Archive for the 'Contest' Category



And for my next trick…
by Jessa Slade on June 28th, 2010

Currently working on: Staying on top of the raspberry and snow pea harvest
Mood: Wondering how many dishes include both raspberries AND snow peas…

So we’re halfway through the year.  (Well, halfway plus a little bit, but I’m always behind.)  This is usually when I pull out my New Year’s Resolutions, laugh hysterically, and reassess.  What are my NEW New Half Year’s Resolutions?

When I look at what I have to get done before the end of the year, the hysteria becomes more pronounced and other living beings in my household find heavy objects to find under.  But the trick is always first things first.  So in honor of this week’s blog topic of “My next project,” I bring you my first task: Announcing the winner of last week’s Ava Gray SKIN GAME giveaway.  Random.org picked:

Spav, who is distracted by Twitter. Aren’t we all?  Congrats, Spav, and thanks to all who commented.

Now, onto the next task…

I’ll be attending RomCon, a new convention for romance readers and writers, in a couple weeks (which, like the end of the year, is coming faster than I anticipate, I know).  I’m very much looking forward to stalking some of my favorite authors, hanging with friends, chatting with readers, and signing books.  If you live in Denver or have friends, family or Facebook acquaintances who live in Denver or anywhere in the Rockies for that matter, come join us!  The giant book fair is open to the public. Details:

RomCon
Crowne Plaza Denver Airport
15500 East 40th Avenue, Denver, CO
Saturday, July 10, Noon Book Fair
Meet Jo Beverley, Christine Feehan, Julia Quinn, Lori Foster, Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh, Carly Phillips, Susan Mallery, Melissa Mayhue, Catherine Anderson, Jodi Thomas and dozens of other fabulous authors [Note from Jessa: You'll see I am not a listed author at this point in my life, but at least I am fabulous] our multi-author booksigning sponsored by Borders. Bring up to 3 books from your own library for your favorite author to sign!

But before I go, I have to finish writing a short story from the world of the Marked Souls.  It’s the possession story of Corvus Valerius.  I’m going to give away limited edition prints of the story at RomCon before I post it to my website.  If you want a copy (when I finally finish it) email your snail mail addy to jessa at jessaslade dot com with the subject line: Corvus.

Writing his story has been harder than I thought it would be.  Okay, all writing is harder for me than I think it will be.  But Corvus’s tale is especially hard because… Well, as soon as I started writing him, he became my hero. 

There’s a saying among writers: Every villain is the hero of his own story.  That’s been true of Corvus through the first two books of the Marked Souls and it’s even more true when we see how he gave in to temptation — and his demon.  What do you think, does evil always believe itself in the right, or sometimes does evil just say, hell yeah I’m evil?

I’m also running a contest/asking a favor/assigning you an enviable task at my personal blog.  I need to find a royalty free picture of Corvus for the cover of the short story.  If somebody finds a shot I can use, she’ll get a signed copy of SEDUCED BY SHADOWS or FORGED OF SHADOWS.  You can read the details here

See you (hopefully) in Denver!

Soft focus
by Jessa Slade on June 21st, 2010

Currently working on: A free-read short story from the Marked Souls
Mood: Murderous (in the storyworld, not real life!)

Writers write.

It’s one of those sayings that frustrated writers lob at each other like a water balloon full of lemon juice and razor blades.

But sometimes it isn’t always that easy.  (Kind of like that metaphor.) 

Writers write. 
Writers try to write. 
Writers at least sit at their computers.
Writers at least sit at their computers with their fingers on the keyboard.
Okay, writers at least blog.

The hardest part of writing, for me, is focus.  When I write, distractions are like… like the ants that are currently marching around my office window in search of… I really can’t tell.  Hold on while I go look…

Apparently the ants want Monster Girl’s mostly-chewed cow thigh bone.  This bone has been in my office for nigh onto two years now, along with enough other pieces of cow to reanimate most of a bovine, given enough electricity and mad cackling.  Although if I count correctly, this particular cow would have five legs.  Whatever.  (I do remove the bones when we have houseguests, because nobody likes to sleep on an inflatable twin mattress in an abattoir.)  Why the ants would want this bone now…  Probably they are distracting me from something else they really want.  Like my bucket of cookie dough.

Speaking of distractions, see how easy it was to get distracted from this post on the hardest part of writing?

(In case you were curious, the ants are odorous house ants.  (Tapinoma sessile. Subfamily: Dolichodorinae.  I Googled it just for you.)  They earned this name from the scent of rotton coconuts they emit when crushed by a wildly wielded cow thigh bone.  Or, obviously, any other blunt object.  This infestation does not indicate that I’m a failure at housekeeping (although I am).  All of Portland is built on a giant anthill.)

Aside from the ants, one of my most common distractions is, not surprisingly, books.  I have a lot of books around me.   A lot of good books.  It’s a hazard of the job.  A lot of good books within arm’s reach.  Which is a hazard of a small office.

Why, look, this good book just fell into my hand.  It’s a signed copy of the first book in Ava Gray’s Skin series, SKIN GAME.  The second book, SKIN TIGHT, came out this month, and you do NOT want to be left behind.

SKIN GAME starts like this:

Kyra held the guy’s balls in the palm of her hand. Literally.

Just for a second as she brushed by him, but it was enough. His eyes widened, and she knew he took the touch as a sign he’d get lucky after he won her last hundred bucks. The crumpled bill lay underneath his, weighted by a cube of pool chalk.

Poor, stupid mark.

See, THAT is why I was distracted.  Leave a comment about what distracts you most often and you’ll have a chance to win the signed copy of SKIN GAME.

Now what was I… Right, distractions. 

I first learned about writing in flow (a focused — emphasis is mine –timeless state where creativity comes “easily”) from reading Susan K. Perry’s WRITING IN FLOW.  Perry writes a creativity blog for Psychology Today online.  I sometimes go read that when I’m feeling distracted.

The book reads like a fairy tale to me, a tale of princesses whose words fall from their fingertips like rose petals and diamonds.  I even love the word “flow,” the way it sounds and the way it looks.  Flow…  Flooowww. 

I’m easily distracted.

Back to the ants.  These are actually scout ants.  So they do a lot of backtracking and wandering in circles and…  Seem familiar?  Yeah, to me too.  Can’t quite place it though…

You know who would like my ants?  Mark Moffett, called the Indiana Jones of entomology by the National Geographic Society.  Who wouldn’t want Indy to come steal all the ants in her office?  I heard Moffett interviewed on NPR (he’s pimping a new book ADVENTURES AMONG ANTS) and his ants are way cooler (also meaner, bigger and did I mention meaner) than my ants, and also more focused.  They can skeletonize large dead things, like cows, which would no doubt impress Monster Girl.

Sadly, I don’t have a signed copy of Moffett’s ant book to give away, but remember to leave a comment for SKIN GAME.

So anyway, it’s not that I’m always distracted, it’s just that

The Fitness Instructor’s Guide to Writing Fast
by Our Guest on June 3rd, 2010

Note from Jessa: I got to dance with Marie-Claude Bourque at RT in Columbus this year, so I can attest to her fitness!  She’s willing to give away a copy of ANCIENT WHISPERS to one lucky commenter, so you can experience her wonderfully evocative writing yourself!

mcb-photo-verysmallWhen it comes to writing fast, face it, unless we are specially gifted, it all comes down to motivation and how much time we spend putting words on the page.

I spend 15 years as an AFAA certified fitness instructor, the last 5 of those as a coordinator and trainer of instructors. I learned a thing or two about motivation, because really, taking the steps to stay fit and healthy requires a lot of motivation.

So here is what I taught my fitness clients and class participants and how you can adapt it to find the motivation to be more prolific in writing (and, as bonus, learn some fitness tips).

Keep your goals intrinsic:

Fitness: This means that your goals should be things that you can do something about as opposed to goals that involve someone else or external factors. I can have a goal of losing 10 pounds by next month or looking like Heidi Klum by my birthday but I’m fighting a lot of things here, my metabolism and my genetics. It is impossible with that goal to reach success. If I say I’ll exercise 4 times this week, or take my latte nonfat for now on, the goal is completely under my control. If I do fail, it’s my fault.

Writing: Similarly if my goal is to sell my first book within the year, hit the NYT list in 5 years or become as famous as Nora Roberts, I am not setting myself up for success.  However, I can be quite successful if I chose to submit my manuscript to ten agents this month, or my proposal to my editor by next week or finish my 2 completed novels by the end of the year. It’s all under my control.

Write it down:

Fitness: Most successful fitness professional write down their progress. In an exercise or a food log, in a notebook, calendar or on a smart phone, it doesn’t matter but it seems that people who track down what they are doing tend to think more about what they are about to eat and are motivated to see their progress on paper. I lost 40 pounds of baby weight twice by writing down everything I ate. It works.

Writing: We can do this in writing to. Track your daily word count or pages written, whether on a calendar that you see every day or in a special notebook, by coloring blocks on a chart, using a word count meter online or posting your accomplishments to your social networks, whatever works for you. Seeing the number add up every day is very motivating.

Make it social:

Fitness: I always tell my participant to make dates with friends at the gym. If you know your best friend is there, you can’t change your mind at the last minute. She might be upset. Planning for coffee afterwards with a bunch of pals makes you more likely to go because it’s fun. Having a running buddy who picks you up at your house also gives you no choice but go ahead with your exercise.

Writing: Writing is more solitary but you can make it social. Why is Twitter so popular with writers? You can meet a writer friend at the coffee shop to write, you can have a writing buddy that you email in the morning then at the end of the day to encourage each other or you can belong to goal oriented group like Amy Atwell’s Goal in a Month groups. It’s a lot more fun when you are not alone.

Get your stuff ready ahead of time:

Fitness: I like to keep my gear close by and accessible. If I am not spending 15 min. looking for my gym socks, I am much more likely to stick with my daily walks. I like to have my clothes ready if I know I’ll exercise in the morning and I would always pack my gym bag in my trunk in the morning when I used to work outside to head straight to the gym before going back home. In college, I would pack my locker with a fresh supply of all my gear for the week including swimsuit and rackets, so I could just go there and decide what kind of exercise I would do on the spot.

Writing: I write first thing in the morning and I am not blessed with an office. I found that when I put my notebook, pen, and laptop all ready for me to write, I am much more likely to do it. If you keep your material organized and easily accessible in an obvious reminder that you need to write now, you are more likely to do it.

If all fails, buy something.

Fitness: I used to tell people to go buy some nice exercise wear when they felt their motivation slipping. Yes exercise it hard, but we might as well look pretty while doing it. Trust me, it works. Plus if you’ve invested some money, you’re imposing a little guilt on yourself to actually use the stuff.

Writing: I cured my writer’s block last summer by downloading a song each time I would finish a scene. I figured the most it would cost me would be $75 for a whole book. Pretty cheap! It worked for me. Soon I was writing one-two scenes a day and even started to forget to buy songs because I was having so much fun writing. Find a little treat that you can get once you’re done, it might help!

Just do it

Fitness: In the end, there are no tricks. That’s why Nike got its trademark bang on. You just have to get there and do it. Don’t think. Learn to shut that part of your brain that moans and complains that you are tired and will start tomorrow. Get out there and exercise. Do it first thing in the morning (early exercisers are more successful at keeping up with it) or head to the gym straight after work. Don’t get comfortable, do it. Do it for 5 minutes, hey you might actually stick with it for 30 min. but if not, at least you got into the habit of doing it. It does get easier.

Writing: BIC: Butt in Chair. Is there any other way? Again, just do it. Don’t think about it. Sit and stare at the blank page. Even if all you do is sit there for your allotted time and think about your book, you are being productive. Find times to do it when you are so tired there is nothing more you’d like to do than sit down and daydream (I like early morning and right after my run).

So now, make a date with yourself and write!  (or exercise or both!)

—————————————

mcb_ancientwhispers-original-mediumMarie-Claude Bourque is the American Title V winner and author of ANCIENT WHISPERS, a sensual gothic paranormal romance filled with sorcerers and Celtic priestesses in search for eternal love in modern time. She worked as a climate research scientist, a scientific translator and a fitness expert until she turned to fiction writing. She draws her inspiration from the French legends of her childhood and a fascination for dark fantasy.

ANCIENT WHISPERS, a Dorchester -Love Spell release is available now wherever books are sold. Find more at www.mcbourque.com and don’t forget to enter the contest for her month-long virtual release party at www.mcbourque.com/launchparty

Release week!
by Jessa Slade on May 31st, 2010

First of all, today is Memorial Day here in the USA.  I hope everyone celebrating has a good BBQ, safe travels, and a chance for a quiet moment of remembrance.

Currently working on: Almost release day!
Mood: Whee!

This week’s topic here at Silk And Shadows is “the hardest part of writing.”  But I’m hijacking the thread, because this is a celebration week for me.   Book 2 of the Marked Souls, FORGED OF SHADOWS, comes out tomorrow, June 1, 2010!

978-0-451-22977-9_ForgedOfShadows.indd

The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, with the Marked Souls caught in the middle, but the new girl doesn’t play by old rules…

Liam Niall never meant to be a leader. Barely surviving the horrors of the Irish Potato Famine with body and soul intact, he escaped to Chicago…where he lost half his soul and gained a wayward band of demon-possessed warriors. Now, as the talyan face a morphing evil, Liam grows weary and plagued by doubt-until a new weapon falls into his hands. Her name is Jilly Chan. To save her demon-ridden soul, Liam must win her to his battle…and his bed.

Waging a one-woman war against the threats to the street kids she mentors, Jilly won’t be any man’s woman or weapon. But Liam-with his hard eyes, soft brogue and compelling hands-is a danger to her rebellious independence…and her heart.

These two halved souls sharing one fierce passion will sear a fresh scar across the city. Who’s in danger now?

“[F]or readers who love J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, the Marked Souls series will hit the spot.”
–4 Stars RT BOOKReviews

This is only my second book, but so far, it seems to me that release week  is one of the EASIEST parts of writing.  Because by the time release week rolls around, it’s too damn late.  Everything has been done.  The story is written, edited, wrapped in a manly chest — or backside, as the case may be — printed, and shipped to the stores (hopefully) to appear on shelves.  From thence to fall into book baskets everywhere (again, hopefully).

Sure, there are other things for me to do: Bite my nails, obsessively click refresh on the Amazon ranking page, self-medicate with chocolate syrup (I already ate all the cookie dough).  But the story itself is done.  All that remains is for someone, somewhere, to read it.

If YOU want to read some of it, you can:
Check out the first chapters here.
Or read the alternate beginning here.
Or even buy it.

This is the moment (okay, months) of truth for a story.  I’ve heard of writers who say they write for themselves, but I write to share.  The release of the book into the wild is my chance — finally! — to share.

I sincerely hope you like it.

To celebrate, I’m giving away a $25 bookstore gift card this week.  Just tell me which of the two beginnings to FORGED OF SHADOWS that I posted in the links above you like better, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win.  Tell a friend about this giveaway, and have the friend enter your name in her comment, and you’ll both be double entered for a chance to win.  Thanks for celebrating with me!

The Draw of the Dark Side
by Our Guest on May 20th, 2010

Note from Jessa: When Elisabeth Naughton told my writing group about her first adventure romance trilogy, she called it “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone,” which is like saying chocolate ganache meets dark chocolate.  And now she has a new series paranormal romance starting, which is like saying chocolate ganache meets dark chocolate with chocolate sprinkles.  And she’s giving away a copy today, so read up and leave your comment.

elisabeth-naughtonThanks so much to the gang at Silk & Shadows for inviting me to be with you all today! 

If you’ve read any of my previous books you know that I’m a romantic suspense author who has recently shifted to the dark side and is now writing paranormals as well. The first book in my Eternal Guardians series – MARKED – released this month. Someone recently asked me, “Why the change?” and I thought about the question for a minute, but couldn’t answer. It’s a simple question, I know, but the only answer I could come up with was not one I knew the questioner wanted to hear. I mean, authors are supposed to know why they do everything they do, so to have an author say, “I dunno. I just write the books that come to me,” I knew my answer just wasn’t gonna cut it. 

That, of course, is a cop out answer (even if it’s true). And since readers seem to want to know why things change (as my editor says… “Okay, why is this happening again?”), I’ve decided it would be in my best interest to have a list of answers ready and waiting for just such a question. 

So here it is, my top ten list for shifting to the dark side. 

marked-final-400x60010. Look at that cover. Do I need to have another reason for wanting to write paranormals?!

9. Special powers come in really handy in the climax of a paranormal book. As an author who ALWAYS gets stuck here trying to make everything work out, I can tell you it’s much easier to throw in an electrical storm or zap someone with lightning fingers to get out of a bind than it is to save the day with plane ol’ Tom, Dick & Harry. 

8. Superhuman sex. (I do write romantic paranormals, after all.)

7. I get to write about snarky gods. They seem to be able to get away with anything they want. Who knew? 

6.   Looking for a little danger? You don’t need a serial killer on the run to amp up the tension. That’s sooo over done. Throw in a seething daemon instead. Seven feet tall, horns like a goat, face like a cat, ears off a dog and lots of claws? Oh man. So much more fun! 

5. Sure, romances are great, but when the two main characters are fated to be together and hate each other at the same time? That just adds an extra level of tension that makes the whole romance that much more interesting. 

4. The fact I can throw in a Fury (or two or three) whenever I feel like it (Yes, I am Fury obsessed). And this time they’re real winged creatures with snakes in their hair, razor sharp teeth and a rabid need for blood, not simply stone carvings of the creatures. 

3. I can write really twisted scenes and blame the genre. (“What? You think that’s too sick? Yeah, but it’s a paranormal. My readers will expect it.”) 

2.  Superhuman sex (did I say that before?) 

And the number one reason I decided to write paranormals: 

1. They’re just plain freakin’ fun! 

I never expected I’d have so much fun writing this series, but every day I’m excited I get to take my world one step further. While I love romantic suspense and don’t plan to give up writing in that genre (as soon as I turn in TEMPTED, book 3 in my Eternal Guardians series, I’m jumping back into a romantic suspense novella for Kensington), I’m thrilled I get to write about heroes and gods and prophecies and soul mates. The possibilities in a paranormal are endless, the danger is epic and the romance seems a thousand times more intense when other-worldy dangers are lurking around every corner.  

So why did I shift to the dark side? The answer is clear: Why the heck wouldn’t I?   

What do you love most about paranormal novels? What draws you to them again and again? I’ve got a copy of MARKED to give away to one lucky commenter today! 

***

 

Your browser may not support display of this image. A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, heralded by Publisher’s Weekly as “A rock-solid debut,” was recently nominated for two prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America in the Best First Book category and the Best Romantic Suspense category. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Learn more about Elisabeth and her books at www.Elisabethnaughton.com.

No OFF button
by Jessa Slade on May 17th, 2010

Currently working on: Argh, look behind you!.. What? Oh sorry, never mind.  My mistake… What was the question again?
Mood: Focused as a laser beam

No, I’m kidding, I have been working.  Hard.  I’ve been composing guest blog posts in preparation for my blog tour to support the release of FORGED OF SHADOWS next month.  (Which will be here before I know it.  That’s what’s behind us–the relentlessly creeping Time Monster!)  One of the interview questions I had to answer was: What do you do when you’re not writing?

I thought about it for awhile.  And couldn’t come up with anything. 

If I’m not writing, I SHOULD be writing.  After all, I have the life many writers long for–a published book and another on the way.  To not write seems disrespectful.  Guilt makes not writing not fun.

So to circumvent the Guilt Monster (second cousin to the Time Monster) I often try to find a way to make my non-writing activities support my writing activites.  Dog walks are brainstorming sessions.  Reading is research.  Twitter (http://twitter.com/jessaslade) is networking.  Buckets o’ cookie dough are much-needed energy.  Naps are…well, cookie dough only takes you so far, doesn’t it?

Even my other creative pursuits have taken a back seat to writing.  The little sketching I’ve done in the last few years has been of the horde-tenebrae monsters in my books or settings when I can’t quite picture the staging.  I haven’t picked up a paintbrush at all.  Only my beading has resisted the all-encompassing suck of The Book, mostly because I’ve been making Possession in Pearl earrings–from demented, weirdly shaped pearl sticks–to use as blog tour giveaways.

earrings

I’m always glad when I blow off my guilt and sneak in an utterly non-writing project because it was a personal beading breakthrough that I think really opened some doors in my mind when it came to my writing.

See, I’m a perfectionist.  Nasty habit, that.  Striving for excellence is a worthy goal, but perfectionism will drive you mad.  For a long time, I would string beads to make a necklace…and then unstring them because they weren’t quite right.  I was constantly on the lookout for the “perfect” bead to complete a given project.  I amassed more and more beads, but it was impossible to be sure I had the “perfect” bead because–as many beads as I had–I didn’t have them all.  What if the “perfect” bead was still out there?  Time to come unstrung again.

Then one day…  I’d like to say I stopped being stupid.  But really what happened was a poverty-induced Christmas panic.  I had decided to use up some of the ridiculous amount of beads making jewelry for my female relatives.  And now I had a deadline.

Suddenly, “perfect” was less pressing than “wrapped, packed and shipped.”  I learned to come to peace with the pieces I had.  And they were perfectly lovely.  At least according to my mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt, who I’m sure were utterly objective.

Now when I’m writing, when I feel the urge to look for the perfect word, to wait until I have perfectly visualized every element of the story, to rail at myself for being less than perfect, I think of my beads.  To be lovely, to come to life, they have to be strung and hung around someone’s neck or dangling from someone’s ears.  And I’m the only one who can make that happen. 

I think most people have beads rolling around the drawers of their life that should be out for the world to admire.  Maybe not perfect, but shiny or sparkly or intriguing or whatever is good enough.  How do you support the creativity in your life?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a pair of Possession in Pearl earrings similar to the ones pictured above.  I’m making another pair as soon as I finish this post.  Hey, I can’t write ALL the time.

Pulling It All Together
by Annette McCleave on May 4th, 2010

Although I try not to analyze my writing too intensely as I write my first draft, there are a couple of things that I remain conscious of throughout the first draft. I don’t expect to get it all right on the first pass, but staying aware of these items helps me pull the story together:

1. Is there conflict on every page?
It can be small conflict or large, but without tension, I worry that the scene will be a yawner. Besides I’m fond of torturing my characters. :grin:

2. Is the protagonist active in pursuit of his or her goal?
One of the first critiques I ever got was from the fabulous Jo Beverley. I won the critique in a contest. I’ll never forget one of the comments she made about my manuscript: “Neither [the hero] nor [the heroine] do anything to bring about the triumph. They are pawns.” Naturally, I’m now eager to ensure my characters are not feathers on the wind–that they take an active role in determining their destiny.

3. Does this scene drive the plot forward?
Those detours I sometimes take on my journey to the end of the story? Scenic? You bet. But not always productive. In one book, my editor said to me, “Could you make this scene shorter?” Being the professional that I am, I whipped out my magic slicer-dicer and removed1000 words from the scene. The alarms bells didn’t ring until I got her follow-up comment, “Could you make it a bit shorter?” Uh-oh. I loved that scene, but when I took a good hard look at it, I realized it didn’t drive the plot anywhere. It was a scenery snapshot. So, I took the whole scene out.

4. Did I end the scene/chapter with dramatic intent?
In my first draft of my first romance manuscript, I ended the first chapter with the hero going to sleep. Then I joined the RWA and went to a chapter meeting where one of our seasoned authors, Laura Byrne, said (paraphrasing), Never end a scene with a character going to sleep unless your intent is to put the reader to sleep. Ever since then, I strive to end each scene with a sense of anticipation.

5. Where’s the romance?
I love writing action scenes—battling evil, blowing things up, dealing justice to the bad guys. But I write romance because I love the romantic play between my two lead characters. To blend my interests effectively, I know I can’t lose sight of the romance. This doesn’t mean injecting romantic interludes in inappropriate spots; it means always being aware of what impact events will have on the romance. And circling back to point 1, it means making the relationship as conflict ridden as possible.

My first drafts are first drafts. I don’t remember to do all the above as I write—and sometimes I’m simply too close to the story to see the issues. But keeping these points in mind helped me final twice in the Golden Heart and sell a series to a publisher.

Speaking of selling, today is the official release day of Bound by Darkness, the second book in the Soul Gatherer series. To celebrate, a signed copy of Bound will go to one of this week’s commenters. I’ll draw the name using random.org at the end of the week. Good luck!

Cover lovin’
by Jessa Slade on March 22nd, 2010

Currently working on: Organizing a writing challenge for my Romance Writers of America chapter
Mood: Inspiring

Writing can be a lonely endeavor.  The stereotypical writer (okay, ME) spends a lot of time at her keyboard, mumbling to herself.  On rare occasions, she is booted — blinking mustily — into the sun to confront other people.  People like… readers.  Oh noes!  What to say?!  (This is especially terrifying to some writers — okay, ME — who will be attending in the next four months three booksignings, two conventions and a conference where there will be LOTS of readers to talk to — yikes!)

So we decided (barricaded safely behind the interwebz) that this week’s topic is “Questions we’d like to ask readers.”

And my question is “Does Liam have a great butt, or what?”

978-0-451-22977-9_ForgedOfShadows.indd

This is my second cover for the second book in The Marked Souls series.  And it was every bit as nail-gnawing exciting as waiting for the first cover.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, with the Marked Souls caught in the middle, but the new girl doesn’t play by old rules…

 

Liam Niall never meant to be a leader.  Barely surviving the horrors of the Irish Potato Famine with body and soul intact, he escaped to Chicago…where he lost half his soul and gained a wayward band of demon-possessed warriors.  Now, as the talyan face a morphing evil, Liam grows weary and plagued by doubt.

 

Then a new weapon falls into his hands.  Her name is Jilly Chan.  To save his talyan and her demon-ridden soul, Liam must win her to his battle and his bed. 

 

Waging a one-woman war against the threats to the street kids she mentors, Jilly stands her ground against danger in all its guises.  She won’t be any man’s woman…or weapon.  But Liam—with his hard eyes, soft brogue and compelling hands—is a danger to her rebellious independence…and her heart.

 

These two halved souls sharing one fierce passion will sear a fresh scar across the city.  Who’s in danger now?

Book 1 had Archer’s chest.  Book 2 has Liam’s butt.  My goodness, what will Book 3 show? ;)

That was a rhetorical question.  My real question to readers was going to be something along the lines of “How important is a great butt cover when you decide whether to pick up a book?”  But I decided that’s a dumb question (and yes, there are dumb questions) because OF COURSE a great cover is important.  Maybe not the deciding factor, but a beautiful, intriguing or shocking cover can inspire the hand to reach for it.

And most writers have zero control over the cover.  Actually, there’s a lot that the writer doesn’t have control over, like — for a completely random, not-desperately-whorish-at-all example, ahem – the importance of preording FORGED OF SHADOWS at major bookstores…

amazonbarnesnoblepowellsborders

But I do have some alleged, nominal control over me, myself and I.  And I since I will have to inspire readers IN PERSON (did I mention terrifying?) my question to readers is this: 

“What do you want from authors in real life?  What makes a great author/reader interaction?”

Besides chocolate, I mean.

To sweeten the pot in a non-caloric way, I have a signed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of FORGED OF SHADOWS to give away.  It comes with a Pepto-pink cover similar to this font color, not Liam’s handsome butt, sorry.  Comment on any post this week for a chance to win.  Heck, comment on EVERY post this week for more chances!

And finally, a parting shot…

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Women, emotions and romance
by Jessa Slade on February 8th, 2010

Currently working on: Unearthing the revised Book 3 from the rotting corpse of Book 3 — phoenix, arise!
Mood: Frankenstein-esque

It’s Valentine’s week.  If you haven’t signed up for the Silk And Shadows newsletter (look to the left side of the page) today’s the day.  Our next newsletter goes out soon and there are Valentine’s giveaways to be won.

And speaking of Valentine’s…  Will I be drummed out of the romance lovers’ league if I say aloud that I think Valentine’s Day is a crock?  In college, some women in my dorm donned black armbands on Valentine’s Day, and I wore one in solidarity.  One of my roommates (who, yes, had a boyfriend with whom she had a lovely relationship judging from the late-night noises coming from the bunk across the very tiny room) accused me of being bitter and jealous nerd.  I said, Duh.

But it seems to me that many of the traditions of Valentine’s don’t feel like any romance I’d want to have.  Roses wither in a disturbingly short period of time.  The milk chocolate bon-bons pushed on us are a poor, cheap substitute for the real deal.  At least there’re sparkly diamonds… Except now we’re told diamonds are just the blood-soaked refuse of terrible Third World conflict.

What’s a girl to do? 

Besides read a romance novel, I mean.

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 What I learned from romance novels that Valentine’s Day got wrong:

1. Love is not a one-day affair.
Indeed not.  Love is at least a week-long affair with a Sicilian billionaire.  Or maybe an eternity with a vampire prince.  But definitely not a mere 24 hours in February.

2. Love means having to say… lots.
Words are the measure of the man.  Backed up with action, of course.  Lots and lots of hot action.  But I want more words than fit on 5×7 cardstock even if it has a glittered butterfly and embossed heart.  Somewhere between 200-400 pages of words should just about do it.

3. Love is sacrifice.
This one Valentine’s Day got right.  According to the story, Valentine was a saint who martyred himself for lovers.  Romance novels are all about the sacrifice the lovers make to be together.  They give up their loneliness, their distrust, their prejudices, even though sometimes giving up their lives would’ve felt easier.  And at the end, they don’t always get flowers and chocolate and sparkly jewelry, the love is a given.

Do you have a Valentine’s tradition that you adore?  Feel free to create one.  We write our own stories here.

Merry Christmas!
by Jessa Slade on December 21st, 2009

xmas-treeOr whichever holiday you celebrate!  Hannukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, Winter Solstice, the first pretty snow, ANY pretty snow!

Here at Silk And Shadows, we celebrate with books!  So share one of your favorite holiday memories in comments anytime this week and you’ll be entered to win a book from each of us, suitable for a night of relaxation after your busy holiday season.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!