Sunday, December 31, 2006

Guest blogger: Samanthan Hunter!

I invited my friend and fellow Blaze author Samantha Hunter to guest blog here, and I'm so happy she took me up on it! Sam has a book out this January--this month!--and it's one I've been waiting to read ever since I heard the premise. Basically, UNTOUCHED centers around a superheroine who has lost her powers. Now, I know a lot of you watch HEROES, so I think this is a book you might really enjoy.

Sam has also contributed to January's contest on my site, so as soon as updates are complete, you might want to click over there to enter. In the meantime, enjoy Sam's blog.

And Happy New Year!!! Be safe during your fun tonight, okay?'s Sam!

Putting the “Super” back in Fiction. . . .

Thanks to Chris for letting me pop in! Happy New Year to everyone – I hope you all have a fantastic 2007. Of course, with Chris’s new book coming out, it’s off to a great start. Of course, I’m looking forward to it because it’s a paranormal, a genre that is so popular now because we love those larger-than-life heroes. Paranormal is putting the “super” back in fiction that perhaps got a little too “real” a lot of the time.

It seems like in the last ten years or so, there was a big push for everything in fiction to be real, like real life, or factual. Readers critique stories according to whether they have their facts right, or how they compare to ‘real life.” Writers research their fingers to the bone. Everything is supposed to have that ring of “real” but not for me. Give me the fantasy.

Personally, I read to escape. Calgon, take me away. No mistake, I enjoy my real life and I have a full one. But what ever happened to the experience of sitting down and getting lost in a world that is woven from the imagination, in a place and with people that are obviously not real, but wonderful anyway? I think the paranormal boom shows we not only want this, we need it.

My January Blaze, Untouched, is an Extreme Blaze with a “super” theme, as well. It’s about a superheroine who loses her powers and has to adapt to normal life with the help of a handsome CIA agent, and it was a blast to write. I’m heavy into superheroes, always have been. Anyone remember the Saturday morning show SHAZAM!? LOL Now I’ve aged myself. But it goes that far back.

I think my interest in paranormal romance is really an extension of the fact that I’m just a sucker for any character with super powers, whether they’re vampires or vampire hunters, psychics, handsome guys with x-ray vision, whatever. I love it all.

There’s very little in the world that hasn’t been prodded into or studied, and we deal with a flood of facts all the time. So I think the imagination is one of the great mysteries left to us, and I hope it stays that way. The imagination is everyone’s super power, really, available to everyone, and it’s where everything else comes from. Superman wouldn’t exist, nor would Buffy, nor Wolverine (not to mention air flight, The Constitution, and penicillin) without the human imagination.

And that’s probably what I like best about superheroes – they represent, in many ways, what’s extraordinary about human beings and human qualities, both in the characters and in their creation. As different or wild as they may be, they are ultimately human.

What are your favorite paranormal, fantasy or superhero characters? What do you love about them? When’s the last time you got so soaked into a fantasy that the house could have fallen down around you, and you would have cared less?

Friday, December 29, 2006

The best movie I saw in 2006

I ended up not seeing many movies in the theater this year. I’ve highlighted my reasons in previous blogs/reviews, so I won’t detail my woes again. Actually—what the heck—I’ll just offer a reminder. My absence is mainly due to talky viewers and/or people sitting behind me who put their feet on my seat and either shake me around for two hours or get my long hair caught beneath their soles. Movie-going is such major fun these days.

What this all means is that I’m hardly qualified to have an opinion about what the “best movie of 2006” was—at least as far as theater releases go. But my watching habits have been transferred to my home theater, where I’ve seen so many films this year that I could fill a diary with my musings about them. Also, here, I don’t have to worry about a frustrating viewing experience. Sure, I miss the big screen and the larger-than-life soundtracks, but I still attend the theater for the movies I absolutely can’t wait to see, and that’s all.

Now—to the point. My pick for best movie that I saw this year in the theater or at home? Well, it’s a film that actually did come out in 2006. I didn’t get around to blogging about it, but it’s a flick that has remained with me, just as if I saw it last week.


Yes, a movie about two rival magicians going after each other—ruining each other even as they push themselves to master the ultimate trick—is hands down the best, IMHO.

Why do I love this film? There’re a thousand reasons, but I’ll whittle them down to the basics. First, it’s a powerful tale of the price of success, a lesson in losing your soul during the pursuit of revenge. And there’s much more than that, but to go into the other themes would ruin the twists and turns of this story, and I wouldn’t dare do that to you, because that’s the second thing that makes THE PRESTIGE amazing. This is a movie that keeps you guessing, even after you think you have everything figured out. Also, the complexity, the richness of the characters as they navigate the labyrinthine plot satisfied me on many levels: both emotionally and intellectually. This film didn’t merely offer great popcorn entertainment: it makes a viewer think about what he or she just saw (or maybe didn’t see—THE PRESTIGE’s script practices just as much illusion as the characters do). It forces you to consider how far you would go in the quest for a reckoning, and the ending might even leave you feeling as unsettled as I was.

Just about a week ago, I read the book by Christopher Priest, and I want to praise that, too. The story differs, but the thrust of it is the same. However—and I don’t say this lightly or often—I did think the film was superior in the telling. I’m not taking anything away from the brilliant book, but the movie had a greater impact on me. In fact, if you’re a writer, it’s really worth your time to watch and then read both works. (Note: I recommend seeing the movie before reading the book because the pages will explain more of the plot’s technicalities; plus, the book has its own set of surprises, so even if you already know what direction the plot is twisting, you’ll be riveted.) As a writer, I really admire what Christopher and Jonathan Nolan did with their adapted screenplay: they cut certain characters and streamlined others to tighten characterization and points of view. Also, they decided to play up the main characters’ rivalry, even to the point of more intense violence. They also subtracted the modern-day framing device that the book uses to great advantage (but the movie really doesn’t suffer for it at all). If these two craftsmen aren’t recognized come awards time, my disgust for the Oscars is going to multiply.

A couple more things: the art direction and cinematography are evocative—masterful in their own ways. And the performances by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale? Top notch. Even though both characters do some questionable things, you might find yourself rooting for both of them. Weird how good acting can accomplish that.

So enjoy, but hold onto your seat. It’s a wild ride.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The limbo of holiday cheer's over. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. All we have left is New Years, and I must confess that this isn't one of my favorite holidays.

Maybe it's just because I've had my fill of parties where I feel socially obligated to be "on." You know what I mean. At holiday social events, you should seem cheery. You should seem sparkly. You should glow like a tree bulb. Those are the rules. Maybe I'm all out of holiday spirits at this point and watching a marathon of LONESOME DOVE or AMAZING RACE while safely ensconced in a house seems far more preferable than risking my life on the road.

I'm just festivitied OUT, frankly. It was awesome to spend time with my family, but I'm ready to crash!

I'm ready for peace.

That said, I hope you all have fun place, and that you'll stay safe this week. It's a long stretch until Valentine's Day, so party like you mean it. :)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Just popping in to shout a MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all. Thank you for being here. I'm eternally grateful for your support and good will--and your conversation! May your egg nog be tasty, your family be happy, and your gifts be plenty....

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I'm not sure what, exactly, inspired me to download Anthony Bourdain's KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL from Maybe I did it because I'd heard that this famous chef related all his naughty misdeeds, his drugged up distasters, his sex-in-the-pantry escapades in this tell-all memoir. Maybe I did it because...

Wait. It was totally because of the gossipy stuff. Let's not fool ourselves.

Yet imagine my surprise when I discovered that there aren't so many juicy events in this book. Sure, there are casual references to getting coked up after restaurant hours, but not much more than that. Darn Bourdain, but there's a lot of talk about actual restaurant-running and food in KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL!

Luckily that's enough to keep me interested. However, an even bigger selling point is that Bourdain himself narrates his own book in a who-gives-a-crap, mildly amused tone. That's worth the price of a download right there. The enterprising businessman is his own self-aware freak show, and oftentimes it seems as if the culinary details are secondary to his personality. But I don't mind that a bit, because it's Bourdain's voice that gives color to a book that occasionally lacks focus. Still, his tales of management woes and his tips on how to stock a kitchen are genuinely interesting, and anyone who fantasizes that they can cook--like me!--will probably dig this memoir. Bourdain's narration is merely a bonus. up on audio for me? Maybe it'll be SHOOT OUT, a Hollywood tell-all. Or maybe MARIE ANTOINETTE. Or a Bill Bryson (comic travel genius) book. Or a non-fiction work about the Zodiac Killer. All I know is that my iPod crashed AGAIN and I'll probably be listening straight from my computer....

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Unexpected gift

My mom and aunt and I decided to take the Adorables (translation--nephew and niece) to the San Diego Wild Animal Park the other day. During the holidays, the Park puts on The Festival of Lights, which features beautiful decorations, extended hours, plus different arts and crafts stations that allow the kids to be creative and to squee a lot.

But there was a bonus in going to the Park for me. See, years ago, back when I was a nugget just out of high school, I decided to work for a year, take some community college classes, then apply those general ed. classes to a state college. It ended up being a really good decision for a lot of reasons, mostly in that I saved a decent amount of money and that I was hungry to go to the BIG COLLEGE while working toward my goal. Another reason was that I got to work at the SD Wild Animal Park.

For those of you who don't know, this is a wild life park like no other. It opened in 1972 and provides a refuge for endangered species; their breeding program for nearly extinct animals is extremely impressive. While I was never an "important employee" like a keeper or a vet, I felt like I was doing something worthwhile working as a ticketseller, a "visitor assistance officer," a switchboard operator, an education assistant--or any of the hundred jobs I did during my tenure there. But as I went off to college and returned every summer to the Park, I started to forget how lucky I was to be working there. Guests who didn't read their maps or informational signs got on my nerves, and the administrative politics took the luster from my days. Going to this fantastic paradise week after week became rote.

I hadn't visited the Park since I left over ten years ago, and it was only now, with the passage of time, that I appreciate how fortunate I was to work in such a place. As I wandered through the main village, past the Congo River Fishing Village, past the meerkats, onto the Kilimanjaro Hiking Trail and to the Lion Camp, I took in all the changes: a new 3-D Dino Simunlation ride, a new Hidden Jungle exhibit, an army of new employees I didn't know. As dusk set, a lion's roar echoed over the treetops, and I realized that, when I was so much younger and dopier, I'd had a rare experience, and it was only in hindsight that I truly embraced it.

Happy Holidays, you all. I hope you find an unexpected present to unwrap within yourselves, too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

OOTB book tour: VENUS ENVY

I've been looking forward to this one for a while now! It's here, it's here!

VENUS ENVY by Shannon McKelden
(TOR Books, December 26, 2006)

Take one hunky firefighter, one stubborn "Cinderella," and one very reluctant fairy godmother and what do you get?

Rachel Greer wants no part of Venus's scheme to land Mr. March as her Prince Charming, but Venus is determined to do just that. She's only a few love-life fixes short of returning to her former goddess status, and she's not letting one mulish mortal stand in her way.

It appears the only way Rachel can get rid of the very un-Disney-like fairy godmother is to play along. So she follows Venus's plan to interview Luke Stanton's ex-girlfriends...which Venus believes will cure Rachel's relationship fears, but which Rachel knows will only prove her point that men are never what they appear to be.

But, when Venus's plan appears to work, and Rachel and Luke fall in love, does Rachel dare set aside her fears about happily ever? Or will betrayal send her back into relationship seclusion...this time forever?

And what happens when a goddess-turned-fairy godmother breaks the most important rule--protecting herself from human emotions?



Shannon McKelden has wanted to be a writer since she earned a coveted ‘A+++’ from her 9th grade English teacher. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her high school sweetheart, two kids, two cats, a dog and a crow.

Witty, funny, and truly original, McKelden’s romance is a standout. -- Booklist

Sexy, clever and fun, Venus Envy is absolutely delightful from beginning to end. Author Shannon McKelden has talent to spare. –Jane Porter, author of The Frog Prince

Debut author McKelden is undeniably talented, milking a fun plot for all it's worth. 3 Stars. – Romantic Times


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Take two

Remember how I was so stoked to start plotting TWISTED Friday? Well, sometimes the best-laid plans get slammed, LOL.

Just as I was sitting down to plot, I heard from my Blaze editor about a slight revision that would need to be done for THE ULTIMATE BITE, my July vampire release. And since THE ULTIMATE BITE is on a tight production schedule, she wondered if I could get the revision done by early next week.

Since I'm not on a hard deadline (just a personal one) for TWISTED, I complied. Besides, the revision is a small one (Brenda Chin herself will tell you that she's not doing her job if she doesn't ask for a revision, LOL.). However, I had to do the bulk of it Friday because yesterday (Saturday) was faux-Christmas with most of my family. My bro, sis-in-law, and the adorables (er...nephew and niece) are going out of state to celebrate the actual holiday with s-i-law's family. So what I'm saying is that Saturday was out of the question for any work to get accomplished.

Hence, I put my vague ideas for TWISTED to bed and revisited THE ULTIMATE BITE on Friday.

Sometimes it's tough to switch creative/mental gears like that. One moment, I was geeked to start TWISTED while THE ULTIMATE BITE was sleeping in the back of my brain (I knew there'd be a revision, so I hadn't quite buried it.). The next second, I was yanking BITE to the forefront while shoving TWISTED into BITE's resting place. Confusing, to say the least, since I had to reacquaint myself with the details of the world I'd built for BITE while forgetting everything about serial killers and haunted houses. Yet, that's just how it goes, whether you're a homemaker who has to put aside a beloved project to take care of a broken appliance or a marketer who has to concentrate on a higher-paying account at the expense of a lower one. We all have to prioritize and work at the mercy of deadlines. It's just part of doing business.

That said, I'm going for another walk to get my mind back on TWISTED. Let's see what happens today....

Friday, December 15, 2006


That's what I'm calling the proposal I'm going to plot today: TWISTED. I know the title isn't going to last long--if this story is purchased, the title will probably be scrapped because it's pretty generic. However, it establishes the story's tone, and I figure that'll help when my agent pitches this to an editor.

So what's it about? Well, it's another "atmospheric thriller" along the lines of BAITED, but without the island. As you can probably guess from reading my blogs and reviews of movies I like to watch, I'm pretty into horror, so it's not a big stretch that I want to write about creepy stuff. The premise is "FRIDAY THE 13th meets the setting of THE SHINING"--so, like BAITED, there's the graphic who-dun-it slasher angle, but this time there's a rambling haunted house involved. Mwa-ha-ha!!! The haunted house isn't just the location for a terror-filled weekend, either: it also plays a big part in the characters' backgrounds.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out my heroine. Of course, she can't be a static bore. Part of the fun of writing BAITED was creating Katsu Espinoza. I loved her mixed heritage and how that affected her psyche and actions; also, I loved tying all of that into the murders themselves. And, altogether, the murderer's signature (the faces...) echoed Kat's identity issues. That was a lot of fun to work through as I wrote the story.

This morning, before I took a head-clearing walk, I was nervous that, with TWISTED, I wouldn't be able to come up with the same sort of thematic balance. But I think I've got it. I can't tell you what it is, naturally, because it would be giving away so much about the central mystery, but I think it's something we can all relate to.

I hope. I go.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I'm one of the few people who hadn't seen the movie adaptation of Nicolas Sparks' THE NOTEBOOK. Not until the other night.

I don't know why I put it off--I've had the DVD forever. Maybe I just thought it would be cheesy, although I did read the book a while ago and I was touched by the framing device: the old man reading to the old woman from that notebook because--as the reader gradually discovers--the old woman is his wife and he's trying to basically resurrect her with their love story.

I was happy to discover that the film wasn't half as cheesy as I expected. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling have great chemistry (duh--real life couple), and I loved the old-time setting. I thought the film did a great job of using history as more than a superficially nostalgic backdrop. There was a real sense that these characters *existed* in this time, that they were more than faded snapshots. And speaking of character, I found it very interesting that the heroine remained likeable, even when she was making frustrating choices and acting like what could've so easily been a moron. (Treating her fiance like dirt? Arguing with the hero all the time? Yeesh--but Rachel McAdams is a good enough actress to still charm the audience.)

So the flashback portions? Great. The story's framing device? Almost great.

I say this because I really didn't like the ending of this film. I know, I know--boo! But let me explain.

Here we are, watching as the old man (James Garner) slowly and patiently reads the contents of the notebook to his wife (Gena Rowlands). His devotion is enough to make anyone sob. You can see, little by little, the light coming on in her eyes, the understanding that this diverting story he's reading actually means so much more. Then, when that moment of enlightenment comes for her, it's glorious. It's romantic. It's beautiful. They dance with each other, just as they used to so long ago, when their bodies and minds hadn't betrayed them in their old age. The camera pulls back, and everything is right with the world. Everything has come full circle.

But then...? Sigh. Then the movie has to continue, though I can't remember exactly when the book itself ended. I'm not sure if the script altered the finale or not. However, then we have to endure the sight of the woman forgetting who her husband is and going into a frightened rage. And the very end? A real stretch, IMHO. The husband comes back to his wife, and in a moment of clarity, she remembers him and they die together.

For me, those extra fifteen minutes at the end killed the glow I had going from that dance. I don't understand why the film had to continue when they had such a perfect ending earlier. Yet, luckily, I can forget about that ending and recall the rest of the movie.

Ironic, seeing as the old man was just trying to get his wife to remember...not forget.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Be there or be l=l

Hmmm--that symbol in the title is supposed to be a square, but alas, I am such a computer halfwit that I don't know how to make the proper shape. Oh, well--at least it looks like a TIE fighter.

Two things:

First, this Wednesday the 13th, is having an open house. Starting at 7pm Pacific Time, there'll be live chats with author visits and giveaways. I'll be there from 7-10pm, representing all three of my lines. Here's the schedule:

7pm - "home and hearth" lines: Special Edition
8pm - "passion" lines: Blaze
9pm - "intrigue and adventure" lines: Bombshell

I guess this will be somewhat of a wake for Bombshell, but lots of authors are scheduled to be there. I hope you guys will visit, too.

Second, I'm very proud of myself for *finally* putting up a MySpace page this weekend! It's for Vampire Babylon, but I'm thinking of making a more personal page as well. If you're on MySpace, please add me to your friend list, as I'm very manic about collecting them at the moment. Seriously, I've become an addict. Here's the addy:

Hope to see you all around!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Early NIGHT RISING review

I just wanted to share an early review for NIGHT RISING, Vampire Babylon, Book One, from a UK web site. You can click here to go to the Eternal Night Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Fiction site to see the entire review, but here's the best part of it:

"If you like your fantasy with an edge, then you've struck gold. Despite the
vampires and other para elements, there is a ring of truth to the biting,
no pun intended, allegory. This is a fantastic start to a new series and
one you should try to keep up with as it unfolds."
- Amanda

It's good to see that a reviewer liked it! LOL.

This will also be posted on

BTW, last month's contest winner is Sandra Martin! Also, December's updates have been finished, so the new contest is up at the main site.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Who's up for some werewolf action? Here's an anthology that looks to provide four different paranormal stories for you....

“Come Moonrise” by Lucy Monroe featured in UNLEASHED
(Berkley, December 5, 2006)

Ty MacAnlup has seen the tragedy that a mating between a werewolf and a human can bring and he wants no part of it, no matter how much his body and heart ache for a taste of Frankie's softness. Frankie has loved Ty for years and while she doesn't know he's a werewolf, or even that such things exist...she does know that to her, he's always been more than a mere man. Ty's hidden beast wreaks havoc with his determination to stay away from Frankie when they are trapped together in a small cabin in the snow bound wilderness.



Award winning author Lucy Monroe sold her first book in September of 2002. Since then she has sold more than 30 books to three publishers and hit national bestsellers lists in the US and England. Her highly charged, sensual stories touch on the realities of life while giving the reader a fantasy story not easily forgotten. Whether it's a passionate Harlequin Presents, a sexy single title for Kensington or a steamy historical or paranormal for Berkley, Lucy's books transport her readers to a special place where the heart rules and love conquers all.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another HEROES

Great pacing, cool twists, and the heroes are finally starting to come together! Did you all love last night's episode? Or was it lacking after all the hype?

I'm pretty content. Just some impressions:

Jessica is a bad ass. If I were that cop to whom Niki is turning herself in? I would be a scared little running man.

LOL--the Haitian got to Zach and Mom and Lil Bro and...not Claire!!! Oh, Horn Rimmed Glasses, you are a tasty piece of work.

Hah--Hiro's sword returns! (May I direct you to my blog of a couple months ago? You know, the one in which I dreamed of Hiro's sword?) And...a dinosaur? Whaaaa's that?

OMG--Hiro gave Isaac the Spock sign and Isaac immediately stops saying Hiro's name with a Japanese accent. Anyone remember that old Saturday Night Live skit where everyone in an office keeps using a Mexican accent whenever they say "taco" or "burrito"? That's Issac--a walking skit.

Who does Horn Rimmed Glasses man report to anyway?

Ack! Eden? What happened there? I thought Sylar didn't have powers in that room, yet he shattered the glass and scooped her right up? I had to have missed something. (Sorry--I was unpacking at the time, though I was trying hard to pay attention. Multitasking: it is the cloth of my life.)

And the ending. Peter. Oh, Peter. First, I thought it was great that he was the Man on Fire, but when I realized that he could explode, I got sad. So very sad. Peter has grown on me, and I'm going to go off on that in a few seconds. But first: did Claire whisper that she was sorry? Did she do something to make Peter into The Flame? Or was she just expressing a basic "I'm sorry" for what was about to happen?

Just a tangent here: some of the hero men are making my hot list.

* Mohinder - hot accent. Clipped British yumminess. I just wish he had a deeper voice, you know?
* Isaac - but only when he's in the shadows. Not so much hotness in the light. That sounds terrible, but what I mean is that he's more mysterious in the dark while wrapped in a blanket. In the light, he's kind of slender and has quite the stubbled baby face. I like Dark Art-eest better.
* Horn Rimmed Glasses - Loved the look on his face after Sylar went all turbo MY-NAME-IS-SYLAR-HEAR-ME-ROAR on him. Horn Rimmed Glasses's response? A quietly mocking smile. Hot. Is it wrong to find Claire's dad on my list?
* Peter- Okay, I'm coming around to little bow-legged Petrelli. At first I thought he and his bangs were a tad foppish, but I realized something about Peter: He's more Superman than the current Clark Kent of SMALLVILLE is. The well-earned iconic "Boy Scout" nickname applies more to earnest and selfless Peter than it does to the exhaustingly whiny Clark Kent (though I'm hoping that'll change this season. But right now it seems that SMALLVILLE is more interested in the Green Arrow and Lex/Lana than developing Clark. sigh).

Anyway, I'm going to miss my HEROES for over a month. Ahhh! I just realized how long that is....

Saturday, December 02, 2006


So I'm visiting my brother, sis-in-law, and adorable nephew and niece. I turned in THE ULTIMATE BITE Friday, so I get a couple of days to relax. Ahhhh, nice.

The N&N are scampering over the backyard grass, my nephew grabbing every cottoned dandelion he can find when I remember something from my childhood: those stems can look really cool if you shuck off the head, peel the stem into strips until the two sides meet in the middle, then stick the entire thing in water.

Did you do this as a kid?

I was hoping I hadn't just dreamed this activity, because the N&N were kind of excited to see the "dandelion ribbons." (Truthfully, you can use the end product on gift packages. They're beautiful.) And...viola! They really were as gorgeous as I remembered.

I really love days off.

Another wonderful moment came in a fan letter this morning. Nicole asked me if there would be a story for Kyle, who was a secondary character in last July's INNUENDO for Blaze. I told her that I didn't have any firm plans to write a sequel-of-sorts, but it had crossed my mind. Hearing that readers want to know about the further adventures of characters really inspires me to approach my editor with a firm story idea. So, thank you, Nicole! We'll see what happens since I just fulfilled my most recent Blaze contract with THE ULTIMATE BITE....

Have a great weekend, you all. Make a few dandelion ribbons. :)