Archive for November, 2007


6 Questions with Jenna Black

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

I’d say about five. I’m not on any deadlines right now, but I am waiting to hear what my publishers think of my next proposals. I’m not very good at waiting–which for a writer is not a good thing, as we spend most of our time waiting for one thing or another.

2. How many points do you think does your decision to come back to my blog again add to your insanity quotient?

Not a one! You ask a pleasantly manageable number of questions, which avoids triggering the panic response that some interviews give me. I was recently asked to do fifteen interview questions with two days’ notice–now that added major points to my insanity level! (I ended up not doing it–it was just too much work for two days’ notice.)

3. You’re planning to become a full-time writer in 2008. We’ve all heard the usual tips, such as quit while you’re under contract or have this much in your bank account. What have you done in preparation for the change?

Well, some of this decision was made for me, as there have been major changes at my day job. I could have worked something out with them if I’d be willing to a) move to Omaha (yeah, right!) or b) take a different position within the company, which I didn’t want to do. I figured the universe was trying to give me a hint.

As sad as this reality is, part of what makes me able to make this leap is that I lost both my parents three years ago, and I inherited their nest eggs. That gives me a safety net. If it hadn’t been for that, I think I probably would have wanted to hold onto the day job for another year or two, just to be safe. (Although if I continued to write for two publishers and do a full-time day job, the workload probably would have put my insanity level at a permanent ten!)

4. A number of well-known romance novelists have also sold urban fantasy novels recently, but they will be published under pseudonyms. You’re not one of them. Thoughts? And did you think about using one for the Morgan Kingsley books?

My gut feeling when I wrote The Devil Inside was that it would appeal to the fans of my paranormal romances. Both my agent and my editor agreed, so we decided there was no need for me to use a pseudonym. I’m very happy with that decision, because if I’d had another name, I’d have had to do a second website, add yet another email address, do another newsletter, etc.–all the promotional activities that are associated with this crazy business. I spend enough time on promo with just one pen name!

If I’d been writing romantic comedies or historical romance–something with a very different audience from urban fantasy–then I probably would have been forced to use a different pen name. I’m very thankful I was writing paranormal romances!

5. The move from paranormal romance to urban fantasy: natural progression?

Absolutely! (Though I haven’t actually moved, so much as added. Assuming I can work out a new deal with Tor, the publisher of my paranormal romances, I plan on writing both.) My paranormal romances have a hint of an urban fantasy voice to them anyway. I seem not to be able to write without some amount of acerbic wit, which is one of the hallmarks of urban fantasy–I think I’d be in real trouble if I had to write “sweet” romance. My urban fantasies definitely have a strong romantic element in them, although Morgan’s life is such a mess, it would take some pretty fancy footwork to fix her relationships.

6. You call your blog “Jenna Black’s Blog Experiment.” How’s the experiment going?

To be honest with you, not all that well. I don’t blog frequently enough to build up the kind of traffic I would need to feel like the experiment was working perfectly. Sometimes, I can’t think of anything to blog about, and sometimes I just plain don’t feel like it. (I must admit, I greatly prefer writing fiction!!) However, I have just enough readers to keep me motivated to write the occasional post and try to keep the blog alive. I’m also posting identical blog entries on MySpace ( ) and have signed up for Amazon Connect so that my blog can be seen on my book detail pages on I’m hoping that will increase my readership without adding too much to my work load. I’m a very stubborn person, and I don’t give up easily. (So stubborn I worked toward publication for 16 years, writing a total of 18 novels before I finally sold one.) I’m going to keep trying!

Thanks for inviting me to join the insanity once again! It’s been fun!

Jenna Black blogs, and her current release, The Devil Inside, is the first book of the Morgan Kingsley series.


Jeaniene Frost: Halfway To The Grave

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership.

In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side…and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

I like a heroine who goes after her enemies with the intention to kill, and succeeds, and Catherine Crawfield is certainly that. But I do wonder: No matter how much she wanted to kill vampires, actually killing one should have some sort of impact on her psyche, surely? Unless she’s sociopathic, in which case this book automatically gets an extra 0.5 points.

I disliked the inclusion of your typical, urban fantasy “female protagonist was badly hurt emotionally by the male(s) in her life” backstory. But at least she wasn’t raped, I suppose.

It’s Bones who kicks the book into high gear though, because that’s when Cat has someone to play against, with and for. IOW, she’s got someone fight with, play with, and do the dirty thing with. *g* Bones is very well-drawn, especially in a first-person novel where another character’s the viewpoint character, and that helps pull the book together.

While I want to emphasize the fact that Halfway To The Grave is an urban fantasy novel, not a romance no matter what it says on the spine, I also want to say that I liked the ending, even though it does feel rather like a cliffhanger. I think it rings more true than if the usual thing was to happen, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Halfway To The Grave rates 3.5 out of 5.

Full disclosure: Jeaniene Frost sent me the book.


6 Questions with Jeaniene Frost

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

First you must promise this information will never be held against me in a competency hearing 😉  Okay, how insane am I? I’d rank myself a six. My husband might say a seven, but six sounds better. Why am I insane? Well, I let pretend people in my head order me around (“You don’t need to sleep, you need to write this scene!”) Half the time, writing is like taking their dictation. So I guess that’s not very sane.

2. Is Frost just a pseudonym thing? Or is it your real name? If it’s the latter, and you married your way to it, tell me, is worth marrying your way into the Right Author Name? *ggg*

Frost is my real last name. Yes, I married into it when I was nineteen. Always plan ahead *grin*  The funny thing is, my maiden last name was Holly. We joke in my family that going from Holly to Frost kept a very winterish theme.

3. Is Halfway To The Grave better described as (sub)urban fantasy?

Probably. My heroine is from a very small town. She does go to several big cities in the novel, but a big city isn’t where she lives.

4. The lines between genres blur and change constantly. What do you think separates paranormal romance from urban fantasy at the moment?

I’m a new author, so I feel very unqualified to discuss genre boundaries. But you asked, so here’s my newbie, unqualified two cents: If a novel has less than 50% of the story containing the romance plot, and the novel doesn’t end with the hero/heroine together in some form of happy, then it’s an urban fantasy, not a paranormal romance. Most romance readers want to see their hero/heroine together happily at the end. Most UF readers want to see the Big Bad Evil defeated at the end, and whoever’s left standing doesn’t necessarily have to be in love. Now, I do have an exception to this generalization, in my obviously-biased opinion: If a novel is part of a series, and the series as a whole has at least 50% romance plot with the hero/heroine ending up together and happy at the series’ conclusion, then I’ll say it’s a paranormal romance series versus an urban fantasy series.

5. Vamps are hot or Vamps are not?

As a reader/writer, I love vampires. I love them whether they’re smokin’ hot and sexy (think author JR Ward) or whether they’re evil, mindless puppets (think author Ilona Andrews). Vamps have been a favorite creature of mine since I was a child. They were the clear choice for me when writing. One of the first rules of writing when you start out is ‘write what you love’, because then no matter what happen career-wise, you’re at least guaranteed to please one person 🙂 So I wrote vamps, because they’re my creature version of chocolate.

Industry-wise? There’s some fatigue with vampires. I’ve heard the rumbles from both readers and agents/editors. Editors are getting choosier about the vampire novels they acquire, because there’s a plethora of fangs already in the fiction section. But fellow vamp lovers shouldn’t despair. A well-written, exciting book will still get snatched up. I just wouldn’t encourage people to write vampires if they think it’s a hot trend they’re going to catch, because that no longer seems to be the case.

6. Is there really a group of five cemeteries that forms a pentagram on a map somewhere? Or did you make the whole thing up? 

There really are five cemeteries forming a pentagram in Ohio. Simms cemetery, where my heroine has her encounter with a ghost, is one of those cemeteries. Simms cemetery is reportedly haunted, too, though it’s closed to the public. And the former lawman/hangman referenced, John Simms, was an actual person. The cemetery was named after him, and he kept it well-stocked, since he wasn’t known for leniency. According to records, the tree Simms used to hang people on still stands in the cemetery. John Simms left Ohio in the eighteen hundreds under mysterious circumstances. Some records claim he died, some showed he moved out west. I thought the whole history surrounding the cemetery and who it was named for was fascinating.

Jeaniene Frost has a LiveJournal. Her debut release is Halfway To The Grave, to be followed by One Foot In The Grave (April ’08).

Update: Halfway To The Grave is a NYT Bestseller! Congrats, Jeaniene!


This is just to say…

Paperback Writer is back!


6 Questions with Melissa de la Cruz

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

10! “Insane” is how I always describe my life. LOL. Also, overwhelming and crazed. When I signed up to write five books a year I had NO IDEA (or I was in denial) that it meant actually WRITING five books a year. So basically once one book is done, I have a week off and then I have to dive face-first into the next one. It’s getting better though. I like to change it up a bit, have a break between my more “mystery” books and my fun, fast “chicklit-y” ones.

2. Have you always written as fast as you do now, or is it necessity?

I’ve always been a fast writer. Writing comes easily to me, and I was
the kid who wrote my term papers after midnight the night before they were due, and still got As. Or sometimes I would write them an HOUR before it was due, on a typewriter, even! (No computers back then-I’m dating myself!) I got slapped on the head though, when I went to college, my Logic & Rhetoric teacher told me “You’re a good writer, but you don’t put enough effort into it.” He could see I was okay with coasting along. Now I really plug. But with my deadlines, I don’t even really have a choice. I have to do it fast or the books won’t get published on time. And I’ve already missed several deadlines! Believe me, it’s not a fun thing.

3. There have been discussions about how some young adult fiction is not ‘wholesome’ enough. Things like sexual content, drug use etc. Has it made you rethink some of the things you write or were writing at the time?

Nah! Wholesome schmolesome. LOL. I like naughty, naughty books and I think all this hue and cry over the sexy nature of some YA books is just at lot of useless hand-wringing. Also a lot of “blame the
content” kind of thinking which is similar to the “Judas Priest made
my kid kill himself” sort of thing. Also, kids are INTERESTED in sex
and drugs and alcohol–that’s the reality of it. If your books reflect
some kind of Disney-sanitized version of teenhood, I doubt anyone will want to read it. Also, I was brought up by people who believed in
PARENTING. My parents believed that THEY taught their kids values, not the movies, not tv, not books. I read lots of racy books in my youth–books my parents probably wouldn’t be too thrilled to know I read, like their Sidney Sheldon and Harold Robbins novels! LOL! They always encouraged reading (both are avid readers of popular fiction still), and once you hook a reader, you’ve got them for life. I might have started out loving trashy books like VC Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic series, but I also ended up loving books like Tolstoy’s War and Peace and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the The Artist as A Young Man. I write for myself–my editors at the ones who reign me in, and I grudgingly relent. I think if you start out policing your writing, you’ll never write anything. Much more fun to go for it and then scale back later.

4. As a follow-on to that question, how old will your cute little girl
be when you finally allow her to read your books?

Um, twenty-five? 🙂 She’ll be allowed to read them when she’s interested in them…probably ten or eleven? Nine if she’s an early reader? I kind of doubt she’ll be too interested in them. Somehow you want Mom to just be Mom. You don’t really want to know about Mom’s other life outside the family, do you? It will be interesting to see. I kind of do hope she becomes interested in the Blue Bloods books because if I’m still writing them when she’s old enough, she will be able to participate in plot discussions. Sometimes that’s all my husband and I talk about over dinner! It will be cool if she can participate in the family business.

5. Fresh Off The Boat borrows more from your life than your other books. Did it make writing it easier or more difficult?

Easier, I think. I had all this material stewing in me for so long,
and it was a relief to finally get it out on paper, worked out in
chapters. It was very cathartic to write that book.

6. What do you miss most about not living in the Phillipines any more? The food?

Definitely the food!!! And my friends and family who still live there.
And being somewhere and not being hyphenated, you know? Also, being somewhere where everyone knows who you are because of who your parents are and who your grandparents were…in a way, it’s good to be in America and not have that burden–you can reinvent yourself. But it is also nice to come home “where everyone knows your name” so to speak.

Melissa de la Cruz has her very own shopping diary. Her next release is the first book in her new series, The Ashleys!

And because Melissa’s the absolute coolness, she’s offering a galley copy to be given away! Read the blurb, and then come back to share why you think Ashley is/was such a popular name.