I have to say that it was quite exciting to be doing a book signing. Mr Kate added to my nerves considerably by a) deciding to vacuum the lawn or something 15 minutes before we were supposed to be there and b)by telling me I'd got the wrong day just as we pulled off the freeway. I didn't laugh. He was lucky to survive.
Barnes & Noble even had a big poster at the from of the store with my name and the cover of "Roping the Wind" on it! Apparently, she had to down pedal the "Simply Sexual" one to avoid complaints from Saturday shoppers with kids, and I totally understood that. Debra, the B&N community relations manager loves romance novels and thank god for people like her-she was thrilled to see me, got me water and ice and even had a pen ready in case I'd forgotten to bring one!
So here I am, looking pensive as shoppers mill around me. I was strategically placed between the cafe and the new arrivals tables so I felt a little like a fish in a bowl, or one of those Victorian ladies waiting patiently at the side of the dance floor while being ignored by all the men.
And yes, people really do ask strange questions. My favorite was, "Did you write this?" Um, yes, otherwise why would I be sitting here? Of course, I didn't say that, I just smiled graciously and admitted it. I REALLY DID get asked where the bathroom was as well!!
Look! Real people in a line, for me! Okay, so I know some of them, but hey, they came out to support me and buy my books so I love them all.
Because of what I write, I expected a few oddballs as well, and yes, they turned up to say hi, every time Mr Kate wandered off to read Motor magazines. I 'think' they just wanted to see what an erotic romance writer looked like and I 'think' I probably disappointed them seeing as I wasn't dressed in black leather or brandishing a whip!
So,it was fun and Mr Kate took loads of photos, I felt famous for at least 5 minutes and that was quite enough for me :) Back to the writing cave!
Posted by Unknown ::
1:51 PM ::
Exposing Casey will be my fourth book with the Aphrodisia line and I recently agreed to a 2 book deal that will bring my total of books with Kensington to SIX!
Exposing Casey is a two novella collection about two women and how they deal with exposure, sex, and love. It also marks the end of the "gallery trilogy" that began with Undressing Mercy and continued with Barenaked Jane.
All three books center on the lives of women and the men that change them-- for better and worse. What I really enjoyed about writing this series was discovering the strength and individuality in each woman that I put to paper.
Mercy was soft but strong-- determined to overcome a tragic past and very ambitious about her career. She needed a man who could lead the way with gentle strength and make her feel safe. I believe that Shamus Montgomery filled that role very well.
Jane was a woman smacked down by circumstances beyond her control and her life had become about taking that control and the cost of it mattered little to her. In Mathias Montogomery she found a man she never could have planned for and a love she'd grown to never expect.
In Exposing Casey-- Casey in the novella "Watching Casey" is a woman who is ready for love and committment but she has a man in her life who wants no part of it ... with her. She makes the brave step to move on without him and despite her misgivings about a new relationship finds the lure of her sexy new neighbor more than she can resist.
The final novella in Exposing Casey is "Seducing Lisa" and it tells the story of Lisa Millhouse, a woman I introduced in Undressing Mercy. Writing Lisa's story wasn't easy. Since her divorce from an abusive husband she's done everything she could to push others away... including James Brooks. James is a man who's always gotten what he's wanted and he's very tired of waiting on Lisa... the result is a seduction and a hard passion that neither one of them expected.
I hope my readers enjoy Exposing Casey and that it proves to be a satisfying end to the series.
My next book for Aphrodisia is currently called "The Games Girls Play" and is a 3 novella collection.
Hmm. I'm a little later creating this than I'd planned. For some reason, Google, which is the power behind the Aphrodisia blogs, decided to disown me. What? I'd signed on with no problem the last time I blogged but now my user name and password seems to have fallen into a black hole. Go figure. Ah well, looks like I've jumped through the necessary hoops. (Shaking her head at technology). Speaking of our modern and too-complex world, anyone interested in the hoops I had to jump through in order to replace my husband's cell phone after he tried to teach it how to swim? Didn't think so.
Actually I'm stalling. I know what I want to comment on because it's what kept me awake much of last night, I'm just not sure how to get started. Ah, how about the beginning, if I can find that particular thread. When I started writing erotica, it was a brave new and uncharted world. Plot choices were unlimited, at least it seemed that way to me. Anything from historical to futuristic to sci/fi to paranormal to shape shifting to--you got the picture. Much the same with themes or genre. I tried a little of this and that with my early works which were for Ellora's Cave. Then in a moment of mad inspiration, I wrote Forced, or maybe I should say Forced used me as its vehicle for getting into print. It was plain and simple, bondage. Bondage has been my fantasy of choice for as long as I can remember. I can honestly say I've never plunged deeper into a story (its by far my best-selling e-title). Forced was followed by other bondage-themed stories because that's what I wanted to write. The genre is also a hot, hot seller, but that was less important to me than exploring my needs and curiosities. I danced at the edge of BDSM and that shows up in all of my Aphrodisia stories, but my comfort level kept me at the edge. I might be able to read about true submissives, particularly the whole pain thing, but my macho heroes draw the line with elaborate rope work. They don't crack whips. I simply can't mark up my heroines. What it gets down to is that I don't get the pain/pleasure connection and if it's foreign to me, it's foreign to my characters. The point of this is that I've written a LOT of bondage and am beginning to suspect I've explored most of the situations my brain can come up with. Am I in danger of starting to repeat myself? Shoot, maybe I already have, but fortunately that short-term memory issue insulates me from reality. I don't want to bore my readers, or myself by playing the same tune over and over again. So, now that I'm pulling together possibilities for book two in my current Aphrodisia contract, my mind is digging around in all kinds of directions. I love adventure. Adore suspense. Dig man against nature. Maybe I don't want to fashion those passions in such a way that they'd fit under the bondage umbrella. Maybe I just want hot and heavy sex while fleeing the villains or trying to outrun an avalanche or flood. Maybe I don't want to deal with the separation of power between master and sub; I need equals. Hell, maybe I even need the woman on top. That in a less than articulate explanation is my current quandary. Bondage is familiar. I know that dance (or I've deluded myself into thinking I do) Just because I'm intrigued by the man against nature plot possibility that went to bed with me doesn't mean I have the skill to fashion it within the erotica world. And the thought that I want to end with: has Vonna Harper made such a name for herself as a bondage slut that readers won't pick up anything else from me? I'd love to read your responses. I really, really need to know. But if you don't give a darn what I write as long as I shut up, keep that to yourself. Vonna www.VonnaHarper.com p.s. Can I get away with a non Aphrodisia plug? On Tues, my first and so far only Samhain book BloodHunter comes out. And yeah, it has bondage running through it along with time travel and shape shifting and the sexiest jaguar on the planet.
Posted by Vonna Harper ::
12:47 PM ::
On Saturday I presented a craft workshop for my local RWA Chapter. It was on point of view and tense – i.e., do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and which characters get a point of view? Sounds kind of ho-hum, but it got me thinking about how far romance novels have come.
Once upon a time (of course this was long before I was born, wink, wink), they were always written from the woman’s point of view, in third person past tense. “Nurse Wimpy gazed starry-eyed at the handsome Dr. Studly, and wondered if he’d ever deign to speak to her.”
But you know what? We women always want to know what guys are thinking – in our real lives, and in our romance novels. Or maybe the guys just wouldn’t settle for being silenced by women writers. However it happened, heroes started to get a point of view. But still, in the third person past tense. “Jason stared at Esmeralda, shocked that she’d rejected his gift. What the heck was wrong with the fancy food processor he’d given her for Valentine’s Day? It had all the latest gadgets.”
In the last few years, you may have noticed some different styles in romance. Chick lit made first person popular, and to some extent present tense as well. “I stare into the mirror and can’t believe that one little slice of death-by-chocolate cake has somehow morphed into five extra pounds around my waist. Note to self: give up food for at least 2 days.”
Now, more and more, first person and/or present tense are finding their way into romance. Aphrodisia is a great line for this. The editors pretty much trust to the authors to figure out the right voice(s) to tell the story.
And I think that’s what it comes down to. When I’m writing, it takes me a while to get to know my characters, but once I do they tend to speak in pretty clear voices. Sometimes it’s third person, sometimes first. Sometimes it’s past tense, sometimes present. Sometimes the heroine wants to talk and sometimes the hero does.
As a writer, or a reader, do you have a preference? Do some styles work better for you? Or do you even notice the craft stuff?
Once again I sit here and watch as another of our sisters goes through some mega love-stress. This time its Silda Spitzer's face as her only-remorseful-since-I-got-caught husband admits to his 5 month/$80,000 passion for prostitutes.
Talk about a set back. My muse took a vacation after that. I'm just now getting up the energy to drag her out into my creative mind.
Why is true love so...complicated for many? What is so hard about you love me and I love you and we care enough to make good choices for each other? I'm sure at no time did Silda think that her "for worse" vows would ever be expanded to include a whore...or two. So what made old Jim throw everything he had away--power, position, family, wife--on a $5000 an hour whore? (Jim, you really should check out the going prices. $5000 is a bit steep, don't you think?)
**stepping off my platform**
OK, my latest for Kensington's Satify Me III, Driving My Man Wild, is coming along nicely. I told you I'm writing only married people sex from here on out and boy am I having a good time. Let's just say, a trunk full of love letters sets the sparks aflying in couple whose flame has dimmed a bit. But not by the end. By the end, even you should hear the cannons booming, see the fireworks exploding, feel the vibrations in your feet...and elsewhere.
So, where do you do it? A padded chair? The back garden on a sunny day? Oh, I know, in a corner booth at the coffeshop…
Writing, of course! Or are you accustomed to sitting in front of your computer screen? Do you write long hand on paper and transcribe it later? Use a laptop and travel?
Like most women today, I'm a very busy person with multiple schedules to keep track of. And while I try to maintain a regular writing schedule, it's not always possible. To help solve my issue of time, I use a small word processor that runs on 3 AA batteries. I just turn it on and start typing. It allows me the freedom to get comfortable in any chair, in any room of the house, the coffee shop, back yard or where ever.
I can only see a few lines at a time, so it’s difficult to edit myself to any real degree. And I don’t have to stare at an entire blank, white page on my desk top computer screen. I just write. My first drafts are always done this way. As I fill a file, it’s simply a matter of plugging in my little word processor, hitting the send button and…whamo! there are my pages, formatted all neat and perfect, the cursor blinking at me from my desk top computer. Not to mention the lack of distraction - no spider solitaire, internet, email.
So, do you have a favorite creative location? A routine or ritual of getting your butt into the chair somehow to get those pages out and into the computer? If so, feel free to share. The creative process is a wily one, and if it works for you it just might work for someone else.
It wasn't until I first started writing romances that I became aware of how much pleasure people get in bashing them. I heard, "She reads romances," said in the same tone as, "She eats her boogers." Or, "I can't believe she liked fill-in-appropriate-movie-name-here, but then again, maybe I can. She reads romances."
At first I thought it was kind of funny. My aunt used to pass me Harold Robbins' books, which she'd loved herself, and tell me, "This is great smut!" She'd say the same about Rosemary Rogers and even Danielle Steele (sorry, Danielle—we know you close the door, but you got lumped in all the same). The implication was that these books were about love and sex and they were to be celebrated as such. Personally, I was more than happy to celebrate them as such.
But when I became a published author, someone asked me what I wrote. I laughed and said, Smut! Well, now. I hadn't been so quickly verbally slapped down since the time I said I voted for fill-in-appropriate-politician-name. Their disgust caught me off guard, but I couldn't bring myself to care very much. I planned to laugh all the way to the bank.
I was a party last month, filled with PhDs. One of them asked what made a romance a romance. Was it sex? Was it love? I said, No, it’s the Happily Ever After. He was appalled. You mean the book has to have an HEA? I said, well, yes. Don't most movies have one? We can all name a few movies that have sad endings, but it's a lot harder than naming the movies that have happy endings. We all want happy endings. Just ask Friendly's... or your local masseuse. (Just kidding, masseuses!)
My friend was still appalled by the constraint of a happy ending. But I pointed out that if I didn't like it, I could write something else. No one made me write books with HEAs. No one made me read them. I explained to him that it was my medium, like oil or photography.
But of course, that made it all too high-brow. Choosing to write romances is like a musician choosing to sing pop. She could sing country and add a twang, or metal and add a screech. She could add a blues guitar and go all funky.
Once I explained to my friend that it was a choice, an artistic choice, he wasn't so scandalized the fact that I write graphic romances (aka smut). And I'm just very glad so many people like to stroll through this gallery.
p.s. I'll give away one copy of EROS ISLAND to a random commenter who isn't an Aphro Author. (If you're an Aphro Author who'd like a copy, I'm sure we can arrange a swap!)
Posted by Lucinda Betts ::
10:13 AM ::
This morning I spent a fun hour and a half on BlogTalk Radio giving live Tarot readings and talking about my upcoming books...here I am blogging online...last Tuesday I emailed a proposal for my next Aphrodisia book to my agent, stepped outside with my dog, and when I got back to my Mac, my agent had already read the synopsis and sent it on to my editor, John! In less than 10 minutes, a proposal went from my desk to my agent to my editor!!!
When you consider I sold my first story after writing it (laboriously) on a portable electric typewriter, and mailing the hard copy to the editor of TRUE STORY and waiting nine months for a reply, this week's online activity is truly amazing to me! Even five years ago, I couldn't have conceived of such instantaneous communication between myself and a New York editor, much less having the guts to do Tarot readings on the air/online! Heck, I was barely scratching the surface of learning the Tarot and I wasn't telling ANYONE I was drawn to such stuff!
And my point would be?
Who can imagine what we might all be writing a mere five years (or heck--five months!) from now? Who knew our erotic stories would be the key to our current publishing success? And of course, we all try not to wonder about when this wave might play itself out....
But it will. And if we're lucky and savvy and our stars align right, we'll follow another wave into altogether new territory for our writing. Don't ask me to consult my cards about where it might take you--or me--coz I can't predict that! But as I stand on the eve of another birthday, and another couple of contracts, and realize that I've stayed afloat--mostly--in the writing world for about 23 years now, I can promise you it'll be a fascinating ride! Bumpy probably. And we might take a wrong turn now and again, and somebody might give us directions that don't pan out.
But this is exactly where I want to be right now! And five years from now, when I have my next really BIG birthday, I'll be saying, "Who'd've thunk I'd be---?"
Fill in the blank! I guarantee you'll look back five years from now and laugh at your antiquated answer. It's an amazing time to be alive, and to be a writer!
Lately, I've been thinking of the difference between perfectionism and striving for excellence. A true writing perfectionist can find themselves paralyzed, unable to write because they fear what they're doing isn't perfect. Let me state this clearly: There is no perfection in writing fiction. No perfection. None. Nada. Zip. But there can be excellence. Shooting for excellence can free up a perfectionist to the point where they can write again. They can write their words today, because next time they can improve on excellence. According to my humongous 3 volume Webster's Seven Language Dictionary Perfection is an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence. Unsurpassable degree. Wow. Think about it. If a writer writes a perfect story, they'll never be able to surpass it. How dreary is that idea? Which brings me to a book signing where I met a reader clutching a copy of MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS. She perched on the edge of her chair and held up her copy of the book, and said it was perfect. A perfect story. I was completely taken by surprise, because I'd never seen her before, had no idea she'd be there and I hadn't paid her a dime to say it. Really. If I hadn't already decided on shooting for excellence rather than perfection, a conversation like that one in the bookstore (I have witnesses to this event...I do! I do!) could have paralyzed me. My agent reminds me on a regular basis that any writer can improve, that any story can be made better. My editor knows what she likes and makes it clear when I've sent her an idea that she doesn't like. I repeat: there's no perfection in writing fiction. Which brings me back to striving for excellence...it's really all any writer can do. As a writer, do you demand perfection or strive for excellence?
We love cover models--those sexy guys who display their well-honed assets and help us sell our books, but we all know that's exactly what they are--just images, a cardboard facsimile of the hero an author has created within the pages of her book. Well, not MY cover model! Tony Catanzaro goes far beyond that standard cover model image. He's also a promoter, and while he's out there promoting a healthy lifestyle, he's also promoting our books! Tony's gorgeous abs have graced three of the Sexy Beast anthologies from Aphrodisia, along with numerous other single title covers.
I first met Tony online when his equally gorgeous wife, Tina, contacted me via email. I now consider both of them to be good friends--Tony was actually generous enough to sign a stack of cover flats for me to give out to my readers, which I thought was really generous of him, and Tina works hard at promoting her husband--and that means more promotion for our books.
Tonight, March 4, Tina and Tony will both appear on INSIDE EDITION. Check your local listings to see when the show airs.
Last week, they were interviewed on TV, and you can watch them here: http://firstname.lastname@example.org along with some very familiar book covers. This isn't the first time Tony has been on the screen with our titles in the background, but it's certainly fun to turn on the tube and see SEXY BEAST IV staring back at me.
Tony is currently a finalist for Redbook's "Hottest Husband" competition. If you'd like to vote for him, here's a direct link. http://www.redbookmag.com/love/hot-husbands/hot-husband-2
Time's running out, and I would love to see him win. And don't forget to watch INSIDE EDITION tonight! If you want to see more of Tony (A LOT more!) he has a website of his own at www.anthonycatanzaro.com.
Another month has blown past and barely without my notice. I have to say when I was young my mother used to tell me to enjoy all those times when I swear I was bored to death because once I got older I would wish I had free time to just sit and be "bored." The older you go, the faster life goes by. Know what? She was right. Since I can't seem to find a way to add more hours to the day, I'm just doing my best to fit it all in and the occasional "boring" moments as well.
February, however, was not a boring month at my house. My little girl and I both had the pleasure of battling pnuemonia that resulted in the house being a massive wreck and me getting way behind on deadlines. The spinoff of this is that I am now going to spend March not sleeping in order to make deadlines. Good thing I love this job, at least most of the time. You know, like when my characters aren't waging a war against me by refusing to speak completely?
Fortunately not all of February was bad. Being sick did mean I got to catch up on reading and spend a lot of time with my daughter. And it also meant the release of my latest Aphrodisia, Handyman. Like Body Moves this one is very close to my heart in that the events that triggered the hunky heroes to resort to selling their bodies to make ends meet were based on the current experiences of my life. And, no, that is not to say to my husband turned to a gigilo lifestyle. But he did have to take a new job that has him away from the house all of the hours when the rest of us are not.
February also came with some great reviews for several of my books, including Handyman. And a wonderful opportunity by another of my publishers to be included as their feature author for their monthly subscriber newsletter. This last came to me quite short notice and it has me in quite a quandary that I am hoping you all can help me with.
Here's the task at hand...
In 150 words talk about myself in such a way that interests readers, tells them something they hopefully don't already know about me, and has nothing to do with writing. Where on earth to start? What would you like to know (about me or another author if you already know me well)? What could I put into those 150 words that would make me feel more "real" to you as a person and not just a name on the cover of a book?