Archive for the 'Getaways' 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. 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:

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!

Road Show
by Annette McCleave on October 13th, 2009

I’ve been lucky to have traveled a few places outside of my native Canada. My dad was in the military, so we spent four years in Germany when I was a kid. That allowed me to visit the top of the Eiffel tower, sun on a beach in Spain, and ski the Swiss Alps. No kidding. Of course, I was under ten years of age at the time, so it wasn’t the experience you might think. Still, it made the notion of exotic locales attainable in my mind.

In later years, under my own steam, I watched the sunset on Waikiki Beach, traipsed the halls of Cawdor Castle, and rode a camel in the Australian Outback. Yes, there are camels in Australia. Imported, of course.

Cawdor Castle, Scotland

Cawdor Castle, Scotland

When it came to choosing the primary setting for my Soul Gatherer series, I ventured south, but not as far south as you might imagine. I chose San Jose, California. Why? Because I knew my heroine worked for a high tech firm and San Jose is in Silicon Valley. I also knew my villain hid in the mountains, so I wanted a town or city tucked in close to the hills—yet not too far away from the big city.

San Jose is perfect. Fairly quiet crime-wise, yet big enough to have regular city problems to disguise the activities of my nasty demons. The terrain of the nearby hills (where my Gatherers eventually set up a base) is rugged and yet charming, not unlike the warriors themselves.

Lake Almaden

Lake Almaden, San Jose, California

My hero Lachlan ventures into San Francisco a time or two, and travels down the coast to San Diego. He also visits Death in her ice cave cathedral in Antarctica. Antarctica is the perfect backdrop for Death—icy cold, ruthlessly bitter, and yet incredibly beautiful.

My daughter and I made the 21-hour journey out to Australia, because we both wanted to go and she had wanted to visit since she was the ripe old age of two. It was the trip of a lifetime. Is there one place you wish you visit but never have? Have you ever read a book that took you there?

A room of her own
by Jessa Slade on August 24th, 2009

Currently working on: Teaser prequel for SEDUCED BY SHADOWS
Mood: Ahead of myself

I am now contracted for four novels of the Marked Souls, so I am booked until 2011 and I’ll be writing like a fiend for most of that time.  Plus, the first book is coming out in October, and I’m get ready to knuckle down to the next two months of intense non-writing writing life stuff like promotions, book signings, and inventing new ways to avoid vacuuming.  So I’ve been thinking about whether my writing space serves me as well now that I’m a working writer.

I’ve posted this picture before, but let’s review.  Here is my office as it is today:


With the exception of the large mammal who isn’t me sitting at on the desk, overall this is a serviceable space.  It has all the key writerly pieces: A computer and a chair.  And Super Glue in the top front drawer.  Plus, it has a few extras: A cabinet to hold my junk, stacking cubbies to hold my more immediately necessary junk (dictionary, thesaurus, my writer’s altar, more Super Glue), inspirational art, and various writing buddies like my dog and geckos.

I know many writers crammed into closets and carving out chunks of the kitchen table every night who would be happy to have my space (with the possible exception of the dog) and so I am profoundly grateful to have it.


I’m thinking I might need something more inspirational, considering all the pressure I’m under.  Maybe I need a satellite office.  Maybe somewhere warm and sunny…


Okay, maybe not.  The potential for distraction — not to mention a serious sunburn, always a consideration for the pasty, stuck-at-the-desk types – is too high.  And I need something with a little more discipline.  Maybe someplace like…


Right.  Those walls are kind of helpful, holding in all the good ideas, concentrating my concentration.  But there’s still something a little off about this set up…


Ah, there we go.  Now the walls are on the right side.  The perfect office for the working writer.

Except somebody left the door open…

How about you?  Whether you are a writer, a quilter, a mom, or whatever, do you need freedom or discipline to get your work done?  Does the view out your window inspire you or distract you?  Or is it all a matter of balance?

The power of daydreams
by Jessa Slade on June 29th, 2009

When I was a teen, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Vail, Colorado, babysitting my cousins on a ski vacation.  It was awesome.  I’d never been downhill skiing before, and I got to take classes and accompany my aunt and uncle and the kids (who were waaaay better than me) on some of the easier runs.

If you’ve ever been skiing in Colorado, I don’t need to describe it, but for the rest of you, I will just say: Heaven. Celestial blue skies. The softest, whitest, downy snow. An intense and all-encompassing feeling of floating and joy. (When I wasn’t yard sale-ing — or we could say sailing — across half the slope.)

vail{This photo of a $2800/night mountain-side chalet is NOT where we stayed; but the beauty is the same, free, and everywhere.}

One night near the end of our stay, my aunt and uncle had gone for a nice dinner and the kids were asleep. I stepped out onto the balcony.  Our room faced a walkway through the pines, with the pale bulk of the mountain beyond.  It was late, but the reflection of hotel lights off the snow made the night glow.  Drifting snowflakes (like the rain in the fairy world of Summerland, I swear it only snowed at night in Vail) glimmered like falling stars in the dark.

I thought, This is where I want to be.

Fast forward, oh, about seven years. 

That last serene image of Vail had stayed with me over time and distances. I would conjure it up in my head when I was stressed about finals in college, when I was studying abroad, and at my first less than inspiring full-time job.

One day, looking through want-ads, I saw an opening at a newspaper in Vail, Colorado.  And I made my daydream a reality.

Later, I read books about manifesting your reality. I read how your brain — trapped in a cage of bone and goo — has no way to experience the “real” world except through your senses. If you can imagine something clearly enough — see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, taste it — as far as your brain is concerned, that’s reality.  Eventually, your imagination can become reality.

Run amok, this process leads to mental illness, true.  But since we’re using our powers for good…

Daydream + Action plan + Perserverance = Your shiny new reality

Daydreams without the other two elements are perfectly lovely, of course.  A few minute’s mental vacation on a snowy mountain night is entirely enough.  Not everybody wants to turn that into living in a ski bum town for two years, paying $700 a month to sleep in a heated shed (no bathroom) between two single-wide trailers for the honor of coming up with another sudden illness every time the fresh powder falls.  Sometimes even shiny new realities aren’t quite the same as the daydream.

But I think the power of a daydream to relax and revive and delight us is the knowledge that it could become so much more, given the right circumstances and impetus.

After all, writing started as a daydream for me.

caribbean-vacationMy new daydreaming escape is also based on an old family vacation.  When I was young, my parents took my sister and me to St. Johns in the Virgin Islands.  (And, yes, what my sheltered suburban upbringing sadly lacked in future source material for lurid angsty tell-alls, it more than made up for in loving, generous family members who believed new experiences were more important than stuff.)  The Caribbean was, to my imagination, as epic as Vail in its own way.  I’d never been snorkeling before, but oddly, the ocean was the same color as the Colorado sky.

One evening, we walked through town on one of the islands. The sky had turned a peachy red fading to blue, the colors echoed in the hanging baskets of flowers.  The air was as perfectly warm as the water, at once decadent and pure. 

I could as easily have been a beach bum as a ski bum.  Just sayin.’

One of these days, I’ll make it back to that island, and then I’ll need a new, new daydream. But for now, I’m savoring every minute in paradise.

When you daydream, is it about old places, or places you’ve never been?

Maybe Dorothy Was Right
by Our Guest on February 19th, 2009

When I first broached the subject of a winter vacation, my two sets of heroes and heroiones were beside themselves with excitement and their houses were thrown into uproars. Traveling outfits had to be aired, the trunks hauled down from the attic, the carriages cleaned and waxed and the horses readied. Then they all scurried into their respective libraries to pore over the maps. Hmm, where to go? Bearing in mind all the possible hot spots of war, disease and famine, the British Empire in the 1830s offered a veritable world of choices. India, the Middle East, Africa, Canada, the West Indies, Austrialia….the possibilities were endless…

And then reality set in. Whether they chose the spicy streets of Bombay, the tent-shrouded deserts of Arabia, or the relaxation of a balmy, breezy Caribbean plantation, how the devil would they get there? Cause baby, trains, planes and automobiles were just not an option in 1830! It would take another decade plus before trains became an accepted mode of transportation and forget about cushy cruise lines. Travel by ship meant hitching a ride on a commercial sailing vessel — crowded and uncomfortable and you want to talk about the rigors of a winter crossing? Not to mention another thing not invented in 1830: Dramamine!!!

Look like fun? Blurfff!

You know, there’s a reason people tended to stay tucked away on their country estates during the winter, and holing up in Cornwall is beginning to look a whole lot more attractive to Chad, Sophie, Grayson and Nora. I mean, they’re already ahead of the game being in the warmest part of England, and there’s a lot to be said for cuddling and sipping hot port by a roaring fire while the ocean tosses and the snow flies. I think there are times when Dorothy was right, there’s no place like home. Besides, in just a few short weeks the quality folk will start pouring back into London for another exciting, fun-filled, scandal-ridden Season. And as another old saying goes, when you’ve grown tired of London, you’ve grown tired of life. So why go anywhere else?

I have to say it’s a toss up for me between London and New York. What city do you think is the most exciting in the world?

Even in Paradise…
by Annette McCleave on February 17th, 2009

A sultry island breeze wafts in the window, billowing the curtain. The room is dark, except for the silver wash of moonlight that spills across the terracotta floor tiles. Under the swath of mosquito netting covering the double bed, Lachlan pulls Rachel a little tighter against his chest … and waits. After four hundred years of soul gathering, he’s developed an uncanny ability to sense impending messages from Death.

Sure enough, the Blackberry on the nightstand begins to vibrate.

He snatches it, doing his best not to disturb the woman whose long legs are entwined with his, whose soft breaths stir the hairs on his chest. They had a full day—walking along the beach, hunting for souvenirs in the village marketplace, windsurfing in the cove, and dining on fresh sea bass. Unlike him, Rachel is human. She needs her sleep.

A glance at the electronic screen confirms what he already knows: a Gatherer doesn’t get vacations. In an alley behind the local rum bar, a drunken tourist is about to be mugged. Judgment impaired by alcohol, the sunburned Canadian accountant will foolishly fight to keep his wallet and end up losing his life. Lachlan used to try to save such men, but Death is ruthless and persevering. When she marks a human, they die.

He kisses the top of Rachel’s head, then carefully untangles himself and rolls off the bed. He dresses quickly, donning black jeans and a black long-sleeved shirt. With an ease that speaks to his experience, he straps a leather baldric across his broad shoulders and slides his claidheamh mòr into the sheath. Warded by ancient Romany magic, the weapon immediately vanishes from sight. Ready, he crosses to the window, then pauses to look back at Rachel.

His job is not to save the tourist’s life, but to save his soul. For every soul destined for heaven, there’s a demon thief determined to waylay it into hell, and with every gather, there’s a chance the Gatherer won’t return.

A faint smile curves Lachlan’s lips.

He promised to take Rachel scuba-diving on the reef in the morning. Even if he’s ambushed tonight by a horde of vicious martial demons, there’s no way he’ll disappoint her.

He leaps out the window, drops soundlessly to the hotel lawn thirty feet below, and merges with the shadows.


This is a little scene I wrote to imagine my characters from Drawn into Darkness on ‘vacation’. It’s written in present tense, but don’t worry, the book is standard past tense. Enjoy!

Run away!
by Jessa Slade on February 16th, 2009


Currently working on: Nothing!
Mood: Somewhat guilty, actually

With winter still firmly plunked on the Pacific Northwest in the form of gray skies, gray water and gray moods, this week’s topic about imagining our characters on winter holiday is particularly fun. What makes it even more fun for me, is that I’m not here! I’m in Chicago on break.

Yeah, the Windy City in February. Okay, so it’s not where most people — or characters — dream of spending a few free winter days. But I have a bit of research to do. As I mentioned once before, Liam and Jilly, the leads from Book 2, get into a spot of trouble on the ‘L,’ the elevated train tracks downtown. I also need to make a run through Chinatown, go dancing at a cool nightclub, and hit up this supposedly awesome bra boutique, which are all things my hero and heroine do. Yes, even the underwear shopping. Although the hero did that, so you know it’s fiction. I would PAY my hero to go bra shopping for me.

But I digress. That’s what happens when you’re slacking on vacation.

Actually, my heroes don’t get much time off. Saving the world, blah blah. Their version of downtime is sharpening their weapons. If Sera and Archer from Book 1 were contemplating glossy four-color brochures of potential holidays away, their conversation might go something like this:

Sera: You’d look fantastic in that Speedo, love.

Archer: Where would I keep my bad-ass recurved demon-slaying ax? Would that count as a carry-on or personal item?

And that would be the end of Sera and Archer’s Caribbean adventure. So until they rid the world of evil, they’re stuck in Chicago. And I’m with them for a long weekend.

If you could put aside your saving of the world for a weekend, where would you want to go right now?