Review of Madison Avenue Vampire

September 2, 2010

I got a review for Madison Avenue Vampire 🙂 It’s from Book Binge. Here’s some excerpts from it.

This is an erotic and very cute novella which details the strange relationship between a beautiful but shy and naive farm girl from Wisconsin and a 400+ year old vampire who is wealthy beyond belief and who happens to be attracted to this voluptuous woman in a way that both surprises and dismays him. He first noticed and was attracted to her while she was working for him. After agreeing to start dating him, Lana quit her job at Richard’s ad agency and has now begun working elsewhere. It is the time of President John Kennedy and the Cuban crisis, the hope-filled days just as the space program was being launched, and when the world of the beatnik was a part of common conversation.

This novella deals with some substantive issues even if the characters are a little different. Perhaps the very fact that one is a vampire and the other an innocent and naive gal from the upper Midwest work as metaphors for all of us as we are forced to deal with issues of trust in daily living as well as all sorts of relationships. I have not read anything by Jenna Reynolds before this, but I was impressed that she seemed to be adept at crafting some unusual characters. My only negative response to this book was that I thought that Richard’s angst was a bit drawn out but that was minor in light of the positives I found. This is a really cute love story and I think romance/paranormal romance fans will enjoy it. I give this novella a rating of 3.75 out of 5

You can read the entire review here

Thanks, Judith!


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. 🙂

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: It’s the swinging 1960s and Richard owns one of Manhattan’s major advertising agencies. He’s also a vampire. He hungers to make love to Lana Sorenson’s lush, voluptuous body, but he also thirsts to sink his fangs into her lovely neck. Richard’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 farmer’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 she’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? 😀

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. 🙂 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 – Octavian (later known as Augustus) enters Alexandria, Egypt, bringing it under the control of the Roman Republic.

1619 – First African slaves arrive in Jamestown, Virginia.

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

1876 – Colorado is admitted as the 38th U.S. state.

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

1944 – Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary.

1960 – Dahomey (later renamed Benin) declares independence from France.

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

1981 – 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!


February 16, 2010

The last few months of 2009 I was working on two novellas. One was a vampire story and the other a fantasy. I submitted them to my editor at Ellora’s Cave. She accepted them both and I’m mailing out the contracts today.

I don’t know when they will be released but when I get more news I’ll share.

Currently, I’m working on an erotic contemporary fantasy that I actually wrote a couple of years ago and which I’m bound and determined to get done and submitted. And I’m finally, finally working on a steampunk.

I had initially envisioned the steampunk story as a novella, but when I started working on the characters and plot, the story got too big and now it’s turning into a novel.

I’m also working on a couple of short stories, both of which I had also written a few years back. I’m revising them for an anthology call and hope to submit them both by the end of the month.

So, all in all, I’m just keeping busy and trying to stay out of trouble. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

NaNo Day 23

November 23, 2009

I spent this past weekend working on my vampire novella. The one I’ve been expanding and revising the last couple of months. I finally finished it today and sent it to my editor.

So, with that, I now have five other writing projects, in various stages of development, to tackle, including my NaNo Novel. Last time I reported in about NaNo I said I was going to shoot for 35,000 words by 11/30.

However, since I focused primarily on my vampire novella this weekend and pretty much did nothing for NaNo, I’m going to revise that to 30,000 words. I’m currently at 17,913 words so even though there’s only a week remaining for NaNo, I might still be able to make it.

Vampires! Seriously, once they get their fangs into your neck they just won’t let go! 🙂 But I had fun with the novella and I’m not through with vampires yet as there are vampires in my NaNo novel!

But once I’m done with my Nano novel I’ll be leaving the vamps alone for a bit. I’ve got a werewolf novella, a steampunk, and some other genres I want to explore.

This is the last full week of NaNo, which, of course, includes Thanksgiving and that unofficial American holiday, Black Friday. Hope everyone who’s still chugging along with NaNo can keep going with their word counts this final week.

Write on!

NaNo Day 17

November 17, 2009

Currently at 17,913 words. Still behind but making progress. The story is coming along nicely and I’m also still being surprised by my characters.

As I’ve probably mentioned ad nauseum in my posts, I can still catch up but I probably won’t make an attempt at that until sometime next week, which is the week of Thanksgiving.

Wow, how did Thanksgiving get here so fast! Well, I don’t have any travel plans for Thanksgiving. Christmas is usually the time I travel to see family so, with hope, I can still catch up.

Just wanted to share a couple of reviews about the vampire erotica anthology published by Cleis Press The Sweetest Kiss, which features my short story under my Anna Black nom de plume, “The Temptation of Mlle. Marielle Doucette”.

Our amazing editor D.L King forwarded them to us.

The first one is from Smart Shoppers Secrets.

Hands down the best anthology of vampire erotica I’ve read in nearly 20 years, The Sweetest Kiss: Ravishing Vampire Erotica is an absolutely stellar collection of fantastic stories that deliver everything one wants from this type of book: complex vampire societies, the passion of the hunt, the angst over immortal life, and tons and tons of hot sex.

And here is what was said about my story: Fans of historical erotica will want to clutch Anna Black’s The Temptation of Mlle. Marielle Doucette right to their hearts, for this tale set during the height of the French Revolution is amazingly beautiful, includes a very hot threesome scene, and illustrates that some passions are even stronger than mere lust.

You can read the entire review here

This review is from Colleen Anderson’s blog “Writing from Both Sides of the Brain”. The tales in The Sweetest Kiss span time and countries, just as vampires would through their long lives. There are twists on the relationship of the dominating vampire. There is masochism, sadism, domination and submission. There is addiction, fear, hunger, as well as love and salvation. What one person finds erotic is not the same for another. I would say this anthology deftly gives a taste of something for everyone. The writing in most cases is of a very good caliber and tales range from those little pieces to get off on to those tales that have meat to sink your teeth into. The Sweetest Kiss successfully delivers eroticism and bite.

Here’s what she said about my story: “The Temptation of Mlle. Marielle Doucette” by Anna Black is the first period piece set during the French Revolution. The thing about the longevity of vampires is that a certain timelessness can enter stories. The young Marielle must choose between her beliefs, execution and revenge through a repulsive (to her) yet strangely alluring temptation. This tale has the first truly descriptive sex scene though it is strangely lacking in other details.

You can read the entire review here

It’s interesting that the reviewer noted that my story was “strangely lacking in other details” as that is something I’m working on improving. Description. I’ve been having trouble writing description since I started writing. You know how some people say they can “see” their stories, like a movie? I hear my stories, like a radio play. 🙂

But I’m working on it. I’m reading craft books and articles on description, analyzing how other writers write description, practicing being more observant. So, yep, I’m quite determined to get better at it. Yes, I am! 🙂

That’s one of the things I do love about writing. You never stop learning the craft.

Halloween, NaNo, Tarot and Vamps

October 31, 2009

First, I apologize for what will be the rather hurried nature of this post. Due to some unforeseen and rather unpleasant personal thingies in October, I got behind with my writing projects. Two projects that were supposed to be all done by today are overlapping into the first week of November.

And, as we all know, not only is today Halloween (yeah!), and not only do we have to turn our clocks back one hour tonight (extra hour of sleep!), but for us doing NaNo, today is our last day to finish whatever preparations we are doing so that we can start writing like mad tomorrow.

So, to make a long story short, I’m also behind on the blog posts I had planned to do prior to the start of NaNo.

I had promised to talk about my Tarot and Fiction workshop. I had wanted to post a more detailed report of that but as I’m hoping to do this workshop again in the near future, I will save that longer, more detailed piece for another time.

So, here’s a brief recap of the workshop.

First, I advised the participants to get a copy of Corrine Kenner’s book Tarot for Writers

This is an excellent book to have if you’re really interested in using the tarot for writing.

In the workshop, I emphasized the fact that I see the Tarot as more of a brainstorming and writer’s block busting tool than anything else. I don’t use the Tarot every time I sit down to write. Most of the time I come up with the story ideas, characters and plots on my own but when I’m stuck, out come the tarot cards.

As a matter of fact, I’m currently stuck on a scene in my current WIP and when I’m done here I’m going to pull out my cards and see if I can get unstuck.

The reason I think the tarot works so well is that I think our minds get stuck in ruts and our thoughts run along the same grooves. And we need to get pushed out of those ruts. But it’s hard to do because most of us (definitely me) are not creative geniuses.

We can, of course, brainstorm off of others but sometimes that’s not feasible. Everybody, as we know, is so busy these days.

So, my suggestion? Pull out your tarot deck. Lay out a spread or just pull a card. You can do this randomly or you can look through the deck and pick a card that gets a response out of you.

That’s what we did in the workshop. I had all the participants pick a genre to write in. I did this because I wanted them to keep that genre in mind when using the cards. That would help them keep the meaning of the cards or whatever they picked up from the cards in context.

Since some of the participants did not have cards, I passed out some from my collection. At first I thought it was a good idea to have people use cards that were similar to their genre. For example, a woman was writing a Regency. Someone had brought the Jane Austen Tarot so I gave that deck to her.

However, in retrospect, I don’t think that was a good idea. The woman admitted that she didn’t really come up with anything but plots and ideas she had already written. That made me think that, perhaps, it would have been better for her to have used a different type of deck. Something so far removed from the world of Regency that it would have done what I wanted the tarot to do for her. Think outside the box.

For example, this card is from the Housewives Tarot, which uses images from the late 50’s and early 60’s for the Tarot. It’s kind of a tarot deck for fans of the Mad Men television series.

In the workshop, we used our tarot decks to brainstorm characters and then plots. I encouraged the participants not to worry about what the meanings of the cards were. I did pass out a cheat sheet for their use, but I asked them to first look at the card, think about or write down what they saw in the card, and then see how they could apply that to their story.

Here’s a quick example of what I came up with. I pulled the Nine of Cups for my protagonist. My genre was mainstream fiction.

Here’s what I wrote. My protagonist is a dark-haired man, wealthy and self-complacent. He believes he has achieved all that he has dreamed of. He owns a successful furniture company. He’s overweight but believes it’s a sign of his worldly success. His wife, however, urges him constantly to lose weight. He blithely ignores her, indulging in rich food, fine wines and other sensual delights.

Okay, so that was my protagonist based on that card. For the antagonist I drew the Wheel of Fortune. I wrote this.

The antagonist is Fate. Suddenly our hero loses everything! His business, his health, his wife. Like Job in the Bible, he finds himself tested everywhere he turns. He must ride the Wheel of Fortune downward as he struggles to reinvent himself and his life.

Now, this is all rough draft stuff. I would definitely work and revise and rewrite all this as I made my way through my WIP.

For example, I would definitely make my antagonist a real person, someone who symbolizes what Fate has done to my protagonist because stories work best, IMHO, when the antagonist is a person (or an alien or a vampire). Someone the protagonist can actively engage with.

Your interpretations of the cards can be literal or metaphorical. It all depends on what works best for you.

I mentioned in the workshop that when using the cards for writing, the only meaning that mattered was what the participants came up with. The interpretations in books can be helpful and I encouraged them to make use of those, but I wanted them to also try and come up with their own meanings first. Based, most importantly, on what genre they were writing in and, specifically, on what their particular writing problem was.

I, for example, need to come up with something nasty and horrible for my villain to do to my heroine. I will take out my trusty tarot deck and see what I can come up with.

Okay, vamps. I finally saw Let the Right One In. Great movie. Highly recommend it. Best vampire movie I’ve seen in a long time. It was done in a way that played around with the standard vampire tropes but put them in a context that allowed you to see those tropes in a different way. It’s also, believe it or not, a rather sweet love story. It’s bloody and gory, so a heads up on that, but I enjoyed it and my son, who as a rule does not like vampire anything, was impressed with it and judged it a really good vampire movie. And that’s saying something! Coming from him. 🙂

NaNo. Not really done with prepping but NaNo starts tomorrow so gotta run with it. Hope those who are participating are ready to get going tomorrow. Start your writing engines!

Okay, I really, really, really got to get to my writing! I feel time just ticking away. I don’t know how much blogging I will be doing in November but I’ll try to stop by when I can.

November is going to be crazy! But fun crazy. I hope. 🙂