Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Nope. Partly because I'm too exhausted trying to finish the old ones, and the temporary ones I set for myself this month. That and the fact I've battled insomnia and nightmares the past two weeks have left me feeling like a well-wrung dish rag.
Then today, while driving I was listening to an NPR interview with Gretchen Rubin, the author of the yearlong experiment and new book, The Happiness Project. She has a good blog post on setting and keeping resolutions. She keeps a resolution chart as outlined on her blog. There's a blank template at the end of the blog:
Here's the link to the resolution blog post:
Here's an interesting blog on empowering creativity that she mentions.
Here's a website designed by a guy to keep track of his goals, a free tool you
can use. You have to sign up, but it's free.
I confess I found Gretchen's blog mainly because she has a post on tips on feeling more energetic. Then I found a post on tips for getting more sleep. Ah, if only there were tips on how to deal with a sick Shih Tzu who yarks all over the carpet and has raging diarrhea on your lunch hour while you're trying to gulp down a ham and cheese sandwich and rush back to work without being late.
I'm in between writing projects now until after the first of the year, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to write a vampire short story for "fun." I've made progress, but I couldn't figure out why I'm so sluggish. Then I made a list of all the projects I've had released this year:
The total comes to FIVE.
The Lady and the Libertine. MM paperback, my last Egyptian historical with Dorchester.
Darkness of the Wolf. Short story released by Nocturne.
Seducing the Vampire, short free e-read released by Nocturne.
Immortal Wolf. MM paperback released by Nocturne.
Holiday with a Vampire III. Novella.
Two full-length paperbacks, three short stories, PLUS working nearly FT all year, travel to Haiti, Nicaragua, and being a wife, plus caretaker to two Shih Tzu dogs who required trips to the vet nearly every other week for the past three months, and other assorted personal issues, and travel.
Most people don't realize that writing a book isn't merely writing. For midlisters like myself, there's promotional work, website updates (I haven't updated mine in a long time) blogging, and other time-consuming, yet important tasks. Then with writing a book come the revisions, the edits, the page proofs and the various sundry tasks, such as helping select a cover and in the case of the Nocturnes, writing a "Dear Reader" letter.
I know authors who have been on deadline for books and received galleys that were due the same day as their other deadlined books. It's a crazy business. We love it, but it's crazy all the same.
I'm very late on establishing any goals. I'm not even certain WHAT kind of goals I want to establish. Personal goals, there are a couple, but writing? Right now my goal is to finish the vampire short story by this weekend. That means writing about 5,000 words.
I did a storyboard, my first, for this project. I wrote a short synopsis. I know what the key plot points, conflict and story arcs are. I just have to buckle down and write it.
That's my goal for 2010. Finish this last project and rest, and then revive for what will hopefully be a more satisfying, less frenetic year.
BTW, the Nocturne authors are launching a new website in January. It's got a dynamic new look, and new features that include doing searches for subgenres of Nocturnes, for example, werewolves. You can look at the author's listing and see if it's part of a series. My Draicon werewolf books are all listed.
Good luck with your goals and Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I was trying to do laundry, bake cookies and not go insane
The stockings were hung on the tea cart with care
Even though Cookie kept grabbing hers to pull out the stuffed bear.
DH on the phone with his father, alas
Telling him the times of the Christmas Eve Mass
I could have warned him, times two
Never argue with a man who’s aged 92
“Tell him we’ll pick him up at 4:45 on the dot,
And we’ll be off to Mass at a very quick trot,
Then out to dinner to Bobby Rubino’s when Mass is done,
B/c said 92 year old man has a coupon, two for one.”
Friends over tomorrow as we celebrate right away
Since DH has to work all of Christmas Day
We’ll run the trains ‘round the tree and in the back,
Hopefully none of the steam engines will fall off the track.
And I realized I still had nut bread to bake
Even though work ran long and I had a meeting to make,
Christmas is my favorite time of the year
Even when all the goodies make me double in the rear.
Even when life is hectic and there’s no time to breathe,
I’ll take a deep breath Jan. 1 and a sigh of relief,
Until then, on Bonnie! And Bonnie! And do some more!
When it’s Christmas time it’s never a bore!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Today is the official release day for Holiday with a Vampire III! Here's an excerpt.
copyright 2009 by Bonnie Vanak
He went outside onto the wood deck, relishing the harsh winter wind stinging his cheeks. Squealing, the gremlins rushed over, the pom-pom balls on their Santa hats bouncing. The tallest, only four feet, had tinsel dangling from his pointed ears. Six faces beamed at him, showing rows of serrated teeth.
Snark, oldest of the six brothers, thrust a wrapped package at him. “Merry Christmas!”
Adrian felt a small tug of pleasure as he examined the shoebox-sized package, his first gift in years. It was wrapped in gold and red striped paper that bore faint stains, and the red ribbon smelled like oranges and sour chicken. He raised a dark brow.
“Have you been rooting through the garbage again?”
A chorus of innocent “No’s” with equally innocent looks confirmed his suspicions.
“Open it, open it,” they began to chant.
“We got you exactly what you wanted. Just add water and read the note,” Snark added.
Curiosity consumed him. He headed for the nearby pool house, the gremlins skipping in his wake. Inside, he switched on the soft overhead lights and sat at the wrought iron table. Slowly he began to unwrap the present, wanting to make it last. The gremlins squealed with impatience.
Oh very well. Adrian ripped the paper, tore off the box lid. He lifted a thin layer of tissue paper.
Beneath it lay the ugliest doll he’d ever seen. The smile died on his face. A black, Frankenstein-like scar snaked down the doll’s right cheek, Tufts of hair grew from a balding scalp. She was dressed in a lime green polyester pants suit. A silver bracelet was included in the box, along with a small white card. He read the card.
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE NOW THE PROUD OWNER OF A SALLY UGLY BUNCH DOLL.
“Have fun playing with your gift!” Snark chortled, and they scampered off.
A hollow ached filled his chest as he lifted the doll. His fingers stroked the deep gouges on his left cheek. The doll stared sightlessly back at him, its own scar mocking him. Adrian glanced in the direction the gremlins took.
“I thought you were my friends,” he whispered.
Grief twisted and writhed like hissing snakes in his belly. Primitive rage exploded, making his fangs descend. Adrian shook the doll, his voice a strong roar that echoed through the pool house’s open glass doors and over the five acres of his cliffside estate.
“Damn you!” He threw the doll against the wall.
He froze. Were the gremlins playing another trick? Snark said to add water. Adrian picked up his Christmas gift and marched outside. The pool was heated, and remained uncovered for the gremlins’ nightly swim. Wind billowed his robe, fluttering it open and exposing his strong, muscled legs. He flung the toy into the water.
Shock filled him as the doll began to thrash. Stiff limbs became arms and legs beating the water. The doll grew to life-size, dark hair sprouting from its balding head. No longer a doll, but a woman.
She sank, only to surface again. “Help me,” she choked out, before she went under.
This time she did not surface.
He was no hero. The last time he’d played the part, he’d been left to die. But he was no ogre, either. Shrugging out of his robe, Adrian dove into the pool. He swam underwater, grabbed the woman and dragged her upward. Swiftly towing his gift to the pool’s edge, he then climbed out and hoisted the woman up into his arms.
Inside the warm pool house, he gently laid her down on the tiled floor. He inhaled, taking her scent into his lungs. Fangs exploded in his mouth as a familiar hunger seized him.
Only one woman could cause this kind of volatile reaction. Stunned, Adrian took a closer look.
The repulsive scar was gone, replaced by smooth flesh. Instead of a chubby moon face, bulbous nose and thin mouth, she had full lips, a pert nose, high cheeks and long lashes.
Shocked, he sat back on his haunches. Adrian bent closer. “My beautiful Sarah,” he whispered. “Just as lovely as when you left me. Traitor.”
She lay still as cold marble. Very gently, he turned her head to one side. Adrian straddled her hips. Decades ago, he’d given CPR to a little boy who’d nearly drowned. Now he avoided everyone and was dead inside. But maybe he could give life again.
He compressed her chest. She coughed, and a stream of water spilled out of her lips. Satisfaction filled him as color returned to her cheeks. He did another compression and she coughed again.
The delicate blue vein in her throat throbbed with life. Just as he’d always done in the past, he fought the ferocious urge to take her blood. Instead, he stroked her throat, marveling at the feel of satin skin beneath his caressing fingertips.
Blood pulsed just beneath smooth flesh, calling to him in a siren song. He hadn’t been near a woman in years, not even to feed. Adrian didn’t trust the darkness inside him. His private blood bank took care of his needs.
Clenching his fists, he stared at her lying beneath him. He envisioned Sarah naked, her long legs open, her body sultry and inviting. Flat on her back, the perfect position to sink his fangs, and his body, into her. The strong sexual pull he’d always experienced around her, and never fulfilled, roared to unwelcome life.
Sarah was forbidden. He’d hungered for her, would have given her the world, but destiny promised her to another of her kind. Adrian had honored her chastity, guarding it from all, even himself. He had never even kissed her.
He could not help himself now. His fangs lengthened, echoing the raw desire pooling much lower. Adrian leaned down, and brushed his mouth against hers. Warm, wet lips moved beneath his. She tasted as delicious as he’d imagined.
Enchanted, he deepened the kiss, moaning at the honey of her mouth. Adrian reluctantly drew away. How the hell had she gotten here? He fetched the note from the doll’s box.
“Dear Adreean, (the gremlins never did learn to spell, despite his best efforts to teach them). Puleze accept with thankz thiz fer letting uz stay on yur guezt houze without pay. We finds her after we smells wolfie when letting air out of car tyers in town. Put thee bracelet on her and she cant do magickz. Meerry Chrismes.”
The note crushed beneath his fingers. Adrian smiled darkly as he retrieved the silver bracelet. He had a pretty Christmas present. And he wasn’t about to let her go.
Not until she lured her enemies to his house, so he could destroy them and gain admittance back to his clan. Take his rightful role as his father’s heir and future ruler of the powerful clan of vampires.
As he snapped the bracelet on her wrist, feeling the chilled, but soft skin beneath his fingertips, he only hoped the old feelings he harbored for her would not destroy him first.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
In view of the last, here's a little something to lighten your week. Romance titles that will never make it...
Romance Novel Titles that will never make it
My Meh Lover
The Highlander’s Halitosis
To Catch an STD
Then Came You, and 9 months later came Baby John
Taming the Accountant
Almost a Virgin
The Rake’s Hoe
An Unexpected Disappointment
Seducing the Mailman
The Duke of Pox
Lord of Sweat
His Every Flatulence
The Passion of Herman
And... making fun of my own recent release, and my December anthology...
Holiday Dinner with a Vampire
Friday, November 06, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Got word that Jasmin, the baby pictured here, has died.
I'm not surprised. Not even sad or numb. Just resigned. I knew she would die. The hospital in Haiti where she was lacked an incubator, hell, they didn't even have feeding tubes to keep her alive.
All they had was an IV to drip fluids into her, and a heating lamp that shone directly into the little girl's eyes.
She never had a chance.
I've added her to my "2009 Wall of Death" at work. Four children whom we've met in the field and tried to save, and failed to save. They are on a filing cabinet, staring over my shoulder. I want them over my shoulder so I can feel their painful eyes on me, watching, silently asking, "Will you forget about us? Will our deaths mean nothing?"
Today I wrote a proposal to try to get an incubator and other medical supplies for that hospital in Haiti. All I can do is try, even though some days, like today, it just isn't enough...
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
She was lying in a crib beneath a heating lamp, wrapped up in towels. An IV dripped fluids into her.
We gave money for the mother to take the baby to Port-au-Prince as this hospital doesn't have the equipment to deal with premies, though they have the personnel. The doctor said the baby can't be moved because she has to be kept warm or she'll die.
If she doesn't get moved to a hospital where she can be fed, since she is too weak to breastfeed, and put in an incubator, she'll die.
It's tough as wapoo, and heartbreaking to see that a child who has to struggle for life the moment she is born doesn't even have a damn chance. If only the hospital had the right equipment, if only, if only... this county is filled with too many sad "if only's."
I wish I could find the ventilator, incubator, feeding tube and other equipment they need for premies so we could send it to them.
Maybe that's just a damn pipe dream, a sad wish for now...
In the meantime, I am resigned. I know this baby is going to die. That makes four babies this year we've tried to save who have died.
Sometimes, there just are no words...
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I'm leaving for Haiti, and will be offline all week. If you email me, please be patient. I'll get back to you when I get back to the States.
In the meantime, if you liked Raphael's story in IMMORTAL WOLF, be sure to check out the FREE online serial on eHarlequin I wrote called SEDUCING THE VAMPIRE.
It starts tomorrow on eHarlequin and will be in their online reads library.
Every Monday for eight weeks, there will be a new chapter, starting Oct. 19. This story features Indigo, the half-vampire, half-werewolf, who is Raphael's adopted brother. Indigo meets up with a beautiful vampire from his past. Together they must team up to save an ancient amulet from getting into the wrong hands. Raphael makes a guest appearance in SEDUCING THE VAMPIRE.
Click here to read SEDUCING THE VAMPIRE.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Kate Duffy, longtime Kensington editor, has died.
I didn't know Kate, but met her a couple of times. She always struck me as a blunt, down-to-earth, funny as hell woman, and I'd heard her skills as an editor were terrific. She never hesitated to say what she thought, and to me, that was so damn refreshing.
I first met her at the Florida Romance Writers convention in 2007. Kate was on a panel with other editors and agents, doing a Floridian Idol. Writers would give, anonymously, a few pages and the panel would critique them.
I remember one particular entry that was extremely racist and offensive. The others on the panel were delicate in their comments, but Kate laid it out on the line. She clearly said how offensive it was.
I met her again at Heather Graham's Writers for New Orleans in 2007, the very first year Heather organized the conference. Kate did an impromptu session with the audience, sitting down with us instead of speaking at the podium, and telling us what she liked, what was up and coming at Kensington, and what she looked for in books.
It was fun, it was open and honest, and I thought, "Damn, as an editor she might be tough, but you'd know where you stood." Even though I had nothing to send to her, as I was already under contract with another house, I wanted to submit to her just to see what she'd say.
I never did, and I regret that now.
I heard she was getting treatments for cancer. If they can find a cure for this horrible and heart-breaking disease in my lifetime, it won't be soon enough. Just last week, I found out a couple of co-workers have cancer, and a friend's father was diagnosed with lung cancer and another friend just had surgery for cancer.
Kate Duffy. A helluva editor, smart, witty woman, and a good person.
She'll be sorely missed in the publishing world.
My condolences to her family, her authors, her coworkers, and her friends.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
And here is an excerpt to go along with it! Enjoy.
Immortal Wolf, copyright 2009 by Bonnie Vanak
He advanced, his body tensing with aggressive need to dominate and claim. Raphael forced himself to move slowly. Must not scare her. All else was forgotten, but this driving sexual need for her. Emily did not retreat.
She remained motionless, her hands in their ugly mustard yellow casing of gloves now shoved behind her back. He drew close enough to see a slight sprinkling of ginger freckles on her delicate, upturned nose. Close enough to count the light gold lashes feathering her large eyes, see the swirls of green in the irises shift to blue, and then deep violet.
Raphael blinked. Her eyes changed color?
And then she parted her lips and lifted her face to him, like a daisy eager for the sun’s caressing rays, and he forgot about everything but fusing his mouth to hers.
His hand gently caressed her soft cheek. Raphael cupped her face and kissed her, feeling the electric shock between them as their lips touched.
Emily sighed into his mouth and closed her eyes. He did as well, tasting her, his blood roaring through his veins, his body humming like a live current. She was of the earth and nature, pure as a crystal stream, and he ached to dive into her, plunder her sweet, innocent depths with his hardened body, let her know a male’s driving passion while awakening her own.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Book piracy hurts authors. Trust me, those sales DO count. And when they're lost to e-piracy, everyone loses, including the reader.
Chasing book pirates is like herding cats. As a midlist author, I have little time to do it. I'd rather write, and keep writing. But the more sales I lose to book piracy, the less chances I have of getting another contract.
Click here to read the blog.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Just comment on the blog I posted over at eharlequin titled, "Climbing mountains and dreaming dreams."
BTW, news update. SEDUCING THE VAMPIRE will be the Weekly Read on eHarlequin starting October 19. Every week there will be a FREE chapter to read.
This online serial features Indigo, the half-Draicon werewolf, half-vampire, who was first featured in ENEMY LOVER. Indigo also makes an appearance in IMMORTAL WOLF.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Washington state. Did research for a new story.
Now it's back to work, and deadlines.
Check back Monday as I'll be posting a link to a Harlequin blog I'm doing... posting about our mountain hiking adventure AND giving away a FREE copy of my upcoming Nocturne, IMMORTAL WOLF. I received my author copies this week. Yay!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Lookie! It's THE PANTHER AND THE PYRAMID, in Russian!
I guess this is the scene where they get married, as he's removing the veil from her face. But if she's in a wedding gown, why is he half-naked?
Oh wait, it's a John DeSalvo cover. That's why!
Saturday, August 08, 2009
The bottom of my desk! Yay!
I'm done! Turned in typesets for HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE, turned in both Nocturne shorts that were due.
I'm done done done!
Did 3 loads of laundry, cleaned off the desk. Time to jump into the hot tub and then I'll tackle housework.
Maybe I'll take a huge glass of wine with me to celebrate!
Thursday, August 06, 2009
This is the blurb I wrote for IMMORTAL WOLF, my October. Nocturne, for the RT ad I'm running with the wonderful Lisa Renee Jones:
An immortal, Harley-riding Cajun werewolf faces his greatest challenge when he races against time to save his destined mate from being sacrificed to spare the Draicon werewolf race from her “death touch.”
This is the blurb I'd write for my life right now, for a book I'd title, MORTAL WRITER:
A frazzled author and writer faces her greatest challenge when she races against time to meet deadlines, attend daylong meetings, sort through paperwork, get her broken car fixed, and do laundry, typesets and defrost a turkey for dinner while gulping down vats of Diet Coke and Dunkin Donuts.
I promise I will blog next week when life settles down a little... I hope!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Imprisoned and tortured by demons, Guy Laurent thought the only way he could escape was through death. Then he is offered a chance a freedom by recovering a girl with the help of former Draicon Kayla Morris...
Even though Kayla has been warned that Guy is a dangerous and savage wolf, his scent—and his kiss—makes her wildness surface. But despite both their inner wolves howling to mate, Kayla must fight their attraction—or risk unleashing the deadly gift she hates...
This is only the second Bite I've written, and I have to admit I like it much better than Broken Souls. There is just something about Guy, dark, tormented, and wanting to turn away from the world.
Amelia Richard reviewed this book for CataRomance (her review will be posted this weekend) Here's what she has to say:
"DARKNESS OF THE WOLF is a spellbinding combination of magick, passion and destiny, where revelations await the dynamically endearing couple.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This is Eve Silver. We kept each other entertained as we sat across from each other at the Literacy Signing at RWA.
Home and hearth with a dash of sensuality are the hot new trend, seems like everyone agrees on this. Those books are selling well. Paranormal is still selling strong, but there’s a glut. YA is very very hot. Steampunk is an up and coming trend for some houses and urban fantasy is still doing well, but some houses don’t know how to market straight UF except with their best-selling authors (think JR Ward). When you don’t have a name like JR Ward, you have to rely on the subject matter of your book to sell you, so shelving is very very important.
Historicals are even, not making a big comeback like they did back in the 70’s, but not declining either.
I found it fascinating that Janet Evanovich is starting a comic book line next year. I know Sherrilyn Kenyon and others are into manga now, and I think what Janet said at her speech resonates with mainstream America. A woman struggling to make her budget during these troubled times will forgo the $7.99 paperback for herself (another reason why Walmart is powerful, they discount so heavily and the volume is enormous) but will scrape together every last time to buy a comic book to get her kid to read.
Another reason why YA is so popular, at least IMHO. If I were a mom, I’d be buying books like crazy for my child because I know how important reading is later on in life.
The recession definitely showed in this RWA conference, with at least two publishers cutting back on their big dinners. Publishers are struggling. On the whole romance sales may be up, but publishing is suffering. Just today I got an email from a bookseller who formerly worked for Waldenbooks who is now working for the bookstore that replaced said Waldenbooks. The store is a remainder store. Bad news for authors… I love used bookstores, and at least with a UBS, the author has sold the book once, so there’s a royalty. Remainder bookstores? Those are the books that publishers discount to get rid of stock or damaged (not stripped, an entirely separate animal) stock. The author doesn’t see a penny.
On the other hand, Harlequin, who is celebrating their 60th anniversary, had the best party! Open bar and each bar featured drinks from different eras. For example, the 70’s bar had Harvey Wallbangers. And those are drinks, not what some readers do to books they loathe.
I wish Harlequin would take its vintage covers and put out a line of products featuring the covers, such as retro clutch purses or even book jackets. I’d buy them.
The bar was the best place to hang to run into friends or just people watch. It got pretty noisy and crowded.
I made a point of telling authors I like how much I enjoy their books. This list includes Sharon Sala and Anne Stuart. It was also great chatting with people like author Eve Silver (who is terrific) Renee Ryan, Virginia Farmer, Lisa Renee Jones (who is so nice), Emily Bryan and many more, and meeting my fellow Nocturne authors. The best thing for me about RWA is reconnecting with people I seldom see. I saw Cheryl Wilson as well, who thanked me for taking a pix of her at lunch with a couple of people. Always great seeing CJ. And Kristin Painter (congratulating her on her new UF sale, woot!) and Lara Santiago, touring the spy museum and having lunch with them.
The first two days were spent mainly touring with my good friend Diane. The White House tour and the tour of the Capitol, and the Smithsonian, will be memories I’ll always cherish. I highly recommend coming early to play tourist. By the end of the conference, I was so wiped out all I could think about was going home.
For readers, I honestly think RWA offers a lot. I mean, for the cost, you get tons of free books signed by the authors (I shipped only one box home because I attended only one signing), get to hang with your friends, and the chance to meet your favorite authors. Or hear terrific speeches by authors you admire, such as Janet Evanovich. I missed Linda Howard’s speech, as I was having lunch with my agent and her assistant, but got to hear part of Eloisa James’ speech.
If I were a reader, I’d go to RWA just for the sheer quantity of the free books you get and the chance to meet authors all in one place. Where else can you catch a glimpse of Eloisa James or Nora Roberts? My last RWA was two years ago, when readers and bloggers were just starting to make a presence. Now I see this as a growing trend, which is pretty cool. After all, romance authors ARE readers, too, and so many of us started out as readers.
I had a grand time hanging with Caridad Pineiro and her friends and chapter members in a suite instead of doing the RITA awards. It was much more relaxing and rewarding for me. We got into an interesting talk on digital publishing. Personally, I’m all for change in the industry. I don’t read many ebooks, only because I’m on a computer all day at the day job (except when I’m traveling to Haiti or Nicaragua) and then all night when I’m on deadline. When I pick up a book to read for a few precious minutes, I want a paperback or hardback in hand. I want to dog-ear the pages, put it on the nightstand. I also want to be able to read in the tub without worrying about dropping my book into the water. A book dries out. A Sony ereader?
I am very curious about the Kindle and would like to get one, but the Orwell incident makes me very uneasy. Very Big Brother of them to go into the Kindle while the wireless feature is on, and take BACK a book readers downloaded. My books are scattered all over my house. It would feel like someone crept into my house and removed the book. Very very creepy. So that whole incident has me thinking twice before plunking down money on a Kindle.
New buzzwords to think about are “the cloud” and “mashables.” Heard of mashables before and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is one book I must buy. I foresee an interesting trend with this that will dovetail nicely with steampunk. Hmmm, makes me think of that scene I wrote in The Tiger and the Tomb where the Victorian ladies are all animated as they discuss Dr. Taylor’s Manipulator and how Ramses, the hero, is much more effective than the Manipulator. Erotic steampunk? The mind reels with possibilities.
I love the Victorian era.
Dinner with Tara Gavin and new Nocturne author Kendra Castle was wonderful, and I’m glad I had the chance to finally meet Tara, who is so excited about the Nocturne line.
I missed Steven Axelrod’s workshop, which I really wanted to attend, but the false fire alarm forced me, I mean forced me, to have lunch instead with Robin Lee Hatcher, Elizabeth Boyle, Kim Lowe and Cathy Maxwell. I wanted to attend his workshop because he makes sense. I believe in online promo, but there is only so much you can do, and only so many hours in the day, and an author has to pick and choose what works best. Otherwise, you spend precious writing time blogging about stuff that maybe some readers will enjoy, but subtracting time away from writing a better book. You could drive yourself insane with trying to get your name out and that’s all you end up doing.
In the crazy world of publishing, the only control most writers have IS writing the book. Sometimes there is nothing else you can do. Covers, distribution, publisher support, sales, can all be out of your control.
You may never make enough money, certainly not enough to afford this pretty I saw at the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian, but you can make this a career that can support you.
Sometimes you write the best book you can and it still tanks. That’s the business. It’s a business, and it’s all a numbers game. If I were a new writer, I’d take time to learn about sell-through and reserves against returns and why Walmart can make a huge difference in your career. If you make the Times list, then there’s the expectation to follow that up with another hit on the list. You should pick and choose agents and publishers based on what you want and where you are headed in your career.
Sometimes it’s better to go for a house that will build your name and your career instead one that will give you the most $$$. Same is true for selecting an agent. Truthfully, some agents will sign you on based on the book you pitched to them, and if that book tanks or something happens, you can become the low man on the totem pole. Go with an agent who is excited about your work, who sees your potential and is aligned with what your needs are at the time. Sometimes you can end up switching agents several times over the course of your career. It’s okay… and accepted.
Above all, publishing is a business. You must, must, must, learn to treat it as such. It’s an odd combo, because you’re creating something out of your wild imagination that becomes a commodity. There are no true hard and fast rules, and everything shifts. Much depends on timing and luck . So learn to control what you can. Having a good agent is one of those factors you CAN control.
You hear all kinds of stories about authors who were sailing upward and then crashed, or authors who were virtually unknowns and are now hot commodities. One of the more interesting things at this RWA is hearing about P.C. Cast’s success. She and the RomVets (Cindy Dees, Lindsey McKenna and Merline Lovelace) are doing the Nocturne series of time travels this year (P.C.’s Time Raiders book is out in October, same month as my Immortal Wolf is out).
When they sold that series four years ago!!, Nocturne wasn’t in existence. They sold it based on the strength of two other authors and their popularity. Now P.C. is the author in the lead. The YA books she’s written with her daughter are hot. One knocked Twilight off the number one spot on USA Today. She has a hardback out next year with a staggering print run.
And she just quit her job of 17 years of teaching high school… last November.
You just never know. Most authors will never reach that kind of pinnacle of success, but hey, this is a fluctuating business. You never know. This is why it’s so important to be in charge of your career and know what’s going on so you can make the right decisions, not have someone else make them for you. And this is why friends are so important, real friends who will cheer you on when for you when you make it, commiserate when you don’t or when you crash, and encourage you in your writing and your career choices.
I’d also learn to be flexible and know about marketing, so that in writing the best book possible, you make sure the sales team knows where to place you in the catalog and on the bookstore shelf. If you write a steampunk home and hearth urban fantasy romance, that has elements of all (using a wild example here) then your editor can pitch your book to the sales team using those elements and the sales team can pick out the most popular one to the book buyers.
I attended four workshops this year, including Jennie Crusie’s turning points and two great workshops on conflict. If I have a chance, (insert more laughter here) I’ll try to type up my notes on the conflict workshops. Crusie said notes from her workshop, which was not taped, will be posted on her blog.
That sums it up for me. RWA National is still one of the best conferences for the money. You get great craft writing workshops, free books, hang out with friends, network with agents and editors and find out what’s happening with the industry. What more could you want?
Saturday, July 18, 2009
HQ party last night was a blast... I did the Time Warp, one of the oldie dances that can get me out onto the dance floor. They had free drinks, and each little bar featured time era cocktails. Harlequin knows how to throw a party.
This morning I was bleary-eyed, but dragged myself to workshops. Determined to do it, there were two I really wanted to attend, and one I chanced upon. I took notes at 8:30 am. Proud of myself for actually writing something legible.
The Jennie Crusie workshop on plotting was good. It wasn't taped but the notes will be on her blog. She talked about the point of no return for the character, who has struggled so much to obtain the goal that they can't go back to where they started. They've endured too much. She made a good comparison between plot points and the goal to a four-hour ride to Granny's with a kid in the back seat... you stop to get McDonald's, ice cream, etc. but the goal is still Granny's house. Give your reader ice cream and treats at the plot points of the book to not have "a reader screaming in the back seat."
After that workshop, I was in my room talking with my husband and noticed something very odd and quite disturbing. I think someone went through my stuff.
Just as I'm talking with him, the fire alarm goes off.
I open the safe, grab everything, including the laptop, and leave.
Yesterday at the Omni, the overflow hotel, same thing happened... fire alarm went off. Both times false alarms. Maybe a thief going through rooms?
I called security and told them. They said they wanted to come up and take a look.
I told them, "Later. I'm taking a nap!"
Anyway, while the firemen were investigating, I ran into Robin Lee Hatcher, Cathy Maxwell, Elizabeth Hoyt and Kim Lowe, who does SOS for RT. We ended up at this Lebanese rest. down the street, having lunch.
Then I came back to the hotel, and went to the Silhouette authors reception and talked with a few people.
Now I'm thinking of hitting another workshop. Not doing the awards tonight... too wiped out.
Friday, July 17, 2009
This photo is from yesterday when some of the Nocturne authors got together.
Went to the Harlequin book signing, was just going to "stop in." Uh huh. Like someone else said, "You go in there, and there are all these books, for free, and you become a locust."
So I buzzed through and I got Anne Stuart's new one. Told her how much I admire her personality. She was wearing little devil horns.
I got Rachel Vincent's Prey, some Presents, Linda Johnston's new Nocturne, and lots more.
Then I walked with my arms filled with books to the FedEX office and shipped them home. I also got a signed book by Carla Neggers for a waitress friend who loves romance. I know she's going to be so excited. She works so hard and never has a chance to attend a booksigning.
I think I might track down Heather Graham and ask Heather to sign one to her as well, Heather's pretty cool. And Mitzi is a big fan.
Saw Kristie Jenner again... she's so sweet. It's great seeing her and other readers here, who are just so supportive of romance and excited about being around all the authors. And the books, lol, I know her tbr list just got very, very large.
Yesterday got together with some of the Nocturne authors, including Anna Hackett, Lisa Childs, Lisa Renee Jones, Olivia Gates, Jenna Kernan, Meagan Hatfield, Linda Johnston, Nina Bruhns, Cynthia Cooke . Caridad Pineiro couldn't make it, but I ran into her today at the Goody Room.
Last night went to dinner with Tara Gavin and a new Nocturne author named Kendra Castle. It was very nice, and great to meet Tara. We had a lovely time.
Then it was off to the HQ PJ party, where I dressed in my flamingo jammies and brought the stuffed wolf I had bought at the Smithsonian.
Now it's the luncheon in an hour, and I have to leave early to participate in a Harlequin author focus group, which should be very interesting.
Oh, and last night while chatting with my good friend Gin Farmer, we met Dominique, the publisher and CEO of SourceBooks. How we met her was pretty cool... she was waving a copy of Amanda Grange's upcoming book, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. Dominique was so excited about the cover, she asked us what we thought. It's a great cover, and she's so excited about the book, and all the books they are putting out. It was fun to see all her energy.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I'm having a blast at this conference and haven't even started. Not until the booksigning later today.
Arrived yesterday and got our room, we were lucky. Seems they overbooked at the Marriott. We unpacked and got on the Metro with Kristin Painter and Lara Santiago from the Space Coast chapter, and went to the Spy Museum. Then to Chinatown and some great food.
Then we headed off on the Metro for the National Mall and went to the Smithsonian - the Museum of Natural History.
We saw the Hope Diamond! And a great exhibit of jewels. sigh... it was wonderful.
Last night we did Monuments by Moonlight... very moving seeing the memorials at night. The Korean War memorial, with spotlights on each sculpture, was very moving.
Today, we toured the White House! Thanks to my congressman's aide, who worked with me last week to get security clearance for our group and on an approved tour, we got in! Wow... We were in the East Room and touched the carpet with our toes just to say "We were on the carpet in the East room."
No Obama sightings, but the tour was amazing, just being in the White House. We saw the presidential seal and the Blue Room, where the president stands when he gives a press briefing.
Then we went to Congress... where the Sotomayor hearings are underway. Press cameras all outside, waiting and waiting. We had tickets to the House Gallery, so we stood in line and got to sit in the gallery for about 10 minutes, watching the House of Reps.
I'm wiped, but I've had the best time touring DC. I'm so glad I came here early to play tourist. Now it's time to rest before the booksigning. I have books to drop off at the Goody Room, with a postcard of my August Bite, Darkness of the Wolf.
Tomorrow will be a crazy day, my schedule is pretty full.
Monday, July 13, 2009
New cover, old story. This is the UK version of my Nocturne Bite, Broken Souls. I think it's much better than the original version posted below. Thanks Michele Hauf, for sending it to me.
I'm still musing over the fact I have to get up at 4 am tomorrow to catch my plane to DC.
Today is a 3 P day; pedicure, packing and plodding... as I try to write Courage of the Wolf. I made a very nice dent in this story, but still a long way to go.
You know, both these covers feature women ripping shirts off their guys. And it's not to do their laundry either... Although my "floating head" cover guy doesn't look too happy about having his shirt ripped off.
Maybe because his head is actually attached to another body? Hmmm, could that be an idea for a new paranormal? Werewolf shifters whose heads bounce from body to body...
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tuesday, I'm flying to DC for RWA's National conference. I've lined up my schedule and there are two workshops I'm going to try hard to make.
The first is Sat 8:30 A.M. Two Mills & Boon editors talk on avoiding pitfalls of romance novel plotting. Any time you can take a workshop given by an editor, I say go for it.
The second is Jennie Crusie - Turning Points - explore ways to do this; tighten and focus plots and scenes.Sat 11-12 am.
Note the theme of the craft workshops I'm targeting? Plotting, which I always am looking to strengthen.
RWA is the best conference for tremendous craft workshops. My schedule is pretty full Thursday and Friday, so I was very happy to see these two workshops on my only fairly free day.
This weekend, DH and I are over at Fort Myers Beach for some quiet time alone. I'm going to try to make a dent in the Nocturne Bite due in three weeks. See, I"ll take the laptop to DC next week, but trying to write on deadline at a conference is like trying to herd cats. There's just too much going on.
Here's my advice for writing on deadline at a conference.
1. Take laptop to the bar or coffee shop and look absorbed. When others see you, you tell them, "I'm on deadline." As they walk off with expressions of understanding and respect, commence rewriting that email to hubby, "Did you remember to give the dog his heartworm pill?"
2. Write in your room. Consume mass quantities of food and drink and mourn the fact you're missing Linda Howard's speech. Order another Irish coffee as a comfort.
3. Tote laptop to nearest Starbucks and encounter hordes of other authors also on deadline, who are looking busy and typing emails to hubbies asking if they remembered to clean out the cat's litterbox and make sure that little Johnny doesn't paint his sister's hair neon green with the new watercolor set.
Most of all, remember to try to make time for those workshops. They're the best thing going at RWA.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Just when I thought I was done with writing and editing Seducing the Vampire, the online HQ serial, I realized that I'm not. I'm promising myself I WILL finish this story tonight and start on the Bite due next month.
Friday, July 03, 2009
I already ordered postcards and magnets with my Bite cover on them and a list of upcoming books so I have some promo to hand out at the booksigning. I also have labels with my upcoming books I'll sticker to books at the Literacy Signing.
I'm hoping to finish the online HQ serial for Nocturne and make a huge dent in the BITE due next month. The next deadline is full-length Nocturne due in November, so at least I have breathing room after August. But I know I'll have to spend part of the conference holed up in my room, writing to make that August deadline.
Now I have to find a new pair of flamingo PJ's. See, I said I was wearing those to the eharlequin PJ party, but I need a new pair. So I guess I have to do some shopping.
Already scheduled a pedi and a facial for a week from Monday, and then I fly out Tuesday. My friend is coming down and we're going to play tourist for two days.
Harlequin also asked me to participate in something kinda cool that I've never done before.
In the meantime, something that always turns into a challenge at conferences... restaurants. The hotel ones are always crowded, so finding a good restaurant close to the hotel, or within non-eyeball-bleeding cab fare distance is a priority. They say the Metro is the best way to get around DC, so we'll try that.
For me this trip, it will be finding a restaurant downtown as my friend and I are spending a lot of time there. I think I found one, thanks to Nancy Cohen.
Mystery writer Nancy shared some tips after she went to DC. Nancy's in my chapter and she recommends Old Ebbitt Grill, 675 15th St NW. Nancy said there's plenty of good people watching (nice benefit!) and the metro stop is Metro Central.
So now I have a good downtown restaurant.
Just need to find those flamingo PJ's...
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Read her most recent blog on RWA national and the pecking order.
I love this cover! It depicts Guy, the hero, so well. His wariness, his dark sensuality. I do like this BITE better than my last one. I'm hoping I'm becoming a better writer of short stories. That's my goal this year, anyway.
I'm also running a special contest over at Fresh Fiction. Check it out here. It's running the whole month of July.
In other news, I'm feeling better, but trying to catch up on everything. In two weeks I leave for D.C. and RWA Nationals. A friend is coming down the first two days of the conference and we'll be playing tourist, then she leaves and it's down to business.
I had thought this RWA would be more laid-back than past ones, but nope. Still, I'm making sure to schedule time with friends I haven't seen in a long, long time.
Now it's back to the two stories due IN ONE MONTH that I have to write. Gulp.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The baby we met in this shack weighed only 5 pounds, and he is six months old. We were with a doctor, and drove the baby and his mom to the hospital ER, a 50 minute drive. He needed immediate medical care or he would die.
I'm also very sick now, because of... what? I have no idea. It feels like a conga line of something is dancing with spike heels in my stomach.
So I won't be blogging much this week, just trying to get better. Have a good week.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
This is the title and blurb. It's Indigo's story and promises to be fun to write! Indigo is a Changling, a half vampire, half Draicon werewolf. Yum!
Seducing the Vampire by Bonnie Vanak
Beautiful vampress Avril Antoine is the last person Indigo Mercier expects to stumble into his New Orleans tattoo shop one moonlit October night. Indigo, a half vampire, half Draicon werewolf, took Avril's blood and her innocence more than a century ago, an act that resulted in his banishment from the vampire clan. Now Avril is back in his life, needing a place to hide the legendary Anastasia charm from an evil vampire who covets the amulet's power to fulfill secret hopes and hidden dreams.
Avril Antoine remembers the rich, forbidden pleasure of that long-ago night with Indigo. As old passions ignite, it seems he will do anything to seduce Avril back into his bed...and Avril will be forced to choose between loyalty to her clan and surrendering to the dark, sensual call of the forbidden Changling male.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Cookie, our new addition, is on the left. Dolce is on the right. He's got a new pal. Typical guy, he ignores her, but likes having her around, lol.
Already I can tell she's calmed him down. He longer barricades the door and barks like mad when I leave. He's like, "Uh, ok, buh bye, cyah!"
And because I miss her still, and will always miss her, here's a photo from 2006 of my beloved Tia. (sniff) She was my "writing buddy."
Life is hectic, very busy with personal stuff, and trying to figure out my writing schedule before I leave for a Nicaragua trip in one week. Gulp.
Here's what my releases for the rest of the year are:
August: DARKNESS OF THE WOLF, a Nocturne Bite (ebook)
October: IMMORTAL WOLF, Nocturne. This is Raphael's story from ENEMY LOVER.
October: PURSUIT OF THE WOLF: Free online serial from Harlequin, this features Indigo, Raphael's adopted brother (may change, but that's what I'm writing for now)
December: UNWRAPPED in HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE, Nocturne, anthology. This pairs Adrian, a banished vampire, with Sarah, a shunned Draicon. Also features green gremlins singing Christmas carols in little Santa suits. :-)
Thursday, May 28, 2009
To hoom it mae cunsern, I waunt to apply for the job what I saw in the paper. I can Type realee quik wit one finggar and do sum a counting..
I think I am good on the phone and I no I am a pepole person, Pepole really seam to respond to me well. Certain men and all the ladies.
I no my spelling is not to good but fi nd that I Offen can get a job thru my persinalety.
My salerery is open so we can discus wat you want to pay me and wat you think that I am werth, I can start emeditely. Thank you in advanse fore yore anser. hopifuly Yore best aplicant so farr.
PS : Because my resimay is a bit short - below is a pickture of me.
It's OK honey, we've got spell check. See you Monday.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Here's a trip down memory lane. RWA National in Dallas, 2004. Pamela Clare finaled in the Daphne awards for her first RS, Extreme Exposure.
That was a great conference. Below is a photo of some of the RBL Romantica gals who went to Dallas. It was my first time meeting them, and it was great.
My last RWA conference was Atlanta, 2006. I got to see Jennifer Ashley win her RITA (yay) and meet my HQ editor for the first time, before my first Nocturne was even published.
This year, I'll be in DC. And I think RWA will be different for me. Lots different.
I'm seriously thinking of not doing the booksigning.
I'm waiting another week or two to see how it goes with the family health issues, which take priority right now. But I'm feeling kinda strong about this. DC for me will be more of a "me" conference.
I want to see old friends I seldom ever see, and I want to play tourist. A friend is coming down and we're going to sightsee. I've never been to DC before and I figure this is my only time to do everything.
So for me, this will be more of a "behind the scenes" RWA. I might attend a workshop or two that gets my interest, but there'll be no "networking" or career pumping for me. RWA is the place to network, and this year I have little interest in promoting my career.
Because this year, I've decided to focus on something much more important to me than promoting my career or aiming to get new contracts or climbing the romance author ladder.
I'm focusing on my writing.
Writing is one of the few things you can control in publishing. You can't control distribution (ask me about this, lol, I can tell you) or if readers will buy your books or maintaining momentum or creating buzz or sales or even control release dates and scheduling. Or if your books will be pirated and available as free downloads, stripping you as the author of funds needed to promote your books or even to pay the grocery bill. (Pamela has a great post on this subject, click here to read it.)
But you can control your writing.
I came to a tough decision earlier this year when I realized something had to give. It wasn't going to be me, either. One of the genres I was writing had to go, at least temporarily. And trust me, seeing my books out on the internet as free downloads helped me come to this decision. I asked myself, "Why am I working so hard just so people can rip me off?"
So I dropped the Egyptian historicals. It wasn't easy for me to do, but in retrospect, I'm glad I did. The pressure and the strain to produce one 90,000 historical a year, along with the Nocturnes, and working a demanding day job AND traveling to Haiti, Nicaragua, etc, and having a life! was too much.
The Nocturnes are fun and different for me. And now I'm writing another Bite, a 15,000 word or less short story that's released in ebook format only (though my first Bite, Broken Souls, was released in trade paperback in April in the Midnight Cravings anthology).
When I wrote Broken Souls, I knew I could do better. I'm not very good at writing short stories; they're a huge challenge.
So when I set out to write the next Bite, Darkness of the Wolf, I resolved to do better. I took my time, revised, revised, revised.
I just turned in edits for that Bite, which is out in August. And I was delighted to see the edits my editor requested were few. I had a real good feeling when I turned in Darkness that it was a stronger story than Broken Souls. I think I was right.
It was a better story because I took the time to write it, putting in as much effort as I would to a full length Nocturne, and I read some articles about writing a short story, and asked friends for advice on how they write short stories.
I learned more. This is a fluid business. I firmly believe writers should always be learning, otherwise, your writing grows stale. There's always new ways/methods out there to explore.
So this year, I'm exploring.
I also made the tough decision to push my next deadline way back. It wasn't easy, but the family health issues came first. I knew it would be near impossible with a very tight deadline to produce the kind of book I want to write, the kind of book that makes me go "ah!" with what's happening now.
Right now, I'm writing another Bite, due in August. It's called Courage of the Wolf. I started it last week and so far I really like it. I brainstormed an idea to give it a new twist and now I'm experiencing a feeling that makes everything worthwhile.
I'm getting excited about writing romance again.
It's a wonderful feeling. I want to write this story, not because it's a contracted work or I'll make oodles of money (I won't, lol) but because it's galvanizing me as a writer. I'm writing as I once did, as I should. There'll be a learning process along the way, and mistakes will be made that will require revisions or edits, but that's okay.
I'm loving this again. And to me, that's more important than anything else in the business right now.