Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I’ve never been to Climax

But I’ve stopped by Intercourse. Even stayed there a while. Happened when I was only 10. Great place to visit, lots of country charm.

I’m talking about towns and cities, of course. Both Climax and Intercourse are in Pennsylvania.

I started thinking about names recently because a friend is writing a book for the first time. She doesn’t know what to name her protagonist. I told her, “A name is very important in your story. Take your time to consider what her name is.”

Certain names evoke particular imagery. A hero named “Wally” is seldom associated with a bad boy warrior. Likewise, if you’re writing a story with a mild-mannered reporter who happens to be a super hero, do you really want to name your reporter “Brutus?”

Names can provide instant conflict. I’m writing a werewolf/zombie short story where the heroine’s name is Beth, but her nickname is Bunny. Bunny as a nickname isn’t a big deal, but in this case, the heroine is a werewolf.

I had proposed the name as a joke, but Jennifer said, “Instant conflict.” And thanks to her, I had my story. Teased and tormented by her pack, Bunny the werewolf goes off to prove she’s more than her cute and cuddly nickname and tangles with a mean posse of zombies.

“Jabari” was the name of my first Egyptian hero in The Falcon and the Dove. The name means “brave.”

“Homer” would not be an acceptable name for an Egyptian warrior.

The book I’m reading now, Eve Silver’s Demon's Hunger, has a sorcerer named Dain. Great name for a powerful hero.

It’s fun to play around with names. Here are the names of actual towns and cities in the United States and abroad. Oh and for those attending the annual Romance Writers of America convention in Orlando, there’s a nearby city perfect for romance writers — Kissimmee, Florida


, WV

Ding Dong, TX

Possum Kingdom
, TX

Truth or Consequences, NM

Beer Bottle Crossing, Idaho

, IL

Dick Mountain
, WA

Okay, OK (I love this one!)

, Denmark
(Makes me think of Middle Earth with flatulence.)

Boring, OR

Wagga Wagga
, Australia
(Another great name. “I took a walkabout in Wagga Wagga”)

Hygiene, CO

, TX
(Sometimes I think I live there, even though I’m in FL)

French Lick, ID (I first heard of this town in a wonderful book, Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon)

Hell, IN

, England
(Care for a cuppa tea in Wetwang?)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Summer Reading List

So I've just finished up the edits for my February 2011 book The Unforgiven! It's the first book in my new urban fantasy series about the modern descendants of a tribe of fallen Biblical angels known as The Watchers.

With hardly a breath to spare, I'm now deep into Watchers book 2, The Unholy, which is set for a summer 2011 release. In the coming weeks, I'll begin talking about the series here on the blog and on my website, www.joynash.com.

But for the next couple of weeks - a break where I get to be a READER!!!! So what do writers read when they're not writing? Here's my summer reading list...

Of course, the latest releases from my friends at The Chatelaines! :-) That means Emily Bryan's Stroke of Genius, Allyson James' (aka Jennifer Ashley)'s Stormwalker, Cindy Holby's Breath of Heaven, and Gerri Russell's Seducing the Knight.

And then, to feed my Regency England addiction, Sally MacKenzie's The Naked Viscount and Mary Balogh's A Secret Affair.

And one oldie on the list - I've been wanting to read M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions for a while now. I have a growing fascination with India, a country which I know very little about. At nearly 1000 pages, it's been a little hard to grab this classic for a quick read in between everything else in my busy (insane) schedule! But with some down time from the job coming up, I've decided this is the summer to tackle it.

Oh, yeah, and that's my son's old Charmander on top of the stack. :-)

What's on everyone else's summer reading list??


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hiring it Done

from Emily Bryan ...

I'm in a quandry. I'm the sort who likes to paint my own house, mow my own lawn (when I had a lawn to mow!) and generally do things myself. I've laid tile, torn out walls and moved myself across the country multiple times. If I had time to cross-stitch, I'd do a pillow with DYI on it in big red letters. I cringe when I have to pay someone to do something I ought to be able to do.

I know what you're thinking. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

I prefer to think of myself as frugal (though my husband has complained that I squeeze a tube of toothpaste till it squeals!) That's why I've resisted hiring someone to design a website for me. I'm a reasonably intelligent person. I ought to be able to buy a template, customize it to suit my needs and slap it on the internet for a teeny fraction of the cost of a professional design.

Which is what I've done up till now. So far, my homegrown design at http://www.emilybryan.com/ has served as a good web presence for me. The way it's set up, I can alter the pages whenever I want and add pages (which means the website grows like kudzu. Even I don't know how many pages there actually are!) Aspiring writers enjoy my Write Stuff pages and readers have let me know they enjoy the bonus pages associated with each book.

But now I'm getting ready for a pen name change with multiple titles coming out next year as Mia Marlowe. I'm writing for two publishing houses. I'm adding a pinch of magic to many of my new stories, a fresh element for my work. In many ways, this next year is going to be a sea change for me.

Which has me thinking that it may be time to call in the cavalry in the website department. If I want a vibrant cohesive site that's easy to use and presents my work in a way that readers find engaging, I think I need to hire someone to build a site for me.

So I've been surfing around the internet looking for the most innovative, fun author websites. I know who my favorites are. I hope you'll share the ones you return to time and again and why. What sorts of things do you like to see on author websites? What irritates you about them? I'd appreciate your input!

Reviewers Speak . . .

"Georgette Heyer with ripped bodices! Emily's latest story is simply charming - Crispin Hawke is awkward, dashing, self-assured, rude, everything you'd expect from Georgette Heyer, or even Jane Austen.

Emily Bryan is the mistress of saucy historical romances, and as ever, STROKE OF GENIUS is pure delight." BooksMonthly!

Visit http://www.emilybryan.com/Stroke%20of%20Genius%20Quiz.htm to take the Stroke of Genius Quiz! What kind of Genius are YOU?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drawing a Breath and Trivia Contest

I'm wiping my brow, even as I type, because I just now emailed revisions of a ms. back to my editor. Whew! I'm always glad when something's off my plate.

Over on my own Facebook and blogger pages I'm having a contest for ARCs of LADY ISABELLA'S SCANDALOUS MARRIAGE! I was thrilled that this book got a 4.5 Top Pick! review from Romantic Times, plus Mac Mackenzie earned a KISS award from the same reviewer (basically the terrific historical hero award).

So, for the next three weeks, I'm giving away an ARC a week. The first leg is already going, so either comment here or pop over to my blog http://www.jennifersromances.blogspot.com/ or my FB page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Jennifer-AshleyAllyson-James/94603953921) and leave me an answer to the question. (I also have posted a link to the first chapter of Lady Isabella on the FB page.)

Week #1: What was the title of Jennifer Ashley's first published romance novel? (Hint, it was a Dorchester/Leisure book, and it's easily found on my website: http://www.jennifersromances.com).

The winner will be drawn Saturday, and I'll post another question Sunday. Three chances to win!

Other cool news about Lady Iz: It will be offered by Rhapsody in hardback. It's preorderable at the Rhapsody site (I've already bought a copy for my mother).

It's getting exciting during the LISM countdown (release date: July 6!) Please join in and have fun!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Breath Of Heaven Release Party.

Having a new book come out is a reason to celebrate. I was thrilled to have family, fans, and friends show up at New Beginnings in Rural Hall last Thursday to help me celebrate!
I signed a ton of books and was thrilled at the turnout!
Meet Pam, my beta reader who got to read Breath Of Heaven first! A big thank you to everyone who came for making it a fabulous event.

Friday, June 4, 2010


from Emily Bryan...

Last night on the news they showed a remote Afghan village where the iliteracy rate was 95%. By anyone's measure, that's a tragedy. But here in America we have a different problem--aliteracy. We have a growing body of people who can read, but choose not to.

In 2007, the National Endowment for the Arts issued a report outlining improvement in literacy in children, but found actual reading dropping off sharply among teens and adults. In an instant society, we'd rather watch a movie than devote the time needed to read the same story.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but this is troubling on a couple levels. Watching a movie is not the same experience as reading the book. When we read, we must bring something to experience--our imaginations. The words on the page are only the jumping off place. The reader must collaborate with the author to create the fictive world of the story.

A movie or TV simply washes over us fully formed. It's a totally passive activity. We don't have to think about it. We just let it in without examination.

I'd like to propose a return to an old practice. Reading aloud. It was a common activity in the Regency era. Whole families enjoyed the same story, creating a bond and even a private language during the shared experience. We did a lot of reading aloud when our kids were little. To this day when one of my daughters says something about "scope for the imagination" I know we owe that idea to Ann of Green Gables.

Well, that's fine for kids, I hear you saying. But it's really fine for adults as well. A good friend of mine reads aloud to her husband every night. What a great way to bond with the one you love! I've read my work aloud to my DH as part of the final review, but usually my DH and I engage in "tandem reading." He's got his techno-thriller. I have my romance. But now I'm wondering what would happen if we started reading together for pleasure.

Any suggestions for the first book we should try?

Here's a suggestion for you. If you're looking for a read aloud to share with the one you love, I just have to remind you my latest offering should be in bookstores now! RT BookReviews calls STROKE OF GENIUS "Wickedly enjoyable!" And guys will like it because my hero Crispin Hawke is so flawed, such a rude knuckle-dragging alpha in the beginning, he'll make them look good!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Special guest Marie Claude Bourque

Room for Improvement.

Have you ever sat there after a major accomplishment and thought, okay, what next? How can I improve?
It’s not that I’m a perfectionist (I wish) but I always have this sense that things could be better. I do know that perfection is impossible, especially with anything related to art endeavors, but I am one of those “7 habits”, “Good to great” type person who love to sit and ponder how I can do better just about everything in my life.

Naturally I tend to fail miserably because my nice little “perfect” schedule never really work in practice, but I do try.
So with writing, I do feel I accomplished something major in my life by writing my first novel, submitting it and competing in the American Title which saw me published for the first time. But as soon as the book hit the shelves last week, my first thought was, how can I do this better? Not the publishing journey of course because we have no control over that, but the writing.

So I started to brainstorm. I do hate to practice writing through writing prompt and I have been forever postponing doing the exercises at the end of John Gardner’s book The Art of Fiction, because they are so far away from the kind of world I usually dream about. But besides writing another book, then another, then another, which I am already doing how else can I learn?

I’ve noticed that I stopped reading recently. I’m not sure why. Maybe, I’ve spent too much time on the web. But reading, really, is where we learn from others, isn’t it? Either by absorbing the prose, getting through enough similar stories to get a feel for the plot, or by blatantly studying our favorite writers. Bob Mayer does a scene analysis; James Scott Bell copies the prose of his favorite writers to get a feel for the writing.
Myself, I decided to just read more of what I like regardless of genre (I am currently reading one of Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses novel) and start to study the latest RITA nominees debut book (I just ordered Kelly Gay debut paranormal The Better Part of Darkness) All this of course, while I attack my next project!

I would like to giveaway to a lucky commenter a signed copy of ANCIENT WHISPERS, so please tell me, which writer inspires you most to be a better person? Strangely perhaps, I would say that for me, it’s been the late Robert B. Parker. Now how about you?
Marie-Claude Bourque is the American Title V winner and author of ANCIENT WHISPERS, a sensual gothic paranormal romance filled with sorcerers and Celtic priestesses in search for eternal love in modern time. She worked as a climate research scientist, a scientific translator and a fitness expert until she turned to fiction writing. She draws her inspiration from the French legends of her childhood and a fascination for dark fantasy.
ANCIENT WHISPERS, a Dorchester –Love Spell release is available now wherever books are sold. Find more at www.mcbourque.com and don’t forget to enter the contest for her month-long virtual release party at www.mcbourque.com/launchparty

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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