Posted by Jeanne Adams May 9 2013, 2:27 am in Allison Leota, Barbara Vey, Beyond Her Book, dianna Love, Eloisa James, James Rollins, Jeanne Adams, Sabrina Jeffries, Sharon Sala
In April, for the second year in a row, Publisher’s Weekly blogger, Barbara Vey held a fabulous Reader Appreciation Luncheon. Now, ya’ll may not know Barbara’s story, but she’s a reader. A BIGTIME Reader, just like most of us.
I’m probably not telling the story exactly right, but a few years ago, Avid Reader Barbara went on a Reader/Writer cruise. She ended up sitting next to an exec from Publisher’s Weekly – also known as PW, one of the biggest reviewing magazines/websites in the nation. (Barbara thought the gal was an editor)
When the woman engaged her in conversation, Barbara ended up telling her exactly what she thought was wrong with publishing. The woman was so enamored of Barbara’s style, she contacted her a few weeks later and asked her to do a genre fiction blog for PW. After asking her son what a blog was, Barbara agreed and the rest is history.
Grins. Yeah, try writing that into a book and see if your editor lets it pass! I can hear it now…”That wouldn’t happen in real life…”
So, the fabulous blog, Beyond Her Book was born. You can check it out here, at http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/
Then, Barbara, reader gal extraordinaire decided she wanted to acknowledge the READERS. Yep. Another great idea came into being. The inaugural year of the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon - 2012 – featured Heather Graham as the keynote. (Fabulous speech, btw) Barbara, in her modest way, figured it would garner about 50 readers.
More than one hundred showed up. (On the right is Bandit Favorite, Dianna Love, with Barbara’s Sisters!)
This year, James Rollins was the keynote (pictured at the beginning with Barbara Vey herself), and TWO hundred people showed up. There were door prizes for readers, and book-swag from authors. Every table featured an author, including yours truly. :> (Bandita Trish Milburn was there last year as well.) Frequent Bandit Guest Authors were in the audience both last year and this – Dianna Love, Sharon Sala, Jana Oliver, Sabrina Jeffries, Lori Handeland, Angie Fox, Eloisa James, Diane Kelly, Cherry Adair and many more – and I’m sure the competition for those tables (by authors) and seats at the tables of favorite authors (by readers) will be in high demand next year as well.
Next year, in the lovely month of April, in the fascinating city of Milwaukee, Barbara will hold her third annual Reader Appreciation Luncheon. The very special Debbie Macomber will be the keynote.
Hopefully, new pals of mine, like Liz Lincoln, Allison Leota, Eileen Dryer, Maggie May Gallagher, Denise Swanson, Jerol Anderson, A.Y. Stratton and others will be there again, because I had an absolute BLAST getting to know the readers and some of my fellow authors as well!
Y’know, we have such a great time here on the Romance Bandits Blog, and I hope we never forget to thank YOU, our readers, for reading and having fun not only with the blog itself, but with our books. Every chance we get to meet you, from the Buns and Roses Tea, to things like Barbara’s Reader Luncheon, to Romantic Times’ RT Convention, to RWAustralia, to the Literacy Signing at the National RWA Conference, is a chance to thank you for being interested in what we write.
The stories we tell have meaning because you enjoy them, you buy them, you pass the word to friends and fellow readers that a book is fabulous, a great read, or something you won on the Romance Bandits blog and never expected to enjoy….but did!
So, Thanks. A LOT.
And if you just happen to be in Milwaukee next April, I hope you’ll come sit at MY table, have a great lunch and enjoy hearing Debbie Macomber talk. I hope you win door prizes galore. Ha! (Even MORE that you win here!)
I promise, if you sit at my table, not only will we have fun, there WILL be great swag from me too. Snork!!
So Bandit Buddies, do you like these kinds of events?
Have you ever been to a literacy signing, or a book signing at a book store?
Do you like your books autographed, or do you prefer to keep them pristine?
If you use a Nook, Kindle, or read on your computer, do you like the Keeper Kase Cards that both Nancy and I offer, along with Dianna Love and several other authors? (These are signed postcards that you can keep like you would keep an old-fashioned autograph collection!)
I signed several Kindles and Kindle covers, as well as a Nook or two. Would you ever have your favorite author sign your e-reader?
(Photos are all by me or used with permission from Barbara Vey Reader Luncheon Photos)
Posted by Cassondra Murray Mar 19 2013, 2:21 am in Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, dianna Love, Riley Walker novels, suspense, television news, Thrillers, tv journalism, Wes Sarginson
Cassondra: My mom says I was too young, and that I shouldn’t be able to remember, but I do.
I can just barely remember Walter Cronkite reporting the first moon landing because it was such a big deal that my parents stayed up late. They never stayed up late. I was a tiny little thing.
That’s my first memory of television news, and it made an impression.
I went on to study journalism, and to admire people who reported the news with integrity and earned the trust of the audience.
Today I’m pleased to welcome to the Bandit lair a man with that kind of track record.
I met former NBC anchor Wes Sarginson two years ago in Atlanta. It was clear immediately why this man has been so successful in his life’s work. He obviously enjoys people and the tales of their lives. I could have listened to his stories all night, and I knew right then that I wanted to introduce him to all of you here.
Wes’s career in tv journalism spans four decades, and before he retired, he was behind the news desks in Montgomery, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tampa and Atlanta.
He’s just launched his fiction debut, so it’s the perfect opportunity to bring him for a visit. Even better, his new thriller, Justifiable, is a collaboration with a long-time friend of the Bandits, Dianna Love.
Sven is behind the bar slinging drinks, so everybody get comfortable and please join me in the usual rowdy fashion as we overwhelm…uh….I mean…welcome… Wes Sarginson.
Cassondra: Wes, we’re all curious about your days as an anchorman. I know your first job as a teenager was in broadcasting, but did you have dreams of reporting the news when you were a little kid?
Wes: No, I didn’t plan to be a journalist. I was working my way through Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, and got a call from NBC news in New York.
Cassondra: This was in the early-mid 1960s, right?
Wes: (nodding yes) They wanted someone to go to Selma before the big march to Montgomery and asked if I would do it. I asked “how much will you pay?” They gave me their fee schedule. I asked if they would pay mileage for my car. They said they would pay ten cents a mile. I jumped on it. When I got there it seemed pretty exciting and I was hooked. After a few radio interviews NBC sent a stringer photog and I got a couple of tv stories on the air before the regular reporters arrived. I covered many civil rights stories after that.
Cassondra: And that led to your interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at what would become a pivotal moment in history. What was that like for you?
Wes: I think Dr. King took pity on me. I was very young and had no idea what to ask him but he was a pro and if I didn’t ask the right questions he gave me the answers he wanted on the air. He led me in the right direction. It was a good thing that I have always been naturally curious because I listened to his answers and quickly developed a conversational routine of questions. Some reporters come prepared with a list and when they ask their list they often forget to do follow ups. After that first interview with Dr.King he would spot me at other events and often come over to talk. That was a real break for a young reporter.
Cassondra: You went on to report many high-profile stories over the years, but you’re perhaps best known for your Wes Side Story segments, which were inspirational news items that often called attention to a person or organization that needed help. Where did you get the idea for those segments?
Wes: *shakes head* It really wasn’t my idea.I had a general manager at the Tampa station, Jim Zimmerman, who was a former Marine. He called me in and said,”I like the way you write. Some of your stories make people react, even cry. I want you to do one every day. We’ll call them Wes Side Stories…”.
I told him, “I don’t like the name Wes Side Story.”
He answered, “I don’t really care what you like, that’s the name, and I want one every day at the end of your show.”
That’s the way it started. In ten years at that station, I think I missed having a Wes Side three times. On those days huge stories broke and I did my part of the show live in the location of those stories.
Cassondra: You published your first book in 1982 about Fast Eddie Watkins, a famous bank robber. The book is out of print now, but readers who are interested can still find it from second-market vendors like Amazon. A brief snippet from that book reads, “Eddie held up 61 banks and never harmed a soul. The 46-year career of Fast Eddie Watkins had begun for a man who would soon become the only man listed on both the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Men list and Dun & Bradstreet’s list of up-and-coming business executives at the same time.”
How did you get interested in Fast Eddie?
Wes: I was co-anchoring with Monica Kaufman on channel two in Atlanta at the time. We were having a rash of robberies and I was asked to do a series,so I talked with a top FBI bank robbery specialist. He said, “You can’t do a bank robbery series without interviewing E.O.Watkins.”
Watkins just happened to be at the federal pen in Atlanta. I knew the warden from stories earlier in Michigan when he was a warden up there, so I had access. Watkins was a charmer and talked me into writing the book.
Cassondra: And it did well.
Wes: I think it made it up to number three on the NY Times Bestseller list. It was good enough to get a movie deal, but the movie company went bankrupt. I look back at that book and wish I had written it better…
Cassondra: Ah, the curse of all writers. Wishing we could pull it back and fix it. And nobody feels that more than fiction writers. In January you launched your fiction debut. It’s a mainstream thriller in collaboration with Dianna Love. Here’s the back cover blurb from that book:
Children are missing, adults are being murdered and a city is on the brink of exploding.
The key to saving lives is a secret whispered in confession.
Once a beloved, award-winning investigative journalist, Riley Walker now anchors for a television station rated the worst in Philadelphia. That’s how it works when a top newsman makes an epic mistake in front of the whole world. The busier Riley stays, the less he thinks about the one decision that will haunt him forever. His vow? Never get involved again. That works until a killer uses Riley’s past against him, and targets a child the world has forgotten. Riley is the only one who can save him, but when Riley digs deep for the truth, he uncovers evidence fingering a powerful player no one will believe is guilty. Dangerous politics pit Riley against a serial killer, and threaten all he’s fought to regain
To save the life of a child and stop a killer on a savage murder spree, Riley must fight an enemy far greater than the tide of public anger rolling against him. He’ll have to face his own demons, and the horror of the child who died because the last time…Riley was wrong.
Cassondra: The hero in this book is a tv news anchor, just like you. Why did you want to tell Riley’s story?
Wes: I know there are time and money constraints, but if you just tell the obvious facts, television news will stay as boring as it is now. I don’t think many reporters or anchors take the time to get into the people behind the stories. I took the time to do that with Wes Side Stories…I always felt I had to go behind the obvious…and I wanted to write about an anchorman who did that.
Cassondra: So you talked about it to Dianna Love.
Wes: Dianna pushed me to get this done … Dianna is the driving force behind all of this, and I hope she thinks it was worthwhile. I know I do.
Cassondra: I absolutely love this book. The characters in this story are rich and interesting and I fell in love with them. Readers in the lair will want to know that this is a mainstream thriller and NOT a romance, but there are certainly romantic elements, and a budding relationship between Riley and DA Investigator Kirsten Willingham Massey. Of course, Kirsten and Riley are pitted against one another, and…well…that’s all I’ll say about that conflict.
Of all thesupporting characters in this book, though, I particularly love Biddy. Ron “Biddy” Bidowski is a former Navy SEAL turned cameraman, and Riley’s sidekick in this series. Wes, I read that Biddy was a conglomerate of several cameramen you’ve worked with over the years.
Wes: I had three great cameramen and one female shooter. The four of them always had my back. Once we got in a confrontation with the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. The female camera operator unlimbered her heavy film camera and sort of hit him with it . We both denied that later to save her job. It was so long ago I think I can talk about it now.
Cassondra: Wow. I absolutely get the sense of that from reading Justifiable. The spirit of it and the watching each others’ backs in tense situations. That’s in there. Amazing.
Wes: I also had a huge teammate in Tampa. The newsroom called us Jumbo and Dumbo. He was six-five. I’m six-two, so guess who was Dumbo?
Then there was the former submariner…if there ever was a fight where we were outnumbered and clearly the underdogs, I would want Richard by my side. I shouldn’t give you his last name. It was Crabbe. He was often Crabby, but I love that man to this very day.
Cassondra: You’ve spent your life telling stories, and with the Riley Walker novels, you’re still doing that. How is reporting the news similar to writing fiction?
Wes: In both you are telling stories. In tv you just have to do it in under a minute and a half… in tv everything is quick…but if Dianna wasn’t the driving force behind the Riley Walker stories they would all be a thousand pages long. You would need a forklift to move a case of books from one place to the next. Story telling is the same in long or short form. If you tell it well it will sell. If you don’t it will grow mold.
Y’all can read an excerpt of Justifiable at Wes’s website, or Dianna’s website. Wes and Dianna will give away a signed copy of Justifiable to one commenter today, so tell us, Bandits and Buddies..
Did your family watch tv news when you were little?
Or did you listen to the radio? Or did you get your news from the newspaper?
What’s your first memory of the news on television?
Do you remember any particular news reporters?
What’s the first major event you remember sitting down to watch, waiting for the reporters to find out and tell you what was happening?
Do you still watch the news on tv?
Or do you get your news from the internet?
Wes will be here today, and Dianna Love will be stopping in to visit too. Do you have any questions for Wes or for Dianna?
Have you ever read a novel about a television reporter?
Selma-Montgomery march image is in public domain.
Posted by crocodesigns Sep 12 2011, 4:49 am in Atlanta, Belador, Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, demons, dianna Love, FEENIX, friends, Midnight, My Feenix Art Contest, procrastination, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Sven, urban fantasy
by Cassondra Murray
With two very special guests
I’m just cleaning up the bar—the center for parties and activity in the lair—putting the last glasses away as the huge grandfather clock in the front room begins to chime. I’ve been burning the late-night oil the past few nights, coming up with a new signature cocktail for the lair.
Okay, truth. I’m stuck on my latest story and when I’m stuck, this is what I do. I clean. I decorate. I mix drinks. Anything but sit and stare at that blank page.
The clock finishes its chiming.
Well, almost midnight. The darn thing is always running ten minutes fast. I suppose I could fix that. Use up a little more of the time I’m NOT writing on my uncooperative story.
I go out to the oversized front foyer and stare up at the clock face, two feet higher than I can reach. Where’s one of Joanie’s gladiators when you need one?
I turn to get a ladder when my phone bleeps with a text. Probably Jeanne in the writing caves, asking where the heck I am and why the heck I’m not down there, staring at my going-nowhere story and typing words. Can’t fix a blank page. I can just hear her saying it. *sigh* I won’t be able to hide forever. I pull the phone out of my pocket.
Not Jeanne. It’s Dianna Love.
Where r u? it reads.
In the lair. Goofing off. I type. Where r u? I hit send and head for the closet in the kitchen.
Bleeeeep. At the front door. Let us in.
What? Dianna is at the door to the lair—this late? She’s the one who gets up at 4:00 in the morning—about the time I’m usually heading to bed. And who is “us”?
I glance at the time on my phone to make sure I haven’t fallen through some time portal. Yup. Eight minutes to 12.
I lift the heavy bar, flip the big metal deadbolts and swing open the door to see Dianna on the front porch. “What’s going on? Why didn’t you knock or ring the bell?”
“I didn’t want to wake up everybody else,” she says, glancing around with a nervous look. “Where are those gladiators?”
“Not to worry,” I say. “Ermingarde’s asleep.”
“What ith ermmy-gah?”
I look down toward the source of the gruff little voice. “Oh, hi Feenix!”
I can’t help but grin at the leathery little guy. Feenix is a two-foot-tall gargoyle with big yellow-orange eyes and EVL TOO printed on his shirt. His shirt says that because he belongs to someone who rides a GSX-R —or Jixxer, for short– and has EVL ONE on her motorcycle tag. He grins back, showing off his two fangs. I explain, “Ermingarde is the lair’s dragon.”
“What ith dwagon?” This question also from Feenix.
Dianna breaks in as she steps over the lair’s threshold and Feenix follows, thumping along on his fat, four-toed feet. She tells him, “A dragon is something you don’t want to meet right now, Feenix.”
I glance at the grandfather clock, then at my phone again. Something is definitely off here. “Uh, Dianna, it’s almost midnight. You don’t do midnight.”
“No kidding, “she says. “But you do. That’s why I’m here. I need you to help me babysit¸ remember?”
I squint at Dianna as though she has three heads. “You’re serious? Now? First off, I don’t have a maternal bone in my body….and second…I thought last month when you mentioned babysitting Feenix, that it meant a couple of hours maybe. This afternoon…outside.”
“As if I inherited any mothering genes?” Dianna gives me a wry grin. “ I have fish and motorcycles. And yeah, I thought this would be day gig, too, but Evalle came over in a panic an hour ago. She was out taking Feenix for a ride near my house when she got a RED V 2 text and had to take off for VIPER headquarters. She had no time to take Feenix home, so she swung by my house, and reminded me that Feenix is my responsibility, too, sort of like a godparent I guess.”
Evalle Kincaid is an Alterant—half Belador, half unknown. VIPER is a multinational coalition of all types of unusual beings and powerful entities created to protect the world from supernatural predators.
As one of the Belador warriors who support VIPER, Evalle works in the southeastern region—more specifically in Atlanta– protecting humans. Dianna became fascinated by this secret group about seven years ago when she realized most humans don’t know they exist, and she decided to chronicle their activities. Since then, she teamed up with #1 NYT best selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon to co-write what is believed to be a fictitious series on the Beladors.
The first Belador novel, BLOOD TRINITY, came out in 2010 and debuted on the New York Times list. If only people knew the truth behind this series…
Then again… better that they think it’s fiction. Otherwise there could be widespread panic.
Evalle is one of three main characters in the series. The other two are Evalle’s best friends, Tzader Burke and Vladimir Quinn. All three keep Dianna and Sherrilyn busy documenting Belador activities.
The text Evalle received tonight—RED V 2— was a Code Red to drop whatever she was doing and go straight to VIPER headquarters in the north Georgia mountains, and that’s how Dianna—a definite daywalker—has ended up on a midnight ride all the way to the lair for babysitting help from an admitted vampire like me.
“Looks like we’ll be up for a bit,” I say as I turn down the lights in the front foyer. “A bunch of Bandits are down in the writing caves, on deadlines, so I bet Sven has coffee going in the kitchen.”
I ask Dianna, “what’s up with the VIPER team? Some kind of emergency?”
“Apparently there’s been an increase in demon activity in downtown Atlanta. Evalle couldn’t say much. Just that she wasn’t able to ask Tzader or Quinn to take Feenix home because they were called out, too.” Tzader is the North American Belador Maistir (translation – head Belador badass) and Quinn has a rare gift—he can mind lock–plus he’s the investment genius who oversees Belador finances.
I glance behind Dianna as I shut the door, to find her vermillion BMW F-650-GS motorcycle parked just at the bottom of the flight of steps leading to the front porch.
“You’re on the bike?”
“Yeah. Feenix rides all the time with Evalle, so I figured it would be easier and more familiar for him than riding in a car. And I thought this way I might actually keep my leather car upholstery intact.” She casts a look at the sharp claws on Feenix’s short fingers.
“What ith upothery?” Feenix blinks up at both of us, looking from one to the other. I grin as I shut the door and Dianna tries to describe a car seat to someone who has only recently learned how to count to ten. Evalle rescued Feenix from a demented sorcerer and the little guy is just learning to talk.
I turn back around just as a gladiator walks into the room on his regular midnight security patrol through the lair. He stops in his tracks, holding a silver-colored training shield at his side.
Feenix starts to flap his wings and dances from side to side on his pudgy little feet. “Peetha!”
Dianna takes one look at the gorgeous man and grabs Feenix’s four-fingered hand. “Ah, shoot. The shield,” she says. Feenix is stronger than he looks, and tugs Dianna forward, heading toward the metal-clad warrior, saying, “Peetha. Peetha. Peetha.”
“No, Feenix,” Dianna says, struggling to hold him back. “That’s not a pizza. You can’t eat the shield.”
“Bran,” I say, trying to keep my voice calm, “you and the other gladiators might want to lose the metal shields and armor just for tonight.” Bran frowns at me. “Oh, and if you could grab one of the other guys, y’all should hide that suit of armor at the door to the back hallway.” Bran’s frown deepens, and I explain. “Feenix loves anything silver…he eats metal. He thinks your shield is a silver pizza.”
Dianna is trying to distract Feenix when a streak of yellow feathers darts into the room. The rooster takes one look at Feenix and starts to flap and sqwawk.
Feenix beats his bat-like wings in the air wildly, lifting off the floor, and makes a honking cry sound. His eyes glow bright orange and smoke curls from his nose. Dianna tells him, “Calm down, Feenix. The Golden Rooster won’t hurt anyone. Promise.”
“That crazy rooster was at Jane’s place in New York until a few minutes ago,” Bran says. “I don’t know how he got back in here without my knowing it.” Bran takes off up the curving staircase after the GR, and Feenix finally settles back to the floor, eyes rounded in worry. “Roother?”
“Yes,” Dianna soothes. “Nice rooster.”
Well, that “nice” part is debatable, but Feenix has managed to not blow fire out his nose and burn down the lair or make rooster crispies, so with the little gargoyle calmed down, we make our way to the kitchen. I can smell the coffee as soon as we open the door.
As we walk in, Sven is coming through the back with a small stainless steel bucket full of shiny, silver-colored lug nuts. He glances up, taking in Dianna and Feenix. “They’re here already?”
He sets the bucket on the table and grins at Feenix. It’s hard not to grin at Feenix if you’ve read BLOOD TRINITY, the first book in the Belador series, and I’d given Sven a copy last October when the book was released. Sven nudges the bucket forward. “I got him some treats.”
“Sven, this is why we love you,” I say. Sven tosses one of the lug nuts to me, but before I can catch it, Feenix leaps up, flapping, and snags it out of the air with his tongue.
“Yeah, but I had an ulterior motive,” Sven says, and runs his hand lovingly across the giant Viking commercial range—all silver-toned stainless steel. “My appliances are sacred. I also got him a bean bag chair.” Sven points toward the corner of the kitchen at an enormous, bright green bean bag.
“Wow,” I say. “That’s ugly.”
“Yeah,” Dianna says, “but Feenix will love it.” As if to prove her right, Feenix toddles over to the bean bag and pokes at it. Then he drags it across the room toward us.
“Nathcar,” he says.
“Coming right up,” Sven says, and reaches for the remote. He clicks the tv above the refrigerator to the appropriate channel. He obviously paid attention when he read BLOOD TRINITY.
“So,” I say, and raise one eyebrow at Dianna, “what does one do when one babysits?”
Dianna frowns at me. “Don’t ask me. I like to fish and ride motorcycles. You never babysat?”
“Twice,” I say. “In emergency situations like this one. I promised to keep them alive, and that’s what I did. I did not promise fun, and we didn’t have much. All my children have fur or feathers. I have no clue what to do with a ba—uh….a two-foot gargoyle”
“He seems to be doing just fine,” Sven says, and nods toward Feenix, who is happily cuddling his stuffed alligator, watching NASCAR® and sucking on the steel lug nut like a lifesaver candy. “Hey, Feenix, I thought you had an art contest going on. Got the finalists yet?”
Feenix looks at Sven, then around at Dianna, “Where’th my picthur?”
Dianna sighs. “I would have thought Evalle had explained this to him by now. The finalists will be announced on September 19th at www.MyFeenix.com.”
“That’s next week,” I explain, when Feenix looks confused. He makes a happy grunting noise and goes back to his NASCAR® show.
I pull up one of the old kitchen chairs around the heavy wooden table. Dianna chooses another chair as Sven sets out human snacks and pours coffee for himself and the two of us. Clearly, he recognizes two incompetent gargoyle-sitters when he sees them, and plans to stand guard over his beloved appliances. “Hey,” I say to Dianna, “Why don’t you tell everybody how this has turned into The Year of Feenix?
“It really has,” Dianna says, and grabs a carrot stick from Sven’s tray. “And I wish I’d planned it, but it was all fate. I’d intended to draw Feenix last winter, then hit on the idea of the art contest, because of having been an artist before I started writing. We set it up so that high school and adult artists could create images of Feenix for prizes—money, art supplies, and books for the artists and for school art departments and libraries. And we scheduled the announcement of finalists for September 19th.”
Feenix makes happy sounds and flutters his leathery wings as the cars in the pre-recorded race scream around the track. Dianna keeps one eye on Feenix and smiles as she sips black coffee.
“But then the next book release got moved up, right?” I munch broccoli spears with Sven’s homemade ranch dressing, and watch Sven refill cups and start another pot of coffee.
“Yeah,” Dianna continues around a bite of carrot. “ALTERANT, book 2 in the Belador series, was originally scheduled to be released in November, but Pocket (the publisher) changed the date. They set it for September 27, just two weeks after the My Feenix™ Art Contest Finalists are announced. And ALTERANT starts with Feenix—so that was a really cool kind of kharma we couldn’t have planned if we’d thought of it.”
“And,” I say as I point at Dianna with a piece of celery. “You’ve got a Belador story coming out as a free e-book in the next couple of days, right?”
“Right. This week, we’ll release the free story FIRE BOUND—and Feenix has a big role in that too.” Feenix looks over at Dianna and grins. “So this is definitely your year, isn’t it, Feenix?”
“Feenix!” Dianna and I say at the same time. Sven turns toward the sink and snorts back a laugh. Evalle accidentally cursed in front of Feenix just once, and he picked right up on it. She’s been trying to undo that ever since.
Feenix blinks his yellow eyes and shifts around on his bean bag. “What ith year?” He flutters his wings and Dianna rolls her eyes.
“I’ll announce the release of the free story this week on my facebook page,” Dianna says. So everybody be watching for that. Also, you can check my website for the news, too. It’s www.AuthorDiannaLove.com. And, you can read an excerpt of ALTERANT there as well.”
“Looks like we’ve got a long night ahead of us,” I say. “Sven, keep the coffee coming, and make it strong.”
Here’s the blurb for ALTERANT.
In this explosive new world of betrayals and shaky alliances, the only Alterant not incarcerated faces an impossible task — recapture three dangerous, escaped creatures before they slaughter more humans…or her.
The way Evalle Kincaid sees it, saving mankind from total destruction should have cleared her name. But when words uttered in the heat of combat are twisted against her, she’s blamed for the prison break of three dangerous Alterants. She has one chance to clear the cloud of suspicion hanging over her…for good. All she has to do is recapture the escapees. But deals with gods and goddesses are tricky at best, and now the lives of all Beladors, and the safety of innocent humans, rides on Evalle’s success. The only person she can ask for help wants to see her dead.
So, Bandits and Buddies….have you ever had to babysit?
A lot of you are moms and dads, but before that, what was your first experience caring for a little one?
Did you babysit for money, or was it your younger brothers and sisters you had to care for?
Are you like Dianna and me? Did you have to work at the whole “caregiver to kids” thing? Or did it come naturally to you?
We’re going to need lots of help tonight, cuz we’re both clueless about babysitting a two-foot-tall gargoyle who can fly and breathe fire. At least Sven has lots of treats on hand. So tell us, what would you do to entertain Feenix?
(And no, letting him barbecue the Golden Rooster is not an option.)
Give us your best babysitting tips and advice, for a chance at a free book Dianna will give away as her thanks to you for staying up with us and helping babysit Feenix.
Dianna is expecting her early copies of ALTERANT any day now. So she’ll give away a copy to one person who helps us out tonight and tomorrow.
Sven, your free copy is already set aside.
Posted by Jeanne Adams Aug 31 2011, 4:01 am in Deadly Little Lies, dianna Love, James Bond, Jeanne Adams, McGyver, Runaway Bride, Sharon Sala, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Thomas Crown
by Jeanne Adams
<It’s LAUNCH DAY for DEADLY LITTLE LIES!!!
And yes, I AM shouting. Grins. I’m going to apologize right up front for shouting and happy dancing, and being just a liiiittttle bit immodest.
This would be the reason: Deadly Little Lies was the book that almost wasn’t. It was written during one of the darker periods in my life as my father’s health was failing, and I had a difficult time getting it completed.
(BTW, Thank you again, to all the Banditas and BB’s who helped me through all that. Ya’ll quite simply rock!)
Of course, once I got it done, I had to edit all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth out of it before I turned it in. There was a LOT of that. I mean, a LOT.
And, ya’know, heroes in modern stories just shouldn’t gnash their teeth. Really. Bad for their teeth, right? Grins. And my hero, Davros, called Dav, my dashing Greek shipping magnate, has beautiful teeth. I couldn’t endanger those pearly whites!
Then in edits, I had to be sure I had the timeline straight (Oy!) and, when I made Dav, and Carrie, the heroine, go down some dark, spooky and very forgotten tunnels, I had to be sure I brought them back out the SAME WAY. (EEK!)
I actually had to make a map of the tunnels so that I was sure I had done it right. Good thing I like to draw because MAN was that complicated! Yikes!
For those of you who write, I know you feel my pain, right? Right? Please say you do, and if you don’t lie, and make me feel better, okay?
For those readers who aren’t also writers, this is how it goes sometimes. You feel like you’re pulling the book out of your imagination a struggling word at a time. Ex-haust-ing.
Then you turn it in. And you wait. And you get nervous. And you decide it’s the absolute worst book you ever wrote and you’re going to die of mortification when it comes out and bombs and….and…and….
My only comfort was the memory of hearing La Nora (Roberts) say that sometimes, in the middle of the book, she’ll call a friend and complain that she’s never written such terrible schlock in her life, and it’s the worst pile of (expletive deleted) she’s ever seen.
Yeah, but she’s La Nora, my errant thoughts would remind me. So I would resume my pacing.
I considered taking up serious drinking as a contact sport.
Grins. But I really like to drink to CELEBRATE, so…..
Much to my (immense) delight, and relief, DEADLY LITTLE LIES received a TOP PICK from Romantic Times Magazine. The reviewer wrote:
“Non -stop action and heart-stopping danger make this book unputdownable!”
Now, I don’t know about you, but unputdownable sounds pretty darn good. I don’t know if it’s a real word, but I don’t care. Now you can understand my relief. Other reviewers have said they stayed up late to finish it in one gulp.
WHEW!!! Thank heavens.
But my insomnia had actually started early on, in the production stage, after the “get the timeline straight” call from my editor. Did you know that authors do cover quotes? I’m sure you read those. At least all of us newer authors HOPE you read them. If you don’t read them, please don’t tell me.
If you do….what do you think of them? Do you ever take a look at a book based on the cover quote?
Oh, and to give you further insight into my insecurity, you realize that those much-more-famous-than-me authors actually have to read the book, ahead of time, and quote on it?
As I approached that stage, I was all but ready to throw in the writing towel. I was sure my colleagues would laugh…or worse, pity my poor efforts. I was a flat, wrung out mess.
One of my all-time favorite NYTimes Bestselling authors, Dianna Love, is going to here in the Lair in a week or so. She’s written innumerable fabulous books, both on her own and with Sherrilyn Kenyon. One of my all-time favorites of hers is Blood Trinity, the first in the Belador Series.
So you can imagine that I nearly keeled over and died when she gave me a quote for the cover of Deadly Little Lies, calling it: “…an edge of your seat read.”
(That’s Dianna in one of her fabulous Blood Trinity t-shirts, with a fan)
Oh, lawdy, where’s my celebratory cocktail? Really, really, relieved. Grateful, and relieved. You see, I had the worst time re-reading this book for edits. Terrible. Usually I sail through all of that. Not. This. Time. So I had to send this book to my colleagues before I gave it a last edit.
So, imagine my even greater surprise when the 2011 RWA Lifetime Achievement Winner, the inestimable Sharon Sala offered to give me a quote. I felt like both the book and I were a hot mess, but Sharon said I was worried about nothing. She said there was “…sizzle on every page.”
SO, now, more than with any other book, I’m in the mood to really celebrate a LAUNCH DAY!!!
Sven! Bring the special Hurricane Earthquake Punch!!! (Hey, we have to also celebrate the fact that the power stayed on in the Lair, in the Writing Caves, and at my house because several of us have Sept. 1 deadlines! And no earthquake damage!)
Paolo!! Bring the hors d’oeuvres! We need sustenance for our Launch Partying.
Demetrius!! Bring the torches! Someone needs to light up these caves….which leads me to giving you a little excerpt. Grins. Dav, the hero, is claustrophobic. His enemy had locked him, and his lady-love in an underground cell. They have to figure a way out….they find a door and…
Dav took a deep breath and started into the tunnel. The light wobbled, then steadied and he could feel the warmth of Carrie’s presence at his back. Two steps in, she wrapped her fingers in the loop of his belt. Somehow, the contact was reassuring, bracing. The palpable connection made the dark less horrifying.
Much later, they’re both despairing….
“I want to keep going, she insisted. What if there’s a way out, just beyond this?” She stopped suddenly and he heard her draw in a shaky breath. “Oh, my God, Dav, what if it’s a dead end?”
“Carrie,” he kept his voice firm in the face of her rising panic. “I will not allow you to die. I have told you this, yes?” We will find a way out. Now, come and sit down, rest. You can tell me your secrets and I will tell you mine.”
In spite of his own fears, Dav makes sure Carrie feels safe. He’s really a wonderful hero, without being “too perfect to live” like some heroes are. He gets hurt, bruised, banged up, has a panic attack about being underground (his father used to lock him up as punishment – something to panic about!), and yet, he keeps himself level for her sake. He’s kind of like a 21st Century, Greek Indiana Jones in a way.
Although, he’s really more Thomas Crown than a McGyver type, but he’s smart and he can figure it out.
Carrie on the other hand, is more like McGyver. She’s the one with the pocket knife that has 27 tools. She’s the one who figures out an alternative exit.
She’s more like Annie Walker on Covert Affairs, without being a spy. Or maybe a bit more like the Julia Roberts character, Maggie Carpenter, in Runaway Bride, she is capable, competent, and mechanically inclined, but she’s got some scars that keep her wary.
If you read DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS last year, you’ll have already met both Davros “Dav” Gianakopulos and Carrie McCray. I hope you liked them and will want to read their story in DEADLY LITTLE LIES.
In my regular form and fashion, things blow up. There’s a fairly high body count. Grins. Oh, and did I mention a LOT of twists and turns?
This would be why you need the torches. Ha!
So, grab a flashlight, pen light, mag light or torch, get a Bloody Mary, or a Margarita, or a glass of milk and some of Sven’s famous chocolate chip cookies (He stole the recipe from Joanie T – YUM!!!!), and grab a chair and start reading.
Then….riddle me this, spelunkers….
Are you more like Bond or McGyver? Annie Walker (Covert Affairs) or Maggie Carpenter (Runaway Bride)?
What about your Significant Other? Or if you don’t have one at the moment, which type do you prefer? The polished, lethal weapon-type like Bond, or the rougher-hewn, all-purpose, get-you-out-of-any-jam like McGyver?
Or in more recent vernacular, are you more like Michael Weston (plan it, execute it) from Burn Notice, or Hank (use what’s at hand, make it work) from Royal Pains? And which do you prefer?
Don’t even get me started on Neil, the guy from White Collar…..whew!!!
Let’s get this party STARRRRRRRTED!!!! Music! Lights!!! Cookies!!! Drinks!!!
Posted by Cassondra Murray Apr 19 2011, 4:14 am in art, Belador, Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, dianna Love, Encouragement, Mother's Day, Mothers, My Feenix Art Contest
by Cassondra Murray with Dianna Love
Y’all pull up a bar stool and put in your order for a glass of wine or one of Sven’s fabulous cocktails. I’ve poured myself a glass of California Cabernet, and I want to celebrate a new–and very different–project by lair favorite–and my long-time friend, Dianna Love. She’s just launched something that’s *cue valley girl squeal* totally awesome, and I want her to share it with you, and the reasons behind it.
If you’re a lair regular, you know by now that Dianna’s first book won a Rita Award, and she’s gone on to co-author two successful series with #1 NYT Bestseller, Sherrilyn Kenyon. The first was Sherrilyn’s original BAD Agency series. The lastest is Dianna’s brainchild–the rockin’ Belador urban fantasy series.
Many of you have read my interviews with Dianna in the past, and been inspired by her drive, determination, and what seems like a bottomless well of energy, which she draws on when pursuing something she cares about. I recently learned that she gives her mom a lot of the credit for encouraging Dianna to go for her dreams and follow her heart–first into art–and later into her newest passion, fiction writing.
As we head into the weeks before Mother’s Day, I asked Dianna if she’d share a little about her mom, what that encouragement meant to her, and how that’s led to her sponsoring a national art contest based around her latest book.
Dianna: *lifts her glass of Australian Shiraz* Thanks! It’s always great to be back here in the lair!
Cassondra: You’re an inspiration to a lot of people because you’ve basically had two very successful careers. Many of the Bandits and Buddies know that you were an artist before you were a writer. But that’s key to your latest project, so for those new to the lair, will you tell us briefly about your “past life?”
Dianna: Sure. My life revolved around art pretty much from the first time I picked up a crayon. I was blessed with the ability to draw photo-realistic art and by the time I was in middle school, I was selling detailed pencil portraits for $5 each to earn money for art supplies. My parents had five kids and no extra money for frivolous use of school supplies like paper and pencils. I have never forgotten an uncle who worked in a paper mill and brought me a ream of paper once when he came to visit. The memory of that gift has stayed with me since grade school.
Cassondra: What a great gift for a budding artist.
Dianna: *nods* Over the next few years as I grew into my teens and on into adulthood, I went from drawing portraits on 18” paper to painting them 20 feet tall way up above the ground. When I was first living alone at seventeen, I used my art to do side jobs between three “regular” jobs I held during the week. By age twenty, I was building a business in painting signs and murals. Over the next thirty years, I expanded to creating massive three-dimensional objects for unusual marketing projects and eventually created unusual high-tech advertising pieces for events like the Olympics and companies such as Coca-Cola.
(Cassondra interjects: That Coca Cola sign on the left is in downtown Atlanta–it’s an example of the kind of projects Dianna’s company built.)
Cassondra: I’ve known you for a long time, but only recently came to understand the roles your mom, and her encouragement, played in your art career. We’re coming up on Mother’s Day, and we’ve got a lot of moms in the lair with us today. I think they’d love to hear a little about your childhood and your mom. I especially love the story about the tv station interview. Will you tell that one?
Dianna: *takes a sip of Shiraz* Yes. My mother was no wallflower, but she was a wife during an era when the man had the last say in a house. With five children, there was no doting on any one, but I remember my mom coming to first grade just to see something I’d drawn. I thought I was in big trouble *grin* – that was the only reason a parent was asked to come to the school back then — but I’d used my newsprint sheet of paper–anyone remember drawing on newsprint?–(*cassondra raises hand*) to draw an involved series of the Billy Goat’s Gruff cartoon, and I guess my teacher was impressed, because she called my mom in to see it.
By the time I reached sixth grade, my mom had gone through years of having me draw at the kitchen table and on anything I could get my hands on, plus I’d won some art contests by then.
Cassondra: But in sixth grade something pivotal happened?
Dianna: Yes. We had two six-week sessions of art that year. I was in heaven. Free art materials and time to draw–but more about that later.
My art teacher entered a batik I created in a national contest, which I knew nothing about until they announced in home room that I’d placed 3rd…and that I was to be interviewed on television. They might as well have said I was expected to travel on the next moon flight.
Now back to that “time to draw” in class thing….My dad had grown up during hard times and expected us to only study in school—and that didn’t mean drawing or painting. Art was a waste of time and money to him, so when I told them about the television interview, he said no.
I had never heard my mom naysay him, but she said yes. She dressed me up and drove me to that interview. The first and second place winners were seniors who they also interviewed. Everyone was very nice, going over questions with me before they started rolling.
That was a memorable experience to be sure.
But more than anything it made me realize that my art did count because my mom said so. Never underestimate the power of believing in your child.
Cassondra: How did you use that belief and encouragement—how did you transfer it into something concrete as you moved through your teens and into your adult life?
Dianna: My mom would do anything for her children for the short time we had her (she had a heart attack and died when I was seventeen). She patiently listened to every story, helped with everyone’s homework and cut no one slack when it came to being a good person and the best you could be at anything.
Because of her encouragement and pride in what I’d created, I never considered giving up my art. But my father told me I couldn’t depend on it to make a living. I believed that as a teen, and took mechanical drawing in school to appease him. Being a strange right brain/left brain artist who loves math, I aced the class, but one thing it did was show me that I hated the idea of engineering or architecture.
I never walked around thinking I’d be the next Rembrandt painting portraits all day, but neither did I enjoy working in an office, so I gravitated to painting signs and murals. Living alone at seventeen is a two-sided blade of positive and negative. Every day was a struggle to survive back then, but the positive is that the only voice I heard was my own and that one told me to follow my heart.
I have always felt as though my mom is nearby watching over me and I still feel her spirit with me in everything I accomplish.
Cassondra: *swirls wine in glass* I want to talk for a minute about passing on the encouragement your mom gave you. I’ve seen you sit down with new writers and help them through tough spots in the writing–or in the business–more times than I can count. But your encouragement of others didn’t start when you started writing. Once you had your own sign business and your own shop, you helped other young artists get started and taught them how to do what you did. Your consistent willingness to teach others and share the work and success might seem counter-intuitive to some people. Will you talk about why doing that fits your basic philosophy of encouraging others?
Dianna: It goes back to my mom’s influence. She would stop to help any child anywhere. I remember her saying that she hoped someone would help her children when they needed it if she wasn’t around to do it at some point. She was the original “pass it up the line” person who helped others because that’s who she was.
I’ve never thought about how often I do it, because helping others is just a natural part of my being. I never considered my competitors in business or art to be my opponents or enemies, and I feel the same way about writing.
My philosophy is that the better job we all do in whatever field we’re in, the more successful we all will be and when it’s writing, that’s good for readers and the business. On top of all that, it makes me very happy to see others succeed, so I benefit too.
Cassondra: When you made the switch from painting to writing, did it feel as though you were giving up one dream to pursue another? Did you have any moments when you wondered if it was the right thing to do? If so, how did you make your decision?
Dianna: I loved painting, but I’d spent so many years away from home working, in everything from cold to suffocating heat, that my urge to write came at a good time for me. I’d been making up stories in my head, so when I reduced the amount of time I was climbing to paint and build, I started writing these stories down in between times I spent painting in my home studio.
But the writing really captured me. My husband kept telling me I couldn’t continue to paint huge walls and write books, because the schedule was killing me. I work every day, but my writing was demanding so much I couldn’t keep up the pace. So I finally made the decision to go full time into writing. It was a difficult decision because I’d spent my life building a business in art, but this is where I refer back to the question about helping others–back to what I learned from my mom.
I had so many friends in the sign business by that point that I was able to place all my clients in good hands and help my friends at the same time. My husband still oversees two large sign maintenance contracts we have, but I’m rarely involved in that now.
Cassondra: You’ve shared how art competitions played a role in your development as a young artist. When did you first get the idea of sponsoring a national art contest, and what’s your purpose in doing that? And why the focus on high schools in particular?
Dianna: I kept thinking I wanted to create an image of Feenix, our sweetheart gargoyle in the Belador series, and started sketching on it when it hit me that this would make a fun art contest.
I had the opportunity to enter art contests from 3rd grade on, and those played a part in building my confidence in a field everyone considered a waste of time. I can’t tell you how often you hear that you can’t make a living in that field – I proved them all wrong. *grin* I think confidence-building is especially important for young artists who might let naysayers talk them out of pursuing a dream.
When I came up with the My Feenix Art Contest, I wanted everyone to be invited whether they hand -drew pictures, created on the computer or made stuffed animals, so the contest has three categories– Flat Art, 3-D and Digital– for each of the two division–the High School Student division and the Adult division.
Cassondra: You’ve spoken before, here in the lair, about your dogged determination to remain true to whatever you’re passionate about. I’ve heard you say “A bad day painting was better than a good day doing anything else.” How does this art contest play into that, and how do you see it encouraging others to follow their passion?
Dianna: I do believe following your passion should be at the core of what you do if you want to be happy in life. I think just entering an art contest is a big step for many artists who are timid about submitting their art to a professional group.
The contest has no entry fee and all of the initial submissions are sent as jpgs. There’s a category for digital art, but even the hand-drawn and three-dimensional art is submitted as photos for the first round. We did this to make it as easy as possible for anyone to submit.
Sometimes just the act of doing one thing to move your craft forward is all it takes to get you thinking more seriously about your art–and that’s true of writing too–of whatever your art is.
Cassondra: Our Bandit Buddies run the gamut from late teens to parents to grandmothers, and everything in between. What would you say to our visitors in the lair today about pursuing their dreams at any age, and how would you suggest they encourage others in their lives to do the same?
Dianna: That’s a great question, and I have a story about how important that is.
Years back, I attended a social event at the home of a female business associate. I commented on the beautiful still life and landscape paintings in her home by one particular artist whose name I couldn’t decipher.
Her mother, who had come to live with her that year, was from Puerto Rico and spoke no English, but the woman loved to watch Bob Ross’s Joy of Painting television shows where he gave art classes. Her mother was in her mid 80s when she picked up a paintbrush for the first time in her life and shocked everyone with her talent. It been a secret passion of hers forever, but she never had the opportunity to try. Now her family has these amazing paintings to remember her by.
A lot of people have those secret yearnings.
I think we have to stop once in a while and ask the people closest to us, “Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to do that you haven’t and you’d like to do now?” Or just listen—pay attention– when we hear that new or different sound in their voice when they’re telling us about something that has caught their attention.
Have an open mind about listening. That’s all it takes sometimes to encourage someone to pursue a dream.
*Bandits and Buddies shift to make room as Sven and Paulo set trays of snacks on the tables and bar*
Cassondra: If someone is an artist—or KNOWS an artist—who might like to enter the My Feenix Art Contest, how do they get more info?
Dianna: You can go to www.myfeenix.com and find out everything you need to know. The instructions and entry forms are there on the site. Top prize in each adult category is $1000. Top prize for students is an iPad, plus money for school art departments and books for school libraries.
Help me spread the word–and pass on the encouragement. It’s never too early–or too late–to go for your dream.
Cassondra: Feenix first appeared in BLOOD TRINITY, first book in the Belador series, which was released last October. The second book in the series, ALTERANT is scheduled for release September 27th. You can read an excerpt of BLOOD TRINITY, see the blurb for ALTERANT, and meet the Beladors at www.authordiannalove.com
What about you Bandits and Buddies?
It’s not always a mom who plays the role of encourager. Has anyone ever encouraged you at a low moment? What did they say?
Have you gone for something that scared you, and been encouraged in doing so by either watching someone else, or having someone tell you to go for it?
What have you gone for “against the odds,” or what are you going for right now?
Have you taken a moment to encourage someone else in the pursuit of an important dream or goal? Who was it? Your child? Brother or sister? Critique Partner? Friend?
Who has made a difference in your life with a touch, a card or phone call or a word when you most needed it?
Sven is passing another round of drinks, so eat, drink, and tell us how you’ve helped spread the encouragement, or been encouraged at just the right moment.
Oh…and tell us what drink Sven is mixing/pouring for you. *grin*
Dianna is giving away two signed copies of BLOOD TRINITY and one of the coveted Belador t-shirts!
Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 7 2010, 4:36 am in BAD agency, Bandit Booty, dianna Love, Lisa Shearin, Raine Benares
We have winners from Dianna Love’s blog of March 30 (yes, Cassondra is embarrassed to show her face in the Lair) and Lisa Shearin’s blog of March 29 (and Nancy also is skulking).
Dianna’s winners are:
One copy of Whispered Lies to Virginia–Whee!
One copy of Phantom in the Night to Pat Cochran–Whooo!
One copy of Whispered Lies to Denise –Wheeoo!
Grand prize of autographed copies of all three BAD Agency novels, an “I’m in a BAD Mood” t-shirt, and other goodies, all tucked inside a monogrammed “I’m in a BAD Mood” totebag, goe to Chey–whoot! whoot!
Email Cassondra via the Romance Bandits link on the blog with your snail mail contact info. Chey, your t-shirt choices are large or extra-large, so specify which you want.
Lisa’s winners, each receiving a Raine Benares prize package, including a copy of Bewitched & Betrayed with additional book goodies (postcards and bookmarks from all four of Lisa’s books, plus a fridge magnet from Bewitched & Betrayed) – all signed and personalized are:
Cybercliper and Bookie–Yippee!
Email your contact info to lisa AT lisashearin DOT com.
Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks for stopping by.
Posted by Cassondra Murray Mar 30 2010, 5:51 am in BAD agency, Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, dianna Love, romantic thrillers romantic suspense, Sherrilyn Kenyon
by Cassondra Murray
Dianna Love stops by the lair regularly to comment and say hello, but it’s been two years since she made an official visit. In that time she’s added New York Times Bestselling Author to her resume.
If you spend any time with Dianna, you can’t miss that she stretches every boundary to be her absolute best.
That determination and a whole bunch of talent earned her a coveted Rita award for her first published novel, Worth Every Risk. I was lucky enough to be there that night to see her receive that award. Scroll down a little and you can see Dianna with her Rita statue on the night she won her category.
Like any award-winning novelist, she pulls out all the stops to give readers a fast-paced, page-turning story, combined with powerful characters and unexpected story twists.
But she and Sherrilyn Kenyon are stretching the boundaries of the romantic suspense genre with the down and dirty agents of the BAD Agency—Bureau of American Defense—and their cutting edge stories. In fact, Dianna now refers to the books not as romantic suspense, but as romantic thrillers.
First of all, welcome back Dianna!
Thanks! It’s great to be here again.
I’d like to focus on that shift to what you call romantic thriller. What is that, how is it different from a romantic suspense, and how did you end up going this direction?
I came to writing romantic thrillers because of my love of romantic suspense and thrillers. But there was a time the term “thriller” wasn’t being used even in mainstream.
I think of romantic suspense as an action story where the central plot is a romance and the secondary plot is the suspense about something the hero and heroine are trying to recapture or protect, but the two plot lines are wrapped so tightly together one will not stand without the other.
In a romantic thriller the main plot is also a romance, but the secondary plot has several layers that encompass a larger scope of what is at risk – generally very high stakes and it could affect a larger group of people (a city, an international organization, a world threat, etc).
I’d have to agree that these books are bigger than the ordinary suspense. In fact, there’s an edge-of-your-seat quality to these stories that I have not seen elsewhere in romance fiction.
You and Sherrilyn were good friends before you started writing together, right? Will you tell us how the collaboration happened?
Sherri and I met while on the road at conferences. It was the beginning of 2005 when my first book was out. I had a busy travel schedule. Sherri on the other hand was being asked to speak everywhere – and still is, especially with hitting #1 on the New York Times list nine times in just over a year.
Okay that’s definitly worth a pause to give a very loud and rowdy WOOHOOO to Sherri for that amazing accomplishment…..ahem…now back to Dianna’s story….
We’d both arrive at a conference a day early to spend a quiet day writing and would run into each other at lunch. By the third conference in three weeks, we were watching for each other.
Over the next few years we toured together when she had a hardback out, went to Germany for a reader convention, hid in the mountains at a cabin to write and became very close friends. We approach marketing with very similar views and we did a lot of brainstorming on how to promote books.
One night late – early, actually, since it was 2:00 am – we were just back to some hotel room from a signing and talking about books she had coming up. We hit on the BAD (Bureau of American Defense) agency series and started talking about her next one. I love to brainstorm so I started throwing out ideas and an hour later she said, “Why don’t we do this together?”
We decided to do it and had absolutely no plan other than we had two months to turn it in.
So the BAD agency was already created when you came on board, right? How did the writing partnership change the direction for this series and bring it into the realm of romantic thriller?
When I agreed to collaborate on the BAD Agency series, the first full novel was a fun romantic suspense. I suggested we kick it up to a romantic thriller, which Sherri and our editor went for.
The difference is that in the new books in this series there is a major threat to our national security and this threat could affect the entire world. The villains are the Fratelli de il Sovrano (Italian for Sovereign Brotherhood) with international resources and a new world plan that is unfolding as the series develops.
These are multi-layer plots woven tightly with the romance and they have threads that continue to finger into future stories.
Readers are obviously loving this direction for the series. But what is it that has drawn you to this shift? Is this something that’s happened as an organic part of your growth as a writer?
I think for me it has been both part of my growth and what I’m happiest doing. My nature is to complicate whatever I work on. When I was learning to sew in school I wasn’t happy to sew a simple pattern. I sewed a man’s sport coat. When I painted large murals for companies like Coca-Cola I was happiest when it was a complex piece of artwork with many different parts.
When it comes to writing I always want to create different dimensions within the story to give the characters a large playing field with multiple possibilities. One of my favorite movies is the Italian Job – a “who’s zooming who” story. I like the twists and turns of complex stories.
The BAD Agency series has a lot of those twists and turns. I’ve heard you say that you like puzzles, and your story worlds would absolutely qualify as puzzles in my view—and yet you manage to pull the twisted threads together and have it make perfect sense at the end. It’s a wild ride, but such a satisfying ending. How do you make that happen?
I’m a plotter and Sherri is a pantser (seat-of-the-pants writer). After we brainstorm the story, I start the first chapter because it’s normally a black ops type opening and I really like to write openings. Then I start working through the plot threads and seeing where they will go or how they would be stopped or if there’s another way to go from X to Y.
I do love puzzles and think that’s the base for my thinking in writing. I want to hide a surprise or set up a twist that is not going to turn out like the character expects and hopefully the reader will be surprised. I love to read a story that surprises me. Nothing makes me happier than watching a movie or reading a book and thinking, “Had no idea that was going to happen.”
As to how I manage to keep those threads straight and pulled together, I’ve taught the Break Into Fiction® program that Mary Buckham and I created so many times I have a short check list of what I need to keep an eye out for to stay on track. The problem that happens sometimes in suspense is not so much that the threads don’t tie up as it is that some just get dropped or the character’s motivation falls apart so the reader stops following the thread.
You’ve written three BAD agency novels and a novella with Sherrilyn. By now you’ve probably seen a pattern to the men and women who save the world in this series. Tell us a little about what it takes to be a BAD agent. And among those you’ve been a part of writing, who is your favorite hero, and why?
BAD agents are operatives the other alphabet agencies wouldn’t consider taking on, but those other agencies aren’t expected to send their people into no-win situations with orders to succeed or don’t come home.
Choosing one agent as a favorite would be like picking your favorite child when you have ten. I love different things about each one, but above all I love that the men are honorable no matter how dark their past, and the women have a core of steel beneath their flaws and fears.
Nathan Drake (PHANTOM IN THE NIGHT) had no reason to ever care for another person after what he lost, but he’s a wounded soul who cares too deeply.
Carlos Delgado (WHISPERED LIES) may look sexy and whisper sweet nothings with a wicked accent, but he’s as deadly as they come and his loyalty knows no limits. When he was a teen in South America, he held the young woman he loved as she died in his arms then walked away from everything he’d ever known to protect others he cared for.
Hunter (SILENT TRUTH)appears to have it all. But looks are deceiving when you dig beneath the façade and find deep scars. He does everything to the extreme, including love, which means he won’t risk someone being close to his life as a BAD agent or around when he faces off with an assassin.
Speaking of SILENT TRUTH—it’ll be out in just a few weeks—April 23rd. Will you tell us more about Hunter and Abbie and their story?
Hunter Wesley Thornton-Payne…the third. Doesn’t that just sound like a roaring pain-in-the-butt type of guy who’s a legend in his own mind?
Sherri named him a long time ago. I kept watching him as we worked on the series and thought – who would sympathize with a man whose family is one of the wealthiest in the world, who is very attractive and brilliant and knows it, who does not bond with other teammates?
Remember the part about “I like complex puzzles?” We laid his soul bare in the opening chapter and didn’t let up on him until the last page. His depth of character surprised me once we pushed him into some unholy situations.
Abbie was the one woman for him. I love that she comes from a simple background, but one full of secrets that multiply at the worst times. She’s a fighter, loyal, and refuses to let anything stop her from trying to save someone she loves from dying.
Oh, and the central villain in SILENT TRUTH is part of the Fratelli organization, but he’s an unusual assassin who enjoys puzzles as much as I do.
Okay I’m gonna admit it. I’ve read SILENT TRUTH, and it’s the most nail-biting, emotionally poignant story I’ve seen in years. Having the “OMG what happens next?” factor and that level of powerful romance in one read is unusual. And yes, I have to say that Hunter…well…he’s a really, really hot guy.
You can read an excerpt of Hunter and Abbie’s story by clicking on this link: http//www.authordiannalove.com/books/silenttruth.html
Thanks so much, Dianna, for being our guest here in the Bandit lair!
Thanks for having me here, but you’re not getting away that easily. I’ve got some questions for the Bandits and Buddies. I’ll answer anything else you ask, but I want to know something.
What is it that you enjoy most about a romantic suspense series?
Do you return book after book for the characters alone or is it the setting, the team cohesion or the situations they get into?
Do you like exotic locations? Are there areas you’ve not seen in books that you’d like to read about?
What type of hero is your favorite?
How long have you been reading romantic suspense?
And THANK YOU for being a reader – you allow me and other authors to do what we love most.
Dianna is giving away an awesome prize package. Autographed copies of all three BAD Agency novels, an “I’m In A BAD Mood” t-shirt, and other goodies all tucked inside a monogrammed “I’m In A BAD Mood” tote bag.
Leave an answer to Dianna’s questions to be entered in the drawing. We’ll draw a name on Wednesday.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Jun 23 2009, 6:15 am in dianna Love, GR, Jo Robertson, Lori Foster, NEORWA, road trip
by Donna MacMeans
Ah Spring – also known as conference season. The Golden Rooster and I took to the road to travel the opposite ends of Ohio in pursuit of writer and reader events. No plane this time, just an open window with the GR’s red comb flapping in the wind.
Our first stop was the Cleveland Rocks conference.
, sponsored by the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America (NEORWA). Lori Wilde led an intimate discussion about developing high concept – undoubtably inspired by the rooster’s high flirtacious antics. Everyone wanted to pose with the rooster!
Here’s a few photos for the GR’s scrapbook: posing with Harlequin and Warner author, Lori Wilde
…and Jamie Denton
We had a great time in Cleveland, but had to turn the SUV around to head down to Cincinnati for Lori Foster’s & Dianne Castell’s fabulous Reader Get-together. This was a much larger venue and the GR didn’t hesitate to make the rounds.
The GR so engaged NYT’s Bestseller Stella Cameron in conversation, she missed her photo shoot with the rest of the Tails of Love authors (below).
From left to right, back row – that’s Marcia James, Sue-Ellen Welfonder, Patricia Sargeant, Kate Angell, Diane Castell. Front Row: Lori Foster, Me (in the hat), and Anne Christopher.
Even Michelle Buonfiglio from Romance: B(u)y the Book fell victim to the rooster’s charms.
Of course, all reader’s events feature lots and lots of raffle baskets. The get-together was no exception. The raffles baskets brought $6,616 to benefit One Way Farm Children’s Home.
The Romance Bandits contributed a basket that was won by Jodi Minton. That cream colored curve is really another rooster. The GR was capitivated.
All was not fun and games though. In the course of the event the rooster was KIDNAPPED! Horrors! The ransom note demanded I
go to the bar if I ever wanted to see the GR alive again. Fortunately, I was already in the bar, so the nefarious plot was unraveled before it began (grin). As I discovered a Bad Agency button pinned to his feathers, I suspect bandita buddy Dianna Love was behind the scheme. But the rooster’s not talking. The two may be in cahoots.
Thanks to the intervention of Sarah Parr (debut author of Renegade), we found a way to keep the GR in line. Sarah provided fuzzy red handcuffs! (Okay – so we won’t ask WHY Sarah happened to have fuzzy red handcuffs.) That’s Marjorie Liu looking on.
Now that the GR was back, he could participate in the Saturday night luau. Truly a party bird.
Thanks to Treethyme, the GR was reunited with a much younger brother. Here the GR takes the youngster under his wing.
The two went outside to discuss expectations in the lair. I’m thinking we might be seeing the little guy again.
Darn that bird flirts with anything with wings. At least he recognizes the lure of a good book.
So tell me, are any reader or writer events in your plans this year? Want to tell me about a good road trip? Any suggestions where the GR should venture next? Someone will win a copy of TAILS OF LOVE for some fun summer reading. Let’s chat.
Posted by Cassondra Murray Jul 2 2008, 3:07 am in Acheron, Bestsellers, Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, Dark Hunters, dianna Love, dianna love snell, Dream Hunters, paranormal romances, Sherrilyn Kenyon, vampire romance
by Cassondra Murray
A few years ago I joined a local chapter of RWA and met its published authors. Among those authors was a lady memorable because of her long red hair, clear Celtic complexion and her awesome offbeat black outfits. But most memorable was her sense of genuine care and consideration for me as a new member, my writing, my career as a writer– her kindness.
It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know WHO SHE WAS at the time. I might have been intimidated. Granted, she hadn’t quite become an international phenomenon (I love saying that) but she was well on her way.
Now she is one. She and her Dark Hunters have a worldwide following that obliterates boundaries that normally separate readers–boundaries like age, gender and genre preference. Yet, she’s still that same encouraging, generous person I met at my first local meeting. And in spite of her long list of accomplishments, that’s what still impresses me most about this woman.
Since that first meeting, Sherrilyn Kenyon has gone on to become a #1 NYT Bestseller, with more than 15 million books in print, and is poised to blow those numbers out of the water with her next release.
She’s in the middle of her next project for St. Martin’s Press, but she was kind enough to visit us in the lair, and answer some questions posed by the Banditas and their friends.
If you’ve been to her website, or heard her keynote speeches, you know that Sherri has had her share, and a lot more, of overcoming the odds to make her life and her career work.
She’s walked through the fire of financial devastation, markets turned cold to her writing, illness and hospitalization with her pregnancies, death of beloved family members, and nearly losing her newborn child.
When you hear her story, you aren’t left with a lot of excuses for not following your dream. She’ll tell you she’s not one for looking back. She’s about moving forward. Still, I’ve wondered what sustained her through all of that. I asked her how she’s managed to hold on to her “self”—that woman I met at my first RWA meeting. I think I’d be a jaded, hard and unfeeling person by now. But Sherri isn’t.
“The thing that kept me going was my family,” she said, “and my characters’ unwillingness to let go until their story was told.”
Sherri has written stuff other than romance, but she’s made her mark writing about relationships—in particular relationships that lead to redemption—for those who “shouldn’t” have it according to traditional standards. How did such a multi-faceted writer come to focus on love and happily-ever-after? Honestly, how did a Goth chick from Georgia end up writing some of the most powerful love stories of our generation? Other than the obvious roof over her head, what do these love stories do for Sherri Kenyon?
“ I’ve had to overcome a lot of heartache and loss in my life,” Sherri said. “Especially in my childhood. My friend Kim let me borrow one of her romance novels and I was forever changed. The characters had bad things happen to them in their lives and you know what? They got to live HAPPILY EVER AFTER! That showed me that in life, you can have many trials. Sometimes, even things you wouldn’t believe you’d live through, but in the end, you can have a HAPPILY EVER AFTER like the characters.”
Sherri is adamant about this.
“I believe in romance as a reality, not a fairy tale, and it’s the believing that characters and people are worthy of having someone to love and someone to love them in return that is the basis for my stories, and sharing that with the fans is a joy.”
It’s clear that Sherri honestly appreciates each one of those fans. I once got to hear her talk about the business of writing during a university class, where she said, “I know how hard it is to earn seven dollars, or fifteen dollars, and this person has chosen to take that hard-earned money and spend it on my book. I will never take that for granted.” Sherri has always said the most gratifying moments for her are those when a fan says her books have touched them in some way.
Author Dianna Love spent a good part of 2007 with Sherri on a whirlwind book tour, and got to see the writer-fan interactions up close and personal.
“I was impressed by her sincere interest in every person who walked up to her at a signing,” Dianna said. “In the lobby of a hotel, at the airports (when we are normally run hard after being in a different city every day for several weeks), in a restaurant – wherever. She has the nicest fans. They will arrive hours in advance of a signing – numbering over 150 at each of last year’s stops so I expect even more this year. They visit with each other, laughing as they share stories or are excited to meet someone in person they only knew by an online name. 40% of Sherri’s readers are men. Many couples come together,bringing their children. Sherri brings lots of things to give away and everyone is given a free raffle ticket so we can give away special items. Our goal is that signings are always an event. And she is just as real and caring as what everyone sees at the signings.”
This is a big year for Sherrilyn Kenyon. The Dream Hunter release, Upon The Midnight Clear hit #1 on the NYT in November 2007.
Dream-Chaser hit #1 on the NYT in Feb 2008.
On top of that, she’s just released Phantom In The Night, a collaboration with Dianna Love. Sherri talked a little about what it was like to work with another writer.
“The B.A.D. Agency collaboration was tremendous fun. Dianna and I worked well together and she’s an amazing writer.”
I’ve heard Dianna and Sherri joke about their time together living moment to moment trying to make the next book signing as they toured around the country, and about their crazy back and forth dialogues as they worked on Phantom through it all. But what came out was a really interesting blend of the two voices. I’ve read Sherri’s books, and of course, Dianna’s, but this didn’t sound like either—and yet it sounded like both. Almost a whole new “writer” formed from two.
” We became close friends long before we ever considered working together,” Dianna said. ” Sherri…would never intentionally hurt someone’s feelings and neither would I, which is why we had to have a very honest conversation about writing together. We both believe a successful collaboration depends on honesty and agreed on “no sacred cows” – that anyone’s words were up for editing – because the most important thing to both of us was the final story. We laughed a lot. I think a similarity between us is to not take ourselves too seriously, which made discussing ideas and changes easy. “
“It’s like fitting a puzzle together.” Sherri said. “Dianna has certain strengths and I have certain strengths and together they just sort of fit. ”
“We spent some time discussing the difference in our styles–” Dianna said, “with her trademark humor and I write dark/edgy – to assure we could create a strong story while not damaging our friendship. It takes a great deal of trust to work together. Neither of us had any idea what it would be like to collaborate, no plan, no guidelines. We just went for it. We both wrote through every page to give the story a seamless feel. We were both invested in only one thing – to write the best story we could. “
“Of course, we’d laugh at each other and disagree just like any team,” Sherri said, “but in the end I believe we’ve forged a great partnership.”
And a successful one. Phantom In The Night hit the NYT list on June 19th, and it’s remained there for the past two weeks.
There’s a bit of a crackle in the air right now—it’s the anticipation—so thick you can taste it. This is it.
The Year of Acheron.
There’s a counter on Sherri’s website, counting down the days, minutes, and even milli-seconds until the release of Acheron. Fans have waited a long time for Ash to get his story. We’ve hurt with him, ached for him as we saw him through the stories of the Dark Hunters. This is a pivotal book in the series. Knowing how Sherri feels about her characters—that they’re real—alive—I had to wonder if this was a particularly emotional story for her to tell. Was it difficult for her to approach?
“Definitely,” Sherri said. “Acheron’s story is an emotional one. It was hard to write because I’ve had him to myself for so long, nurturing him and now he’s going out into the big, bad world. I hope the readers experience the emotions I went through while telling the story of his life.”
Sherri has said that characters have often gotten in her way and demanded their own stories, not in the order she’d intended. Was Ash cooperative with his story when the time came to write it?
“Yes, he was. I’ve had the bulk of it written for many years before I sat down to put the pieces together. There were a few moments when I felt like I was being put through the ringer right there with him, but in the end it felt liberating to get it all out.”
I asked Sherri what’s different about Acheron’s book from the others in the series. I’d read that it’s a longer book, but I sensed, from Sherri’s demeanor, that this is an unveiling of sorts—a revealing of something powerful and close to her heart. There’s an intensity about Sherri when she speaks of Acheron.
“Acheron’s book is an epic tale. It’s HIS story,” she said. “Of course you have the romance as well, but Acheron’s story holds true to his title. The fans will know everything there is to know about Ash when they’ve finished reading.”
I’ve seen a little of Sherri’s schedule and gotten a sense of the crazy, hectic life-on-tour she’s leading as a hit writer on a roll. It’s clear she appreciates the opportunities she’s earned, but I have to wonder how she does it. It’s the Fourth of July week as I’m writing this. A time for most people to relax and enjoy family. But for Sherrilyn Kenyon, the Year Of Acheron is about to kick into high gear. She was in the middle of a manuscript when she paused to give this interview.
I asked Sherri if there was such a thing as a break for her nowadays. She laughed out loud.
“It’s going to be wild for the next couple of months with the tour, K-Con, Comic-Con, just to name a few. I pretty much work around the clock. Luckily, I get to work a lot from home so I can see my family.” She smiled when she spoke of her kids. “Sometimes when I’m traveling I can take my children with me so I don’t have to miss them. But yes, I do stay busy.”
Sherri is on the road a LOT. A writing career—any career—with kids is a tough thing to juggle, and a lot of writers know those struggles well. But she’s managed to nudge a growing writing career into an exploding one, all while juggling a young family, including a son with autism. I wondered if the special needs of her child’s autism had changed her. Has it made her a different person—a different WRITER even—than she would have otherwise been?
“ I understand and have always understood what its like to overcome adversity,” she said. “I’ve had to do it and my son has to live with it on a daily basis. So that could be why I put my characters through so much.” She laughed as she said that, then she grew thoughtful. “I think that any parent with a special needs child learns patience and how truly important it is to love your child for who they are and not who society expects them to be. I am truly blessed to have him in my life.”
On top of all that, Sherrilyn Kenyon, one of the most prolific, fastest writers I know, has dyslexia. When I asked her if she ever got frustrated she laughed again.
“Well,” she said, “I love spellcheck.”
Sherri has to be able to write anywhere, under almost any conditions because she has to keep up the pace for herself, her publishers, and her readers. I asked her how she connects with her “voices” and preserves her creative flow when things were going nuts around her.
“It’s hard,” she said, and nodded. “But once I sink into my world and get into the zone, I’m there. The world could possibly fall down around me and I’m still there living with my characters and telling their story.”
Bandita Suz had a couple of questions for Sherri. Suz wondered about the difficulties inherent in writing a long-standing series while still staying true to your vision as an author. Does Sherri ever find the two at cross-purposes? Has she ever felt the temptation to cave to please readers, or go in a direction she hadn’t planned with characters or plot? (And Cassondra adds, knowing Sherri’s characters, would they ever LET her do this?)
“No. I’ve always done exactly what the characters have told me to do. I think its important as a writer to stay true to them.”
Sherri is one of the most brilliant promoters I’ve ever encountered. Everything from her merchandise for signings to her websites and the emblems she uses for branding. Suz also had a question about those websites. She’s used them to great advantage, and Suz wondered if Sherri credits those websites with helping to build her fan base to what it is today, and does she believe good use of a website can help a writer sell?
“Yes, the websites helped to get the word out,” Sherri said. “I don’t know if there’s an exact way to help a writer sell. It’s just so different for every writer. When I pitched my series and told them I had a website already, some of the editors thought I was nuts. So, it’s just different for everyone.”
Sherri’s bottom line was this.
“Never give up. If you give up, your dreams will never become a reality.”
For my last question to Sherri, I saved the one sent by my husband, Steve, who also happens to be one of Sherrilyn’s fans. Since Sherri writes about things that go bump in the night, Steve asks, “What scares Sherrilyn Kenyon?”
Sherri said, “The color pink.”
So, Bandita friends, What scares YOU?
Are you afraid of the dark?
Do you believe in angels, demons, and their ilk?
Have you ever slept with the light on? (I have.)
Do you have a favorite Sherrilyn Kenyon story? Does one of her Dark Hunters haunt your dreams?
Do you keep the lights on after reading her books? Or do you sleep better believing the Dark Hunters are stalking the night in your defense?