Thursday, August 31, 2006

Reader SOS part 2 Win a $25.oo Gift certificate to B&N

Hey guys! I need your help again. I turned in Lesson One of my romance course to my editor and she LOVED the snippets of comments from readers. Thank you all. If you're due a free book and never e-mailed me with your address, please do so @

Now, for lesson number two, I'm covering character archetypes and I need help coming up with the names of authors who best write certain types of characters. This time, I'll put the names of everyone who posts into a hat and draw a winning name. The winner will receive an e-mail $25.00 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. Just tell me who you think which author personifies the following types of characters in her work and then e-mail me to tell me you want in the drawing.

Top Dog Alpha Hero

The Tortured Hero

The Honorable Warrior

The Daring Adventurer

For the heroines:

The Girl Next Door

The Mystic

The Woman Warrior

The Caring Nurturer

Authors, you can play along too! If you excel at a particular archetype, throw your hat into the ring. You'll get free publicity out of it in my romance course.

Contest is open until September 5th.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Thanks to everyone who replied to my post. Your heartfelt answers to my questions were so touching. I'm sharing snippets of your replies in lessons to my students. I so appreciate you taking the time and effort to respond.

Now, if some of you who posted haven't heard from me it's because I'm having trouble with your e-mail addresses. That rotten Damein Mailer person keeps saying you don't exist. So please e-mail me at Loriwilde@aol and tell me where to send your free book. Thanks so much!!! You guys are a real treasure.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

better late than never

Buried Alive!
It's amazing, the things we'll do to research a book.  Last Friday I was "buried" in a huge pile of broken concrete and smashed automobiles.  It was all for a good cause (I mean besides my obvious benefits from the experience as a writer).  My daughter and I volunteered to be victims for Indiana Task Force 1, Search and Rescue.  These are the people who volunteer their time and sometimes risk their own safety to locate and rescue us after things like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, as well as searching for those who have simply gone missing.  They train nearly every weekend -- all so they'll be ready when disaster strikes.
It was hot.  It was humid.  It was dirty.  Clad in a stunning chartreuse hardhat, I had to slither through a slot that was at an odd angle beneath another concrete slab.  It was awkward and embarrassingly tight (perhaps I need to lay off the ice cream?).  I entered a void in the rubble and stayed there for about four hours.  I was the lucky volunteer, I had a space about six feet in diameter and three and a half feet high, with a tiny bit of sky showing.  They had to find me with one of those cameras they snake into rubble.  I had to pretend to be unconscious and discovered just how difficult it is for me not to be obedient (I'm a pathetic rule follower right to the very marrow of my bones) and respond when they called, "Ma'am, can you hear me?"  At least I had room to move when my legs fell asleep.  If I'd been thinking ahead, I would have taken a book.  My daughter (wearing a fabulous blue hardhat -- I was a little jealous, as blue is my favorite color) slid into a concrete pipe two feet in diameter -- no room for a book, she just had to nap in between training groups.
They flew rescue teams in one at a time on a Blackhawk helicopter.  Each team had a thirty minute window to locate victims.  Some teams had search dogs, some didn't.  A couple of times, they didn't find me ... so I guess that's sorta like a huge "Game Over" coming up on the video screen.  Too bad for Susan, she didn't make it.
The thing that struck me most was how incredibly difficult it is, to not only maneuver on this pile (which was much more stable than those from a real disaster) but how difficult it was to locate victims, even with the search dogs (which made it infinitely easier than searching without K-9 assistance).  I stand in awe of these people -- and they do it for nothing.  Actually, it's less than nothing when you consider all of the costs they incur and are never reimbursed for.
While we were there training, the coordinator received a call.  Someone needed a K-9 Search and Rescue team to search for a missing three year old.  Wow.  Talk about bringing the importance of this whole exercise home!
Anyway, if you're ever asked to get buried alive, or lay a trail for a search dog, please do it.  You never know when you'll need these guys for real.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Readers--SOS! Win a free book.

I'm making a foray into teaching. I need the extra income yes, but honestly, I've always imagined that once I learned the basics of writing and publishing that I'd like to teach it. Both my parents were teachers, I've given a few workshops, so I thought I knew what I was getting into.

I discovered something. Creating your own course is almost as difficult as writing fiction. Not quite as difficult because with ficton you've got that dreaded blank page you've got to fill up with stuff right out of your head. But teaching--and doing it well--is a whole other skill set.

Anyway, I'm writing the first lesson which deals with defining what romance is and I discuss the various subgenres. As I was describing what the subgenres were, I realized I needed something more visceral. Something to reach out and grab the throats of these students and make them understand what's so special about romance.

To that end, I'm asking for help from readers.

What are your favorite subgenres of romance to read and why? Which type of book speaks most deeply to you? How has reading romance affected your life? What does it mean to you? And how would you feel if romance novels suddenly disappeared from the shelves?

I'm counting on you guys to help me impart the emotion experience that reading romance gives you. Are you game?

To reward your efforts, everyone who posts in the comments section gets a free book from my backlist. Just post your heartfelt answer, go to my website pick out the book you want from my backlist (one caveat--I have limited supplies of some titles) and pick out the book you want. This offer limited to the first twenty posts. (Yeah, okay, twenty posts you say? Well, a writer can dream, can't she?) Anyway, thanks ahead of time for your particpation!

Much love,

Sunday, August 20, 2006

How Do You Start a Regency Ball? by Diane Perkins

First I must respond to Candy’s plea that I give you my news. It isn’t MY news, really. It is the news of my alter-ego Diane Gaston, who writes Regency historicals for Mills & Boon and Harlequin Historicals. You see, Diane Gaston’s A Reputable Rake won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award for Best Regency Romance. The winners were announced on July 29 at RWA’s national convention in Atlanta, and, I tell you, Diane Gaston has been impossible to live with every since. She has this annoying tendency to flit around the house, singing, “I won! I won.” Pullllesssse. Enough already.

While she’s humming in the corner (annoying me to tears), I am busy revising Desire in His Eyes, my Warner book #3, also known as Blake’s story. Most of the story takes place in Brighton, a town made fashionable by the Prince Regent.

The story is set in 1816, before Prinny’s Pavilion is completed.
1816 was also known as “the year without a summer,” because of unseasonably cold weather persisting throughout Europe and North America. Still, Brighton was the place one spent the summer, if one was fashionable. The Castle Inn and the Old Ship Hotel held card parties and assemblies throughout the summer. As I was rewriting a scene at one of these assemblies, I was stumped about how the Master of Ceremonies might start the dancing. Would he announce an old fashioned minuet or the very modern waltz? How about a quadrille or a country dance?

Diane Gaston is tapping me on the shoulder to remind me that I danced Regency dances at the Atlanta Beau Monde soiree (Regency writers RWA chapter) with Joanne Carr, one of her Mills & Boon editors. This was right after the winners of the Booksellers’ Best Awards were announced. She didn’t win that one, I tell her. She huffs and says her The Mysterious Miss M won the Readers Choice Award. “Who cares,” says I. My The Marriage Bargain was a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee, and I also danced Regency dances in the Assembly rooms at Bath, where Jane Austen danced. She reminds me that she was there, too.

Anyway, to find out what dance would open a Regency ball I went to Yahoo and keyed in “Nineteenth Century Dance.” I found a bunch of lovely sites discussing the variety of dances of the time period. I even came upon this wonderful site.

Videoclips of dance from Renaissance to Ragtime!

From the Library of Congress! That’s where my husband works. And my friends Virginia and Helen.

Play the videoclips, especially the early nineteenth century ones! You can actually see dancers performing the steps of the dance. You can also read dance manuals of the various time periods.

This is the stuff that gets me excited about writing historicals. I love to find evidence of how it really was in the Regency!

Of course, I still need to discover which dance should open the ball.

Friday, August 18, 2006


It occurred to me this morning that every time I sit down to blog I feel as if I'm on a blind date.


Here I am, sitting at my computer, trying to come up with something witty or intelligent that might capture your attention, yet I'm already imagining you rolling your eyes and snapping your fingers for the waiter to hurry and bring the check.

And then another thought crossed my mind.

What if we Warner Women had a cheat sheet? What if a few of you sympathetic blog frequenters out there would take time to share your definition of what makes a great blog?

This inquiring mind would LOVE to know.

Is it getting inside a writer's head that appeals to you? (A scary thought, since one minute inside my head would probably have you looking around for the Tylenol.)

Or ... are you most interested in our upcoming books? The craft of writing, maybe? Tidbits about our personal lives?

The most important writing relationship authors have is the one we establish with our readers. Romancing the blog gives us a perfect opportunity to take that connection beyond the written page, but it sure would be nice to have a little help from you.

However, to be on the safe side, below is a list of few things I'd rather (ahem) not discuss:

1. Why I write romantic comedy instead of suspense when the suspense market is consistently so HOT - hint: my idea of suspense is waiting to see if my bra strap is going to hold all day without snapping.

2. Sir Isaac Newton's Law of Gravitation - (see NO. 1. above) GOT IT, OKAY!

3. That my husband's eighty-year-old aunt fainted when she read the sexual fantasies in my new August release YOUR BED OR MINE?.

4. That I still have my day job for more than just the "social contact."

5. Why Oprah hasn't chosen any of my books for her book club.

Anything else is pretty much up for grabs. 

So, here's your chance to give us some input on what interests you most when you visit a group author blog. Hit us with your ideas and your questions, PLEASE!

I guarantee you we Warner Women will deliver. :)

Candy Halliday

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Web finds

Ah, Sarah, I understand your addiction to Google Earth. Isn’t it amazing and bewildering how something on the web can capture and hold our attention?

For me, it’s a new feature on my web site called a Clustrmap. All it does is record a hit to the web site, then put a location dot on a map. That’s all it does. It doesn’t tell me who the person is, or give me an email address. The program isn’t capable of gathering information such as whether the person visited the site on purpose or if they just stumbled across it. All it tells me is where in the world the hit came from.

And it’s fascinating!

I’m really bummed about the lack of hits from the upper west of the U.S., but am consoled by hits from other continents. I understand the dots in the eastern European countries because both of my publishers have sold foreign rights to my books in many of those countries. I even understand the dots in the Middle East because I’ve sent books to soldiers serving in the area. I have a friend in Hawaii. The dot in SE Wisconsin is probably mostly me, and the one in Phoenix is likely my mother.

The dot that truly captures my imagination is the one off the east coast of Africa, out in the middle of the ocean. I have to wonder if there’s an island under that dot. Or is someone on a cruise and that’s where they happened to be when they got bored at looking at the ocean and decided to use the computers on the ship, and for Lord knows what reason decided to surf over to my web site? Or maybe that person is a woman of considerable wealth, aboard her yacht, her laptop sitting on the glass-topped table next to her flute of champagne …. Okay, so maybe not, but maybe ….

The whole thing just goes to prove how truly small a world we live in, and how our books touch more people’s lives than we probably realize. It’s both an ego boost and humbling.

To see the map, go to and scroll down to the bottom of the main page. Click on the Zoom icon to see a bigger map with the dots more clearly defined. And if you happen to be that person in the ocean off of Africa, write me a note, will you?

Shari Anton




Friday, August 11, 2006

From Sarah McKerrigan...

I'm going to have to join Google Earth Anonymous.  I am seriously hooked on the program.
Have you seen this?  The screen starts out with a beautiful floating-above-the-rotating-planet graphic while you're mentally singing the "Star Trek" theme (the new score, not the old cheesy one).  Then you type in a destination.  Anywhere.  I mean ANYWHERE.
How about Paris?  Like some supersonic space shuttle, you zoom toward the Earth, getting closer and closer, while the resolution clears.  Oh my gosh.  There's the Champs d'Elysees .  And the Eiffel Tower.  And Notre Dame.  Type in a street address, and you can get even closer.
Ever wonder what New Zealand looks like from the air?  Type it in.  Zoom on over.  Ooh.  Ahh.  It's all there–snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, even the reefs, visible beneath the azure water.
Going to Costa Rica for a vacation?  Type in your hotel address.  Just how close is it REALLY to the beach?  Are there shops nearby?  How far is it from the airport?
Okay, now type in your home address.  Zoom.  Are the hairs starting to stand up on the back of your neck?  I focused in on mine, and you can see the torn-up backyard from two years ago when we were building an addition.  The pickup is parked in front, and there's drywall in the driveway.  Wow, you suddenly realize, we're all under surveillance.
Worse, we're all Big Brother.  Now you're eager to spy on more questionable stuff, aren't you?  Go to Guantanamo Bay.  Area 51.  What's left of the World Trade Center.   Baghdad.  It's strange to see Baghdad.  The neighborhoods look, well, pretty much like mine.
There's even a site for Google Earth geeks who make curious discoveries, like mysterious concentric circles in Malta, a hovering car in Australia, and a weird scale model of Indian terrain found in China.
It's easy to get sucked in, staying up for hours, traveling over the planet like some modern day Magellan.  If you haven't tried it, you must.  But if you get hooked, don't say I didn't warn you.
Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
Riding to the rescue April 2006
Coming for you October 2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's Not Me

One hears it all the time.

Which of your characters are you? Is this based on your experience? When did this happen to you?

It doesn't quite irritate me, but it is certainly one of those things about the writing life. It's not all that incomprehensible--we are the filter, and the work (usually) comes through us. The drink is going to taste like the filter, to some degree. I am interested in katanas, history, classical education, psychic phenomena, and forensics. Some of that comes out in my work.

But I am not Danny Valentine. I'm very glad not to be her, as a matter of fact. She's not a very nice person. I'm also glad I'm not Theo Morgan or Mari Niege or Rowan Price or any of my protaganists. They are mostly people with inadequate coping mechanisms. Well-adjusted people don't make good suspense stories, I guess.

If I were to be asked which character of mine I most identify with, I would be hard-pressed to find a protaganist. I tend to identify much more with secondary characters--like Jason Monroe in the Valentine series. The exception to this is Elise in Fire Watcher, with her irritation over a world that just moves too bloody slow. But other than that...I just don't see myself as any of my characters. Certainly they interest me, and their stories interest me--otherwise, why would I write them?

But they are not me.

I recently had a discussion with Christopher Luna about the "meta-I" in poetry. Basically, a poem is a compressed moment of experience, and the "I" in the poem might not be the "I" of the poet. Yet we associate the I in the poem, however far-out, as the I of the poet. It's only natural to do so. After all, we're trained linguistically to think of I as a powerfully-charged word. We recognize the power inherent in self-declaration (witness our million-dollar memoir business and the popularity of blogs.) We also love to peek into other people's Is and witness their intimate moments.

This is what art, especially writing, is built on. The urge to peek inside another person's head. Voyeuristic? Sure. Enjoyable? Certainly. Healthy? To a certain degree.

And confusing? Oh my, yes.

So how about it, my fellow Warner women? Do you identify with your characters? Why do you think the author and the character are so often conflated? Where is the line between processing one's experience and vicariously living through your works?

I want to know. :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Books I read as a kid

Though I have a huge library of books (and about 30 books larger after Atlanta!) I wouldn't say I'm a voracious reader. When I was a kid... voracious didn't begin to cover it. I loved to read. And at that time I excused crappy writing because I really didn't know any better. Not that I know any better now, I am simply more aware of flaws. Or maybe I'm not.

But I digress.

Here are a few books I read as a kid (or a not so young kid) that influenced me. Made me want to be a writer and create such cool new worlds. Interesting characters. Etcetera.

The "Adventure" series by Enid Blyton. Which didn't have such a cool cover when I read it. I remember there being a group of friends, a couple of siblings. A widowed mother. Um. A weird older guy who helped them and he had a cockatoo named KiKi. I totally wanted a cockatoo. I still do. Sort of. And they'd go on adventures and get into trouble and get the bad guy. Big fun.

Ah, Sweet Valley High. I remember being around for the launch of this series. I think I was in grade seven. It was awesome. I wanted to be Jessica, of course. The cool, popular twin. Rather than Elizabeth who always wanted to do the "right thing." Boring! And check out this guy on the cover. Nice mustache, buddy. I think he was supposed to be the "older guy." Right.

Trixie Beldon totally kicked Nancy Drew's butt. I read a bunch of these. I don't remember much about them other than the fact that they Rocked. I think they've recently been reissued with way cooler covers. Trixie looks more like a teen model than a tomboy now.

L.J. Smith's Nightworld series is absolutely brilliant. It is paranormal romance for the YA audience. I discovered it just as I was trying to find my writer's voice. YA still has a huge place in my heart and my first finished project (and frankly, all my writing since) was inspired by her writing. However, I read it as an adult (sorta). Not a kid. And that cover copy? "One Good Witch. One Bad Witch. One Human Boy." Come on. Fabulous.

So how about you? Have any books you remember very fondly from being a kid? Or if you're a writer, was there a book that sparked your creative juices?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What I Did While Everyone Else Was at the 2006 Romance Writers of America Conference in Atlanta

1. Put on my red, floor-length, rhinestone gown and strolled down my suburban block handing out my business card to the neighbors

2. Got stinking drunk in my kitchen and told my orange cat that if he didn’t give me a bigger advance for my next book, I was walking (he said yes!).

3. Googled “RWA Conference 2006” 47,693 times

4. On the 47,692nd search, discovered that Diane Gaston won a Rita (the VERY prestigious award from Romance Writers of America) for Best Regency Romance for A Reputable Rake. Of course, we at Warner Forever know her by another name (she might have written a Warner book called, The Marriage Bargain, hint, hint) …but still, we’re awfully proud!

5. “Did Lunch.” Baloney sandwiches, mostly. Leftover pasta. Went to Wendy’s once.

6. Moved from upstate New York to Philadelphia in the 100-degree heat and lost my sweet little gray cat. (Darn cat probably went to Atlanta like everyone else…)

7. Added up all the money I saved by not going to Conference, then spent it all on chocolate-mocha double scoops at Ben and Jerry’s feeling sorry for myself.

8. Thought, “well, it’s probably even HOTTER in Atlanta than here. Good thing I’m not missing this historic heat-wave in an air-conditioned hotel…”

9. Served my family rubber chicken and peas for a week.

10. Was really, really sorry I missed everyone and vowed I’d make it next year…if my cat comes back…

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

When Will I Grow Up?

I'm at that stage in my life where I've spent more of my years with my husband than I have with my mother but I still feel like I'm waiting to grow up so the next time my mom says to me "You look tired" I won't immediately launch into a whole litany of excuses like "It's just my new make-up" or "Your glasses are dirty".
It's not easy to get out of the mother/daughter routine. "You look tired" can come across as an older variation of "You're skirt's too short". Comments like that fall under the category of what psychologists call the parent-child relationship. According to psychologists by this time in our life we should be having an adult-adult relationship with our parents. I think it is time we as a society realized that psychologists don't know what they are talking about.
Parent-child is an eternal relationship. Just 'cause I live in a bigger house than my mother does and just because my kids are out of the house, doesn't mean I'm not my mom's little girl anymore.
The only thing that changes in the relationship is recognizing the words "You're skirt's too short" really mean "I love you and I don't want to see you cheapen yourself by showing off your legs so that boys driving by hang out of cars thump the side of it and whistle at you and think you're easy." This is quite a mouthful for mothers to whip out as their child heads out the door in a hurry to get to school.
Parents have to speak quickly to kids. Kids don't have time to listen to all the things parents want to tell them. So parents spill out such immortal words of caring and wisdom like "Eat your lunch", "Be home on time" and "Take care of yourself". Words that are code for a whole lot more.
I know all this. I've said it myself to my kids. But with my mom, I'm still learning to look past the words "You look tired" and hear "Make sure you get enough rest so that you can take care of your family and yourself and not snap at them because you're tired....I love you."
The trouble is, things get confusing for my mother - when to give advice and when to simply listen. I still phone her and complain, hoping to get some sympathy. As in "You know mom, all my fellow writers were at the National Romance Writers Convention and I had to stay home and work." and she's supposed to say, "Oh, honey. That's too bad." but I know the inevitable will come . . . "Are you sure you're not too busy? You sound tired."
And that's okay too. I'll say the same things to my daughter, when I phone her this afternoon.
After my nap, of course.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Elizabeth is Not Amused

I arrived home late last night from a full week of conferencing in Atlanta. And it appears the rumors are true: it IS nicer to go to the RWA conference when you're a published author. People pay for your meals! People come up and tell you how much they like your website! People RECOGNIZE you! (Which, actually, is rather disconcerting. I'm more used to lurking in the background.)

So it was a wonderful, exciting conference, made even better by the LOVELY hospitality the staff of the Atlanta Marriott showed everyone. Every employee I met, from bellboy to waiter to the lady in the gift shop was exceptionally polite and kind.

Then I flew home and picked up my luggage. And, well, the shock was quite rude. But here, I'll let you read the e-mail I sent to A Certain Very Big Airline:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I bought a new suitcase for a week long business trip on July 20. On my arrival home today I found that your baggage handlers had not only torn the handle of my suitcase from the frame, they'd also torn the foot from the frame. Granted, one does not expect one's luggage to arrive in pristine condition, but one does hold out hope that one can use a brand new suitcase for more than one trip. I have been traveling since childhood and frankly I've never actually had my luggage destroyed before. I am sure you are as appalled as I am by the treatment of my luggage. Therefore, I am sure you will agreed that it is only fair that Big Name Airlines pay to have my suitcase replaced. Please send a check for $100 to my address above. No doubt you are as pleased as I was that the suitcase was on sale.

Very Truly Yours,

Elizabeth Hoyt