Archive for April, 2010

Cover Cafe Annual Cover Contest

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Cover Cafe is hosting the 2009 Cover Contest (formerly hosted by All About Romance). If you want to weigh in on which covers should win their categories, hop on over and take a gander. Categories “covered” include Alternate Reality, the Two-Image Cover, Historical, Contemporary, Series, and Worst Cover.

As an author, I didn’t vote for Worst Cover. Authors have little to zero control over their cover art, and I don’t feel it’s good sportsmanship for writers to bash each others’ covers. Readers, however, that’s another story. A reader voting on a Worst Cover might give a heads-up to that particular publisher’s art department to, um, try another tact. Or is that tack? Hmm…

You need to provide your name and email address when you vote, and you need to vote in a minimum of three categories for your votes to be eligible. So if you don’t want to do any of those things…you can look and wonder at and mock to your heart’s contest, but you can’t vote.

Oh, if you wish, you can also provide the reason you love or hate the cover you choose to win a particular category. A little box pops up for this purpose. Plus, here’s a link to the Dear Publisher blog, where you can leave more general comments about the covers.

Do You RT?

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The Romantic Times Booklovers Convention starts tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio. I won’t be there. I’ve never attended an RT convention. Have you? Are you attending this year? If so, shouldn’t you be traveling and not reading this blog?

I can’t decide if I ever do want to attend RT, should the schedule and location ever work for me. Yes, I kinda want to find out what all the fuss is about. You can take agent and editor appointments at RT like you can at RWA National. At least one of my publishers has a presence at RT. RT is more focused on readers—right? RWA is focused on writers.

I find the locations of the RT conventions difficult to budget for. Coming from Canada ups the cost and travel time. RWA conferences are in my relative neck of the woods every few years. I can’t remember RT ever being on the West coast. If an RT conference were scheduled for the West coast, then, yes, I might attend.

The end of April is another bugaboo. I just returned Saturday evening from a whirlwind trip of picking up Eldest Son at university, so I was already worn out. My mom’s birthday was Sunday. This Friday is my father-in-law’s birthday, and this year it’s a major milestone. Two weeks later is E.S.’s birthday. Oh, and Mother’s Day. Oh, and I’m expecting my fourth great-niece or nephew to pop out any time now.

For me, end of April – middle of May is always insanely busy. Dismissing the family birthdays situation, it’s when I slap back on my Mom-Academic University Counsellor hat. The mere idea of traveling to a conference in the midst of all that wears me out.

So, tell me, despite all the apparent obstacles in my way, should I make it my goal to attend RT some year? If you haven’t attended yet, would you like to? What’s holding you back? If you have attended before, would you attend again? Which conference provides the most bang for your buck as an author—RT or RWA?

Bombs Away?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I love this picture. I took it in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico in January. I actually took a series of pictures—you know, with the shutter automatically snapping so you don’t miss the perfect shot? This pelican was on a fishing expedition, and I caught him just before he plunged into the water. I was so proud of myself.

So I set up the picture with others from that trip as revolving wallpaper on my computer. My Liege walks by and says, “Who just shot that bird?” Groan. To him, the picture looks like a dead pelican about to flop into the water. Or…he said it did. He might have been pulling my leg. If I asked him now, I’d probably get a different answer, because he lives to torment me. Honest. He’s admitted this. But I’m up to the challenge. I torment him more!

Anyway, your turn. Caption this photo for me. Does it say “Bombs Away!” to you? Or “Agghhhhhh-Gurk!” Or something else altogether? Show me your creativity.

The winner gets the satisfaction of knowing they’re more clever than anyone else.

Left-Brain Brain Drain

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

@&^*^@%@$@!%@!))&%#$#$

That’s what’s left of my brain.

I didn’t write or revise one word yesterday. Not one word of my work-in-progress, at any rate. Business letters? Yep, drafted and edited those. Sold stocks on-line. Paid complex bill. Examined very confusing credit card company statements for my dh’s business. Tried to prepare a year-end for another, thankfully simpler business (record keeping only, not the bookkeeping, thank God—I hire out Little Pisser for that) for the accountant. Of course I ran into roadblocks. Of course! Why? Because I can deal with numbers. I do taxes for myself, my dh, and both of our kids. I still do taxes by hand, not using software, because I’m convinced the evil software will try to trick me. That I won’t make as many mistakes filling out the forms by hand.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I can deal with numbers, but I DON’T REMEMBER numbers. My brain doesn’t like numbers. My brain likes letters. When I woke up from my one and only surgery thirteen years ago (not counting my C-sections, because I was awake for them), what looked like pages and pages and pages and pages of words were flipping in front of my eyes. I tried to catch what they said (might have been the secrets to the universe), but no luck. Unfortunately, everything I did yesterday, and in fact everything I did over the weekend, required my brain to remember numbers. So I wouldn’t have to GO OVER SOMETHING FOR THE EIGHTEENTH TIME. Or phone Little Pisser while she’s very sick and ask her to repeat something to me about numbers that she told me in the fall. Something I wrote down in WORD FORM so I would remember it. But then some crafty little devil took over and scratched out some of my words and wrote down numbers in their place. Different numbers! I know by the handwriting that the crafty little devil was me. But I do not know why I changed the numbers.

Thanks to Little Pisser, that particular task is back on track.

The year-end would be ready for the accountant except I realized at the last minute that I was missing one document that, in over a dozen years, would have reached me in the mail by now. So…year-end postponed until next week, when I’ve been assured the document will arrive.

All family taxes are done (and a check written to the Receiver General in one case :::sob:::) with the exception of Eldest Son’s. For some reason, he didn’t receive an information slip when he should have (weeks ago). Early last week, I called the Lady in Charge of Such Things, and she told me The Company in Charge of The Information Slip said they had already mailed out the slip. Tough toodles, because I don’t have it. “Not to worry,” LICOST told me. “They just sent out another. I was hoping you’d got it already. Keep an eye on the mail, because it will get there any day.” That was, oh, several days ago. The slip has not graced our mailbox. And taxes are due April 30th.

I’m giving it until Monday and then LICOST will have to call TCICOTIS for me and get the information to fill into the appropriate spots on the income tax form.

Mercury Retrograde, anyone?

Well. I’m glad yesterday is over. I set out to accomplish all the number-oriented tasks in one day, and, by gum, I nearly met my goal! Accomplishing all such tasks in one day is very important to me, because I find it incredibly difficult to devote the morning to numbers and then the afternoon to words. And if I start the morning with words, sorry, numbers, you ain’t getting my attention at all that day. Because I know once I start doing number stuff, that messes up my word brain and then there goes any writing at all. 

Can you write for part of the day and do :::shudder::: number stuff in the other part? Little Pisser tells me she has no problem doing number stuff in the morning and then gardening in the afternoon. But gardening doesn’t involve spelling, and she’s a bookkeeper, so…

I am deficient. Not morally, just numerically. How about you?

Men With Fangs

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

By Alexis Morgan

I have something to confess.You know, just between you and me. Here goes: I seriously love a man who has fangs and knows how to use them. This  isn’t a new thing for me, either. I’ve loved vampire stories since I was a teenager watching Dark Shadows while I worked at my summer job. Barnabas Collins. After all these years, he still gives me chills—the good kind. 

The next vampire I remember stealing a piece of my heart was Don Ysidro from Barbara Hambly’s Those Who Hunt the Night. He wasn’t the hero in the book, but he sure dominated the story for me. He’d almost forgotten what it had meant to be human, but over the course of the book he rediscovers his code of honor. When the story ended, I worried about him, wanted to know how he did. It was years before she wrote the sequel, but I was so glad she did.

Then there was Andre Le Brel, the sexy vampire in Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde series. We first met him in The Children of the Night when his and Diana Tregarde are both hunting for the same villain and team up. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since I’ve read those stories. I’ll have to dig out my copies and remind myself why I’ve kept them all these years.

I’ve loved watching the vampire evolve over the years from pure evil to heroic. Granted, in some stories, they are still the bad guys, but they don’t always stay that way. Spike, anyone? But part of what I love about vampire stories is all the amazing ways writers have taken the basic mythology and tweaked it to make it their own. I love Stefan in Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson’s series. He’s a soldier with a soldier’s honor and sense of duty. Works for me. Then there’s Zsadist in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. His story left me absolutely stunned. My list of favorites could go on and on.

Which brings me to VAMPIRE VENDETTA, my first full-length vampire book. I had such fun creating my own version of what it means to be vampire. In my world, there are pureblooded vampires, hybrids called chancellors, and then the humans. The hybrids are sometimes looked down by both humans and vampires, but actually the chancellors are the strongest of the three. They have the strength of vampires but none of the limitations. They can move freely in the sunlight and don’t need blood to live. 

Oh, and they have those fangs. Works for me. Back in November, I did a Nocturne Bite starring Ambrose O’Brien, the head Chancellor to give readers a taste of my new series. Now, In VAMPIRE VENDETTA, Seamus Fitzhugh is a pureblood vampire on a mission to avenge his family honor only love with a hybrid chancellor gets in the way. I love a wounded soul hero who at long last finds something—or someone—that makes him remember what happiness feels like.

So if you’re a fan of the fang, who was your first? Who’s your  favorite? I’d love to know.

***

Leave a comment or question for Alexis to enter to win VAMPIRE VENDETTA. If you’re reading this post through a feed on Facebook, Goodreads, or another social network, please visit the comment trail at www.museinterrupted.com to be eligible for the draw.

To read Alexis’s bio and the cover blurb for VAMPIRE VENDETTA, see yesterday’s post. To learn more about Alexis and her books, check out her website at www.alexismorgan.com.

Alexis Morgan Guest Blogs Tomorrow!

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Paranormal romance author Alexis Morgan visits Muse Interrupted tomorrow! Alexis is blogging about “Men with Fangs” and will give away a copy of her May 2010 Silhouette Nocture, VAMPIRE VENDETTA.

About VAMPIRE VENDETTA:

Hell hath no fury like a passion-hungry vampire bent on justice in Alexis Morgan’s sexy new saga.

As the lone survivor of his vampire clan, Seamus Fitzhugh lives only for revenge. And now that he’s infiltrated the compound of his enemy his chance has come…until he rescues a stunning hybrid from certain death. Megan Perez is a woman on the run from her own demons, and she’s a distraction that could cost them both their lives. But the passion that burns between them is too hot to ignore, and not even the threat of danger can keep them apart. 

Now their fates are intertwined—for better or worse—as they risk everything to experience the ultimate sensual release as evil closes in all around them. Seamus must weigh how far he will go in the pursuit of vengeance…or love.

About Alexis:

Alexis Morgan grew up near St. Louis and received a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She and her husband have made the Pacific Northwest their home for more than thirty years, where she launched her career as a writer. She is published in contemporary romance, American West historicals, and currently writes paranormal romances for Pocket Star and Silhouette Nocturne.

To learn more about Alexis and her books, please visit her website.

Casting Stephanie Plum

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Seeing as I got on a movie-talk roll last week… Let’s continue it, shall we?

As most Stephanie Plum (of the Janet Evanovich novels) fans have undoubtedly heard by now, Katherine Heigl (Izzy on Grey’s Anatomy) has been signed to play the much beloved Plum character in the film version of ONE FOR THE MONEY. If you do a bit of searching on the ‘Net, the choice of Heigl has created a bit of an uproar. It doesn’t much matter to me, because I haven’t kept up with the book series. I read the first book and loved it, but I didn’t discover the books until Ms. Evanovich was already on book 5 or 6 or 7 in the series, and I already knew from a discussion on a writers’ listserve that…

(In the event you don’t already know this spoiler and don’t want to know, don’t highlight the white bit below. If you do highlight it, the spoiler will appear in blue print or something. And, no, I have no idea if this works on the Facebook or Goodreads feeds for this blog).

…I already know from a discussion on a writers’ listserve that… (highlight next portion if you already know the spoiler).

The Joe Vs. Ranger issue still had not been resolved by book 5, 6, or 7, whichever was currently on shelves at the time.

So, I read book 1 (ONE FOR THE MONEY), loved it, and promptly went out and bought books 2 and 3. I can’t recall if I ever finished book 2, but I know I didn’t finish book 3. The idea of having to read all those books and still the relationship question was hanging in the air was just too daunting for me. Now, I make certain, when I hear about a great series like this, to either (a) stick my fingers in my ears and holler, Na-na-a-boo-boo! whenever people start discussing romantic plot issues or (b) start reading the series when it first appears and keep up with the books as the author puts them out.

I must admit, however, back when I read Book 1, Katherine Heigl did not jump out at me as an obvious Stephanie Plum choice. One could argue that when I read Book 1 Katherine Heigl had not yet been cast on Grey’s, in fact I had never heard of her, so how could I possibly imagine her as Stephanie?

Whatever. Who DID I imagine as Stephanie? Sandra Bullock and/or Marisa Tomei. However, I suppose both actresses are “too old” by Hollywood standards to play Stephanie now.

Whatever, Katherine has been signed.

Are you a Stephanie Plum fan? How do you feel about KH as the lead character? Will you go see the movie? Will it ruin it for you? Do you just not care?

In my understanding, Ranger and Joe Morelli have not been cast yet. At least my puny Internet search didn’t turn them up. So let’s take this one step further. Now that you know KH has been cast as Stephanie, who would you like to see playing Ranger and Joe along with her?

If you could choose an actress to play Stephanie and then choose your own Ranger and Joe, who would you choose?

I can’t remember enough about Ranger and Joe to decide. So please play the casting game for me, my lovelies. Play!

Amazon to Open Canadian Warehouse

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

As a Canadian published with an American micro-press, I, for one (two or three if you count my other personalities), am glad Amazon has finally been given the go-ahead to open a fulfillment warehouse in Canada. You can read the story here.

Until now, the trade paperback editions of my Amber Quill Press books were only available from American Amazon. Which meant Canadians either had to pay more for a copy of one of my books (depending on the exchange rates, which, until recently, sucked), or had to pay more for shipping, or maybe suffer a cost for the book to cross the border. Whatever. They had to pay more. Now, I honestly don’t know if Amazon opening a Canadian fulfillment warehouse means that searching for Cindy Procter-King on www.amazon.ca will eventually cough up search results for new copies of my books, but I’m hopeful. A lot more hopeful than I was two days ago, at any rate. Whether or not it actually happens is up to Amazon and my publisher, not me.

Right now you can buy used copies of the first edition of HEAD OVER HEELS from Canadian Amazon for exorbitant amounts, but not new copies. Not that I don’t think I’m important (the odd day, I do), but $40 or $60 for a used copy of one of my books? It makes no sense.

Please, anyone who thinks they might be doing me a favor by buying one of these used copies off Canadian Amazon, you won’t. Authors don’t make a dime, or even a penny, off the sale of used books. That the prices are ludicrously high…to me, it’s laughable. No wonder those used copies never sell. And I hope they never do. What a rip-off—for me and the reader.

I love ordering books on-line. I order from Canadian Amazon or Chapters—whichever site has the best deal for the books I want at the time. I always wait until I have an order over $39 so I can get free shipping. Yes, I’m cheap that way. And the thought that Canadian readers might eventually be able to take advantage of the same opportunity with my books tickles me.

Well, I don’t know that my books will ever be available on Chapters. That’s another issue. For now, I’m happy with the possibility of directing readers to other-than-a-buy-used-for-a-hefty-price-cindypk page on Amazon.ca.

As soon as I learn more, you can bet you’ll find the news here.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my “buy from author” option open on my website.

Got A Mad-On For Nicholas Sparks?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

For every romance writer who currently has a mad-on for Nicholas Sparks because of his perceived arrogance, here’s a link to funny instructions on How to Write a Nicholas Sparks Movie on cracked.com. First, read this quote from The News-Herald Blogs, and then read the funny instructions. Well, I think they’re funny.

Quote from News-Herald Blogs:

“I don’t write romance novels.” His preferred terminology: “Love stories — it’s a very different genre … (Romances) are all essentially the same story: You’ve got a woman, she’s down on her luck, she meets the handsome stranger who falls desperately in love with her, but he’s got these quirks, she must change him, and they have their conflicts, and then they end up happily ever after.”

Mr. Sparks says he doesn’t write romance novels. I’ve never read one of his novels, but I have watched a couple of movie versions, and he’s right. He doesn’t write romance novels. He does write “love stories.” There’s no guarantee that a love story will end happily. Love Story didn’t. Bridges of Madison County didn’t. And neither do Nicholas Sparks’s novels.

Romance novels do end happily.

Wouldn’t it be nice if some “love stories” did? Otherwise, the love stories just get predicable. Don’t they?

Whether Mr. Sparks writes formulaic fiction is something I can’t address with any degree of authority…because I haven’t read his books. I have to admit, though, that having at least one character die at the end of the movie version of every story a writer pens does sound somewhat formulaic to moi.

The article on cracked.com points out several other “essentially the same story”isms. If you need a laugh, check it out.

So, why do you think Nicholas Sparks books get made into movies while the vast, vast, vast majority of romance novels don’t? Is it because people die in his books, so they aren’t “formulaic”? Is it because leaving the audience crying throughout a movie version of one of your books is cathartic for them? Is it because he’s a man writing books mainly intended for a female audience, instead of being a woman writing books mainly intended for a female audience?

I rather think it’s the latter. But then I’m jaded.

Why I Don’t Watch Scary Movies

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
  1. They scare the crap out of me.
  2. I’m gullible (hence #1).

I should have known better…

Oh, caution. This post is full of spoilers. If you don’t want to read spoilers for the movie, The Fourth Kind, don’t read this post. If you do read this post, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Last week my husband had a birthday. I took him out to dinner to celebrate (and also so  I wouldn’t have to cook). We had a marvelous meal and a marvelous time. When we came home, he wanted to rent a movie. He settled on THE FOURTH KIND. “Okay,” I said. I thought it was a werewolf movie. Humans could be the first kind, vampires the second, something I hadn’t thought of yet could be the third, and werewolves could be the fourth kind. Not so. “The Fourth Kind” refers to alien abductions (as in abducting humans, not getting abducted themselves). We rented it through something called Video on Demand on our PVR, which isn’t a very good service, IMO. Yes, you can pause the movie, but other features are glitchy. I’ll stick to my regular renting channels from now on, thanks.

Back to my point (if I had one). You see, I never watch scary movies because of #1 and #2. I tend to operate under the assumption that people are telling me the truth. Thus, when my husband, at 19, told me he “played the organ,” I thought he meant the muscial instrument. He thought he was being cleverly rude.

Don’t ask me why I thought I could handle a werewolf movie (I can’t). Let’s just say that I love my husband a great deal and wanted to make him happy by watching the movie with him. Of course, he kept falling asleep, leaving me glued to the TV kind of alone.

The Fourth Kind opens with the main actress telling you the story is based on real events, that she’s playing this real person, and that “archival footage” of psychology interview tapes and the like are interspersed throughout the movie along with the dramatic interpretations. Okay, I think, sounds kind of nifty.

The DH should have known better. He’s seen The Blair Witch Project. I haven’t. And I never will.

Basically, the archival footage in The Fourth Kind scared the stuffing out of me. I couldn’t sleep that night, or the next night. Finally, on the third day, I woke up with this niggling suspicion about one of the “archival footage” pieces in the movie. It shows a man killing his wife and committing suicide, and it plays while the dramatic version of the event also plays on a split screen. While watching the movie, yes, it did occur to me that it was odd that the police released this footage to the movie producers, or that extended family would ever allow such a thing. But the movie continued and I bought it all for reasons I won’t go into here. Let’s just say I’ve heard alien abduction stories before.

Upon waking, I ran to “the Google” and searched for whether the “archival footage” in the movie is real. And it’s not.

So there, I’ve ruined the movie for you. However, it might be fun to watch it anyway and laugh and giggle at all the places in the movie, where, in retrospect, the actors are telling the viewer not to believe what they are seeing (but Cindy got mightily scared anyway). Clues are strewn all over the place. However, no way am I watching the movie again to list those clues! Just clicking the link for the movie website and having the little video play scares me. Which is why I’m writing this post in the bright light of day. Even though I now know events in the movie are NOT based on real events that occurred in Nome, Alaska in 2000, my imagination still gets the better of me. And off into dreamland I do not go.

Do you watch scary movies? Have you seen The Fourth Kind? Did you buy into the “archival footage”? Or am I, as they say, a moron?