Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

It's no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday.  In fact, today is my favorite day of the year.  While this year's festivities have been damped by Sandy, I'll still be celebrating while dodging raindrops and downed trees.

Have a great Halloween, all!  And to Something Wicked readers affected by the storm . . . stay safe, stay warm!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kept UK Blog Tour Kicks Off!

Happy Monday, all!

Today marks one week until Kept is released in the United Kingdom and less than 30 days until Kept comes out in the US! To mark this cool occasion, the beginning of the UK edition Kept blog tour stars this week! I have goodies to give away and I hope you'll visit the other stops on the tour so you can try to win copies of Coveted and Kept!

Monday: Here at Wicked Authors for the Kick off!
Tuesday: Head to the Book Rat
Wednesday: Join Stella at Ex Libris
Thursday: (Launch Day!) Walk, not run to The Reading Diaries
Friday: Join me for the final tour stop at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

What's available today? Well, I'm giving away an eBook copy of Kept to one winner and an eBook copy of Yasmine Galenorn's latest release Shadow Rising. It comes out October 30th! (Tomorrow! Yay!)

Stay tuned, everyone! I have a big giveaway scheduled for the US release of Kept! It is international so anyone can enter! Stay tuned!
a Rafflecopter giveaway The giveaway ends next Monday so enter today! Good luck!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Halloween treat - giveaway time!



One of my favorite cities to visit is New Orleans. And whenever we go there, I always have to stop into the voodoo shops. The whole concept of magic fascinates me. It’s so neat to look through the various spells and potions: a candle to burn for money and prosperity, a charm to wear to find love, even bath salts that will wash away bad luck.

I’m not quite sure I believe in it, but it completely captures my imagination. I love the colorful displays and the incense and the idea that voodoo mambos really can solve our problems, or at least bring us a little luck.

Usually at around shop three or four, my husband will start to say things like, “But we never buy anything.” Or “Let’s just skip this one.” My answer has always been the same, “I need this for book research.”

For years, he would remind me that I write about biker witches and demon slayers, not voodoo mambos. Until… my editor called and asked if I’d like to write a short story about a voodoo mambo. I was so happy. How often do you get to sell a story and put one over on the hubby at the same time?

We both got a kick out of it as I wrote Gentlemen Prefer Voodoo. It’s about a New Orleans voodoo shop owner who has it all – except for love. So she decides to cast a spell to draw the perfect man for her. Only she should have been more specific, because her ideal man died in 1811 and was buried in St. Louis Cemetery Number One. Her spell calls up a sexy, hot (totally whole) zombie love. He’s fighting for one last chance at love while she’s basically trying to put him back in the ground.

It was so much fun to write. A lot of that came from the pure joy of imagining a world where voodoo is real. And who knows? Maybe it is. I think I need to visit a few more voodoo shops to find out. In the mean time, I’d like to give away a copy of the anthology, My Zombie Valentine, that includes Gentlemen Prefer Voodoo. Just post and tell me if you believe.  ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hop on the Tour Bus

Happy Monday, all!

I had a busy weekend. On Saturday, I attended my RWA meeting and listened to a fabulous presentation by author Mary Buckham. She's great and I learned a great deal. Since it's football season, every Sunday I head over to another family's house and we watch the games. The kids get to play outside and the adults get to yell at the television. Heh heh.

Online, I've been quite busy as well. I'm participating in two blog hops this week and I'm giving away all sorts of goodies!

Wicked Romances Blog Hop: 5 eBook Copies of the UK Edition of Kept

Naughty & Nice Blog Hop: 4 winners total

  • Until There Was You by Jessica Scott
  • When the Shadow Calls by Amanda Bonilla
  • 2 copies of Coveted by Shawntelle Madison
Just head over, leave a quickie comment and get your entry in!

Shawntelle

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's All in the Perspective

Tonight, I was sitting at my desk, working on the edits for my upcoming Christmas novella, Jingle This!, when I heard strange sounds coming from the kitchen. They sounded suspicious enough that I decided it was worth extricating myself from my fuzzy blanket to see what was going on. When I walked into the kitchen, what did I see? My 70 lb dog standing on the kitchen counter (with all four feet!), with his head in the sink licking the dinner dishes.

Now, some of you are thinking, "Holy cow! I would freak! That dog should be relocated immediately!"

Normally, I might agree with you. But instead, I just leaned against the door frame and smiled, enjoying the moment as he finally looked up and saw me, and then wagged his tail, and then proceeded to carefully walk back across the counter, step onto the kitchen table, and walk across the kitchen table to say hello to me.

Why was I enjoying the moment so much? Because when I rescued my dog from a shelter 3 months ago (courtesy of Shultz's Guest House, an amazing rescue organization), he was 20 lbs underweight, all skin and bones. He had hardly any fur because lack of food and stress had made it all fall out. He was tentative in the house, afraid of the noises in the kitchen, and not interested in food. It took weeks for me to get him to start eating regularly (I tried everything I could think of to make his food appetizing), and even longer for him not to be afraid of the thudding of the dishwasher of the clank of the dishes.  He wouldn't even take treats out of my hand, because he was too stressed to eat.

Over the last three months, I have watched him evolve from a reserved, skinny dog into an ebullient, dynamic bundle of love and energy, with a beautiful coat and solid, well-padded body. So, as I stood there watching him eat out of the sink. I was filled with such joy, because that sweet boy would NEVER have done anything like that three months ago, or even a month ago. But today, he's interested enough in food to go scavenging in the sink, and he's got enough courage and spunk to climb up on the table and go on off-roading adventures in the kitchen. He has come alive, and his spirit is soaring again, and that's why it was such a beautiful moment. 

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the "should's" and "should nots" in life, that we get too focused on the "rules" and doing everything right, that we forget to see the sheer beauty in moments that maybe, at first glance, don't look so beautiful. I am so glad that I was in the frame of mind tonight to see the joy and beauty in the moment, because it was a gift that is still making me smile.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm Back!


It’s me again! The past few months have been something else! Between traveling to conferences and trying to finish the next “Jess” book, the time flew by, but I’m happy to say that the book is finished…yay….and I’m now waiting for my editor’s comments and rewrite suggestions.

And speaking of that book, to be honest, I had major problems finishing it. A reader once said that she had an image of authors just plunking themselves down in front of the keyboard and letting the words fly. Ah…no…I wish it were that easy, but unfortunately it’s never been that way for me. Even though when I began this last book, I had a firm concept in my mind and a basic outline, I still somehow wrote myself into a corner and couldn’t seem to write my way out. The middle sagged so low, it was in the basement.

Why does this happen? I don’t know. Like I said, I start out with a pretty good idea, but somehow along the way, it falls apart. This book deals with the lives of two women…one of this century and one in the 1890’s. The 1890’s protagonist’s story was a snap, but the one based in today’s world did not want to cooperate! For some reason, she fought me the whole way…or maybe I was fighting her. Either way, that particular story line wouldn’t gel in my brain. The more frustrated I became, the harder the story was to write.

Enter my writing bud, Tamara Siler Jones, and my new beta reader Alexx Miller! By  brainstorming with them, and with the support they gave me, I finally finished! I may have racked up a gazillion cell phone minutes (Tammy’s husband is now convinced that it’s me every time their phone rings!), but without them, I honestly don’t think I’d ever have completed the book! And best of all, and again thanks to their help, my editor was pleased after her initial read-through!

So where are we now? There are the rewrites to do once I receive them and we’ve been discussing titles. Right now the current favorite is THE WIDOWS OF BRAXTON COUNTY. And then of course, a decision has to be made concerning the cover, but at least now it’s in the pipeline and headed toward production. It should be released sometime next year.

Oh, and one last thing—I’ve started a new Ophelia and Abby! I don’t have a contract, but my hope is to finish it before the end of the year then go from there.

And yes—this time I’m burning the cell phone minutes in calls to Alexx and Tammy from the get go instead of waiting until I’m in that proverbial corner!
 
All the best,
Shirley

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Boyfriend from Hell winner!

Okay, so you don't really win a bad boyfriend, or any of the guys we talked about as bad dates. But you do win a copy of Jamie Quaid's awesome new novel, Boyfriend from Hell. The winner is Alison Rush! Just email me (angie @ angie fox.com) with your snail mail addy and we'll get that book out to you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Little Collecting Never Hurts

When I had written Kept, I had already had several ideas in mind in terms of prequel stories: what happened to Natalya before Thorn came back to South Toms River and a story about their first full moon run together back when they were in college. The first story became the novella that I'm releasing for free to my readers.

COLLECTED

Natalya Stravinsky, the charmingly neurotic werewolf from Coveted, is featured in this prequel novella. Before Thorn Grantham returned to South Toms River, New Jersey, Natalya lived alone with her stash of holiday trinkets. Her life takes an interesting turn when she faces a difficult challenge: to find a stolen figurine she’d recently won from a magical creatures auction website. It should be simple, just demand for it back from the pesky thief. But a set of events occurs that puts not only her life at risk, but her family’s as well.

Hoard this FREE e-Book: Amazon Kindle · iBooks · Kobo · Diesel eBooks · Sony

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why You Can't Give Up

This morning, my brother and sister-in-law had their second baby, an 8lb boy named Theo. Of course, having a healthy baby is always reason to celebrate, but this is especially inspiring to me. My brother and his wife went through tough times before they met each other in their mid/late thirties. I mean, really tough times, the kind of times when you feel like there's no hope. And yet, somehow, by some miracle, they both kept soldiering on and stumbled into each others arms. Their connection was instant, two souls who knew they had finally found what they'd been looking for. Now, almost exactly four years since they met, they are the proud parents of two great kids (well, we'll assume Theo is going to be great, even though he's only about 16 hours old), careers that are finally coming together, and most importantly, they have each other. Stories like theirs are the ones that give me hope and inspire me to keep on going another day, because you just never know what's around that next corner. Never stop believing. Never stop hoping. Never stop trying.

A great quote I read recently by Dale Carnegie says: Never stop trying because (1) You might actually succeed and (2) by trying, you get yourself to look forward and then it becomes impossible to dwell on where you are, so you feel better anyway.

So true. Don't stop trying. Your Theo might be just around the next corner.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back From Bouchercon!

You've been to conferences.  You know the drill.

There's the registration, the anticipation, the packing, the travel.  There's the excitement of participating in great panels, luncheons, signings.

And then there's the exhaustion!

After a weekend at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, I'm still at the exhaustion stage, but I wanted to share some of the highlights.

Two panels, one fabulous luncheon sponsored by the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Sisters in Crime and Berkley Prime Crime, dinner with Robin Cook who has written so many wonderful medical thrillers, meeting wonderful, enthusiastic readers, talking to my editor and fellow writers . . . it was all good stuff.

Here are some pics.

This one was taken after our Friday Cozy in Cleveland luncheon.  That's me (third from left) along with fellow Northeast Ohio SinC members Shelley Costa, Irma Baker and Amanda Flower.  And that wonderful background?  We were in an old bank in Cleveland.  Isn't it fabulous?


My alter-ego, Kylie Logan, agreed to participate in the B'Con craft room.  For one hour on Saturday, I was supposed to teach a class related to my Button Box mysteries.  To say I was nervous was putting it mildly!  I'm no Martha Stewart, and I'm not especially crafty, but I came up with these button bracelets and the ladies in my class had a fabulous time.  They all had wonderful sense of color and made gorgeous bracelets.  The best part was that many of the buttons came from the collection of my Aunt Helen who died last year.  Everyone said they'd think about her each time they wore their bracelets.  What a nice way to keep memories alive!




Opening ceremonies were held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  A great place to mingle with fellow writers and chat with fans.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Boyfriend from Hell Giveaway - the book, not the boyfriend

Today we welcome Boyfriend from Hell author, Jamie Quaid. She's also known as Pat Rice, New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books. With Boyfriend from Hell, she's exploring her wild side, and I'm happy to say we're giving away a signed copy of the book today!

Since I’m not the sexy and dangerous Tina Clancy of BOYFRIEND FROM HELL, I’ve had my fair share of boring dates. But the date from hell that sticks in my mind never turned into a date at all as far as I’m concerned. I agreed to accompany a friend’s friend to a game I’d been wanting to see and for which he had tickets. My friend claimed the ticket holder was a doctor, so how bad could he be? Right.

I put on my best capris, my team shirt and cap, and my favorite platform-heel sandals that tied around my ankles. I’d had men on motorcycles nearly fall off their bikes scoping out those shoes. Or maybe scoping out the mini I usually wore with them. Whatever. Dr. How-Could-He-Be-Bad took one look at my cool shoes, dropped his jaw, and hauled me off to the nearest Good Feet store to be measured for decent walkers. Walkers! And he expected me to pay for them!

Needless to say, I walked all right, in my platform shoes, to the nearest bus stop. And it turns out the good doc was just a poorly paid resident in guess which specialty? Podiatry. Can’t send a man to hell for practicing medicine without a license, I guess, but I would have been tempted had I been Tina!

Who else has had bad dates? If you could choose just punishment for your suffering, what would you have chosen? A free book to a random commenter.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall is here!

Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian readers!

Over the past weekend, things have gotten quite cooler outside. I absolutely love the fall and the spring! Especially the kind of weather where you have a crisp breeze outside. I have fond memories in Iowa of the beautiful trees as they turned fall colors. I went to school at Iowa State and enjoyed walking across campus on cooler days. (Versus frying/baking in the summer time. Don't get me started on winter!)

My first dormitory hall was a bit of a distance from campus. The buildings have been torn down, but the location was great. It was not far from corn fields and a cross country course. If you wanted to head to campus you could take the bus system or you could walk. During the fall, before it got horribly cold, it was a wonderful experience. There's something about taking a long walk where all you have is your own thoughts to chew on. Back then, I was worried about school, but when I take walks now I let my imagination have a party. Back then, I think I was too caught up in school and my sorority life to really take it easy and enjoy something as simple as a walk down the street. Time changes us and our prospective on life. I really wish I could have sat down with the Shawntelle from over ten years ago and tell her that an hour or two to drift away with the wind is not so bad at all. (Enjoy the time before you have kids, Shawntelle! LOL) She might even be able to do her homework a lot better if she just stopped stressing over the little things.

Lately, I've been trying to take time out of my work day to take walks. There is a lake near where I live. I have to drive there, but the view is pleasant and I feel so relaxed after a good walk around the lake. My well feels refilled and  the story ideas come out a lot faster!

Does anyone else like this cooler weather? Does anyone have any fond fall memories they'd like to share?

Don't forget, head over to Magic & Mayhem Writers to enter my birthday bash contest. I'm giving away all the books from the Magic & Mayhem crew. Entries are due by October 15th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Off to Bouchercon!

Bouchercon, the World Mystery Conference, kicks off tomorrow and I'm scurrying around, getting ready for it.  The good news . . .it's right here in Cleveland so I don't have to travel.  Should be a great conference.

I'm doing the opening panel tomorrow along with some other Cleveland writers and tomorrow evening, there's an official opening ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Friday I'll be at a craft panel as my alter ego, Kylie Logan, and Friday afternoon at a luncheon called Cozy in Cleveland.

Lots of other fun things planned including an hour in the craft room teaching attendees how to make button jewelry.  I was going to warn them that I am definitely not Martha Stewart, but I think they'll pick right up on that.

I promise lots of stories and pictures next week!

Book Winner!

The winner of the Valerie Bowman book, Secrets of a Wedding Night, is Danielle Gorman. Congrats Danielle!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Valerie Bowman guest blog and giveaway!



Something Wicked welcomes the uber talented Valerie Bowman, author of Regency-set historicals that Publishers Weekly calls, "enchanting and engaging." We just call them fun and witty. She's giving away a copy of her new book, Secrets of a Wedding Night today on Something Wicked!


The Time I Almost Killed a Guy with my Luggage: A Lesson in Simplifying Things

I think we’d all agree that the characters are one of the most important parts of a story. Some would argue they’re the most important in fact. Picking out personality traits and building a character from the ground up is a large part of any good storyteller’s job.

When I began writing my debut historical romance novel, Secrets of a Wedding Night, character was extremely important to me. One thing I decided early on was that I wanted my heroine, Lily Andrews, to be “down-to-earth.”

Someone recently asked me what type of character Lily is. I said, “You know, she’s the type of woman who wouldn’t kill a guy with her luggage.”

Huh?

Hmm. I realized that particular statement needed a bit o’ explanation.

When I was seventeen years old, I went away to Brown University for the summer for a three-week-long creative writing course. It was my first extended trip away from home and to a seventeen-year-old (at least the kind of seventeen-year-old I was) three weeks seemed like a lifetime. I was convinced I needed to bring with me the entire contents of my bedroom. I’d make friends, after all, and of course they’d want to see my photo albums, wouldn’t they? Plus, I couldn’t go three whole weeks without my favorite blanket. And it went without saying that I’d need a change of clothing for every five minutes.

My mom—who isn’t exactly a light packer herself—promptly went out and bought me the biggest suitcase in the world. Yes, my middle name is hyperbole, BUT this thing was B-I-G! Let’s just say I could fit in it myself barely curling up (full disclosure: I’m 5’2” but STILL!) It was an old-fashioned black nylon rectangle sort of thing with a tiny handle and it came with a set of plastic black wheels. (Note: This was before the days o’ ubiquitous vertical rolling luggage.)

Delighted with my new suitcase’s sheer girth, I happily set about loading every single piece of clothing I possessed and a good quarter of the contents of my bedroom into The Suitcase That Ate New York.

When the day arrived for my flight to Providence, my mom and stepfather drove me to the airport, unloaded me and GS (that’s short for giant suitcase) and waved goodbye. And there I was, on my way to independence, just like the college student I would be merely one year later. Hooray!

It wasn’t until hours later, when I arrived in Rhode Island and stood waiting at the carousel for GS, that I had an awful realization. How the heck was I supposed to carry this monstrosity by MYSELF?! My stepfather had handled lugging Godzilla Suitcase (hey, still GS!) when I’d been in Illinois, but now here I was faced with its awesome size and weight all alone.

I saw GS as soon as it barely cleared the plastic flaps of the luggage carousel. It loomed large, blocking out the sun (ok, that part is sheer hyperbole), and with every passing second, my anxiety grew…how was I going to get King Kong’s suitcase to the curb and the car service supposedly waiting for me there?

My palms sweaty, my heart beating fast, I waited for GS to slide closer…closer. There was no help for it. I was just going to have to put every bit of my (at the time) 100 pounds o’ weight into this effort. I squared my shoulders, braced my feet, and grabbed the handle with both fists. I pulled on that sucker as if my life depended on it. (And for a seventeen-year-old who doesn’t want to be embarrassed in public, it sure felt as if my life DID depend on it.)

The GS nearly jerked my arms off, but somehow I managed to get it off of the carousel and (using every ounce of strength I possessed) pulled the colossus about five toward the exit.

And that’s when the wheels cracked and flew off.

Oh, shame and mortification!

Luckily, two men standing nearby took pity on me and helped me wrangle the embarrassment that was the GS out to the curb where the car service employee thankfully took over.

All right, so flash forward three weeks. The morning I was about to leave to return home (I had a fantastic time by the way, learned a lot and made great friends) I’d gotten all of my worldly goods back into GS and somehow (I think praying and a lump of sugar were involved) got the thing zipped up. Next, I needed to find a way to get Ginormo across campus to the spot where the car service was set to meet me.

Gah.

Now, if you’ve ever been to the Brown University campus you know that it’s a little…hilly. That’s actually a kind way to put it. For a girl who’d come from the flatlands of cornfield country, the campus seemed like it was on the top of a mountain. So not only did I have to get the biggest suitcase in the universe across campus, I had to traverse some rather steep terrain along the way.

I was sitting in my room, contemplating my dilemma, alternately staring and cursing at GS, when one of my new friends happened by with her dad. She lived within driving distance of the campus. “Hey, Valerie, do you need any help?” she asked unwittingly.

Do I need help?! Oh boy, do I!

Dear Reader, I shall spare you the gory details, but let’s just say my friend’s dad was a rather heavy-set fellow and by the time the poor man lugged GS across campus, he was an extremely unhealthy shade of purple (I’ll call it rutabaga), sweat was streaming down his face, neck, and back, and he was breathing so heavily, I was wondering which building I should race into to call 911 (also before cell phones).

He immediately sat down on a nearby bench and wiped his brow with a tissue, desperately trying to regain his breath. He looked ill. His daughter looked frightened. And even though he assured me he’d be fine and he hadn’t minded helping me in the least, I was completely mortified! I wanted to sink into a hole in the earth.

The car service came soon after and I profusely thanked the nice father and daughter team who’d almost met with doom that morning and quickly jumped into the backseat, waved goodbye, and winced, hoping to high heaven I’d never see them again. I could just picture the girl’s mother saying, “Who’s on the phone, dear?” “Oh, you know, Valerie Bowman. The girl from Brown who almost killed dad.”

I honestly cannot recall the details of how I got GS into the airport. I’m sure some poor soul must have helped me. I can’t be sure. All that remains burned into my memory is the visage of the man I nearly murdered with my luggage and the overwhelming, bone-deep conviction that I would never, ever overpack again. Ever. Never. Ever. I would not put myself in such an uncomfortable, embarrassing, helpless situation again.

It’s been many years since that fateful day. Cells phones were invented and luggage now comes with really useful telescoping handles and sturdy wheels, but I’m pleased to report that I’m now known among my family and friends as the lightest packer EVER. I pride myself on the fact that I once went to Italy for ten whole days with nothing more than a carry-on. Woot!

Who knew a potential luggage crises could so mold a young lady? Yep, because of a traumatizing incident in my teens, I know how to pack light and that’s the type of person I like to think I am too. Simple, unfussy, easy-going. So when I create a character like Lily who would never kill a guy with her luggage, that’s exactly what I mean.

So tell me, are you a light packer or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sort? One commenter will win a copy of Secrets of a Wedding Night

Valerie has a degree in English Language and Literature from Smith College and lives in Jacksonville, FL with her rascally dog, Roo. You can find Valerie on the web at www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com and on  Facebook and Twitter.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Less Than Two Months until Kept!

Happy Monday, All!

There are so many things going on! I somehow survived the weekend, sent out my pre-launch newsletter, and hung out for football Sunday. How was everyone's weekend?

First of all, there's a Goodreads Giveaway sponsored by my publisher Random House. They are giving away 20 copies of Kept from October 1 - 30th! Enter now and add a book the to-read list.

I also have a contest going on Fresh Fiction for an advanced copy of Kept. Once I get my hands on some copies I can't wait to give them away.

Do you love the Coveted series trading cards? Well, I've been busy writing so I need a hand to pick the character who should be featured on the 4th one for Kept. Should it be Aggie, the dominant werewolf who loves Cheetos? Or maybe Heidi who's afraid of the ocean? Maybe Abby the Muse? Send in your nominations! The lucky guy or gal will get the first printed card, a copy of Kept (when I get my hands on some to hoard them), and the rest of the trading cards. I'll have the drawing on October 15th. The cards should be ready to go by the time Kept comes out.

My birthday is Wednesday, (yay!), so I'm trying to plan out my week accordingly so I get everything I need done so I can enjoy the rest of the week. I'm planning to have a yummy lunch at a Korean restaurant and stare at the wall whenever possible. ;)

What fun plans do you have this week?