Thursday, September 28, 2006

Recipe For Orgasm

Life has sucked up my time allocated to the Internet. My web site has become woefully out-of-date, my blog is weeks behind, and my email box is overflowing with unread emails. But I'm struggling to get caught up. Tonight, I selected the last item -- the easiest of the bunch -- and stumbled upon a link to a June 22nd article from the Sydney Herald that I'd emailed myself. So forgive me if this is old news to most of you, but I just had to share ...

From I'll have what she's having, I gleaned a lot of interesting tidbits that I may be able to put to use in my next book. Namely:
Okay. I'm being a bit sarcastic here. But despite the article's eye-rolling paragraphs, there are quite a few that I found interesting (and I do think diet impacts all areas of life) and I am happy to see attention -- and dollars -- being spent on studying women's orgasm. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Men vs Women

While waiting for my takeout lunch I picked up a local small press newspaper. It one of those freebie papers restaurants leave around to entertain those waiting for takeout. I read an interesting article, but unfortunately I can’t recall the name of the paper or the author otherwise I’d acknowledge the man’s work.

The author wrote a very funny article about the experience of his first Playboy magazine and his first look at naked women. He and his friends buried the magazine beneath a bush in his backyard only to unbury it when parents or adults weren’t around. Finally, the magazine was discovered by Mom and confiscated.

I enjoy the article but it got me thinking about the difference between men and women and their introduction to sex. Boys look at Playboy, Hustler, etc. Most girls are drawn to romance novels. If Playgirl had been available to me, perhaps I would have hidden it away and retrieved it to look at penises. Okay, I definately would have looked at it.

Once I read my first romance novel, even the ones that didn’t tell what happened in the bedroom, I was hooked. I loved them. I still do. Given the the huge amount of book sales a lot of women must love romance novels.

Is it any wonder men and women look at sex from completely different views!

Bella wants everyone to read her friend's books!

I've been in the Adirondack mountains of New York for the past month and during the month, every time I meet someone new and we get started talking about what I do for a living (that'd be writing books, of course!), I wait an appropriate amount of time (sixty seconds, max), and then I start hawking all of my friend's books.

This time around I had a Jasmine Haynes book and an Allison Brennan book with me and I talked ENDLESSLY about them both, while waving around books. And then I listed off every other author I know and respect and had people write down their names. Several people told me they made the long drive into a big town to a big enough bookstore to find everyone's books.

Do you love that, or what?

I love sharing the love!
;-) bella
http://www.BellaAndre.com

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Seriously disturbed

I live in a very small town in the foothills on the Santa Cruz side of the mountains. We only have 3000 residents. I don’t know everyone, of course, a lot of people work over the hill in Silicon Valley. But we only have one grocery store, one coffee shop, two stoplights, and the post office is really small so I know the ladies that help me mail a pile of books every time I have a new one coming out. I recognize friendly faces even if I don’t know all their names. Especially the people down at the local market...

So it was a shocker that the 6 ½ month pregnant checker down at the market disappeared a little over a week ago and 5 days later her body was found dumped at the edge of town. Someone murdered her. Who could have done such a horrible thing in our tiny town where nothing bad ever happens?

They arrested my neighbor the next day. Not for the murder, but for forcible sexual assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily harm. The police contend this wasn’t an isolated incident. Once wasn't enough. He’s a serial rapist of his acquaintances. And for ten years, he’s worked at the same market as the young woman who was murdered.

You see interviews on TV with the neighbors of some terrible serial killer saying he was such a nice guy and they can’t believe it. I always think, how could you not tell? I mean, look at that mug shot, he LOOKS like a serial killer. Now I know why neighbors say that. MY neighbor was the nicest man, always stopping to talk when I was out walking the dog, always friendly. He has three small kids, ages 2, 4 and 6, and he was so good with them. When he saw my picture in the paper when my first book was released, he came over to congratulate me and he was so sweet. For five years, he’s been the sweetest guy. I can’t reconcile that he’s the same man who’s now been charged with rape and bodily harm. I don’t believe it. I absolutely don’t believe it. But doubts creep in. And if he’s capable of that, then maybe, God forbid, he’s capable of killing that young woman and her unborn child. The authorities are checking the baby’s paternity, because the child wasn’t her husband’s. She’d had an affair. Could the father be my neighbor? And if he is, then did he kill her to hide it? I don't know. None of it makes sense to me.

When I walk my dog now, there’s a somber feel to the neighborhood. No one laughs anymore. I go to the post office, and we speak in horrified whispers. And every new thing that comes out of the sheriff’s department about the murder seems to point to him.

The worst is that we DON’T know. Are they going to charge him with her murder? Could he have done that terrible thing? We all just keep waiting for the next horrible bit of news to come out. It’s a terrifying feeling that doesn’t to go away.

As a writer, I’m trying to examine my feelings, and I’m trying to come to terms with them. I don’t feel less safe in my little town. I haven’t suddenly started locking my doors. But I keep praying it isn’t him, that the police will turn around and say oops, sorry, we made a mistake. I think I’ve figured out why I’m so disturbed. It’s this sudden feeling that there could be evil lurking inside everyone you look at. If HE’S this evil monster, a man I would never in a million years suspect of these kinds of things, then what are other people hiding? It shakes my faith. It calls into question my judgment. I wonder if I’m permanently changed or if somehow my faith in human nature will return. I hope so, because I really don’t want to look at my other neighbors and wonder what terrible things go on behind their closed doors at night.

Jasmine Haynes
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When is the end REALLY the end...or does it ever end?

Okay, so a few days ago I finally wrote "the end" on the latest novella in my Wolf Tales series, and as much as I felt like celebrating, I have to realize that writing "the end" is merely the first step on a very long road. Once finished, I reread the story and did some minor revisions, then I sent it off to my "village," a wonderful group of readers, all either published authors or editors, who are currently finding lots of ways to tell me, nicely, that my writing sucks. I'll take their comments and revise as needed, print the manuscript out and mail it to my editor at Kensington. The end? Not quite. Next I'll receive a nice little package in the mail filled with copy edits which will most likely need to be dealt with on the run and overnighted back to New York. All through? Not hardly. Galley proofs will show up, again most likely by overnight FedEx with instructions to proof and return within half an hour...well, not quite that fast, but damned close. Finally. Sigh of relief, right? NO WAY! It's time to check on promotion! Is the ad for RT ready? Got the mailings done for booksellers? How about those online chats lined up with readers? Almost ready to take a breather when you look at the calendar and realize the proposal for the new novel is due in two days and the deadline on the next book is less than a month away. Point being...there is no end in sight, which is a good thing and a bad thing...and one more example of being careful what you wish for. (VBG) My question being, did any of you who are now published authors have any idea how much work went into a manuscript AFTER you wrote "the end?" I didn't have a clue.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Writing To Size

Sometimes I have to write something that is “to size” meaning that the story has to fit within a certain word count. In particular this comes up with the short erotic stories that Ellora’s Cave calls “quickies”. These have to be between 10 to 15 thousand words, or 10 to 12 thousand if it is for one of the Cavemen anthologies. Within that word count you must introduce the characters and show them falling in love, all through the use of lots and lots of hot sex. Challenging but fun to do.

Some people are pretty good at it, some find it very difficult to do. I find all the sex exhausting to write as Rachelle pointed out in her post last Friday, but I do like the short form in that I can stay focused on the basic relationship story I want to tell. I don’t get real repetitive…no point in repeating information that was only a couple pages away and I don’t have the word count for it anyway. Every word is golden…you don’t want extras so you write tight.

And there is a lot of sex to put in.

So I’ve got one quickie that I’m finishing up for the Wild Winter series that is due to my editor on Friday. Also on Friday I have a release – Ellora’s Cavemen: Dreams Of The Oasis III with my short story Pleasure Maid is coming out in ebook and print format. That’s about this woman who wakes up in the garden of a young man being held prisoner. She has no memory of why she is there but Dina and Gal manage to find ways to fill their time. Within 12 thousand words.

Anyone else want to talk about writing to size?

Monday, September 18, 2006

New release Day, The Lost Wolf Warrior

Hey guys,

Okay it’s my blog day, but also new release day for me, which is always an exciting time. Today my book, The Lost Wolf Warrior--a re-written version—will be released from http://Liquidsilverbooks.com. Let me tell you a little bit about the Solarian Warrior Series-- of which The Lost Wolf Warrior is book #1.

I wrote The Lost Wolf Warrior many, many, years ago as my first completed novel, so the book holds a special place in my heart. When I was writing the tale I decided I had to have a strong female warrior as my heroine and I got to thinking, what if she has a talisman, an animal, I though. I set the story in 13th Century England/Scotland and I really wanted my female heroine, Serena, to have a wolf by her side and for them to have a telepathic connection.

I started doing research on wolves in England during that time period. To my dismay, I discovered, King Edward the Ist ordered the eradication of the wolves in 1280, until they were completely extinct in England and eventually Scotland by the early 1600’s. To this day, there are no wolves in either country, despite activist attempt at brining them back.

I was totally dismayed to think an entire species of animal could be killed off that way. So I created a group of people called the Solarian's, who lived in harmony with their wolves until that fateful day in 1280 when King Edward sent English soldiers to kill not only the wolves, but the Solarian's as well . After the battle, the surviving Solarian's left England and settled in the Scottish Highlands, where they formed a secret Realm. Today, they still live in the Highlands and protect their wolves. And so the Solarian Warrior Series was born.

Please come by and visit my adopted wolf, Wana at http://WolfMountain.com

Here's an intro to Book #1 of the series:

The Lost Wolf Warrior

The year is 1311. Serena de Reincolt, a young Warrior of the Wolf, is tasked with a quest: Retrieve the sacred scrolls of Solaria and the outlawed murderer, Ziem.

Failure means certain death for the Solarians.

Found at age six in the Forest of the Dean with no memory of his former life, Lord Roan Aston, the Wolf, has always felt a part of him was missing.

One thing Roan knows for certain--he is finished with warring. Taking up King Edward's offer to protect a castle on the Scottish border, Roan is as content as he can be.

It wasn't until Roan met an incredible woman in the most extraordinary circumstances that he pieced together his purpose in life. But their journey is fraught with danger and a vengeful King who will stop at nothing less than eradication of all those he feels threaten his rule.

Suddenly, Roan and Serena are protecting more than a society of gifted people; they are fighting for their lives, their love, and a fantastic legend.

Rae

http://RaeMonet.com


Friday, September 15, 2006

Basking in the Afterglow

Last week, after overdosing on coffee and forgoing sleep to meet the deadline for my latest book, The Sin Club, I wondered why I felt so drained. Well, beyond the obvious reason, that is. And it finally dawned on me:

Just as the actual sex act – done right, LOL – can be exhausting, so is writing erotic romance.

Why is that? Well, for me it’s because sex is a major character in the story who must be present at all times. Even when the hero and/or heroine are not thinking about sex or having sex or even together in the same scene. What the hero/heroine is seeing, thinking, saying, physically and emotionally feeling, as well as smelling and tasting, must be used to convey sensuality consistently – before, during, and after the actual sexual intercourse. The reader must always feel the sexual tension regardless of what is happening in the story. And keeping that level consistent, even in the most mundane conversation, takes a lot of work. At least for me and the level of sensuality I try to maintain in my writing.

But it’s over. I’m done. The book has been turned in. And I feel like I would after a great round of sex: Satisfied and complete. I think the exhaustion was worth it – The Sin Club pleased me.

So … is it just me or do other writers feel like this after completing erotica/erotic romance? And from a reader standpoint, do you like sensuality present in every scene?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bella wonders what you like/don't like to read

I'm spending a month in the Adirondacks with my mil and I always give her paperbacks to read. I've passed along my friend's books--currently on her bookshelf is Barbara Freethy, Jennifer Skully and Allison Brennan--all of which she has read and loved, ladies! In any case, we were talking about books and she made the comment that she doesn't want to read stories about women figuring things out and working out their relationships with other women. I found this to be really interesting, because she voraciously read romances and in a lot of cases, along with the love relationship, the heroine goes through a process of figuring things out. Her preference is quite clear--no books with three/four women characters working through their issues.

It made me think about what I like/don't like to read. I really love women's fiction and romance. And honestly, that's about it. I can't read thrillers because they are too scary. Romantic suspense sometimes works. And literary fiction is usually a wallbanger. Oh--and I LOVE travel writing. I devour Bill Bryson's books and anything about someone who moves to Italy/France/UK to start a new life.

What are your reading preferences?
;-) Bella
http://www.bellaandre.com

Romantic Gifts

In romance novels, often the hero gives the heroine gifts, especially in the form of jewelry or flowers. While both can be nice, I find both can be little impersonal. Which is why my favorite gift I ever received from my husband was... a dog.

My husband travels quite a bit for business, often internationally. He's brought home a few things - a really cool coffee mug, a couple of beautiful scarves (which I can't quite get the hang of wearing - Doreen, perhaps I can see you for a consult). But nothing beats the dog.

Now, it wasn't a real dog. We already have 2 of those, but at the time we only had 1. His name is Joey, a german shepherd (or Belgian Malinois, depending on who you talk to) rescued from the mean streets of Santa Clara. Skinny, sad, with a horrible case of separation anxiety, Joey joined our family and quickly thrived under our enthusiastic attentions. My husband, who was skeptical about having an "indoor dog," quickly declared Joey "the best dog ever." Shortly after Joey moved in, my husband took a business trip to Berlin. When he got home, he handed me a blue Swarovski bag.
"I know you're not big into the crystal figurines," he said, "but I hope you'll like this." Inside was a crystal figurine of a German Shepherd, and damned if the thing didn't look just like a crystal Joey.

Okay, I know it's corny that I teared up as I unwrapped it. And I know it's silly that I'm so emotional over a crystal figurine. But there's something so great about having someone who knows you so well, who knows exactly what will make you smile... That's more romantic than any diamond bracelety, in my book (although he also recently scored with a sterling silver turtle necklace he bought in Hawaii).

So what is the most romantic gift you've ever received? What did your loved one get you that showed that he or she knew you inside and out, and wanted to make you smile?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The first rule of publishable writing.

There are a few basic rules to writing if you want to be published. First and foremost…in order to publish a story, you must actually finish it. No one is going to put into print a story that has not been written, that does not have a beginning, middle, and an end. This is because when a reader buys a story they expect it to have those things. The pieces may not be great, but they must exist.

As I usually say, the first thing you must do is finish the dam… that is gosh-darn book!

And yet here I am with the beginnings of several stories that aren’t at this time completed. A couple of them are nothing more than beginnings. In one case I’ve got close to ten thousand words done, which is just a little beyond the beginning of the book. In another I’ve finished the beginning and am half-way through the middle part and the end is drafted, making it the closest to actually being finished.

Clearly what I should do is stay focused on one story, get that one finished, then work on the next. Linear writing - make sure I finish what I’ve promised to turn in first and don’t work on anything else until I do. If only I didn’t get distracted by all those other stories…

Anyone else have this problem?
Cheers,
Janet/Cricket

Monday, September 11, 2006

Roman Holiday

(Hi all. Mardi asked me to post this for her as she's on vacation! - Cricket)

Roman Holiday

To celebrate my upcoming birthday, my children decided to take me to a European capital I’d never previously visited – a stipulation that would exclude only London, Paris, Prague and Budapest. Though they kept the destination secret for ages, they finally took pity and gave me a bit of advance notice so I could do some preliminary research. So far, based on other travelers’ advice, I’ll want to see everything, eat everything and watch out for the drivers.

Rome brings up so many associations – romance, beauty, art, culture, history, style. The Audrey Hepburn movie whose title I borrowed for this column. “Three Coins in a Fountain.” Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The Coliseum and the Pantheon. Gorgeously dressed men and women.

For the few days I’ll be in Rome, I’ll typify the cliché of an American turista -- taking too many photos, buying too many souvenirs and looking unbearably dowdy. Maybe my eyes will lock with those of an incredibly gorgeous man. I’ll drink in every detail of his face and physique, mentally casting him as hero, villain or supporting cast for a new story.

To be continued. I’ll let you all know about Rome in my next blog. As for now, Ciao!

Mardi

Sunday, September 10, 2006

To Slut or Not to slut

Boy are we going to get spammed for that one!
We’ll deal with it. Okay so call me old fashioned but my heroines are not slutty.
Ok, let me back up here. What exactly is a slut? I’m going to go look it up and come back with the official Merriam Webster definition. Stand by.
Okay, here we go:

1 chiefly British : a slovenly woman
2 a : a promiscuous woman; especially : PROSTITUTE b : a saucy girl : MINX

Love the minx reference. See, my idea of a minx is not a slut. LOL, I guess Kelly Pickler should be insulted that Simon called her a ‘saucy little minx’ during one of the AI shows this past season.

I digress. Slut: A promiscuous woman, a slovenly woman. PROSTITUTE.

I’ll bite. While my heroines don’t come to the hero intact, they haven’t been around the block too many times to count either. My heroines for the most part don’t have sex for the sake of having sex. In other words there is no sport fucking going on. Per se. Idunno. Knitting brows here. My girls aren’t frigid, far from it, but they consider sex more than just a physical act. There has to be some form of emotional investment. Even though instant attraction/lust is a strong impetus, there has to be some other type of connection. Something that tells her this could be the one even though he’s a bad bad boy. I’m thinking of my heroine Frankie in SKIN. She is pretty open-minded. But even so she doesn’t just jump in bed for the sake of sex. Until Reese comes along, and she goes into heat pretty quick. But she uses sex to gain control of her subject, Reese. He uses sex to get information. What they both don’t realize is going on is there are much stronger forces at work beneath the surface than either realizes.

Anyway, the reason for this subject today is there has been conversation on a few blogs lately about slutty heroines, and I wanted to first of all define what a slut was, in general, and second to find out as readers, are you okay with the heroines bed hopping, either before they meet the hero or while engaging him? Is this a generational thing? Or is it just me?

Here’s more food for thought. Can a woman be in lust and have an emotional tie to two men, and live happily ever after together? A good friend of mine, Maya Banks, has written some really sexy, emotional stuff involving trios and more!
As a writer how do you feel about putting your heroines in bed with multiple males either on the page or off?

Is it socially acceptable for heroines to be slutty (per Merriam Webster’s definition?)
What is your definition of a slut? What is slutty behavior?
Okay, enough sluttiness for me today. I’d love to hear from you on any or all of the questions posed, or just a musing.
Write on,

K*

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Count your Blessings

When I’m on deadline and a hundred pages from the goal and the clock is tick-tick-ticking, sometimes I panic. I actually hate the writer’s life. I think, wow, wouldn’t it be great to be back in an office where the clock hits five, and I can just drive home listening to my favorite music and when I get home, I can read a book or just veg on the couch. And I can go to real restaurants and eat real food because I’ve actually got a paycheck coming in EVERY two weeks and my medical insurance is PAID for and I can go on a VACATION if I want to. All I have to do is fill out a little form and hand it to my boss and say sayonara, baby! I wouldn’t be ripping my hair out trying to figure out why the ending is not working, I wouldn’t open my email to awful reviews, or google myself and find people saying awful things about my book, which actually feels like they’re saying awful things about ME. Yes, I think to myself, wouldn’t all that be so cool to work in an office again!!!!!

That was last week. This week is much brighter. I’ve finished the book and sent it in. I’m driving along the highway to Costco. And I think to myself, there’s not a lot of people who get to drive through ten miles of Redwoods when they want to go to Costco. And most people can’t go at ten in the morning on a Thursday. There’s not a lot of people who have a ten second commute down the hallway to get to work. Not a lot of people can walk out their back door and find themselves right in the woods. They can’t drive for ten minutes and be at the beach. They can’t go to The Boardwalk any time they want. They can’t suddenly become a princess and marry a prince or learn how to fly with wings attached to their own bodies or LIVE their dreams. But I can. Because being a writer is my dream. Even if sometimes there are some things about it that are hard.

So, I don’t think I’ll go back to that office job. I think I’ll stay right here and write another book. And when I start to hate the book, I’ll try really hard to remember all the blessings that I’ve got in my life that I would never, ever trade.

What blessings do you have in your life?
Jasmine Haynes
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

When is it just too much?

Talking promotion, here. We all get innundated on a regular basis with email from our fellow authors touting their latest book/contest/newsletter/chat/interview/ad nauseum (and yes, I'm just as guilty) but what I really want to know is, does that stuff work? I've pretty much given up all the online chat in readers' groups because I just don't have the time. I occasionally check out the Romantic Times readers boards, try to participate in the occasional chat and I make announcements and hold a contest through my newsletter every month (over 600 members) for both resident and non-resident readers, but I've shifted a lot of my promotion away from the lists. Why? Because I don't like reading everyone else's and figure that's probably how folks opening their email feel about mine!
Don't get me wrong--I love the occasional announcement of good news, the review clips and that sort of thing, but the constant barrage of blatant promotion from the same people gets old fast. So, what DOES work? I've been trying some new things, but the jury is still out--right now I'm primarily promoting my books to the booksellers. I send out a mailing with a cover letter, cover flats and bookmarks about five months before a new release and also stop in at bookstores wherever I go and offer to sign my books.
I also participate whenever anyone wants ideas for articles for RWR or RT and I try and involve myself in as many panels as possible at both RT and RWA conferences. When someone is putting on a course for writers, I'm quick to send anything they need, because that keeps my name out there. I think that name branding is more important than promoting individual books, but I'm not really sure if I'm right!
Anyway, what works for you? What advertising do you think gives you the best return for the time and money spent? Please let me know what it is that sells your books or, if you're a reader, makes you go out and buy one?
Thanks!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dead Again

Earlier this year I blogged about an error Red Sage Publishing had made in a double volume, hardback printing of Secrets, Volumes 5 & 6 by Double Day. On the About the Author page they printed my obit. One sentence, I was dead. I thought of it as a unique author story and wanted to share it.

Recently I received an email from Rachelle Chase. While participating on a Red Sage chat on WriteMinded Rachelle noted a posting from a reader. Pam D had posted the following: My favorite story was “Alias Smith and Jones” in Volume 5, sadly BJ McCall is deceased.

Rachelle immediately posted that I was alive and provided my website as proof. She also emailed me and suggested I post. Thank you, Rachelle for letting me know I was dead again.

I posted. Question is will my sales improve that I have once again joined the living!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Why Race Cars?

A lot of people as me why I write romances with Race Car Drivers in them.

Well let me lay it out for you:

Growing up in Washington State, I began riding dirt bikes when I was an infant. How you ask? My mother used to carry me in a front pouch and my sister rode the back.

Yes, I was raised a tomboy, folks. Sunday, became NASCAR day, where my family would sit down and enjoy all day car racing and crack crab. I'm sure that sentiment brings back fond memories for all of you who did the same.

Here's the history... In the 60's my mother drove the powder puff racing category of drag cars and eventually married my father, who was a mechanic. That was until she decided to have children, and therein lies the story of my tomboy upbringing... instead of boys, my mom had two girls, so she had to make due. But she never really gave up her racing roots, and she decided to trade racing for motor cycle riding. Seemed like the safe way to go.

So my fascination with racing began, you could say, from birth ;). Now I write about the sport, the sexy drivers, the sassy heroine’s--it’s so fun to write I can’t resist.

You can read about all my books with Race Car hero's/heronines here: http://raemonet.com

Here’s a picture of one of the driver’s on the NASCAR stock car circuit… not sexy at all, huh? What an inspiration for a romance… and guess what, he’s a bachelor. This is from the August issue of Men's Health Magazine.

So tell me, did you want to watch racing now?


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