Saturday, June 30, 2007

September Cover: HER BEST MAN

Copyright © 2007 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. ® and tm are trademarks of the publisher

And that's my cover for September's Montana Mavericks release.

I have to say it's not one of my favorites. But the best-friends-turned-lovers vibe is there, so that's on target. And she does look happy about getting that ring, eh?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Revising the Vamps

So here I am, revising that Vampire Babylon novella that's going to appear in the FIRST BLOOD anthology next June for Berkley Sensation. Let me tell you, it's taking a lot longer than I anticipated. I wrote it over a month ago then set it aside. During that time, I decided to make several changes.

Yay.

This means I had a ton of notes and it's actually taking me longer to revise my chapters than it did to write them. This is not how it usually works for me, and it's frustrating.

At least I recently got to take a full day to brush up on research for the story, since it takes place in 1970s New York. One of the main settings is Studio 54, and it was pretty fun to look into the specifics of the crazy club. Sure, I watched 54, the movie, but it wasn't as helpful as you might think. In fact, it was an incredibly tame portrayal of what I've been reading about Studio (According to several sources, this is what the "initiated" called the club.).

Basically, it won't be a stretch for a reader to believe that vampires could have free reign in this place, and that makes it a really fun setting, with its "basement VIP room" and rumors of "Upstairs," where there were secret, private rooms for massive hedonism. There was also supposed to be a "Rubber Room," meaning the walls were rubber to ensure easy cleaning after the night's end. Uck.

Aside from my reading, I've also been watching my fill of 70s movies, just to get the vibe. It's crazy how dated films like SERPICO and DOG DAY AFTERNOON feel, yet they show that people haven't changed all that much.

Time to get back to it now....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An awesome contest!

You all might know Nicole from this blog, yes? If not, she's another cool person who watches HEROES and likes to drop in here! She's got an incredible contest going on her blog (and site) *and* she's got some books for you to check out. (Hot stuff!) Here's her e-addy so you can pay a visit, enter the great contest she has going, and wish her a happy birthday this month!

http://selenaillyriasthoughts.blogspot.com/2007/06/contest.html

Good luck to everyone....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

How about a sequel to THE ULTIMATE BITE?

This past week, I've gotten emails asking this very question. Am I planning a sequel to THE ULTIMATE BITE, which is the Extreme vampire Blaze that has already been sent to book club readers and is just now hitting shelves?

Well, here's the deal, and I'll be vague about the details for those of you who haven't read the book yet (but those of you who *have* read it will know exactly what I'm talking about). There's a certain character who, by the end of THE ULTIMATE BITE, is totally set up for his own book. That was intentional, because this character was very interesting to me. Same goes for his nemesis. Hence, when I got my line edit, there was a note at the conclusion that asks, "Can I expect ******'s story now?"

So I wrote the synopsis and turned it in with my other ideas for my new three-book contract. Thing is, the powers that be have to wait and see if Blaze fans in general accept the whole Extreme vampire angle. Based on the feedback I'm getting, it looks good to me, but that might not translate into numbers. Of course, if anyone wants to go to the eHarlequin site and mention their desire for certain types of books (not just mine, LOL), that would help, too, as the editors do check in there.

I'll keep you all informed on this blog and newsletters but there's hope! (And for those of you who have written me, thank you so much!)

Friday, June 22, 2007

HEROES Talk

Have you guys heard the HEROES news? They had a press conference yesterday to announce that the show wouldn't be stretched into May sweeps next year. It'll be ending in April instead and will be immediately followed up by HEROES: ORIGINS. The latter will be an anthology-type show, concentrating on a single hero per episode. (For you comic-book people, this sounds like a one-shot issue.) I'm totally on board with this plan because there won't be a big hiatus interrupting the flow of the series at mid-point. Evidently, the long wait chipped away at the program's ratings last year, and this is a smart counter-move to keep that from happening again.

But even more interesting news? Is that they cast David Anders. You know--Sark from ALIAS. (Time out for an endzone dance!) I *love* this actor and I can't wait to see him do his thing again, although it sounds as if he's going to play Hiro's samurai hero. I don't know if this means that Anders will be another hero who has done some time travel back into old Japan or...what. We'll see.

Here's a write up of the press conference. And when I go to Comic-Con, I'm hoping to attend a HEROES panel, so I'll report the content back to you all in about a month. (I'll be busting my butt to get to the LOST panel, too. The writers will be there to talk about the awesome finale, among other things!)

Have a great weekend, you all. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Russell Crowe: Sexyback

I can't tell you how many times I've used Russell Crowe as a "hero model." From Nick Cassidy in THE PREGNANT BRIDE to Sarge in THE HUNTRESS (with a little Eric Bana thrown in), I've pictured the actor as a brooding tough guy who has a haunted gaze. Remember him in THE QUICK AND THE DEAD? In GLADIATOR?

Remember how hot he was before he melted down and started playing things like smug businessmen who inherit vineyards?

Well, I'm happy to tell you that it looks like the old sex babe of my dreams is back. I have here a crummy YouTube copy of the trailer for 3:10 TO YUMA, but it's worth a watch to see Crowe's bad-boy enigma of a villain. I cannot *wait* to see this, if only for the return of an actor who is utterly compelling--especially when he's bad.

Enjoy. I sure will.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Interview with PNR

Here's an interview that was just posted over at the Paranormal Romance (PNR) Web site. You'll find a couple hints about what's going to happen in future Vampire Babylon books among other subjects. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

One Draft Down

I finished my latest Blaze rough draft today. This is the story that takes place on Route 66, and I'm calling it ROAD GAMES for now. It's basically about two thirty-ish gals who go on vacation, intending to see the Mother Road. Since this book might be in the Forbidden Fantasies "flash" category within Blaze, the heroines take part in the fantasy of being with a stranger.

Of course, as a romance, the story develops emotionally as well as physically while the concept of "who's really a stranger" is explored. I like that theme, but I also loved digging up my old notes and pictures of the trip Sheri WhiteFeather and I took on Route 66 a few years ago. We only made it to Holbrook, AZ, before we had to get back, but we did get to stay in that Wigwam Motel, where each room is a tipi. (Check it out.)

Unfortunately, my heroines don't make it as far as the Wigwam, and that bums me out, but there's action in roadside diners and quaint motels (Route 66 touchstones), the small western town of Oatman, and Grand Canyon Caverns. I visited all of them, and I'm so happy to *finally* write about their charms.

The only thing that would've made this book even more fun to write would've been the chance to travel the road again. But in 100+ degree weather right now? No way.

Have an excellent weekend, you all!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

CineVegas: Days Three and Four

I am saturated by films. Seriously. I'm to the point where I decided I would stay home today so I could let my mind catch up on all the movies I've seen this past week. In fact, I'd say that I'm perfectly content with the amount of films I've seen and, at this point, going to more of them is actually more about quantity than quality. I don't want to "do" this film or that film just for the sake of seeing it.

Know what I mean? Good.

So the past couple of CineVegas days have been great. I've really enjoyed all the films (except for one), and that's a pretty good track record. Tuesday, I saw more shorts, and they were grouped together into a "super icky" collection. I was totally up for that but, alas, most of them weren't stomach-turning, and this tells me that I've watched too many gross films. However, a great deal of the stories had a lot more to them than just "grossness," and I came out content. Same goes for yesterday's "Nevada Shorts" program, which featured creations by local filmmakers.

But what really struck me were the features I attended. One, HAVE LOVE, WILL TRAVEL, has been mentioned frequently in all the festival's "hall talk" (My term for all the people hanging out and chatting about the films). I kept hearing that HLWT was supposed to be "seedy and nasty," so I was absolutely there. Its subject matter concerns "dancers" (or, as some would argue, "hookers who take off their clothes and con their Johns into not getting any more than that"), so I awaited this seediness with bated breath. And did it live up to its reputation? Well, that seedy/nasty thing was there in all its graphic glory, but this movie was so much more. Poignant, heartbreaking, and tragic, and I while I was watching, I actually forgot about its reputation. The acting was natural enough to make a viewer believe that this wasn't so much fiction as a document of what happens nightly in L.A. It explores addiction as well as what it takes for a person to cross the lines they've drawn for themselves. If you ever come across this film, I'd suggest seeing it.

Then there was a more polished film, with an obviously bigger budget: LA VIE EN ROSE, which chronicles the life of Edith Piaf. You've heard her music--warbly, big-lunged, cabaret-dramatic and very, very French. I happen to love her stuff, but I didn't know the first thing about her life and what went into every note she sang. And...whoa. Girl led quite the crapfest. She was a sickly child, separated from her parents and raised in her grandma's brothel by prostitutes. (Not a joke.) In this brothel, she goes blind for a while. (Wait, there's more.) Then she's claimed by her father, who takes her on the road because he's a contortionist in the circus. (Really.) They're eventually reduced to entertaining on the streets for their food, and this is where Edith begins singing. After that, the adult Edith abuses alcohol, drugs, and sex while still singing on the streets. She's "discovered," and the movie goes from there, dipping into all her lows (and, believe me, she goes low) and highs. The thing is, when I walked out of the theater, I was uplifted. This is due in great part to the performance of Marion Cotillard, who is absolutely amazing as Piaf. She goes from spunky street girl to polished star to a near-corpse sitting in a chair as her body wastes away. (Piaf died in her forties, and it's nauseating to see her looking 100 years old when she should've still been blooming.) People often talk about "great" performances in movies, but those don't always live up to the hype. Well, I didn't hear any hype before I went into this film, and Cotillard blew me away. Now I'm hearing the hype, and I have to agree with it. The movie itself is evocative and it movies quickly for its 140 minutes. Highly recommended when it comes to a smaller theater near you.

And that's going to be it for me. I've had my free drinks in the movie lounge and I've filled my well with all these stories. But I'll be back next year, CineVegas babies. See ya then.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CineVegas: Day Two

Woke up very early, got my work done, then headed off to The Palms off-Strip again for my second day of filmgoing. Friday was a real pleasure, with THE GRAND and CHOOSE CONNOR. Yesterday was pretty decent, too, although the second film I saw wasn't really to my tastes.

My first showing was Shorts One, which featured about eight short films. Many people tend to skip over these showings, but I love shorts, just as I absolutely love short literature stories. (Make me choose between a Stephen King short collection such as NIGHT SHIFT or one of his longer works? It'll be the shorts every single time.) Shorts One had everything from a Tobias Wolff adaptation (THE HUNTERS, which was shot in stark black and white and packed a numbing emotional punch) to six African-American men on a porch telling jokes (BUSINESS JOHNSON--very funny stuff, the acting was great). There was even a short that used stick animation to tell the story of a guy named Bill, whose meds are whacking his mind (I don't remember the title, but it was funny and sad and very clever). So, in short, if you all ever get to a film festival, I highly recommend checking out these collections. If I get to go today, I'll be watching Shorts Two, which is supposed to be a bunch of gross stories. Yay!

The second showing was a film called CARELESS, and it's about a bored guy who works in a bookstore. He finds a finger in his kitchen one night and barfs when he sees it. From there, it's kind of a goofy romance.

We'll see if I make it today--fingers crossed!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

CineVegas: Day One

It's back: CineVegas, "the world's most dangerous film festival" at the Palms.

I loved attending last year's festival (I even posted my thoughts about its general vibe as well as some of the movies last June), so it was a foregone conclusion that I would go again this year. The event feels more crowded this time out, but that doesn't suprise me because it seems as if the advertising budget went up, and it looks like they attracted more stars and visibility. I think that's evident when you consider that OCEAN'S 13 opened the festival. Man, I hope this little gem hasn't already turned into Cannes....

Anyway, I got my Friday work done on time, so I decided to reward myself by going yesterday. Right off the bat, I scored two very good films: THE GRAND and CHOOSING CONNOR.

First, THE GRAND is one of those mockumentaries that follow in the tradition of THIS IS SPINAL TAP. The characters are blazingly colorful and have moments of truth in spite of their overkill. And they're hellaciously funny. Basically, the plot revolves around a big poker tournament in downtown Vegas, and if you've ever watched the game on TV, you'll be familiar with the ins and outs of the process. I, however, do not watch this stuff and I am a poker dummy, so I had no idea what was going on card-wise most of the time. But, thankfully, that wasn't a big deal. The games were still fairly suspenseful (sidenote: Zak Penn, the writer/director was on hand in the theater to tell us that the final game wasn't even scripted--the actors played for real and no one knew who the winner would be.), but the poker was almost beside the point. The real attraction was those loopy characters, including Woody Harrelson as a recovering addict who's playing to win back a casino he'd somehow lost, Cheryl Hines as a sassy female card sharp, Chris Parnell from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE as an absolutely hilarious genius who cannot shut up at the table, and even Werner Herzog--the wild German filmmaker--as "The German," a player who sacrifices small animals for luck. Those actors are just the tip of the iceberg, as many others show up, too. Their surprise appearances are all a part of the fun though, so that's all I'm going to tell you.
If you ever get to see this one, you're going to get some good belly laughs. Definitely worth your dough.

The second movie, CHOOSING CONNOR, was interesting in execution as well as background. It's a story about Owen, a 15-year-old overachieving idealist who wants to be a politician. When a local congressman, Lawrence Connor, comes to speak at a ceremony for an award Owen has won, the upstart arranges to meet the politician. Owen's smarts impress Connor, and the older man invites the younger to come to his office for a chat. Things snowball from there, and this film turns into a disturbing, sad, and even creepy look into what's wrong with our political system these days. The politician is played by Steven Weber, lately of STUDIO 60 fame (and you'll remember him as Brian from WINGS), and he's the perfect blend of appealing and smarmy; his Connor is a man who doesn't really know political content as much as he knows how to work "the system," and this is scary as hell because you know it's not a fictional or isolated portrayal. The young leads, Alex Linz and Escher Holloway, are strong, too--Owen (Linz) is the audience's link to the story, and he's a solid actor. Holloway plays Connor's nephew, and he'll break your heart. Most intriguing is the fact that this movie was written, directed, and produced by a group of young filmmakers. At the Q&A session following the screening, the director, Luke Eberl, looked like a teen, even though he's older than that. He began writing this when he was 17 though, and it's cool that he constructed such a thoughtful yet accessible movie at this stage.

I won't be attending CineVegas again until Monday, after I've gone through a weekend of nose-to-the-grindstone stuff. Movies are my just reward! ;)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bookshelf: Merry Widows Series

Now, I'm not a big Regency reader, and I sort of know the difference between what they call "Regencies" and "Regency Historicals." (The "historicals" have sex in them, right?) And it seems that most of what's on the historical shelves lately are either Scottish Highland heroes or Regency Historicals (which I'll be referring to as RH from now on), and I miss all the cowboys and knights.

But I was recently directed toward reading an ongoing series called Merry Widows, by Candice Hern, and I've been turned into an RH reader.

So far, only two out of what I suspect will be five books have been released, JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS and IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT. LADY BE BAD will be out in August, and I'm looking out for it. What I really like about this series is the connecting premise of five young widows who work together on organizing charity balls but have a pact to be "free women" who enjoy sex. First, I've come to love all those ton parties they attend because there's lots of intrigue going on behind the polite manners and etiquette. I've learned that there was a certain language that the ladies used with their fans (holding it a certain way invited a man to come over and chat from across the room, for instance--don't you wish we had that now?), and I love all the matchmaking that goes on, courtesy of all the chaperones on the dance-floor sidelines.

Of course, Hern develops interesting characters and puts them in hot little situations. The first book features a friendship between the hero and heroine, and when she decides she's going to go out to get herself a lov-ah, the hero gets jealous and contrives to be the man who ends up in her bed--without her knowing his identity. Fun! The second book is about a widow who takes up with a younger man who's been pretty much selected to be her niece's husband. I can't wait for the book that's going to feature a more prudish widow who's going to be matched with a notorious cad--I think that's actually the August release.

Seriously, I'm Calgoned when I read these books. (Remember those commercials? Calgon, take me away? Yeah.) Definitely recommended, especially for great summer-in-the-sun reading.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Since I've gotten feedback from some of you re: THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE cover and Lewis Marcus, the cover model, I'm going to post what he looks like! He comes to this blog to read what's going on, and he's really enthusiastic about this book's release.

First the cover:



And then the real deal:



He's worked on soap operas, been in print ads, and has acted in commercials, as well. He'll probably mention all this in his upcoming blog, along with his cover shoot experience. I told him that we could post that blog entry in a couple of weeks, so I'm looking forward to that!

Also, I've already gotten mail about THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE. One reader asked if the main character's brother, David, will have his own story. The answer is yes--David is the hero of MOMMY & THE MILLIONAIRE, which is the first book in my new Suds Club miniseries. It'll be released in the latter part of 2008, with the two other series books following very closely.

Hope you all are having a fun week....

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What's what

Just taking a moment to catch up....

As the release for THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE (SSE) and THE ULTIMATE BITE (Blaze) approaches (July), I'm getting my promotional needs in order. I've received my author's copies for PLAYBOY, but not BITE. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that the warehouse got my address wrong for the first time ever and my kind neighbors had to come over and hand deliver the box to me. I'm hoping the same thing hasn't happened with BITE, because I want to get those copies out for review and I don't want to bother my nice neighbors again. Gah!

But with the bad comes the great: the cover model, Lewis Marcus, for THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE contacted me and we're going to do some joint promotion. This is his first cover, and it's really exciting--I hope this is just the first of many for him. He's an articulate, amiable man and I've asked him to blog here before PLAYBOY is released. How cool is that? If everything works out, we should get a behind-the-scenes look at his experience doing the photo shoot and what he's got going in his career. I'll be posting his "real life" picture along with the cover so you can see what a great job the artist did of rendering his image.

Besides promotion, I'm gearing up for a crazy work month. I'm wrapping up a proposal for a Special Edition, and tomorrow I'll be diving into the entire draft for ROAD GAMES, a Blaze that takes place on Route 66. Usually I'll take a couple of days to ease into a new story, but I don't have that luxury this time. Thanks to my brilliant talent for scheduling, I won't have a day off for a few weeks. (Whine, whine, whine. ) Then I'll be revising my Vampire Babylon short story for Berkley Sensation, which will be published in June 2008. And in the midst of all this? I am attending the CineVegas Film Festival. I plan to wake up very early to get everything done so I can be there during the afternoons. I'll be writing up reviews for the films I see, too, but I like doing that. Can't stop myself. :)

Hope your weekend was awesome, guys!

Friday, June 01, 2007

STAR WARS in 30 Minutes

So my favorite part of STAR WARS Celebration IV was this little show called The STAR WARS Trilogy in 30 Minutes. And that title is literal, because the cast does indeed perform the highlights from the first trilogy in that wee amount of time.

Throughout the long weekend, it was obvious that word of mouth had spread, and the lines started getting longer and longer. People were even turned away unless they came early (and what's a STAR WARS function without at least one line you get to wait in, I ask you!).

I was with my friends Rich and Jason, who are huge, HUGE fans of this production. They first saw SWin30 when it started at the Coronet in L.A. years ago (I hesitate to say how long because it makes me feel like a hag.). Anyway, they raved about the show, and I went with them for another look-see. Hilarious. Then they kept going back. Much later, when the previous STAR WARS Celebration (III, in Indianapolis) booked SWin30, Rich and Jason made it a point to be at a showing every day. Well, for Celebration IV this year, Rich and Jason, uber-fans, did the same, and I went with them for three of the performances because I am that much of a fangirl.

It's easy to see why Rich and Jason would devote themselves to this production. First off, the performance pokes fun at the trilogy, but it does so in such a loving way that everyone is in on the jokes. Naturally, being a SW lover makes every second all the funnier, but the action is so unbelievably non-stop and hyperkinetic that you're sitting on the edge of your seat. Seriously.

Second, every actor hits their characterization with impressive precision. Leigh Goodoff as Threepio is, of course, a girl, and she's fussy and posh enough to conjure the droid's beloved shut-the-hell-upedness. Same goes for James Snyder as Luke Skywalker (whose golly-gee performance makes you love Mark Hamill all over again), Maia Peters as Princess Leia (I love the British accent she affects during the "Tarkin Foul Stench" scene.), and Mark Kelly as Han Solo (He uses the perfect amount of who-gives-a-rat's-ass-about-this-dialogue Harrison-Ford inflections, and his carbonite freezing position? Bwaaaaa!). And I don't dare ignore the rest: Scott Mullin, who plays Vader/Chewbacca (Yes, two roles, and each one would crack your silly self up.), Mark Reilly as Obi-Wan (as well as a very femmy/sarcastic Emperor that you have to see to believe), Jason Major as Jabba and Lando (and a ROFLOL Tauntaun), Bailey Chadwick as Boba Fett and other utility roles (awesome Needa death scene!), Chris Cookson, who doubled as stage manager and Nien Nunb (She might have to get herself a head shot and live the dream after this.), and Patrick Gorman as a fierce Yoda--and the creator of this play. (Bravo!)

Why don't you click here (or I suggest cutting and pasting http://www.myspace.com/starwarsin30minutes because you'll get to see a video without blogger to mess it up)? On this page, you can get a hint of the awesomeness.

Oh, and a side note? I found out that James Snyder (Luke) got the lead in CRYBABY, which I already told you I'll be seeing at the La Jolla Playhouse in November. What a small world!