Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Name a Character Contest!

Just a quick note for all of you who submitted an entry into my STROKE OF GENIUS Name a Character Contest:

I'm having very spotty internet connections while visiting family in the Midwest, so I haven't posted all the entries yet. Please be patient with me. I will be posting them all by July 5th and announcing the 10 finalists by the 6th. Then the voting for the final Grand Prize winner will begin. Do plan on voting (one per person please!) because everyone who helps me choose the winner will be entered into a drawing to win a WHOLE BOX OF BOOKS I picked up at RT this year!

Thanks so much for your patience.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Arrived Alive!

After two airplanes and a 10 1/2 hour drive, we have finally arrived alive for my DH's family reunion. Now you need to understand that he's the youngest of 8 and his father was the oldest of 11. When all the aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws get together, it's like a small country moving in looking for refugee status!

This reunion includes a family golf tournament, a picnic and usually winds up at the bowling alley.

Does your family have reunions? What sort of things do you do for fun if you do?

Mr. Romance 2009 ~ Lord of Devil Isle

Those of you who went to RT in Orlando last April probably fell in love with Charles Paz, Mr. Romance 2009. Not only is this young man extremely fine to look upon, he's got personality oozing from every hunk-a-licious pore! Part of the prize for winning the Mr. Romance title is a cover contract for one of Dorchester's books. And I managed to find out which cover will be sporting Charles next year.

It's Connie Mason's LORD OF DEVIL ISLE. Romance fans may be aware that this NYTimes Best Seller decided to retire two years ago. But the fans have spoken and Connie is writing again!

I have a very soft spot in my heart for Ms. Mason. She gave me a cover quote (the first one she'd ever granted!) for MAIDENSONG, my debut Diana Groe title. Of course, all of us who write for Dorchester would love to have Charles Paz on our covers, but I'm thrilled for Connie! And I'm happy for Charles. It's great to see such a genuine, likeable young man on a NYTimes Bestseller's cover!

If you'd like to see a slideshow of how a cover photo shoot happens (the pics are much bigger than the one above and more fun too!), please visit this RT BookReviews SlideShow

How do you like your beefcake done?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And We Have a Winner!

Well, better make that 3 winners!

Last week, Colleen Thompson, Adele DuBois and JK Coi were guests on my blog. They were in a generous mood and have chosen winners from those who left comments on the day of their visit. Here are those lucky winners:

Heidi Cautrell for Colleen Thompson
Keira of LoveRomancePassion for Adele DuBois
Etriv for JK Coi

Congratulations, ladies! Please contact me through www.emilybryan.com with your mailing info and I'll pass it along to my charming guests!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bjorn Again!

News Flash!!! I just heard that my Diana Groe book MAIDENSONG is getting a huge boost from Michelle Buonfiglio of Romance Buy the Book at
Barnes and Noble Bookclub.

Michelle has done a delightful piece on viking heroes and really stroked my books in particular, so if you've read any of my Diana Groe books, or just want to be my new BFF, please pop over and leave a comment! Thanks sooooo much!

Win a Pirate of Your Own! Arrrg!

Today I'm at paranormal author Diana Rubino's Blog shooting the breeze and making stuff up. Come over for some fun and a chance to win a signed copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE, a ripe good beach read, I'm told. According to the Official International Talk Like a Pirate Day website, it's required reading for would-be scallywags everywhere!

Hope to see you at Diana Rubino's Blog

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nightmare Authors Make Virtual Book Tours Hell

Most of you know I did a 50 day/50 blog tour at the beginning of the year. It was great fun and I made a number of new cyber-friends. As a result, I get lots of queries from other authors about how to do a blog tour and what to expect. I thought it might be helpful to hear from the other side of the fence, from someone who runs a blog site dedicated to authors and books. One of my many lovely hosts was Angela Wilson (pictured above) of Pop Syndicate(which was recommended to me by Erin Galloway, Dorchester's marketing guru.) Angela is here today to share what she does and how sometimes, authors make her job much harder than it needs to be. As always when I have a guest, my words are in bold, my guest's in italics type. It's all yours, Angela!

I love virtual book tours.

They are a fantastic way for authors to promote themselves online in posts that will appear for as long as the Internet exists. It is a ton of fun for readers and writers like myself to network with other authors, learn from them, grow from their experiences and share them with other readers and writers.

We don't charge authors a dime for appearing at Pop Syndicate. It is our privilege to host authors at Book Addict.

In turn, myself and our contributors don't get paid a dime for all the hours we put in to booking authors, doing biography research (not always easy), asking questions, tracking down and resizing photos, coding and posting the final product - and praying the servers sync on time for the tour dates.

I don't think a lot of people realize this is a hard truth for most review and interview sites. These are not major money-making schemes, but labors of love.

However, some authors and publicists have decided to treat our site - and many, many other free sites - like they are paying a million bucks for a day-only slot. The work they expect is sometimes outrageous. Some demands would rival the diva-like behavior of Oprah.

And the egos - my goodness, the egos! I've discovered through experience that the author with the fewest sales, who self-published their work, have the biggest egos of all. They tend to be the worst people to deal with - and the peskiest. I can guarantee that each one of these authors I've dealt with was never satisfied with what we did for them - FOR FREE - even if everything was correct in the post. They send a slew of e-mails with ridiculous questions that never had to be asked if they'd just READ the information I sent to them.

I'm to the point now where I can spot trouble within the second email. There is a difference in the approach of the Bad Author than an author who truly has questions because they forgot what they read, or, for some reason, did not receive the information I sent to them.

Bad Authors are condescending, downright rude at times, act like YOU should be selling your site to THEM (even if they pursued you hard in the first place), book a slot and then act like your site won't be worth their time, they start making demands like we are their virtual book tour publicist....

The list goes on and on.

One author actually sent me a questionaire with about 25 questions asking how I planned to promote the one day stop and a bunch of other nonsense. I had to fill out the questionaire BEFORE the author would consider the site for the tour, the email said. And I had a deadline to meet for the answers.


That email ended up in my virtual File 13.

Another author's post didn't show up and the author immediately started talking badly about our site. This author didn't bother emailing right away about what happened. They took it upon themselves to be our nemesis without getting the facts.

Luckily, Pop Syndicate has a good reputation and many folks knew right away something else was amiss. However, what if our site was new and fresh? That would have ruined our credibility. Imagine if an author were to do this to an individual who just wants to help them out? As a former journalist, I have thicker skin than most individuals. Keep that in mind before you send out scathing messages about virtual book tour hosts.

Luckily, most of the authors I host for virtual book tour stops are incredible. They promote their stops, they thank me for hosting them, they refer other incredible authors to the site. These authors are so cool, I can never do enough for them. They make my full-time, no-pay job a joy. They remind me why I do what I do on the days I get a Bad Author. They are the reason I do what I do.

When you set out to promote your books online, don't expect someone else to do all the work for you. Be kind and respectful to your virtual book tour hosts. Most of these folks are doing you a favor - for free.

When you can, return the favor. Be sure to tell others about your best experiences and refer them to the host site. Hosts will love you for it.

Emily here again: Words to live by! Do unto others, karma, whatever you want to call it, sounds like just being decent to each other makes the cyber-world run much more smoothly. Thanks for being here with us, Angela.

If you have questions for Angela, please leave them here and I'll track her down! And pop by Pop Syndicate when you get a minute and check it out!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day to my DH!

I'd like to celebrate Father's Day by sharing a little family story. When our oldest daughter was not quite two, we were out for dinner at a restaurant. At the next table, a baby started crying and the young father picked the child up and started pacing to calm the him.

"Look at that good daddy there," I said.

Our daughter shot me a look of total indignation. "Good daddy right here!" she informed me.

And she was right.

My DH is a terrific father. He supports and loves our girls with his whole heart and always has. He deserves more than one day a year of recognition.

All good daddies do. Please wish all the fathers in your life a very happy day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

To Russia with Love

One of the joys of writing has been watching my stories visit lots of interesting places in the world! MAIDENSONG was my debut title (written under my real name Diana Groe!) So far it's been translated into German and Dutch. I just learned today that foreign rights have been sold to a Russian publisher.

MAIDENSONG is the story of Bjorn, who is oath-bound to deliver the woman he loves to the arms of another man in far away Miklagaard (ancient Constantinople). The story follows Rika and Bjorn down the rivers of 9th century Europe and into a love neither of them expected.

The same Russian publisher also decided to purchase ERINSONG for translation and publication as well. ERINSONG won a rare Desert Isle Keeper Review from All About Romance and is my foreign translation title holder (German, Dutch Italian and now Russian!) It is related to MAIDENSONG. I take Jorand, Bjorn's friend and turn him into the hero for this Irish love story.

When a Northman washes up in Donegal Bay with no memory of himself, an Irish princess is tasked with putting him to useful labor. Their births made them enemies. Their hearts made them lovers.

I love both these stories and even though it's been three years since their initial release, I'm delighted that they'll be finding new readers!

Friday, June 19, 2009

JK Coi and her Immortal Summer!

Please welcome my friend, J.K. Coi. She was kind enough to host me on my 50day/50 blog VEXING THE VISCOUNT tour last winter. She also writes dark and edgy paranormal romance, where love is all consuming, the stakes are always high, and the immortals are to die for. Her newest title, Forever Immortal came out June 16, 2009 from Linden Bay Romance. So with no further ado, take it away, J.K.

I’m so excited to be here as Emily’s guest. Thank you very much for having me!

I was thinking about what to blog about today. And since this week the fourth book in my series, Forever Immortal, was released, I thought I should talk about the book. But you know what, I think I’ll just leave you with a rundown of the book at the end of this post and you all can tell me what you think of the excerpt in the comments because what I really wanted to talk about today is something much more exciting!


What do I love about summer? Well, it can’t be the vacation time because I don’t get much of it, and it can’t be the heat because I live in Canada ().

What I really love about summer is that it gives me a new perspective on the world at large. Have you ever noticed how tense and stressed out everyone usually is? Generally, most of us live our lives rushing from one thing to another. Constantly. Whether it’s dashing out of the house first thing in the morning to take the kids to school, then rushing to the day job and working crazily for the next 8 hours straight before jumping across town to the grocery store for something to make for dinner—which has to be inhaled because someone’s got hockey practice and then homework to do before bed. Whew. We all spend half of our lives being too busy to breathe, much less relax and enjoy it.

But just the word summer makes you want to sigh with relief, doesn’t it? It seems that no matter how busy I am, the daily grind just doesn’t seem so...grinding as it does during other times of the year. The sun is shining, the birds are singing. You can step out of your front door and take in a deep breath filled with the intoxicating scent of wildflowers and fresh-cut grass (as long as you don’t suffer from allergies  ). A simple moment of relaxation as you greet the new morning can invigorate you for the whole day, partly because you know that when you come home from work it’s actually still going to be light outside!

Summer also gives me a chance to do a lot more writing. While I don’t get very much vacation time, my husband and son both have the entire summer off. It means that they’ll go to the cottage during the week while I’m working, leaving me with many quiet evenings to get down and dirty with my manuscript and I’m really going to need that this year because the Spring was full of too many distractions and now I’m way behind!

So while I leave you with a quick excerpt for Forever Immortal and I hope that you enjoy it, please tell me what your plans are for the summer—hopefully it will be filled with lots of BBQ, afternoons at the lake, purple popsicles, and reading!

© Forever Immortal, J.K. Coi

Gideon smiled as the redhead started in surprise and swung to face him with wide eyes. She had stunning green eyes. A sharp buzz of electricity ran between them, entrancing him. Even while he’d made his way across the crowded room, he had been telling himself not to get involved. He was there to do a job, not pick up women. It hadn’t worked. There was something about her that drew him and he didn’t want to ignore it.

Not tonight.

He put himself between her and the smarmy loser that he’d watched slide on up to her side. “Sorry I’m late.” He winked and leaned forward, pressing his mouth against the leaping pulse of her throat. Her eyes dropped closed and he felt her shiver. Knowing he was crossing a line, he opened his lips over her neck anyway, touching the tip of his tongue to her skin just to hear her soft gasp.

A world of sensation concentrated into one touch, everything else forgotten for a brief moment, including the music blaring around them, the room full of people, and one oily lounge lizard who was no doubt staring with his mouth hanging wide open.

“Uh, hi.”

Gideon hesitated at her neck for a second longer before pulling back and turning his attention to their gaping audience. He curled an arm behind her. Her body was warm beneath the thin silk of her dress as he splayed his fingers over her back, fighting the urge to step in closer still.

“So who’s this?” He narrowed his eyes at the lounge lizard. “A friend of yours?”

“This is, um...Dan. He offered to wait with me until you arrived.”

“Dan, I hope you’re not trying to pick up my girl.” Gideon noted with pleasure that the overconfident smile finally started to falter.

Apparently deciding not to waste any more time when he obviously wasn’t going to score, Slick made his apologies to them both for intruding on their evening and slithered away. The beauty breathed a sigh and turned to him with a smile. “Thanks. That was just about to get ugly.”

“It was no problem.”

“I’m Lyssa James.” She reached out. Closing his hand over hers, he rubbed his thumb gently across the slim curve of her wrist.

“Lyssa.” He said her name slowly, liking the way it rolled on his tongue. “Nice to meet you, Lyssa. I’m Gideon Bennett.”

Thanks so much for stopping by, J.K. Ok, everybody, you can read more about Forever Immortal at: Linden Bay Romance
And for more about J.K.:
Website: www.jkcoi.com
Blog: www.jkcoiblogspot.com
Myspace: www.myspace.com/jkcoi
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jkcoi

Quick note from Emily: I'm still at Royal Reviews for their LOVED UP FRIDAY! Please join me!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blog Faux Pas

On Tuesday this week, when RITA Nominated romantic suspense author Colleen Thompson was here, we got a pretty good discussion going about her books and "child in jeopardy" themes. Then a commenter popped in with the equivalent of a total non sequitur: He plugged his own book (which was not a romantic suspense or a child in jeopardy story) in the comments instead of engaging in dialogue with the rest of us.

When someone leaves a pithy remark, I click on their profile. If they have a website or blog, I click over to see what they've got going on. I never click the profile of a "blog pirate." (My friend Nina asked if I made that up and I have to say I'm not sure. I don't remember reading it elsewhere. You?)

Now, to be fair, this person may be new to cyberspace. They may be feeling a little desperate to get their message out and aren't quite sure how to go about it. I freely admit I've done some doofy things online because I didn't know any better. I confess that I put out a lot of "bulletins" on MySpace when I wish I had time to do personal notes.

As far as I know, there is no cyber-equivalent to Miss Manners. So I'd really like some feedback from YOU! Do you have a petpeeve about cyber-ettiquette or lack thereof? What would you like to tell authors about how we approach you online? Is there a better way for an author to connect with his/her readers? What kind of posts do you like to read most on an author's site?

PS. I'm still at Royal Reviews. Please leave a comment over there to be entered in my daily drawing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is it hot in here or is it just Adele DuBois' hero?

I'm still Down Under at Royal Reviews and I hope you'll pop down there and leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books. But here at my blog, things can't get much hotter! Please welcome Adele DuBois, erotic romance author who's bringing us some desert heat, as she shares how she crafts her Native American hero!

While I wrote my paranormal erotic romance DESERT WILD I imagined my hero, Sonny Wild Horse Hendricks of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and watched my heroine fall in love. My hero was strong and well-built, with a sinewy, muscular body. He was handsome, with a firm, full mouth and serious dark eyes. His long, shiny black hair hung straight down his back and his clear, smooth skin was rich as burnished copper. His passions were his photographic art, The Sonoran Desert, and Caitlyn Spencer of Santa Barbara. How he would reconcile these often conflicting desires is at the heart of DESERT WILD.

Once I had Sonny’s image clear in my mind, I began to search the Internet for pictures of Native American men who resembled my fantasy hero. Periodically over several months I scrolled through hundreds of photographs, both vintage and new, but couldn’t duplicate the character in my imagination.

That changed when I found portraits of Native American actor and model Rick Mora and saw the eyes of my fictional hero, Sonny Wild Horse Hendricks, staring back at me.

These photographs of the character inspiration for DESERT WILD are used with the kind permission of Rick Mora, of the Twilight movie cast. http://www.rickmora.com/
DESERT WILD by Adele Dubois
©Ellora’s Cave Publishing, 2009

“Don’t go,” she murmured, standing on tiptoes to nuzzle the side of his neck with her nose. He smelled of raw feral sex, damp sweat and crushed linen, and the primal scents sent shivers along her skin. She inhaled him deeply, pressed the small points of her nipples against his flesh and then opened her mouth to taste him as she laid kisses against his throat. Her tongue lapped the steady rhythm of his pulse and then dragged along his collarbone, drinking him in. Her mouth found the hard muscles of his hairless chest and moved down to lick and suck the dark circles of his areola in turn. His nipples hardened inside her mouth and the pungent tastes of salt and musk wet the back of her throat. “Be with me,” she whispered against his breastbone.

“Ah,” he breathed, closing his eyes as she loved his body with her lips and tongue and stroked the silken skin on his hips with her fingertips. “I am here.” His fingers closed on the crown of her head and entwined in the layers of her hair as she dropped to her knees to bury her face against his abdomen. “Don’t you know you’re the only reason I come back?”

Whew! Had to break out the fan! If you'd like a chance to win one of Adele's books, please leave a comment or question! And I'll kick things off by asking Adele what the paranormanl elements of this story are?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kids in Fiction by RITA Nominee Colleen Thompson

While I'm still at Royal Reviews for EMILY BRYAN WEEK (please pop over and leave a comment for a chance to win!), I am thrilled to introduce you to my friend, Colleen Thompson right here. She writes fantastic romantic suspense. Her newest release BENEATH BONE LAKE is on the shelves right now! Today she's sharing her thoughts on under-aged characters in fiction. Here's Colleen!

As a reader and a writer, I’ve found children in books to be a pretty dicey proposition. Nothing nauseates me like an overly-precious or disgustingly-precocious kiddo sapping up the pages. Seriously. And throw in a lisp or baby-talk, and You Have Now Entered the Wall-Banger Zone.

As both a mom and a former teacher, I appreciate children as they really are, complete with the tendency to pinball from annoying (PING!) to adorable (PING-PING) to hysterical (both the HA-HA and the WAHHH kind!) in an instant. As a result, I work hard to depict them that way, as I did with the heroine’s four-year-old daughter, Zoe, in Beneath Bone Lake.

But I write pretty intense romantic suspense, and the premise of this story, which involves a young widow returning from Iraq only to find her family missing, her house in flames, and her life turned upside down by a caller who claims to be a kidnapper, led me into even more dangerous territory: the child in jeopardy story.

Now as a reader who’s also a mom, nothing gets my heart pounding faster than the thought of a child in danger. If there’s even a whiff of such a thing within the opening pages, I’m instantly riveted, as I have been in great child-in-jeopardy stories such as Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Deep End of the Ocean and Linda Howard’s heartrending Cry No More. In both cases, I could barely sleep until I knew if the child would be safe with the viewpoint character.

In other cases, such as John Grisham’s excellent first novel, A Time to Kill, which opens with a graphic depiction of a horrific act of violence against a little girl, I was literally sickened. (It was a real act of faith in the author that I finished that book, the beginning upset me so much. And quite a few readers couldn’t stomach it.) And I’ve certainly avoided other books and movies where violence against a child is both intense and on-screen, shown happening in real time.

For my taste, the most compelling suspense comes in the parent’s imagination, when his/her child is out of sight and reach. The awful period of not knowing raises our anxiety, whether it’s over one’s toddler who’s wandered away in the grocery store or the sixteen year-old new driver who fails to show up at curfew. (As the mother of a teenager, I can think of no sound more harrowing than that of sirens from the road when my kiddo’s out late at night.)

For this reason, I see no reason to ever depict actual violence against a child, not when the fear of it is so much more powerful.

So what about the rest of you? Do you enjoy reading books containing children in some or all cases? What particularly bother you about some books featuring kids? Which authors/novels have done an especially good job? I’ll be drawing for a free autographed copy of my RITA-nominated Triple Exposure from among those commenting on this blog.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Colleen! And dear readers, you need to leave a comment in order to be entered in today's drawing for a copy of TRIPLE EXPOSURE, Colleen's wonderful Texas-set suspense!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stock up on Free Reads!

Newsflash! DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS was just named a finalist in the prestigious Book Buyers Best Contest!

This week, their Highnesses, the Queen of Happy Endings, the Empress of Good and Evil and the Fussy Princess have invited me for an extended stay at Royal Reviews, their fabulous Aussie review blog. I'll be there all Emily Bryan Week. Try the wallaby stew! And be sure to pop by every day and leave a comment because I'm giving away a book a day!

But in the meanwhile here on my blog, I have a nice line-up of guests for you.

June 16th-- RITA Nominee Colleen Thompson will be here to talk about her newest romantic suspense, BENEATH BONE LAKE! Read it with all the lights on!

June 17th-- Adele DuBois drops by with a steaming excerpt from her latest, DESERT WILD. Bring a fan!

June 19th-- JK Coi talks about her new paranormal FOREVER IMMORTAL.

And they're all in a giving mood, so be sure to drop by and leave a comment for a chance to stock up on some free reads!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

EB Week Begins!

One of the nice things about virtual travel is no jet lag! Please join me Down Under at The Royal Reviews for Emily Bryan Week and a chance to win a book EVERY DAY, June 14-20th! The Queen of Happy Endings, the Empress of Good and Evil and the Fussy Princess have treated me royally and I'm sure they'll extend the same welcome to YOU!

Since Australia is ahead of us here in the States, the party started yesterday, but I haven't made my first drawing yet. So come on down . . . Down Under, that is . . . and leave a comment at The Royal Reviews each day for a chance at your choice from my backlist.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pen Names, Real Names, and Who are you, again?

NEWSFLASH! The winner of the Summer Survival Kit is Andrea S. (posting as Chicks of Characterization) Congrats to Andrea and thanks again to Kerri!

From time to time, I turn over the reins of my blog to one of my writer friends. My guest blogger today is Kerri Nelson, author of paranormal and romantic suspense and she's talking about pen names. Since I am among those who answer to more than one nom de plume,(Emily Bryan and Diana Groe) I'll pay close attention. Take it away, Kerri!

Let’s talk about pen names. When I first got published, I decided to use a pen name. It’s not that I have a really terrible “real” name but more that I wanted to keep my legal name private. The other factor was that I’d already become established in several author groups and other organizations using this name. So, even though I’m happily married I don’t use my married name when I put on my author hat.

Interestingly, my hubby cannot stand this fact. He brings it up quite often as if I might have rejected his family name. I keep reminding him that I just want to protect our privacy. Particularly since I write a good bit of erotic fiction! Also, since my daughter attends a very strict Christian Academy, I don’t advertise my pen name around the school. They know I’m an author but they’d have to really look to find me.

Is that just being paranoid or is it sensible?

On the other hand, I’ve just completed my first young adult novel and I’m working on my second. I’m seriously contemplating using a different pen name for those books. If they were to get published (fingers crossed) and I had some young, teen fans looking me up on the web…would I want them to find links to download my erotica as well? Probably not.

As a parent of multiple kids, I won’t even let my own kids read my work until they are grown!

Besides privacy and parental concerns, what are some other reasons why you might want to use a pen name?

From an online article entitled “How to Choose a Pen Name” by author Jamie Hall (www.jh-author.com), here are some other reasons you might want to use a pen name:

1) Your real name is hard to remember and/or spell correctly.

2) Your real name sounds silly, stupid or obscene. If your real name suffers from any of these problems, you'll have a harder time getting readers to accept your work.

3) Your real name is the same as, or similar to, another author or a famous figure.

4) You are reclusive or fear fame, and want to make sure that regardless of how famous you might become, people won't recognize your name everywhere you go.

5) If you are already an established author, you might want to use a pen name because of issues similar to brand name loyalty. For example, if you are a woman and have a change of name because of marriage, you might want to continue using your former name as your pen name. Also, some authors find that their work sells better if they have a different pen name for each genre. If you have built a reputation for writing standard detective fiction and you now want to put out a fantasy detective novel, loyal readers may smear the new book because it disturbs their expectations. Readers of detective fiction don't normally like fantasy elements mixed in, so in this case you need to attract a new audience from the fantasy community without the burden of your prior readers giving the new book a bad name. Also, you need a separate pen name for any subject with a "taint" to it (such as erotica) if you want people to take your literary fiction or nonfiction seriously. Even Anne Rice uses a separate pen name for her erotica, though her more usual vampire novels always sit close to the border between horror and erotica.

6) You are working in a field (such as romance) where books written by a certain gender sell far better, but your name is obviously the wrong gender. Also, some female authors want a gender-neutral pen name because sexism can still impact sales, in any genre.

Here are just a few of my fave pen names:

--Tori Carrington, husband and wife romance novelist team (Tony and Lori Karayianni)
--Dr. Seuss, children’s book guru (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
--Mark Twain, American classics author (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
--Nora Roberts (romance) a/k/a J.D. Robb (futuristic suspense)
--Jayne Ann Krentz (contemporary romance) a/k/a Amanda Quick (historical romance) a/k/a Jayne Castle (futuristic)
--Lori Foster and her darker side L.L. Foster

I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts about pen names. Today I’ll be giving away a door prize to one lucky participant. The winner will receive a “Summer Survival Kit” which includes all the little things you’ll need for the hot summer months ahead (including a hot novel for beach reading) & a promo goodie bundle from me! All you have to do to enter the drawing is one of the following:

If you’re an author, I’d love to hear your thoughts on pen names. Do you use a pen name? Do you use more than one based on the genre you write? How did you choose your pen name?

Readers, give me your best pen name creation! Design one based on the genre you like to read. Make ‘em funny or scary! Here are some funny fake name examples I found around the net: Samantha Sexpot (writes erotica); Jackie Saddler (writes western); I.M. Scooby (writes mystery); Jolie Rodgers (writes historial/pirate romance).

The winner will be selected by random draw and I’ll post the winner here in the comments on Monday. So, you’ll have all weekend to play!

Thanks to Emily for this great opportunity to hang out! Don’t forget to check out my debut release Miss Taken now available wherever e-books are sold and stay tuned for my first paranormal romance entitled Soul Searcher coming in September from Whispers Publishing! You can find all the details about my books and my current contest on my website at www.kerrinelson.com

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on pen names, Kerri.Here's a taste of Kerri's novel, Miss Taken.

Tabby was dreaming. She knew she was dreaming but she couldn’t make herself wake up. She dreamt that she was in a straitjacket and the harder she struggled to free herself, the tighter her restraints became.

She shook her head from side to side and realized that something was over her mouth. It was gagging her and she suddenly felt as if she couldn’t breathe. She fought the urge to panic and began to cough frantically. Her tongue protruded from her lips and she felt something rough and unnatural there. What was going on?

As her eyes opened and tried to focus, she saw blurry images of unfamiliar furniture and she had the chilling sensation that she was in a strange place and that someone was watching her.

Suddenly it came back to her in a flash. She remembered leaving work and her missing car. She remembered the black Mercedes and then…and then she remembered nothing.

Where was she? How had she gotten here? Who had grabbed her out of her office parking deck and what were they going to do to her?

She felt panicked again and her stomach rolled with nausea. Her eyes darted around the dim room and then she saw him. She saw a beautiful man sitting in a chair across the room from her. He watched her with a mixture of curiosity and something else. What was it? If Tabby hadn’t been such a social recluse the last few years she would have been more certain but still she thought he looked at her with lust.

She blinked her eyes rapidly to help clear the remaining fog that seemed to be blocking her vision. She tried to reach up and rub her eyes and realized her arms were bound behind her back. She looked down to see that she was still wearing her work clothes, which felt like only a small relief when she saw that her ankles were also bound to the legs of the chair.

She shook her head from side to side and felt tears begin to well up in her eyes.

“Settle down now.” She heard the smooth voice of the mystery man.

Something about his voice did seem to calm her slightly but those words weren’t enough to stop the tears from spilling over her eyes and down her cheek.
* * * *
He rose slowly from his chair and reached out to her with just one finger. She felt herself automatically flinch as his hand reached for her. He stopped his hand in midair and her dark green eyes looked up at him with what she knew was a look of pure fear.

He seemed to consider her look and then said softly, “I won’t hurt you. I promise.”

In her mind, she knew this was a promise she shouldn’t believe, but something in her heart ached to try.

He began reaching for her again and touched her cheek delicately with just his fingertip. He wiped the tears from one cheek and then the other. As he leaned over her, she could smell his scent and it smelled like evergreen trees. It smelled like back home in the country, where she’d spent her childhood. It smelled like home.

She shuddered.

He took a step back and his eyes moved over her. “I’ll take the gag off of your mouth if you promise not to scream.”

Thanks for sharing today, Kerri. All right, everybody! You heard her. Leave your funniest pen name in a comment for a chance to win Kerri Nelson's Summer Survival Kit! Have fun!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Are You Ready for EB WEEK?

Different parts of the country have different holidays. We learned this by accident when we failed to take our kids to school on Memorial Day in North Carolina. And tried to send them on Easter Monday!

When we lived in Park City, Utah, one of the grocery clerks wished me a "Happy 24th!" I almost said, "Merry Thursday to you, too," not having a clue what she was talking about. Apparently July 24th was the momentus day when Brigham Young looked out over the Great Salt Lake and told the weary Mormon settlers, "This is the place." It is celebrated with far more hoopla in Utah than the 4th of July is in other states.

Other countries have their own special holidays as well. Our Canadian friends celebrate Boxing Day, the day after Christmas (which we celebrate here in the States by boxing up our unwanted Christmas gifts and taking them back to the store for exchange!).

The Aussies have a charming holiday called Picnic Day, a thoroughly civilized stress-reliever to my mind. And now the good folk Down Under are launching a whole new celebration this Sunday called EB WEEK . . . Emily Bryan Week!

Ok, not everyone in Australia will celebrate Emily Bryan Week.

In fact, it's mostly just my good friends at Royal Reviews, the Queen of Happy Endings, the Empress of Good and Evil and her Highness, the Fussy Princess. And ok, the parade will be virtual and the only fireworks you'll see are on the top of this post, but I promise a good time will be had by all! Each day, we'll be talking about a different one of my books. Wednesday is our day for Hunky Heroes and don't miss Loved Up Friday! There'll be reviews and excerpts (and not chosen by me, so I can't wait to see what the Royal Court has decided to share!)

And every day, I'll be giving away a free book to someone who leaves a comment at Royal Reviews. They've promised me "royal accomodations," (I believe this means a jacuzzi tub, a king sized bed with 700 threadcount sheets, and a koala in the gum tree of my private garden) so I'll be popping in to answer questions and swap comments all week.

Throw a few shrimp on the barbie, pour yourself a glass of Yellow Tail and join me each day Down Under for EMILY BRYAN WEEK at Royal Reviews June 14th-June 21st.

Of course, the Aussies are a day a head of us here in the States because of the International Dateline. Or is it a day behind? Hmmm. Maybe we all better visit Royal Reviews every day just to make sure.

And please pop back here tomorrow when my guest will be paranormal and romantic suspense author Kerri Nelson. She'll be giving away a Summer Survival Kit!

So, to get the virtual conversation started today . . . what's YOUR favorite holiday?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Now That's Funny!

Put your coffee down. Push your computer screen back to a safe distance. This is a seriously funny repost from my friend Bonnie Vanak. Most of the time she's writing steamy historicals for Leisure Books or hot Nocturnes, but the other day, she decided to noodle away in jest and came up with one of the worst story premises I've ever seen.

So without further ado, I give you:

The Billionaire Werewolf's Virgin Vampire

"Hairy Pause brooded as he stepped out of his black stretch limo and gazed wearily at the glittering parade of black-tie attendees at the Annual Wealthy Werecreatures Only Gala. Suddenly, she caught his eye (and flung it back at him). It was HER. Vanessa Vixen, the beautiful, sensual virgin widow vampire. Weres had coveted her, but none had claimed her. Yet. Hairy was determined to be her first...

Vanessa Vixen sighed with trepidation as she swept into the ballroom of the Wolfdorf Asstoryia. Vampires, werewolves, demons (and one gnome that had struck it rich by advising his wereclients to sell their GM stock three years ago) drifted past with an air of bored lassitude. She tossed back her floor-length silky red curls. If caught, she’d be humiliated. But she had no choice. The ball was the only place where she could get her hands on Hairy Pause.

Her elderly Egyptian mother was confined to Ye Ole Old REALLY OLD People’s Home and dying from a computer virus. Mama Vixen desperately needed a transfusion of the Magic Windows 404 Vista Fixer. Billionaire, handsome Hairy held the only known copy. Vanessa had to get a copy to save her ailing, wailing mummy. It was the 5th ball she’d attended that week in hopes of catching the mysterious, elusive werewolf with the well-chiseled chin.

She’d do anything. Even seduce Hairy, if she could grab him at the balls."

Ok, once you've wiped away your tears of mirth, check out Bonnie's serious writing at http://www.bonnievanak.com/. Trust me, she's worth a click!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Series or Stand Alone?

As a writer, I'm always looking for a better grasp of reader expectations and preferences. What's your favorite? Do you like stand alone titles or do you like to revisit the same characters?

Mystery or thriller authors are blessed in that they can create a main character who will go the distance in multiple titles. Romance readers expect some sort of closure for the relationship by the end of the story so it's difficult to string the same characters into multiple books with the same level of tension. However some authors have done it, most notably Diana Gabaldon, JD Robb and Stephanie Meyer.

Other authors write long open-ended series to create 'related' titles. They devise elaborate family trees and reach out to use cousins and distant relations once the large clan of siblings is suitable wed. You don't have to have read the others to enjoy one, but it helps.

Then there are books that create a discreet world within their pages and once finished, you never see them elsewhere. Hopefully because the ending is so intensely satisfying, going any further would diminish the experience, not add to it.

As a reader, what do you prefer?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Neurotica-The Art & Science of Funny

I'm preparing to give my humor workshop for RWA Nationals in DC this July. To do that, I have to study with deadly seriousness just what makes something funny. It's harder than it seems.

There is a whole science to laughter. Researchers have discovered that laughter is not a learned behavior. It's innate. Laughter is universal. It's the first tenuous social glue that binds us to others.

We all do it. But we don't all laugh at the same things. So what makes something funny? And how can a writer incorporate that into her story?

There are tons of different types of humor--from sight gags and slapstick to puns and malapropisms. But at the heart of every joke, there's a reversal. You're set up to get X and you unexpectedly get Y. Here's an example from the opening of my DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS:

“I’m going to have to shorten his willie.”

The artist stepped back from her easel and regarded the offending member with a critical eye.

I've set the reader up to think, "OMGosh! A Victorian Elaina Bobbitt!" Then I deliver the switch. She's a painter concerned only with symmetry and perspective.

I use a different sort of "bait and switch" in my upcoming MY LADY BELOW STAIRS novella in A CHRISTMAS BALL. Lady Darvish, a notorious "black widow," is calling on Viscount Eddleton, who's about to be betrothed to Lady Sybil Sommerville.

“Oh, that will never do! ‘Madam’ sounds so old.” Lady Darvish laughed gaily as she removed her hat, signaling that the visit would be an extended one. “You must call me Leticia for I predict we will be great friends. May I call you Bertram?”

Eddleton’s mouth opened and closed wordlessly several times before he managed to sputter, “But my name is George.”

We go on to learn that Leticia has had 4 husbands, all of whom she called Bert because it kept things "uncomplicated."

One of the things I abhor in workshops is when the speaker uses only their own work as examples. So, I need your help. Please send me some short examples of something funny you've read in a romance novel that requires miminal set up. And bear in mind, there are differing degrees of humor. Sometimes, writing that gives you merely a knowing smile performs its function better than the writing that causes soda to spew out your nose.

A soda spew will yank a reader out of the story every time!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pirate Date Night

Much has been made of the president taking his wife to a Broadway play last week. Fortunately, Michelle Obama isn't the only one whose husband knows how to show a girl a good time!

My DH came home with tickets for us to see Gilbert & Sullivan's PIRATES OF PENZANCE tonight. It's a delightful little operetta with "piratitude." According to the playbill, this production is "freely plundered" from the original, which means the musical score is intact, but the spoken part of the show has been modernized, and probably "Disney-ized", to trade on the Pirates of the Caribbean popularity. That's fine. G & S shows have always been light-hearted, irreverent romps, full of incongruities and scathing satire. Updating them makes sense.

When I studied music history, I learned that Arthur Sullivan secretly loathed his work with Gilbert. He saw himself as a serious musician, a creator of sweeping grand opera. He believed his collaboration with the librettist Gilbert was holding him back from his true calling.

Unfortunately, Sullivan's attempts at the dramatic were abysmal--over-blown, pompous and just plain boring, while the music he wrote for Gilbert's saucy libretti sparkles with wit and enduring good humor. He might have wanted to be Wagner but he didn't have an authentic "big story" voice in him.

He was however the perfect composer for Gilbert's operettas, the father of the modern musical, and as long as there are staged works, his music will be a much-loved part of the repertoire.

This is a cautionary tale for me. An accurate self-image is more important than a good self-image.

As a writer, I'm sometimes tempted to try to 'write to the market.' However, since I have no "inner snark" in residence, attempting a chicklit would be futile. Vampires show no sign of slowing down in popularity, but if I don't find them sexy, I can't write them sexy. Just as Sullivan poured out his pattersongs, I have to write the stories that are in me, whether I think it's what the market wants or even what I wish I could write.

Tonight, I'm going to sit back and let the joy of frivolity wash over me. I only wish Arthur Sullivan could have taken the same pleasure in it.

So how about you? Have you and your significant other had any fun dates lately? Have you had any "ah-ha!" moments when you realized something you were good at was something other than what you thought you wanted to do?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So You Think You Can . . .

I confess to an aversion to "reality" shows of all kinds. I find them exploitive and cruel. I deplore the invitation to wallow in the humiliation of others. And as a union man's daughter, I strenuously object to networks filling air time with these relatively cheap formats without hiring equity actors or script writers.

That said, I find myself fascinated by SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. First of all, I'm blown away by the talent, the innovation, the sheer physical beauty of these young dancers. They push the envelope of what the human body is able to do, short of having wings.

And the format of the show pushes them . . . with a relentless sadism designed to create maximum emotional outbursts. This is the part of the show I despise. I lost count of how many dancers, male and female, were reduced unnecessarily to blubbering tears.

I understand what's going on with them. I used to sing professional opera. Performance is like a drug. The shot of adrenaline you need to carry you to center stage throws off your chemical balance and as my psychologist friend always reminds me, emotions are chemically-based.

That doesn't make them less real. I remember what it's like to answer a cattle call audition and have the judges talking among themselves while I sang. I've stood in a line across the footlights, hoping against hope to hear my name called--crestfallen when it wasn't, shocked to my toes when it was.

I've sung for a "master class"--an opportunity for a young singer to be coached by an acknowledged master. It's a valuable, yet excruciating, experience--rather like taking your bath in public. I'd sing my aria in its entirety, then the master would deconstruct it, taking me back to the weakest sections and flogging me through ways to improve. People actually paid to watch this form of voluntary torture. It was a popular money maker for the opera company.

And once you start being paid to perform, the pressure only escalates. I remember one maestro who lost no opportunity to castigate me publicly at every rehearsal. I'd made no errors, hit no sour notes, and followed his erratic tempi without complaint. My fellow soloist were as perplexed as I when he continued to single me out for downright nasty comments. I was too loud, too soft, not enough restraint, too impassioned, too boring, there was no pleasing the man. He had me so sure I couldn't sing, I started missing my entrances in a dismal dress rehearsal. (I pulled it together for the performance--out of spite for him at that point!--and he apologized afterward, privately of course, confessing that he'd wanted a different soprano for this oratorio, but had been overruled by someone else in the organization with more clout who wanted me in the soloist's chair. He admitted my performance proved him wrong. I was merely the embodiment of his musical impotence and he couldn't resist taking his frustration out on me.)

The artistic temperment is legendary--alternately needy and demanding. I think it's because creative people lay so much of their hearts out there. It's deeply personal. And rejection also feels deeply personal, whether it is or not. The maestro was really upset with something other than me, but how could I have known that?

A performer is knocked down so often, those who keep getting up have to develop the hide of a rhinocerus and the bone-deep conviction that no matter what anyone else says, "I can so dance! (Sing, write, paint, fill in the blank with whatever subjective creative endeavor you want)"

Of course, you listen to those whose opinion you trust, those who are brutally honest, yet have your best interests at heart. If you are trying to break into a subjective business (like writing or any other creative medium) you must throw your heart out there or it won't resonate with anyone.

But for your own sanity, you must develop a protective armor over that little core of your soul. Otherwise you might end up hurling "F bombs" like the very talented Susan Boyles or blowing snot bubbles on national TV like some of the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE contestants.

Scientists long ago realized that observing something changes it. Which means reality TV by definition is not valid. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Beary" Sweet Readers

I have the sweetest readers on the planet! This delightful little pic comes from Down Under and my Aussie friend TeddyRee. Aren't her bears cute? Be sure to pop by her terrific book blog THE ECLECTIC READER

Then from way up north in Canada, my buddy Bobbie couldn't use my "blidget" on her Wordpress blog (I freely confess that I don't understand all I know about Wordpress, which is why I use the more "designed for the techno-challenged" Blogger). But the clever and talented Bobbie of BookReviewsByBobbie suffers from no such debility. She put together this lovely badge on her own initiative to help me get the word out about my new STROKE OF GENIUS Name a Character Contest!

Thanks so much, ladies! I appreciate you and all my friends and readers who are sharing my books and news with their friends. I owe you big time!

And thank you to all who are entering my STROKE OF GENIUS Name a Character Contest. I'm getting some terrific entries, but I still want to see YOURS!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Christie Craig's Gotcha!

One of the richest blessings of becoming an author has been getting to know other authors. They are the wackiest, most brilliant, and most talented people I've ever met. And the most caring.

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer last year, I received tons of support from the writing community. They sent emails, calls of encouragement and my sweet Eastside RWA buddies even sent flowers (love you gals!).

But Christie Craig went one better. She sent me one of her books.

To be fair, she warned me. But I took DIVORCED, DESPERATE & DELICIOUS to the hospital with me anyway. And nearly split my stiches!

This girl is seriously funny. Now Christie has a new book out called GOTCHA and she's still in a giving mood.

Today, June 2nd, at Killer Fiction Christie Craig will be giving away a signed copy of GOTCHA! along with a Christie Craig notebook and a pen. Plus, she's guest blogging over at Writing Playground as well as WickedAuthors and she'll be giving away the same prizes over there.

So pop over and visit and get ready to laughs. And . . . that’s right, there’s more. On June 8th she'll be at the Book Addict at PopSyndicate with a funny post, and offering prizes as well. Then to win a basket of books and goodies, pop over to Dorchester Publishing and click onto the special feature section to get info on that contest.

I promise you'll love Christie Craig's GOTCHA. But if you're having abdominal surgery consider yourself warned!

Monday, June 1, 2009

STROKE OF GENIUS Name a Character Contest~Enter Now!

Last year, I ran a 'just for fun' Pirate Name contest when PLEASURING THE PIRATE hit the shelves. Readers from all over the world sent in their funniest, scariest, sexiest pirate names and we had a ball!

Then I started thinking, why would a name contest have to be 'just for fun?' How about a contest where a reader can actually name an important character in my current WIP--STROKE OF GENIUS?

The yummy Fortin & Sanders pic above provides me with plenty of inspiration for my hero Crispin Hawke. Now I need your help in rounding out the character of his manservant and friend. And that starts with choosing the right name.

The reader who sends in the winning name will receive signed copies of all my backlist, including A CHRISTMAS BALL (which is coming out September 29th!)PLUS, they will receive a heartfelt "thank you" on the acknowledgment page of STROKE OF GENIUS.

Got your thinking cap on? Great! Click here for all the details and how to enter.

P.S. If you'd like to help me spread the word, you can grab the STROKE OF GENIUS widget code for your blog or myspace. Plus my inspiration for Crispin is highly decorative, don't you think? Thanks in advance!