Thursday, June 30, 2011

WIN REBIRTH!!!!! Plus new cover & new trailer!

You guys!!! I'm jumping out of my skin I'm so damn excited about the new stuff Harlequin just revealed for my AFTERTIME series. And they just sent me some advance copies of REBIRTH, which I'd love to share with you. So how about this - if you'd like to win one, watch the trailer on YouTube and vote in the comments - which is your favorite cover? AFTERTIME, REBIRTH, or HORIZON? I love them all - that art department is chock full o' geniuses, in my opinion.

I'll check the comments in a couple of days and randomly choose three people to receive copies of REBIRTH. (I'll be in touch with you to find out your mailing address.)

P.S. it would be great if you could help me spread the word. My Twitter and FB buttons are at right - and since I'm going to be dismantling my personal page later this summer I'd love it if you'd switch to the fan page here.

Okay, without any further ado - MY NEW TRAILER!!!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SCANDAL tour report!

So as you may know, I've been wandering all over the southwest (um, I guess Colorado isn't exactly southwest, and maybe the Texans would bridle at the term too, but you know what I mean) on a book tour for my new book, A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL (third in the Stella Hardesty mystery series). My dear friend and travel companion Juliet Blackwell came along with me to promote her new book, HEXES AND HEMLINES.

Did we have our usual raucous time? You be the judge...

We started the week in Crested Butte, CO at the Crested Butte Writers Conference run by an amazing group of volunteers (thanks Theresa and Barbara!) Also on the faculty was Robin Owens, a fellow Luna author. (Luna is the publisher of my AFTERTIME series.) She and Juliet and I shared a condo, and there was lots of late night laughter and conversation. During the days, we hung out with lots of great aspiring writers as well as agents Stephen Barr from Writers House, Helen Breitwieser from Cornerstone, and Marisa Corvisiero, and editors Holly Blanck (St. Martins) and Mike Braff (Del Rey Spectra). And finally, we met Kaki Warner, who writes fiction set all over Texas and New Mexico and Colorado, and instantly fell for her. She's our kind of woman!

Agent Stephen Barr and editor Mike Braff
organizers Theresa Rizzo and Barbara Crawford
Our roomie, and my fellow Luna author, Robin Owens
Me and Stephen Barr and...a friend
The view from our condo
Julie working - we worked nearly every day! Sometimes even without cocktails!
the whole gang in a moment of leisure between events

I have rarely laughed so hard in my life. I'm not sure how you take all these random people and throw them together and get anything but chaos as a result, but they are all awesome and I hope that I get to stay in touch with all of them.

Last Monday we flew to Houston, where we spent a couple days with McKenna Jordan who is the incredibly gracious owner of MurderByTheBook, and her mom Brenda. We were very excited to find that we were the very first guests in the new guestroom! Jordan Hospitality features food, a full bar and great guests - and a kick-ass game of Cranium.

McKenna and me at MurderByTheBook bookstore
Matt and his partner John, who works at the bookstore; Matt's a high school history teacher in Houston
Brenda, McKenna's awesome mom (and skilled bartender!)
Juliet in a funky little shop with a floating crystal ball
Playing Cranium with John and McKenna, who kicked our butts

Next on the tour was BookPeople in Austin, where Juliet and I are very lucky to have a supporter in Scott Montgomery. Scott has been a wonderful hand-seller for our series, and he moderated a great discussion in the store before taking us out for what has got to be the best barbecue in the universe. I would eat there every day of my life if they let me. We also had a fun comrade-in-barbecue, Juliet's cousin Pat, who entertained us with stories of Blackwell family lore.

Me and Juliet at the register of the large and wonderful BookPeople store
the BEST barbecue in the world - from Ruby's - and we drank Shiner Boch too!
Me and Juliet checking out the menu, but honestly, was there any doubt our choice would be "a little of everything?"
The gang in front of Ruby's: Juliet's cousin Pat, Juliet, Scott Montgomery, and mystery fan Ed

After a quick stop in Tucson to give a workshop at Clues Unlimited bookstore on writing compelling Sex & Passion scenes (no pictures from that one!!!) we arrived at our last stop: the Poisoned Pen Bookstore's annual reader and writer conference. This took place in the beautiful Biltmore hotel, which I adore. The 100-plus degree weather barely slowed us down as we conducted workshops for aspiring writers and hob-nobbed with Phoenix's great mystery community, spearheaded as always by Barbara Peters and her awesome staff. I'm going to need to post the pictures from that later because I'm just about to fall asleep on the keyboard.

Finally, weary beyond belief, we headed home today. If you'd like a glimpse into the final (ignominious) hours of our trip, check here :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Secret Source

The most oft-repeated question writers hear is "where do you get your ideas?"

Many of us shuffle and mumble, making up bits about "observing people in everyday settings" and reading the newspaper and exploring alternate endings to chance encounters. The shuffling and mumbling is a sure tell that we are lying, people. Truth is that most of us don't know where the ideas come from, they just....arrive.

Except when they don't. Sometimes, you're sitting there with your book, wondering what the hell happens next. This happened to my darling friend Rachael Herron the other day. I wasn't there, but apparently she confided in our mutual friend that she was worried because there was no conflict in her story. Dumbfounded, the friend pointed out that everything from the backstory to the setup was rife with unstable elements just begging to be tipped over and spilled gloriously upon the emotional landscape of the key characters. It was all there, waiting to be plundered...and Rachael just needed a bit of help from an extra pair of eyes to see it.

Moments like this are precious, even essential to keeping the writing flowing. Sadly, they don't come in a bottle and you can't order them from Amazon. However...we have discovered the next best thing:

Chicken and waffles.

For some reason, the occasional Plot Lunch at a certain old venerable diner, with gallons of coffee and acres of worn formica, is just the ticket. I've never emerged from such a lunch without a solution to my most pressing plot problems. And the best part is that we don't struggle for answers; rather, they seem to bubble up from the gossip and laughing and crying.

Funny, I just had a thought - who knows what a better writer Naipaul might have been if he'd had something like Plot Lunch? :)

Rachael and Juliet, cracking wise