Monday, October 31, 2005

*cue evil laughter*

As I've mentioned before, this self-promotion gig is hard work. But more than that, it goes against every standard of ladylike conduct with which I was raised.

Yes, I see you there, with the coffee/tea/non-caffeinated-beverage-of-your-choice shooting out your nose at the very idea of my being raised with ANY standards of ladylike or otherwise polite or well-mannered behavior WHATSOEVER. Allow me to assure you that the women in my family strove mightily to imbue me with the tenets of good conduct, beginning with the most important: "A lady does not call attention to herself in any way."

A lady, in fact, does not WANT attention, does not NEED attention, and certainly does not ASK FOR attention. Ever.

A lady toils tirelessly behind the scenes, and never asks for thanks. A lady goes out of her way to blend into the worn kitchen linoleum, preferably while she's scrubbing it. A lady would rather put out her eyes and cut out her own tongue than stand up and ask folks to notice her. This philosophy seemed to work out fine for the long line of strong, stalwart Yankee farm wives from which I hail.

For me? With my more naturally...shall we say...dramatic tendencies? Not so much. And given the extremely rural area in which we lived, and the teeny, tiny public school I attended, which provided no access to anything like a Drama Club or even dance classes? I was pretty much screwed.

Luckily, there was always Halloween, that one marvelous day of the year when I could let loose with every molecule of my organically attention-craving soul, sucking up as much notice as I possibly could, and nobody could say 'boo' about it.

And suck I did. Beginning at about age twelve, my costumes were always the scariest, goriest, and most elaborate creations I could pull together on a virtually nonexistent budget. I routinely amused my classmates, appalled my teachers, reduced my younger sisters to spasms of terror, and sent pint-sized Trick-or-Treaters shrieking into the night...but only after they got their fistfuls of candy.

What does any of this have to do with self-promo, you ask? Yeah, I'm getting to that. See, I've been doing all these evening "chats" with various romance review websites, and interviews, and sending out blurbs and excerpts, and running impromptu contests to hawk my very first release, and in the end what it all comes down to is...


And that's scary, and uncomfortable, and difficult for me. Because the womenfolk in my family? They did a pretty damned good job of convincing me that asking for attention is NOT okay.

But today is Halloween, isn't it? So tonight I'll be dressing up in something suitably dreadful to scare the greedy little beggars who wander up to our door in search of treats.

And in the meantime...

Moondance" -- my perverse little werewolf tale that I'm told breaks the "rules" (but that I promise ends happily and on a romantic note, because in the end I'm just as big a sap as anybody else) -- is now available at

May all your tricks be sweet, and all your treats non-fattening. :)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Of Ménages and Memes…

I've been tagged! That evil BridgeT Midway, trying to corrupt my pure heart with her talk of threesomes...

Three screen names that you've had: Selah_March; ToTo; VicNoir

Three things you like about yourself: my eyes; my hands; my ankles

Three things you don't like about yourself: my tits; my thighs; my feet

Three parts of your heritage: German; Dutch; American Indian

Three things that scare you: sudden, loud noises; tornadoes; intolerant people

Three of your everyday essentials: milk; chocolate; coffee

Three things you are wearing right now: socks; t-shirt; underwear

Three of your favorite songs: Hotel California; The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald; Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone

Three things you want in a relationship: humor; unconditional love; orgasms

Two truths and a lie: I love my husband; I love my children; I NEVER lie

Three things you can't live without: my friends; my books; my computer

Three places you want to go on vacation: Alaska; London; Amsterdam

Three things you just can't do: make a decent piecrust; balance my checkbook; do a cartwheel

Three kids names: Sparky; Kiki; Wanda

Three things you want to do before you die: learn to tango; learn to ride and jump a hunter (horse); hold my great-grandchildren

Three celeb crushes: Bradley Whitford; Vincent D'Onofrio; Jon Stewart

Three of your favorite musicians: Sheryl Crow; Bonnie Raitt; Chris Isaak

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to you: hands; shoulders; eyes

Three of your favorite hobbies: reading; reading; reading

Three things you really want to do badly right now: eat; drink; be merry

Three careers you're considering/you've considered: uh…

Three ways that you are stereotypically a boy: an affinity for reptiles; a dislike for pastels; an aversion to ruffles

Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl: ruled by emotions; unpredictable; genetically prone to be right in all circumstances

Three people that I would like to see post this meme: Barbara, Watcher_Don, Briana.

Happy weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Romance Meets Horror, or "Can You REALLY Be Nora Roberts and Stephen King At the Same Time?"

I'd like to start by thanking author Meljean Brook for the link to this Science Fiction Romance Online article by Joyce Ellen Armond. Armond has many good things to say about combining true horror with romance/eroticism. For example:

Author Mort Castle reminds horror writers, and now romantic horror writers, that, "When the ordinary is invaded by the terrifyingly extraordinary, horror happens." That's why in romantic horror, character and setting must be drawn as realistically as possible. If you want your readers to believe in, and be horrified by, your masked murderer who doesn't die, they first have to completely believe in your heroine, your hero, the street they live on, the taste of their coffee, the frost on their windowshield in the morning and how they're going to be late for work because they have to scrape it off, how there's a run in her pantyhose or pit stains on his white shirt -- all the details of their literary world must ring absolutely true, so that when you introduce the discordant note of the supernatural, it rings true by association. Stephen King is a master of creating a world that, if taken from the pages, could translate without hitch into reality. Except, of course, for the evil clown living in the sewers. When you read the premise of IT -- evil clown living in the sewers – you tend to laugh. Pshaw. How unbelievable. Evil clown, indeed. But King pulls his readers into the alternate reality of his story by making the characters and their secrets so real, and the town and the sewer underneath so believable, that when the evil clown comes along, the reader believes in that, too. As Mr. Castle says, "It's reality's 'what is,' not imagination's 'what if"' that can transform horror premise into horror story.

All I can say is YES. And YES again. And throw in a little blatant self-promo...

In writing my upcoming erotic horror release, "Moondance," I strove mightily to capture exactly what's described above -- that verisimilitude of mundane detail that makes the creepy shit kick the reader in the gut that much harder.

Armond goes on to say:

I think that the cornerstone of romantic horror is the premise that romantic love, complete with expressed sexuality, is the best weapon we have to defeat evil. Paula Guran believes that "the deeper, transformative aspects of sex are still taboo" in horror fiction, and in Western culture. When a heroine accepts the vampire's kiss, she's transported out of humanity. Even when she willingly bares her neck to her vampire lover, she's stepping outside of cultural norms and transforming our definition of what love and sex can be. I suppose the cynical path is open, and our monstrous heroes can be dismissed as just the ultimate "change the bad boy" fantasy. But I prefer the more romantic, and more introspective, perspective. Horror stories, from The Brothers Grimm to The Ring II, ultimately are about how we deal with Lovecraft's "weirdly horrible" situations that challenge our understanding of consensual reality. Fiction has pitted maternal love, fraternal love, love of country and love of deity against those challenges. It is the task of romantic horror to convince readers that romantic -- and erotic -- love is the best answer to fear. And to me, that's one of the most moral message we can send.

Amazing. I wish I'd read this article before writing "Moondance." I might not have struggled so much with the over-arching premise. Armond's nailed it -- the redemptive power of Eros in the face of paralyzing terror. Ultimately, it saves my heroine's sanity, and maybe her life.

Fascinated? Intrigued? Mildly interested and got ten minutes to kill? Check out my webpage for "Moondance," which will be released next week in ebook form by Phaze. (WARNING: site not necessarily work-friendly.)

Have a marvelous weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What I've Learned This Week So Far...

...and it's only Wednesday...

1. Contrary to what my mother, grandmother, and all four of my aunts insisted the entire time I was going through that "awkward" phase between the ages of eight and fourteen, (rail thin, six inches taller than the tallest boy in my grade, Angelina Jolie lips WAY before they were trendy, and buck teeth encased in the shiniest set of braces you EVER saw) LOOKS DO MATTER. Agent 007 says so right here.

Rather glad I clean up well, when I bother to make the effort, though apparently my author photo -- the one in which my hand is coyly tucked beneath my hair and I'm looking (gasp!) directly into the camera -- will need to be redone ASAP. I'll be sure to put that on my To Do list, right after "dust laundry room" and "color-code entire DVD collection."

2. On a related note, when you think you're getting away with driving the kids to school in a black leather motorcycle jacket thrown over red-plaid flannel jammy bottoms and fuzzy slippers? You're likely not. Especially if your daughter is appalled by your chosen ensemble and chooses to vent her disgust by writing about it in her third grade journal.

3. Promotion? Even the promotion of one teeny lil' novella? Even when the promotion of said teeny lil' novella has behind it the astounding, mind-boggling efforts of the publisher's Promo Goddess, a woman I've come to believe must, in fact, be close kin to the Energizer Bunny?

Is hard effin' work.

Eight evening chats this month, at two hours apiece. Several all-day email loop chats. Countless hours spent updating the website. SO hoping it pays off.

(If anyone is interested, here's the evening chat schedule for the remainder of the month:

The Phaze HeatSheet SHIVERS authors will be chatting at:

Flowers and Hearts, October 19th, 9 - 11PM, Eastern Time
Playgirl Posse, October 21st, 9 - 11PM, Eastern Time
Romance At Heart, October 25th, 9 - 11PM, Eastern Time

Enchanted in Romance, October 26th, 9 - 11PM, Eastern Time
Romance Reviews Today, October 28th, 9 - 11PM, Eastern Time )

4. The plural of "clitoris?"


Thank you, Smart Bitches. (check the comments for the actual quote)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Words Fail Me

I know I'm a day late and a dollar short on this topic, but I don't...I really can't...I mean, it just doesn't...

Okay, deep breaths. Maybe a cup of soothing chamomile. Maybe shot of brandy to go with the chamomile. Maybe my mother left behind a couple Xanax in the guest bathroom...

It started here, courtesy of author Brenda Coulter. Allow me to say up front that Ms. Coulter may be a lovely woman of extreme talent and exceptional virtue. In this matter, however, she and I do not agree.

Ms. Coulter appears to be of the opinion that critics and reviewers, especially those who themselves write in the romance genre, are and SHOULD BE extra-nice and super-easy on other romance authors because...

"If you haven't tried writing a romance novel, you can have absolutely no concept of how difficult it is to write even a bad one."

She goes on to say:

"Given that most writers will never be published and that most who do achieve publication will never make a big splash in the book world, just how logical is it to assume that any romance writer would produce anything less than the very best work she's capable of? Trust me--we're all writing our hearts out.

"Romance novels are character-driven. By definition, the books are deeply emotional. So if you've just figured out that romance writers must be people who feel things deeply, you're catching on. Yes, we're sensitive."

Ack. Just...ack. This is the intellectual equivalent of giving the girls extra outs when they play the boys in baseball. It's telling my daughter it's okay that she sucks at math because she'll never use it anyway. IT'S BULLSHIT, PEOPLE.

They say it's we erotic writers who keep courting the massive disrespect for the romance genre. They say we bring the whole genre down.

I say there's nothing like pleading for special consideration merely on the basis of being "sensitive" to make people turn away in disgust.

"Don't look too closely. Don't set the bar too high. And for God's sake, don't expect honest peer review. WE'RE JUST GIRRRRRRLS."

How pathetic. I take some comfort in knowing I'm not alone in my shame.

Barbara Ferrer, Barb Ferrer again, Smart Bitches/Trashy Novels, BookSquare.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pointless, thanks, and you?

I'm not by nature a punctual person. Which is not to say I'm terminally late, either--in fact, I'm more often on time for appointments than not. And I'm even better at getting my kids to their various activities in a timely manner than getting myself to my own.

But I chafe inside the boundaries of tight structure, be it the expectations of a "real world" job, or the reinforced steel girders of your average "foundation garment."

I've been out of the work force for a long-ass time. The last time I drew a regular paycheck, Bill Clinton was newly elected to his first term, and Monica didn't even own a blue dress. I was in my mid-twenties, teaching in a private school in a very "weeds and seeds/crunchy granola" town not far from where I still reside, wherein "structure" was a relative concept. I wore loose, comfortable clothing that only had to be clean and un-torn to be considered presentable. I kept my hair in a horse-tail down my back, and make-up was for Saturday nights, if I had the energy.

And even then, I chafed. I had to BE there at a certain time, you see, whether that time was convenient for me or not. And I had to stay until the clock said the day was finished. I couldn't eat just because I was hungry. Bathroom breaks required coverage, because I was alone in a classroom with anywhere from ten to twenty children at a time. Tragic, huh? Real sweatshop conditions. Quick, somebody call OSHA. (insert eye-rollage)

Intellectually, I knew I had no good cause to suffer, but suffer I did...just as I had suffered at my previous jobs in retail and office management and food service and...

Slowly but surely, it began to dawn upon me that a "regular" job and me would never be best of friends. Luckily, I didn't HAVE to work. I'd been conditioned to want and expect to use my education and my two good hands in pursuit of...I dunno. SOMETHING. Fulfillment, I guess. But I had this guy at home who came equipped with both a good job of his own and a kid who wouldn't be miserable if I was there to meet the school bus at the end of the day.

So I chucked it, got married, pumped out a couple more spawn, and have been wearing the badge of the stay-at-home-mommy ever since. It works for us, and I lay no judgment on anyone else. You gotta do what works. And while there are things about THIS gig that aren't perfect (can you say MONOTONOUS, NEVER-ENDING DRUDGERY THAT NEVER ENDS? But only on some days...) I can't imagine going back to the "get up/get ready/get out/spend all day thinking about getting back in" hamster wheel.

Plus, you know, the WRITING TIME. Which I'm not sure how I'd pull off if I were working outside the home. Big props to those of you who do it. Big props to anyone, actually, who DOES get up and get out every day. The world keeps turning because of you. You are my husband, and my sister, my brother-in-law and my very good friend. :)

All of which is in preparation to say this:

To the bitch who rode my ass in her shiny silver Range Rover this morning as I was driving my children to school,

Slow the fuck down. Those "SCHOOL ZONE" signs? Are there for a reason. The nice, middle-aged lady in the orange vest? Her name is Margaret. She's been crossing kids at that corner for at least fifteen years, and you can honk and swear all you want, she's not moving for the likes of YOU. You saw how she ignored you? How does it feel to know you're not worth the notice of a lowly village volunteer?

Turn OFF the cell phone, put DOWN the coffee cup, stub OUT the cigarette and quit taking yourself so seriously. I know you've got only twenty minutes to make the drive into the city, and traffic will be a sonofabitch when you hit the hill, but maybe if you hadn't spent so much time on your hair...

I have your license plate number engraved upon my memory, cutesie vanity act that it is, and if ever I encounter you trying to pass on the right in that particular school zone again, I will call the sheriff on your Yuppie ass. I'm pretty sure Margaret will back me up.

And here's a tip for the road: if I can see your lipstick in my rearview mirror from a hundred feet in front of you? Consider toning it down some, for the love of GOD.

A concerned Mom with a lot of unexpressed hostility