Upcoming Blog Tour

August 29, 2010

My short story “Elementary, My Dear Sir,” a bit of Victorian naughtiness, will be appearing in the Logical Lust anthology Spank! under my pen name Anna Black. It’s releasing September 15th. There’s also a give-away going on at the link above until September 20th.

To promote and celebrate the release, the authors, editor, D.L. King and Cassandra Park, who wrote the wonderful introduction to the anthology, will be hosting a blog tour.

The tour starts Wednesday, September 1st. Yours truly will be blogging for the tour on Saturday, September 4th. I will blog about how I came up with the idea for “Elementary, My Dear Sir,” and why I’m drawn to write Victorian erotica.

Here are the dates of the tour.

September 1 – D.L.King

September 2 – Cervo

September 3 – Sommer Marsden

September 4 – Anna Black

September 5 – Jean Roberta

September 6 – Tara S. Nichols

September 7 – Maggie Norton

September 8 – Kathleen Bradean

September 9 – Lee Ash

September 10 – Lisabet Sarai

September 11 – Evan Mora

September 12 – Allison Wonderland

September 13 – Sean Meriwether

September 14 – Roxy Katt

September 15 – Donna George Storey

September 16 – Bethy Wylde

September 17 – Sacchi Green

September 18 – A.D.R. Forte

September 19 – J. Z. Sharpe

September 20 – Jessica Lennox

September 21 – Cassandra Park

And just a reminder, 18 and older only, please, for the tour! ๐Ÿ™‚



I’m Back!

August 1, 2010

Greetings and Happy 1st Day of August !

Yep, I’m still here. I have been very, very lax about blogging due to Real Life (RL) being very, very stressful. And oh, what a tale of strife and woe I have to share!

But I’ll share that another day. I’d rather blog about something fun and try to forget what’s been going on the last couple of months. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a new book coming out from Ellora’s Cave. It’s called Madison Avenue Vampire and it’s releasing Wednesday, August 4th.

Here’s the blurb: Itโ€™s the swinging 1960s and Richard owns one of Manhattanโ€™s major advertising agencies. Heโ€™s also a vampire. He hungers to make love to Lana Sorensonโ€™s lush, voluptuous body, but he also thirsts to sink his fangs into her lovely neck. Richardโ€™s desire for blood is nearly out of control, and surrendering to both his lusts may deprive Lana of her life.

Lana is the proverbial farmerโ€™s daughter. A small town girl from Wisconsin, Lana regularly sees things she never would have imagined in her wildest dreams. But when she finds out the handsome, sexy man sheโ€™s dating is a vampire, Lana is faced with the terrifying possibility that the first time she and Richard make love could also be the last. Literally.

You can read an excerpt here.

I have no qualms about saying that Madison Avenue Vampire was most definitely inspired by the AMC television series, Mad Men. I was sitting and watching it one evening and thought to myself, what if Don Draper were a vampire? ๐Ÿ˜€

I actually wrote the story back in 2009 as a much shorter story. But when I submitted it my editor at EC she asked me to make it a bit longer.

This is from Wikipedia and pretty much sums up what the show is about.

Mad Men is set in the 1960s, initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, and later at the newly created firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The show centers on Don Draper (Jon Hamm), creative director at Sterling Cooper and a founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, as well as those in his life in and out of the office. It also depicts the changing social mores of 1960s America.

The first season is set historically speaking in 1960. Then Season 2 jumps ahead to 1962. Season 3 in 1963 and Season 4, which started last Sunday, late in 1964.

My novel is set in late October and early November of 1962.

I was initially so not into Mad Men that I didn’t even watch the first season. Then, for some reason, I started watching it and now I’m officially hooked.

I had a lot of fun researching the period (one of the things Mad Men receives acclaim for is its accurate recreation of the early 1960s). However, the folks over at Ellora’s Cave caught a rather major faux pas on my part.

In the very first sentence of the very first scene of the very first chapter, my heroine, Lana Sorenson, is at a swanky Halloween party. I had her drinking champagne out of a fluted glass. Like the one pictured.

Nope. Wrong. Back in the early 60s people drank their champagne out of coupe glasses. Here’s a pic of the guys at Sterling, Cooper doing exactly that.

Fortunately, my editor caught the mistake and I corrected it.

I love research, however. Even when I drop the ball sometimes. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I love history. Even recent history. It’s fascinating. Speaking of, here are some interesting and, in some cases, tragic events that happened on this date in history.

August 1

30 BC โ€“ Octavian (later known as Augustus) enters Alexandria, Egypt, bringing it under the control of the Roman Republic.

1619 โ€“ First African slaves arrive in Jamestown, Virginia.

1834 โ€“ Slavery is abolished in the British Empire as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force.

1876 โ€“ Colorado is admitted as the 38th U.S. state.

1914 โ€“ Germany declares war on Russia at the opening of World War I. The Swiss Army mobilities because of World War I

1944 โ€“ Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary.

1960 โ€“ Dahomey (later renamed Benin) declares independence from France.

1966 โ€“ Charles Whitman kills 15 people at The University of Texas at Austin before being killed by the police.

1981 โ€“ MTV begins broadcasting in the United States and airs its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.

Well, I have edits I must work on all day as it’s back to work on Monday. Since it’s a brand new spanking month, my goal is to at least blog on the weekends. Now that I’m back to working full-time and also have a number of writing goals I need to accomplish before year’s end, my time is pretty much filled to the brim, but I do like to blog and have missed doing so these past two months.

And I apologize for not visiting blogs in turn. Yes, time has been at a premium but the stress of what I’ve been dealing with the last two months was also a major factor. But I got some news this past Friday which should lessen some of the stress.

Ciao for now!

The Heiress and the Human Target

January 18, 2010

Sunday, while busily working on my novella—I have to finish up one final scene today—I took a short break and started channel surfing.

I stopped at Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and saw that they were about to show William Wyler’s 1949 film, The Heiress, starring Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson and Miriam Hopkins.

The Heiress is one of those movies that I will literally stop whatever I’m doing (in this case drafting a scene for my novella) and watch it. It’s that good. I first saw it years ago, on TCM, and happen to come into the movie about 1/3 into it. But I was hooked. And I watch it every time it’s on TCM. (I should buy it and intend to one day).

The Heiress is based on a 1947 play, which was based on the 1880 novel Washington Square by Henry James.

De Havilland plays Catherine Sloper, the only daughter of a wealthy doctor. She is plain, shy and clearly lacking (as her father never fails to remind her) of the grace and beauty her deceased mother and the doctor’s wife lacked.

A very young Montgomery Clift plays Morris Townsened, a handsome, charming but poor man who woos Catherine, much to the annoyance of Catherine’s father, who sees Morris as nothing but a fortune hunter.

What’s great about Montgomery Clift’s performance is, yes, it’s obvious that he’s after Catherine’s money but you sometimes feel that he actually does care for her.

Ralph Richardson is excellent as Catherine’s father, the emotionally distant Dr. Sloper.

It’s one of those movies where there isn’t a misstep, IMHO. Not in the casting, the acting, the directing, the plot, or the writing.

After the movie was over, I went back to writing.

Then, once I had written as much as I could for the day, I decided to watch the premier episode of a new show on Fox called The Human Target. To be honest, I usually avoid shows like this like the plague. Don’t ask me why, I just do. ๐Ÿ™‚

But something intrigued me about this show and I watched it and I have to say I liked it.

Mark Valley plays Christopher Chase, a professional bodyguard and security expert, who insinuates himself into his client’s lives in order to become the human target, that is, he’s the one who sets himself up to take the bullet.

His cronies include Winston (Chi McBride), his business partner, who keeps wondering why Chase continues to endanger himself the way he does, and Guerrero, played by Jackie Earle Haley, of Watchmen and Bad News Bears fame, whose character I’m assuming was once a criminal but works with Chase.

The show is based on a comic book character called The Human Target, which first appeared back in 1972.

Nothing ground-breaking, I have to say, but I thought the episode moved well, Chase has a kind of devil-may-care but hidden dark side to him quirkiness, he looks good in a suit and the character of Guerrero intrigues me. It starts its regular programming on Wednesday so I’ll continue to check it out.

I’ve been watching Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries on the CW and they start their new episodes this week.

As for writing, I finished that short story I was working on last week and submitted it just in time for the submission deadline this past Friday.

Today I have to finish the final scene of my novella so that I can spend the next two weeks revising it as I have to submit it on February 1st in order to make the deadline.

And that’s all for now. ๐Ÿ™‚

NaNo Day 28

November 28, 2009

Well, I’m most definitely not going to “win” NaNo this year. I’m only at 19,502 words. I had hoped to get 30,000 words done by 11/30 but I’ll be lucky to get 25,000.

But, again, I’m cool with it. I’m really excited about this story and I will be continuing on with it into December.

This weekend, however, I’m finishing up final touches on another novella that I need to get back to my editor. I’ve been tinkering with this one for a bit and it really needs to finally leave the workshop.

I’m also starting a brand spanking new novella in December (which is next week!), so I’m chugging along with that. I had downloaded a writing software called Liquid Story Binder, which was suggested to me by Lori Devoti, whom I’ve known for the past six years and is a prolific writer of romantic comedies, dark paranormals and urban fantasies.

I’ve been using LSB to prep my new novella. LSB has got a pretty steep learning curve but I think I’ve got a handle on the software now. I like the program because it doesn’t tell you how to write. It just gives you the tools to organize your writing. They’re having a sale, by the way. 50% off, so you can get it for $22.95 but the sale ends on Monday.

Oh, I’ve discovered a new guilty pleasure. Well, guilty in the sense that I’m ashamed of how much I love this show. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was channel surfing one day and came across a rather interesting scene between a handsome man, dressed like Oscar Wilde, chatting up another man at what looked like some sort of country club. The men were dressed in Victorian fashion and I surmised the setting was also Victorian.

Then the handsome, dandified man, after agreeing to go “somewhere private” with the other man, pulls out a badge and announces he’s a detective who’s investigating the murder of a man who was murdered on his wedding day. The man, however, was living a secret life in that he was gay.

Thus was I introduced to Detective William Murdoch, star of The Murdoch Mysteries, which are set in the 1890’s in Toronto.

Murdoch is described on the show’s website as a “dedicated autodidact”. I love that word. Autodidact. A self-taught person.

Murdoch is, as I said, easy on the eyes, a staunch Roman Catholic, very cool emotionally (maybe a bit too cool emotionally in the eyes of Dr. Julia Ogden, the pathologist, who clearly has a thing for the handsome detective), very analytical and who is quite eager to use in his investigations such new-fangled forensic methods and devices as a lie detector, fingermarks, bloodsplatter, etc.

It’s kinda like Sherlock Holmes meets Gus Grissom from CSI. I love it. First, because I’m nuts over anything set in the Victorian era, I love mysteries and the show is very well-done with engaging characters and fast-paced scripts. Plus, I gotta love a detective who gets around on a bicycle. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s on my local PBS station here but I’m sure it can be found somewhere. The first season is also on DVD.

This show comes at just the right time, also, because in December I’m going to be world-building for my steampunk novella. I started it earlier this year but set it aside. However, I’m going to tackle it again in January.

Here’s an interesting blog post about the The Steampunk Romantic Hero

And look. Kate MacAlister has a steampunk romance coming out in February. Steamed: A Steampunk Romance

Not sure if airships, corsets and nefarious villains intent on ruling the world are going to take the place of vampires, werewolves and nefarious demons intent on destroying the world, but we’ll see.

I know that I sure wouldn’t mind adding my two bits.

Full steam ahead! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pulp Fiction Writer – That’s Me!

August 30, 2009

Ah, the days of pulp fiction. When writers would crank out story after story for a penny a word.

On the DVD, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, which is a documentary about Harlan Ellison (one of the great genre writers of our time), he talks about starting out as a writer in the 50s, writing a 3,000 word story in a night for a penny a word for the pulps, getting $30 for it and being able to eat for that week. It was a factory back then, writing for those pulps.

Oh, and I recommend checking out Dreams with Sharp Teeth. Harlan Ellison is very abrasive (he curses a lot and he admits to mailing a dead gopher to a publisher), and he’d probably tell you that himself, that he’s abrasive, but if you’re a writer it’s an interesting DVD to watch. If you’re a Harlan Ellison fan, like me, definitely a must.

Ellison wrote one of my favorite all-time Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” which stars Robert Culp. If you’ve never seen it I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but it’s worth checking out if you can find it. Harlan also wrote one of the best-loved Star Trek episodes ever. “City on the Edge of Forever”. And his story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”. Just hearing that title still gives me chills.

He goes on a funny but, in my opinion, totally justified rant in the DVD about writers who write stuff for nothing. He adamantly believes that writers should get paid for their work because writing is hard. I hear that!

Now, speaking of pulp fiction, I once had a creative writing teacher in grad school (who happens to be relatively well-known literary writer) tell me that my story about a woman who discovers she’s a werewolf and winds up killing the man who tries to rape her in a park was the kind of story you’d find at airports and/or drugstores (e.g Wal-Mart).

She meant it as a put-down. A put-down that she verbalized in front of the whole class.

Oh, yeah. She did. In front of the whole class.

You see, I was supposed to write about how horrible my childhood was or maybe about my parents divorcing and how it traumatized me or about boozing academics having affairs or something if that ilk.

However, I took what she said as a compliment. I was a pulp fiction writer. Meaning my story was possibly a story ordinary people would want to read!

Yes! Thank you, superior, snooty, grad school creative writing instructor. ๐Ÿ™‚

Below is a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal about how plot is starting to reappear in “literary” novels. That writers are kissing Modernism goodbye. Well, if some writers are doing that, it’s probably because they know, as we all do, that, unfortunately, people are just not reading as much as they used to. So you either write what the ordinary person can at least understand (without having some academic standing over their shoulders and explaining what it all means) or you starve.

Good Novels Don’t Have to Be Hard Work

As you can see by two of the pulp fiction covers in this post, a lot of what came out in pulp magazines, like “I, Robot” by Issac Asimov and “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler, are now considered classics of their respective genres.

Seriously, I consider myself a pulp fiction writer, or a trashy writer, or whatever derogatory appellation some snob wants to categorize my writing in. I even had someone say that to me. That I write trash. To my face!

Okay, no problem. I know I’m not some genius writer. I know I’ll never be canonized in the halls of literary achievement. I know for a fact that I won’t win any awards and, heck, I probably won’t even be able to make a decent living at this.

But I love writing and if one person, just one person, reads something I wrote and is able to get outside of his or her head for an hour or so and forget about whatever problems they may have, have a good time doing it and want to come back for more, I’ll be happy.

Yes, very, very happy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Pulp On!

Red Dust & Mogambo

August 13, 2009

So last night, old movie fan that I am, I watched two Clark Gable films on Turner Classic Movies. The first was Red Dust (1932) and the second Mogambo (1953).

What both movies share, besides Clark Gable in the lead, playing essentially the same role, is the same plot.

Both movies take place in exotic locations, and both movies involve a man involved with two women, one of whom is married.

In Red Dust, Gable is the owner of a rubber plantation. Jean Harlow is a prostitute whom Gable dallies with but it’s Mary Astor, who plays the part of the wife of an employee, that Gable really lusts for.

Harlow and Astor play the archetypal roles of the Whore and the Lady.

In Mogambo, Gable is a big game hunter and Ava Gardner plays the Whore role (although this movie is tamer than Red Dust in that the fact that Gardner is a prostitute is not as blatantly stated as it is in Red Dust). Grace Kelly is the Lady, wife of a client Gable is taking on safari. (And, rumors say, Kelly and Gable spent a lot of time alone in a tent while this movie was being filmed. At the time she was 24 and he was 52).

I actually preferred Red Dust. For one thing, it was made before the Hollywood censors began to do their thing so it’s a bit racier than the 1952 version and Clark Gable was, obviously, a lot younger. I also liked Jean Harlow and Mary Astor over Gardner and Kelly.

It was also interesting watching a remake of a movie, especially when the lead was played by the same actor, only 21 years later. Gable is definitely a lot more long in the tooth in Mogambo but still Gable.

Red Dust, due to the times it was made, is rife with racist depictions of Asians and that is a lot to swallow. And Mogambo, though not as bad, still treats Africans as nothing more than part of the exotic backdrop. But those were the times these movies were made.

All in all, it was interesting to compare the two movies; one in grainy black and white; the other in stunning Technicolor. Both movies, apparently, were very successful when they were released but there’s nothing like lust in the jungle, adultery and a love triangle to get the blood going I guess.

Speaking of lust, I’m finishing up revisions on my vampire erotica which I had planned to submit this past Monday but it needed more work so will be submitting later in the week.

I’ve also been working on world-building for some future projects. World-building is not my favorite thing to do. I know some people love building their worlds but I have to admit I tend to get bored. I prefer to build my world as I go along, but I realized there are some things about my world I still need to know before I can start drafting. So I’ve been working on what I call Jenna’s Quick & Dirty Guide to World-Building. ๐Ÿ™‚

More Guilty Pleasures

July 22, 2009

I suppose I wouldn’t label these as actually guilty but I have taken pleasure in them of late.

First, manga.

I’ve been a fan of anime for quite some time but have to admit that only recently have I gotten into manga. I do read graphic novels but manga-not so much. That is until lately.

Manga, for those who don’t know, are Japanese comics. They’re very popular in Japan, read by all age groups and genders. They represent a nearly $5 billion market in Japan. They’ve also caught on here in the States. Most large bookstores now have a huge manga section and even my local library carries a lot of them. Manga, like American comics, cover a wide range of topics and genres.

Now, I have to admit it took some getting used to reading not only from right to left, but from back to front. And some manga are published in what we probably consider a more traditional format.

Here are the manga I’m currently reading. Oh, and for those who are more into manga than me, you’ll probably notice that most of what I’m reading is shojo manga, which is manga targeted to girls between the age of 10 and 18, although Midnight Secretary is regarded more as josei manga, which is for a more mature audience.

Midnight Secretary by Tomu Oomi

Considered to be the “perfect secretary” yet constantly criticized for her ultra-conservative dress style by the Director, Kaya lives a seemingly normal life until she finds out that her boss is actually a vampire. Despite uncovering his identity, she dedicates herself to serving the Director to the best of her abilities. The early part of the story focuses on the trials and tribulations of Kaya’s increasingly hectic workload, then shifts to the developing personal relationship between her and the Director. (From Wikipedia entry)

Major guilty pleasure!

Ceres-Celestial Legend by Yuu Watase

The series focuses on Aya Mikage, who learns on her sixteenth birthday that she is the reincarnation of a celestial maiden named Ceres, and her twin brother Aki the reincarnation of Ceres’ former husband. Ceres begins manifesting in Aya. To try to save her brother, Aya must find Ceres’ lost celestial robe while trying to avoid being killed or captured by her own family, who wants to use Ceres powers for their own gain. (From Wikipedia entry)

I like this series because it starts out kind of fluffy and then, wham! it suddenly turns dark and serious but there’s still a lot humor and, of course, a romance between the heroine and the handsome, but mysterious, hero.

Emma by Kaoru Mori.

Set in Victorian London at the end of the 19th century, Emma is the story of a maid who falls in love with a member of the gentry. However, the young man’s family disapproves of him associating with people of the lower classes. (from Wikipedia entry)

I just picked this one up from the library but I was drawn to it’s Victorian setting. There are no vampires, werewolves or any kind of paranormal goings on in this manga. Just a story of a maid and the man she loves but is separated from due to class.

Megatokyo by Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston.

This is a manga that my son recommend I read after I expressed an interest in reading more manga.

Set in a fictional version of Tokyo, Megatokyo portrays the adventures of Piro, a young fan of anime and manga, and his friend Largo, an American video game enthusiast. The comic often parodies and comments on the archetypes and clichรฉs of anime, manga, dating sims, and video games, occasionally making direct references to real-world works.

Megatokyo originally emphasized humor, with continuity of the story a subsidiary concern. Over time, it focused more on developing a complex plot and the personalities of its characters. (from Wikipedia entry)

And, last but not, least The Crow

This movie was on television over the weekend (so it was heavily edited) but despite a lot of gratitious violence and less than savory sex, I still love this movie. It was Brandon Lee’s last role as he was killed during the making of it. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s gothic, it’s violent, but it’s also a tender love story in that Eric Draven, Brandon Lee’s character, comes back from the grave to avenge his death and the death of his true love.

So, there they are. Some of my “guilty” pleasures. I have more, as I know I’ve only touched the top of the iceberg when it comes to manga, but I don’t want to bore anyone. ๐Ÿ™‚