Monday, February 25, 2008

Introverted Writers, Promo Rock and Upcoming "First Sale Stories"

Funny about labels. I always knew I was weird. I'm the kind of person who appears to be an extrovert -- I can get up and sing or present or talk -- but the truth is that I'm incredibly introverted. Painfully shy in some situations. A basket case. Put me in a room filled with people I don't know and I zoom to the nearest corner, where I huddle until I can flee the area. Some of the intense reaction comes from my ability to sense (and be overwhelmed by) energy. You'd think that after so many years of dealing with this issue -- studying it, contemplating it, living it -- I'd have a handle on it. Not so.

Doing book signing events alone is torture.

I went to a lovely event tonight. A networking thing. Several writer types in Boulder organized a networking event at a wine bar. I made my way to the table closest to the wall, where I sat and gathered friendly faces. Instead of walking around, schmoozing, I sat perched on my seat, enjoying the company of people I already knew. I've lived in Boulder for so long, and have been "out there" as far as advertising my various services, that I've now managed (despite my social strangeness) to accumulate many acquaintances. I'm really appreciating them tonight.

And, I'm finally starting to accept my eccentricities. It's okay that I'm shy (terrified? anxiety-riddled?).

We all do what we can.

Last night I met with 3 other author/musicians. We jammed on old rock tunes and had a fine time. It's possible the author band might actually become a reality. Fingers crossed. It would be so much fun to perform at various conferences. Sign me up!

Also, more "First Sale Stories" are in the works. Stay tuned . . .

Are you an introverted writer?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And a good time was had by all . . .

Melissa Mayhue and I had a wonderful time yesterday, meeting, greeting and signing books at Borders Books in Longmont, Colorado. It was a grand day!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Excerpts from "Undead in the City" and "The Vampire Shrink"

Here's an excerpt from "Undead in the City," written under my pen name, Hera St. Aubyn. I wrote a few "erotic paranormal romances" under an assumed name, because I thought my therapy clients would be discombobulated by finding out their therapist wrote spicy tales. That was before I discovered what the range of erotic paranormal romance actually was. Let's just say I discovered mine was tame in comparison. But I really enjoyed writing this novella. While Kismet Knight, Ph.D., (the heroine of THE VAMPIRE SHRINK) is an idealized version of my therapeutic persona, the main female character in this book is based on my years as a musician in Detroit. I thought that photo of cool shoes and the electric guitar was a perfect fit for Tempest.

A burst of frigid air hit Tempest as the front door opened. Thinking a few more customers might be braving the sudden ice age to show up for the last set, she was disappointed to see only a solitary man step inside. He shook his hair away from his face, sending a shower of melting snow down the walls, and straightened the collar on his coat. The entryway was directly in front of her at the far end of the club, and luckily, there were a lot of overhead lights, so she got a good look at the new arrival. Even with his long, dark hair snow-covered, wet, and plastered against his shoulders, she felt her breath catch -- and not from the cold air. He had to be the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. Tall, with light skin and piercing eyes. She appreciated the cut of his leather duster and suspected it was high dollar. What the hell was a fancy number like him doing in a crap hole like this? Maybe he was another one of those mafia jerks. They were always showing up to extort one kind of payment or another.

Hidden in the darkness of the stage, she followed him with her eyes as he strode purposefully to the booth tucked back in the far corner. The bartender, along with every other life form in the smoky room, had gone completely still as the newcomer passed. Pausing next to the booth, the man removed his coat, shaking it to dislodge the melting snow and ice. A smile spread across Tempest’s face as she noted the form-fitting leather pants and muscle-hugging, light-colored t-shirt he wore under the expensive coat. It didn’t take much creativity to imagine how it would feel to run her hands over that muscled expanse, but Tempest had creativity and imagination in abundance. So much, that her body stirred in satisfied anticipation of the unexpected possibility that had just magically offered itself for later that night. She would’ve been happy to bounce on Stan again, but as far as men went, new was always better than familiar. She’d learned that the best thing about her looks was being able to use them to pick up any guy she wanted. Pitiful that males were so easily controlled, but it was just as well, since she so enjoyed being in charge.

She watched the handsome stranger fold himself into the booth, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Chaz, the bartender, spring from behind the bar. The previously laid-back -- read stoned -- fellow practically fell over his own feet in his frantic attempt to reach the leather man. He hovered near the booth, wringing his hands, nodding energetically at whatever the new customer was saying. Chaz finally pointed toward the pay phone near the shelves of liquor and speed-walked in that direction, leaving the man alone.

Tempest realized she’d been holding her breath during Chaz’s strange performance. Of course, she’d only met the bartender that day, so she had no idea what his normal behaviors were. But still, the vibe he gave off around the stud muffin was unusual, almost as if he was afraid or something. She could feel the thrum of his anxiety from her observation post. No surprise, really. Most of the businesses in the inner city were mob controlled. Maybe the eye candy in the booth was high-up on the motherfucker feeding chain. She smirked. A lesser woman might take a pass on rolling around with a member of The Family, but she always enjoyed a challenge. None of the assholes had gotten the upper hand with her yet, and she felt confident she could call the shots with this yummy specimen, too.

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Here's a snippet of a scene between Psychologist Kismet Knight and the gorgeous, 800-year-old vampire Devereux, who has shown up at her house. She's dressed in her pjs and Miss Piggy slippers.

I’d just poured a glass of liquid bliss in the form of white wine when the doorbell rang.

I turned on the porch light and squinted through the peep hole. Either there wasn’t anyone there, or my visitor was hiding out of view. Or some other option I didn’t even want to think about.

After the events of the last week, none of the possibilities were good news.

I chose the “when in doubt, do nothing” approach and was rewarded by a repeat performance of the doorbell tones.

Leaving the chain engaged, I cracked open the door barely enough to scan a small area, which basically wasn’t in the least helpful. I still couldn’t see anyone there.

I was just about to close the door, when it occurred to me I should ask an obvious question.
“Who’s there?”

“It is I, Kismet. Devereux. Please let me in.”

Devereux? If it was Devereux, why was he ringing the doorbell? Why didn’t he just pop in unannounced, uninvited, as always? Why didn’t he simply swoop in like an intrusive bat and snatch me off to another creepy-crawly adventure?

“Why are you here?”

I was batting a thousand with Questions for Dummies.

“I have come to make love to you.”

“What?” I croaked. Couldn’t say I’d heard that one before.

Since I was still staring at the floor in front of my door, I recognized the black leather boots that stepped into my line of vision.

I raised my eyes but could only see more black and a flash of what could’ve been blond hair.

Apparently, he could also see the floor on the other side of the door because he said, his voice oozing amusement, “What are you wearing on your feet?”

I glanced down at the dual Miss Piggys and felt the need to defend them. Her?

“None of your business. What do you really want?” Although, I had to admit I’d rather enjoyed the previous answer.

“I spoke the truth. I have come to make love to you. Please open the door.”

How arrogant! And you just assume that’s okay with me? That I’m just going to open the door and make another deal with the devil? That I’m even remotely interested in having sex with you after our last trip to the Twilight Zone?

“How do I know it’s really you? You usually materialize out of thin air.”

“As you wish.”

I heard that familiar little pop sound, felt a rush of air and suddenly knew he was behind me. I turned, hands on my hips.

“Hey! That wasn’t an invitation!”

A dazzling smile spread across his face. “You forget I have that handy little mind reading ability.”

He bowed from the waist, wearing a variation of his usual leather-god outfit. “I rang the doorbell because I thought you would prefer me to enter your home the normal, human way. I understand you are weary of the drama that has taken over your life. I do not wish to contribute any further to your discomfort.”

He brought his hands around from behind him. They held a huge bouquet of pink roses and a ludicrously large box of chocolates.

“Gifts for you, my love.”

He bent forward and brushed my lips lightly with his. The familiar, delicious scent of him took my nostrils hostage and my lips instinctively puckered in anticipation of more of the same.

He burst out laughing.

“You have pigs on your feet!”

He thrust the roses and box of chocolates into my hands, scooped me up into his arms and walked us over to the couch. As soon as he was seated with me on his lap, he reached over and lifted my feet, inspecting the colorful porcine coverings.

“I have never seen such a thing. Do modern humans wear all animals on their feet or only pigs?”

The longer he stared at the fluffy piggy shoes, the harder he laughed. He thumped the snout with his thumb and first finger and pulled on the tail.

As annoying as it was to be laughed at, something about his mirth was infectious and I found myself chuckling, which eventually gave way to snorts and belly laughs.

Once again, whatever resolve I’d built up against Devereux had leaked away in direct proportion to the number of minutes I spent gazing at his perfect face. It was a waste of time for me to argue that I was immune to his charm, or his eyes, or whatever it was that caused my normal inhibitions to catch the first plane outta town.

At some point I must have put the flowers and chocolates on the coffee table, because my arms were free to ensnare his neck. Which then led to my being flat on my back in my Freud pjs and my piggy shoes with an absurdly gorgeous vampire on top of me, attached at the lips.

So much for a quiet, relaxing evening.

We made out like teenagers on the couch.

As always with Devereux, I couldn’t stop touching him. Couldn’t run my fingers through his long, silky, aromatic hair enough. Couldn’t feast on his lips even remotely enough. Couldn’t imagine anything more important than having him inside me.

Even counting my close call with Alan, I hadn’t technically had intercourse for two years and the muscles in my vagina contracted in gleeful, moist anticipation.

He lifted his hot mouth from mine long enough to whisper, “Will you invite me to your bed, my love?”

Geez, the guy’s voice should be a registered weapon. It could take you down in three seconds.

“What happened to all the mind reading? I’ve been sending out the welcome committee for the last thirty minutes.”

He raised himself up just enough so I could see his smile. “I know, but it is important to me to hear the words from your own sweet lips.”

He somehow managed to lift himself off the couch in a flowing motion while scooping me up at the same time.

“Shall we?”

He carried me up the stairs, the twin Piggies bobbing up and down, but my mind was no longer on footwear. In fact, my entire brain was focused on the fastest way to get us both naked.

(to be continued . . .)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Writing the second book in a series: Why is it harder? (Or, is it just me?)

Technically, I'm still writing the second book in my Vampire Psychologist series. My deadline (extended, because I had massive resistance to finishing this book) is this Saturday. It's now do or die (so to speak).

My experience of working on this second book has been totally different from writing the first.

I think, because I simply didn't know any better after I switched from writing nonfiction to fiction a few years ago, I just wrote what I wanted and then had good crit partners and positive feedback from various agents and publishers to encourage me. I sailed through the process, oblivious. Really oblivious.

I read something JK Rowling said about writing her second book, and how (of course hers is a trillion times more scary a process) she had writer's block for 5 weeks while trying to write the second book in her series. She said all the publicity, reviews, etc. about her first book had paralyzed her. She was afraid the second wouldn't live up to, or would be treated more harshly than, the first had been (her Harry Potter series definitely wasn't universally loved -- especially at first).

On a microscopic level, that's what happened to me.

I've talked about reviews in another post, and how I had an initial wave of good ones, then a few others showed up. While I expected a wide range of feedback on an intellectual level, I found myself contracting. Losing confidence. Becoming creatively constipated.

As my first deadline (the one that got extended) approached, I became more and more cautious in my writing. I was trying to write by committee. Soon, I couldn't even sit in front of the computer.

I've gone back and forth between holding true to my vision of my characters, the tone of the story, my genre-blending tendencies and trying to please others. Let me tell you, that's ulcer material.

Then, factor in a cover for my second book that might cause confusion, and I'm popping Rolaids like candy.

Did any of this happen to you? Were there differences in your process of creating books #1 and #2 in a series? Any suggestions for coping? (grin)

Okay. Stop blogging, Lynda, and finish the book.

UPDATE: Feb. 7, 2008, I FINISHED!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Psychologist Kismet Knight, Ph.D. Answers Your Questions

Psychologist Kismet Knight, Ph.D., main character of THE VAMPIRE SHRINK, is here to answer your questions.

What do you want to know? What burning psychological questions are festering in your mind?

Keep in mind that she's not only a qualified therapist who can address your life issues. She also specializes in vampires.

She'll be checking in throughout the next few days.

The doctor is in . . .