Jenna Black's Blog Experiment

Wherein romance author Jenna Black plunges into the terrifying new territory of blogging . . .


Monday, July 07, 2008

Closing Blog

I have been neglecting this blog shamefully, and I have a feeling that will only get worse as time goes on. I have become a member of Fangs, Fur, & Fey, where I should post occasionally if I want to be a "real" member. I am also part of a new group blog that is in the works (sorry, no details yet because we're in the early stages), and once that one gets started, I'll have a hard enough time keeping up. I really want to do everything, but I know I can't.

I'll leave this blog up, even though I won't be adding to it. I'll also post the URL for my new group blog if/when we get off the ground. And I'll still post the occasional newsy blog on MySpace, so stop by any time! (I've got one up today--hint, hint.)

Thanks to those of you who have visited and commented over the years! I appreciate you more than I can say, and I hope you come and visit me elsewhere on the Web!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Interview with Jeri Smith-Ready

In a continuing effort not to have to think up my own blog topics, I'm posting an interview with my fellow urban fantasy author (and all-around cool person), Jeri Smith-Ready. I'm about halfway through WICKED GAME right now, and loving it. I also highly recommend her Aspect of Crow series (EYES OF CROW and VOICE OF CROW so far). She's a terrific writer!

Jeri's Bio:

Jeri Smith-Ready has been writing fiction since the night she had her first double espresso. She holds a master's degree in environmental policy and lives in Maryland with her husband, cat, and the world's goofiest greyhound. Jeri fosters shelter dogs with Tails of Hope Sanctuary. As of this writing, she has hosted twenty dogs at her home, all of whom have found loving adopters.

Jeri's latest release is WICKED GAME (May 13, 2008, Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a cadre of vampire DJs and the con artist trying to save their 'lives.'

The Interview:

1) What was your inspiration for writing WICKED GAME?

A song, of course. Not the song "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak—that came much later. Almost three years ago to the day, I was driving down the road flipping the dial and came to a classic rock station playing "Bad Company" by the band of the same name. I thought, Hmm, "Bad Company" would be a perfect title for a paranormal book with a shady main character.

By the time I reached my destination, I had a fully formed idea for vampire DJs who were psychologically and culturally 'stuck' in the era in which they were turned. I also knew the heroine would be "bad" in some way. (The punch line is that even though it all began with "Bad Company," the publisher ultimately asked me to change the title.)

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

I tend to read widely rather than deeply and rarely follow series for more than a book or two, regardless of how much I enjoy them. I'm the opposite of an addictive personality. I'm pretty sure I'd be the world's first casual crack smoker.

I was completely different as a kid, of course. I read EVERYTHING, especially books by Marguerite Henry, Walter Farley, and Jim Kjelgaard, who each wrote continuing series about animals (and not talking animals, either—usually just plain old horses and dogs). I also loved the Trixie Belden mysteries. Trixie was like Nancy Drew, but with an actual personality.

My all-time favorite book was DOGSBODY by Diana Wynne Jones. It combined my love of animals with my passions for astronomy and mythology. Because of that book, Sirius became my favorite star (not to mention my eventual choice in satellite radio).

My current favorite authors tend to write stand-alone novels or loosely connected series: Neil Gaiman, PC Cast, Charles de Lint, Christopher Moore, James Morrow, Caprice Crane, and John Irving, to name a few. They also tend to be funny.

3) What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

To me, speculative fiction at its core is about what it means to be human. Often it does this by juxtaposing humans with other races or species (like elves or vampires or aliens), or by putting ordinary people in extraordinary settings. I also like the genre's tendency to push the boundaries of humanity itself.

4) Why did you decide to make Ciara a con artist?

From the beginning I knew that the main character would have a shady past. Her current job is in sales and marketing (S&M, as she calls it), which is really just a legal form of con artistry. It sounds like a cheap joke, but the two pursuits both require an understanding of human nature and how to manipulate people's emotions to make them cheerfully act against their own best interests.

Ciara tries to save the radio station from corporate takeover by branding it as "WVMP: The Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll," essentially hiding the vampires' nature in plain sight. She disguises the truth as a marketing gimmick. I loved playing with notions of truth and lies, and I loved watching Ciara's moral acrobatics in justifying her actions. Con artists are sociopaths with little notion of right and wrong; however, Ciara's parents gave her a religious upbringing, which she's rejected, but only on the intellectual level. She still feels guilt.

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I'm an avid pro football fan. It's the only thing in my life that has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, and I guard my time with it like a starving dog with a bone. I also follow politics, but that's not fun—more like a form of sado-masochistic torture.

6) What sort of research did you do to write WICKED GAME?

For the musical aspects, the research came by osmosis over the course of months and years. I'd think of a band and then run to (and more recently to learn all about them. Then I'd surf the links to understand the connections among that band and its forerunners and followers.

And of course I read books. One of my favorites was THE ROCK SNOB'S DICTIONARY by David Kamp and Steven Daly. Entertaining, informative, and an incisive look inside the mind of the cooler-than-thou rock snob.

To learn about radio stations, I interviewed DJs and had them 'vet' the manuscript when it was in near-final form, to make sure I didn't have any major mistakes. A highlight of my life was getting a cover quote from Weasel, who used to DJ at the legendary Washington, DC, alternative station WHFS. He said that, disturbingly, he could relate very well to my characters.

7) Shane McAllister (the 90s grunge DJ vamp) loves Nirvana. Is that your favorite band, too?

Yep, though I was only a casual fan during the band's actual existence. I was sad but not devastated when Kurt Cobain died in 1995. However, as the years go by and I've learned to appreciate the band's incredible talent, I grieve his loss more intensely.
I suppose the creation of Shane is my small way of honoring Cobain's life and work and the impact it's had (and continues to have) on my psyche. I feel a spiritual kinship with them both and wonder if but for the grace of good fortune I'd be in as bad a shape as they were in their lives.

8) What are you writing now?

I'm working on the second draft of WICKED GAME's sequel, BAD TO THE BONE (May 2009). That's due to my editor in a few days, which explains the bags under my eyes. And probably the hallucinations.

9) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

After three years of writing full-time, I've ceased to feel guilty for not writing first thing in the morning. My brain just isn't wit-enabled before 10 or 11 am.

10) What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

Dialogue is by far the easiest. Maybe it's my theatre background, but my first drafts tend to consist of characters arguing in living rooms and coffee shops. I keep forgetting that novels have infinite budgets for location shoots.

First drafts are the hardest by far. It feels like sculpting air. Once I have a rough draft down, no matter how crap-adelic, I can work to make it better. But that initial creation of the story is torment.

11) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

I also have an epic fantasy series, the Aspect of Crow trilogy, which takes place in a world where everyone has magic bestowed by their Guardian Spirit animal. The first one, EYES OF CROW (Luna Books, 2006), won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for Best Fantasy Novel. The second, VOICE OF CROW, came out last October (a favorite of mine because it was the Book That Almost Killed Me), and the trilogy will conclude this November with THE REAWAKENED.

I also have an older urban fantasy (REQUIEM FOR THE DEVIL, Grand Central Publishing, 2001). It takes place in modern day Washington, DC, and Lucifer masquerades as a political consultant. For the first time in his ten-billion-year existence, he falls in love. It changes everything.

More about WICKED GAME:

To visit the DJs and listen to a sample of their shows:

Jeri on MySpace:

Ciara on MySpace:

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Brenda Novak's Auction for Diabetes Research

Diabetes runs in my family. All of the women on my mother's side of my family--my grandmother, my mother, and all three of her sisters--have or have had it, and I have seen just how awful the disease can be. In fact, it's very likely that diabetes was a major contributing factor in my mother's death. So obviously, diabetes research means a lot to me.

Every year, Brenda Novak runs an auction to support diabetes research, and the bidding for this year's auction just opened up today. The array of items available is just stunning. There are tons of autographed books, lunches with great authors, promotional opportunities for writers, editor and agent reads for writers, and much, much more. A set of all five of my current books, autographed, is available, as is an ARC for The Devil You Know, which doesn't come out until July 29.

As well as donating items to auction, you can bet I'll be placing bunches of bids myself. The first year I knew about the auction, I won a lunch at RWA with Sue Grimshaw, the romance buyer at Borders, and I can't help thinking that that lunch is part of the reason why it's easier to find my books--particularly my backlist--at Borders than at, say, Barnes & Noble. I see that Sue is offering another lunch at RWA this year, and I urge the writers among you--particularly those who are new on the scene--to think about placing a bid on that. The price is sure to end up pretty high, but if you can afford it, I can tell you from personal experience that it's worth it!

To learn more about the auction and to see what items are available, go to

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hungers of the Heart out today!

Hi, everyone. I just wanted to let you know that Hungers of the Heart, the fourth book of my Guardians of the Night series, comes out today! For all of my fans who've been waiting for Drake's book ever since Watchers in the Night, now is your chance! From the back cover:

Drake is a Killer vampire.

Unlike the Guardians of the Night, Drake feeds on human blood, choosing victims who deserve to die. But still he works with the Guardians to protect those humans who yet have some good in them.

When Gabriel, the leader of the Baltimore Guardians, mysteriously disappears, Drake finds himself in charge of a small band of inexperienced fledgling vampires. When a delegation of European Killers arrives in Baltimore looking for Gabriel, Drake must call on all the savagery of his sordid past to keep the Guardians in line—and to protect them from the ruthless Killers.

Forced to confront a past he has tried so hard to outrun, Drake risks losing his humanity. His only hope is Faith, the French Seigneur’s concubine, who desperately needs his help to rescue her human sister from the Seigneur’s clutches. Then someone begins killing the members of the European vampire delegation, and Drake is the only suspect. Will Drake be saved by love, or will he become a Killer without a conscience?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Interview with Tate Hallaway

Tate Hallaway is the best selling alias of the award-winning science fiction author Lyda Morehouse. Lyda wrote a four book trilogy about angels, computers and the end of the world all of which are currently out of print, though she still writes and publishes science fiction/fantasy/horror short stories. Tate’s books are all in print with more in the Garnet Lacey series in the works. You can find both Lyda and Tate blogging all over the internet including places like LiveJournal, Blogspot, MySpace, Facebook, and even YouTube. “They” live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with five cats, a five year old son, and many, many fresh water fish.

Romancing the Dead

It’s been one heck of a week for Garnet Lacey. The Vatican witch hunters finally think she’s dead, the FBI has closed their file on her, she’s co-founding a new coven—and the gorgeous vampire she loves has just asked her to marry him. How lucky can one girl get?

Then, her fiancé goes missing and Garnet’s worried sick. Has he been kidnapped? Or could he have run off with that blonde from the coven? Now Garnet will have to seek the help of her future stepson—the same brat who turned her over to the witch hunters for a brand-new Jaguar. But there’s more bad news: the Goddess Lilith, who camps out in her body, has been making embarrassing appearances. And on top of that, some killer’s on her tail...

Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

Currently my favorite authors are writing graphic novels. I’m in to Brian Michael Bendis’ NEW AVENGERS. I just finished reading NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI in preparation of the up-coming Secret Invasion. I’m also a huge fan of Ed Brubaker’s CAPTAIN AMERICA, particularly his WINTER SOLDIER stuff. Comic books haven’t been this fresh for me since I first picked up Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s FANTASTIC FOUR when I was a kid.

For more traditional fare, my favorites are Rachel Caine, who writes the Weather Warden series, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch who writes the Disappeared series, which is a kind of futuristic a police procedural set on Mars. When I was growing up my favorite authors were Katherine Kurtz and Anne McCaffrey.

What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

The explosions.

Seriously, I was talking to a friend about this at a bar the other night, and I confessed that one of my favorite things about writing paranormal romances/urban fantasy is that you get to have all the relationship/girly stuff married to the high-octane adventure/boy stuff. That’s pretty near perfect for me.

Why did you decide to make Garnet a Witch?

Because I am.

And it can be very difficult to find realistic portrayals of Wiccan religion in novels. One of the things that drives me crazy in movies and TV shows like “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” is when a complete novice reads a spell they find in a dusty book and they conjure a demon without breaking a sweat.

Of course, because the Garnet Lacey series is fantasy, I take liberties, too. Real-life witchcraft can be pretty dull. The scope of Garnet’s power is a lot stronger than anything I’ve experienced in real life, but I try to show ritual as part of her daily practice as well. In other words, she doesn’t just cast spells, but she also prays to a Goddess and observes the cycle of the seasons, like the real witches I know.

What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I’m an aquarist. I have four fresh water fish tanks in my house and have had over the course of a year: powder blue dwarf gourami, neon tetra, bettas (a spawning pair), a white cloud minnow, yellow tuxedo guppies, and several goldfish (comet and shubunkin). I’m so into it I read fish magazines and occasionally write long, boring blogs about my fish triumphs and woes on my livejournal: My betta Johnny/Giant-Girl is even a YouTube star:

What sort of research did you do to write this book?

Well, because I’d decided to play around with the urban fantasy trope of werewolves and the story takes place in Madison, Wisconsin, I did a little research and discovered that Wisconsin has its own werewolf myth: “the Beast of Bray Road.” There’s a book about it by Linda S. Godfrey called BEAST OF BRAY ROAD: TAILING WISCONSIN'S WEREWOLF.

Garnet loves astrology. Is that your favorite thing too?

One of them. Just like Garnet I’m an amateur astrologer. Yeah, we’re talking about predictions and horoscopes and stuff. No, I don’t think the stars rule my destiny, but, yeah, I think it’s all a very fascinating and entertaining way to look at life and relationships.

I love astronomy, too. My friend Rachel takes me and my four-year old out star-gazing on clear nights. The science fiction fan in me loves seeing the rings of Saturn and such.

What are you writing now?

There’s more Garnet Lacey in the works. I’m currently putting the wraps on book four, DEAD IF I DO, which I like to describe as “The Wedding Planner” meets “Night of the Living Dead.”

Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

It took boredom to turn me into a writer.

True, I was an English major in college, but other than dabbling a little in fanfic as a teen I didn’t really do a lot of creative writing. After college, I had a series of dead-end secretarial jobs and really didn’t require a whole lot of my brain power. One of these jobs didn’t even come with a computer, but when I incessantly bugged my boss for work she taught me the art of the slack. She said, “Sometimes it’s important to LOOK busy.” So, I started typing letters home to friends. The letters turned into little silly stories, limericks, and finally, the beginning of my first novel, Sidhe Promised, which has never been sold.

Someone either a friend or my partner talked me into taking a science fiction writing class at the Loft I had an awesome teacher who taught us the art of critique and encouraged us to form writers’ critique groups outside of class. The one I formed from that class with my friend and fellow writer H. Courrage LeBlanc, Wyrdsmiths is still going strong today, nearly twelve years later. If you want to check out the "life" of a writers' group, we have a blog:

Eventually, through a friend of a friend I got my second novel, Archangel Protocol, under the nose of an agent. The rest, as they say, is history.

What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

I’ve always found dialog the easiest to write. That’s probably because it’s the part I practice the most. Not only do I love to talk, but also when I’m falling asleep at night it’s the fictional conversations that I play with in my head.

As for hard, that would be plot. If I had my druthers, no one would do anything. They’d all sit around in a coffee shop and argue.

This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

Though all of them are meant to stand more-or-less on their own, there are two previous Garnet Lacey books: TALL, DARK & DEAD and DEAD SEXY. Both follow the exploits of Garnet Lacey, a Witch who accidentally drew in the dark and murderous Goddess Lilith to protect her coven from attack by Vatican witch hunters. When the stories start, she’s on the run and trying desperately to give up witchcraft, which Lilith (and, consequentially, she) crave like a drug. Tall, dark and dead Sebastian Von Traum comes into the bookstore the Garnet manages and, as they say, hilarity ensues. And explosions… or at least zombies.

There’s an excerpt of the first chapters of all three books available on my website

Places to find Tate on the Web:
Wyrdsmiths group blog:
Fangs, Fur & Fey (group blog for paranormal romance writers):

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Pictures from RT

I'm back from RT, although I suspect a good half to three-quarters of my brain cells are still there. I'm sure they'll be back by tomorrow. I'm hoping I got enough sleep last night--finally--to be at least vaguely coherent this morning. I'm not a night owl, but I didn't get back to my room until after midnight at any time at RT.

I had an awesome time! RT is like no other event I've ever been to, with its combination of networking opportunities and, er, relaxed attitude. I did go to several parties and several panels, but I must admit I spent a great deal of my time just hanging out at the bar. (Something you won't usually see me doing, seeing as I don't drink!)

I met lots of fans (I have fans? How cool is that??), and had an almost surreal moment when the fabulous Melissa Marr (NYT bestselling author of Wicked Lovely)told me she loved my books. We had a mutual squeeing fangirl moment, and that memory ranks as one of the highlights for me.

I met a number of urban fantasy authors I had never met before, including Mark Henry, Jeaniene Frost, Kim Harrison, Caitlin Kittridge, and Jeanne Stein, all of whom were very cool. (And Jeanne and I decided we'd been separated at birth, due to our numerous similarities.) I also spent time with authors I'd met before: Keri Arthur, Rachel Vincent, Jackie Kessler, Jocelyn Drake, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kelley Armstrong, and Maria Snyder. (Hope I'm not forgetting anyone, but since my brain is still at RT . . .)

I did take a bunch of pictures, and here are some of the highlights:

This is me and Marcia Colette at the Vampire Ball. This is about as close to a costume as I ever get at RT.

Did I mention there were a lot of urban fantasy authors at this shindig? From left to right we have: me, Kim Harrison, Jackie Kessler, Mark Henry, Rachel Vincent, Caitlin Kittridge, and Jocelyn Drake.

As I mentioned, I spent a lot of time in the bar. This is the pub bar, where I hung out with Rachel, Jocelyn, and Keri on the first night.

This is one of the few panels I got around to attending. I think it was the Urban Fantasy 101 panel. (Either that, or the Demons are the New Black panel.) From left to right, we have: Heather Osborn (my editor at Tor), Kelley Armstrong, Jeri Smith-Ready, Keri Arthur, and Rachel Vincent. And Jeanne Stein's finger--I couldn't fit the whole panel into the frame, dammit!)

This is Jocelyn in her I-rode-the-elevator-with-Fabio afterglow. I believe that was the highlight of her RT. (I never so much as caught a glimpse of him.)

This is Jade Lee and Marcia, after Jade had signed my copy of White Tigress.

Jackie, Keri, Rachel, and I are all represented by Miriam Kriss, who took us out to dinner at a church that had been converted into a brew pub. Talk about a cool restaurant! (And the food was pretty good, too.)

That's it for now. If I remember anything else I need to share, I'll make another post later. For now, it's time to start prioritizing my massive to-do list.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

RT Here I Come!

Tomorrow morning, I'll be off to Pittsburgh for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Last year was my first time going to RT, and I had an absolute blast. I suspect I'll have a great time this year, too. I'll be getting reacquainted with authors I only get to see once or twice a year (like Rachel Vincent, Keri Arthur, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Maria Snyder, to name a few), and I'll also see my editors and my agent.

I'm not quite as bold as some other authors--or maybe it's just that I'm lazier than other authors--so I won't we wearing any costumes for the themed parties. It goes against my nature to pack costumes in addition to my other clothes. When I traveled with my mother--back in the days before 911--we'd often jet off for two and three week vacations with all our supplies packed into one carry-on each. (This because my mom was completely paranoid about lost luggage, especially when traveling to some of our more exotic destinations. Having lost my luggage while on a multi-day bus tour in Turkey, I can assure you it's one hell of a drag.)

So I'll blame my mom's training for the small suitcase and lack of costumes. However, I do have a fabulous pair of ankle boots to wear to Dorchester's These Boots Are Made For Strutting party on Saturday night. Apparently there are prizes for best footwear, and I suspect I'll be in the running.

So, if you're going to be at RT, or if you're just going to be popping by the Book Fair on Saturday, say hi if you see me! (And don't be surprised if you've known me 20 years and I still manage to forget your name. My brain gets just a tad fried at these things.)



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