Archive for March, 2008

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What Stace had to say on Monday, March 31st, 2008
Winnahs!

Lookie!!! Books!!!

Okay! I have the list of winners here, chosen by my six-year old. (She got to stick her hand in the bowl and pick out the slips of paper.) So without further ado:

Two winners of signed books:

Barbara Fernandez
Bernard DeLeo

One winner of a box of cocktail demons:

Todd Thomas

Six magnet winners (PLEASE NOTE, these have been delayed in arriving to me, but I will get them out to you asap):

Nicole Hulst
Karen Straughan
Skarrah
Stacy Cooper
Kimiko
Virginia Hendricks

Winners! Please email your addresses to me, Staciakane AT gmail, so I can get your prizes out to you!

Thanks everyone for playing, and if you didn’t win, don’t fret. Wednesday is our last Excerptstravaganza day, and I’ll be announcing a new contest!

What Stace had to say on Friday, March 28th, 2008
Release day and stuff!


(You know, it occurs to me that if I hunt for “and stuff” in the titles of all my posts, I’d probably come up with a ton.)

I know, I know. I’m late posting today. You guys were probably all miserable and sad, waiting for me to show up. Right? Right? Of course.

So, Day of the Dead is available now! You can buy it here. I’m not going to post another excerpt, because I posted one a while back here. So if you haven’t read it, and you’re interested, go check it out.

Also, I did a guest blog (about rejection) over at Calendula Witch’s blog.

And my audio interview with Kimiko at Tale Chasing should be up at some point soon. It’s about an hour long, so make sure you really have time to listen to me drone on while simultaneously shivering and chain-smoking. Seriously, I am the most boring interview on the planet, I think.

I had a rant planned for today, about the RWA and how they fucked epublished authors in the Ritas again by quietly changing the rules, while publicly assuring epublished authors that they hadn’t.

Basically, what happened is they changed the rules so that if the book didn’t come out in print in the year for which it’s being entered, it is not eligible. Period. Even if the book’s publisher takes the time to create five perfect-bound copies to enter (as EC did, for example), they will not accept the entry unless the book was actually for sale in print during that year. In other words, if you just wrote one of those nasty ebooks, don’t bother.

But oh! Don’t think you can enter the Golden Heart contest for unpublished authors either! Because if any work of yours over 20,000 words has been published in any format, you no longer qualify as “unpublished”. So, too published for the Golden Heart, but not quite published enough for the Rita. You’re the porridge that Goldilocks ate.

But the thing is, a huge part of me just doesn’t give a shit. The RWA is a useless organization. It was useless to me as a newbie (I joined thinking it would be hugely helpful, only to discover that it gave me absolutely no information I couldn’t get online.) I was a member for four years (until I let my membership lapse in October.) In that time the RWA as a group did one thing of which I approved–going after Esnips for copyright violation. (Of course, Esnips is still around, so…) Maybe if the RWA board pulled its head out of Harlequin’s ass for a while and started thinking about what its membership actually needs, it would be different. But honestly? They’re not going to. They don’t want to.

It’s like the PTA. The people who run for PTA President tend to be (I didn’t say are, just tend to be) the types of people who care a lot about certain things. They want to run that organization a certain way, and aren’t really interested in other thoughts or viewpoints. People who run for the RWA board and win are, I believe, much the same. Seriously, and no disrespect meant, but when is the last time RWA had a President of whom you’d even heard?

And let’s take the Rita and the Golden Heart. I’ve already blogged about why readers don’t need to care about the Rita. But it occurs to me, because I saw somebody else say it and now I don’t remember who or where but it was a really astute comment, that maybe the Rita would mean more if writers weren’t paying to enter it. It just seems a little…I dunno. Like entering yourself for a Nobel Prize (which you can do. Or is it the Pulitzer you can enter yourself for?) It’s just kind of sad. I think it takes some serious cachet away from the award, unlike, say, a Nebula Award, or any other sort of award where nominating is done either by peers or by the company producing the book/movie/whatever.

Yeah, I’ve thought of entering the Rita. I’ve thought about entering Personal Demons, in fact, simply because it might be fun or interesting and might get my publisher’s name out there and might get my name out there too or whatever. I doubt I will. It’s not like my book has a chance, IMO. But who knows? Perhaps this crotchety mood will pass and I’ll decide to give it a go. That doesn’t change the fact that I think it’s cheesy for authors to have to pay for it themselves, and that I seriously wonder if, especially in this digital age, the RWA hasn’t completely outlived its usefulness.

It seems to exist simply in order to snub people and collect contest fees.

My personal bugbear is the Golden Heart, which I think is absolutely useless. You pay $50 in hopes of getting your ms in front of an editor for final judging? Why not just submit the book to their house? Your chances are pretty much the same, if your book is good. If it’s not, and is just the best of a mediocre lot, you’re not going to get an offer from the GH judge anyway. So you may have an award, but you don’t have a book that will sell. Occasionally a GH finalist will sell, and that’s wonderful, but if the book is publishable it would have made it anyway, don’t you think?

I see people collect GH finals and wins like my husband collects Marvel comics busts, but in the end it does nothing for them if the book isn’t good enough. A publisher or agent may take a look because of the win, but they’re not going to offer because of it. I’ve also seen multiple-time GH winners, still unpublished, offering writing workshops based on their GH successes, which to me makes about as much sense as somebody who’s really good with a flight simulator giving flying lessons on a real plane. (Wow, I may have to come back and delete that later. It sounds mean, and I didn’t intend for it to. All I meant is, people get so hung up on the GH, when ultimately it means absolutely NOTHING. Nothing at all. Tender writers go into deep depression over not finaling, and it’s not worth it.)

So the RWA throws a convention once a year, and holds some contests. Whoopee.

I know some people get a lot from their local chapters, and that’s great. I think those local chapters probably would be just as good and effective if the writers in question simply advertised their meetings in a local bookstore, and then they could spend the annual dues money on bourbon instead, which is in my opinion a much more valuable use of funds. But I digress.

The point is, I’m not ranting about the RWA today, and if you want to spend your money on an Orwell-esque organization where some published writers are more equal than others, you go ahead.

(Oh, and btw. I do understand the problem RWA has. There are a lot of tiny micro epubs with little to no editing or experience vomiting out books like a sorority girl who’s had a few too many Sex on the Beaches, and nobody wants to see the Rita judges overwhelmed with entries along the lines of some of the stuff I’ve seen in my perusals of the web. Really. Some standards must be set. But excluding an entire category–like say, erotic romance, which is just too dirty for the purehearts at RWA, or those awful filthy ebooks–just because you can’t think of a way to set those standards is not only wrong and a disservice to paying members, but a sign of a woefully lacking imagination. How are we supposed to believe these people are good writers, when they can’t even come up with a working solution to this problem, or define “erotic romance”?)

And I guess I’m done.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
Excerptstravaganza! Day Four

…And this will likely be our next-to-last excerpt day! The book is due to be released in 5 days (eep) and has been printed, but I believe it will still be another week before it starts shipping from Amazon and makes it into the stores.

Remember the contest! I’m going to announce the winners on Monday, so hurry and get your entries in! Pre-order! Wish list! Tag! Wheeee!

And here is today’s excerpt:

“Is she sleeping?”

Smack. “Whad’ya think? Is she sleeping, ’e says. Don’t she look like she’s sleeping?”

“Yeh.”

“That is a sleeping woman, if ever I saw a sleeping woman,” the second voice continued.

Megan opened her eyes.

The three men standing next to her bed jumped back, their expressions ranging from terror to curiosity.

“She’s awake!” said the one closest to her. She recognized his voice as the second speaker, the one with the strongest cockney accent.

“You just said she was sleepin’, Lif,” said the next one. He was the tallest, with a large nose and scarred, gin-blossomed skin.

They were all big, broad men with small eyes and stubbled chins. They were all dressed in hitman casual: black trousers, black turtlenecks, black rubber-soled shoes, black windbreakers, black knit caps. Gold rings and watches completed the look.

Megan caught only a glimpse of these things before she seized the lamp on her bedside table and held it over her head. The cord refused to come out of the wall. She yanked at it with her left hand, aware not only that she looked silly, but that the men in her room had ample time to attack her while she sorted out her weapon. Their restraint from doing so provided her some comfort, but her heart still pounded in her chest.

“Who are you?” she demanded. Her voice squeaked.

The men glanced at each other, chagrined. The tall one spoke. “M’lady, didn’t—”

“Good morning, gentlemen.” Greyson entered the room, clad in a black suit with creases so sharp Megan imagined he could cut himself on them if he wasn’t careful. He was freshly showered and shaved, and smelled like vanilla and smoke. “Good morning, Megan. Just barely. Doing a little redecorating?”

Megan glanced at the lamp in her hand, glared at him, then looked at the clock. It was 11:30. “Shit!” She set the lamp on the edge of the table and pushed the covers back, ready to leap out of bed.

“Sit down,” Greyson said, holding out his hand. “I called Brian already to make sure you didn’t have to be up for a while yet. The shoot’s not until two.”

“Who exactly are these men and what are they doing in my bedroom?”

“Ah.” Greyson looked at the three, who stood a little straighter under his gaze. “Megan Chase, may I present your bodyguards: Malleus, Maleficarum, and Spud.”

“My what?”

“Your bodyguards. The one on the left is Malleus, the tall one is Maleficarum, and that one is Spud. I’ve assigned them to you.”

Megan glanced at the three men, still standing against the wall like they were in a police line-up. She got out of bed and grabbed Dante’s arm. “I need to talk to you.”

“Excuse us,” Greyson said, as she led him out into the living room and closed the bedroom door.

“Who are they? What the hell do you mean, scaring me like that? How do you think I felt waking up with strange men in my room after last night?”

“I told you who they are. They’re your bodyguards. You need someone with you at all times, and I can’t do it.” He leaned in a little closer. “They wouldn’t have been in there watching you sleep if you’d let me stay, you know. Care to change your mind for the future?”

“No.” Megan was suddenly aware that she only wore a T-shirt. He’d seen her in her bra last night, but somehow that was different. She grabbed the blanket from last night off the couch and wrapped it around her. It wasn’t great, but it was better. “Look, Greyson, don’t think I don’t appreciate your help. I do. And I—I’d like it if you’d keep helping me, because I don’t want to die. But those men… I can’t have those men follow me around. They look like they’re going to kill someone.”

“Only if that someone tries to get in their way,” Greyson said.

More fun stuff on the web:

The fantastic Jackie Kessler‘s delightful succubus character, Jezebel, managed to sneak an interview with Megan behind my back (the nerve of these characters, I swear) in which Megan said some very unflattering things about me. (I’ll show her.) You can read the interview here.

GUD magazine (GoodReads.com) has reviewed Personal Demons and gave it 4 Stars:

“With exciting action scenes and hot, hot passion, this romance-with-a-plot is perfect for snuggling up with by the fire, or for wiping out the tedium of a train or plane journey.”

You can read the whole review here, and comment before March 30 to win their PDF review copy.

I am guest blogging about vampires at Jaye Wells’s place today–comment and enter to win free downloads of BOTH my EC vampire stories, Blood Will Tell and the Friday release Day of the Dead.

I think that’s it.

What Stace had to say on Monday, March 24th, 2008
Pressure pushing down on me

Okay, it isn’t really. But it is a little, and the song is stuck in my head, so there you go.

I have started the Unholy Ghosts sequel. And it’s very scary.

Not the book–well, hopefully the book. I think my first chapter is pretty tension-filled and creepy. But the writing itself. What if this one isn’t as good as the first? Now that I have Shiny Special Agent, will I be able to keep him? (I’m also waiting for his notes on UG–he said there’s not a lot of work that wants doing, but I’m still nervous about it.) Am I ever going to be able to write anything that good again, or was it a one-book wonder?

Then there’s fitting backstory in, which is never fun. And worrying that this story is less original than the first. Or that it’s too different, or not different enough. I already scrapped about a thousand words written last night (in my defense they were written when I was tired and it was late). After the first draft of UG was so lovely and clean I thought for sure I’d cracked that problem. Ha ha! That’s a good joke on me.

But then, I started Demon Inside six or seven times before I got a first chapter that pleased me. So I guess I should be glad that my first chapter feels pretty set now, huh?

Oh, I have a whole bunch of endnotes today, two items I forgot to mention on Friday and a couple of other things too.

1. Jaye Wells has been doing Adopt-A-Vampire month at her blog. I’ll be posting there this week, but stop by before then and read all the fantastic posts from other vampire lovers!

2. I have revamped (heh heh) the Stacia Kane website. Let me know what you think!

And:

It’s Book Club Week at the League of Reluctant Adults blog this week and next week: This week we’re doing Anton Strout’s Dead to Me, and next is Mark Henry’s Happy Hour of the Damned. *I* am handling the moderation duties (I’m starting in a few hours), so be sure to stop by and make fun of me. And talk about Anton’s book, which I’m sure you’ve all read, right?

It snowed here yesterday. Big, fat, flakes. They didn’t stick, but it was certainly pretty (it snowed on Saturday when we were in Bristol too, but the flakes weren’t as big.)

What Stace had to say on Friday, March 21st, 2008
Just a few things

I’m working, working, working like a busy little bee, so this will be short today. Plus it’s a holiday here so everyone is home. It feels like Saturday; I actually forgot it wasn’t, which is why this post is a bit later than normal today.

1. I’m guest blogging over at McKoala’s blog today. It was to be just a regular guest blog but it looks like it’s evolving into a chat-type thing, so come on by and chat! It’ll be fun!

2. I feel so bad that I forgot to mention this, but Sidhevicious (is that a cool name or what?) over on livejournal has done both an interview with me and a review of Personal Demons over on her Bravenet site, so please visit over there, comment, check it out, all that good stuff!

3. My free gifties for the Romantic Times convention arrived safely at my editor’s house, so make sure you stop by the Juno Books booth if you’re going to RT and snap one up! As soon as I get some–she’s going to send me some–I will post a picture and do some contests and stuff so people not going to RT can win some too. I’m quite excited about them, I haven’t heard of anyone else doing them so if I’m lucky I’ll be the first!

4. More great reviews are pouring in!

TwoLips Reviews gave Demon’s Triad FIVE Lips (and 2 1/2 hot peppers) and said:

All I can say about Demon’s Triad is wow! Anna J. Evans and December Quinn have written an exhilarating book. The more I read, the more mesmerized I became with the plot. It was delicious and complicated, plus full of emotions that were so real I could almost feel what each of the characters were going through… I could not get enough of this book! This book pushes the envelope, so to speak, so it’s not for the faint of heart. I will definitely be recommending Demon’s Triad to everyone. I only have one request–a sequel please, ladies.

You can read the whole review here.

The Romance Readers Connection rated Black Dragon a FOUR and said:

Well-written and historically accurate, BLACK DRAGON is a novel sure to please historical fans. Readers will greatly enjoy this unusual look at a time period that is not nearly written about enough. Even more, however, readers will fall in love with both Isabelle and Gruffydd… Readers will be hooked all the way to the final page. BLACK DRAGON is the first December Quinn novel I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be my last!

That one is here.

Simply Romance Reviews gave Black Dragon a B+ and said:

I was quickly drawn in to Black Dragon. Isabelle is a warm and loving character and concerned for those around her and especially her new husband. Gruffyd has suffered tragically and you feel his pain as share his story… You can’t help but root for these characters to conquer their differences and for Isabelle to break down Gruffydd’s walls. This story has everything, suspense, heartache and salvation, and when Isabelle and Gruffydd finally come together they lit up the Welsh countryside as it it were May Day. I highly recommend this book!

Full review is here.

So that makes me happy. :-) Also, I got an email from my agent (ack!!) yesterday so I guess he hasn’t changed his mind about me, which is nice.

I’m sad so many of my buddies are at Norwescon this weekend though and I can’t go.

I’m sure there was more I wanted to say but I can’t think of it. If I remember later I’ll pop in and add it.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
Excerptstravaganza! Day Three

First a quick note–I have been informed that we may not see copies of Personal Demons in bookstores until the second week of April or so. Which makes me sad. But you will still see it!

And on to our excerpt:

Megan has just had an unsettling experience at a group therapy session run by wimpy local therapist Art Bellingham. She’s arranged to have Greyson Dante meet her afterward, in an attempt to get to the bottom of things…

“I thought you wanted to help me. To keep me safe from all those stalkers following me around? Yesterday you were my hero, today you don’t even want to talk to me. Not that I care. I just find it odd.”

“I changed my mind.”

“Why did you come, then? Why not stand me up? Do you want to talk or not?”

He sighed. “No. Well, I did, but now I don’t. You lied to me.”

“I did no such—”

“You did. The other night you promised you wouldn’t accept any other offers. Then you agreed to go work for Arthur Bellingham and his little gang of deviants. Sounds like a lie to me.”

“I didn’t agree to work for him. I just agreed to go to a session. One of my patients asked me to.”

“Does Bellingham know that? I bet he told them all you’d be working for him, didn’t he?”

“No, he—” She stopped. He had said that, hadn’t he? She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter what he thinks. I don’t work there, I’m not going to work there. In fact, I’d be much happier if I never set foot in the place again.”

“Creepy? Upsetting?”

“Actually, yeah, it—that’s none of your business.”

“It is. You promised me first.”

“Oh my God, what are you, a Klingon? So I went there. So I accepted an offer and I said I wouldn’t. So what? What are you going to do, cut out my tongue?”

“Unfortunately, no. I’m not allowed.”

“Excuse me?” Megan reached for the door handle as unobtrusively as she could. She could probably jump out at the next stoplight. Dante seemed to have the devil’s own luck with the lights, though—they were all turning green as soon as the car got within braking distance.

“I’m not allowed to hurt you. In any way. I’d be punished if I did.”

“Punished?” Her fingers tightened on the door handle.

The headlights from cars going in the opposite direction washed over his face, casting it into light and then shadow, shadow then light. “It’s some stupid new public relations push. We aren’t allowed to physically hurt people anymore. Bad for our image, or something. Can you imagine?”

What are you talking about? Whose image?”

“Demons.”

“Excuse me?”

“Demons.” He made another right turn. They were already in her neighborhood.

Megan thought carefully about how to phrase her next sentence. “You’re telling me you believe you’re a demon.”

“I don’t believe anything,” he said. “And I’m not one of your patients. Don’t speak to me as if I am.”

“You might want to consider getting some psychiatric help, if you think you’re a demon.”

“I don’t think I am, I know I am. And you need to know it, too.”

This should be good. “Why?”

“Because a considerable number of us are after you.”

I did a real live phone interview last night, with Kimi from TaleChasing.com. I’ll let everyone know when they can listen to me drone on, as soon as I have the date!

I’m blogging about blogging today over at Shelley Munro’s blog. Shelley is a heck of a hot writer, and an great person. So stop by and say hi!

Don’t forget to blog about, tag, or add Personal Demons to your wishlists! There’s prizes and stuff!

What Stace had to say on Monday, March 17th, 2008
My Man is a Playboy Man

First, I have to say again THANK YOU to everyone who congratulated me here or in various other places! Thanks especially to several agents who took the time to comment or email me–that was amazing–to Evil Editor for his email, and to Miss Snark, who literally made me cry.

I can’t remember exactly what brought this conversation on. The hubs and I were watching something on tv–like we do–and the subject of porn came up, particularly about those filthy evil men who read or watch it.

See, I never cared. It’s never bothered me to know my boyfriends or whatever liked porn. I mean, they’re MEN. Saying men like porn is like saying Keith Richards gets high sometimes.

So I turned to the hubs and said how I didn’t care if he wanted to look at nudie magazines, or whatever, and he replied: “Well, I do have a subscription to Playboy.”

Would you believe, I had forgotten?

Because to me Playboy isn’t even porn. The women in it are so pretty, so delicately airbrushed (yes, I know, that’s a whole different topic, but I generally credit men with enough intelligence to know real women don’t look like that. Let’s face it, any man who expects an actual human woman to look like a Playboy woman has obviously never seen any real naked women and is a sad, sad little thing anyway.) They look like nice girls, who just happen to be naked, and oops! you caught me with that camera! Tee-hee. It doesn’t even seem to me that the pictures are so arousing, really (although I’m sure they are.)

Compare that to some of the porn magazines an ex of mine used to get–real low-rent ones with names like Boobie. (Seriously. Boobie.) Boobie didn’t have articles or interviews with interesting people.

Heck, I read Playboy every month when it arrives. (I usually just skim the naked ladies.) I don’t always agree with the articles and editorial positions it takes, but it’s always interesting. And it would never occur to me to have a problem with it.

What do you think? Ladies, do you have an issue with your men reading or watching porn? Any men want to discuss whether or not they read/watch it, and what your women think of it?

Some Beauty Notes

I am having a terrible time trying to find nail polish. Polish here is ridiculously expensive and not very good–it’s very thin and chips easily. I’m having real difficulty finding good colors, too–most of it is shades of pink, and what I want is a good, deep red-brown like Chanel’s Vamp. I’ve tried a few that look like they could be it but they’re either too red or, like the one I tried last night, purpley. I don’t like purpley nails. (If it’s a true purple, fine.) It’s very frustrating and I thought I’d share that with you all.

I did try something I like, though. For a while I’ve been thinking of trying out some of that mineral powder makeup. Yesterday at Boots I got a bottle of L’Oreal’s True Match Minerals, and I really like it. Really nice coverage, feels very light, looks totally natural. I have had some issues with the dry skin on my forehead though. (Yes, I’m still having that problem, but it’s getting better.)

So a thumbs up from me on that. Hasn’t irritated my sensitive skin one bit.

What Stace had to say on Friday, March 14th, 2008
I have a story to tell you

So sit on down.

You guys all saw the metrics I posted while writing my last book, a dark uf called Unholy Ghosts. I believe some of you posted the brief snippet I posted too (and have since removed, so no snooping!)

I wrote it. I edited it. I made my friends read it. Several of them offered (after reading it) to give me referrals to their agents, which makes them the most amazing people ever.

I sent out a couple of queries. I waited.

I was lucky. I got some full requests from the first few queries I sent, a short time ago.

So Monday I decided to go for one of my Dream Agents who was not a referral, who I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. Chris Lotts from Ralph Vicinanza Ltd.

I sent the query, thinking, “He’s totally not going to be interested, but I’ll give it a try.”

Three hours later I got a very complimentary request for the full…with a week’s exclusive. Of course, I couldn’t give an exclusive. But I sent it anyway (crossing my fingers) and explained that several fulls were out and that I promised I wouldn’t sign with anyone until I’d spoken to him first. I said I really hoped that was acceptable as I would hate to miss the chance to work with him. All of which was true–I think I barely breathed after sending it.

We exchanged one or two other emails, and I went to bed thinking I had totally blown it. Of course it couldn’t be helped that I’d already sent out other fulls, and I certainly wasn’t going to lie and say I hadn’t, but…I was certain I’d lost his enthusiasm. This is an extremely busy man–surely he wasn’t going to waste his time reading a ms by someone who could get a phone call from another agent any minute, right? In my last response I told him I would take an offer from him extremely seriously and that I had no interest in playing agents off each other–totally true–but would he believe it? Argh! I barely slept.

He emailed me back Wednesday evening. He was well into the book and really enjoying it, was I around for a phone call?

Um…YES!!!?

We talked for about an hour. I feel certain that at least one point I made a total dork of myself. In some places my memory is a bit fuzzy. But there is one sentence he said that I will never, ever forget:

“I really think this is great, and I’d like to represent it.”

And I had an agent.

I sent a query.

I’d never met him. He’d never met me.

He’d never heard of me.

I don’t personally know anyone he represents (of course I’ve heard of them, but never met any of them.)

I don’t think he particularly cared about my credits. I’m sure he thought they were nice to have, and they showed him I could finish a novel and had at least a basic level of professionalism, but in the long run it was Unholy Ghosts that interested him.

I didn’t pay him (of course). I didn’t run into him at a conference or in an alevator somewhere or do an in-person pitch. He isn’t a relative. I didn’t show him a “portfolio”. I didn’t have an offer in hand from a major NY house.

All I did was send a query. And two days later I had an agent. (Who ROCKS!!!!, btw, and I still haven’t started breathing correctly again and some part of me is totally waiting for him to email and tell me he made a mistake, or that I spoke to a Chris Lotts impersonator or something.)

That’s all I did. So next time someone tells you it’s impossible to get a good agent–a great agent–without any of those other things…they’re wrong.

I sent a query and first few pages that he liked so much he kept reading. And kept reading.

I’m not saying my book is the greatest book ever written (you guys know I’m way too insecure and stuff to ever say anything like that, even if I thought it, which I don’t.) But I’m proud of it. I worked hard on it. And if I can do it so can you.

I have an agent!! Squeeeeeeee!

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
Excerptstravaganza! Day Two

(Note: I originally had a different excerpt planned for today, but since the last one inspired so much discussion I decided to put up the very next scene instead.)

“I’ll walk you to your car, if you won’t let me call a cab.” Dante faked concern pretty well.

“I’d rather walk.” She was tempted to tell him she didn’t need his company, but it was after dark in the city and she wasn’t stupid. Why walk alone when she could have a man she trusted—okay, a man she was fairly certain wouldn’t attack her—to walk with her?

“What exactly do you want, Mr. Dante?”

“Call me Grey.” His footsteps fell in time with hers as they passed groups of revelers still out, most of whom looked like professional partiers. Megan, with her pallid face and businesslike suit, felt out of place, a grandma trying to hang out with teenagers. Which was ridiculous. At thirty-one she was still in the age range the stores and clubs catered to, but she didn’t think she could ever go to them. It simply wasn’t her scene, aside from how difficult it was to keep her shields tightly closed after spending hours in a hot room and having a few drinks.

“Megan?”

“What?”

“What happened back there in the restaurant?”

“What do you mean?”

“Before you ran off, you were staring at a woman behind me. I got the feeling something about her disturbed you.”

Megan forced herself not to gag. She didn’t even want to think about what she’d seen, that squirming mass, the sense of malevolence radiating from it. She certainly wouldn’t discuss it with Greyson.

“I wasn’t feeling well, that’s all. I’ve been feeling off all day.”

“Before you went to the hospital?”

“Yes, I—” She stopped short and swung to face him. “How the hell do you know that? Are you following me? Who the hell are you, anyway?”

Greyson raised his hands and stepped back. “Hey, hold on. It’s not necessarily—”

“Don’t tell me what it necessarily is or isn’t. You tell me how you know all this about me. Who are you, Mr. Dante, and what do you want from me?”

If she’d hoped to disarm him, it didn’t work. His face went carefully blank and he put his hands back in his pockets. “I just want you to listen to my—client’s offer. That’s all.”

“Why are you following me? And you’re either a moron, or you’ve been going out of your way to let me know you’re following me. Why? What are you up to?”

“I want to help you.”

“Help me what?”

“Sudden fame can be very difficult. You could attract some . . . unwanted elements.”
“Stop lying to me!”

“I’m not lying. Stalkers—”

“Stalkers? Like, for example, you?”

“I’m not a stalker.”

“Oh? Let’s see. What does a stalker do? Follows someone around, tries to insinuate his or her way into the target’s life, maybe drops some vague hints and threats along the way? Sound familiar? Are you going to start telling the press you’re my secret husband next?”

His face darkened. “Megan, if you would just listen—”

“Fuck you.” She turned and started walking away. “Leave me alone, Mr. Dante,” she called over her shoulder. “You might be a lawyer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still have you arrested.”

“I never said I was a lawyer,” he called after her.

Don’t take the bait, don’t take the bait, don’t take the bait…

She turned around when she reached the end of the block. He was gone.

We have two new reviews!

Bac has a great review on her MySpace blog.

Danette B gives the book some love here.

Don’t forget, it’s not too late to enter the contest! Put the book on your Amazon Wishlist (and btw, in response to a question, YES, Chapters wishlists/orders count too, same with B&N.com.) Pre-order it! Tag it! Talk about it! (I feel like Brad in Fast Times at Ridgement High. “Learn it. Live it. Love it.”)

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
Guest Blogger: Kirsten Saell (KIS!)

You all know Kirsten–she comments here as “kis” and has done for a couple of years now. So when I found out she’d made a sale I leapt on the chance to get here guest blogging here, since we all know and love her but have never gotten more from her than replies. She’s a woman of mystery, our kis. But here’s your chance to ask her questions and bug her and stuff. Use it wisely, o pals.

Hey, everybody! December graciously invited me to guest blog about the release of my very first published book, Crossing Swords, out today from Samhain, yay! But oddly, underneath all the excitement and fevered anticipation of my first release, I’m feeling a tad maudlin. Why, why, for the love of all that is true and good, why, you ask? I am now a published author. And no matter how many hundred best-selling novels I am obviously destined to write, no matter how many release days are in my future, this moment will never come again.
Like another significant *ahem* milestone in life, a writer’s first foray into the world of published authorhood is often nerve-wracking, painful, thrilling, embarrassing, sweaty, occasionally clumsy and ultimately–one hopes—fulfilling. Fulfilling or not, though, once that authorial hymen is torn asunder, well, it’s done. There’s no taking it back. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure readers will find Crossing Swords more satisfying than…well, never mind that.
Here’s the blurbage:
One duel. Easy money. Then Gil fell for his opponent.
A straight duel to the death. A professional opponent who’s paying him to win. This was going to be the easiest money Gil had ever earned. Except he never counted on his opponent being a woman. And he never counted on falling for her.
After avenging the brutal murder of her lover, all Lianon wants is to die a clean death. Too bad the man she hired doesn’t do women, and he’s furious over her deception. Not only does he renege on their contract, he has the gall to lock her up in his apartment—naked, no less!—to punish her for her ruse.
If she could just get her mind out of the gutter, she’d cut him a new smile. But ever since he saw through her boy’s clothes, all she can think about is getting him naked, too.
But just when she’s found something to live for, the father of her lover’s murderer surfaces. He wants Lianon to die screaming—and he’s all too happy to take Gil down with her.

Here’s the disclaimer:
Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, including f/f; bad language; violence; bland, rubbery veal; a little sexual healing; and one killer blowjob.

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the excerpt:

Gil continued to press his advantage, slamming his sword onto his opponent’s finer blade, pushing him further and further into the deepest patches of snow. And then, with a series of moves that took Gil completely off guard, the boy dove under Gil’s arcing sword and rolled twice in the snow, to spring to his feet back within the circle of watchers. His entire body was completely caked with white and he had begun to shiver at last, but he had the better ground. With impatient swipes of his forearm, he cleared the worst of the snow from his face, knocking his headcloth off in the process. The wind immediately snatched at his damp blond hair and plastered it to his skin.

Shit. Shit. The timing of that dive was absolutely flawless—anything less than perfection would have resulted in a fatal cut. By god, this boy was an artist! Gil was seriously beginning to wonder if he would survive this duel. It was a rare feeling, and one not indulged lightly. He’d always known there would be someone better someday—Emissaries of his ilk did not usually live much past thirty-five or forty—but to be outmatched by this puppy? Rat had been right. Gil should never have let himself get drawn in by this fucking boy’s story. Now he was stuck. He had accepted the terms. If he backed out at this point it would get around. His patrons would drop him like a hot brick, and there wouldn’t be any more to take their place. His reputation would be worth shit. Less than shit.

His vision narrowing, he squared his shoulders and trudged back to the ring. The boy backed away and let him in, an extravagant courtesy. Not what Gil would have done, but there was no arrogance in the youth’s face. Just wariness and the unmistakable beginnings of hypothermia. His teeth were chattering—he was probably soaked to the skin under that crust of snow. His eyelids had started to droop as his strength leeched away along with his body heat, but his sword was perfectly poised.

Gil crushed down the pity he couldn’t afford to feel. Swept his blade up in a wide arc intended to provoke overcompensation. The boy was too cold and too weary to see it for the trap it was. Took too broad a step to the right, and couldn’t quite bring his blade up to block Gil’s backswing. The crowd oohed at the blood that flowered on the young man’s sleeve, staining the snow that still clung to it. A good cut, clean and deep, to his forearm—more importantly, his sword arm.

With a muttered curse, the boy switched hands, hefting the blade in his left with unexpected proficiency. Blood dripped down onto the packed snow at his feet, but he ignored the wound and held his injured arm out behind him for balance. He smiled fiercely. “Come on, then!” he hissed.

With a salute, Gil obliged him, launching into an attack that should have hammered a weakened opponent to his knees. The boy, left-handed, parried and blocked like mad, heedless of the life that was now pouring out of his right arm. Sustained a second cut to his shoulder. Not severe—indeed, he didn’t seem to have felt it. Was strong enough still to begin a complex assault of his own, all the more lethal because he fought with his left. His blade sliced a razor-cut along Gil’s collarbone, just shy of his throat. A gasp rose and fell, but Gil wasn’t listening anymore. Heedless of the sting at his throat, he stabbed in at an opening, waited for the parry, then hammered his left fist into the boy’s face.

Between the blow, his weariness and the uneven footing, the boy went down, his sword tumbling from his numb grasp. Gil kicked it out of reach and moved to stand over him.
Gray eyes, filled with tears, met his. Dirty blond hair fanned out like a halo around a face already turning blue from the cold. His head lay at an odd angle, the fine cords of his neck standing out. At the sight, something clenched in Gil’s gut, nagging at his memory. He glanced up at Viera where she stood with her hand at her mouth, a stricken expression on her normally amiable face. A memory of her with the boy’s hand up her skirt. And the boy himself…that nagging sense from the very beginning that something just wasn’t right.

“Do it,” the boy whispered. “Send me to her.”

Gil’s cock had been hard, watching the boy bring Viera off. The boy’s had not.

“Do it!” the boy hissed, his chest heaving with the beginnings of real panic.

Gil shook his head with wonder. His eyes raked up and down the youth’s prone body—lean muscles, small feet, delicate hands, no throat-knot. The eyes, now pouring tears, only confirmed it.

“Fucking bitch,” he said softly, tossing his blade into a snow bank.

Her face changed, became a mask of anguish. “No! No! It was agreed! Do it! You fucking bastard, do what you promised! Do what you fucking promised!”

The crowd had started to mutter in shock and glee, titillated by this bizarre turn of events. Gil turned to Rat, whose eyes looked like they might drop out of their sockets at any moment. “Help me get her inside.”

Well, there you go. Love at first sight, complete with exclamations of undying affection! Well, eventually…

Thanks for having me, D. You are the cat’s pajamas to a blogless dinosaur like me.

Thanks kis! Great to have you here!



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