New site and romance manifesto from Eagle Harbor books talk

Yes, I know this site is sadly, horribly, embarrassingly out of date. This is because Shiny New Site is almost ready to launch so updating here means duplicating the database over there and, well, the answer is just to get the new site live already.

Something Wild is out in print from Ellora's Cave with a gorgeous cover, and other things are afoot.

Last Thursday I did a talk and reading at Eagle Harbor Books spearheaded by the fabulous Serena Bell and Rachel Grant. Harlequin generously donated many books to help win new readers to romance, as the bookstore is interesting in enlarging the romance section and encouraging romance readership. So readers came away with books by new authors to try out as well as signed books by the participating authors (us) and here is what I said about romance and why I write it.

Romance is a sub genre of fantasy and the fantasy of romance is the happy ending. "They all lived happily ever after" is how every fairy tale ends and romance novels are modern day fairy tales where the protagonists get what they want and a happy ending. Romance is the only genre that delivers the fantasy of the happy ending consistently and it gets a lot of criticism for being unrealistic because of it. But being able to imagine that a happy ending is possible is the first step to creating and writing your own. Whether that means a happy ending to the career change you want to make or the new friendships you want to build or building a successful romantic relationship, it starts with the hope, the ability to imagine and to believe that what you want is possible.

So romance is the fiction of hope. It's also a genre of fiction that focuses on relationships. Not just romantic and physical relationships but the full spectrum of relationships. Family relationships, coworker relationships, friendships. The relationships in our lives are part of what helps us succeed in life, what helps us through difficult times, and have a huge impact on our happiness and health. The best relationships bring out the best in us and help us be more of who we truly are. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, love makes us real. The worst relationships make us less of who we really are, and in romance, those characters will turn out to be the villains. That person who wants you to feel less so they can feel like they're more is not really your friend or your romantic partner, and you see that play out in a romance novel.

Fiction is where we can imagine how this choice or that action would lead to that result and it's a safe place to vicariously experience what it would be like to choose what the protagonist chooses. Reading fiction helps us build empathy, which is one of the keys to any successful relationship in real life, and this is one of the ways it does that, by placing ourselves in our imagination in another person's shoes and seeing the world from their point of view. Learning to have more empathy is not at all unrealistic, it's a scientifically documented side effect of novel reading, ANY novel reading. And experiencing the fantasy of hope, imagining your own hopeful outcome, that's also a scientifically sound premise. Top performers, athletes, imagine themselves performing at their peak and they have measurable changes take place while they're imagining this. Imagination is powerful, it's more than staring out a window daydreaming, it's a tool that can improve athletic performance or help us practice asking for a raise. So the fiction that delivers the fantasy of happiness, of hope, is a tool that can help us write our own happy ending with very practical real world results.

This is why I believe in romance as a writer, that it's something worth doing. And why I love it as a reader, why it's the genre I'll turn to when I'm having a bad day, and I need a dose of hope and the reminder that I'm the protagonist of my own story and it's up to me to make the choices and take the actions that will write my happy ending.

10 reasons to buy Lynn Viehl's 50th book

The day I've been waiting for is here! Her Ladyship's Curse downloaded in the night (yay pre-order, yay internet book delivery miracle) and I'm ripping myself away from it to help celebrate the release of Lynn Viehl's 50th book with 10 reasons you should go buy it right now.

1. She maintains a terrific blog full of useful information for writers and creative people who need to keep the well refilled in order to keep working.

2. In addition to all that free nonfiction, she regularly gives away free stories to thank her readers. Here's one to accompany Her Ladyship's Curse.

3. She's the sort of generous author who is always helping others and wouldn't you like to keep her generosity funded by buying her newest book?

4. She's one of those authors you can always rely on for a well-structured, well-written, fully-realized story that will entertain from the first word to the last, whether she's writing inspirational fiction, science fiction, romance or YA under her many pen names.

5. She's funny.

6. Steampunk!

7. In addition to the clockworks, magic and mystery are afoot.

8. Alternate history where the US is still ruled by England.

9. The hardbitten private investigator drinks tea.

10. There's a mad genius in the basement.

Really, do you need more reasons? Go forth and read!

Summer Heat giveaway!

Summer Heat

Jumpstart your 4th of July fireworks with Sasha White's Summer Heat Giveaway. From July 1st to July 15th, read excerpts from authors (including yours truly) who have contributed an ebook to preload a Libre Ereader for one lucky winner! Visit Sasha's blog for details.

The Cupcake Theory of Writing

While flailing about in an effort to fix a story recently, I found myself bewailing its virtues.

"The story is a cupcake!" I cried, while trying to add more spinach and wondering why the result was revolting. And as I sat there covered in non-functional story batter, I had an epiphany.

My story was a cupcake. My story. Was. A cupcake.

And instead of reveling in the cupcakery and plotting frosting and sprinkles and cackling to myself about how this was going to be the most sugar-fat-caloric-dense-ZOMG-amazeballs cupcake in the history of cupcakery, I was killing it with spinach.

Look, sometimes you put in all the right ingredients and the batter doesn't rise or the center is too gooey or the edges are burned, but still, what you have is recognizably a cupcake. And if you keep coming back to the recipe and trying again with subtle differences, it is possible to end up with a very good final product as long as you commit to the essential nature of the cupcake and what makes a cupcake experience fabulous. And you do not have to be a master chef or even a connoisseur of pastry to know that what makes a cupcake fabulous is rarely the quantity and quality of spinach. Adding spinach doesn't turn the cupcake into a salad or a souffle. It just turns it into a mediocre, if not disastrous, cupcake.

So I came back to my story and judged it by its virtues. And I committed to them. I committed to telling the story fully and completely with a willingness to go right over the top on a regular basis in my dedication to making my cupcake a cupcake worthy of the name. Because when you want a cupcake, you want a cupcake that doesn't make any apologies or hold back or sit there saying, "Sugar is bad for you, really, and also you don't know what's good for you, so I'm going to lure you in with cupcake bait and then SURPRISE you're eating your vegetables as I switch, ahahahaha!"

And that is the Cupcake Theory of Writing. If you find yourself writing a cupcake, write that cupcake with no apologies, no holding back, no trying to win the approval of spinach lovers who wouldn't want your cupcake no matter what you did while ruining it for those who love cupcakes and want one already. Whatever the essential nature of the story is, go with what it IS and forget about what it isn't.

Writing a mystery? Focus on whodunnit and red herrings and plot twists and gumshoe it up but good. Writing SF? Bring on the strange new worlds and civilizations and boldly go. Writing fantasy? Fantasize! Whatever you are writing, focus on that, the core of it, the experience of it, and think about what you love and what you hate in that type of story and OWN yours.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go own my story's need for chocolate frosting and sprinkles and add more butter.

Title, what's where and what's up

The spring print anthology has a title! Something Wild will consist of 3 never-in-print titles from me, Dangerous Games, Earth Girls Aren't Easy and Two Knights in Camelot. Fingers crossed the cover gods grant me a fun, hot cover to go with the title.

And now, what is up with other works? Like where did Mad Stone go? Sasha and I pulled our duology feeling it had run its course and Mad Stone has a new cover. It is getting formatted and uploaded and will be for sale again as a stand-alone novelette in the Neuri universe shortly. I have three other shorts published in print anthologies but not available as ebook singles; Wolf at the Door, Nuns and Huns, Roped, all getting covers/formatting/uploading and those will also be available soon.

Yes, but what about new work? Red Queen and Kiss of the Demon need finishing and editing and then there will be release dates.

Aside from that? Black Magic (which needs a new title but that's the working title) and my special ops hero/Indiana Jones heroine books need finishing and homes. I keep getting requests for final and spinoff titles in the Sirens series, but every time I try to tackle that I get a mess. The only characters who even try to cooperate are the wily bunch from Miss Lonely Hearts, which leaves Dane and Harold hanging. And I likewise do not know what to do with the Djinn novella trilogy. So basically it's get the decks cleared first and then see what pops next.

Unplugged and coming soon

We took an unplugged weekend to hike trails from the Hoh to Kalaloch and my brain is still wallowing. It struck me around Sunday that I was simply not fighting a trickle of negatives. No bad news. Nothing that triggered writing or publishing angst (which can come from good or bad news). Between that and my lungs taking in the clean coastal and rain forest air to wash away the lingering bronchitis I was recovering from, I feel like a new person. Or reacquainted with my old self. Unplugging is good for the soul and the creative psyche.

And on returning home I discovered an email waiting for me saying that a new print collection of never-before-in-print titles from me is in the works for this spring and would I please send some title suggestions. So huzzah. I did send a bunch of suggestions and will announce more when I have a firm title and date. The collection will include a short novel, a novella and a novelette which makes it about the length of two Harlequin Presents or one single title in length.

This is still not the new novel I know people are waiting for, but I have high hopes that I can get stuff out the door soon. And meanwhile, having 3 print releases in the span of 9 months is not bad. I also have multiple ebook shorts to get on sale for Kindle, Nook and other ebook readers. Cover art and formatting is underway. But really, I'm looking forward to finishing the novels in progress that it is time and past to be DONE with.

Mammth Book of Futuristic Romance is out!

I missed posting this earlier on the blog because New Year's and Genreality wrap-up interfered, but I did tweet the news. The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance is out, and I can't think of a better way to start my new year off right than with a title in book stores and ready for e-readers that I love so much I cackled while I wrote it. Ever wonder why the Huns came out of nowhere? What if they were alien supersoliders exiled to earth? Nuns and Huns made me laugh and it can be yours now with a click of a "buy now" button or a trip to your favorite local bookstore.

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