Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guest Blogger : Vonna Harper

Hmm. I'm sitting here half brain-dead and wondering where the phrase busier than a one-armed paper hanger came from. Probably never have that answer but boy does that describe me right now.
Okay, so the deal is, I'm known to erotica readers as Vonna Harper and much as I love that moniker, there-in lies the problem. I've never thought of myself as an over-achiever but I am obsessive-compulsive about meeting writing obligations. That a bit of blind luck has me looking at three erotic releases between now and the end of March. (Oh, did I mention, I'm going to be in an Aphrodisia anthology the end of April and have a single title release with the same publisher in June?)
Yep, big deal and I'm stoked, but boy is my plate full. Not only do I want and need to get the word out which calls for the promotion tap dance, I also have a multi-book contract to fulfill for Kensington to say nothing of edits on two manuscripts and a romantic suspense idea that absolutely refuses to shut up and give me some space and sleep.
The three quick-step releases is a mix of blind luck and being in the right place at the right time. I'd sold what I think is an absolutely rocking shape/shifting story called BloodHunter to Samhain that'll be an e-release on or about March 25th. Oh yeah I loved writing about a half man/half jaguar and the wildlife photographer who's first look into those sexy eyes has her needing to jump into a pool of ice water. How do I know? Because that's how I feel about Nacon. Sigh. Slobber.
While I was on countdown to BloodHunter's release, unknown to me, Pocket Books editors were looking at a pile of Ellora's Cave novella length releases to incorporate in a number of anthologies as part of a contract agreement between the two publishers. To my delight, two of mine were picked up. Night of the Cougar (damn but I done good with that title IMO) will be out Feb. 19 in the Road Trip To Passion anthology. Virgin Afternoon is in Good Girl Seeks Bad Rider coming out March 18.
I've seen the covers and they are indeed different. I'm interested in seeing how they're received because they're nothing like the yummy covers under the Kensington Aphrodisia imprint.
Oh, and in my spare time I'm completely revamping (with professional help thank you very much) my web site Now all I have to do is take the MySpace plunge for my brain to totally blow up.
Where was that glass of wine?
Vonna Harper, certifiable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Amethyst Moon--Available Today!

Archaeologist Olivia Fifield has spent her entire life trying to live down the legacy of her grandfather and his theories on a lost civilization. Her only link to this place is a set of amethyst bracelets that he left her when he died.

Now she is on the archeological dig of her life and has a chance not only to clear her grandfather’s name, but to make her own reputation as well. But there are some who don’t want her to succeed.

What she uncovers is not a lost civilization, but a totally different world. The amethyst bracelets are the keys that transport her there and into the arms of Tor and Dak, two warriors of T’ar Tal. But the future is anything but certain and only Olivia can decide the fate of them all.
Amethyst Moon is available today from Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
This fantasy/menage a trois novella is part of the Ellora's Cave Birthstone series. You can check out this book, or any of my other books at Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mastabas and Other Strange Facts


You might be tempted to say gesundheit, but please refrain. There is no need to pull out a tissue or a hanky. There are no runny noses here. I didn’t just sneeze, but I did make a fascinating discovery.

I didn’t know what a mastaba was until I started researching for my upcoming book, Amethyst Moon. The main character, Olivia Fifield, is an archeologist on a dig in the deserts of Egypt, who ends up time-traveling to another planet. But that is neither here nor there. In my poking around on the Internet, I discovered mastabas, which are, in fact, ancient Egyptian burial tombs that predate the pyramids.

The definition of mastaba is: an Egyptian tomb with a rectangular base, sloping sides and a flat roof. Built of mud brick, or, later, stone, it has a deep shaft, which descends to underground burial and offering chambers. It comes from the Arabic word for “bench”.

They started simply enough, but later versions were more elaborate, often having false doors and hidden chambers. They often contained a statue of the deceased and had several rooms. Filled with food and equipment they grew more elaborate over time. The mighty pyramids evolved from the mastaba.

Most people know that the pyramids were the burial place of the kings of Egypt, but what many didn’t realize was that some mastabas held the mummies and possession of kings as well, although as a rule it was usually high-ranking advisors and members of the royal court.

While the walls of the pyramids were generally bare, mastabas were filled with images depicting scenes from everyday life—an actual social history of the people. In many ways, they were more important then the pyramids, offering an actual glimpse into the lives of everyday people.

Like most authors, I find myself researching all manner of strange facts. Like, what exactly does a 911 operator do? Or what other structures would an archeologist be fascinated with in Egypt besides the pyramids?

I found myself at an on-line class this weekend where the participants asked such questions as: If my heroine is given poison, what would her symptoms be? What would the EMTs give her when they arrived? And, If the hero is shot in the shoulder, would it have to hit bone? Would it cause problems with the dexterity of his hand.

It's amazing what kinds of questions arise when you're in the middle of writing a book. I always end up with a list of questions that I have to research when I complete my first draft. It certainly keeps my job interesting. *g*

Which leads me back to Mastabas.

My latest Ellora's Cave novella, Amethyst Moon, is due out this Wednesday on February 20th. If you want to know what happens to Olivia when she enters the mastaba, you'll have to read it. *g*

Check out:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Twelve

No, it’s not a Thursday thirteen, but then it’s not Thursday either. I’m blogging on a Tuesday so I’m working with the material I’ve got. I decided to do the twelve works of fiction I think have been most influential on my life and writing:

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien – I read it while in college in the early 70s and it blew me away with the richness and scope of its worlds, the variety of its characters, and the intricately woven plot.

2. All of the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout – My father had these in his library and I devoured them in my early teens. I blame them for my lifelong interest in mysteries.

3. All of Agatha Christie’s books – ditto the above.

4. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke – The first science fiction novel I can remember reading, also during my teenage years. It was a mind-bending experience and was responsible for my enduring interest in that genre.

5. Madam Will You Talk, Mary Stewart – the rest of her books also, but this was the first one I read and I fell in love with the romantic suspense genre.

6. The Devil Vicar (later re-released as The Vicar of Moura - blech!), Virginia Coffman. A little-known and forgotten novel that introduced me to the world of Gothic romances, somewhere in my teenage years. Creepy atmosphere, strong heroine with a sense of humor, charming but tortured hero--with secrets, of course. Another genre to love.

7. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen – Wow, real literature could include romance, humor, and irony, and just be fun to read!

8. Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens – Loved the characters, the tone, the plot, and the fact that Dickens didn’t feel obliged to make it a tragedy. Sparked my discovery that I really liked the Victorian novelists.

9. Can You Forgive Her?, Anthony Trollope – Led to my reading all the Trollope novels I could get my hands on. Great characters, amazing plot depth, a feeling of real truth in the people and situations.

10. MacBeth, William Shakespeare. Read it in high school lit class where we were blessed with Mrs. Kane, an English teacher who knew how to make literature come alive. She read it aloud and we saw a performance of it that finally showed me what everyone saw in Shakespeare. Magnificent characters, terrible dilemmas, wrong choices, and dire consequences. And witches and ghosts, too. Who knew Shakespeare wrote paranormal?

11. Ammie, Come Home, Barbara Michaels. It was the first of her books I read but I then tore through all the others I could get my hands on. Gothic with a more modern twist. Strong, intelligent female characters who didn’t do stupid things for the sake of the plot. Brooding heroes with real problems. And paranormal elements! Ammie, Come Home remains one of the scariest ghost stories I’ve ever read, but it’s combined with a lovely romance (actually two, but one is less developed) featuring interesting and very different characters.

12. Only a Whisper, Gail Wilson. I’d all but given up on reading series romances until I found this gem. It breaks a lot of rules. The heroine (and readers) don’t get to see the hero’s face until halfway through the story. The h/h aren’t together for stretches of the book. The hero is morally ambiguous for a lot of the story. With all that, the story still grabbed me by the throat almost from the first word and refused to let go until it reached its marvelous ending. I’d rate it among the best romances I’ve ever read.

What books helped shape your current reading and writing?

-- Karen McCullough

Monday, February 11, 2008

Things I have learned over the last few days

Tweaking a novel takes longer than a novella. Yes, that should have been a given... I realized the reason it's taking me so long to tweak this new story is because this novel is about double what the last couple I've written were.

When your head is all stuffed up, and you can't hear, it makes you less likely to hear whiney children.

On the flip side, when your spouse's throat hurts, and you can't hear, he gets irritated about having to raise his voice.

Strong winds can blow a little Honda out of its lane.

Not everyone loves your writing and your worlds. Accept it and move on past.

Mechele aka Lany of Melany Logen

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I Am a Hobosexual

No, I don’t have a fetish for hobos.

With that out of the way…

You’ve heard the term “metrosexual.” You probably have a few of them in your life. You know the type. Urbanite, yuppie, well-dressed, well-groomed, keeps the economy going with outrageous spending on brand name items. Might give off a misleading gay vibe.

Well, now there’s “hobosexual.”

And that’s me: I couldn’t care less about my appearance.

That’s not to say if you see me on the sidewalk you’ll cross the street to get away from me. I shower daily (twice if I work out that day), keep my hair neat, and my clothes are clean. But I don’t have a single hair product in my home and I only wear enough makeup to keep from scaring strangers. My favorite outfit: jeans, a tank top, a hoodie, and sneakers. For work, I swap the jeans out for cords or slacks that don’t have to be dry cleaned. (My mom still doesn’t know why I’m not fired from the Clark Kent job. I tell her it’s because I was hired for my brains and not my looks.)

And everyone’s favorite hobosexual:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What you want

I received an email the other day, talking about a book called "You're Broke Because You Want To Be". (The gist of it is that if you're routinely spending more than you're earning, it's because of your day-to-day decisions, which you could change if you wanted.) That, coupled with an inspirational quotation that "You Will Be what you Will To Be" got me thinking about the importance of what we want for what we achieve.

It's something that holds true for us as writers... if you don't passionately want to be published, you're never going to put in the amount of work necessary to perfect your craft, finish a novel (or in my case, three novels before I sold one), submit the novel to agents and editors, revise the novel, and do all the other things required to get published. Only the burning desire to see our books being read and enjoyed by other people can give us the drive to get the thing done.

It also holds true for our characters. They may start the book going merrily about their way, no cares in the world, doing whatever makes them happy. But the reader only begins to care about them when they want something. When they burn with the need for some goal that is so great, they will sacrifice anything and everything else in their life to achieve it. The reader grows to love them when they discover there is something in their life more important than this need, which they will not and will never sacrifice. (Because we write romances, that something is usually the other half of the romantic pairing.)

What do you want, more than anything in the world?
-- Jennifer Dunne

Monday, February 4, 2008

Nora says it all

First, let it be known that I’m always behind in my reading. I buy tons of books and they end up stacked in a small bookcase near my reading chair. At least in theory they end up there. In practice, that small bookcase is always crammed full and overflowing, with books stacked in multiple piles on top and on the floor around it. There’s just never enough time for all the reading I want to do.

When my husband or kids ask why I keep buying books when I already have so many I haven’t read, I just tell them that if I ever get sick or injured I want to be sure I have plenty of reading material available. They shake their heads and mutter about “Mom’s quirks.”

That’s not the point of this post, however, just an excuse for why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading this book. I bought it in hard cover because I’d heard enough about it to feel confident it would be going to my keeper shelf.

Nora Roberts’ ANGELS FALL was a terrific read, delivering all the intricate plotting, suspense, interesting characterization and surprising twists I’d hoped for. It also delivered a bonus, two sentences that absolutely encapsulate exactly why I read genre fiction.

On page 149 of the hardback edition, the heroine says to the hero, “’If justice doesn’t triumph, and love doesn’t make the circle in entertainment fiction, what’s the point? Real life sucks too often.”’


-- Katherine Kingston