Friday, August 24, 2007

Publication Schedule


Temptation In Time - December 2005 in Secrets Volume 14 by Red Sage

Blood & Honey - October 2006 by Changeling Press

Pact of Princes I: Silent Siren - December 2006 - Changeling Press

Pact of Princes II: Siren Song - January 2007 - Changeling Press


Pact of Princes III: Secret Slave - Fall (Late September - Projected) 2007 - Changeling Press

War God - July 2008 by Red Sage

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The presents are late, but I can explain...

I have this great friend whom I love, and, while I was out of town in October, I impulsively bought her a gift that I planned to send for Christmas. I patted myself on the back, thinking: I'm way ahead on the X-mas shopping and I'm a wonderful, brilliant friend.

The present was a great pair of antique-looking chandelier-style green crystal earrings that I found in a shop in the French Quarter in New Orleans. They're handmade, unique, and perfect if you're going to a flapper party. Unfortunately, my friend very rarely finds herself in 1922 these days. ;) So right before I was set to mail them, I really looked at them. And I thought...this color would go great with L's hair, but they're a little big. They actually dangle quite far, don't they? Let me try them on. Holy cow...shoulder skimming? Have I ever seen L wearing anything remotely as large as this? And the defensive part of me answered: Well, I actually haven't seen all her jewelry. She might wear spectacularly gigantic earrings when I'm not around.

After a few minutes, I had to admit they were perfect Alexa earrings, but maybe not so perfect Ms. L earrings. So, now as the presents arrive for me, I'm left feeling guilty and stressed at the thought of trying to Christmas shop when I really want to be focused on New Year's. Arg! But I love her, so I'm going to the village shops today.

A word to the wise...impulse buying is better when purchasing things for one's self. On the upside though, I have a fabulous pair of new earrings for myself that will be perfect on New Year's Eve and, possibly, for a day of light shopping. Do antique earrings go well with jeans and charcoal v-neck sweater? And the impulsive part of Alexa says: As a matter of fact, they do. ;)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving morning, and I'm having a nice cup of homemade mocha in a coffee mug that was a gift from a dear friend while we were in Florida together last week. The mug is from a coffee shop near the beachhouse we rented to hang out and do some writing. The coffee shop was rather like the Cheers bar, but with better pastries. The locals were friendly and laid back, and for someone like me, someone always in a "hair on fire" kind of hurry, it appeals to me on a level so basic, so amazing, that I almost can't fathom it.

Now, reflections of last week make especially good sense right now, since it's a day when we reflect what we're thankful for, when we consider why we're happy to be alive. There are some books and some music that make me truly happy, but more than anything, I am human, and there is that connection to other human beings that is paramount to living a sweet life.

So here's a list of the things I'm thankful for:

1. good health
2. Mom & Dad
3. my brothers, nieces, nephews
4. having the money to travel to the beach with my friends
5. the ocean
6. Dock of the Bay and other amazing songs by Beth Hart, Macy Gray, Van Morrison, and Pink
7. dark chocolate
8. places that amaze and inspire...the Seine, sidewalk cafes, Lake Lucerne, the West Highlands of Scotland
9. images that strike a those by Amy Brown, Kate Dawidziak, and my Changeling cover artists
10. the color seen in Florence, Italy and in Gulf Coast sunsets
11. BBC America, Biography & Sci Fi shows...Horatio Hornblower, Night Detective, Hex, Firefly, Battlestar Gallactica
12. tactile a guy's breath in my ear or the feel of warm, solid muscles under my fingertips
13. vivid colors... red hair, red lips, red paint, blue eyes, green eyes, lemon and lime slices
14. the quiet of my world at 3:30 am
15. novels, too many to mention, and Mary Karr's The Liar's Club
16. best friends...Maddy & Gavin

Have a safe & happy Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Masterpiece of Nature & Happy Holidays

"A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

No one who has ever had a close friend, a true friend, needs to be told how wonderful friendship is; one knows that in the way that one knows the sky is above and the sun is warm. It is a basic truth. In writing, having the right friends is especially important. At first glance, you might think by "having the right friends" I mean that you need friends to use them for their connections. That isn't what I mean. The connections a writer needs are earned with hard work and talent. I need writer friends for another more important reason.

Blind spots...
When I'm driving, there's that spot near the passenger rear quarter-panel where I can't see a car with peripheral vision or my rear-view mirror. An entire car can hide in that spot. I presume that is why car manufacturers designed the side mirror, which I can use to eliminate the blind spot. Writer friends are, in effect, the side mirrors of my writing world. As the author, I create a story and I know so much about the characters, the setting, the conflict, the world inside my manuscript that I can not see what I have neglected to tell. Friends who are writers are also very good readers. They will spot what an author can not see. "Hey, Alexa, I thought you said he was a dragon. How come he's barking at the moon?" Pause. "Hmm, used to be a werewolf in another version of the story? Yeah, you forgot to make some changes. No, there's not much to change except chapters 4, 6, 7, 11, and 12." :)

When The Stars Align...
When the author's style aligns with the reader's tastes, magic happens. One of my favorite writing memories is lying on a bed in a hotel room in Pennsylvania staring at the ceiling while Maddy sat at the desk reading a newly written section of my work in progress. When she laughed out loud, an ear-to-ear grin blossomed on my face. I had done it. I had tried to write something funny, and it had worked. Life is wonderful.

What I really think is...
Sometimes, many times, it's hard to hear the bad critique. It's also hard to deliver it to close friends. I'm not sure that it ever gets easier. In fact, when one starts to sell stories, it might get harder as ego starts to rear its ugly head. Then I guess the answer is to take a deep breath and maybe a shot of tequila and just listen. I find that while I don't always agree with everything that's pointed out in a critique, when I take a step back, I know that some of what's said is true even if it was hard to hear.

I've shredded plenty of pages, and whole manuscripts that aren't up to snuff sit idle in my closet. When a scene isn't working, the story arc is flawed, a character is uninteresting, it all has to be fixed. Sometimes I don't feel up to the task. And that's when having friends, especially other writers, is helpful. They can talk me down from the proverbial ledge, and I can talk them down. We offer hugs when things go badly. ("You've got to throw out 10,000 words because the vampire Navy Seal is now a werewolf archeologist? Honey, I'm so sorry, but it's really for the best. Vampires a lot like cats; they don't really like getting wet.") And they celebrate when things go well. ("You've sold another story? That's fabulous. See, I told you you'd figure out how to tone down Ares' psychopathic tendencies and turn him into a dark romantic hero. Well, done!")

Choose wisely...
So, if you're a writer, find others who "get" what you write and have a style and personality that you enjoy. Begin to give and take feedback, gently, firmly, relentlessly. It's hard not to let feelings get in the way, but the work does deserve to be deconstructed, to be improved, to be polished until it shines. Because there is a relationship that is just as important as the friendship with the person who is your critique partner, and that is the unspoken relationship between a writer and her reader.

I often think of women rushing to work and home, cooking, perhaps taking care of small children or elderly parents or studying for difficult classes, with barely enough time or money for themselves. To buy a book is an act of trust. Unlike an outfit or a pair of shoes that you can try on first, a reader takes a leap of faith. I take that leap myself all the time, and I love when a writer lives up to the challenge of entertaining me. So I take my job as a writer seriously.

This holiday season I'm grateful to two groups of people...
my friends who are my critique partners and my friends who are my readers.

Have a safe and happy season!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Every Hero Has His Day

There are heroes, and there are anti-heroes. There are alpha and beta males. There are Apollonian and Dionysian archetypes. Like chocolate, I like different kinds of men to inhabit my stories. Sometimes I like them very, very dark, like 80% cacao - dark chocolate. And sometimes I like them a little sweeter...maybe 50% cacao sauce drizzled over raspberries.

When it comes to protagonists, I don't create them, so much as they arrive, fully formed, like Athena in battle armor springing from Zeus' head. And when they make an appearance I pluck them from the air and put them to work in my stories.

Next month, a lovely, knights-of-the-round-table sort of hero makes his first appearance. He's sincere and has a sense of honor. He's beautiful and built and really enjoys sex. His name is Thane, and he's about to fall in love in Pact of Princes I: Silent Siren. The story that is told in Pact of Princes I & II, is my friend Gavin's favorite story that I've written so far. I wrote it a while back, and only recently tried to find it a home. I guess when I wrote it, I pictured Thane looking like Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, and I thought about a group of brothers who love each other, but who are also competitive. Thane is the best of what's good in the world these men inhabit.

I also really love mythology, and I've always been interested in the strange relationship between Ares, the god of war, and Aphrodite, goddess of love. So a while ago, I dreamt up story that's urban fantasy crossed with myth. Ares, an antihero, is big and bad, consumed with his own lust for war and for a mortal woman. He's so dark, she must reform him. But what woman is really up to the task of taming a war god?

Like many writers, I sometimes wonder if I've taken the right approach with a story. When so many women love the alpha males and in the age of vampires and dark anti-heroes, I wondered if Thane was alpha enough. I was delighted then when my editor from Changeling, Vikky with Two Ks sent an email saying that the proofreaders "LOVED (with a passion)" Pact of Princes I and begged to read the second half.

Then I wondered if Ares was too dark. I'd submitted War God to an editor at Red Sage in the summer and hadn't heard back. I knew that she was probably simply busy, but a part of me wondered...maybe she doesn't like the story. Maybe she doesn't like his character. And then yesterday, I received an email from that editor saying that Red Sage would like to acquire War God.

Phew. I can breathe a sigh of relief because a part of me loves these men...and gods. And I feel like it's my responsibility to tell their stories well, so that the tales can be published and they can live in the public domain forever.

So now all is right with my world; all my heroes will have their day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The light of a single candle...

Maybe because I'm a writer, I just love to see an elegant combination of words. So quotes appeal to me very much, and I've decided that I will try to put a new quote on my website each month. This month I've selected a quote that was on a bookmark that a friend gave me as a gift. "All the darkness in the world can not extinguish the light of a single candle." The quote is credited to St. Francis of Assisi, whom I do admire. More importantly, the quote serves as a reminder to have faith, especially when things get dark and difficult. I hope these words will reach you too and remind you to believe and stay positive about your own life.

I've had some great news this past month from a good friend, who writes erotica under the name Gavin Atlas. (Isn't that a cool pen name?) Anyway, Gavin has had a gay erotica story accepted from a publication that he admires. More details on that when he finds out his publication date.

My experience working with Changeling Press has been wonderful so far. My editor Vikky with two Ks, Two Ks for short, is absolutely terrific. While working on Blood & Honey, I had several laugh-out-loud emails from her, while we discussed things of critical how much weight a bird can carry. In the story, Victor sends Fawn a package via an avian. And not having researched things appropriately, I had the bird carrying far too much weight. But, you know, I still say birds need to work out more because who knows when a vampire will want to send a dozen gold coins to his lover via a feathered friend? Victor can't be expected to go through UPS, after all, with the sunlight problem.

Speaking of vampires, I just finished J.R. Ward's Dark Lover. In my opinion, she does a great job with pacing. She has quite a few characters, and she gives them some interesing flaws. Very nicely done.

More soon!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Vampire Bites Faery Tale

Be careful what you wish author just may give it to you.

I was touched to learn that Temptation in Time had made enough of an impression on some readers that they took the time to write to me and ask when my next story would come out and encouraged me to keep writing. It was so much fun getting those e-mails that I felt like I should do something in return. Buy them shoes? Send chocolates? Oh, wait. They asked for something. They asked for more stories and quickly.

So one weekend, I dusted off the opening of an urban fantasy that I had cut some time earlier from a longer work in progress. It was only a snippet of a scene, maybe a thousand words long. I renamed the lead character and started dreaming up an erotic romance scenario. Pretty soon morning turned into afternoon which turned into night. And the story was nearly complete. It would be a very short novella titled, Blood & Honey.

I knew that it would be too short for the print publishing markets and that, even if I did lengthen it and submit it, it would take months and months before it would be available for readers to buy. So I investigated e-publishers, who were pioneers in the erotic romance explosion. I found a publisher where other writers for Red Sage, Angela Knight and Alice Gaines, had published some of their works. The publisher, Changeling Press, had a gorgeous faery icon logo with wings just like the ones I'd imagined for Blood & Honey's fae assassin, Fawn.

I followed the guidelines and sent in a partial. The editor-in-chief responded with stunning quickness. She had read Temptation In Time and liked it, so she wanted to see all of Blood & Honey. It took only about another week to hear back that they had accepted the story. I was delighted. Blood & Honey comes out October 21, 2006. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the ladies who e-mailed, the ones whom I wrote it for, read and enjoy it.