Friday, January 28, 2011

And my latest encounter with an (ex) nun- My interview with Alice Loweecey

** So this time I can't embarrass myself too much-- dear Alice knows exactly what flavor of spaz I am--

Welcome Alice! First off, introduce yourself-

I’m a former nun who went from the convent to playing prostitutes on stage to accepting my husband’s marriage proposal on the second date. All true! After all, I know where you end up when you tell lies. One of the perks of being “on the inside” for awhile.

So, I have to ask the question that everyone is dying to know. Do you play guitar and will you frolic through the hills singing Do-Re-Mi with me?

No, no, a thousand times, no! Well, yes to the first part—I do play guitar. It was almost an unwritten rule back in the days of Folk Masses. But any mention of The Sound of Music makes flames shoot out of my ears. Trust me when I say that the convent is nothing like that or Sister Act. For example: Think about living with 95 women who are all on the rag at the same time. Most men I know would run away screaming like little girls. There’s something to the phrase “only the strong survive.”

What brought you to writing?

I started writing by age 9. I had so many ideas for stories that I had to put them on paper. Fortunately for my career, the internet didn’t exist then, and all those youthful gems are lost for good. Now I know how to plot and edit, thank God.

It's kinda impossible to ignore the shared experience between you and your MC --In Force of Habit How much of Alice is there in Guilia?

Not much. I’m more self-confident than she is and have far fewer hang-ups. I also didn’t turn to Cosmo magazine for a crash course in male-female interaction when I jumped the wall. That’s probably a good thing for the real world. For Giulia’s world, I like her well-intentioned cluelessness in using it as a study guide. Of course, I had to re-learn how to dress and put on makeup and wear heels. My ankles hated me for a few weeks. I didn’t wear anything black for a few years—wearing it 24/7 got a little old.

What books inspire you?

HP Lovecraft was my first real inspiration. Even though he was a bigot and a snob, he created some of the creepiest fiction I’ve ever read. I love Patricia Wentworth’s books too. She wrote mystery with a little romance, and her books are always a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. When you combine such polar opposites, you get something weird… in other words, me.

Since you don't strike me as a gamer-girl, What kind of research did you do on MMPOG's?

I’ve never played an online game in my life—but I work with a hardcore gamer. I tapped his expertise and did a bunch of online research. Then I asked him to beta the chapter. Fortunately I learned quickly and he gave my gaming scenes his approval.

Anything you'd like to share?

Never give up! Never surrender!

Back in 2006, I had a finished novel that I thought was All That. A thorough critique by a published writer cured me of that. (She and I are friends to this day, despite the fact that she writes sweet Christian fiction and that particular novel was my religious horror, which one critiquer refused to read while alone in the house.)

In 2007, after 2 complete rewrites and invaluable help from the regulars on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, I began querying. I found a new agent who loved the book. A year later, that agent quit the business and I was back to square one. However, I had three complete novels by this time and several layers of rhino hide. I was ready to hit the query trail again.

That was in September of 2008. I researched every agency that represented one of the genres of my books (mystery, paranormal, and horror). I sent out queries in batches of six, ready to send a new query out for every rejection or non-response. I gave each query three months. If I heard nothing by that time, I assumed it was a pass and crossed them off my list. This turned into roller-coaster time. I got requests for partials and fulls. I also got form rejections on requested fulls (ouch!). I got two offers to revise and resubmit on two different books. I had one agent love my characters and another say they were bland. It truly is a subjective business.

Then in spring of 2009, I sent a "Why not?" query to Kent D. Wolf, an agent whose list of sales and genres he was seeking looked interesting. The next day, he called to request the full of the mystery. (Agents don't normally call for that. I was a bit startled.) Two days later, he called to discuss the book, the characters, the convent, and how I felt about revising. (Is the sky blue? Of course I was willing to revise!) Two days after that, he called to offer representation.

Six days. Okay, four years, 185 rejections, and six days.

The professional is an amateur that didn’t quit. AKA: me.

The MI Website has a sneak peek:

Force of Habit on Midnight Ink Books

Here’s her website

And her FB

And her Twitter

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finally- a story where I don't look like an ass!

So a few years down the road I'm all grown up (22 heh heh) and working at a furniture store. Now I am a terrible sales person-- I'm no good a high pressure, buy-it-now hard core sales techniques and my boss at the time HATED me for it.

One day a group of three nuns walk in the store. I could tell that they were nuns from the local homeless shelter because they wore denim habits. All the other sales people fell back (no money to be made there!) I went ahead and stepped up.

I talked to the sisters for a moment or two, careful not to hug or accept any offerings of edibles.(Okay, it never came up. Still, I had to be on guard.) They needed a recliner for the nursery at the shelter. We headed back to the recliner gallery.

My boss (the one who HATED me)had been listening in and made a mad dash the back way to get to the recliners before we did.I watched him snatch the price tags off the two cheapest recliners on the floor and hustle back to the office.

I showed the nuns the recliners, then headed back to talk to the boss man.

Now being young and delusional I thought for a moment that he had snatched the price tags so that he could give them a deal without them knowing about it.


He wanted me to jack the price up. The nice ladies out there-- who were buying a chair so that homeless babies could be nursed in peace-- should pay an extra $100. I should go sell it to them.


That was the only price he would authorize.

I went out and told the nuns that I couldn't sell them a recliner. I was very sorry, but they should go check at (enter competitor's name here).

They were baffled. I was in trouble. It was worth it.

I just wish the nuns had known what he was up to and used these on him!

My interview with ALICE LOWEECEY coming sooooooooon!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Dumb Lela Story-- Round 2

So apparently my youthful (and bless you all, apparently cute) indiscretion with that Lama was not the last time I got to make a fool of myself.

Once upon a time I lived at a meditation center, and once again I was given the honor of being an attendant (I had experience, after all heh heh).

So once again I brought tea and flowers and cough drops. I bowed respectfully (I was 18 now- a woman of the world). And then an amazing thing happened. The Lama offered me a cup of tea. Such an honor- Such a wonder!

Thing is-- Tibetan Tea is an...interesting concoction. Hot water with barley and tea leaves added to it. Peppercorns and spices dumped in for flavor. Adding to the "flavor" is a healthy dollop of yak butter. So basically (to my uneducated American tongue) a gritty, peppery, oily mess.

So, a quick lesson in etiquette. If you take something-- you are supposed to finish it.

There I was. Large cup of awfulness in hand, and yet another big shot Lama looking at me with gleeful expectation. I swallowed hard-- and apparently visibly. The older Lama laughed. He motioned for me to leave the cup. I took it with me.

So next time a story in which I do not look like a horse's ass. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

One of the promised stories of me vs monastics

Maybe you've heard of the "Dear Teen Me" project that many wonderful YA authors did a while back (or maybe still? I dunno) Well ( if you don't know) they wrote letters to their teenage selves. Mine would go something like this.

Dear Teen Lela,
You're an asshat. No really. As clever and cute and worldly as you think you are-- multiply that by 2 and you will have a rough estimation of your total asshattery.

Grown up and Over It Lela

One example of said asshatness would be my reception of an important Tibetan Lama. I was raised Buddhist and was often presented by my parents as a wunderkind (despite my obvious and apparent spazocity). So at 14ish I was given the awesome honor of being the attendant to this Lama.

I was supposed to pour him tea and bring him cough drops. I was supposed to move flower arrangements around, so that they were pleasing to him. I was supposed to be quiet and make sure no one came in the room that he was not expecting while he meditated.*

I was not supposed to go and give him a big hug.

I was 14. And when you go to a Dharma center everyone is all hugs and snuggles. So I did what I was used to doing. I wrapped my tiny little bird arms around him and squeezed till I was completely satisfied that he felt warmly welcomed.

Thing is--He was (and is) a monk. Monks don't generally touch people, but especially not women. He was kind-- he just smiled and laughed and babbled on in Tibetan.

My parents were MORTIFIED.

I didn't get to do that job anymore.(at least not while my parents were around...)

*Anyone who feels the need to comment on a lama having an attendant or monks not touching women-- Shut up. Seriously. It's my religion. It ain't perfect, but it's mine. This smut and silliness blog is not the place for your big political stand. Anyone wanting to make fun of me for being an idiot-- feel free. More stories of my idiocy and one of me being a genuinely good person to come!

Friday, January 21, 2011

So remember that cool thing..

So I have given up on that neato new comment widgit as it apparently SUCKS!

Here are two Comments for my "And Now For Something Completely Different..." Post that were sent in, but couldn't be accessed...

Lisa commented on
I am a big reader of mysteries, and I am really looking forward to this book!

(and I'm with you on the "girl with the tattoo" book)

Me-- I was a-feered I was going to get a little hate mail over that one, so I'm glad I'm not the only one!

K.A. Stewart commented
Hong Kong Cavaliers... A Buckaroo Banzai reference?


Please leave comments on this post for the previous one....last time I go messing around with fancy technology!

And now for somethign completely different...

Okay- First we need a quick reminder-- this is my blog and I do what I want.

Another reminder-- I have challenged myself to focus on debut authors in 2011.

And now for our regularly scheduled program. Kinda.

Writing is a funny business. Generally in say...everything else I've ever been involved with-- noobie hacks get to hang out with other noobie hacks-- successful people are too busy being ...well...successful to muck about with the likes of me. Writing is a whole different world. I go to the bookstore and I see my friends books. Friends. People who tell me my hair is cute and pick me up off the floor when I am railing at the subjectivity of this awful/wonderful business – Not just people I stalk on Twitter ( though there are people I just stalk on Twitter-- Richard Kadrey, I'm looking at you. One day you will follow me. One day....)

But I digress. So when one of those friends says “Here, read my book. It doesn't come out till February.” (o-0 I can haz ARCs???) I go snatchity snatch, minemine mine mine!

And then the dread sets in.

Cuz see, this is my friend. And I haven't read a a mystery since I was 12 reading John D MacDonald novels*. The only thing I remember about them was that he has a houseboat. And a waterbed. And he was always having sex with dames in distress. And there were colors in the title. What if I don't like mysteries anymore? What if I can't think of anything nice to say? What if no one has sex?

That brings us to my review of Alice Loweecey's Force of Habit.

BOB Blurb--
Giulia Falcone is going straight to hell. First, because she left the convent. Second, her new job with a private investigator has her sneaking around and lying. Adjusting to life outside the habit isn’t easy. Make-up, dating, and sex are all new to her. And despite a crush on her boss Frank Driscoll—a foul-mouthed, soft-hearted ex-cop—Giulia is sure he’d never fall for an ex-nun.
Her first case involves drop-dead handsome Blake Parker, a man with immense wealth and an ego to match. He and his fiancée are getting disturbing “gifts” with messages based on Bible verses. When Guilia is drawn into the stalker’s sights, salacious photos appear, threatening her job and her friendship with Frank. No one imagines—least of all naïve Guilia—the danger ahead, when a date with an online gamer turns into a fight for her life.

Is it funny that in my head I want to compare Guilia Falcone to James Stark? (Okay, okay-- I know what you're thinking-- but I promise, I only sent RK half naked pics on Twitter- I'm not a stalker...yet) No-- seriously. Stark spends 11 years in hell so he comes out 30 in body, but not exactly in mind. Dear Guilia spends about the span of time in a convent--which is described as a fairly hellish experience-- and comes out 29 in body but not in mind or experience. She spends a lot of the book playing catch up(with the help of a girlfriend and Cosmo magazine) while wrestling with the demons of insecurity both in the arena of her place as a woman in the world and her place as a divorced bride of God.

The characters are well drawn. I understand Guilia. There was a point when I was actually muttering at the book- “Cock punch him, Guilia. The self righteous prig deserves it.”- and when ever I get that invested, I know the author has done a good job. I know it is completely out of fashion, but I did wish that there had been some chapters from the Bad Guy's POV. At the end it seems a little out of left field and though all the threads come together, the reader is left with a- “How the hell could anyone have figured that out?” feeling.

This is the first in a planned series-- so there is a bit of the “These are the characters who will be in our world”, but not overly so and they don't walk in and say “Hi” just to establish themselves. Everyone has a role and they play it.

The RPG part of the storyline feels a little weird, but only because of one detail. The guy who asks her out... the "date with an online gamer turns into a fight for her life.” He's buff, a gamer, and an orchestral musician. MMMM... In my experience, gamer comes in the buff variety or the geek type. You don't get buff/geek gamer-- only the lead singer of the Hong Kong Caviliers managed to be a super-genius rockstar. (Bonus points and mad geek cred to anyone who gets that reference)

Soooo.... though there are no vamps or weres or demons-- wait there are some ogres ( RPG types) and the only sex to be had is the violent-not-sexy kind-- I still recommend this book. And not just because she's my friend. This debut novel is well worth a read, and I think the series will only get better.

*I lie. I read the "girl with the tattoo" book. I skipped the first 150 pages then blocked the rest of it out of my memory. I know lots of people liked it. I did not.

OH -- Next Thursday there will be an interview with the lovely Alice Loweecey-- So come back and enjoy my silliness--  Oh, and between now and then I'll post my Adventures with People o' the cloth...cuz
Me + Monastic Types = yeah, you can guess!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just trying something NEW!

Hi Everyone!

I'm trying something new on the blog--the  Intense Debate Comment  Widget-- so I need comments to see if it works.

So here it is a free for all! Any questions or comments? Any book recommendations? Questions for me or any of the authors I've interviewed?

I would love to hear from you anytime, but I'm dying to see if/how this is going to work :)


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review- Bonded by Blood Laurie London

In keeping with my pledge to read more debut fiction this year, I offer to you Bonded by Blood by debut author Laurie London. (HQN Books- pub date 1-25-11)

 Marketing Copy-Guardian enforcers who safeguard humanity and Darkbloods, rogues who kill like their ancient ancestors. Now Guardian team leader Dominic Serrano will be forced to choose between the vengeance he craves and the woman he can’t live without…
Movie location scout Mackenzie Foster-Shaw has always known that she’s cursed to die young. No one can protect her from the evil that has stalked her family for generations— vampires who crave her rare blood type. Until one afternoon in a wooded cemetery, she encounters an impossibly sexy stranger, a man she must trust with her life.
For Dominic, a man haunted by loss, Mackenzie satisfies a primal hunger that torments him—and the bond they share goes beyond heat, beyond love. She alone can supply the strength he needs to claim his revenge. But in doing so, he could destroy her…

The basic premise is that there are good vampires (the Guardians) and bad vampires (the Darkbloods). Our hero is a Guardian who discovers that our heroine is a Sweetblood...from a genetic line of humans whose blood is addictive and irresistible to vampires. All Mackenzie knows is that her family has a bad habit of disappearing--and dying young. 

There is a lot to like in this book. The action is there, Mankenzie is vulnerable without being helpless and I enjoyed the twists and turns that were thrown at me along the way.

Laurie London does a good job painting with details. Her sense of place is impeccable-- when she describes her settings you feel immersed without getting the "clunked on the head" sensation that a writer with less skill might give you.
 That said, this book is not without fault. The hero, Dom, must have volunteered to be part of a bad hypnotists show because he gets a boner every time the phone rings- or the wind blows- or the heroine touches him, or looks at him or he thinks about her looking at him. Again-- we could have a drinking game. 
Also, this is the first in a series-- and it couldn't be more obvious. Many of the characters show up seemingly just to say they have been there. One character spends the first half of the novel being "the person who gives backstory that the reader otherwise wouldn't get" ( seriously. She even does a power point) Then for the second half of the book she gets to be "Look. There's more to me than meets the eye! Wouldn't it be crazy if I got my own book! Coming soon, book 2!!!!)
The sex is....well it is hard to say. Some was very good and the back story on the Makenzie is that she can't have kids so NOOOO baby talk (YAY!) But then there would be a little something here and there that would throw me for a loop. At one point she's sucking his cock and then she kisses him. He says something like-" I love the taste of me on you."

Took me right out of the story. I'm no prude. I'm all for M/M, F/M/M, F/F/M-- basically anything short of children or livestock* I'm okay with. But for some reason the notion of him reveling in his own juicy flavor-- no thanks. And I know I've read it the other way ( female commenting to male the same thing) and I had no problem with it-- It is a double standard. I'm a hypocrite. I'm okay with that.
I think that this is a series that will get better with time. All the elements are there, but she seems to be trying too hard to be smexy. If she focuses on the characters and what they are doing she will be great.

 * And by livestock I mean all manners of animals-- unless, of course, they spend at least 51% of their lives in a human body

Pre Order Here >> 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review - Lust by Charlotte Featherstone

 I've been doing a lot of Beta reading for my writing compatriots of late- doing my part to both educate myself on what works and help out fellow writers who need an extra pair of eyes on their work. The problem with being a Beta is that it can be hard to get out of the critique and comment mode-

That brings me to LUST- the Sins and Virtues: Book I By Charlotte Featherstone. This book would be great....if. The story has a marvelous hook-Seven women, born to be the very embodiment of Virtue. Seven Fey Princes cursed to each embody one of the Seven Deadly Sins. A curse that is visited upon them by the sins of their father. A curse that can only be broken by seducing one of the Seven Virtues and getting them to come willing to their Dark Faery Court. 

Marketing Copy--

Seven sins... Seven virtues... Untold desires.
Of old, humans and Faeries have dwelt side by side in parallel realms. Only the canniest mortals recognize the alluring creatures that often walk—and lie—among them.

The righteous Fae of the Seelie Court cherish an ancient quarrel with their Dark counterparts: a curse born of anger and deceit. The Unseelie Court will perish unless one of its princes can win a woman’s love—honestly, without coercion...and love her wholly in return.
To halt the slow demise of his people, Prince Thane— the embodiment of Lust—infiltrates the Georgian court to seduce his mortal inverse. Noblewoman Chastity Lennox is purity incarnate—a sensual prize well worth winning. But Thane’s carnal quest proves more challenging than he ever dreamed.

No other has ever been able—or willing—to resist his erotic charms. Chastity’s resolve is maddening...and intriguing. It makes him want her all the more. But how best to seduce one who truly seems above temptation? Discover her greatest weakness and become the intoxicating essence of her deepest, most forbidden desires....

It's a great story idea- Fated lovers, hot Faery men, sin versus virtue. It has it all.

Except …. maybe not a beta.

Because while the story idea is fabulous, the execution ( in some places) is lacking. At the beginning the author clobbers you with the set up- giving it to you, seemingly, from everyone's point of view. Also, I could start a drinking game guaranteed to get you sclockered-

Take 1 shot every time the female MC is described (or... ugh... describes herself) as a paragon or a wanton.

Take 2 shots everytime her lady parts are described as "her pink silk"

Also take 3 shots every time she uses the word “womb” (and you know how I feel about that.)

The author's instinct to limit the number of Virtues to four for this first book was a good one. I wish that she had that same idea on the Sin side. There are a passel of Faery Princes- made more complex by the fact that there are two faery courts. There are simply too many to keep track of. (As an aside- naming the King of the Dark Fey Court Niall was a mistake. No, Charlaine Harris doesn't own the name, but come on. It is distracting and not fair to your character.)

On the up side- the sex in this book is smoking hot and inventive. Thane, as the sin of Lust, is delicious and well drawn. Though the themes of submission and domination are extremely light, I can see how it would appeal to those that aren't ready to wade into the deep end of the kink pool. I was utterly seduced by the black haired, blue eyed hunk.

So, my final analysis? I wish someone had taken a red pen to the MS before sending it to print. I think that tightened up this could have been a great book. As it is, if you are looking for hot, smexy smut and aren't bothered by a LOT of repetition and a sometimes confusing plot then go for it. It is worthwhile for what it is-- just don't go in expecting too much.