Archive for May, 2009



Just a minute
by Jessa Slade on May 18th, 2009

Currently working on: Breaking Book 2 of The Marked Souls
Mood: Remember Stitch from Lilo & Stitch? Yeah, that

Who has free time anymore?  Not me.  And yet somehow I manage to eke out a few minutes every so often to visit a few websites that amuse or inspire me.  This is for my mental health, you understand.

The Onion

I was introduced to The Onion — which bills itself as America’s Finest News Source — when I picked up a huge bound version of their fake newspapers.  Several hundred pages of fake (and yet strangely true) news later, I was numb from laughter.  Their online edition is much gentler.  Not because they water down their stinging, biting, bitterly absurd view of the world, but at least you have a chance to recover from your aching belly (from laughing) and your watering eyes (hey, it’s an onion, after all.)

One of their videos went viral recently.  Perhaps you saw it:

Video »
Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As ‘Fun, Watchable’
Star Trek Long time fans of the Star Trek franchise say JJ Abrams’ enjoyable, engaging prequel betrays what Star Trek is all about….more»

Some of their other recent headlines:
Paranoid Optimist Just Knows Someone Is Out To Get Him A Present
Misbuttoned Coat Makes Perfectly Sane Woman Look Like Raving Lunatic

What I love most about The Onion is their ability to fill 18-36 column inches of ridiculousness and keep a straight face the entire time.  I feel that way somedays; who doesn’t?

Etsy Dark Side

I busted a co-worker guiltily blanking her monitor one day.  When I forced her to confess, she introduced me to Etsy, the small designer arts and crafts site.  Thus, she got her revenge.  From Etsy, I discovered Etsy Dark Side, which showcases works dark and dreamy.

Even when I’m not in a position to buy (this thrice-blasted economy) I enjoy looking at the twisted brilliance that goes into some of these efforts.  Consider this gorgeous necklace, perfect for a steampunk heroine, or this… ?!:

The freaky little head is a pirate treasure box from The Pink Pirate shop, made of Fimo clay and glass eyeballs (only where needed, of course). 

I dabble in beading, painting, sculpting, etc. myself, so I am constantly amazed by the imagination and craftsmanship I find on Etsy Dark Side.  Plus, it pleases me to know that for every porcelain Lladro of a slender shepherdess with her adorable flock, on Etsy Dark Side there is a riotgrrl statuette with a battle axe.

Lastly, although I am not a huge fan of reality television (because I have my own dramas, thank you very much) I am drawn to PostSecret.  There’s a series of books based on the premise of anonymously sending a postcard of your deepest secret to a stranger who, priest-like, collects them without judgment and — not priest-like — posts them for other strangers to read. 

Since Frank, the creator, gets 1000 postcards a week, obviously a lot of people have secrets to share.  Every Sunday, a few more secrets appear on the blog.  Most of them would make suitably tortured characters in a romance novel.  Some of the secrets are funny, and some have lessons, including one that made a reader wake up and leave her abusvie boyfriend:

Those 3×5 postcards — like the scraps of information that float around the interwebs — might just be time wasters — or life savers.

Have you ever discovered something on the internet that changed your life, or just tweaked it a bit?  And remember, lives change in small ways too.

Straight Talk
by KimLenox on May 15th, 2009

Last October, my friend Cindy Miles and I took a trip to New York. It was a fun girl trip! Neither of us had ever been to NYC. We stayed in a hotel, ate lots of awesome food, saw a show and wandered around seeing what we could see.

I loved NYC so much, I almost wore my I “HEART” NYC pajama pants and my foam Statue of Liberty crown home on the plane.

While we were there, we also lunched with our agents, and then on another day, our mutual editor at NAL. That was fun and exciting and … gosh, EEEEK! I have to admit, a little …hmmm, I don’t want to use the word frightening. Sobering? Yes. That’s probably a better word. Because for all the fun we have writing, and our love of the romance genre, there’s nothing like standing on the sidewalk and looking up at the Penguin Putnam offices in New York City to make you realize publishing is serious business.

Publishers invest a lot of time, effort and money into the books they produce each month. So what Allison mentioned in her post about realizing you’re a link in a chain that can’t be broken is very true. If you miss your deadline, or turn in a shoddy book, that affects everything and everyone.

I think that’s why I can always count on both my agent and my editor to talk to me straight about my current project and my manuscript revisions.

Early on, I would overanalyze every word in every email my agent or editor sent to me. I always thought, “Gosh… they are so blunt.” Sometimes I’d get my feelings hurt that they just didn’t see a certain part of my story the same way I did. After all, I’m the arteeest!

But then reality struck and I realized that they, more than anything, hope for my success. Now I really appreciate the directness, the plainspeak. We all share the ultimate goal of making my books the best that they can be.

On the subject of revisions, before I was published, I imagined that revisions were when the editor would say, “Don’t do this [referring to some part of my book]. Instead do THIS.” But one thing I’ve found, at least with my agent and editor, is that they both let me know what doesn’t work for them and why, and they leave the solution and rewrite in my hands. I wanted to mention that because I think it’s important that readers know that regardless of skilled editorial guidance, authors do retain creative ownership of their books. At least in my experience! (Anyone have anything to add on that?)

Does anyone have any questions about working with an agent or an editor?

You’re Not Alone Anymore
by Our Guest on May 14th, 2009

As you can see from the posts so far this week, becoming published falls into the category of “be careful what you wish for.” The “CALL” is the most fabulous moment of your life, but it also means that as a writer you’re in for some SERIOUS change. The biggest one: no more writing in that happy oblivion where you and maybe your critique group gets to decide what works and what doesn’t. Because now, you’ve got people!

fans

Yes, you’re part of a team now that consists of your agent, your editor and any assistants she might have, the copyeditors, the marketing, art and publicity departments, the sales reps, accounting, the typesetter — that’s no means an exhaustive list but you get the point. There’s now a whole mob involved in the thing you used to do all alone in a corner of your house.

The weird thing is, as the author you’re both at the top and the bottom of the food chain.

rk-028-the20food20chain

At the top: because without you, the rest wouldn’t have a reason to exist. There would be no product to sell, edit, market, typeset, etc., no readers eagerly awaiting your next release, no revenue coming into the company. We are the creators – the heart and soul of the industry, and as for all those other people, they’re kind of like your entourage, taking care of business and seeing that things move along smoothly so you can keep creating. Nice, huh?

Yeah, but…

At the bottom: On the other hand, until you hit the bestseller lists and start selling in huge numbers, you pretty much have to do what your told. When your editor says revise, you don’t argue about why you really shouldn’t have to. If the powers that be decide your particular subgenre isn’t selling well, you’ll either be “encouraged” (enticed, compelled, ordered – you pick) to switch to something else or…well, let’s not go into the alternative. And when times are tough, unfortunately it’s often the authors who first feel the effects of downsizing (once again we’re faced with that unspeakable alternative).

But let’s stay optimistic. Like I said, you’ve got people! And what do those people want to do? Figure out how to make your books sell like hot cakes. You editor really isn’t trying to drive you batty; she asks for those revisions to bring out the full gleam of your artistic brilliance, and she’s there to provide an objective viewpoint when you’re too deep into the woods to see the trees. On a professional level, it’s an oddly intimate relationship. She’ll come to know your inner workings as a writer in a way that no one else ever will, because she won’t read your books once or twice, but three, four, maybe half a dozen times or more. She’ll learn all your habits — both good and bad. She’ll know when you’re giving your all and when you’re not. She’ll be your toughest critic and your biggest fan, and she can make you want to cry – both when she asks you to revise and then again when you thank her as you accept the award for the book she made you revise.

Uh oh, have I scared you? I didn’t mean to. Actually, I always wanted to work with a hands-on editor, and darned if my wish didn’t come true! :lol:

So whether you’re published or not, do you like a lot of feedback as you write, or are you that free spirit who likes to take to the open road on your own?

The business view
by Sharon Ashwood on May 12th, 2009

An author is:

• The kid in the back of the class who zoned out during Social Studies
• A neurotic, self-obsessed introvert
• A neurotic, self-obsessed publicity hound
• A small business contractor
• All of the above.

People tend to forget that putting books into the universe is the work of many, many people. The author’s name is slapped on the cover, but he or she is only one participant in a long chain of events and contributors. Put another way, a book is a commercial venture in which the author is contracted to supply content, kind of like raw logs or bushels of wheat. We flog words and everyone else makes them into finished books.

Who all is involved? There’s an entire art department, in-house publicists, a marketing department, and a sales force who, in addition to the editorial folks, all have their two cents to say about how the book is going to be packaged and “positioned” in the marketplace. There are probably more players but, hey, I don’t get invited to the meetings. I’m in a back room someplace, making words.

juno

Most of my contact with the publisher is via the acquiring editor, aka She Who Rules, aka she who represents the publisher during contract negotiations. I am only one of her many, many authors. She’s a lovely, warm person who saw the potential in my writing and lifted me from obscurity to Published Authorhood. I don’t take that for granted for one second. She absolutely, literally changed my life. Some days around deadline I’m more grateful than others, but still …

The native guide through the publishing jungle is an author’s agent. She/he handles all the money issues, the deadline issues, asks the hard questions and is basically the go-to person if you need an answer or an advocate. The relationship you have with your agent is key. You have to be able to trust them with your career. You have to know they’ll get your jokes. They have to be kind enough to tell you when you’re being an idiot. My agent deserves a prize for putting up with me.

saintbernard

There are also distributors, copyeditors, publicity firms, booksellers, accountants and about forty thousand other people who are involved in the biz. An author is just one part of it all, a small business that operates on contract. Like any business, we rise and fall on our ability to supply what the marketplace wants. There are nail-biting moments, but there are champagne moments, too.

No, writers don’t get to be anything but businesslike, courteous, hardworking, and humble grown-ups. Just like at a real job. Because this is a real job, even if we can do it in our jammies.

Different, but Good
by Annette McCleave on May 12th, 2009

Like Jessa, I’m still pretty new to the agent/editor working relationship. This time last year, I had neither. I was still in the thick of the query process, having recently finaled in the RWA’s Golden Heart contest.

I think the most significant discoveries I’ve made since signing with my agent and then subsequently with NAL have been 1) the cheerleader effect, 2) real deadlines, and 3) new expectations.

1. The Cheerleader Effect
For years and years, I wrote just for myself. Yes, I had critique partners and chapter-mates who encouraged me and educated me, but like most writers 99% of my writing time was spent alone and that meant the only person cheering me on was myself. I don’t say that to generate pity; I actually believe this is a critical skill for a writer—developing the unshakable need to succeed. Without it, I’m not sure you can finish a book, let alone make it out of the trenches and into the publishing world.

But when I got a very enthusiastic response from my soon-to-be-agent last spring, my world flipped upside down. Suddenly, someone else besides me thought I had talent. Not those few nice paragraphs that I had received from agents before, but a WOOHOO, I WANT TO SIGN YOU excitement. A few months later, I got another enthusiastic response from my new editor. Wow. The world sure looks different from this point of view. Very pretty, very sparkly.

The high didn’t last, of course. My usual raft of self-doubt has returned, but at least now it’s tempered by little whispers of ‘yeah, but your agent really likes it’ and ‘yeah, but your editor thought your book was worth buying’.

2. Real Deadlines
After I signed my contracts, I had new deadlines to meet—some short, some long, none of them moveable. I actually didn’t have any problem with this part until I hit number 3.

3. New Expectations
My agent is very interested in my work. So interested, in fact, that she wants to know how things are going and wants to read the chapters of my new book when they’re polished. Of course she does. She’s wonderful. Problem is, she now represents an expectation I didn’t have to meet before. I used to be able to write whatever the heck I wanted—in fact, before starting a new manuscript, I frequently gave myself permission to write crap, so that I didn’t have my internal editor sitting on my shoulder saying: not good enough, do it again. But now I had my agent, sitting quietly in the background, waiting for my manuscript.

I also had my editor, who loved my first book, waiting with eagerness to read the second. Plus, the second book now had to satisfy any readers (no matter how few they might be) of my first book. Worst of all, I wanted to write a better book than the one I wrote the first time. I wanted to develop as a writer.

Dear me. Expectations. Lots and lots of expectations—where before there were none.

It took me a long time to leap the hurdle of those expectations and settle into my writing routine. I began my second book at least fifty times, never satisfied that it was right. But eventually, I was able to stop obsessing and move on. All I had to do was let my characters speak through my keyboard and let their lives take over mine; all I had to do was fall in love with my new hero (sigh) and cheer on my new heroine. All I had to do was remember why I write.

My overall conclusion? Being a writer with an agent and an editor is different, but good.

That’s about as philosophical as I get. :smile:

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has let someone else’s expectations tie them in knots. Am I? Reassure me. Tell me your story.

Playing the professional writer
by Jessa Slade on May 11th, 2009

Currently working on: More freakin’ revisions!!!
Mood: Dangerous

This week’s topic here at Silk And Shadows is ”Working with editors and agents.” I’m technically a professional writer now and should be qualified to discuss that topic, but even typing the headline makes me laugh. And it’s a nervous laugh.

Because I still don’t feel very professional, and I dread the day my editor and agent realize I’m a fake.  (The even more terrifying truth, of course, is that they already know; but we’re all politely withholding that news from me for the time being.)

I have a journalism background and worked on newspapers for years, so I thought I’d be relatively prepared for the business side of writing.  After all, reporters have to churn out daily copy, consider column inches a necessary evil, become working experts in many fields, meet deadlines and dropdeadlines and deadasadoornaillines — all vital skills for a professional writer.

But I also worked as a telephone psychic for a little while, and I think what I learned there is more applicable to being a professional writer than being a professional writer was.

What I learned as a telephone psychic that might help anyone trying to fake it until they make it:

tarot51. Being a waitress is important too.

I never was actually a waitress, but working as a telephone psychic made me think I should’ve tried being a waitress.  Real waitresses, of course, are snickering at me right now, because they know anybody who sits at a phone all day, taking one call at a time, could never manage a six-top, three two-tops, a grease fire, and the kitchen manager’s mental breakdown, all before 9:30 am. 

Being a psychic dreaming of being a waitress taught me that being a writer dreaming of being a… well, a bestselling writer is kind of pointless.  You do the thing you are doing, and you find the beauty, the art, the Zen of what you are doing.  Out of that comes a certain grace that will carry you through the rough patches.

Also, be polite and positive to everyone if you want a tip.  And get them their fries while they’re still hot.

2. Believe in yourself. (Or at least let others believe in  you.)

I have no idea why I decided to apply to be a telephone psychic.  I’d read Tarot cards for myself and a few close friends, but that hardly seemed like a career path.  (Hmm, kinda like writing stories for myself, yes?)  But I went to an informational meeting, and the psychic in charge picked out me and a man who totally looked the part (slender, bald, intense pale eyes) as having excellent potential.

Woohoo, she thought I had potential!  (Hmm, kinda like that high school English teacher who liked my stories, yes?)  So I bought a scented candle, shuffled my deck, and started taking calls even though I’d never seen a dead person or found a lost dog.  But I pick up a  lot of strays, which counts, I think. 

If the clothes make the man, then the scented candle makes the psychic, maybe.  Or at least that’s the way it worked for me.

3. Of course you’re a fake. So what?

I mean, how many people are truly psychic?  And how many are playing one on TV?  Whenever I took calls, I always explained that I believe the power to fully understand the energy at work in your destiny (much less change it) didn’t lie with me, or with my Tarot cards for that matter. Only the caller had that ability. Which, honestly, didn’t make me much of a psychic. More a conduit.

And that’s what I’m doing now, as a storyteller. I get the words down, so that technically makes me the writer, but the story…  Sometimes the best I can hope for is to take what’s given to me, say please and thank you, and scribble faster.

Have you ever had to “walk the walk” when your knees were shaking?  How’d you pull it off?  Did you have a (ahem) friend with a fake ID?  How did she play the part?  Inquiring good girls want to know.

The Best Laid Plans…
by KimLenox on May 8th, 2009

…of mice and men often go awry. Here it is after 6:00 p.m. on Friday, and I’m just now writing up my post for today!

Which, oddly, fits into the topic of the week. A day in the life of a writer.

I’ll start my day yesterday at noon. I work full time, but met another writer friend for lunch.

12:15 – Lunch with Kim Frost! Ate food. Talked publishing industry.

1:25 – Drove back to work. Texted Cindy Miles about cool book proposal she’s working on.

6:20 – 7:30 – Arrived at Thing 1′s soccer practice, and afterward Thing 1 and got takeout for dinner, and brought it home to share with husband and Thing 2 who were at her soccer practice. (Just got back from Orlando, so I’m borrowing Thing 1 and Thing 2!)

7:30-8:00 Tidy house. Read Mail. Review Things’ homework.

8:00 – 9:00 Thing 2 and I review e-mails, print labels, and put packages of bookmarks together for people who requested them off my website. Also, signed books to winners of contest on my website. Update my kimlenox.com blog. Answer a few emails. Deal with some volunteer stuff for my local RWA chapter.

9:00 – 9:30 Bedtime ritual with Thing 1 and Thing 2.

9:30 – 9:45 – Shower (Sorry! TMI? I didn’t want you to wonder where the missing 15 minutes went!)

9:45 – 11:00 Wrote three whole pages for book that is due in July. They are good, keeper pages…but I really needed to write at least five.

11:15 – Bedtime! Snooze.

12:30 – 4:00 Wake up a couple of times, and think about story and upcoming deadline in altered sleep context. Eeeek! I’m SKEERED!

5:45 – Awake time! Get myself and everyone (with wonderful husband’s help) ready and out the door.

8:00 – 12:20 Work. Think too much. Brain Cells that should be used for writing evaporate.

12:20 – 1:15 Race to grocery store for Mother’s Day cards (and lunch!). Go to Post Office and mail packages from night before, and said cards. Open laptop on lap, and while trying to eat Italian Wedding soup from grocery store deli, drive around parking lot until the WIFI signal from Office Max appears on my screen. I am careful to avoid the WIFI server titled, “IWILLHACKYOU”.

1:15 – 1:25 Slurp soup and drink Odwalla smoothie while pulling up Silk & Shadows to blog about A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER, only to realize I forgot to bring my password to get on the blog. Yell curses, and finish soup. Quickly drive back to work.

** Note. When I am not posting a blog at lunch, and don’t have an errand to run, I will write in my car and eat my lunch brought from home. I can usually get 1-2 pages out on my lunch hour.

1:3(4) – 5:10 – Work.

6:10 – Get home. Kids are hanging out at friends’ house for the evening. I get started on this blog post.

Next, I’ll send out some emails for my local RWA chapter meeting tomorrow, as I’m the PAN (Published Author Network) liaison, and organize a number of things for each meeting.

And then I’ll go get ready for my date with my husband. It’s to say GOODBYE to “Nice Kim” before I slide into Deadline Hell (starting tomorrow!)

So there’s a day in my life! And it’s pretty typical! Pages today? No, but I’m planning to write a STACK tomorrow. And Sunday. Wish me luck!

A Day In My Perfect Life
by Our Guest on May 7th, 2009

Ah. Daylight peeks through the slight gap in the satin brocade curtains surrounding my four-poster bed. As I turn on my side, the gentle hiss of the goose down mattress lulls me back to sleep… An hour or two later, I hear sounds, the soft footfalls of the maid as she carries in a pot of chocolate and warm scones with clotted cream and lemon curd.

creamteas
Begin each day with a healthy breakfast, I always say.

While I eat, she lays out a morning gown, soft white lawn sprigged with tiny yellow flowers along the ruffle. Soon I descend to my morning room, where I sit at my dainty escritoire and pore through my correspondence.

writing
Hmm, whose soirees shall I attend? Which balls? So much to think about, I find I must ring for the maid to bring a cold compress and a tonic.

Now I change into a carriage dress of rich gros-de-Naples silk and a pelisse trimmed in fur, for it is time for a carriage ride in Hyde Park, and then off to make my morning calls. It is now two in the afternoon, hardly what one would term “morning” you might remark, but I would hasten to point out that no civilized human being would ever dream of paying a morning call any earlier that that. How gauche! By the by, I do quite realize that one or two of the ladies I intend calling upon may not, for various reasons, be receiving, but allowing my groom to add my card to their salver will quite fulfill my obligation to return the calls they paid me whilst I too was not receiving.

Now for the best part of my day: shopping on Bond Street. We’ll begin at Picadilly and work our way north to Oxford Street. Can a lady ever have too many bonnets or gloves or reticules?

newhats_2

And I must remember to stop in at my modiste – surely my gown for the new queen’s coronation must be ready by now…

Good heavens, what is that incessant ringing noise? Now someone is nudging me – how dare they? Stop, stop I say! I…

Crap. Nothing but a dream. It’s 6am, time to get up, rouse my daughter, make breakfast, drive her to school (because she’s scrambling to finish up a project due in, oh, about an hour and a half and will therefore have to miss her usual ride), then home again, write blog, check email (our version of morning correspondence), make obligatory phone calls (our version of morning calls), throw in some laundry, work on revisions, shop for dinner and a mother’s day gift for mom, run home, tidy up house, drive daughter to violin lesson (hopefully she’ll get a ride home from school or I’ll have to add that to my list), run home, work a little more on revisions, make dinner, remember to finally throw the laundry in the dryer, etc., etc.

Guess I won’t be going to that coronation, huh?

Special guest – Jennifer Rardin!
by Sharon Ashwood on May 6th, 2009

once-bitten-twice-shy1

I picked up Jennifer Rardin’s first book on a “hey, that looks fun” basis, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Her characters are irresistible, her vamps are mesmerizing, and her plots keep me up way past my bedtime. What’s better than that?

The best part about participating in a blog like this is it gives one license to contact your fave authors and force them to answer questions. Better yet, they show up and give away stuff–Check out the end of the interview for the loot-related rules.

I can’t think of a nicer mid-week treat, so without further ado, please welcome Jennifer Rardin!

bitten-to-death

Jaz is a wonderful character with a very clear voice. How has she evolved from the time she first stepped into your head?

Jaz started life as a shy little penguin with two daddies . . . wait a sec. I think I might be channeling some other writer. Or possibly Sesame Street. See what happens when you write about the supernatural all the time? Ya just get weird.

Which might be a good way to describe Jaz, but never within her hearing, because she would so kick your ass. That, at least, hasn’t changed since I first heard from her. At the time I was writing Once Bitten, Twice Shy, the first book in the Jaz Parks series. I’d started it in the third person, because I wanted to get a big chunk of the story from the perspective of the vampire hero, Vayl. But Jaz was such a smartass–opinionated, funny, and loud enough to make your ears pop–that she forced me to rewrite the whole book from her point of view. At the time she was all about the J-O-B and surviving her twisted history.

Now that I’ve begun writing Bitten in Two, the seventh book in the series, I can say she’s dealt with a lot of the issues that were tearing her up inside then. That she’s surrounded herself with good people who would help her get on down the road if she could just figure out how to trust them. She still has a long way to go before we can call her whole, but at least she’s still cracking me up.

Your male characters are delightful and Vayl is a delicious dark hero. For those not familiar with the series, tell us a bit about him.

What a nice comment! I am so buying you chocolate when we meet!

I do love my guys, especially Vayl. He was raised among the Rom (more commonly known as gypsies–although that’s not really a nice word to use for them) and, as a result, his family traveled widely throughout Europe during his years as a human. When he was thirty-eight two major events changed him forever. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t begun the series, but I will say he became a vampire in 1751, and with the advent of each book we learn a bit more about how he spent the interceding years.

Bitten to Death, gives a great perspective of how he spent 108 years of his life as a member of a Vampere Trust in Greece. Bitten in Two, which releases next spring, will give us the most detailed look yet at what he was like in the eighteenth century.

I think the most important details to remember about him are that he’s smart, sexy, and holding onto the last scraps of his humanity with both hands.

biting-the-bullet

Villains are every bit as important as the heroes. Without giving too much away, what drives the villains in your stories and how do those forces shape the future for your characters? Do you see a unifying thread amongst the bad guys?

I think my villains have a lot in common with terrorists. They want to pick America up and break her over their knees. Then they want to gather up all her freedoms and make a big bonfire out of them. Vayl and Jaz have been hired to stop the worst of those people.

The unifying villainous thread is that all the bad guys live in two worlds. Ours. And another one that Vayl calls the Whence. We’ll learn more about this world of magic and power as the series progresses.

You have a very delicate balance between romantic tension and a rip-roaring action plot. What choices do you have to make to maintain that equilibrium? Do the characters ever try and stray from their appointed paths?

The choices I make regarding the balance between romance and action all happen pretty much at gut level. It just feels like the right time, or if I’m lucky the story has led into a wonderful personal moment, and there we are, watching two people try to make a relationship work against momentous odds.

Oh my gosh, you should’ve seen Jaz and Vayl at the beginning of the series! They couldn’t keep their hands off each other. My editor had to spray them with a garden hose a few times! Now we all know each other much better, so all I have to do is raise an eyebrow and everybody steps right back in line!

bite-marks

What’s coming next in the series?

Orbit US & UK will be releasing Bite Marks this October 29. Fans of Jaz & Vayl can look for another quick read (they usually gulp them down in a day, two at the most) during which our heroes will be working their hardest case ever. No, I’m not exaggerating. It takes place in Australia, where fanatical gnomes have targeted one of NASA’s most valuable assets. But that’s not all (you knew I wouldn’t stop there, right?). Jaz is also forced to wrestle with a personal demon unlike any she’s encountered before.

The crew will include our old faves: Cassandra, Bergman, Cole and Jack the malamute. And I’ll introduce a couple of new characters who I think you’ll love . . . and hate!

Also, the first three books of the series will be coming out in mass market paperback in the US (with new covers even) this summer! Here’s the schedule!

Once Bitten, Twice Shy–June 30, 2009
Another One Bites the Dust–July 28, 2009
Biting the Bullet–August 25, 2009

We’re including a brand new Jaz Parks mini-mission at the end of this version of Biting the Bullet. I really enjoyed writing this one, so I hope you all get to read it!

What’s the one talent that Jaz has-supernatural or not-that you’d like to borrow for a while?

Jaz has a knack for putting even the most upsetting events aside as long as she needs to so that she can concentrate on the chaos in front of her. Then, when she has a free moment, she can pull those events out of temporary storage and deal with them properly. I’d love to be able to do that.

Where can readers find you?

In the bathroom. No, I’m not kidding. My bladder must be the size of a raisin. Plus, for some bizarre reason, I get my best ideas in the shower. But when I’m done, no doubt I’ll be online because I’m freaking addicted to the Internet! Wahoo for the World Wide Web!

I’ve got a kicking website that I update at least twice a week, and I do respond to comments, so feel free to drop me a line at http://www.jenniferrardin.com. My Facebook fansite has been a lot of fun as well. We can gossip about the books (and Jensen Ackles–yay Supernatural!) at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Rardin/19356585468. And if you’re into MySpace, I regularly visit my site there at http://myspace.com/jenniferrardin. Can’t wait to chat with you!

Giveaway!

In celebration of this summer’s mass market release of books 1-3 in the Jaz Parks series, I’ve decided to give away one copy of the trade paperback version of each book. The first two (Once Bitten, Twice Shy and Another One Bites the Dust) will be ARCs (which are considered first editions, and so are quite collectible), while Biting the Bullet will be a regular copy. I’ll also autograph each novel. Let’s make it extra fun and pick three winners, shall we? So we’ll give one book to each winner, okay? Cool!

The Writer’s Life
by Annette McCleave on May 5th, 2009

My real life is boring. Honestly. My day is filled with many of the same activities anyone else’s life entails: Cleaning out litter boxes, doing laundry, cooking dinner, and providing taxi service to my daughter. I see you yawning, so I’ll stop there.

Authors—okay I can’t speak for all authors, just me—are not glamorous. In fact, because my writing is done primarily at home, my lifestyle revolves around cotton pajamas, an ultra-comfortable but horrendously ugly housecoat, and a sublime pair of slippers. Occasionally, I rise to jeans and a t-shirt. And make-up? Hah! Who is going to see me besides the dog and my computer screen?

That’s why I write. Because I can imagine all sorts of lives way more interesting than my own.

In my writing life, the heroes always take out the trash and never wail because supper isn’t ready. The heroines never leave their bank card at home when they go to the grocery store and never realize just as they’re getting on the highway that they forgot to put gas in the car. The heroes never leave their wet towels on the bathroom floor and they love to cook—every night if necessary. The heroines slay villains left, right, and center, and still manage to keep the house clean and smelling like vanilla.

Truth is, I love my life, unglamorous as it may be. Being a writer is the second best job in the whole world (for me, being a mom comes first). Each and every day, I visit strange and wonderful places, meet interesting people, beat down bad guys, and reward my hero and heroine with their ultimate desire. It doesn’t get much better than that, right?

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Okay, blog readers, time to fess up.

How many of you have gotten so wrapped up in a book (whether writing or reading) that you forgot to do something important? I once go so lost in my writing I forgot to go watch my sister’s kids while she and her husband went to an appointment—one of them ended up staying home. I apologized profusely for a week. Thankfully, they know what I’m like and they forgave me. Anyone else?