Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Has this ever happened to you?

It was the day after Christmas, and I was sound asleep, minding my own business when suddenly…

Vicious, saber-toothed plot bunnies attacked me from nowhere.

Nowhere, I tell you.

It was barely 6:00 AM. I tried to ignore them, I really did, but it just got worse.

So finally I got out of bed and grabbed a notebook and started making notes.

The upside of this plot bunny ambush is, if I can pull it all off, I’ve got stories to keep me busy all year long and releases through 2013.

The downside is, I’ll have to write the equivalent of four full-length novels over the course of two years. Starting next week. That’s doable – assuming I can avoid any more lurking plot bunnies for the next 12 months at least.

Anybody have any suggestions for warding off random bunny attacks?

When was the last time bunnies got you? Did you escape unscathed, or did you surrender?

Monday, December 26, 2011

What was the best gift you received?

I hope you've enjoyed whatever holiday(s) you've celebrated lately.

Someone on twitter asked something like "What was the best gift you ever received?" and I thought it would be fun to answer that today.

I received my favorite gift of all time when I was six or seven. My grandparents gifted me a subscription that delivered two Nancy Drew and two Hardy Boys mysteries to me every month for a year.

It was such a thrill to receive that box of books month after month.

What was the best gift you've ever received?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dare me, I dare you

Have you seen this commercial for Dr. Pepper Ten, the new 10-calorie, men only version of Dr. Pepper?

I thought it was hysterical, not to mention an interesting marketing ploy. Soda companies apparently have realized that men don’t like diet soda. Why should they? Let’s face it, it tastes funny. Not to mention it’s all about counting calories which is something women are supposed to do. Men don’t have time for that girly stuff. They’re out chasing bears and eating a couple pounds of beef in one sitting. You don’t cap that off with a diet soda, right?

Well, my husband is a big fan of Dr. Pepper, and he fits the demographic they’re after. He doesn’t like diet soda. When he saw the commercial for Dr. Pepper Ten he decided he would try it mostly because he thought the part about it not being for women was funny. He said, “Now you can’t steal my soda.”

Let me defend myself here by saying, I don’t steal a lot of soda. I try to avoid drinking it if possible, but once in a while, with a slice of pizza or something, a can of Dr. Pepper can be awesome. But whatever. In his mind I steal his soda and now I won’t because this new soda, cleverly camouflaged in a gray can, like women can’t see that color or something, is specifically formulated for men only.

DH said, “You’ve had your own deodorant for years [Secret- strong enough for a man but made for a woman], so now we have our own soda.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that in the minds of women, men only have what we allow them to think they have. He was happy knowing he had his own soda. I let him enjoy the fantasy.

Until he came home with a case of Dr. Pepper Ten. Not only did I immediately pop open a can for myself [basically it’s diet Dr. Pepper that tastes only slightly less diety. The ten calories come from a splash of high fructose corn syrup which is missing from regular ‘diet’ sodas. The negative -180 calories of the rest of it comes from aspartame] I proceeded to drink the whole can despite my husband’s ‘men’s liberation’ protests.

I’m not sorry either.

Anything boys can do, girls can do better. [That’s the playground motto I remember best from grammar school, and I stand behind it.]

So not only do I steal the men-only Dr. Pepper Ten from my husband, I drink it through a pink bendy straw.

Tell me what I can’t do next. I dare you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How Not to Piss Off a Contest Judge

So I've been judging a contest and there are a couple of things that have pissed me off about the process.

**Obviously, if  the contest lays out the way to prepare your entry, follow those.

1) Don't send an entry that requires a signature.

Yes, I know, you're desperate to know that your masterpiece reached its destination. Please also know that signing for multiple packages is a pain in the butt. It got so bad that my mail carrier, a very nice woman who is usually unfailingly cheerful,  finally asked me what was going on and how much longer I expected the onslaught to last.

2)  Seal ONCE.

Again, I know you're sending cargo that is precious to you, but please remember you're sending manuscript pages, not a virus that can wipe out the population of Earth. It's enough of a challenge to open some of the USPS/ FedEx  packaging...but then to find ANOTHER envelope inside, that is wrapped with industrial grade packing tape, seems to indicate you don't really want your entry read.

3) Bind your pages.

If the contest specifies how to do it, follow those instructions. If it doesn't, use something to hold the pages together. If it can be stapled, staple it. Or if you don't have a stapler handy, use a paperclip. Your manuscript is getting added to a stack of manuscripts, do you really want it to be sloppy?

4) Put a name or title on every page. (unless instructions say otherwise) 

The same people who didn't staple/paperclip their entries, were the ones who only put numbers on their pages. When the dog knocked a pile off my coffee table, I had pages scattered everywhere. It took me forever to figure out which page 6 belonged in each entry.

5) Say thanks.

I'm a volunteer. I'm getting nothing from judging this contest. I'm doing it to help support my fellow writers. Not one person put a, "Thank you for taking the time to judge this entry" in their cover letter. If someone had, I might be more willing to judge again next year.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Official blurb revealed!! Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman


Maggie Lee is not your average hit woman. For one thing, she’s never killed anyone. For another, after hitting her head in the car accident that killed her sister, her new best friend is a talking lizard--a picky eater obsessed with Wheel of Fortune, who only Maggie can hear.

Maggie, who can barely take care of herself, is desperate to help her injured and orphaned niece get the best medical care possible, so she reluctantly accepts a mobster’s lucrative job offer: major cash to kill his monstrous son-in-law.

Paired with Patrick Mulligan, a charming murder mentor (who happens to moonlight as a police detective), Maggie stumbles down her new career path, contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, a semi-psychic friend predicting her doom, and a day job she hates. Oh, and let’s not forget about Paul Kowalski, the sexy beat cop who could throw her ass in jail if he finds out what she’s up to.

Training has never been this complicated! And, this time, Maggie has to get the job done. Because if she doesn’t – she’s the mob’s next target.

Available for pre-order at AMAZON now. Coming soon to all fine ebook retailers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The scattershot approach to writing*

As long as we’re talking about confessions [of slightly neurotic hitwomen or anyone else], I suppose I should reveal mine.

I currently have absolutely NO FOCUS when it comes to my writing. I’ve been knocking myself out trying to come up with some type of writing plan for 2012, and while I have some ambitious goals, I have yet to figure out a solid plan for how to reach those goals.

I seem to have all this pent up writing energy – a lot of ideas floating around in my head, sequels to older books, three-book series, standalone novels…but I find I’m so enamored of so many ideas that I can’t concentrate on just one for any length of time.

In the past I’ve allowed indecision to paralyze me. I don’t know which of half a dozen projects to work on, so I go sit in the corner and crochet. It doesn’t help. [Well, I made a nice afghan and a couple of really cute scarves, but other than that, I got nowhere.] My new MO is to not allow lack of focus to actually stop me from writing. So I’ve been writing like mad, sometimes 4500 words in a day – and working on whatever story strikes my fancy at the moment.

I figure eventually something will end up finished.

I know it’s not the best way to write – it’s sort of like giving a monkey a typewriter and waiting for him to complete the works of Shakespeare. You’ll probably get a lot of crap [on and off the page] before you come close to something readable. But I’ll say this – I’m writing. Somewhere in the ever flowing mess of words there may be a gem or two, and in the future I can sweep up all the errant phrases, cut and paste scenes, edit to my heart’s content, and maybe come up with something useful. Or hopefully in the mean time I’ll settle down and figure out exactly how to accomplish what I want to accomplish and be able to hone my approach.

The saying goes: Writer’s write. Nowhere does it say they do so in a systematic and logical way. So for now, I write, therefore I am.

Are you? [Writing that is.]

*Warning: Don’t attempt this at home. The unfocused brain of a writer is a dangerous thing and should be left in the hands of professionals. Preferably mental health care professionals.

Don’t forget to drop by tomorrow to find out more about JB Lynn’s upcoming release, CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Isn't it pretty??

Check back on Thursday when I'll reveal the official blurb!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What makes an Alpha? + Giveaway

Please give a Killer Welcome to today's special guest Rita Henuber, who will be giving away a copy of UNDER FIRE to one lucky commenter!

Take it away, Rita!

I had my blog pretty much written and came over to the Killer Chick site to check on something.  The blog header –the chick in silhouette, weapons in hand and the wings spreading behind- made me rethink.

I’m constantly asked about the hero and heroine in Under Fire both being alphas and how I make it work. Recently a friend and fellow author who’d read Under Fire asked me the same question. She said she rarely connected with an alpha heroine but she connected with my heroine immediately.  Yeah! Yippee! And a back flip.(if I could do one) 

I had to think hard before I could answer.  Honestly, I don’t think of my  H&H as alphas.  My definition of alpha is kickass, take no prisoners, do what it takes to get the job done no matter how many people are used and abused. No matter how many bodies are stepped over and left behind, the protagonist doesn’t care a flying fig.  

I prefer to say my H&H in Under Fire strong. They are certainly kickass. He, Rico, is a deep undercover DEA agent.  He’s been under cover so long the line between the job and who he pretends to be is blurring. She, Olivia, is a Coast Guard helicopter pilot. Her job is drug interdictions along the Florida coast.  Her flying skills are above average as are her hand to hand fighting skills.  They are both fiercely independent because they’ve suffered crushing hurts and don’t want to let anyone to close. 

When they come together to get the job done they each have their own ideas and there is a lot of compromise.  Except in the bedroom.  Without hesitation they leave some bodies behind. But, they are all the bad guys.

Olivia and Rico stand shoulder to shoulder. Accepting of each other.  They fill in each other’s blanks. Never once asking the other to give up anything. 

I perceive women though out history to have this independence and strength.  Their men went off to wars and didn’t come back for years. Those women ran the farms and businesses. Could weak women endure dangerous ocean crossings to come to the new world?  Think about the settling of America. Women were there, even if many historians want to ignore them. They crossed the county in wagon trains through heat and snow just like the men. They have been part of battles in every war this country has partaken in.  The first and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, Mary Walker, was a surgeon during the Civil War. The medal was rescinded in 1916. The Army purged its files to reduce what they thought were "unwarranted" issues of medals.  But, it was said the real reason was CongressMEN were upset Mary wore pants while operating on wounded men. Really? She was asked several times to return the medal and refused wearing it every day until her death. Congress reinstated it to her in 1976.

Spring forward to WWII when women stepped into men’s jobs still maintaining homes. Women pilots ferried newly built planes (planes built by women) to the fronts. Many lost their lives to enemy fire. It wasn’t until 1977 these amazing women were afforded veterans status.

I look around me and see women who are wives and single mothers, maintaining homes, caring for children, working outside the home, being caregivers to aging or ill family members. On top of it all, they eek out time to write romance novels.  These are the real life strong heroines I model my story heroines after.  If some consider them alpha, kickass, strong, killers-chicks so be it.  

So how do you define an alpha character? 

Have you read Under Fire? Do you think Olivia is an alpha heroine or an extraordinary woman?

Rita grew up in Florida, married a Marine, lived around the country and traveled the world. Back in Florida she writes about extraordinary women and the men they love. Visit her web home   Facebook twitter @ritahenuber.  You can also catch her on the Ruby Sisters blog  or,  on Just Romantic Suspense
Under Fire is available at Carina Press , Amazon,, Audible  B&N,


Friday, December 9, 2011

Vigilante Author at Work

Today’s guest blogger, Lillian Grant, transplanted herself from the UK to Australia after marrying her husband. Her stories sexy romance novels reflect her love for travel and exotic locations, along with her quirky British sense of humor.

Today she tells us what it’s like to be a superhero with a secret identity.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s an author hard at work. Can I trust you with a secret?  I’m a superhero.  No, really I am. Okay, okay, I don’t have a cool costume, yet. There is no gadget filled car in my garage. No alarm goes off calling me to the author cave and nothing green and pulsating reduces my magical powers. But I have it on good authority being an undercover author is cool.

What is she talking about? You might well ask!  I recently changed day jobs and my new employer takes political correctness and sexual harassment very seriously. We even had training on it…no not on how to sexually harass people. I never meant that!

So, what is a secret romance author to do?  If some of my writings were to find their way into the office would I be accused of peddling political incorrectness and risk my colleagues taking my sex scenes as an invitation for harassment?  I decided to seek the opinion of a higher power, the HR manager. 

With great trepidation I sought her counsel. I had confessed at my interview that I was a published romance author but perhaps not just how steamy my books could be. I asked whether I would be in trouble should I be outed. I assured her I had no intention of telling my fellow workers I was an author never mind reveal my pen name, nor would I be setting up a table in reception to peddle my smut. Even when she probed I refused to divulge my secret identity however when she asked if my books were Mills and Boon I did confess they were a little bit racier than that.  She assured me there would be no problem and my secret was safe with her. Her parting words to me, “I wish I had a secret identity, it’s really cool. It’s like you’re superman or something.”

So, there you go. By day I am a mild mannered accountant and by night a vigilante author leaving a trail of love and steamy sex scenes in my wake.


Lillian’s latest work is available at

Accountant Emily Armitage is stuck in Sydney for the weekend, working on the numbers for a hotel sale while fighting off the unwanted attention of her boss. However, things begin to look up when she steps onto her balcony and meets the man of her dreams. When her new neighbor delivers room service, along with a shoulder massage, delicious foot rubs, and easy charm, she succumbs to the obvious attraction. Having spent a passionate weekend together, Monday morning brings an unwanted revelation. Randy's been keeping secrets that could change her life. Suddenly uncertain, she is forced to make a choice between her career and a man who adds up to perfection. Should she stick with the hotel acquisition or take a chance on their passionate new merger?

To learn more about Lillian and her books visit her website.

Thanks for joining us at KC, Lillian!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Naughty or Nice?

You know this time of year the question is inevitable. Have you been naughty or nice?

When I was a kid, the answer was simple. I just had to run through the standard checklist. Was I doing my homework? Brushing my teeth? Keeping my room clean and minding my manners? Check, check, check, check. I was a pretty well behaved kid if I do say so myself, so I usually didn’t worry about getting coal in my stocking.

As I got older, the line between naughty and nice began to blur a bit. Did I call out sick from work when I really wasn’t? [Who doesn’t need a mental health day now and then?] Had I adjusted the bathroom scale so at ten pounds it registered zero? [I was only fooling myself.] Was I putting regular gas in the car and telling my husband it was premium? [The car didn’t seem to know the difference.]

Now that I’m well into my 40s I don’t worry about which list I’m on. Naughty is a given for someone who writes racy adult romances and plays with vampires and gargoyles. I do still try to be Nice as often as possible, but I know which way the scales are tipped. Santa and I have an understanding these days. I leave him the homemade cookies with extra chocolate chips and some hot buttered rum, and he leaves me presents as if I was at the top of the Nice list. None of the elves are any the wiser.

So tell me, which list are you on? Have you worked out any deals with Santa for him to overlook your naughtiness?

Don’t forget it’s not too late to fill up your stocking Kindle with bargain priced books for the holidays!

And be sure to drop by Friday when romance author Lillian Grant will be here telling us about the secret life of a superhero.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's on YOUR wish list?

Last year I wished for a smooth release of THE FIRST VICTIM, a new agent, and a new book deal, and, amazingly, I got all three. (I'm repped by the ultra-fab Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider and she sold my humorous crime novel to Avon Impulse.)

This year I'm wishing for a smooth release of CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN on January 24th and that Victoria will sell my next book. (It would probably help if I sent it to her, lol.)

There are other things on my wish list this year.

An herbal wrap for those days when I've been hunched over my computer for hours.

A new digital timer. (I love timed writing sessions!)

Spiral notebooks. (I'm a notebook addict!)

Tell me Killer Friends -- What's on your wish list? A new computer? A book on writing? A desk? A class? A workshop? A retreat? A gift card to your favorite writing cafe?? A new printer?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Writing to fit the Characters

Today's guest blogger, Patricia Bates, wrote her first full length romance by the time she was in junior high. Ever since then, she's been combining her love of history and her passion for writing to produce sexy historical stories in various settings.

Today she's is going to tell us what happens when characters have a different idea than the author of how a story is supposed to go.

As an author, there are few things in this world I’m not willing to explore. What happens within the pages of my books isn’t a reflection of me but rather the characters. So what happens when you’re suddenly writing something the characters have issues, or hang-ups, or just plain don’t even want to think about? Um mass confusion, more than one embarrassing interview, and a husband who looks at you like you’ve lost your mind when you tell him you want to learn how to tie a knot.

Recently, I started writing a what I intended to be short steamy romance where there heroine had some major sexual issues. She’d survived a horrific relationship, a b**ch of a mom, and was absolutely virginal when it came to sex and having an orgasm. She hid behind a mousy appearance rather than admit she’s an attractive girl with a lot going for her.

With all her hang-ups I tried to think of ways to get into her head, get to the bottom of what her repressed nature was. To be sure I got the grasp of what it meant I decided to talk to some who are in the know so to speak. I’ve posted questions on a loop *wink* some of us may know – Romance Divas an amazing group!! – to ask questions about bondage and such and get some feedback. Turned out it was invaluable and completely honest, which lead me to a different direction with the characters. Their feedback also let me think the plot through again and make a few major tweaks I think enhance the story.

Then with my face burning like a dry razor burn, I did the unthinkable. I made an appointment with one of the adult stores in town and went to talk to them about bondage, and such – it didn’t go well at all. The bondage got forgotten and instead it turned into a discussion on how to get a girl to let go without force or doing something really, really drastic like tie her to a bed and tease her until she’s begging for it.

Interesting enough, there were things I’d never once thought of. So, with some suggestions in hand, my mind racing with images of muted lights, and a man who wouldn’t stop until she was satisfied, I headed home to the computer to plot and work on interviewing the heroine.

She was more than a bit reluctant to talk, but she caved with a little convincing. As she spoke, as I got to know her, I realized the short, steamy little novella wasn’t going to work. The plot, the themes, were simply too complex, too in depth to just cram it into 5-10k and leave it. Why I’m sitting with a six page outline, a hero who steams the heroine’s glasses with just a look and a snooty Mother wallowing in misery because she’s such a witch.

This story – which I’ve tentatively named Five Alarm Lust – is still sitting on my hard drive, still unfinished though there’s a lot of work on it already. Why you may ask? Because as great as this story is, and as steamy and sexy as the lovers get, I’m just not really ready to finish it, Gillian (my heroine) has a bit of exploring, a bit of learning to trust again left to do. Until then, I’m content to just poke at it periodically and let her grow into the woman Jack knows she is.

You can learn more about Patricia's characters - the ones who do cooperate, at her Website, and her blog, Of Ink and Quille.

Thanks, Patricia, for joining us at Killer Chicks!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Lovers Buffet!

I skipped my Wednesday post so I bring all you book lovers some good news today. A group of dedicated authors have gotten together to provide readers with a smorgasbord of specially priced books for the month of December. [Click on the button or the link below]

At the Book Lovers Buffet, dozens of authors are offering their books at $0.99 each for the entire month.

You can find Contemporary, Erotica, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Historical, Inspirational, Mystery, Non-Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, YA, and Women’s Fiction all listed on the gorgeous blog site.

Each book can be found on sale at, and/or Smashwords and many at all three sites.

So if you’re looking to load up your Kindle, Nook or other e-reader device to treat yourself for the holidays, buy for friends or family or just to feed your need to read, visit Book Lovers Buffet and load up – you won’t gain a pound!

Special thanks to the talented ladies who designed the site and worked tirelessly to bring it all together:Carly Carson, Vivi Anna, Jennette Marie Powell, E. Ayers, Linda Andrews, Deb Hale, JE Hopkins, Jill James, Renee Pace, Barbara Phinney, Nina Pierce, and Stephanie Queen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday Madness

So for the past week or so, I had this idea for a new book tumbling around in my head. I was calling it: BLACK FRIDAY MADNESS.

It was about a crafty killer who struck once a year, every year, on Black Friday.

This demented individual took out his (or her) victims in the middle of a crowded store. Often the bodies would go undiscovered or ignored for hours as hordes of mad shoppers, looking for the deal of the century, trashed the retail establishment.

And then I saw some of the news stories about the crazy people who really are out there on Black Friday and I decided fiction couldn't do this story justice.

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you shop on Black Friday? Do you buy all your gifts from the comfort of your computer on Cyber Monday? Or, are you like me, someone who hates shopping and avoids it at all costs?

What's on your wish list this year?

If you have a chance, please stop by Not Your Usual Suspects on Wednesday. I'll be there discussing: The Secret Formula to Success (bet you wish you had that!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And the winner is...

First I want to thank everyone who commented on my favorite vampire post. It would be great to sit down with all of you over lunch and talk about vampires all afternoon, but this was the next best thing.

Congratulations Darcy [Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes]!

Angel is your favorite vampire so far – but maybe Julian Devlin from UNCROSS MY HEART will give him a run for his money.

I’ll be contacting you to claim your prize.


Magick made him human. Only love can keep him that way.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
After a century of living la vida muerta, Julian Devlin’s closest ally casts a de-vamping spell that leaves him defanged and demoted from his hard-won place in Baltimore’s vampire hierarchy. Disoriented by his transformation, he can’t even find his way home.
The indignities don’t end there. Before he can explain to the quirky consignment shop owner why he’s hiding in her basement, she’s punched the newly re-acquired breath out of him and smacked him upside the head with her knock-off purse.
Available now at:
and Direct from Samhain Publishing

Monday, November 21, 2011

Writing, Rock Climbing, and Progress

This past weekend we had a delightul dinner with a pair of pretty serious rock climbers and it got me to thinking about the similarities and differences of the two.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I would NEVER,IN A MILLION YEARS, take up rock climbing. I'm afraid of heights. Step-ladders make me nervous. Escalators frighten me. Steep hills can trigger a panic attack. Roller coasters scare the shit out of me. So, like I said, I'm never going to be a climber.

I'm fascinated by the idea of it though. A climber must be physically fit and I would imagine they must have great concentration. They must have to really be able to stay in the moment (something I suck at since I tend to imagine a dozen ways a situation can play out).

When one of the climbers said they could never write a book, I nodded. I totally get how daunting the process must seem, but really they're probably pretty similar. You have a plan, equipment (craft)and hopefully you get better at as you amass experience. You don't shoot straight from the start to the finish, just like you can't go straight from the base to the summit.
You find hand-holds and drag yourself up. Sure there may be times you have to backtrack, but as long as you keep moving, you're making progress.

Speaking of progress, I received my copy edits for CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN! Hopefully I'll soon have the official cover and blurb to share.

Tell me KILLER FRIENDS: What kind of "impossible" things have you tackle and succeeded at? (I'd have to list my two half-marathon completions.) What would you never even think of attempting? (Me: Rock climbing, sky diving, and baking a souffle) What's on your "I have to try it at least once" list?

Don't forget to scroll down to tell Jennifer Colgan who your favorite vampire is. You could win a copy of UNCROSS MY HEART!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who's your favorite vampire?

To commemorate the release of my unvampire novel, UNCROSS MY HEART, in print, I’m running a little poll and looking for a lucky winner to receive a copy of the book before it’s available on December 6th.

One of the reasons I loved writing UNCROSS MY HEART, was because I’ve been a vamp fan for a long time. Ever since I ran into Angel, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’ve been hooked. I have to say of all the fang-boys I know of, Angel was and probably always will be my favorite, but he certainly has a lot of competition.

For you vamp fans out there, which famous vampire would you love to sink your teeth into?

Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Edward Cullen from Twilight

Bill Compton from True Blood

Damon Salvatore from Vampire Diaries

Stefan Salvatore from Vampire Diaries

Mick St. John from Moonlight

Henry Fitzroy from Blood Ties

Tom Cruise from Interview with a Vampire

Anyone else? I'm sure I've missed a few. There are so many hot vamps out there. Let's dish!

Tell me who your favorite vamp is and why, and next week I’ll choose a lucky winner to receive the print version of UNCROSS MY HEART [or if you’re outside the US, I will send you the ebook version].

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

A couple of years ago I made an effort to take a photograph most days of the week. I'm not a gifted photographer and have never taken a photography class, but I thought I'd keep a record, not just in words, but with pictures too of my day-to-day life.

It was an interesting experiment, but the results weren't what I'd expected. I'd thought that I'd be capturing memories, but what happened instead was that I improved my writer's eye. I looked at things more closely. I admired light and textures in a way I'd never had before.

For some reason I let my picture-taking fall to the wayside, but recently, I've picked it up again.

Tell me Killer Friends: Are you a photographer? Do you tend to snap more nature/wildlife or people pics? Do you find photographs to be inspiring? Calming? Do you prefer color, sepia or black-and-white? Are there any books of photographs you'd recommend? Or any websites you think are worth a visit?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Appearances Can Be Deceptive. Just ask Toni Anderson!

When I was an undergraduate in university we were all given a viva by a crusty looking external examiner. Years later, I discovered that this guy had tried recruiting a few of my fellow students to be spooks. Spooks! Needless to say they never asked meJ.

This made me think about appearances being deceptive and how we use this in our stories.

On the outside, the hero of EDGE OF SURVIVAL appears to be a handsome, charming, ne’er-do-well who cares about nothing but flying, drinking and burying himself in the nearest available woman. But appearances are deceptive. In reality Daniel Fox is a former SAS soldier, the best of the best, and a man who is running from the ghosts of his past and battling PTSD while avoiding every emotional entanglement that comes his way.

The heroine is a brilliant beautiful fish biologist trying to conduct a difficult study in a remote environment. In reality her beauty hides a deadly condition—type-1 diabetes—and she’s trying to prove to her family she’s just as capable as they are of living her life to the max as they are.

Neither the hero or the heroine are quite what they seem on the surface. The trouble is there’s someone else who’s purposely pretending to be something they are not. Someone willing to kill to keep his secrets. You’ll have to read the book to find out who that is J


EDGE OF SURVIVAL (November 21st, 2011)

Foreword by Brenda Novak

Dr. Cameran Young knew her assignment wouldn't be easy. As lead biologist on the Environment Impact Assessment team, her findings would determine the future of a large mining project in the northern Canadian bush. She expected rough conditions and hostile miners—but she didn't expect to find a dead body her first day on the job.

Former SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox forged a career as a helicopter pilot, working as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying makes his civilian life bearable, and he lives by his mantra: don't get involved. But when he's charged with transporting the biologist to her research vessel, he can't help but get involved in the murder investigation—and with Cameran, who awakens emotions he's desperate to suppress.

In the harsh and rugged wilderness, Daniel and Cameran must battle their intense and growing attraction while keeping ahead of a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her…

My heroine has diabetes and I'm donating 15% of my royalties to diabetes research.

Available for pre-order from and Barnes & Noble. From Carina Press.


Excerpt from EDGE OF SURVIVAL (edited for language)

An enormous black bear splashed across the Mitshishu Brook just below the falls and sprinted up a near-vertical scree slope to escape from the helicopter. Holy crap, that thing could shift.

Daniel looked at the biologists, expecting a hero’s welcome from the damsels in distress who’d sounded frantic on the radio. But they looked far from relieved. Something was wrong. Daniel’s senses went on high alert. Vikki was stripping off her clothes and no one was watching. Tommy was running toward him waving in excitement.

The Doc…

His heart slowed for two distinct beats before instinct screamed a warning.

Cameran Young was nowhere in sight.

Adrenaline whipped through his bloodstream even as he ignored the effects and regulated his breathing. He couldn’t afford to lose control. He landed the chopper, turned off the machine and unclipped his harness, then ran for the falls with the rotors still spinning. Vikki executed a perfect dive into the pool.

Tommy grabbed his arm, jabbering. “She’s in the water. She fell in the water and her waders filled and she sank—”

He grabbed the kid by a handful of shirt. “The Doc? The Doc is in the water?” Daniel yanked his shirt over his head and kicked off his boots. “How long?” He shucked his pants just as Vikki surfaced.

“I can’t find her!” she yelled and spluttered.

How long had she been down? He grabbed his knife from his pants and ran full pelt up onto the rocks above the pool and dove straight into the water.

There was the shock of cold. Which was good for the Doc, but not so great for his fine motor skills. He kept descending, slicing deep into the pool that had been eroded by thousands of years of water versus bedrock. It was silent, except for the sound of his blood thrashing around his body as he searched for Cam.

How long had she been down?

Panic fluttered. He had to keep calm. Had to remember his training even though tactical breathing was a little difficult in this situation. It was dark under the water, with bright shafts of sunlight breaking through the surface like spotlights. Fish swam all around, unfazed by the human invasion.

Everything felt so violently alive—his senses sharpened, nerve endings stripped, survival skills on fire. His body was primed by sheer muscle memory and cognitive reflex. Even though worry for the Doc gripped his chest, he’d forgotten how good this felt. He’d forgotten how alive a body could be.

Then he spotted her. Motionless at the bottom of the pool except for her hair, which swirled around her like silk, and he remembered something else. How dead a body could be.


Toni Anderson is a former Marine Biologist turned Romantic Suspense writer who now lives in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children. Her stories are set in the stunning locations where she’s been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and Australia. Check out her website for a list of current titles, her blog and Facebook Author Page for writing news and her personal Facebook page and Twitter for constant nonsensical chatter. She is also part of a wonderful group blog—Not Your Usual Suspects. Come introduce yourself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What’s your fantasy dream job?

We talk about writing being a ‘dream job’ a lot – be your own boss, sit around talking to the people in your head all day, cashing those royalty checks…

But if you weren’t a writer [and you weren’t whatever your day job is, if you’ve got one of those too] and you could be anything in the universe, what would you be? I’m not talking about real world stuff – for instance my real world dream job is Restaurant Critic. I would love to eat at fancy restaurants every night and write about the experience for money. I mean, who wouldn’t? What a life…but my fantasy dream job is something totally different.

Don’t laugh.

If I could be anything in the universe, I think I’d like to be one of Santa’s elves.

I told you not to laugh.

Think about it – how cool would it be? You get to build toys all day [I’d work in the doll house department]. You work for a jolly guy who likes to give presents. You get to hang out at the North Pole where it’s nice and quiet and snowy and cozy in a state-of-the-art workshop. I could get used to that. I don’t even mind it being winter all the time, as long as someone else is driving the sleigh. My office would look something like this:

So what would you be, if you could be anything?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Creative Pause

Last week I went to visit my parents, who live a slower, less digitally-connected, life than I do. Except for going back and forth with my agent and editor about the cover art for CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN a couple of times, I did no work. I didn't write. I didn't blog. I didn't tweet. I didn't even type up the handwritten pages I'd brought with me.

I took an extended Creative Pause.

In his paper for International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Professor Lajos Székely describes creative pause as follows:

The ‘creative pause’ is defined as the time interval which begins when the thinker interrupts conscious preoccupation with an unsolved problem, and ends when the solution to the problem unexpectedly appears in consciousness. (“The Creative Pause”, 1967)

Honestly, it made me nuts for the first couple of days. I'm so accustomed to being connected, both in a digital sense and to my work, that the absence of distractions caused a psychic itch. Instinctively I sought to fill the unfilled hours instead of appreciating the uninterrupted time.

Usually my creative pauses occur in the shower and last minutes, not days, but it's in those minutes, when I'm not actively engaged in solving a problem, or being creative, that I often have my biggest breakthroughs, my "A-HA!" moments if you will.

Last week's creative pause delivered the solutions to two problems that had been vexing me (one to do with CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN and one to prop up the sagging middle of my work-in-progress).

This made me realize that I need to be more proactive about how I spend my time. I need to focus on working with intention, rather than being so reactionary to every distraction that pops up. I could also benefit from protecting my downtime more carefully so that my mind has the chance to just wander.

I'm thinking of going "digital-free" for one day each weekend and staying offline for blocks of time during my workday.

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you find that Creative Pauses help you? Do you have any rituals or tricks you use to make them happen? How do you recharge YOUR creative batteries?

Speaking of creative people, don't miss author Toni Anderson's visit on Friday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Going to the dogs

I love dogs, don't get me wrong. And I think teaching kids the responsibilities of pet ownership is as fundamental as teaching them how to read, and there's no better way to teach kids than through playing games...however I think the Goliath game company has gone a little bit - no, never mind, make that a LOT too far.

Have you seen this?

While cleaning up dog poo has been something I've paid kids to do [not my kids, btw, my nephew], and the idea of having them clean up dog poo because it was somehow fun is a parent's dream, I just can't get behind [no pun intended] this kind of game.

What do you think? Is this the next big thing for family game night, or is it a steaming pile of... well, you get the picture.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I'm filling in for JB this week because she's away. So beware, things might get a little weird around here.

I can't believe I'm posting this, but hey, it's a day for scaring people, right?

This is me and DH as dominoes for a Halloween party a couple of years ago. Two sheets of craft foam, a needle and thread, two black t-shirts and two black pairs of sweatpants and we were ready to go.

What's your best/most creative/easiest/most fun/most ambitious Halloween costume?

PS: And no, before someone asks, we were not Zombie Dominoes. That's my real face.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson juggled 4 sets of revisions at once!

Please give a Killer Welcome to Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson!

Spinning Heads and Other Hazards

Remember the movie ‘The Exorcist’? (And boy, was that really scary when it first came out. I still remember how terrified I was – and I was a grown-up!) There’s one scene where Regan, the young possessed girl, is sitting on the bed taunting the priest and then her head begins to spin around and around. Just watching that scene gave me a headache.

Well, things like that don’t happen in real life, but it sure can feel like they do. I know. I spent most of the summer in a real head-whirling tizzy.

It’s great when you sell a book. It’s spectacular when you sell four in just a little over half a year. When revisions come due, though, it can be literally head-spinning. I’ve sold a number of books in my lifetime, and done publisher-requested revisions on all of them. Never three or four in a row and overlapping.

Luckily all four sales were to Carina Press, though I work with two different editors there, which I gather is rather unusual. Of course, my first two sales were rather unusual. I had submitted two different books in two different lengths (novel and novella) in two different genres (cozy historical mystery and horror) under two different names (Janis Patterson and Janis Susan May) in two different months (don’t remember exactly which ones, only that they were two to three months apart). Then just a few days before I was to leave for Germany to meet The Husband for the holidays Angela James calls me saying she wanted both books. I don’t think anyone realized until that call list was made that I was the same person. I think it was having the same phone number that gave it away.

Sounds rather princessy, doesn’t it? And it was. I enjoyed it to the hilt. Then the real work started when I belatedly realized that when you sell four books in a limited amount of time, you have to revise and edit those four books in a limited amount of time. Editor Liz and I did the revisions for LURE OF THE MUMMY (available now under the name Janis Susan May). I got the revisions for THE HOLLOW HOUSE (available 14 November under the name Janis Patterson) from Editor Mallory. Okay. I started work on them, but there were still a few tweaks that had to be done on LURE. Well, we got through that, but then as I was winding up on the second round of HOLLOW HOUSE, TIMELESS INNOCENT, another horror novella, came up. Then add to the mix DARK SUN, a traditional tale of Gothic romance now retitled INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS. Of course, at that time the first two books sold, neither INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS nor TIMELESS INNOCENT was completely done, so I found myself finishing a book while I edited another. And another. And another.

Gaaahh! Just to complicate things – however wonderfully – during the middle of all this The Husband’s deployment ended and he came home after being stationed overseas for a year. Then we have to go to the coast to pick up the car he bought and shipped home. Double gaaahh! Then there’s his Navy retirement ceremony and… (Deep breath, deep breath) Everything is great, everything is wonderful, and everything has to be done RIGHT NOW.

I started looking for a closet to hide in or, failing that, a tramp steamer on which I could stow away.

Fortunately, all the books were at Carina Press and my editors Liz and Mallory are absolutely wonderful. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow they managed to schedule things so that I was really working only on one story at a time. Rarely was there a quick tweak that had to be done on another manuscript, but we all know quick tweaks are a breeze compared to the hurricane of a full-fledged revision.

I am so thankful for this masterly piece of scheduling, for I confuse easily and could envision a nightmare scenario of the hero of INHERITANCE falling in love with the heroine of THE HOLLOW HOUSE and both of them being stalked by the cat mummy from LURE OF THE MUMMY while surrounded by the creepy figurines from TIMELESS INNOCENT…

Hmmm. Come to think of it, with a few tweaks that could be a viable plot, perhaps called THE HOLLOW INHERITANCE OF THE TIMELESS MUMMY. Let me think on it and I’ll get back you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The hardest part

JB’s post on Monday about the perfect writing day got me to thinking about all the things that make finding the perfect writing moment, the zone, so to speak, so hard to achieve. Even under the perfect conditions – no interruptions, a never ending supply of coffee or chocolate, the right weather, the right music or the right view, there are still those obstacles to finishing a book that you can’t circumvent, the things you just have to plow through in order to get to the End.

For me, it’s writing the first line. As much as I know any line of a book can be changed and edits are a given, for some reason I can’t get off to a good start unless I’m happy with my first line. I can put placeholders anywhere else, such as the ever popular [insert sex here] or [need a name for the coffee shop], but as tempting as it may be, I can’t start a book with [insert stunningly magnificent first line here]. That opening hook has to be in place before I can move ahead with any kind of confidence in my story.

Hence I agonize over that line. I can spend that entire ‘perfect writing day’ just staring at a blank page trying to decide how to craft that opening. I see that line as the doorway into the story, and if it’s not inviting and intriguing, readers aren’t going to want to step through into the world I’m creating.

Once I get that line down, it rarely changes, despite knowing I can edit it. I’m never satisfied with a filler line. The opening of the book has to be right the first time, or I just can’t move on.

I linger on that blank page, fiddling with words, until the right combination comes along, but I never move from that spot, page 1, until I’ve got the opening line. I just can’t. Once that’s done, I can skip around, write scenes out of order, and even move the first scene to somewhere else in the book, effectively making that hard won first line not the first line anymore – which means I’m stuck again until I write a new first line.

What’s the hardest part of the book for you? Is it getting through the sagging middle? The end? The love scenes? The dreaded synopsis or even the blurb?

How do you deal with getting through the hardest part?