Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And the Beat Moves On

After much vacillation and hemming and hawing, the Mavens have concluded that it's time to formally close down Ye Olde Blog. While none of us have given up writing, we've reached a point where it's time to move on.

And so, it is with deep gratitude that we say good-bye to our stalwart MaveFaves and let you know where to find us on the Interwebs in the future.

Erica Ridley

Maven Erica RidleyThe author of Too Wicked To Kiss, which will be a March 2010 Kensington Zebra release, can be found at her website at http://www.ericaridley.com/ and her blog at http://www.ericaridley.com/blog/.

Carrie Ryan

Maven Carrie RyanYou can find Carrie, author of the forthcoming and much anticipated The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte, March 10, 2009), at her blog (http://carrie-me.blogspot.com/) and her website (http://www.carrieryan.com/). Oh, and check out her starred review in today's Publishers Weekly. Go, Carrie!

Jackie Barbosa

Maven Jackie BarbosaJackie can be found at her website (http://www.jackiebarbosa.com/), her blog (http://jackiebarbosa.blogspot.com/) and on the Aphrodisia Authors blog on the 25th of each month (when she a) remembers and b) has time, which so far hasn't been often, but she's working on it).

Darcy Burke

Maven Darcy Burke2008 Golden Heart Finalist Darcy can be found at her website (http://www.darcyburke.com/), which she keeps updated with all the latest and greatest news.

Lacey Kaye

Maven Lacey KayeOur resident process engineer, inventor of "geek lit," and author of Romance with Color can be found at her website and blog at http://laceykaye.com/.

We'll be keeping the site up for the foreseeable future, just in case any of you is overcome by a sudden, irrepressible urge to reread our old rantings and ravings...er, that is, pearls of wisdom. Thanks for joining us on this incredible adventure in writing, and for letting us share our lives with you (and yours with us). We've truly appreciated it.

Last one out...please turn out the lights :).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Out with the Old

Maven Erica Ridley I've had my old laptop for... wow. Since the days floppy drives were considered indispensable. And although technology continued passing it by, my laptop never let me down. It continues working like a charm, except... Well, except the case is cracking. And pieces are starting to fall off. And the hard drive is so small, I have to delete old emails in order to receive new ones. And--

So finally, after year(s) of suspecting I needed a new laptop (and much ridicule from my friends, who insisted I needed a new laptop) I finally ordered a new one. Overnight shipping and everything. Went all out.

(Natch, there's a part on backorder, so who knows when it'll arrive...)

How about you? Do you write on a desktop or a laptop? Old or new? Or maybe an Alphasmart or handwritten on paper? Ever think about upgrading? Or are you an upgrade junkie?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Maven Darcy BurkeHappy New Year! The ends of my hair are currently singed as I burn through my WIP. I'm in that great almost-done phase where you can hardly do anything but sit and write. Like reading a good book that I simply can't put down. Except of course the writing takes much, much, much longer than the reading. If only it were the reverse.

My biggest challenge with this book is writing a truly Alpha Alpha male. I mean, he's entitled, he's arrogant, he likes violence, and he treats the heroine like a sex object for the first half of the book. I love him! But, sometimes it's hard to write him. I've been stuck the past few days on a pivotal scene. He exposes his vulnerable side to the heroine and then in the next scene he's all nice and...bor-ring. And I really need that first scene. So, I thought, "What does a guy do when he says or does something humiliating?" Pretend it never happened and act like a total jerk to the person who might've witnessed said humiliation. Voila, unstuck.

Been stuck lately? What'd you do about it?

Update: Last time I blogged (uh, way too long ago), I'd just found my long-lost Danish cousins. I'm now in frequent contact and even talked to Paprika on the phone last week. Despite the lost years and never meeting, the connection between us is so strong. I can't wait to meet them in person and hug them tight!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Anti-Resolutions, Take 2

Maven Jackie BarbosaA little over a year ago, I wrote a post about my New Year's Anti-Resolutions. (If you want to see why I make anti-resolutions instead of resolutions, go here.)
Oddly enough, I was just about to take off for a vacation in Yosemite when I posted; this year, I've just gotten back from one! (Wow, did we hit it just right! The three days we were in the park were gorgeous and sunny. The day we left, it had started to drizzle--and there's nothing I hate more than rain on top of snow!)

Anyhoo, on the heels of Maven Erica's goal post (haha, I made a pun!), I thought it would be fun to revisit my 2008 Anti-Resolutions to see how I did. Here are the things I promised to try not to do.

1. Enter a slew of contests.

Did all right here. I only entered four contests in 2008, and of those four, I didn't final in two and won my category in the other two. Winning was nice validation, but I have to say that I got a lot of valuable information from those non-finals (including that a non-finaling manuscript can be the one that sells, lol).

2. Start manuscripts I can't seem to finish.

The jury's still out on this one. I started at least four (maybe five) manuscripts this year that I didn't finish...YET. But that doesn't mean I won't/can't finish them. It's just that the ones I've got out there right now are of the "it's not time to try to sell these" variety, which means they're sitting on the shelf pending a better moment.

We'll have to put this one in the "wait and see" category.

3. Put on ten pounds.

Definitely achieved. As far as I can tell, I didn't put on any weight in 2008 and, while I didn't get the 10 I gained in 2007 OFF, I held steady. Good enough for me.

4. Come up with another pseudonym.

So far, so good, but if I do finish one of those "not time yet" manuscripts, I might really NEED another one (esp. since one is middle grade/YA).

5. Open my mouth and insert my foot--at least not repeatedly!

Okay, still working on this one. I do think I'm getting better--or maybe my friends are just getting more tolerant. Either way, this is the hard one for me because I so often tend to speak without a filter. I have a thought or an idea and I just blurt it out. It's in my nature. Doesn't mean it's a good thing, though, or one I don't have to try to improve. But hey, I'm only 44. God isn't finished with me yet ;).

What's New for 2009?

This year's Anti-Resolutions, in no particular order, are as follows.

I will not:

1. Waste so much time on the Internet. (Notice I didn't say I won't waste any time on the Internet. That would be impossible!)

2. Allow myself to fall so far behind a deadline that I have to neglect my family to meet it. (Yeah, this was bad in 2008.)

3. Try to write a book without writing a blurb first. (Yeah, doesn't work for me. Even when I have a synopsis. Go figure!)

4. Get more cats. (We picked up four in the past year for a total of five. One more and I suspect I will be officially considered a cat lady.)

5. Spend every writing moment doing everything but write. (Yeah, corollary to #1, but still, important!)

And, with that, since this is a writing moment, I'd better get cracking!

YOUR TURN: Got any plans for things you won't be doing this year? Or things you will? Tell all. The Mavens want to know!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Call Story

Maven Erica RidleySo, I was sitting at a tall table in a tiny internet cafe in Arenal, Costa Rica watching a cow cross the road, when Gmail was so kind as to drop an email from my agent, Lauren Abramo, into my Inbox.

[begin complete and utter paraphrase with shameless abuse of poetic license]


I left you messages on all forty-eight of your phones and yet I haven't heard from you. What could possibly be more important than the super-exciting thing I'm killing myself trying to tell you?? Call me before I shank you!

Love, Lauren

[end complete and utter paraphrase with shameless abuse of poetic license]

Hmmm, I thought to myself. I *could* continue to drowsily stare at the cow crossing the road. Or... I could call my agent.

Seeing as how AT&T charges $2.29 per minute for international calls from Costa Rica [$?#*@!] I fired up my good buddy Skype on my laptop and placed me an international call faster than you can say "VOIP".

[begin complete and utter paraphrase with shameless abuse of poetic license]

L: Hello?

E: Hey, Lauren, it's Erica.

L: Hey, Erica! Long time no talk. What've you been up to?

E: Oh, you know. Ate some beans and rice. Drank an Imperial. Watched a cow cross the road. You?

L: Oh, you know. Crossed tall buildings in a single bound. Shot spiderwebs out of my wrists. Sold your book.

E: SQUEEE!!!!!

L: SQUEEE!!!!!

E & L: SQUEEE!!!!!

[end complete and utter paraphrase with shameless abuse of poetic license]

There you have it--my two-missed-calls-one-email-one-cow-and-an-emergency-voip-chat call story.


Special thanks to my uber-massive support group: the Mavens Darcy, Lacey, Carrie, and Jackie, Kel & Manda, Janice, PCubed: Jean, June, Elissa, Cheryl, and Linda, all my TARA sisters, Cheryl, Julie and Virginia for never being too busy to answer my questions, and of course Karen and Diana, whose (utterly perfect) initial reaction was, "I told you so!"

Monday, January 5, 2009


Maven Erica RidleyCan I get a SQUEEEEEEE?!?!?!

I am pleased, thrilled, utterly apoplectic to announce that my superstar agent Lauren Abramo just sold my superstar Regency-set gothic TOUCHED to Kensington in a two-book deal. Yayayay!!!

It will be arriving at a bookstore near you in the next 18 months. More details to come (including "call story"...)


Special thanks to my uber-massive support group: the Mavens Darcy, Lacey, Carrie, and Jackie, Kel & Manda, Janice, PCubed: Jean, June, Elissa, Cheryl, and Linda, all my TARA sisters, Cheryl, Julie and Virginia for never being too busy to answer my questions, and of course Karen and Diana, whose (utterly perfect) initial reaction was, "I told you so!"

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Maven Erica Ridley Most of you know how I feel about goals. Last year around this time, I yammered on about how they must be specific, quantifiable, realistic, and attainable, and how above all, you (er... I) should be accountable for sticking to them.

Somewhere around mid-year, I fell off the write-every-day wagon.

How did this happen, given that I am the self-professed queen of making specific, quantifiable, realistic, attainable goals and sticking to them like bubble gum on shoes?

Because... I missed a bullet point. I should've added this tiny detail here:

  • Goals must be a priority

Even a goal like "get out of bed by noon" won't come to pass if it seems more important to lay in a sea of pillows with the TiVo remote and a plateful of comfort food.

So. My #1 goal for 2009 is:

Write/Revise/Plot/Daydream about my WIPs every single day, even if a few stolen moments is all I have.

1b: Because it matters.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Quick Update

Maven Jackie BarbosaSince MaveFave Vicki posted yesterday asking how the Mavens are doing, I thought it was the least I could do to pop by for a really quick update and...well, an utterly shameless squee.

As always, the day job, the family, and the writing are keeping me plenty occupied. I am (still :P) working on my option book proposal for Kensington. After writing about 8K, I found myself in a corner I didn't know how to get out of and realized I needed to retool the story from the ground up. Sigh. It happens!

A little over a week ago, I discovered a black and white, low resolution version of the cover art for my Kensington release, Behind the Red Door. Finally, after many excruciating day of impatient anticipation, the color, high-resolution version is here and I can share it with you.

Let me know what you think! But I warn you, it's mine, mine, all mine.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And, It's Off!

Maven Jackie BarbosaAnd by "it," I mean the completed manuscript of Behind the Red Door, my novella anthology which is slated for release by Kensington Books in the summer of 2009! I emailed the file to my editor yesterday (my official "extended" due date) with a follow-up hardcopy hitting the regular mail today.

Yay me!

As you may remember, I started a 30K in 30 days challenge to help motivate myself to finish. I wound up not only meeting, but exceeding my 30-day goal, although it wound up taking 32 days for me to put the final finishing touches on it. I literally closed the file ten minutes before I emailed it out.

So now, I'm free. (Breaks into a refrain of "I'm free to do what I want any old time.") It's a rather odd sensation, actually. I've been bound to that book for so long, I feel a little rudderless.

Oh, it's not that I don't have ideas. No, no, never that! It's more that I have a plethora of them, and since none of them are contracted, it's hard to prioritize. That said, for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to kick back and do some fun projects--a short story for a freebie Christmas anthology Anna Leigh Keaton is putting together and a short Christmas novella for Cobblestone Press.

After that, I reckon I'll get serious again by putting together a proposal for an option book for Kensington. And then we'll see what happens.

YOUR TURN: What have you been up to the past month while I (and the other Mavens) have been hiding in our caves? Tell us all the news. We'd love to hear!

Monday, September 15, 2008

30k in 30 Days Challenge--Update

Maven Jackie BarbosaI planned to check in a little more often than this, but actually doing the writing seemed to eat up most of my time. (Wonder how that could have happened?) I have been managing to update my daily word count on my blog, but that's about it for updates so far.

So, yesterday marked Day 15 of the challenge. I'm a little shy of 15k at this point, but that's primarily because yesterday was Sunday, and Sundays are always iffy for writing (this funny little thing called "family time" seems to get in the way, lol).

The good news, however, is that this method seems to be working. Making sure I sit down and write every single day with a specific goal in mind has made a huge difference in my productivity. When I do get a good, solid block of time, I am writing faster and more efficiently, and finding it not that hard to meet or even exceed the 1,000 word goal.

Which is a good thing, because I've now completed two of the three novellas that are due on October 1, and it's going to take me more than 1,000 words per day to finish the one I'm writing now. My math tells me I now have to average 1,400 words to write THE END on that one by September 29, the last day of the challenge, giving me a whopping ONE DAY to polish it up before sending it in. Am I worried? Nah! I'm freaking terrified. LOL.

YOUR TURN: Update us on your writing progress for the last fifteen days. If you're in on the challenge, how's it going? If you're not, what are your current goals and how are things coming along? Remember, we love to hear from you, even if we are pretty quiet ourselves!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That Crazy Internet

Maven Darcy BurkeHowdy Mavenland! I had to share something I learned this evening from my brother...he found our cousins. Were they lost? Not really, just lost to us. Long story short: Our father had one sister and she moved to Denmark in 1951. I only met her once in the early 80s. We lost touch with her (and consequently our cousins) after our grandmother died in 1987 (my father died the previous year). I'd always wondered what was going on with them, but it never, ever occurred to me to Google them.

And how stupid was that.

See, my aunt was an actress, and a rather famous one in Denmark. She has a page in Danish Wikipedia! And my eldest cousin, Kim Sagild, was in a successful latin/jazz/funk band (Buki-Yamaz - they have a myspace page with super groovy music!) and went on to do something in music (he came to visit once also - I remember him as being so, so, so cool - I think I was maybe 9?). My other two cousins, Paprika (if you go to her page here at Internet Movie Database, click on the first trailer for The Substitute and watch what happens to her at the end!) and Nikolaj Steen were also artists, but I'd no idea Paprika won the equivalent of the Danish Oscar - for both best actress and supporting actress...in the same year! Wild.

My brother gets credit for finding them and is trying to make contact. I hope he's successful and that we'll be able to swap photos and stories. I'm certain we have much to share about our families and I'm really excited about the possibilities.

Ah, Internet, sometimes your powers are far more good than evil.

So what's the Internet done for you lately?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guest Maven Delilah Marvelle - Go Buy Her Debut Book!

We're thrilled to welcome Delilah back to the Mavendom to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Mistress of Pleasure. You might recall Delilah sharing her call story with us last year. Her years of dedication and persistence have finally paid off, culminating in this fabulous day! Congrats Delilah!

Mistress of Pleasure is finally here. Purchase a lesson...if you dare!

Today is a very exciting day for me!!! Why? Because my first book, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, officially hits stores. (Gleefully clapping hands here.) Instead of the usual throwing of pitches and excerpts and whatnot, I decided to keep it simple.

Behind every book, there is a story. And needless to say, behind my upcoming debut, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, which centers around a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction, there are several. Because I don’t want to write a book about THE book, I’ve decided to elaborate as simply as I can about the inspiration behind the creation of MISTRESS OF PLEASURE. That inspiration first coming from my research, when I stumbled upon Ninon de L’Enclos, a French 17th century courtesan.

Truth be told, I find it rather astounding that this fascinating woman somehow disappeared into the shadows of history. She is but a ghost whenever the topic of courtesans arise. For we usually hear of the same old, same old courtesans like Kitty Fisher, Cora Pearl or Harriette Wilson. Let me be the first to tell you, however, that none of these women could possibly rival Ninon de L’Enclos or her life. But don’t take my word for it. Research her on your own and come to your conclusion. Bottom line, Ninon’s thoughts, philosophies, and her approach toward men and sex went beyond anything I have ever seen in a woman of her day.

Much like other courtesans, she kept her bedroom door open to aristocratic men, yes. But unlike other courtesans, she kept that bedroom door open for more than just sex. This woman actually held meetings and classes in the confines of her bedchamber where men of all ages would come to visit in order to discuss topics of sex, philosphy and love. These so-called meetings fascinated me and in turn, began to create the growing threads of what is now Mistress of Pleasure. The more I researched, the more excited I became. For there was almost too much to work with. For instance, Ninon had various lovers, as you might imagine. But to one lover in particular, she birthed a son. A son who was raised apart from her to never know who she was due to her being a courtesan. Then one day, when her son was a grown man, he happened to one day meet Ninon. And fell madly in love with her. (And no, I’m not bloody making this up…). Though she had sworn to never reveal her identity to her son, because his advances were growing more and more passionate and he altogether outright refused to leave her be, she finally told him the truth. That she was in fact his mother and that was why there would never be a sexual relationship between them. Her son was so overwhelmed and distraught by the confession, that he left her house and committed suicide by falling onto the blade of his own sword. Another story, somewhat less morbid, was about one man who begged and begged Ninon to admit him into her bed. She refused him time and time again and finally told him, “Return when I am eighty. Then I shall bed you.” The besotted fool took her words quite literally and arrived on her doorstep many, many years late, when she turned eighty. Ninon was so amused, she ended up bedding him, after all.

As you can tell by the stories I am selecting, it is the older Ninon that ultimately fascinated me. Which created a dilemma for my writing. Because my heroine couldn’t possibly be an elderly lady. It would never sell. But then I got to thinking. What if she were a grandmother of the heroine? Now THAT had possibilities. At about the same time I started writing AN IMPROPER EDUCATION (which is what I called it before the publisher changed it), MY grandmother re-appeared in my life. After 20 years of complete and utter silence. Which is a whole other story I don’t have time to go into… Soon, I discovered that the grandmother I never knew was actually an opera singer who had married into American Aristocracy and was living the life of a queen. My grandmother had an air of royalty to her and was quite beautiful for a woman her age. She had a heavy accent, walked with a sashay and always used amusing little words that I’d never heard before. For instance, she referred to sex as “Poom-poom.” She amused me so much so, that I could not help but morph her and Ninon together to create the fictional character that ultimately became Madame de Maitenon, who is both the creator of the School of Gallantry and the grandmother of my heroine, Maybelle de Maitenon. And so, I ended up with a story about a retired French courtesan who opens up a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction, and the granddaughter who is unexpectedly forced to take over the operation of the school and educate all the men. Even though she has very little personal experience. Life certainly makes for some interesting fiction. And I have to say, I’m glad for it. At least in the case of this book. For an excerpt, more information or to sign up for my newsletter, please head over to my website.

Delilah Marvelle

What a fabulous story, Delilah! Anyone else use true stories or characters for their books? Dish!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The 30K in 30 Days Challenge

Maven Jackie BarbosaSince I last posted right before leaving for the RWA National Convention, I've been swamped by the day job. My company holds a conference for its clients every year in late August or early September (depending on when we can get the hotel), and I'm a major contributor to the effort. This year, I gave four presentations, none of which were remotely close to being developed at the beginning of this month. I had four weeks to get my act together, and believe me, I needed every one of those weeks.

So NOW, I have another deadline looming over me. I've promised all three of the Red Door novellas by October 1st. The first novella is (thankfully) already complete, but the second and third are sitting at 5,000 words (of a projected 25K) and roughly 20.5K (or a projected 30K). Soooo, to finish and ship the printed manuscript off to New York in time, I've got to write an average of 1,000 words per day for the next thirty days.

That's more than doable, of course. But since I've been "out of the saddle" for a full month now, it seems more than a bit daunting. And so, in an effort to motivate myself, I'm setting down the 30K in 30 Days Challenge. My friend and critique partner, Emma Petersen, even created this graphic you can post on your blog or website if you decide to jump on the bandwagon:

The challenge officially begins today, Sunday, August 31 and ends Monday, September 29, but you can jump in any time with your own start and end dates. If you'd like to engage in periodic check-ins, support, encouragement, commiseration, advice, and the occasional ass-whuppin' when you need it, simply leave a comment on this post. I'll be posting again next week to let you know where things stand, and you can let me know how you're doing, too. In addition, I'll be keeping a calendar on my personal blog to show my progress. There's nothing like a little shame and humiliation to keep me on track!

YOUR TURN: Want to join the fun? Leave a comment and I'll blogroll you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We're Still Here!

Maven Darcy BurkeHey Mave Faves! We're still here, we're all just swamped. Busy writing fabulous stories for you! (I'm working on book two of my Wicked trilogy - Their Wicked Bargain - it's so fun!) We'll post when the mood strikes, or if anyone has questions, we'll answer those too.

I'm so thrilled to share that our dear friend Courtney Milan just announced her first sale - a two-book deal to HQN. Feel free to squee congrats here or over on her blog (see link). We're so excited for her!

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens