Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Twenty-Ten!!!

MySpace Glitters

It's hard to believe another year's come to an end, another decade in fact! So, do you do New Year's Resolutions? While I tend not to, I do like to make lists (then again, I have a weakness for making lists at any time of the year!)

When I look back over 2009, I still can't quite believe how two of my most cherished dreams concerning my career have come true. 2009 will always be special to me, for signing with my dream agent and for my darling Roman finding a fabulous home with Berkley.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and love-filled New Year! See you in 2010!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ritual Passion - Cathryn Brunet

Please welcome my special guest today, the lovely Cathryn Brunet, whose debut erotic fantasy romance Ritual Passion is released today by Samhain Publishing - just in time for a happy hot Christmas!!

Cathryn, thanks for stopping by! Can you tell us a little about your book?
Ritual Passion is an erotic fantasy romance containing jungle-hardened warriors, a capricious goddess, corrupt priests and some seriously hot sex.
A passion to appease the gods…or call down their vengeance.
The jungle-wrapped city of Challas is dying, crumbling under the weight of its corrupt priesthood and degenerate new gods. But an even greater threat looms on the horizon. Outside the city walls, a pestilence breeds. Unless stopped, it will crawl through the city’s decaying streets and destroy everyone.
Phalandria wants to see her magnificent city reborn and freed from the perversion of the priests who murdered her father. And she wants Massilis, the man who has stood by her side since childhood. The man who’s developed into a magnificent, jungle-hardened warrior…and ignites her unquenchable desire. Although Massilis has always protected her, only once has he allowed his hunger for her to show.
Now the water oracle has called for Phalandria and Massilis to perform the Concubitia, a sexual rite to propitiate the gods. But the priests suspect a conspiracy and will do anything to protect themselves. And Phalandria realizes that the priests are not the only ones sabotaging the ritual.
The man she loves has an agenda of his own.
Degenerate gods, corrupt priests and a jungle hardened warrior! *Christina fans self* I can't wait to read this book! How did the idea for the plot come about?
Ritual Passion started out as a combination of writing exercise and a half-hearted attempt to write a Spice Brief. As an experiment, I decided to write in first person. Suddenly I discovered this new voice coming through. A voice I liked. A lot.
I know it might sound strange but I had no idea of the plot. I simply wrote the first line and from there the words flowed as though I’d been thinking about the story for months. It was if the city of Challas, sexy narrator Phalandria and gorgeous, muscled warrior Massilis already existed and I was just a conduit for their story.
I’d never free-written to that extent before. But since then I’ve used the method on another erotica and I plan to try it again in the future. Though, given I have the next three writing projects already decided, that won't be for a while.
I love sale stories (ok I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?
The first version of Ritual Passion was just over 15,000 words. After sending it off to some readers (who universally loved it) I submitted it to Spice Briefs and promptly forgot about it while I worked on a single title. Six months later I received a rejection. I wasn’t surprised. Having read several Spice Briefs I didn’t really think it would fit the line, but I loved the story and thought it was worth a try.
I’ve had a great interest in e-publishing for a while now and Samhain always struck me as a serious player in the industry with an excellent reputation. So, on the 15th December 2008, I sent Ritual Passion to them. On January 6th, I received a rewrite and resubmit. The editor, Deborah Nemeth, loved my voice and the setting but wanted some changes. Quite extensive ones, it turned out, and I admit they damn near did my head in.
I wasn’t confident I could nail the rewrite but decided to persevere because 1/. I absolutely loathe not completing things and if I dropped it, Ritual Passion would forever remain unfinished business, a sort of “what if” hanging over my head. And 2/. If, in the end, nothing came of it, the experience of working with an editor would still be invaluable.
It took me until April to complete the rewrite, partly because I had other things on the go and partly because I found it so hard. By then, Ritual Passion had doubled in size with a lot more focus on the characters’ relationship and an expansion of the overall plot.
In June, Deborah came back to me with another rewrite and resubmit, and I gave serious consideration as to whether I would keep at it. I’d already spent an inordinate amount of time on the project - I could have written, at minimum, another 90,000 word single title in the time – and there was no guarantee I would be offered a contract at the end of the second rewrite.
But then I thought, “Don’t be an idiot!!!!”
So I worked my bum off again and sent the revised manuscript off on June 30. One month later, more than seven months after that first submission, Deborah offered publication.
And then the editing process started!
What a fantastic sale story, Cathryn. Do you write every day?
The short answer is, bar weekends, yes. I’ve always treated my writing as a business that’s open Monday to Friday. I sit down at the computer sometime between 6-30 and 7am and work through until approximately 3pm at which time I wander out for a couple of hour’s walk (I find walking fantastic for plotting and sorting out characterisations etc), a bike ride or, if I’m really lucky, golf. Anything that takes me out of the house and away from the computer.
Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?
Sometimes but not often. My goals are more of the “just finish the book” type. I do, however, really enjoy writers’ groups where you post your daily totals. I find them an excellent motivator. The Romance Writers of New Zealand run a great loop called Book In 50 Days and even though my goal isn’t to write a book in that time period, I love posting my total to it. It’s a wonderfully supportive group.
LOL, yes I constantly tell myself to just finish the book! So would you call yourself a panster or plotter?
Umm....sometimes a panster, sometimes a plotter.
The first 4 or so books I wrote I pansted, although I did have a solid idea of what the stories were about, where they were going, and the main characters. I simply started with the idea in my head and sat down and wrote.
But then I tried plotting, and did that for the next two single titles. Ritual Passion I completely pansted, same as the manuscript I’ve just handed in to my editor. With my current work in progress, Pureheart, I’ve had to plot because it’s a complicated fantasy. And I’ve already plotted my next project, although only quite broadly.
I prefer pansting because it’s exciting. You never know where your characters will lead you, which means if you want to discover what happens next, you have to keep writing!
Yes, that's what I love about pansting, although sometimes it would be good to know what was supposed to happen next! What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?
As I said, I adore writers’ groups like the RWNZ's Book In 50 Days and, of course, I have my brilliant critique partners, but mostly I rely on sheer determination. Plus I loathe not finishing things. Half done projects, whether it’s housework, crossword puzzles or anything, make me twitchy. I’m disturbingly anal like that.
I'm with you on hating to leave things half finished. Except the housework, I don't mind about that!! Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?
Find yourself some good critique partners. That's an absolute must, in my opinion.
Never give up. Believe in yourself and your writing. And never be afraid to try something new. Who knows where it could lead!
Great advice. Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?
I have some wonderful and extremely talented ladies as CP’s. Our initial group was formed three years ago after we hooked up on the Romance Writers of Australia loop. We all write in different genres and with different styles so we receive an excellent cross-section of opinions.
At the start, we all sent out one chapter a month for critique and did line edits on those. That didn’t quite work out, so now we send out 3 chapters or around 50 pages and rather than line edits we look at big picture type stuff – plots, characterisations, motivations etc.
Sadly, a couple of the original members have left but we still keep in touch to share triumphs and tribulations. Earlier this year we welcomed a new member and we’re on the hunt for one or two more.

Check out the trailer!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

10 Survival Tips for Writers & Other Things

If anyone's in need of a good inspirational talk, then hop on over to the fabulous Jenny Crusie's blog where she's listed Ten Tips for Writers. Awesome. I love it, it certainly perked me up! I was lucky enough to attend the RWNZ conference a couple of years ago when Jenny was keynote speaker, and again with the awesomeness!!

And because I like passing on good things, here's the scoop from UF author Erica Hayes's blog:

"Each day up until Christmas (starting today, that's Sunday for all you weekend blogreaders), I'm giving away a signed copy of SHADOWFAE to one lucky person who drops by.

And (yes! but wait, there's more) on the last day, the winner will also receive my very first SHADOWGLASS ARC! Be the first person in the WORLD to read my smokin' hot March 2010 release... well, except for my agent. And my editor. And my cat (he loved it, of course). And possibly a pile of reviewers... But you can be the first REAL person to read it. You know what I mean."

Pop over to Erica's LJ to enter this fab contest!

And on Wednesday (although if the links go live I'll post it up late my Tuesday!) I'm interviewing the very lovely Cathryn Brunet, whose debut erotic romance Ritual Passion is being released by Samhain. Now that would make a scorching hot Christmas pressie!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Delicious Debuts #3

Very slowly working my way through my tbr piles - only problem is I keep adding to them so I'm not exactly making any headway!!! Anyway I've read a couple of fantastic books over the last couple of weeks, so I'm showcasing them here!

First up, Cari Quinn's debut, Full Disclosure, published by the Wild Rose Press:

Thirty-eight-year-old divorcee Holly Burrows has had enough of battery-operated love. Prompted by an ad left at her law office, she investigates Hunk Du Jour, a website designed to foster ‘adult connections’. After weeks of sexy emails and phone calls with surf hunk Kent, she's ready to test their chemistry in person. But first she has to get through lunch with her colleague Alex, a man with a brain as agile as his body. When their consultation ends with a bang, she barely remembers the man she'd lined up for dessert. Now she thinks she's juggling two hot young guys. How can she choose between her two gorgeous cubs – and why do they remind her of each other?

This is a complete scorcher! Sexy and erotic, I loved the emotional intensity and fireworks between Holly and Alex. I'm also a sucker for a hero with a sense of humour and several times I giggled at the interactions between Holly and the sinfully hot Alex! I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series about Holly's little sister, Haley!

Tracey O'Hara's Night's Cold Kiss, published by Eros an imprint of HarperCollins

For centuries war raged between the humans and Aeternus vampires—until courageous efforts on both sides forged a fragile peace.

But the rogue Necrodreniacs will never be controlled—addicted as they are to the death-high . . . and bloody chaos.

Since witnessing the murder of her mother, Antoinette Petrescu has burned with fiery hatred for the vampire race—even for Christian Laroque, the noble, dangerously handsome Aeternus who rescued her. Now an elite Venator, Antoinette must reluctantly accept Christian's help to achieve her vengeance—even as he plots to use the beautiful, unsuspecting warrior as bait to draw out the bloodthirsty dreniacs.

Night's Cold Kiss is the first book in the Dark Brethren series and I am hooked. Dark and powerful, I love the way Tracey pulls no punches . As an added bonus Tracey's just uploaded a prequel onto her website - Dante Rising - that shows the scene where Antoinette watches her mother's brutal murder. Chilling!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cover Art

My editor is going to be discussing cover art with the art department very soon (squee!!!) so she wanted to know what ideas I had. I emailed my agent for a bit of a brainstorm and was completely blown away when she told me what she had in mind - it was almost exactly the same vision I had for FORBIDDEN!!! I'm taking that as a sign!

So I've just sent the email off to my editor, and seriously it took me about two hours to hit Send. Am I the only one who has trouble hitting that Send button? Still, at least it's a bit easier than trying to find and post an envelope, I suppose!!

Anyway, in between stressing about hitting the Send button, I signed onto Goodreads. That was fun. I have three friends so far!! When I figure out how, I'll put a link on my sidebar.

And I'm afraid that sex scene still hasn't been consummated!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009


I received a lovely email today from my editor *squee*! She suggested shortening the title His Forbidden Princess, which might give the wrong impression of the book, to Forbidden.

After I thought about it for a few moments, I realised she was completely right. Much as I love the previous title it doesn't immediately conjure up the essence of the story, whereas Forbidden sounds dark and powerful and sexy! When I told my husband (who generally offers no opinion on such matters!!) he made a point of telling me that he really liked it.

What do you think?

And also I'm thrilled that Berkley are bringing forward the release date to September 2010! OMG. That's not far off at all!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Writing Sex

I haven't come to a standstill on the wip, but it's slowed to a painful crawl. I'm lucky if I can squeeze out an entire page just lately. And the reason? Because finally my hero and heroine are acting on the scorching lust that's been driving them crazy from the moment they met.

I love writing love scenes. I really love reading them back afterwards. But I find the actual writing of them incredibly challenging. Okay, exhausting! I've been on this one for the entire week and by the look of things it won't be fully consummated until at least Sunday!

So it was serendipitous when I came across this link on Twitter - writing love scenes by Jill Sorenson. Well worth checking out!

And funnily enough there's a post up on Romancing the Blog today about awkward sex scenes in romance novels. I found that fascinating because I have a strong inkling that if I get the chance to write book 3 set in my Roman world, the sex between the hero and heroine is going to be fraught with problems due to my heroine's traumatic former marriage.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Claiming His Bought Bride

I sent the edits back to my agent last week, and today hit two words short of 25k on the wip. Another 5k and I'll be a third of the way through!

Back in October, Eleni Konstantine hosted the fabulous Eleni-Fest. I not only won a very cool mug and matching pen from Eleni but also a copy of Rachel Bailey's debut Silhouette Desire, Claiming His Bought Bride.

Because Rachel's book doesn't hit the shelves until January 2010, I didn't think my copy would arrive until the New Year. So imagine how excited I was when it turned up yesterday! And oh wow, it's a smoking hot keeper. I'm not going to give anything away just yet as the lovely Rachel is guesting on my blog in January when we'll be chatting about the book. But I will say this. I managed to write only one sentence on the wip this morning before my resolve cracked and I had to read the rest of Damon and Lily's story!

And just look at that gorgeous cover. It's so romantic and perfectly matches a scene in the book!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Line Edits Have Landed

Yesterday morning, in fact! So I've been knuckling down addressing my agent's comments and suggestions. Luckily she loved the proposal and it's more a question of tightening up sections and paying closer attention to clarity. This is something my CPs are always pointing out to me as I do tend to forget not everyone is currently living in my own world and things do need to be explained!!

My aim is to get these all finished and back to her within the next day or so and then we'll be on track to send the partial to Berkley!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gearing up for Christmas & Revisions

Finally started the Christmas shopping over the weekend and felt Very Guilty at not even opening my document for three whole days. But since my husband rarely gets days off and he was very excited about putting up the Christmas tree I decided this is what's called balance!!! So, Christmas tree is up, some presents are wrapped and two turkeys are stuffed into the freezer (one is for New Year's Day. Not even I'm that greedy on Christmas Day!!!)

As for the wip, I heard back from my agent that I'm on the right track with it and I should be receiving some line edits from her for the partial some time this month. I'm also expecting to hear from my editor before Christmas on revisions to PRINCESS, so I'm kind of biting my nails over that at the moment!

I'm also very excited to share that my lovely friend Kaye Manro has just sold her science fiction/futuristic romance Forbidden Love, to Red Rose Publishing! Congratulations, Kaye!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Plasticine Rules!

Well I just found out my fab CP Amanda entered her hysterical plasticine Zombie Queen of Newbury High book trailer in the You Gotta Read video contest for November - and forget to tell anyone. Whoops!!! So if you enjoyed the trailer and have a spare couple of seconds please pop over to the site and vote!!!

So has anyone seen New Moon yet? My three offspring were all over it on Saturday, and the younger two went again last night. I think the vote is firmly in Team Jacob!! not being a Twilight fan myself I'll wait until the DVD comes out. However, the other night I came across a site that displayed the 30 most disturbing Twilight merchandising. There was one thing there that completely floored me. Why would they be selling an open hamburger, and what did that have to do with the books or movies?

~*~* S P O I L E R ~*~*

OMG!!! Turns out it isn't an open hamburger at all. It's supposed to represent Bella's womb, complete with half vampire baby-creature-thingie in the middle. Gross is what I call it. Here's the link if you don't believe me!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Sometimes the terms "self-publishing" and "vanity publishing" are used interchangeably, which is incorrect. There's a big difference and I don't think there's anything favourable that can be said about the latter. For a detailed break down of the terms of Horizons vanity press, Jackie Kessler has an excellent post on her blog. There are also lively discussions over at Smart Bitches and Dear Author

On a happier note, The Book Depository has a promo going, where over 11,000 e-books are available for free download. Christmas just came early!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've Gone off Chocolate

A couple of days ago while peeling potatoes, I managed to slice off the top of my finger. Like, ouch. That will teach me to day dream about my current hero when wielding a sharp implement! Last night, after dinner, I was munching on a mini-Mars bar when I bit into something crunchy. Since as far as I know Mars bars don't have crunchy bits I sent my tongue to investigate and discovered half my tooth had fallen off and was now in a million tiny fragments. Like, urgh!

I thought I'd need an emergency dash to the dentist but thankfully it doesn't hurt so fingers crossed it hangs on until the New Year. Dentist fees are ridiculous! And it's Christmas in less than six weeks! I'd much rather an e-reader than a dental cap!!

However, there is some good news as earlier in the week my husband hunted down a tiny rubber band for our coffee maker so HOORAY! My addiction is now being fed on a far too regular basis.

As for the writing, that's crawling along at a snail's pace but I've reached the conclusion that is all part of my process. I'm lucky to squeeze out 1k a day for the first third of a book, then it tends to creep up to 2k a day and by the time I hit the home stretch I'm up to 3k a day. At least that's what happened with the last two books and I'm comforting myself it's gonna happen with this one too!

And OMG. What do you think of Harlequin's latest venture, Horizons? Vanity publishing? Really?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time for Fun & Congratulations!!!

I'm stunned almost another week's gone by without me posting a blog!! I swear days just vanish on me and if that's not bad enough it's also the middle of November! That's just not right. What happened to July?

I want to give a big shout out to a couple of friends who have great news. First of all, the lovely Helen Hardt has her first Ellora's Cave book released, Slow and Wet, a hot Western menage. Congratulations, Helen!

In other news, Mel Teshco - whose debut EC title Stone Cold Lover was released recently, has just sold a vampire novella to Nocturne Bites. Yay, Mel!

And last night my good friend Eleni Konstantine send me a link to a Victorian Dress Up Doll. Do you remember those paper cut out dolls you could buy with their paper costumes? Well now you can do it all online!!! Now, this is actually writing related!!! It's a fabulous promo for a new book called Soulless by Gail Carriger- a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking. I spent way too long last night playing with it! So much fun!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reality vs The Fantasy

It's an odd phenomenon, but when a writer tells their non-writing friends and relatives they've sold a book, there seems to be this mystical assumption the writer must now be rolling in it. Ha ha, wouldn't that be nice!!!

To put it all into perspective Lynn Viehl, New York Times bestseller of Twilight Fall has just posted up her most recent royalty statement. It's a real eye-opener and if you have a moment it's well worth reading Lynn's blog post on the subject.

OK, back to the day dreams for me!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Full Disclosure - Cari Quinn

Please welcome my special guest this week, the lovely Cari Quinn! I first met Cari soon after I sold my first novelette last year, and I'm so happy that her first Scarlet Rose, Full Disclosure, has just been released today by The Wilder Roses!


Cari Quinn wrote her first story - a bible parable - in 2nd grade, much to the delight of the nuns at her Catholic school. Once she saw the warm reception that first tale garnered, she was hooked. She attempted her first romance in junior high, long before she'd ever read one. Writing what she knew always took a backseat to what she wanted to know, and that still holds true today. Cari's genres of choice include contemporary, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, urban fantasy and paranormal. Recently she discovered erotic romance. Oh, how far she's come…

Visit her at

Cari, welcome! Can you tell us a little about your book?

Sure can! Here's the blurb:

Thirty-eight-year-old divorcee Holly Burrows has had enough of battery-operated love. Prompted by an ad left at her law office, she investigates Hunk Du Jour, a website designed to foster ‘adult connections’. After weeks of sexy emails and phone calls with surf hunk Kent, she's ready to test their chemistry in person. But first she has to get through lunch with her colleague Alex, a man with a brain as agile as his body. When their consultation ends with a bang, she barely remembers the man she'd lined up for dessert. Now she thinks she's juggling two hot young guys. How can she choose between her two gorgeous cubs – and why do they remind her of each other?

And an excerpt...

Alex's hair brushed his collar, messily kempt in its own wayward style. Holly doubted he’d seen a barber in quite a while. She also doubted he was the type of man who’d wince if she yanked his hair too hard during sex.

That sealed it for her, and placed the cherry red lipstick kiss on the envelope. After her sexually anemic ex-husband, she deserved a young stud. And hell, she’d make sure the young stud got a lil’ something out of the deal, too.

After the waitress took Alex’s card, she rose. Her poker face had always held her in good stead. She’d simply act as if she were a sexy older woman who expected her every sexual demand to be met. He’d never guess the back of her neck had already dampened, despite the air conditioning. “Your place or mine?”

Alex stood beside her, drawing her gaze up to his sculpted jaw and the sexy cleft in his chin. He was taller than her five-ten by a good four inches. There weren’t a lot of guys who made her feel small—okay, smaller—but he did.

Of course, she’d noticed his height--and the way he filled out a pair of trousers--in the office. She’d pretended not to notice, just as she pretended now to be unmoved by the heat of his fingers on her wrist. But that single contact tightened her nipples to painful nubs.

Come to Mama.

“Let’s go to your place. I want to see where you live.” His gaze skipped over her face and continued down over her discreetly displayed cleavage in a way that was more proprietary than proper. “Where you sleep.”

When his fingers brushed her thrumming pulse, she gave him a flirty smile. “Where I won’t be sleeping tonight.”

Full Disclosure is about Alex and Holly, lawyers who work in the same Buffalo firm. He's a bit of a wild card and she's seemingly straight-laced, but as we all know, appearances often deceive. He's been intrigued by her for a while now, so he goes to great lengths to show her that sometimes opposites don't only attract, they spontaneously combust. ;)

Holly is divorced and a bit jaded. She's also tired of self-administered sex. ;) Though she wouldn't normally consider online dating, when she finds an ad for Hunk Du Jour on her chair at work, she decides to go for it. And she gets a bit more than she bargained for when she thinks she has to choose between two young, sexy guys - Kent, the man she meets online, and her very hot colleague, Alex.

Christina fans self. Phew! did someone turn the heating up in here? So how did the idea for the plot come about?

I've always found the idea of internet dating fascinating and wanted to write a story about a couple who meets virtually and establishes a sex connection before their feelings develop. Hunk Du Jour, the website that features prominently in the story, really took on a life of its own and I found I couldn't quite leave that world behind, even after Holly got her HEA.

Ooh, do I sense a series could be brewing? As you probably know, I love sale stories! Can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?

Hmm, my road to publication started with writing Bible stories in elementary school and climaxed in selling my first story, an erotic romance. How's that for a change of genre? LOL I finished my first short contemporary novel in 2007, entered a contest, didn't win. Entered the Golden Heart, and got scores from low, to average, to pretty high. I moved on to Virgin Territory, a book that tried my ever-living soul. But that book's on submission right now, and I have my fingers crossed. I love Vincent and Kiki and I hope they get to see the light of day somewhere other than on my computer. LOL

Then I tackled Full Disclosure, which I'd started and stopped in between one of my many drafts of VT. I received "the email" from my fabulous editor, Karen Welwyn, at The Wild Rose Press in mid-August 09, on my first day of vacation. I've loved every step of the process. My erotic "short" topped out at 30K, and thanks to the brilliant idea of my CP, Tara Leigh Coons, I'm about to submit a follow-up story about Jenny, the webmistress of Hunk Du Jour. And a story about Haley, Holly's younger sister, is also in the works.

Sounds very exciting! Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

Again, this is another question I wish I could answer "yes!" But unfortunately I seem to be a "spree"'s not unusual for me to write 10K over a couple day period, then not write for two weeks. I'm trying very hard to get into a routine, but it comes about as naturally to me as plotting with index cards. I do give myself goals - I figure out roughly how long it should take me to revise, usually drastically underestimate that time, and end up taking twice as long. But I do set them. ;)

Panster or plotter?

I wish I could say plotter, as I have a rather large streak of envy for those who plot with color-coded index cards, highlighters and sticky notes and actually USE them after they've gone to the trouble of creating them. Alas, that's not me, though for the Blaze I'm doing for NaNoWriMo this year, I did outline two WHOLE chapters. LOL But the story that best illustrates my usual style: when I started my first Blaze, Virgin Territory, I had my hero's name, a location, an opening scene and a premise. I didn't even know my heroine's name! I've gotten a bit better since then, as the three from-scratch rewrites it took to get that story in (hopefully) saleable shape proved that sometimes a little forethought's a good thing. ;)

LOL! I hear you on the (non)plotting aspect! What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?

Lots of things. My CPs and writer buddies always cheer me on, and the love of telling a story is something I can't ever forget for too long. Just reading a good book (Nora Roberts and Jeaniene Frost are my favorite authors) is frequently motivation enough. I want to be the one who makes my readers laugh and cry and yes, get turned on too. ;) Plus my goals seem to get bigger and more ambitious by the day, and they definitely don't give me much time to rest. I don't sleep a lot and I drink way too much coffee, but I think that's true about a lot of writers.

It's good to have goals (and definitely good to have coffee too!!!) Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?

Not a light bulb moment, but it took awhile for me to understand writing is a job. It can be a hobby, and it should be an art, but it's not just something you play at dependent on your whims, not if you intend to make any sort of living at it. There's way too much competition. To me, Nora is the perfect example of this. She takes her career very seriously, and her work is amazing. But the work comes first. Not before family and friends, of course, but it should take precedence over things like Twitter. (And yes, I'm entering internet rehab for Twitter...admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?)

Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?

Yes, I do! I have 3 "regular CPs"...2 I'm working with currently, 1 that I'm on a bit of a hiatus with, another I intend to start working with in the coming months and yet another that's somewhat of a brainstorming partner. So obviously I think having CPs works. ;)

Tara, my first CP, and I met up on an eHarlequin critique partner board. It was love at first crit, and we're still going strong. We even share a blog! ( My second CP, Helen Hardt, and I met up through our freelance editing for an epublisher, and she's helped me get over a lot of my erotic romance hangups...such as getting used to typing certain words that once made me blush. (Hey, I'm a Catholic school girl at heart!) I wouldn't let either of them go for anything. As for Ashley, Jaime and Sam... *waves*. Each of them works a bit differently - some do line edits, some look for an overall "feel" - but they're all hugely helpful to me and I appreciate having them as sounding boards.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Delicious Debuts #2

I'm slowly working my way through my electronic tbr pile and over the weekend read an absolute scorcher from my lovely friend, Mel Teshco, who's debut erotic novella, Stone Cold Lover, available from Ellora's Cave, was well worth waiting for!!


Heiress Loretta Shaw is notorious for her loose morals and sexual needs. Trouble is, it’s taken her one too many one-night stands to realize that no man can extinguish the sexual fire she feels toward her guardian, Cray Diamond.

A long-ago curse made Cray immortal—a gargoyle, a guardian, who is impelled to protect a human, chosen by the curse. He is imprisoned in stone during daylight hours but the dusk returns him to flesh and bone, to carry out his immortal duty.

That Cray can shift between human and living gargoyle at night, bothers Loretta not one bit. She’s seen him naked many times and her desire for him—in any shape or form—knows no bounds. She’s tired of his resistance. He’s her gargoyle and she wants him in her bed.

I'd not read a gargoyle story before so was fascinated by that concept. And wow is Cray a hot gargoyle!!! Cray, honourable guardian, tries so hard to resist Loretta but after saving her one too many times his superhuman control shatters. Oh wow. My computer screen sizzled as they finally came together (OK I apologise for that shocking pun but *phew*!!) the flight over Sydney totally took my breath away. I don't think I'll ever look at another gargoyle in quite the same way again!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Caffeine Withdrawal

I never thought I was that addicted to coffee, but a few days ago a tiny rubber band snapped on our coffee maker (the bit that seals the coffee maker to the coffee jug) rendering it useless. OMG! No coffee. And you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find a place that first of all knows what bit of the appliance you're talking about, and secondly can get hold of said bit. Turns out they have to order these bands from the Eastern States (or perhaps even from Italy, who knows?) Anyway like I said, I never thought I was that addicted to the stuff but the headaches I've been getting every night at 7 pm are unbelievable! And much as I love black tea it just isn't hitting the spot!!

As for the writing side of things, I've finally hammered out a synopsis for my second Ancient Historical. That was surreal and I can't say I enjoyed the process but since it's a necessary evil I just kind of sucked it up (and all this without benefit of coffee, remember!!) Fingers crossed on that one!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Goodness!!

Today, Halloween (well, it's already Halloween on the other side of Australia!!) I'm over at Eleni's Taverna as part of Eleni-Fest, where I'm chatting about Romans and Angels and Druid Princesses. There's a copy of either Foretaste of Forever or Touch of the Demon up for grabs for one lucky commenter, and the contest is open until 5th November. I'd love to see you over there!

Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Contest Winner, Contest & Another Upcoming Contest!

Congratulations to Kylie Griffin who won Eleni's super cute stationery pack!

There's still time to win heaps of fab prizes over at Eleni-Fest all this week. In fact I'll be over there on Saturday, Halloween, appropriately offering a giveaway of either Touch of the Demon or Foretaste of Forever. More on that later!

A quick update on Amanda's fun Zombie book trailer. Here are the deets, shamelessly stolen direct from her blog:

To enter all people have to do is either post a copy of the trailer on their blog, link to it or even post a tweet. Then, once they've done that they just need to send me an email to:

amanda at amandaashby dot com (no spaces)

to let me know what they've done and I'll put them in the draw to win my Very Last Zombie Survival Kit.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Delicious Debuts #1

I really do need an e-reader! I think I might ask Santa for one, if I promise to be a very bad girl... what do you think...?

Today I'm highlighting two short stories available from The Wild Rose Press, both written by lovely friends and released a few months ago.

Ellie Woods is in love...with a ship. When an argument with the ship results in a bump on the head, she finds herself in the strong arms of Alastair. But who is he and where did he come from?

Alastair has loved Ellie from afar for years, but duty has kept him from revealing himself to her. When a grave threat reveals his true identity, he hopes that Ellie will choose reality over fantasy.
A wonderfully different romance, Ellie is the only female Junior Engineer on her space craft and passes the time during her solitary shifts by chatting to the ship - which has its own unique way of answering back! I was completely intrigued by the mysterious Alistair and look forward to reading more about the fascinating Mates of the Guardians series!

KILT WORTHY by Catherine Bybee
Peering at the world from behind her camera lens, "Plain Jane" Parker is stunned to see a handsome hunk wearing a kilt as he confidently strolls down a busy Seattle street. Her dormant libido roars to life even before their eyes meet. Aroused and intrigued, she tosses aside her usual caution and follows when Logan MacLaren beckons for a delightfully sinful one-night stand.

Logan is an exceptionally talented lover, wielding the abundant sword he sports beneath his plaid to deliver unparalleled pleasures. He reminds her to trust her instincts after reality proves they're a more perfect fit than either imagined.

Then Logan drops his bombshell: He's traveled through time to find her and wants her to stay with him medieval Scotland. Did Jane just have the most erotic sex of her life with a delusional crazy man, or is it truly possible for her one-night stand to last forever? 
Catherine's delicious sense of humour shines through in this steamy romance, told in first person by the self-conscious Jane. I thoroughly enjoyed how Jane and Logan (and his abundant sword... gotta love that line!!) were swept up in the exhilarating ride of finding their soul mate and falling in love, and watching how Jane discovered that she was truly... kilt worthy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Your Friday Giggle!!!

Big thank you to Eleni for her fabulous blog post yesterday. It brought back lots of "OH MY GOD!!!" moments for me, that's for sure!! Eleni will be picking a winner for her super-cute mini pack after the weekend so be sure to drop by to see if you've won! And there's still plenty of time to leave a comment - you've got to be in it to win it!!!

Amanda Ashby has just made a new trailer for Zombie Queen of Newbury High. I laughed so hard this morning I woke my son up, who limped into my office and then of course I had to play it again (such a hardship - not!!) He also thought it hilarious! So here, just for you, is the updated version of Zombie Queen of Newbury High. I challenge you to watch this and not spit your wine at least once!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eleni-fest: I'm not a kick-butt heroine...yet!

Contest is now closed!
Thanks Christina for inviting me to bring Eleni-fest to your blog. For those who don’t know it’s a month long celebration during October where I’ve been yakking about grants, conferences, writing community and the romance and fantasy genres. And I have been lucky to have many special guests throughout the month. Christina will join me on Halloween...cue scary music.

But today I’ll be talking fantasy and paranormal genres – more specifically kick-butt heroines (sorry typing kick ass makes me think of a kicking donkey. I know get over it Eleni, still…my term of choice is kick-butt).

In the beginning…
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved fairy tales and stories in general, watched many cartoons, comics, TV shows (e.g. Bewitched) and movies (e.g. The Wizard of Oz) to fall in love with the whole ‘fantasy’ world whether it be set in another world or in this one with paranormal elements (super heroes). How cool! How amazing! How fantastic! And the allure of fantasy began…

I wanted to be that kick-butt super heroine – I remember dressing up as Batgirl after getting a show bag from the Royal Show that is held yearly in Adelaide. Here I was with gappy teeth, wearing a cape pretending I was oh so super heroine-ish.

There was also Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Super Girl, Wilma from Buck Rodgers…sorry big fan of Buffy but she didn’t invent kick butt. Not to mention the non-paranormal ladies like Charlie’s Angels and Police Woman (oh so cool with great hair with bangs).

See don’t you just want to be these unruffled, tough ladies, with hands on the hips saying ‘bring it on!’ (cue the ‘da da daaa’ music) then flick the hair.

Oh and one of the first romances I barracked for was Wilma and Buck. I was only young but I remember that clearly. Though I can’t remember what did happen. I’ll have to go find me a DVD of the series and find out!

Cultural influence…
But even before this there were kick butt stories. And coming from a Greek background, a big influence on my life – Greek Mythology. When I was 9, my family travelled to Greece and the stories of the Gods and the history of Greece came alive in my mind. It was then I was given a copy of a Greek Mythology book (in Greek). There were some great pictures in it that stirred up the imagination, like this one of Athena. Yes, I still have the book *grin*

Can you see why my 9-year-old self would be intrigued? The vivid colours, the scene, and what’s more, she was a warrior god that also had the owl for the symbol for wisdom. Brains, beauty and power!

I didn’t realise until much later but while the Greek Gods & Goddesses had powers and were immortal, they were not always moral. Maybe that’s why the stories fascinated me as well as kind of scared me. Who knew what you could do to displease the gods and you suffer for it?

How each god and goddess represented different parts of nature, human nature or culture fascinated me – like Gaia being Mother Earth, Artemis the huntress, Aphrodite the love goddess and so on. Stories of monsters, creatures like the Gargoyles (Medusa) and abilities like throwing lightning bolts, appearing and disappearing, freezing a person to the spot with a look, sparked stories in my mind. Adventures like Odysseus’ trek home, Jason with the Golden Fleece, and Herakles (aka Hercules) brought that quest element to life. And of course the Amazons who were warrior women standing their own against the men & other creatures.

Now I have always been an uncoordinated soul. While other kids could do cartwheels properly, I just didn’t have that ‘bend’. Mine were erratic. I played soccer in high school but the amount of injuries I had due to lack of finesse, well I ran out of fingers to count. Not only was I unco, I was and am plump and vertically challenged. Yes, that’s short for un-PC among us. No long Elle Macpherson legs for me!

So the closest thing I could come to a kick-butt heroine is by reading about them, watching them, or writing about them.

Fantasy & Paranormal influences...
Though the serious writing came many years down the track when the series The Chronicles of the Cheysuli by Jennifer Roberson changed my life – epic generational fantasy. And I was hooked. Oh yes, I’d read The Hobbit, seen bits of The Lord of the Rings (cartoon), but there were female characters in this series that were just as important as the male ones. It has been many years since I have read the series and I may view it differently now, but that can’t take away the importance it had in my life.

Then I read some more different types of books – some high fantasy, others more with paranormal elements, all with a hint of romance.

Marion Zimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon
David & Leigh Eddings – The Belgariad
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (Cross Stitch) – Jamie is my all time fave hero.
Barbara Erskine – The Lady of Hay
Robert Jordon’s – The Wheel of Time
Sara Douglass’ – The Axis Trilogy
Traci Harding’s – The Ancient Future trilogy

Still I had always read widely and continued to do so (including horror, detective, mysteries, different types of romances). But I’ve really come to terms that I really haven’t as an extensive reading experience in the fantasy genre as you might expect. I had been slowly getting behind with my reading and with catching up reading the greats because of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

I looked at this list of the Top 100 Fantasy Novels (speculative fiction) and worked out that I have only read about 18 of the titles and/or series. Sad state of affairs *sad face*. In my down years, I did however rely on TV and movies to get me through and the visual medium is great when you are too tired to read. So I score a lot higher with these. (Top 100 Fantasy Films and Top 100 Fantasy TV series for your interest).

Holy Cow - Paranormal Romance!
In the years where I had not been reading so much, the market of paranormal romance has ‘kapowed’. Aha, that’s my Batman reference all right.

And that is the direction my reading has taken recently. I’m enjoying reading these stories because even though they had been around, the stories have flourished adding different elements to old legends and tales. And special guests that I have this month on Eleni-fest who write in this and the urban fantasy genre – my gracious hostess Christina of course, Mel Teshco, Anna Hackett, Tracey O’hara, Eric Hayes, Keri Arthur, and Denise Rossetti (more fantasy but I’ll add to this list).

I’ve only recently found the Goodreads lists and they are a great way of introducing you to any genre you are not familiar with.

Actually in Heart & Craft, author Kelly Ethan has a great chapter about Fantasy Romance (this is the book that is part of my website competition). Where a fantasy romance focuses on the romance, the romantic fantasy has romantic elements.

I’ve also recently started reading Graphic Novels (aka formerly known as comics but with longer length from what I gather). And that has given me another layer to this whole paranormal/graphic world. It goes hand in hand with urban fantasy and horror I believe. Fascinating!

Still while I may not be as widely read as others, I love the fantasy and paranormal worlds and it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of them. Unfortunately there’s no ‘time stop’ button so I can catch up on my reading, and the last thing I want is for reading to feel like a chore. I want to read…actually I have to read, just like I have to write. It’s good for the soul.

My stories and world building...
The sense of discovery, of needing to obtain a goal, of watching characters grow and learn is what I love about fantasy including the quest fantasies. It’s probably why my yet to be published book -Healer’s Destiny- is one. And why I have more waiting in the wings for me to write. I love the middle ages type world with dragons, magic, and the journey of discovery. I love a Greek mythological type worlds also ;)

But since I’ve always loved paranormal elements, and had written a few short stories with this aspect, I’ve also started to delve the paranormal fiction world with longer fiction (novella and novel) and I’m having fun blending our world with another layer of magic.

In university a friend dubbed me the appendix queen because I had so much research in my assignments that needed add appendices to be pointed to, as it would not fit in the 2000-5000 word essays.

So yes, I can go on and on with research. I now take the ‘research when I need’ approach otherwise I will never get to the writing.

A couple of books I use extensively are:

The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference: an indispensible compendium of myth and magic

The Writer’s Guide to Everyday life in the Middle Ages: The British Isles from 500 to 1500 by Sherrilyn Kenyon

There are plenty more including books on mythology, costumes, and history, but these are a great starting off point.

And more and more, there are plenty of online references. Here are just a few:

RWAus has had a paranormal group off and on for a number of years now. Before the conference and since the loop is buzzing with more activity, which is great to see. Writers get each other, still those who read or write Paranormal (we include all speculative fiction in this), get why we love this genre that touch more. So it’s good to bounce thoughts and ideas with each other, discuss books, TV programs (yes, Supernatural is high on the list - ), movies.

I also follow blogs and twitter (you can follow other social media if you are so inclined) and it can help you feel part of the broader community of fantasy/paranormal romantic elements (big or small) enthusiast (say that quickly 3 times!). It actually has been a blast getting to know people via cyberspace. That’s how I got to know Christina (& our mutual love for BSG!)

So while I myself am not a kick-butt heroine, my aim is to create those them, give them vulnerabilities, battles and obstacles to overcome, and to make the story sing!

How about you?

I’m giving away a mini-pack to one commenter.
Comments will be open until end 27th October.

For more information on Eleni-fest, check out my website.

Thanks again Christina for having me on your blog. I hope I've been a good house-guest *wink*