Sunday, April 25, 2010

RT Booklovers

I'm going to RT and I'm very excited. I love conventions - the networking, the parties and -- oh, yeah, the workshops :) This will be my opportunity to hang with fellow writer friends, make new ones and find out what the publishing industry has in store in the coming months with spotlights on different publishers.

I hope you get a chance to go to a con this year. Writers conventions are very important to you at any stage in your career. You need to get out there and become known. Meet editors, agents and fellow scribes in person, face to face, so when they hear your name, they can associate it with you. Do pitch sessions, if they have them. Sometimes, writers are afraid to pitch. Don't be. Editors and agents are just people like you and me. They are often very nice and fun and are waiting to get to know new writers, because they are always looking for new talent, and maybe you're the one they're looking for.

Later in the week, I'll post tips for networking and meeting new people, so be sure to check back. If you haven't signed up for a conference, think about it very seriously. If you've never been, start small with a regional con. If you're a veteran con-goer, go bigger - do RWA National in Nashville or Sisters in Crime or whatever particular brand of conference you're looking for. But get out there and meet people and make yourself known.

A good place to find conferences is - there are several lists available online. You can usually search by genre, location or date. If you need some suggestions, please feel free to comment here or email me at

Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Look Inside The Wild Rose Press

Ever wonder what it’s like to write for Wild Rose Press?

A few summers ago, I had the privilege of taking a class at AllWriters Workshop with Ilona Fridl. She was writing an engaging and romantic adventure set in a Hollywood movie studio during the Twenties. Even as a rough draft her story was something I and other class members looked forward to reading. We enjoyed the tender moments and the captivating plot. None of us were surprised when Ilona sold her story to The Wild Rose Press. It’s my pleasure to have her as a guest blogger today.

Thank you for inviting me, Brenda.

1. How did you get started as a writer?
I guess I've always loved making up stories. I remember coming up with story lines when I was a girl playing 'make believe' with my friends. In school, I took creative writing and journalism, but life took me in many directions and I didn't concentrate on it until I had access to a computer. I decided to give it a shot and see where it would take me.
2. Getting The Call is the moment many unpublished authors fantasize about. It’s that moment when authors hear that a publisher wants her work. Can you describe your experience?
Well, my call wasn't on the traditional phone; it was an email. I sent a query in to The Wild Rose Press and about a week later, they asked me for the first three chapters and a synopsis. That was new. I was used to the thanks, but no thanks form letter. A little glimmer of hope came when they asked for the full manuscript. In a couple of weeks time my editor, Nan Swanson, emailed that she wanted to contract my story. After hyperventilating and screaming, I emailed back “YES!.”
3. How long was it from the initial publisher’s request to see your manuscript until it reached published form?
About a year and three months.
4. What steps were involved to elevate your manuscript from a submission to a published novel?
My editor took one chapter at a time; working on punctuation, re-working awkward sentences, and telling me to add or cut more to the scene. After we went through the book, she gave a final edit of the whole thing. Then she sent it in for the final galley. The galley is the finished book. Then when we both approve, we get a release date.
5. What surprised you most about being published?
How long it took from start to finish.
6. What advice would you give other unpublished authors who hope to interest your publishing house in their manuscript?
The Wild Rose Press takes many different lengths of stories; from short to full novels. It's mostly ebooks you can get from the website. The novel has to be 65,000 words to qualify it for a print. Just like any other house, you need to have a polished manuscript. Sent your best work.
7. What reasons would you give an unpublished author for sending his or her manuscript to The Wild Rose Press? In other words, what do you particularly like about your publisher?
It's run by authors and they bend over backwards for you. Although you don't get an advance, they tell you up front what percentage you get from your downloads and print books. If you have any concerns, you can go right to the top and they get back to you within a day or so with an answer.
8. How has your life changed since being published?
I find promotion is much harder than writing. I see why a lot of the highly published authors have publicists. Arranging appearances and book signings take time away from writing.
9. Typically, how long does it take you to write a book? What’s your writing schedule?
It takes me roughly a year for one book. I try to get some done in the morning and afternoon. Sometimes a few pages and sometimes just a line or two.
10. How do you generate ideas for your stories?
I tend to write about what interests me. I love to delve into research and find out things I didn't know about any subject. I create characters for the times in a variety of situations.
11. What excites you about your current work in progress?

I've been studying about the invasion of the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. That was the only time during the war that the US fought on its own soil and it's very little known. My hero is an Army Air Force pilot stationed on Umnak Island during the war.
12. Could you share an excerpt from you books?
This is an excerpt from “Golden North” that will be released August 20th. On a set up, Josh Shafer is working on a theater and restaurant in Juneau, Alaska. His brother and sister-in-law, Zeke and Addy, on the run from gangsters in Los Angeles, came up to help them. Muriel Giovanni, Addy's cousin, is a young widow of the mob boss' son, who followed her cousin to Alaska when the Giovanni family threatened to take her baby. Gladys Pembrook is a distasteful socialite who backs the theater. She got in Addy's bad graces by making a play for Zeke.

Muriel tightened her fingers around Josh’s arm as she led him from the dance floor and into the kitchen. “I have to talk to you, and I don’t want to be interrupted this time.”
His eyes turned serious. “What is it?”
“I was going to tell you, and then Addy waved us into the office. The fight between Gladys and her son reminded me. I was at the courthouse the other day and overheard a conversation between Manfred and someone who I think was his lawyer. Anyway, the man told Manfred he had to prevent his mother spending the estate, and she should be stopped one way or another.”
Josh looked at her steadily. “This was out in public?”
“No. I was walking past an office door and recognized Manfred’s voice.”
“When did you hear his voice? You were upstairs during the fund-raiser.”
“Remember, I heard the fight he and his mother had at the stage door.”
He wiped his hand slowly over his mouth. “We should definitely ask her again to drop the backing. He may be thinking of bringing legal action against us.” He clasped her hand in his.
“Come on, let’s get back to the party. We’ll do something about this first thing tomorrow.”
Returning from the kitchen, Muriel and Josh passed Amelia, sitting with Lester at one of the tables by the wall Muriel couldn't help but notice several long red scratches on Amelia’s arm.

“Oh, honey, did you get hurt?”
Amelia looked down and took out her handkerchief and dabbed at the blood. Her face was pale and drawn.

Lester spoke up. “That happened when her brooch loosened. The pin must have scratched her arm.” He seemed to be tending her, so Muriel and Josh took to the dance floor once again.
Fifteen minutes later, Muriel saw Addy come out of the office door. She paused in front of the restaurant's decorative mirror only long enough to smooth her hair before rejoining the festivities.
She was getting some punch, assisted by Muriel, when Zeke came up behind her. “What happened to you?”
“I went to the apartment to put my feet up. I was feeling dizzy.”
Turning her so he could look in her face, he voiced his concern. “Are you all right?”
“Just a little tired, that’s all.”
It was almost midnight, and everyone was on the floor for the last dance. As soon as they heard the church bells begin to peal out midnight, the band launched into “Auld Lang Syne.” Zeke kissed Addy deeply as the cheers and whistles went on for a few minutes, while Josh and Muriel silently exchanged a deep gaze.

Josh and Zeke were helping to hand out the coats from the cloak room when they heard a scream from outside, behind the theater. Everyone started running. Muriel saw the banker’s wife, Mrs. Taber, sobbing in her husband’s arms as Sheriff Darcy moved through the crowd to where the Tabers stood.
“All right, stand back, everybody!” Darcy shouted. He looked for all the world like a prospector who had happened to get a tin star. His build was imposing and his face never quite clean shaven.
Everyone still at the party had crowded out into the cold night to see what had upset Mrs. Taber so badly. For Muriel, one glimpse of the crumpled heap by the back wall was enough. Her mind flew to last year’s studio party and the death of Addy's co-star. Muriel reached for Addy's arm and found she was also shaking.
Darcy took out his flashlight and shone it at the heap. There was blood in a scarlet trail across the back of the wall and pooling on the ground. He turned the body over, and Muriel gasped, sickened to the core. It was Gladys’ gray-blue face in the light, with a grotesquely swollen tongue. The azure blue gown was a dark purple where the blood soaked it, and protruding from the middle of her chest was a fish spear. Was that the one Kata gave Addy as a Christmas present? Zeke caught Addy as she swooned.

(Note: My formatting difficulties prevent indenting for the paragraphs. Sorry.)

13. Where can readers find you on the Web? (Twitter, blog, Facebook, Website)?
The best place is my website You can contact me through the site.

We hope we’ve passed along some good insights into writing and The Wild Rose Press, but if you have other questions, feel free to ask. We appreciate hearing from you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Superpowers and Shopping Carts

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I'm just going to cut to the chase and admit I'm not the best driver. Honestly, I should have noticed the signs when I hit and knocked over my first lightpole after driving one week at the age of 17. My father certainly knew what he was doing when he gave me a 64 Chevy Impala, because as he so eloquently put it "I'll feel better with a LOT of car around you!"

It's been an uphill ride every since.

I've driven into ditches, have dents in my car from where I hit the bank drive-though windows, have gone the wrong way down one-way streets and ended up on railroad tracks. And my Driver Ed instructor said I'd never pass my road test...

Last week I almost took out my own mailbox next to my driveway trying to prove I could back in to the driveway and not hit my own house. (I took me 8 tries to get the car straight - but I did it!)

Over the last few months I've had several run-ins with grocery store shopping carts (yes there is an "s" at the end of cart.) Not only have I managed to run into them, knock them over, send them shooting clear across the parking lot into some unsuspecting parked car, but I've somehow managed to get one wedged beneath my car. I found this hysterical, my daughter in the passenger seat - did not. (Btw, I do not drive a SUV or a Hummer, but I probably should.)

So the other day when I was asked the innocent question, "what kind of superpower would you want?" my first thought of course was a way to get around that does not involve me behind the wheel.

Now this is my speed! Although it does come with a few drawbacks, like the lack of trunk space (no comments about my trunk, please!) I do love to shop, so how would I get my bags home? And there's my hair...probably wouldn't survive all that wind.

It's still fun to think about and imagine how life would different. If you could pick your own superpower, what would it be? And since we can't really pick powers, as writers we do the next best thing - we give them to our characters!

Have fun today being SUPER!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Kelly Gay

The Better Part of Darkness
Pocket, Nov. 2009

Back Cover Blurb:
Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

The Good:
It’s refreshing to have a heroine who’s a divorced, single-mom instead of some nubile twenty-something virgin. As a mom of a tweener myself, I could certainly identify with the bond between mother and daughter. The author brilliantly captured the fear and single-minded determination of a mother bear out to protect her young when they are threatened.

I enjoyed the Bath House scene (I would have kept my bra and panties on under my toga too) and the character of Rex was a hoot.

I also liked how the author didn’t tie up everything in the end with a nice pretty bow. Charlie made many bad decisions for the right reasons, but those choices had nasty consequences. We know in the last chapter that Charlie is going to have mistakes to fix in the next book of the series.

The Bad:
For some reason, the author felt it was necessary to cram every known (and some unknown) paranormal creature into one book, as if she feared she wouldn’t get to publish book 2 so she had to include them all here. In the first two chapters alone we not only have the beings from off-world Charbydon and Elysia, but we also have an oracle (referenced to but not seen), a siren, a necromancer, a witch with the power to animate plants, an imp, a gargoyle, a goblin, and jinn warriors. I needed a score card to keep them all straight. By chapter 3, I was waiting for vampires and shapeshifters to make an appearance. The author didn’t disappoint (sarcasm intended). Later in the book we learn the Charbydon royals are cursed to drink blood to live. There ya go – vampires. No werewolves though. Guess they pop up in book 2.

The Ugly:
For someone who died racing into a dangerous situation, Charlie doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes. She is constantly ditching her partner to rush off on her own, running head-long into peril because she thinks she doesn’t need anyone’s help. She’s been a cop for over a decade. She should trust and rely on her partner. And she’s a single mom for crying out loud. She shouldn’t be taking unnecessary risks with her life unless there is no other choice. Once in the beginning I could buy, but she does it over and over and over again. That doesn’t make her gutsy or tough. That makes her stupid.

There were numerous eye-rolling moments:
• I don’t think there was a single ‘human’ who didn’t have some kind of paranormal power, even before the other worlds were discovered and the off-world beings entered our plane. Even Charlie’s ex-husband dabbled in black crafting (which was never explained to my satisfaction). Why did everyone have to be paranormal? Couldn’t some of them just be a plain old Joe? The only un-gifted humans were the police chief and Charlie's daughter. Bet you $5 the daughter gains powers when she hits puberty.
• Charlie can heal a deep gash in her hand in minutes but it takes all day for a sprained ankle to heal? These kinds of inconsistencies bother me.
• The mad scientist apparently lives at his lab because he’s there 24-7 whenever Charlie comes to call. Mighty convenient if you ask me.
• Her partner somehow appears just in the nick of time at the lab, even though there are a dozen guards and heavy security in the building. Didn’t know he had the power of invisibility because that’s the only way he could’ve gotten in there unnoticed.
• Charlie learns how to skillfully use her new powers after a 15 minute crash course from a master mage? My, she’s a fast learner.
• Charlie is surrounded by a dozen bad ass jinn warriors but when she attacks and kills their leader, they just stand there and watch? Don’t think so.

The ‘IT’ Factor:
Guess you can tell this book was not a keeper for me. It took me over a week to read it, which is not a good thing. The last book took me less than two days. Anyway, I seem to be in the minority. It’s received rave reviews and is up for not one, but two RITAs this year (pretty impressive). Obviously many readers think Gay has done it right and done it well. So what was ‘IT’? According to many reviewers, it’s World Building. The author has turned Atlanta into a dark and magical place, without huge info dumps to boggle the mind. I will give her props for that. If I could have over-looked the multitude of Huh? moments that pulled me out of the story, I think I would have enjoyed the book more. But as a writer, I’m picky and those sorts of things bother me. Plus, urban fantasy is a very hot commodity right now and editors are putting them out by the dozen. So there you have it: vivid world building and a hot genre that’s currently flying off the shelves. That was the ‘IT’ Factor for THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS.

Next Up:
ANGEL VINDICATED by Viola Estrella

Friday, April 16, 2010

Viruses and Other Distractions

The scientific part of me is fascinated by viruses, the part of me that’s been sick for the last three days isn’t too keen on the little varmints. Tiny little bits of DNA or RNA (material the body uses to replicate DNA), viruses are unable to survive very long outside a living cell. These tiny (usually too small to see with a microscope), bits of the stuff of life may or may not themselves be living beings; as far as I know, the scientific jury is still out on that.

Living or not, fascinating in many levels and horrifying on others, humankind has always lived with viruses. Along with bacteria, financial concerns, and unwanted phone calls, viruses are part of the stumbling blocks of modern life.

Our world is faster paced than at any other time in history. We, as a species, have constructed an existence in which pushing yourself to the mental, physical, and spiritual breaking point is not only usual, it’s expected. And so we all race around, complaining of exhaustion, but afraid to take a break. Even an illness (perhaps caused by a virus) rarely slows anybody down these days. Of course, by getting out in public the sufferer passes the illness on to those around him/her. And another person has to make the decision to keep going as expected of him/her, or to stay home and rest.

Public Service Plea: Stay home when you are ill. I don’t want your virus, and I doubt anybody else does either. (Now might be a good time to kiss and make up with your worst enemy though—did I say that out loud?)

Stay well!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Next Hot Thing: Mermaids?

This past Monday Lori was talking about the next hot thing. Just in case it's merfolk, I thought I'd make a quick list for romances that about mermaids or selkies to get you started. Of course, based on this list and the fact I know I missed a bunch, arguably this is a trend that's already trending! Anyone have some to add?

Abhainn's Kiss by Carolan Ivey
Alice at Heart by Deb Smith
Catch of a Lifetime by Judi Fennell
Catching a Daddy by Charlotte Maclay
A Dark & Stormy Night by Anne Stuart
Diary of a Radical Mermaid by Deb Smith
Fish Out of Water (Fred the Mermaid, Book 3) by MaryJanice Davidson
Galway Bay by Morgan Llywelyn in the anthology Irish Magic
* Goddess of the Sea by PC Cast
"Heart Storm" by Liane Gentry Skye in Secrets 27
In Over Her Head by Judi Fennell
In the Shadow of the Selkie by M. A. duBarry
The Last Mermaid by Shana Abe
Lord of the Deep (Elementals, Book 1) by Dawn Thompson
The Mermaid by Betina Krahn
THE MERMAID WIFE by Rebecca Winters
A Mermaid's Kiss (Berkley Sensation) by Joey W. Hill
A Mermaid's Ransom by Joey W. Hill
Sea Lord (Children of the Sea, Book 3) by Virginia Kantra
Sea Spell by Tess Farraday
Sea Witch (Children of the Sea, Book 1) by Virginia Kantra
The Selkie by Melanie Jackson
The Selkie And The Siren by Cillian Burns
The Selkie Bride by Melanie Jackson
Selkie Island by Jorrie Spencer
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
Sleeping with the Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson
Storm Prince by Teri Lynn Wilhelm
Swimming without a Net (see above)
Tempest Rising (Jane True) by Nicole Peeler
Wild Blue Under by Judi Fennell

(* denotes books I added after the original post...thanks!)


So who's going to tackle dragons?

Jody W. *

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Next Hot Thing

Twilight has once again brought vampires back into the "hot" zone. Vampires have always been around, but werewolves have come back too, partly because of our fascination with books and movies like Twilight which seem to pair vamps and weres consistently. Then there's the ghost stories, the zombie stories (those movie franchises never seem to die) and so on into the paranormal and horror worlds. And once one of these hits the "hot" zone, editors seem to get literally thousands and thousands of submissions on it - until their slush pile is filled to overflowing.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? You have to hit that trend BEFORE it becomes a trend. How, you ask, do I do that? Well, I'm not sure I can tell you, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

If you look back over history, you'll see that when economic times are hard, comedy and paranormal/otherworldly stories come forward a little more prominently - think Wizard of Oz for paranormal and Charlie Chaplin for comedy. Again, in this most recent economic time (and even before most people knew we were going downhill), here came Rowling, Meyers, Hamilton, Harris and Banks, among many others. Some were already selling - and let's face it, vampires and such have maintained a fairly steady fan base. But the way these movies and books blossomed in the past 24 months or so should be a revelation.

What does that have to do with the next hot thing? Well, history tends to repeat itself. I was recently shopping for an area rug for my new living room and was amazed/shocked/nonplussed at the '60s motif to be found everywhere! Like fashion and decor, entertainment tends to recycle to a certain extent (remakes of Bewitched, movies about our favorite comic characters like Iron Man, etc.). So you can take a lesson from history and see what you can predict for the future. Then see if something you're writing might fit that niche. Many best-selling authors will tell you they hit the right editor at the right moment, and sometimes it is all about luck to put you on the right path.

But you can build your own luck by predicting the future - without a crystal ball. How many of you have projected a trend that came to pass (I forecasted the PT about a year before it hit the market). Let me know!

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'm Sensing a Theme...

Many talented and interesting writers contribute to this blog. Everyone has her own interests, her own tastes, and yet, looking through the past few posts, I've noticed one particular topic mentioned several times. One shambling, moaning, brain-hungry, undead topic.

I'm sensing a theme…and I like it.

I'm referring of course to zombies.

Those poor, neglected underdogs of the horror genre maintain a residence in that one, small soft spot in I have left in my heart, right between my love of avgolemono soup and my adoration of Alan Alda. The fact that I likely need therapy aside, it is my fervent belief that zombies symbolize many of the ideological power struggles that exist within our society. That’s why they’re so popular and why they’ve maintained their popularity, more or less, for nearly a century. Though often unable to do much more than moan (and eat brains), zombies speak to us. You can trust me on that one, I’m an expert ;)

Ok, ok, before someone calls in a reservation for me in a small rubber room, let me clarify that last statement. From a purely academic standpoint, my expertise is Zombieology. Yes, I totally made that word up. But what else do you call the study of zombies? And that’s what I did, a full year of my life devoted to the intensive study of zombies, the zombie mythos, and zombie lore. My Masters thesis was, you guessed it, on zombies. I’ll spare you all a lecture on the many and varied ways in which zombies can be used to both subvert and reaffirm dominant gendered ideologies (it sounds so pretentious!). Instead, I would like to propose an alternative reading experience that is, unlike my thesis*, enjoyable.

From Barnes & Noble: "The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years."

I am on a one woman mission to get everyone to read this novel. World War Z is more than a book, it is an experience. Written by Max Brooks (son of funnyman Mel Brooks), World War Z was released after Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide. While the Survival Guide is a parody, WWZ is not. It is a story that reads like a history of the world. It is frightening and gripping and heartbreaking and uplifting and more adjectives than I can string together in a coherent sentence. When describing it to friends who are turned off by the whole “ridiculous” zombie plot of the book, I tell them that if Brooks had replaced zombies with a pandemic virus that has the power to ravage the world’s population, the storyline is completely plausible. That’s what makes it so chilling, and so fabulous. By looking back at a zombie epidemic already passed, the narrator captures the very best and worst of human nature as what’s left of the human race struggles not just to survive, but to start over after facing a self-sustaining plague fueled by the infected members of our own population. For a fantastic, engrossing read that proves zombies can be so much more than just a cheap horror icon, World War Z is top notch.

What's your opinion of zombies? Have you read World War Z? Share your opinion of the undead.


*Please note, anyone having insomnia issues is more than welcome to peruse the 139 pages of intellectual claptrap that is my thesis. WARNING: zombieism may result.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Zombies on the Brain

Ever notice the more you think about something, the more you encounter that thing? Examples: On a road trip when your kids play Punch-Buggy, a game where fists connect with shoulders upon spotting a Volkswagen, suddenly VWs are in the lanes next to you. Or parked along the street. Or waiting at stop signs.
They seem to be everywhere!
The same phenomenon is happening to me.
In January, I finished a novel that featured a zombie heroine. But it didn't stop there. This spring I find I have zombies on the brain. They're everywhere. In libraries my eyes alight on zombie books. My fellow staff members mention zombies in their diner blogs and my son picks zombie flicks for our family movie night.
Well, at least I’m not alone in this fascination for the walking dead.
Believe it or not, there are lots of movies featuring shambling, animated corpses. Wikipedia lists almost 500. My list of zombie movies is shorter.

For other undead fans, I offer 13 favorites.

1. Plan Nine from Other Space
2. White Zombie
3. Land of the Dead
4. Fido
5. Day of the Dead
6. Dawn of the Dead

7. Shawn of the Dead
8. Night of the Living Dead
9. Brain Dead

10. Zombieland
11. The Crazies
12. Resident Evil (Afterlife, Apocalypse, Degeneration, and Extinction)
13. I Am Legend, or its previous incarnations, Omega Man and The Last Man on Earth.

What about you? Are you a fan of zombie stories? Do you have a recommendation? Or are you encountering something over and over again this season? What? Please share.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Jill Myles

First, an apology (especially to Gretchen):
In my last post, I promised that my first debut paranormal book analysis was going to have zombies in it. Didn’t happen. I got half-way through the book before I realized that the author was not a first time author at all. It was in fact the debut book of Colleen Gleason’s new alter ego, Joss Ware. (As Gleason she writes The Gardella Vampire Chronicles). Too bad. BEYOND THE NIGHT was a pretty darn good book. I highly recommend it. So, now on to the first book in my debut author analysis series. Drum roll please . . .

By Jill Myles
Pocket, Dec. 2009

Spoiler Alert:
I’m going to try to not give any important details and/or twists away, but be forewarned I might have to do so in the interest of analyzing the ‘IT Factor’ of the story. Read on at your own risk.

Mini Synopsis:
What happens when a nerdy museum guide hooks up with a vampire and a fallen angel on the same night? She turns into a succubus, of course. In one drunken evening, Jackie Brighton goes from a frumpy plain Jane no one seems to notice to every living (and some not-so-living) male’s walking sex fantasy. She doesn’t quite know how to handle her new immortal sex-pot self and that makes for hilarious scenes with every hormonal teen/love-starved man/Viagra-popping grandfather she meets talking to her DD boobs and wanting to drag her to bed. Problem is, she’s not the kind of succubus to sleep around--unlike her new BFF, a 400-year-old succubus porn star named Remy who’s trying (and failing) to teach Jackie the ropes. But when the “Itch” flares up, Jackie has to have sex or she’ll die. So what’s a baby succubus to do? Turn to the guys who made her and the only two men who regard her as more than just a sex toy: Noah, a Serim (a fallen angel cursed to crave desire) and Zane, a vampire (a fallen angel who went over to the dark side and is now cursed to crave blood – which I think is a fresh twist on the vampire genre). Throw in a vampire demon queen and a quest for a powerful halo, and there’s non-stop action and hilarity.

The Hot Stuff:
Well, when you have a heroine who’s a succubus, you can pretty much guarantee there’s going to be sex and a lot of it. But to be honest, there weren’t as many sex scenes as there potentially could have been. Which is a good thing IMO. Oh, there’s oodles of sexual tension from beginning to end and quite a few almost sex-scenes throughout, but only about 3 full blown love scenes (which were hot!) in the whole book if I counted right (next time I’ll take better notes). But reader beware: if you prefer your heroine to sleep with just one man, this may not be the book for you. Jackie is torn between the two men in her life and sometimes her Itch has to be scratched by whichever one is available. This could have easily gone into kinky Anita Blake sex-fest territory and thank heavens it didn’t. The author handled Jackie’s dilemma of her very human morals battling a sex drive on steroids brilliantly.

Eye Rolling Moment:
Stiletos in the desert. This was about the only silly bit of humor that had me shaking my head. Jackie can buy a burka in the gift shop to hide her va-voom curves but can’t find a pair of flip flops or sandals to wear? Plus, wasn’t she wearing tennis shoes when she got on the plane to go to Egypt, so she’d still have those with her, right? Seems like it was just an excuse to have her tottering around in the Egyptian ruins in stiletos.

The ‘IT’ Factor:
So what sold this book? I believe it was the humor. What could have been a dark, erotic novel like a hundred others on the shelves right now was light and fun (with some dark mixed in). The balance was spot-on. The humorous situations were never forced or slapstick (well, except for the stiletos in the desert). Jill Myles’ comedic timing and snappy dialogue were flawless. After reading some on-line reviews of the book, I noted that some readers thought Jackie verged into TSTL territory at times. I didn’t think so. Jackie’s character has a wonderful sarcastic wit she uses like a whip. Watching her struggle with the nerd she still is on the inside against the walking Fredericks of Hollywood she is on the outside had me in stitches. Then to see her battle an attraction to two otherworldly men and having to choose between them (or not) was handled perfectly. The problem here is that humor is subjective. I should know, I write it too. And judging by some on-line interviews with the author, it wasn’t an quick sale for her. SUCCUBI was the 5th novel Myles wrote. She finished it in 2005, landed an agent for it in 2006, sold it in 2007 and it didn't hit the shelves until Dec. 2009.

Will I read more from this author? You betcha. I loved, loved, loved this author’s voice and her way with humor. Plus, tall, dark and sexy Zane has secrets to tell and I can’t wait to find out what they are in Myles’ second book, SUCCUBI LIKE IT HOT.

Next up:
I’ll be analyzing the first of two paranormal books that made the 2010 RITA finals for best first book, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS by Kelly Gay.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Ultimate Cougar

I was chatting with some fellow authors on another loop about cougar storylines - you know - older woman/younger man. OW/ym stories are really popular right now. They are all over popular culture.

Among ourselves, we discussed how does the relationship progress if there are kids in the picture? What if he's the same age as her kids or only a few years older? How much older is too much older between lovers?

Most of us (myself included) went with the 10-15 years older as a maximum without squickitude. Then I got to thinking... Vampires. Talk about the ULTIMATE Cougar. She could be hundreds...even thousands of years older than her lover.

So how does THAT work? Granted, he's not going to have to help her with her cane or anything but would a younger man want an older woman who was that much older than him? Of course, if she still looked like a 20 something herself...maybe.

But how would she relate to men who are so much younger? I mean I'm in my mid-forties and on those occasions I find myself in conversation with a twenty-something male I often end up shaking my head and thinking to myself, "oh, these kids today." It's painful to sound like my dad, but it happens. How much MORE would it hit you if you'd been born in the 1800s. Or the 1500s. Or even...shudder...100 BCE (or more). What would you have in common with a techie guru born in 1980 or 1985??

So what do you all think?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

13 Publishers of Paranormal Romance

Brenda's been doing a publishing series for us lately on her Thursday 13's but I thought it might be handy, for myself and for anyone writing romance novels with paranormal elements, to have a list of publishers of our subgenre handy! Here's 13 possibilities for your paranormal romance, your urban fantasy or your speculative romance (no agent required to submit a query). Note that these are not exclusively publishers of erotic romance, as that would be an entirely different list!

1) Avon Publishing:
2) Carina Press:
3) Cerridwen Press:
4) Dorchester Publishing:
5) Juno Books:
6) Kensington Books:
7) Luna Books (Harlequin/Silhouette imprint just for spec romance):
8) New American Library (NAL):
9) Nocturne: (Harlequin/Silhouette line just for para-romance):
10) Samhain Publishing:
11) Sourcebooks, Inc:
12) St. Martin's Press:
13) Tor/Forge, in particular Tor Paranormal Romance:

What publishers who take manuscripts that aren't necessarily erotic would you add to this list?

Jody W. *