Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Life without heat

Hmm, what to blog about. I haven't put a title in yet because I have no clue what I'm going to say.

I think the problem is that my brain is frozen. The heater went out on Sunday, and the house hasn't gotten above 57 degrees since then. But the new heater is on the way! I'm such a complainer. Can you imagine if I lived back East? Now then I'd have reason to complain.

But being without heat makes me think about what's really important in life. Good health. Definitely up there on the list. Good friends. As high up there as good health because what is life without people who care enough to listen and love you even when you're a nag or hitting a downer. People who love you even if you don't talk to them as often as you should. A computer that works so I can write. Now wait a minute. I could write long-hand. Ugg. Okay, a computer that works stays on the list. A wonderful husband who buys me a space heater to warm my legs while I'm using that computer, and who builds me a blazing fire to keep the house warm and makes me lots of sweet cups of tea to take the chill out of the body. A family who loves me and supports me in my endeavors.

Wow! I've got everything! So I can live another day without a heater. (And now I've got a title for my blog!)
Jasmine
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Career goals, dirty diapers & rainy days

It's raining today. And I don't have anything witty or insightful to say. Mostly just sitting here at my computer with my 15 month old saying "hi" repeatedly into my telephone. Oh yeah, and trying to figure out my long range career goals....Does the word ugh mean anything to anyone?

I've got some YA ideas, a women's fiction proposal that needs some edits, several erotic romance proposals that either need tweaking or need to be written. Somehow it should all tie together, right? Must have long discussion with agent about moi when she comes back from maternity leave.

In other news, I just finished Much Ado About You by Eloisa James and thoroughly enjoyed it. In a little while I'm going to packed said baby into the car and go down to the tiny bookstore in the strip mall and pray they have the sequel--Kiss Me Annabel. And, don't laugh, but I've been DYING for Red Lily by Nora Roberts--it's the final book in her latest trilogy. I feel like a crazy rabid nerdoid fan.

So that's it for a rainy Tuesday in the California Wine Country.
;-) Bella Andre
http://www.BellaAndre.com

ps-I can't help but mention that Take Me was #59 on Bookscan's Top 100 Romances last week!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Don’t let life’s bumps kill your creative muse

Okay, it this blog I want to talk about life’s little bumps. In March of this year I was diagnosed with MS. It took nearly a year of tests to finally get the right diagnosis, so it was a relief, in some ways, to know that the medial issues I was having weren’t in my mind-- well they were, but purely in a neurological way ;).

Anyway, while I was in the hospital, being pumped with so many steroids I couldn’t count (to relieve my brain swelling)… I got an itch to write a new story. I mean, depression is a huge problem with MS, but instead of letting myself totally succumb to depressed (which was hard because now I had an excuse), I began to think about this book my sister had been whining about. See, she loves vampire novels, and she loves J.D. Robb. She wanted a vampire book; one that was different, one set in the future, so we began to chat about what she wanted and I formed a picture, in my damaged brain ;), of what the book would look like.

In that week in the hospital, to distract myself for all the needles, I began brainstorming the book, more and more. The make a long story short, I just finished the book last month, Blood Squad, http://raemonet.com/BloodSquad.html, and it contains a heroine who has an incurable disease (some say it’s my best work ever). After I wrote the book I received an e-mail from a reader. She said it was refreshing to read a book where a heroine was disabled and the characteristics of her disease were described in a real world sense. Then the woman went on to tell me she was disabled and how much joy my book brought her. Wow, isn’t that great? So the moral of this story is… life has a lot of bumps… don’t let them pull you down, or lose you muse. Use the bumps to write a better story. Be creative.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turkeys

Turkeys

Each Thanksgiving millions of Americans come together around a table in anticipation of a delicious, mouth-watering stuffed turkey. Family and friends take their first bit of the succulent meat and each turns to the cook and praises their time, expertise and effort.
When a new book is released, the author waits for the praise of readers and reviewers.
I have been blessed. I write stories, companies publish them, wonderful people read them and reviewers take time to write a couple of paragraphs about them.
But not all reviewers love them as much as I do.
Authors always quote the great reviews so in celebration of turkey day I thought I’d share quotes of my not-so-great reviews.

Slumber Party Inc.
The sex, rather than being hot, just seems a bit unbelievable and slightly gratuitous.
Barb
JERR

Things That Go Bump in the Night V
Embrace Forever
B.J. McCall weaves an entertaining tale about two lost souls. The only drawback to this is the focus seems to be on sex and not the characters and engaging storyline.
Stacey
Road to Romance

But the best of all was on Amazon!
Icy Hot
This is the worst book I’ve read in a long time.
Rochelle

Thanks to Barb, Stacey and Rochelle for taking the time to make a comment.
Have a great Thanksgiving Day.
BJ McCall

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hilton Head in November

The days are lazy and warm, in the high seventies. I brought all the wrong clothes, but that's okay. The beach stretches for miles, the sand hard packed and easy to walk on. I collect sea shells as if I don't live only 10 miles from the beach, but these are East Coast sea shells, so they're different, you see. Long bike rides out to the other end of the island, then sitting on the back deck while the hamburgers sizzle on the grill. And shopping, just a bit, just enough to check out if the outlet malls on the island are any different than we have at home. They're not. I love buying groceries at the Piggly-Wiggly, just because the name is so cute. I check out the local Barnes and Noble to see if they have my books. They do! So I sign all the copies. Twin Peaks is still in the new release section! The clerk didn't even ask why I was signing books written under two different names. The nights are cool and windy, but I can't help going out onto the beach to see the full moon across the water. Or getting up early to see the sun rise. The sunrise is of course more spectacular than the sunset. I love the salt sea taste on my lips.

And finally, it's time to come home again. Yeah, I could go there again.

Have a great trip to Hawaii, Kate!
Jasmine
www.skullybuzz.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

All about the business...

Today was all about balance...trying to get away for a few days when you've got deadlines and copy edits and life in general, becomes a true juggling act. I wrote all weekend, drove down the hill from Cobb on Monday after finishing up a chapter that had kept me awake most of the night, picked up the mail in Geyserville and had a big package waiting for me. Surprise! Copy edits for Chanku Rising, my story in the Sexy Beast anthology. Due back now, or close to it, and of course we're headed out for a Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii to visit our kids tomorrow! Up until eleven working on the edits, awake again at three to finish them up, then laundry and housework and last minute errands and packing the suitcase, then the daughter and son-in-law and grandkids here for dinner while I raced back and forth to the computer to deal with promotional stuff with one of my online groups for Wolf Tales ...which, by the way, started shipping from Barnes and Noble this week, about six weeks ahead of schedule! Can we say STRESS? But in the midst of that was some cool stuff...a quick stop at Borders Express where it turns out almost all of my Ellora's Cave titles, recently restocked, have sold out. They asked me to sign what was left, which I did, and it was cool to see them sitting on the shelf with the "authorgraphed" sticker on the front. Now it's almost nine and my bags are packed, the dishes are done, the house is almost clean. I need to water my plants and make a few calls in the morning, and then we're off. I am SO looking forward to the next few days where I might actually get to READ a book instead of worrying about writing one. I want to wish all of you in the states a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Red Hot Romance Authors monthly news

Here's our news for the month from the Author's of Red Hot Romance

Romantic Times Magazine gives Wolf Tales and The Hard Stuff four and three stars. Congrats Red Hot Romance Author's Kate Douglas and Karin Tabke.

Bella Andre is sporting a fantastic new video teaser for her up and coming book, Take Me. Grab some popcorn, turn the lights down low and check it out here

Rae Monet has finished her latest WIP, Blood Squad. Check out the world of the Valerian Vampire Clan as well as the San Francisco Violent Crime Specialized Homicide unit, The Blood Squad, here

Jennifer Skully will be the featured author spotlight and Drop Dead Gorgeous will be the featured book for Harlequin’s Reader to Reader Newsletter in April!

Jasmine Haynes has just sold a new erotic novella trilogy to Berkley . The Passion Club will contain Jasmine’s heart-wrenching tale, The Sex Club, plus two new sexy stories to delight readers. Look for it in Winter 2006!

Are you ready for thrilling romance with great human drama, passion, and unforgettable hilarity? That’s what reviewers are saying about Jennifer Skully’s latest book, Fool’s Gold.

Rae Monet's Christmas Anthology, Jingle My Bell Jwill be released November 28, 2005. See here. Rae's story is Cleopatra's Legacy, a futuristic sensual romance you can't miss.

BJ McCall's anthology, Things That Go Bump in the Night, was released last month from Ellora's Cave. See details here

Rae Monet and Bella Andre will be signing copies of Racing Hearts and Take Me at Waldenbooks, December 9, 2005 at 6:00 PM in San Rafael.



Friday, November 18, 2005

Marathons and Misremembering

I'm only what, like 2 weeks late in posting? Which means this will be an amazingly well thought out post. Right? Riiiiiiiight.

I have however, been thinking about this subject for awhile. Ever since I did my first 10 mile run in preparation for a half marathon that I'd signed up for about a month and a half after my son was born. Before I got pregnant I had run a couple of marathons and several half marathons, and liked to keep myself at a place where I could comfortably run anywhere from 13 to 20 miles at a stretch. Throughout my pregnancy when I had to decrease my mileage and finally quit running all together, I found myself nostalgic for those days when I ran for hours on the trails around our house. I'd come home, sweaty and exhausted, take a long, hot shower, and eat whatever I wanted, guilt free. I could justify planting myself on the couch for the next several hours because I had run a gazillion miles - I could legitimately be a sloth for the rest of the day.

Then I had my first 10 mile run in preparation for the 1/2 marathon. I felt great for about the first 7 miles. And then I remembered, this shit is hard. I'd forgotten how much energy it takes to run that far. I'd forgotten the way my hamstrings would feel tight and my feet would start to ache. And I'd forgotten to put bodyglide under my sportsbra, and I was developing one hell of a blister. I wasn't nearly as fast as I used to be, and when I got home I realized that with a baby to take care of, I could no longer spend the rest of the day eating and resting.

I was so grateful that I was only training for a 1/2 marathon, and that my longest run wouldn't be much longer than this.

Still, it felt pretty good to know that only 4 months after having a baby, I could run 10 miles. And after 5 months I could finish a race.

I realized soon that writing a book is the same way for me. About a month ago I started work on a new project, a novella. Just something to keep me occupied while I wait for my revisions to start pouring in. It was the first new thing I'd written since having my son. I was so excited to get started. I'd missed that feeling of being so absorbed in a project, that feeling of having it working away somewhere in the back of my mind no matter what else was going on, of taking a kernel of an idea and developing it into a fully fledged plot.

And then after about the first 10 pages, I remembered, this shit is hard. I'd forgotten how hard it is to get the right balance of backstory in those first few critical pages. I'd forgotten, no matter how well I think I know my characters, how hard it is to translate them onto the page. And I was slow. Before I had a baby, I could realistically expect to write 10 pages or so a day. Now I'm lucky if I get five done. With 8 hours total of baby sitting time a week, I'm lucky if my weekly page count hits 20.

I was grateful this was only going to be a novella, and not a full single title.

Still, I'm pretty psyched that in the limited writing time I now have, I've still managed to crank out 40 pages.

The point of all this babble? Basically, I realize that with both running and writing I conveniently forgot the drudgery of the process, those days when every step was excruciating, when every word sounded wrong. Instead I focused on what I loved, the feeling of accomplishment I got when I had a 15 page day, the sense of empowerment I felt when I knew I could make my body move at a pretty good clip for 26 miles, the sense of pride I got from knowing that I could finish a 400+ page manuscript.

And yet even when reality smacks me in the face, I still love both, and I'll never stop either (not by choice, anyway). Because the great feelings I get from both are totally worth the physical and mental obstacles they pose.
Now that I have a baby, I have to not beat myself up if my speed in both running and writing is not what it used to be, because now I have other demands on my time.
So I'll keep running (half marathons for now) and writing (a novella just to get me started), stay satisfied with the daily victories, and try to keep in mind how awesome it will feel to finish.




Tuesday, November 15, 2005

At long last...

I can't resist blogging today to announce: TAKE ME is officially released today!!!!

Actually, the book has been trickling into bookstores for the past week or so and I've received some of the most wonderful email from readers....tearing up kind of stuff. Like the one from the woman yesterday who said that my book was helping her face her demons about self-esteem and that in 20 years of reading novels she'd never identified with a character as much as she did with Lily (my heroine). And then another from a friend who said that she bought the book because it was her civic duty as my friend, but then it took over her life, and she couldn't put it down, she laughed she cried, and told her husband that she must have been reading too many business books because she'd never finished a book in one day. Do you love that?

This past month or two has been stressful, but this past week has been nothing but joy. I'm off to do my first booksigning this afternoon--I don't know who goes to a booksigning on Tuesday between 1 and 3 pm, but I'll be there with a pen and a smile.

;-) Bella Andre

TAKE ME: November 2005
http://www.BellaAndre.com

p.s. Check out the video teaser for TAKE ME: http://www.nyree.com/TakeMeVideo.wmv

Monday, November 14, 2005

B.I.C.F.O.K.

Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. That's probably the most important lesson I've ever learned about finishing a book, and the one I have the hardest time following. It's amazing how often life conspires to keep my butt out of the chair and my fingers busy doing something else. Yesterday started out with great intentions. I'd written well on Saturday and my story moved along beautifully. Sunday started with the same flow. Then all of a sudden, my muse made the horrible mistake of looking out the window and she was seduced by the view. My office here in Cobb is on the top floor of the house with a view of a mixed pine and oak forest. This time of year, the oaks are dark gold and bright, brassy yellow, the pines a glorious dark green (I would say "forest green," but it somehow sounds redundant...) and the sky a perfect cerulean blue. Obviously, it was too much. The next thing I knew, my muse had deserted me. I figured she'd probably gone for a walk, so of course I took Rufus the ever-faithful lap dog and went looking for her. I will admit, the mile loop I took was well worth the break. I visited with a neighbor on the way home who was busy painting trim on her house, which reminded me of the gallon of dark gold paint sitting in my front room. After lunch, I painted the accent wall I've been wanting to paint, fixed dinner, puttered, and avoided going up stairs.

Butt was NOT in chair, fingers NOT on keyboard. Next chapter did NOT get written. Sometimes it's impossible to drag myself away from my writing. Other days, a team of horses can't drag me to it...today I head down the hill to the other house and hope to write this afternoon. The view there isn't nearly so seductive...though I haven't walked in the vineyard for a long time...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Crazy People

As you can probably guess (since I'm late doing my blog), I didn't know what to blog about today. So I decided I'd blog regarding this crazy woman who verbally accosts me when I go to my local coffee shop.

How should one handle a crazy person? I'm not talking about the usual stuff, you know, the normal friend who's acting a little wiggy because of something going on in their life. Not the person you encounter at the grocery store who's inexplicably rude to you because they're having a bad day. I'm talking really crazy, raving crazy. This woman screams, yes, SCREAMS at me across the parking lot. She says some very vile things about me being a prostitute (which is not the word she uses) and the unnatural things I do with my body to lure men to their doom (again, I'm using polite terminology to describe it). I can't figure out what I did to her that makes her so vituperative whenever she sees me. Probably I didn't do anything, I simply represent something to her. She's very smart, though, while being crazy. She doesn't follow me into the coffee shop to harangue me. I think she knows the owner would call the police on her. She only does it outside, away from the coffee shop.

So, I wonder, do I confront her and tell her to leave me alone? Do I call the police myself? Do I ignore her and go about my business? How does one handle a truly crazy person? And why has she chosen me? I'm very curious. What is it about me that sets her off? The first time it happened, she said something to me that I didn't understand. Not knowing her (and not knowing she was crazy at this point) and not feeling like asking her to repeat, I smiled and nodded just as you would do with a non-crazy person you walk by. And that was it. She exploded. Obviously I didn't react properly to whatever it was she said. I find it all very interesting, the workings of her mind. Who is she? Why did she become crazy? What happened to her? Can she be cured? Hmm, I think I'll make up a story about her.

Actually, I think I'll put her in my next book. Now, to think of a name for my crazy lady.

Monday, November 07, 2005

My first fan mail...what a glorious day!

The most exciting thing happened to me today--I got my first fan email for Take Me! The book's official release is November 15th, but here it is, November 7th, and a lovely woman in Georgia wrote me to thank me for writing my book. How much do I love her, you might be asking?

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much! ;-)

My favorite thing that she said was, "Sorry to be long winded [ed note: she wasn't long winded at all. I could have read her email forever]. I want to encourage you to keep writing-I want more stories from you."

Don't you love that? She wrote me to encourage me to write more stories. What a fabulous woman.

And on that happy note, I'm off to finish the edits on my next book.
;-) Bella Andre

TAKE ME: November 2005
www.BellaAndre.com

ps-If you get a chance, go check out the video trailer on my web site. There are a couple links for it at the top of the page.

When your muse takes control

Sunday's my regular day to blog, but here it is Monday and I'm writing a day late without guilt. Why? Because Sunday morning my muse took control. I'd left my characters sort of hanging loosely in the midst of a scene when I shut down the computer Saturday night. They'd had a tepid conversation, a less than exciting prelude to a sex scene that I decided to leave until Sunday. I opened the file to Wolf Tales III early Sunday morning and read what I'd written the day before and realized it was all absolute dreck. Suddenly Shannon, my heroine, was standing in front of me with her hands on her hips and telling me in no uncertain terms she would never have approached Jacob Trent in such a meek and mild manner. Shannon's an almost six foot tall redhead who has absolutely no compunction about picking up a stranger in a bar for a night of hot sex, and there's no way she'd hold anything back with a man like Jake, especially since he'd just saved her life. He, on the other hand, takes what he wants when he wants it, and he really wanted Shannon. I deleted almost everything I'd written Saturday and turned the keyboard over to the two of them. By the time I shut my computer down last night I was absolutely exhausted, but I knew that what my muse had written was much better than anything I could ever do on my own. Sunday was a reminder that writing is a team effort. My muse, my characters and me. On a good day, all I have to do is type.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Why I like to read erotic romance

So, why do I like to read erotic romance? First of all, I like the romance part. Romance makes the sex better, which is why I'm not so into reading straight erotica. The emotion in the romance enhances the love scenes, even if they are over the top. And that brings me to why I like reading EROTIC romance. It's all about the fantasy. Reading a story by a top notch writer, I'm transported into their world. I can experience things I'd never do in real life. There's no risk involved. But I can imagine what it would be like to be a risk taker. My secret fantasies come to life with an adrenalin rush. After a long, hard (no pun intended) working day, a good erotic romance relaxes me. Maybe it's escapist, but then sometimes, a little escapism is good for the soul. I've got a busy life, and many times, I have to do things I'm really not fond of doing. Like the promotion end of the writing business. It's necessary to promote myself, but it takes a toll. Reading a really good erotic romance, maybe in the bathtub, with a glass of wine and a semisweet dark chocolate Hershey's kiss (or two or three), I feel renewed. So give me a little escapist erotic romance any time!
Jasmine
www.skullybuzz.com

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