Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Today I have a special author who writes M/M Erotic Romance for Noble Romance Publishing and his name is Reese Johnson. His debut release, Sex & Chocolate, was one of the reason he contacted me because he heard about me through Rie McGaha that I do author interviews as well as book reviews. Well I was all to happy to help him out because I have found that I liked reading M/M Erotic Romance and wanted to give his work a try. So I will be reviewing his debut novel Sex & Chocolate as well as his second novel Soul Searchers which is a M/M paranormal erotic romance. He will also be coming back on Thursday, July 2 for a guest blog on how he came to write both his releases. For now here is my interview with him:
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing M/M erotic romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance? Reese JohnsonReese Johnson: I don’t know how to answer that really. I don’t think there ever was a moment when I sat down and said, “I’m going to write M/M erotic romance!” I am friends with a few authors who write M/M and I found the concept interesting, so with that idea coupled with my prison background, I started writing and the original version of Sex & Chocolate just seemed to flow into an M/M relationship. Phoebe: Did you know what type of M/M erotic romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you? Reese: I really didn’t do either. I just wanted to have an avenue where I could say what I wanted to say and when I addressed the issue of AIDS, M/M seemed the logical course to be able to show the disease from both a “straight” and “gay” perspective. Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you? Reese: No, it’s long gone, but I think it was poetry or song lyrics or something just as horrible. Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research? Reese: So far all I’ve written has been two novellas and both are taken from life experience. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your debut release, Sex & Chocolate? Reese: My sister-in-law has been trying to get me to write an autobiography since I spent so many years in prison and have seen a lot of things most people can’t even begin to comprehend, but for now, I’m not ready to delve into that part of my mind. So, I started thinking about some of the guys I knew who died in prison because of complications from being HIV positive. That got me to thinking that maybe I could write something that would address the issue of AIDS without being preachy, and once I started writing, the story just seemed to flow on its own. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your latest release, Soul Searchers? Reese: I’m a big fan of sci-fi and all creatures of the night and thought it would be cool to write a werewolf story with a little twist, plus I could also use the story to address homophobia and prejudice. Gay werewolves have never been done as far as I know and the story just struck a chord within me and I began writing. Phoebe: How do you come up with each of your characters for your novels? How do you choose their names out of so many names out there? Reese: Hmmm, I don’t really know. They seem to have names when the character comes to mind. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your novel, Sex & Chocolate? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your novel, Sex & Chocolate? Sex and Chocolate by Reese JohnsonReese: Alan. He is so flamboyant and arrogant and funny. I just love him. And he reminds me of someone I used to know who is now dead from AIDS too. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your novel, Soul Searchers? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your novel, Soul Searchers? Reese: In this one, I really don’t have a favorite character. I thought they were all great, but if I had to pick one, it would be Micah. He seems so vulnerable and like someone who needs to be taken care of, but he has an inner strength that allows him to carry burdens others probably wouldn’t be able to. I also like Hap, the little brother. I have a little brother and Hap is just fun to be with like my own brother is. Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels? Reese: No, I don’t. I wish I had some great answer for you, but I really have no idea how it happens. Phoebe: Have you ever considered writing a series or are writing stand alone novels your preference? How would writing each be different for you? Reese: No. No. No. lol I’ve written two novellas, so I don’t even know if I could write an actual novel at this point, so the word “series” is very scary for me. Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long? Reese: My SIL is a writer, so I kind of had a bit of an idea what the process would be, but I had to go through the same submission process as everyone else. I didn’t get any preferential treatment at all, and I had to wait several weeks to see if the manuscript was accepted and then waited some more for cover art, edits, and all the rest of the things that go along with being published. Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels? Reese: Funny. I don’t even consider myself a writer so I don’t have anything to block! Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Reese: I like simple, everyday language in books. I don’t care for high dollar words that most people don’t use anyway. I like authors who keep it real. Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclamation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.), if you have any? Reese: I’m probably the last person you should ask for advice on writing! And I knew a few bad guys named Wayne, so you know, I’m good with that. Phoebe: What is the one writing tool can you not live without? Soul Searchers by Reese JohnsonReese: Uhhhhh…spell check? Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane? Reese: Oh, you think I have a writing schedule and a personal life. Thanks! Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing? Do you have any hobbies? Reese: LOL I’ve never spent a long while writing! The questions should be “what do you like to write after you’ve spent a long day doing nothing?” I like to fish, garden, wrestle with the dogs, ride the 4-wheeler. I just enjoy being a free man these days and being with my family. Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Reese: I don’t know. I think getting to know other authors is very important and helpful. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Reese: Hire someone to do it for you! I didn’t realize just how much goes into promotions for one single book. It’s exhausting and time consuming. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Reese: I like westerns, sci-fi, action, adventure, that kind of stuff. I read Louis Lamour, Stephen King, James Patterson, Dan Brown, Dean Koontz etc. Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Reese: I’m reading The Second Virgin Birth by Tommy Taylor and I don’t know what I’ll be reading after that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009
Today I have a special romance author that I met through one of the various social media websites that I'm a member of. I guess me and my blog have been getting pretty popular with romance authors and I'm glad that Rebecca contacted me in hopes of promoting herself and her current and upcoming novels with an author interview, author guest blogs and book reviews. Today she's guest blogging about her debut novel Surviving with Love and you will learn more about how she came to write it and get it published. I will reviewing that novel as well soon so keep an eye out for the review very soon but for now read the great guest blog Rebecca J. Vickery wrote for today.
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Surviving with Love, a full-length contemporary romance, was released May 1 in e-book format and more recently in print from Class Act Books. The idea for the story was actually conceived several years ago from a “what if” moment. I heard a bit on the TV news about the theft of some unusual bearer bonds. Later in that same evening, there was a plane crash. My brain went to work with the “what ifs.” What if the thieves were on the plane? What if they kidnapped hostages? What if the plane went down in the wilderness? What if the only one who could find them was a female tracker? And what if a tough guy with an attitude was sent to free the hostages? And on and on. By the time I answered all of my own questions, I had the basic storyline for Surviving with Love. To find out more about it please watch the book video. Surviving with Love’s first draft took about a year to write. I was also working at the time. Then of course I had to edit and refine my research, do some re-writes and change some scenes around. That took probably another 6 months before I felt comfortable submitting it. I think a first submission is always the hardest because we want everything to be just perfect. After that finding the right publisher took quite a bit of homework and time. I immediately ruled out any companies who charged fees for editing or set-up. I definitely wanted my book in both e-book and print. Then I needed a publisher open to submissions from new authors who wanted contemporary romances that were not erotic. And finally the publisher had to have a good reputation. That narrowed my list quite a bit. Then there was the round of submissions and rejections and a few glitches, until I finally met the publishers at Class Act Books. I have a total of three releases coming out with them this year and they’ve accepted two proposals for 2010 already. I am loving it, I just never have any time of my own anymore.
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Blurb: Title: Surviving With Love Author: Rebecca J. Vickery ISBN: 978-1-935048-22-0 Word Count: 114,782 Page Numbers: 361 Available in e-book or Print from Class Act Books Surviving with Love by Rebecca J. VickerySparks start flying when Stacey Parker meets ex-military, hostage-rescuer, Cord McConnell, and she begins to wonder if they will survive this assignment in the wilderness without killing each other.
Cord McConnell felt someone step from the woods. He wasn’t prepared for the sight of a young girl with a wild mane of strawberry blond curls who claimed to be his tracker. “I won’t wait on you if you fall behind and I don’t like whiners. I’m in charge and you do exactly as I say, regardless. Understand?”
“I won’t wait on you if you fall behind either, and whining is for dogs. You’re welcome to be in charge and I’ll follow orders when I agree with them,” She walked from the clearing without waiting to see if the man who sent her senses spinning would follow. You can find Rebecca at her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Ning, and her very special Yahoo Group named Sweet and Sensual Romances.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Today I have a special romance author that I met through one of the various social media websites that I'm a member of. I guess me and my blog have been getting pretty popular with romance authors and I'm glad that Rebecca contacted me in hopes of promoting herself and her current and upcoming novels with an author interview, author guest blogs and book reviews. Today I'm interviewing her about her writing process and about herself as well as her novels. On Thursday she will be talking more about her debut novel Surviving with Love so don't forget to come back to learn more. I will reviewing that novel as well soon so keep an eye out for the review very soon but for now read the great interview I had with Rebecca J. Vickery.
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance? Rebecca J. VickeryRebecca J. Vickery: I actually didn’t commit to writing romances until 1998. Before that I enjoyed writing but real life, my family, and obligations kept me very busy. My sister encouraged me to make the effort to put my ideas and plots on my computer and turn them into a book. The author that made me fall in love with romance stories was Gwen Bristow. I read Celia Garth when I was ten and I began daydreaming about the long looks and hand-holding. From then on I was hooked. For my psychic romances, Kay Hooper, my current favorite, was the author who inspired me to add psychic elements to some of my novels. Phoebe: Did you know what type of romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you? Rebecca: When I began writing, I wasn’t concerned with genre and really didn’t think about it. I just had a story that I had to get on paper. It didn’t matter if it was a tablet, the back of an envelope, or a napkin. When I had an idea, I had to write it down. I really haven’t experimented with different genres. My muse and I are comfortable with contemporary romances and I think we’ll just settle in with them for a while. Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you? Rebecca: My very first fiction stories got me in major trouble. I wrote them in elementary school and turned them in when I was supposed to be writing serious assignments. Can you imagine a fourth or fifth grade teacher getting a romance story instead of an assignment on how I spent my summer vacation? But if you’re talking about books, Surviving with Love is my first fiction novel and I hope to have it with me for a very long time. Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research? Rebecca: The amount of research depends on the location and the type of action I include in my books. For Surviving with Love, I had to do a lot of research on the Bitterroot Wilderness Area in Idaho and on the weather there as I’ve never even seen Idaho. But I do have first hand knowledge of camping, hiking, and fishing so I didn’t have to do as much research in those areas. I also had to ask lots of questions about hostage rescue and I read a lot of articles about wilderness tracking. The research for me is an ongoing process. While I’m writing I often have to stop and look up something before I can go on. I don’t outline my novel and research first as many writers do. My characters write the story. I just do the research and put the words into the computer. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your novel latest release, Surviving with Love? Rebecca: It was the product of a bit of news I heard on the TV several years ago about the theft of some special bearer bonds. Then later the same evening we heard about a plane crash. My brain went to work with “what ifs.” What if the thieves were on the plane that crashed? What if they took hostages? What if they survived the crash and escaped into the wilderness? What if a female tracker was the only one who could find them? What if she had to work with a tough hostage rescuer? What if they didn’t get along from the start? The questions went on and on. I don’t think I slept for three or four days while I started answering all those questions. By the time I finished I had enough material for Surviving With Love. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your novel upcoming release, Looking Through the Mist? Rebecca: I actually dreamed the idea for Looking Through The Mist. I love children and I heard about a missing child before going to bed. During the night I dreamed that a psychic called the police and told them how to find the child but no one would believe her. I began working on the book the next day. Phoebe: How do you come up with each of your characters for your novels? How do you choose their names out of so many names out there? Rebecca: Most of my characters seem to blossom in my mind with names attached, at least the first names. In Surviving with Love, my hero had to have a tough, short, masculine name and Cord came immediately to mind. There have only been a couple of times when a character has made it through a few chapters without a name. Then as their characteristics and mannerisms develop, the name will just be there. I don’t search out the meanings or use lists to find names for my characters, but I’m sure some writers do. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your novel, Surviving with Love. Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your novel, Surviving with Love? Surviving with Love by Rebecca J. VickeryRebecca: I think Cord was my favorite character, but Stacey was the one I could relate to. Cord was tough and distant, basically a loner, but evolved into a hero who loved kids and was desperate for love. Stacey was based on a bit of me when I was in my early twenties. I was independent, mouthy, and very confident in some of my abilities while insecure about others just like Stacey. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your upcoming novel, Looking Through the Mist? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your upcoming novel, Looking Through the Mist? Rebecca: Jessie, the heroine and psychic, was my favorite character and also the one I could relate to most. I have always been interested in psychic gifts and the paranormal. Watching her character deal with seeing kidnapped children and trying to gain some control over her life really struck a chord with me. She was normal on so many levels like being addicted to coffee and junk food, needing to work for a living, and appreciating a good-looking man. But then she had to deal with the visions and the aftermath and what they had already done to her life. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book and telling her story. Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels? Rebecca: I grab a piece of paper and jot down whatever my muse gives me if I’m not near my computer. I’ve learned that if I don’t, I may not remember it later and my muse usually only tells me once so I have to be quick. (LOL) I am a “by the seat of my pants” writer. I don’t do any of the things they teach you in college. No outlines, character sketches, research notes, or schedules. I edit either when I finish the story or if I need to refresh the basic ideas in my mind. I break most of the writing rules, I know, but it works for me. Phoebe: Have you ever considered writing a series or are writing stand alone novels your preference? How would writing each be different for you? Rebecca: It’s funny you should ask that because for the first time I have two secondary characters screaming for their own story and I haven’t finished the original one yet. Up until now I have only written stand-alone stories and was satisfied with that. When I finish a book I want the questions answered, the hero and heroine to get their happy ever after, and move on to the next story. Not sure how different writing a sequel or even a series is going to be. I’ll have to let you know after I write that one. Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long? Rebecca: It felt like a very long time. I wrote my first query/submission letter back in 1998. I acquired an agent almost two years later after a folder full of rejections. (This was by snail mail so things took quite a bit longer to go back and forth.) My agent had just worked up the proposal, my bio, and all the things agents do when his health failed. He kept trying for a bit but then had to retire. I had to start over with trying to get an agent. And received more rejections. Then a friend recommended e-publishing as a way to break into the industry and I didn’t need an agent for that. I made lists of e-pubs, did some research, and began sending out electronic queries. I was accepted by a publisher and was about to sign a contract when it came up that they were going to re-write my love scenes. They needed “spicing up” and they knew just the person to do it. I said no and refused to sign. My sister died suddenly and I took a two year hiatus from writing. It just wasn’t the same without her encouragement and support. When I finally couldn’t stay away from it any longer an e-publisher accepted my book and we signed a contract. But then she put my novel in the back of the computer file and left it for over a year. I began seriously bugging her and she finally took it out, but by then it needed updating. We went back and forth and when she failed to send it to an artist by deadline and the release would have had to be postponed for six more months, I pulled the book. It was accepted immediately by Class Act Books and they very graciously met my advertised release date of May 1. That book was Surviving With Love. Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels? Rebecca: I believe all writers go through periods where the words just don’t come very easily. My first effort to work around that is to edit some of the chapters and get back into the bones of the story. If that doesn’t work I take a break and do something physical. Playing with my grandchildren or my poodle, Dixie, will often jog the block loose. My favorite way to work it off is long walks on the beach. Something about the sound of the waves and the salt air blows away all the cobwebs and stirs my muse. But we live a few hundred miles away so that’s not always possible. Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Rebecca: I absolutely detest unanswered questions unless I know it’s a series or has a sequel. I think that’s why I tend to read and to write longer stories. And I love happy ever afters so it really irks me when the main players die. But I don’t want the books I read to always follow the same formula to get to the HEA. Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclamation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.), if you have any? Looking Through the Mist by Rebecca J. VickeryRebecca: I truly enjoy developing my characters and watching them take on a life of their own. They gain certain mannerisms and traits that I am truly amazed by sometimes. When I’m editing I often ask myself if I really wrote that about a character. I think my biggest pet peeve is dry, totally correct speech in a written conversation. How many people do you know use perfect grammar when they talk to others? It just isn’t realistic to me in a book either. I’m a firm believer that we should write conversation like we speak. Much more enjoyable and I feel it’s more interesting. Phoebe: What is the one writing tool can you not live without? Rebecca: Definitely my laptop computer. It is my constant companion. It contains my dictionary, thesaurus, notes, research sites, pictures...basically it has taken the place of a large part of my brain. (LOL) Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane? Rebecca: What personal life??? Seriously, I do the majority of my writing at night while everyone else sleeps. During my breaks I put in a load of laundry or toss some food in the crock-pot or the oven for the next day’s meal. Then I nap in the mornings while my hubby and my mom watch after our two year old granddaughter, Taylor, who is currently staying with us. After lunch, I edit or do my promos with the help of Taylor. I also prepare taxes from January through April 15th and accept some contract research jobs that totally mess with the schedule. But my hubby (who is disabled and home all the time) is very patient and flexible with my wacky schedule and very understanding of my deadlines. We just take it a day at a time. Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing? Do you have any hobbies? Rebecca: I enjoy reading, sketching, and painting. I absolutely love to fish and camp. But usually I unwind by chasing the grandkids, chatting online with friends, or playing video games. Occasionally I watch a movie or a favorite TV program. Medium, Ghost Whisperer, The Mentalist, Numbers, and House are my current can’t miss shows. Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Rebecca: When you are considering a publisher, do your homework. Find some of their authors and e-mail them (in confidence of course) and ask lots of questions. Read the contract from one end to the other and if you don’t understand it, ask for legal advice. In other words, make sure exactly what you are committing to and for how long before signing on the dotted line. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Rebecca: Make your presence known even before you have a book contracted. Join writer and reader groups and participate so people will recognize your name later. Build a network of friends and contacts who are positive, constructive, and supportive. Avoid those who aren’t, they’ll only drag you down. Continue to learn and grow in your craft. Don’t ever get to the point where you think you know it all or have learned everything. Thankfully I learn something everyday and hope to continue to do so. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Rebecca: Kay Hooper is my absolute favorite author and I love her psychic romance series about The Special Crimes Unit. I have the prints and I re-read them whenever I can, which sadly hasn’t been at all lately. Contemporary paranormal romance with some mystery or suspense added is still my favorite genre, though I do read others. Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Rebecca: I am writing now, but I just finished Said The Spider To The Fly, a very good whodunnit romance by Miss Mae. I’m usually very good at figuring those out, but she truly stumped me in this one. I’m going to read The Privateer by Danielle Thorne next and then I think Kay Hooper has a new one coming out. I’ll definitely have to sneak that one in somewhere. But I have another release coming out in October and I’ll be into edits with it soon. I also have one work in progress that has to be finished yesterday (LOL) and two more that have already been accepted for early 2010, provided I get them done. So all that won’t leave me much time for reading.

Friday, June 19, 2009
Keta Diablo is one of my favorite erotic romance authors and because I enjoyed her erotic historical romances I thought I would try out her new male/male contemporary erotic romance. After reading Keta's Crossroads, which is the first book in her three book series, I was both excited and a bit nervous to read her second book in her Crossroads series. I read a very intense and intriguing excerpt on Keta's website that had me wanting to read the novel as soon as possible especially since I loved the first book. Now the main character Frank McGuire is an ex-cop turned private investigator after the death of his police partner Quinn Brennan's death. Frank is a very intriguing character who I really loved reading about because he is such a big, strong and handsome man who has a special ability to commune with the dead since he was a child. His relationship with his partner Quinn was very special to him because he was a father figure who took Frank under his wing and made him apart of his own family.
Now Rand is Quinn's son, who has had a crush on Frank since even his father's death, and he really wants to have a relationship with Frank but isn't getting it right now. Rand wants Frank to tell him that he loves him and wants to have an open relationship that shows that to him but Frank is not ready for that even though I know that he does love Rand very much. After everything Rand and Frank have gone through in the first book, Crossroads, they really heat up for them both in the second book Crossroads Revisited. Frank McGuire is beginning to think the City has become a melting pot for serial killers because there is yet another maniac who is stalking the streets, only this time the deviant isn't tracking Goth girls, but rather gay college students. Now rumors are surfacing that put Frank's life in jeopardy, and somehow he must protect Rand from the carnage that is about to unfold. What he didn't count on was Rand becoming the killer's next victim after having thought he figured out who was the killer.
This book is a must have! If you have read Crossroads and loved it as much as I did then you need to get your hands on a copy of Crossroads Revisited now because it is just as good and even better than the first. In this novel you will see Frank and Rand's budding relationship start to bloom a bit but not fully yet because Frank still has a lot of emotional baggage that is really getting in the way of his relationship with Rand. There is suspense in this novel that will keep you guessing even though you may think you have found the real killer in the end you get a big surprise. I really fell in love with both Frank and Rand in this novel because I really felt that they could have a great relationship with one another if they had a bit more time together so they could feel each other out enough to be comfortable to show their emotional sides.
Keta Diablo delivers yet another steamy, hot, sexy and mysterious male/male erotic romance novel that will have you panting as well as making you want more and for the story to never end. I was sad to have finished this novel in less than 4 hours but I just couldn't stop reading it until I found out how things would end for Frank and Rand after getting to see them together after finally trying to make a start on a real relationship. Now that I've read it I hope that Keta will finishing writing up the last novel in the Crossroads series and gives me more about Frank and Rand so I can see if their relationship will make it like I so want it to. After reading my second male/male erotic romance I want to read more and look forward to reading any more male/male erotic romance by Keta Diablo and other amazing authors. I give this book 5 open books:
Here is the description of the e-book from Keta's website and picture:
CROSSROADS REVISITED by Keta Diablo $ 3.00 (73 Pages)
Crossroads Revisited by Keta DiabloFrank McGuire is beginning to think the City has become a melting pot for serial killers. Another maniac is stalking the streets, only this time the deviant isn't tracking Goth girls, but rather gay college students. Rumors surface that put Frank's life in jeopardy, and somehow he must protect Rand from the carnage about to unfold. What he didn't count on was Rand becoming the killer's next victim.
Frank. Rand. Phaze. Game On!

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Charline Ratcliff is a newly published author who contacted me to find out if I would review her debut novel, The Curse of Nefertiti. I found the novel's blurb to be fascinating that I sent her an email back asking if she would like to also have an author interview and author guest blog scheduled along with the book review. So today I will be posting the guest blog about how Charline came to write her debut novel and that I really had fun reading. You can also read her author interview with me as well as read my review for her debut novel, The Curse of Nefertiti. Leave comments or questions to this post because Charline will be stopping by on and off today answering them:
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On the night of November 14, 2006 I had a very vivid dream which I wrote down the next morning. This dream is actually the Prologue in The Curse of Nefertiti. I have always had very vivid dreams like this…not every night but maybe once every three or four months. Now every time I have a dream which stands apart from the normal run of the mill I write it down. Consequently I have the beginning chapter or Prologue for another five books and I’m sure the number will only continue to grow. So many books to write…so little time!! A night for a dream, a day for the Prologue, a day for the first chapter, a year, a month and a week for the writer’s block and five months to finish the remainder of the book.
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The Curse of Nefertiti by Charline Ratcliff $ 31.50 (383 Pages) The Curse of NefertitiOver three thousand years ago, all of Egypt lies in ruins. The country that had dazzled the world is now completely annihilated, and the Nile runs red with the blood of her people. Nefertiti's spirit walks the land and looks at the utter devastation she has unwittingly allowed to transpire. In desperation she cries out to the Gods, and they take pity on her. They send her forward into the future, so she may return later to correct her mistakes. This is the story of Nefertiti, of the life she has lived here as Kayla, unaware of her true identity until finally reunited with the man who is the living reincarnation of her murdered husband, Akhenaten. She is faced with a difficult choice. Return to Egypt and save her country and its people or stay here with the man who holds her heart. And if she returns to Egypt, will she remember her life as Kayla, so she may be returned to it before her life becomes forfeit in the past? Charline Ratcliff's tale is woven with likeable and believable characters, powerful visceral imagery, and a tapestry of combining old with new to create a masterful novel. Her debut novel is a stunning achievement that deftly envelops the reader.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Charline Ratcliff is a newly published author who contacted me to find out if I would review her debut novel, The Curse of Nefertiti. I found the novel's blurb to be fascinating that I sent her an email back asking if she would like to also have an author interview and author guest blog scheduled along with the book review. You can also read her author interview with me which I had so much fun writing up the quesitons and reading Charline's answers. Now onto my review for her debut novel, The Curse of Nefertiti, which I was lucky enough to read for Charline as well as review for her on my blog. Over three thousand years ago all of Egypt lies in ruins but there is a story to be told in that one sentence which you will find out in this novel. The country that had dazzled the world is now completely annihilated, and the Nile runs red with the blood of her people so now Queen Nefertiti’s spirit walks the land and looks at the utter devastation she has unwittingly allowed to transpire. I've heard of Nefertiti since Ancient Egypt has always been a fascinating subject ever since I learned about it in Junior High School. When I read the blurb for this novel I knew that I would have to read it since it would give me a bit of a fiction inside look into the life of Nefertiti.
Now in desperation she cries out to the Gods, and they take pity on her by sending her forward into the future, so that she may return later to correct her mistakes of the past. This is the story of Nefertiti, of the life she has lived here as Kayla, unaware of her true identity until finally reunited with the man who is the living reincarnation of her murdered husband, Akhenaten. She is faced with a difficult choice that is to either return to Egypt and save her country and its people or stay here with the man who holds her heart in any lifetime. But then she starts to wonderf if she returns to Egypt, will she remember her life as Kayla, so she may be returned here before her life becomes forfeit in the past. It is amazing how Charline has created a wonderful fictional world where the great Egyptian Queen Nefertiti has been given the chance to live her life in the future (our present) and meet once again her reincarnated husband, who is now named Paolo a gorgeous Italian man, and soul mate as Kayla. I had such a wonderful time reading this novel that I almost got a couple of paper cuts because I was flipping the pages a bit too fast in order to find out what would happen next for Kayla and Paolo. After finishing this novel I was a bit sad that the story had to end and from the ending I think Charline may be thinking of writing a sequel since I felt that Kayla and Paolo may have more to their story. Charline Ratcliff delivers a beautifully written debut novel of a famous Queen Nefertiti getting a second chance at fixing her past mistakes and having a wonderful future with her soul mate, Akhenaten, in the future (our present). I give this book 4.5 Open Books:
4.5 Open Books

Here is the description of the book from the back cover and picture: THE CURSE OF NEFERTITI by Charline Ratcliff $ 31.50 (383 Pages) The Curse of NefertitiOver three thousand years ago all of Egypt lies in ruins. The country that had dazzled the world is now completely annihilated, and the Nile runs red with the blood of her people. Nefertiti’s spirit walks the land and looks at the utter devastation she has unwittingly allowed to transpire. In desperation she cries out to the Gods, and they take pity on her. They send her forward into the future, so that she may return later to correct her mistakes. This is the story of Nefertiti, of the life she has lived here as Kayla, unaware of her true identity until finally reunited with the man who is the living reincarnation of her murdered husband, Akhenaten. She is faced with a difficult choice. Return to Egypt and save her country and its people or stay here with the man who holds her heart. And if she returns to Egypt, will she remember her life as Kayla, so she may be returned here before her life becomes forfeit in the past?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Charline Ratcliff is a newly published author who contacted me to find out if I would review her debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti. I found the novel's blurb to be fascinating that I sent her an email back asking if she would like to also have an author interview and author guest blog scheduled along with the book review. So today I will be posting the very informative interview between me and Charline that I really had fun writing up the questions and reading her answers. Leave comments or questions to this post because Charline will be stopping by on and off today answering them. Also if you miss today come back on Thursday when Charline will be guest blogging about her debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti further. And keep a look out for my review on her novel as well but for now here is my interview:
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance? Charline RatcliffCharline Ratcliff: I didn’t realize until I was almost completely finished with The Curse of Nefertiti that I had a calling as an author. I’m not sure that any specific author inspired me to write romance—I think I mainly noticed how a great romance plays a big part in how good a story is. Phoebe: Did you know what type of romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you? Charline: I didn’t have a specific type of romance in mind when I started writing this book. In the writing of the book I never really had a set path for it to take—I just wrote and let the story shape the book. Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you? Charline: According to my father I wrote a short science fiction story when I was nine—however, I don’t have it and I don’t think my parents do anymore either. Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research? Charline: I do quite a bit of research while I am writing a book. Luckily for me I have always had an innate knowledge about Egypt and that definitely helped with the writing of this book. More often then not when I went to research something I had written I was quite surprised to find it was factual. It can take a lot of time to gather the information. I generally do the research as I am writing because I don’t figure out exactly where the story is going before I write it. I start with the beginning (dreams) and I have an end in mind but other than that I let the story shape itself as I write it. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti? Charline: I had a very vivid dream in November 2006. In fact, the Prologue for The Curse of Nefertiti is the actual dream. Phoebe: How do you come up with each of your characters for your novels? How do you choose their names out of so many names out there? Charline: Hmmm…I don’t remember how I came up with the name Kayla but I wanted a female name that I had never heard used before. Some of the supporting characters had traits which reminded me of people I know in my own life so I would come up with a name starting with the same letter as the name of the person they reminded me of. For the man—I wanted someone foreign, so I chose Italian for the nationality and Paolo. Paolo is actually based off a man I met while out with a friend. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti. Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti? Charline: The favorite character I enjoyed writing about most was Nefertiti herself. As far as relating to any of the characters I would have to say I relate quite a lot to Kayla. Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels? Charline: I have five more Prologues for different books written, each of them is from a dream I have had. Phoebe: You’ve written a standalone novel but have you considered writing a series before? How do you think writing each would be different for you? Charline: This is a stand-alone novel however; I did leave the ending open as I am considering writing a sequel to it in the future. Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long? Charline: I think I was pretty lucky actually. I was originally going to write the novel completely and then mail it off to publishers. Then I realized I have no experience in marketing myself so I figured maybe I should look into getting agent. Again, I decided to wait until I was finished with the novel because I knew my Prologue was rough and didn’t flow quite as well as the rest of the book. One weekend I’d had a really bad day, my car payment was fifteen days past due and my lender repossessed it. I had NO idea that could happen! Everybody KNOWS you have to be at least thirty days past due before that can happen! *chuckle* I discovered in Arizona if you are even one day late your lender CAN and a lot of times WILL repossess the auto. Anyway, so the next day (Sunday) I had the urge to rewrite the Prologue. Once it was finished I reread it and then even though my manuscript wasn’t complete I felt this sense of urgency to find an agent RIGHT NOW! I did my research a few months before and learned all the things agents and agencies should NOT do! Finally, after more searching I found an agency whose mission statement I liked and I submitted a request to have them look at my manuscript. I won’t bore you with the details of the next three weeks but bottom-line they were interested in taking me on as a client. In August I submitted the first five chapters of my book to a publishing company that my agent referred me to and November 22, 2008 I was informed that the publishing company would like to work with me. It seems fitting that I received this news in November as November was the birth month of the book so to speak. I was very lucky in the fact that the first agency and also the first publisher I ever contacted both wanted to take me on. Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels? Charline: LOL! Well…I wrote the Prologue as well as the first chapter within a week. Piece of cake! I LOVED writing! I walked around for a whole month telling everyone I was going to be a published author!! The Prologue was easy…that was recounting a dream. The first chapter was easy especially as I brought ancient Egypt into it. Then came chapter two! Dun Dun DUNNNNN!!! Oh Crap! I HATE writing! How do I write about current times versus past times? So there my manuscript sat on the computer…cold and alone until December of 2007 when I had the intense urge to start writing again. I reread what I had initially written and then I started typing and the words just flowed out of my fingers and onto the pages. In fact they flowed so easily that I totally forgot about much needed things like paragraphs and chapters! Life was grand and there was order in the universe! Then in January my dad (who passed away March 28th of this year) asked if he could read it. Ohhhhh CRAP!!! That was when I realized I needed to separate my novel into chapters! And then even worse…OMG my dad is going to read the “sex stuff!” Anyway, I digress…I never had writer’s block once I got through my initial one year, one month, a week and a few days bout with it…but I also learned to go back a few chapters and reread what I had written whenever I picked up the figurative pen to start writing. Just to get myself back into the story. Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Charline: Well…I guess my only pet peeve is books where everything happens the same way. Change the names, change the location and change the time period and all of a sudden you have the same book the author wrote five books previously. I guess that’s why I am trying very hard to make sure that while my novels will deal with history, both factual and non-factual, I want to always have a completely different concept than any of my previous books unless of course it’s a sequel. Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclamation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.), if you have any? The Curse of NefertitiCharline: Hmmm…I think what I enjoy most is just the writing. The peace and quiet and at the end of the day reading back over what I have created and hopefully feeling good about it! I’m not super judgmental of authors. I read everything except horror and I understand that every author has his or her own unique writing style. I also understand books are based upon the writing style of the year they are written and even the area they are written in has an effect on their style and so for the most part I tend to overlook things such as overly long sentences, clipped sentences, over punctuated, under punctuation, etc. (If I didn’t overlook some things then I would have to re-write my last sentence just to shorten it!!) Incorrect spelling bugs me since it looks wrong and jumps off the page at me consequently breaking my train of concentration on the story but other than that I’m not really bothered or else I just haven’t read any books where the grammar or story line was so bad that I just closed the book and said “Oh my gosh what was the publisher thinking!!!” Phoebe: What is the one writing tool can you not live without? Charline: MY COMPUTER!!!! Oh my gosh!! Could you imagine what it was like to write before the computers and before typewriters?? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to write…by hand…with pen and stationary!! It took me three years after that whole free bill pay thing came out before I finally stopped writing checks! What author doesn’t love the smell of ink or fresh stationary? Ok…I’m weird I know!! I travel to other countries and I bring home pens and stationary in lieu of souvenirs!! I saw my dream pen and it was $5000.00…lol! Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane? Charline: I have no writing schedule exactly. For me, when it is time to write then it is time to write! From mid December 2007 to mid May 2008 I barely left my house. One of my friends would come over every couple weeks to check on me and drop me off some food because she knew I was living on coffee and sugar. A couple times she actually forced me to leave the house because I hadn’t in two or three weeks. My daily schedule consisted of waking up around ten a.m. and writing non-stop until I passed out from sheer exhaustion anytime after four a.m. My dad and I had an agreement that Tuesday night I would call him and we would talk for a few hours and then he wouldn’t disturb me for the rest of the week. I never went insane, I just couldn’t think about anything else with the story floating around non-stop in my head. Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing? Do you have any hobbies? Charline: I’m not sure about the relaxing after writing part. I will let you know! ;) I got done writing and then I had no idea what to do with myself to keep busy…so I started work on my next novel!! I love to travel first and foremost. I love history and I love to experience other cultures. I love to read, watch movies, visit museums. I’m a photographer and I love pretty much every outdoor activity as long as it involves warm weather! I love to try and live life to the fullest. Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Charline: I’m not sure how to best answer this question. I had never contemplated writing before I actually did it so I never did any research on what I should or shouldn’t do as a writer. I read blogs and such after I got done writing the book, when it was with my agent and THAT was when I started to get depressed. My advice to any author, aspiring or otherwise, would just be to take the limitations and the structure out of the equation. Why do you have to have an outline? Why do you have to decide what will happen in every chapter? I had a beginning and I had an end in my head. Everything that happened in between just happened as I wrote it. The comment I get from every single person who has read my book is that they LOVE how it is tied together so well. You don’t need the outline to have it tied together so well, in my opinion you need to have the freedom to let the story be what it will be. When you read The Curse of Nefertiti you may see and feel the same thing too. Give your creativity the freedom it needs and don’t try to put constraints on it. Creativity comes when it will. I have learned how to tap into mine whenever I need it but until a writer gets to that point they need to write when they feel they can write. Don’t put yourself on a writing schedule…and then berate yourself if you are unable to think of anything to put onto paper. I hope that makes sense. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Charline: Honestly, I can’t think of anything other than what I wrote to address the previous question. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Charline: No to the favorite genre. I read everything, fiction, non fiction, biographies, et cetera. I have a lot of Anne Rice novels hanging around! There are too many great authors to list and my library is overflowing with books!! Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Charline: I’m currently reading Bloody Mary, The Remarkable Life of Mary Tudor by Carolly Erickson. It’s an older book and I picked it up at an independent bookstore when I was visiting with my parents in February. Prior to that I read the entire Twilight series in a week—I had heard so much about them I figured it was probably time for me to read them. As for what I will read after this book; I am unsure. I can’t read books while I am writing…I have my book floating around in my head twenty four hours a day trying to get out and there’s no room for any other books during that time. I’m once again getting the sense of urgency that I need to get back to work on the current novel I’m writing and the longer I ignore it the more insistent it becomes so I doubt I have much time left before I go hole up somewhere quiet for a few weeks to get the majority of it written.

Friday, June 12, 2009
Jinxed by Inez Kelley When opposites attract, they are screwed three ways from Sunday.
Frannie learned the hard way that a McHottie doesn’t always equal marriage material. Besides, she’s happy with her vanilla life. She has friends, a career and a double-D-powered vibrator. Then Fate shoves her, literally, into Prince Charming’s lap. His declaration of love at first sight is cute—and spikes her bullcrap meter into the red zone. She’s more than willing to give in with her body. But she’s barricaded her heart behind castle walls—and permanently welded the gates shut. Tragedy taught Jinx that time is too precious to waste, so when a series of uncanny coincidences thrusts Frannie into his life, he holds on tight. He knows she thinks he’s several fries short of a Happy Meal, but he’s determined to breach the fortress around her heart and give her a Happily Ever After. Even if he has to carry her fanny-first into his kingdom. WARNING: Includes jelly shoes, a narcoleptic cat, and meatloaf. The steamy sex scenes may lead to fogged windows and wet panties, so proceed at your own risk. Do not attempt to read without the following items: tissues, napkins for spewed beverages, and a booty call on speed dial. Read an excerpt here. Buy here. inezkelley.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009
Today my special guest is erotic romance author Cecilia Tan. She contacted me about being interviewed and being a guest blogger here at TAMFA as well as having her current releases Mind Games & The Hot Streak reviewed as well. On Tuesday you enjoyed an interview between me and Cecilia Tan that I had fun reading as well giving it. Now today Cecilia Tan will be guest blogging about how she came to write her current releases Mind Games & The Hot Streak. Also be on the look out for my reviews of both her books, her current releases Mind Games & The Hot Streak, here on my blog.
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MIND GAMES GUEST BLOG If I have one fantasy that comes up again and again in my real life, it's for a lover who can read my mind. I am not shy about sex or talking about it, but when it comes to actually having sex, I tend to go nonverbal. So it's a big piece of wish-fulfillment for me to have lovers in my book who can communicate telepathically. My very first piece of published erotica back in 1992 was a short story called "Telepaths Don't Need Safe words," and that theme of the mind-reading lovers returns in MIND GAMES. It's important to me that in MIND GAMES it is the female character who is the telepathic one. It isn't that the "perfect man" comes into Wren's life and is instantly able to give her everything she dreams of. She has to find the power inside herself to open up to him, to let herself love, and ultimately he's the one who is a little in awe of what she can do. It's a little scary for him, too, to know that while they are making love, he can't hide anything from her. Sex already makes us vulnerable—I just use the paranormal aspect to push it to one more notch of intensity. I had a lot of fun in this book weaving together a mystery and suspense story line with the story of two people who are falling in love and because of the suspense elements are being forced to confront their own fears about love and sex at the same time. It's an erotic romance but that doesn't mean I just tacked a bunch of sex scenes onto a regular plot. The sex that happens is all integral to the plot and the growth of the characters. I like erotic scenes in books, but I get impatient when I feel like the plot of a book grinds to a halt while the characters pause to have sex. I like it to be too important to be able to "skip over!" I got the idea for the characters in MIND GAMES over ten years ago. I wrote one scene with them, but their whole story didn't come out until I was chatting with Lori Perkins, the editorial director at Ravenous Romance. She asked me, if I wrote a paranormal romance, what subject would I want to do, and Wren and Derek kind of popped out of the storage trunk in my head where they'd been sitting for a whole decade. Once I figured out that I needed to write the story of how they met and became a couple, the book practically wrote itself. I wrote it really fast, a thousand words a day for two months, including Saturdays and Sundays. I wrote it while on vacation in New Orleans, and in the airport, and late at night back in Boston...basically any time I could! BLURB: MIND GAMES by Cecilia Tan Wren Delacourt is a woman with a gift, only she doesn't know it. She has psychic abilities-the ability to see the future, to read minds, and to sense emotions. But ever since the death of her parents when she was a teenager, in an accident she foresaw, she has suppressed her abilities, often doubting her childhood memories and unsure if her powers even exist, or if she only imagined them. Unable to deal with other people's emotions, she leads a quiet, somewhat lonely life working in a university library and socializing mostly with her downstairs neighbor, a gay man named Lawrence. Everything changes when her sister Abby goes missing, and Wren hires a private investigator to try to find her. Derek Chapman isn't what Wren expected in a P.I.; he's young, good-looking, and sensitive. Wren is attracted to him immediately, and the feeling seems mutual, but Wren is afraid that this will be just another failed relationship. She begins to have dreams about sex, about a dream lover who visits her at night. Is the man in her dreams just her subconscious trying to work out its conflicts between desire and fear? Or could someone really be stalking her in her dreams? And what does it mean when Derek's search for Abby leads him to a private sex club? Fate seems to be pulling Wren into Derek's arms, whether she is ready or not...
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THE HOT STREAK GUEST BLOG A lot of people ask how and why I wrote a baseball-themed romance novel in THE HOT STREAK. I am a huge baseball fan. Baseball is one of my true passions in life, and what a lot of people don't realize is that of all the major sports, baseball is most popular with women. Close to 50% of baseball's fans are women, which means that last year alone 35 million women attended major league baseball games, and that doesn't even count all the women who just like watching on TV or listening on the radio. Baseball players are, I think, the best-looking and sexiest of all the athletes. They aren't freakishly huge or tall, their faces aren't covered up by masks or helmets, and they wear tight pants. That's kind of a no brainer, you know? What's kind of funny is that I'm not actually one of the female fans who fantasizes a lot about the players, but making a baseball player the hero of an erotic romance novel was really a no brainer for me. Tyler Hammond isn't based on a real player—he's really just a creation of my mind. He loves being the center of attention and is boiling over with confidence all the time...except that of course he has an insecure streak where true love is concerned. I really fell in love with him (and wanted to kick him sometimes) while writing THE HOT STREAK. It's funny because in a lot of ways THE HOT STREAK is the most "normal" book I've ever written. There are no space aliens, there's no bondage or kink, the relationship is heterosexual and nobody swaps genders, and my other books all have telepaths and vampires and things, in them. So this was a bit different, just focusing on the relationship and the characters. I'm used to plotting things out where I allot 5000 words for a kidnapping scene. Here, it was like, okay, I'm working up to the big scene where he Meets Her Parents! It was nice because I got to use humor and a lot of internal point of view from Casey, our heroine's point of view. I also tried to make the book very easy to read for women who don't know anything about baseball. Casey doesn't know anything, so she learns all about the crazy world of being a "major league girlfriend" as she goes along, and the reader gets to learn with her. The theme of love, and of falling in love with someone who is totally different from you and entering their world, is one that I think most people can relate to. BLURB: THE HOT STREAK by Cecilia Tan The Hot Streak by Cecilia TanWhen Casey Branigan meets major league baseball player Tyler Hammond at a photo shoot, she finds the fun and excitement her life needs. As a manager in a big Boston design firm, Casey's life has become lackluster—but her affair with Tyler promises to change that. Quickly caught up in the whirlwind that surrounds celebrity athletes, Casey travels all over the country to watch Tyler pitch. The sex is breathtaking and Casey loves the lifestyle fame and fortune affords. Tyler is on a winning streak, and he thinks Casey is the reason why. But Casey must decide for herself whether this is just a summer fling. Or is Casey starting a winning streak of her own? You can find out more about Cecilia Tan and her novels by finding her at Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal and her blog website.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Today my special guest is erotic romance author Cecilia Tan. She contacted me about being interviewed and being a guest blogger here at TAMFA as well as having her current releases Mind Games & The Hot Streak reviewed as well. Today you will be enjoying an interview between me and Cecilia Tan that I had fun reading as well giving it. Thursday, June 11 Cecilia Tan will be guest blogging about how she came to write her current releases Mind Games & The Hot Streak. Also be on the look out for my reviews of both her books, her current releases Mind Games & The Hot Streak, here on my blog.
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing erotic romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance? Cecilia Tan: I knew erotica was going to be a major part of what I wrote when I had first graduated college. Up until then, I had thought I would be a science fiction/fantasy writer, but when I finally got out of school and started working my first day job, I thought "okay, now you have to start your writing career, too." So I started writing stories at night. I sat down at the computer every night for several weeks and I wrote five stories in five weeks. The only one that was worth anything was the one really erotic one, which I called "Telepaths Don't Need Safe words." It mixed together science fiction and erotica, and was also really different from the rest of the erotica out there. I didn't know this at the time, but the vast majority of erotic fiction out there is based on "the encounter." In other words, two people meet, then they have sex. It's nearly always the first time they meet, and even when it isn't, it's usually the first time they have sex. Whereas I started out with two characters who already knew each other and were well into an epic lifelong romance when the story took place! So that was in 1991. I've been writing stuff that goes against people's expectations and mixes together sci-fi, fantasy, erotica, love stories, and anything else I feel like ever since. Honestly, I didn't think I would end up writing romance. I won't name names, but I tried to read a romance novel while I was in college and it was plainly awful. The writer's idea of a description was to write "he was good-looking." The characters didn't make sense and the dialogue made me cringe to read it. It was a bestselling novelist, too, but maybe she had gotten lazy by her 20th book or whatever it was? I don't know what the story was behind it, but I was turned off the genre for almost 20 years as a result. My career moved more toward science fiction and fantasy, and I was making friends with a lot of sf/fantasy writers. And several of them had started writing romances under pseudonyms. They were all like "oh, you should try it again! It's so much fun. Romances are so much better now than they used to be!" But I was busy and I always have a million books I want to read, so I didn't really try reading a romance again until I had read some of the sf/fantasy writers who people told me were popular with romance readers, too. Like Catherine Asaro and Anne Bishop and Laurell K. Hamilton. Because of that bad first experience, I was really leery, but reading and enjoying the books by these women showed me there were other styles of romance and that good writing was more the norm! Phoebe: Did you know what type of erotic romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you? Cecilia: I always knew I was more interested in the paranormal romances. I just love fantasy and magic. But when the idea to write one with a baseball theme came along, I didn't hesitate to write a "real world" romance, too! Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you? Cecilia: I have tons and tons of old notebooks from when I was eleven, twelve years old. Some might be older than that. I wrote a lot of attempts at fantasy epics like the Lord of the Rings, and space opera like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica (the OLD series of Battlestar Galactica). And erotica, too. When I was a teenager I wrote stories pairing my friends with their favorite celebrities! So I guess it's not a big surprise what I ended up writing! Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research? Cecilia: So far I have always stuck with milieus I am already familiar with. I've been setting my books in towns and cities I know fairly well, and when it comes to things like major league baseball, that's a world I know very well, too, from my nonfiction writing work. (I've written and edited several baseball history books.) What's funny is the romance novel I'm working on right now is set at Harvard University, which is not even a mile from my house, and I'm spending probably an hour a day researching things like the names of buildings and university history and such! The book I'm writing right now is called MAGIC UNIVERSITY, and the concept is sort of like the Harry Potter books, except college. And with a decent love story! Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your novel Mind Games? Cecilia: I had this image in my mind of the two characters, the detective and the telepathic woman, just spring into my mind about ten years ago. I tried to write a short story with them, but I didn't get beyond writing a kind of moody fragment. So I put them on the shelf in the back of my head for a while (ten whole years!) figuring when the time was write, I'd take those dolls down and play with them again. I was having dinner with the editor for Ravenous Romance one night and she asked me if there was anything in paranormal romance I wanted to explore, and I burst out with, "what about this?" And described to her the idea I had for the characters and how they connect. She was like, go for it! So I went home and out poured a whole plot synopsis, which Ravenous Romance bought right away. I was so happy to finally have a home for Wren and Derek! Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your novel The Hot Streak? Cecilia: What's funny is THE HOT STREAK originally grew from another project entirely, a non-fiction book, where I was going to help the wife of a major league player write her autobiography. Since I write about baseball, but I'm a female writer also, she wanted someone who knew both about the baseball business and who could portray a woman's point of view. In the end, publishers weren't interested in the book, though, except for a romance publisher, who wanted to know if it could be done highly fictionalized as if it were a romance novel, but the "real names have been changed." But then they decided they weren't interested in that either. Meanwhile, though, I had a meeting with the editor there, and she suggested maybe I should start from scratch with a baseball-themed romance that wasn't related to this real story at all. So I started plotting out my dream romance between a baseball star and a twenty-something working woman... Ultimately that publisher decided baseball just wasn't their thing, so lucky for me Ravenous Romance grabbed it immediately! Phoebe: How do you come up with each of your characters for your novels? How do you choose their names out of so many names out there? Cecilia: Sometimes a name just comes to me the moment I think of a character, but other times I only have their first name or a nickname. I sometimes page through the phone book. There are also lots and lots of sites on the Internet where you can look up the meanings of names, which is really useful! Baby names sites and family genealogy and so on. I try to pick names that sound nice to say out loud, that have a nice look on the page, and that have a meaning or association with the character that seems fitting. Wren in Mind Games is kind of a fragile character, so a bird name worked well for her, while Casey, the heroine in The Hot Streak, is kind of a tough cookie, so even though she's a very feminine character, I wanted a gender-neutral name for her, plus the fact that "Casey" is a name that comes up in old time baseball history a lot. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your novel Mind Games. Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your novel Mind Games? Cecilia: In Mind Games I was in love with both of the main characters, Wren and Derek. Wren is like me at my most introverted and scared of the world, while Derek is me at my most bold, but very nurturing. So putting the two of them together was really fun! Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your novel The Hot Streak? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your novel The Hot Streak? Cecilia: Casey was very much like me when I had first started working my day job in publishing back in the 1990s, and I was starting to think, what's next? I got good grades, so i could go to a good college, so I could get a good job... now what? Of course my family was starting to ask when I was going to "settle down." The next step was supposed to be get married, have kids, right? But I knew I didn't want to do that. I knew if I had kids it would derail my writing career. The kind of emotional commitment I would give my kids, and which I think all kids deserve, would preclude the kind of involvement necessary to write fiction for me. So I got off of that "track" pretty quickly. But Casey doesn't, or not for the same reason. She just keeps meeting boring guys who want to add her to their To Do list. Well, until she meets Tyler, of course. Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels? Cecilia: I have to start with a character. I can have all kinds of plot ideas, but if I don't have the feel for who the story is about, it'll never go anywhere. Ultimately regardless of what happens to them in the exterior plot (do they get kidnapped? get married? get the flu? get a dog?) it is what happens to the character inside that is the real story. How do they change? Do they learn and grow as a result of the joys and pains they suffer in the story? Phoebe: Which do you like best, writing a series or writing stand alone novels? How is writing each different for you? Cecilia: I'm writing a four book series right now and it's really fun, but really different. For one thing, there are so many more characters to introduce because I'm setting up the plots that are going to run through four books, not just one. In Mind Games there are really only four characters, our main couple, her best friend, and a villain, but you don't even meet him until late in the book. In The Hot Streak we have our heroine, the ballplayer, her best friend, all the rest are people with cameo parts like her parents, her boss, etc. But in the Magic University books we have our hero, his love interest, her roommate, his rival, his rival's boyfriend, his best friend, other students, professors and deans, it's a huge cast but it just wouldn't be realistic to have it set at a college and just focus on three or four people. Plus there is a mystery plot going on there, too, so there has to be a culprit and also suspects who are believable. Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long? Cecilia: Way back when I wrote "Telepaths Don't Need Safe words" there were no publishers of any kind who would publish a story that mixed together sci-fi with erotica like that. Paranormal romance hadn't really take off yet, the sf/fantasy genres were very, very sexless and loveless, and the erotic and porno publishers were scared off by both the science fiction and the love story! I ended up self-publishing the book myself by starting a company called Circlet Press. I was still working my day job in publishing at the time, but I decided to leave off working and go to grad school and get a masters in writing. Meanwhile I had tried writing some other stories and sending them around. On my very last day of work, my very wonderful boyfriend (who I am still with 17 years later!) took me out to dinner. When we got back to the apartment, there in my mailbox was my first acceptance letter! I had sold a short story to HEROTICA, which was an anthology of erotic stories by women, for women. It felt like a sign from Fate that I was doing the right thing. Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels? Cecilia: I have gotten writers block, but never on a novel yet. There are times in the novels where it's hard, where it feels like the plot doesn't want to move or the characters just aren't gelling the way you want. I just force myself to go through and tell myself "it's okay if it sucks. Just get it out and you can go back and fix it later." What you learn eventually is that it's never as bad as you think at the time. I think most writers go through an "I suck" phase in every project, and you just have to trust that after doing it as long as I have, that it's not reality. Just because I feel that way, doesn't make it true! And inevitably when I go back and look at what I was working on later, I'm surprised at how good it is. Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Cecilia: The thing that probably bugs me the most is when writers actually close the door on their sex scenes or short-change them by just giving a quick summary. It's like they spend all the time building up a believable get-together between two characters...and then they cheat you out of seeing what happens. It annoys me for two reasons. One is it feels to me like it panders to conservative and sex-negative attitudes that I don't agree with, and two, it makes the assumption that once they start having sex the plot stops and characterization stops. As if once the sex starts, it's all Tab A-Slot B and therefore not interesting or relevant to the story. That's not the way it is in real life. People do talk during sex, they have revelations, they learn about each other, and the reader misses a huge chance to learn about the characters themselves! You wouldn't spend pages and pages building up a sword duel between two characters and then not describe what actually happens, would you? Would you say, oh, but it's just fighting, all I need to tell you is who won in the end, that's good enough, right? No, it's really not. Skipping the sex scene means skipping crucial aspects of characterization. I'll throw a book across the room that does that. Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclamation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.), if you have any? The Hot Streak by Cecilia TanCecilia: I really enjoy discovering what my characters are going to do. Sometimes I think I know, and then they go and do something other than what I planned, but usually once I look at how it went, I see how the way it turned out made much more sense than what I had predicted. Writing a book is as much fun as reading one a lot of the time because of that sense of discovery and finding out what happens. I always write a plot outline, but usually the second half deviates from the plan, and it always comes out even better. In my own writing, my biggest pet peeve are I can never get right the difference between "that" and "which" and between using "as if" versus "like." It's like I learned them backwards as a kid and have never been able to reverse it. Phoebe: What is the one writing tool can you not live without? Cecilia: Oh, my word processor, for sure. Without the computer and being able to type on the screen, I'd write a third of what I do, or less. Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane? Cecilia: It's always a struggle. I do not know a single writer in any genre who has "enough time to write." It helps that I have the experience to know how fast I usually write, and also how fast I can write when really pushed, so I can plan ahead. It means training myself to think about writing like a job, though, and blocking out time to do it. It also means training everyone in your life that thy have to respect your work time. Just because I work at home doesn't mean it's OK to interrupt me every 20 minutes or that I can just run off to a museum or shopping any old time. I am "at the office" just like anyone else, except my office is only five feet from my bedroom. Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing? Do you have any hobbies? Cecilia: When I want to refill my brain with new ideas and not write, I like to travel. Going places that force you to experience new things, whether new countries or just cities we haven't been to... or even going back to favorite cities again. I am also a big foodie. Going out to a fancy meal and engaging my senses completely in the taste and scent and appreciation of a fine restaurant and gourmet food really uses parts of your brain that just writing about food doesn't. I also am a second degree black belt in tae kwon do. Martial arts are another great thing for getting you "out of your head." Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Cecilia: Actually, I was lucky that I've always gotten really good advice from people, all throughout my career! My advice to someone new, though, would be find that one thing that really lights you on fire and keep writing that. Don't let people's judgments about what you "should" write get in your way. If it's a genre, if it's a type of character, if it's a type of story, it it really keeps you up at night to write it, if you'll skip meals to work on it, then that's something to grab onto and cherish. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Cecilia: Always keep making friends. Writing can be really solitary and lonely. Make connections with other writers, through the Internet, through conventions, through writers conferences, through local writing groups, the National Writers Union, etc. These are the people who not only will help you find writing gigs (and whom you'll help in return), but they are the ones who will help get you through those times when everything seems to be going wrong. This is also why it's not a good idea to burn bridges. It's a very small world out there, and you'd be surprised at how closely connected you might be with people and not realize it. Be nice, be honest, and conduct yourself with loyalty and integrity. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Cecilia: I still love fantasy and science fiction, but I have so little time to read now that I am writing full time! My latest favorite author is Naomi Novik. She writes these historical fantasy novels that are a lot like the sea stories of Patrick O'Brian. Age of sail, Horation Hornblower sort of era, but her twist is that in her world they also have dragons. They are wonderful and fascinating books, and the characters are just incredible. The first book in the series is called HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON and is just brilliant. I really liked Anne Bishop's SEBASTIAN, which was a romance and a fantasy both. And I just read a young-adult fantasy romance that blew my socks off, TITHE by Holly Black. It was everything I want from a romance and from a fantasy book in one package, and I didn't feel like I was reading a "book for kids" at all. Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Cecilia: Well, I'm desperately waiting for Book Six in the Naomi Novik dragon series. And I just saw online that Holly Black has more YA fantasy books out, so I am probably going to try to grab those as soon as I can. I also read a lot of nonfiction, though, to clear my head. I'm just finishing reading a book of essays, BEST FOOD WRITING 2007, and when I'm done with that I'm going to start on a book I just picked up which is the history of the pencil. Not kidding, it's called The Pencil, by Henry Petroski, and it's a history of the human engineering and sociological forces that developed the simple pencil and what an important role it has played in civilization. I'm sure that something I learn in there will work its way into one of my romances. I just can't predict how...

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Phoebe Jordan
I'm a part-time aspiring romance novelist, book reviewer and blogger. I've always wanted to travel the world and learn everything I can about other countries. Learning the Italian language is one way of trying to make that dream come true. Traveling will help me with my writing because I'll be learning about the history of the U.S., Latin America, England, Italy, and Ireland, the countries I find so fascinating while reading the romance genre.
 
I read and review romance novels of almost every subgenre along with erotic romance, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy and young adult novels. You can find the reviews at my blogs, Talk About My Favorite Authors and Phoebe Jordan's Reviews. I’ve also started a live podcast show called TAMFA | Phoebe Jordan hosted on Blog Talk Radio. This show is dedicated to everything I love about romance and young adult novels. I love having romance and young adult authors live on my show to be interviewed and showcase their books.

I plan to write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance, paranormal romance and young adult when I get my writing career started with help from Keta. I'm not sure what genre I'll write to begin with since I love to read so many different romance genres.
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