Jenna Black's Blog Experiment

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


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):

Labels: ,

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.)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

Just about every author out there who hopes to make a living as a writer does some amount of self-promotion. They create bookmarks, hire publicists, create book videos, buy ads . . . the list is endless. Some people spend most or even all of their advances on promotional activities. Some people have a set percentage of their advances set aside for promotions. (And I'm sure there are some out there who spend way more than their advances.) But most of these professionals agree that it's almost impossible to figure out what effect promotional efforts have.

When I was talking about this with my husband yesterday, he suggested that if I tried one kind of promotion with one book, and then a different kind with another book, I'd be able to gauge the relative effectiveness of the two promotions. Sounds very logical, but it just doesn't work. If book 2 does better than book 1, does that mean my promotional effort for book 2 worked better? Or does it mean book 2 was a better book? Or got more publisher support? Or had a better cover? Or came out in a month with less competition? Or . . . You get the point.

So how can an author decide which promotions are worth their time and money? Beats me. I've heard many, many authors talk about it, and no one has said anything that suggested there was a definitive answer. So I've decided to take a different approach to promotion. I don't base my efforts on a budget, or on what conventional wisdom suggests might lead to sales; I base my promotions on what I would enjoy doing most.

I created (actually, hired someone else to create, but you get my drift) book videos for Secrets in the Shadows, Shadows on the Soul, and The Devil Inside. I have no way of knowing if those videos did me any good. I know people watched them, but I don't really know how many, and I have no clue how many of those views led to sales of my books. But they were fun to do, and when I approached them as something fun--that might lead to sales, but didn't necessarily have to because they were fun--I had a much easier time letting myself spend the money.

I don't know if this decision-making mechanism will work for anyone else. Probably, there are people out there who will look at this and think I'm not approaching this in a very businesslike manner. But when I tried to approach it in a businesslike manner, trying to determine whether the potential gains were worth the money and time I spent, I drove myself crazy. So I decided to let go of that and just do what I want to do. Until someone can come up with a definitive answer for what works and what doesn't, I think the fun factor is as good a criterion as any.



Favorite Blogs

Previous Posts


Powered by Blogger