Wednesday, December 31, 2008

50 Chances to win VEXING THE VISCOUNT

I'm starting the new year out with a 50 Day/50 Blog Tour to celebrate the release of Vexing the Viscount on February 24th! Each day I'll be guest blogging on a new site and giving away a FREE copy of Vexing the Viscount to one lucky commenter. Check out my BlogTour Itinerary and bookmark the site so you can join me in cyberspace. Just post a comment each day for a chance to win!

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Or check back here each day. I'll try to post a link to the blog I'm visiting!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coming late to the E-volution . . .


I've always loved the feel of a book in my hand. The smell, the weight, turning down the corner of the page to mark my place--it's all part of the joy of reading. Now I've discovered that my previous titles are also available as ebooks. Even my Diana Groe titles can be downloaded electronically.

This raises a whole host of contractual questions. I had my agent check the contracts and this is all legal and above board. In fact, I'll even receive a better rate of royalty on the ebooks after the first 100 sold than I do on my print books. But if my books are available electronically, can they be said never to be out of print and therefore the rights will never revert to me?

Probably.

So for now, I'll just rejoice that my work is available to a whole new generation of techno-saavy readers. And as usual with technology of any sort, I'm behind the curve. I know there's a big broohaha over which electronic format (Kindle vs just about everything else) is best. And there are several different types of e-readers available. As a condo dweller with limited space and a huge library, I'm beginning to see the charm in ebooks.

Do you read ebooks? Which e-reader do you use? Do you recommend it? Have you had trouble adapting to reading ebooks as opposed to the old-fashioned tree-killing kind? I'd love to have your imput!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Over doing it


There's nothing I hate so much as laying about. (Time spent on a cruise ship doesn't count, of course. The whole point of a vacation is to lay about, but there's not even a shadow of a palm tree here in wintry New England.) Right now, I'm recovering from colon cancer surgery and much as I hate to admit it, I can't have business as usual. The procedure was supposed to be laproscopic, but my incision is over 8 inches long, so evidently my cute surgeon had to alter his gameplan. I was hoping for a quick recovery, but it looks like it'll be several weeks before I'm doing crunches. Just going out to eat at the Union Oyster Grill yesterday did me in. The walking wasn't so bad, but there were lots of steps going down and up into Boston's T. The stairs set me back several days.

Until now, I would have said I have a high pain tolerance. I did natural childbirth for both my girls without a whimper. I really expected to bounce right back from this procedure. But even the oxycodone isn't cutting my post-operative pain and I hate to take too much of it anyway for fear of becoming dependent.

My DH says I have "control issues" and I'm afraid he's right. Pain takes away my choices. I'd hoped to go to church this morning, but I couldn't squirm through the service on those hard pews. This afternoon, my daughters would love to go shopping to spend their Christmas money, and even though I am the Anti-Shopper, I would love to go just to share the time with them. I'm afraid all I'm good for is holding down the couch right now. And being a dog magnet.

Susie and Mack (see picture above--yes there really are two dogs there. Little black Susie is blending in with the recliner on my left side) have made it their business to snuggle with me almost constantly. I suspect my dogs are sensitive to my pain and are trying to relieve it in the only way they can.

Sorry to whine. I just need to suck it up and give myself permission to vegetate while I heal. Maybe I can imagine a palm tree . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Revolutionary Ideas




For years, my DH and I scrambled madly to make it to Grandma's house for Christmas. We drove through the night across windswept, snowy plains. We waited in airports, praying for breaks in the weather and entertaining the kids with whatever we could think of. In all that time, I thought our parents had it easy, snug and warm and not constantly moving, just waiting for us to arrive and the Christmas celebration to begin.

Now I'm the parent waiting. Our oldest daughter is in the maw of the air traffic system today and all we can do is pray that there are no weather delays or mechanical difficulties or ice on the road getting to the airport that's 3 1/2 hours away from her house. We've been looking forward to her visit for months and she's due in tonight. Even though I'm only 14 days out from major surgery, I'm determined to meet her at the airport.

Because of my surgery, we're not planning too much running around during her time with us, but one of the things she asked to do is visit The Green Dragon. This historic pub was established in 1654 and was frequented by likes of Paul Revere (who happens to be buried in my churchyard), John Hancock and Daniel Webster. The Green Dragon's claim to fame is that the revolutionary conspirators met there frequently to discuss their plans and reputedly overheard the British plans for the invasion of Lexington and Concorde from the Brits in the next booth. I'm looking forward to visiting this unique pub and sampling some of their revolutionary fare--shepherds pie, bangers and mash, etc.

And I'm looking forward to spending time with my DH and our daughters. I know people obsess about family time over the holidays, but I've never found it onerous. I suppose it's my recent brush with cancer, but I can't think of anything sweeter than time with the ones you love.

Merry Christmas, my friends. Love your family, celebrate your faith, and may you receive your heart's desire this year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Turning Points

In the course of a story, there are several pivotal moments, times when the h/h must make tough choices and because of their choice, the story turns in a different direction.

I'm facing a personal pivotal moment, but it's not one where I have any choice. Today, I'm going back to my surgeon to learn whether cancer has spread to my lymph system. If the nodes are clear, I'll be declared cancer-free and the best Christmas of my life begins in earnest! If the lymph nodes show the cancer has spread, I'll be referred to an oncologist to discuss further treatment.

I think it's the feeling of helplessness that irritates me most. I'm presented with two doors, but the choice of which one I walk through is not up to me. It's already been decided by a nameless techie somewhere who prepared my biopsy material and checked for abnormal cells. I have no control.

Yet, there is one thing I can control through all this. My attitude. I can trust God. I can keep my sense of humor. I can choose to live each day with joy. I can love my family and think of others instead of myself.

Maybe I have more choices than I thought.


Finding Door Number Three

12:39 pm. Rejoice with me! My lymph nodes are clear! 22 negatives out of 22! I feel as though my life has been handed back to me. I get to worry about retirement again!

And yet, there is a another shoe to drop. Ordinarily, I'd be pronounced cured at this point. But because of the size of my tumor (5 centimeters) and my age ("You're so young," my good-looking surgeon kept saying--see why I like this guy?) he's recommending I see an oncologist and consider having chemotherapy "just in case."

So the saga continues . . .

But I'm thrilled with my good news and I'm so thankful. God is good. And as Thornton Wilder said in his play OUR TOWN, "Oh, life! You're too wonderful for anyone to realize you."

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Gift of Friendship

Like so many Christmas traditions we enjoy today, the Christmas card was a Victorian invention. John Callcott Horsley designed the first sepia colored, triptyche styled card in 1843. The side panels depicted acts of charity and the center was a scene of rejoicing with family and friends. The picture here is the back of a two-sided Christmas card from the late 1800's. The inscription says, "May Christmas Peace keep Winter from thy heart." This 2 1/2 by 4 inch card was fringed with silk.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've gotten out of the habit of sending Christmas cards. We've moved so often, it's been easy to lose track of people, but I've found a number of our friends on the internet. I send out an electronic Christmas Newletter and spruce up my website with greenery to wish my visitors a Merry Christmas, but it's not the same as taking the time to hand address and send out individual cards.

My friend Marcy takes the idea of a Christmas card a step further. She creates calendars for her friends and sends them out each December. Each month is printed on a different themed paper. She rings each page with pithy, though-provoking, encouraging quotes. Every color and font change is carefully planned. She pours herself into these calendars, along with her wishes for love, peace and prosperity for the recipients. My calendar came yesterday. It was like getting a hug through the mail.

But however much I admire Marcy's creativity, I have to go with my strengths. Please accept this as my Christmas card to you. To my friends (many of whom are spread across the miles), my readers (whom I appreciate so much!) my family (who are especially dear to me as I go through this bout with cancer), I wish love, laughter and the merriest of Christmases.

And at the risk of a little plagiarism, "May Christmas Peace keep Winter from thy heart."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dorothy was right!

"There's no place like home!"

I was released from the hospital late yesterday and even though I'm not moving very quickly, it's lovely to be surrounded by my family and my own things. My surgery was sucessful. Still waiting on the lymph node biopsy report to make certain the cancer hasn't packed its little bags and gone traveling, but for now, I'm going to assume my cute surgeon got it all. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. I appreciate them more than I can say.

And now, I wonder if I could prevail on you to direct your prayers and healing thoughts toward a young woman who was my roommate at the hospital for one of the nights I was there. Let's call her Jane Doe. I know her name, but she wouldn't appreciate me sharing it. She's 31. Single. With a boyfriend who slumped along with her to the hospital. She presented with back pain and numbness (and weeping and cursing and a chip on her shoulder the size of Nantuckett).

I was in a post-operative morphine haze, but it was apparent even to me as I listened to the conversations on the other side of the curtain (I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but the way I was hooked up to multiple tubes and wires, it wasn't as if I could slip out and give them privacy), that she was desperately in search of drugs. When it became evident that she wasn't going to score, the boyfriend left pretty quickly. (Which relieved me no end. I knew I'd never get my DH to go home and get some rest as long as the boyfriend was hovering around.)

Later that night when we were alone, she spoke to me through the curtain separating us. "Do you have pain meds?"

A vision of her coming around the curtain, ripping out my IV and making a run for it flashed in my brain. "No," I lied.

She sobbed like she'd lost a child.

From what I could piece together, she'd been a patient at the hospital with a legitimate injury at one time. She developed a taste for morphine and percoset and oxycodone in the course of her treatment. Once the injury healed, she still needed the pain meds. Just to function. Even though she walked out of the hospital the next day and I was still effectively chained to my bed, I pitied her deeply.

And wouldn't have traded places with her for anything.

So now, I'm two hours past the time when I can have a pill (I do understand HOUSE'S fondness for them now.) but I'm trying to hold off. Pain management is a big deal in medicine these days. I lost track of how many times I was asked to rate my pain with a number between 1 and 10. It's so subjective, I don't know how it can convey any meaningful information. One person's 4 could be another's 12!

And who knows how our brains will react to pain meds? I know the hope is that we find relief enough to heal effectively, but in some patients, the drug seems to dig in its talons and not let go. How many pills does it take?

I don't want to find out.

So please say a little prayer for Jane Doe and all the other unfortunates who have a pain med demon riding them. I was going to try to keep my posts about my experiences in the hospital on the light hearted side and as much as I enjoy making fun of my Bride of Frankenstein belly and the semi-colon inside, I can't joke about someone else's pain.

I will end this post on an upnote though. I've been reading Christie Craig's DIVORCED, DESPERATE AND DATING, but with extreme caution. It's uproariously funny.

And I'm already in stitches!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ready for Christmas


I've done what I can this year in the way of preparation for the holidays. The tree is up. Presents are wrapped. Our oldest daughter has her plane ticket for Christmas Eve and we so look forward to her visit. I've spruced up my website with a little greenery. I've sent out my Christmas Newsletter. It features a lovely painting I saw at the National Gallery in London, along with my thoughts on what Christmas means to me. I've posted a FREE downloadable story for YOU called A Dragon Caern Christmas. I'm ready as I can be to celebrate.

And I'm ready as I can be for my surgery tomorrow. On Sunday, my pastor and friends from my church choir prayed with me. I've been inundated with promises of prayers and well-wishes from readers and writing friends. I know writers are supposed to be good at describing things, but words are not cooperating when I try to explain how loved, how uplifted, how strengthened I feel by the outpouring of support I've received.

And how very humble and very blessed.

Thank you all.

I probably won't be able to post again until I return home, which will be in a little over a week. (Through the wonders of technology, I will be posting on The Chatelaines on Friday the 12th, but that's a little like a taped broadcast instead of a live post. However if you want to see my attempt at sketching, please pop over! It's good for a laugh!)

This next week, I'll be thinking of you, scurrying about, fighting traffic, getting set for your holiday celebration. I'll be lounging in bed, tucked in with warm blankies and hilarious books, letting them bring my meals on a tray, while I wait for my cute surgeon to come back with good news. :)

All I want for Christmas is clear lymph nodes!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Joys of Cyber-Space

It allows me to be in two places at once today. First PLEASURING THE PIRATE is being featured on http://www.DearReader.com this week. If you haven't signed up for this free, fun service, I urge you to try it out. Each week you'll received snippets from a new book, enough to know if you'd like to read more and a chance to visit with the author on their forum. http://www.supportlibrary.com/fm/shelf_main.cfm?win1=FORUMRESPONSE&CFID=81341642&CFTOKEN=66340491 I'll be here to answer questions today and tomorrow. I don't expect I'll have internet access in the hospital the rest of the week, so if you'd like to comment today or Tuesday, that would be grand!

Also, if you'd like a chance to find a Pirate in your stocking, visit http://www.authorsandbooks.blogspot.com today, Dec 8th. I'll be giving away a copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE to one lucky commenter. So come on over and join the fun!

Have a great day!
Diana (Emily)
http://www.emilybryan.com

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas on Boston Commons



On Thursday, the Christmas lights came on at Boston Commons. The DH and I were downtown that night for choir practice. We attend Park Street Church (a jewel of a 200 year old church on the edge of Boston Commons) and really enjoy singing in the choir, though I may miss some this Christmas season.

Boston Commons is a several acre patch of trees and grass in the heart of the city. It was established in 1634 as a community grazing ground. George Washington's troops camped there. It's ringed with historic homes and buildings. And each Christmas, the hundreds of trees are covered with lights.

What a treat to be on the Commons when the thousands of lights winked on!

We've spent Christmases in lots of different states. When we lived in North Carolina, we always liked to see the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood. In Minneapolis, it was the Parade of Lights. In Seattle, a flotilla of lighted boats provided a water parade on Lake Washington. In Wyoming, just seeing the brilliant stars splashed across the winter sky was enough. God puts on a spectacular light show.

What public display makes your holiday celebration special?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cancer--The Inconsiderate Guest

If you read my blog, you know I had a colonoscopy last week, a procedure I believed unnecessary and tried very hard to wiggle out of. After all, I had no symptoms and no family history of colon cancer. I "lost" my paperwork. I nearly lost my patience and thought about hopping off the table when they couldn't get the IV started and had to call in a real anesthesiologist (3 cheers for Dr. Goodstick!) But it turns out, my unnecessary screening was actually very necessary.

The mass in my colon is cancerous and I'm slated for surgery on December 10th. I'm so thankful they got me in quickly because this will mean I'll be home for Christmas. On the down side, I'll miss out on visiting with readers when Pleasuring the Pirate is featured on Dear Reader.com starting Monday. (If you haven't signed up for this fun service, visit http://www.dearreader.com . Each week, you'll receive a snippet from a new story. Enough to try before you buy!) I'll be able to answer questions on the 8th & 9th, but expect to be in a drug-induced haze with no internet connection starting Wednesday. Cancer is just so inconsiderate of people's schedules!

They'll evict my unwelcome tenant along with my right colon, probably a foot or so, which will leave me plenty of healthy colon. (Dare I say it, a semi-colon? Sorry. Writer joke.) Then I'll spend a week in the hospital on a restricted diet while my innards heal. If you've ever remodeled a kitchen or bath, you know the last thing you want when you redo plumbing is leaks. When they take the section of colon, they'll also take some lymph nodes. If they are clean, I'll be pronounced cured. If there are cancer cells in the nodes, I'll need to go through chemo. Either way, weight loss looms in my future and that's no bad thing. I've been praying about losing weight. Guess I just wasn't specific enough.

I mulled over whether or not to blog about this. But I'm a writer and writing is how I make sense of the world. I hope it will help me make sense of this. And if my experience can help someone else who's facing a challenge, so much the better.

Colon cancer is not sexy. We don't have classy little awareness ribbons (I can't imagine what color they'd be!) But fortunately, it's very treatable and survivable if caught early. So, my friends, if you are over 50 (one source I checked recommended 40) please schedule your baseline colonoscopy. I have no symptoms. None. Zero. Nada. And yet . . . I have a date with a scalpel (which will be wielded by a very cute surgeon, BTW.)

I'm not afraid, but I would appreciate your prayers and healing wishes, most especially for my DH. It's always harder to watch someone you love go through something like this than to go through it yourself. The love and support I've received from my writing friends has been both encouraging and humbling. Thanks so much.

I'm not stressing. I'm sleeping the sleep of the just. I'm in the hands of a loving God (and a really cute surgeon.:))

It'll be ok.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Benefit for Author Jo Leigh


Jo Leigh, a multi-Rita nominated author for several Harlequin imprints, lost her husband to cancer in June of this year. Visit http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/2008/06/auction-for-jo-leigh.html to learn more about her story. The short version is that this talented writer did not have health insurance and she has catastrophic medical bills to pay.

Mica Stone decided to do something about it. She's organizing a benefit auction for Jo. Authors have donated critiques, mentoring, the opportunity to name a character in an upcoming book, autographed books and lots of other goodies. (I offered a bundle of my whole backlist, PLEASURING THE PIRATE, DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS and my Diana Groe titles, SILK DREAMS, ERINSONG and MAIDENSONG.) Visit http://www.alisonkent.com/forjoleigh.html to see if there's something there for the readers or writers on your Christmas list.

I hope you're moved to help. There is always enough, if we love enough.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sisterhood of the Early-Rising Moms . . .

Like many of you, I was up at O-dark:30 this morning to get a jump on the Thanksgiving meal. Usually, I put the turkey in the night before and I wake several times to check that the bird hasn't cooked dry. This year, our main meal is going to be this evening to accomodate our youngest daughter's work schedule, so I managed a full night's sleep.

But I was still awake before dawn--making cinnamon rolls for breakfast, getting the bird ready to go into the oven and rolling out my homemade noodles. I'm in a different kitchen this year--a much smaller one in our condo (we just moved into the unit in June), but it'll do for our little celebration. As the aroma of the cinnamon rolls mingled with the freshly brewed coffee, it felt like home. It was a lovely, quiet time.

And I thought about all the other moms who were up doing the same special things to show their families how much they love them with special food. As I rolled out the noodles, I thought of my mother, who handed down this family recipe to me. I thought of my grandmother, who's gone now, as I used the crocheted hotpad she made for me to remove the rolls from the oven. So many years of the family gathering around different tables. I thought of my sisters ( I have 3). One will be with my parents for Thanksgiving as will our oldest daughter, but I wondered how many people my other sisters would feed at their celebrations today.

In the stillness of the early morning, it was as if all those special women in my life were suddenly very close to me. And I'm so thankful for all of them. They loved me with food, which maybe isn't the best way to show it, but their love has made a such a difference in my life. I hope you have some of those women in your life, too.

I'd share my noodle recipe, but it's the infuriating kind. The kind I used to hate when I first learned to cook. There is no exact measuring of the ingredients. It's thrown together with hope and love. And each time, my DH declares my noodles a revelation, even if they aren't the best batch I've done. Guess he figures even less than perfect noodles are better than no noodles.

So how about you? What special foods say love to your family?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


In case you're wondering what to do after you've cleared the table and the DH is watching football, I have a suggestion. How about a little story just for you?

I posted a free, downloadable story on my website. It features the characters from PLEASURING THE PIRATE. I had a ball revisiting my reformed pirates and imagining their holiday celebration. One of the things I learned was that in the Georgian era, no one had Christmas trees. Those are German in origin and didn't gain popularity in England until Queen Victoria had one. But they did have a "kissing bough"--a mix of holly, ivy and mistletoe. Beyond the hope of stolen kisses, in my story the kissing bough promised magical results. I hope you enjoy A Dragon Caern Christmas!
I'm so thankful for my family, my faith and my friends. And I'm especially thankful for my readers. Hug your family and friends close this season! Wishing you lots of love!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Even after you get out of school, tests suck.

If you've visited my blog before you know I urged everyone to get their mammogram done in October. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so it's a topic near and dear to my heart. Early detection is key to a good prognosis. So I had my yearly mammogram and it came back clean. Then my doctor said, "You know, you haven't had a baseline colonoscopy yet."

"But I don't have any symptoms," I said.

"That doesn't matter," she assured me. "You deserve a screening."

Far be it from me to pass on something I deserve.

So I made the appointment for today. Knowing preparation for the test involves a rather nasty purge, I thought it might also be a way to rid myself of a couple of those pesky "cruise" pounds I just packed on. I very nearly cancelled the appointment anyway because it requires having an IV and I'm the original human turnip, but my DH wouldn't let me wiggle out of it.

And it's a good thing.

The doctor found a polyp, which he removed and a mass, which he could not. Now, I don't have any idea what this mass is. It's been biopsied and I have an appointment with a surgeon tomorrow. Looks like I may not be making my home-made noodles for Thanksgiving, after all.

I'm trying very hard to be positive. This could be any number of things. But, being the daughter of two cancer survivors, the Big C is the first thing that pops into my mind.

I'll let you know.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas is Coming--Buy a Book!

When I was a kid, my grandparents always brought me books as gifts when they visited. They weren't expensive books, but each time, I felt as if they had given me the whole world. I was the type of kid who sneaked flashlights under the blanket to read. When I was in middle school, I even chose to take the creepy basement bedroom in order to keep my light on later. What's a few waterbugs when there's a whole world waiting for me in a book?

As an adult, I'm still just as drunk on the printed word as I ever was. But now, I'm concerned. As you may have heard, there's a recession on and publishing houses are particularly vulnerable. For the whole story on this, you might want to check out this editorial assistant's take on what happened to the industry in October.

http://editorialass.blogspot.com/2008/11/crash-flow-or-what-went-wrong-in.html

Publishers aren't running to Washington with their hands out. All they need is for us to put our Christmas money where it will do the most good. Take a look at your Christmas list. Is there a niece or nephew? Why not give them a book instead of yet another video game? Exercise their minds, not their thumbs. A grandmother? Give her a large print book. A busy mom to buy for? How about a book on tape she can enjoy while she ferries the fam around? Got a little one on the list? A picture book you can read aloud together will make more than a wonderful gift. It will make a memory.

We are all shaped by the people we surround ourselves with, the media images we let scream into our brain, and the books we read. Am I suggesting you buy my books? Only if you intend to give them to a romance reader. Choosing a book for someone means you've taken the time to think about them long enough to pick something you'll think they'll like. So think about your loved ones. Pay attention to their hobbies, their favorite things. It should lead you to the right section. Or let a knowledgable bookseller recommend something if you can't pick something yourself. Heck! Send me your list and I'll be happy to make some suggestions.

Even now, my husband gives me books because he knows I'll love them. They tell me he's paying attention. So pay attention to your family and friends this holiday season and pick out a book that tells them how special they are to you.

For under $10, you can give someone a whole world. What other gift can beat that?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Living with Art


Ok, I confess. I'm an art junkie.

I love museums. I crave color and form and light and shadow. Visual arts move me. I make up stories for the pieces that grab my attention. The real stories of the artists themselves touch my heart.

That's why it's so dangerous for me to attend art auctions when I'm at sea. However, I managed to disembark from our cruise with only one new acquisition. This is Still Life with Lemons by Constantine Cherkas and I couldn't leave the Love Boat without it. I love the geometric feel and the vibrant colors in this numbered print. (Come on, you didn't really think I could afford an original, did you?)

Cherkas' real story is one of triumph over tyrany. He was born in Russia in 1919 and studied in Moscow under artists forced to teach under Stalin's rule. Later, to escape artistic repression, Cherkas and his wife fled from Russia only to fall into a Nazi prison camp. Fortunately, they both survived and after WWII, they emigrated to the US in 1950 at the height of the Cold War. Anything Russian was suspect at that time, so this talented colorist couldn't sell a painting to save his soul. But he perservered. Now his works are found in major museums around the world. At 89, he's finally receiving the respect he deserves.

Every time I look at this piece it will speak to me of determination and commitment to a goal--useful things for a writer to keep in mind.

Now I just need to figure out where to hang it.

Have you ever seen a piece of art that moved you? Or maybe a song or some other art form? Please share.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I just won the I Love Your Blog Award!

What fun! Tammie King of NightOwl Romance just gave me an "I love your blog" award! Now the fun part of this award is that I get to pay it forward. It's my turn to nominate 7 of my favorite blogs. So in no particular order, here are some blogs I enjoy and frequently visit.

1. http://www.romanticreads.net This is Leah Hultenschmidt's blog. She's my fabulous editor at Dorchester Publishing. You'll want to bookmark this one. She shares what she's working on, what snags her interest, and gives you a unique peek into the mind of one of the sharpest editors around.

2. http://boxingoctopus.blogspot.com This blog belongs to my friends Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers. Always thought-provoking, always timely, they don't shy away from any subject that relates to writing.

3. http://killerfictionwriters.blogspot.com/ An absolutely hysterical collection of writers-Kathleen Bacus, Jana DeLeon, Leslie Langtry, Christie Craig and Gemma Halliday. This blog is always a guaranteed hoot!

4. http://www.kelliestes.com/blog/ Kelli Estes and I joined Eastside RWA on the same night. Even though I'm now a continent away, I still keep my membership current with that terrific group of women. "Platform" is the new publishing buzzword and generally means "How many people will care enough to buy your book if we should decide to publish you?" Kelli's blog is a perfect example of what a pre-published author's site should be like. When she sells, I'll be at the bookstore with my wallet out.

5. http://www.rowenacherry.blogspot.com/ Rowena Cherry writes funny futuristics with sly chess references. She also blogs, has the most fantastic newsletter, and regularly lets me join her for her Crazy Tuesday Internet Radio shows.

6. http://bookreviewsbybobbie.wordpress.com/ This blog belongs to my Canadian friend, Bobbie Crawford-McCoy. It's a neat, well-run site that features book reviews, interviews and book give-aways!

7. http://www.nightowlromanceblog.blogspot.com Last but not least, Tammie King at NightOwl Romance. I receive the daily digest from NightOwl's yahoo group, have visited the site countless times, but never realized she had a blog. Clunk! That was me, having a V-8 moment! Now that I know, I'll be back!

Now, I need to share that this will be my last post till November 17th. I'm running away with my husband to the Caribbean (just in time for a late season hurricane, but I refuse to be daunted by Palumbo or whatever they're calling him). Will return with pics, a sunburn and more extra pounds than I want to contemplate, but hey! I'm on vacation and I've saved CL Wilson's King of Sword and Sky for my lounging pleasure! In the meantime, through the magic of technology, I will be posting almost live next Friday on The Chatelaines, the hot new historical/paranormal group blog. Please pop by and comment. I will check when I return from the Bermuda Triangle . . .

What are your favorite blogs?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Chatelaines go LIVE!


Take a New York Times Bestseller, two USA Today Bestsellers, an American Title winner, and three award winning, multi-published authors, scramble them all together and what do you get? THE CHATELAINES! http://www.thechatelaines.blogspot.com/ ! It's the hottest new Historical authors group blog featuring CL Wilson, Jennifer Ashley, Joy Nash, Gerri Russell, Cindy Holby, Bonnie Vanak and . . . moi (blush!) Emily Bryan.
We'll be sharing about what's next for our writing, what's happening in our lives and any crazy thing that pops into our heads! Be sure to bookmark us so you'll never miss a moment!




Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guest Blogger Adele Dubois!


Many thanks to Emily Bryan for inviting me to celebrate my new paranormal erotic romance release DESERT FEVER by Adele Dubois. Though I write paranormals for Ellora’s Cave, and Emily writes historicals for Dorchester, what ties us together is our love of romance—that Happily Ever After promise between a man and a woman who know they were meant for each other. Though Emily’s hero is a viscount and mine is a marine, they are both men of honor and integrity who give their heart to their ideal woman.

Here’s a short summary of my new book DESERT FEVER. Excerpts are posted on my website at www.adeledubois.com/ and at Ellora’s Cave http://www.ellorascave.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419919060

Summary of DESERT FEVER by Adele Dubois:

On her forty-sixth birthday, Marybeth buys a red convertible, equipped with the latest GPS navigation technology, and runs away from her painful divorce. At the mouth of the Mojave Desert she finds sexy, thirty-year-old USMC veteran Jake stranded with his disabled motorcycle, and gives him a lift to Nevada.

What Marybeth doesn’t know is that her GPS navigator has led her straight to the man she wished for to heal her broken heart. Though the GPS is not exactly a genie, his system grants him the power to locate whatever Marybeth needs most. What she wants is revenge, laced with a hot, studly young lover. GPS takes wishing upon a star to a new and very real technological level, as he makes Marybeth’s wildest, most sultry dreams come true.
Emily: A red convertible and a much younger man. Well, Adele, this sounds like total middle-aged joy! Thanks for stopping by to share!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Crossing by Joy Nash

Just finished reading Joy Nash's latest Immortals release--THE CROSSING. I'm a huge fan of her Druids of Avalon series, but this was her first dark contemporary paranormal I've read.

Joy sets up a totally believable alternative world, filled with both light and dark magic. I appreciate the fact that her spell-weavers must pay a price for each act of magic. It shows a sort of spiritual economy. Her view of Hell as a darkly twisted shopping mall completely resonated with me (Whip me. Beat me. Don't make me shop!) and her descent into the deepest circles of the abyss was very Dante-esque.

The love story between Mac Lir, a demigod, and the witch, Artemis Black was completely believable and I loved the way she wove her extremely hot love scenes with the conflict between their magic styles.

This book has one of the blackest black moments I've ever encountered in a romance, but the HEA payoff was that much sweeter for it. Well done, Ms. Nash!

Check out my Em Recommends page at www.emilybryan.com for more of my picks and recommended reads!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Galley Time


The lifecycle of a novel is a long one. First I submit a proposal to my editor. This usually consists of three chapters and a synopsis. If she likes what she sees, she makes my agent an offer. They haggle a bit and finally everything is agreed upon.And we're off to the races.

I may or may not adhere to my original synopsis and in the case of VEXING THE VISCOUNT, this story didn't even have a title. It was the option book in a 2 book contract, so I had free rein for the story. That's both liberating and terrifying. Even before my editor reads the story, she writes the back cover blurb and gets the art department working on the cover. I have some imput at this point, but no veto power. I'm writing like a demon, fear nipping my heels. I might finish the entire novel and turn it in, only to have my editor hate it. (She didn't, thank heaven! In fact, she loves VEXING more than my PIRATE book)

Once I turn the manuscript in (about 9 months prior to publication) my editor takes a crack at it, suggesting revisions while the manuscript is also shopped out to a copy editor who minds all my P's and Q's. I take a look at the revisions and my editor and I negotiate changes. This part of the process is exciting. The book begins to sparkle like a gem.

Then the revised manuscript is turned over to an editorial assistant who formats it into its final form, called a galley. In a galley, the book is printed two pages to a sheet of paper in the same size font as the book will appear. The galley for VEXING THE VISCOUNT arrived in the mail today. This is my last chance to make changes in the manuscript, but there's a caveat. At this point, the book's already been typeset. Every change costs money so there is no re-writing now. If there's a typo or a mistake that will alter the meaning of the sentence, I can make a change, but I need to be judicious about it. YOu may wonder why some books have errors in them. This is why.

Sometimes, things pop up in galleys that weren't in my original manuscript. Sometimes entire sentences. They stand out to me like a cuckoo's egg. I have no idea who added them--an eager-beaver copy editor? Who knows? There are plenty of cooks working on this soup. I try to have the "not mine's" struck out.

So next week, I'll be re-reading VEXING THE VISCOUNT for the last time before I fling it to the world. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Lady's Secret by Jo Beverley

I just finished reading Jo Beverley's A LADY'S SECRET and found it enchanting. If you've read any of her Malloren stories, you'll be glad to be swept back into that world. The premise of a nun and a rake reeks a bit of medieval pornography, but Ms. Beverley would never be so common. Her characters are definitely passionate, but they are also well-rounded human beings with devotion to their faith and family, as well as each other.

As always, her stories are chockful of witty repartee and a true sense of history. Her tales are not just costume pieces--modern romances that include grappling with stays and hoops. No, she has a grasp of what life was like in the Georgian era and she presents it unapologetically. For example, her heroine sleeps in a common bedroom with strangers as she travels incognita. Jo seems to have a direct line into the Georgian subconscious and knows how they think, how they speak, and what's important to them.

Another treat after reading A LADY'S SECRET was the Author's Note. Jo Beverly shares how she crafts her stories. She writes with a sense of discovery, like a child unwrapping a present. Yet the gift is for us, her readers.

Thank you, Jo, for another delight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vexing the Viscount Available for Pre-Order!

I'm so excited! I've been watching every day and today for the first time, VEXING THE VISCOUNT is available for pre-order on Amazon. This is important for several reasons. While pre-orders don't help a book hit a best-seller list, they do influence how many copies of a title the brick and mortar stores decide to stock. If pre-orders are strong, a book can even go back for a 2nd printing before it's been released the first time.

Publishing is a new game for me and I still feel like a neophyte, even though this is my 6th release. As I understand it, hitting a best-selling list is NOT decided by the total number of books sold. It's determined by the velocity with which the title flies out of a certain number of pre-determined bookstores (sort of like Nielson rating households for books).

Which bookstores? That's way above my paygrade, but even hitting Bookscan (which tracks more outlets) with a respectable sell rate will get a book noticed. And marketed more heavily.

So when I want to support an author, I do two things. First, I pre-order their upcoming book. This will help her/his "buy-in" and I'll usually get my copy a week or more before it actually shows up in the stores. Then I buy a second copy to share with a friend as close to the release date of the book as I possibly can. This one definitely counts on Bookscan and may help my friend hit a bestseller list!

And it keeps my TBR pile fat and happy and filled with the kind of books I want to read.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Visiting the MotherShip

Countdown to my next release


I've been writing for Leisure Books since May 2006, but yesterday was my first trip to Dorchester Publishing's office. In the heart of Manhattan, the throbbing heart of this wonderful company is housed in a classically beautiful building with historic literary ties. Penguin was there at one time and the suite of offices Dorchester occupies now used to be home to Altantic Monthly.

I got to meet the office staff and it's always a treat to see my editor, Leah Hultenschmidt and marketing guru, Erin Galloway. Usually, I connect with them at national conferences. This was my first chance to see them in their natural element.

Much is made of the dreaded "slush pile," the place where unsolicited manuscripts languish in obscurity. Leah's pile is small and well-managed. She obviously works through hers, makes her decisions and moves on. (Her husband, who is a horror/thriller/western editor for Dorchester is another subject altogether. His slush pile is the stuff of nightmares--chest-high stacks of manuscripts ring his office. Leah assures me he doesn't get away with stuff like that at home!)

The staff is working half a year or more ahead. My next release VEXING THE VISCOUNT (March 2009) is already off the schedule board because it's "in the can." However, the Christmas anthology I'm doing with Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson is in full swing. (Check out my Em Recommends page for an interview with Alissa about her new release.) Which means I'd better head for home and get busy writing my portion!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wearing a Scarlet R

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes I run into somebody who discovers I write romance and instantly decides they need to engage me in a discussion about whether romance is female pornography. This person has always already decided that it is without ever once cracking the cover of a romance novel.

"How can you write THOSE kind of novels?" or "When are you going to write a REAL book?" By THOSE kind, I'm sure the person meant books with explicit sex in them. Ah! You mean like John Updike? Toni Morrison? Norman Mailer and Virginia Wolffe?

This person seemed to want to convince me that reading romance is an addictive activity. Well, as someone who wants to sell a few books, I certainly hope so! There are lots of addictive behaviors that are harmful, but reading about love that lasts doesn't seem to have any detrimental effects. When I tried to explain the studies that had been conducted that show romance readers report more satisfaction with their relationships than those who don't read romance, he didn't want to hear it.

I came away from the exchange feeling as if I should sew a scarlet R on my lapel or something. Then I got on the Boston T to make my way home and lo and behold, there was a man reading a romance novel in public, bold as brass. It even had a pink cover (now there's a man who's secure in his masculinity!) It did my heart good to see it. Whatever pleasure he receives from reading "female porn," I hope he gets a double portion.

The cover at the top of this post is the German translation of ERINSONG by Diana Groe (my serious alter-ego). Sure doesn't look like porn, does it? I'm thrilled that my work has been translated into German, Dutch, Italian and Russian. Visit my website to see all my international covers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Potter's not selling. Potter's buying . . ."


In these uncertain economic times, Jimmy Stewart's even voice is sounding in my head. As I watched the stock martket careen downward yesterday, the scene from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE where George Bailey single-handedly stops a panic at the Bailey Building and Loan scrolled through my head. George told the folk who were clamoring for their money that Mr. Potter (the richest man in town) was picking up some bargains in the stock market crash because he wasn't panicky. I practiced not panicking. It helped stop the image of our 401K circling the toilet.

Then I remembered that even the 1929 plunge wasn't the first time the markets took a crippling tumble. I used just such a financial debacle for the backstory premise of VEXING THE VISCOUNT (coming March 2009). It was known as "The South Sea Bubble." In my story, the disastrous South Sea Bubble devastated my hero’s father when he lost his entire fortune. Lucian's goal is to win it all back by finding a lost Roman treasure.

I studied this historic stock swindle as part of my research for VEXING THE VISCOUNT. The scandal has been dubbed the ‘Enron of England.’ It all began with the Crown granting the South Sea Company exclusive rights to trade with South America. Shares in the South Sea Company soared to such ridiculous heights in the summer of 1720, it inspired shysters everywhere to urge investment in their schemes. One newly-formed enterprise advertised itself as "a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is." The market surged with the rising tide of unfounded speculation.

When the South Sea Company floundered, the government restructured its debt and the house of cards continued to grow, even though not a single ship ever set sail toward the burgeoning South American market. When the company finally collapsed and defaulted, the entire market crashed with it. However, since the principle cargo the Company intended to market to the New World was slaves from Africa, I can’t help but feel the cosmic justice of total financial ruin was fitting.

I guess what I'm trying to say is--try not to worry. Things have a way of finding the center. Financial empires have risen and fallen before. The British economy survived the South Sea Bubble. We survived the Crash of '29. We will survive this.

If you need a laugh to help take your mind off pushing back your target retirement, pop over to my Pirate Name Contest and vote for your favorite. You're guaranteed a chuckle and you just might win your choice of my backlist! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Go Get Your Boobs Squished!


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is an issue that's important to me. My mother is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in 1999, the year Walter Payton was dying for lack of a liver donor. I'll never forget the way my mother called out as they wheeled her to surgery, "If anything happens, give my liver to that football player!"


It's her nature to put the best face on things, so we all tried to keep a positive attitude along with her. We didn't allow ourselves to cry until the results came back after surgery, showing her lymph nodes were clean. Then we all bawled like babies, even my tough-guy Dad.
It appeared the cancer had been caught early, but just to make certain, the doctors prescribed a full regime of both chemo and radiation. My mother used hair loss as an excuse to buy 9 wigs of different styles and colors. You've got to understand. My mother is the coolest, most fashion-saavy of women. My daughters actually borrowed shoes from their grandma to wear to their proms. Cancer wouldn't be allowed to put a damper on my mom's sense of style.
But chemo is a long dark hallway and the light at the end is so dim at times, no one can see it. Sometimes, her white count sank so low, the treatment had to be postponed and extended. She needed to be reminded that there was life after the Big C.
So we planned a victory celebration for when she was done. What do you do when you've beaten something? Why, you go to Disney World! My mom's cancer was diagnosed in late January 1999. By December, she was done with the chemo and radiation and regaining her strength. So we headed for MickeyLand in time to enjoy the Millenium Celebration! Mom's been cancer-free since 2000.
The picture of my mom and dad at the top of this post is from the Alaskan cruise we took last year. Doesn't she look wonderful? She's a big proponent of regular screening. They'd planned to head for Arizona for the winter in '99, but she wanted to wait until after Christmas and her January mammogram before she and dad headed south. She'd never had a speck of cancer on her previous mammograms, so this was a particularly fast-growing little bug. If she'd blown off her routine mammogram, the cancer might have packed its bags and spread before it was caught. Early detection makes all the difference.
I've got an appointment with my doctor this afternoon and I'm scheduling my yearly mammogram. I know its a miserable experience--one I'm satisfied would be redesigned if the test required men to have tender parts of their anatomy subjected to flattening--but it's the best tool we have for early detection of a disease that kills too many women each year.
So, girlfriends, go get your boobs squished. It beats the alternative all to pieces.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thomas Wolffe was Wrong!

You CAN go home again.

I was in North Carolina over the weekend to attend a wedding and it was like a homecoming for me. I've lived in 9 different states, 4 time zones. The longest I've ever lived anywhere was the 11 years we spent in North Carolina. The church where the wedding was held was my home church and will always be the home church of my heart.

Yes, there were some empty pews. Some of my older friends are gone now. Some have changed churches or stopped attending altogether. Other friends have had beautiful children. But every face I saw lit with delight when they saw me. I've never been hugged so much in my life!

After many twists and turns (at one point the groom was stuck in South Carolina with no gas to get home and the bride was still frosting cupcakes an hour before the ceremony was supposed to start!) the wedding went off WITH a hitch. The groom arrived home too late to get the license ahead of time, so we had to do the paper work after the fact. But everything's tied up nice and legal now and my oldest daughter (the maid of honor) and I witnessed for them

I think everyone needs someplace where they are loved unreservedly. I just spent 5 days in such a place and count myself blessed.

If you live in North Carolina and want signed copies of my books, I did take a little time to visit some booksellers to sign stock. Please visit http://www.emilybryan.com/Autographed%20Books.htm to see where I popped in.

Wishing you all more hugs than you can hold.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Carolina in my mind . . .

Tomorrow, I'm heading for North Carolina to attend a wedding. I used to live there over a decade ago and still have friends who are dear to me. The young lady getting married was a member of the youth group I worked with while I was there. My oldest daughter is flying in to be a member of the wedding party, so I'll get to spend some time with her as well as connecting with old friends.

I'm excited . . . and I'm anxious at the same time. When you move away from a place, people freeze in your mind. They don't age. They don't die. They exist in that static bubble forever. My bubble is about to be busted. The children I knew have children of their own. Some of my friends are gone now. I know that. Actually being there without them will finally make it real. Undoubtedly, some of my friends have grown and changed in ways that will make it more difficult for us to connect and they could say the same of me.

I've lived lots of places. The 11 years I spent in NC was the longest I've been any one place. It's as close to that elusive idea of home as I know. Greek sage Heraclitus said "You can't step into the same river twice." Thomas Wolffe must have been thinking the same thing when he penned You Can't Go Home Again. It's not so much that home changes. It's that we change. So our perception of home is different. Yet, I hope to find that sense of place I hold dear still intact.

I'll also be hitting some bookstores along the way, so please check out my website for places to find signed copies of my work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Case for Silliness

Ok. I admit it. We live in a big, bad world. Terrorists are a real threat. The economy is wobbling like a top. We’re in the middle of a divisive, and increasingly nasty, election cycle. But, I would argue those truths support my conviction that every person needs a little silliness in their life. At least, once in a while.

I remember one day especially when silliness sort of took over. I was the proud companion of a 25 pound, long-haired cat (no one may be said to own a cat, you know). I loved Tommy Whiskers dearly, but his shedding drove me nuts. So instead of just vacuuming my house (again!) I went straight to the source. Yes, I put a brush on the nozzle and started vacuuming the cat. Needless to say, Mr. Whiskers didn’t think much of it, but I was making some real progress on his undercoat when the phone rang.

It was my dear husband. He was having a terrible day. One of his worker’s daughter had committed suicide over the weekend. Another had filed a sexual harassment complaint against another member of my DH’s team. The deadline for the project for which he was responsible got moved up . . . by several months. A string of unhappy people had paraded through his office that morning.

“I just had to call you,” he told me. “I needed to talk to somebody sane. What’re you doing?”

Dead silence. “Vacuuming the cat.”

Dead silence. A little chuckle. A serious guffaw. Five minutes later, my husband was still ‘tears-running-down-his-cheeks’ laughing. He desperately needed a little silliness and I unwittingly provided it for him.

Especially when times are tough, we require silliness to balance things. Not everyone can be sure of having someone to vacuum their cats at the opportune moment, so what better place to find some silliness than in our fiction?

With that in mind, let me introduce you to my latest release, PLEASURING THE PIRATE. As the title implies, there are plenty of steamy love scenes in this story. But my pirate hero, Captain Gabriel Drake, also has 5 orphaned nieces who are constantly dreaming up new devilry, a crusty first mate who follows him back to his Cornish castle and a chatelaine who tries to ambush him on his way home. Of course, the main thrust of the story is the love that develops between Gabriel and Jacquelyn (the afore-mentioned chatelaine) but there’s no reason a romance can’t give you a chuckle or two along the way.

Pirates may have been fierce in real life, but now they are such fun! In fact, September 19th was the Official International Talk Like A Pirate Day! What? You’ve never heard of it? You are a lubber of the first water and in serious need of some piratical help. After all, Septemer 19th will roll around again next year and this time you'll want to be ready.

Check out my website at http://www.emilybryan.com . In my PIRATE COVE, you’ll find pirate pick-up lines, a pirate lexicon, and of course, an excerpt from PLEASURING THE PIRATE! Vote for your favorit Pirate Name in my contest. They were all submitted by readers and believe me, it's a tough choice. Just for voting, you are entered in a drawing to receive a choice from my backlist.

Please feel free to share your own silly story.

Oh! I want to assure them that no cats were harmed in the vacuuming debacle. Tommy Whiskers lived happily to a ripe old age, and when he died full of years and many cans of tuna, he was buried with ceremony and tears in the back yard.

But my husband still laughs every time he thinks of him.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ten Little Pirates . . .

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I just posted the 10 finalists for my PIRATE NAME CONTEST on my website. Choosing from the nearly 200 entries was excruciating. I enlisted the help of family and friends, other writers and critique groups to whittle the list down to these choices. In the end, it's a purely subjective call and increased my respect for my editor no end. Bless her heart. She has to do this every day.

I thought you might be interested in what I was thinking when I settled on these entries, so . . .

Arabella Du Bois, The Bell - This one painted a picture for me. I could see this madame of the seas quite clearly, elegant and deadly. She's definitely a lady with a past . . . and maybe a grudge to settle in the future.


Hornswogglin' Holly, Hold onto yer Belongin's - This made me laugh! Can't you see her? The bag-lady of the Caribbean!

Stabber Stella, Neurotic Sea Wench - There's a place for a maniac in every vessel. She's a terror in a melee, but I bet her mates sleep lightly when she's in the next hammock.

Captain Ian Michael Wycked, "I.M. Wycked" - My DH picked this one. He loves puns. Don't tell him I think Ian Michael Wycked sounds sort of sexy, too!

Greenbeard, aka "Old Moldly" - Can we say clever? This entry took a pirate stereotype and gave it such a fun twist.

Captain Iva Gott Scurvey - Any entry that made Diet Coke shoot out my nose had to be included in the finalists. Again, this entry takes a real pirate ailment--scurvey--and made it funny.

Captain Billy Blackjack, Butcher of Barbados - Loved the alliteration. No wonder my book titles are PLEASURING THE PIRATE, DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS and coming March 2009 VEXING THE VISCOUNT!

Iron Balls McCormmick - This conjured an interesting imagel Oh! You meant cannon balls? Sorry. My bad. . .

Captain Sebastian Ashley Bennington - A gentleman-turned-pirate, no doubt. I'm seeing dark, hawkish good looks, a smoky voice, and a wicked hand with a blade. The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Seas.

Captain Greydon Quinn, the Wraith of St. Jude - Definitely a ghost pirate here. Almost like an avenging angel, with his halo slightly askew.

Now the final round of my contest has begun and I'm relieved to say visitors to my website will be the ones who choose the Grand Prize Winner. All voters will also be entered in their own drawing to win a choice from my backlist. Nip over to my website and make your choice today!

Friday, September 19, 2008

TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!

Did you know today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? As you might imagine, I've been celebrating early since PLEASURING THE PIRATE was released last month.The PIRATE COVE on my website is chock full of pirate pick-up lines, pirate booty, and a totally fun pirate name contest in honor of TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!

Nip over smartly and join the party. Shiver me timbers, it's all in good fun!

Cyber-hugs,
Emily
http://www.emilybryan.com/

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Naked Truth about the Bad Boys of the Caribbean


Pirates? Arrg! There’s just something about a man who takes what he wants and makes us like it! When the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies came out, with the charmingly spacey Captain Jack and devastatingly attractive Will Turner, I was moved to write a swashbuckling hero with a saucy heroine to match.

Enter Captain Gabriel Drake, the hero of PLEASURING THE PIRATE. After earning a royal pardon for his wicked ways, he decides to play the prodigal and come home to the life of a gentleman. But a change of station doesn’t change his pirate’s heart, as the courtesan’s daughter, Jacquelyn Wren, soon learns. When he decides he wants her instead of the well-born woman she’s grooming him for, the pirate in Gabriel roars back to life. And what a pirate wants, a pirate takes.

In order to make my pirate believable, I had to do more than watch Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom (though I’ll confess to doing a little of that, too!). I researched the pirate era and the fascinating characters that sailed the seas in search of plunder. So here’s the naked truth about those Caribbean bad boys.

1. They weren’t all in the Caribbean. Piracy was common to every sea on earth. Barbary corsairs plied the coast of Africa. Malaccan pirates preyed on pilgrims bound for Mecca. Chinese junks join together to form massive pirate navies. Where ever you sailed, there were those with a cavalier attitude toward property ownership.

2. They weren’t all boys. While it was generally considered bad luck to bring a woman on board (and the penalty for sneaking one on could be death or marooning!), there were a few notable female pirates. Both Anne Bonney and Mary Read sailed with Calico Jack and were reputedly fierce fighters. When his ship was finally taken by the British navy, the two women were the only ones who put up any resistance. The rest of the crew was too drunk to fight. But when Anne and Mary were convicted of piracy, they “pleaded their bellies” and escaped the noose because they were pregnant. Calico Jack wasn’t so lucky. When Anne Bonney visited him while he waited for the hangman, she comforted him with, “if you’d fought like a man, you needn’t be hanged like a dog.” Talk about being an “I told you so!”

3. They weren’t all bad. Or at least, they didn’t start out that way. Like Gabriel Drake in PLEASURING THE PIRATE, some honest seamen turned to piracy because they had no choice. Black Bart Roberts began his career as a naval navigator, but was pressed into piracy when his ship was taken. He went on to become one of the most successful pirate captains in history.

4. They weren’t all naked. Though pirates went barefoot at sea, they enjoyed dressing well. Since they often took prizes of silk bales or rich brocade, pirates delighted in devising flamboyant costumes to wear once they hit port. Buccaneers had plenty of free time during long days at sea to sew. Since women were not welcome aboard ships, what else did they have to do?

5. They held to their own code of conduct. Pirate crews practiced a rough form of democracy, electing their captains and signing articles defining their goals and expected behavior. In PLEASURING THE PIRATE, Gabriel Drake’s first mate reminds him that according to the articles he drew up himself, ‘meddling’ with a woman of prudence is strictly forbidden. Good thing Jacquelyn Wren isn’t the prudent type.

6. They took care of their own. Pirates were often maimed in the course of spreading mayhem. As part of the articles they signed, payment for loss of an eye or a limb was agreed upon ahead of time. What a way to fund your retirement!

7. They were only deemed pirates if they stole from the wrong people. A privateer-one bearing a Letter of Marque—might commit the very same acts as a pirate, seizing goods and ships, with the blessing of his Sovereign so long as he shared the booty with the Crown. However, if he made the mistake of attacking the wrong ship, even a Letter of Marque couldn’t save him. Captain Kidd mistakenly attacked a British vessel and though he possessed a Letter, it wasn’t enough to save him from the noose and the gibbet.

8. They didn’t just hang a convicted pirate. They made an example of him. First, he was hung with a short rope, so his neck wouldn’t break. Death for a pirate was a protracted public strangulation. His body was left to be covered by three tides, then tarred and put on display in a gibbet as a warning to other seafaring men who might be tempted to piracy. Pirate hangings were treated as holidays by the public. When Gabriel Drake is led to the gallows in PLEASURING THE PIRATE, there’s much jostling to secure the best place from which to view the spectacle. These people seriously needed cable TV.

9. They didn’t all fly the Jolly-Roger. Each pirate captain devised his own version of the skull and cross-bones in an effort to appear as fearsome as possible. But if he really wanted to scare the living lights out of his prey, he’d run up a solid red flag. It was a signal that he’d neither give nor accept quarter. He intended to kill every soul on board.

10. Pirates didn’t bury their treasure. A few pirates might cache their goods from time to time (and in PLEASURING THE PIRATE, a treasure is rumored to be hidden somewhere in Dragon Caern, Gabriel Drake’s castle). But pirates would never leave a map to indicate where their treasure lies, lest it fall into the wrong hands. Besides, they were more likely to spend their ill-gotten gains in riotous living than to salt it away for their unlikely retirement. There were very few old pirates. “A merry life and a short one” was their motto.

Which just goes to prove what I suspected all along. Pirates just wanna have fun!
If you wanna have some fun, pick up a copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE by Emily Bryan. It’ll have you saying “Shiver me timbers!” in no time!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

As seen on the Official INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE website!

I'm so excited! PLEASURING THE PIRATE is featured as a link on the Official International Talk Like A Pirate Day Website! You'll need to scroll down the page a bit to find the books section. PLEASURING THE PIRATE is under the Books for teens and adults section.

What? You've never heard of International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Undoubtedly, you are a 'lubber' of the first water. However, there's still time. TLAP isn't until September 19th. You can still bone up on the pirate lingo enough to pass as a swashbuckler. Visit my Pirate Cove for some pirate pick-up lines, pirate booty and a contest to win a boatload of books!

Shiver me timbers, it's all in good fun!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pleasuring the Pirate Video

video

Hope you enjoyed my Pirate video. Visit www.emilybryan.com to read the first chapter of PLEASURING THE PIRATE. While you're there, sail around my Pirate's Cove. In preparation for International Talk like a Pirate Day, I've added several pages to my site--a pirate lexicon, pirate pickup lines, pirate booty, and my totally fun PIRATE NAME GAME. Someone is going to win a boatload of treasure, so be sure to enter today!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Four-legged Writing Assistants


Some writers no doubt have neat offices where they sit at a desk and churn out their prose. I however, work in a recliner with my 'writing assistants' snugged at my hips. Allow me to introduce Susie and Mack.
Susie is a 15 year old poodle mix (the little dark face that's blending in with the recliner). She's been with us for 10 years. We picked her up at the pound. Some long-haul truckers dropped her off because she was sick. She'd been abused. When you run your hand along her side, you can feel a bump where a rib was broken. When we first brought her home, a man wearing a ball cap would send her into spasms and it took her six months to warm up to my husband who is the kindest of men. She is the sadder but wiser dog. She knows there are meanie-heads in the world. But she's having a happy life now.
Mack, a 3 year old Irish Jack Russell, came to us by way of my sister and brother-in-law. He is the product of a puppy mill and when he was born with undescended testicles, the breeder was going to put a bullet in his brain. My tender-hearted brother-in-law rescued him and paid for the surgery that took care of his birth defect. Unfortunately, their elderly dog didn't think much of little Mack, so we inherited him. Mack is a delight and surprisingly calm for his age and breed.
My dogs enjoy writing. It's a chance to cuddle for extended periods of time. When I take breaks to walk them, it gives me an opportunity to rethink scenes or gain a fresh perspective. And when I read my work aloud, Susie and Mack are uncritical listeners. I'd be lost without them.
So thanks for letting me share my four-legged friends with you. If you're a writer, where do you write? Do you have a pet that inspires you? If you're an animal lover, do you have a 'rescued pet?' Aren't they the best!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A New Favorite Author


I'm still reading DELICIOUS (perhaps I should say 'devouring' this totally delectable story), but I have to gush about Sherry Thomas' amazing talent.

Her characters are so fully formed, so achingly human. I am in love with them all. The story is luxuriously told, erotic, a feast for the heart and the senses.

Her use of language is exquisite. She doesn't write down to her readers, peppering her prose with words like 'sybaritic' and 'soigne.' But it is her metaphors that make me sigh and despair of calling myself a writer. She describes her hero's boyhood, when he knew the grinding hunger of poverty and how just before his mother left him forever, she used the last of her money to buy him a boiled treat. He said the sweetness of the candy was 'like sucking on God's thumb.'

I put the book down and wept.

As soon as I finish Delicious, I have to find her debut title Private Arrangements. Sherry Thomas is a gift to historical romance. I urge you to buy Delicious today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Frustrated at a higher level . . .

I just finished reading my friend, Elizabeth Boyle's most recent blog.

She is a New York Times Best Seller. She's won a RITA! (That's like winning an Oscar for a romance novelist). She's an Avon Super Leader with 13 titles to her credit. She writes inventive, fresh, sensual, witty historical romance. The kind of book other writers read and say to themselves, "Darn! I wish I'd written that!"

And she's fretting over her next release as if she were a debut author.

Heavy sigh. I keep hoping there will come a time when I can just write and not worry about promo or buy in or sell through. When I can get over my sense of inadequacy and enjoy my accomplishments.

What I'm seeing in my friends who are a little further along the publishing path than I am is that they are all still a bundle of self-deprecating nerves. We never think our writing's good enough. We never stop worrying. We always gloss over the stellar reviews and obsess about the luke-warm one. God forbid we get a bad one. That'll put us in a real tailspin.

So it appears I've chosen a career guaranteed to give me frown lines.

Unless I can find a way to enjoy the journey, to take my joys where I find them instead of worrying over the ones I fail to achieve. Once I type THE END, there are very few things I can do to insure the success of my book. And if I did all that people recommend to promote my work, I'd never find the time to write another.

I'd really love to hear from you. If you're a writer, how do you handle the dichotomy between expectation and reality? If you're a reader, did you have any idea writers were such neurotic messes? Any suggestions?

And oh, yes, while I'm stressing, let me remind you about MY current release, PLEASURING THE PIRATE, available at your bookstore now or at Amazon! Shiver me timbers, I'd admire a good sell-through! Aarg!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Running the Writing Marathon

Watching the Olympics this week, I was mesmerized by the women's marathon. First, the idea of anyone running 26 miles impresses the heck out of me. When 38 year old Constantina Tomescu from Romania pulled away from the pack, I was spellbound. Every now and then, she checked her watch. She wasn't running against the other athletes. She had a plan. She knew exactly where she needed to be all along the route in order to finish like she intended. She was running her own race, running against her own time.

I thought it was a little like writing a novel. Ok, I know only a writer would make that sort of leap, but hear me out. Writing a novel is no sprint. It's a distance activity. When I start a new manuscript, I know I will live with this cast of characters in my head for months.

Like a marathon runner who can't let another runner dictate her race, I can't compare my progress to anyone else's. My story is my own. I'm writing against my own synopsis. Another writer may breeze by on the way to THE END, but if I keep at it, I'll arrive at my own finish line as well. Speed isn't the issue. Finishing is.

There's pain in a marathon. Watching those women run, I saw agony on two legs. Sometimes, there's pain in writing as well. Writing means you have examine parts of yourself you may not be comfortable with. All my characters, the good, the bad, the downright horrible come from some place inside me.

Sometimes, the writing itself is not going well. I may be experiencing 'word constipation'--I refuse to think of it as writer's block. I have to power through a rough patch, knowing I'll come back and redo it later.

At the beginning of a new story, 400 pages seems like a distant finish line. But if I keep plugging away at my plan, if I keep racking up my page count, I will complete the writing marathon and meet my goal, the big THE END.

Now if only writing 400 pages would burn as many calories as running 26 miles!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Post to Win A DUCHESS!


Hi all,
I'm blogging today at MuchCheaperThanTherapy and one lucky poster will receive a signed copy of DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS. So please pop over and say something! YOU just might be the winner!
Best,
Emily
http://www.emilybryan.com/
PLEASURING THE PIRATE, "A delightful, witty romance" ~ All about Romance, Available Now!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Food=Love

Food as seduction, hmm?

I know you're expecting me to talk about strawberries and champagne, but I'm not. If I want to show my husband I love him with food, I make meatloaf. It's his favorite dish. Even if we go out to eat, no matter what fancy or exotic dishes are available, if there's meatloaf on the menu, that's what he'll choose.

When I make him meatloaf, it means I'm paying attention to what he likes--the first rule of seduction. Then there's the labor-intensive thing. Making meatloaf is something I can't just toss together at the last minute. I have to plan ahead and take the time to grind up the ingredients. It means I've been thinking about him. That's always seductive. There's no way to stir up meatloaf with a spoon. You have to smoosh it up with your hands. Very sensual.

Now meatloaf may not work for every man, but for my husband, nothing says loving like a fresh meatloaf baking in the oven when he comes home. It works every time it's tried.

Hmmm. Wonder if there's time to whip up a meatloaf tonight?

Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1 large potato
1 carrot
1 onion (vidalia, if possible)
1 egg
1/2 cup of Heinz 57 sauce (or whatever ketchup type sauce you prefer)
4 ounces of grated cheese

Grate the potato, carrot and onion and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving half the cheese and sauce for later. Shape into a loaf and place in an ungreased baking pan. Spread the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees.

Serve while wearing a sexy nightie and let the meatloaf work its magic.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just because I have a phobia doesn't necessarily mean I'm nuts!

I've flown through mountain passes in a small plane piloted by my husband. I've taken off by myself in a European city where I didn't speak the language with a map in one hand and a phrasebook in the other and played tourist to my hearts' content. When our kids were little and rattlesnakes were reported in our neighborhood, I didn't hesitate to kill the snake in our backyard with a hoe. I've ridden an elephant. (Not recommended. They have a very bony spine!) I don't consider myself a fearful person.

But a bus ride nearly did me in this morning.

The Orange line on Boston's T was down today and so we boarded a bus to head for church. We were crammed in like cigarettes in a pack. I mean pressed up against total strangers in a way I normally reserve for my family. Or maybe even just my husband. I could feel my fellow riders breathe. The bus jerked and swayed through the traffic and I've always been a little prone to motion sickness anyway. My palms started sweating. I had chest palpitations. My husband traded places with me when he saw my lips go white (he was next to the driver and only marginally less crowded, but more passengers piled on at that stop, so it was a wash.)

Then when I thought it couldn't possibly get worse, someone nearby decided to be silent, but deadly. Profoundly deadly.

When the doors finally opened, people poured out of the bus like freed POW's. I could finally draw a deep breath and the shaking in my chest settled.

But I couldn't bring myself to board the crowded Green Line train.

I've always disliked enclosed spaces. I've even told my husband I want to be cremated since the thought of being in a box under ground seriously gives me the willies. This was the first time my claustrophobia dibilitated me. We had to turn around and go home.

The thing about a phobia is that it makes no sense. In my mind, I know small enclosed spaces are not inherently dangerous. But knowing that does nothing for my sweating palms or the tightness in my chest.

How about you? Is there something you're afraid of that doesn't seem reasonable to others, but the physical stress response hits you just the same? How do you deal with it? Personally, I'm ashamed of running home to feel normal and would love to know how to conquer this particular monkey of mine. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New release ~ New website!

Last week I was in San Francisco for RWA Nationals. I had a ball and especially enjoyed rooming with my critique partner, Darcy. She ripped my old website to shreds and started me down a path to designing a new one. Check out the results at www.emilybryan.com First person to spot a fixable error (spelling, non-working link, missing picture, etc.) and drop me a note using the Contact Em form, will receive their choice from my backlist. The number of winners is limited to the number of errors. (So I could be in real trouble here!) Have fun!

I said I'd post a sample query letter, so here it is: (Of course, you use the standard business style for the letter with your address and contact info, then the editor's address before you launch into the body. The names have been changed to protect the guilty!)


Dear Ms. Editor's last name; (or Mr. Editor's last name. Be certain of the spelling!)

I enjoyed meeting you at the AnyoneCanWrite Conference last week. Enclosed please find the synopsis and manuscript (or partial if that's what they ask for--always send exactly what they request.) of HUSH, the 90,000 word romantic suspense, you requested. (I've reminded the editor of the request and exactly what type story I offer, and yes, they want a word count.)

In the stillness, evil waits. Megan Kelley can’t hear him coming, but she knows he is there. Set in Boston where politics have always been a blood sport, HUSH is a tale of ballot corruption and organized crime, of honor lost. And rebuilt.

A bout with meningitis left Megan with only 60% of normal hearing. When she practices her speechreading and ends up ‘eavesdropping’ on a murder-for-hire contract, she becomes a target herself. In a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, Megan must discover why an MIT professor was murdered before his killer catches up to her.

She’s forced to rely on the cop who’s her unfaithful ex-husband and the new man in her life, a former Navy Seal with some dark secrets. Megan must find the courage to trust again to find closure not only for the murder case, but for her heart as well. (This was my blurb-style pitch. It might be a tad long, but I wanted to show I've balanced the suspense and the romantic elements of the story.)

I currently write historical romances for Leisure Books as both Diana Groe and Emily Bryan. Since May 2006, I've had 5 books published to critical acclaim, and am under contract for a 6th title and novella for 2009. I love writing historical romances and plan to continue, but will not be violating my contract with Leisure when I branch into romantic suspense with a different publishing house. (These are my publishing credentials. If you're not published, include contest wins here. I'm letting them know I'm still writing for Leisure and also signalling that there will be no legal trouble if they pick me up in a different sub-genre.)

I hope you enjoy HUSH. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Diana Groe (I sign with my legal name, not my pen name)

And that's it. There may be a better way to query out there. This is what I do.

Don't forget to check out my new website. www.emilybryan.com There are several pages just for aspiring writers under WRITE STUFF.

Enjoy!