acquaintances do when they find out you're an author? How do they usually find out?

2. Do you like booksignings, writers' conferences, and otherwise appearing in public as your author self?

3. How has your career or your writing day changed due to all the changes in the industry right now? Can you see your "job requirements" changing more in the next five or so years?

4. If you weren't a writer, what would you be besides wealthier and possessed of a great deal more free time? Oops, am I making not-writing sound very appealing? Okay, what would you be besides empty and depressed because you weren't telling lies for fun and profit?

5. Is writing your primary outlet for creativity or do you have others you'd like to share?

6. What's one very annoying thing about being an author?

7. What's the most appealing thing about a writing career that keeps you going back for more, time and again?

8. What's the biggest "outpouring" of writing you can remember--marathon writing sessions, etc--and how did you recover from your hyperproductivity? (Note: if you are always hyperproductive, skip this question, because I hate you.)

9. What was the most marked creative or writer's block you can remember having, and how you did you recover from your brain drought?

10. What do your family and friends think about your writing career?

11. Let's say you were going to be devoid of a computer, the internet or any type of word processor for a year, but you would have an ample supply of pens, pencils and paper. Would you keep writing?

12. If you would keep writing, what if you were also going to be devoid of research materials for that year? How would you write around that?

13. Let's say you wouldn't even have paper and... Ok, let's not say that. This is an interview, not a nightmare counselling session. Speaking of which, in your current WIP, what do you think your protagonists would have nightmares about and why?

14. What might your protagonists seek counselling about and why?

15. What author would you like to interview, and what would you ask him or her?

16. What's the strangest thing that has inspired a story idea in you? (The story doesn't have to be published can be still a story germ.)

17. What's the best or most interesting research you've ever done for your fiction?

18. Where's the most remote-from-you location you've set a story and what did you do to research that?

19. What television programs or movies would you say bear the most resemblance to the type of books you write?

20. What's one of your least favorite parts of writing a new story?

21. What's one of your most favorite parts of revising an existing story?

22. Of all the fictional worlds you've created, where would you most want to visit and why?

23a. Of all the fictional protagonists you've created, who would you most want to go on vacation with and why? 23b. What about if you had a lot of work to do around the house? 23c. And what about if you were flunking the maths?

24. What is your ideal writing environment?

25. What less than ideal writing environment do you have to settle for?

26. How many fistfights have you put in your stories?

27. How many stories have you written in which the world was saved?

28. And what's your current in-story body count?

29. If you were going to write a story set in your hometown, how would you cleverly disguise the people you know so nobody would sue you? Or maybe you shouldn't tell us that part...

30. If you were going to write or already have written "your" version of a fairy tale, what fairy tale would you choose and how would you juggle things around?

31. Weather extremes: where have they shown up in your books and how have you relied on your own experience to share them?

32. How have you used something from your childhood memories to bring something in one of your novels alive?

33. How many times have you managed to work cats into your novels? What about gnomes?

34. Let's say your next book is going to be entirely from the point of view of the protagonists' cat. How do you think your authorial "voice" might change?

35. Would you need more or less money up front if the book was going to be from the point of view of the dog? I mean, it would be a lot shorter that way, with much smaller words, and the butt-sniffing would inject some base humor, but still. There's a higher chance a book by or about a dog would be a literary let-down, so it would be a risk for your reputation. Thoughts?

36. What's on your TBR shelf?

37. What's for dinner?

38. Do you like any household chores at all? Which one do you most revile?

39. Do you like my hat?

40. What kind of hat are you wearing?

41. What kind of tool are you? (I am probably a monkey wrench. For obvious reasons.)

42. What's the meaning of life?

Come on...let's see if we can get all 42 q's answered! By someone other than me.

Jody Wallace *

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feeling Fictional

Posted by: PG Forte
A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post. Originally, I planned on writing an homage to Charles Addams, whose 100th birthday was yesterday. I remember as a child being fascinated by the books of macabre, very "grown-up" cartoons I found on my parents' living room shelves.

 We always had a lot of books, some of them strange, the result of several generations of eclectic tastes, but these were definitely among the most "out of place" objects in an otherwise typical suburban living room. Another was an almost-ten-foot-tall original oil painting of an angel guarding two small children, but that's another story!

As I researched photos and videos to add to this post, I stumbled across this:

This is a house a very young Charles Addams walked by every day, going back and forth to school. It's thought to be one of the houses he used for inspiration when depicting the house his cartoon Addams Family lived in.

I also had a friend whose family lived in a not dissimilar house... the real one, that is, not the cartoon! I always loved that house. And when I wrote my first book and was looking for a suitably atmospheric house, I drew on the experience of visiting there to give my characters a perfect home.

When I sat down to write this post, fairly early in the morning for me, I brought my breakfast with me, to eat at my desk. Which is kind of when it hit me. See, today's breakfast is one I'd had some other characters eat.  In fact, simple as it is, I more or less invented it specifically for those characters. That I was eating it now meant my fictional life was bleeding over into my physical life...kind of the reverse of what Charles Addams did with that house. The more I thought about that, the more I realized how very much I do that.

My characters frequently go to fictional events that are similar (if not identical) to actual ones I've attended. They often live in fictional towns that are conglomerations of real towns I've either lived in or visited. We frequently have similar interests. I have a tattoo that originated with one of them and whenever I update my resume I have to remember that I really can't claim their job experience as my own. That last one is a lot harder than you might think. My daughter and I recently discussed the (extremely unlikely) possibility of opening a real-life bakery based on one I've written about.

I suspect this blurring of the line between fact and fantasy is fairly common among authors. It certainly makes for a more interesting life than all those hours spent behind the keyboard would suggest.  I think readers often have a hard time keeping it straight as well. I've recently had two readers express an interest in having me cook for them. I think they really want my professional chef character, or maybe my baker, but they're not available.

However, if peanut butter and jelly is what they want, I'm their gal. Just as soon as I finish this next scene...

What about you? How much of what you read do you attempt to replicate in your own life? Or, if you're an author, how much of what you live finds its way into your books?

And finally, happy birthday, Charles, from a child who was relieved to learn she was not the only one in the world with a macabre sense of humor.

Find out more about PG Forte, here or here or follow her on twitter @pgforte

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year the Ancient Egyptian Way!

Posted by: Veronica Scott

I hope everyone had a Happy New Year and is now settling back into everyday life, like I’m doing.
Since my book Priestess of the Nile comes out from Carina this month, I started thinking about the New Year in Ancient Egypt. If we were living in the land where my story takes place, we’d actually be celebrating somewhere in July, pegged to the rising waters of the Nile and inundation of the fields to start the planting. Making it hard to do adequate planning, the Nile can begin flooding anywhere within a roughly 80 day time frame.
Egypt was nothing if not organized, with a structure going all the way down from Pharaoh to local authorities, with armies of scribes keeping track of everything in neat lines of hieroglyphics. This eighty day window didn’t work for them. Can’t have Pharaoh on standby waiting for the river to rise!
Lacking instant communications the Egyptians had to have a system that would allow everyone in the country to know the moment the New Year had begun, so all could be in sync with Pharaoh.
The solution they found was grounded in science and mythology, like so many ancient cultures. The star Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. A quirk of its heliacal rising – the moment when it first becomes briefly visible above the eastern horizon just before sunrise, after a period of time when it had not been visible - makes it a perfect marker to anchor the calculations of the ancient New Year. Each day the star rises further and further in the sky until it disappears again, only to reappear a year later.
Sirius or Sepdet as the Egyptians called it, was a trustworthy predictor of the Nile flood season. The first new moon after Sepdet reappeared in the sky was the first day of the New Year. Even if the Nile hadn't begun to rise, that day was also deemed to be the official start of the flood.
The Egyptians believed the Nile flooded each year as Isis, Queen of the Great Ones (who appears in my novella) wept over the death of her husband Osiris. The bright star was said to be the goddess herself. Not to worry, Osiris rose from the dead with help – some legends credit the hero of my story, Sobek the Crocodile God, with assisting Isis in saving her husband. Osiris was considered the source of all life, including the vegetation that would grow after the Nile flooded with his wife’s tears, spreading rich black mud on the waiting fields.
This post isn’t long enough to go into the intricacies of the Egyptian calendar but there were five days of feasting and observances at the end of each year. The beer flowed freely according to some accounts I’ve read! New Year’s Day was the Opening of the Year and on Day 15 special offerings were made to ensure a good flood. Given the 80 day variation in the start of the flood, this Day 15 observance was pretty sure to fall during the actual rising of the Nile, thus making Pharaoh appear all knowing as he should be.
And their year would be off to a good start, life going smoothly!
What one thing are you hoping to see go differently in your New Year?

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