I had a completely different post in mind today, but my editor sent me my newest Aphrodisia cover! Of course, that means I have to share it with everyone. The first novella in this world comes out in the Sexy Beast V anthology in September (though I think it starts shipping in August--never ask the newbie questions. Trust me, the answers will only make your head hurt). Since that cover is so pretty, I'm including it, too. You're welcome!
On to the new cover, also heavy on the manflesh (thank you, cover fairies).
This one continues with three novellas set in a futuristic world. There's tiger shape-shifters as you can probably guess from the cover, but there's also polar bears, dragons, and mermaids. I had too much fun with this world. I even have a webpage for it. Click here to find out more.
But it got me thinking...how much do I judge a book by its cover? I know they say not to, but "they" also told me not to write romance. You see how well it's going for "them" so far. So, what would I think of my covers if I were a reader rather than the author? Well, as I said, manflesh is good. And not false advertising at all. I guarantee at some point in every book I write, there is a naked man. For one of the novellas in Carnal Desires, there's even two naked men. At the same time. I think you know what that means. Mmm-hmm.
I think I'd know what was in my books (generally) by these covers, so I guess judging them by their covers is an okay thing right here. Again, did I mention the manflesh? Niiiiice.
So, tell me...do you judge a book by its cover? I know I do.
Good cloudy morning folks. Would someone please explain this to me. A week and a half ago it reached 81 degrees here in the Northwest. Then it snowed over the weekend, and this morning I'm looking out at a cloud filled sky. Ah well, can't do nuttin' about it except hunker down and write. Yesterday I was playing email conversation with our own Kate Douglas. She said she was dealing with the cold in her neck of the woods by getting to the getting of a new book. Sounded like good advice so I kicked out about 2500 words. Hey Kate, I'm further along in this writin' a book business than you are. I'm into chapter four of the middle book in a three book contract. It doesn't have a title and I don't want anyone giving me a hard time about it, because the rest of it's starting to come together. Interesting thing about growing a story, at least for me. I start with a blip above nothing and start adding fertilizer until something pops to the surface. In this case, I've been holding onto a well-illustrated booklet about Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, a place I visited and fell in love with. The Anasazi once lived in this land of canyons and sandstone, and the dramatic vistas grabbed me around the throat the moment I entered it. Setting is vital to me. I need an emotional hit from an area (real or imagined) or my characters won't thrive in it. So step one became keeping the terrain but moving it to a fictional spot so I could play around with reality. Then I needed some characters. Hok'ee was just waiting for me to pull him out of the muddy backwater of my brain. A cougar shapeshifter, he's a restless and savage soul, wild and primal. There's nothing politically correct about him. There's a core of me in him, or perhaps I should say Hok'ee represents a don't-give-a-damn side to this law-abiding middle class writer I try to keep under lock. He has no need for or interest in money, running water, political campaigns, or even whether he has any clothes. How did he get that way? It took a couple nights of insomnia for the answer to emerge, but I love it. A hint. If you know anything about the Navajo or Tony Hillerman's writing, you've heard about the chindi. Hok'ee needed a woman, specifically one with a reason to enter his primal world. More insomnia. More ranting to myself. More considering and then rejecting options. Then one morning while I was in the shower, Kai stepped in and started talking about the psychic gift that sets her apart. What's that you say, psychics are a dime a dozen? True, but how many can tap into the souls of animals? Hot damn but do I love that idea. And her. Next came the plot, or rather the need for one. Not so much insomnia this time but a lot of sitting at the computer with my eyes closed while I threw down everything that came to mind. Minor characters, check. Theme, check. Goals, check. Twists and turns, check. I'm still working on getting all that to mesh, but I trust that thing called creativity enough to know the minor characters and the direction things are headed will eventually make sense. Maybe what I've written has bored the you know what out of whoever tried to wade through it, but I got a kick out of trying to explain the creative process, at least how it works for me. I'm deliberately not saying more because I lose momentum and interest if I say too much about what I'm doing. I need to be surprised and a bit scared every time something comes out of my mind, through my fingers, and onto the computer screen. One more thing before I fade off. Last week's mail brought a couple of great packages. I have a novella in Sexy Beast V which should come out in Sept. and the cover flats arrived. OMG that's one hunky hunk!!! Only With A Cowboy (another anthology) will hit the stands on April 29 which means I now have a box filled with copies to use for promotion. The cover: another hunky hunk wearing nothing except a trashed pair of jeans and a rope slung around his neck. I can hardly wait to read P.J. Mellor and Melissa MacNeal's contributions. Vonna www.VonnaHarper.com
p.s. Given what little I've told folks about what I'm working on, if anyone has an idea for a title, I'd be eternally grateful. In fact, I'll send you a copy of Only With A Cowboy.
Posted by Vonna Harper ::
12:06 PM ::
Something I’ve learned as a writer is that each book has its own distinctive life cycle.
My first published book, Champagne Rules, was years in the making. I had the idea, mucked around with it, revised it, revised it some more, went back and started from scratch. But once I’d sold it (on a proposal that consisted of about 100 finished pages plus a teeny synopsis), the project raced ahead. I sold in May 2005 and told my publisher I could finish the book by the end of July. Taking me at my word, Kensington slotted the book in for February 2006 – the second month of the launch of Aphrodisia. And yes, that’s incredibly quick. Almost never does a book go from submission to print in 6 months!
It was an amazing period, learning about copy-edits and page proofs, cover images and blurbs. Working on a website, bookmarks, ads, all of that fun stuff. Oh, and in there, I was also writing the second book in the series (Hot in Here), spending 5 weeks traveling in Australia and Hawaii, and writing a novella titled “Hot Down Under” for The Firefighter.
Very exciting! I could barely catch my breath.
My current release, She’s on Top, has had a very different life cycle. It’s the last book in the 4-book Awesome Foursome series that started with Champagne Rules. When I sold the first book, I hoped Kensington would buy all four – and hurray, they did, in two 2-book contracts. Rina, the heroine of She’s on Top, appeared in Champagne Rules, so from the beginning I had a sense of her personality and issues (I also knew who her hero would be). As I wrote book 2 (Hot in Here) and book 3 (Touch Me), I learned more and more about Rina. So when it came time to write her book, it flowed quickly and easily. I turned in the manuscript at the end of the summer in 2006. And now, in April 2008, it’s on the shelves. No, I’m not even going to count the months in between!
What I’ve learned is, each book is as unique in its growth process as a child because so many factors (at the author’s end and at the publisher’s) go into creating the finished product. Sometimes we authors have to scramble to keep up and sometimes we have to be patient. I’ve almost never heard an author say she’s content about her timing: she’s either in a mad panic trying to meet a deadline or frustrated because it’s taking so long for the book to get out. (I don’t even want to think about the editors’ frustrations: authors who don’t meet deadlines, authors who are high maintenance, authors who want to rewrite the book at the galleys stage…!)
I’m curious to hear other authors’ experiences. What’s the fastest time between idea and finished product – and was that fun or scary?
(Hey, Bonnie--blog any time you want, babe! Me, I'm running a tad late today because I've got too damn much to do before I go to yet another conference this spring!)
Just returned from NYC and the Novelists, Inc. conference--great fun to meet Devyn and Sasha and see Susan Lyons and other Aphrodisiacs there! This is the one con I never miss because we're all multi-pubbed and we don't allow promo activities--a way more laid-back way to enjoy hanging with your writer friends and to meet a lot of industry professionals, knowing some clueless newbie won't do the shove-the-manuscript-under-the-stall-door trick when one of our editor guests uses the restroom!
Best part for me this year? Had one of those STELLAR chats with my agent, about a new series idea we'd briefly discussed a few months ago, and he was REVVED, and thought we needed to talk it up to the (Dorchester) editor I was about to join for lunch. So I hung up, walked over to meet her, and meanwhile my agent called her to "whip her into a frenzy," as he put it (he doesn't write erotica, but he could! ; ) So when Alicia arrived, she was already excited and by the time we were finishing dessert (I had chocolate mousse to die for) we had talked about many, many aspects she loves about this timely concept, and she wants it, like, NOW!
Which means I was chatting with my agent at 11:30, lunching with my editor at 12:30, and by 1:30 she was all over it. I have NEVER had such an incredible experience! So now I'm putting proposal stuff, synopses, series overview, etc. into writing and I plan to start on the first
book on May 1.
I'm also prepping and packing for RT. Leaving very, very early on Sunday a.m. the 13th to fly into Pittsburgh in time to do dinner with the wannabe writers who take those pre-con classes Judi McCoy and Bobbi Smith teach. So yeah, I'm prepping some notes and handouts, and my postcard/bookmarks just arrived--ONLY WITH A COWBOY looks so good, not?!--and I have other stuff to complete as Novelists, Inc. Secretary (on the Board, they call me Miss Minutes...scary, scary concept if you're also an erotic novelist! )
So who-all's going to RT from this Aphrodisia clan? Hope to see lots of you at the Thursday night Kensington Kocktail bash! And see you before that, too! I'm going to hole up and write for awhile each day, but I'll be around--as both Melissa MacNeal and as Charlotte Hubbard. I'm supposed to have books by both of me at the Book Fair on Saturday, which makes for quite a mixed display! Nothing like a little schizophrenia to keep things lively.
For those of you going to RT, or to RWA National later on, what's the best part of these large cons for you? Do you feel you get enough bang for all the bucks we shell out to attend?
Always interesting to hear everyone's feelings about these...I know several authors who are staying home this year because of iffy contracts/income. It was refreshing to hear the editors at our Novelists Inc con sound upbeat about the state of publishing and its economy, and I hope their optimism proves to be true!
Meanwhile, I wish all of you a wonderful experience like I had in NYC--and I look forward to our new Aphrodisia website! And I look forward to having all these spring conferences behind me so I can just WRITE, for cryin' out loud!
Unexpectedly lovely, fantastic and exciting. Well over a year and half after its release, the anthology, PURE SEX (July 2006) has gone back to the printers for another print run.
A little update on this set of stories: THE BET by Lucinda Betts took the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in published romance fiction for the novella category.
The Gayle Wilson contest is judged by avid readers of romance and booksellers.
My story, SLOW HAND is connected to ROCK SOLID in BUILT (August 2007). Jared MacKay is the owner/captain of a Caribbean charter boat that offers honeymoons. When a jilted bride shows up, Jared teaches her the meaning of SLOW HAND. His brother Jake is the hero in ROCK SOLID.
And in THE CRIB, the talented Sasha White takes us on a first person investigation of drugs and frame-ups with Lexy and Devon. This story blew my mind when I first read it. But, since then Sasha has proven over and over again that she's a fantastic spinner of tales.
So, while a lot of our posts here are about our new and wonderful releases, this time, I thought I'd do a short trip back to celebrate what came before the books you're reading now.
(The last time one of the anthologies I've been in went back for another printing was when THE HARD STUFF went back for a fourth edition!)
P.S. One lucky commenter today will win a signed copy (First Edition!) of PURE SEX...
Posted by Bonnie Edwards ::
12:33 PM ::