Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dark Harvest a finalist in the Colorado Authors League "Top Hand" Awards, Genre Fiction AND Colorado Romance Writers Conference, 5/1 & 5/2, Denver

I got an excellent email this morning, telling me that DARK HARVEST is a finalist in the Colorado Authors League "Top Hand" Award, Genre Fiction. The winners will be selected at the CAL banquet on May 19. You can read about it here:

Here's the info on the wonderful Colorado Romance Writers conference in Denver this Friday and Saturday:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Guest Blogger: Jeri Smith-Ready

The winner of Jeri's book is: The Ink Gypsy! Congrats! Send me your contact information and I'll pass it along to Jeri. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Urban fantasy worldbuilding: a place like ours, or not

We usually associate the daunting word “worldbuilding” with science fiction or traditional fantasy, where an idea becomes a system of rules and details that astound us with their complexity and completeness. But the same rigor must also be applied to urban fantasy. While traditional fantasy usually involves an invented world—think Middle Earth or Narnia—urban/contemporary fantasy is by definition set in a world we recognize. It might be a well-known city like Las Vegas, or it might be a place that doesn’t exist but feels real, like Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Even in urban fantasy, these visions of “our world” can vary. They can be identical to the one we know, where the supernatural remains secret; or a parallel world, in which magic is integrated into society. As it so happens, I write one of each, so I’ll try to describe some of the challenges I’ve faced.

My WVMP RADIO series (WICKED GAME and next month’s BAD TO THE BONE) is solidly set in our world. The truth about vampires, including the station’s disc jockeys, is hidden from the public (though it is eventually used as a marketing gimmick). Therefore, their existence has not changed the world we know. The only addition is a covert paramilitary organization known as the International Agency for the Control and Management of Undead Corporeal Entities (aka the Control), which works with federal agencies in various nations at top levels of secrecy.

I incorporate real-life details such as music, technology, and even sports. In BAD TO THE BONE, the actual November 5, 2007, Steelers-Ravens football game plays a role in one of the subplots. I worked the game into the backdrop of a dramatic scene, and the final score sharpens the rivalry between Shane and David. (In real life, I was heartbroken at the Ravens’ crushing defeat, but then realized, “Hey, I can use this!” Great art comes from great pain. ;-)

The characters’ close ties to the real world allows them to step out of the books into our reality. They might even, oh, hypothetically speaking, have MySpace and Twitter accounts. They can communicate with readers about current events and music, because they share our culture.

To build this series’ world, I must decide which real-life elements to include. Which kinds of events are relevant to the characters? In BAD TO THE BONE, a single football game causes a cascade of conflict and confusion.

On the other side, how much of Ciara and Shane’s world should be brought into our domain? Does their online reader interaction enhance the world building, or could “breaking the fourth wall” make their fictional world feel less special?

My other project is a young adult urban fantasy series, which will begin in 2010. It takes place in our world (Baltimore, which many people think already exists in a parallel universe), and also mentions modern music. But this world has one major addition: the heroine (Aura) and everyone younger can see ghosts, due to a mysterious event called the Shift, which took place at her birth.

Proof of the supernatural sends shock waves through Aura’s society, even for those who can’t see them—i.e., anyone seventeen and older. The government forms the Department of Metaphysical Purity (DMP, whose agents are colloquially called “dumpers”). An obsidian-based technology called BlackBox™ is developed to keep ghosts out of sensitive areas such as bathrooms and military buildings.

To build this fictional world, I had to decide how much of our world would change over the course of sixteen ghost-filled years. Adults would be slow to adapt and accept the new reality, especially since they can’t experience ghosts directly. This reluctance would manifest in religions clinging to the old ways, or pop culture fetishizing ghosts in a cynical attempt at profit. The youngest generation would feel isolated and misunderstood by the larger world. They wouldn’t have the influence to mold their culture—yet.

So in building this world I have to think about how the two vastly different segments of society would react to the existence and presence of ghosts. One would fall into denial and paranoia, and the other would find ways to adapt, since they have no other choice.

Along with a few other individual, the heroine Aura is determined to discover why the Shift occurred in the first place, maybe even figure out how to reverse it. Until her boyfriend dies and becomes a ghost.

I hope that in my own rambly way, I’ve helped illustrate a few of the different challenges involved in urban fantasy worldbuilding. Turns out, it’s just as complicated as any other kind.


To enter to win the last Advance Review Copy of BAD TO THE BONE (release date May 19), just leave a comment below. It can be about worldbuilding either from the perspective of a reader or a writer, or a reaction to what I’ve written above.

Or, you can suggest a title for my YA series. I am desperately seeking a name, both for the series and for Book One, so any help would be very appreciated!

A name will be drawn at random on Wednesday evening, April 29, and posted here.

Jeri can be found on all the internets, including:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Romantic Times Convention, Orlando, FL, April 21-26

I'll be winging my way to Orlando tomorrow for the Romantic Times convention. If you're going to be attending, please come and say hello! I tend to be shy in large crowds, so if you see me cowering in a corner (or sitting with my nose buried in a book in a restaurant) please come over and say hi. I love meeting other book fanatics.

I'll be here:

TUE 7 pm
I'm hoping to join other FF&P writers for dinner (I think at the Golden Corral)

WED 10:30-11:30
Vampire Panel
VAMPIRE: A BITE WITH A TWIST: INFUSING NEW BLOOD IN THE VAMPIRE GENRE: A discussion about transfusing blood from other genres to keep vampires flourishing. Examine the cross-genre vampire novels of today with some of the genre's top authors.
Moderator: Caridad Pineiro Panelists: Lynda Hilburn, Jeaniene Frost, Jaye Wells, Mario Acevedo

WED 5:30-7:30
I'm going to try to attend the FF&P Happy Hour Gathering

THURS 10:30-11 and 3-3:30
I'll be at a table in Club RT

Book Signing!

I look forward to meeting as many old/new friends as possible!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

First Place, Lories Best Published Contest, Book Trailer and Weekend Events

I'll be here:

Saturday, April 18, 10-4, Carbon Valley Regional Library Author Event, Firestone, CO

Sunday, April 19, 1-3, Author Open House, Englewood Public Library, Englewood, CO


I just got this from the contest coordinator:

It is with great pleasure I inform you that your novel, Dark Harvest, has taken First Place in the Mainstream category of The Lories Best Published Contest. We had a wonderful turnout for the Mainstream group this year and you should be proud of your accomplishment. On behalf of From The Heart Romance Writers, you will receive an e-certificate and e-logo.

Your winning novel will be sent to Debbie Meredith, Romance Manager at The Bookstore, for ranking alongside the seven other First Place category winners in The Lories Best Published Contest. Final rankings will be announced on or around June 5th with the Grand Prize Winner being awarded the conference registration of his/her choice.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Guest Blogger: Barbara Sheridan

The winner of Barbara's books is: Dawn McClure! Congrats, Dawn. Send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Barbara. Thanks to everyone who participated.
That Was Then, This is Now

It's hard to believe that ten years has gone by since April 1999 when my first book, Timeless Wish was published as part of the old Jove Time Passages line. I can still remember seeing it for the first time and thinking. The cover is so green, the photo album so wrong, the back blurb so very dull . . . *grin*

I was sad when the line folded and TW went out of print a few years later, but by then e-publishing was starting to take off and I was fortunate to have Cerridwen Press love the book as much as I did. They gave me a lovely new cover and allowed me to use the blurb I wrote, the one I used in my original query to Berkley/Jove:

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1898, Sheriff Corby Hillhouse makes this heartfelt wish: "Please send me a woman my love won't kill." Corby doesn't realize it, but his wish is granted in the form of 20th century interior designer, Laura Bennett. Like Corby, Laura harbors many regrets, but when she's hired as nanny to Corby's motherless daughter she finds the happiness she'd been searching for. But before Laura can enjoy her new life she has to get past Corby's suspicious nature, his spiteful ex-lover, and the man who wants both Corby and his daughter dead.

I suppose the oddest thing about Timeless Wish is that it's actually the third book in a loosely connected trilogy featuring members of the Hillhouse & McNamara families of the old Indian Territory/early Oklahoma. Only my Muse would be whacked enough to stick a paranormal in with two historical romances.

Then again . . . my formative years were spent being influenced by TV shows like Bonanza, Big Valley, and Gunsmoke as well as all the "woo-woo" happenings of Dark Shadows, Time Tunnel, and our local weekly Saturday night B-movie fest-Chiller Theater, so it all makes perfect sense.

If you'd like to see how my mad Muse managed to combine those early influences, leave a comment to this post. The winner will receive electronic copies of Bittersweet Surrender, Sweet Medicine and of course Timeless Wish.


Barbara's winner will be selected and posted here on Tuesday evening.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Paranormal Gift Basket for Brenda Novak Online Auction

Here's a photo and the author line-up of the Paranormal Gift Basket we're donating for Brenda Novak's Online Auction. Basket Kase of Boulder, CO put the basket together for me, and co-owner Kathy Donnel did an awesome job. They ship everywhere. Here's their contact info:

Here's the auction website:

Donating Authors:

Lynda Hilburn:
Signed copy of DARK HARVEST
Relaxation guided hypnosis CD
Shower gel and body lotion
Chocolate Fudge

Nancy Haddock:
Signed copy of LA VIDA VAMPIRE
Barnes & Noble Gift Card
Starbucks Gift Card
La Vida Vampire key chain

Esri Rose:
Signed copy of BOUND TO LOVE HER
Assorted chocolates

Carrie Vaughn:
Copy of Kitty's play list on CD

Jeanne C. Stein:
Signed copy of THE BECOMING
Signed copy of BLOOD DRIVE
Signed copy of THE WATCHER
Signed copy of LEGACY
2 pens
Set of book cover magnets

Jamie Leigh Hansen
Signed copy of CURSED
Signed copy of BETRAYED
Paper and pen set

Mario Acevedo

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What's so good about men?

I'm serious. What is it about the male of the species that makes our hearts flutter and (sometimes) our brains shut down? What's that magical thing? What do you think? (PG rated, please!)