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.


UNCROSS MY HEART

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 Amazon.co.uk 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.