Sunday, February 26, 2006

My Brush with Fame!

Last Tuesday I got the kind of phone call I never once dreamed I'd hear--Kensington's publicist calling to ask me if I could fly to LA on Thursday to tape the Geraldo At Large show for a piece on erotic romance, or, if that wouldn't work, could they come to my home to tape an interview! I remember blinking a couple of times to make sure I was awake and then saying, "Sure. No problem." I told her I'd prefer to go to LA as our house is very much in the midst of a remodel and barely suitable for human habitation, much less a film crew. Mary said she'd call back with travel details etc. When she finally called back, it was with an apology to tell me another author who lived close to a studio in Manhattan would be much more convenient to interview. I actually was relieved--Sunny Chen, the author who was selected, is beautiful and articulate and a much better representative of this growing genre than I could ever hope to be. Plus, I'd gotten all the fun out of bragging about my chance to go on TV without having to actually pack my suitcase. Not a bad deal. It was not without a certain amount of trepidation, however, that I watched the Geraldo at Large program on Thursday night. I mean, the man is known for his sleaze appeal, sort of a National Enquirer mentality...I could only imagine what he might do with something so ripe for attack as erotic romances for women. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Not by Geraldo--he got in his sexist dig with the question, "Are women just hornier today?"--but with the wonderful tone of the interview done by reporter Laurie Dhue who referred to our books as "empowering for women." Sunny was absolutely wonderful, as was Liz Maverick who was also interviewed...but I still got my brush with fame. When the covers of books scrolled across the screen--impressive on our 50" HDTV-- there was Wolf Tales! In fact, I counted at least three times my cover made the screen, along with The Hard Stuff and Pleasure Beach, Champagne Rules and was wonderful. Then at the end of the segment, what did Laurie hold up but a copy of my newest release, Sexy Beast! I just sat there and grinned, especially when my husband turned to me and said, "Congratulations. That was cool." Yep. Definitely cool. There is a video clip in the archives at that shows almost the entire program for anyone who is interested. I think I'm going to link to it from my website! This week Geraldo, next, the world--right guys?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What the bleep?

Has anyone watched the movie "What the Bleep do we know?" I guess you'd call it a documentary, interviewing physicists, scientists, theologians, psychiatrists, etc, but what the interviewees talk about is demonstrated through a story as well. The premise is that our thoughts are powerful enough to create our reality. What we think is how we see what happens around us and to us. It therefore affects our choices, and thus creates our reality. For example, you have a party to go to that you really, really don't want to attend. You know you're going to have a terrible time, but you promised to go. You get there, and that's exactly what you have, a terrible time and you can't wait to leave. But suppose you decided that even though you don't really want to go, you will go and you will have a good time. When you get there, you open yourself up to meeting new people and you actually with someone you find you have a lot in common with. In the first scenario, you never made the effort to talk to that person because you were miserable. In the second scenario, that someone you talked to becomes a very good friend down the road.

It's an interesting premise. Can I really control how I feel about things and make my life better? Maybe it's like writing a story where I determine the ending of each scene. Well, it's worth a try. And it certainly puts the ball in my court and no one else's!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My "Wow!!!" moment!

I remember watching old movies about Hollywood where the star would take a call from their agent...the waiter would bring the phone to the table in a classy restaurant and everyone waited while the "Important Star" took their important call. So, with that background in mind, picture this: I'm driving home when my cell phone rings. Now, we live in a mountainous area where it's easy to lose a connection, so I take a look at my phone, see that it's my agent and pull over to park in front of a winery. The "wow" moment came a few minutes later, as I was talking to my agent about the new stories Kensington wants...we're talking options and money and contracts and all of a sudden, I had my WOW moment. This was better than the was all about me! My career, after twenty long years, is beginning to grow. Wolf Tales has been in the top ten in erotica at Barnes and Noble for two months now. Sexy Beast, my newest book, debuted at #7 and is currently at #4 in erotica. Wolf Tales is #3 after two months...and it's spent more time at #1. Unfortunately, none of this feels real. However, what does feel real is my own, personal "wow" moment. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Oscar time is coming up soon, at least I think it is. So I thought I'd blog about movies. Has anyone seen anything good lately? I have to admit that I haven't been wowed by anything recently. I don't even know the movies nominated for an Oscar. I'm actually partial to older movies, most of my favorites having been made before 1960. I still love watching actors like Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, and Errol Flynn. Man, those guys really looked good in a pair of tights in those old Robin Hood type movies. I love Gene Tierney in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Lawrence Olivier in Rebecca, Dana Andrews in Laura, Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath. And I'm sure you're all asking, who ARE those people? but the thing I like about old movies is that they had great stories. Sometimes I feel the stuff coming out today concentrate more on the special effects than the story. Good story telling seems to have been lost. So please, tell me some movies you've seen recently that had a great story to tell and I'll go look for them!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Son

It is almost Valentine's Day and that brings a lot of happy memories including one that is particularly poignant for me. It was 21 years ago tomorrow that our son was born. Poor guy, having to put up with having his birthday not only on what is the holiday of love, but often in the middle of a week when most of his cronies were out of school (the local school system takes a week break in February around President’s Day).

But now he’s going to be a full-grown adult. Able to buy beer and all that. And some young lady is very likely to find it romantic that he shares his birthday with hearts and flowers.

So what are we going to do for his birthday since we’re going down to LA to help him celebrate? We’re doing what everyone wants to do for their birthday (at least in my family)…

We’re going to DISNEYLAND!


Friday, February 10, 2006

The value of Gratuitous Sex

I'd like to draw on Bella's blog from Wednesday on whether YA novels should or should not have sex in them. From the comments made, it seems that some of us approve if the sex has some sort of purpose, a lesson, a moral, something for the reader to come away with beyond titillation. I'd like to take that same thought into adult sensual novels. In the adult arena, should it be sex for sex's sake? Does the fact that most of write erotic romance rather than straight erotica make a difference?

This question comes up for me because today I'm writing a very long sex scene. And I'm struggling with how to make it have a point beyond just the physical sex. What will my heroine learn about herself in this scene? How will it affect her conflict? How will it up the stakes in her relationship with the hero? I'm struggling to make it more than just gratuitous sex. I want it to have a purpose. But the bigger question is, do I even need to do that? Can I just plop in sex for sex's sake? Part of me says no. I'm currently reading a book in which the hero and heroine have lots of hot sex, but there is no tension in it. Nothing seems to change in their relationship either during the sex or in the aftermath of it. And quite frankly, I've started skimming the sex scenes. So, you can see where I'm going with all of this. If I find it boring to read this book, then maybe that's a signal about what I shouldn't do in my own writing.

So, what does everyone think on this issue?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

a debate about sex in YA novels

Over on a writer's chat group, there is a raging debate about sex in YA novels. Should it be there? Does it reflect reality? Do teenagers put the books down and run off to have sex asap?

My take on it? I think teens are gonna do what they're gonna do. And I don't think it was any different in 1986 when I was a freshman in high school. Not only did I not date in high school, I didn't kiss a guy for the first time until college. Not because my parents forbade me, just because, well, it didn't happen. And frankly, looking back on it, 18 in college felt right.

So, reading a YA book with sex in it (Forever by Judy Blume, anyone?) or without sex in it was all the same to me. Just figured the ones with sex were living the cheerleader's lives. ;-) And the other ones were about geeks like me (who would, of course, turn into gorgeous erotic romance authors after college).

Your thoughts?
;-) Bella Andre

Happy Birthday Baby

Happy Birthday Baby

Buying a great birthday present for my hubbie is always a challenge. He likes gadgets, but getting one step ahead of him on the purchase is the challenge. Recently, we purchased a new vehicle. It comes with three months of XM radio and an MP3 jack. Since my husband had already purchased the MP3, I bought an extension for XM.

Okay, I’d taken care of the big present, but I wanted to give him something besides a card with a receipt for XM. Something more visual, something tangible, something hands-on!
And there it was, the perfect present, at eye level and on the grocery store shelf.

Vibrates! Comes with battery! Shower safe!

My husband and I had heard the rumors and the discussions on cable shows about Gillette’s Venus Vibrance. A vibrating handle designed especially for women? Totally different from the men’s Mach3 handle! Ohhhh, this I had to buy.

When a man’s wife writes erotic romance and his birthday is in February, he has a right to expect something besides underwear with hearts on his birthday, right?

I purchased a birthday card with a birthday sentiment to match my Vibrance and secured my surprise in a colorful present bag filled with Hersey kisses and a DVD of one of his favorite comedy films, Hot Shots.

The cost? $30.
My husband’s reaction – PRICELESS

BJ McCall

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Change in Plans

I was all set to blog about something writing related when I got a phone call and a wonderful change in plans--our daughter in law is in the hospital, in labor with their first baby. Her mom called me--Carol's over in Hawaii with the kids awaiting what will be her very first grandchild. Doug and I are old hands at this--we have two grandchildren with our daughter and son-in-law and enjoy every minute we can with them. There's nothing more exciting than bringing a new baby into the world. Jon and Melanie are the models for the cover of my book, Cowboy in My Pocket. When the book was released, they weren't even married. Now they're married and about to become parents for the very first time...and I just read what I've written and realize I'm babbling. :-) I'll be sure and post when the baby arrives and what they name her...and I REALLY hope the doctor was right and this is a little girl, because if she turns out to be a boy, he'd better like pink! I'm supposed to be writing today. I can tell right now that's probably not going to happen.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sex or no sex?

Okay, I guess because I was one of the first authors to actually publish a NASCAR romance which was Racing Hearts, with in 2004, people want to know what I think about the relationship between NASCAR and Harlequin. I honestly have to tell you, despite all the press that questions this partnership, I think this arrangement between Harlequin and NASCAR is just smart business. There was a comment about the sensuality level when Pamela Britton’s In the Groove was released last week. Specifically, one reviewer questioned if the fact the door was closed on the sex was affected by the NASCAR relationship. This is what I have to say about that; it makes sense that a business relationship with NASCAR might affect the level of sensuality on a book, but really is this any different than any other publisher/line we write for?

IMHO, no.

Some editors/lines have their little nuances about what they like and don’t like, and we usually end up revising based on this anyway. Some lines want hotter sex scenes; some want less, some want none. Additionally, I don’t think you need to necessarily HAVE to open the door on sex to portray intimacy in a book, do you?

I write for an erotic publisher, sex, and the foreplay leading to sex have always been important to me, however, could I write a book closing a door on sex and still make it good? YOU BET!!! I think I could and I don’t think it would change my literary voice at all. I actually think it takes a talented author to write a good closed-door-on-sex book and make it great, like I felt In The Groove was. Honestly, I don't think In the Groove would have been any different because Pam's voice is Pam's voice.

What do you think? Can you enjoy a good book without sex?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

All it Takes is a Little Black Dress

Men are visual creatures. I’m aware of this. Just like I’m aware of music playing at Starbucks when I’m writing. In both instances, this awareness hums along slightly below my consciousness — until something jolts it to the forefront. Like today, when the barista cranked the music up two notches higher than usual. Or when, hours later, Gary walked in, looked at me, then did a double-take.

I'd met Gary in December at a singles ‘networking’ function. I’d bought a little black dress for the occasion — my first step in implementing New Year’s Resolution #3: Get in Touch With My Inner-Diva. It was clingy and sexy, yet classy and sophisticated. I felt like Cinderella. And my many Prince Charmings stepped forward to slip me business cards, instead of slippers.

Gary was one of them.

Two weeks later, I attended a party at a friend’s house wearing the same little black dress. Same Cinderella experience, though on a smaller scale. Gary showed up. (Aren’t the odds of running into the same guy, in the same dress, in a person’s house similar to those of finding a $1 million lottery ticket stuck to the bottom of your shoe?!). He pressed another business card into the palm of my hand.

Today, I was sitting at Starbucks, in my working attire — baggy army fatigue-like pants and a shapeless fleece sweatshirt. Glasses. No makeup. Bed-head hair — the matted, lopsided kind. While pondering deep thoughts, such as why, at page 156, my heroine and hero in my erotic romance still had not managed to have sex, I looked up from my computer. And there was Gary, standing between the whole milk and half-and-half canisters.

“Hi,” I mouthed.

He did a double-take before returning my greeting, and then walked over.

I laughed. “Yeah, I know. I look different.”

He smiled. “Yeah.”

“I bet if you’d seen me like this — no makeup, glasses, messy hair — you wouldn’t have invited me out to dinner.”

He shook his head. “No. I still would have asked you to dinner. But only if you were wearing that dress. That black dress.”

I didn't know whether to feel complimented or insulted.

Is that really all it takes? Are men really that ... basic? I wish I were bold enough to find out. To not comb my hair. Not shave my armpits. Wear my oldest, most outdated glasses. And don my little black dress.

You really think Prince Charming would be standing by to take me out?

Do you wait for inspiration?

I'm wondering, because if ever there was a day in which inspiration would refuse to appear, it's today. Baby's been sick for four days with stomach virus. Husband woke up with huge fever and cramps. Guess who's been taking care of them both?

And yet, I have to give myself serious props, because any spare moment I get (like when they both decide to actually take a nap), I'm butt to the chair, fingers to the keyboard.

Oh yeah, and I'm writing sex scenes today. First one came out pretty good, if I do say so myself.

How do you deal with writing when life gets in the way?
;-) Bella

Emotional Impact

I'm working on the edits for my Berkley July release, an anthology, all stories by me, called Somebody's Lover. The edits are pretty easy, but of course, one has to read everything through completely to make sure there are no inconsistencies sneaking in there. And yes, even at this stage, I found some small ones, darn it!

So yesterday, I got to the dark moment, the climax, of the first story. That story is also called Somebody's Lover, just like the main title (the other two are Somebody's Ex and Somebody's Wife). Let me give you a little background. The book is three stories about three brothers. They run a family-owned tree trimming business with their father. Three years ago, the oldest brother was killed in a work-related accident, and the hero in the first story blames himself for his brother's death. The whole book is about how each of the brothers deals with the death, how it has shadowed their lives in the three years since it happened. So, I get to the climax of that first story where the youngest brother must face his guilt in front of his family (yes, everyone's been sidestepping the whole issue for three years), and I swear, I start bawling. every single time I read it (and I've read it a lot in all my revisions and editing), I cry bucketloads. Not just a tear at the corner of my eye or getting a little choked up, but bucketloads streaming down my face. And I'm not sure why. I mean, yes, it's an emotional scene, of course, it's the climax! But why does it affect me this way every time? You'd think that having read it so much, it would lose its impact, but it doesn't. I have never experienced this kind of situation in my life, yet somehow it seems to tap into something deep inside me. And it's sort of embarrassing, I mean, you're not supposed to be brought to tears by your own writing, you're supposed to bring other people to tears. And oh my God, I've just told everyone here! How embarrassing. But there you go, writing is about revealing yourself. It's just that people don't always know for sure how much you're revealing.

So, my question for thought is, are there any scenes you've written or read that have a huge emotional impact on you? Do you know why they have this kind of impact? I realize this might be very personal, so only share as much as you feel comfortable with.

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