Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Friday, May 19….
I have decreed this to be my “paranormal” day. I start by attending “The Allure of the Paranormal” workshop, which just happens to boast Deidre Knight among its numbers. I also get to hear Cheyenne McCray, Marjorie Liu, Cindy Cruciger, and MaryJanice Davidson impart words of wisdom. I have no idea how funny MaryJanice Davidson is until the panel gets into full swing. OMG, she almost made me bust a gut. And Deidre has a really interesting theory about the reason paranormal exploded in the U.S.: after 9/11, we as a society have been looking for epic scenarios in which heroes beat shadow forces. Paranormal gives us this larger-than-life fantasy and satisfaction.
Later that day, I drop in on the “Authors on Publicity” panel, where I find a very interesting option to use for my Vampire Babylon promo. I’m sold on the idea of getting a “book trailer” made for NIGHT RISING. Doesn’t that sound cool? It’s like a movie preview, but for a book. Get ready for it! Then I visit the last two paranormal panels: one about Time Travel and one about paranormal plus erotica. That one is especially interesting, with Laurell K. Hamilton waxing on about the need for character growth with every sex scene.
After a walk on the beach and a shower, it’s time for the Faery Ball. Unfortunately, Judy Duarte and I arrive just a couple minutes late, and there are no floggin’ chairs open for seating. Disappointing. We end up having to go down to the sports bar for appetizers and wine, but we meet up with some interesting and awesome readers, so the night improves vastly.
Saturday, May 20
Bookfair day! My temporary Vampire Babylon tattoos arrive just in time for the signing. It seems like there are hundreds of authors with pen in hand, ready to please the readers and buyers wandering the floor. There is so much choice it’s mind blowing. I find time to sneak off to Charlaine Harris’s table for a few autographed books (one will be going to a lucky fan when I give it away in a future contest). I also buy a couple novels from Jade Lee, who uses tantric energy as a basic premise for different paranormal stories. She’s super cool. So is Michele Hauf, fellow vampire and Bombshell writer. All in all, it’s a fun time. Afterward, Judy and I take off for Disneyworld, which is an adventure all in itself….
Monday, May 29, 2006
We continue with Thursday, May 18….
Like a bum, I exercise and lounge for the first part of the day. I also skip lunch, based on the Rubber Turkey we were served the day before. But I do stir to life in time to appear for the 3:00 Series Romance panel. I’d been invited to participate by Debra Webb, and you should see who else is on the list: Anna DeStefano, Cara Summers, Rita Heron, Julie Miller, Susan Stephens, and Randall Toye. Good company. Basically, we all give updates on what is happening with certain lines within the Harlequin/Silhouette family. I take up the cause of Special Edition, which isn’t going to change very much in the near future because it’s already a successful line. (For a while, some of us were a little concerned due to the major changes we’ve seen in the Desire line; we thought SSE was going to get an overhaul next, but our fears have gone unfounded.) However, I also have the task of talking about Bombshell. As you can imagine, I use most of my allotted time not only discussing what Natashya Wilson, Bombshell’s senior editor, had revealed to me, but I cheerlead, too, wanting to whip up enthusiasm for a line that could and should be doing so much better. (Read my last blog for details.) In a nutshell, Natashya had told me that Bombshell is looking to publish the same heroine-centered action/adventure editorial, but there’s a key change: instead of allowing the romance to be a subplot, they’re now asking for the love elements to be tightly woven into the story. That’s not to say Bombshell is becoming another Intimate Moments line (name change there: IM is now Silhouette Romantic Suspense), but the romance should play an absolutely vital part now. I also talk about some upcoming Bombshell releases; really exciting stuff like the Madonna Key series, which has DA VINCI CODE overtones, and more Athena Force books. Tashya had also wanted me to mention my October release BAITED, which is what they’re calling an “atmospheric thriller.” I’m totally into that.
I am also particularly interested in what Cara Summers has to say about Blaze, the third line I write for (Blaze and Desire are her topics—a pretty heavy load.). As a reader, I’m really looking forward to what Brenda Chin, Blaze senior editor, and company have in store for us. What particularly flips my skirt is a certain Blaze series: “Extreme.” These books will be written by different authors but will be connected in tone because all “Extreme”s boast of premises you wouldn’t expect to find in a Blaze. For instance, an upcoming Julie Elizabeth Leto story features an assassin heroine who falls for the man she might have to kill. There are also time travel books in this series, as well as tales with paranormal elements. (Note: In fact, I just got the green light from Brenda to write a vampire Blaze. Sqeee! I don’t know if it’ll be an “Extreme” yet, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility….)
After that panel, I do some networking (No, this does not mean that I hang out at the bar—I do actual business work that you wouldn’t be interested in at all, LOL.). Then I drop by Laurell K. Hamilton Hour. Do you know she has a bodyguard? I don’t want to perpetuate rumors about the reason, but it’s tragic that a bodyguard is a requirement for her now. Wow. But for any Anita Blake fans out there, I will tell you something real interesting straight from the mouth of Ms. Hamilton herself. Sure, you’ve probably already read this on the Internet, but my slow butt is just getting around to revealing it. Here goes: In the work-in-progress Anita Blake book, there’s going to be a surprising foursome scene (If you don’t want to know more, stop reading until the next paragraph!)…. Anita, Jean-Claude, Micah, and…Nathaniel. Huh, wha…? YES. When Hamilton told the audience, the news was met by blissful cheers.
After that, I hobnob with Deidre Knight in her suite. She’s invited friends, paranormal writers, and clients to pig out from an arrangement of food plates and wines. Excellent grub and company. Karmela Johnson and I chat about the future of Bombshell (obviously this is uppermost on our minds) and the ending hours of ALIAS. Stellar writers like Judy Duarte and Susan Stephens join us, but soon, it grows dark. The vampire hour is approaching.
Time for Heather Graham’s Vampires of the Caribbean Ball.
This is dorky, but I have no idea they’d planned to serve dinner. Judy and I have already eaten, so I skip the pork chops and dive directly into the carrot cake. Actually, I eat just the frosting because I’m strange, but it is very good and nutritious. Then Heather Graham and her cohorts put on a pirate-vampire skit and the festivities kick into gear with a treasure hunt and dancing. Unfortunately, my body kicks out of gear at this point, and we head back up to the room.
I know—I suck. But, folks, I am working off the champagne from the Ellora’s Cave party, okay?
Next blog: Friday and Saturday at RT….
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Anyway, let’s get with it. First, I must say that the location was superb. The events were held at the Hilton Daytona Beach Ocean Walk Hotel, which was relaxing and amiable. I almost felt as if I were on vacation, sneaking out to the pool and taking a walk along the shoreline every once in a while.
But enough of that. You all want to know about the parties and gossip, don’t cha? Okay then.
Wednesday, May 17
Judy Duarte and I awaken early to lead an “Opening Hooks” workshop for the Beginning Writer’s Program. We think it goes really well, with lots of enthusiastic participation from the audience. (And if any of you happen to be reading this—hi!) We get to judge some fabulous opening hooks in a contest, and it’s hard to decide who the winner should be. We finally wimp out and give about four more prizes beyond first, second, and third place because we just can’t make up our minds.
Then it’s on to a Harlequin panel, hosted by Randall Toye and Tara Gavin. Here, we get a sneak peak at the new Nocturne line. Gorgeous covers, and I cannot wait to read Kathleen Korbel’s launch book about faeries. Karmela Johnson, author and Bombshell extraordinaire, asks about the future of our kick-ass heroine line. We all hold our collective breath for an answer, because this subject is kind of the elephant in the room and we’ve been wondering about Bombshell’s prospects, too. There have been a lot of marketing and distribution challenges for these books since they don’t neatly fit into “romance” or “mainstream” niches. Where do you shelve Bombshells? In the series section of a bookstore, where romance readers can easily find them (even though this means stalwart single-title readers possibly won’t find them because they might not think of visiting or even want to visit “that” section)? Or do you put Bombshells among the “regular” titles, removing them from a series section that highlights their presence for already-converted romance fans who are familiar with the line? We wondered why the novels couldn’t be shelved both places, but apparently that doesn’t work in bookstores. In the end, I’m not sure what will be done with Bombshell in order to make the line a higher-profile success (sampling was one option), but we were assured that plans are being made….
After that, it's lunchtime with some kind of Turkey mystery meat gracing my plate. You know—basic conference food.
But, again, that’s not what you want to know, right? You want to hear all about the partying, so here goes. Michele Scott, author of MURDER UNCORKED and MURDER BY THE GLASS, throws a wine tasting social, and I am soooooo there. Great fun chatting with booksellers, authors, and readers. Consume a tad of champagne. Just a tad. Then it's off to….
…the Ellora’s Cave party.
Ca-razy times, people. In the darkness of the ballroom, which boasts big screens with images of spicy EC book covers, male cover models wander in shirtless glory. I’m new to the RT thing, but I think the guys were trying to garner votes for a contest (We had Disney commitments, so Judy and I left Saturday after the booksigning. Sorry I can’t tell you anymore about Mr. Romance than that.). Aside from the annual Harlequin/Silhouette party at RWA National, I’ve never seen so many happy women dancing together in one place. I have the privilege of hanging out with Beverly Brandt, Karen Kendall, and Rita Heron. Good times, but I’m reluctant to report that there are no major scandals. (At least, not on my end. Uh-uh. Who me? No, never.)
And, guess what? I’m going to be a tease and leave more RT reporting until my next blog. That’s partly because I like cliffhangers and partly because I need to get my butt to “real work”—revising my novella for a February Blaze collection.
Cheers for now….
Friday, May 26, 2006
Bitter, frustrated, sad, and somewhat happy. How can I feel all of these things at one time?
Because I finally watched the ending hours of ALIAS.
It's both magical and strange that a work of fiction can dictate my mood like this, but I guess I was expecting too much from the finale. Yes, I loved seeing a happy ending for Syd and I thought what happened to Sloane the Eeeeevil Minion was tasty, yet I'm left with a stinging sense of disappointment. What was really answered? Why did I bother to care about anything Rambaldi if the writers were only making up the mythology as they went along? Clearly nothing was planned. How could it be with an ending so shoddy? I'm seriously let down by Rambaldi's endgame--eternal life? Didn't we already know that way back when? For a show that used to be so twisty, there was a dull lack of surprises.
And those loose ends... Oy. Could they have been left flapping in the wind because JJ Abrams wants to do a movie? Why else would he be so coy about revealing the actual identity of Rambaldi? Why else would Sark be allowed to go free and run around to cause more trouble when Vaughn knows damned well he's nothing but trouble (and, oh, what lovely trouble. "The beautiful man is dying!" Definitely one of the top crack-me-up-until-I'm-spraying-lemonade-out-my-nose ALIAS lines.)?
A lot of aftermath reaction on the Web seems to indicate that I'm not the only one feeling shortchanged by the lack of explanations. In fact, due to this ALIAS finale, a lot of people seem to be swearing off mythology shows like LOST now because they're afraid of suffering from "the X-FILES syndrome" where nothing is explained to satisfaction. Me? I'm not at that point yet. I'm still LOST's panting puppy, a glutton for self-inflicted punishment.
So let's review. How did the finale match up to my previously posted wish lists?
But will these last hours really tell us everything we ever wanted to know about Rambaldi?
And how about all those shadow organizations that our Bombshell, Sydney Bristow, has been fighting? Will we finally get satisfactory answers about those???
Okay, the answers to this question turned out pretty well. Prophet 5--gone. Put to bed. Bye bye.
Not to be cynical, but I know that my curiosity will never be appeased and, strangely, I'm okay with that. I realized long ago that ALIAS was never about answering the MacGuffins.
Whatever, Green. I lied like a snake in the grass right there. Really, really lied.
In the end, I guess I don't really want to know why that big red zombie ball was Rambaldi's "endgame" as much as what makes Irina, Mother of all Spies, tick.
Hmm--I'd say Irina's character development actually took about fifty million steps *backward* in the finale. And you know what? Depriving the audience of a final showdown between Irina and Jack was like Thomas Harris making Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter a couple at the end of HANNIBAL. Unforgivable.
I want to know if Jack really is good or bad.
I'll give JJ this--Jack went out like a champ. Best ALIAS line ever with "You beat death, but you couldn't beat me." Awesome.
I want to know why Sydney's baby was glowing in her womb
Because...Isabelle was a Project Christmas baby and she came equipped with bulbs? What *was* the glowing all about? Yet another question that will go unaddressed.
why the heck Vaughn's death was faked.
I'm super giddy that he returned, so I'm not going to bitch and moan about this one.
1. Is Rambaldi alive?
2. Get Sydney and Vaughn together pronto. And, please, do not kill Will.
Thumbs up here.
3. Give me a Francinator versus Sydney throwdown that exceeds the one at the end of Season Two
When Irina first started getting frisky with Syd, I was like, "Hey, ho, here we go!!!" But...not even close to the ultimate spy fight from season two. I think Irina's lack of characterization in this final hour put a real damper on the fisticuffs for me.
4. Put the new kids (Rachel and Tom) on the backburner and concentrate on our old favorites.
This sooooo didn't happen, and the momentum suffered for it. True, Tom had a moving death scene, but all the subplot stuff between him and Rachel was stupifying. Actually, it was like that long, ever-growing hallway in POLTERGEIST. You know-- when JoBeth Williams is running toward the door to get to her daughter but she can't reach her destination because THAT DANG HALLWAY KEEPS LENGTHENING AND KEEPING JOBETH FROM GETTING ON WITH IT.
5. Resurrect the character of Sark. And I'm talking about the old Sark, not this namby-pamby waif who became Lauren's love bunny or the dork who couldn't even outsmart Lydia/Rachel. I want him nasty and ruthless again--a worthy opponent.
Here, I'm a happy camper, even with that cheesy shot of Sark in the epilogue. What, was he posing for the cover of an 80's New Wave album with those sunglasses? ("The beautiful man is dying!")
6. Oh, and just as the cherry on top of the request sundae? Please have MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III live up to the hype.
I did enjoy it, and I hope it was worth the effort JJ spent on this movie at the cost of paying more attention to the culimination of five years in which fans loyally stuck by all the crazy plot threads and dense mythology.
Don't get me wrong. I still adore this show. But I feel like you do with anything you love: when it disappoints you, it hurts. Still, we've got seasons one and two to remember: two incredible runs that beat almost anything else on TV or at the movies. So thank you, JJ, the cast, and the creative forces for all your hard work. R.I.P. with fonder memories.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Yes, I'm back from the Romantic Times Convention *and* Disneyworld! In the coming days, I'll blog about both. So, Gena Showalter, you'll get your full report soon! But just to tide you over, I'll say that RT was crazy, interesting, and fun. It was awesome to meet everyone, and the Ellora's Cave party was one of the highlights. (Again, more on that later, when I've dealt with all the "urgent" matters that've been waiting for me for over a week!)
And speaking of Ellora's Cave, here's a preview of Jaci Burton's new book, compliments of www.outoftheblogosphere.com. Enjoy!
OUT OF THE DARKNESS by Jaci Burton and C. J. Burton
Harlee has lived as a human her entire life, working as a psychiatrist on a secret government project evaluating captured werewolves and vampires. Then one night two strangers jerk her from her bed, blindfold her and turn her world upside down. She is taken deep into the realm of lycans and vampires and told an unbelievable story-that she is the daughter of a forbidden union between a vampire and a werewolf and now possibly the future leader of both their clans.
She doesn't believe them. Vampires and werewolves are the enemies of humans. She hangs onto her humanity, her one and only goal to escape from her sexy and enigmatic captors before she loses her heart and possibly her very soul.
The vampire Adrian's and the lycan Duncan's goals are entirely different-to mate with the fiery beauty and determine whether her dominant blood is vampire or werewolf. One merely desires her. One will claim her for all eternity.
But dark forces turn what begins as a search for identity into a struggle for survival.
ABOUT JACI BURTON
Jaci Burton was born and raised in Missouri but now lives on an acre-and-a-half in Oklahoma with her husband Charlie. Jaci loves to write about passionate relationships with sometimes stormy outcomes but always a happily ever after. She’s a sucker for romance and a happy ending!
Out of the Darkness is fabulous! This vivid glimpse of a world filled with vampires and lycans, secret plots and erotic sexual encounters will leave you clamoring for more. – eCataRomance Reviews
Out Of The Darkness is an incredible tale of one woman’s struggle with her past and what her future may become. – Romance Junkies
Friday, May 19, 2006
Again, I'll check in with a longer report later, when I get back into town. Miss you all!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
So if you're going, please stop by the signing to say hi!
(BTW, when I get back, I'll have a full RT report, okay?)
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Bless you all!
Thursday, May 11, 2006
So please look at the previous blog to see the Vampire Babylon logo.
In the meantime, I'm going to go back to writing that Blaze novella. Oh, and just so you know, it looks like my next Blaze is going to be about...a vampire. Heh! I'm absolutely serious! Brenda Chin, my senior editor for the line, gave the green light to a story with a pretty traditional vampire hero and a heroine who craves his bite. I'll be developing the story idea after I get back from the RT convention, but I'm really looking forward to writing it.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Here's a sneak peak at my Vampire Babylon series logo! I hired Kevin Craig, a freelance designer, to work on this for promotional purposes because I don't have a cover yet. (And if you have a project you'd like done, I'll gladly refer you to him. Just contact me off my Web site.) My favorite part is the earring on the V. In NIGHT RISING, you'll see that the earring has special significance, and it's a really cool symbol in the logo.
Stay tuned for an even more detailed image that Kevin Craig designed.
And on a totally unrelated note: remember that the season finale for the awesome VERONICA MARS airs tonight! I hear it's absolutely packed with shocks and intrigue....
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Wish me luck?
Friday, May 05, 2006
Okay, I’ve been stoked for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 for a few reasons, but mostly due to the fact that I love ALIAS, and JJ Abrams is the creative force behind that series. I also loved the cast list, Keri Russell and Billy Crudup in particular. With this cinematic opportunity, I expected JJ to take his Sydney Bristow model of taut and over-the-top storytelling to an expanded, bigger-budget level while still exercising that Abrams trademark: making an epic story personal.
And M:I 3 succeeds, you all.
It’s not a perfect movie—how many of them are?—but this is Wild Flick Fun at its most frantic. I’m chomping at the bit to talk about all the cool details, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. So…here I go.
The basic story takes up with our man Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, dontcha know?—and if you don’t dig him, you’ll forget about it about five minutes into the action). In spite of a massive lack of character development in the previous two M:I movies, we get plenty of it here. M:I 3 ratchets up the personal stakes by, first, showing us that Ethan has found a soulmate to marry—she reminds him of what life was like before he lost all innocence as a world defender. Second, the script puts him in a revenge situation early on—something that’s strong enough to lure him back into the spying field. (We’re told that Ethan has withdrawn from the espionage game in order to train recruits.) From there, it’s a crazy ride with everything you’d expect from a spy flick, plus bonuses. For instance, we get to see how M:I’s iconic masks work. This part is awesome. The action scenes are great, too, and I was actually dying to get out of my seat and pace during most of them. You know what I mean by that: the nerves, the contained energy, the tension of hoping the characters come out of danger safely.
It’s as if JJ has deliberately flown the bird at the ABC executives who reined him in with ALIAS. “Hey, suits,” he’s saying. “Remember when you wouldn’t let Sydney hurt anyone and you only let her use a dart gun and kung-fu kicks?” Well, in M:I 3, all the spies shoot to kill; they know that it’s prudent to knock off your enemy before the enemy can do the same thing to you. And the budget is well-used, especially on location in Shanghai.
Fingers crossed that M:I 3 represents just the first of many really satisfying movies this summer.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Oh, I do love me a good gothic mystery, and this one sounds like it'd hit the spot. Warring, brooding brothers, a castle, big secrets...sounds great!
(Berkeley, May 2, 2006)
"When two are born together, one will die by the other's hand..."
This is the Dragon's Curse that has plagued the Killdarens for generations and continues on in this tale set on the Cornish Coast of 1879 England.
Sean and Alex thought they'd escaped the Dragon's curse until in a rage of suspicion and accusation the twins come close to killing each other the night the woman they both loved was murdered. Eight years later, the only thing they agree on is to remain unwed and childless, to never pass on the Dragon's Curse. Then another woman disappears. This time from Sean Killdaren's castle and his reclusive world is shattered when Cassie Andrews, a journalist, goes undercover as a downstairs maid. He can no more ignore her than he can ignore the murderer hiding behind the secrets of Killdaren Castle's stone walls.
ABOUT JENNIFER ST. GILES
Following the birth of her third child, Jennifer St. Giles quit her job as a nurse and became a home educator to her three children and pursued her life long dream of writing in her "spare time". Jenni lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband of twenty-three years, her three children, two cats, one dog, and a two-handfuls of neighborhood kids who make the household the wildest most wonderful Grand Central Station in existence.
St. Giles brings the classic Gothic to a new sensual level. . .combining dark atmosphere and the twisted plot of great mystery. Four Stars - RT BOOKClub
...a terrific Victorian romantic suspense that grips the reader and the paranormal elements blend in completely... Harriet Klausner
Midnight Secrets incorporates classic Gothic themes with its brooding atmosphere... filled with tragedies and secrets. Susan Wilson
Monday, May 01, 2006
My attention was caught. I picked up the novel from the second-hand bookstore rack, looking at the title now. FLICKER. Never heard of it, but since I was writing my second Vampire Babylon story at the time, I thought it might get me into the Hollywood groove.
I got a lot more out of it than that.
Without revealing too much, FLICKER is a conspiracy novel, a cult phenom that's rumored to become a movie soon (directed by the wildly creative Darren Aronofsky no less). It's a major trip through all that's beautiful and ugly about the cinema; it's a complicated, brilliant weave of film's present, history, and future. I don't want to ruin a thing about it for anyone who hasn't read it yet, but this is a story that cries out for discussion. Yet since the book has been out of print for years, conversation on a large scale about this story isn't likely--at least, not until the movie comes out. (If it ever survives the development stage.)
But let me try to tell you why I liked FLICKER so much. On the surface, it's about a film student who develops an odd appreciation for some below-B grade movies made by a forgotten director named Max Castle. There's just something about this deceased director's films that gets to the student, and as he researches Castle, he uncovers a truth that goes beyond sinister.
This book not only compelled me with its amazing research, but it delves into theories about where society is going. That's the scary part about FLICKER and, coupled with my last blog (re: HOSTEL), I've had a real thoughtful week about what's happening right in our own backyards. I highly recommend FLICKER, but be warned--there's a lot of exposition that might bore someone who could care less about cinema. Otherwise, try to hunt it down. It's a keeper.