Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Lauren Dane tagged me in the Next Big Thing blog hop. The blog hop is an author answering ten questions about whatever their next “big thing” is. That author then tags more authors and so on and so forth.

It’s a fun way to find out a little bit about what your favorite authors are doing – or maybe being introduced to new authors. I’m going to talk about the book I just turned in, which will be out from Berkley Heat in September, 2013.

1. What is the working title of your book?

UNCOMMON PASSION. It’s the second in a series set in Galveston, Texas. The first book, UNCOMMON PLEASURE releases in March, 2013.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

One of the secondary characters in UNCOMMON PLEASURE, Ben Harris, intrigued me. He’s the second participant in a menage, the guy the heroine knows is up for anything, any time, with anyone. I got to thinking about what kind of man that would be. He could be fun-loving, easy-going, obliging…or he could be tortured, carrying the weight of a terrible past, and using sex to avoid dealing with what he’s done. Ben’s the second kind of guy. 😉

3. What is the genre of the book?

It’s erotic romance.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ben looks like Bailey Chase in his Deputy Branch Connally incarnation on Longmire.
Rachel Hill has all of Abbie Cornish’s reserve in Bright Star.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“A virgin refugee from a fundamentalist cult determined to experience life and sex to the fullest gets involved a man with troubled past equally determined feel nothing at all.”

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher?

This will release from Berkley Heat in March, 2013.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took about 10 weeks to produce. I spent another 3 months getting crits and revising the manuscript.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think the virgin-meets-bad boy trope is fairly common in erotic romance. In fact, I’d already done a similar story, so finding new emotional territory to explore made this book an interesting challenge!

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been interested in the question of what turns someone into “that guy”, the one the characters can turn to for the ever popular “one night of no-strings-attached” sex. Giving him a heroine who needed experience but turned his definition of “experience” on his head seemed like the best way to create conflict.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s got all the characteristics of an Anne Calhoun erotic romance: a troubled, experienced paramilitary hero and a heroine who knows exactly what she wants who sets him back on his heels. Plus, there’s the ever-popular scorching sex. 😉

More seriously, in this book I explore family and friendships more than I have in previous erotic romances, so if you like community and family issues with your smexxing, give this book a shot.

I tried, folks, to find someone to tag for this blog hop, but everyone was either on deadline or had already participated. 🙁 So check out some of the amazing writers I contacted, all of whom have fabulous books releasing in 2013.

Megan Mulry, Mira Lyn Kelly, Alison Kent, Miranda Neville, Leah Braemel, Ruthie Knox, Elyssa Patrick, and Jill Shalvis.

19 Years and Counting…

Today is my 19th wedding anniversary.

Twenty-two years ago I walked into the first class of my sophomore year in college (8 a.m. American History if you’re curious) and saw a boy sitting with his long, long legs stretched out into the aisle. What flashed into my brain was That’s the man I’m going to marry. Which sounds all romantic and wonderful…except I was dating someone else and had no intention of ever getting married. I’m not prone to getting messages from the great beyond, so I just filed it away and went on with life. Two months later I asked the long-legged, quiet boy to study for a test with me. He turned me down. A few days later he said he changed his mind. Two months after that I broke up with the other guy. One year after that he asked me to marry him, and a year after that, we were married on a warm, sunny October day.

In 19 years together we’ve gone through one pregnancy, two cross-country moves, two houses, four cars (we keep ’em til they gasp out a last breath), two graduate degrees, one terrorist attack, one blackout, one transit strike, four trips abroad, and roughly six career changes between us. I’ve got gray hair. He still looks about twenty-five. This morning he told me he still gets butterflies when I walk into a room.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. C. I love you.

Dirt Town

Welcome to Dirt Town. Population: one to five eight-year-old boys, depending on the play date, and dozens of Matchbox cars.

Like so many creative projects, Dirt Town came about organically. We’d built Small Boy a fabulous sandbox fashioned like a red race car. He helped us put it together, paint the silver and black wheels on the sides, assemble the steering wheel and screw handles to the storage box in the front. We filled it with the finest white sand money can buy.

He played in it a handful of times, and then it went unused. He preferred a pile of dirt sitting beside the house after a landscaping project. But the dirt pile was in the full sun, so when the weather warmed up, he stopped playing there.

When the linden tree’s roots grew more and more exposed, Mr. C decided to improve the look of our admitted ratty back yard by spreading the dirt under the tree and adding some compost and grass seed. He got as far as transferring the dirt pile from beside the house to under the tree. The next day, we had this:

It doesn’t look like much. Those are old landscaping bricks. I’m not sure where the planks came from. The boys found long nails that fell in the dirt when we re-sided the house last spring and use them for something. I’m not sure what, as I stay out of Dirt Town. There’s something a little sacred about this kind of play, scraped out with gardening tools and a dump truck. It belongs to them and while Small Boy occasionally wants to show us a new “improvement”, for the most part, that’s his space to let his imagination go.

There are funny moments. When we had a heavy rainstorm, Dirt Town suffered severe flash flooding. Small Boy kicked the dirt and said, “We should have had insurance!”

Did you have a Dirt Town as a child? I did. A tree line bordered the edges of the playground I attended when I was Small Boy’s age. This was an all-girls school, and my friends and I would drag limbs and branches into fort-shapes, and ambush each other from these forts. We moved often, and when I got older I used to make houses out of the hanging clothes boxes, lining it with a sleeping bag and pillows and stuffed animals so I could read in peace. These kinds of spaces are important to kids, and adults, too. I have my own Dirt Town in the back yard. It’s shaped like an outdoor couch, and on sunny Sunday afternoons, that’s where I read and write and nap.

We’re tearing out the sandbox next weekend with plans to sell the structure on Craig’s List to someone whose kid prefers pristine white sand and a pretty red box. Around here, we play in Dirt Town.

In Which Anne Forgets She Wrote A Book

I’m not particularly creative when it comes to titling my WIPs. I used to stress about it, but after a while I started stressing about other things, like getting an agent and writing more books. I began calling WIPs by the hero’s name. In the last year I’ve written “Adam”, Sean, Ronan, and I’m currently working on “Ben”. In May I finished “Adam”. I slapped a title on it, my agent submitted the book to various editors for their consideration, it sold very quickly, and I forgot about it.

Flash forward to today. Debut author Elyssa Patrick, a good friend who’s just published a really sweet contemporary I recommend highly, sent me a Woot! email indicating Unforgiven was now available for preorder on Amazon. I read my emails right after I get out of bed (bad habit) and this was my sleep-rumpled thought process.

1. WTF? I didn’t write a book called Unforgiven.

2. Oh. Berkley’s assigned one of Alison Kent‘s upcoming Dalton Gang Heat cowboy books to my name. I’ve read two of the three and they’re delicious, but I didn’t write them, so…WTF?

3. Oh, wait. That’s what we called Adam when we pitched it. I guess I did write a book called Unforgiven.

Long story short, you can preorder Unforgiven, my first contemporary romance that will release in June, 2013. There’s not much to look at yet, LOL – cover art, blurb, etc, all to follow, but if you’re really eager to preorder, go for it! If you’ve ever read one of my books and thought, “Boy, I wish these two would stop having so much hot sex and do stuff together, like deal with terrible mistakes and broken dreams and find their way to an emotionally satisfying new life together” this is the book for you! It’s the story of Adam Collins, a former Marine who can’t forgive himself for the devastating mistakes he’s made in his reckless past who returns home and reconnects with Marissa Brooks, the woman who always tempted him in all the wrong ways…

And now I’m going to get some Diet Coke in me, because Ben awaits.

In Which Anne Forgets To Ask Her Husband If Writing Erotic Books Is OK

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and when I tell people what I write, one of the questions they frequently ask is “What does your husband think of that?” There are usually two subtexts under this question. One is “OMG you write TRASHY SMUT and your husband must not know because if he did HE’D PUT A STOP TO IT!” The other is, “Wow. Your husband must be One Happy Man.”

Cue the eye roll.

My flippant answer to either subtext is “I didn’t ask him.” If I’d decided to write literary fiction, in which a tiger and a man discuss the meaning of life while adrift in a boat on the ocean, no one would ask me that question. If I’d decided to write essays or short stories targeted for The New Yorker, no one would ask that question. But throw a little (okay, quite a bit) of sex and an extra player or two into the mix and people get…twitchy.

It’s kind of amusing.

The truth is that my husband’s been urging me to write romance for almost the entire duration of our marriage (coming up on 19 years) because he loves me and he knew I wanted to do this before I admitted it to myself. He admires the covers (and makes soothing noises about the less attractive ones). He helps me brainstorm on date nights. He consoles me through rejections. My writing time takes priority in our house. It doesn’t make any difference to him that I might be writing a scene involving a firefighter, a widow, and an EMT, all naked and naughty. I’m writing. I’m a writer. It’s what I do, who I am. He doesn’t judge the content of my subconscious.

As for the One Happy Man…yeah, it’s totally handcuffs and riding crops and “one night of passion that changes everything” around here because I’m totally taking the most intimate moments of our married life, fictionalizing them, and selling them on the internet for money.

Sarcasm aside, we did discuss the consequences, especially when it appeared I could make a career of this. I’m not in my life alone. We have a child. People are mostly supportive and kind, but occasionally stupid and cruel. These are not good reasons to reject a desire and a talent, however modest.

The third subtext to the question “What does your husband think about this?” is a genuine, gentle curiosity, untainted by OMGSMUTSMUTSMUT or a rather lurid inquisitiveness. In those cases, I tell the truth.

He thinks it’s awesome.

Random Favorite Quote

Every so often I read something in a book written by someone else that clarifies my own thinking on what I write. One paragraph from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Komarr, does exactly that. The book is a mystery and a sci-fi adventure, but it’s also a long, detailed, brillant setup of the woman the intrepid Miles Vorkosigan is going to woo and win in A Civil Campaign (one of my favorite books of all time). Miles has many, many faults, all of Darcy’s pride packed into a malformed body, and Ekaterin’s now-dead husband, Tien, was socially conservative and fiscally heedless. She’s attracted to Miles but deathly afraid of being stifled again. In a really brilliant scene, Ekaterin asks about Miles’ past lovers, a telling question to ask any man.

Miles goes on to give a really charming, funny account of Elena, Taura, Elli, et al, and in each case he starts which who they were when he met them, and who they are now. In every case the woman has grown, changed, stretched into someone truly spectacular. Jumpship captain. Admiral. Surgeon. Empress.

To Ekaterin this is pure, cool water in the desert:

“Tien had protected her proudly, she reflected, in the little Vor-lady fortress of her household. Tien had spent a decade protecting her so hard, especially from anything resembling growth, she’d felt scarcely larger at thirty than she’d been at twenty. Whatever it was Vorkosigan had offered to this extraordinary list of lovers, it hadn’t been protection.”

Yes. Exactly.

In Which Anne Gives Up Sugar

…for a very brief time.

Let’s start over.

Hi. I’m Anne and I’m a sugar addict.

While I say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, like all joking there’s an element of truth to the humor. I won’t say chocolate runs my life, but I will admit to cravings that pop up at the same time every day. The line between “dessert is one of the food groups” and addiction is thinning, rapidly. I’m also curious to test the assertions that avoiding sugar evens out the daily highs and lows, and improves sleep. So this is both a fast, and a not-quite-double-blind-controlled-study. Just one woman, and her demons, with a fridge full of raw cookie dough (thanks, Mr. C. for playing The Adversary for the next two weeks).

How am I doing so far, on Day 4? I’m a cranky bitch. Thanks for asking. I’m also a little dismayed at how badly I crave a treat after lunch, or a mid-afternoon treat, or dessert after dinner. But what I learned yesterday is that what I attributed to a post-chocolate-covered-grahams crash is actually a post-lots-of-time-with-people crash. (A good friend calls this an “interactive hangover”.) Maybe higher levels of sugar in my blood makes it harder for me to discern what’s good for me and what isn’t.

Because challenges are more fun with rewards at the end, it’s also a giveaway!

My goal is to fast from sugar until my birthday, which is just a couple of weeks away. I started the fast on Monday, August 26 ; other commitments kept me from blogging about it until now but I’m going public with the challenge. Post on any of the blog updates about The Torturous Sugar Fast of 2012 and you’re automatically entered to win your choice from my backlist. Tell me about your favorite desserts. Say something encouraging, or supportive, or even “you are CRAZY, not that I’m judging” and you’re in.

What’s in this for me? If I get through three weeks without sugar, I’ve promised myself I can make our family birthday cake, which is a triple-layer chocolate cake with whipped cream between the layers and chocolate icing. Made from scratch. I counted up the calories in this cake and stopped when I got to 10,000. It’s a towering mass of sugar-sweet delicious, and a great way to celebrate turning…well…older than I am. I might lapse into a sugar coma after three weeks without, but I’ll take that risk.

Stay tuned for daily updates. Let’s hope the cranky bitch is replaced by someone of beatific serenity, or I might end up celebrating my birthday alone. 😉

Baby Sweater on the Cutest Baby Ever!

I’m what’s known in the industry as an unreliable narrator. 😉

This is actually my son’s stuffed dinosaur wearing Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February Baby Sweater. My niece is due to arrive very soon, so I’m glad I finished it on vacation.

Rexy wears this very reluctantly, I can assure you.

 

He’s all boy-dino, and I nearly lost fingers to those sharp teeth when I dressed him, but in return for raw meat he acquiesced and let me take the picture.

50 Shades of Puns

The Tall Ships were in Halifax while we were visiting, so we took Small Boy down to the harbor to see the big wooden boats (and ride the zip line). $5 got a ticket to tour all the ships. We saw the US Coast Guard barque Eagle, the movie version of the Amistad, the movie version of the Bounty, and a few other neat ships. Then we got ice cream at Cows, an ice cream shop headquartered in PEI. The ice cream was good, served in waffle cones made right in front of us, but even better was the merchandise. T-shirts galore, all featuring silly and/or clever puns on pop culture. Some examples:

Cow of Duty: Moodern Warfare

Farmbook

Mootube

Angry Herds

And then there was this one:

50 Shades of Hay

I didn’t buy it.

First Fruits

Aka: there’s food growing in my back yard!

That, folks, is a table laden with the first fruits of spring labor. 5 cucumbers, all falling into the ginormous category (insert your own inappropriate cucumber joke here), one tomato, and 370 pgs of a book that will release in September, 2013. Now I’m going to slice that tomato, sprinkle it with just a bit of salt, and enjoy.