Saturday, April 29, 2006

HOSTEL experience

Horror. What is it, exactly? Does it lie within a premise that lurks in your brain after you go to bed at night? Or is it all about gore, which can occasionally lead to a visceral experience?

I watched a movie that really brought this main question to the forefront, reintroducing my big “horror is not gore” philosophy. But when the flick ended, I was left wondering if that’s necessarily true anymore—at least in the case of this flick and those of its nature.

The movie was HOSTEL, the sophomore effort by Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER). And if you’re going to see the movie on DVD, tune out of this blog right now, because I’m going to throw out a ton of SPOILAGE, okay? Last warning…..

As you already know, I can sit through just about anything when it comes to blood and guts, and there’ve been only a couple of movies that made me truly ill: IRREVERSIBLE was one. AUDITION was another. LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was in a category all its own because I felt as if I was watching something that was actually unfolding in grainy, sickening reality—I didn’t even make it all the way through that movie, to be honest. HOSTEL is almost on that list due to its scenes of graphic torture, but that’s not what got to me about this flick. It was the deeper issues.

First, there’s the general premise, the shock of which has been spoiled by HOSTEL’s ad campaign. Bummer, because not knowing what the first thirty minutes was leading up to would’ve been pretty dreadful (in a good, horror way). Basically, three male backpackers are taking a post-college European trip, determined to experience every kind of debauchery youth and enthusiasm could ever offer. Naturally, they’re in Amsterdam at the moment, with its legal Red Light District (which is, in real life, so depressing it makes you want to cry) and its open-arm policy regarding drug use. Two out of three guys are the epitome of Ugly Americans who at first seem to value partying above morality, but their friend from Iceland tops them, believe it or not. When they’re all told about this almost-mythical hostel in Slovakia—a refuge stuffed with gorgeous and horny women—the guys head straight for it. But the premise is only revving up at that point. The hostel is actually a lure to attract victims for rich, sadistic businessmen to act out their darkest homicidal fantasies. In other words, the backpackers are Hansel and Gretel while the hostel is the candyhouse with the witch inside.

Now this is a damn terrifying idea, because human nature allows this possibility to seem very realistic. The clients who pay to kill the backpackers are the friendly neighborhood dentists who “accidentally” hit a nerve in your teeth every once in a while and apologize for the slip; they are the Wall Street whizzes who got rich too quickly and don’t know how to fill up the empty holes of numbness inside of them; they are the young computer millionaires who were raised on violent video games and have become immune to blood and screaming. Believing this premise isn’t a stretch, especially when you realize that this movie is “based on true events.” (On the commentary track, Roth and Harry Knowles from http://www.aintitcoolnews.com/ talk about a Web site Knowles stumbled upon; it offered “killing vacations” and human hunting for a big price.) Hence, when the torture scenes commence, it’s not so much about gratuitous gore—the atrocities tie into a societal sickness. Woven together, the grisly scenes work on more than just a slasher level because every cut and thrust blades itself below the surface of your skin to get deeper than I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER ever could.

In the end, there are many, many issues I could talk about with HOSTEL, including the fact that there’s an audience for this type of movie. A big audience. It’s just one more act in the gladiator arena of our times and you could offer a college course about the subject. But this isn’t my intention today, even though it’s fascinating to think about the Nietzschian consequences of gazing for too long into an abyss....

Friday, April 28, 2006

"Other" blog

Just so you know....

I've posted a blog about one of my favorite programs, ALIAS, on www.bombshellauthors.com if you want to check it out! Besides that, if you haven't seen the Bombshell Authors site, it's a cool one.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Here's another reading idea from www.outoftheblogosphere.com. Doesn't this story sound fun and worth hours of entertainment? I love the whole chick-lit meets paranormal wave....

ONCE UPON STILETTOS by Shanna Swendson

(Ballantine Books, April 25, 2006)

When we left Katie Chandler at the end of Enchanted, Inc., she had helped her new employers, Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc. defeat Phelan Idris, a rogue wizard intent on stealing spells. By her side, and leading the battle, was hunky wizard Owen. Katie and Owen are still fighting their attraction to each other in Shanna Swendson’s hilarious and charming sequel Once Upon Stilettos, but first they have to track down a corporate spy before the company dissolves into paranoia. Then at the worst possible time, Katie's immunity to magic goes on the blink. At least she's having better luck in her social life, with men falling at her feet everywhere she goes. Has she really become that irresistible, or is it the new red shoes she felt compelled to buy? Polish your fairy wings, put on your magic shoes, click your heels three times, and join Shanna Swendson for a romantic romp amidst fairies, goblins, wizards and gargoyles.

Excerpt:

http://www.shannaswendson.com/stilettos.html

ABOUT SHANNA SWENDSON

In addition to writing fiction, Shanna Swendson is a freelance marketing consultant and writer specializing in technology and telecommunications. She is single and lives in Irving, Texas, with her many pet plants, including a vicious attack bougainvillea and a Christmas cactus that has outlasted three homes, three jobs and three boyfriends, yet still faithfully blooms every Christmas and Easter. She’s looking for a man that reliable.

REVIEWS

"Once Upon Stilettos is not to be missed if you're in the mood for a fast and funny read where chicklit meets urban fantasy." -- Mary Jo Putney, author of A Kiss of Fate

"A princely wizard, Cinderella red stilettos, and a megalomaniac--what more could a girl ask for? ONCE UPON STILETTOS is a delightful urban fairytale with a dreamy hero and a country-wise Texas heroine who use their magical and non-magical charms to seek justice and unmask the villain. Just a few weeks in the life of a simple single girl..." -- bestselling author Patricia Rice

Once again Swendson gives her readers a hilarious and delightful romp through the world of magic with a dash of romance thrown in to titillate and make us laugh. -- Andrea Sisco, Armchair Interviews

Website: http://www.shannaswendson.com/

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Weekend oasis

The few days I've had off between completing MIDNIGHT REIGN and my next project, the Blaze novella, have been great so far. I was lucky enough to go to the Las Vegas Strip and experience a few adventures in the land of entitlement and irresponsiblility. Saturday night featured a concert under the sky at the Caesar's Palace Roman Plaza. Peter Frampton (yes--Frampton Comes Alive!) put on a real good show, and the night was so gorgeous that I couldn't help but feel incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful life. And, of course I have to tell you about the places I ate: Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace and then, the next night, Little Buddha at the Palms. Mesa Grill--an eatery that's constantly featured in the newspaper gossip pages-- was pretty good; I had the Chile Rellenos. But Little Buddha? Quickly becoming one of my favorites. You guys wouldn't believe the decor, first of all. It's almost like wandering into a spacious deep-red-and-black temple with a huge Buddha statue hovering above the room. The bar is especially amazing--it has a rock-strewn "stream" meandering through the surface of the drinking bar itself, and it's so peaceful that I was tempted to camp out there. The exotic music adds to the experience, and the food...so yummy. One of my tablemates almost cried when he dug into his miso-encrusted Chilean sea bass. (That was pretty funny, but cool.) I had sushi and lettuce wrap, plus beef satay and tuna tartare. Loved it.

And, you know what? I've just made myself hungry. Hope you're having a great week, too.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Out the door!

MIDNIGHT REIGN is out the door! That's the second Vampire Babylon (previously Vampire Underground) book. I'll be starting the third installment in late June or early July. Do you think that means I'm going to take a vacation until that point? Nah. Here's what is happening next:

1. I recently sold a Blaze novella that will be a part of a "Blaze collection." This means you'll buy one regular Blaze and get three novellas that are connected by a theme. I'll blog about this one later, when I have a firmer handle on what's going on. It's due June 1, but I just got the assignment (I'm stepping in for someone who had to drop out, I think. Crystal-on-the-spot!). Since it was a short work, I was lucky enough to fit it in. Sounds fun. It'll be on shelves next February, at the same time NIGHT RISING, the first Vampire Babylon book, goes on sale.

2. I'll be doing a proposal (three chapters and a synopsis) for a Blaze that's due in December. I have no idea what it'll be about yet, but I need to turn this in to get the second part of my advance money. (The first part came when I signed the contract, the third part comes when the actual manuscript is accepted.)

3. Then I'll be working on another proposal, this time for Special Edition. I'm proposing three connected books, so we'll see if that flies.

4. After that, it's on to a new mainstream book proposal. I have a few ideas, but nothing firm yet.

(BTW, I'm really looking forward to this "creative proposal playtime." It feels good not to have a big deadline until October 15.)

5. Finally, we come to BREAK OF DAWN, book 3 in the Vampire Babylon series.

So that's what my next few months look like. I'll also be going to the RT convention (with a side-trip to Disneyworld) and the RWA conference in Atlanta. There might be another trip in store, but I don't want to jinx it....

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Red Rock awesomeness

The other night, I went to my first big Vegas party. It's not because I'm cool or anything--my mom is an avid video poker player and she gets invited to many, many events. This time, she received an invitation to attend the opening festivities for the new Red Rock casino, located near Summerlin way off the strip in Vegas.

So, dressed in cocktail wear (which means a little red dress for me), we acted important and strolled onto the property like we belonged there. First, let me tell you that Red Rock casino is gorgeous. They have a Swarovski crystal chandelier in the hotel lobby that would take your breath away if you saw it, and that's just the beginning. The whole place has a modern, Southwestern flair but it's comfortably exquisite at the same time.

There was free booze and grub, so that was the first order of business (gambling wouldn't start until midnight because that's when Red Rock's license went into effect). With a fizzy flute of Dom Perignon in hand, we wandered from restaurant to restaurant because they were open and serving hors d'oeuvres from their regular menus. It was a very smart PR ploy to attract customers once the casino officially opened. Then the big surprise hit: Sting would be playing poolside come 8:45.

Yes, I said Sting.

Oh. My. God. Do you know how much I've always loved this guy? I was a Police-head in my younger years, and I used to buy every album he made. As you can guess, the mini-concert was great--he played for about an hour and the songlist was made up of mainly Police classics. The crowd loved him, of course. I'd dragged my poor mom about fifteen feet away from the stage, so we could see how incredible Sting still looks (yoga and tantric sex obviously slow the aging process). Being so close also meant we had to deal with a bunch of rude, entitled people who thought it'd be okay to slime through the crowd and stand in front of all the fans who'd staked out their viewing positions early, but don't get me started on normal concert behavior. (Okay--I'll start a little. Just because everyone is in cocktail wear doesn't mean they act classy. I couldn't believe when a six-foot-tall man snaked in front of me and just stood there, totally blocking my view. Believe me when I say that didn't last long. Later, some lady decided that I might enjoy the taste of her hair in my mouth when she wormed in front of me. Unbelievable. And it wasn't like I wasn't already adhered to the backs of the people in front of me. Maybe I just look like the type of person who enjoys being stepped on and I invite it. Who knows. But... Ah, never mind. Rant over.)

After the concert, there was a fabulously hyper fireworks show. Seriously, they put about an hour's worth of pop and sparkle into fifteen minutes. Again, AWESOME. Following that, it was just a matter of time before the casino officially opened.

Did I mention that I saw Robin Leach, Dan Cortes (sp?) and the blond Jen from last year's THE APPRENTICE? And I didn't even need a PR person to get me into the party! Heh-heh. My mom is so connected.

If you ever get the chance to check out Red Rock, please do. The sports book has some major TVs and it's lovely. Quite the experience.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Just a little review: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Wow—I haven’t done one of these Crystal Says… type reviews in a long time! But here we go.

Now, as you read this, please keep in mind that I’m torn between not loving this movie and liking it just fine….

You can count me as one of the many big fans of the BBC’s five-hour PRIDE AND PREJUDICE miniseries. Everything about it seemed almost perfect: the casting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (swoon), the mannerisms, the costumes and tone. Jennifer Ehle, who played Elizabeth Bennet, brought out the one quality I probably remember the most about the main character—Lizzie’s subtle attractiveness. I seem to recall that her intelligence burned brightly in her eyes, and that was one big reason Mr. Darcy was drawn to her.

To be honest, when the newer movie version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE first came out, I had no interest in seeing it. Sure I haven't read the book in years, but I was perfectly content with remembering the miniseries. But then I started hearing great things, and I was swayed. Of course, I missed it in the theaters, so it seemed like a good DVD rental.

The key to watching this movie is just to forget the book altogether. Seeing as it’s an amazing novel, that was extremely hard to do, but I made an effort, because if you hold this movie to the standards of both the Jane Austen classic as well as the BBC version, you probably won’t like it. Now, I’m the first to say that I don’t know dip about the conventions or fashions of the time, but I’ve repeatedly heard that this movie gets them wrong. (Well, I did suspect that having Mr. Bingley coming into Jane’s sick room was highly irregular but…yeah. This was where I was positive that I must watch this movie for sheer entertainment value.) However, I wanted to just go with the flow, and having done so, I found that the movie was a really cute romance. Superficial, yes, but it moves very quickly and amusingly. Basically, it won me over with its spirit. I was determined to forget that Lizzie was supposed to be basically acceptable as far as looks went. (This is even referred to in the script, and it left me a bit puzzled as to how Keira Knightly could ever fit that description, even in a bad wig.) I was determined to forget Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (swoon) because Matthew Macfadyen was intriguing, although the script makes the character into a misunderstood hero rather than a man who comes to terms with his own weakness in character. And if the dialogue seemed a bit too modern at some points, I didn’t deign to care. This was just one of those times when enjoying myself seemed more important than nitpicking. After all, I can always go back to the miniseries and the book itself. Nothing can ruin my appreciation for those.

Worth your time? For a fun night—yes. But if that’s not how you like to take your PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, stick with the classics.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Cover for INNUENDO - July Blaze

Here’s the cover for my July Blaze, INNUENDO!!!

What do you think? At first, it didn’t catch my eye, but then I realized that it has a soft, classy overtone. Kind of hot, actually, with the drink ready to be taken. And I love the business card! It’s a great hook for the story since a lottery-style card drawing is what connects the “For a Good Time Call” series.

As you know, Nancy Warren and Alison Kent will follow INNUENDO with their own books, INDULGE and INFATUATED. All the stories take place in a San Francisco office building where “the Sisters of the Booty Call” gather weekly to a) draw men’s business cards out of a vase to secure a freewheeling weekend date and b) share their stories of the previous weekend’s dates. Imagine all the possibilities….

Hint: my book is about “the wrong business card.” I’ll give you more details as July approaches.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

MASTER OF WOLVES

Here’s another touring book from outoftheblogosphere.com! This one’s by the esteemed Angela Knight, so I know you’re already on the way to the store. Again, I’m having issues with my images—Think I need to take a computer class?—so if it disappears on us, please click the cover link to get a peek at the hero.

MASTER OF WOLVES by Angela Knight

(Berkeley Sensation, April 4, 2006)

When Jim London's best friend is murdered, Jim vows to catch the killer. Leaving it for the local police to solve is out of the question, because he suspects they are involved.

Jim is more than capable of taking action if they are -- he's a werewolf. Realizing the only way to investigate the department is from the inside, he decides to go undercover -- as a police K-9.

His "handler" is lovely Faith Weston, the only person on the Clarkston Police Department who isn't up to her neck in murder. But Faith has no idea her "dog" Rambo is a werewolf, or that the department she serves is rotten with corruption.

But it doesn't take her long to figure it out.

Excerpt:

http://www.angelasknights.com/masterofwolves.htm

ABOUT ANGELA KNIGHT

Angela Knight's first book was written in pencil and illustrated in crayon; she was nine years old at the time. But her mother was enthralled, and Angela was hooked.

In the years that followed, Angela managed to figure out a way to make a living -- more or less -- at what she loved best: writing. After a short career as a comic book writer, she became a newspaper reporter, covering everything from school board meetings to murders. Several of her stories won South Carolina Press Association awards under her real name. For more of Angela’s interesting bio, visit her website: http://angelasknights.com/bio.htm

REVIEWS

Website: http://www.angelasknights.com/

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wycliffe, Texas

I'm getting some great emails about THE LAST COWBOY, so thank you *very* much for taking the time to write! Seriously, you don't know how much I appreciate it. One question that has popped up is this:
Will there be any sequels to THE MILLIONAIRE'S SECRET BABY and THE LAST COWBOY (both of which take place in Wycliffe, Texas)?
Right now, there are no plans, but I'll be working on new Special Edition ideas just as soon as I finish MIDNIGHT REIGN. I've always entertained thoughts of writing Carlota's story; after all, she is Felicia's and Emmylou's best friend and her psychic abilities make her intriguing. She's fun and feisty, too. I also had someone ask if Deston Rhodes' brother (from TMSB) could have his own story since he had this millionaire-and-the-poor-girl backstory where he fell in love with a maid on Oakvale but was thwarted in his efforts to marry her by Daddy Rhodes. Since the brother is now married to someone else, I'm not sure I'll be touching that one. Maybe just assuming that he decided to take the lessons from Deston's romance and apply them to his own marriage will work? : )

One more thing--my designer is in the process of posting the A Season of Authors contest, so that'll be appearing very soon. I apologize for the delay, but it'll be up in no time!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

There's a light...

Three more chapters to go, three more chapters to go....

I'm almost there with MIDNIGHT REIGN (formerly DR. ETERNITY). And they'll be relatively short, fun chapters, too. But I still have mucho editing to do and to tell you the truth, I prefer writing the chapter itself to picking at the work I've already written. Yesterday I wrote thirty pages, so that did a lot to pump me up. Tomorrow, I'll be receiving the line edit for the first vamp book (NIGHT RISING) and I'm a tad nervous because I wonder what kind of changes the copy editors made....

So what's up after I turn in MIDNIGHT REIGN? A little dity I've just been contracted for: a novella for a Blaze anthology. The only thing I know about it is that the topic will be a Valentine's curse and it'll be released in February, 2007, the same month as NIGHT RISING. Then, I'll be developing some story ideas before diving into the third vamp book, DAWN BREAKING.

I'm off to do some of that revising now....

Friday, April 07, 2006

Titles?

I've heard word about the possible titles for my three Ace/Berkley vampire books! These haven't been finalized, but here they are....

Night Rising

Midnight Reign

Dawn Breaking

They pretty well reflect what's going on in each book, some of the themes and plot movement. Also, it looks like marketing is changing the original series title, Vampire Underground, to Vampire Babylon. They want it to reflect the "Hollywood Babylon" angle.

Next...the cover. I'm very eagerly awaiting it!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

PARALLEL ATTRACTION debut

This is a special release for me because, even though the great Pamela Harty is my agent, I also work with Deidre Knight on occasion at the Knight Agency. This is Deidre’s first book in the series, and I’m so stoked to read it…! (Also, you might have noticed that I'm having some difficulty with keeping the covers up here; if it does comes down and you'd like to see it before I get on the repair, please click on the cover link.)

PARALLEL ATTRACTION by Deidre Knight

(Signet Eclipse, April 4, 2006)

It has been years since exiled alien king Jared Bennett thought of anything other than his people's fight for freedom. Now his rebel force has the one weapon that can turn the tide against their enemy: the key to the secrets of time. Victory has never been closer-but one woman has the power to change everything.

Kelsey Wells can't deny that there is something unearthly about her fierce attraction to Jared Bennett. His revelations about alien wars and time travel can't possibly be fact-yet with every seductive touch, every searing kiss, Kelsey circles closer to the truth: that although Jared is exactly what he says, he hasn't told her everything. And when the future crashes into the present, Kelsey must decide if his deception will cost them the love that should have been their destiny.

Excerpt:

http://www.deidreknightbooks.com/pa_excerpt.html

ABOUT DEIDRE KNIGHT

Deidre Knight is president of The Knight Agency, which she founded in 1996. Since that time, she has grown the agency to national prominence, landing authors on every major bestseller list. Deidre began her writing career at age nine, when her award-winning essay on Barbie was published in her hometown newspaper, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has been writing in one form or another ever since. After nearly a decade of working with Knight Agency clients, helping them discover their creative potential, her fiction debut with NAL in 2006 marks the fulfillment of her own lifelong writing dream. She is excited to embark on yet another new and fulfilling creative journey.

REVIEWS

Debut author, Deidre Knight, immerses the reader in a world that’s believable, fascinating, and extremely sensual between two people who meld into one as their love escalates. The sensuality builds to a crescendo, the plot plummets your emotion then brings you back, while bating your wishes for more at the end. Completely mesmerizing, PARALLEL ATTRACTION leaves you hoping for more. – Romance Junkies

An intriguing new voice in paranormal fiction has arrived! Knight kicks off an exciting new series that explores the power of conviction and unintended consequences. This novel is chock-full of passion, betrayal and redemption and will certainly leave you wanting more! – Romantic Times

Without a doubt this is one compelling and absolutely phenomenal read! Knight's opening foray into the paranormal world is … intensely erotic, passionate, and riveting … In two words, "totally fabulous"!

I was instantly caught up in the heart wrenching betrayal of a precious love that was taken from two innocents. … I am so looking forward to seeing more stories … from an author who has brought a highly imaginative and provocative breath of fresh air into the paranormal realm! Brava! Overall Rating: 10 -- Marilyn of www.RomanceDesigns.com

Website: http://www.deidreknight.com/

The PARALLEL Experience http://www.deidreknightbooks.com/

Monday, April 03, 2006

Disney phile

Disney is my thing.

When I was a girl, I was obsessed enough to have a pristinely kept photo album of Disneyland postcards. Not of playtime Kodak moments, mind you, but of Cinderella’s Castle and the exterior of Pirates of the Caribbean instead. I was a strange child, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. It also shouldn’t be a shock to know that I am passing on my love of Disney to my niece and nephew.

So imagine my excitement when I tell you that, sometime around the Romantic Times convention, I’m going to “drop by” Disney World(!). It’s only an hour away from RT, so I figured I’d go for it. I haven’t been there since EPCOT Center opened, so I’m expecting major Improvement Shock. We’ll hopefully be staying at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, and I can’t wait to absorb the Garden District/Bayou atmosphere. I’m trying to solicit tips from all my friends (best time to park hop, great places to eat, quirky things to do) and if you’re wondering how I have time to do this during my recent writing schedule, you’re asking an excellent question. But how can you squash a dream? Nay, an obsession? This is what I ask you!

Anyway, I can’t wait. Just had to share my enthusiasm.

(!!!)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Scan-dahl

Remember how I used to blog about what I'm reading during certain projects, just to share my "process"? (Process--heh. That's a good one.) I thought I would do that today, too, even though I haven't had as much time to read lately. I'm not allowed to share the books I judged for the RITA contest (all seven of them) about a month ago, so that pretty much put the kibosh on recommending books for a while, but now I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things.

At any rate, you know my Vampire Underground series has some Hollywood flavor. (It's about a stuntwoman on the skids who returns to L.A. when she discovers her estranged dad is missing.) Since the series has been termed "vampire mystery fantasy noir," you know there's going to be lots of "the seedy-side of Tinseltown" stuff. Among other research, I'm reading THE HOLLYWOOD BOOK OF SCANDALS by James Robert Parish right now. It does a good job of getting me into that noir groove and reminding me that the public definitely doesn't see everything that goes on "behind the scenes."

The book is divided into eras, and I've heard a lot of these stories before (Clara Bow, the Liz Taylor/Eddie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds love triangle, all about Rudolph Valentin0). But there are a few scandals I didn't know very well, such as the Clark Gable/Loretta Young secret baby situation. I'm really looking forward to reading about Errol Flynn, too. In fact, that should be some damned good reading.

So, there you go. Isn't research just awful?