Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Darkness of the Wolf review!



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 BITE is now available through eHarlequin. Click here.

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.
Love those dark heroes.

Amelia Richard reviewed this book for CataRomance (her review will be posted this weekend) Here's what she has to say:

4.5 Stars

"DARKNESS OF THE WOLF is a spellbinding combination of magick, passion and destiny, where revelations await the dynamically endearing couple.

Heartrending at times, passionate during other circumstances and always emotionally satisfying. DARKNESS OF THE WOLF touches you on some level during every scene. Bonnie Vanak throws in some surprising twists and plenty of heartfelt sentiments to keep you totally mesmerized throughout the entire story.

The humans who visit Savage Kingdom Zoo have no idea the animals they see in cages are actually werecreatures being held there because of a past transgression. The demon caretakers are brutal and make certain those held prisoner at the zoo suffer when defiant. Guy Laurent is a Draicon werewolf who has experienced many years of agonizing loneliness because of a betrayal, and though he has vowed to never help another again, he will agree to an unanticipated offer which might lead to his being set free. Morphs, the worst enemy to his kind, have attacked a pack living on a Caribbean island, and his help is needed to bring the lone survivor back to the United States. Guy is to work with Kayla Morris, and if they are successful within five days, he will not have to return to his hellish prison.

With dangerous threats possible on this mission, Kayla is being forced to work with a supposedly violent wolf shape-shifter though she does not like his kind at all. She just wants to complete this assignment and collect the money which is needed to keep her company from closing. When she picks up Guy, she is stunned by the affect he has on her but plans to keep their relationship strictly professional. Though they have differing opinions about how to handle the mission at first, trust must be formed between them in order to find the missing girl and return her to the States. Guy and Kayla also come to realize what is missing in their lonely lives.

DARKNESS OF THE WOLF delivers what the Silhouette Nocturne BITES line promises, as there are dark paranormal elements perfectly entwined with an emotionally fervent romance.

Though these stories are short, Bonnie Vanak manages to pack her tale with an abundance of touching moments overflowing with sincere feelings. I was profoundly moved by the scenes where Guy obviously felt much anguish, as the physical suffering and aloneness felt by him was extremely palpable. My feelings for this hero ran deep, as his caring for others could not be suppressed, regardless of his own misery. Kayla is also a tortured soul, as she endured much emotional pain when younger yet has persevered. This skilled author amazingly has the reader connecting with these two in a short amount of time, as their future happiness quickly becomes important.

Each of the previous Nocturnes by Ms. Vanak feature the Draicon, a race of werewolves with distinguishing backgrounds, and this story adds another fascinating installment to this series. Their enemy, the Morph, is still causing havoc to the werewolf packs thus affecting their lives in unexpected ways. There are also some stunning disclosures during the story, ones which make future releases in the series highly anticipated. Whether it is a scene filled with sexual tension leading to a blazingly steamy intimate encounter or one brimming with emotionally dramatic incidents, every instant is particularly realistic. Magically enchanting plus emotively poignant, DARKNESS OF THE WOLF captivates and entertains. "
Thanks Amelia!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cover for IMMORTAL WOLF


This is the cover for Immortal Wolf, my October Nocturne. It's a perfect portrait of Raphael and Emily. Raphael is an immortal Draicon werewolf who is the Kallan, the only Draicon allowed to execute another without consequence. Emily is a Draicon who kills everyone she touches, or so she thinks.


What do you think of the cover?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What I learned at RWA 09


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 auth
or 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.

Go P.C.

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

Jennie Crusie, fire alarm..and thief?

What an odd day today has been so far...

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

Books, books, books at HQ signing



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

RWA: White House tour, Congress


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 for Broken Souls Bite





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

RWA: workshops and writing on deadline

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

Hump Day Hunk


Because I'll be in DC at RWA's national conference this time next week, and acting very professionally, (yup) here's this week's Hump Day Hunk.


He symbolizes how I'll be looking next week - all tied up. My schedule is very full right now.

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

RWA food recommendation

I realized this morning that I have only a week to get ready for RWA. Gulp. DH and I are going away next weekend for a quiet time at the beach, then it's DC for moi.

Gulp.

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

Anne Stuart's honest take on RWA National

I heart Anne Stuart. Not only is she a gifted author, but she's smart, funny and honest as hell and willing to state what everyone knows, but few venture to say.

Read her most recent blog on RWA national and the pecking order.

Contest! and new cover


Here's the cover to next month's BITE, Darkness of the Wolf. This story is about a werewolf imprisoned in a demon zoo who teams with a werewolf-hating woman to rescue a little girl from evil forces.

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.