Jenna Black's Blog Experiment

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


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm a Top Pick!

A friend of mine informed me last night that I got a 4 1/2 star Top Pick review from Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine for Shadows on the Soul! This is my first time getting that extra half star and getting that Top Pick, so I'm really excited. The highlight of the review for me was: "Black hits a note-perfect combination of romance, vengeance and passion. Her best book to date!" Yay! It's Snoopy-dance time.

I'm working with Circle of Seven on a book video for Shadows, and I'll probably be unveiling it next week. I don't know how much book videos help sales, but they sure are a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Help with a title

Update: Thanks to everyone who provided suggestions for the title of the next Guardians book. While I received some excellent suggestions, I've decided to go with one I came up with myself: Echoes in the Dark. (Or Darkness--haven't quite chosen which one yet.) Even though I didn't pick any of your titles, the influx of ideas really helped me come up with the one I did select, so I'm going to randomly draw from the commenters and the winner will receive a set of autographed cover flats.

(I'll pick one winner from MySpace, and one from Blogger. If you're using Blogger, look in the comments where I'll announce the winner.)

Thanks again for all your help!
I'm ready to start working on a proposal for a fifth book in the Guardians of the Night series. I know who my hero, heroine, and villain are. I know their back-stories. I have at least a sketchy plot.

What I don't have is a title. And I'm one of those writers who has trouble working on a book without having at least a halfway decent title in mind. So I thought I'd see if anyone has any great ideas that I could use (or that would at least trigger an idea in my own brain). If you propose a title and I choose to use it, I'll send you a $15 gift certificate. Please note that I may not pick a winner on this one if I don't see anything that feels right to me--I've rejected countless of my own titles already, so I'm very picky.

The book is a redemption story, about a Killer who has cured his addiction to the kill and is now trying to be a Guardian. However, he's been a very bad guy for about 600 years, so he has a lot of sins to overcome. The heroine is running from a potential media frenzy if her identity is discovered, because of a very well-publicized family scandal involving her father. Because they both have problematic pasts/identities, they're going to spend a lot of the book lying/covering up the past. (I tell you all this so you can see the basic themes and perhaps come up with a relevant title.)

The previous titles in this series are:
Watchers in the Night
Secrets in the Shadows
Shadows on the Soul
Hungers of the Heart

I would like my new title to follow the same kind of pattern. I look forward to seeing some suggestions!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What if you were no longer afraid of anything?

I'm going to try a bit of a change in my "what if" contest. In previous weeks, I've posted my own answers to the questions. I've decided to try keeping it simple by only posting the question and the rules. I'll let my readers do most of the work. (Insert sound of evil laughter.) So, here's this week's question:

What if you were no longer afraid of anything? What would you do?

Contest rules:
Answer the "what if" question in a comment, either on Blogger or on MySpace. Next week, I will draw a winner from amongst the contest entrants. The winner will receive a set of autographed cover flats from the first three Guardians of the Night books (with an added bonus or two thrown in). Answers must be posted by Sunday, July 29. Only one answer per commenter will be entered in the drawing (though if you want to leave multiple answers, you can!) I will draw the winner on Monday, July 30.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What I'm Up To

First of all, congratulations to SuziQ who won last week's What If contest. I'll post another What If question on Wednesday. But for now, I thought I'd give you the post-conference low-down on what I'm up to.

I've finished the revisions for Hungers of the Heart, the fourth book of my Guardians of the Night series, and when I talked to my editor at conference it sounded like she was happy with them. So, that should be off my plate now. (Yay!) I'm still waiting for a revision letter for The Devil You Know, the second book in my Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist series. Once I get those revisions done, I'll have finished all the books I currently have under contract. (Wow!)

So, what happens next? A lot of people have asked me whether I'm going to continue writing for Tor now that I've signed with Bantam. And the answer is . . . we'll see. I'm going to write a proposal (which for the non-writers who read this is the first three chapters and a synopsis) of a fifth book in the series. It's going to be another redemption story (I love those), but there's some question as to whether the character I'm planning to make the hero is really redeemable. He did some Very Bad Things in Hungers of the Heart (as I blogged about in an earlier post when I was struggling with him).

Of course, those of you who've read Secrets in the Shadows and know that Gabriel is the hero of the next book realize how much I like to push the envelope with my heroes. We'll just have to see how my editor likes the idea. I suspect the success (or lack thereof!) of Shadows on the Soul, with my ultra-dark hero, will have some bearing on whether Tor is going to be willing to go with my proposal for the continuation of the series.

The long and short of it is, if you enjoy the Guardians of the Night series--and particularly if you enjoy Shadows on the Soul when it comes out--please spread the word to other readers! The more buzz that book gets, the more likely I'll be able to continue writing Guardians of the Night books!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What if you were sent into solitary exile on a distant planet?

I got very few (3) responses to my last "what if" question. Because posting these questions, picking the winners, and mailing the prizes is time-consuming, I will only continue the contest for as long as I see interest in it. If I don't get at least five entrants (between Blogger and MySpace) this time, I will discontinue the contest. So, if you'd like to keep the contest alive, be sure to comment!

This week's question:
What if you were sent into solitary exile on a distant planet, and you could take anything you wanted along with you? What would you take?

My response:

If I were to be sent to solitary exile to a far away planet, the first stop I would want to make was to Barnes & Noble. I'd get one copy of every book in the store, and one copy of each CD and movie. I'd, of course, need to have a TV, CD player, and VCR/DVD player. I'd also want to get some glasses of various strengths so that as my eyesight got worse with age, I'd still be able to read.

My computer would be a must-have. I'd probably also want to have lots of computer games. I think the biggest problem with the solitary exile would be the boredom. I'd want to bring lots of things that would challenge my mind, to keep my brain alive and kicking, and games serve that purpose very nicely. They also help to while away the hours.

Although I'd probably do most of my writing on the computer, but there's a special feeling to writing with pen and paper, so I'd want to take lots and lots of paper and lots and lots of pens. I'd want to have a variety of pens and paper--thick, creamy parchment with fountain pens; spiral notebooks with ball points; fancy leather-bound journals with roller balls. You name it, I'd want it.

I am assuming that I can take for granted that I'd want all the basic necessities of life, such as food and bed, etc. The last thing I'd want to take would be a whole lot of dogs. Maybe I'd go to the pound and rescue every dog in there and take them along. They'd have to be breeding animals, though, because I'd want to have generations of them to keep me company. Perhaps this would break the "solitary" exile part, but I'd see what I could manage. My dogs bring so much joy to my life; I can't imagine being dogless!


Contest rules:
Answer the "what if" question in a comment, either on Blogger or on MySpace. Next week, I will draw a winner from amongst the contest entrants. The winner will receive a set of autographed cover flats from the first three Guardians of the Night books. Answers must be posted by Sunday, July 22. Only one answer per commenter will be entered in the drawing (though if you want to leave multiple answers, you can!) I will draw the winner on Monday, July 23. Congrats to Kim on MySpace, who won the last contest!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Fabulous Pins

Many published authors I saw at the conference asked me where I got the fabulous book-cover pins I was wearing. I couldn't remember the web address, and I told a number of people they should email me later and I'd send it to them. I haven't gotten any emails yet--I'm sure I'm not the only one who's suffered from Conference Head--but I thought I'd share the info on the blog. You can get your very own book covers made into pins at Picture Perfect Designs. They make great conversation starters--and allow you to do low-key self-promotion. Highly recommended!

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Conference Head

As you know if you're a regular reader of my blog, last week I was in Dallas for the RWA National Conference. Many times in the past, I've heard other writers speak of the phenomenon known affectionately as "Conference Head." This term refers to the state of near brain death that seizes conference attendees by the end of conference. I thought I understood what that term meant before. I was wrong.

Conference Head comes about due to an excess of input and stimulation. With writers, who tend to spend most of their days alone, sitting in front of their computers and typing, spending multiple days surrounded by other people, networking and socializing and otherwise being "on" all day, is exhausting. I've definitely felt that exhaustion before, but I wasn't prepared for how much worse it would be this year.

This year was the first time I'd gone to conference and a) had a book out, b) had a second publisher--specifically, a second publisher who is big enough to hold events at the conference, and c) was actually speaking myself. I was booked within an inch of my life! One of my friends laughed at me for having printed out a calendar from MySpace with all my appointments on it, but there was no way I could remember everything otherwise.

I had a fantastic time. I will blog more about it in the days to come. But right now, I'm going to succumb to Conference Head and just let myself relax/veg for a while. I'll post the weekly "what if" question and announce last week's winner later this week. (I'll aim for tomorrow, but since I have a dentist appointment and a severe case of dentist-phobia, it might not be until Wednesday.)

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Monday, July 09, 2007

What if you could curse your enemies?

Congratulations to Heather from MySpace, who won last week's contest. (See the end of this post for contest rules, and see my Father's Day post for an explanation of where this all came from.)

The Question:
What if you could curse your enemies? Who would you curse, and what would your curse be? Please DO NOT name names--you never know who could stumble across your post.

I usually post my own response to the question, but this time I'm going to post my father's, because it was so wickedly inventive. I'm leaving out the part about who he would invoke this curse on.

My curse: May you be plagued, relentlessly, with the annoyances and frustrations of daily life and may the cumulative effect inexorably drive you into the looney bin:

May every plane you board sit on the tarmac for one hour before departure.
Whenever you drive around New England to see the fall foliage, may your engine overheat.
May your tennis playing skills deteriorate such that you can no longer beat your wife.
When you go to the U. S. Open at Forrest Hills may you discover at the gate that your tickets were for yesterday, not today.
May a mutation of chemical resistant termites invade your home.
May the cork deteriorate in the bottle of wine you have been saving for years for a special occasion.
May your next fender-bender be with the local chief of police on his way to a picnic with his family on a nice Sunday afternoon.
May your entire family be gathered for Thanksgiving and you discover that your wife forgot to turn on the oven.
May your TV screen go blank during the Superbowl.
May your social security checks inexplicably start going to the wrong address.
May all your grandchildren send you wallets for Xmas.

May leaves clog your rainspouts every time it rains.

May you never find out what's causing the rattle in your car.

May the telephone sellers call you every hour.

May your body chemistry change such that eating charcoal broiled steaks gives you a rash.

May your home be the only one on the block to be reassessed.

May you be the one selected at random by the IRS for a total audit.

May all the white flies in your neighborhood decide that your tomato plants are the most tasty.

As a penalty for a traffic violation, may the judge sentence you to three years of jury duty.

When you decide to sell your treasured 18th century Persian rug may Sotheby's tell you that it's a 20th century copy.

May you discover that your wife sent the shirt with the winning lottery ticket in the pocket to the laundry.

Contest rules:
Answer the "what if" question in a comment, either on Blogger or on MySpace. Next week, I will draw a winner from amongst the contest entrants. The winner will receive a set of autographed cover flats from the first three Guardians of the Night books. Answers must be posted by Sunday, July 15. Only one answer per commenter will be entered in the drawing (though if you want to leave multiple answers, you can!)


Sunday, July 08, 2007

I Hate Packing!

Tomorrow, I leave for my week-long trip to Dallas to attend the RWA national conference. Which means that today, I have to pack for the trip. Ugh!

I used to travel all over the world with my mom, when I was in my teens and twenties. We had packing light down to an art form, to the point that even when we went on two- or three-week vacations, we each traveled with a single carry-on bag. Of course, part of the reason we could get away with that was because we tended to go for off-the-beaten-track adventure-type travel. Trips where we didn't have to dress up for dinner, etc.

Going to RWA is such a different animal! Not only do I have to pack business attire (as opposed to the whatever-I-can-stuff-in-the-smallest-space outfits I'd take when I traveled with my mom), I have three separate evening events that will require changes of outfits. I imagine my mother rolling over in her grave at the thought of me possibly needing more than one bag! (I'm going to try to stuff everything into one, but I have serious doubts at this point.)

No, this is not a profound or even terribly interesting blog post. It's just my excuse to a) get away from the suitcase for a few minutes, and b) whine about my pitiful existence. (I'm sure everyone's ready to send me flowers and condolence cards based on my predicament.)

Oh well. Time to get back to work. *Sigh*

Monday, July 02, 2007

Great discovery/invention

Congratulations to Deidre on MySpace, who one my first "what if" contest! And thanks to everyone who left comments! I really enjoyed reading them. Here's the next contest question (with a quick summary of the rules at the end).

What if you could be responsible for one great discovery or invention? What would it be?

My response

I’d like to invent a device that would be capable of stopping pain. My immediate thought was that I’d want to come up with a 100% effective pain reliever that you could take prophylactically and thus never have to suffer pain. Then, I thought about the possible repercussions. If you never had to feel pain, then you’d probably never go to the doctor when you were injured and you could end up killing yourself. Then, I thought maybe I’d invent some kind of monitor that would pick up the brain’s awareness of pain and turn it into some kind of benign warning, like a flashing light or a beep. But even that could be ignored by people who shouldn’t ignore it. The very unpleasantness of pain is what makes us take action to cure it. I was in a quandary. I can think of so many instances where pain is completely unnecessary, and yet it has its place in our lives.

Finally, I came up with what I think is a good and practical solution. My device would pick up signals from the pain receptors in our brains. If the pain escalated past a certain threshold, the device would kick in and alleviate it. However, it would not make the pain go away. If you’d done something like break your leg, the device would allow it to hurt enough that you wouldn’t walk on that leg and make it worse. However, once you got to a doctor, he or she could enter an override code that would knock the pain out completely until you were healed.

This would be an incredible boon to the medical industry. For one thing, you wouldn’t have to take the risks involved with general anesthesia, at least not as often. You’d also be able to avoid the unpleasant side affects associated with current painkillers--such as addiction. It would also be a great boon to society. How many people are there in this world who avoid going to the doctor (or the dentist, for that matter) because they fear the pain? If they could be guaranteed that whatever medical procedure they had to undergo would be completely pain-free, wouldn’t they be more inclined to go, and wouldn’t that catch a lot of diseases and other problems before they became fatal? I think it would also make people less afraid of growing old and, eventually, dying. I think most of us fear the idea of the pain and suffering often involved with death more than we do the death itself.

Too bad I don’t believe that any such thing is possible. But it’s a nice fantasy.


Contest rules:
Answer the "what if" question in a comment, either on Blogger or on MySpace. Next week, I will draw a winner from amongst the contest entrants. (Unlike the first contest, I will draw at random instead of trying to pick favorites--that was too hard!) The winner will receive a set of autographed cover flats from the first three Guardians of the Night books. Answers must be posted by Sunday, July 8. Only one answer per commenter will be entered in the drawing (though if you want to leave multiple answers, you can!) I intend to choose a winner and post another question next week, but I'll be at the RWA conference in Dallas, so I may be a bit slow about it.




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