Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Idol Hands Are The Devil's Workshop

Yes, I know the correct spelling for this blog title should be "idle", not "idol", but that would completely mess up the pun when blogging about Billy Idol, now wouldn't it?  :)

So why am I blogging about Billy Idol? Take a look at the photo at left - Billy Idol at age 50, on the cover of his 2005 comeback album, "Devil's Playground".

When I was writing the second book in the Nicki Styx series, A Match Made In Hell, I introduced a new character, Samuel B. Divine, a/k/a "Sammy", a/k/a His Satanic Majesty.  Yep, the Devil, in the flesh.  And now you can see, perhaps, whose flesh I chose to put him in, and why.

When the Devil's Playground CD came out I listened to it over and over again, marveling that Billy had not only kept his trademark growl and trademark sneer, but how - at age 50 - he'd kept his trademark sexiness. Take a peek at the video for "Scream", my favorite song on the CD:

All this over-the-top, drop dead sexiness was the perfect inspiration for the character of Sammy, who tormented poor Nicki for two more books (You're the One That I Haunt and Silent Night, Haunted Night) with his over-the-top, drop dead sexiness :).  He swaggered, he tempted, he threatened, he seduced, but as it turns out, good once again triumphed over evil when the ultimate bad boy fell hard for the girl who refused to give in to her dark side, and chose another man over him.

The character of Sammy isn't completely based on Billy Idol, though.  I wanted remove some of the rough edges, give him a wry sense of humor and some sophistication, and the perfect model for that seemed to be Simon Baker, who plays Patrick Jayne on the TV series, The Mentalist.  Those sexy blue eyes of his, slightly wrinkled at the corners, seemed to have that perfect "wise-beyond-his-years" look that I imagined Sammy might wear. Highly intelligent, a con man's con man, with a slightly wounded air and a mysterious past.  Oh, yes, Simon Baker got himself incorporated into the character of Sammy, as well.

For now, Nicki Styx seems to have found her happily ever after, but Sammy's story isn't over.  He's eternal, you know, and he's got a lot of stories to tell.  I decided to pick up right where we left off with DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE, which will be released in paperback and e-book form on May 31, 2011, and am thrilled to continue spending time in Sammy's world as I write the as-yet-untitled sequel, which will be released in the winter of 2011.

So, because I get asked all the time about where I get my inspiration, I thought I'd let you know.  When I envision the character of Sammy, he pretty much looks like this:

mixed with this:

Now you know.  :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Supernatural Stocking Stuffers

Ho, ho, ho!  Merry Christmas, and have I got a package for you!

What? No, wait... not that package... get your mind out of the snow gutter, you deranged little lovers of things that go bump in the night!  Somebody might think you've been reading too many stories of hunks like this dropping down your chimney, unaffected by the cold despite his bare chest, slipping under the covers to warm you from head to toe, bearing diamond rings, hot chocolate with marshmellows, and an enormous... um... candy cane.

Ah... fantasy makes the world go round, doesn't it?  :)

No, today I really do come bearing gifts (and you can include that little visual as one of them).  I'm guest blogging today over at the Supernatural Underground, and giving away buttons and bookmarks!

I'll choose 25 people from those who send their mailing address to booksthatgobump@gmail.com, and I'll mail them one of these awesome 2" square buttons that say "I Read Books That Go Bump In The Night". Pin to your winter coat, your backpack, your bookbag, your stocking (or wherever you'd like to pin it to proclaim your love of awesome reading material), or use it as a stocking stuffer for someone else you know. I'll even throw in an assortment of cool bookmarks from Underground authors like Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost, Kerrelyn Sparks, Sophie Jordan, Leah Cypess and me (Terri Garey) with every pin I give away!

Remember, you must send your mailing address FIRST to booksthatgobump@gmail.com (which will save me from having to track down 25 winners and get their addresses later; rest assured your address will NOT be used or shared in any other way), but you can up your chances of winning by leaving a comment, retweeting, Facebooking the link, or just shouting it from the rooftops (maybe you'll find a half-naked elf up there, just waiting to slip down that chimney... but I digress.)

At any rate, 'tis better to give than to receive, and today I'm in a giving mood!  Get your goodies while they're sizzling hot! (Just like today's eye candy.)  :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE - A "Semi" Sneak Peek at the Cover!

Even though I've been forbidden to show the smokin' hot new cover for my newest release,    DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE, until sometime next month, I decided to bend the rules just a teensy bit and show you PART of it.

Let me say that I love it, and you definitely won't be disappointed when you see the full product.  :-)

It's kind of funny, actually, because when I wrote my first book, DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY, I envisioned a cool black and white cover with red lettering (preferably set in a graveyard).  I got the graveyard, but the rest of the cover was a wild riot of purple and green.  This cover, however, is much more what I envisioned for all my books - dark, sexy, and slightly mysterious.

The book itself is the same: dark, sexy, and slightly mysterious.  No tongue-in-cheek humor in this one, although Sammy Divine has a wit all his own.  I can't wait for you to meet the character of Finn, the rock-n-roll bad boy who long ago sold his soul in return for fame and fortune, and now wants it back.  I don't know which one of these hotties was my favorite, actually, because I enjoyed writing them both so much!

DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE is available for pre-order, and will be released May 31, 2011.  (It'll also be available in e-book form.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Of Life, Death and Tattoos

Firstly, let me say that I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, full of family, food and fun. (And if you didn't, there's always next year!) :)

I had a really good holiday, with lots of diversity and new experiences. Instead of staying home and doing the cooking, I went to Atlanta to spend the holiday with extended family, and spent four days enjoying the break from my own routine.

I walked in some quiet woods, all by myself, just me, the falling leaves, and the faint strains of my brother-in-law playing his grand piano in the distance. I got soundly beaten at several games of pool, and kicked pinball machine butt (465, 500 points on a vintage machine!). I helped my sister (the florist) make and deliver last-minute flower arrangements for people who'd forgotten to send flowers to their family over the holiday (you know who you are!), and helped deliver arrangements to a grieving family at a funeral home. I enjoyed a chicken pesto panini in Little Five Points with my son, who in a case of "real-life-being-stranger-than-fiction", recently moved to the same neighborhood I chose to use as setting for the Nicki Styx books. (Needless to say, he loves it, and has become an L5 regular.)

I visited the tattoo parlor where my nephew (on the right) works, and made a new friend when he invited the guy who does the piercing to join us for dinner.  I visited with my one remaining uncle (still sharp at 83), got to know my pre-teen niece and nephew, and missed my mom the entire time. I laughed with my sisters over our lack of napkin-folding skills (among other things), and marveled at how my life has changed through the years: many of those I still love are gone, but there are new loved ones coming into my life all the time.

Diversity, my friends, is what life makes life interesting. :) I hope mine never stops being diverse.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Operation Christmas Child: Pack A Shoebox

This is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child (Nov. 15-22nd), and if you do nothing else good for yourself the entire year, trust me when I say that you should at least do this.

Operation Christmas Child is a way to bring an incredible amount of joy into the life of an underprivileged child, by way of a very small investment in time and effort, and a way to make you (and maybe your own kids) feel good in a way that will last all year.

It's a super simple idea, really. You get a shoebox, and you fill it with stuff that kids like. Small stuff, simple things like Matchbox cars for boys, hair clips for girls, small toys, balls, stickers, crayons, bubble gum. Add in a few things that kids need: a toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, underwear. You'll be surprised by how much you can get into a shoebox, and you'll be surprised how inexpensive it can be, particularly if there's a dollar store in your area. You can wrap the box if you want, but you don't have to. (I buy clear plastic shoeboxes myself, and don't wrap them. After they've been opened, the kids can put the stickers on them and use them to store things. These kids don't have much, so even a plastic box can become a treasure.)

Once you've filled the box, you can go HERE, to Samaritan's Purse and make a donation of $7.00 for shipping and handling. The automated system will give you a label with a tracking number on it which you stick to the box, and help you find the nearest drop-off location in your area by using your zip code. Go ahead, do a quick check to look for drop-off locations in your area, just for grins.

And that's it! You've made some underprivileged child very, very happy, and sown the seeds of kindness. Why wouldn't you want to do it? Watch the video and see how easy it is:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's My Party, and I (Won't) Cry If I Want To

If I did, they'd be sentimental tears, mushy tears -- not bad ones.  :) Today is my birthday, and it's been lovely; time with my family and lots of good wishes. I'm not sure why, but this year seems different than the *cough, cough* or so years before it - this year I'm really focusing on how lucky I am to be *cough, cough* years old, and doing what I love to do.

Writing is a dream for many people, but it's a dream that came true for me. Not only do I get to make up stories for a living, I get the chance to live out loud by sharing those stories with the world. I've met so many interesting and fascinating people in my role as an author; I've made many new friends and reconnected with some old ones, and I've been countlessly touched by the kindness of strangers who write to tell me how I've touched them, too.

Look at this cool birthday graphic sent to me by Justine, one of my readers; it makes me smile every time I look at it, because I know it was designed with my particular brand of quirkiness in mind!  This graphic would never have been made if Justine weren't a reader and I weren't a writer, and what a shame that would be!  (Thanks, Justine - it's adorable.)

Bottom line, I'm a very lucky woman, and today I'm making sure that I savor it, and appreciate it.  Life isn't always kind; I've had my share of tragedies and heartaches.  But today, on my birthday, I want to say "thank you" to those who make me smile, to those who helped me along the way, to those who let me into their lives through words on a page.

Take a minute and think about what gifts you have in your life, whether it's friends, family or just the astounding ability to cook, clean, work and multi-task without losing your mind.  :)

Today's my birthday, and that's what I'm doing.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Midnight Son, the Movie

I got an interesting email the other day from an independent movie producer named Matt Compton, who asked me to take a peek at the trailer for his new vampire movie:
"The film is entitled "Midnight Son", and it's a gritty, realistic new look at the vampire genre. We're putting the finishing touches on it at the moment."
I thought the trailer was pretty cool, actually.

It's not a "sparkly", self-sacrificing vampire kind of movie - there's a bit of gore (and if you read my blog you know I'm not a huge fan of gore), but touches some great universal themes, like love and acceptance, with some great glimpses into the hidden secrets of the heart. A seemingly normal guy slowly morphs into a vampire, and gets drawn into situations he'd never before imagined.

Anyway, I liked the trailer, and thought I'd share it with you.

If you liked it, want to know more about it, or just send Matt some encouragement, you can find out more at www.midnightsonmovie.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Scaring It Forward

I got the nicest email the other day from one of the winners of my Halloween contest, Kimphy Allen of S. Carolina. Kimphy won the awesome Skull n' Roses wreath and garland, and was sweet enough to send me pictures of where she placed them in her home.  Here's part of what she said:

All Hallow's Eve came and past so quickly by that surely the wreath and the garland can stay up a while longer and on into the Yule holidays fast approaching. ;} Maybe? :} I hope these photos show up well in this email so you might see where I put each beauty to help celebrate Hallowe'en, Terri.

Thank you so much for this wonderful contest--I never expected to win!
I love how you draped the garland over that mirror, Kimphy, and thanks so much for letting me know that the wreath and garland found a good home!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Descent Into the Maelstrom

October's over, and all my ghoulish fun is done; the tombstones and fog machines have been packed away for another year, and all that's left of Halloween is a few scattered candy wrappers.  *sigh*  It was a great time, but now I have to put it behind me, take a deep breath, and plunge into finishing the new novel, which is due to be turned into my publisher in February.

The tentative title is BORN INTO DARKNESS, but that may change before it's through, so don't hold me to it.  It's Book #2 in the Devil's Bargain series, and once again features that devilishly delicious bad boy, Sammy Divine.  This time Sammy is stirring up trouble for his old friend, the archangel Gabriel, and testing the boundaries of love and forgiveness.  I can't tell you much more than that, but suffice it to say that Sammy is raising a lot of Hell, and always manages to look damn sexy while he's doing it.  :-)

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I've been "Monsterized"!

Artist and scriptwriter Jack Ruttan has come up with a fun way to celebrate Halloween this year, by helping you discover your "inner monster".  (I am apparently hiding a demented vampire beneath my normally cheerful exterior... isn't it gloriously hideous?)  I love it!

Jack can take your Twitter or Facebook photo and do the same for you, but you better move fast, as Halloween is creeping steadily up on us!

Check out Jack's WEBSITE immediately to see what he's done for others, and get on the ghoulish band wagon, already!

Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men (and women)?

Jack knows.  Let him discover yours!  (Or just tell him what you think it is, or what you want it to be, and he'll whip one up for you.)

Cool, huh?  :-)  Check out the before and after photo, and THANKS, JACK!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Horrordays with Author Jeff Strand

Given that it's the spookiest time of the year, I thought we'd take a foray into the world of horror fiction with someone who actually writes it.  I've always been a fan of writers like Stephen King (and now his son, Joe Hill), but they didn't seem to get my repeated emails asking them for interviews, so I had to settle for someone even better: the slightly demented and always entertaining Jeff Strand.

I discovered Jeff's particular blend of comedy and horror when I found his Andrew Mayhem series: GRAVEROBBERS WANTED: NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY, CASKET FOR SALE: ONLY USED ONCE, and of course, the wildly entertaining SINGLE WHITE PSYCHOPATH SEEKS SAME.

"Sure," I thought, "the guy knows how to write dark comedies, but what about something more serious?"  Then I read PRESSURE, a top-notch psychological thriller that was nominated for the coveted Bram Stoker award in 2009 (and has since been optioned by Identity Films).   Excellent book, as was his next, DWELLER, a strangely touching tale about the ill-fated lives of a boy and his monster.

Jeff also writes quite a bit of the darker stuff, some of it too dark for my tastes (as I am a big scaredy-cat weenie who prefers a good spine-tingling to a an actual bloodbath, but if you don't mind a few dismembered bodies or brains on the ceiling, Jeff's your man!) 

A perfect example of this is his recently released collaborative vampire novel DRACULAS, which was co-written with some other guys whose names I can't remember.  (Buy it, so you can proudly say you read him before he became famous.)  As much as I enjoy Jeff's work, I will NOT be reading it, because he's already advised me that it's not safe for scaredy-cat weenies like me to read, but surely you're not afraid of a little bloodsplatter, are you, dear readers? :-)

Anyway, Jeff's a prolific and talented guy whose writing never fails to entertain (bloodstains or no bloodstains) and he's been gracious enough to answer a few questions for me today on the blog, in honor of Halloween:

Hi, Jeff! Thanks for the interview! Have you always been a fan of the horror genre, or was that something that developed gradually? Any particular moment when you decided that horror fiction was the perfect outlet for your clearly twisted imagination?

I've wanted to be a horror fan since I was about six, after I got a book called THINGS YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MONSTERS BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK by Tony Tallarico. But I was far too cowardly to actually watch those movies. So I didn't really become a horror fan until high school, at which point my friends and I would watch 4 or 5 horror flicks every weekend instead of engaging in underage drinking or interacting with females.

The moment of truth was after I had four novels out, each of which were in a different genre. And I thought "I really need to focus." The most popular of the four by far was GRAVEROBBERS WANTED (NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY), which everybody was calling a horror novel even though I'd planned to write a mystery/thriller, so I decided "Okay, I'm going to write horror!" And then I wrote a bunch of it.

So tell us about DRACULAS—I heard it has both vampires AND scary clowns? Oh, and who are those other guys… you know, those co-authors whose names I can’t remember?

It has lots and lots and lots of vampires and one scary clown. It's basically a really fast-paced, action-packed, gory gory gory novel about a hospital that becomes overrun by vampires, none of which behave like Edward Cullen.

Co-author #1: F. Paul Wilson, the legendary creator of Repairman Jack and author of over 40 novels, including THE KEEP, THE SELECT, and BLACK WIND.

Co-author #2: Jack Kilborn, author of AFRAID, TRAPPED, and ENDURANCE, and the pen name of J.A. Konrath, creator of the Jack Daniels series.

Co-author #3: Blake Crouch, author of such awesome thrillers as LOCKED DOORS, DESERT PLACES, and SNOWBOUND.

So, yeah, I did some coattail riding on this one.

What was your favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid, and why?

Spider-Man, because as a kid I was obsessed with Spider-Man, although it was really more about the Electric Company version where he battled villains who stole letters out of words and stuff. But this wasn't a cool Halloween costume, it was a thin plastic Spider-Man mask, and then a costume that wasn't actually a duplicate of Spider-Man's costume, but rather a costume with Spider-Man's picture on the chest. I grew up in Alaska, so my trick-or-treating costumes had to fit over my snowsuit, which kind of limited my options.

Are you planning on doing anything special this Halloween?

I'm going to a Halloween party where we will watch the premiere of THE WALKING DEAD. People damn well better not talk during it.

I understand you’re an aficionado of horror movies… what movie would you recommend most for those who want to be scared witless while curled up on the couch on Halloween night?

I hate to offer up such a generic choice, but you really can't go wrong with the original HALLOWEEN. (And I mean original version. If the DVD has the words "Rob Zombie" on it, you are watching the wrong one and should immediately put it back where you found it. Back away quickly. Don't make eye contact.)

Another great Halloween movie that's much more recent is TRICK R' TREAT, which is an anthology film that has Anna Paquin from TRUE BLOOD. (Despite her presence, it never got a decent theatrical release, but I wouldn't want to clog up your blog with that particular rant.)

We’ll both be attending Necronomicon in St. Petersburg this weekend, and between the panels, the games, and the costume events it looks like there’s a lot going on. I’ve never been to a Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror convention before—any advice on what to expect?

It's kind of like Romantic Times, except that fewer of the men go around shirtless and the two genders are more equally distributed.

It's a lot of fun. You will, of course, see a lot of very elaborate, cool costumes. The panels are generally pretty informal. There are three different rooms playing movies all day/night, along with special events like DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG performed with a shadowcast, ROCKY HORROR-style. Free food in the con suite. A big room of gaming. I've never actually experienced the wonder of "filking," but it's where people perform songs based on SF/Fantasy/Horror media. An art show packed with awesomeness. And Kids and Canines will be there with cute doggies.

C'mon, Terri Garey will be there! How could somebody NOT want to go???

And your final question, worth bonus points and the Immunity Idol:

If all the gummi worms on the planet melted into a huge, globular ball of sugar, with its own intelligence, which then wanted you to call it “Lance”, would you switch to eating chocolate, or become a cannibal?

Chocolate. Even without the intelligence or the name Lance, I'd skip eating the huge globular ball. Gummi products are better in small form. A friend got me a giant gummi bear, which I have displayed on my desk, but I like having it just to say "Whoa! Look at the size of that gummi bear!" I don't actually want to eat it, because I'd get sick.

Also, I don't want to end this interview on a negative note, but why would this make me a cannibal? Are you calling me a gummi worm? YOU'RE the gummi worm, Garey! Ha!

Real mature, Strand.  Real mature.

Jeff Strand is the author of numerous novels, novellas, short stories and articles, most involving blood and guts. He was nominated in 2009 by Horror Writers of America for the coveted Bram Stoker award, but Stephen King managed to snatch it from his bloody, broken grasp, even though he wasn't present to win. Visit Jeff on the website, Gleefully Macabre, at http://www.jeffstrand.com/.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elvira's Movie Macabre: Putting the Boob Back in the Boobtube!

I mentioned Elvira in yesterday's blog post, but didn't give the Queen of Screams her due: I LOVE Elvira! Love her. She's an over-the-top blend of sexual innuendo, morbid humor, campy dialogue and cleavage-centered talent that just leaves me in awe. She's returned to TV in her role as horror movie critic, looking even more fabulous now than she did twenty years ago! (Maybe there's something to those rumors about the dark arts after all...)

I absolutely adore how she pokes fun at herself and the entire horror genre.  I love how she "puts herself out there" (and boy, does she) for a good laugh.  Like good old Dr. Paul Bearer from my childhood, I appreciate how she can unflinchingly deliver some of the most groan-inducing puns you'll ever hear, and make being campy cool.  Actor characterization like Elvira's is a dying art, my friends, so watch her while you can!

Elvira's Movie's Macabre has returned, with 26 all-new episodes, each one showcasing a 2-hour horror film and Elvira's special brand of introduction and commentary. Check your local listings, and check out the trailer for the show:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trailers From Hell: The Brain That Wouldn't Die

I had a late night date with my dear friend Elvira this weekend, as I watched her "ghost host" one of the campiest, low-budget sleaze/horror movie ever made: The Brain That Wouldn't Die. Made in 1962, the film is basically about a scientist whose fiance is killed in a car accident, so he cuts off her head and keeps it alive while he goes out searching for the perfect body to reattach it to. The arrogant, unfeeling jerk is forced to go to strip clubs, cruise the streets for women in skin-tight clothes, and finally kidnap a "figure model" while his fiance's head - fully conscious, angry, and going quietly mad - sits on a tray in his laboratory, plotting her revenge.

Needless to say, it doesn't end well for the scientist, or his craven assistant, or the monster in the closet. (What? Didn't mention the monster in the closet? There's ALWAYS a monster in the closet!)  Even in black and white, with some of the worst special effects and acting known to man, it managed to be appalling creepy. Anyway, here's a great clip with director John Landis, showing some highlights from the film:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Devil Without a Cause - First Review!

I know it's almost Halloween, and I am the last ghoul in the world to want to rush past it, but I find myself already looking forward to summer. Why? Because I have a brand-new series coming out, the Devil's Bargain series, with begins with the release of Devil Without a Cause on May 31st, 2011.  To my surprise (and very great pleasure!), I just got my very first comments about it from an author I really admire:

Devil Without a Cause is a smouldering blend of darkness and sensuality, with a villain so unique, he gave me nightmares AND fantasies. Erotic, alluring and edgy, I couldn't put this book down!"
-- Jeaniene Frost, NYT bestselling author
Pretty cool, huh?  For an avid "Bones" fangirl like me, that's quite an endorsement!  :-)

Those of you who are familiar with my past books might remember the character of Sammy (Satan) Divine.  Oh, that Sammy... he's got a story to tell, that one. And he's determined to tell it his own way, in his own time, with a wicked wink, a killer grin and a bad boy swagger. Once divine, now cast down, forever blamed for the seduction of Eve and the destruction of Paradise, the angel once known as Samael has his own version of mankind's fall from grace, believing he was the one tempted. Earthbound and damned, he's lurked in the shadows for centuries, tormenting the humans he felt were responsible for the loss of his wings.

Now he has a chance to do something about it by taking on the job for which he was originally created -- that of a guardian angel -- but will the lure of Darkness be too strong? John Milton said: 'Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven', and now Sammy has to decide the truth of that for himself.

Having always been fascinated by legends and stories surrounding Satan's Biblical fall from grace, I'm excited to be able to be able to do some of my own worldbuilding around the arrogant fallen angel whose lust for the flesh led him to defy his creator. Where does he go when he's not tempting or tormenting some poor hapless female? *wink* Who (and what) are the creatures that surround him in his Kingdom of Darkness?

Even more intriguing, how do they feel when their Dark Prince is the one being tempted?

The cover art has yet to be finalized, unfortunately, but Devil Without a Cause just went up on Amazon as available for pre-order. (Always a cool moment for an author!)   If you'd like to read more about Sammy Divine, pop over to my website and read an exclusive EXCERPT from Devil Without a Cause.  Stop by my Halloween contest page while you're at it - I'm giving away some awesome stuff this year in honor of the spooky season!  Good luck and Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Roses to Die For: A Skull n' Roses Wreath!

Next up in my ghoulishly grand Halloween giveaways is this awesome Skull n' Roses wreath and garland.

(Drawing to be held October 15th, 2010)

(**PLEASE NOTE that this is not the exact same wreath and garland I'm giving away, but it's very, very close.)

I love this wreath! I gave one like this away a couple of years ago, and so many people wanted it that I found another, and decided to do it again!

Blood-red roses, blackened skulls, black foliage, and some glitter.

What's not to love? :-)

Throw in a couple of black candles and you have everything you need for some deliciously Gothic decorating!

Want to win it? Click the link*!:


*Entering any of these contests will automatically add you to my quarterly newsletter list, to keep you informed of new releases.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Grover Takes On The Old Spice Guy

Given that it's close to Halloween, and that Grover is a monster, I think this qualifies as a Halloween funny. Made me laugh!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

There's More to Life Than Monster Mash

Ever tried to find Halloween music that someone might actually want to hear?  The Halloween party CDs I see in the stores make me cringe - it's all "Monster Mash", "Werewolves of London", the theme from the Addams Family, or worse yet, exaggerated groaning and creaking from recordings that someone likely made back in the 50's.  Since I like to have music playing while scarfing down handing out candy to the local kidlets, I decided to make my OWN playlist of groovy, somewhat spookily themed music, all of which is easy on the ears (pointed or otherwise).  Here's a sample -- take a second to listen to Lullaby, by the Cure, as you read through the playlist:

Lullaby by The Cure
Devils by The 69 Eyes
Lucretia, My Reflection by Sisters of Mercy
Funhouse by P!nk
Put Your Lights On by Santana
Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo
Voodoo by Godsmack
Transylvania by Creature With the Atom Brain
My Last Breath by Evanescence
Creep by Radiohead
Dead Girls Are Easy by The 69 Eyes
She's Only Evil by Alien Ant Farm
She's My Ride Home by Blue October
Night Watch The 69 Eyes

If you haven't heard these songs, I'd urge you to do so. They have ambience that's perfectly suited to the spooky season, without being cliche'. I particularly recommend anything on this list by The 69 Eyes, She's Only Evil by Alien Ant Farm, and Transylvania by Creature With the Atom Brain (spookily trance-like, and very cool).  All available in video form on YouTube, and available for download.

Happy Halloween listening, ghoulfriends!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Happy Halloween from Me to You!

**WINNER ALERT**:  Congratulations to Elizabeth Mize of Raleigh, NC, who won the drawing on October 8th, 2010 for this cool Halloween Basket of Books!

Trick or treat, my pretties!!  My first ghoulish giveaway of the year is this Spooky Basket full of books and music, featuring some awesome paranormal reads and music by The 69 Eyes!  How to win?  Read on!

A Spooky Basket stuffed with books and other goodies!
(Drawing to be held October 8th, 2010)

Includes books:

(multi-author sampler)
(multi-author sampler)
DEMON NIGHT by Meljean Brook
DARK HUNGER by Christine Feehan
(anime version!)
THE BECOMING by Jean C. Stein
HEART OF THE WOLF by Terry Spear

Some awesome music:

BACK IN BLOOD by The 69 Eyes,
featuring my favorite song

And special goodies and candies:

Limited Edition beaded bookmark
Bat tombstone
Coffin tin full of mints
Marshmallow Vampire pop
Eyeball lollipop
Halloween Candy sticks
"What's up, ghoulfriend?" pin
"Raise a little hell with Nicki Styx" magnet


*Entering this contest automatically adds you to my mailing list.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How I Spent My September Vacation

I promised more pics of my recent trip to the English countryside, but got sidetracked with personal matters, including the passing of my elderly Siamese cat.  Maddie almost made it to the ripe old age of 20, but decided to take a well-earned rest instead.  RIP, Maddie girl.

Our first day in England was spent with friends, Anna and Keith Sugden, who were kind enough to pick us up at Gatwick airport, and whisked us off to their home in the village of Great Shelford, on the outskirts of Cambridge.  Here we were introduced to the slower, calmer pace of life in an English town. Tidy little homes and colorful, overflowing gardens; a semi-communal vegetable garden where the locals zealously tend their assigned plots, lots of walkers, runners, bikers, and its own charming pub. 

The next morning we drove from Cambridge to the tiny seaside town of Aldeburgh, overlooking the North Sea.  It was cold and brisk, covered with smooth stones that would one day be but tiny grains of sand. When we got too cold we wandered up to the very quaint and charmingly tiny High Street, where I had my first taste of fish and chips, made with fish caught fresh that morning.  Then it was back to Great Shelford, with a stop for tea and a visit to an absolutely beautiful church in the village of Whittlesford. Some of my favorite pictures of the trip were of the graveyard, but the memory chip containing those pictures seems to have been lost. (Waaah!)

The following day was all about Cambridge, which we explored both in our rental car and on foot.  A busy, bustling college town filled with incredibly impressive buildings dating to the fifth century, narrow cobblestone lanes, and lush, carefully tended grounds and gardens. (Those pictures were lost, too.  (Double waah!!)

Then we got in our rental car and went gallivanting off to the rural region of England known as the Cotswalds.  We spent the next three days relaxing at The Swan (shown on right), a gorgeous old inn that was once a 17th century coaching inn, on the banks of the River Coln.  And yes, there were swans at the Swan.  :-)

We hiked, visited a trout farm, stuffed ourselves with scones, tea and sandwiches, explored the countryside, and wound up in the absolutely charming little village of Cirencester, where we visited the beautiful St. John the Baptist Church, the Corinium Museum (Cirencester was the "Roman capital" of England during the 1st through 3rd centuries, complete with a working amphitheatre).  Parts of the ancient Roman wall surrounding the town still stand.

After a few days of this, it was back to our friend's home in Great Shelford, where we undertook the grand adventure of a train ride from Cambridge to London.

On a typically rainy English day, we arrived at St. Pancras station and walked across London, past red double decker buses and black cabs and perfectly groomed green squares and gardens, to the amazingly awesome British Library. 

There we saw original works by Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Lewis Carroll, viewed incredibly detailed and colorful illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages, and even saw the original Magna Carta.  Being a big fan of HBO's series, The Tudors, I think my favorite thing was seeing the well-worn prayer roll of King Henry the VIII, which he handled every single morning while doing his devotionals.  After chopping off a couple of his wive's heads, he obviously felt the need for a lot of prayer.  :-)

From there it was on to the much celebrated (and rightly so!) British Museum, where we saw mummies, artifacts and historical treasures spanning well over two thousand years worth of history. 

Here I am examining the remains of a man buried in a peat bog during the Iron Age. (Fascinating! That man had a story to tell, and the author in me would love to write it!) The mummies were pretty amazing as well, and so were the bits of gold, silver, pottery and sculpture left behind by Greeks, the Romans, the Vikings, the Celts, the Mesopotamians and the Etruscans, and various other ancient civilizations (too many to see in one day!)

The best part of the trip, though, was the company.  I got to spend time with my dear friend Anna (here we are soaking up some literary vibes in London):

And these two handsome blokes, who for some reason, followed us everywhere :-):

All in all, a truly wonderful time, some great memories, and worth those incredibly long 9 hour flights both ways.  Still recovering from the jet lag, though!  It was a long-awaited and much enjoyed vacation, but now it's time to get back to the real world... Book #2 in the Devil's Bargain series isn't finished yet, and Halloween is coming up!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

God Save The Queen, and Pass Me A Biscuit

I just flew in from London, and boy, are my arms tired.

(Aw, c'mon... so I felt the need for some corny American humor! The British version is very dry and often hard to understand!)

The reality is that I just got back from 10 beautiful, wonderful days on a pleasure trip to England. I was soothed by the beauty of the countryside, and amazed by the industrial bustle of cities like London and Cambridge.  I was awed by the history of it's cathedrals, cemeteries and museums, impressed by the order and the architecture, and happy to be coddled by afternoon tea.  I enjoyed the company of old friends, and was very pleased to make the acquaintance of new ones.  I ate far too much and slept far too little, and read a total of five different novels while traveling or just lazing about.

It was glorious, and as soon as I've got myself all sorted out, I'll post pictures.  :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Zombies: They're Not Just For Halloween Anymore

Zombies. They're everywhere these days, aren't they? From PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES to this annual "Thrill the World" event, where people all over the globe dress in zombie costumes and dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller", in an annual attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "largest simultaneous Thriller dance":

23,000 people danced last year, all while dressed as rotting, slavering, spastic dead people. (Looks like fun, but I don't really get the rotting, slavering part, because I am a big scaredy-cat weenie, and people who look like they want to eat my brains freak me out.) :-)

The modern day conception of zombies usually involves either some kind of deadly virus, or a post-apocalyptic disaster involving radiation (who hasn't seen 28 Days Later--great zombie movie!) but did you know that the true origin of the zombie mythos lies not with science, but with voodoo?

While I was writing my first novel, DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY, I did a lot of research into the exact nature of the whole 'Night of the Living Dead' thing. Voodoo priests and priestesses (called houngans, or mambos) could supposedly re-animate the dead by forcing a a living person's spirit to enter a dead body. The reanimated body was called the cheval, or the "horse", as it was merely a vessel for the soul to "ride" as long as it remained in the physical world. The person whose soul had been stolen would then become a zombie of a sort as well, a mere shell of who they'd been before, susceptible to the will of the priest or priestess. Two zombies for the price of one: a dead, rotting re-animated corpse, and a healthy, soul-less slave to evil. Scary, huh? :-)

For the record, I don’t believe that corpses can be re-animated. But I do believe the spirit is eternal, and I do believe evil exists, so the concept of creating zombies through some kind of soul transfer makes a weird kind of sense, doesn't it?

Aw, c'mon... it's just as valid a concept as viruses or radiation!

Zombies. They're the new black, and they're not just for Halloween anymore.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Freedom Playground - Where Kids Are Free to Be

I am so proud of my friend Stefani Busansky that I just had to share this video clip with you (at right are Stefani's two children, Claire and Sarah).  Sarah (11), who is bright and sweet and very funny, was born with cerebral palsy. Stefani, like most moms, wanted nothing more than to see her laugh and play and be a kid, despite her mobility limitations.

So Stefani, instead of complaining about it, DID something about it, and founded the non-profit Freedom Playground Foundation, single-handedly raising $500,000 toward a brand-new "barrier-free" children's playground. That money was then matched by the city, and Freedom Playground was officially opened to the public two years ago. Stefani's fund-raising efforts didn't stop there, though, as she now works full time spawning an entire series of all-access playgrounds throughout the city.

This month, on behalf of LaVoy Exceptional Center, a public school that provides educational and life skills programs for students with disabilities, Stefani and Sarah will travel 1900 miles from Tampa to Minnesota in a fundraising "Wheel-A-Thon" to raise funds for a sensory garden and natural play area at LaVoy.

Since the trip will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities act, Stefani and Sarah will be visiting hotels, restaurants, attractions and recreational areas and reporting on accessibility—the good and the bad—on Facebook and Twitter.

They had a big kick-off party this morning at the playground, complete with pancakes, comedians and lots of laughing, smiling kids.  I'd never ask anyone to donate for anything I don't believe in with my whole heart, but if you'd like to help a few more kids laugh, consider making a donation yourself, by clicking on THIS LINK, or go visit the Freedom Playground Foundation for more info.

Thanks, and have a great Labor Day weekend!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Win A "Come To The Dark Side, We Have Cookies" T-shirt!

You've signed up for my newsletter, right?

Because if you have, you're already eligible to win one of these cool t-shirts, the first of which I'm giving away on Sunday, August 15th (winner's choice of M or L).

What? You say you're not signed up for my newsletter, which I only send out 3 or 4 times a year, merely to keep readers informed of new releases, signings and appearances (with subscriber drawings for signed Advance Reader Copies, some Halloween madness, and other cool stuff thrown in)? 

Geez. Have you been living under a rock or something?

Anyway, if you want this cool t-shirt (and why wouldn't you?), or any of the fascinating, scintillating information listed above, or just want a chance to win stuff related to my books year round, go ahead and

I'll be giving away FOUR of these shirts over the next 6 months, the details which you can read about on my Contest Page (if you're so inclined), or just click the green button above and be done with it (if you're not).

Resistance is futile.  You will be assimilated.  The dark side awaits...

Good luck, and have a ghoulishly great Friday the 13th!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

From "Writer" to "Author": the FAQ's of My Writing Career

While I was in Orlando for the recent RWA conference, I did an interview with a reporter from local newspaper, the West Orange County Times.  It reinforced what I already knew, which is that people are often more interested in the story BEHIND how a writer becomes an author, and how we, as individuals, go about our process. So, just in case you're totally bored and have nothing to do this afternoon :), here's a list of the questions I get asked most frequently, and how I answer them:

How did you get started in the publishing business?

I decided back in 2001 that if I was truly going to succeed as a novelist, I needed to educate myself about the industry. I got on the Internet and discovered Romance Writers of America—they were having a conference in New Orleans that year, and it seemed like the perfect place to start. (The Garden District, the Cajun cuisine, Jackson Square… all of it dear to this Southern girl’s heart.) So, not knowing a soul, not knowing a query from a question mark, a synopsis from a synonym or “category” from cat food :), I registered, got on a plane and went to every workshop I possibly could, soaking it all up like a sponge.

I’ll be honest with you—it was baffling. It was overwhelming. It was more scary than the tour I took one afternoon of the local cemeteries and voodoo shops! :) So much to learn, so much to sift through. But it was also inspiring – I met so many women who were excited and enthused and interested in what they were doing. I remember seeing all the women in their beautiful dresses heading toward the RITA and Golden Heart Awards ceremony, and thinking how very special it must feel to be nominated for an award like that. It was truly a dream come true to be one of those women seven years later!

Lest you think I stopped there, forget it - that was just where the journey began.  I spent the next five years honing my craft, learning the hard way all the things I didn't know by sweating my way through four (as still unpublished) manuscripts, entering writing contests and learning from the feedback, submitting proposals to agents and editors and getting rejected, and in short, immersing myself in the CRAFT of writing bigger and better books.  Publishing isn't for the faint of heart, but if you're a writer, you write, you take your lumps and your disappointments, and then you write some more.

Any surprises? Biggest challenge so far?

I’d have to say that the biggest surprise for me was learning how little control an author has over the actual “marketing” of their book once it’s been sold. The cover, the title, the release date, the back cover copy—all the things that you envision as you’re writing it become subject to the decisions made by your publisher and their team of experts. My publisher, Avon HarperCollins, has been absolutely wonderful about allowing me input in all those areas, but the ultimate decisions are always up to them.

The biggest challenge? I’d say coming to the realization that once you’ve finished that book, you really need to get busy on the next one! We focus so hard on getting published—I think in order to truly succeed, you have to realize that as an author, your job is never really done. The book may be done, but your job as a storyteller isn’t. There are people out there who are clamoring for more stories!

What is the best part of being a novelist?

You mean besides hanging out with Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp? Fielding movie offers? Dodging the paparazzi? :-D The best part of being a novelist (besides making my own schedule and making up stories like the fairy tale above), is knowing that there are people out there who are reading and enjoying my work. The emails I get from readers, the fun I have knowing I’ve made people laugh and taken them out of their daily routine, if only for a little while, is by far the best part for me.

What’s the average day in the writer’s life look like for you? Are you scheduled and organized or are you more the “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” type?

I’m an “early-to-bed-early-to-rise” type who finds herself much more creative and productive in the morning than in the afternoon. I don’t have a set schedule, but after breakfast with my husband, I take a power walk with the dog and then sit down to work at my desk. I take a short break for lunch (usually reading while I eat), and then I’m back to work. I’m still there at 5:00, but I have a harder time focusing in the late afternoon, so lots of times I find myself blog surfing, answering emails or shopping online by then. (Don’t tell my editor!)

What are your inspirations for your stories? Any tips and tricks for someone who is stuck?

I get inspired by great settings or quirky things and/or people. I’m a big believer in the “real life is stranger than fiction” example. I find music is a great way to get my mind going, but I absolutely can’t have music playing while I write—I need quiet for that. Sometimes, to get the creative juices flowing, I do a very small collage at the start of each book, with pictures and phrases that represent what I’m “going for” in that particular story. I keep it by my monitor until the manuscript is finished.

Have you had a mentor, critique group or teacher that has helped you get where you are today? Have you been a mentor to someone else?

I’ve never had a mentor, but I’ve had a couple of really wonderful authors who encouraged me along the way, particularly NYT best-selling romantic suspense author Mariah Stewart. We were total strangers when we met at a conference in NJ, but she’d read my work in a contest. She took the time to sit down and give me some excellent career advice, which led (by a bit of a roundabout route) to me signing with my agent. I strongly believe that having a great literary agent is a necessity in this business.

The amazingly intelligent Madeline Hunter also took the time to do an in-depth written critique of one of my manuscripts, followed by a one-on-one career planning session when we happened to meet in person at a conference.  Her encouragement that I actually had the ability to succeed as a writer was key to me pushing forward until it became a reality.

As for critique partners, I've had some wonderful people who read my earlier work, and helped me make it better.  Since my editor is now the ultimate “critiquer” of my work, I don't have a "partner" per se, but I do have a dear friend I consider my "beta reader".  No scene by scene critiques - she'll read the finished novel and tell me if she sees any areas of weakness in the overall product. I’ve tried to “pay it forward” by acting as judge in writing contests, and try to be as encouraging and informative as possible to anyone who’s interested in writing.

What did it mean to you to be nominated for two different RITA awards? How did you feel when you got the call? And what do you think the RITA means for the romance novel genre?

Getting that phone call was one of the most exciting moments of my life—getting a second call fifteen minutes later was indescribable! I actually thought there’d been a mistake, and they’d notified me twice in error! It wasn’t until the very nice lady from RWA explained to me calmly that I’d finaled in two different categories (Best First Book and Best Paranormal Romance), that it sunk in. (Well, actually, it took another few minutes after I’d hung up to sink in… I think I was numb at that point!)

The RITA is the romance writing equivalent of the Oscar for actors, mainly because your work is judged and nominated by an anonymous jury of your peers.  Winning the RITA for Best First Book was incredibly humbling - a lot of good books come out every year, but somehow a book with a slightly scary cover and the odd title of DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY managed to bring home the romance gold.  I'm grateful every day for the experience, and for the chance to share my stories with readers.

Bottom line, I love being a writer.  It's the greatest job on earth.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The 2010 Romance Writers of America Conference, or ..... "Why Are All These Women Smiling?"

This time last week I was packing for the biggest annual event in the romance writing industry, the 30th Romance Writers of America conference. Over 2000 women in attendance, members of a thriving organization of over 11,000 strong, talented women who write, or aspire to write, novels about true love and other disasters. :)

This year, the conference was held at the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, FL. People complained about hot, painful reality of Florida in July, but the heat didn't bother me a bit; I never set foot outside until after dark! 

I really enjoyed laughing with old friends (the picture above is of some of my oldest and dearest pals from Writers At Play) and making new ones, like the uber-cool Juliana Stone (far left) and the amazingly awesome and energetic Joss Ware (far right).  Jules, Joss, Pam Palmer, Jocelynn Drake and I have joined collective paranormal/urban fantasy forces with like-minded authors from Avon, HarperTeen, William Morris and Eos, and formed a group blog and Facebook page called "The Supernatural Underground: Books That Go Bump In the Night".  If you like romantic reading material that includes vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, dragons, faeries, or the occasional post-apocalyptic hook-up, you should totally check us out.  :-) I'll be giving away a variety of hot and steamy paranormal reads autographed personally by these cool chicks in the week ahead!

At 5:30, we headed for the RWA Literacy booksigning, which was HUGE.  (Imagine a big, noisy room full of a thousand booklovers--readers, booksellers, fans, tourists--and over 500 authors, all talking at once.)  The proceeds from the book sales during that event are donated to literacy programs all over the country, designed to introduce others to the joy of reading. Over $55,000 was raised over the next two hours: a lot of books were signed, a lot of pictures were taken and a lot of friends were made!

The next day few days went by in a blur: a meeting with my agent, the lovely Christina Hogrebe; co-presenting a panel on the writing and cross-genre marketing of Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction Fantasy novels; discussing career plans and market trends with my writing friends; a publisher Open House signing where I literally signed and gave away 200 books; a publisher cocktail party at Epcot's Living Seas (which was awesome!); attended workshops on Bookseller Buying Habits with head buyers from Borders, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, as well as a Career Planning workshop headed by three of the industry's top literary agents.

To wrap it all up, I got to enjoy the incredible achievement of dear friend Beth Andrews, who walked away from the RITA award ceremony with her very own golden lady in the Series Contemporary category for her novel, A NOT-SO-PERFECT PAST, and the stellar achievements of Angi Morgan, who won a Golden Heart award for her soon to be published, SEE JANE RUN.  My friends and I celebrated into the night, taking pictures of us all glammed up, and knowing that as soon as we went to bed, our jam-packed fun would all be over.  We made sure to get our annual "leg shot", which pretty much guarantees writing success in the year to come (Hey, don't knock the tradition - it really seems to be paying off for me and my friends!).

I miss them already, and after a few good, solid nights worth of sleep, I'd be ready to do it all again!