Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year Everyone!

Figured I'd pop in with a quick flyby post as little man naps (he learned to shit through his diapers over Christmas. I'm so very proud!). Hoping everyone survived the holidays. As 2006 rapidly approaches, I want to hear from you. First, what happened in 2005 that you're particularly psyched about? What do you want to improve on for 2006 (I hate the whole resolution thing, so I prefer to think of them as areas that I hope to improve upon)?
Here's what I'm psyched about for 2005:
1. After 5 years of trying to get pregnant, I finally had a baby boy in May
2. After 3 years of writing, I sold 3 books this year
3. The success of my writing buddies - Bella's first book from Pocket not only debuted, it made Bookscan! And Monica... (last name of pseudonym still TBD) got a 3 book deal from Ballantine.
4. I got a fantastic agent
5. After having my little man, I took off all the pregnancy weight plus 5 pounds (and yes, I know I'm incredibly shallow, but whatever)

Things I'd like to improve on for 2006:
1. My abs (did I not mention the shallowness?)
2. My attitude towards potentially stressful situations (I call it pre-stressing)
3. My organization and time management skills
4. Using my babysitting/baby nap time to be productive (as in, BICHOK)

Okay, now you go!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is there or is there not cosmic intervention?

You know how you'll be thinking of someone, and all of a sudden, they'll call you? You pick up the phone almost knowing it's them (okay, forget for the moment that we now have Caller ID). Or maybe you have thoughts of someone you haven't seen in say, 15 years, and then boom, that person contacts you out of the blue. Or just maybe you happen to be somewhere and you see something or someone who eventually has a huge impact on your life. What are the chances that you would be there at that moment in time to set the whole thing in motion? I have a very good friend whom I met at an RWA conference in...Chicago, was it? She was wearing the most attractive dress (which I wanted for myself!). Normally, I'd just pass on, but I thought, you know, I'm gonna tell that woman she looks fantastic in that dress. Turned out she lives, as the crow flies, about 10 miles from me. We've been great friends ever since. But really, what were the chances, first that I'd see her, second that I'd actually go out of my way to compliment her dress, at which point, I saw where she was from on her name tag. Is there something out there!? I know, it's the age-old question. But I've just had a series of things like that happen, coincidences so huge that it's hard to fathom they could actually be coincidences in the whole scheme of things.

Hmm, maybe I'm just in a thoughtful mood today because it's raining and dark and though it's eight in the morning, I actually have to have the lights on. Anway, anyone have weird things happen like that?

Okay, and I'm also stoked because Sex and the Serial Killer (by Jennifer Skully, that other woman who also occupies space in my body) is up for the RT 2005 Reviewers' Choice Award in the contemporary category. I feel very, very happy about that.

Monday, December 26, 2005

T'was the day after Christmas...

I was dreading last week. The deadline for Wolf Tales III was looming, I was totally unprepared for Christmas and my 90 year old mother in law was coming for five days. The men with the "hug me" coats were waiting in the wings...
Now it's the day after Christmas, my husband is on the road, making the seven hour round trip to return his mother to her home, the rush has settled into a crawl and I can look back and actually smile at the fun week we had. First of all, I hope I live to see 90, and if I do, I hope I can still go to the Indian casino, sit down at a poker table and finish in the top five in a tournament. :-) I don't think I could finish top five now! My husband promised to keep his mother busy so I could write, and he did a marvelous job. I won't say how much it cost us in poker losses, but it was worth every penny for those uninterrupted hours of writing time.
It's been stressful and fun and I've had the added bonus of watching Wolf Tales climb steadily in the rankings at both Barnes and Noble and (Somebody please let me know if there is a twelve-step program for ranking addicts...) We've spent time with family ranging in age from 20 months to 90 years and watching them all interract was a lot of fun. I can't help but sit here on the day after Christmas and count my blessings--a healthy, fun-loving family, a daughter and son-in-law willing to take over the big Christmas Eve dinner where both families blend seamlessly, a new granddaughter due to join us in six weeks, and a career that is suddenly taking off to an entirely new level.
It really doesn't get much better than this.
I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday. I wish you health and happiness in 2006, and always, a few free minutes every day to curl up with a good book.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas diddy

'Twas the night before deadline
and all through the book
not a plot was emerging
no beginning, no hook

My characters were boring
too stupid too live
my hero liked whoring
a shit I could give

I starred at the page
all white and still blank
my emotions near rage
my book all but sank

When outside the house I heard such a clatter
I jumped from the computer to see what was the matter
There in the street I saw such a sight
a big brown truck with one, no, two white lights

The driver was male and all dressed in brown
in a short sleeve shirt and tight shorts he was bound
His calves were ripped taut and chest was heaving
my biggest fear was he'd soon be leaving

He wasted no time and went straight to work
I stumbled out the door and felt like a jerk
there in the truck with packages he made ready
I ran upstairs and searched for a teddy

A few minutes later I heard the bell ring
so I ran down the stairs all ready for a fling

His hair it was dark and curled in places
and his teeth were white without big spaces
with shoulders broad and arms so strong
I naturally assumed he'd have a long dong

I batted my eyes and tried to play coy
all the time wanting this delivery boy toy
he cocked one eye brow and started to grin
he lowered his eyes and then drank me in

"Can I help you," I said, as suggesting as able
In my mind I was picturing us both on the table
He nodded that nod in that knowing way
and stepped to the threshold for a roll in the hay

In his arms he produced a package square
not the package I wanted but I didn't dare
for I knew now his purpose was me not to please
but to leave me this package no moment to seize

A box from my publisher had now arrived
My author copies were wrapped inside
Forget about this man in his suit of brown
I had THE HARD STUFF no need to get down

I ripped back the flaps and grabbed a copy
I felt a bit flushed and even sloppy
but there it was, just as I was told
I really am published, I really am sold

Hours later the excitement subsided
I returned to my new book, a direction decided
About an author in the middle of the day
And a delivery man who went out of his way...

A little gift from hubby.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Season's greetings.

Happy Holidays

At this time of year we Americans continue our annual debate of whether to say Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays.
I always thought Seasons Greetings worked best on a painted window and Happy Holidays rolled off the tongue well. Imagine seeing a friend across the street, waving and yelling Seasons Greetings. If I know the person celebrates Christmas, I’ll most likely yell Merry Christmas. I’ve always loved the sound of it.
Saying Merry Christmas makes me think of houses trimmed in colorful lights, trees adorned with ornaments, my dog with a bell on his collar and my husband wearing a Santa hat holding two glasses of champagne.
No matter which greeting you choose, say it from the heart and should you be the recipient of the greeting, accept it in the spirit of the season.
So, to my fellow authors and to all of you who visit our site and read our blog Merry Christmas.
Stay safe, be well and keep love in your heart.

BJ McCall

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I am giddy

Scarily so. It's sort of manic. It's a whole bunch of things.

I got an email from a lady in the military saying she'd picked up my Jennifer Skully release, Fool's Gold, in the mystery section at Wal-Mart. Then she figured out it was a Harlequin. She never would have bought it if she'd known. But by the time she did see it was Harlequin, she was hooked and couldn't put it down. Now she wants to read all my books by all my multiples.

Then a friend told me she'd seen Fool's Gold in Double Day Bookclub. I don't know why, but before I was published, when I flipped through my book club flyers, I always used to dream that one day MY book would be in there. And now it is! Another fantasy fulfillment.

Then my editor wrote to say she'd finished going through the revisions on my July release, Somebody's Lover. And she loved them! I did it just right. And she can't wait to work on The Passion Club with me! I was very nervous waitng for her to read the revised version, all those sick little thoughts running through my mind, like "I couldn't possibly have done what she wanted me to, she'll hate it, then she'll ask for all the money back, and I spent it on a new heater, and then she'll hate ME, and and blacklist me, and I'll die an impoverished, ridiculed writer and the worms will eat me." Okay, a bit dramatic, get the point.

Last week, I learned Vengeance to the Max is an Eppie finalist, mystery category. So all of my multiples have received good news!

And gosh, there's more, but I can't put it all down. It's as if I made a determination to change my attitude, that I wasn't going to let the fear overwhelm me, that I was going to force myself to move forward and enjoy it. And once I decided, all the good things started happening and then the giddiness. I hope it never ends. Makes it so much easier to write when I feel good.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"No rules, just write."

"No rules, just write." My new mantra. It's what I love about erotic romance. Rules schmules. Push the envelope? What envelope? I'm not talking about nasty sex or ... maybe I am, just a little. What's so wrong with a little consensual down and dirty fun amongst two people in love? Nada in my mind. I have Safe is Boring on a post it over my laptop, I'm adding, no rules, just write. It just has to be, it's what I do. It's exciting, fun, and yes naughty, but c'mon if you're honest with yourself, you'll agree that's why you read erotic romance. It takes you to the edge, and in some cases pushes you over. The free fall is scintillating. You hold your breath the entire way down, your heart rate exploding when you come to earth. Then you want to do it all over again. I love sexy romances. Speaking of which, don't forget,THE HARD STUFF is in stores now.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Where'd it go?

Okay, I know better than to rely on what "feels right," bit it really felt like Christmas was two weeks away, not next Sunday...and since we celebrate on Christmas Eve it's really only a week away and I'm not anywhere close to ready. Thank goodness our daughter and son in law have the dinner at their house, but I have to cook it, or at least the roast and the salmon. Plus, my mother in law will be with us for a week--she's ninety this next month and still sharp as a tack. I hope that if I live that long, I can stay that, guess I can forget that one. I'm not that sharp now...
Today was wet and windy and the rain never let up. I was up in my third floor office working away on Wolf Tales III when the power went out. Okay...I call PG&E and wait for light. Nothing. My deadline is growing closer by the minute and I've got no power. I start cleaning. Dusting, picking up stuff, anything to keep busy. No power. Finally the lights come on and I try to go back to work. The scenes that I'd kept in my head were suspiciously absent. The dialogue was gone. The rain was still falling. I ended up sewing all afternoon, making baby blankets for the new granddaughter due in February.
Christmas will arrive on schedule whether I'm ready or not. The book will get done when it's done, and no sooner. There's something inevitable about the march of time...I think it marches right over me. One thing I'm going to be ready for--my book signing for Wolf Tales on Tuesday, December 27 at the Northgate Mall Waldenbooks in San Rafael. If any of you are in the area, stop by Tuesday from noon to two. I'll be the one with the time-stamped foot prints across my butt.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I've Been Tagged!

Kate Douglas snuck up behind me and shot me through the dorsal fin. Since she posted her top ten writing secrets on our Aphrodisia Author blog, now I'm supposed to post mine here. I'm also not sure what kinds of secrets I'm supposed to include. Writing tips? Secret plot brainstorming rituals? Reminisces about all the books I've loved before? Anyway, here's a smattering of both:

1. I treat writing like a job. It's the only way I get anything done. When I first started writing, I would "wait for the mood to strike." It took me a year to write a draft of a 250 page manuscript. Then I started treating it like a job, with set hours and time sensitive deadlines. I finished the draft of the second book in 3 months.

2. I have the best critique partners in the world. Bella Andre was my roommate in college, and after a "break up" of several years, we reconnected and discovered we were both working on romance novels! I met Monica McCarty at my first RWA meeting in February 2002. They were the first two people who ever read my work, and I know I never would have sold a book without them.

3. The first manuscript I ever finished is a cowboy/secret baby book.

4. Despite being an English major and a romance lover, I have never read a Jane Austen novel.

5. My parents were convinced I'd be a successful author when they read an email I wrote about a trip my husband and I took to Tuscany. It contained my commentary about the "Museum of Torture" and how members of the Spanish inquisition liked to shove various objects up the asses of heretics.

6. My husband is convinced I'm going to make enough as an author for him to retire. I told him, "Sure, if you want to retire to West Virginia."

7. I made friends in sixth grade by passing around a copy of Judy Blume's "Forever" with all the good parts marked.

8. One of my proudest moments was when my husband complained that he didn't get anything done one weekend because he didn't want to stop reading my book.

9. I have a sharpie pen ready to "edit" my book for my husband's family. I figure the abridged version will be about 4 pages long once I'm through with it.

10. For all of you people who keep asking, no, I don't consider my romance novels "practice" as I prepare to write "something more literary."

and now I tag..... Rae Monet, Vivi Anna, and Sasha White.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

News for December Red Hot Romance Authors

Bella Andrea's debut novel, Take Me, was on the Bookscan top 100 romance bestseller list for 2 weeks!!!

Kate Douglas' A Changling for All Seasons spent a week on Amazon's Top 100 romance list.
Rae Monet's, A Faerie Tale and J.B. Skully's, Vengence to the Max, final in the EPPIE's for 2006 in the Anthology and Mystery Categories.
Réunions Dangereuses, a vampire ménage quickie by Mardi Ballou, will be released Jan. 18.
Kensington's Aphrodisia authors just started a blog - Go check it out.
Rae Monet contracts with Venus Press for her latest HOT NASCAR romance, Winners Circle, sequel to Racing Hearts. See the details here
Kate Douglas will be at Waldenbooks, December 27, 2005 at noon to 2:00PM in San Rafael, Northgate Mall, signing Wolf Tales.

if only my husband were gay....

Then I could buy him clothes for Christmas....

I swear, I just went to an outlet mall that has every store and every brand and not one single thing didn't scream, "I'm twenty and flaming". Sigh. My husband looks good in thick, rugged sweaters. You know, manly clothes. But evidently those don't exist anymore.

In other news, on the drive home from the fruitless shopping trip, I heard Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughtta Know" and it reminded me of the fact that back in 1995 when I heard it for the first time I nearly drove my car into a ditch. Damn, it's a good song. Especially the line, "And every time you speak her name does she know how you told me you'd hold me until you died, But you're still alive."

Damn, I love that. The songwriter in me just gets all giddy with lines like that.

;-) Bella

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Coyotes, Bookmans, and Heroes!

My edits are done for Somebody's Lover, coming out in July (I saw it listed on Amazon already, though not with a cover yet). Everything has been cleaned off my plate. Thank God. The new book can really flow now. I feel alive again. Brand new stuff is roaring through my brain. "I can do this, and I can do that, and isn't this fun!" I can't tell you how wonderful it is to start something new. I can't remember the last time I was working on new pages, not rewrites, not edits, not galleys. It seems like forever! Okay, really, it's only been since last April. But I'm in heaven. I needed a name for my hero, and there it was on a real estate sign as I was taking the dog for a walk. Oh, I modified, but it's perfect. A new man to bring to life and fall in love with! Wow! My husband found his old Bookman and the funny jokes he used to play on me with it are going into the book, too. I heard the coyotes howling last night as they chased down some poor little animal (thank God my cat was inside the house). It's the eeriest sound when it's dark out, and they just seem to be all around you. Bloodlust in their cries. And that's going into the book, the creepy sensation, the portent in the sound. There are just a million things out there that can be dropped right into a book. I feel alive, aware, as if I'm seeing everything for the first time and maybe with those rose-colored glasses on, too. Thank God, I am not brain dead!

Okay, gotta run back and write some more. I'm gonna do this, then I'm gonna add that, and then...


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Rating Addiction, or, I Need My Twelve-Step Program

This has been a truly bizarre week, and leaves me with only one thing—well, maybe more than one—to blog about. Sales rankings, or, to put it bluntly and succinctly, the numbers that scream OHMYGAWDTHEY’REBUYINGMYBOOK..or not. When Wolf Tales first listed at Barnes and Noble online for pre-orders, I checked it out. The ranking was at some obscene number like 476,104 which told me that EVERY other book B&N listed was more popular. So I did what I imagine a lot of authors do, decided to ignore B&N because that massive number screaming "not selling" was more depressing than not. Then I heard from a reader that she’d actually received her copy of Wolf Tales from B&N—they were shipping six weeks ahead of the book's release date. I waited almost a month before going back to look at my ranking numbers. They had broken the 10,000 mark! I was hooked. I started checking every day...7,345, then 7,225, 6801 and today at 6,696...someone, somewhere is buying Wolf Tales and might actually be reading it. The funny thing is, I’m also in an anthology that released about the same time Wolf Tales began shipping. I just found out A CHANGELING FOR ALL SEASONS, has been in Amazon’s Top 100 Romances for the past week, hovering between #56 and #80. Not bad for a first print book from a tiny little independent press. When I checked the B&N site online, I discovered it was also outselling Wolf Tales by a large margin. I had to laugh...I’ve been following the wrong book! If I’d just concentrated on Changeling, I might not have spent so much time agonizing over Wolf Tales, which just tells you I’m probably a lot better off not even looking at numbers. So, I go back to the B&N site to double check, and on a whim take a look to see if Sexy Beast, coming out from Kensington in March, is listed yet. Yep, there it is. No picture yet. Ranking is 476,104. Oh my.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Issues, Issues, ISSUES

Bella said something very interesting the other night at her book signing. Well, everything she said was interesting, but this one thing struck a chord. That her characters always have an issue that is really Bella's own issue. And my little brain went whoa, that's what I've been doing wrong lately.

It's not like I didn't know that. I did. The books that I've written which I've liked the most all have parts of me in them. The issue might not be one of my overriding life issues, it could be just something I was contemplating at the time I wrote the book. But when I go back over it, I can say yeah, that's how I felt. How I felt. I swear, sometimes I make myself cry at the climax (I'm not in the gutter here, I mean the climax of the book, not a sexual climax). Yesterday, when I was editing the "dark moment" of my July 2006 release for Berkley, Somebody's Lover, I had tears streaming down my face. It was sort of embarrassing when my husband walked in on me. The story might not make anyone else cry, but it made me cry because I was right up there with my hero when his dark secrets and guilt were laid out for all to see. When he could no longer hide what he'd done. When he had to face the music and lose everything. Hmm, now you're wondering what my dark and guilty secret is!!!! The truth is, nothing. I'm just prone to guilt over the dumbest things, building them up in my mind to be monumental. But I gave my hero a monumental guilt trip so that I could explore. I started with my own issue and gave him back story to support it. And gee, then I cried. It was kinda nice.

And that's what I've been doing wrong. The last book I turned in didn't have any pieces of me. I couldn't relate to the characters because they didn't have any of my themes. And I've got a lot of themes to work with! So what happened with that book? Actually, I don't care anymore. The book is done and it's in and it stands as it is. But the next book, the one that's brewing (and the proposal is due in January), well, I'm getting back to issues I understand because they're mine. And wow, the ideas are just flowing because of it. My little brain is constantly going, "I can do this, and this, and this with my characters."

So thanks, Bella, for saying something I already knew, but actually making me hear it.

Jasmine and Skully Squared

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

what's good for the soul

This month has been wonderful. And crazy. The wonderful--hearing from so many readers who've fallen in love with Lily and Travis is Take Me. The crazy--getting a cold and then bronchitis and then another cold.

And so I've been forced to remember what I forget every few months--that I cannot live well by work alone. Rest. What a concept. Jasmine, you were talking about this very thing last month right? When you finally went away for a vacation. You're so smart. ;-)

Fortunately, this week I'm teaching a FENG SHUI for WRITERS class with the Passionate Ink RWA chapter. I've got 28 students eager to soak it up. And it's great, because it gives me a break from writing books. And I know that when I get back to it next week, I'll be that much more pysched to see just how hot it's gonna be between Janica and Luke in chapters 1 through 3 of the Take Me sequel.

;-) Bella Andre

ps-For anyone who wants to see the Take Me sequel in print, please feel free to email me at with your request. I'll make sure my editor and publisher gets it. ;-)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's The Little Things...

I've had a whole stack of ideas rambling through my brain, even though that sad little organ is still on Hawaii time, but then when I sat down to write this morning, my mouse didn't work! Yep, it's the little things that hold us back. Made me realize how often we let "the little things" stop the big stuff..."I didn't work on my book today because the roses needed pruning," or, "I haven't gotten to my blog because I've been farting around with the stupid little ball in this dumb mouse..." For two hours? Yep...I'm a class act when it comes to the little things. Easily distracted, often clueless, totally into allowing myself to be sidetracked. Is it all bad? No, not necessarily. Sometimes those little "side tracks" we wander down have surprises at the end. While mindlessly pruning roses, I came up with a solution to a plot problem in Wolf Tales III that's been holding me back. While playing with the stupid little ball in my mouse I worked through a bit of dialogue that had sounded stilted and unrealistic. It's as if the part of our brain that directs the pruning of roses and the repair of sticky mice (mouses?) is also the same part that gets in the way of our muse. Let the little things get in the way once in awhile, allow yourself to be sidetracked, and if you're lucky, it might just open a fresh gateway for your frustrated muse.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What is your voice?

How many times have we heard people in the publishing industry talk about how they love an author’s voice? For the longest time, I didn’t understand what that meant.

Now, ten books later, I’ve learned to honor my voice… but the question is… what actually IS your writing voice?

Webster's Dictionary has 5 different definitions of voice...

Main Entry: voice

1 sound produced by vertebrates by means of lungs, larynx
2 a sound resembling or suggesting vocal utterance
3 an instrument or medium of expression
4 wish, choice, or opinion openly or formally expressed
5 distinction of form or a system of inflections of a verb to indicate the relation of the subject of the verb to the action which the verb expresses

Wow, that’s a lot to swallow. Can I break that down?

Simply put, I believe your voice is you; how you think, how you feel, and how those emotions are weaved into your writing. I think this is probably why most of us are so insecure once we put our work out there for review, because, deep down, that book, is about us, and written with our voice and our emotions. It’s a piece of us.

I remember my first re-write letter from my agent. It was six pages long. I scoured through it, underlined, bolded, tried to wrap my head around how I was going to change the book to please and satisfy her and give the publishing industry what I thought it wanted. After much magical musing, I found, there were just things about my book I didn’t want to change; things I considered… my voice, so I didn’t. I changed what I could and sent a letter explain why I wasn’t changing the remaining. It worked fine.

So what is your voice? You tell me. What makes your writing unique? How do you describe an author’s voice?

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